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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pathfinder Houserules

Hello world,

I have recently been putting together a Pathfinder campaign to be played over the internet using services such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Roll20.net. The reason for this was two fold: First, if you want to do something right you have to do it yourself. Second Pathfinder is a whole lot more easy and convenient to play since it works on pc gen and all the rules are available for free online completely legally.

In a pathfinder campaign I was recently dropped from due to basically not working with the party I noticed that both the rogue and the fighter pale in comparison to the wizard, the druid, the alchemist and the inquisitor and this left the players of those classes feeling very useless. A feeling not helped by us two being the most inexperienced members and thus likely to be ignored.

So I have some houserules to take care of rules layers trapping players into little boxes where all they can do is blink away at the enemy in combat.

The first house rule I call Melee Magic:
Any class that is melee focused and cannot perform aoe attacks as standard may pick a spell class to adopt as applicable to them. This lets them get all the spells a member of that class would at their levels with the following consequences:
1. A Melee Magician's weapon is deemed their implement for the purposes of their spells. Weapons have to be "enchanted" to be considered an implement. This avoids players disarming more powerful weapons mid-combat and instantly becoming that much more powerful. Lorewise this explains the properties of the weapons and stops armies and monsters from performing spells en masse.

2. A Melee Magic item may be enchanted to allow for two weapon fighting without feats

3. A Melee Magic item will have 0 chance of spell failure in heavy armour if only heals for player characters or buffs are used.

4. If a Melee Magic item has hit and done damage to an enemy on that player character's turn they may perform a utility spell, ally heal, buff or spell attack as a minor action. The spell failure check is an additional roll to see if offensive or utility spells still hit given the player character is doing a lot on their turn

5. If a Melee Magician performs a spell as a standard action they gain no armor check penalty since they are not distracted and may add their strength or dexterity modifier to hit and attack rolls on top of the modifiers usually needed to perform the spells.

The second house rule I call Multiclassing Fairness:
Any time a player character multiclasses they level up all their classes but only make of use the class level they chose to level up until they get another level in the class they abandoned and once they do so they must spend time and resources to earn the level/s they missed.

For example:
Sue chooses to become a wizard at first level but at second level she decides to multiclass into fighter so she can become proficient in armour and attack while buffing her friends so she picks up first level in fighter, when she picks up a level in wizard at her next level up instead of just picking up a second level of wizard she picks up a third level of wizard and must then spend time and resources to catch up and make use of her second level of wizard, similar to how a student at university may change to a different course in their second or third year but must then spend time catchup to speed on their new course.

What this means in practise is the following:
1. Multiclassing is no longer completely stupid but the levels you have in a class you multiclassed into are necessarily smaller than someone who is not multiclassing.

2. Munchkinning with multiclassing is still unwise. There are 11 base classes and you only gain access to levels you missed by multiclassing if you take another level in them  so if you tried to munchkin your could end up being an eleventh level character with only first levels. Even if multiclassing first levels were treated like actual first levels and all things stacked that would still suck.

3. To level up class levels a player character missed when multiclassing that character must join the local guild for the class they need to catch up on and be absent from as many encounters as they have class levels to catch up on. This does not mean the player has to sit out of a game, instead the party may hire an adventurer that the player, whose character they are missing, takes control of. This mercenary player character stand in must have the same player character level as the player character they are standing in for and have a maximum of three classes. The player who is multiclassing must draw this stand-in character up.

4. Multiclassing characters level up slower since they miss out on encounter xp

The third house rule I call Real Life Skill Expertise:
If your character is in a situation where they must pass a skill challenge but are seemingly doomed to failure because the skill they must pass uses their dump stat then instead of rolling you may opt to display your real life expertise at dealing with the situation. If the skill challenge works off charisma, intelligence or wisdom then roleplaying in character using your real life skills as a person would suffice. If the skill challenge works off strength, dexterity or constitution then a video displaying your real life skills followed by an explanation of how that applies to the skill check is enough.

My final house rule adds a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons fourth edition features to Pathfinder:

  • A player turn consists of  a move, a minor and a standard action.
  • An action point is awarded to each player at the start of an encounter or skill challenge and may be spent to perform a move, minor or standard action or just reroll a roll
  • As a standard action a player may spend a healing surge: Perform a heal check to regain an eighth of their total hit points plus their heal modifier. If the player has a healing spell they may perform a heal check on an ally as a minor action if they are adjacent.
  • Races and classes from fourth edition can be retrofitted into Pathfinder. Full details on those later.
If this all seems a bit too kind to my players there is a reason for this: If my players are tough and healy and deal lots of damage then I can stop worrying so much about not killing them and throw more monsters and traps at them in the knowledge that they can handle it.

More world building and house rules to come