Last week I promised to tell you about a great structure for your stories and games. Well, let me introduce Joseph Campbell, and his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Mr Campbell says that all myths, no matter where and when they were created, share a common series of events. This structure is common to all heroes, from Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter, from Wolverine to Superman.
Here are some of the steps on the heroes journey:
A Call To Adventure
The hero or heroin lives in the normal world until receiving a call to enter a new, fantastical world. This is Gandalf inviting Bilbo to leave the Shire.
A Road of Trials
Having taken the first step, the hero now faces difficult challenges. This is the Fellowship of the Ring and their perilous flight through Moria.
The Goal or Boon
Having overcome great challenges, the hero now receives some boon that will aid him in his quest. This is Wolverine getting his adamantium skeleton, after being defeated by Sabertooth (in X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”– Joseph Campbell
Return to the Ordinary World
The hero then returns to the world with the boon, facing troubles on the way. Luke Skywalker heading into Vader’s trap after training with Yoda, anyone?
Application of the Boon
The triumphant hero returns and uses the boon to improve the world he left. This is Harry Potter returning to his foster parents with his magical abilities.
Here’s another great explanation of the Hero’s Journey by Matthew Winkler...
Consider the Hero’s Journey when you create your next campaign or story, and how you might use it to challenge the heroes and make their impact more meaningful.
Recreating comic book heroes for your Pathfinder game is easy if you know where to start. Today we’ll build everyone’s favorite wall-crawler – Spider-Man.
Where to Start
I recently came across this post and decided to take a shot at building Spidey, who happens to be my fav Marvel character. My build needs to be playable in a campaign and I don’t want to home-brew too much, because I’d like to use him for an Icon adventure module I’m writing for 2014, and home-brewing means I need to do more playtesting. Peter should have all the powers he has in the comics, but the technological limitations of the setting and the presence of magic can be taken into account.
Mutations and Men
mutant n. a living thing differing from its parents as a result of genetic change.
To start out, we need a race that reflects the mutation of our hero. Peter Parker might have been human, but that radioactive spider bite changed his DNA and gave him his superpowers. Call in the Advanced Race Guide.
Using the Race Builder I came up with the following:
Radioactive Spider Bite Mutation (30 RP)
Humanoid (0 Race Points) Size
Medium (0 RP) Base Speed
Normal (0RP) We’ll make him faster with traits. Ability Score Modifiers
Flexible (Str +2, Dex +2) (2 RP) Languages Standard (0 RP) Racial Traits Ability Score Traits Advanced Str (+2) (4 RP)
Advanced Dex (+2) (4 RP)
Advanced Con (+2) (4 RP) Defence Racial Traits Defensive Training, Greater (4 RP): +2 dodge bonus to AC, which we put up to his spider sense.
Lucky, Greater (4 RP): +2 to all saving throw, again this will be part of his spider sense. Movement Traits
Climb (2 RP): Climb speed of 20 feet and a +8 on climb.
Jumper (2 RP): Always considered to have a running start for acrobatics checks.
Expert Climber (4 RP): another +8 to climb and can crawl on ceilings, as long as he has hand holds.
Advanced Level (+10 RP)
Racial Traits Defensive Racial Traits Cat’s Luck (1 RP): Better agility or spider-sense, you decide. Feat and Skill Traits Nimble Faller (2 RP): so he always lands on his feet
Skill Bonus (2 RP): Acrobatics +2. Movement Traits Fleet-Footed (3 RP): Run bonus feat and +2 to init checks.
Mountaineer (1RP): Immunity to altitude sickness and lets him keep his Dex bonus to AC when climbing.
Fast (1 RP): +10 to speed
At 30 or 40 Race Points the mutation would be more than playable alongside similarly constructed races, we haven’t broken the game and we’re just getting started.
A Touch of Class
So if the mutation above reflects the effect of the radioactive spider, Spider-Man’s class and character traits should reflect his upbringing (having been bullied, being raised by his aunt and uncle), personal talent (Peter’s high intelligence) and life experiences (studying, working as a reporter, and so on).
Bullied or Reactionary
As for class, there are plenty of good arguments for Monk, Rogue, Alchemist and a bunch of other classes. Ideally, I’d like to give a player the Spider Bite Mutation and let them fill out the rest as they see fit. But since I’m building a pre-gen, let’s take a look at some choices.
Alchemist has been suggested to cover some of Spider-Man’s powers, but I don’t think this is necessary with the mutation/race. Alchemist or Rogue can cover Peters studies (think ranks in disable device and craft alchemy), while Monk covers his combat experience and reflects his Lawful alignment. Depending on what level I decide on, I might go with a ratio of 3 Monk levels for every 1 Rogue level.
Stat wise, I’ll go for a high Intelligence and low Wisdom, probably using a 25 point buy. Do you get anything more Epic than this? High Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution are important while Charisma can be low, as long as he has ranks in Disguise and Bluff.
Peter built his own web shooters using technology that wouldn’t be available in a fantasy setting. Luckily he has magic.
Magical ropes are one option, and a Rope of Climbing combined with a Rope of Entanglement would be great. This still leaves out many of the cool things Spider-Man’s webbing can do though. Items like Slippers of Spider Climb are good, but sometimes have more powerful effects than in the comics.
I like the Equipment Trick, Rope Tricks, from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide. This feat lets him coil rope quickly, hog-tie better, use the rope as a bludgeoning weapon, as a whip, to rescue anyone falling, to retrieve rope with a tug, to escape ropes easier and to tangle enemies as a ranged attack!
For a lower level build, I’ll stay away from magic, give Spider-Man a few lengths of spider-silk rope and the Rope Trick feat and be done.
So that’s Spider-Man. What do you think? Any suggestions? Leave a comment below.
Disclaimer: There are a thousand and one ways to build superheroes for Pathfinder, and each route can yield very different results. This is just one possible option. If you disagree with my build, leave a comment below, but be civil or your post will go up in smoke.