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Does anyone stick to the basic rules for PbP?


Gamer Talk

Grand Lodge

Why is it that every PbP game I see starting up has a bunch of extra stuff added onto the character creation. Extra feats, more skill, more gold less gold more hit points. Am I an stupid and boring or were the rules not put together and published because they were good already? I have been playing RPG's since '96 and have never changed character creation. Legit non- jerk observations would be great for discussion.


People like to chop change and create new things to make themselves happy... It is why so many House Rules exist!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

I've never known a home game to not have house rules.


I'd imagine you would find the same "extra stuff" in the DM's RL games. I doubt this trend is confined to PbP.


I usually only channe point buys and give average starting gold, use traits what is weird about that. Summoners are just so much work to keep track of though. I have run across different character generation tihngs in home games. Traits what races are allowed and have run gestalt home games. MY houserules are really way out their cornercases.

The Exchange

House rules are nothing new. Each GM has a certain way they like to play their games, which may or may not require a slight change of rules. While the published rules work fantastically, many GMs find that they like this class to have more X, or this spell to have a longer duration, or any number of things. Usually, it's simply a preference, just like choosing what point buy you use, or if you even use a point-buy. Any of these changes are fine, and are up to the GM to decide. If they want to houserule a game so that it's basically not PF anymore, so be it. If they want to run it completely RAW, that's fine too. It's simply a matter of preferences.


Rules As Written vs Rules As Intended vs Rules As Interpreted can turn quite a few things into house rules, house ruling can also be used when a party lack something it absolutely needs.


Like the rules as written not allowing you to crawl when disabled or else you fall unconcious.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Plenty of people use House Rules in their home games, I imagine they port those over to pbp games as well.

I haven’t checked out any of the recently started pbp games, but of the 10 pbp games I am in or run, none of them use significant house rules that effect character creation. A number of them use the ‘begin with two traits’ rule which is pretty close to standard in Pathfinder, one uses Action Points (Eberron game) and some of them varied between beginning with average starting gold for your character class or max starting gold for your character class ... apart from that, nothing. I tend to avoid games that have significant house rules.


I think I tend to be more prone to playing RAW in a pbp than I would be face to face, just because I feel that it gives us all some sort of a sense of commonality. I'd also be less likely to pull out some obscure rule subset/d20 iteration as most of the people I end up gaming with wouldn't have access to the same obscure source material as me.
I'd be prone to pull out say....a monster from Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed, but I wouldn't present a campaign using the Skull and Bones rules, since I doubt I would find a whole slew of people who had Skull and Bones.

However, there are certain conventions I'll tend to chuck out the door due to the time lag of pbp. Some things gotta stay, but in general, if a certain rule or convention slows things down more than it adds to the experience, I have no qualms about jettisoning it to get the plane's weight down and reduce drag.
Like,.....I don't follow initiative order very closely; the foe rolls, the party rolls, and say the party gets 20, 18, 15, 12, 10, and the foe gets a 17, the 20 and 18 go and then the foe, and the 15, 12, and 10 go whenever they show up and post.
Or, a lot of published adventures will have a long line of lower CR encounters.......a lower level group fights 2 giant spiders.....then they fight 3 stirges,.....then they'll fight another giant spider,.....then 3 orcs....then 2 orcs and a bugbear.....I'll generally throw 3 giant spiders at them, then 5 orcs and a bugbear hear the fight and join in; that sorta thing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nacona wrote:
Why is it that every PbP game I see starting up has a bunch of extra stuff added onto the character creation. ... I have been playing RPG's since '96 and have never changed character creation.

I suspect the only reason it looks like just a PbP thing to you is because of the fact that you are browsing recruiting threads where such information is mandatory. In RealLife™ if you were to meet up with someone at a convention or bar and start talking about games you've played, character creation rules are not likely to be something you would discuss. Generally such conversations involve boasting of characters' exploits, talking about favorite systems, or swapping advice. In all the conventions and events I've attended, I can't think of a single time where character creation rules came up unless there was an immediate intent to start playing a game.

With the forums though, unless you live in a game shop, you are most likely being exposed to more games than you could run into locally by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude.

Lastly, beyond simply the desire to discuss them, there is no compelling reason for people to post their local houserules here. However there is an immediate and real need for that information to be presented in a PbP environment.

Nacona wrote:
Am I an stupid and boring or were the rules not put together and published because they were good already?

New translations of the Bible are always being work on and it's several thousand years old. Lawmakers are still proposing amendments to and interpretations of the US Constitution and it's well over 200 years old. D&D is about to release it's 5th edition and Pathfinder is built upon not just 3rd edition but a .5 release of 3rd Edition.

Nothing is ever good enough, that's why there is progress in the world. As people repeatedly use things, they find ways to improve them or suit them to fit their needs. It's an iterative process that any 'living' work goes thru. If ever such a work stopped being revised, it would probably indicate that its fan base had died off or it was no longer in use.

The possibility for the rules to be perfect would also pretty much require there to be only one proper way to play and enjoy the game — there's not. Different groups have different preferences and find different aspects of the game enjoyable or tedious. Therefore, people take what they like, discard what they don't, and add or change things to make the system work for them.

Nacona wrote:
I have been playing RPG's since '96 and have never changed character creation.

Been playing since 1992 here. While I don't think I fooled with the character creation rules during the first campaign or two I ran, I was definitely modding 2nd Ed pretty heavily by the time 3rd rolled around. Now-a-days, I pretty much use the same rules in my PbP and local games. The only exception being that I've started restricting the use of Gestalts to homebrew content because it's too much work modding published adventures to work with such powerful characters.

Grand Lodge

I agree that everyone mods a bit and tweaks a little here and there. However I tend to stick to the basics. I also rarely allow material from books outside the core books. Even more rarely will I allow new classes. Only when someone has their heart set on it. In 2E I allowed just about anything that came out. From ninjas to psionics. I feel like new books now are mostly new feats and stuff that makes little difference anyway. Any thoughts?


I have had my player say they like trying out new classes in pbp as you can slowly learn the rules. Some of the new stuff allows you to make concepts that make sense and are flavorful while not being overpowered. Play by post player probably allow new stuff to allow them to think of new concepts for characters as in a home game you spend longer going to higher level where in play by post likely to die out or be in more games so you want to make more concepts.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nacona wrote:
I feel like new books now are mostly new feats and stuff that makes little difference anyway. Any thoughts?

Well APG, UM, and UC did contain a LOT of new options that would be used in character generation and advancement, that's true. We've seen new classes, new versions and modifications of existing classes, and yes, lots of new feats and spells. Considering the challenge I've faced in trying to learn all these new options my players want to try out (both locally and in PbP), I myself don't consider the impact/difference to be "little". (Unless we're talking about the impact to the powerlevel of the game. In that case, I would agree that these new options don't dramatically upset things unless you are trying to inject Pathfinder material into a 3.5 game.)

So was the material in these optional rulebooks what you were referring to when you mentioned the differences you were seeing between character creation PbP and local games?

Here's my theory on why this might be true...
Firstly this is Paizo's website. It's probably safe to assume that there's a higher percentage of Paizo fans here than on other sites. By extension, when people are fans of something, they tend to spend more money and energy focusing on it than those who have a more laid-back interest in it.

Keeping that in mind, most people who spend money on something are going to want to get some use or enjoyment out of it. Therefore, if there's a higher percentage of people buying books on this site than in local games... And you'd have to be on this site to be playing in a PbP here... Then it's reasonable to expect that PbP GMs and players are somewhat more likely to allow or desire access to the full spread of options in the books they've purchased.

Some anecdotal evidence...
Compared to my PbP where pretty much everyone has bought the CRB, APG, UM, and UC books, in my local game, I'm pretty much the only one to have done so. I'm also the only one who even has a forum account that gets used regularly.

The rest of my players either don't even have forum memberships, or only login once in a blue moon. Also, beyond copies of the CRB and GMG that I have purchased for the others as birthday presents, most of them never even buy their own books, they just come over to my home and use mine.

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Now with that said, my local players do enjoy using the classes and material from APG, UM, and UC. However, if they did not have access to these books thru the shelving in my living room, I can pretty much assure you that they would not be using them — they probably wouldn't even know about such options.

Also, like Dr. Wu mentions, a single person can play in far more PbPs than they can local games. It makes a certain amount of sense that a player who is in 5 PbPs but only 1 local game might view their choices for their local character with a bit more gravitas (since they have only 1 such PC) whereas in the typically more RP-heavy PbP games they feel more comfortable with experimenting.

Does this provide a bit more insight into what you are seeing?

Grand Lodge

Laithoron wrote:
Nacona wrote:
I feel like new books now are mostly new feats and stuff that makes little difference anyway. Any thoughts?

Well APG, UM, and UC did contain a LOT of new options that would be used in character generation and advancement, that's true. We've seen new classes, new versions and modifications of existing classes, and yes, lots of new feats and spells. Considering the challenge I've faced in trying to learn all these new options my players want to try out (both locally and in PbP), I myself don't consider the impact/difference to be "little". (Unless we're talking about the impact to the powerlevel of the game. In that case, I would agree that these new options don't dramatically upset things unless you are trying to inject Pathfinder material into a 3.5 game.)

So was the material in these optional rulebooks what you were referring to when you mentioned the differences you were seeing between character creation PbP and local games?

Here's my theory on why this might be true...
Firstly this is Paizo's website. It's probably safe to assume that there's a higher percentage of Paizo fans here than on other sites. By extension, when people are fans of something, they tend to spend more money and energy focusing on it than those who have a more laid-back interest in it.

Keeping that in mind, most people who spend money on something are going to want to get some use or enjoyment out of it. Therefore, if there's a higher percentage of people buying books on this site than in local games... And you'd have to be on this site to be playing in a PbP here... Then it's reasonable to expect that PbP GMs and players are somewhat more likely to allow or desire access to the full spread of options in the books they've purchased.

Some anecdotal evidence...
Compared to my PbP where pretty much everyone has bought the CRB, APG, UM, and UC books, in my local game, I'm pretty much the only one to have done so. I'm also the only one who even has a forum...

Wonderfully said. Not being sarcastic at all. I also have to say that I have always been the guy to buy all the books and the only reason anyone knew about them or had access to them was through me.

As for my original point, I have just always found that the content of "extra" books is slap sticky. With feats and things of that nature just thrown together with almost little thought. HOWEVER! I do not include Paizo books in this. I honestly only recently gave in and bought the UC and found that while I pretty much don't like anything in it and will not be using it in any of my campaigns that it was not slapped together willy-nilly. Although I would have liked to see the Far east content in a dedicated book. One that covered that area of the world and contained ninja and samurai. Also the Shugenja would make an interesting addition to that line of thought.


doctor_wu wrote:
Like the rules as written not allowing you to crawl when disabled or else you fall unconcious.

Like the natural armor of a dire rhino being ignored by a revolver because guns go through anything?


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Nacona wrote:
Am I an stupid and boring or were the rules not put together and published because they were good already? I have been playing RPG's since '96 and have never changed character creation. Legit non- jerk observations would be great for discussion.

While I tend to houserule pretty minimally all things considered, I tend to see the rules like a chili recipe. Whoever publishes the chili recipe has published a recipe that's generally good for general use - it's tasty, it won't make you sick, it's not impossibly difficult to make - but no recipe is one-size-fits-all. Some people are going to like a little more or less of different ingredients, or are going to add in something new or leave some things out. Some people are going to carefully read the chili recipe and follow it to the letter, while some people are going to just follow the general gist. Some people have made the chili exactly by the recipe for years, and are now intentionally messing with it just for variety. Some people might alter the chili recipe to better fit the theme of the potluck they're taking it to. The people who are altering the chili recipe aren't doing so because the original isn't good or isn't good enough; they're doing so because different people have slightly different tastes, so by tailoring it a little, they can end up with something that satisfies them a little more.


I ended up doing some moderately major house ruling for several reasons. First, everyone has their own preferred way to generate stats they and their players are willing to live with. Second, the skill system as written is very hard for most characters to truly take advantage of, so I worked on ways to make skills more usable in the game. Third, I like the action point system; it gives the players a lifeline at 1st level that makes them harder to kill without making them nasty overpowered. Fourth, as I am running a homebrew world, many of the base assumptions of the different races, classes, and monsters had to be adjusted to fit my world vs the standard assumptions made in Golarion. In the end, it comes down to the fact I want the PCs to relate to the world in a specific way, and make the changes necessary to reflect that preference; other DMs have other preferences in that department, and often have different preferences for different types of campaigns, and make their own adjustments accordingly. Also, different DMs have different comfort levels with and different access levels to the different books and material potentially available to them, and that will effect many of their decisions.

The Exchange

PbP games take a long time to get through a module. Combat is slow enough as it is, the GM I play with usually cuts out unnecessary encounters, toughens the others, and gives extra XP so we actually level more than once a year.

Dark Archive

Personally all my pbp games have tweeks in the character creation, but thats because the game isn't a "standard" pathfinder game and the tweeks reflect on the kind of game (or story) that is going to be told and I think that may be somthing that many GM agree on


I have some new things, US and Them initiative is likely one of the best things you can do for a PBP game.
My older PBPs run off individual initative and are a bit unwieldy, newer ones use us and them initaitive!

How it works
[read my profile for answers to that and other questions]

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Nacona wrote:
Why is it that every PbP game I see starting up has a bunch of extra stuff added onto the character creation. Extra feats, more skill, more gold less gold more hit points. Am I an stupid and boring or were the rules not put together and published because they were good already? I have been playing RPG's since '96 and have never changed character creation. Legit non- jerk observations would be great for discussion.

I have yet to see ANY game that's run without some house tinkering. Even Paizo has house rule adjustments for character creation for PFS. Unlike you, I don't see this as a problem. It's called seasoning to taste.

And be honest, are you actually going to claim that you yourself have never ever made a houserule, even in other matters regarding campaign operation? That you've never excluded a race because it was not appropriate to the setting you have in mind? If so, than I truly pity you in the way you've locked yourself to rigidity.

Even so, why is this a problem to you? What other people do is not a mandate that you have to follow?


You could start a new one!

You could run a PBP game for your inte-peers to enjoy, that is just like that!

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