Building a Character Pathfinder Roleplaying Tools

PF GM Stat Block

Pathfinder – Game Management

Annotated Stat Block

What is a Stat Block

Building a annotated stat block for Pathfinder was something that I needed to get consistency between my games and how the players had interpreted their character and abilities.

It also helps provide a character for when they are unavailable to play.

Example of my Annotated Stat Block for Pathfinder
  • What is a Stat Block? well it is short form of Statistical Block of text to describe your character in a reference form so you take up less space and have something useful in a game session for a role playing game with this form.
  • What is an Annotated Stat Block? An expanded stat block that provides references to the source material as well as a short form of the abilities that can be used in the game. It helps to have details that save you from having to look up the text, but if you have to check, at least you know which book or source material this is referenced from.
  • Why do I use Annotated Stat Blocks? this is a interesting one, because I see many variations on character sheets over the years that I want something to be simple and consistent within my games so if needed they can be re-used when the player is not there. With a annotated stat block I am able to provide everything needed to run the characters at the table, with or without the player present. If they forget their character sheet, they have one available. If they are not present, their character is able to participate at an effective level and there is less suspension of disbelief in the story of characters coming and going.

How to Fill Out my Annotated Stat Block

Here is a run down of the various components of the stat block and how to fill them out for my D&D Games.

Section 1 – The Heading

This section contains the following: Name, Sex, Race, Class, Level, Alignment, Size, Type, Subtype, Initiative and Senses.

This is the base identification of a creature or character, and in all cases the name is the most important part of the character.

Example Heading Section

The next row has basic identification information with the sex, race class (with archetypes if any) and levels in that class.

  • Sex – A good thing about most rpg’s is that in most cases, your characters sex is a personal thing and does not provide stat bonus’s or penalties, only roleplaying opportunities. (If there is any in game negative for a specific sex it should be discussed before play)
  • Race – As its a fantasy game, any race could potentially be brought in, race is generally a stat or feature option for the game mechanics (again if a race has a negative in the setting, it should be discussed before play)
  • Class – The class is the key concept your character is built around. This is nothing more than a guideline for play, and contains options for combat and character interactions. For example you could be a weapons specialist who is peaceful and fights as a last resort, or a servant of your god who must smite anyone who does not wear the correct shade of purple. So play style is personal preference, guided by what options are available from your class. It is also possible to have more than one class, so separate classes by comma’s.
  • Archetype – Classes can have archetypes, such as shown here can also be used for alternate versions of the character class. Normally an archetype changes class features to give you other options replacing standard class features. An example is a pirate archetype may replace a fighters features for armour with sea specific benefits or rogues may replace dungeoneering options to also gain sea specific benefits.
  • Level – This is simply the character level obtained in this class to represent the features you have access to from that class.

The following row contains the following: Alignment, Size, Type and Subtype.

  • Alignment – There are nine alignments using two axis of descriptors. Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic on one axis and Good, Neutral and Evil on the second axis. When creating an alignment you combine a selection from the first axis with the second axis. For example Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil. The only time that it is not combining the two is when they are both Neutral, then it is written as True Neutral. In my games you can not play an evil character as I don’t enjoy that play style, no matter your reasons, your better playing with another Games Master if you insist on playing an evil character.
  • Size – This is the descriptor of how large you are in comparison to other entities of the game world. Most characters are Medium size with a few being Small or Large. There is a good variation in the actual size within the descriptor so 5 ft or 7 ft still makes you a medium creature.
  • Type – This is the descriptor that tells you what you can be effected by when it comes to magic and special abilities. As a lot of magic can only effect a type of creature. Most characters are Humanoid, and opponents range from Outsiders, Dragons, Animals and Undead as their type allowing you to know details about it with knowledge, and effect it with your abilities. i.e hide from undead works on creatures with the undead type.
  • Subtype – This is more specific about the type, such as Human and Elf for humanoid, or Angel and Demon for Outsider. Works the same as type, but refines it.

The last line is one of the most used lines in the game, it contains: Init and Senses.

  • Init – This is short for Initiative and shows the bonus for determining when you act in a combat situation (can be used in other situations when order of action is important)
  • Senses – The ability to notice things is one of the most powerful abilities in the game, ignore perception at your own risk (or your parties) as not noticing a trap, opponent or important clue can be the difference between character death and living to fight another day. This also includes your perception options and can include: Scent, Low-Light vision, Darkvision, Blindsense and other sense options.
Section 2 – Defence

Here we have the elements of the character used to defend you against damage and avoiding harm.

The first row is all about AC, better known as Armour Class (or your ability not to be hit by targeted effects) and it is also broken down into two other options for targeting a person. The first being your touch value, this is how hard is it for someone who just wants to touch you, and that can be as creepy as you want to go with it (generally best not to go there), because usually its for a negative effect such as an inflict wounds spell. This represents your armour class without your dexterity or dodge abilities. The last of them is the flat-footed value that is used when you are surprised or otherwise caught off guard.A

Example Defense Section

HP or Hit Points is the ability to take damage without being knocked out or killed in the game. It is written up to show how many of each hit dice is part of the hit point total. First level us maximum for the dice and every level after that is half the dice plus one. Example for d10, level 1 adds 10 hp, level 2 adds 6.

Saving throws are the next row of the section. They are Fort, short for Fortitude, Ref, sort for Reflex, Will, sort for Willpower. Fort is generally used to resist toxins and harm to the physical form, Reflex for shifting ground and area effects and Will for spells and controlling your actions.

As an optional row we have Immune showing all the effects that your character is immune to. In this case the character is immune to sleep, meaning it can’t be effected by sleep effects, mundane or magical. This usually has things like Fire, Acid or Cold for creatures.

Another option row here is the SD or Special Defence which is used to list out all of your special defences that will be details further below. An example is a monks ability to Deflect Arrows, though this example monk is not that type of Monk.

Section 3 – Offense

The offense section of the stat block details what is needed to be effect at attacking in combat. Your movement, your melee actions (and ranged actions) as well as any Special Attacks (SA) that your character may have.

  • Speed – Represents your ability to move around the combat field of battle, every 5 ft is considered a square of movement, though it does get complicated when you include diagonals as the first diagonal in a movement is 5 ft, but the second is treated as 10 ft of movement.
  • Melee – is the base attacks you have for someone who is with your reach (weapon or natural attack range) and details what the weapon is, what bonuses you have to hit and how much damage it does.
  • Ranged – is the same as melee, but will also include range increment which is is how far it can hit before a penalty of -2 is imposed. A thrown weapon can reach 5 increments, where a fired weapon can reach 10 increments.

What I have done for my stat blocks is implement some D&D 5E changes to make it easier to read and run on the fly. So I have replaced the Melee and Ranged sections of the original stat block with Standard actions, Full Round actions, Free actions and Reactions.

Original Offense Section based on Paizo Offical Stat block
Home Game alteration to Offense Section

Standard Action – This section is to detail what you can do when you attack on a standard action, which means you still have a move action in your round. The weapon here shows its attack, range, damage and type, and Crit range and effect.

I also have a Crit mechanic that increases the chance of critical hits and critical fumbles by the amount listed after Crit. So a Crit 10 means if you equal 10 points above the targets AC you critically hit, and if you miss by more than 10 points you critically miss.

Also listed are other standard actions that the character can take, or other weapons if they had them would be listed here. For this character it is their special monk attacks.

Full Round Action – This is for when this character is making two or more attacks in a round. In my home game we have a single bonus on attack rolls for character so the more attacks you have the lower your chances of hitting with all of them.

Weapons are listed here with how they have their multi-attacks handled. In this case because the character has weapon focus with unarmed strikes, they don’t take the penalty for the second attack and the 3rd attack provides a -1 to attacks due to it being a natural weapon. If you take the 3rd attack the -1 applies to reaction attacks till the start of your next turn.

Special full round free actions are included here which include Flurry, Ki Points and a special attack. Each provide an extra attack without multi-attack penalties.

Free Actions – On your turn, you can do a number of free actions, here are the character specific ones relevant to combat, such as what their natural attacks damage types are (if they have 1 ki point) and their style options they can apply to one attack a round.

Reaction – These are the special combat reactions your character can do in a combat round, here it is the Panther Parry ability that occurs as a reaction.

Section 4 – Statistics

Here we go into the less used, but equally important statistics that your character is built from. Here is a breakdown of all the sections.

Attributes – This row includes Str (Strength), Dex (Dexterity), Con (Constitution), Int (Intelligence), Wis (Wisdom, and Cha (Charisma). The Modifier is in brackets in the row, and it is based on the following formula:

(Attribute – 10) / 2 round up = Modifier

Examples: 20 – 10 = 10 / 2 = 5 so +5, 8 – 10 = -2 /2 = -1 so -1.

Example Statistic Section

The second row is Base Att, CMB and CMD. So the Base Att represents the class Base Attack Bonus and to find out your melee attack you generally add your Str mod, and your ranged attack you add your Dex mod. As you gain feats and class features you add more to these values. CMB is your characters Combat Manoeuvre Bonus, which is you ability to do specific combat actions that are not swinging a weapon. CMD is your Combat Manoeuvre Defence, which is the target number a opponent needs to effect you by their combat manoeuvre.

The third line is a list of feats that apply to this character, the page numbers are useful here, though less so if feats are expanded below so a mixture of them are shown. Source and page references are part of my annotated stat block only, not part of the standard stat block.

Fourth line covers Traits, so a character usually has two, so one is technically missing for this character. Again references are part of my annotation.

The Fifth line is for skills. The base stat block shows only skills altered by the characters abilities and ranks, where as in the annotated version I show all skills that the character has access to. In most cases, special modifiers are not listed.

The sixth line is Languages. Here are all the different languages the character can read, write and speak.

The seventh line is for SQ or Special Qualities, important aspects of your character that don’t effect combat or defence.

The last line is reserved for characters gear. Non- magical gear should be listed here, as well as the names of the magical items. There is a section further below to cover the items in details.

Section 5 – Special Features

This section is for abilities, their sourcebook and page numbers, that are gained in the campaign that are not part of the characters feats, class features or race. These abilities are from the adventure path we are currently playing in referring to Adventure Path 37.

Example Special Features
Section 6 – Racial Features

Same as special features their sourcebook and page numbers, this lists all the changes your class makes to your character.

This section is for racial features
Section 7 – Class Features

Listing all the class features, their sourcebook and page numbers. Here are all the class features selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play.

Example Special Features Section
Section 8 – Feats

Listing all the feats, their sourcebook and page numbers. Here are all the feats selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play.

Example Feats Section
Section 9 – Traits

Listing all the traits, their sourcebook and page numbers. Here are all the traits selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play.

Example Traits Section
Section 10 – Equipment

Listing all the equipment, their sourcebook and page numbers. Here are all the class features selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play. There are two options in use here, combination of effects called extra enchantment, and buffs called innate bonus.

The extra enchantment – This is literally another magical item merged into the original items. Add the cost of enchantment for the item to the existing item.

The innate bonus – This is a bonus added to existing items (an increasing their cost) for all innate bonuses replacing those items in the game. Such as Abilities, resistance and armour enhancements.

Example Equipment Section

Final Comments

This is an extensive character write up for a character, more involved than the D&D character, and like the D&D character does not go into magic or shapechange options.

I hope this is useful for my Pathfinder group as I will be moving back to my Star Wars posts as my next blog post.

Another layout example

Content Updates

  • 2021-08-01 – Updating lout and links.
  • 2020-04-26 – Structure.
Pathfinder 1E

Game Management: Annotated Stat Blocks, Choosing a New Campaign, Creating a Campaign, Running Games over Skype, Tracking Experience

Building Characters: Pathfinder Unchained: Rogue, Freeport: Freebooter (Pirate)

Adventure Paths: AP #1 – Rise of the Runelords, AP #2 – Curse of the Crimson Throne, AP #3 – Second Darkness, AP #4 – Legacy of Fire, AP #5 – Council of Thieves, AP #6 – Kingmaker, AP #7 – Serpent’s Skull, AP #8 – Carrion Crown, AP #9 – Jade Regent

Game Management

GM – Choosing a New Campaign, Downtime Uses, GM’s Luck Roll, House Rules, Running Games over Skype, Sandbox vs Linear, Table Rules, Tracking Experience

Annotated Stat Blocks: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Pathfinder 2, Star Wars FFG

Creating a Campaign: D&D Mystara Design, Genesys, Pathfinder, Pathfinder 2 TRAP Design, Shadowrun, Star Wars

Character Creation: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder 2, Star Wars Beta, Star Wars FFG

Concluding a Campaign: Star Wars

NPCsTalking to NPCs, Working with NPCs.

Virtual Table Top (VTT) Software – d20Pro: Installation, Realm Works: Players and their Characters, Using for D&D, Realm Created

Library of Books

B5, d20 System, Pathfinder, SW

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This site is constantly under revision, no blog posts are final as this is a work in progress place for me to develop my game settings and rules. Some posts might be placeholders for future content, so feel free to check back later for updated information.

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By thedarkelf007

I am a long term gamer, I run 6 RPG's a fortnight, host board game, card game and LANs each about once a quarter and have an addiction to buying more games. Games I am currently running are Pathfinder (1st and 2nd Edition) and Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition).

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