Monday, August 31, 2020

Miscellany: Making a Pathfinder 2E character

My friends and I are playing some Pathfinder Second Edition over Labor Day weekend, so I am putting together a min-maxed PC who's one part Mike from Breaking Bad and one part Jinyiwei. Curious as to how character creation in Pathfinder 2E compares to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition? Check out the character choices I made below:

1. Ancestry

The Core Rulebook contains 6 ancestries (dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, halfling, and human), and selecting one is the first and most important choice you make. Each ancestry carries a slew of ability bonuses, special feats, and in most cases, a "flaw" (an ability score penalty). 

For my character, who is going to be going around investigating dissidents and whacking them with a sword, I pick human. I get two free ability boosts (+2 to a score) and no flaws, so I pump Strength and Wisdom.  I choose the "Versatile" heritage, which gives you a free general feat - I opt for "Canny Acumen" and become an expert in Will saves.  Finally, I get the "Natural Skill" human ancestry feat and get trained in Intimidation and Stealth.

2. Background

The second choice, and a similarly irrevocable one, is choosing a background. I pick the "Detective" background, which boosts either Wisdom or Intelligence (I go for Wisdom again), and then a free boost of your choice (I pick Strength, natch).  It also grants training in Society, Underworld Lore, and the Streetwise skill feat.

3. Class

Choosing a class is important, but perhaps not as important as you might think since there are multiclassing feats. I'm torn between choosing a straight Fighter or trying a Rogue with the "Ruffian" racket, but I ultimately go Fighter. 

Picking the Fighter class gives me a Strength boost, expert training in Perception, Fortitude, and Reflex saves, training in Athletics and three more skills (I pick Deception, Diplomacy, and Survival), and expert training in martial weapons, among other things. I pick the first level feat Power Attack, which lets you add an extra die of weapon damage on a successful hit.

4. Ability Scores

You get four more ability score boosts, so I pick Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma.

5. Equipment

I am planning on using the special saber of the Jinyiwei, which is essentially a bastard sword in Pathfinder terms. That means I can roll big fat d12s worth of damage using the sword two-handed, and also use the sword one-handed for grappling, shoving, and disarming to take advantage of my max Strength. Throw in a cool hat and multicolor armor, and Qinglong is done!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Books: Quarantine Recovery Double Feature

I've found that the flip side of training for a half-marathon is recovering from all the miles you're putting on your legs. After all, it's no good to push yourself hard if you end up injured and unable to train for a month. To that end, here are a couple of books that provide some unique perspectives on repairing and replenishing the human body:

Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery, Christie Aschwanden

Athletes go to strange lengths to bounce back from a hard workout. Soaking in a bathtub full of wine? Blasting yourself with subzero air? In Good to Go, Christie Aschwanden tries out these newfangled treatments with a skeptical eye. Some of them sort of work (at least they feel good), some don't work at all. In the end, she finds the best ways to recover are the ones that don't require spending a lot of money - plain water, homecooked meals, and a decent night's sleep.

Year of the Cow: How 420 Pounds of Beef Built a Better Life for One American Family, Jared Stone

Part family memoir, part healthy living treatise, and part cookbook, Year of the Cow follows TV producer Jared Stone as he feeds his family for a year (well, it's more like two) using beef that came from a single, grass-fed, responsibly-raised cow. While Stone admirably commits to not wasting anything, it is a daunting task at first...the meat doesn't even fit in his freezer. Over time, though, he learns to cook all of the animal (including the heart) and learns a lot about taking things slow and being grateful for what one has in the process.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Music: Song of Time

One of my favorite harpists on YouTube, Amy Turk, has released an entire album of harp and ocarina covers for the soundtrack of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (well, minus the temple themes).

If you know anything about harp playing, you know what a monumental effort this is, and if you've played Ocarina of Time, you know just how well these covers capture the essence of the music while translating it from blurry N64 PCM to luscious harp and ocarina. For me, listening brings back memories of slashing bushes and riding Epona over Thanksgiving weekend in 1998:

Monday, August 03, 2020

Books: Quarantine Running Double Feature

Like a lot of people, I've taken up running as a way to get exercise in the COVID-19 era, with my goal being to run the half marathon event at the Palm Beaches Marathon in December (I'm crossing my fingers that it won't get cancelled this year). Here's a couple of books that have helped me in my quest to cover 13.1 miles.

Run Forever: Your Complete Guide to Healthy Lifetime Running, Amby Burfoot

There are a million running books out there if you want complex training schedules, micromanaged meal plans, and the latest jargon about your VO2 max and lactate threshold. Run Forever, by former Runner's World editor Amby Burfoot, is a little different. Rather than bombard you with information masquerading as wisdom, the book distills a lifetime of running knowledge into simple straightforward advice to run well into old age. Burfoot may only be half as fast as he was when he won the Boston Marathon, but what he's lost in speed he's made up for in perspective.

Becoming Boston Strong, Amy Noelle Roe

The Boston Marathon bombing is in the news again due to a recent appellate court ruling, and Amy Noelle Roe's memoir opens with a raw first-person account of that awful tragedy. But Roe doesn't let the bombing define her relationship with the world's greatest marathon. To the contrary, Becoming Boston Strong is more about Roe overcoming a directionless period in her life to find the sport of running and reach her dream of qualifying for Boston, despite injuries and personal setbacks. If you feel like reading a frank personal odyssey, full of life's ups and downs, then you'll like Becoming Boston Strong.