Gaming Tonic

Every Ability Counts, Pathfinder House Rules

defenestrador by Wayne Reynolds for PaizoI mentioned that I was about to be a player in the Pathfinder Reign of Winter Adventure Path a little while ago and talked about my thought processes on character generation.  A bit of my thinking on how to create my character was guided by a few house rules the DM was going to implement.  I thought I'd share with you what those house rules are and the reasoning of the DM for using the rules in the game.

These rules are cobbled together from all kinds of sources and I don’t claim that these are all original ideas.  Instead they're pieced together from conversation, experience, forum posts, message boards, and chat sessions from everywhere and combined into a usable resource by the DM of this one game for use in that game.  I didn't want a bunch of feedback on how you had seen some of this somewhere before.

Our group received a document called Reign of Winter House Rules and I’ll post that document here now and talk about it after you've had a chance to read over the house rules for this campaign.

Reign of Winter House Rules 

Attributes of 13 or higher provide access to a new maneuver option. These maneuvers work exactly as the feats of the same name and act as the prerequisites for any feat that has one of them as a prerequisite.  The maneuver does not have any of the other prerequisites of the feats with the same name. 

Strength gives access to Power Attack

Dexterity gives access to Deadly Aim

Constitution gives access to Stalwart

Intelligence gives access to Combat Expertise

Wisdom gives access to Probing Attack*

Charisma gives access to Improved Feint 

*Probing Attack-You sacrifice power on attack to quickly strike opening at difficult to defend angles.  Using this option you take a -2 on damage for all attacks during the round for a +1 to hit.  For every 4 base attack you can take an additional -2 on damage for an additional +1 to hit.  This maneuver cannot be used in conjunction with Power Attack. 

The Weapon Finesse feat is removed from the game.  Any weapon that works in conjunction with that feat allows the character the option of using the higher of Dexterity or Strength to hit, but only Strength for damage. 

Upon gaining +6 base attack bonus a character also gains access to the maneuver Lunge, which works in all ways as the feat of the same name. 

Characters will be generated with a 20 point buy.  Instead of gaining an attribute at every 4th level characters will gain a build point every level.  Racial modifiers are applied at character creation, but after creation for advancement the attribute scores are the same as any other race. You do receive one build point for advancing to 1st level.  Here is how build points maybe spent. 

-6 costs 3 pts

-7,-8 cost 2 pts

-9, 10, 11, 12, 13 cost 1 pt

14, 15 cost 2 pts

16, 17 cost 3 pts

18, 19 cost 4 pts

20, 21 cost 5 pts

22, 23 cost 6 pts 

Higher attribute scores than those mentioned cost in build points the amount of the modifier. For example going to a Strength score of 28 from 27 would cost 9 pts. 

You can get a sense that the DM is shooting to have a closer spread of abilities from the PCs, instead of one or two high abilities and the rest weak or worse, dump stats.  Each characteristic is tied to a special ability so for having good abilities in many stats you’re rewarded.  For example, a fighter can benefit from having 13 Intelligence or a 13 Charisma by gaining access to Combat Expertise or Improved Feint, respectively.

Many of these options based on ability scores are things that your character should probably just be able to do anyway.  Power Attack leaps out as an obvious one.  If you want to haymaker you should be allowed to without spending a feat.  Anybody can swing a bit harder if they aren't worried about reducing their accuracy.  It’s a bit harder to swing for the fences and make contact than it is to make contact for a base hit.

We played one session so far and even though the options are available and the characters in our party are built a bit more geared toward being able to take advantage of these options, it hasn't come up.  I suspect as the characters gain more pluses to hit, and begin to gel to work more as a cohesive group these options will see extensive use.

The players receiving a build point every level will allow a player to take an average ability and raise it up within a couple of levels to take advantage of these options.  It will make raising an ability score of 18 to 19 will require patience.  This will make players build there characters much more evenly when it comes to ability scores.

I chose to start with an 18 Dex, 13 Str, and all the rest of my abilities 12 for my ranger who uses a composite bow as his first combat option.  I have Deadly Aim and Power Attack available already and any ability I raise at 2nd level besides Strength or Dexterity will allow my character access to a new ability.  Being lightly armored and without an abundance of hit points, raising either my Constitution or Intelligence to 13 is what I’ll do.  I just need to decide whether access to Combat Expertise to avoid attacks, or Stalwart to suck up attacks will enhance my survival chances.

These changes will probably change the way we progress our characters and play the game.  House rules are a great way to take something that you might not like about a system and fix it, so that it suits your tastes or the tastes of your group without just throwing out the system and searching for another system.  Let me know what your thoughts are about these house rules or house rules you use in your own games in the comments section.  Until next time, Roll Hard!

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