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Date Created: 14th October 2010
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Chapter 5: Variants and Variations

Not everyone plays the game the same way, and this volume seeks to accomodate those who choose to go a little differently. This section acts as a repository of variant uses of these rules and variations on some of the core assumptions.

Many of these rules seek to fix problems that are inherent to the game, but lie outside the magic system proper. These should have no problem working with the magic system that has been presented here, and if anything, will make it a better fix for your needs.

Ability Arrays Edit

It is fitting that even at the beginning of the game, odd things start already. Rolling for your ability scores, even with the provisions given in the SRD, leads to serious problems, as it basically leaves your character's efficacy down to a throw of the dice. On the other hand, the various point-buy systems are instinctively biased towards certain characters, as they work better for classes that rely on just a single ability score as opposed to multiple ones. Let's set this straight and make it work for us.

Character ability scores at the beginning of the game are determined by an array. Depending on the power level of the game, different arrays can be used.

  • Low Power: 12, 11, 11, 10, 10, 9
  • Medium Power: 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9
  • High Power: 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

Better Hit Points Edit

Rolling for your hit points can leave barbarians with lower hit points than sorcerers - which is undesirable. Additionally, early-on, a single lucky greataxe critical hit can fell a character, which is not something that we really want to be seeing either. So let's fix both.

Characters receive a static number of hit points at each level, based on what kind of hit die they had previously, as follows:

  • d4 - 3
  • d6 - 4
  • d8 - 5
  • d10 - 6
  • d12 - 7

Additionally, instead of receiving maximum hit points for their hit die, characters receive a fixed number, based on their initial hit die.

  • d4 - 9
  • d6 - 12
  • d8 - 15
  • d10 - 18
  • d12 - 21

As ever, Constitution modifiers apply to these numbers as they normally would.

Declaratory Initiative Edit

Although this is certainly a more interesting way to play the combat minigame, it is a bit more fiddly and places much more importance on winning initiative. At the same time, it allows for more tactical reactiveness and leads to some interesting tactical decisions.

At the beginning of each round, before any actions are taken, players declare the actions of their character (or monsters, in the GM's case), starting with the slowest. Once all players and the GM have declared their actions, they are resolved, starting with the fastest.

All actions must be performed to the best of the ability of the characters or monsters in question after they are declared. An action rendered impossible is simply wasted.

More Stable Saves Edit

Binding saves to only a single ability score is problematic, as it really gimps the non-casters significantly, while casters mostly don't care. To make this less of a problem, let's get a bit more flexible.

Fortitude saves can add either the character's Strength modifier or their Constitution modifier. Reflex saves can add either the character's Dexterity or Intelligence modifier. Will saves can add either the character's Wisdom or Charisma modifier. In all cases, use the ability score modifier that would yield the best save, even if it means adjustment on the fly based on ability damage or buffs.

Additionally, the disparity between 'good' and 'bad' saves becomes unacceptably high towards the end of the progression. While this is not noticeable early, later-on, it requires people to invest increasingly more scarce resources into maintaining their poor saves. To make this easier, another small change is being implemented.

All saves are now calculated as 1/2 character level + the relevant ability modifier (see above). If a save is marked as 'good', it receives a +2 bonus. Note that multiple instances of 'good' saves on a multiclass character do not provide this bonus more than once.

Narrow Caster Classes Edit

Not everyone likes having broad casting classes (or broad classes as such), and this is fair enough, given that melee classes are pretty much narrow by definition. For those who want such classes, I'll give a whole bunch here. Feel free to use these as guidelines to make up your own.

The Alchemist Edit

The Beastmaster Edit

The Binder Edit

The Hermit Edit

The Ley-Mage Edit

The Mystic Edit

The Necromancer Edit

The Preacher Edit

The Psion Edit

The Ritualist Edit

The Seer Edit

The Templar Edit

The Warmage Edit

No Tome of Prowess Edit

Not everyone likes the Tome of Prowess, and while this isn't something I agree with, I'll provide alternate rules for using this with the normal skill system all the same.

Absolute tonne of content to come.

Revised Combat Maneuvers Edit

Whether hideously complicated to the point of insanity or errata-d to 'not working', these are often done badly and without discipline. One of the key points is to make it simpler and easier to use, and another is to make it interact with more of the system in ways that make more sense. So here are some rules that won't make your eyes bleed or your brain swim.

Bull Rush Edit

Covering Fire Edit

Disarm Edit

Grapple Edit

Grab On Edit

Hold Down Edit

Pin Edit

Sunder Edit

Trip Edit

Simplified Skills Edit

The 'level+3' formulation of maximum skill ranks is more than a little annoying. It means that skill points have to be multiplied by four at 1st level, which makes taking up a skill at later levels more than a little stupid, as it requires far more investment then that it does at creation. This is obviously a little bit strange, and this serves to fix it.

In this variant, the maximum number of ranks you can have in a class skill is equal to your character level, and one-half of this for cross-class skills. You no longer multiply skill points by four at first level, and anything that requires skill ranks as a prerequisite has this requirement reduced by 3 (to a minimum of 1 rank). Additionally, anything that is calculated off skill ranks counts your ranks as 3 higher than normal for this purpose only.

Any skill that you have any ranks in receives a +3 bonus on all of its checks.


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