If I was a character in Pathfinder and I had a theme, there’s about a 50/50 chance it’s either this one or tomorrow’s.
A problem I keep having when working on themes is how Pathfinder handles certain language. The timely advice ability is one example. What I want to say is “Normally the aid another action only pertains to enemies adjacent to you, but now you can use aid another to affect your allies’ AC and attack rolls even when the relevant enemy is a greater distance away.” I don’t know how Pathfinder says that. The language I ended up with can be interpreted by a sufficiently pedantic player to mean “you threaten in a 40-foot radius as long as you give up your standard action”, which is nowhere near the intent. I’ll happily accept suggestions.
Trivia bit: As of today the scholar is the wordiest theme, clocking in at 1,533 words my my count, mostly because its quests are so wordy. If that’s not the most appropriate thing in the world I’m not sure what is. Number two is yesterday’s, the criminal, and number three is the pirate. The shortest, at 1,095 words? The cook.
You grew up believing knowledge is the greatest power. Information can slay dragons or make them your allies, builds kingdoms or topple them, and make even the most vicious enemy cower in fright. That information can be gleaned from musty tomes, a wise teacher, or your own observations, but the source of your knowledge isn’t important. It matters less how you know something than that you know something, and most important of all is how you use it.
Theme Skills: Appraise, Knowledge (any), Linguistics, Spellcraft
Theme Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Iron Will, Magical Aptitude, Skill Focus
Novice Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 3rd tier.
- Travelers are being attacked by a creature that fits no description of an existing monster, in looks or in abilities. It may be a previously unknown creature, or it could be that the travelers are subject to a hoax or being attacked by a creature who can disguise its powers. In any case, there is an opportunity to discover the truth and make it publicly known.
- A monastery is seeking help moving its vast collection of scrolls and books from an old, besieged temple to a newer, safer temple. They are willing to leave the temple entirely, sacrificing it to the invaders, but this would means losing the site and any secrets it holds. Whether the scholar chooses to help with the move or defend the temple, the invaders prove resilient enemies.
Expert Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 6th tier.
- Somebody is taking credit for something the scholar researched, published, or created. Worse, the plagiarist is gaining a significant amount of money and fame from their “discovery”. This could be something they’ve stolen, or it could be that they independently found the same information as the scholar and knew a way to market it.
- People are losing their intelligence overnight. Their friends and families notice nothing amiss about them, but come morning they are transformed into blithering idiots. They may be stalked and attacked by a creature that consumes their aptitude, or they may be leaking information in their dreams that leads jealous wizards to them. The exact cause is unknown, but the problem cannot be stopped until somebody learns what it is.
Advanced Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 9th tier.
- A powerful patron contacts the scholar seeking the answer to a great mystery. Once the scholar starts looking into it, he or she learns that the mystery is difficult for a reason and the consequences of solving it are dire. The patron makes it clear that failure is not an option, and rapidly moves from encouragement to impatiences and threats.
- The scholar has been offered membership in an elite, reclusive society of sages. It is a great honor, but through investigation or happenstance the scholar comes to learn that the offer may not be as goos as it seems. Either the society is involved with malign forces, or they are sending hundreds of invitations to gather people to power a dangerous ritual, or something even darker is afoot. No matter the problem, if left unchecked the society will bring great suffering upon themselves and the world.
Legendary Quest: The scholar finds a set of instructions to a location of great intellectual merit, like an ancient library, but the instructions are part of a code. When the scholar decodes them, he or she finds out that the location is transient and about to disappear for a years-long dormancy. He or she must race against time to reach the location, competing with anybody else who has realized its importance, and gather as much information as possible before it disappears, imprisoning anybody inside.
Addling Mind (Ex): Trying to touch your mind is exhausting. Whenever you succeed on a saving throw against a mind-affecting ability, the creature who used that ability takes 1d6 nonlethal damage. In addition, whenever you take Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma damage, reduce the damage by 1. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the structured ability before selecting this ability.
Autopsy (Ex): You can learn a lot about a creature from its corpse. By performing an autopsy on a creature that died in the last 24 hours, you can discover information about that creature as though you rolled a 15 on the appropriate creature Knowledge check. This cannot give you information about an individual creature unless you could discover this information via an autopsy. For example, by performing an autopsy on a particular troll you can learn that trolls are vulnerable to fire and that the troll in question died from drowning, but not historical information about that troll’s family or tribe. Performing an autopsy takes one hour plus one hour for each size category the creature is larger than Medium. You can interrupt an autopsy as long as you finish it before the creature has been dead for 24 hours.
Defensive Studies (Ex): Your study of monsters focuses on their attacks. You gain a +1 theme bonus to AC and saving throws against against creatures you have identified with a Knowledge check. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the monster scholar theme ability before selecting this ability.
Labyrinthian Mind (Ex): Creatures who touch you mentally have a tendency to get lost in your mind. Whenever you succeed on a saving throw against a mind-affecting ability, the creature who used that ability must make a Will save or become confused for one round. This is a mind-affecting ability for which the DC is 10 + half your theme tier + your Intelligence modifier. In addition, your resistance to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma damage increases to 2. You must be at least 7th tier and possess the addling mind ability before selecting this ability.
Lecture (Sp): Your diatribes on scholarly topics are exceptionally boring. You can cast sleep at will, except that there are no somatic or material components, you can only affect targets who understand your language, the casting time is one minute, and the targets must hear you speak for then entire casting time. When you reach 6th tier you can cast deep slumber at will, subject to the same restrictions.
Magic Reader (Sp): Magical writing holds no mysteries for you. You can read magical inscriptions as though under a permanent read magic effect. If the effect is dispelled, you can reactivate it as a swift action.
Monster Scholar (Ex): You’ve studied the creatures of the world. You gain a +2 theme bonus to monster Knowledge checks.
Offensive Studies (Ex): Your study of monsters focuses on their weaknesses. You gain a bonus to damage rolls against creatures you have identified with a Knowledge check. The bonus is equal to half your theme tier. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the monster scholar theme ability before selecting this ability.
Spell Researcher (Ex): You have a knack for creating and researching spells. Subtract half your theme tier (minimum 1) from the DC when you make Knowledge and Spellcraft checks to research a spell.
Structured Mind (Ex): Your thoughts are too vast to be manipulated easily. You are immune to the fascinated and confused conditions.
Timely Advice (Ex): You can predict the flow of battle in time to help your allies. When you aid another, enemies within 5 ft. per theme tier are considered adjacent to you.
Researcher (Ex): You can make the most of stores of knowledge. At 4th tier, it only takes you 1d3 hours to research when you have access to a library or similar repository of information. You can use this to reroll Knowledge checks you have failed, even checks you have failed by researching at the same library. This means you can take 10 or 20 in Knowledge checks; taking 20 requires the maximum amount of research time, or 60 hours. The DM may rule that a particular library can only assist with certain kinds of Knowledge checks or can only allow you to reach a certain DC.
Piece It Together (Sp): You have all the information you need to solve problems, even if you don’t know it. At 7th tier, once per day you can cast commune as a spell-like ability with a caster level equal to your character level. Instead of speaking with a deity, you check information in your own mind, so the answers you receive always align with your interests alone. In addition, the time it takes you to research in a library is reduced to 1 hour, and taking 20 only requires 20 hours.
Smarter Than Reality (Ex): Your mastery of information is so great, even physics second-guesses itself when you disagree with it. At 10th tier, once per day you can change one creature’s attack roll, saving throw, or skill check into a natural 20 or natural 1. You must have line of effect to the creature. You can use this ability after the creature makes its roll but before you know the result. In addition, the time it takes you to research in a library is reduced to 10 minutes, and taking 20 only requires 3 hours 20 minutes.