Pathfinder: Kingmaker Update #38

I like my bearded, bullheaded, ale-drinking and axe-swinging dwarves as much as the next guy. But when you have Chris Avellone with his penchant for subverting tropes on your team, having a regular old dwarf in your game is quite unlikely. The latest Pathfinder: Kingmaker update proves just that, by introducing Harrim, a clumsy doomsaying dwarven cleric who may or may not be slightly mad. You'll have to recruit him as a companion to find out. Here's a bit of his backstory:

During his life in the Five Kings Mountains, Harrim aspired to follow Torag, the Dwarven god of craft. Unfortunately, no matter how much he studied the holy books, he failed to meet the crucial requirement for a cleric of Torag: he never learned to make anything with his hands. It was worse than just regular clumsiness: Harrim couldn't forge a single nail or carve a wooden spoon to save his life. Some dwarves ridiculed him, others suggested that Torag must have cursed him — and this was what Harrim himself eventually believed.

Betrayed and forsaken by the god he was ready to dedicate his whole life to, Harrim went into exile, searching for some other purpose in life. He found it when he met a traveling cult of one of Golarion's most obscure deities — Groetus, the god of the End Times. A colossal skull-shaped moon looming over Purgatory, Groetus is waiting for the day when Pharasma, the goddess of death, won't be able to contain him anymore, so he can go to the Material plane and put an end to it. This fateful day is nowhere near — it would take aeons for Groetus to become free — but it's inevitable, and comes closer with each passing second. Groetus is patient, and so are his worshippers — hiding in shadows, listening to their god's faint whispers, meditating over their own mortality, and frailty of life.

It is said that the worshippers of Groetus slowly sink into madness. Harrim dismisses such slanderous rumors. The way he talks and acts might seem eccentric, but it has nothing to do with so-called insanity — he just delves deeper into the fundamental truths, understanding the world's nature and the inevitability of its demise... He's happy to explain his religion's teachings — though he rarely finds anyone willing to listen.

Harrim's philosophy hasn't made him a passive observer. He's always ready to use his god's power to heal his allies or bring punishment upon their enemies — though after the battle expect him to say something about the perishable nature of all mortals. He embraces the fact that death will eventually take everyone, but he doesn't hurry to meet it — so he has trained to wear heavy armor and wield a shield. Despite Harrim’s bleak philosophy, he’ll save your life more than once during the many battles that await you in the Stolen Lands.

Should you rely on Harrim's help in ruling your realm, you will benefit from his wisdom and charisma. A calm, level-headed man, Harrim is surprisingly good at making well-considered decisions, as well as talking to people — that is, until he starts rambling about the End of Days.

Additionally, the update provides a link to the Owlcat Games forums where one of the developers talks in detail about the Magus Archetypes. An excerpt:

Okay, let’s start this. I am a mechanics designer for Owlcat Games, and it will eventually be my job implementing the archetypes (or delegating some of them to other designers, maybe). While we want to follow your wishes about the archetypes, we should take into consideration also a lot of things hardly discussed in the main topic about archetypes.

This topic is just the first of many that will follow (I hope) that describe reasoning for our (or, at least, mine) decisions. There is no better way to do that than by example, so I will here dissect the reasoning (or, at least, part of it) I will use when choosing magus archetypes. It should be noted that this topic will only describe the basic reasoning for it, not the lengthy discussions and deliberations, for both the magus and the archetypes were only recently paid by our backers, to whom we are eternally grateful. So the time for actual discussions about these archetypes will come later, and what you will see here is only the reasoning that will be part of the basis of my position in the discussions that will follow. Also, it should be pointed out that, as usual, all specific names are here for reference only and may be later subjected to change.

But before the magus archetypes, let us dissect the basics. When I will be considering archetypes, or, indeed, most features to be implemented, be it feats or spells, there are certain standard things to take into consideration. Here is the list of them, of questions that I will ask about any archetype that comes into the discussion:

1. Can it be implemented and will it make sense? While we want to preserve the atmosphere and mechanics of a pen and paper game, still there are a lot of things that are lost in transition, and some mechanics rely upon such things to exist. Some mechanics are too situational, and after some discussion, we had decided that those situations will be too rare to be supported in the game, some are lacking in the campaign. Our game is unlikely to contain lots of haunts, naval combat, and siege machines, so archetypes about them will make no sense. Our game will probably have a distinct lack of running on the roofs, so Roof Runner rogue archetype is out of the question too.

2. Will it fit into current decisions for the game? Certain decisions are already made and almost set in stone at the moment, no going back on them. Some are strongly considered. Some were just made, and while they may yet be rescinded, they should be taken into consideration nonetheless. List of classes is set, and features for them are set to be implemented. The game will be real time with pause. It’s a party based RPG. It is set in the Stolen Lands. Selecting archetypes that will need too great of a change to fit set conditions will do justice neither to the conditions nor the archetypes themselves. This questions also includes in itself whether the archetype will fit our current vision for the class and this class role in the conditions noted above.

3. Can it be done without sacrificing other features? Some archetypes are incredibly bulky and large, mechanically heavy. Some differ from their parent classes more than some classes do. We need to make the archetypes, fix bugs in them afterward if there will be some (and there will be). Sadly this means that some of the most “expensive” (measuring development time) archetypes have fewer chances to be implemented than others.

4. Is it popular? That’s one of the considerations and the very reason for the main archetype thread. Before the Kickstarter I had played many games of Pathfinder, read guides and forums and scoured the internet for the character sheets of different Pathfinder players, to learn which choices are popular. For if we implement an archetype – we want it to be selected by the players. Otherwise implementing it is pretty meaningless.

5. Will it add more to the game or will it improve the qualities we want to maximize in our game? Which means, for example, will it make the game more replayable? Provide significant choices for the character? Will it help us improve companions, enemies or neutral NPCs with the application of this archetype? Will it fit nicely into the setting and improve atmosphere by its existence? This question is, of course, more complex and partially includes and/or is included in the questions above, yet still, it must be asked in this form and many others.

6. Is it in the pen and paper version? Some asked whether we will be making the ones from the third party and I must answer – at this point, no. We are yet to make at least the ones from Paizo, and we will try stick to the standard kit here. We reserve for ourselves the right to make change the existing features and archetypes according to the changed mechanics and even to make completely new ones if we will need to, but we try to keep our game close to Pathfinder ruleset, and I am one of the main advocates for not straying away from it without a significant reason.