10 Ways to keep your Commoner/Low Powered Character Alive in a Dangerous Fantasy World

The Adequate Commoner

The Adequate Commoner

by J.M. Perkins – author of The Adequate Commoner – the everyman’s guide to surviving and thriving.

1. When in Doubt: Run Away!

Normal adventurers don’t retreat often, assuming (usually) that any challenge they are likely to face is ‘balanced’ to their level. Commoners never have this luxury, and so you should run away whenever things appear like too much to handle. As a matter of fact, whenever possible they attempt to prep the environment so they can more easily retreat which allows them to more readily use the next tactic of…

2. Hit and Run

Also known as the most basic (and most effective) tactic to help technically ‘inferior’ forces overcome their betters. You don’t have to kill that fell monster tonight: assuming it can’t heal itself you can pepper it with a few crossbow bolts, run away, pepper it with a few crossbow bolts, rinse and repeat until the monster is dead. As a commoner, you’re going to be using tactics that are much closer to ones found in the real world.

3. Use Reach Weapons

A longspear, or other weapon with reach, gets you a free attack as the monster is charging up and can even be used to completely deny your opponents their hard won iterative attacks depending on your rules you’re using to play*. Don’t go to them, let them come to you and eat the tip of your longspear in the process… wait that, that came out wrong.

(see the Adequate Commoner for more information)

4. Don’t Ever Enter how your Enemies Expect

See that door? The door you’re supposed to walk through, the one that your enemy has trapped and planned an ambush around? Yeah, screw that. Use a magic scroll or even a magic item (or when worse comes to worse, explosives or hard work) to make a door where you want it (or better yet, walk up to the higher level of dungeon and come in through the roof).

5. Use the Environment to Your Advantage Instead of Letting them Use it to Theirs.

Caltrops and marbles sound like home alone style tactics, but they’re surprisingly effective at denying your opponents freedom of movement so you can deny your enemy their movement. You can also move furniture, make dirt walls to provide yourself with cover.

6. Stealth is your Friend

Sneak everywhere: if you can avoid it, don’t be seen. Go around fights, murder the archmage final boss guy in their sleep, and in general don’t let your enemies (or even your friends) know where you are. You’ll never be as good at sneaking as a rogue, but given your armor limitations you can become quite skilled in it. There is no greater advantage than getting to unload your attacks before your opponents – especially if you can down them before they even had a chance to act.

7. Make PETA Condemn You, and Convince Your Vegan Party Members that You’re Evil Incarnate

There is no reason that you shouldn’t be raising and commanding a veritable army of trained war dogs to callously send off to fight and die in your place. Remember! Animals are replaceable, you are not.

8. Creative Use of Your Downtime Will Keep You Alive

Ordinary adventurers may get to kick back when not adventuring with a frosty mug of ale and a busty wench or well endowed boy-toy: after all, they’ve spent the last fortnight smashing stinking horrors in the city sewers. Well, you don’t have luxury – your downtime will be spent crafting alchemical lifesavers and/or getting to the library to research as much as you possibly can to gain whatever slight advantage possible over whatever beast you’re likely to shortly encounter.

9. The Name of the Game: Stacking Advantages and Disadvantages

A commoner vs a warrior? Commoner doesn’t have a chance. But that same warrior, hit with a tanglefoot bag or some other alchemical debuff, trying to cross a floor full of caltrops while sling bullets rain down, taking two attacks of opportunity from a longspear before he can reach his target? That’s a fight the commoner can win.

10. Did We Mention Running Away?

Seriously, you’re playing the weakest class in the game, the one that isn’t supposed to be used for gameplay – you can approach a problem multiple times waiting for the situation to be most advantageous to you before committing to violence. Remember, without magical healing any wounds you take are going to last a while if you’re not killed outright. A paranoid commoner is a commoner that lives to fight another day.

Want to learn more about advanced tactics, improvised traps, and how to survive and thrive as a clever everyman? Check out The Adequate Commoner live on Kickstarter today!

(This article originally appeared on Geek Native)



    • Keemonto

      This is great;  I'm not playing a commoner, but my DM is cruel enough that my party and I really need to think like commoners.  Running away is definitely something my party members need to get the hang of.

      • shneekeythelost

        Don't forget WBLomancy. In D&D 3.5 (admittedly, I'm not familiar with Pathfinder, but a similar tactic should be effective), a Commoner can be quite dangerous with the right toys. In this case, it's not that the commoner is so dangerous as his toys are. Particularly if you can UMD wands and such. Wand of Grease is an exceptionally handy toy with a multitude of uses, and fairly inexpensive. There's also quite a bit of cheese that can be done, depending on how the rules have changed in Pathfinder (Candle of Invocation, for example, for gate shennanigans).

        You have to go to resources that most classes won't bother with. Packs of hunting dogs, carefully bred with various templates if possible. Heck, one of your better options is to Diplomancy more powerful people into taking care of threats for you. Why bother dealing with a problem when you can convince a group of hygenically-challenged omnicidal hobos to deal with it for you?

        • malroth

          Why do people think running away when you have a 30 or 20 foot movement speed works? All you do is give enemies attacks of opportunity and the chance to charge you every round.