My House Rules for Pathfinder PbP – Brayden Green
The Main Ones
Have fun (both the players and the GM), and keep the game flowing.
No backstabbing other players, and no intentional player deaths by other players will be tolerated. Swift and immediate stoppage of the game will happen, including ejection of the player. We are here to have fun, and that is not any fun for the person receiving the harm. If you like that kind of thing, go out into the desert and strap M-80s to a cabbage patch kid or something… I’m fine with your PC having secrets, and subplots from the other PCs, but always remember that this is a team game, so let’s keep things in that spirit.
There is no such thing as “winning” or “losing” when it comes to RP. If you are RP’ing, and enjoying time with friends, you are already winning. We are creating a story together. Have you ever seen a story where the characters absolutely ran through everything they every came across, didn’t have adversity, and had zero character growth? Most of the best stories have adversity, intense struggle, and – yes - even deaths that need to be avenged. If you are looking for something to “win” every single time, head to your nearest game console and start twiddling thumbs.
I’m not your enemy. We happen to be on the same team. Weird, huh? If you ever get killed, it is the die’s fault, not me. Or possibly it’s your own dang fault. I don’t want you to die, so either it was a matter of happenstance, or you did something stupid.
Player Related Stuff:
I am okay with evil characters, as long as you know how to play them. Most people don’t, so they don’t get them. An evil character, played correctly, would never ever be discovered as evil by the party. He/she would know that it is in its best interests for everyone in the party to respect/love/admire the person, so that they could use that for further gain. In fact, portrayed “correctly”, the evil person in the group might be the one doing the MOST good. I don’t want to casually wade into philosophy, but evil characters don’t actually see themselves as evil. They see the world a different way and understand things differently, and they are aware of that. If you aren’t a douche, then you can play an “evil” character if you choose. If you are, then you can’t.
All players are required to have a DETAILED backstory, (that makes sense w skills and traits selected…) or they will not be cleared to play. I draw inspiration off of the backstories, and take a lot of time to involve your characters in the flow of the game. It makes it more fun for me as a storyteller, and for you as the co-storytellers in this game/world that we are writing one session at a time.
All PCs are required to read any material the GM decides is pertinent to the main portion of the campaign. (Normally just the players guide, but sometimes it may be a little more). There will be an opportunity for the PCs to prove they have read the material before play starts.
I will hold you to your character’s “flaws.” What an absolutely flat game we would have if everyone was 18 and above at everything. Your character “weakness” to me is just as important as your “strength.” I will award good RP of your char flaws, and am readily available for you to pass ideas by me for “approval” on what that might mean for you.
We will be using Hero Points from the APG. They will be given upon leveling, and in “heroic” moments during the game (up to the gm’s discretion). You can augment your ability to get and use Hero Points by taking Hero Point feats. Be advised that villains and BBEG’s will have their share of these to use against you. I like rewarding people for good behavior. I also might reward Hero Points for excellent posts, or for combat ending quickly in real life, or possibly if you flatter me enough. (Hey, I’m honest!)
Out of character talk is allowed in game and recommended (everyone likes a pat on the back for a crit now and then) but make sure you use proper OOC coding when possible. Try to use proper coding when possible (I understand when using cell phones it isn’t convenient to code, and allow for that exception.)
I like honoring your specific skill ranks you specialize in (and high rolls) with knowledge that only you may be are aware of. Because of this, instead of saying it’s a gem, I will normally post specifically to that poster the knowledge that he or she knows, and they can pass it on to the other players if they choose. I am also okay with a poster saying appraise checks are an automatic “I tell the group” and then I will post it like that to create less work.
Paladins do not have to (and are recommended not to) act like stooges all the time. Paladins have come a long way from the way they were created. They are basically walking Dbags, and they were never intended that way. For more, see the part about this being a team game, and having fun above. On a related side note, don’t create characters that hate other character types in the party (ie, a dwarf in the party that hates all elves, and wants them eliminated entirely – and you have an elven archer). It just creates unnecessary conflict, and is rarely ever more fun than it is a hassle.
We are going to RP out any “bluffs,” “intimidates,” or “diplomacy” attempts (in non-combat). You will tell me that you are attempting to bluff, intimidate, be diplomatic, etc. You will then roleplay your attempt using words, logic, debate tactics, whatever. Based on our exchange, I will set a DC in my head that you need to meet. I’ll ask you to roll a d20, then you will apply your charisma ability score modifier (the +2, -1, or whatever it is) and that will also factor into your die roll. You may attempt to use a logic based attempt to above average intelligence creatures, and use your INT and/or WIS modifier(s) to influence said creatures. (GM discretion on what “kind” of argument you made, and which modifiers to use based on your position and the situation)
- Negative and Positive modifiers to be scored as follows: Anything above a plus or minus 1 modifier counts as 1 and ½ of that score, rounded down. So for example, +2 would actually give your roll a (+3), +4 modifier would give you a (+6) score to your roll, and so on. Same applies with minuses: a -2 will give you a (-3) to the roll, a -4 modifier gives you a (-6) to the roll, and so on.
Combat Related Rules:
Many other Houses have a house rule to do “critical fumbles” on a “1” attack roll. That is not going to happen here. You will still get critical hits, and you have the option to choose the critical hit deck if you want. (Rolling a “1” and auto-failing an attack sucks bad enough, I’m not a fan of snapping your weapon in half to make you feel worse about it.)
Keep combat (and decisions) as fluid as possible. We will be doing a few things as a group that are PbP specific to help combat not drag on for days or weeks altogether. The first I do is we do a “combat phase” which basically means that when combat is inevitable (GM generated) I will roll INIT for the players and post INIT lineup. I will then take submissions for *everyone* at the same time (because we post at different times of day, and in different time zones) and then I format the round based on what you post. If something that you would have done is already accomplished I will normally do the nest natural selection. (“I want to shoot skeleton A.” if skeleton A is dead then I will have you target skeleton B instead.) This isn’t a perfect scenario all of the time, and sometimes we might need to slow it down, or sometimes I might need to retcon where you are (If I move you one way, but you actually would have gone the other way to try and flank, etc.) In the interest of keeping the story fresh, I am okay with the occasional retcon. I’m not here to kill your characters, or put them in a position to be killed. (That’s your job :P )
I will be posting maps for most combats, and it is the players job to update where you are on the map, or to ask someone else to move them if posting from a cell phone.
I will also be setting a time that I want rounds to be done, and “botting” anyone that isn’t in before that time period. If you all want to, most of my groups also opt in for a 3/4s bot (botting if one player still needs to post but everyone else is submitted.)
We will be using Hero Points from the APG. Worth mentioning here too, as they have combat significance.
Initiative will be rolled by me, and combat order will be shown to the players. All saves will be handled by the PC, with a vivid description of what is happening, and most times, the save I am expecting you to hit with the explanation of why. EX: “You feel kind of a sickness in the pit of your stomach. I’m going to need you to make a DC 15 Fort…” The reason for this: this knowledge will give you the opportunity to cash in some Hero Points to land that DC if you think you need to.
Non magical healing: Using “Treat deadly wounds” rules but with one add-on: the downtime. Max HP restored will be capped at 1d6 per healer level per day, if all the rolls are made.
- 8hr minimum rest to completely restore 25% HP (if you make the rolls).
- 1d2 day(s) downtime (absolute bedrest) to restore 50% HP (w successful rolls)
- 1d3 days from 75% to “unconscious from lethal damage” (minimum 2 days, w successful rolls)
- 2d4 to completely heal a character who had received “dying” condition. (minimum 3 days, etc etc)
If you do not take the downtime, character becomes “fatigued.” PC becomes “Exhausted” AND receives “sick OR nauseous” (depending on infirmity) immediately after he/she participates in a combat after being fatigued in this specific instance.
If you do not heal the character during downtime you may heal character additionally, but upon “resting” for the downtime, the character will no longer receive any of the additional conditions for lack of downtime.
I am also adapting some house rules from my friend Jake Southworth that I think are great ideas, and I want to list them separately here so that he gets credit for them, although they should go in one of the sections above. I have riffed off of some of them, and changed some wording, but I want him to get credit as my inspiration.
• No ability score may be raised above 20 except by magical enhancement (including spells, magic items, etc.). Because, in my mind, a score of 20 represents literal perfection, the pinnacle of mortal achievement. Scores above 20 (for humanoids) should be superhuman and unnatural – it cheapens scores above 20 to have them be more common.
• At each level, a player may always re-roll the hit die if it's a 1 or a 2, no matter the hit die.
• Crafting: Because crafting, as is, just doesn’t work for PCs at all.
o See “Making Craft Work”
o The masterwork component of a weapon costs:
Simple weapons: 100gp, instead of a static 300gp.
Martial weapons: 200gp, instead of a static 300gp.
Exotic weapons: 300gp
o The masterwork component of armor costs:
Light armor: 50gp, instead of a static 150gp.
Medium armor: 100gp, instead of a static 150gp.
Heavy armor: 150gp
• When crafting magic items, the crafter’s caster level must meet the caster level of the item or take a -2 penalty on the Spellcraft check for each caster level that he is short. (a 4th level crafter making a CL9 item takes a -10 penalty for being 5 caster levels short) Because, just as some spells are beyond the ken of a novice spellcaster, some magic items are simply beyond the normal abilities of a novice crafter. And this keeps PCs from farming equipment beyond their normal wealth by level. *This doesn’t mean you can’t find NPC’s to help, because that’s just good role playing.*
• The Linguistics skill applies to skill at understanding and learning languages alone, NOT to any documentation or forgery (that’s Forgery). New languages are mastered in steps, not an entire language for each rank.
I. When you put the first skill point into Linguistics for a new language, you gain a rudimentary understanding of that language, meaning you must make a DC10 Intelligence check in order to understand spoken/written forms of that language and you cannot speak any but the simplest phrases, and probably with a horrible accent.
II. When the second skill point is applied to Linguistics for that same language, you have learned the language and you can speak, understand, and read it without difficulty, but with a noticeably foreign accent. Technical text and exceptionally flowery language (as in poetry) may still require a DC10 Intelligence check, according to GM discretion.
III. A third skill point may be put into Linguistics toward a specific language to attain complete fluency (even the most technical writing/speaking is understood) and to adopt a flawless native accent in that language granting a +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy checks against native speakers when you speak to them in that language. This does not apply to “common.”
All characters start with Common at rank II (there is no rank III for Common) and their racial languages at rank III. Bonus languages taken at first level due to a positive Intelligence modifier start at rank II. Linguistics still applies to attempts to make sense of script written in an unknown language, as explained in the Linguistics skill entry. Because learning a whole language in a few days (or even weeks) is retarded, even for heroes.
• There is a new skill to be added, Forgery. Forgery is an Intelligence-based skill and is a class skill for Bards and Rogues, and Aristocrats and Experts. The Forgery skill can be used to both create and to recognize forgeries. The Forgery skill works as explained within the Linguistics skill entry (Core Rulebook 101). When forging a document, the GM will make a secret Forgery check to determine the Sense Motive/Forgery DC of the document, though the creator will certainly know if it was well-done or if it’s rubbish. If the document ever comes under scrutiny, the scrutinizer must make a Sense Motive/Forgery check (whichever bonus is higher for the scrutinizer) against the DC determined at creation to recognize it as such, or a Wisdom check if he has no ranks in either skill. Because being skilled with languages doesn’t really have much to do with creating/recognizing forged documents, although it would admittedly help in making/recognizing a forgery in a foreign language. It makes more sense to me, personally, to have them separate. I speak 2 languages and understand the basics of a few others, and I couldn’t forge a passport.
• All PC casters get 2 additional cantrips/orisons. (Memorized casters have 2 additional 0-level slots. Spontaneous casters begin knowing 2 additional 0-level spells.) These are such dinky spells anyway that it won’t unbalance anything and it’s more fun to have more access to them.
• At 1st level, all characters receive 3 extra skill points to represent background experience, training, and hobbies. Skills are not game breaking to have too many, but it can make things boring to have too few.
• A PC cannot be taken from conscious to dead in a single hit. Anytime a PC takes damage that drops him into negative hit points, no matter how far (yes, even -100), he simply falls unconscious at a -1. This will not apply if/when a monster confirms a crit with a natural 20, if that should ever happen, though highly unlikely. At that point, you were supposed to die. (This game isn’t about death, it is about life and overcoming death.)
• When it comes time to sell items and loot, characters will not be guaranteed half of the book’s listed value. You will make an Appraise check to see if you have any idea how much something is worth. A merchant will then make you an offer based upon his want/need for the item, which you may accept or reject based upon your own valuation. Because this makes an otherwise useless skill (Appraise) relevant and it encourages you to develop relationships with merchants you feel treat you fairly. Feel free to get creative though – there’s more than one way to figure out what something is worth, in-game.
o Any character that has reached what that race considers to be “middle aged” (per p.168 in the CRB) gets +2 appraise to start out. (+4 to “Old” and +6 to “venerable”)
• If a character seeks to multiclass into a new class or to take on a prestige class, he must seek out a trainer. There will be time and cost involved. This is not to discourage multiclassing and prestige classes at all. It just makes these things more of a realistic change in career. A ranger, for example, would need someone to show him how to use arcane magic before he could multiclass into wizard. And chances are that person won’t do it for free. I am also okay with someone RPing out a multiclass with someone in the party as a template, but it needs to be cleared with me, and it needs to be somewhat of an extensive process. (ie, the character watching as so and so picks a lock, etc).