My Next PF1 Campaign

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

A little background:
The campaign that I am currently running is something that I more or less fell into. I hadn't played any RPG in about 10 years, but I had some people who wanted to play and we just jumped into it. I hadn't even played PF before, only that other game. So there was a bit of a learning curve.

But I am back. I am ready to start again, this time with a better grasp of the rules, the possibilities and the resources available.

Hello, Resource! Glad to meet you! :)

Some of the things that I have decided on, and some of the things that I have decided to exclude are not really negotiable issues. Other things I have a more open mind about.

But, anyway, this is going to be my test-bed for my ideas about this next campaign. I would appreciate input from both the player and GM perspectives.

So to start, some mechanical issues:

I am going to be using the Action Economy rules from Unchained. Probably the Rogue and Barbarian class rules from there as well.
I am thinking about including the Stamina rules, but I am wary of the additional level of complication. Perspectives on this from those with experience with that sub-system would be especially welcome. I am generally in favor of de-nerfing martial classes, but is the additional bookkeeping worthwhile?

I am saying no to Mythic and Occult Adventures material. I would rather run a gestalt game than mythic if I felt the power level needed to be increased and occult is, from everything I have read, a bit of a mess (and doesn't seem to bring anything new to the mix).

There is a document out there, which I am not sure that I should link to here. It describes a series of feat consolidations, elimination of some feats in favor of them being abilities accessible to anyone and some other minor tweaks. See above about de-nerfication. Does anyone with experience with this have any recommendations? I kind of like it.

Some very basic stuff:
PC's get full HP every level. Probably Animal Companions (and Special Mounts, etc.) as well (for HD).
Classes that do not get at least 4 skill points per level get 4. I may boost high-skill classes; thoughts?
Perception and Sense Motive are class skills for everyone.

That seems to be enough to start with. Thanks in advance for your input!

Full HP for all Characters seems pretty high powered.

For skills; in our current campaign we're running with the background skill system from unchained, free perception for everyone, and a min of 3+int skill ranks per level (except for int casters). And that works pretty well. Especially the background skills lets you get some real amount of flavour customization in terms of skills without it giving any extra real power or becoming an optimization game.

If you're consolidating feats one fairly well thought of version is the Elephant in the Room feat tax removal. Googling Elephant in the Room should find it.

Combat stamina doesn't do much, I'd call it unnecessary complexity.

I haven't used the unchained action economy system. It does change a fair bit about the relative balance of classes, but not so much martial vs. spellcasters I think. More single big attack > multiple smaller attacks, and those with uses for swift actions get nerfed.

Max HP is a lot. Half HD +1 might be better unless you like slugfests. Increasing skill points like that is reasonable tho; one variation is background skills, which gives 2 skill points/level from a list which excludes most adventuring-type skills.

Occult adventure classes are more suited to RP and intrigue games, not as much combat heavy games. Most are still worth looking into, if your players are interested.

Mythic was, interesting, when I ran a game with it. I found anything beyond 1st level skewed the game towards rocket tag a bit much (as i needed +5CR or Mythic monsters to compete with the PC's).

We roll HD, with a single re-roll if they want (but must take second result). I have heard the other options are roll or take average, which many seem to like as it keeps casters from being too squishy, and keeps the tanks tanky without making everything slow too much.

Bonus skills for RP are nice (I let them add background related skills on creation as RP rewards, plus a free craft/profession/perform rank to represent their past jobs), I try to keep it to a short list of off use skills.
Traits are another handy bonus, roughly a 1/2 feat, with option for a drawback and a third trait. The core drawbacks kinda suck, so I make similar custom ones.

As an extra, I homebrewed the "Big Six" must have stat boosting items can be added to "fun" gear at straight crafting cost (instead of 1.5x the more expensive item cost). Lets martials have more interesting items, without feeling like they have to choose.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mythic got into rocket tag pretty quickly when I ran an adventure path that involved it. I will never have mythic again as a option for players.

As far as the Occult classes go. I have not really encountered any major balance issues. Kineticists do have to keep track of their burn but that has not really been an issue. Kineticists have been the most popular class from the book in my games. I did have a spirit dancer medium that was very flexible but not very powerful.

Full hp per level makes fighter types take a long time to get into danger. People do need to feel that their characters are actually in danger to make the game exciting imho.

I actually go the other way and ban abilities, feats, and spells that I feel are overpowered.

I'd really like to get some more people trying games with a few feat changes


Combat Expertise: You gain +2 to CMB and CMD, Your combat maneuvers do not provoke attacks of opportunity. This feat counts as the Improved maneuver feat for feat and prestige class requirements.

Dodge: You gain a +1 dodge bonus to AC. You may subtract 1 from your attack rolls when you make an attack to add a +1 dodge bonus to AC. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter you may increase the penalty by a further 1 to increase the dodge bonus by 1.

Ghostwheel wrote:
I am going to be using the Action Economy rules from Unchained.

Be wary that they produce issues with a lot of swift action abilities. Some of these are fine (a Paladin's Smite Evil or Lay on Hands, or a Warpriest's various swift action abilites), some aren't, for instance a Bard no longer has an upgrade to their song action economy at 13th level, and a Monk's bonus ki attack turns from a bonus attack at full BAB to (at ebst) a +10 attack roll bonus on the third attack. You might want to make some of these abilities 1/round free actions.

Ghostwheel wrote:
Probably the Rogue and Barbarian class rules from there as well.

I would enforce unRogue, unBarb and unSummoner over their regular version, and offer unMonk alongside the CRB versions. If they give you a good reason, cBarb can be allowed as well.

Ghostwheel wrote:
PC's get full HP every level.

Not rolling Hp is definitely a vast improvement. I'd go with the PFS system of half dice rounded up each level beyond first, though. Full HP might make enemies too weak in comparison.

Something I strongly suggest: Automatic Bonus Progression. I kinda re-did the whole magic item system in my campaign, with the ABP as the centerpiece and it's amazing.

I removed the ability to identify non-limited-use magical items form the game (and banned crafting). Everything but potions etc. has to be figured out trial-and-error based.* It's super fun to see the players try to figure out how to operate the item and what exactly it does, and my players seem to enjoy it as well - the Shaman player's reaction when he finally figured out that the magic eye amulet that was blinking sleepily but never closed at nightfall responded to his Slumber hex was awesome. Even a simple magical torch (basically, an everburning torch that still produces heat) with an "on switch" command word but no off switch (you have to douse it in water) was a lot of fun! I need to get a bit creative with descriptions, of course - for instance, I would describe that the character feels the weight of their gear be lessend, when they put on Muleback Cords, and for an item that needs a target, the user might see the aviable targets before their mental eye.

Since the PCs don't have that many magic items thanks to ABP, and the ones they have tend to be more flashy than a numeric bonus, this has the nice effect of making magic items something special. Of course, there aren't any magic item shops either; items are created for use and not for sale. You want a mithral breastplate, you have to find soemone who has one and doesn't use it any more - say a local lord who's too old to go to war himself anymore. You don't need to do all that, of course, even on it's own ABP is awesome.

*) Well, I used a divine vision to impart a command word, and used a Familiar when its player couldn't figure out a fairly obvious method of activation. Other command words might be found written on the item, if you look closely enough and maybe suceed on a linguisitics check.

Ghostwheel wrote:
There is a document out there, which I am not sure that I should link to here.

You can freely link most stuff on these boards, with obvious exceptions (seriously NSFW for isntance). I presume you mean this?

So as a GM, there's really not much problem with Occult stuff. It's fairly complex but you'll never have to learn more than what your players actually plan on using. The only thing from there I've actually had a player want to play is Kineticist and it seems a popular enough option (blast all day) I wouldn't suggest outright banning it without a good reason (though banning the whole book is a pretty good reason).

I've done average (round up) HP before and it's seemed about right. PCs died because they took big risks or an axe got a crit. 50-100% more HP than that seems like PCs would never be in danger.

I've dropped Weapon Finesse, the players liked it but I think it only came up ten times over the entire campaign. The melee types still used Strength, the casters were the only one who used it (and not often).

As a player I've never felt more feat starved than when trying to build a low level martial. Power Attack and Deadly Aim as default options would have made it less frustrating and made that backup ranged weapon not feel like a peashooter. So, yes to the feat changes, at least as a player. It'd just make those first few levels easier, especially as a class without a pile of bonus feats (Barbarian or Bloodrager mostly).

Now the obligatory question, why 1e and not 2e? If you want the Unchained action economy, well, 2e is basically designed around that. 1e isn't and a few classes play poorly with it. 2e gives max HP, everyone gets Perception (which is now also Sense Motive), and they reworked feats. Basically, it includes a lot of your changes in a system designed around them. Depending on what you want it might be better to homebrew 1e stuff into 2e than houseruling 1e. I've seen some epic length houserule documents, that's all I'm saying.

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Mythic is great for getting an epic feel early in the campaign. Disagree with the constant naysaying on that one. Nascent GMs need not apply as it does take some proper reading of the rules involved.

Occult Adventures is not a mess at all and is, in fact, a great re-skinning and restructuring of the entire game to give it an occult tone and feel. If it's not appropriate for your game or a specific player's motivations, it is fine to leave it out. Making an all-occult game for something like Carrion Crown or Strange Aeons would make for a fascinating campaign one day.

Woah, Occult is amazing, and brings so much new stuff with it. You really should read it. You will be missing out on a huge part of the game if you disallow it.

As for Mythic, it depends. You either like it or you don’t. But you cannot listen to anyone else’s word on it. You have to form your own opinion.

Anyways, don’t just listen to the naysayers who write off an entire category of something. They are typically the same people who claim every new thing is bad, just because it is different. That is not something you want to listen to.

I am going to call this "Phase I" and I would like to thank everyone for their responses so far.

Northern Druid: "For skills; in our current campaign we're running with the background skill system from unchained, free perception for everyone, and a min of 3+int skill ranks per level (except for int casters)."

After reviewing the background skills, I am pretty much sold on that, or something much like it.

AVR: "If you're consolidating feats one fairly well thought of version is the Elephant in the Room feat tax removal."

That is exactly what I was referring to. And having someone else having already done the heavy lifting (writing it all out) is a bonus.

"Combat stamina doesn't do much, I'd call it unnecessary complexity."

From my reading of it, that was my impression as well. I could see allowing it for PC's, but trying to run encounters incorporating it seems daunting. And that kind of goes counter to how I think games should be run; NPC's should have much the same options as PC's. I think my head might explode!

Guardian Lord: "Occult adventure classes are more suited to RP and intrigue games".

I agree, especially about the intrigue part. And I am not sure that is the direction that I want to go. I envision more of an exploration-style campaign. But I would probably allow someone to play that style of character if they wished.

Derklord: "Be wary that they produce issues with a lot of swift action abilities."

Noted. I think that I can manage that kind of thing, especially once I get some more examples to watch out for. A big part of managing corner-cases like that will be documenting my changes, keeping them as minimal as needed to redress balance and remembering the rule of fun.

"Something I strongly suggest: Automatic Bonus Progression. I kinda re-did the whole magic item system in my campaign, with the ABP as the centerpiece and it's amazing."

This is almost certainly "in". Just to be able to concentrate on more unusual magic items rather than the same-old, same-old would be a bonus all around. Especially in the exploration focused campaign that I am contemplating.

Everyone on H.P.: I may just go with max minus 2 per die. Squishies will stay squishy, Martials won't have to worry about craptastic rolls and anyone can just plug in the numbers. It will also contribute to player to player balance.

Bob Bob Bob: "Now the obligatory question, why 1e and not 2e?"

(See above about the other issues)
Because there is a lot of 1e that I like. And much that I want to explore. I like crunch. I am cool with a lot of numbers and multiple rules applying to one situation. There is a ton of free resources out there and I like free stuff. Also, 1e can be seen as very much complete. A splat book published next year isn't going to alter large parts of the game. Maybe when 2e is a bit more mature, I will reconsider, but that is the future.

Everyone on Mythic (and other things I may or may not include): If it is free to read online, I probably have. Not every FAQ or forum post, but the rules? Yes to mythic, occult, unchained etc. Am I a savant that has memorized every bit and explored every possible exploit? No. But I know what good rules are. And I know where to get good guidance. I hope that will be enough.

As I said at the top of this post, I am seeing this as Phase 1. Thanks again for everyone's input. Stay tuned for Phase 2.

I rather like the Combat stamina rules but I tend to restrict them to Fighter Bonus Feats only. It makes the choices for those Bonus feats slightly more important because it lets them get a little extra out of them. Particularly the ones like Combat Expertise where they can ignore the requierments.

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