[For those not completely caught up on Critical Role Campaign 2, there are some very minor spoilers in this post].
Books used in this post:
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (DnD 5e)
- Player’s Handbook
- Volo’s Guide to Monsters
- Xanather’s Guide to Everything
Pathfinder 2nd Edition (PF2e)
- Core Rulebook
- Lost Omens Character Guide
- Lost Omens Gods and Magic
In the Beginning
Way back, Matthew Mercer got together a group of friends and acquaintances for a Pathfinder one-shot. It went well. They had fun. Along the way, as they transitioned to streaming, Matt moved from the maths heavy combat of Pathfinder 1e to the simpler DnD 5e.
With Pathfinder 2e now out a while, plus a few supplements, I thought it would be interesting to see how the second campaign’s characters would look if they had switched straight from Pathfinder 1e to 2e.
There are perhaps simpler builds to begin with, however I will start with the heart of the party, Caduceus Clay.
Taliesin named him for the caduceus, or ‘herald’ staff, which, when wrapped by two snakes, is a symbol of medicine. This sums up Caduceus’ primary role, especially with Laura occasionally forgetting that Jester has healing spells ;).
To start, we need to think about what is iconic about not only the character but more broadly, firbolgs, grave clerics and how Taliesin uses the abilities.
Fir Bolg, ‘men of bags’, so called due to their enslavement by the Greeks to carry bags of soil or clay and so perhaps comes Caduceus’ last name. Once they gained their freedom from the Greeks, they sailed to Ireland, where the Fir Bolg became one of the great Celtic tribes.
Earlier in DnD, the Fir Bolg were represented very much as Celtic giant-kin, modeled on the Vikings. That has been replaced, so they now occupy a niche where the firbolgs are to elves as the goliaths are to humans.
In the 3rd edition of DnD, there was an odd thing with the art, where several artists colored the characters’ noses as if they had colds or were drunk. Shawn Wood, the artist who redefined the firbolg’s look for DnD 5e, gave them this same feature. He does not think the darker colored nose is a defining point, however, it was one quality that Matt/Taliesin decided to carry over into their tweak of the design.
The DnD 5e firbolg iconic abilities include their magic; detect magic, disguise self and invisibility, each once per short/long rest and that they can speak with animals and plants (though plants have rarely helped Caduceus with any intel).
Like the firbolg, the grave domain came later to 5e in a supplement. A powerful set of abilities to keep the party up during a fight, the grave cleric is probably the DM’s primary target in the opening rounds.
It is a spell caster focused cleric domain, meaning that it picks up Potent Spellcasting at 8th level, instead of a Divine Strike weapon damage bonus.
An ability that Taliesin is particularly good at remembering is Sentinel at Death’s Door, which can be used, on a reaction, to negate a critical hit on you or an ally within 30 feet. This can be used a number of times per long rest equal to the character’s wisdom bonus.
On the other side from these defensive abilities, is the powerful Path to the Grave. The next person to hit a creature marked by the grave cleric will get to double up their damage, particularly effective if combined with an auto-crit from an assassin, like Campaign 1’s, Vax.
Pathfinder 2e Build
There is no PF2e firbolg ancestry (as race is known in Pathfinder 2e). The lizardfolk (which differs in build from its DnD 5e cousin) is similar, with starting ability score increases to strength and wisdom.
The closest, however, to the nature of firbolgs in PF2e, is the gnome. Where the DnD gnome is a tinkerer, in PF2e they are more like the characters in the musical animation Trolls, connected to nature and the fey world. Caduceus’ pink hair would not be out of place. The fey world itself is tied in mythology to the history of Ireland, where the original Fir Bolg are rooted.
Despite their differences in height (approximately 4 feet different), the gnome serves as a good basis for the firbolg, only needing to adjust the physical build.
It would be tempting to stray away from the cleric class and use something like a divine sorcerer, or druid, however, Caduceus is very much a cleric, powered by his prayers to the Wildmother. As noted, the DnD grave cleric has a spell caster focus, so we will choose the PF2e Cloistered Cleric subclass, which focuses on spells instead of weapons and armor.
Caduceus would have started at 1st level with Str 10, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 18, Cha 16, picking up a boost to Wisdom at 5th level bringing it to 20. I used the PF2e point buy system to generate the initial ability scores and found they were very similar to what Taliesin may have rolled, with Str 8, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 18 and Cha 16.
PF2e gives ancestry ability adjustments at 1st level then ability boosts every five levels (5, 10, 15, 20), instead of every four in DnD. In PF2e, however, you get four lots of 2 points each time and you don’t have to sacrifice getting a feat.
Taking the boosts at 5th level we can get Str 10, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 19 and Cha 18 (any score of 18 and above is only increased by 1 instead of 2). Applying boosts again at 10th level, we can improve Caduceus’ abilities to Str 10, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 20, Cha 19.
Ancestry Feats and Abilities
In PF2e, the heritage is akin to DnD’s sub race. For our gnome based firbolg we will take the Wellspring Gnome heritage. This allows us to pick an arcane, divine, or occult cantrip. Although not part of the DnD build, I think a great cantrip to take would be Joint Pasts, for three reasons. It fits well with the character, the party as a family and it balances off against the reduction in power to the guidance cantrip when transitioning from DnD 5e to PF2e.
Regular viewers of the stream may remember Jester and Caduceus adding guidance to their cantrip lists, leading to shouts of ‘guidance’ like a game of snap, when they remembered at the last moment before a party member’s skill check. The DnD 5e guidance is pretty broken in that regard, with it having to be verbally factored in to almost all skill checks. In PF2e, it can still be cast at will, though a character can only benefit from guidance once per hour so it is reserved for when it matters.
Joint Pasts allows characters to pool their knowledge, even if they do not have the required lore skill, it all helps. It would not apply so broadly to all checks, as guidance does, hence would not be so spammy in constantly interrupting the play.
At 1st level, Caduceus also picks up the feat First World Magic (the First World being the Fey world). This allows him to take a cantrip from the Primal spell list. We will take the excellent Electric Arc, which is a ranged version of DnD 5e’s Green Flame Blade cantrip, hitting one opponent then leaping to another.
First World Magic has a greater importance though, as it allows us to pick the next feat in the chain, First World Adept. We will take this at 9th level and it will give our version of Caduceus access to Faerie Fire and, more importantly, Invisibility, once per day. Although he has had to wait until a later level, it lasts ten minutes, instead of one round.
As an aside, there was another option we could have taken. Unexpected Shift gives a gnome the ability to disappear from combat. When the character is about to take damage, the player rolls a d20. If it is 16 or higher (with no modifiers, which is called a flat check) the character phases out of reality for a split second, giving them damage resistance equal to their level.
As a down side, the character is dazzled for one round, meaning you would need to roll a 5 or higher on a d20 to even try and hit an enemy. This improves at 9th level with the feat, Fortuitous Shift that lowers the 16 to an 11 and removes the dazzled effect.
I am still undecided as Unexpected Shift would give Caduceus a similar combat ability as in DnD 5e, however Taliesin also uses the invisibility out of combat sometimes to quickly hide. There is the added bonus of picking up the very useful Electric Arc through First World Magic. It is a close tie though.
In Caduceus starting the campaign at a later level it gives us a bit of flex in the build, however I would like to stay true to what I think he would have been at lower levels, when he was back tending the graveyard.
At 3rd level we pick up a General Feat. We will choose Ancestral Paragon. This gives us a 1st level ancestry feat, for which we will pick up Burrow Elocutionist. This allows Caduceus to speak with animals that have a burrow speed (badgers, prairie dogs and so on) to give the beginnings of DnD’s Speech of Beast and Leaf.
This expands at 5th level when we pick up the improved version, Animal Elocutionist, so Caduceus can now speak with all animals. If he wants to continue to talk with plants, why not. Lots of people do.
Caduceus has an odd quirk in his build in Critical Role as, for a worshipper of the Wildmother and having spent a lot of time in the woods, he is not actually proficient in the Nature skill. I could keep that quirk here, however I am going to put this down to a limitation on skill slots rather than a strict intention. I will therefore start him with the Raised by Belief background (from Lost Omens Gods and Magic). This gives him Wildmother Lore, which matches with his role as a mentor to Fjord. The background will also give him the Nature skill. The remaining skills will be Medicine and Diplomacy and… Tea Lore. One of his skills can be increased every two levels.
PF2e allows characters to improve their skills, not just by increasing the proficiency modifier, but by unlocking additional abilities. One of the great additions to PF2e is the use of the Medicine skill. Inbetween combats, the party can now take ten minutes and bandage their wounds, receiving hit points back in return. Heal spells are only for the heat of the moment.
Medicine skill feats can improve how many hit points, how quickly and how many people can be treated in one go. With Caduceus’ role as the party medic, he will therefore pick up Assurance Medicine at 2nd level, Continual Recovery at 4th, Ward Medic at 6th, Battle Medicine at 8th and Robust Recovery at 10th.
I mentioned General Feats above, with Ancestral Paragon. We will add Incredible Initiative at 7th level, great for ensuring the party is buffed up before entering combat and Expeditious Search at 11th level. These both build on his ability to quickly spot things that are of the ordinary.
Class Feats and Abilities
As a cleric, he starts off with access to Divine Font, casting the Heal spell (like DnD 5e’s Cure Wounds) a number of times per day equal to 1+ his Charisma modifier.
The grave cleric’s ability to get an unconscious friend back on their feet with a max hit point Cure Wounds spell is no big deal in PF2e. Every cleric with access to the Heal font can do this.
Because of the way PF2e uses three equal actions in a round (no move action, action and bonus action), some spells have extra flex. Heal can be cast using one, two, or three actions, to heal the person next to you, the person 30 feet away, or everyone within 30 feet.
The extra bonus of the two action Heal is it does max hit point healing. Instead of rolling 2d8, for example, you just heal 16 hit points. This can be further improved with class feats as your character levels up.
On a side note, one of my favorite DnD books is 3/3.5’s Faiths and Pantheons by Eric L Boyd and Erik Mona. Erik M. is now the publisher at Pathfinder maker, Paizo. The book added the Repose domain, a version of the necromantic flavored Death domain, but for good aligned clerics instead, which became the Grave domain in 5e.
Where the warrior War Priest gets access to arms and armor, the Cloistered Cleric gets domain Focus Spells, which can be recharged after ten minutes rest. Caduceus will start off with the Decay domain and the focus spell, Withering Grasp. This spell is very similar to his home brew Decompose cantrip, except it does hit point damage.
At 2nd level we will pick up the Death domain and the focus spell, Death’s Call. If anyone dies near Caduceus, he will get some temporary hit points off them. The Death domain will be important later when we pick up the advanced focus spell.
At 4th level we will choose Turn Undead. It is not a default ability for clerics in PF2e, because of the flexibility available.
At 6th, the Selective Energy class feat. This basically lets you heal just your friends and leave out any enemies who might be in the area of effect when you set off a three action Heal.
At 8th level we return to the Death domain for Eradicate Undeath, a 30 foot cone of positive energy. Again, as a focus spell, this can be recharged in ten minutes of rest and be ready to go.
Finally we pick up Heroic Recovery at 10th level, to give speed, attack and damage boosts to one of the party if Caduceus targets them with a Heal.
I have covered some of the key spells above. Most of the DnD 5e spells have equivalents in PF2e, often fixing problems that exist in DnD 5e.
I will mention a few more spells, beginning with Commune. In DnD 5e, it is a 5th level spell that takes 1 minute to cast and costs a little incense and a vial of holy water. Although it could be spammed, the party don’t use it daily, however, with two clerics, when they get stuck they can both dial up their deities straight away for answers.
In PF2e, it is cast as a ritual of similar level. However, it costs 150gp, which, as PF2e increased the value of 1gp by 10, each casting costs 1500gp in DnD 5e terms. It also takes a full day to cast and requires two people (a primary and secondary caster). Answers are generally restricted to the planar being’s area of knowledge.
If you fail the roll badly enough your Int, Wis and Cha checks will be lowered by 4 for a week, with no way to remove the penalty before that time. So, in PF2e, it is a much bigger deal and not something you are likely to cast ‘on the road’ to save the party time in their investigations.
Revivify is a get out of jail almost free card (well 300gp) for the party, as when Nott did not check for traps on the trunk in the Happy Fun Ball. PF2e’s hero point system and the improved Heal spell help avoid some near misses. For those times when the cleric cannot get there before the reaper, they will need to use Raise Dead.
Raise Dead in DnD 5e costs a flat fee of 500gp. Although Matt allows Revivify to work as written in the core rules, he may use older DnD and Pathfinder rules for Raise Dead where it is a little less of a dead cert that the character will return, or maybe returns ‘not quite right’. This is described in more detail in the Tal’Dorei campaign setting book.
The PF2e rules still have Raise Dead available to clerics. In addition, it also has the more powerful Resurrect ritual, available to all characters of sufficient level and skill. The ritual follows the same risks of failure as in Matt’s guide and older DnD.
What the PF2e spell and ritual have over their DnD cousin is a significantly higher cost. For the level the party are currently (11th) it would cost 2200gp (22000gp in DnD 5e money) to bring a character back. The cost increases in tiers, so at 20th level, it would cost 64000gp (640000gp in DnD 5e money) per character. That should spark some interesting discussions amongst the players.
Taking all of the above, here is a level by level list. I have not included the save and spell DC increases from the cleric doctrine as they are not choices as such.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it interesting. I will post up another character transition soon :).
- Wellspring heritage, Occult spell, Joint Pasts
- First World Magic, Electric Arc
- Raised by Belief background, Wildmother Lore, Nature skill
- Divine Font: Heal
- Cloistered Cleric, Domain Initiate, Decay domain, Withering Grasp focus spell
- Assurance Medicine
- Domain Initiate, Death domain, Death’s Call focus spell
- Ancestral Paragon, Burrow Elecutionist
- Skill increase to Medicine, Expert
- Continual Recovery
- Turn Undead
- Animal Elocutionist
- Ability Boost to Str, Con, Wis, Cha
- Skill increase to Wildmother Lore, Expert
- Ward Medic
- Selective Energy
- Incredible Initiative
- Skill increase to Medicine, Master
- Battle Medicine
- Advanced Domain, Death, Eradicate Undeath focus spell
- First World Adept, Faerie Fire and Invisibility
- Skill increase to Diplomacy, Expert
- Robust Recovery
- Heroic Recovery
- Ability Boost to Dex, Con, Wis, Cha
- Expeditious Search
- Skill increase to Wildmother Lore, Master