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Ragnar Coalheart the Blacksmith

2 Barbarian/4 Expert


Ragnar Coalheart is an Ursidian (Nordinvulk) living in the beastfolk controlled city of Halag. Unlike the bulk of his people that were sent north prior to the Collapse, Ragnar stayed behind to hone his natural skills as a weapon and armorsmith. In spite of his immense size he has grown a knack for creating humanoid weapons and armor whose body types tend to be more exotic than the other standard races. As the local blacksmtih he also has access to a wide area of information regarding the local happenings and people of this region and may be convinced to share some for the right price.. He has been pretty busy lately with supplying and repairing the equipment of Rokinu's organization  but can be commissioned to make a weapon or suit of light armor. Ragnar is also aware of Ulla Tuscador's connection to Rokinu but has enough sense to stay out of Rokinu's business, not so much out of fear of physical harm but because he is one of his most frequent customers.

Large/Ursidian (Nordinvulk)
2d12+4d8 (51 hp)
40 ft/Swim 20 ft
11 (+0 Dex, +2 leather apron, -1 Size) touch 11, flat-footed 11
+4 (-1 Size)
+12/+22 (+1 Size)
Melee +10/Ranged +4
Blacksmith’s Hammer +10 (1d8+6 Bludgeoning)
2 Claws +10 (1d6+6 Edged) Bite +10 (1d4+6 Edged)
10 ft./5 ft.
Powerful Blow 1x/Rage. Rage 11 Rounds/Day (Str26, Con17, Will+6, AC-9 +12Hps)
Lowlight Vision, Resist Cold 5, Natural Swimmer, Heat Sensitivity, Uncanny Dodge
Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +4
Str 22, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 10
Appraise +9, Craft (armor)+9, Craft (blacksmithing) +12,Craft (leather) +12 Craft (weapons) +12,Knowledge (geography) +12, Knowledge (Local: Halag),Profession (tanner) +9, Survival +9, Swim +10
Armor Proficiency Light, Armor Proficiency Medium, Deft Hands, Endurance, Improved Unarmed Strike, Martial Proficiency, Master Craftsman (Craft Weapons), Shield Proficiency, Simple Proficiency
Neutral Good
As class

Stats were purchased using the Point Buy system appearing on pages 15-16 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

Ragnar Coalheart's starting stats before racial and level modifiers were added were 16,15,14,12,11,10 for a total of 25 pts.

Any furhter questions or concerns regarding his "legality" or "outrageousness" under Pathfinder's rules can feel free to look up NPC generation on the following pages or read the notes that have been quoted from the orginal source materal below.

Page 450 of Pathfinder Core Rulebook regarding NPC generation.
“Step 1: The first step in making an NPC is to determine its basic role in your campaign. This includes its race, class, and basic concept.”
Page 450-451 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook regarding NPC generation.
“Step 2: Once the character’s basic concept has been determined its ability scores must be assigned. Apply the NPC’s racial modifiers after the scores have been assigned. For every 4 levels the NPC has attained, increase one of its scores by 1. If the NPC possesses levels in a PC class, it is considered a heroic NPC and receives better ability scores. These Scores can be assigned in any order.”
Page 451 of the Pathder Core Rulebook regarding NPC generation.
“Preset Ability Scores: Instead of assigning the scores, you can use Table 14-6 to determine the NPCs ability scores, adjusting them as necessary to fit…Use the Melee NPC ability scores for characters whose primary role involves melee…The Ranged NPC ability scores for characters that fight with ranged attacks…Use the divine NPC ability scores for characters with divine spellcasting capabilities…The Arcane NPC scores should be used by characters with arcane spellcasting capabilities…Finally the Skill NPC ability scores should be used for characters that focus on skill use...Some NPCs might not fit into one of these categories and should have custom ability scores.


You seem frustrated, and I'm

You seem frustrated, and I'm sorry if I contributed to that.

We still disagree on how to build NPCs, but I'm personally a lot more satisfied with a build that is at least within parameters for creating PCs in Pathfinder. I'd say that Ragnar Coalheart is still at the very upper possible level of power regarding ability scores, since he was built with 25 points, which is "Epic Fantasy", and the highest listed total for any point-buy player-characters. That being said, that we still disagree, there's no reason we have to agree, as long as NPCs are somewhere within the range of characters Paizo seems to want for Pathfinder. When I build Nordinvulk NPCs, I'll still use the "heroic" NPC spreads that they recommend, the same ones I've used for all of the NPCs I've statted up.

As for the passages you underlined about custom ability scores - I never argued we should never use custom scores, only that those custom scores shouldn't be twice as powerful as PCs created using point-buy at the highest level in core core book. That was all. 25 points for point-buy is a lot different, and a lot more accessible and reasonable (to me) than 45 points.

As I said, every DM is going to run their game however they run their game. My main concern is DMs who want NPC scores that are in line with the Bestiary and other published material from Paizo. Anyone who wants to customize NPCs will obviously do so - if a DM wants to roll 2d6+6 or even higher for all NPC scores, it's an easy thing to make the adjustments they'd need to make in the stat blocks. For the DM (like me) who might run a game with "Standard fantasy" point-buy PCs, at 15 points, I just didn't want published NPCs who would (overwhelmingly) outshine player-characters of the same level.

But, anyway, enough said as far as I'm concerned.

And I still can't stop thinking of The Golden Compass :)

I really gotta stop writing

I really gotta stop writing novels. Who wants to read a novel? Honestly. :o(

No problem

As i've said before we do have design styles that are different, which I still think is a good thing because it ensures there is something on herer for everyone not just one and only one style. I prefer when making PCs and NPCs that they all come from the same stock and in the same way, have access to the same feats and abilities since it was only Fate (or the dice rolls) technically that separates one from the other. And in spite of popular myth I did actually roll up Ragnar's stats orginally just as I would anyone's stats because I feel, personally, that's the fairest way to do them. Now I have never said that "high stats = more intersting" NPCs what I have said is that I feel the charts are too limiting and they are, that's why Paizo gives you a direct suggestion to alter them to fit your concept. It had nothing to do with Min/Maxing or powergaming but was 100% about design and backstory which should always come first or you end up with run of the mill two dimensional NPCs. And I have also said before that I don't write that way, not for my own "homebrew campaigns" and certainly not for the module I wrote and designed for Black Skull Games which is still selling after 3 years.

Ragnar is a Nordinvulk blacksmith, so right off the bat he was going to need to have two high stats: strength due to his race (polar bears are stronger than humans) and intelligence due to his profession, (blackmsmth falls under Craft which is governed by Int). Yet under the NPC charts he filled two different roles (Melee and Skill NPC) and I felt there was no way I was going to get what i needed from them or by using the second option of using a basic set of stats like the "heroic" numbers (15,14,13,12,10,8).

Having made the Nordinvulk template (with help from you) I knew Ragnar was going to take a hit to his Dex -2 and a major hit to his Chr -4, both stats that a blacksmith and merchant should have at least at average (10). And I also knew that on top of his -2 to Dex he was going to get hit again to AC for being large (-1 for Size) So in order to make him average he would have lost a 14 and a 13 leaving him with a 15, 12, 10, and 8 left to use. So knowing that I wanted him to be the main blacksmith for Halag he needed a fairly high Int (15) since Blacksmith is a Craft Skill and he gave up his adventuring days to focus on his craft, leaving me with a 12, 10 and 8. I knew he was going to get a huge boost to his strength (+6) and a minor one to his Con (+2) and that left his final stats being Str 18, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 8, Chr 10. Now for a human those stats are AWESOME but they're not very impressive for a Nordinvulk blacksmith, which is what he started out as, and definitely no stronger than a 6th level human PC could be. So I rolled his stats up instead and took my chances and ended up with something stronger than the average bear which was closer to my concept for him.

And you're right, I'm just getting frustrated because this doesn't seem like the free exchange of ideas that it was explained to me to be but rather "it's this way or nothing!" And that's fine, I am only a guest here, I just wish that had been explained to me in the beginning e.g "this is the only way we want things made, use these stats for creating NPCs, etc" before I went to the trouble of posting anything. And technically everything I've posted on here has been governed by the rules set up under the SRD of 3.5E and in the Core Rule-books for Pathfinder. And just because stylistically I may make things more potent or stronger or whatever evil thing I'm apparently doing on here, than other people's designs doesn't mean their illegal or game unbalancing since there are a whole lot of world books for D&D (Dragonlance, Ravenloft, DarkSun, Ptolus, Arcana Unearthed, Planescape, Forgotten Realms) with similar races and characters that were more potent than the core races found in the basic rules. And before you say "well we are making races and NPCs that are comparable to Pathfinder and using the creation rules set forth by Paizo blah, blah, blah" remember Gondal is not Golarion. And Golarion is not Oerth the setting for Greyhawk and 3.5E even though Pathfinder uses the same 3.5E rules only "modified" to suit their world. And in spite of using 3.5E every race in Pathfinder is stronger than its basic rules counterpart, especially humans. So please no more discussions about gamebalance when Pathfinder broke the rules themselves to make their core races. The only rules for game balance between the races we should be concerned about are the ones based upon the world they are created for. That every race in Gondal is in "balance" with the other races of Gondal because Gondal is not Golarion.

So use the rules Pathfinder came up with (I never said not to) but do not lose the concept of Gondal or be afarid of LA+1 races as PC races because Golarion doesn't normally use them although they do appear as a side bar in the Core Rulebook. If some of the races on Gondal are alittle stronger then they only have to be in balance with Gondalians since life on Gondal is different than Golarion.That has always been my main point. If the product you make is interesting enough it will sell (mine did) and GMs or DMs are going to allow the races they like the most anyway, I just believe they should all be in the same book as something more than just a footnote. I know it is anoying as hell for me to have to look through book after book for interesting and different races to play when it would be much easier if they were all in the same place. But I know I am wasting breath here with that opinion so I will move on.

I just feel that because I do things alittle differently I am getting targeted by those with more conservative philosphies and tastes and that's not right since my understanding of this website was that we all work with each other to make it the best that it can be before compiling it to a sellable product. But that's not the vibe I'm getting here whenever I post something and immediately I'm getting double teamed about how outrageous it is or that "you know that's just not how we do things around here." Look, I am a 34 year old man who has publishing credits already for illustration, writing, and game design, I have exhibiting credits for my artwork at the Art Alliance in Red Bank, NJ and the Articulate Gallery in Washington DC, and a published module under my belt (The Black Fortress: Death Master) that no one would have bought if my ideas are so horrible and unbalanced. And I'm not saying these things to toot my own horn or becasue I think it makes me an expert, it doesn't, I'm just saying it so we all understand each other alittle better. I'm not some "stat pusher" only interested in making the strongest, most powerful mofos in the universe, who spits in the face of all real D&D enthusiasts by laughing at the rules or breaking them to suit my nefarious purposes to unbalance every game I'm in contact with MWHUWHAHAHAHAHHA!!!! I just prefer variety.

I have done my best, at least I think I've done my best to listen to and utilize the ideas and suggestions of the herd as long as my own ideas and suggestions were not disregarded simply because I disagreed. And I feel I have remained civil even when engaging in our discussions over my content I would just appreciate it if criticisms against my ideas came more like critiques where we worked on making them better rather than "not again, what the hell's this guy's problem!". At the very least ask me what the hell I was trying to make first before shooting it down :o).

And i liked the Golden Compass too even though the movie was kinda blah. :o) Ian Mckellan was a good Iorek!:o)

mikeb's picture

Take to a forum post?

We're getting off topic from this page, so it might be worthwhile taking the discussion to a forum.

bySwarm is definitely a free exchange of ideas and concepts - anyone can contribute material. The best material - of which internal consistency is a big part - will go into our published products. I think you have really good ideas and made valuable input in terms of concepts. I also think your mechanical side of some of your ideas is inconsistent with the majority of content. It's not a good or bad judgment per se, but it is very much a consistency judgment.

I actually think some of what

I actually think some of what you said here was unfair. I don't think anyone "double-teamed" you (I assume you mean me and Mike), and I think you are feeling disrespected, but I've never implied that what you're writing isn't valuable, or that you aren't a grownup, or any of those things. I feel I've gone out of my way to demonstrate that I value your contributions by reading your comments and trying my best to respond to them point by point as well as I can. You could have said "this is how I like this NPC" and left the conversation at that - which is fine. I'm glad you didn't, because I think the end result was better.

Frankly, I could just as easily feel disrespected when my ideas were referred to as bland, or boring, or inferior in your comments - that I was somehow against variety in NPCs, but just producing carbon-copies that were not worthwhile. (You are not the only person here with publishing credits.) I haven't, though, because again, I've felt that the end result was worth assuming the best intentions of those I'm working with. I'll continue to do so, because I continue to think that this will have the best result. I do this, trying to keep in mind not just your contributions and mine and Mike's, but those of other people involved, who have been working on this for almost a year now. So, as I said, I'll be assuming the best intentions, even when in discussion you (or anyone else) might say or imply things that I could find insulting. I'm assuming that isn't what you mean.

I just ask that you assume the same.

I'm curious where the ability

I'm curious where the ability scores came from. For NPCs, I've been going here:


Looks like Ragnar's starting scores were something like Str 17, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 11, Cha 14.

That being said, I like the concept of a Nordinvulk NPC in Halag where someone might meet him. I actually think of the Armored Bear what's-his-name from the Golden Compass


Ragnar's starting stats were

Str 17, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 15, Wis 11, Chr 14

then added the Nordinvulk template (+6 Str, +2 Con, -2 Dex, -4 Chr)
Str 23, Dex 11, Con 20, Int 15, Wis 11, Chr 10

Added +1 ability point at 4th level

Str 23, Dex 11, Con 20, Int 16, Wis 11, Chr 10

I often use an online dice roller from this page
and used the Pathfinder rules for creating "heroic" pcs with the 2d6 +6 and got some good rolls. I generally don't like using the "generic" stat blocks for my NPCs because (1) i never make generic NPCs and (2) I always felt that anyone you meet in a game world should have access tot he same stuff as a PC. Even commoners in my games were exeptional in some way or the other, they just didn't have the interest or the drive to be adventurers. And in the pursuit of fairness they used the same dice rolls.

The bear-dude from the Golden Compass is called Iorek Byrnison I think and I liked the idea of a big polar bear guy working with metal and making equipment for non human folks. I just couldn't see any of the other beastfolk being blacksmiths like a turtle working with a hammer which just seemed silly to me. LOL Even though I like the turtle-men.

I figured Ragnar could be a good contact for PCs if they wanted one, that wasn't afraid of Rokinu's Organization, even though he will not go out of his way to mess with them either. I thought of it like a typical shopkeeper in the town who knows there is alot of well connected and powerful villains around but being neutral he keeps to himself and in return they don't mess with him. Rokinu also knows that if Ragnar really wants to do something, it would take too much of his resources to get rid of him since a hammer to the forehead from him could kill any low level thug sent to harass him. So he is tolerated because he is usefull and he minds his business.

mikeb's picture


I'm with robosnake - these stats are outrageous. Using point-buy, it's 46 points. The highest point-buy they list in the book is 25. The stats don't make a character interesting. The personality, the connection to the setting, and the relationship to the PCs make a character interesting. You don't have to start with an NPC template, but I think staying in the same ballpark is a good idea.

Heh, again, different play

Heh, again, different play styles. I always do point-buy, and my only concern is when there are NPCs that will overshadow PCs who used point-buy, or didn't get lucky on their rolls. I like to run a game where the PCs are extraordinary. I think that for a published module, the stat blocks are honestly the way to go. DMs who want their NPCs to have more random ability scores can always modify or house-rule in that direction, but I like for a published setting or module to be more "plug and play", so that a DM won't use an NPC and then find, when the NPC gets into a fight with the PCs, they have more trouble than the Challenge Rating would indicate because the NPC has high scores. I'm thinking of the Monster Manual here - if you have a monster in there with unusually high starting scores, it would alter the balance of the game as it's designed.

As always, that's my take on it anyway, for what it's worth. For all of my NPCs I'm designing for the adventure module, I'm using one of the "heroic" stat blocks so that the NPCs are all balanced with regard to each other.

The debate continues! LOL

I never use the charts or point buy because in the worlds I create it doesn't allow me enough freedom to make NPCs that make sense IMHO for the storyline, the world they live in, or to make them individuals which they should be. According to the charts if I make fifteen wizards none of them are going to have higher than a 15 Int at first level. In fact according to those charts all of them are going to have the exact same starting Str, Con, Dex, Wis, and Chr too. What the hell? Are they all related or something? Were they all the result of a massive Clone spell that went terribly, terribly wrong? No.

The charts are meant for johnny genericus NPCs if the DM "wants" them in his campaign or doesn't have the energy or time to make real NPCs. It's the difference between hand drawing/painting the images for a webpage and simply using clipart. Is one better than the other, eh it's a matter of choice and preference. The tools are there in the rulebook in the event that the person creating his world can't or has no interest in doing the other. It's not religious Canon but guidelines and it says that in the Core Rulebook.

I always hand create everything because I'm never satisfied with the low stats in the charts. I can't describe an NPC (a barkeep say for instance) as charming and then have an 8 on his stat block when according to the pregen stat blocks for NPCs that's the max he can have unless i make him some kind of cleric or adept. Neither of these classes fit into the concept I have of a bartender. The former preist who serves mankind as he once served God in order to refresh their souls. That's Rediculous. Possible, of course, but not my kind of bartender and probably not the kind of bartender you would make either. But that's my point. Creative people do not exist on charts alone, they would starve to death.

In the fantasy world, just as in the real world you're going to find people who are better than you are, that's just the way it is and to limit the power potential, or flexibility, of your NPC simply because your PCs didn't roll high enough is to force them into the genericus maximus = boring category and to baby your PCs. Because remember not every challenge should be handled with the hack n slash method and if the PCs aren't strong enough yet to beat the bad guy in melee then part of the game is figuring it out. The game is about choices, some parties may be strong enough to whoop em in a fist fight, some may have to take a more cerebral path, that's the randomness of PC selection and dice rolls. The PCs are always going to be different every time that module is played, the NPCs won't and that's why the PCs always have an advantage. So why limit the choices of your NPCs, who populate the majority of the world and would have access to more professions, spells, treasure, races, etc than a PC party would if you think about it, when creating them?

If you were to take a stroll into Anytown, USA you are going to find both classes of people those NPCs that might be rather mediocre (gas station attendants, the homeless, waitresses, mailmen, etc), some who were above average (cooks, plumbers, garbage men, etc) but you are also going to find people who were exeptional at something (a skill or ability) and just gave it up to focus on either a career, a famliy, or whatever and that's the way, I feel the NPCs should be.You are also going to find some of the people you thought were mediocre who actually were quite exceptional (e.g. homeless man who was a former heavy weight champion of the world, a garbage man who was world class physician but fell on hardtimes, etc) but if you only use NPC charts those people do not exist because according to the charts a commoner is a commoner is a commoner. And they shouldn't be unless it's an episode of the Twilight Zone, especially in a product for sale.

We aren't making the DGA worldbook just yet, we are trying to get people interested in playing and living in Gondal for however long it takes them to play through the module and to come back, and the best way to do that is make sure eveything in there is interesting, showcases the DGA, and is handmade from soup to nuts. Nothing generic! If they want something generic let them play WOW/4E!

As far as the monster manual goes everyrhing in there, even a kobold can kill PCs if the either the dice are working the monster's favor or he has been modified to be a unique version of that race. Flavoring makes your designs memorable and that is what you want, so making a blacksmith stronger than the average bear (pun intended) is not a problem of game balance, in my opinion, since they really shouldn't be attacking him anyway just as a party of 4, 1st level PCs shouldn't be fighting Ulla either. I see Ragnar as a resident of Gondal, a powerful ally if the PCs decide to fight against Rokinu or a valuable contact they can utilize later in another product. I like NPCs who have a double function and since you guys stated earlier in previous posts that this is a sandbox module and that it should allow PCs to go any way they want to, woudn't it make sense to have some NPCs who could easily have a double function, if the story goes that way instead of just being the cannon fodder you find in most modules.

So if you want some NPCs to be generic go right ahead but I think it's a bad idea to make them all that way.

Remember everyone has a story to tell even that crazy weasel-man who humps everything and spends most of his time by the town well talking to an invisible parrot. :o)

Argh I've got blisters on my fingers!!!

I think I understand your

I think I understand your argument, I just don't think it applies to creating a setting for distribution and use that's linked to an established system. The thing is, I think we need to use whatever Pathfinder has written down as the way to create NPCs because this isn't a homebrew, this is a Pathfinder setting. For that reason, I go to the PFSRD, read what they have to say there, and use that when I'm creating something for DGA. I also don't agree that the only options are 1) "generic" or 2) more than twice as powerful as the most powerful point-buy character. The 2d6+6 system you used is for heroic player-characters. It's pretty clear that, for Pathfinder, PCs are *supposed* to be extraordinary compared to NPCs. You can also use the classic 3d6 method for a given game, giving you PCs that are weaker, on average.

You're incorrect about how NPC abilities work as far as Pathfinder is officially designed. There are multiple stat-blocs available, and you can select the one that gets you close to what you want. None of them will be 46 point ability sets by the point buy system, though.

Given your system, though, what's to stop me from just giving all of my pet NPCs 18s in everything? Essentially nothing, since we're going with whatever my whim or my dice say.

A Kobold with Ragnar Coldheart's ability scores is going to be completely unbalanced in a game like D&D where things have to be balanced in some way or else designing encounters becomes far more work.

As I said before, there's nothing stopping DMs who want incredibly powerful NPCs to make them and add them to the game. For official content, though, I think we have to be in line with other Pathfinder products. A DM reading Ragnar may not notice the ability scores. As written, I think he'd be a CR 5 encounter based on class levels. But he'll be unbalanced for a CR 5 encounter, because his ability scores are so high - more HP, hitting more often for more damage, etc.

I also don't really think that ability scores are what is interesting about an NPC. For me, particular NPCs having ability scores that are unbalanced can only be game-breaking, not game-enhancing. For tougher NPCs, I think giving them more levels is always the way to go. That way, their CR is still balanced with the CRs of other creatures as far as the system is concerned.