What house rules do Paizo game designers play with?


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Curious minds want to know


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It's quite an elaborate set of house rules. Luckily, you can buy a printed version of the d20 system including all their house rules in book form. They named it the Pathfinder RPG. :)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

The ones I recall at the moment are:

1. An action point system, similar to the one in the 3.5 Unearthed Arcana (and Eberron, for that matter), but with more options, including things that cost more than 1 AP to perform. Action points are based on your level and your Charisma modifier (yes, it is an explicit and intentional game-mechanical thing for Charisma to do, lucky you if you're a CHA-based class, sucks to be you if you dump CHA).

2. Handwaved experience points. Everybody just kind of levels when they level. Saves time on doing the math. I used to be a stickler for doing it by the numbers, but with this most recent campaign not so much. :)

3. Teleportation spells are 1 level higher.

4. I sometimes use bits and pieces of things I've written that get cut in final products, or stuff to playtest while I'm writing new products.

There might be a few others but those are the ones that spring to mind.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Not very many...

1.) I tend to make the players use Diplomacy whether they're great role-players or not. And Handle Animal. And I hate that. I absolutely hate doing it. However I find it is the only deterrent to dump-stating CHA.

2.) Recently I started a campaign where on levels 1 and 2, I made the players use a 15 point buy. On 3rd level, I let them raise it to the more traditional 20 point buy. I was pleased and surprised and they found out that they had re-evaluated what was absolutely necessary in terms of ability scores. They took their additional points and balanced their characters, as they'd already set their priorities earlier. I may not repeat that though, but it was a good experiement.

3.) I have no idea if a grappled character can get AOO's against other characters (besides the one they're grappling), but I don't allow it. They got their hands full.

4.) I have handwaived experience too. I started counting points this most recent campaign, and at 6th level I'm ready to stop again. I *do* like to know when it should be happening though.


Jim Groves wrote:
2.) Recently I started a campaign where on levels 1 and 2, I made the players use a 15 point buy. On 3rd level, I let them raise it to the more traditional 20 point buy. I was pleased and surprised and they found out that they had re-evaluated what was absolutely necessary in terms of ability scores. They took their additional points and balanced their characters, as they'd already set their priorities earlier. I may not repeat that though, but it was a good experiement.

I really like this idea! I often find myself having not a very clear idea of my character when I start playing him/her. A few levels later, I have a better idea and want to do some rewriting.

You said you may not repeat this idea, though. Is there any particular reason why?


http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderR PG/rules/breathOfLifeUseless&page=2

James Jacobs uses a house rule that renames Breath of Life to Cure Deadly Wounds, this lets clerics cast it spontaneously. This free's up the memorization slot, because the spell isn't used for the raising effect very often in his experience.

He also removes the negative level penalties for being brought back.

Silver Crusade

Jim Groves wrote:


3.) I have no idea if a grappled character can get AOO's against other characters (besides the one they're grappling), but I don't allow it. They got their hands full.

Actually, characters grappling only have one member taken. This was clarified by developers as holding someone by the arm, instead of literally wrestling with him.

I believe the fact your character can only attack with a -2 penalty to attack, plus -4 to dex and only with light weapons or unarmed strike is enough of a nerf.


I recall James or Jason saying that they used 2X WBL.

Oh yeah, and if Lisa's character gets killing, your fired!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

LilithsThrall wrote:

i really like this idea! I often find myself having not a very clear idea of my character when I start playing him/her. A few levels later, I have a better idea and want to do some rewriting.

You said you may not repeat this idea, though. Is there any particular reason why?

It seemed punitive. Truth be told, I was originally going to adhere to 15 points, but then I reconsidered. PFS for example uses a 20 point buy.

I was trying to make the point that you don't have to max one stat to be successful, so I starved them a little. My monk player, for example, was shaking his head saying he'd never survive 2 levels. Then I felt I was just being a jerk, and I relented. THE SIDE EFFECT was that they actually agreed with me. The monk, specifically, kicked just as much ass as if he'd had a 20 point buy to begin with.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Maxximilius wrote:

Actually, characters grappling only have one member taken. This was clarified by developers as holding someone by the arm, instead of literally wrestling with him.

I believe the fact your character can only attack with a -2 penalty to attack, plus -4 to dex and only with light weapons or unarmed strike is enough of a nerf.

Okay. ::shrug:: I don't know if anyone in my group cares though. They've never challenged it (and I do get rule challenges!). I'll think about.

But bear in mind, we weren't invited to speak up, just to have to defend our choices. :)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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Maxximilius wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:


3.) I have no idea if a grappled character can get AOO's against other characters (besides the one they're grappling), but I don't allow it. They got their hands full.

Actually, characters grappling only have one member taken. This was clarified by developers as holding someone by the arm, instead of literally wrestling with him.

I believe the fact your character can only attack with a -2 penalty to attack, plus -4 to dex and only with light weapons or unarmed strike is enough of a nerf.

You can't make AoOs when you have the grappled condition. It's right there in the glossary, p. 567: "Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity." Doesn't get much clearer than that.

You can attack the creature grappling you, or any other creature you can reach, as long as you don't take an action that "requires two hands to perform." Sadly, that is a bit ambiguous as to whether it was meant to be two hands AT THE SAME TIME (as in, using a two-handed weapon or a bow) or two hands (or appendages of any kind) sequentially, as in a creature's claws, or a bite and claws, or any other combination.

For my money, it means two hands at the same time, so you can TWF or full attack with both claws and bite and whatever else. You can attack what you can reach, at -2 to hit (and -4 Dex, so extra -2 if finessing or ranged), but as stated above you can't AoO.

Unless you have some cheater archetype that says you can, like the tetori monk, the brutal pugilist barbarian, the unarmed combat fighter, and probably a few others I'm forgetting.

Silver Crusade

Jim Groves wrote:


Okay. ::shrug:: I don't know if anyone in my group cares though. They've never challenged it (and I do get rule challenges!). I'll think about.

But bear in mind, we weren't invited to speak up, just to have to defend our choices. :)

Far from me the idea to criticize anything or anyone, I was just clarifying this point from what I heard and found when I did a research about this exact problem a while back.

*Goes back to bed now that problems are forgotten and writing becomes difficult.*

EDIT - @Jason Nelson : Well, looks like my memory is playing tricks and making me even more worthless right now. An epic tale of odds in itself.
Let's say I never spoke from the beginning about doing AoOs while grappled.

*Going to bed for real now.*

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

@Jason- Hahaha. That's sad and funny. You don't know how many times I've read the combat chapter section pertaining to grappling, wishing there was a clear cut statement like that. That's where I've been looking, and shazam, it's right there in front of my face. I'm mildly embarrassed. BUT.. that is offset by the glee with which I'll tell my resident rules lawyer about this.

@ Maxximilius - we're cool! I didn't mean to bite.


Jason Nelson wrote:

The ones I recall at the moment are:

1. An action point system, similar to the one in the 3.5 Unearthed Arcana (and Eberron, for that matter), but with more options, including things that cost more than 1 AP to perform. Action points are based on your level and your Charisma modifier (yes, it is an explicit and intentional game-mechanical thing for Charisma to do, lucky you if you're a CHA-based class, sucks to be you if you dump CHA).

2. Handwaved experience points. Everybody just kind of levels when they level. Saves time on doing the math. I used to be a stickler for doing it by the numbers, but with this most recent campaign not so much. :)

3. Teleportation spells are 1 level higher.

4. I sometimes use bits and pieces of things I've written that get cut in final products, or stuff to playtest while I'm writing new products.

There might be a few others but those are the ones that spring to mind.

Oh I really like the Charisma based AP system, Charisma Dump stats have always annoyed me.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Maxximilius wrote:


Actually, characters grappling only have one member taken. This was clarified by developers as holding someone by the arm, instead of literally wrestling with him.
I believe the fact your character can only attack with a -2 penalty to attack, plus -4 to dex and only with light weapons or unarmed strike is enough of a nerf.

When you're doing it that way it lowers your CMB by 20 as shown in creatures who take that route.


I allow Vital Strike to combine with all feats and actions. So you can vital strike on a Charge, Cleave, Spring attack, full attack and such. It can only apply to one attack. So if you Cleave it's only your first attack that gets the extra damage dice. Same with a full attack, only your first attack.

Contributor

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I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

Interesting, I like, I may have to steal this for my campaign.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

That's a really cool system! Opens up the ability to start at 0 level apprentice characters, starting everyone at 0A or some flat HP like 3+ConBon HP at level 0 if you want to have special abilities right off.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

This alternate method intrigues me and if I were inclined to give up conventional XP tracking, I would give it a go. It appeals to me much more than pure GM fiat/hand-waving. I like the idea that the players can expect to earn at least one Step per session (if not two.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hear the one consistent house rule at Paizo is that Lisa always wins.

Contributor

Sean has a shirt that says "Monte Cook says I get to reroll one d20 roll," and he wears it pretty much every game. So far, it's always been allowed.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

I'm so stealing, err I mean borrowing, this for my homebrew rpg. It would fit perfectly with the mechanics to level.

Silver Crusade

LazarX wrote:
I hear the one consistent house rule at Paizo is that Lisa always wins.

But what happens if right now, the goal of the game is to lose ?

*Shudders for having initiated the end of the universe.*

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I mostly run games by the book. I do little tweaks here and there though. For example, I allow vital strikes to work as Spring Attacks and charges and all that. Also, the spell breath of life is actually called cure deadly wounds in my game, so that spell can be spontaneously cast a lot easier.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Jason Nelson wrote:
You can't make AoOs when you have the grappled condition. It's right there in the glossary, p. 567: "Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity." Doesn't get much clearer than that.
Jim Groves wrote:
@Jason- Hahaha. That's sad and funny. You don't know how many times I've read the combat chapter section pertaining to grappling, wishing there was a clear cut statement like that. That's where I've been looking, and shazam, it's right there in front of my face. I'm mildly embarrassed. BUT.. that is offset by the glee with which I'll tell my resident rules lawyer about this.

Wow, so that's where that rule was hiding out? I mean it seemed logical, but I scoured the combat chapter on the PRD and PDF (thinking I'd missed something in my 1st printing) multiple times and couldn't find it. The glossary never occurred to me either. >.<

Glad to know now at least! Methinks I might need to forgive a negative level for one of my group's PCs now... ^_^;


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

Allow me to say this, your idea is genius! I had thought in the past some way to advance characters in Tiers in a more organic way, like the Sa Ga games.

This Step Advancement seems really smooth and I really like the concept, I would very much like to use it in my up coming campaign if that's alright with you.

Contributor

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loaba wrote:
This alternate method intrigues me and if I were inclined to give up conventional XP tracking, I would give it a go. It appeals to me much more than pure GM fiat/hand-waving.

Four a party of 4 PCs, the XP/level chart and the XP/encounter chart are built so you need about 20 CR-appropriate encounters to advance one level on the medium track. At 4-5 CR-appropriate encounters per session, that's 4 or 5 sessions between levels... which is exactly what 1 "step" per session gives you.

So it's no more GM fiat than "I've decided this session is going to have many/few low-level encounters" (which translates to lower/higher XP that session).

Contributor

Dapifer wrote:
This Step Advancement seems really smooth and I really like the concept, I would very much like to use it in my up coming campaign if that's alright with you.

Well, it's available on my website, and the original version was published in Monte Cook's World of Darkness a few years ago, so I was hoping some people would use it. :)


Dapifer wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

Allow me to say this, your idea is genius! I had thought in the past some way to advance characters in Tiers in a more organic way, like the Sa Ga games.

This Step Advancement seems really smooth and I really like the concept, I would very much like to use it in my up coming campaign if that's alright with you.

At least you were nice enough to ask. I should work on my manners. :-P


Off the official record, do you guys allow crafting feats to surpass WBL?


I gotta say, I don't like the step progression. I think gaining levels should be a dramatic point in the overall plot of the campaign, not just something that creeps up on people. Players get excited when they level. Four small moments of excitement do not equal one big moment of excitement. Consequently, I'm much more a fan of the GM not tracking experience points but, rather, handing out levels as he sees fit (as the other game designers say they do). It, also, helps him to match encounters to party power (in the case, for example, the party is exploring a ruin/dungeon, the GM doesn't have to adjust a monster encounter in response to the party gaining levels - he already knows when the party is going to gain levels).

On a positive note, I'm a huge fan of renaming breath of life to cure deadly wounds. This is an idea I'm gonna steal.

Contributor

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LilithsThrall wrote:
I gotta say, I don't like the step progression. I think gaining levels should be a dramatic point in the overall plot of the campaign, not just something that creeps up on people.

And I think players shouldn't have to wait for 16-20 hours of gameplay to occur in order to see any improvement in their characters. ;)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Frogboy wrote:
At least you were nice enough to ask. I should work on my manners. :-P

You're buying into that whole 'digital piracy' argument too much. You're not stealing from Sean. :) Doubly so since he gives it away. ;)


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Frogboy wrote:
Dapifer wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

Allow me to say this, your idea is genius! I had thought in the past some way to advance characters in Tiers in a more organic way, like the Sa Ga games.

This Step Advancement seems really smooth and I really like the concept, I would very much like to use it in my up coming campaign if that's alright with you.

At least you were nice enough to ask. I should work on my manners. :-P

The entire second page is the OGL (even though I'm pretty sure none of those Noun: The Verbing games were ever released under it, so I don't know why they're listed)... so you're pretty clear to use it...

Dark Archive

James Sutter wrote:
Sean has a shirt that says "Monte Cook says I get to reroll one d20 roll," and he wears it pretty much every game. So far, it's always been allowed.

If this attempt to edit turns into a double post, I apologise.

I already purchased a faction shirt. Cheliax rules! Where may I buy one of these Monte reroll shirts? Does he wash his every week or does he have several and washes a load at a time?

To avoid having to clean my faction shirt, I fold mine and wear it over my shoulder or place it on the table in front of me. When I dm, I have the pcs roll a d12(they need loving to) and high roll gets the shirt for the game.


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
I gotta say, I don't like the step progression. I think gaining levels should be a dramatic point in the overall plot of the campaign, not just something that creeps up on people.
And I think players shouldn't have to wait for 16-20 hours of gameplay to occur in order to see any improvement in their characters. ;)

I'd counter that by saying that a character is improved after every encounter (I'd point to how players' eyes light up over treasure as proof of that).

Major improvement (gaining a level), then, is okay to take longer. And it feels all the sweeter when it happens.

But, in the end, differences of opinion are cool. That's what rule 0 is for.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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Raymond Lambert wrote:


To avoid having to clean my faction shirt, I fold mine and wear it over my shoulder or place it on the table in front of me.

Just a friendly note, if you every play at conventions where I'm running Pathfinder: that doesn't work at my table. You actually have to wear the shirt, and to have been wearing when you make the attack or saving throw you want to re-roll. (My reasoning: the faction shirts are there to advertise the Pathfinder Society and Golarion. They're there to get passers-by to realize how cool PFS is. That doesn't happen when all they see is a wad of black cloth in front of you. Wear your damn shirt.)

Raymond wrote:
When I dm, I have the pcs roll a d12(they need loving to) and high roll gets the shirt for the game.

Doug Miles has a similar rule: If nobody at the table has a PFS faction shirt, then the table as a whole can use his to re-roll once per session. Whoever claims it first gets to use it.


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Dapifer wrote:
This Step Advancement seems really smooth and I really like the concept, I would very much like to use it in my up coming campaign if that's alright with you.
Well, it's available on my website, and the original version was published in Monte Cook's World of Darkness a few years ago, so I was hoping some people would use it. :)

I see, well thanks a lot! I mentioned to one of my players that we would be using a tiered system instead of XP and his face lit with joy and anticipation, and I believe the rest will react in a similar manner.

We loved XP, we loved it on videogames and on tabletop, but at some point it becomes really tiring, this system feels like a good alternative that let's the player still run towards that tantalizing carrot in front of him, but also allows a little more personal investment on the character, choosing which step would be appropriate to advance at every milestone, but without the feeling of need to kill every XP tag you can find.

@Frogboy: Give it no further thought, I realized Sean must have posted it online for a reason, but I have this exaggerated respect for ideas not my own so I wanted to ask anyways, for me it feels better to have direct and explicit thumbs up from the author than to assume it's ok because it's online, I guess you could say I am weird in that regard.

Contributor

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Raymond Lambert wrote:
I already purchased a faction shirt. Cheliax rules! Where may I buy one of these Monte reroll shirts?

He only made a limited number. Here's what mine looks like.

Grand Lodge

Chris Mortika wrote:

Just a friendly note, if you every play at conventions where I'm running Pathfinder: that doesn't work at my table. You actually have to wear the shirt, and to have been wearing when you make the attack or saving throw you want to re-roll. (My reasoning: the faction shirts are there to advertise the Pathfinder Society and Golarion. They're there to get passers-by to realize how cool PFS is. That doesn't happen when all they see is a wad of black cloth in front of you. Wear your damn shirt.)

Yeah... while I like seeing people wearing the faction shirts, I can't say that I'm a fan of having someone at my table who's been wearing it for the whole 4-day convention :)


James Jacobs wrote:
I mostly run games by the book. I do little tweaks here and there though. For example, I allow vital strikes to work as Spring Attacks and charges and all that. Also, the spell breath of life is actually called cure deadly wounds in my game, so that spell can be spontaneously cast a lot easier.

This makes me think of possible cheese with clerics researching custom spells. Cue the "Cure Nothing at All" spell with whatever effect you desire.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.

I'm going to present this to my group. I'm sure they'll love smaller advancements considering we get maybe 1 game month, 2 if we're lucky. I do have a few questions. If a 4th level wizard advances a step and chooses Special, would he get access to 3rd level spells? Can he even cast them despite techically being a 4th level caster, or would his fireballs be 4d6 in this system?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
I mostly run games by the book. I do little tweaks here and there though. For example, I allow vital strikes to work as Spring Attacks and charges and all that. Also, the spell breath of life is actually called cure deadly wounds in my game, so that spell can be spontaneously cast a lot easier.

Was there ever an explanation by Jason or Sean what'd be so terrible about allowing Spring Attack and Vital Strike together as an official rule? Seems to me that it'd finally make skirmishing at least somewhat viable as a source of good damage.

And good idea on the Breath of Life issue! Although I still think that the spell needs to be short range rather than touch. ^^


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
I gotta say, I don't like the step progression. I think gaining levels should be a dramatic point in the overall plot of the campaign, not just something that creeps up on people.
And I think players shouldn't have to wait for 16-20 hours of gameplay to occur in order to see any improvement in their characters. ;)

I'm with you, but then my players said they preferred a big advancement dump. No accounting for taste, I suppose.


perhaps I can explain. In my own experience, there is something to be said for feeling the limitations of your level before you bump up. This is most felt near the end of a big story arc where you may face off against the BBEG. Its like starving yourself of cake before your birthday. When you finally get the cake, it tastes divine.

I think that step experience is cool, just not my taste. I dont need a reward every session or every 2 sessions or whathaveyou. I can go many sessions without a reward, knowing that it is just over the horizon. I don't need to count xp, I just need to know when the stone giant arch-wizard dies by my hand, I will suddenly gain 4 skill points, a feat, a high level spell slot, and a HD increase :P

Dark Archive

magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
I mostly run games by the book. I do little tweaks here and there though. For example, I allow vital strikes to work as Spring Attacks and charges and all that. Also, the spell breath of life is actually called cure deadly wounds in my game, so that spell can be spontaneously cast a lot easier.

Was there ever an explanation by Jason or Sean what'd be so terrible about allowing Spring Attack and Vital Strike together as an official rule? Seems to me that it'd finally make skirmishing at least somewhat viable as a source of good damage.

And good idea on the Breath of Life issue! Although I still think that the spell needs to be short range rather than touch. ^^

I really think it's just the way the rule was meant to work was Spring Attack as Full-Round. It wasn't super duper broken in 3.5, but it was kind of hard to stop if your build could not handle it.

Vital Strike wouldn't disrupt the balance of Spring Attack too much, even with the new feats to help out Vital Strike. But the Spring Attack change nerfed Vital Strike on accident.


Anburaid wrote:
I think that step experience is cool, just not my taste. I dont need a reward every session or every 2 sessions or whathaveyou. I can go many sessions without a reward, knowing that it is just over the horizon. I don't need to count xp, I just need to know when the stone giant arch-wizard dies by my hand, I will suddenly gain 4 skill points, a feat, a high level spell slot, and a HD increase :P

See what I'm up against?

Contributor

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Soullos wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pretty much play by the book, except for my steps-based level advancement system.
I'm going to present this to my group. I'm sure they'll love smaller advancements considering we get maybe 1 game month, 2 if we're lucky. I do have a few questions. If a 4th level wizard advances a step and chooses Special, would he get access to 3rd level spells? Can he even cast them despite techically being a 4th level caster, or would his fireballs be 4d6 in this system?

Yes, he would, which means he'd have 4d6 fireballs. Nothing wrong with that. :)

Shadow Lodge

Jim Groves wrote:


4.) I have handwaived experience too. I started counting points this most recent campaign, and at 6th level I'm ready to stop again. I *do* like to know when it should be happening though.

Every 13 encounters, IIRC.

:)

Edit: Or I guess, 20... :D

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