Saundby's Pathfinder RPG House Rules

Here's how I play it.


My Houserules

Here's some of what I do to touch up Pathfinder.

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Classes

Feats

Equipment

Combat

Magic

Spells

Magic Items

 

Classes

All Classes

Do not roll for hit points at each level, assume that you have rolled the maximum possible, apply modifiers, and add that to your total.

I adopted this one from my friend Chris Francisco. I used to do this only for first level.

Barbarian Rage

Barbarians do not suffer from Rage Fatigue unless I issue a fatigue ruling during a specific combat.

I don't use the Rage fatigue rules. Typically there aren't enough rounds of combat in a game day to require them, or enough rounds of combat in any one encounter. If a combat does go on for a particularly long time, I'll issue a fatigue ruling on a case by case basis.

How this works is: if a combat session is going long, I will warn the barbarian player that there is a risk of them suffering from fatigue if they continue to rage up to their maximum number of rounds of rage for the day. If the barbarian reaches that maximum, they will suffer fatigue for the number of rounds that they have raged during that combat, but they may defer that fatigue by a number of rounds equal to their current CON modifier (including temporary effects).

Temporary hit points gained through rage remain for a number of rounds equal to the character's current CON modifier after rage ends.

This includes going unconscious, or the rage ending for any other reason. There will be a few rounds of delay while the body "catches up" to the change. No other rage effects have this lag, however.

Cleric

Clerics do not need to select specific spells to cast during their preparation. They must still do preparation, but they may cast any spell of appropriate level for the spell slots they have available.

Yes, I know about Cleric Power Expansion, but it is less of a factor in my game than a player who got surprised with the wrong spells selected for the day. It's just more fun this way. Call it "old school" if you like.

Wizard

Wizards do not need to prepare specific spells for casting each day. They must spend the normal time preparing to cast spells, but they need not select specific spells at that time. They may cast any spell in their spellbook that fits in their open spell slots.

Same reason as I do this for the cleric. At least the current rules have a reasonable number of spell slots each day, in the old days I used to either increase the spell slots or use a mana point system. You can see that in my write-ups of my OD&D classes and rules.

Also, see Feats, below, for information on Metamagic Feats.

 

Feats

Retraining

Any character may retrain one feat at each fourth level of advancement (level 4, 8, 12, 16, 20). One old feat may be removed, and a new feat obtained in its place. The removed feat must not be a pre-requisite for any other feats held by the character. The new feat may be any feat which the character qualifies for at the time of re-training.

Characters change and grow, and sometimes someone takes Toughness or some other dead end feat and feels gimped by it later. I don't like people feeling like they're playing a character gimped by cruft. Fighters (and any other classes that have retraining) may still retrain as normal in addition to this.

Metamagic Feats

Metamagic Feats add one level to the spell they are applied to. Each additional metamagic feat applied adds one additional level.

When a spell is cast, if the caster has the appropriate feat(s), they may apply the metamagic effect to the spell and add one level to the spell slot consumed for each metamagic effect applied. (They must, of course, have spell slots of that level available.)

For example, if a wizard has the Quicken Spell metamagic feat they may cast a Quickened Fireball as a fourth level spell. A Maximized Quickened Fireball would use up a fifth level spell slot.

 

Equipment

Armor Penalties

There are no maximum dexterity bonuses for armor.

There are no armor check penalties for Ride. All other Armor Check Penalties have a maximum of -2 per item (armor and shield penalties stack.)


Double Walking Stick Katana

When used as a quarterstaff, this weapon gains the fragile quality.

Falchion

A Falchion is a single-handed weapon. It is a heavy-bladed sword, from 24 to 28 inches long, typically, with a single edge on the blade.

Whoever made this two handed needs to buy a comprehensive English language dictionary and hit themselves over the head with it.

Fauchard

The Fauchard is treated as a martial weapon for proficiencies, etc. It does not require an exotic weapon feat to use.

Whoever made all these distinctions between polearms is clueless to the fact that one hacky-pokey-whacky stick is pretty much like another and all their gamer-otaku distinctions between minor differences in construction are a bunch of fabricated bull hockey.

Flambard

Flambards gain no special ability to sunder wood.

Seriously, if an axe gets nothing special why should a wavy sword? The best conjecture out there was that the historical blades were curved to make them more effective against plate armor, as generally swords aren't much good against plate IRL (even with a curvy blade.)

Halberd

A Halberd has reach. They are typically 6 to 7 feet long, and may be as long as 8 feet.

Nine Ring Broadsword

A nine-ring broadsword is treated as a Falchion, only it makes more noise and can't be carried in a sheath.

Nodachi

A Nodachi does not have the brace quality.

It's a long two-handed sword, for crying out loud!

Pilum

A thrown pilum that strikes its target gets the broken condition, not destroyed. Also, it requires a full-round action (not a standard action) to clear it from the shield.

Reach Weapons

See Reach Weapons, below.

Sabre, Sawtooth

A sawtooth sabre gains the fragile quality when used against an opponent wearing medium or heavy armor, or when used on an object with a hardness of 6 or greater.

Shotel, Sica

These weapons gain no advantage against shields.

Otherwise, we'd have to give the same advantage to kukris, axes, halberds, and so on, and we know where that road leads, right?

Thorn Bracers

Thorn bracers may be worn as armor, but they do not act as weapons.

They are the sort of thing sold by dishonest proprietors to gullible teenagers who have never actually experienced combat, but think things like thorn bracers and spring canes are really cool and dangerous objects with which to adorn themselves to impress their friends.

War Razor

On an attack roll of a natural 1, a War Razor gains the broken condition.

 

Combat

There is still a lot of cruft in the game from the earliest edition--especially in weapons and combat. Frankly, this is the part of the game that irks me the most. Whenever it gets to me too much, I pull out my old Runequest rules and chill out by reading rules written by people who actually knew how to use weapons (from the SCA. In fact, two of the authors had a hand in teaching me medieval style combat.)

While there is just too much silliness in d20 combat in toto to undo without writing a whole new game, I just try to knock of some of the edges that irritate me the most and follow the maxim of MST3K's theme song.

Conditions

Crouched
The character is off their feet but upright. They may attack and defend themselves and use all weapons they are normally capable of using, including missile weapons, though weapons with reach lose reach while the character is crouched, and weapons with reach that are over 9 feet long may not be used to attack. Move actions are limited to a five foot step, standing, or going prone. The five foot step and standing do not provoke an attack of opportunity. Going prone does provoke an attack of opportunity. A character may go from prone to crouched without provoking an attack of opportunity as a standard move action.

Prone
Prone is modified as follows: a character may choose to stand from a prone position without provoking an attack of opportunity as a full round action (rather than as a move action which does provoke an attack of opportunity.) They may also crouch as a move action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Damage Reduction: DR/Blunt

DR/blunt is treated as DR/2 for non-blunt weapons.

Edged and thrusting weapons still have mass, and that mass will still do damage. Frankly, I think the whole DR/blunt thing with respect to skellies and such is nonsense. Rather than go through the game and try to change it all, I just treat it as above. If blunt objects were really so much better against bones than edged weapons, wouldn't you expect to see the butcher taking apart carcasses with a heavy stick rather than a saw or cleaver?

Pandybats

Weapons that are likely to be dangerous to the user or unintended targets gain the pandybat quality. If a natural 1 is rolled for attack while using a pandybat (even if the character has Devil's Luck or some other effect that allows a re-roll), the pandybat will do its maximum possible damage to its user, and attack rolls are made against all creatures within the threat range of the weapon at the same time, any successful hits are treated as normal for critical hits, damage, etc.

The following weapons have the pandybat quality:

Ripsaw Glaive, Star Knife, Scizore, Syringe Spear, Scythe, Earth Breaker, Hunga Munga, Aklys, Barbazu Beard, Battle Poi, Flying Talon, Tribladed Katar, Scorpion Whip, Orc Double Axe, Dorn Dergar (Dwarven or not), Dire Flail, Flailpole, Mancatcher, Flying Blade, Bladed Scarf, Two Bladed Sword, Throwing Shield, Shang Gou, Monk's Spade, Tri-point Double Edged Sword, Bich'hwa, Emei Piercer, Tekko-Kagi, Nine Section Whip, Urumi, Spiked Chain, Double-Chained Kama, Kusarigama, Kyoketsu Shoge, Meteor Hammer, Seven-Branched Sword

Reach Weapons

Weapons with reach that are less than or equal to 9' in length may lose reach as a swift action by the user. If such a weapon has lost reach, the user may restore reach as a swift action.

I allow many reach weapons to be switched from 10' to 5' threat range as a swift action. I have used polearms, for things like halbards and glaives it's a no-brainer change of grip to go from a long reach to fighting someone pressed right up against you.

I understand why Pathfinder handles reach as they do, I just happen not to agree with it.

Some affected weapons:
Simple: Boarding Pike, Long Spear
Martial: Bardiche, Bill, Bec de Corbin, Glaive, Guisarme, Halberd, Horsechopper, Lucerne Hammer, Ranseur, etc.
Exotic: Fauchard

 

Magic

General

Spell casters need not prepare specific spells from their available spells. They may cast any spell on their list that fits an available spell slot (including adjustments for metamagic, etc.)

This applies to wizards, clerics, maguses, etc.

Spells as ranged touch attacks:

do not themselves provoke an attack of opportunity. If the casting provokes an attack of opportunity for some other reason (casting in combat, etc.) then this does not stop that from occurring.

"Evil" Spells

Spells marked as "Evil" are not necessarily inherently evil, though they may still be socially contentious and a specific use of them may violate the alignment of Good or Lawful creatures (to be determined on a case by case basis.) For example, casting "Animate Dead" to attempt to save a place from being overrun by evil attackers, saving lives and protecting the Good would not be an evil act under most circumstances. Retaining the undead as personal servants after the attack may be, though.

Controlled Undead

Undead that have been raised by their controller, or controlled for more than one day, may be dismissed by their controller. Intelligent undead receive a Will saving throw when their controller attempts to dismiss them, if successful they become uncontrolled.
Once dismissed, the body dies and becomes a normal dead body. Effects of decay occur immediately as for a normal body that died when the body originally died, in addition to the effects of any damage to the body when it was released. Effects of spells such as Gentle Repose are dispersed by the effects of having been raised as undead, so they do not affect the time limit on raising the creature if they were cast before or while the creature was undead. Uncontrolled undead, including those that have been released by the controller, may not be dismissed.

Spells Areas

Spells with an area of effect like a line or sphere that are cast near targets friendly to the caster give those targets a +2 to their saves vs being affected by that spell as a result of the caster seeking to avoid affecting them. They gain an additional +2 to their save if the caster can give them warning of the casting of the spell. This applies to spells such as the Wall spells and other line or sphere shell effects, or to friendly characters on the edge of area effect spells. It does not apply to characters fully within the area of an area of effect spell.

Spell Books

The spell book is itself a magic item bound to its owner. It cannot be stolen or destroyed. It has no weight when stored, and requires no space. It does not need to be stored in any particular place. In fact, it may be summoned and dismissed at will by its owner.
It may not be read by anyone without the owner's consent and cooperation while unaffected by hostile mind effects. It has no limit to its capacity. There is no cost to transcribe a spell into it.
To access it, the owner must be in their right mind. If they are subject to a mind-altering effect, confusion, or any other effect they must make a Will save to access it. If they would desire to access the book if in their right mind, the DC of the save is the save DC of their highest spell level. If they would not, the save DC is the save DC of their highest spell level plus 10.

 

Spells

Bear's Endurance

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Bull's Strength

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Cat's Grace

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Cure...Wounds

When cast by a caster that would exceed the maximum extra damage healed, the spells range becomes Close.

For example, at caster level 6 Cure Light Wounds becomes a Close range spell, at caster level 11 Cure Moderate Wounds becomes a Close range spell, 16 for Cure Serious Wounds, etc.

Eagle's Slendour

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Fireball

Damage cap on this spell is 20D6. If the caster can see the target, no attacks need be made to pass the fireball through a constriction such as an arrow slit. However, the fireball is a sphere of fire about 8 inches in diameter prior to reaching its destination. If anything prevents it from traveling in a straight line from the caster's hand to its destination, the fireball will erupt at the point where it is blocked.
The caster must make a ranged touch attack on their target to have the fireball hit it directly (even when the target is a point in space, see rules on splash attack.) If they miss, roll d8 to determine the direction of the miss from the target location, then roll d6 to determine distance as follows: 1-3:5ft., 4-5:10ft., 6:15ft.

Fox's Cunning

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Haste

If a character casts a spell with a casting time no more than one standard action, they may take an additional standard action each round they are affected by Haste, but may move no more than a 5 foot step if they do so. If a character makes a Full Attack, may cast a spell (with a casting time no more than one standard action) as their extra standard action.

Light

Range: Close (25' + 5' per 2 levels.)

Also, note that while Light can be cast on a creature, it cannot target a specific part of that creature. The light will emanate from its entire body. If the creature becomes invisible, its light will be invisible as well (i.e. Light will not substitute for Glitterdust.) It also has no specific effect on blur effects, concealment, etc. It is as if the creature is bearing a torch.

Lightning Bolt

A lightning bolt that strikes a surface may destroy it (similar to Fireball, but electrical damage as opposed to fire) and pass beyond. If it fails to destroy and pass beyond any object in its path, it will reflect off that object and seek to reach its full range. Reflection will be at an angle appropriate to the angle of incidence of the lightning bolt with respect to the surface of the object struck.

Owl's Wisdom

At caster level 7 this spell's range becomes Close.

Resistance

At caster level 4 this spell's range becomes Close.

Stone Call

For each round of this spell's duration, spell casters within its area must make a concentration check to cast successfully, in addition to any other concentration checks they may have to make otherwise.

True Strike

Range: touch. Willing target only.

 

Magic Items

Metamagic Rods

Base prices of metamagic rods are adjusted as follows. Creation costs and other values based on base cost are adjusted according to the new base price.

  • Quicken, lesser: 22,000gp
  • Quicken: 50,000gp
  • Quicken, greater: 110,000gp

Crafting Magic Items:

The first requirement for crafting an item that is not met (other than a firm level requirement, which cannot be overcome by a DC increase) adds 5 to the crafting DC for the item. A second requirement not met by the caster increases the DC by 10, the third by 15, etc.