Campaign Traits

Character Tips & Ideas

A massive threat is emerging in Varisia and mustering its forces. Only a group of cagey adventurers can put an end to this evil, and they’d better be prepared for what they face. The following tips can help when designing characters for Rise of the Runelords.

Ancient Lost Cultures: Since the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path reveals an ancient threat reemerging into the world, characters skilled in Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (arcana) are best suited to putting the pieces together. Access to powerful magic at higher levels could be the key to survival, not just for the PCs, but also the entire world!

Dangerous Denizens: Rise of the Runelords brings player characters face to face with hundreds of monstrous threats. A prepared character should be suited to challenge monstrous humanoids, giants, magical beasts, and undead, and even greater threats at higher levels, such as evil outsiders and dragons.

Explorers: As the campaign moves throughout the frontier of Varisia, the player characters encounter lost ruins. Characters with skill sets appropriate for adventuring in dungeons and crumbling ruins can give the party an edge. Knowledge (dungeoneering) and racial low-light vision or darkvison would be helpful in those dank and dark places. Since many of these locations have been warded and secured by their builders, a character who can bypass some of those protections just might help the party live to fight another day.

Giant Hunters: Rumors of giants mobilizing in the wilds of Varisia are spreading, and the people of this frontier land need saviors. Player characters ready to take on threats like this are well suited to this Adventure Path.

Into the Wilds: While some parts of this Adventure Path delve deep into ruins, much of the action is on the surface. Since Varisia is an untamed frontier, characters who are good at dealing with natural threats and excel at finding their way in forests and mountains would be assets to an adventuring party. Plenty of opportunity for overland travel abounds as well, so mounts could prove useful in getting characters to the doorstep of adventure, but might be difficult to deal with once the adventure moves below ground.


Characters made for this campaign should have reasons for being in the town of Sandpoint, and all the better if they have a vested interest in defending it. In addition to the following campaign traits, the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide has a selection of general campaign traits (Advanced Player’s Guide 326) that can also be used for additional trait selections.

Eager Performer: Hearing that Sandpoint had a theater rivaling those found in large cities like Magnimar and Korvosa, you decided to try your luck getting stage time there. After sending a letter to Cyrdak Drokkus requesting an audition and not hearing back, you’ve taken it upon yourself to travel to Sandpoint and meet him in person, trusting your force of will and charming influence will get you what you want. You gain a +1 trait bonus on checks for any one Perform skill. Additionally, choose any one spell of the enchantment school; its save DC increases by +1.

Family Ties: While not ethnically a Varisian, you have been raised among Varisians and they consider you one of their own. Furthermore, you managed to get in good with a group of Sczarni and consider them your new family. After being run out of the last place your Sczarni family camped, you tracked down a friend of the family in Sandpoint—a ruthless thug named Jubrayl Vhiski at the Fatman’s Feedbag. During your time with the Sczarni, you learned a few tricks of the trade. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (local) checks and Knowledge (local) is always a class skill for you. In addition, you begin play able to speak and read Varisian.

Friends and Enemies: One of your family members, perhaps a parent, cousin, aunt, or uncle, helped Daviren Hosk put down a group of goblins near Sandpoint. Since then, your family member passed away, but not before telling you about that day and the offer Daviren made her should she ever be in need. Once you make it to Sandpoint and meet up with Daviren Hosk at the Goblin Squash Stables, he gives you one of his best steeds and all the necessary accoutrements as gratitude for your family member’s help: a heavy combat trained horse, a military saddle, saddlebags, bit and bridle, a month’s worth of feed, and lifetime stabling at the Goblin Squash Stables.

Giant Slayer: Your family’s village was plundered by giants in the wilds of Varisia, leaving nothing but a smoldering ruin. After the destruction of your village, your family trained for combat against giants to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. Since hearing of giants mobilizing throughout the countryside, you ventured to Sandpoint to help the town prepare for a possible incursion. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Bluff, Perception, and Sense Motive checks and +1 trait bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against creatures of the giant subtype.

Goblin Watcher: You grew up in Sandpoint staring off the cliff across the Varisian Gulf. Spending so much time there at Junker’s Edge watching the goblins below as they scrounged through the discarded junk and seeing what they made out of the garbage, you developed an eye for spotting the most useful and valuable discarded items. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perception and Appraise checks, and a +5 trait bonus on Appraise checks to determine the most valuable item visible in a treasure hoard.

Hagfish Hopeful: Ever since passing through Sandpoint when you were a child and hearing about the contest at the popular tavern known as the Hagfish, you wanted to take that coin purse as your own and carve your name on the ceiling beam above the bar. Training yourself to choke down indigestible food and drink water a pig would refuse, you’ve built up quite a strong resistance to all things putrid and gross. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Fortitude saves against disease and poison.

Merchant Family: You are related to one of the four noble families from Magnimar who founded the Mercantile League of Sandpoint. You either grew up in Magnimar as a cousin in the Valdemar or Deverin family or were born and raised in Sandpoint. Education in running a business and years of looking after the family enterprise have given you a knack for trade. You increase the gp limit of any settlement by 20% and can resell items at an additional 10% over the amount of gp you normally would get from selling off treasure.

Monster Hunter: Perhaps you came to the Varisian Gulf in search of the Sandpoint Devil, or maybe you followed fisherman’s tales of Old Murdermaw— regardless, you’ve ventured through Varisia to hunt down famous monsters. While they have all eluded you so far, you made it to Sandpoint to research and restock before heading back out into the wilderness. Because of your training, you gain a +1 trait bonus on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls against aberrations and magical beasts.

Scholar of the Ancients: Growing up with your nose in books, you’ve had a great interest in past cultures and ancient history. Furthermore, having grown up in Varisia, you know the monuments dotting the landscape belong to an ancient civilization known as Thassilon. From your life of study and dogged research, you’ve pieced together the language and partial history of this once-great empire. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (history) checks, and begin play able to speak and read Thassilonian.

Student of Faith: While you have personally dedicated your life to a single deity, you study all religions and mortal faiths. Upon hearing that the town of Sandpoint recently completed a cathedral dedicated to the six deities most popular in the area, you had to see the place for yourself, and have arrived in time for the consecration of this holy edifice. Because of your strong faith and broad range of study, you cast all cure spells at +1 caster level, and whenever you channel energy, you gain a +1 trait bonus to the save DC of your channeled energy.

Sandpoint Faithful: As a faithful adherent of Abadar, Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Sarenrae, or Shelyn, you’ve come to the Swallowtail Festival to celebrate the consecration of Sandpoint Cathedral. You gain a silver holy symbol of your chosen deity, and so long as you worship that deity and openly wear his or her symbol, you regain +1 additional hit point every time you receive magical healing.

Thrill Seeker: You’ve grown up in or around Sandpoint and are the heir to your family’s modest farm, shop, or fishing boat, but you’ve always dreamed of more. Searching for a taste of excitement, you’ve come into town to participate in this year’s Swallowtail festival. The thrill of danger grants you an additional +5 feet of movement during the first round of any combat. Additionally, you begin play with three star candle fireworks (see Ultimate Equipment).

Regional Traits

Humble Beginnings: You didn’t have any intention of becoming an adventurer, but a single, unexpected confrontation changed everything. Choose one of the following: boot, bucket, frying pan, mug, rolling pin, spade, or stool. You are treated as having the Catch Off- Guard feat when wielding the chosen item. (These items should all be considered improvised melee weapons that deal 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage.)

Local Know-It-All: Choose a community that you’ve lived in for at least 5 years. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Knowledge (local) checks related to that community.

Regional Influence: Although you live some distance from the city-state your community owes fealty to, you’ve been influenced by its sophisticated urban ways. Determine the city-state of which your home is a holding. You gain a +1 trait bonus on checks with one Profession skill and one of the following benefits.
Korvosa: Gain Infernal as a bonus language. If you already have this language, gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks.
Magnimar: Gain one random Varisian idol.
Riddleport: Gain a +1 trait bonus on Swim checks.

Regional Recluse: Your home community prides itself on remaining independent from Varisia’s city-states. Choose one of Varisia’s unaffiliated settlements from this list below. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Survival checks and one of the following benefits.
Arsmeril or Crying Leaf: Gain a +1 trait bonus on Perception checks made at night.
Ilsurian: Gain proficiency with light shields.
Sanos Forest or Whistledown: Gain Gnome as a bonus language. If you already have this language, gain a +1 trait bonus on Stealth checks made in forested areas.
Turtleback Ferry: Gain a +1 bonus to damage on all attacks against creatures of the giant type.
Urglin: Gain Orc as a bonus language. If you already know this language, gain a +1 trait bonus on Intimidate checks.

Town Gossip: Choose a community that you’ve lived in for at least 5 years. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks while in that community.

Emissary: (Kaer Maga) Accustomed to the strange residents of Kaer Maga, you have few prejudices. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks when dealing with aberrations, monstrous humanoids, undead, and creatures with the giant subtype.

Coincunning: (Janderhoff) Whether from working with dwarven merchants or being one yourself, you’ve developed a distinctly dwarven business sense. You receive a +2 trait bonus on Perception checks to notice coins, gems, jewelry, and valuable trade goods. You gain a chance to notice such goods whenever you pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not you are actively looking.

Cypher Resistance: (Riddleport) You have grown up near the Cyphergate, passing under its arch countless times in your lifetime. You can recount the runes from memory, and repeated exposure has imbued you with a faint resistance to runic magic. You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against spells with the word “glyph” or “symbol” in their name.

Winner’s Luck: (Riddleport) Winning at the tables in Riddleport’s gambling houses can be as devastating as losing. Years of dodging the jealous blows of card table patrons have given you a sixth sense for when your luck is about to runout. Whenever you succeed at a Reflex saving throw, you may draw a weapon as an immediate action, or a hidden weapon as a move action.

Empyreal Cultist: (Magnimar) Your faith in the empyreal lords—a host of good demigods—and your fascination with the legendary Angel of the Arvensoar have you constantly on the hopeful lookout for celestial messengers. Choose an empyreal lord as your patron deity. You gain Celestial as a bonus language and a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks when dealing with good-aligned humanoids.

Underbridge Dweller: (Magnimar) You were raised in the Shadow district of Magnimar beneath the Irespan, a veiled place the light of the sun touches for only 3 hours per day. Your well-founded suspicions grant you a +2 trait bonus on Perception checks in dim light, and Perception is always a class skill for you.

Roof Racer: (Korvosa) You’ve spent more than your fair share of time among the strange sloping slums that cover the rooftops of much of Old Korvosa. When using the Acrobatics skill to make a long jump, you treat the DC of the skill check as if the distance being jumped were 5 feet shorter than it actually is.

Savage Breaker: (Korvosa) You openly despise the crude Shoanti and their backward ways. You gain a +2 trait bonus on combat maneuver checks made to sunder clubs, earth breakers, klars, hide armor, primitive armor and weapons (see Ultimate Combat), and any other equipment the GM deems “barbarian-made.”

Shadows Under Sandpoint Traits

Favored Son/Daughter
You were born and raised in the town of Sandpoint or its surrounding farms. You know many of the region’s secrets, and the locals already know who you are. You are well liked in town, and you’ll have lots of friends in the region, but the town’s tougher side sees you as a snitch or a pansy. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (local) checks, and Knowledge (local) is always a class skill for you. In addition, you can choose any one law-abiding citizen of Sandpoint from below as an ally; depending on the person you pick, you’ll get different benefits.
Ameiko Kaijitsu (local noble and owner of the Rusty Dragon Inn): Ameiko is one of Sandpoint’s most influential and beloved nobles. Her inn/tavern is the most popular in town, and as one of her friends, you’re guaranteed a place to eat and sleep for free. She’s got lots of great contacts with merchants as well, and she’ll sell any of your loot for you—as a result, you gain an additional 10% over the amount of gp you normally would get from selling off treasure.
Belor Hemlock (town sheriff ): Belor, Sandpoint’s no nonsense arm of the law, is like the uncle you never had. The benefits of being close friends with the town sheriff are extensive, and you can call in favors from him once per game session. A favor can either get you out of a legal jam, hook you up with a town guard for help, or give you a onetime +10 bonus on a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check made against any local person.

Black Sheep
You were born and raised in the town of Sandpoint. You know many of the region’s secrets and the locals already know who you are. You aren’t quite hated in town, but folk seem to think you’re a troublemaker and a bastard and not to be trusted. The town’s tougher folk respect you, but the law-abiding citizens don’t. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (local) checks, and Knowledge (local) is a class skill for you. In addition, you can choose any one notorious citizen of Sandpoint from below as an ally; depending on the person you pick, you’ll get different benefits.
Aliver “Pillbug” Podiker (apothecary): Everyone suspects sweaty, shifty-eyed Pillbug sells poisons from his cluttered, acrid smelling wreck of a shop. You’re one of the few in town who know this for a fact. You start the game with 400 gp worth of poison, and Pillbug will continue to sell you poison as long as you don’t spread the word.
Titus Scarnetti (bitter nobleman): Scarnetti Manor was hit hard recently, and the revelation of Scarnetti’s ties to Sczarni criminals damaged his reputation as well. He’s eager to rebuild his presence in town, and you’re one of the ones he’s selected as an agent. Choose one of the following skills: Bluff, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth. Your work for Scarnetti gives you a +1 trait bonus on that skill, and it is always a class skill for you.

Campaign Traits

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