House Rules & Clarifications

Available Rules: Players Handbook plus the brown "Complete" books (excluding "Barbarians", "Ninjas", Forgotten Realms specific books and "Psionics"), "The Complete Half-Elf" from Dragon Magazine #214, and Tome of Magic modified by the below house rules. Also, some material from the "Players Options" books is incorporated below.

CHAPTER 1: Ability Scores

  • The standard six ability scores will be determined using Method VI - Each ability starts with a score of 8. Then roll seven dice. These dice can be added to your character's abilities as you wish. All the points on a die must be added to the same ability score. For example, if a 6 is rolled on one die, all 6 points must be assigned to one ability. You can add as many dice as you want to any ability, but no ability score can exceed 18 points. If you cannot make an 18 by exact count on the dice, you cannot have an 18 score. Dice that cannot be used are lost.
  • Perception is a new seventh ability score as described in "Notice Anything Different?" from Dragon Magazine #133. The number of d6's rolled depends on the race and class selected. Everyone starts with a base roll of 4d6 and keeping the highest three. If you pick elf or half-elf as your race you may roll an additional d6, and if you pick thief, monk or ranger as a class you may roll another d6. You always only keep the three highest. So, if you are making a half-elf ranger you get to roll 6d6 keeping the three highest.
    • Bonuses/Penalties for Perception:
      • Rangers get a modifier to Tracking of 18=+2, 17=+1, 4=-1, and 3=-2.
      • Thieves get a modifier to Detect Noise and Find Traps (but not remove traps) of 18=+10%, 17=+5%, 4=-5%, and 3=-10%.

CHAPTER 2: Races

  • The standard races, with the exception of Gnomes (see below) are mechanically the same as in the PHB but some of the "fluff" material has changed. Ask your DM for more information about the Golarian version of the various races.
  • Level Limits: We are using the Slow Advancement optional rule from DMG page 14 which allows demihumans to exceed level limits but when they reach the level limit they only receive 33% of the standard xp award.
  • Any of the PHB Races may now choose any class with any class not typically allowed being considered to have a Level Limit (see above) of zero (ie they receive only 33% of the standard xp award for ALL levels).
  • All Gnomes in Golarion are Forest Gnomes (as given in The Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings). Ask the DM for more information about Gnomes of Golarion.
  • There are five types of Elves in Golarion:
    • High elves are the most numerous and generally come from Kyonin or the Mierani Forest (they are as the standard High Elves in the PHB or the Complete Book of Elves ("CBOE")).
    • Mordant Spire Elves are rare (they are as Grey Elves in the CBOE).
    • Not all elves are civilized. The Wild Elves in the jungles Mwanji Expanse live comparatively primitive existences (they are as Sylvan Elves in the CBOE).
    • Aquatic Elves are known to live in the oceans to the west.
    • Forlorn Elves are those that are raised outside of elven society. They are the same as high elves except they gain a +1 bonus to saving throws vs fear effects and suffer a -2 penalty to reactions rolls when dealing with non-forlorn elves.
      • Ask your DM for more information regarding Elves of Golarion.
  • Races from The Complete Book of Humanoids (CBoH) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, I am biased against all but the half-orc.

CHAPTER 3: Classes

  • Specialty priests use following experience progression, unless specified in the specialty priest description:
Level XP HD (d8)
1 0 1
2 2,000 2
3 4,000 3
4 8,000 4
5 14,000 5
6 30,000 6
7 55,000 7
8 110,000 8
9 225,000 9
10 450,000 9+2
11 675,000 9+4
12 900,000 9+6
  • Druids: Except for a slight change in the spheres of access, druids keep all of the abilities and powers listed in the PHB . Druids have major access to all, animal, elemental, healing, plant, sun and weather (as per the Tome of Magic)

A number of new classes are allowed:

  • the Monk
  • Magus (as fighter/magic-user based on the Battlecaster from Dragon #243)
  • the Alchemist
  • Shaman
  • Channeller (a 2nd edition version of a sorcerer)
  • and a number of Golarion specific kits and classes are available.
  • If there is type of character that you would like to play but don't know how to build it in the rules, I will work with you to come up with a setting appropriate kit to fit your idea.
  • You begin with maximum hit points for you first level. After that you roll normally.
  • Multi-classing: Humans can multi-class.
  • Dual-classing: Demi-humans can dual class. Instead of needing 17 or more in the prime requisites of any classes he switches to, a character must just meet the prime requisite requirements of the class.
    • Replace: "But if he uses any of his previous class's abilities during an encounter, he earns no experience for that encounter and only half experience for the adventure." With: "The character only earns half experience until their level in the new class exceeds that of the old class at which time they begin earning full experience."

CHAPTER 4: Alignment

  • Unchanged.

CHAPTER 5: Proficiencies
Weapon Proficiencies

  • Many of the options from The Complete Fighter's Handbook (CFHB) will be used. Options from other Complete Handbooks will be considered on a case-by-case basis (and I am usually inclined to include them).
  • Some nonweapon proficiencies that are deemed to primarily have a combat effect can only be taken using a Weapon Proficiency slot instead of Nonweapon Proficiency slot:
    • Ambidexterity costs one weapon proficiency slot (as per the CFHB).
    • Blind-Fighting costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to warriors and rogues.
    • Tumbling costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to warriors and rogues.
    • Close-Quarter Fighting (in the CBoH) costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to Warriors and Rogues.
    • Natural Fighting (in the CBoH) costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to Warriors.
    • Wild Fighting (in the CBoH) costs one weapon proficiency slot and is available to Warriors.
    • Other nonweapon proficiencies that have predominantly combat oriented effects will also cost weapon proficiency slots
      • These are available to other classes as well for double the cost in proficiency slots.
      • I am also considering how some of the 3rd edition feats would work as Weapon Proficiencies.
  • Light crossbows may be used without a weapon proficiency without penalty
  • Remember that only single class fighters (excluding Paladins and Rangers and unless specified by a kit) can specialize with a weapon.

Nonweapon Proficiencies

  • Intelligence: Number of Languages has been supplanted by Number of Bonus Nonweapon Proficiencies. Each of these bonus slots can be either used for either a language or nonweapon proficiency available to the character. Single class warriors (fighters, rangers and paladins) can also use these bonus proficiencies as weapon proficiency slots.
  • Nonweapon proficiencies from the various Complete Handbooks (excluding Complete Barbarians and Complete Ninjas) are available, however, the DM reserves the right to exclude certain proficiencies if they harm play or do not fit the setting.
  • Humans gain two additional proficiency slots which may be used for NWPs or languages (but not weapon proficiencies).
  • Being able to speak a language and read & write a language are two separate Nonweapon Proficiencies of the General Category. All characters begin being able to speak Common and their racial tongue (if any).
  • The "Alertness" and "Observation" proficiencies as listed in various Complete Handbooks are moved to a General Proficiency and available to all classes.
    • Observation is changed so that it adds a +1 bonus to perception (see the Chapter 1 house rule).
    • Intimidation (from the Complete Thieves Handbook) is also available to Fighters as a class non-weapon proficiency.
Table: Examples of Difficulty Modifiers
Very easy no roll
Easy +2 bonus
Average nil
Tough -2 penalty
Challenging -4 penalty
Formidable -6 penalty
Heroic -10 penalty
Nearly impossible -16 penalty
  • Additional Proficiency slots my be taken gaining a +1 bonus for each additional slot.

CHAPTER 6: Money & Equipment

  • Heavy crossbows do 1d8+1 / 1d10+1 damage and light crossbows do 1d6+1 / 1d8+1 damage. In addition, crossbows have a special armor penetration ability. At medium range, light and heavy crossbows reduce the AC of an armored opponent by 2 points (ie are +2 to hit vs armoured opponents; to a maximum AC of 10) At short range, light and heavy crossbows reduce the AC of an armored opponent by 4 points (ie are +4 to hit vs armoured opponents; to a maximum AC of 10).
  • The Arquebus is available but has the following changes from the description in the PHB:
    • If the character does not have a proficiency, the chance of backfire increases from 2 in 20 to 4 in 20 (an attack roll of 1 to 4)
    • The smoke from the gunpowder causes a cloud with a radius of 10-ft around the character. This cloud makes it difficult to see the shooter and to see out of the cloud giving the shooter a +1 concealment bonus and a -1 penalty to hit targets.
    • It is incredibly loud. Expect lots of wandering monster check and not being able to gain surprise after it is fired.
    • At short range, an arquebus ignores armour.
  • Remember that armour impacts certain DEX checks as given in The Complete Fighter's Handbook.
  • Encumbrance will be loosely enforced with movement rate based on the Armour worn. The DM may adjust a character's movement rate if he deems they are carrying an excessive amount of equipment and/or treasure.
Race No Armour (AC type 10 or 9) Light Armour (AC type 8 to 4) Heavy Armour (AC type 3 or less) Heavy Armour & Treasure
Human, Elf & Half Elf 12 10 8 6
Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling 6 5 4 3

CHAPTER 7: Magic

  • Wizards' spell schools and priests' spell spheres are as given in Tome of Magic.
  • Find Familiar - a magic-user also adds the number of hit points that the familiar has to their own hit points. For example, if the familiar has 3 hit points, the magic-user adds 3 to his hit point total. However, if the familiar dies, the magic-user permanently loses double the familiar's hit point total from their own - which may result in the magic-user's death.

CHAPTER 8: Experience

  • XP will be awarded based on goals achieved. At the end of each session XP will be awarded based on what was accomplished relative to the adventure path. This is a lump sum amount so if more characters earn the XP it will be split between more characters. Sidetrek adventures will be worth less XP. Henchmen receive half of the awarded amount. Prime requisite bonuses or penalties will then be applied to the XP awarded.

CHAPTER 9: Combat

Critical Hits and Fumbles
The rules for criticals and fumbles are different depending on if they are PCs or NPCs.

  • If a PC makes an attack roll and gets a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), you hit regardless of your target's Armor Class, and you have scored a "threat," meaning the hit might be a critical hit (or "crit"). To find out if it's a critical hit, you immediately make an attempt to "confirm" the critical hit—another attack roll with all the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made. If the confirmation roll also results in a hit against the target's AC, your original hit is a critical hit. (The critical roll just needs to hit to give you a crit, it doesn't need to come up 20 again.) If the confirmation roll is a miss, then your hit is just a regular hit. On a critical hit you pull a card from the Critical Deck.
  • If a PC rolls a natural 1 and is fighting a "named" monster or NPC, they have rolled a possible fumble. To find out if it's a fumble, you immediately roll another attack roll with the same modifiers as the attack roll you just made. If the roll also results in a miss, you have fumbled. If the reroll was a hit, then you just miss.
  • If a PC rolls a natural 1 and is fighting a standard monster or un-named NPC there is no adverse affect.

NPCs or Monsters

  • If a NPC or Monster has a "name", they score a "threat" on a natural 20 if they needed something lower than that to hit.
  • All NPCs and monsters have a possible fumble on a natural 1.

Two Weapon Fighting
As detailed in the PHB when fighting with two weapons, a character's chance to hit is modified by their Dexterity Reaction Adjustment modifier NOT their Strength to hit modifier. All strength bonuses to damage are applied to only to the attack made with their primary weapon not both.

Two-Handed Weapon Fighting
All strength bonuses to damage are increased by 50%, rounded up. Strength damage penalties due to low strength scores are reduced by 1 to a maximum of zero, eg a -2 penalty becomes a -1, a -1 penalty becomes no penalty.

Combat Procedures
We use minis or markers during combat but really to just show loose relative locations and distances and to keep track of how many enemies there are. We do not focus on highly tactical combats, count squares or worry about "attacks of opportunity". Instead we focus on quick, narrative-oriented combats. As such, I typically use the following rules and house rules:

  • Surprise - The surprise roll is generally replaced by a character's perception check. The character might be the one in the front or back depending on where the surprise might be coming from, the one closest to the door, etc.
  • Initiative - the exact initiative roll procedure is the DM's prerogative but we usually use Group Initiative with one d10 roll for each side of combatants modified by the Standard and Optional modifiers (Tables 55 & 56), casting time, etc.
  • I try to split the fight up into little groups, usually such that it’s a n:1 situation unless people specifically say they are fighting back-to-back or in ranks. Everyone in your group can make a melee attack against anyone else in your group. Just because there is another mini between you and the Ogre does not mean that he isn't in melee combat with you (unless you say you are in the second rank and are using a spear, pike, polearm, etc). Just because the minis are stationary doesn't mean that none of the combatants are moving - remember the combat round is 1-minute long and the minis just show relative locations and numbers not specific locations.
  • You are considered to be engaged in melee if you are within 20 feet of an attacking enemy.
  • To deal with movement in combat, I ignore movement speed unless you’re part of chase or race. 2nd ed AD&D has a 1-minute combat round - you can pretty much get anywhere you want to during a combat (within reason of course).
    • Since we don't really worry about movement rates in combat, there is no "Fighting Withdrawal".
      • If you are alone in a melee group and decide to leave the fight, you are "doing something dumb" - see below.
      • If you have allies in the combat group you can withdraw from the melee during your turn as they can protect you and it is no longer "doing something dumb" (see below).
    • Remember that you cannot move and cast a spell in the same round.
  • There are no "Attacks of Opportunity". However, there are two situations that are bad ideas:
    1. Doing something dumb while somebody is waving the business end of a sword in your face.
      • Any armed opponent attacking in melee gets a +4 bonus when attacking somebody who is either unarmed or not defending himself actively (defined as making either a melee attack themselves or parrying). Note that monk are always considered armed.
    2. Not looking where you are going.
      • We can mostly take the above rules for doing something stupid and extend them for movement. I.e. if you move as part of an action not involving a melee attack (ie not closing to attack, charging, etc), armed opponents have an easier time (+4 bonus) to hit you in melee. And a successful attack stops the movement.
  • If you’re alone in your group against two or more, you’re flanked. Your opponents get a +1 bonus to hit you.

Missile Fire into Melee
Can be done but the DM will randomly determine the target of the attack based on relative sizes (as per "Firing into a Melee" in the PHB and DMG).

Unarmed combat
Punching - 1d2 damage plus strength modifiers on a successful "to hit" roll.
Overbearing is done as per the rulebooks.

Thief's Backstab
Generally, a thief can use his backstab ability if one of the following:

  1. The Standard Hide in Shadows Approach - If the thief is able to hide in shadows prior to being seen by his opponent he can subsequently sneak attack the opponent if the opportunity presents itself (ie the opponent moves near the thief).
  2. If he is the 4th person to attack an opponent - the rationale relies on the flanking house rule above - the first guy in front, the next two fill the flank positions and then the thief fills the rear position and may use his sneak attack.
  3. If he can make a melee attack during a surprise round.

CHAPTER 10 to 14

  • Unchanged.


  • Kits will be allowed on a case-by-case basis, to be approved by the DM. However, I love kits so generally the only kits that will be excluded are those that don't fit the setting. I am also working on some new setting specific kits. Kits from Dragon Magazine are also available if they fit the setting.
  • NPC reactions to such things as diplomacy, intimidate, bluff, etc. will be handled with either a nonweapon proficiency check (for example, intimidation or fast talking) or a Reaction Roll.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License