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.
  • [Character Tree?]
    • 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.
  • I reserve the right to change any of these as required. For example, if anyone tries to take advantage of the High Strength Dart Specialist Fighter I will introduce new house rules so that they don't break the game.

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.

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: Level limits will be in effect. However, there are two mitigating factors: 1. by the end of the campaign a character will have approximately 1,000,000 XP and there are only a couple of limits that would be applicable at that amount, and 2. We are using a variation of 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

  • All Clerics are Specialty Priests.
  • 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). Druids can worship either Gozreh, Erastil or belong to the Green Faith.

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 but reroll 1's.
  • 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. Also, remember that if the nonweapon proficiency primarily has a combat effect they will cost weapon proficiency slots.
  • 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.
  • Intimidation (from the Complete Thieves Handbook) is also available to Fighters as a class non-weapon proficiency.
  • Additional Proficiency slots my be taken gaining a +1 bonus for each additional slot.

CHAPTER 6: Money & Equipment

  • One of the key ingredients in old-school D&D was the logistics puzzle of exploring a dark, dangerous dungeon - do you have enough torches, rations, spell components, etc. Now I am the first to admit that I do a lousy job of tracking time and the booking required to track the consumption of these resources and they are far less of a focus in an Adventure Path. However, there has to be some danger/consequences associated with the logistics of consumable resources. So, two house rules are incorporated:
    1. A "tension pool" (see the "Time and Movement" section below)
    2. A dice pool mechanic for consumable resources

[Consumables - stolen from Forbidden Lands - missile ammunition, food/water, spell components, light sources]

  • Darts are similar to Roman Plumbata - they are approximately 12" long and are single use items. Each time they are thrown the iron shafts end up bent when they hit something (ie they are Consumables - see below). Also their RoF is reduced to 2/1.
  • 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 8 6 4
Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling 6 4 3 2

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 - In addition to the benefits detailed in the spell description, 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 (in addition to the System Shock roll and Constitution loss described in the spell description) - 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

  • We usually use minis or markers on a battlemap during combat, but really to just show loose relative locations 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. Figures are static on a battle map while an actual combat is very dynamic.
  • 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, in ranks, or using other tactics. 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 more than three opponents (of the same size as you), you’re flanked. Your opponents get a +1 bonus to hit you. The sixth attacker is considered to have a Rear Attack (+2).
  • 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 - A round of combat is 1 minute long. As such, each attack roll does not equate to a single swing of a sword but instead the cumulative effect of all of the swings, feints, parries, etc that happen during that minute. Similarly, a roll for a missile attack does not equate to an individual arrow, sling stone, etc. We do not track individual missiles in terms of equipment but instead missiles are Consumables (as described above). An exception to this is thrown weapons. For them, it is assumed that the thrower readies his throw and at some point during the 1 minute round (as indicated by initiative) there will be an opening for them to throw.

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.
  • Monster THAC0 is equal to 20 less the monster's Hit Dice.
  • 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 one of six party members to attack an opponent - the rationale relies on the facing rules - the first three guys fill the 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

  • We use a variation of the Hovering on Death’s Door optional rule. When a character's hit points are reduced to zero or less, they are unconscious and dying. They lose 1-6 hit points per round. The character dies when its hit points reach the negative of the character’s Constitution score. For example, a character with a Constitution of 12 will die at or below -12 hit points.
    • If the only action is to bind his wounds, the injured character no longer loses hit points each round, but neither does he gain any. He remains unconscious and vulnerable to damage from further attacks.
    • If a cure spell of some type is cast upon him, the character is immediately restored to 1 hit point—no more. Any memorized spells are lost (the shock of near death has wiped them from his mind).
    • If a heal spell is cast on the character, has hit points are restored as per the spell, and he has full vitality and wits. Any spells he may have known are still wiped from his memory. (Even this powerful spell does not negate the shock of the experience.)
  • The Death by Massive Damage rule is being used - A character who suffers 50 or more points of damage from a single attack must roll a successful saving throw vs. death, or he dies.
  • 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 bookkeeping 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). However, in an Adventure Path the "logistics as puzzle" doesn't hold the same prominent place as an exploration focused campaign. 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 will show up, 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 add a d12. The more 1’s that are rolled the more “bad” will be the thing that happens.


  • 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.
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