*For the origins of Penelope and her party see The Cast
So I decided to build a character to see how the process goes for Pathfinder Playtest and what an exercise it is! It is no easy feat to build your character, the most cumbersome part of the process is what they call (or their version) of a proficiency bonus. In 5E it is a fixed number that goes up every few levels but stays the same throughout the game. However in Pathfinder Playtest it is not a fixed number, but based on how proficient you are, your level and changes for its interaction with each skill, ability, armor, weapon, etc, etc.
I have always loved the customization of Pathfinder and the Playtest has no shortage of that. I will try to give feedback about the parts I found to be very annoying such as the outrageous calculation for perception. Officially listed as this:
Perception modifier = wisdom modifier + perception proficiency modifier + circumstance bonus + conditional bonus + item bonus + circumstance penalty + conditional penalty + item penalty + untyped penalties.You have to be out of your mind if that has to be calculated on the fly each time the PC needs to perceive something.
TAC makes no sense, as the paragraph is written word for word the same as AC. This must be typo. Why would the same score needed to hit you in armor vs needed to just touch you be the exact same formula with the same bonuses, etc?
Also skills are going to be horrible to change as your proficiency bonus goes up and down based on your level and other factors. You really need to pay attention to how much that bonus effects everything. When you level many things are going to change in numbers, which would be an amazing things on an excel sheet as it auto calculates, but by hand . . . oh my.
Okay the build
1 - Name (Penelope)
2 - Ancestry: For this I chose "Human" but further I chose the "Ulfen" Ethnicity. Although this is a core Pathfinder Ethnicity, I am familiar with the Ulfen who are basically a race of nord, northmen, classic vikings or light skinned, fur wearing warriors. Upon choosing this I wrote down the following. HP8, Size Medium, Speed 25ft. Ability Boosts Free/Free, Languages common + one. Traits human / humanoid and it grants an extra feat so I chose Unconventional Weaponry, which fits Penelope's unusual weapons she carries.
3 - Background: I chose warrior as it fits her best. Being the member of a tribe of warriors from the north at one point and now independent. Choosing warriors grants her the following. Ability boosts strength or con and free. Quick repair feat, and the warfare lore skill.
4 - Class: Here I choose barbarian as that is what she is. This comes with "Rage" which is very detailed as there are two pages of rage types and things to do with rage. For her "Totem" I chose "Fury" as I did not like the animal, dragon, giant, etc. The fury grants her an additional 1st level barbarian feat as well. Her physical damage resistance while raging through fury applies to "All" physical types of damage. For her barbarian feats at 1st (since I get two now) I chose "Sudden Charge" and "Raging Intimidation". Her barbarian key abilities are strength, and hp 12 + con. Proficiencies are in perception (expert). Saving throws - Fortitude (expert), Reflex (trained), and Will (expert). Weapons (trained) in all simple and martial weapons. Armor (trained) in all light and medium armor. Signature skills are Acrobatics, Athletics and Intimidation.
5 - Add ability scores: Str 18, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wiz 12, Cha 10. *How I got these are: All scores start at 10, then add in your proficiency bonus to your Ancestry Ability Boosts and Flaws (+2 str & +2 con), then add in your background ability boosts (+2 str, & +2 con), then add in your four free ability boosts (+2 str, +2 dex, +2 con, +2 wis), finally add in your One Class ability boost (+2 str).
6 - Apply your class: Basically at this point you total your hp from your Ancestry 8hp and your class 12 + con bonus (3) = 23 HP
7- Determine skill modifiers: This is where I had the hardest time and its very complex. Basically I added in Warfare lore (trained) skill from my background. My three skills + int mod (0) = 3 from my class (I choose as the book suggests my signature skills of Acrobatics, Athletics and Intimidation (trained). Also you would go through every skill and decide if its untrained (your level -2), trained (your level) or beyond. This I did not do, also keep in mind for example that these skills are categories of skills example. "Athletics" is the category name for the actual individual skills of: Break Grapple, Break Open, Climb, Grapple, High Jump, Long Jump, Shove, Swim, and Trip. These are all skills with actions associated to them.
8 - Buy Equipment: They start you with 150sp and the sp is the common currency. I like this much better than gold as its more realistic in what we've been told about the commoner and common goods all trading in silver. I picked up Penelope's Hide armor (20sp) as she wears hides (but I did not like it's -3 skill check penalty!), her trademark weapons Katana sword (20sp) and Battle Axe (12sp). Remember I took the feat Unconventional Weaponry which lets me take the Katana which is a Uncommon Martial weapon of which I am (trained) in.
9 - Details: Age 19, Alignment CN, AC 15 (10 + dex (1) + 1 (trained) +3 armor bonus, TAC 15 *There is no difference in AC and TAC as the paragraph is identical in the book, this must be a typo. Bulk (didn't bother to fill in her carried gear weight yet), Deity (nor choose her god), Gender is female, Hero Points 1 (which everyone gets at start of game to a max 3), Melee strikes +5 (Proficiency +1 trained, +4 str). Damage - Katana - 1d8+4 and Battle Axe - 1d8+4 (weapon damage + str). Perception +3 (Proficiency +2 expert, +1 wis bonus). Resonace Points 1 (which is how many magic items you can have?). Saving throws Fort +5, Will +2, Ref +3 (+2 expert in fort +3 con, +1 trained in will +1 wis, and +2 expert in reflex +1 dex).
I will show this all on a filled in character sheet where is looks a lot nicer and is not as confusing. The sheets (3 pages) do make it more clear. This is just a quick build (did take me approx hour to hour and a half to do my first time).