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For the most part, character creation is a guided process: the rules explain clearly how to determine attributes, classes and races are few in number and each has its obvious purpose, and there are guides who list a handful of useful feats, skills and spells to pick.

When it comes to equipment however, new players are left to their own devices. The only information in the rulebook is a long list of tables containing equipment names, cost and description where necessary, but other than their starting wealth, there are no guides or tips for choosing equipment.

What are characters supposed to have when they finally leave town to go adventuring?

Specifically, I'm looking for guidelines: universally useful equipment (e.g. backpacks and rations), generic tips (e.g. your chosen weapons), consumable quantities, things people often forget (e.g. your free outfit) as well as items that could be useful to only a few specific roles (e.g. healer's kit)

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There is a discussion here which seems to match your question perfectly: enworld.org/forum/… –  Colin D Feb 17 at 13:03

8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

First thing to keep in mind is that every campaign is different and every GM is, too. Some won't care about the realism of carrying enough food around to survive in the wilds for example. As others have said, the various locations you will go to during the campaign will also have different requirements. What this means is that there won't be a single perfect starting set of gear that fits all and you should adapt to your specific circumstances.

With this in mind, here are my suggestions.

First, check class kits in Ultimate Equipment's Adventuring Gear. Simple but effective. Use these as inspiration to make your own starting kit and note how some of the included items could be a requirement or pure flavor depending on your GM's style.

Then, check the categories below for suggestions. This is my (partial) checklist to avoid forgetting the little (and not so little) things.

Magic / Alchemy

Some of these are requirements for specific classes.

  • Spell component pouch 5gp, 2lbs
    • Every caster should have one unless they have Eschew Material (Sorcerer)
  • Holy Symbol, for divine characters requiring a divine focus to cast some spells
    • Wooden 1gp, 0lbs
    • Silver 25gp, 1lbs
  • Spellbook 15gp, 3lbs for Wizards and Magus
  • Formula Book (APG), for Alchemist

Containers

  • Backpack 2gp, 2lbs
  • Pouch (belt) 1gp, 1/2lbs
  • Sack 1sp, 1/2lbs

Lighting

Only if going to dark places or adventuring at night.

  • Candle 1cp 5ft radius
  • Torch 1cp, 1lb 20ft+20ft
  • Flint & Steel 1gp (to light things up)
  • Tindertwig 1gp (to light things up)
  • Lamp 1sp, 1lb (needs oil) 15ft+15ft
  • Lamp, waterproof (UE)
  • Sunrod 2gp, 1lbs 30ft+30ft
  • Lantern (needs oil)
    • Hooded 7gp, 2lbs 30ft+30ft
    • Bullseye 12gp, 3lbs 60ft+60ft, cone

Food

Only needed in the wilds or for long travels.

  • Ration (trail, per day) 5sp, 1lb
  • Waterskin (filled) 1gp, 4lbs water)
  • Feed (per day), for herbivores 5cp, 10lbs
    • Meat eaters can consume rations instead
    • Herbivores can also eat grass
    • The Survival skill can also help
  • Mess Kit (UE) 2sp, 1lb (cutlery)

Sleep

Only needed in the wilds or for long travels

  • Bedroll 1sp, 5lbs
  • Hammock (UE) 1sp, 3lbs
  • Blanket 5sp, 3lbs (recommended with the bedroll)
  • Tent, small (Core/APG) 10gp, 20lbs (one medium creature)
    • The small tent in APG replaces the one in Core

Tools of the trade

  • Artisan's Tools 5gp, 5lbs (required for given Craft)
  • Thieves' Tools 30gp, 1lbs (required for Disable Device)
  • Musical Instrument 5gp, 3lbs (required for Perform /w instrument)
  • Disguise Kit 50gp, 8lbs (bonus)
  • Alchemist's Kit (APG) / Alchemy Crafting Kit (UE) 25gp, 5lbs

Healing

Some of these depend on expected threats. If you know you're going through poisonous-monsters-filled jungles, you may want to pool money for an Antitoxin or a Leeching Kit.

  • Bloodblock (APG) 25gp (to heal wounds/bleed)
  • Healer's Kit 50gp, 1lb (required for Heal, +2 bonus when used)
  • Leeching Kit (APG) 5gp, 5lbs (for poison)
  • Antiplague (APG/UE)
  • Antitoxin (Core/UE) 50gp

Miscellaneous Adventure Gear

  • Rope (hemp) 1gp, 10lbs
  • Rope (silk) 10gp, 5lbs
  • Crowbar 2gp, 5lbs
  • Mirror 10gp, 1/2lbs
  • Shovel/Spade 2gp, 8lbs
  • Whetstone 2cp, 1lb (no mechanical effect)
  • Bear Bag : bag + 20ft rope, holds inventory (food) out of wild animals' reach
  • Bell Net
  • Compass (APG)

Alchemy and substances

Apart from the oil, this is very optional, especially considering the costs.

  • Oil 1sp, 1lb (for lamp/lantern, splash weapon, grease 1 square)
  • Acid Flask 10gp, 1lbs

  • Alchemist's Fire 20gp, 1lbs

  • Smokestick 20gp, 1/2lbs
  • Holy Water 25gp, 1lbs
  • Thunderstone 30gp, 1lbs
  • Tanglefoot Bag 50gp, 4lbs (rather expensive for a start though)

Mounts

If you are going to travel a lot on long distances, you might want to buy a riding animal, or see if you can rent one when you're starting out. Prices below are for buying.

  • Dog, Guard 25gp
  • Dog, Riding 150gp
  • Mule 8gp
  • Light Horse 75gp
    • Combat trained 110gp
  • Heavy Horse 200gp
    • Combat trained 300gp
  • Pony 30gp

    • Combat trained 45gp
  • Saddle

    • Pack 5gp, 15lbs
    • Riding 10gp, 25lbs
    • Military 20gp, 30lbs
    • Exotic : more expensive, see tables
  • Saddlebags 4gp, 8lbs (mount backpack?)
  • Bit and Briddle 2gp, 1lb (no mechanical effect... required ?)

  • Feed, per day 5cp, 10lbs

Basic Light Horse : Horse (75) + Riding Saddle (10) + Saddlebags (4) = 89gp

Writings / Scrolls

  • Ink 8gp
  • Inkpen 1sp
  • Parchment sheet 2sp
  • Paper sheet 4sp
  • Case for maps/scrolls 1gp, 1/2lbs
  • Journal (UE) 10gp, 1lb
  • Scroll Case (APG)
  • Scroll Box (UE)
  • Map Maker's Kit (APG)
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Now, that's more what I had in mind. A list of useful items and why you might need them (or not). as a side note, the APG Alchemist's Kit and the UE Alchemist Crafting Kit are the same item, renamed to differenciate the kit for crafting alchemical stuff and the kit that alchemist might want to start with –  3Doubloons Feb 17 at 20:36
    
Hammer and spikes? 10-foot pole? Where's the old-school dungeoneering, eh? (It's funny how much assumptions change over time.) –  Carl Cravens Feb 17 at 21:07
    
@Carl Generally comments are intended mostly for requests for information or suggestions for improvements - other uses of comments, e.g. discussion, are discouraged and get deleted liberally by the moderators to keep things clean. (As Brian says though, you're welcome to join Chat to talk about this stuff!) It seems that comment could be a sincere suggestion those things should be there though - was it as much? –  Jonathan Hobbs Feb 18 at 0:46
    
Are prices/weights useful enough that I should complete the list? Also wondering if I should somehow note which items have strict mechanical effects, those that may (rations?) and those that are pure fluff most of the time. –  leokhorn Feb 18 at 18:22
    
@leokorn: The most useful parts of your list, in my opinion, are the categories, the details of what's optional and when, and the pruning of the original tables. The prices and weights are nice, but in the end, it's easy to cross-reference with the tables after selecting the equipment –  3Doubloons Feb 19 at 8:45

The real answer is "whatever you want," of course. Gear selection is meant to be a collection of common sense (wear pants, get a weapon) and character flavor. And campaign type; you don't need tents and bedrolls if it's an urban campaign.

However, for those with a mental block on that front, in Ultimate Equipment Paizo added the idea of class kits, to give people a quickstart set of equipment that's affordable given their class starting gold. See the kits page of the d20PFSRD and along with the familiar crafting kits there are now e.g. the "Cleric's Kit" that gives you a backpack, bedroll, holy symbol, etc. You can start with that and however much armor and weapons you want to use/can afford (usually the armor prices are the main limiter here for martial classes, unless you use a real expensive missile weapon as your primary).

But sorry, beyond that it really is one of the basic logic puzzles the game insists you get better at. "We're going in a dark place, better get some torches... We're going into the wilds, better bring food..." Pathfinder, and D&D versions prior to 4, is not meant to be a "guided" experience, you are meant to use your thinky parts to decide what to do and how to prepare. This is desirable, it's usually the first part of the system people get to engage with and develop system mastery, which then enables them to develop the skills that will allow them later to e.g. pick feats or spells without needing a guide to tell them "what to pick."

Also, consider the value of this as an in game activity. You're not always sure what you're going to be doing, and different campaigns have some supplemental rules. Like in Jade Regent, where you end up going through the Arctic, they have shops and experts and stuff in the actual game that advise PC noobs that they might need snow-goggles... Discuss gearing with PCs and other NPCs in character instead of insisting on a "gear optimization guide" that is somehow going to apply over a wide variety of campaigns.

Now, the GM and players should make sure they're on the same page - some groups don't worry much about mundane equipment at all - common mutual assumptions are "clothing and other personal goods don't require explicit tracking" and "nonmagical stuff like bedrolls and torches and arrows and stuff don't require explicit tracking." Of course, those common agreements would change your need for a more fine-grained gearing strategy.

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There's a difference between guided experience and throwing new players in the ocean then expecting them to swim. In my opinion, the Core Rulebook goes too far towards the latter. The UE kits are a step in the right direction, but I believe there's more that could be explained. –  3Doubloons Feb 17 at 19:46
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People have somehow figured out what to buy for somewhere on 30 years of D&D without a droolproof guide - why do you think this is a problem? This is sounding more and more like you're looking for an answer in search of a real problem. "You need torches, if you want to see in the dark..." Really? –  mxyzplk Feb 18 at 4:42
    
@mxyzplk: I'd say it's more of a "torch, lantern, sunrod? oh wait, lanterns need oil too, I missed that!" It's not always easy to know what a game system requires or implies as a freebie, or simply realizing what's available for a given need. Having to read through the whole list of equipment just to start up shouldn't be an absolute requirement. –  leokhorn Feb 18 at 18:27

In 3.5, quite some time ago, I made myself a list of "default character gear" that suited my M.O. I did take some liberties (i.e. collapsible 12 foot metal pole and an entrenching tool), but it should give you enough of an idea to make your own:

Backpack    
Bedroll    
5xCaltrops    
Scroll Case    
10xChalk    
Flint and Steel    
Grappling Hook    
Ink (2oz)    
Inkpen    
Collapsible 12 foot metal pole (1 foot segments)    
Wizard’s spellbook    
Miner’s Pick    
Entrenching Shovel    
2x Waterskins    
50 ft, Silk Rope    
10 days, Rations    

Mule    
10 days feed    
Saddlebags    
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@CarlCravens comments are not for random chatting. They are for requests for clarification. I recommend to chat in Role-playing Games Chat. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 17 at 23:48

Unless you start in town, just think about the basic needs of a person in the wild :

  • eat/drink (rations, waterskin, …),
  • heat (fire, bedroll, …),
  • light (torches, …),
  • sleep (tent, …),
  • move (rope, backpack, …).

Add in whatever fits your character concept (ink and quill if (s)he needs to write often, lockpicking gear, etc.). Add in weapons (one main and one "just in case", preferably differents) and armor, and clothes, and you should be ready to go.

Obviously, you'll have to adapt to your character and/or to the setting, but this should give you a good starting point.

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I frequently play in games where mundane survival is not a major facet of play, so basic mundane gear rarely comes up. Therefore, I've taken to just writing "backpack of mundane gear, 50 gp, 5 lbs." on my sheet, and then when it comes up I'll ask my DM if that pack would reasonably contain whatever basic item I need. Saves a lot of bookkeeping, but of course means I cannot be certain I have specific items.

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As a minimum, you should have armour, a melee weapon, and a missile weapon appropriate to your build, plus any trappings required by a spellcaster (holy symbol or spell component pouch, spellbook or formula book). In addition, every character should have some mundane way to deal with swarms, such as a torch or alchemists fire or acid. Most spellcasters can memorise the light cantrip, so light sources aren't as important as they once were. Spellcasters may wish to start with a scroll or two of healing or some utility spell, such as comprehend languages.

Apart from that, your choices will be dependant on your character's capabilities, and the campaign setting. You may need wilderness survivial gear, or you may need break and enter gear, or you may need mounts to travel around with.

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Remember to have a mix of damage types (Slashing, Budgeoning, Piercing) as if you run up against a swarm of zombies and only have bludgeoning weapons you won't get very far...Look for the weapons that give you flexibility in damage types, and ranges. (For example a Reach weapon is very useful for fighter/barbarian types) but you also need a non-reach weapon for when they manage to close.

Beyond that look at the best armour you can afford that your character can wear without penalties.

Then if you have enough gold look for healing. A potion of Cure Light Wounds (or a partially charged wand if your DM allows it) could save your life.

Look at your characters abilities and feats and choose weapons to compliment them.

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I have found that the basic items can be chosen based upon the role your character will be playing. Sometimes just getting the basic items can clean out your pockets quicker than a thief w sticky fingers.

Ask you DM/GM about the basic environment you'll be travelling in, the time of year in-game, if any items are prohibited, have a premium cost, etc. Once you get together with your group, I'm sure you can make some last minute purchases to help round out your party.

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No offense, but you basically answered "What are the basic items I should get?" with "Get the basic items" –  3Doubloons Feb 17 at 7:59

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