WAM! Jungle Adventure
Alchemists are very versatile and can fill almost any role in PFRPG. Characters focused on feral mutagen will be especially appropriate for the campaign but almost any build will work. The brew potion bonus feat can really help your party out as can the infusion discovery. Skills that can be especially useful include Knowledge (arcana), Perception, and Survival. Don’t neglect Craft (alchemy); you’re an alchemist.
Barbarians work very well in Minata as front-line tough guys. Rage powers like superstition or others that have a real island primitive flavor will work well and not relying on heavy armor is a big plus. Good skills for barbarians are Intimidate, Survival, and Swim.
Bards can be a great addition to a party despite their usual link to more civilized areas. Bardic performance will give the whole party bonuses (who doesn’t like getting bonuses?) and the combination of spellcasting and having loads of skills makes a bard an asset to almost any situation. Versatile performance really makes the bard one of the most skilled characters in the game. Skills (other than Perform, of course) that could be especially worth having are Diplomacy, Perception, and Stealth.
Cavaliers (Samurai) are largely mount-based and may prove difficult to utilize to their full potential. That said, Small sized cavaliers and samurai can ride Medium sized mounts and cavaliers with the Beast-Rider archetype (Ultimate Combat) can ride non-typical mounts (like tigers!). Cavaliers of the Order of the Dragon or the Order of the Sword can work well for flavor. Still, cavaliers typically rely on heavy armor, which is not usually a good thing in the hot jungle or at sea. Think carefully before deciding on a cavalier.
Clerics – what’s not to love? Popular faiths in Minata are Desna, Hei Feng, Lady Nanbyo, Lao Shu Po, Sun Wukong, and tribal cults. Domains like Knowledge and Travel can be very useful in the Wandering Isles. Some useful skills for clerics are Knowledge (planes), Knowledge (religion), and Linguistics.
Druids are great for Minata. Whether focused on casting or wild shape, druids can fill a role very well. Good Animal Companions for druids include Cat, Big and Cat, Small but don’t write off Dinosaur!, or Crocodile. If you decide to choose a Domain, instead, Water and Weather are both good choices. Perception, Survival, and Swim are good skill choices for any druid, while Handle Animal and Spellcraft are good for druids with animal companions or casting focused, respectively.
Fighters are the fantasy world’s go-to front-line guy. As is, though, fighters won’t fare as well in Minata as in more Europe-based settings. Archetypes that trade heavier armors for other abilities can offset this, however. Lore Warden or Cad are good for swapping armor for talent. Good weapon groups for fighters are Blades, Heavy (a perennial favorite), Bows, and Spears but any weapon group can work well. Fighters with the Intimidate, Survival, and Swim skills will probably use them.
Gunslingers No. That’s it. They don’t work here.
Inquisitors are a good fit in the Wandering Isles – they work well as melee or ranged combatants and bring some spellcasting and utility to the mix. Judgements, monster lore, and track are all excellent and useful abilities and inquisitors’ versatility fits right in to a campaign where any kind of foe could be waiting around the corner. With plenty of skills to choose from, a wise inquisitor would do well to invest in Intimidate, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth, Survival, Swim, and any or all of the Knowledge skills.
Magi start with only light armor, but eventually gain proficiency in medium then heavy armor, which, as we’ve already established, is not necessarily a good thing. That in mind, magus characters who either trade their armor proficiency in an archetype or don’t mind not using a class feature can potentially dish out enormous damage to their enemies. Magi of Minata typically use long machetes that follow all the rules for scimitars and many study a martial dance similar to the dervish dance of Qadira in the west. Knowledge (arcana and/or planes), Spellcraft, and Swim are popular skills for magi, as is Fly when it becomes available.
Monks are relatively common throughout the southeast countries of Tian Xia. Monasteries can be found on the outskirts of many towns or in remote jungle or mountain areas. Unarmored warriors, monks can be a solid choice, especially as a second melee combatant. They have an odd mash-up of utility features and do not generally specialize too well. Fast movement, flurry of blows, and their versatile ki pool are all class features that work well with the setting. Monks receive a good amount of skills per level, too; some that would be good for this campaign are Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth, and Swim.
Oracles, like clerics, are hard to dislike. While they don’t have the versatility of their more ordered brethren, oracles find a specialized niche and fill it very well. Oracles of the life, lore, waves, and wind mysteries are especially appropriate to the setting. The skills tied to the oracle’s mystery are generally good choices to stay in the flavor, but skills that are good for any oracle in Minata are Diplomacy, Knowledge (planes), and Knowledge (religion).
Paladins can have a rough time in these pirate infested islands. The unrighteous abound and the heavy plate armor the virtuous so often wear can literally kill a man in the heat (or underwater!). If he can find it in his heart to tolerate the chaotic and thieving ways of so many of the locals and is willing to trade his protective heavy armor, a paladin can be an amazing asset to an adventuring party in the Wandering Isles. Paladins’ detect evil and smite evil features make the lives and careers of the truly wicked very difficult, indeed. Their lay on hands feature ensures that they and their parties are difficult to kill, and their spells are always welcome. Paladins in Minata usually take the Diplomacy and Sense Motive skills.
Rangers are practically born to be masters of the wild areas of Minata. The Yokai Hunter archetype is especially appropriate with the supernatural enemies who hide in plain sight, disguised as normal(ish) people. Good choices for favored enemy are Outsiders (native), Magical Beasts, and Humans. Jungle and aquatic make good favored terrains. Rangers of the Wandering Isles often take the Knowledge (nature), Perception, Stealth, Survival, and Swim skills.
Rogues (Ninja) abound in the pirate-riddled islands, especially in towns big enough for them to fade into obscurity with ease. Talented and deadly, rogues are a great addition to adventuring parties. Trapfinding is an indispensable feature in the ruined remains of old civilizations and rogue talents allow for incredible customization for these varied ne’er-do-wells. Some rogues may focus on skills like Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive, keeping their tongues as quick and sharp as their daggers while others practice Acrobatics and Escape Artist, staying just out of reach of their often larger, stronger foes. Regardless of the particular style of a rogue, Disable Device, Perception, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth almost always find a way into their repertoires.
Sorcerers are feared throughout the Wandering Isles for their unknowable destructive power. Even sorcerers who don’t know a single “blasty” spell are generally assumed to wield the power to destroy anything they see with a glance. The Draconic and Elemental bloodlines fit well with the setting. Bluff, Intimidate, and Use Magic Device are good choices for skills, as is Fly when it becomes available.
Summoners are rare compared to sorcerers and witches but do still exist in Minata. Summoners can have any kind of eidolon (including aquatic). Popular skills for summoners are Knowledge (arcana) and Use Magic Device. Summoners with access to Fly usually take ranks in it.
Witches are the most common native arcane spellcaster in the Wandering Isles, and are usually referred to as “witch-doctors” or “medicine men.” The Ancestors, Healing, and Portents patrons fit the witch-doctor flavor very well. Witches in Minata usually train the Fly, Knowledge (arcana), and Use Magic Device skills. Witches with the Fly hex train the Fly skill.
Wizards don’t generally like the jungle and waterborne environments of Minata as they are not friendly to the wizards’ precious books or scrolls. More resourceful than pragmatic, some wizards do make their way to the Wandering Isles and can do quite well for themselves. Like sorcerers, most folks will assume that any passing wizard spends his time making things explode. Popular schools of magic are Conjuration and Illusion. Knowledge (arcana, planes, and religion) are popular with wizards adventuring in Minata and, like every other arcane class, wizards usually take the Fly skill once they have access to flight.