Low magic setting rules for Pathfinder


Homebrew and House Rules


Have you ever wanted to play a game more akin to Conan the Barbarian, Krull the Slayer, or really any of the old classics? A setting where magic is that really complicated yet powerful force, not just something your players slap on to cure every problem? I've had a bit of an idea how to do this in Pathfinder.

Alternate rules being implemented:
Max HP at every level: Everyone gains the maximum hit points at every level.

Armor as DR: Armor and shields provide DR/Magic equal to its AC bonus. Magic armor and shields
provides DR/-. Damage reduction does layer applying lowest to highest.

Magical healing: Magical healing is rolled as normal but only heals up to its caster level per hour until it is spent. You cannot apply multiple healing effects at the same time. Fast healing from spells or spell like effects is applied per hour.

Potion problems: Drinking 2 or more potions or extracts within 1 minute of each other inflicts 1d4 ability drain determined randomly. Alchemists and similar classes and archetypes are immune to this effect.

Restoration: Restoration magic (and similar spells) is only applied upon getting 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. You cannot apply multiple restoration spells in the same day.

Raise Dead and similar spells: Removed from game with the exception of Breath of Life. Only Wish or Miracle can resurrect a dead character.

Magic items of any kind cost double and cannot commonly be found in any but the largest cities. Anything with a caster level greater than 8 cannot be purchased. Crafting magic items also costs double. Scrolls are excluded from this rule.

Being on fire and continuous acid damage also inflict 1 point of CON Damage per round.

Slashing and Piercing weapons deal 1 point of bleed damage per 5 damage dealt (rounding down). Weapons with the bleed quality do double. Bleed always stacks.

Bludgeoning weapons deal 1 point of Dexterity damage per 10 damage dealt (rounding down).

Use Wound Thresholds Optional Rules.

Crafting wondrous items, tattoos, rings, rods, staffs, and constructs (plus any I missed) takes twice as long and can only be accomplished in a laboratory worth at least 10,000GP per caster level. Scrolls are excluded from this rule.

Crafting magic weapons and armor takes three times as long to create can only be forged in a powerful smithy worth at least 5,000GP per caster. Additionally to finish the crafting the crafter must use the blood of a recently slain monster who's CR is equal to or greater than twice the enhancement bonus being applied. This process is done as the last step of crafting.

Prepared Casters: These caster can only prepare spells as either scrolls or as rituals. Rituals (Sacred Rites if your divine) take two full round actions per spell level to set up, then can be cast as normal. Rituals can be prepared ahead of time but cannot be moved. Any area of effect damage destroys the Rituals/ Sacred Rite. Rituals are considered to have AC5 for the purpose of targeting them. Scrolls do not cost anything beyond material components to create but take the normal amount of time to craft. The use of scrolls counts against daily allotment of spells as does the creation of a ritual. To use a ritual a caster must be in the same space as it.

Spontaneous Casters: These casters cast normally except that they're spells take 1 step longer to cast. IE: A swift action becomes a standard, a standard becomes a full round, a full round becomes 2 and so on. Spontaneous Arcane Casters can also make Rituals/ Sacred Rites as Prepared Casters except the casting from prepared Rituals/ Sacred Rite is always a swift action. Spontaneous Casters cannot use scrolls.

Spells with a cast time of an immediate action can be cast as such, however their casters cannot act on their next round.

Spells and DC: Spells and Spell DC's that normally depend on spell level instead depend on caster level. Furthermore all spell damage dice increase by one step (d6 to d8 to d10 and so on).

Class and Feat Changes (Those I can think of.)
All Prepared Casters gain scribe scroll at level 1
Wizards and other classes / archetypes that would normally get a Scribe Scroll get either a item creation or meta magic feat in addition to Scribe Scroll.
Quickened Spell works normally (really no point in changing it)

Yes I know there's probably grammar/ spelling errors. No I'm not fixing them here unless they create a problem understanding the rules.


OK, a few effects you may not be aware of and related points.

The most obvious is that there may not be the usual spellcasters you expect in PF in the party. You want to set up places they can go to get curses removed etc. (and to have mooks or alternate characters for players of blinded/cursed/petrified PCs to control while they get to such places) or you'll risk losing players. From experience I know doing nothing much for multiple sessions because your character is crippled is boring.

Then there's long-term buffs being largely unaffected. Are you OK with this, particularly with buffing to the nines then storming a dungeon, or scry-buff-teleport tactics?

It's not clear how or if spell-like and supernatural abilities would be affected. There's classes which get a lot of these, notably kineticists.

Nornal healing post combat may take a few in-game days. Include a bit of leeway in your scenarios to allow for this.

If you're going to nerf magic items like this you might consider using the automatic bonus progression system or something like it to keep the character numbers in lime with those expected for their levels.

Edit: and a couple of questions. First, how portable are rituals? Can you set them up on a moving ship? A wagon? Flying carpet? On a floating disk spell?

Also, can others assist in setting up a ritual to speed that up - other PCs, apprentices, familiars, hired help, summoned monsters or whatever.


Honestly the standard question applies of "why should I bash a square peg into a round hole rather than just playing an actual Conan system"

Low magic systems tend to work a lot better when they're designed that way from the start, jury rigging a high magic one tends to cause things to break especially in a game with as many moving parts in it as PF.

Avr already talked about SLAs, long term buffs, and ritual nonsense and I'd like to toss in that armor as DR in and of itself barely functions as you get higher in levels and that leads to a doom spiral situation with how punishing taking damage has become. As avr said, no one terribly enjoys sitting around camp for a week waiting for healing or stat damage to tick back up.


avr wrote:

OK, a few effects you may not be aware of and related points.

The most obvious is that there may not be the usual spellcasters you expect in PF in the party. You want to set up places they can go to get curses removed etc. (and to have mooks or alternate characters for players of blinded/cursed/petrified PCs to control while they get to such places) or you'll risk losing players. From experience I know doing nothing much for multiple sessions because your character is crippled is boring.

Then there's long-term buffs being largely unaffected. Are you OK with this, particularly with buffing to the nines then storming a dungeon, or scry-buff-teleport tactics?

It's not clear how or if spell-like and supernatural abilities would be affected. There's classes which get a lot of these, notably kineticists.

Nornal healing post combat may take a few in-game days. Include a bit of leeway in your scenarios to allow for this.

If you're going to nerf magic items like this you might consider using the automatic bonus progression system or something like it to keep the character numbers in lime with those expected for their levels.

Edit: and a couple of questions. First, how portable are rituals? Can you set them up on a moving ship? A wagon? Flying carpet? On a floating disk spell?

Also, can others assist in setting up a ritual to speed that up - other PCs, apprentices, familiars, hired help, summoned monsters or whatever.

The bigest thing you seem to be afraid of is making players afraid to rush into things. Being clever should do more than using silly RAW exploits. So:

Your first concern is a nothing burger. If someone gets cursed it should be a big deal, taking down time to heal is just part of the process. You can just have people use the down time system while others heal. Time fast-forwards if necessary. Profession and other things are good to have.

Yes parties should "buff to the nines" before storming a dungeon. If that's how they want to spend their spells that take time to craft. Preparation and planning should be part of the experience. If that means skipping forward a day or so until they are ready to do this then so be it. Unless they are on a deadline that's fine. If they are on a deadline then they need to be creative.

Magic items are not nerfed. They just are hard to find. Getting one as loot is a big deal and feel really powerful. You don't NEED magic items to buff your stats every other level. Planning and being clever can offset any stat difference.

Connecting magic to caster level for DC's and buffing damage dice should be enough to offset most problems. lvl 1 spells will be much more powerful.

As for Kinetisist I wouldn't allow it in this sort of setting. Nor really any other class that is so high magic.

Yes you could transport rituals that way. The ship you might have to make a concentration check setting it up depending on how rough the water is. Putting one on a flying carpet or floating disk would be an EXCELLENT solution to help with your casting. Just remember they can be targeted.

Generally I would say setting up a ritual is a one person job. You could maybe even add a home brew teamwork feat that makes it faster, and maybe other teamwork feats that let other people use it or lend actions to boost caster level.


Wait, so if I have say a 10th level Sorcerer riding in my Floatign Disk with a ritual on it, I can cast a Fireball as a swift action and another Fireball as a full-round action, both with d8 dice instead of d6, and with the DC of 5th level spells, while only spending 3rd level spell slots? And this is supposed to lower the magic used?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think you are going to find that such a massive change in the rules is going to create all sorts of unexpected complications. I also don't think it will give you the 'low magic' feel that you think it will.

My suggestions:

Use automatic bonus progression. This way you can make magic items rare and special without having to adjust monsters stats/CR due to the PCs having lower numbers than expected. The game really is expecting a mid level character to have a few points higher armor, saves and to hit than they would without magic.

Consider an E6 or E8 option. Capping the highest spell level at 3rd or 4th goes a long way toward making it lower magic.

Consider requiring the first level class to be one that doesn't grant spell casting (for that level, Ranger 1 would be fine, Wizard 1 not)

Rituals: Higher level spells are only available as rituals that will cost time (minutes/hours or even days) and gold. So your 3rd level party might be able to teleport if they have that ritual (possibly quite difficult to acquire) but they have to spend to make it happen. I worked out a system using E6 that I quite like where a single character could cast rituals (given they had a book, time and money) of up to 3rd level (assuming they were 5th or 6th level) and for each 2 assistants they could gain another level. I liked it because it took 1 ritual leader and 12 assistants (a nice coven of 13) to cast the most powerful spells.


>>>P6<<<


Derklord wrote:
Wait, so if I have say a 10th level Sorcerer riding in my Floatign Disk with a ritual on it, I can cast a Fireball as a swift action and another Fireball as a full-round action, both with d8 dice instead of d6, and with the DC of 5th level spells, while only spending 3rd level spell slots? And this is supposed to lower the magic used?

Yeah I should change certify to make rituals need to be recharged. So you have to put charges on the ritual. So you could potentially chain fire fireballs if you have the time to set it up.


To be clear, the main problem I see is when a player cannot do anything interesting for multiple sessions because their character is crippled. Downtime actions are a very partial fix there, and fast forwarding is seldom possible (from my memories of AD&D, where this situation could happen easily). If you reckon you can ignore that situation and don't have to worry about it that's your business but I think you're wrong.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Sorry Alchemist, but your set of houserules isn't mathematically compatible with Pathfinder as written, because you've missed one critical addition: monsters don't do what the book says they do.

Let me explain.

We'll talk just about hit points. At say 13th level, you've got a rule in place that allows magical healing to repair 13 hit points of damage per hour. Take a gander at an Ice Device, the first CR13 monster I happened to page to.

+1 frost spear +21/+16/+11 (2d6+10/×3 plus 1d6 cold plus slow), bite +14 (2d6+6), tail +14 (3d6+3 plus slow)

Odds are pretty good that at least two spear hits will happen, for 41 damage. Add either the bit or tail slap and it's just higher.

You're saying that a PC needs to spend over three hours trying to recover from one round of damage inflicted by one level-appropriate (ie. not-really-a-challenge) monster. Only a spear is a piercing weapon, so it also inflicts 8 hit points of bleed by your rules.

My last PC at 13th level had 99 hit points. She would be at half health the moment her turn came around. And nobody could do anything about it because you've removed the spike-healing that the game's math predicates on. Nobody can cast heal on her to repair 130 hit points of damage in one action.

The monster has 10ft reach, so she wouldn't've been able to withdraw either. She'd provoke an AoO which would likely hit for another 20.5 damage. Now she's at 31 hit points and will die in four rounds from the bleed.

Oh, let's add that anyone who wants to actually cast some healing on her to literally save her life has to happen to be right beside her because they can't move and cast anymore, since you've made spells a full-round action. And even if she retreated to the party healer, what you've done is eliminated two of the party members for this round entirely.

Good news... Ice Devils have Combat Reflexes, so if the party's other melee fighters want to engage, they're getting 20+ damage to engage, plus 4 bleed. Then they get their single melee attack, and get full-attacked back, putting them in the same situation the first character was in... dying.

Oh, and that Ice Devil? It's got 161 hit points. Hope that single melee attack somehow killed it in one shot or the party is screwed.

My point is that the math of the system is balanced where abilities and effects do certain things. You don't get a playable game by simply removing the methods to deal with those abilities and effects. To get a "gritty", low-magic version of the game that works mathematically, you have a lot more work to do, which is why people have been posting their ideas for more than a decade.

Kudos for trying, but this set of rules isn't "low-magic" mode. It's vindictive mode.


Anguish wrote:

Sorry Alchemist, but your set of houserules isn't mathematically compatible with Pathfinder as written, because you've missed one critical addition: monsters don't do what the book says they do.

Let me explain.

We'll talk just about hit points. At say 13th level, you've got a rule in place that allows magical healing to repair 13 hit points of damage per hour. Take a gander at an Ice Device, the first CR13 monster I happened to page to.

+1 frost spear +21/+16/+11 (2d6+10/×3 plus 1d6 cold plus slow), bite +14 (2d6+6), tail +14 (3d6+3 plus slow)

Odds are pretty good that at least two spear hits will happen, for 41 damage. Add either the bit or tail slap and it's just higher.

You're saying that a PC needs to spend over three hours trying to recover from one round of damage inflicted by one level-appropriate (ie. not-really-a-challenge) monster. Only a spear is a piercing weapon, so it also inflicts 8 hit points of bleed by your rules.

My last PC at 13th level had 99 hit points. She would be at half health the moment her turn came around. And nobody could do anything about it because you've removed the spike-healing that the game's math predicates on. Nobody can cast heal on her to repair 130 hit points of damage in one action.

The monster has 10ft reach, so she wouldn't've been able to withdraw either. She'd provoke an AoO which would likely hit for another 20.5 damage. Now she's at 31 hit points and will die in four rounds from the bleed.

Oh, let's add that anyone who wants to actually cast some healing on her to literally save her life has to happen to be right beside her because they can't move and cast anymore, since you've made spells a full-round action. And even if she retreated to the party healer, what you've done is eliminated two of the party members for this round entirely.

Good news... Ice Devils have Combat Reflexes, so if the party's other melee fighters want to engage, they're getting 20+ damage to engage, plus 4...

Or you know as a GM you THINK about the encounters and do a little rebalnacing on your end and think about how much harder somethings are. Besides in low magic your not going to be fighting that many outsiders. And if you do its going to be a big fight. Yes this is a more deadly system. Your players should not seek out combat as their first solution every g%! d%+n time. Taking away the security blanket and making fantastical element a big deal is not hard to do. Running away now is always an option. Coming back with a plan is too.


avr wrote:
To be clear, the main problem I see is when a player cannot do anything interesting for multiple sessions because their character is crippled. Downtime actions are a very partial fix there, and fast forwarding is seldom possible (from my memories of AD&D, where this situation could happen easily). If you reckon you can ignore that situation and don't have to worry about it that's your business but I think you're wrong.

I'm not saying ignore it. I'm saying use it as a reward for after a story point. Here is the thing the GM has the wheel here. This is not the kinds of changes you make to then run a published adventure. This is 100% home brew territory. Also making players play with disadvantage often makes them think of how not to get their butts kicked the next time. You shouldn't be throwing encounter after encounter at the party, that's just too deadly. I'd recommend paring this with more story less go here kill things, get loot, my good little minions. One or two encounters a session is fine if you know how to sell it. Plus then having to escape to safety to tend to your injuries adds good tension.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Alchemist 23 wrote:
Or you know as a GM you THINK about the encounters and do a little rebalnacing on your end and think about how much harder somethings are.

You know that nowhere in your house-rule list did you mention rebalancing challenges.

Still, a little? This level-appropriate challenge likely has four times the damage-soaking capacity a PC party can put out, and does in the general ball park of four times the damage they can survive without a TPK.

Quote:
Besides in low magic your not going to be fighting that many outsiders. And if you do its going to be a big fight.

Okay. Adult black dragon. CR11. Two lower than what should be a speed-bump.

bite +21 (2d6+10), 2 claws +20 (1d8+7), 2 wings +15
(1d6+3), tail +15 (1d8+10)

So... anywhere up to 60 damage, and pretty high likelihood of hitting with most of those attacks. Admittedly I made a mistake with the Ice Devil and calculated the bleed damage on the total damage. This dragon would likely only inflict bleed 3. Still, it probably two-thirds murdered that PC I mentioned. And she's on the brink of death if she retreats because... it also has reach.

Okay, not fair, right? Dragons are apex predators. Let's go back to a CR13, with a Storm Giant, which isn't an outsider. It's just a giant.

mwk greatsword +27/+22/+17 (4d6+21/17–20) or 2 slams +26 (2d6+14)

Poop. High odds of hitting three times, and even if we ignore the high crit threat-range we're looking at 105 average damage (and bleed 7). Dead in one full-attack. At least the rest of the party doesn't have to waste actions trying to keep her alive and can spend their actions trying to somehow deal with its 199 hit points.

Quote:
Yes this is a more deadly system.

What I'm trying to convey is that this is a massive understatement.

Quote:
Your players should not seek out combat as their first solution every g&! d$%n time.

Or... ever. And if combat seeks them out... they're dead. See, you're exposing that your house-rules are about more than "low-magic". You've got an issue with murderhobo PCs, and that's totally legit. But really, you could skip the house-rules and just only throw monsters 10 CR higher than appropriate at them and save yourself all the work for the same consistent TPK experience. I don't expect anyone's going to learn either way.

Quote:
Taking away the security blanket and making fantastical element a big deal is not hard to do.

'Fraid it is. Which - again - is why there isn't a page we can point out at where it's been done properly. Not to the degree you're looking at.

Quote:
Running away now is always an option.

Take a look at that dragon statblock and tell me that's true. Right, right, apex predator. Take a look at the giant. Ooops. Move 50. TPK again. Well, there's always monsters 10 CR below the PCs. Until the PCs hit 20th level and get completely owned by a CR9 Mastadon.

Quote:
Coming back with a plan is too.

Not when you're dead. And it's awful hard to come up with a plan when each party member can survive one round.

Bottom line is that I've been trying to illustrate to you that there's a serious balance issue caused by your proposed rules. If you've got elaborate plans to compensate for that imbalance... GREAT. You haven't posted them, so you can't expect me - or anyone else - to give you truly useful feedback. All we've got currently are the how-to-screw-the-PCs part of your rules.

We aren't trying to discourage you or insult you or put you down. Keep trying, but also try incorporating some of the feedback your being given.


Anguish wrote:


Okay. Adult black dragon. CR11. Two lower than what should be a speed-bump.

bite +21 (2d6+10), 2 claws +20 (1d8+7), 2 wings +15
(1d6+3), tail +15 (1d8+10)

So... anywhere up to 60 damage, and pretty high likelihood of hitting with most of those attacks. Admittedly I made a mistake with the Ice Devil and calculated the bleed damage on the total damage. This dragon would likely only inflict bleed 3. Still, it probably two-thirds murdered that PC I mentioned. And she's on the brink of death if she retreats because... it also has reach.

Okay, not fair, right? Dragons are apex predators. Let's go back to a CR13, with a Storm Giant, which isn't an outsider. It's just a giant.

mwk greatsword +27/+22/+17 (4d6+21/17–20) or 2 slams +26 (2d6+14)

Poop. High odds of hitting three times, and even if we ignore the high crit threat-range we're looking at 105 average damage (and bleed 7). Dead in one full-attack. At least the rest of the party doesn't have to waste actions trying to keep her alive and can spend their actions trying to somehow deal with its 199 hit points.

I can see the point your trying to make and concede the CR system is now two steps behind but your also still using a fantastical creature. Yes that does matter, trust me. In this setting going to fight the giants is a big deal. These rules are meant to change "Oh just a giant" into "Oh no that's a giant." Monsters should be scary.

Now as for your math I think you did it a little wrong. Your not calculating armor as DR which would be applied per hit and would reduce the bleed damage. So your you managed to piss off a Storm Giant to the point that its going to blow all its attacks on just you in a full attack action and its already in range. Lest also say you for some reason didn't get ANY buff spells or do any preparation before, say an ambush. So 4d6+21 comes out to an average of 33 damage per hit. Say you're in full plate that DR 8 that 33 goes to down to 25 with 5 points of bleed. That is still only 95 damage on average for all three attacks landing and all the bleed. But by the time your that level you should have gotten some kind of enchantment on your armor (its expensive bout you still can get them) or better yet have a shield since your apparently the tank for running in and pissing this thing off solo. So lets say that's a heavy shield another DR 2 and a +1 on your armor or shield. Now that 25 is down to 22 with 4 points of bleed an average of 78 for all three. A level 13 fighter has a minimum of 130HP not counting con. He lives through this round and assuming he doesn't take another full round attack he'll live for a few. He can even take that Attack opportunity if he fails his acrobatics getting out of there. He can then hit back at an AC 10 Storm Giant. Once again the player should have at least a +1 magic weapon by this point which means he bypasses all the storm Giants DR.
Or, given that he just got his butt kicked in an ambush he could do what any sane living thing would do if it saw a twelve foot tall blue skinned humanoid swinging a sword the size of a full grown man. Your party members try to slow it down, with anything they can as you run like hell. I would recommend Web since the DC is based off caster level here and giants have a bad Ref save (+8). I don't think it's making the DC 27 save (assuming casting stats of at least +4).

Yes getting jumped by a Storm Giant is a bad day. But I think you can limp away from it as you chug a potion and come back to kick its but in your own ambush. Now context matters, if the giant is attacking a town or something they players may not want to run. But at the same time you don't win them all.


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So I've written and erased a much longer post pointing out some of the detailed problems I have with this. Things like the unwritten assumptions (kineticist banned, outsiders rare), the need for GM fiat (monsters don't chase, setting up ambushes is easy), and that it seems to lift spellcasters and crush fighters (melee combat more brutal, new special effects favor big hits).

After typing it all up I realized my problem is much simpler than that. You cannot mix "magic is complicated but powerful" with "melee combat sucks" as long as players can choose to play magicians and disposable minions exist (and those minions might be other players). If your Fighter regularly has to spend a few days healing the Druid definitely has time to get a new animal companion. And the Summoner laughs at both from behind their shield of monsters, all of whom are wildly overpowered for their level because they are "fantastical" creatures. You might be able to fix this with bans of some kind but until magic is dangerous and/or banned from player hands then magic will always be the best choice for players. Which is sort of the opposite of what I'd expect from a Conan game, personally.

Oh, and that Cloud Giant thing? It can break the Web with a Combat Manuever check, which it makes on a -3. It then either runs them down (50 feet a move) or blasts them with Chain Lightning (from 1000 feet away, 15d8 damage DC 27). Running is rarely an option in Pathfinder if something really wants to kill you.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

Moved to Homebrew


Sort of a tangent but for me discussions of low magic all too frequently run into this issue, which is one of definition. Conan or The Lord of the Rings are not worlds of "low" magic. They are high magic. What they are is magic rare, particularly with respect to what the players in such a world would typically wield.


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Kayerloth wrote:
Sort of a tangent but for me discussions of low magic all too frequently run into this issue, which is one of definition. Conan or The Lord of the Rings are not worlds of "low" magic. They are high magic. What they are is magic rare, particularly with respect to what the players in such a world would typically wield.

The problem here is that these houserules would lead to neither. Indeed, I think they would lead to exactly the opposite.

Let's summarize here:
1. Trading blows with the enemies is a very bad idea.
2. You only have very few fights per day (so casters can go all out).
3. You will face enemies at lower than normal CR (so your spells with save have a higher chance to succeed).
4. Most enemies will be mundane (and thus have no SR).
5. Spell DCs scale off caster level, i.e. all spells have the DCs of a highest spell form a full caster.
6. Damage spells are buffed.

With these rules, I would never play anything without at least 6/9 casting. Seriously, spontaneous casters are actually buffed, especially 6/9 ones, while martials are weakened.


I totally agree Derklord.

Part of the issue is the PCs can access by choosing to play characters with access to that 'rare' but still reality altering magic. There's basically no incentive to play anything that doesn't involve using magic. Within the environs of the group magic will not be rare or low.


So the spell DC of a Fireball used by 10th level (22Int) wizard is ... 13+(n)=(x). Is 'x' 23 because 'n' is 10? Am I understanding that correctly?

And is that the way both scrolls and rituals are intended to work?

Further I am assuming a wizard would still need at least a 13 int to cast a fireball in the first place. Basically you only need a 19 int then to memorize any spell and minimal need for further boost, so drop it into con, dex, str etc..

If I got that right a 20th wizard will have DC of a 'normal' 50 int wizard before feats and other boosts.

Definitely not low magic.


I think Kayerloth that the DC would be 10 + 6 (Int) + 5 (the highest level spell that wizard could cast) = 21

Shadow Lodge

Like some other people said: Use automatic bonus progression. This way you do not need to reballance the game, the numbers stay the way they were designed to be for level, and CRs will continue to match as well as they ever did. It also frees you up to give out interesting magic items that do interesting magical stuff instead of the usual boring +2 to dice roll.

But the best solution, also previously stated, is to play a different game. There are loads of different rpgs out there. Pathfinder is a great one, but it is designed for a magic shop style world. If that's not what you want, chose a different system that is designed for the game you want to play.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

IMHO you don't need to play a different game to make a PF campaign a low-magic one. Three simple steps:
1) No PCs can take spellcasting classes (including oddities like alchemists).
2) No PCs can create magic items. Availability of magic items is entirely dependent on loot.
3) Boost the heal skill a bit, so that some post-combat healing is viable, and make NPC temples a place where you can buy low-level healing and condition removal.

Of course, it's then up to the DM to tailor the adversaries so that spellcasting isn't really required. And when PCs *do* encounter magic, it'll be really scary and deadly.


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Wheldrake wrote:

IMHO you don't need to play a different game to make a PF campaign a low-magic one. Three simple steps:

1) No PCs can take spellcasting classes (including oddities like alchemists).
2) No PCs can create magic items. Availability of magic items is entirely dependent on loot.
3) Boost the heal skill a bit, so that some post-combat healing is viable, and make NPC temples a place where you can buy low-level healing and condition removal.

Of course, it's then up to the DM to tailor the adversaries so that spellcasting isn't really required. And when PCs *do* encounter magic, it'll be really scary and deadly.

The problem with that is...why play Pathfinder at all? To be about as generous as it comes, Pathfinder's martial combat engine is...dull. Even if the GM works overtime to add in terrain and other gimmicks you're still ultimately stuck with most encounters being two sides standing in front of each other and full attacking till the the other's dead.

To go back to my semirhetorical question way back, why does the system have to be Pathfinder rather than pulling out say the latest Conan system (which I hear very good things about) or Warhammer Fantasy RP (If you really want to your players to be a band of mostly inept goons in a lethal environment).


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
To go back to my semirhetorical question way back, why does the system have to be Pathfinder rather than pulling out say the latest Conan system (which I hear very good things about) or Warhammer Fantasy RP (If you really want to your players to be a band of mostly inept goons in a lethal environment).

Which game/publisher is that one? (TIA)


Slim Jim wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
To go back to my semirhetorical question way back, why does the system have to be Pathfinder rather than pulling out say the latest Conan system (which I hear very good things about) or Warhammer Fantasy RP (If you really want to your players to be a band of mostly inept goons in a lethal environment).
Which game/publisher is that one? (TIA)

The game's rather inventively just Robert E Howard's Conan and Modiphius is the publisher. All the various content looks to be on drivethroughrpg (including the quickstart guide for free).

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