The Warlock for Pathfinder

Greetings. The point of this little exercise is to take the Warlock character class from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons and convert it to use in the Pathfinder game. Pathfinder characters tend to be more robust than their third edition counterparts, with more choices and toys at their disposal. The fourth edition of D&D lights the way by introducing different pacts for the warlock to follow. In this post I’m going to go through all of the warlock’s class abilities in turn and explain the changes I’m proposing as well as suggesting alternatives. At the end I’ll try and tie everything together and make some suggestions for discussion points.

I hope that by the end we’ll have rules for three different versions of the warlock based on the original 4e pacts: the Infernal Pact (with devils and diabolic entities), the Fey Pact (with powerful sylvan and fey creatures), and the Star Pact (with aberrations and other Lovecraftian horrors). I’ll then write up a finished version.

The Warlock first appeared in Complete Arcane published in 2004. The sorcerer withstanding, I think it’s fair to say that it’s the most successful new base class introduced in the third edition era. If you don’t have a copy of Complete Arcane to hand you can find the full class at D&D Tools here: http://dndtools.eu/classes/warlock/. The Warlock was not part of the third edition Open Gaming content, so Paizo is unable to produce their own version for the Pathfinder game. So without further ado, let’s press on:

Alignment

You can’t see the expression of contempt I’m currently wearing. I hate Alignment – go and read the latest House Rules document and remind yourselves of my take on it. Anyway – the 3.5 rules state that the warlock has to be evil or chaotic. This is because the original warlock is very much the diaboloist – treating solely with devils and demons. As it’s my intention to expand the warlock from these roots to make pacts with other entities, it seems appropriate to widen the Alignment suggestions as well. Personally, I would now place it in a similar vein to the cleric. The Alignment should be the same or within one step of the alignment of warlock’s Patron. Does that sound reasonable?

Base Attack Bonus

There’s been no change in base attack bonuses between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder. The warlock  shares its BAB progression with the rogue and cleric. This seems perfectly acceptable for a class that is going to be making many attack rolls, but shouldn’t be as proficient as one of the warrior classes. So no change here.

Hit Dice

In 3.5 the Warlock shared hit dice with the rogue (d6). In Pathfinder, characters on the lower end of the hit die scale got a bump. Rogues in Pathfinder went from d6 to d8; wizards went from d4 to d6. Under those guidelines it only seems fair that the Warlock’s hit dice is increased to d8. To further justify this change, it’s a stated intent of the Pathfinder rules to marry up base attack bonuses and hit dice. All classes with moderate base attack progression (like the warlock) should be using a d8 for their hit points.

Saving Throws

The warlock in 3.5 has the same saving throw progression as the wizard: good Will saving throws, but poor Fortitude and Reflex saves. There’s no point changing things for the sake of being contrary, so this progression stands.

Skills and Skill Ranks

The number of base skill points/ranks per level didn’t change between 3.5 and Pathfinder. The original warlock had 2 + Int Mod skill points per level, so that’s what our Pathfinder version is going to get as well.

The list of class skills does have to change because the skill list itself changed between these editions. In 3.5 these were the warlock’s class skills: Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge Arcana (Int), Knowledge The Planes (Int), Knowledge Religion (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha). However, modifying this list is more than transposing the skills to their Pathfinder equivalents.

I want the Warlock to have different pacts and patrons available. Like the cleric, some skills might be inappropriate for certain pacts but essential for others. A fey-pact warlock might have Diplomacy as a class skill instead of Intimidate. I think there should be a core list of skills that all warlocks have as class skills, and then a handful of other class skills that are dependent on the warlock’s pact. Here’s my first stab at this list:

Core class skills of all warlocks: Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Knowledge Arcana (Int), Knowledge Religion (Int), Fly (Dex), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha)

Fey Pact class skills: Diplomacy (Cha), Knowledge Nature (Int), Survival (Wis)

Infernal pact class skills: Appraise (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge The Planes (Int)

Star pact class skills: Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge Dungeoneering (Int), Linguistics (Int)

Such a list would give the warlock 13 class skills in Pathfinder compared to 13 class skills in version 3.5. The only skill the warlock had in 3.5 that it doesn’t have now is Jump – which translates into Acrobatics in Pathfinder, and didn’t really seem appropriate to any of these warlocks.

Weapon and Armour Proficiencies

In third edition warlocks are proficient with all simple weapons and light armour, but not with shields. Proficiencies like these generally haven’t changed between 3.5 and Pathfinder versions of classes, so I see no great point in changing these. A particularly martial warlock could be recreated using an archetype I suppose, but for the most part I think all warlocks should stick to these weapon and armour proficiencies.

Eldritch Blast

Eldritch Blast is the signature ability of the warlock. It’s described in Complete Arcane as a ray of “baleful magical energy” that the warlock is able to shoot at his foes at will, but as it’s a standard action he can use it no more than once per round. The energy of an eldritch blast is magical but otherwise untyped – it’s not a force effect or an elemental effect. It inflicts hit point damage to creatures and half that damage to objects (as all energy attacks do in Pathfinder), but it needs to overcome spell resistance to do so. It has a range of 60 feet. Some or all of these base characterisitics can be modified by other class abilities, but I’ll get into a discussion about that in a moment.

I’ve no desire to alter any of the above. The only thing that I would like to alter is the damage inflict by the eldritch blast. In Complete Arcane eldritch blast inflicts 1d6 damage at 1st level, increasing by an additional d6 at 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th levels. At 19th level the damage maxes out at 9d6. I’d like to increase that damage in two ways:

1) I’d increase the damage progression to match a rogue’s sneak attack dice. So 1d6 at 1st level, rising by 1d6 at every odd numbered level thereafter – thus reaching 10d6 at 19th level. It’s a more structure progression, and it’s a change that doesn’t effect mid to low-level warlocks at all.

2) I would add the warlock’s Charisma modifier to the damage of his eldritch blast. So a 1st level warlock with a Charisma of 16 would inflict 1d6+3 base damage with the eldritch blast instead of just 1d6. This is a mechanic that has begun to show up in later editions of D&D, and also applies to the Warmage class from Complete Arcane. I think the warlock needs a little more poke on the damage front to hold the line in the Pathfinder game. Comparing the damage output with other characters (notably the Fighter and Wizard) is subjective, but my gut feeling is that the Warlcok needs this boost. You may disagree.

Detect Magic / Deceive Item / Imbue Item

These are pragmatic additions to the warlock’s class abilities granted to him at levels two, four and twelve. The only reason that they’re in the progression is because without them the warlock would never be able to detect magic, create magic items or use certain magic items that aren’t otherwise available to his class. The Invocations that a warlock has access to (see below!) are not spells, and therefore the item creation system from third edition doesn’t play very nicely with warlocks.

I’ve always thought that these are peculiarly specific set of abilities. Sure, I can see the utility of Detect Magic but Deceive Item doesn’t allow the Warlock to do anything that he can’t do with the Use Magic Device skill (he can just do it better), and how many players of Warlocks characters really want to spend their time making magic items? Enough to justify it being part of the core progression of the class? I don’t think so.

So partly because I need to free up some space in the class progression, and partly because I don’t think these are that important anyway, I’m removing them as class abilities. I can see that some warlocks might still want them, so I’m turning them into Invocations instead (and hopefully making them more interesting in the process). As you read on you’ll see that the warlock has a little more invocations at his disposal in the my proposed Pathfinder version of the class, so having to use an invocation slot to gain these abilities may not seem a big price to pay for a player who really wants them.

I would picture them becoming two invocations: a Least Invocation that incorporates both the Detect Magic and Deceive Item abilities; and a Greater Invocation that duplicates Imbue Item (and probably throws identify in for good measure. I haven’t written out the text of these invocations as yet.

Invocations

This is where things get interesting! Over the course of 20 levels the warlock gains a total of 12 invocations that are usable at-will. In the 3.5 version of the warlock they are divided into three categories: 1) Eldritch Essence Invocations that modify the effect of an eldritch blast – e.g. damage type; 2) Blast Shape Invocations that modify the dimensions or number of targets for the eldritch blast; and 3) Other Invocations that are spell-like abilities that mimic existing arcane and divine spells. Obviously because these abilities are usable at-will some great care as been taking in choosing which spells the warlock can use as these ‘other invocations’.

In third edition, most Warlock Invocations appeared in Complete Arcane, Complete Mage and Dragon Magic. Wizards of the Coast produced a consolidated list of all invocations in 2007 that covers pretty much everything. You can find it online here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/invocations. Sadly D&D Tools has yet got around to indexing this material.

Invocations are an area where I want to make quite a few changes.

Firstly, I propose removing Eldritch Essence and Blast Shape Invocations from the list of a warlock’s invocations. They are effectively metamagic feats for warlocks under a different name, so I’m going to make them feats. I’ll call them “Eldritch Essence Feats” and “Blast Shape Feats” because I’m nothing if not imaginative. Warlocks will gain bonus feat slots are certain levels with which they can choose these feats. They’ll obviously be able to choose them from their list of standard feats as well. I’ll talk more about these bonus feats below.

That means the Warlock’s invocations are all of the ‘Other’ kind. They are all at-will spell-like abilities based upon existing spells, but often reflavoured or spiced-up to play into the warlock’s idiom. The warlock is still getting 12 of these invocations, but without the need to choose Eldritch Essence or Blast Shape invocations the new Pathfinder warlock is going to be more versatile than his 3.5 ancestor. I also think that the list of available Invocations is a very good place to personalise the different pacts and patrons. Although there will be some Invocations available to all warlocks, most should be unique to the different pacts.

As in the standard third edition version, these Invocations will be divided into four categories:

  • Least Invocations: gained at 1st level, based on spells of up to level two
  • Lesser Invocations: gained at 6th level, based on spells of up to level four
  • Greater Invocations: gained at 11th level, based on spells of up to level five
  • Dark Invocations: gained at 16th level, based on spells of up to level nine

I haven’t taken the time to invent any new invocations. There is some value to converting some of the more colourful 4e spells into Invocations, and I did begin work on that a while ago… although I didn’t get any further than Infernal pact spells from Player’s Handbook 1 (2008). So I don’t have a list of invocations beyond the 2007 version from the Wizards website that I linked to above.

Ideally I would need to take that list and divide the ‘other’ invocations on it into four categories: General, Infernal, Fey and Pact. Then I’d look at how equal the lists were, and draw up or convert additional spells and invocations from all editions to plug the gap. That is a long piece of work and beyond the scope of this blog post. However, if this is the direction we choose to go in, it’s probably what I’ll be concentrating on next.

Bonus Feats

My current progression has the bonus feats mentioned above conferred at levels 1, 2, 6, 10, 14 and 18. That progression is obviously up for discussion. I’ve taken the eldritch essence and blast shape invocations from Complete Arcane and converted them into feats that you can see in the following document. The text of the actual ability has not changed. A warlock can use one blast shape feat and one eldritch essence feat at the same time to modify the same eldritch blast. However, they cannot apply more than one of the same type of feat to the same blast.

There might be some mileage in limiting certain feats to certain pacts – for example, Brimstone Blast has the Infernal Warlock written all over it. There might also be worth in creating new feats that reflect the indiosyncracies of Fey and Star Pact warlocks. I have done those things as yet. Take a look at the direction I’m going in and see what you think.

Click for the New Deal Cleric (version 3)

Obviously, there are other eldritch essence and blast shape invocations out there – and material to convert from Complete MageDragon MagicCityscapeThe Drow of the Underdark and Magic of Incarnum. But like invocations, that’s a job for another time.

Pact Abilities

The 3.5 version of the class gains three other class abilities as he gains levels, all flavoured toward a diabolical patron. These are Damage Reduction (DR rising from 1/cold iron at level three to 5/cold iron at level nineteen); Fiendish Resilience (a burst of fast healing once per day); Energy Resistance (increasing resistance to two energy types). I’ve renamed these “pact abilities” because it would seem logical to change them based on the warlock’s patron: a true servant of a Hellish master is likely to have DR/silver under the Pathfinder rules, and it’s a Fey or Abyssal-pact warlock who would get DR/cold iron.

What we need to consider is whether the power level of these abilities is right for Pathfinder. Sorcerer bloodlines and cleric domains are good place to look for parity, as they grant similar abilties that rise in power as the character gains levels. These classes are much more generous when it comes to energy resistance. By 20th level energy resistance tends to max out at Immunitiy. Damage Reduction is less generous and reaching a DR 5/whatever by the end of the progression still seems appropriate. Neither clerics nor sorcerers offer fast healing, but as it’s not a continuous effect I think it’s probably fine to keep it as it is. It’s roughly comparable with the monk’s ability to heal himself.

So here are the pact abilities tweaked for the new warlock:

Infernal Pact

  • DR 1/silver rising to DR 5/silver by 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire or Cold. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 3rd level, rising to Resist 10 at 9th level and Immunity at 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire, Cold or Acid. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 9th level, rising to Resist 10 at 20th level.
  • The warlock adds his charisma modifier to saving throws against Poison.
  • Warlock resilience: From 8th level once per day as a free action, gain fast healing 1 for two minutes. This improves to fast healing 2 at 13th level, and fast healing 5 at 18th level.

Fey Pact

  • DR 1/cold iron rising to DR 5/cold iron by 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire or Electricity. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 3rd level, rising to Resist 10 at 9th level and Immunity at 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire, Electricity or Cold. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 9th level, rising to Resist 10 at 20th level.
  • The warlock adds his charisma modifier to saving throws against Charm and Compulsion effects.
  • Warlock resilience: From 8th level once per day as a free action, gain fast healing 1 for two minutes. This improves to fast healing 2 at 13th level, and fast healing 5 at 18th level.

Star Pact

  • DR 1/– rising to DR 5/– by 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire, Acid, Electricity, Sonic or Cold. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 3rd level, rising to Resist 10 at 9th level and Immunity at 20th level.
  • Choose one energy type from Fire, Acid, Electricity, Sonic or Cold. The warlock gains Resist 5 to this energy type at 9th level, rising to Resist 10 at 20th level.
  • The warlock adds his charisma modifier to saving throws against Fear.
  • Warlock resilience: From 8th level once per day as a free action, gain fast healing 1 for two minutes. This improves to fast healing 2 at 13th level, and fast healing 5 at 18th level.

Capstone Abilities

As it currently stands a level 20 warlock gets an extra dark invocation, +1 to their DR and an increase in resistance and immunity. They don’t need much else to make 20th level special. Howver, Capstone abilities are common in Pathfinder classes, so I think there should be an extra little something. I think the easiest way to accomplish this is a change in the warlock’s Type. It’s a subtle change but one that can have profound consequences for good or ill. So a Infernal pact warlock gains the Outsider type, a Fey Pact warlock the Fey type, and a  Star Pact warlock the Aberration type. I’m calling this change “Pact Apotheosis”. I grant it may need some work.

Multiclassing

I can’t explain this any more succinctly than Complete Arcane, so I’m quoting directly from p18 and p72 of that book:

Warlocks benefit in a specific way from prestige classes that have “+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class” or “+1 level of existing spellcasting class” as a level advancement benefit. A warlock taking levels in such a prestige class does not gain any of his class abilities, but he does gain an increased caster level when using his invocations and increased damage with his eldritch blast. Levels of prestige classes that provide +1 level of spellcasting effectively stack with the warlock’s level to determine his eldritch blast damage (treat his combined caster level as his warlock class level when looking at [… the Warlock’s class progression…] to determine eldritch blast damage) and his eldritch blast caster level (half his total caster level from his warlock levels and his levels in the prestige class that grant him an increased spellcasting level). A warlock also gains new invocations known at these prestige class levels as though he had gained a level in the warlock class.

A warlock cannot qualify for prestige classes with spellcasting level requirements, as he never actually learns to cast spells. However, prestige classes with caster level requirements, such as the acolyte of the skin, are well suited to the warlock. A warlock’s caster level for his invocations fulfils this requirement.

In the context of a feat or a prestige class requirement, a caster level prerequisite (such as “caster level 5th”) measures the character’s ability to channel a minimum amount of magical power. For feats or prestige classes requiring a minimum caster level, creatures that use spell-like abilities or invocations instead of spells use either their fixed caster level or their class level to determine qualification. For example, Craft Wondrous Item has a requirement of caster level 3rd, so both a 3rd-level warlock and a nixie (caster level 4th for its charm person spell-like ability) meet the requirement.

The Warlock’s Curse?

Fourth edition introduced an interesting mechanic into the Warlock class referred to as the warlock’s curse. Basically, once per turn the warlock was able to lay a special curse on a target he could see. Multiple targets could be cursed at any one time as long as the warlock spent a minor action (in 4e-speak) cursing them.

Cursed targets became more vulnerable to the warlock’s attacks – represented in the rules by a bonus to damage against them. As the warlock advanced in levels, so this damage increased. Should a character under the influence of a Warlock’s curse die at the warlock’s hand, then the warlock received a special benefit depending on his Pact:

Infernal Pact warlocks gained temporary hit points equal to their level; Fey Pact warlocks were able to teleport 15 feet; and Star Pact warlocks gained a cumulative +1 to a d20 roll made before the end of their next turn.

I quite liked the mechanic and I think I would have played a warlock in the old 4e campaign if Malcolm hadn’t got there first. That said, I’ve decided not to incorporate these rules into my Pathfinder version of the Warlock for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it seemed too much. Between patrons, pacts abilities, bonus feats, invocations and eldritch blast the warlock already has a lot going on. Layering something else on top seemed to be a step too far. Secondly, the origins and inspiration for these 4e abilities don’t come from the Warlock at all – they come from the third edition Hexblade.

The Hexblade (that first appeared in Complete Warrior) was a martial warrior, with small spellcasting prowess, who gave himself the edge in combat by cursing his enemies. In 4e that concept was lifted and placed into the Warlock class. In later 4e sourcebooks, the “Hexblade Pact” was even listed as an option for warlocks.

Having looked at it more closely, I think the Warlock’s Curse rules are better used in fleshing out a new Pathfinder version of the Hexblade. I’ve changed my mind about the Hexblade serving as an archetype of the Warlock in Pathfinder. I think it can still stand on its own two feet. I’ll tackle the Hexblade in a future Conversion Catalogue feature.

Archetypes and Prestige Classes

Like the Hexblade, I think the Binder can continue to live as a class of its own. It’s too different to the warlock, and the ‘Vestige Pact’ warlock of fourth edition isn’t really close enough to the third edition version to make for a viable conversion.

I’m not looking to create any archetypes for the warlock at this stage. I think it’s something that I’d prefer to look at when necessary – if a player wants to be a warlock, but would like to tweak the class in a certain direction.

As with the sorcerer’s bloodlines and the wizard’s schools, the warlock’s pacts offer a way to customise the class without relying on archetypes. And I can see the potential of a Draconic Pact, or Abyssal Pact warlock standing alongside the core three. Indeed there’s plenty of material in the book Dragon Magic that could aid in this – and retrofitting the Dragon Shaman base class into a warlock that serves a draconic patron seems a logical step.

As for prestige classes… there are plenty of them in third edition if player’s wanted to go down that route. They would have to be converted into Pathfinder, so I think adopting an ‘as-and-when’ approach to this would be to the benefit of my sanity.

In conclusion

Following all the guidelines above, this is the warlock we end up with:

Level

Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save

Will Save

Special

Invocations Known

1

+0

+0 +0

+2

Eldritch Blast 1d6
Bonus Feat
Least Invocations

1

2

+1 +0 +0

+3

Bonus Feat
Saving Throw Bonus

2

3

+2 +1 +1

+3

Eldritch Blast 2d6
Energy Resistance

2

4

+3 +1 +1

+4

Damage Reduction 1

3

5

+3 +1 +1

+4

Eldritch Blast 3d6

3

6

+4

+2

+2

+5

Bonus Feat
Lesser Invocations

4

7

+5

+2

+2

+5

Eldritch Blast 4d6

4

8

+6/+1

+2

+2

+6

Damage Reduction 2
Warlock Resilience

5

9

+6/+1

+3

+3

+6

Eldritch Blast 5d6
Energy Resistance

5

10

+7/+2 +3 +3

+7

Bonus Feat

6

11

+8/+3 +3 +3

+7

Eldritch Blast 6d6
Great Invocations

7

12

+9/+4 +4 +4

+8

Damage Reduction 3

7

13

+9/+4 +4 +4

+8

Eldritch Blast 7d6
Warlock Resilience

8

14

+10/+5 +4 +4

+9

Bonus Feat

8

15

+11/+6/+1 +5 +5

+9

Eldritch Blast 8d6

9

16

+12/+7/+2 +5 +5

+10

Damage Reduction 4Dark Invocations

10

17

+12/+7/+2 +5 +5

+10

Eldritch Blast 9d6

10

18

+13/+8/+3 +6 +6

+11

Bonus Feat
Warlock Resilience

11

19

+14/+9/+4 +6 +6

+11

Eldritch Blast 10d6

11

20

+15/+10/+5 +6 +6

+12

Damage Reduction 5
Energy Resistance/Immunity
Pact Apotheosis

12

Granted, we have a more work to do on the list of Invocations, but I think that the principle here is sound. So what does everyone else thing? Does this version of the warlock get the thumbs up? Are there any problems that you can see?

Housekeeping

It’s (shockingly) been more than a year since I last posted something to the blog. I can’t attest to doing anything more constructive over the last twelve months than improving my Xbox gamerscore, but there are a few announcements that I wanted to share with you all.

D&D Fifth Edition Launches Tomorrow!

Kinda. As of 3rd July (probably quite late in the day UK time) the first iteration of the new Basic Dungeons & Dragons game will be available to freely download from the Wizards of the Coast website. For those of you who haven’t been following every scrap of information on this topic: Basic D&D is *not* a simplified version of the 5th edition game – it’s the full game, albeit with less options that you’ll eventually find in the new Player’s Handbook.

Tomorrow you’ll find rules for character creation and advancement for the simplest build of the four core classes, as well as rules on how to play, equipment and spells. As more products are released over the coming months so this free version of the game will expand with more content. Expect monsters to appear after the launch of the Monster Manual, for example.

Following the release of Basic D&D the new D&D Starter Set launches in mid-July, followed by the new Player’s Handbook in August, the Monster Manual in late September and the Dungeon Master’s Guide in November. There’s a few adventures in the mix as well. This is a staggered release similar to third edition in 2000, so will be easier on my wallet.

A new 5th Edition mini-campaign, anyone?

I’m very enamoured with the new D&D rules. I think they’re the best version of D&D to date, and I’d like to take them for a test drive. Therefore I’m going to be a running the mini-campaign presented in the D&D Starter Set. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms and designed to take PCs from 1st to 5th level – about eight sessions worth of adventuring (or twenty-eight at the rate we normally play). I don’t have a specific start date in mind, neither have I decided whether I want to run it on a weekly or ad hoc basis. I don’t want it to drag out too long, though. Basically I’ll be guided by player availability.

Which brings me on the subject of players. I need some. Ideally five, which seems a tall order in these uncertain times. I have had some interest, but any of you who a) live within striking distance, b) feel like some new D&D, and c) I’ve actually met, please drop me an email.

Iourn.com has gone AWOL

For those of you keeping track of such things, access to www.iourn.com has been impossible for month or so. I’m not entirely sure why, but as the site hasn’t been updated since January 2009 I’m not in a big hurry to solve the mystery.

Please don’t worry that we’ve lost any content. I have the entire site backed up in various places. If any of you want a full copy of the site for your reference then send me an email and I’ll endeavour to get one over to you.

My longer term plan is to recreate the old site (including all its content) in WordPress. It would make it easier for me to maintain and update it, although I’d need to think long and hard about the format, navigation, theme etc. WordPress also has the advantage of being equally legible on a variety of different devices, which can only be a good thing in this post-PC world.

D&D Third Edition (Pathfinder) Campaigns

My weekly Iourn campaign, Prophet and Loss, is currently on hiatus due to player availability. I’m in no hurry to start running it again, and am happy to wait until everyone has the time and energy to continue the campaign. I still have all my notes and we can pick up where we left off fairly easily.

The ongoing adventures of the Chosen of Narramac that began back in 2000 will continue with a third campaign, To End All Wars, starting in August. This time our high level heroes are sharing the limelight with a new collection of first level PCs.

The Conversion Catalogue

I did threaten to use this blog as a venue for thrashing out rules for the conversion of old 3.5 material into Pathfinder. I’m shortly going to make good on that threat with an exploration of the third edition Warlock. I have need for warlocks in my ongoing game, and would like to throw out some ideas.

The 3.5 warlock is a bit too focused to stand against other Pathfinder classes. By taking a leaf out of fourth edition I think we can introduce different class abilities based on pacts (Fey and Star as well as the default Infernal); the Warlock’s Curse from 4e is also something worth exploring, I think. I’m also of a mind to make Hexblades and (possibly) Binders archetypes of the Warlock.

Watch this space for more information.

Pathfinder House Rule Summary

Go to Pathfinder: The New Deal index


It’s taken be a little long to put everything together, but please see below for a PDF compilation of all the Pathfinder house rules that we’ve been discussign over the last few months. This is the version I aim to print out and bring to the gaming table. It’s the first time that all the house rules have been together in one place, and it’s quite exciting to see it finished.

Current version: 1.2

Version History:

  • 1.1 (24/01/2013): original upload
  • 1.2 (06/03/2013): lists of domain spells updated to include material from Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic.

To reiterate: the purpose of this exercise was remove as many house rules from the game as we could. The document is still 98 pages long but the bulk of that is specific material for the Iourn setting like gods and spell lists. There’s actually very few house rules in there, and I’m quite proud of that.

So please have a look through and tell me what you think. There have been a few small changes from the posts I’ve added to the blog. The changes to the way divine spellcasters gain new spells meant that druids, rangers and paladins needed a mention as well as clerics. The changes to the cleric domains also affected druids with domains. There are some more druid archetypes. I’ve decided to stick with the rules-as-written when it comes to teleportation spells, and the house-rules around summoning spells have been cut to a bare minimum.

The document also refers to something called the “Conversion Catalogue” which will be my next project. I intend to start converting old third edition material into Pathfinder. That won’t kick off until later in the year, after the Spell Filter is updated to my satisfaction.


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Summoning Guidelines

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I’m shortly going to post a complete summary of the New Deal house rules to the site. It’ll be in the form of a handy PDF that we can print out and bring to sessions. As the number of house rules are now surprisingly few, it shouldn’t be too bulky a document. But before we get to that stage, we need to have a closer look at the guidelines for choosing new monsters that can appear on the summoning lists of the Summon Monster and Summon Nature’s Ally spells.

Following the recent post on Summoning spells it has been decided to use personalised summoning lists for individual casters. These rules have been taken directly from Unearthed Arcana (2004) and tweaked a little to make them Pathfinder-compatible. At the moment the rules look like this:

Summoning Lists

Each spellcaster has a unique list of monsters she can summon with any single Summon Monster or Summon Nature’s Ally spell. When a spellcaster first gains access to a summon spell, she chooses either one monster from the list published in the Core Rules (2009) or a comparable creature from another approved source. This chosen monster is the only monster she can summon with that spell.

Each time the character gains a new spellcasting level she may add one monster to one summoning list to which she has access. In addition the caster can research or discover new monster summoning formulae in the same way that a wizard adds additional spells to his spell book. All spellcasters can use the “Spells copied from another’s spellbook or scroll” or “Independent research” methods described in the section on Adding Spells to a Wizard’s Spellbook. In these cases the spell-level of the summonable creature is equal to the level of the Summon Monster or Summon Nature’s Ally spell that would be required to summon it.

If a spellcaster chooses a monster that is not on an existing summoning list, then that creature must be of a comparable power-level to the creatures that are. Simply choosing a creature of the same CR value is not a sufficient guide. Players should compare the CR, hit dice and special abilities of creatures. New summonable creatures should not grant any greater utility than creatures that already exist. If the monster seems to match the power and abilities of the monsters at the same spell level, it’s probably okay to add that monster to your list.

The Specifics

It’s the third paragraph that I have problems with. It’s all a bit woolly don’t you think? Do we need to be more prescriptive than this? Should we single out specific special abilities as the Polymorph family of spells do? As an example of what I mean, look at the Beast Shape spells. Beast Shape I doesn’t let the caster gain the ability to grab, pounce or trip when he polymorphs even if he turns into a creature that would normally have those abilities. He can’t have those abilities unless he casts Beast Shape II.

In regard to summoning, do we look at the existing lists and say that no summoned creature can have abilities that aren’t already in those lists? Creatures on the Summon Monster I list have disease, poison, Swim and Fly speeds of 80 ft, innate luminescence, and a land speed of 40 ft. Can we say that nothing summoned by a Summon Monster I spell can have abilities beyond those listed, even if creatures of that type usually have those abilities? Or is that too tricky.

The problem is that summoning is a less exact science that even the polymorph spells.

Take the unicorn for example. This is a CR 3 creature with 4 hit dice. Under those terms it could feasibly be on the Summon Monster III list. But that’s before you look at it’s abilities. The monster is immune to charm, compulsion and poison; it has a number of spell-like abilities including healing and teleportation; it has a horn, multiattack and the powerful charge ability; and it continually radiates protection from evil, its horn acts as a magic weapon and it has wild empathy like a druid. That’s far beyond any other comparable creature. In terms of abilities the unicorn should probably be on the Summon Monster V (or even the Summon Monster VI) list.

The point I’m trying to make is this: the third paragraph as printed above urges us to take each monster on a case-by-case basis and weigh up it’s compatibility with a summoning spell of a particular level. The Pathfinder system prefers a more prescriptive approach, with what you can and cannot do specifically defined in the rules. Do we need to follow the spirit of Pathfinder here and openly define what a summoning spell of a particular level can and cannot do, or are we happy in taking a more laid back approach?

I think duplicating the prescriptive approach from the polymorph spells is a waste of effort with summoning. Monsters are simply too varied to cover every eventuality, and we would be faced with too much effort for too little gain. It would be quicker to go through every monster in all the Bestiaries and define which spell could be used to summon them: something that I’m not proposing to do either.

But what are your thoughts on this. Are the rules above enough? Do they need more definition?


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Character Generation and other animals

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I’m very excited. This is the last post in the Pathfinder: The New Deal series of posts. After this I will have covered every house rule in the game that I thought might have been worth saving or at least worth mentioning. Once our discussions are done here, then I’ll publish a summary of all the changes we are making – the places we are deviating – from the published Pathfinder rules. It won’t be many.

I know there’s something a little perverse about covering Character Generation after Epic Levels, but this post also includes a quick overview of all the other tiny little house-rules that we’ve been using over the years. Some of these I’m happy to jettison, while others I want to keep. Have a read through and let me know if you agree with my choices.

Hit Points

From level 2, you can either roll your hit points or take the average result. The rules as written round the average result down. Therefore a cleric can either add 1d8 hit points or 4 hit points at each level. My house rules, rounded up the average result thus giving the player far more incentive to take the static figure than roll a die.

Barbarians roll 1d12 or take 7 hit points; fighters, paladins and rangers roll 1d10 or take 6 hit points; bards, clerics, druids and monks roll 1d8 or take 5 hit points; wizards and sorcerers roll 1d6 or take 4 hit points.

The reason these house rules exist is that it’s far better for me as a GM (and you as players) if I have a more specific idea of what your hit points are. Encounter are much easier to balance that way. And it prevents certain players (I’m looking at you, Steve) having such fundamentally poor hit points that they are likely to be rendered unconscious by a violent sneeze.

So I would recommend that we keep this rule. It’s also the rule that’s being used in 5th Edition, although my house rule predates this.

Saving Throws

If you remember, the house rules introduced new saving throw tables for core classes and prestige classes that replaced those in the official rules. I don’t think that there’s any justification in keeping those rules in light of our new policies. Therefore all base saving throws need to revert to their correct values as stated in the Core Rules. If you are a single class character, then you’ll notice no changes. If you are a multiclass character then your saving throws might increase if you have a lot of base classes, or decrease if you have a lot of prestige classes. I’m sorry that you need to recalculate them again.

Weapon Proficiencies

Since Unearthed Arcana was published back in 2004 we’ve been using the rules for Weapon Group Feats. I would like to stop doing that now. I want to revert to the official Pathfinder rules which defines all weapons as either Simple, Martial or Exotic weapons. The official rules are on the Pathfinder PRD. They are identical to the rules we used to use in the 3.0 days.

I apologise that this might result in a certain rejigging of the character. Those of you who regularly use more than one exotic weapon may find that the change in rules costs you a feat. However, the Pathfinder rules are more forgiving when it comes to exotic racial weapons. A dwarven waraxe is not an exotic weapon for a dwarf, for example.

Languages

Here we come to a house rule that I really want to hang on to. The old house rules are still compatible with Pathfinder, although they need to changed slightly to take into account the Linguistics skill. Here are the house rules in their entirety:

Languages are divided into spoken tongues and scripts (alphabets). If you learn to speak a language you do not necessarily know how to read and write the language. When you learn a specific script, then you automatically know how to read and write any language you can speak that uses that script. For example: Norandon, Salmayan and True Hadradan are spoken languages that sound pretty different; however they all share the same Hadradan script. Therefore when I character who knows how to speak these three languages learns how to read the Hadradan alphabet, he is then able to read and write Norandon, Salmayan and True Hadradan as well.

At character generation all characters know 2 + their Intelligence modifier in languages and scripts. They choose from the list I have for Iourn: there is no Common language, although some languages are more common than others! What languages and scripts they know depends on their character background. Usually certain races will know their racial tongues, but not always. Some players may choose for their characters to be illiterate, and this is a perfectly valid choice.

After character generation, characters gain access to new languages and scripts by adding ranks in the Linguistics skill. For each rank they have in this skill, they can add one spoken language or one script to the number of languages and scripts that they know.

In the written rules there is no distinction between speaking and reading/writing a language. You start with two languages (usually Common and a racial tongue) and a number of bonus languages depending on your intelligence bonus. The choice of bonus languages is limited by race and class with very little wiggle room. I’ve always preferred the house rules, and I don’t want to give them up. It’s never made any sense to me that you can’t have illiterate PCs in an environment where almost everyone is illiterate. Extra languages conferred by certain classes (such as the secret language of the druids) can be an exception to these rules and known in addition to other languages and scripts.

Arcane Spell Failure

And so we come full circle. I don’t like Arcane Spell Failure, and would rather it was completely excised from the game. I don’t see what the big deal of wizards in armour is. Clerics can do it, after all. For me arcane spell failure falls into the same category as Spell Resistance: something that seems as though it’s just there to slow down play and be annoying.

I would love to say that I’m changing the rules here and removing spell failure from the game, but I’m not. It’s back, it only applies to arcane casters (sorry Jon), and it functions in exactly the way the rules state. Circumventing it is only possible if you find a class or prestige class that allows you to circumvent it: which means a new version of the Spell Sword class down the road for Ravenna. No rush, as we won’t return to her until the weekend game after next.

It’s too a big a thing to pluck out of the game, which is a pain. But there we are.


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Epic Levels

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To say characters of level 21 and higher have always proved problematic in D&D is akin to bemoaning the fact that rain is always so wet. No edition of D&D has managed to conquer the problems inherenet in high levels, and for most those problems start a lot earlier than level 21. It’s unsurprising to learn that Pathfinder is no exception to this rule. Very high level characters are extremely complex: so complex that the advice from Paizo is not to run them at all, and finish your campaign at level 20.

There are no comprehensive rules for level 21+ in Pathfinder, bar for a few brief guidelines in the Core Rules. Largely, these rules advise GMs to finish their campaigns as quickly as they can once their PCs pass 20th level. There’s a very good reason for this, as the maths behind third edition doesn’t really work at these high levels.

However, I have a party of characters that is marching quite solidly into the realm of Epic Characters and so I’ll need to have some rules and guidelines to cope with those chararacters. In this post, I intend to go through the Epic Rules that we have available and gather consensus on the best way to move forward. There are several options as we will see.


Advancement Tables

While the Core Rules presents guidelines on the XP needed to acquire insanely high levels, there isn’t actually an advancement table. So this is the Epic Level advancement table extrapolated out to 30th level. As you can see the amount of experience required to advance increases exponentially over these levels. Even on the fastest progression, you need 1.4 billion XP to reach 30th level!

Character Level Experience Point Total Feats Ability Score
Slow Medium Fast
21st 8,350,000 5,700,000 3,800,000 11th
22nd 14,350,000 9,900,000 6,600,000
23rd 26,350,000 18,300,000 12,200,000 12th
24th 50,350,000 35,100,000 23,400,000 6th
25th 98,350,000 68,700,000 45,800,000 13th
26th 194,350,000 135,900,000 90,600,000
27th 386,350,000 270,300,000 180,200,000 14th
28th 770,350,000 539,100,000 359,700,000 8th
29th 1,538,350,000 1,070,700,000 717,800,000 15th
30th 3,074,350,000 2,145,900,000 1,434,600,000

A new advancement table, also necessitates an expansion to the table of Challenge Ratings. Here is the Total XP awarded by encounter for challenges up to a CR of 35. That should be enough to keep even the highest level parties on their toes. I haven’t extrapolated out the rest of this table, as I won’t be using it when I calculate XP.

CR Total XP
26 2,457,600
27 3,276,800
28 4,915,200
29 6,553,600
30 9,830,400
31 13,107,200
32 19,660,800
33 26,214,400
34 39,321,600
35 52,428,800

And that inevitably leads to a new table for the amount of wealth a PC should acquire per experience level. Extrapolating this table out is more of an art than a science, although I think the following is generally in the spirit of the game:

PC Level Wealth
21 1,115,000 gp
22 1,405,000 gp
23 1,755,000 gp
24 2,165,000 gp
25 2,640,000 gp
26 3,190,000 gp
27 3,820,000 gp
28 4,453,000 gp
29 5,325,000 gp
30 6,215,000 gp

Armed with these tables, it’s easy to see how I can go on setting challenging encounters and rewarding PCs appropriately into the highest levels of the game. However: we can’t just soldier on beyond 20th level blindly. I might be able to give out the correct amount of Wealth per level, but there are no epic level magic items in Pathfinder as there were in third edition. PCs simply acquire more items that are of a diminishing relative level as they continue to advance. We need to be sensible.

It’s possible that when details of Mythic Items are properly released (I’ll cover the impending Mythic Rules in more depth below) that I’ll be able to tailor rewards more closely to the power level of PCs. In any event, the added wealth will allow PCs to create or commission more of the magic items they actually want, as well as being able to afford the things they’ve always wanted: such as a standing army, a floating castle or the world’s largest navy.


Here are some options, most of which come from published sources. Where a source offers various options of approaching epic levels, I’ll make it clear what my preferred option is. It’s possible, that we might use some or all of them to a degree – epic levels should be about choice above all things.

The 3.0 Epic Level Handbook

There are comprehensive rules for epic characters in the Epic Level Handbook (2002). These rules were updated to version 3.5 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (2003). The 3.5 DMG managed to condense 320 pages of material into only 5. It is my great hope that we agree to ignore all the epic rules published in third edition.

It’s not because I don’t like the rules per se, but the fact is that they don’t fit in with Pathfinder. The rules for epic feats, epic magic items, epic spells and so are at odds with the approach Pathfinder takes to epic levels which is: characters continue to advance in much the same way and gain access to the sort abilties they’ve always had (just more of them).

Also, the bulk of the Epic Rules are two revisions removed from the third edition ruleset we’re going to be using. This creates issues. Some of the epic feats from the Epic Level Handbook were downgraded to regular feats in the 2003 update, and I have a feeling that eight years later there will be plenty of other material that either renders them obsolete or unbalanced.

The 3.5 version of the epic rules are online at the d20 SRD, so do remind yourselves of them. However, their general incompatibility with Pathfinder in regard to everything from skill DCs to saving throw progression to epic item creation feats makes it problematic to use anything from the book as it is printed. It works well as a GM guide for managing high level characters, but doesn’t work as well as a resource for players any more.

The Mythic Rules

Paizo have no intention of publishing a version of the Epic Level Handbook. Instead, in 2013 they are publishing a book called Mythic Adventures. If you want to get an idea of what these rules will entail, there’s a 54-page playtest document that you can download for free over at Paizo.com.

To briefly summarise: the mythic rules are designed for characters of all levels, not simply epic levels. In fact, they may be less suitable for epic level characters as they succeed in making characters even more complex. There are ten ranks of mythic power, and at each rank you gain extra abilities some of which improve the way your class works, and some of which are more utilitarian. These mythic ranks are gained in parallel with class levels. You don’t earn them by gaining experience points, you earn them by doing great deeds. So you could have a 20th level character with 1 mythic rank, or a 1st level character with 10 mythic ranks.

Obviously, Mythic characters are more powerful than your average adventurer, so there’s a lot of rules for balancing encounters and devising mythic villains for them to face. If I’m being honest, this is the first set of rules released for Pathfinder that I’ve been uttely baffled by. I can’t really see the point of them, as I can’t envisage that there’s any adventure that you must use the mythic rules to tell. Also, the “great deeds” characters are expected to perform read like an achievement or trophy guide for a games console which irks me a little.

The Mythic rules won’t offer us a solution to what to do after 20th level. But they do give us insight into the way Pathfinder wants to approach the game. They seem to be taking the view that there’s always been a great deal of cool things characters can do at high level, but very few players get to enjoy those perks as so few characters even reach those rarified heights. The mythic rules bring god-like power down to the small-town adventurer level and gives everyone an equal shot at world-changing glory.

You may not buy that, and I’m not at all sure that I do either. However, this is another example of Pathfinder’s reluctance to produce support for a part of the game that has been shown time-and-again not to work particularly well. I think at the very least the mythic rules will be useful in providing memorable adversaries and items for epic level characters. When we see them in their final form, they may spark more excitement from me.

Class Levels Beyond 20th

Now, we’re getting into what guidelines Pathfinder does offer for characters of level 21+. These rules, and most of what follows, are on the Pathfinder PRD if you want to see them whole-cloth. In regard to class advancement beyond 20th level, Pathfinder gives us two options:

1) Characters simply continue to advance as they did before. If it’s possible to extrapolate an advancement progression of class features then do so – e.g.  a fighter’s bonus feats, a monk’s AC bonus or a rogue’s sneak attack can continue to increase normally. If there is no obvious progression, such as cleric’s domains, the druid’s extra powers or the monk’s many powers then the class stops acquiring such powers at 20th level.

2) The highest published level in a character class is taken as a hard limit on class advancement. So you can’t progress any further than 20th level in a core class, or 10th level in most prestige classes. You can still go beyond 20th level, but you need to multiclass to do it. So if you have reached level 20 as a single-class monk then you’ll have to multiclass when you reach level 21.

My preference is for option two. It’s easier to manage, and there won’t be any disagreement about what constitutes the class’s epic progression. More importantly, character classes (especially in Pathfinder) are self contained units. Most have a capstone ability at 20th level that completes them. After you’ve reached 20th level as a monk, or a druid, or a fighter then there’s really nowhere else you can do. Yes, you can extrapolate some abilties and advancements, but you don’t get anything interesting after 20th level. You might as well pick a prestige class or another core class and start again.

This is not to say that certain class-defining features (e.g. arcane spellcasting) can’t continue to advance beyong level 20, you just have to pick the right class to move into. The wizard who reaches 20th level has nothing left to learn as a wizard, but instead he can become an archmage, or a Blackfire Adept, or an Arclord of Nex. That’s the approach that makes most sense to me.

I would add one small house rule to this: If a character has advanced to 20th level in his favoured class, then he can select another core class as his favoured class. I think that’s fair.

Base Attacks and Saving Throws Beyond 20th Level

A few things to mention here. The rules for way base attack bonuses and saving throws progress after 20th level are different in Pathfinder than in third edition, so pay attention!

Attacks per Round

First, let’s make something very clear. The one point that third edition and Pathfinder are agreed upon is that the number of attacks you have per round does not increase beyond four. A 20th level fighter attacks four times with a base bonus of +20/+15/+10/+5. No matter how high that base bonus goes, no additional attacks per round are gained.

Where Pathfinder differs from third edition is that if you still gain additional attacks per round as your base attack bonus rises to +20, even if you haven’t reached that bonus by 20th level. In third edition, there was a cut of point where if you hadn’t got your fourth (or third) attack per round by 20th level you never got it. Pathfinder is more forgiving here.

These rules also apply to class features that run off base attack bonuses. So at 20th level a Monk has a base attack progresson of +15/+10/+5 and a flurry of blows progression of +18/+18/+13/+13/+8/+8/+3. When the monk gains additional levels and gets another +1 to his base attack bonus he would have an extra (4th) regular attack per round. However, although the attack bonus with his flurry of blows also increases by +1 he will never get any more than seven attacks per round with this class feature.

Base Attacks

In third edition, characters of level 21+ had a standardised progression for base attack bonuses. Every class abandoned their original progression at level 20 and adopted the “epic attack bonus” scheme which was +1 to hit at every odd-numbered level after level twenty. Pathfinder doesn’t go in for that, it just says use the base attack progression of your chosen class instead.

Now the reason why third edition had this rule is obvious. The maths of third edition break down after 20th level. If base attack bonuses continued to increase at the same level then very soon fighters would be able to hit anything in the game by rolling a 2 or more on a d20, while wizards would need to roll a natural 20 hit anything. The disparity between the classes would inevitably increase. The theory was that while some disparity is necessary, too much is a bad thing. Therefore the rules fixed the gulf at the size it was at 20th level.

The reson why Pathfinder doesn’t bother with his is because the game doesn’t expect you to progress beyond 20th level very far. If you plan to wrap up the campaign by 23rd level at the latest (as the rules advise) then it isn’t going to cause the same mechanical problem as if you’re running character up to level 50.

In my opinion, I think we stick with the Pathfinder guidelines here. The epic attack bonus strikes me as an unnecessary complication for our purposes. You may disagree, of course.

Saving Throws

Everything I’ve just said about base attacks also applies to saving throws. In third edition all saving throws were standardised, with all classes receiving a +1 bonus to all saving throws at each even-numbered level above twentieth. Again, the Pathfinder guidelines are for the character class’s base saving throw progression to continue to advance normally.

Pathfinder recognises that this is more of problem for saving throws than it is for base attack bonuses. Choice of class and multiclassing can create enormous differences between the highests and lowest base save in a party at normal levels. At epic levels this is greatly exacerbated. The official advice from Pathfinder on this is for characters to make shoring up their poor saving throws a priority. This means that epic level fighters should be carrying something that improves their Will saving throw as a matter of course.

Despite this, I still recommend using the Pathfinder rules. It’ll just be one thing less to think about when advancing characters, and that has to be a good thing when we’re dealing with PCs of this complexity.

Spellcasting Beyond 20th level

The caster level of spellcasters continues to advance by one for each level they take in class that normally advances their spellcasting. So a wizard 20/archmage 5 has a caster level of 25; and he would use that caster level when calculating the variable effects of spells and attempting to overcome spell resistance.

Acquired Casters: At every odd-numbered caster level above 20, the character gains a new spell slot one level higher than the highest level he can currently cast. So a wizard gets a 10th level spell slot. This slot can be used to prepare spells augmented by metamagic feats, or any other spell the character knows of a lower level. At every even-numbered caster level above 20 the character gains a number of spell slots equal to the highest level he can cast, that he can distribute as he sees fit. So a 22nd level arcane caster gains 10 spell slots. He can choose to have a second 10th level spell slot, two 5th level spell slots or any possible combination as long as they total spell slots add up to 10. Classes gain new spell levels at a slower rate (e.g. paladins and rangers) would also gain these benefits at a slower rate. Pathfinder isn’t clear on what that slower rate should be.

Instinctive Casters: Spellcasters like sorcerers or oracles can gain the same benefits as acquired casters if they choose. However, this only increases the number of spells they can cast each day, and not their repetoire of known spells. At any level they can forego the benefits they would have received in order to learn two new spells of any level they can cast.

I think that these rules for spellcasters are head and shoulders above the 3.0 versions, where caster level was fixed at 20th, and spellcasters needed to choose special feats to be able to learn new spells or advance their spellcasting powers at all. If I’m honest, I think instinctive casters have a bit of a raw deal when compared to their acquired brethren but it’s not something I’m tempted to change: Pact of Minimal Tinkering and all.

Epic Destinies

Okay, here come the House Rules. These rules are intended to replace anything you’ve just read. They are simply a further option for customisation that I would like to support from 21st level. My view is that after spending 20 levels toiling through a character class, you should all have the option to advance your character in exactly the manner you wish.

After 20th level all players should have the option to create a new charater class that is unique to them, and that includes the abilities and powers that they think are most important to their character.

Let’s take Elias as an example. We can use Elias for an example for almost anything, he’s great! Elias Raithbourne, has reached 20th level and he is made up of a mixture of the following classes: Sorcerer, Fighter, Rogue, Paladin, Pious Templar and Glorious Servitor. He also has a blue dragon bloodline. From 21st level we could invent a single class that encompasses the essence of Elias.

This isn’t about creating a class that’s more powerful than any other class, simply one that better defines the character. So maybe Elias’s epic destiny is a class where his paladin smite continues to progress, as does his ability to shapechange into a dragon, that has a good base attack bonus (as he is a warrior) and grants him some nifty draconic abilities from his bloodline. That’s probably not the way Marc would see the character going, but you get the idea.

Of course, no-one has to have an epic destiny, or you could defer your epic destiny to a more appropriate level. For example, Arvan is currently a Druid 15/Warshaper 3. Maybe he wants to stick with druid now until level 20, and not start his epic destiny until level 24.

Obviously, creating this new content for the game would be time consuming, but the onus would be on the player (not the GM) to come up with an appropriate progression for their character, and then for the GM to decide whether it was suitable and to make the necessary changes. Any prospective class should also be reviewed by other players at the table.

For me: I think that epic characters need to be special, and a unique character class (an “epic destiny” in 4e-speak) goes a long way to achieving that. Raza the 21st level monk is borning. Raza the Monk 20/Godspeaker 1 is unique! What I like about these suggested house rules is that they don’t require changing any of the rules and guidelines that already exist in the game.

In Summary

You can’t raise your class level above 20 in a core class, or 10 in a prestige class; but through multiclassing your character level can be as high as you like. Base attack bonuses and saving throws continue to accrue at the normal rate after 20th level, although you can’t have any more than four base attacks. Spellcasting automatically improves as your caster level improves. Epic characters can devise their own unique classes, or “epic destinies” if they wish.

What do you think? Enough to keep us going?

Teleportation Spells

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As I said in my post on Summoning Spells, I don’t have a mechanical problem with any spell in the game functioning as it is written the rules. Teleportation magic is no exception. However, I have produced quite a large wodge of house rules on Teleportation over the years and I’m wondering if it isn’t more flavourful to hang onto some aspects of them.

Basically, the house rules said this:

  • For short-range teleportation, like dimension door, the character must have line of sight to his destination. Therefore such teleportation couldn’t be attempted while blindfolded or in pitch darkness, or onto the other side of a closed door.
  • Normal teleportation can be cast anywhere, but for he 5th level Teleport spell, the destination must be an existing teleportation circle.
  • Higher level teleportation don’t need for the destination point to be an existing teleportation circle, but if casters try to teleport “off the grid” then a chance of error applies.
  • Teleport only allows travel on the same plane of existence. Plane Shift spells are required to go elsewhere.

This is the full text of the house-ruled spells. Some of these will also appear as Domain Spells, but I haven’t added those details in yet. For comparisson you can find all these spells in the Pathfinder PRD’s spell index.

Dimension Door
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Bard 4, Sor/Wiz 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Target: You and touched objects or other touched willing creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

You instantly transport yourself from your current location to any spot that you can see within the range of this spell. You must have line of sight to your destination in order to use dimension door. After using this spell, you cannot take any other actions until your next turn.

You can bring along objects as long as their weight doesn’t exceed your maximum load. You may also bring one additional willing Medium or smaller creature (carrying gear or objects up to its maximum load) or its equivalent per three caster levels. A Large creature counts as two Medium creatures, a Huge creature counts as four Medium creatures and so forth. All creatures to be transported must be touching one another, and at least one of them must be touching you.

Plane Shift
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Cleric 5, Sor/Wiz 7
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Components: V, S, F (a forked metal rod attuned to the plane of travel)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell functions as teleport with the exception that the magic is solely used to cross planar boundaries. You can’t use plane shift to travel to a permanent teleportation circle on the same plane, but you can use it to travel to a specific teleportation circle on a different plane of existence.

Divine casters who know this spell usually only know the sigil sequence to travel to a particular location on the home plane of their god (although there is nothing stopping them learning other addresses in time). Arcane casters will discover one sigil sequence when they learn this spell, and will probably go out of their way to discover more.

As with teleport you can use an existing permanent teleportation circle as the origin point of this spell. This reduces the casting time down from 1 hour to 1 minute. Planar travel is more complex than travel on the same plane.

Plane Shift, Greater
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Cleric 7, Sor/Wiz 9
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Components: V, S
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell is similar to plane shift except that it is based on the greater teleport instead of the teleport spell. Greater plane shift allows travel between planes of existence, without the need for the destination to be a permanent teleportation circle. However, such jumps require a roll on the table presented in the greater teleport spell description.

Teleport
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Components: V, S, M (powder, chalks)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

You create a shortcut across the fabric of the world, linking your location with a permanent teleportation circle somewhere else on the same plane. With a step, you can move from one circle to the other. As part of performing the ritual, you must sketch out a 10-foot-diameter circle in various chalks, inks and powders. Some wizards use ominous candles, but this is purely an affectation. This temporary teleportation circle must exactly match the permanent teleportation circle at your destination. It disappears at the end of the spell’s duration.

You must know the unique sequence of runes and sigils that corresponds to the portal to which you are trying to connect. When you learn the teleport spell you will also discover two or more sequences of sigils (at the GM’s discretion). Other sequences can be found, stolen or purchased. Having a sequence of sigils does not guarantee entry through the destination portal, as some portals can still be warded. If this is the case, then the teleport spell fails and the caster is aware that warding is in place.

While the portal is open, any creature that enters the circle at the origin point instantly appears at the other location, along with anything the creature holds or carries. Any number of creatures of any size can use an open portal; the only limitation is the number that can reach the circle before it ends.

The conjured portal is opaque: you cannot see what is on the other side. It is also provides two-way transportation. Anyone on the other side of the portal can come through to the caster’s side given sufficient time. However, environmental effects at one end of the connection don’t affect the other end, so you can’t open a portal at the bottom of the ocean and flood your current location.

Teleport can link to any permanent portal on the same plane of existence. It cannot cross planar boundaries.

You can use a permanent teleportation circle as the origin point for this spell. This saves the caster having to draw his own temporary circle on the ground. If a permanent circle is used as the origin point then no material components are required, and the casting time of this spell is reduced from 10 minutes to 1 standard action.

Teleport, Greater
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 7
Casting Time: 10 minutes (see below)
Components: V, S, M (powder, chalks)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

This spell functions like teleport with the exception that your destination does not have to be a permanent teleportation portal. Teleporting ‘off the grid’ is extremely dangerous, and becomes more dangerous if the caster is unfamiliar with his destination.

If you use greater teleport to reach a destination that is not a permanent teleportation portal, the you must have some clear idea of the location and lay-out of your destination. The clearer your mental image, the more likely the teleportation works. To see how well the spell functions, then roll 1d100 and consult the following table. The definitions are given below.

Familiarity On Target Off Target Similar Area Splinched Adrift
Very familiar 01-90 91-95 96-99 100
Studied carefully 01-85 86-91 92-97 98-99 100
Seen casually 01-80 81-88 89-95 96-98 99-100
Viewed once 01-70 71-80 81-90 91-95 96-100
False destination 01-50 61-90 91-100

Familiarity: Very familiar is a place you have been very often and feel at home. Studied carefully is a place you know well, either because you can currently physically see it, or because you have been there often. Seen casually refers to places that you have seen more than once, but with which you are not very familiar. Viewed once is a location that you have only seen once, or only seen by scrying. False destination refers to a location that does not exist. The caster may have been fooled into thinking the location was real, or he may be trying to teleport to a known location that no longer exists.

Note that you can’t use greater teleport to visit a place you haven’t seen at all – you cannot define “Princess Jasmine’s bedchamber” or “the nearest hawthorn bush” and hope for the spell to work. Such attempts result in an unavoidable mishap (GM discretion). Scrying unseen destinations first before teleporting is the wisest course of action.

On Target: You appear where you want to be. Rejoice.

Off Target: You appear safely at a random distance from the intended location, and in a random destination. The distance off target is 1d100% of the distance that was to be travelled. The direction is determined randomly.

Similar Area: You arrive in an area that is visually or thematically similar to the target area. Distance isn’t a factor in this dislocation, the spell simply homes in on the most similar alternative location.

Splinched: Not all of all of you reaches the destination, and the body parts that do are often twisted beyond all recognition. Take 5d6 damage and roll again on the table. Unlucky rolls could result into you being repeatedly splinched to death.

Adrift: You are splinched (taking 5d6 damage) and cast loose into the Astral Plane. It’s up to your ingenuity and the GM to work out how you get home from here.

Interplanar travel is not possible with a greater teleport spell: the start and destination point must be on the same plane of existence.

True Teleport
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V
Range: Personal
Duration: Instantaneous
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

Using this spell, the caster can instantaneously transport himself to a designated destination on the same plane of existence. No lengthy preparation for the spell is required, the caster simply wills himself to be somewhere else and disappears.

If the target destination is a permanent teleportation circle then the caster arrives safely with no chance of mishap. If this is not the case, then the caster must roll on the potential mishap table found in the description of the greater teleport spell.

These are quite significant house rules, and they fly in the face of our Pact of Minimal Tinkering, but I like them. They’re about the only rules in fourth edition that I did like. I think this makes teleportation more evocative… more interesting.

Now, I know I’ve gone to a few lengths to introduce the above as the way teleportant magic works on Iourn. There’s a narrative reason to keep it working this way rather than revert to the house rules. However, this is so major a mechanical shift from Paizo’s published work that I am willing to ignore the story-elements in this case. If you want to use the published rules instead of the above then so be it.

So what’s it to be? The house rules, or the published rules?


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