Houserule Footnotes: Stocking Stuffers (PFRPG) PDF

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Houserules are funny things. They often come from a desire to make a game "better," but one group's houserules are often seen as terrible fun-killers by other groups. In many cases that's because different groups want different things to matter in their games, and focus on different elements. This is often a matter of play style—some groups never worry about encumbrance at all, others only look it up if the halfling rogue tries to carry the orc barbarian to safety, and a few have players recalculate their move rate every time they use a crossbow bolt. As long as everyone is having fun, none of those are "wrong," but it's easy to see how houserules designed for one of those groups might be hated by the others.

Which brings us to Stocking Stuffers. The following is a collection of house rules I've created or encountered in other groups over the years. Some are in use in my own campaigns, others aren't. Each is presented as a separate idea, and GMs are encouraged to look them over with a critical eye. If any seem to be a good match for the GM's home campaign, a quick conversation with the players may be in order. If not, perhaps reading these will spark an idea for a better house rule. At the very least, we hope you enjoy reading these little twists to the normal rules, which we offer free of charge as our holiday gift to our fans, patrons, and fellow gamers.

The houserules included are:

  • Background Skill Points: Characters begin play with 2 additional skill points which can only be spent on Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession skills.
  • Equipment: Rules for Alternate Special Materials and Object Criticals.
  • Spotlight Time: Characters that have the entire group's attention at the moment get bonuses to all of their actions.

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****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Nice FREE collection of house-rules

****( )

Super Genius Games‘ free Christmas offering is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so what exactly is covered?

Well, after a short introduction we delve into the first optional rule, one regarding background skills. Each character using this houserule gains 2 additional skill points per level they must use for Perform, Craft, Profession or Knowledge-skills. Great to offset the skill-dearth of fighters and similar handicapped classes, this rule also makes NPCs in my opinion more believable.

Per default, PFRPG offers as special materials cold iron, adamantine, mithril and darkwood. (though I also consider alchemical silver part of the equation, it is absent here). The second houserule provides a short table with leather and clothing equivalents that use the same stats for all but cold iron, which is primarily used to bypass certain DRs. An ok reskinning, though honestly, I would have preferred a short list of truly original materials. Oh well, it’s free, no harm here and the added flexibility of no longer restricting these materials to a certain base-item category is worth something.

There is also a new houserule for object critical in hee, that allow certain weapons to crit certain objects –axes may now threaten objects made of wood, while hammers (though called axes in the text - a rare SGG-typo) may crit stone, earth and rock beings. Blades are especially useful versus clothing, rope etc. It is interesting, though, that piercing weapons have been forgotten in the equation – from ranged weapons to picks, piercing weapons get the short end of the stick, which is a pity. What about scythes and sickles and non-wooden plants? Per se a cool idea, but one I feel that would justify its own fully developed book. In the short space allotted, the idea is nice, but needs some expansion still.

For groups with players that tend to hog the spotlight, “Spotlight Time” might be a cure: The idea is that each session is split up between characters in time intervals. When a given character has the spotlight s/he gets one spotlight point per 15 irl minutes of planned spotlight time. This point works much like an old-school hero-point, allowing them to spend them to gain a reroll for any d20 (and treating 1-10 as 11-20 on the reroll!) after seeing the result, forcing an NPC to reroll a d20 or gain a feat they fulfill the requirements for the duration of the spotlight time. For me personally, that feels a bit too much – with a duration of 75 minutes spotlight, that would mean e.g. 6 spotlight points, up to 5 (!!!) feats could be bought temporarily, feats the character otherwise suddenly “forgets”. How does one explain that in-game? In my book, that not only breaks logic, it breaks balance, especially when also combined with the massively powerful reroll-rules. No way. It is a houserule, after all, but none I’ll use in any of my games. This feels like a good idea that needs some tweaking to properly work.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good and while not up to SGG’s usually almost flawless track record, one glitch is not enough to complain. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and even has a single bookmark for the SRD, even though it is short. Commendable! This is a nice Christmas gift and it should be taken as such: A nice free pdf of houserule-suggestions that may work for you, but definitely show that they are houserules. They mostly lack the elegant refinement I associate with SGG’s crunch and in especially the last one, while a good idea, would require a DM to significantly up the challenge. As such, I don’t consider this free offering to be on par with some of the other free SGG-files out there. While still a good download to mine ideas, I can’t give this one my full 5 stars and instead encourage you to dl it and make up your own mind. Though most of the rules did not appeal to me as a person, I still see their value for certain groups and thus will settle on a final verdict of a very respectable 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


A festive package of AWESOME! And it’s FREE, so why not get it?!

*****

Super Genius Games really got into the spirit of the season with this one, giving gaming groups a handful of options intended to add more flavour to characters, their gear, and their actions in play.

Background skill points. Ever complain that your fighter or cleric just doesn’t get enough skill-points to fulfill their primary role and do justice to the two-page backstory you wrote? With background skill points, that is no longer a problem. Even though these points can only be spent on certain skills, they give you far better options to reflect a PC’s education and interests, and they free you to spend your baseline skill-points on the ‘important stuff’.

Alternate special materials. Ever have a character who wears leather or hide armour, but wants something with the properties of adamantine or mithral? Behold your salvation.

Object critical hits. The cinematic option of hacking down a door with one or two axe-blows, or shattering a stone column with a hammer, is no longer beyond your reach.

Spotlight time. Whoa boy. If you’ve ever needed a way to bring a shy player to the forefront, or encourage a prima donna to let someone else take the lead for a while, this is your salvation. The bonuses involved are based on the length of time each PC holds the spotlight, which means they can get pretty sizeable if you pull marathon sessions, but they’ll also help your gaming group explore problem-solving options they normally wouldn’t consider, and in my opinion, more creativity at the gaming table is never a bad thing.

Best of all? You can’t beat the holiday pricing! It doesn’t get cheaper than ‘free’, folks, so if you want to see the sort of awesome an SGG product can bring to your gaming table, grab this one - and get ready to be blown away.


Webstore Gninja Minion

Now available—and free!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Thanks Liz!

We hope you enjoy reading these little twists to the normal rules, which we offer free of charge as our holiday gift to our fans, patrons, and fellow gamers.

The houserules included are:
Background Skill Points: Characters begin play with 2 additional skill points which can only be spent on Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession skills.
Equipment: Rules for Alternate Special Materials and Object Criticals.
Spotlight Time: Characters that have the entire group's attention at the moment get bonuses to all of their actions.


Thank you. It is appreciated. Ypu might want to know that the "Houserule" in the title caught my attention. I was more than happy with your "Houserule Handbook - Spellpoints". As a result this line gets an automatic look :)


The Background Skill Points & Rules for Alternate Special Materials are ones I wish I had thought of myself. Espscially the skill points. That is the main reason I wish classes had more points, for all of the background stuff you could have, but can't affor to spend the skill points on.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

I'm glad you are all enjoying it! Thanks for the feedback. :D


I really like the idea of the Background Skill Points.


Free stuff! YYEEEEAAAHH!!!!

Thanks, guys!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DungeonmasterCal wrote:

Free stuff! YYEEEEAAAHH!!!!

Thanks, guys!

Eric Hinkle wrote:
I really like the idea of the Background Skill Points.

THESE +1,000,000. The dearth of skill-points for many classes has been a bugbear of mine for years, hobbling a string of flavourful character concepts, and now those characters finally have room to express themselves! THANK YOU, SUPER GENIUS GAMES: YOU’VE SAVED CHRISTMAS! :D

Alternate materials, so now I can make hide shirts with the properties of adamantine or mithral? I can think of characters who’d like to kiss you guys right now!

Object critical-hits? Hacking down doors with axes or smashing stone statues with hammers? This is so cinematic that I’m amazed it wasn’t included in the baseline PFRPG!

And spotlight time is arguably the perfect way to get everyone ‘switched on’ and fully involved in the game. If a gaming group thinks some players/PCs are getting to do all the fun stuff, and others are being overshadowed, this is a heck of a way to even out the honours.

If you’ll excuse me for a moment, my inner beta-reader is once again kicking up a fuss about minor problems, and I’d better let him get it out of his system. :rolleyes: Errata are in the spoiler-tag below; bold marks the problem, with suggested fixes in italics.

Spoiler:
Alternate Special Materials section, p.3, lead-in fiction:
Quote:
Mythrathene ran her ringer along the supple material, while the shop’s keeper stood nervously by.

I think that’s meant to be ‘finger’.

Quote:
She glanced at the shopkeeper. “Hyrda-hide, you say?”

‘Hydra’, surely?

Alternate Special Materials section, p.3, right-hand column:

Quote:
Obviously, the cloth and leather is not considered to actually be made of adamantine or mithral, just from materials with the same costs and modifiers. The effect of this charge is fairly minor, and the largest impact is requiring the GM...

Perhaps meant to be ‘change’?

Object Criticals section, p.4, bottom of left-hand column:

Quote:

Axes: Axes can score critical hits against objects made of wood or mostly made of wood, including most wooden doors, shields, and hafted weapons.

Hammers: Axes can score critical hits against objects made of earth, rock, or stone, including most stone walls and earth elementals.

Probably should be ‘Hammers’.

Spotlight Time section, p.4, just after the lead-in fiction:

Quote:
In many forms of fiction, especial serial fiction such as television shows, comics, and book series, ...

Meant to be ‘especially’, I think.

There are also two instances of ‘spotlight’ being misspelled as ‘splotlight’ on p.5, in the left-hand column, in the first and second full paragraphs.

Niggles dealt with, I’ve got to go back to gushing. This is one more SGG product that just blows me away with how common-sense, intuitive, and pro-fun it is... and the fact that they gave it away for free is like pouring chocolate-chips over a triple-chocolate sundae. It is just too sweet for words!


I really like the alternate special materials. It's nice to see the other materials getting some attention.


And reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Thanks for the review!

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