Character Creation

Classes
Base & Core Classes with Archetypes, excluding Paladin & Cavalier

Races
GM discretion, so talk to me first.

Familiars & Animal Companions
PC’s will acquire through the campaign and not start with them.

Stats
4d6 Remove the lowest.
Stats may be rolled in any order.

HP
1st Level – Full HP
2nd Level onward, Pathfinder Society rules (1/2 +1)

Traits
2 Traits as normal
1 Campaign Trait

Skills and Feats:
Certain skills and feats will be particularly useful during the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path. First and foremost is the Profession (sailor) skill. Some sort of social skill—either Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate—will also be important, especially in the first adventure, and to gain Infamy throughout the campaign. Characters interested in using siege engines such as ballistae and catapults during ship-to-ship combat should strongly consider taking the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to gain proficiency with siege engines and putting ranks in Knowledge (engineering).

Other skills that will be helpful are Climb, Craft (sails), Craft (ships), Craft (siege engine), Knowledge (engineering), Knowledge (local), Profession (cook), Profession (siege engineer), and Swim. Feats such as Athletic and Skill Focus can be useful, as well as feats such as Expert Driver, Sea Legs, Siege Commander, Siege Engineer, Siege Gunner, Skilled Driver, and Sure Grasp (all from Ultimate Combat).

Firearms
Time Period: Rare Guns at the start and going into Emerging Guns around Book 3.

Starting Wealth
It’s fitting for a pirate to be either poor or rich depending on his luck.
Roll for your starting wealth based off the dice from your class’s starting wealth.

Cutting Down the X-Mas Tree
Cutting Down the 3.5 Christmas Tree: Decoupling Wealth from Combat Power

The following system attempts to eliminate the need for items which grant any of the following:
Enhancement bonuses to ability scores
Inherent bonuses to ability scores
Magical natural armor bonuses
Deflection bonuses to armor
Resistance bonuses to saving throws
Magic weapon ‘plusses’
Magic armor ‘plusses’
Items granting competence bonuses to skill checks
Metamagic rods

Hopefully, the endeavor can help to:
Liberate character wealth from combat power
Assert the viability of low-magic games
Eliminate the “Christmas Tree” effect
Reduce the see-saw of the buff/debuff combat mechanism
Provide fewer bonuses to track
Return to the special significance of magic items
Allow some customization of choices

The way to fix this issue is to eliminate the character’s dependence on magic items; to allow a natural progression to make up for the shortfall caused by the lack of number-boosting objects which clutter up the character sheet.

A Standard Universal Progression

There might be any number of variant progressions which could, in fact, replace the gear assumptions of a wealth-by-level system; here is one. It’s worth pointing out a few facts about this one: It assumes that the vast majority or all of a character’s wealth is normally sunk into items which enhance combat effectiveness. The progression is designed to be both rounded and robust – i.e. to represent the power of a character who would otherwise be dripping with tinsel and baubles It assumes that the value of an individual item typically does not normally exceed more than 25% of total character wealth. At lower character levels (1-6), this restriction is relaxed somewhat.

Advancement is more granular, as it effectively assumes the equivalent of odd-numbered bonuses to ability score boosters which would extend down to 2nd character level
It assumes that ability-enhancing tomes are normally used by characters at high levels
At any given level, the benefits accumulated by characters are equivalent to those afforded by magic items whose combined value is within 10% of that expected by level; in most cases, the discrepancy is actually 5% or less.

One of the abilities listed is Prowess. This can be applied as a bonus to either AC (equivalent to the accumulated enhancement bonuses on shield and armor), or to a set of ability-linked skills. The cost of a hypothetical skill-enhancement item is extrapolated from the circlet of persuasion. This value maps well to the combined cost of magic armor and shield of the total given bonus, and is included to add some choice for characters who might not otherwise sink their cash into armor and shield.

Certain combinations of magic items are normally prohibited because they occupy the same “body slot:” e.g. a cloak of resistance and a cloak of charisma. For the sake of simplicity, these mutual bonus exclusions are not reflected to in the following progression; as well as frequent alternative workarounds (e.g. vest of resistance), they are rather arbitrary and unnecessary prohibitions in any case.

The progression assumes that all bonuses are of the untyped sort, and that the previously listed types of bonus are either entirely prohibited, or access by spell or item is strictly controlled by the DM. All benefits are cumulative with those gained at lower levels.

Table I: Universal Bonus Progression by Character Level

1. -
2. [1st Ability] +1
3. [2nd Ability] +1, Prowess +1
4. AC +1, Saves +1
5. [1st Ability] +1
6. [2nd Ability] +1, [1st Attack] +1
7. AC +1, Saves +1, Prowess +1
8. [1st Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1
9. [1st Attack] +1, [2nd Attack] +1, Prowess +1
10. AC +1, Saves +1
11. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, Prowess +1
12. AC +1, [1st Attack] +1, [2nd Attack] +1
13. [1st Ability] +1, Saves +1, Prowess +1
14. [2nd Ability] +1, AC +1, [2nd Attack] +1
15. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, [1st Attack] +1, Prowess +1
16. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, AC +1, Saves +1
17. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, AC +1, Prowess +1
18. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, AC +1, [1st Attack] +1, [2nd Attack] +1, Prowess +1
19. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, AC +1, Prowess +1
20. [1st Ability] +1, [2nd Ability] +1, [3rd Ability] +1, AC +1, [2nd Attack] +1, Prowess +1

Notes

[1st Ability]
At 2nd level, you choose an ability score. You gain a +1 bonus to that score. Subsequently, you increase this ability by +1 at each level listed as [1st Ability]. The maximum bonus to your 1st Ability is +11 at 20th level.

[2nd Ability]
At 3rd level, you choose a second ability score. You gain a +1 bonus to that score. Subsequently, you increase this ability by +1 at each level listed as [2nd Ability]. The maximum bonus to your 2nd Ability is +10 at 20th level.

Prowess
At 3rd level, you choose an area of Prowess, and gain a +1 bonus to apply to that area. You can choose one of any of the following:
Defense: Add the bonus to your Armor Class; the bonus is halved (round up) if you don’t use a shield. The bonus is not effective against touch attacks. Prowess does not add to CMD.
Add the bonus to all Str- and Con-related skill checks
Add the bonus to all Dex-related skill checks
Add the bonus to all Int-related skill checks
Add the bonus to all Wis-related skill checks
Add the bonus to all Cha-related skill checks

Whenever you gain a level and your Prowess increases, you gain an additional +1 bonus to your chosen area of Prowess.

AC
At 4th level, you gain a +1 bonus to your Armor Class, and your AC increases by an additional +1 at each listed level. This bonus is effective against all attacks, including touch attacks. The AC bonus also adds to CMD.

Saves
At 4th level, you also gain a +1 bonus to your saving throws. You gain an additional +1 bonus at each listed level.

[1st Attack]
At 6th level, you choose a weapon: you gain a +1 bonus to both your attack and damage rolls when using that weapon. Subsequently, you increase this bonus by +1 at each level listed [1st Attack].

[3rd Ability]
At 8th level, choose a third ability score. You gain a +1 bonus to this score. Subsequently, you increase this ability by +1 at each level listed as [3rd Ability]. The maximum bonus to your 3rd Ability is +8 at 20th level.

[2nd Attack]
At 9th level, you choose a second weapon: you gain a +1 bonus to both your attack and damage rolls when using that weapon. Subsequently, you increase this bonus by +1 at each level listed [2nd Attack].

Substitutions

The following substitutions can be made for characters who do not normally emphasize weapon combat. They can also eliminate the need for boring, pesky metamagic rods which otherwise often comprise a large chunk of a spellcaster’s resources: spellcasters can choose from either Versatile or Potent Metamagic substitutions.

Metamagic substitution does not confer the associated feat on the owner, only the ability to use the given feat a specified number of times per day. A sorcerer still must take a full-round action when using metamagic substitution, just as if using a metamagic feat he possesses.

Substitution I: Versatile Metamagic
Remove 1st Attack and 2nd Attack entries from the Bonus Progression.
At 6th level you can apply a metamagic effect to a spell of 1st to 3rd level up to three times per day. You can either Enlarge, Extend or make Silent any spell of level 1-3 which you cast. The type of metamagic, once chosen, cannot be altered, although subsequent Versatile Metamagic Substitution will supercede your initial choice by including others
At 9th level you can Enlarge, Extend or make Silent a spell, each three times per day, any spell you cast of up to 3rd level.
At 14th level, you can Enlarge, Extend or make Silent a spell, each three times per day, any spell you cast of up to 6th level.
At 18th level, you can Enlarge, Extend or make Silent a spell, each three times per day, any spell that you cast of up to 9th level.

You may use only one metamagic effect from a Metamagic Substitution ability on a given spell, but other metamagic (such as from a feat) may also combine with the spell. Each successive benefit gained by the Versatile Metamagic ability replaces that gained at earlier levels

Substitution II: Potent Metamagic
Remove the 1st Attack, 2nd Attack and 3rd Ability entries from the Bonus Progression
At 9th level you can Empower a spell of 1st to 3rd level up to three times per day.
At 12th level you can Empower a spell of 1st to 6th level up to three times per day.
At 16th level you can Empower a spell of 1st to 9th level up to three times per day
At 20th level you can Empower a spell of 1st to 9th level up to three times per day; you may also Maximize any spell of 1st to 9th level up to three times per day.

You may use only one metamagic effect from a Metamagic Substitution ability on a given spell, but other metamagic (such as from a feat) may also combine with the spell. Each successive benefit gained by the Potent Metamagic ability replaces those gained at earlier levels

Substitution III: Skill Emphasis
Remove the 1st Attack entry from the Bonus Progression
Whenever you gain an increase in Prowess, you may assign an equal bonus to a second area of Prowess: for example, you might gain a bonus to all Charisma-based skill checks and to all Dexterity based skill checks

Specific Templates

Having got all of that out of the way, it is possible to tailor specific progressions more to an individual character’s needs. I’ll do four, although the combinations are endless:

Sword & Board

1. -
2. Str +1
3. Con +1, Defense +1
4. AC +1, Saves +1
5. Str +1
6. Con +1, Melee +1
7. AC +1, Saves +1, Defense +1
8. Str +1, Dex +1
9. Melee +1, Ranged +1, Defense +1
10. AC +1, Saves +1
11. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, Defense +1
12. AC +1, Melee +1, Ranged +1
13. Str +1, Saves +1, Defense +1
14. Con +1, AC +1, Ranged +1
15. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, Melee +1, Defense +1
16. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, AC +1, Saves +1
17. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, AC +1, Defense +1
18. Str +1, Con +1, AC +1, Melee +1, Ranged +1, Defense +1
19. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, AC +1, Defense +1
20. Str +1, Con +1, Dex +1, AC +1, Ranged +1, Defense +1

Finesse/Swashbuckler

1. -
2. Dex +1
3. Int +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
4. AC +1, Saves +1
5. Dex +1
6. Int +1, Melee +1
7. AC +1, Saves +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
8. Dex +1, Con +1
9. Melee +1, Ranged +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
10. AC +1, Saves +1
11. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
12. AC +1, Melee +1, Ranged +1
13. Dex +1, Saves +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
14. Int +1, AC +1, Ranged +1
15. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, Melee +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
16. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Saves +1
17. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
18. Dex +1, Int +1, AC +1, Melee +1, Ranged +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
19. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Dex-Related Skills +1
20. Dex +1, Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Ranged +1, Dex-Related Skills +1

Wizard (Potent Metamagic)

1. -
2. Int +1
3. Con +1, Int-Related Skills +1
4. AC +1, Saves +1
5. Int +1
6. Con +1
7. AC +1, Saves +1, Int-Related Skills +1
8. Int +1
9. Int-Related Skills +1, Potent Metamagic
10. AC +1, Saves +1
11. Int +1, Con +1, Int-Related Skills +1
12. AC +1, Potent Metamagic
13. Int +1, Saves +1, Int-Related Skills +1
14. Con +1, AC +1
15. Int +1, Con +1, Int-Related Skills +1
16. Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Saves +1, Potent Metamagic
17. Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Int-Related Skills +1
18. Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Int-Related Skills +1
19. Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Int-Related Skills +1
20. Int +1, Con +1, AC +1, Int-Related Skills +1, Potent Metamagic

Skill Monkey: Deft and Magnetic

1. -
2. Dex +1
3. Cha +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
4. AC +1, Saves +1
5. Dex +1
6. Cha +1
7. AC +1, Saves +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
8. Dex +1, Int +1
9. Melee +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
10. AC +1, Saves +1
11. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
12. AC +1, Melee +1
13. Dex +1, Saves +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
14. Cha +1, AC +1, Melee +1
15. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
16. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, AC +1, Saves +1
17. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, AC +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
18. Dex +1, Cha +1, AC +1, Melee +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
19. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, AC +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1
20. Dex +1, Cha +1, Int +1, AC +1, Melee +1, Dex- and Cha-Related Skills +1

Character Creation

A Jolly Rogers Tale: Skull & Shackles Kevtor Kevtor