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Pathfinder Tips

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Revision as of 14:12, 14 May 2013 by Leif Egil R. (Talk | contribs)

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This guide only discusses how to play Pathfinder RPG with the Roll20 virtual tabletop. You can find all of the Pathfinder RPG rules (free!) on Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder Reference Document (PRD). Of course, hardcover books are available from or your friendly local game store.This guide is based on you knowing the basics of Roll20, so more focus can be given to the Pathfinder-specific parts.


Character Creation

The most relevant thing for players would be this section, even though GMs could make good use of what's in here, but GMs will get a special treatment with campaign creation and handling NPCs, monsters and handouts, in chapter 2 and 3.

Setting up your Character Sheet for players

There are several ways to set up the player character sheet. Most important is that the GM makes it available to the player. A good way for the GM is to have a general Player Character Sheet made already, and simply duplicate it, and give permissions as suited. Normally those would be that All Players can see, the relevant player can edit.

Basically your entire Pen&Paper character sheet can be added in Roll20. The things you need to figure out as a GM when making the standard, is how much effort you (and your players) should do to make the character.Questions you can ask yourself to find out what you need on your character sheet and how detailed it should be:

  • Is it a one time campaign?
  • Will the campaign stretch over several levels?
  • Will you have the same players playing every time?
  • Are the characters supposed to be low or high level?

If it's only a one-shot campaign, you might not need such elaborate character sheets. The basics would probably suffice, with Ability modifiers, HP, AC, maybe even Base Attack Bonus. The corresponding macros usually aren't that complex either, but they would still be time-saving. If, on the other hand, you're going to take your normal Pathfinder-group online, and keep on playing, level after level, hour after hour, getting the Character Sheet right, already at start, is extremely time-saving.

Example of a Character Sheet on a oneshot campaign

I'd encourage getting a picture for your character. The "Bio & Info"-box would probably be filled up with some statistics, like To hit, saves, weapons/spells/Spell-like abilities and so on. Even in a oneshot campaign, you'd probably like to add some macros, to shorten waiting time, and maximizing the gaming time you have. You'd like to add at least these Attributes: HP, AC. These will be linked to your token, so that they are quick to check and to edit. You should also add your basic attack, and a full attack, if there's any difference. For tips on creating the macros, see the example of abilities further down the page. You'd probably not make them that much of a work, but simply:

/r 1d20+6 vs AC
/r 1d10+4
Ray of Frost:
/r 1d20+4 vs Touch AC, ranged touch
/r 1d20+2 vs Spell Resistance (if applicable)
/r 1d3 cold damage

And maybe you'd like to put some energy into it and add the Abilities you need in the Attributes tab, as Strength 4, and Dexterity +2, BAB +2, just to be able to get the reasoning behind the numbers. But basically you'd want it stripped down to what you need, even though there's not much work to do it in a decent and good way, which we will look at now:

Example of a Character Sheet going for the long run

You would probably find (or create) a nice picture for your Character, type in some bio that you have planned, and start with the automation on the "Attributes & Abilities"-tab. In this case you might not need to have many stats (if any) in the "Bio & Info", as you can add all those on your "Attributes & Abilities" tab, even the languages and all, if you'd like.

The list of Attributes could look like this:

HP 26/26
AC 18
Level 3
High Save 3
Low Save 1
Base Attack Bonus 3
Strength 2/15
Dexterity 1/12
Constitution 0/11
Intelligence -1/9
Wisdom 1/13
Charisma -2/7
Longsword 1d8
Weapon Focus (Longsword) 1
Weapon Specialization (Longsword) 2
Masterwork +1
Shortsword 1d6
Magic Enhancement +1
Lightning Damage 1d6
Two Weapon Fighting -2
Ring of Protection +1
Breastplate AC +6
Breastplate Check Penalty -4


  • The Ability scores are written "backwards" because it's the modifier which is used, and not the score. This way you can keep track of the score (when it gets modified) while the modifier is used.
  • Normally a Fighter would simply use Level instead of Base Attack Bonus, and not need this at all, but since this is an example this is added, so it's easier to switch to other classes.
  • If there's planned multiclassing, it might be easier to simply use Fortitude, Reflex and Will than High and Low Save.
  • Instead of "Longsword" and "Shortsword," you might consider using "Weapon," as it's easier to change the weapon in the macros - unless you do like this guy and go all in on longsword, which means he will probably use this weapon forever. Pro tip: Use "Weapon 1," "Weapon 2" and such, and keep on the Bio (or in the macro) which weapon is which.
  • It's practical to have the stuff that changes in the top. So if you've created them in another order, simply drag the ones you change most often to the top by hovering the abilities you want to move, and drag the three lines that pop up in the right end, to where you want them.

Setting up Macros in Abilities

There are two ways of saving macros in Roll20, both of which can be very useful in your session. Normal macros found under My Settings is mainly used by players, and only to give the abilities a shorter name in the macro quick bar. But mainly both players and GMs should stick to using Abilities on the Character Sheet. When using abilities together with attributes, you get a quick way of doing "everything" with your character.

With the Character Sheet above us, we can make the player really effective, and we don't need to wait for the slow calculation of adding it all up. We will use the "Character for the Long run" onwards to the example of Abilities, and also some new ones.

Example of Abilities


You can add short macros, like a basic attack, and if you'd like, you can even add some flavour text by using the /me-function into the macro, which will make a orange text box describing what you do. You should add your character name as the person you talk to in the drop down menu below your chat, to make this more useful.

/me swings his Long Sword at the enemy, trying to hit him hard!
/r 1d20+@{Base Attack Bonus} +@{Strength} +@{Weapon Focus (Long Sword)} +@{Masterwork} vs. AC To hit with Long Sword. Critical: 19-20x2 
/r @{Long Sword}+ @{Strength} +@{Weapon Specialization (Long Sword)}

You can also add your whole Full Attack in one "simple" macro.

/me does a mighty strike with his Long Sword, and his glowing Shortsword!
/r 1d20+@{Base Attack Bonus} +@{Strength} +@{Weapon Focus (Longsword)} +@{Masterwork} +@{Two Weapon Fighting} vs. AC To hit with longsword. Critical: 19-20x2 
/r @{Longsword}+ @{Strength} +@{Weapon Specialization (Longsword)}  Damage with longsword.
/r 1d20+@{Base Attack Bonus} +@{Strength} +{Magic Enhancement} vs. AC To hit with the shortsword. Critical: 19-20x2
/r @{Shortsword} +@{Strength}/2 +@{Lightning Damage} +{Magic Enhancement} Damage with shortsword.

This gives you the two hits, both damages if they are hits, and everything with no math involved. Note that if you didn't use Base Attack Bonus on your character sheet, use level instead of base attack bonus, like this: /r 1d20+@{Level}+@{Strength}.... Another strength of this way of doing it, is that every time you wonder how you got to that number, you can simply check everything in the macro, and it's easy to remove and add effects and modifiers for later time. Say to get the Long Sword enchanted, simply remove Masterwork and add the Magic Enchantment Bonus.

You can also use the Abilities for way more than just "simple" attacks.

Casting Spells could be more than just "I cast Obscuring mist", maybe like this:

/me mumbles on Arcana, claps his hands together, and a thick obscuring mist quickly spreads out from him in 20. ft radius.
A misty vapor arises around you. It is stationary. The vapor obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. A creature 5 feet away has concealment (attacks have a 20% miss chance). Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker cannot use sight to locate the target).
A moderate wind (11+ mph), such as from a gust of wind spell, disperses the fog in 4 rounds. A strong wind (21+ mph) disperses the fog in 1 round. A fireball, flame strike, or similar spell burns away the fog in the explosive or fiery spell's area. A wall of fire burns away the fog in the area into which it deals damage.

Casting Offensive Spells would do everything at once:

/me takes some fur and two glass figurines out of my pouch, rub them together while rambeling on Arcana, and suddenly a great lightning arc reaches out of the figurine and lashes out to two creatures of my desire, and hits everyone in between.
/r 1d20+@{Level} Spell Resistance applies.
/r @{Level}d6 (Maximum 15d6) electricity damage done, reflex save for half damage. 
Good to know: The spell fails if there is no line of effect between the targets. Lightning arc sets fire to combustibles and damages objects in its path. It can melt metals that have a low melting point, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, or bronze.

This one would make you change the formula for damage on either level 15 or 16 to simply 15d6 instead of @{Level}d6.

Grapple might be usefull to have all the rules added:

/me tries to grapple his opponent as best he can.
/r 1d20+ @{Base Attack Bonus} + @{Strength} vs CMD.
When grappled does not break the grapple in the first round, the grappler gain a +5 circumstance bonus.
Grappled Condition
A grappled creature is restrained by a creature, trap, or effect. Grappled creatures cannot move and take a –4 penalty to Dexterity. A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell. Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity.
A grappled creature cannot use Stealth to hide from the creature grappling it, even if a special ability, such as hide in plain sight, would normally allow it to do so. If a grappled creature becomes invisible, through a spell or other ability, it gains a +2 circumstance bonus on its CMD to avoid being grappled, but receives no other benefit.
Casting Spells while Grappled/Grappling: The only spells which can be cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell.*Pinned Condition
A pinned creature is tightly bound and can take few actions. A pinned creature cannot move and is denied its Dexterity bonus. A pinned character also takes an additional –4 penalty to his Armor Class. A pinned creature is limited in the actions that it can take. A pinned creature can always attempt to free itself, usually through a combat maneuver check or Escape Artist check. A pinned creature can take verbal and mental actions, but cannot cast any spells that require a somatic or material component. A pinned character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level) or lose the spell. Pinned is a more severe version of grappled, and their effects do not stack.
Casting Spells while Pinned: The only spells which can be cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell.

This way you get everything in one place. Maybe you want to make one Macro only for the Grapple rules, or maybe you'd like it better if the GM simply had a Handout with the basics and included a link?

Misc Combatmacros

Initiative is used rather often, and even if it's a short /r 1d20+3, it might be quicker to have it ready in your macro-bar:

/me throws himself into the battle, as soon as he figures there's gonna be a fight!
/r 1d20 + @{Dexterity} Initiative

There's also a lot of Skill checks, and some of them might be good to have in a quick click, and maybe even some quick reminders:

/me is making a jump.
/r 1d20+@{Dexterity} +@{Level} +3 -@{Breast Plate Check Penalty} 
You can jump your jump score in feet long, and one fourth of the jump score high.

A good idea is often to have a macro throwing saves, and remembering all the effects that we so often forget:

/r 1d20+@{High Save} +@{Constitution} Fortitude Save
Remember +2 vs poisons and sleep effects 
Practical macros

You could also do information-macros, to get all your character sheet on the "Attributes and abilities"-tab.

Maybe you'd even want a macro checking the AC, to see why your AC is what it is, or if you have forgotten to update it:

/me simply checks his AC
/r 1d1-1 + 10 + @{Dexterity} +@{Ring of Protection} +@{Breast Plate AC}

Having the languages in handy could be good too, which many would simply put in the Bio&Info-box:
/me knows common, elven and dwarven.

You could even do creative ones that you normally don't do in-game, like reminding you what to do when leveling up:

/r 1d10+@{Constitution}
Checklist: HP (Check),Level, Favored Class Bonus, Skill Ranks, BAB, Saving Throws, Feats, Class Features, Spells, Consequnses of these changes that doesn't go with the sheet, (extra language for upped in Int, and such).

Here's even some Messages you use often or often enough (as you can have as many as you could ever want):

/w gm Hi, I'll be gone for about 5 min, BRB.
/w gm Going to the Bathroom ASAP.
These two going to the GM only (Whisper to GM)
/ooc Time to take have something to eat, can we take a break, guys?

This one using the function to talk OutOfCharacter, using your username on the account instead of the selected character name you've selected in the dropdown menu.

Basically only the imagination stops you on how to use the macros efficiently. Please feel free to add new kinds of macros, don't be afraid.

Campaign Creation in Roll20

From now on, players won't find anything useful, there's no need for players to read on. GMs on the other hand. This is where it gets started.Creating a campaign is so incredibly diverse from GM to GM, and they range from creating everything on the run, while playing, to using months upon months to prepare a grand campaign setting, ment to last for several campaigns, sessions, groups and whatever you can prepare. On this Wiki, we will not go into plots and the history of the campaign, as much as building the actual maps and what you can do on Roll20. Maybe plots and history can come on a later point.

Creating a city

There's several ways to get this done. You can use map editors online, a dedicated app, find images online, or create your own within Roll20. There's lots of art both reachable by the Art Library, which will help you make the city nice and usable. Normally this kind of map would be either a map, or simply a concept picture, depending on how much work you'd like to do. This map should not be so detailed, that it can be used as a battlemap. What you'd like to do, is to make an overview map, and then make your own pages with the specific places you want.

As mentioned, there's a whole lot of ways to make these maps. Some may simply use the drawing tools and make basic maps (or even some complex ones). This way you get total control on how you want it, and the only limitations you have, are your drawing skills and patience.

A faster way, but more limiting way, is to use some of the online tools that's made for this kind of work. They will give you different forms of freedom, but some really great tools are out there.

An even faster way, but even more limiting, would be to use the Art Library, but still here, you should be able to make some really fantastic maps, but the Art Library shines at its best on encounter-maps, not citymaps and overland maps.

The definitly fastest way to get city maps, and no doubt the most restricting way, would be to simply search the net. There's a whole lot of very good maps all over the internet.

Adding detail to your city

You can add much detail to your city, to get some good preparations done. You can use the GM Layer actively, to get control on what is where. What's the name of the inns? Put them in the GM Layer on the map with the text-tool. When the players gets to know these names, simply turn to the GM Layer, and mark them, right click, and choose layer, and send it back to the map layer. This can be done with main NPCs, maybe the smith in the city, and so on. Marking where these are, and what is where, gives good consistency when playing. And it's equally easy to make things you figure out on the fly, to actually be consistent.Example: Player: "What's the name of the blacksmith?"... Pause... GM: "Emmm... Wilbur... Greatsword?". Now you simply add a text on the map where they are, with: "Blacksmith: Wilbur Greatsword". Now the players, and you, will remember where he lives and what his name was. If you were prepared for this in front of the question, you simply move the text "Blacksmith: Wilbur Greatsword" to the map layer, so that everyone can see it.

Making encounter maps in your city

For encounter maps in your city, you need individual pages. It's probably a good idea to make some general ones, in addition to the specific ones. You never know what the players will do, and the best way to prepare for this, is to make generic maps. A generic house, would be high priority. When you are done with what you consider a generic house, a good tips would be to add some extra squares at the side of the map, which will be covered in fog of war. Here you can add a bunch of townsfolk tokens, to be prepared. Whenever your players decide to go into a random house you haven't made a specific map of, you open your generic house page, move some tokens to fill up the desired places, and then you move the players over to the page, and be ready. Also here you should not be afraid to name the token, mark the house and name on your city map with ie. "Smiles Family", and copy the token, so that you can also keep consistency on which tokens used.

NPCs, monsters and handouts

  • I will keep doing this tomorrow, when I'm finished working.