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.

  • Note that depending on the campaign and/or your character concept other books such as "Vikings Campaign Sourcebook" or books from Al-Qadim / Kara-Tur may also be used.
  • Players will each have two characters - one primary character who will start with 1,000 XP and a secondary character who will start with 0 XP.
    • If a character dies, a new character can be created with starting XP equal to the half the XP of the deceased character plus 1.

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.
  • Exceptional Strength is only available to Fighters but not Rangers or Paladins.
  • 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.
  • Humans get a 10% bonus to XP earned and two free non-weapon proficiency slots (see below).
  • 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). For example, you can now play a dwarf wizard which is normally not allowed, however, they only earn 33% of the standard XP rewards. If the dwarf wizard had been adventuring with a human wizard the entire time and human wizard had earned 60,000 XP (Level 7), the dwarf wizard would have earned 33% as much, or 20,000 XP (Level 5).
  • 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.

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)
  • Magic-users always know Cantrip and can cast it once per day without memorizing it or it counting against their spells per day limits.

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 class or 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.
  • Magic-users always know Cantrip and can cast it once per day without memorizing it or it counting against their spells per day limits.
  • 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 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

  • Instead of THAC0 we will be using Target20 for Attack Rolls. Target20 just flips THAC0 from subtraction to addition while keeping Descending AC.

d20 + THB + other bonuses + AC => 20 equals a hit

  • If you tell me the roll plus your THB plus other bonuses you know of (ie magic weapon, etc), I can quickly add the AC and other bonuses and determine if it is equal or greater than 20.
  • Or if the monsters are attacking I can quickly determine the result and subtract 20 to tell you what AC the monster hits.
To-Hit Bonus (THB). This just flips THAC0 to addition (20 - THAC0 = TBH).
Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Priest +0 +0 +0 +2 +2 +2 +4 +4 +4 +6 +6 +6 +8 +8 +8 +10 +10 +12 +12 +12
Rogue +0 +0 +1 +1 +2 +2 +3 +3 +4 +4 +5 +5 +6 +6 +7 +7 +8 +8 +9 +9
Warrior +0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11 +12 +13 +14 +15 +16 +17 +18 +19
Wizard +0 +0 +0 +1 +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +3 +3 +3 +4 +4 +4 +5 +5 +5 +6 +6
  • We use minis or markers on a battlemap 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 5-ft steps or "attacks of opportunity". Instead we focus on quick, narrative-oriented combats. As such, I typically use the following rules and house rules:
  • Combat Round Sequence:
    1. The DM decides upon actions for each of her NPCs.
    2. The DM asks each player in turn what their PCs are planning to do this round. This need not be too specific. For instance, a player can state that he's moving over to attack one of the orcs, but if things change during the round, he may be able to choose a different target. In general, the type of action should be stated, and the intended specifics, but the specifics can change.
    3. The DM resolves actions in any order she thinks works best.
    4. Damage, spell effects, etc come into effect.
    5. End of the round.
  • The base assumption here is that of the DM as a combat choreographer, who, knowing the intent of the characters beforehand, can form a narrative plan based on that input, and then resolve matters in an organized fashion. While many aspects of combat remain the same (attack rolls, saves, damage rolls), there are a few things that run differently in this type of system.
  • Changes to hit points and other effects come into full effect only at the end of the round. For instance, a character casting Haste on himself will not benefit from the spell until next round. Likewise, hit point damage will not take a character out until the round is over, even though it is usually clear whether a lethal wound has been dealt before it takes full effect (if this sounds odd, remember that in real life adrenaline usually carries people for at least a few seconds and often much longer before the full effect from a wound is felt).
  • Initiative - Sometimes opposed initiative rolls are still used; for instance, if two characters are going for the same weapon lying on the ground, somebody has to be faster. Or to determine if a character can get behind cover before he's tagged by an archer. Similarly, if you want to delay an action until a strategically opportune moment, you have to win an initiative check, too for instance, to cast a Cure Light Wounds spell on a friend after the enemy spellcaster casts Cause Light Wounds, rather than the other way round. Essentially, a won initiative check indicates better timing, not just being faster. When required an initiative roll is a d10 roll 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.
    • If you’re alone in your group against two or more, you’re flanked. Your opponents get a +1 bonus to hit you. The fourth attacker is considered to have a Rear Attack (+2).
  • 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 in a typical encounter space during a combat (within reason of course).
    • Sometimes, relative movement speeds will be used - for example, if two people are racing to pick an item up off the floor, an initiative roll modified by the difference in movement rates might be used to see who gets there first.
    • 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 "Not Looking Where You Are Going" - see "bad ideas" 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 a "bad idea".
    • 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 - examples include casting spells, firing a bow, drinking a potion while in melee.
      • Any armed opponent attacking in melee gets a +2 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 monks 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 (+2 bonus) to hit you in melee. And a successful attack stops the movement if that is what the attacker wants.
  • A natural "20" on a to-hit roll is a critical which results in max damage.
  • There are no fumbles. However, a roll of "1" on a to-hit roll or saving throw or a "20" on an ability or proficiency check invites the DM to use the "Ming Vase" rule.
    • The Ming Vase rule? Look at it this way. There’s a priceless Ming Vase sitting on a table in the middle of a room where combat rages on all sides, swords swinging, chairs flying, crossbow bolts whizzing through the air. There is, however, no rule covering the chance of some random event that might affect the priceless Ming Vase. I’m not sure I need to say more, but just in case, I will. If someone rolls a natural “1,” or even if nothing specifically happens to trigger it, it’s blatantly irresponsible for the DM not to start some chain of events involving the Ming vase. A sword goes flying – the table underneath the vase is hit by the sword – the vase is swaying back and forth, ready to topple – can anyone catch it, perhaps making a long dive-and-slide across the floor? That’s gaming. Is it unfair? Well, it’s certainly outside the existing rules.
  • 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 (cannot be take to positives). All strength bonuses to damage are still applicable.
  • Two-Handed Weapon Fighting - All strength bonuses to damage are Doubled. 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. Also, if on a hit you roll more damage than required to take that enemy to 0 hit points (ie dead), you may apply the additional damage to another enemy engaged in melee with you (randomly determined) as long as that to-hit roll is high enough the also hit that enemy.
  • 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 does 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.

Character Death

  • When a character's hit points is reduced to zero or less, they are unconscious and dying. They lose 1 hit point per round. Death is at -10 hit points.
  • Any magical healing given to a character with negative hit points only returns them to 1 hp.
  • The Death by Massive Damage rule is being used.
  • Generally, monsters die at zero hit points. Some NPCs may follow the same rules as PCs.

CHAPTER 10 to 13

  • Unchanged.

Time and Movement

  • As the DM, I'm not going to spend a bunch of time booking for time elapsed. However, this has two drawbacks: i) tracking duration of long term spells/abilities, and ii) the logistics as puzzle and the tension created by consumed provisions and equipment (torches, rations, wandering monsters, etc). Therefore, I am going to be implementing a "Tension Pool". Basically, it was just a pool of dice. Whenever the players take an action – or stand around doing nothing – that took something between five and fifteen minutes of time, I will pick up a die and add it to the Tension Pool. Once there were six dice in the pool, I will pick up all the dice and roll them. If any come up a one, something bad will happen. For example, a wandering monster, a torch will go out, etc. Either way, we will then empty the pool and assume one hour has passed. Durations will be ticked off. The size of the dice will typically be d6, however, other sized dice can be used depending on the circumstances. For example, if the group is being particularly stealthy and diligent I might just add a d12.


  • 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