View Full Version : Low magic pathfinder 1e Bard archetype

2018-08-05, 12:47 PM
I am considering running a Redwall themed game using Pathfinder 1e and all spell casting will be banned. I think that the Bard would be a great class choice for my players considering the setting and I am thinking of writing up a quick homebrew archetype offering medium armor proficiency and ranger combat style feats in place of spells. Thoughts?

Morphic tide
2018-08-08, 02:59 PM
You... Might want a system other than Pathfinder for a no-magic game. It's built around magic being present on literally every level, and every class with useful abilities for handling the absence of magic items is some form of spellcaster or runs on high-end Supernatural abilities. For clarification, you're talking about the series that started in 1986 written by Brian Jacques, right? The one about the civilization of animals? The entire Pathfinder system, from the ground up, is built on having magic, and of the core rulebook classes, two actually work fully in a Redwall-based no-magic setting. The Rogue and Fighter.

Barbarians have their Totem Rages, and many other Rage Powers are supernatural in some capacity and Monks are built on the idea of Ki. Of the partial spellcasters, the Paladin is explicitly built on divine power, with Lay on Hands, Mercies and explicitly-Alignment-based extra damage, in addition to a Bond, Rangers are stuck with a Bond as well, Bards have Bardic Music and Masterpieces... You'd have to rebuild the entire class roster to make a Redwall-style "low fantasy" game out of Pathfinder, because there just aren't enough nonmagical classes, and then you need to make all the mechanical necessities regarding monster defense handling in a mundane form.

You're honestly far better off using 5e D&D, as it relies much less on spellcasting for basic functions like hitting enemies properly and recovering from battles. The closest you get is an assumption of some kind of healing spell-dump to handle the full amount of expected encounters, but you get the Barbarian, Rogue and Fighter without changes, and there's a first-party Ranger variant that cuts the spellcasting for Superiority Dice (a subsystem which no base class uses, for some strange reason. They should have stuck it on the Fighter).

If I were making a low-magic Bard, I'd actually keep the spell slots. But then I'd also "devolve" the concept back to its origins as a Fighter/Rogue/Druid, with a form of precision damage based on some form of knowledge-related check (possibly Bardic Lore itself) and a feature somewhere between Fighting Styles and Weapon Training, then switching to Wisdom scaling with altered casting properties that confine it to lower-magic concepts. Possibly something of a partial-prepare, where you can prepare certain schools of spells as Extracts (basically semi-temporary potions, if you aren't familiar with the Alchemist) possibly from your whole available list (as a Druid does), or use the slot for Spontaneously-cast Known spells of the musical variety.

To be a bit more specific, the precision damage dice would be based on how high a check result is gotten (either in absolute terms or relative to a DC scaling at below-normal rates), with a hard maximum of 1d8 per three levels and bypassing some of the usual clauses (reducing effectiveness instead of losing application, basically), while the Weapon Training/Combat Style setup would mix together some types of feat (Combat and Iron Magic, obviously, maybe Performance/Display feats) and things drawn from or based on the Weapon Training list.

Essentially, lower the magic by adding clauses that make the class's flavor fairly low in concept (magical music plus alchemy by a combatant with a spin towards subtlety), while keeping it mechanically comparable to the original. The added hurdles involved in Extracts, removal of some spells from the list outright due to not fitting either clause, the host of ways to cut off bonuses and increased conflicts of application can pay for the enhanced personal combat ability.

2018-08-09, 12:53 AM
I chose pathfinder for a few reasons. It is the only system that I feel comfortable GMing, the race builder makes it easy to spec out the Redwall races and check relative balance, and more books to draw from.

For clarification, you're talking about the series that started in 1986 written by Brian Jacques, right?.


I am using Redwall as an inspirational theme for a low magic setting (no spell casting, magic items are extremely rare, no extra-planer beings/undead/magical monsters), rather than using it as a set of hard guidelines. I would allow most supernatural abilities, ki effects, etc to minimize the homebrew rework.

There are paizo archetypes for both ranger and paladin on the d20pfsrd that drop spells. Traps for the ranger and feats for the paladin. Although I am undecided about allowing the paladin.

I would never restrict players to just the CRB. The Cavalier/Samurai, Brawler, Slayer, and Swashbuckler would all work well in a low fantasy game.

For healing I was going to pump up the skill and add a medic feat to help. Also increase healing rate while resting.

Thank you for your feedback it has given me some things to think about.