General House Rules
As a self-proclaimed “Old School” RPGer, I am much more experienced with the less extensive rules sets of 1E and 2E AD&D. There are a lot of rules within the Pathfinder RPG that are great, but there are some I feel may be used a bit differently to add not only a bit of speed to resolving issues within the game, but also seem a little more realistic to me, or as realistic as one can get in a fantasy RPG. The following are some areas where I felt some slight modification was needed. I’ll explain the rule or situation as I will use it in my game (in the order they appear in the Core Rulebook.
*General rule on repeated skill checks made by multiple characters:
When using skills such as bluff, diplomacy, handle animal, and sense motive in succession by different characters, there is a percentage chance of having an increased difficulty with each successive attempt of the same skill. (Think of it as two or more police officers questioning a witness; officer #1 gets nothing out of the witness, officer #2 sees the witness tighten their lips even more, etc). There is also a small percentage chance that further attempts at the same skill by different characters may become easier.
*Opposed skills such as bluff will add difficulty by bonuses to the opposed roll whereas diplomacy, handle animal, and sense motive will add negative effects to the skill check.
*Using different skills in succession by different characters, ie. diplomacy (unsuccessfully), followed by a check for intimidate may result in a bonus for the second (or third) check (think “good cop-bad cop”) as long as none of the skills used in succession are the same skill. It would be possible for three different characters to use bluff (unsuccessfully), diplomacy (with bonus-unsuccessfully), and then intimidate (with bonus) to gain knowledge of a secret passage through the mountains; however, using diplomacy twice in succession would add no bonus to a separate intimidate check as the third skill used.
*Most skill checks will be performed by the players in most situations; however, some may be performed by the GM as follows:
The GM will roll for any information not apparent to the characters (that they “may” find through a perception check) by taking the highest perception skill (with all applicable bonuses) from one of the characters. The exception to this is when more than one character is attempting a perception check at the same time (finding a hidden trail, secret door, out of place items, etc), then each player will roll their own perception check (with all applicable bonuses) themselves.
As the situation dictates, the GM or player may roll a stealth check. The situation will be determined by the GM for each instance a stealth check may be desired or needed. The basic consideration would be desired by the player as opposed to needed by the GM. The GM may roll stealth checks unknown to the characters as need dictates as well, although the players will be given ample chance to state their desired intentions.
Knowledge checks are the most obvious way to gain information on many things in the campaign world. With the addition of Hero Points (discussed later), knowledge checks can also be enhanced by multiple characters who basically pool their knowledge to gain a bonus to one character’s skill check in a given knowledge area. The formula used will be +3 from the first helping character, +2 for the second, and +1 for the third helping character, added to the lowest skill check bonus of all characters involved. *EXAMPLE: Mark the Mage thinks it wise to use Knowledge (arcana) to determine the source of some ancient runes on a door. Bill the Bard and Carl the Cleric also have ranks in Knowledge (arcana), so they decide to pool their knowledge (a discussion about the runes, if you will). The lowest skill check of the three is from Bill the Bard, who has a +4 total bonus to this skill check. Bill the Bard then adds another +6 to his bonus, for a total of +10 to his roll. The total of the roll is then compared to the difficulty level of the knowledge to see if any knowledge is known by any of the three, or if they discuss some of their knowledge and come to a general conclusion about the runes. (This can be useful for higher difficulty checks by lower level characters, although it is not guaranteed to produce results each and every time). The party may find it easier to each roll separately for knowledge checks as well. Either way is fine, but it is up to the party to decide which method will be used before any die rolls are made for the knowledge check.
Having been raised on the island, not all feats are readily available there. Listing these feats would take up quite a bit of space, so please consult with the GM on the availability of feats for your character. If you have a particular character concept in mind to be built with certain feats, there should be room for adjustment to fit everyone’s desires.
I am a stickler for two things regarding alignment:
NO EVIL PARTY MEMBERS (at the outset of the campaign)
Things can change as the campaign progresses, either by way of magical effects or of character decision (either of which can lead to some very good role playing opportunities and plot twists), but the party will begin with no evil alignments within it. Period! I have seen far too much disruption to the game by having an evil character in a neutral/good party. (The Banished campaign is based around good-neutral alignments. However, should a group of players decide that they would like to run an evil-aligned party, I will make changes to my concept to accommodate the group.)
*Alignment slips are sometimes unavoidable.
As the party adventures through the world, sometimes good characters do things that aren’t exactly in alignment with their deity’s wishes. The same goes for those of neutral alignments. Chaotic and lawful characters may also make choices that slide their alignment one way or another. I have a scale I generally use to track alignment slips, which remains unknown to the players until such time as a warning may be needed. There is no need to heed these warnings if you don’t want to, although loss of alignment does have special consequences to some (paladins, clerics, etc).
I do use encumbrance rules, which are automatically figured in the Hero Lab program I use to create characters. If anyone does not have this program, I don’t feel the need for anyone else to have to go out and buy it. I’ll just take the information for each player’s character and create the character in Hero Lab for use in the game. If there are problems with encumbrance after equipment is purchased, I’ll discuss it with the player so it can be worked out. Just remember, the total party moves at the rate of the slowest member in most situations.
Having to imagine a straight line through a creature’s exact center in order to achieve flanking position is a bit of a stretch for me, especially on large (or bigger) creatures. My flanking rule is simple: on a large (or bigger) opponent, any creature on opposing sides of the enemy has flanking. In the example here if the rogue would move either just above the fighter or beside the cleric, he would have flanking. The fighter and the cleric already have the flanking bonus from their positions.
This is probably the area that I differ in opinion the most from the rules, especially with regard to 0-level spell use. My rules on this is as follows:
0-level spell use is not unlimited! Each of these spells a character knows can be cast a limited number of times per day. This limit is the character’s spell casting ability score used to determine spell use (INT, WIS, CHA). Thus, a spell-caster with an 18 in their spell casting ability score could cast all 0-level spells memorized 18 times per day.
Each character has a small percentage of having possession of some minor magical family heirloom. This could be a weapon, a ring, an amulet, or possibly a scroll or potion of some kind. It is possible for all members of the adventuring party to start out with some minor magical item, however, it is also possible that only 1 or 2 members may have access to such items, or even none.
INNATE MAGICAL ABILITY
The powerful magicks hiding the island from the outside world have warped the space around the island, allowing the latest generation of children to not only be born without “The Mark,” but a small few have been born with some form of minor magical ability. These innate abilities tend to show themselves fairly early in the child’s life, yet may take many years to master. Therefore, until the characters gain some experience in practical use of these innate magical abilities, there is a small percentage chance of spell failure.
These innate abilities seem to manifest randomly among the generation, with children of the same family born within a few years of each other manifesting different abilities, or just one child showing innate abilities while other children have none.