Pathfinder Rebalancing Homebrew / Houserules v5

Introduction: Why Homebrew?

Pathfinder is a constantly-evolving game which changes every half-year with major new content updates and erratas in addition to the constant stream of new content in the form of Pathfinder Companion releases. In the wake of this ever-changing flow of information, a certain degree of power creep is to be expected. As a consequence of this power creep, many previously-good character options have become obsolete or overshadowed by their more modern counterparts, and new options have opened exploits or undermined important design choices from the past.

If one attempts to play Pathfinder at the highest “hyper-optimal” level of gameplay, a frustrating series of problems begins to manifest. The actual breadth of available options in the game is disappointingly low, they break the balance of the game, and they are un-fun to play alongside a “lesser” player character. 

In order to increase the versatility and fun of the game as a whole, the objective of this document is to list a number of these “hyper-optimal” options for a GM to nerf or ban while simultaneously providing a list of alterations, buffs, and debuffs that bring other game options in line with the range of “Powerful” character classes and feats in an effort to expand this pool of character options. A Player should not have to feel frustrated for playing the sub-optimal character or class they wanted to play (such as Dragon Age inspired crossbow-wielding dwarven bard), nor should they have to feel guilty for playing a fluffy build that happens to be one of the aforementioned hyper-optimal options (such as a Witcher inspired Alchemist). In addition, there are several more general-purpose house rules included here which are meant to encourage more versatile characters and to rework confusing or unbalanced sections of game rules.

Keep in mind that each of these rulesets is optional and modular. If you see something you don’t like, just ignore it! Some interdependencies are built in, but most are specifically mentioned for when a GM wishes to line-item veto parts of this document. Some additions to this document will make Spellcasters like Clerics and Druids even more powerful than they are now, but generally these additions will provide a larger marginal benefit to physical-focused characters.

Free, New, and Modified Feats:

Free Feats (aka Feat Taxes)

Dexterity to Damage Feats and Class Features

Combined Combat Maneuver Feats

Item Crafting Feats

Miscellaneous Feats

Marksman Weapons: Firearm/Crossbow Rebalance

Base Mechanics

New Character Options

Magical and Mundane Gear

Special Armor Materials

Adamantine Armor

Dragonhide Armor

Bucklers

Dynamic Magic Item DCs:

Miscellaneous Unsorted Rules

Racial Modifications:

Dual-Elemental Evocation Magic (Still being playtested – reasonable nerf is to just halve resistances)

Action Conversion

Pseudo-Pounce

Channel Energy Buffs

Expedited Out-Of-Combat Healing

Banlist (very, very incomplete)

Class-Specific Changes

V4 to v5 Changelog:

— New Dex-to-Damage rules

— Added Heighten Spell to anti-feat-tax options 

— Dual-Elemental damage is updated with new metamagic options.

— Updated Dynamic Magic Item DCs

— Removed Wound Thresholds and Vigor. It was kinda shit. Wounds and Vigor on its own is still cool IMO though.

— Shifter added… with very large buffs.

Free, New, and Modified Feats:

Free Feats (aka Feat Taxes)

One of the many complaints people express while playing Pathfinder are the annoying “entry taxes” which start each feat tree. Some of these feats are so powerful and ubiquitous (Power Attack) that every character has to take it irrespective of their actual feat build. Others (Combat Expertise, Point-Blank Shot) feel like barriers in the way of actual, interesting options. The idea of “Feat Taxes” was first popularized in a blog post titled The Elephant in the Room: Feat Taxes in Pathfinder by Michael Iantorno. In actual practice, granting the roughly-half-dozen feats mentioned in this blog post to a character for free can result in a VERY powerful PC if properly utilized. With that said, the ideas are sound and they do certainly alleviate the perceived difficulties of building a diverse and well-rounded character. 

The design philosophy of this list is to include no more than 1 feat from a given “tree”, and to include only feats that are either “gateways” or are otherwise rarely taken standalones. This allows feat-starved classes to work towards a complex feat tree earlier in the game, or it serves to give an otherwise-specialized character a modicum of skill in an unusual talent and lowering the perceived “tax” for that character to break into a second feat tree rather than continuing to optimize his or her singular combat role. 

Dexterity to Damage

Warriors of remarkable agility are commonplace staples of fiction for a reason – in a fight, speed is of paramount importance to striking, parrying, and dodging a blow, but the feats which allow for a hero such as d'Artagnan or Captain Jack Sparrow in Pathfinder are difficult to utilize and unrealistic in breadth. When combined with other esoteric additions to the game (Effortless Lace, Piranha Strike, Agile weapons), they can also serve to enable unrealistic munchkinry such as a 5 Strength / 20 Dexterity Halfling Swashbuckler who is capable of cutting a stone wall in half with a razor blade and leap dozens of feet in a single bound, yet is unable to perform a push-up while wearing anything heavier than a simple tunic.

These rule alterations assume that Weapon Finesse is available as a free feat option (accelerating dex-to-damage builds by a step), and that Piranha Strike is banned (which soft-enforces a 13 Strength to meet the prerequisite of Power Attack).

Notes on prior version: in Houserules v4, Dex-to-damage was nerfed to “Dex-as-Precision-Damage”, which automatically rendered it ineffectual against objects and in critical hits. This change felt balanced, but somewhat cumbersome (especially when creating macros on Roll20). 

This update discourages Strength-dumping without necessarily relying on a Piranha Strike ban (it still should be, but that’s now a separate issue), removes the treasure advantage of Finesse characters bypassing STR-boosting enchantments, allows Finesse characters to enjoy at least some benefit from Size boosts, helps stop Finesse characters from feeling pressured to optimize with Reduce Person, and also happens to match with the current direction of Paizo’s Rules as Intended (see: Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Wilderness). Characters who are able to manage a moderate strength investment (Str 18 / Dex 30 at level 20, for example) should actually see a buff in DPS (if not overall character power) from these rules as compared to RAW.

  • Modifications to existing rules: replace all Dex-to-damage feats and any similar class features with the following feat:

New Feat: Weapon Grace (Combat)

Your agility in battle allows you to deliver fatal injuries without the need for brute force by exploiting vulnerabilities in your foe’s defenses.
Prerequisites: Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus
Benefit: Add a bonus to damage equal to half your character level (rounded down) to all attacks modified by Weapon Finesse to apply Dexterity as a bonus to hit while retaining some multiple of Strength as a bonus to damage. This benefit applies to all attacks which benefit from Weapon Finesse, not just those for which you have Weapon Focus. Halve the benefit of this feat (to one-quarter character level, rounded down) for off-hand attacks made without the benefits of the Double Slice feat, and to secondary Natural Weapon attacks.
You may apply Weapon Finesse to the following additional types of weapons: one-handed slashing weapons, one-handed piercing weapons, and double weapons (even if these weapons can not normally benefit from Weapon Finesse). All weapons which Weapon Finesse applies to count as light or one-handed piercing weapons for class features which require such a designation, but only so long as you possess an open hand which is not currently wielding a buckler.

  • Exceptions and similar features:

    • Mythic Weapon Finesse can still apply true Dex-to-damage. It’s Mythic. IDGAF. Anime logic applies.

    • The Agile enchantment is now a +2 property, and grants the benefits of Weapon Grace while wielding the enchanted weapon.

    • Gun Training is covered by the new ‘Marksman’ feat in the appropriate section below

Combined Combat Maneuver Feats

These additions are partially based on the popular Feat Taxes article mentioned in the prior section. Similar to the issues discussed before the “Freebie Feats” section, granting player characters access to the full array (or half of the full array) of Combat Maneuvers for a single feat is too great of a boon – it is such a powerful option that a warrior would be a fool to not take it. Such a reaction is the very definition of what an overpowered feat looks like… but by bringing the scope of it back, we can maintain the spirit of the idea while providing a more balanced context that will result in versatile PCs who still feel as if they must make a significant choice when investing in these options. Greater Maneuver feats and the like must still be selected individually.

  • Rules Clarification (not Homebrew): Agile Maneuvers vs Weapon Finesse
    The Agile Maneuvers feat is not necessary for any character to take. All Combat Maneuvers are explicitly a “special type of attack roll”, and therefore benefit from any effects which modify attack rolls, including Heroism, Aid Another, Flanking, Bardic Inspire Courage, and yes, Weapon Finesse. Weapon Finesse only alters attacks performed with wielded weapons, but almost all combat maneuvers are explicitly made this way. Maneuvers which explicitly are not made with a weapon (such as Grapple), are instead made with fists, shoulders, or feet… in other words, Unarmed Strike. Since Unarmed Strikes are light weapons, Weapon Finesse is again able to apply Dexterity to your Combat Maneuver checks. The only time a PC with Weapon Finesse would NOT be able to apply their Dexterity to a Combat Maneuver check is if they were for some reason forced to wield a non-Finesse weapon, such as a Greatsword, while attempting the maneuver.

  • New Feat: Skillful Maneuvers (Combat)

    • Prereq: Improved Unarmed Strike

    • Gain the benefits of any three Improved Maneuver feats from the following list: Bull Rush, Disarm, Drag, Feint, Grapple, or Trip. Greater Maneuver feats must be selected individually.

    • Special: this feat may be selected as a Monk bonus feat starting at level 1.

    • Special: this feat may be taken multiple times. Each time, it grants the benefits of a different set of three Improved Maneuver feats.

  • New Feat: Deft Maneuvers (Combat)

    • Prereq: DEX 13, Combat Expertise

    • Gain the benefits of any three Improved Maneuver feats from the following list: Trip, Dirty Trick, Disarm, Reposition, Steal, or Feint. Greater Maneuver feats must be selected individually.

    • Special: this feat may be taken multiple times. Each time, it grants the benefits of a different set of three Improved Maneuver feats.

  • New Feat: Powerful Maneuvers (Combat)

    • Prereq: STR 13, Power Attack

    • Gain the benefits of any three Improved Maneuver feats from the following list: Bull Rush, Drag, Grapple, Overrun, Sunder, or Trip. Greater Maneuver feats must be selected individually.

    • Special: this feat may be taken multiple times. Each time, it grants the benefits of a different set of three Improved Maneuver feats.

Item Crafting Feats

One of the most infamously difficult and powerful aspects of the game for a GM to balance is Pathfinder’s Item Crafting rules. Players who are given free reign to utilize Item Crafting feats can easily boost their parties’ effective power level by a titanic degree. No other feat in the game (except perhaps Leadership) even comes close to the potential marginal utility of Craft Wondrous Items. These rules do NOT fix this problem, but they may help to ameliorate it by making the feat’s usage more consistent on the Player’s side and more manageable on the Dungeon Master’s.

  • Upgrading Magic Items (Rules clarification – NOT Homebrew)
    By RAW Pathfinder, any item which already grants a specific bonus or modifier may be freely upgraded by a crafter with the appropriate feats. This includes “standard” equipment such as a Cloak of Resistance or Ring of Protection, but also extends to more esoteric unique magic items such as a Frostbrand, Celestial Armor, or Anaconda’s Belt. The explicit source for this may be found in Ultimate Campaign, page 171. 

  • The feats Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, and Craft Wand remain unchanged

  • All other magic item crafting feats provide only a 25% discount (not 50%), but allow the user to craft at a standard rate of 2000gp per day (which may be doubled by boosting the Craft DC as normal).

    • As a general rule, NPCs with the Cooperative Crafting feat may be hired to assist for a 5% commission of the item’s market value (thus, crafting a 64kgp item with 3 hired assistants means that the item is crafted at 8kgp per day, which may be doubled to 16kgp per day with an increased Craft DC, but the final cost of the item in magical reagents, valuables, and labor will be 90% its market value instead of 75%).

  • Custom Magic Items should be universally discouraged – if not outright banned – with one exception. Players may freely add basic Enhancement, Resistance, and Deflection bonuses (of all the same types granted in Automatic Bonus Progression alt Rules) to any items of the appropriate slot by paying the appropriate x1.5 multiplier.

    • For example, a Phylactery of Positive Channeling (headband slot) may be further enchanted to provide a +2 enhancement bonus to Wisdom for the standard price ( [Ability Bonus]^2 * 1kgp * 1.5 “secondary enchantment” multiplier = +6,000gp)

      • Extending this example, if the PC wishes to upgrade to a WIS+4 / CHA+2 Phylactery of Positive Channeling, the Phylactery aspect of the item would no longer be the primary enchantment, and the pricing would look as such: 16kgp (WIS, primary) +13kgp*1.5 (Phylactery, secondary) +4kgp *1.5 (CHA, secondary) for a final pricing of 41,500gp.

    • Specific Magic Weapons and Armor may be further enchanted using these same principles, but only if their base value can be dissected into Wondrous and Enhancement properties and agreed upon with the GM ahead of time (Celestial Armor is an easy example to calculate, but a Sunblade or Doubling Dagger may be more challenging).

  • New Spells:

Reforge Weapon

School transmutation; Level bloodrager 2, cleric/oracle 2, magus 2, sorcerer/wizard 2

CASTING

Casting Time 1 hour

Components V, S, M (Diamond Dust worth 500gp)

EFFECT

Range touch

Target weapon touched

Duration Instantaneous

Saving Throw Fortitude negates (object); Spell Resistance yes (object)

DESCRIPTION

With a careful hand you unshape a weapon and remake it into something new. Alter weapon changes the shape of the touched weapon into another weapon of your choice. The new form for the weapon must have the same size and handedness as the original; a greatsword could be turned into a halberd, but a dagger could not be made into a longsword. A ranged weapon can be altered, such as a longbow into a shortbow or a hand crossbow into a pistol, but this only alters the weapon, not its ammunition. Melee weapons must be altered into melee weapons, and ranged weapons must be altered into ranged weapons. The targeted weapon and its new form cannot be improvised weapons.

The weapon maintains its special material properties. If you target a magic weapon, the new form retains all special abilities of the original, if applicable (a keen greatsword, for example, would no longer be keen if altered into a greatclub). If you target a double weapon that has both ends enchanted, only the bonuses for one end of the weapon are granted to the new form, unless the new form is also a double weapon, in which case the enhancements apply to each respective end of the weapon. If a non-double magic weapon is altered into a double weapon, the bonuses only apply to one end of the double weapon, chosen when the spell is cast. Unique magical weapons such as a Holy Avenger can not be Reforged.

This spell cannot target an unarmed strike or natural weapon, even if it would normally count as a manufactured weapon for the purpose of spells (such as for a monk or brawler). This spell does not grant any proficiency with the weapon’s new form.

Greater Reforge Weapon

School transmutation; Level bloodrager 4, cleric/oracle 4, magus 4, sorcerer/wizard 4

Components V, S, M (Diamond Dust worth 2000gp)

As Alter Weapon, but the new form of the target weapon does not need to be of the same size as the desired end shape and it can effect unique magic weapons such as a Flametongue or Frostbrand, but not artifacts. The GM determines whether the magical properties of a special weapon can persist in its new form.

Miscellaneous Feats

The intent of these modifications is to incentivize alternatives to Full-Attack characters and provide general “quality of life” adjustments to several underappreciated options. There is PLENTY of room in this section for growth: 

  • Weapon Groups

    • All weapon-specific feats, excluding Exotic Weapon Proficiency, instead apply to Fighter Weapon Groups. For example, “Weapon Focus: Heavy Blades”.

      • Any feats or abilities which apply to a single, explicitly-named or referenced weapon, such as Sword Oath or a Warpriest’s Sacred Weapon, still apply only to that single weapon.

  • Combat Expertise

    • Prereq is changed to “DEX 13 or INT 13”. All Feats which derive from Combat Expertise are similarly altered.

  • Dodge+Mobility

    • Dodge and Mobility are consolidated into one feat: you gain a passive +1 Dodge bonus to AC, as well as an additional +2 Dodge bonus to AC against attacks of opportunities you provoke by moving through opponent’s threatened squares.

  • Spring Attack, Shot on the Run, Charge Action

    • May now be used in conjunction with any (single) special Standard Action attack, such as Cleave or Vital Strike.

  • Rapid Shot and other forms of Bonus Attacks

    • Rapid Shot does not allow an additional attack during a Full-Attack action when combined with Haste, Channeled Vigor, the Speed enchantment, or any other effects which grant a similar benefit unless the aforementioned effect explicitly stacks with Haste.

      • Such effects do, however, allow the PC to “turn off” Rapid Shot and ignore the -2 accuracy penalty, in addition to whatever bonuses the effect might provide.

    • The only way to gain a second “Bonus Attack” is with the Mythic version of the Rapid Shot feat, or via a class feature such as Spell Combat or Ki Pool which either explicitly stacks or is technically part of a separate action.

  • Combat Stamina (Pathfinder Unchained)

    • Only classes which gain Bonus Combat Feats (such as Cavalier, Magus, Ranger, or Monk) may select the Combat Stamina feat. Stamina may only be spent on the combat tricks associated with feats gained via these Bonus Combat Feats, or on the base Combat Stamina feat.

      • Fighters gain Combat Stamina for free at 3rd level (or gain a bonus feat if they already have Combat Stamina). Fighters of 6th level or higher may use Combat Stamina with their entire feat selection, even if they choose to multiclass afterwards.

      • In a party with no full casters, a GM may elect to lift these restrictions on Stamina or even grant it for free to all characters.

  Marksman Weapons: Firearm/Crossbow Rebalance

The de-facto king of ranged combat in most fantasy settings is the iconic archer, capable of delivering rapid, accurate death from extreme distances against any foe. While this aesthetic works wonderfully when recreating Legolas or Bard in Pathfinder, other heroic archetypes and historical weapons are very poorly represented. The reload and damage rules of Crossbows make them beyond useless after the first two levels of gameplay. Meanwhile, the Touch AC capability of firearms makes them titanically overpowered against dangerous foes while their misfire mechanic makes them feel obnoxious and clunky in more even-footed play. Historical purists will likely find further gripes with the rapid-fire nature of Pathfinder’s flintlock pistols and with the low damage of Crossbows.

These rules serve to fix the aforementioned problems. The first step is to group Firearms and Crossbows into a single ruleset – the slow reload time and immense power of each weapon serve as unifying aesthetics, while the differences in range and critical multipliers serve to mechanically differentiate them. While the physically realistic twenty-to-sixty second reload time of a musket or heavy crossbow can never be replicated in Pathfinder’s round-based combat, these rules seek to at least capture the feeling of this difficulty – and the reward reaped by suffering through it.

Marksman weapons are balanced extremely well against archery when used against level-appropriate threats and without any dramatic class features, but each weapon type displays varying strengths and weaknesses in different circumstances beyond this norm. Classes which gain some form of “damage per hit” ability will typically fare better with archery, but classes which might benefit more from mobility, stealth, critical hits, or general consistency might find Marksman weapons more appealing. Archery is most effective when a character is faced with multiple weaker foes, or when benefitting from powerful support magic. Marksman weapons are most effective against powerful foes with high armor classes, or when utilized without major magical support. Siege weapons also receive a titanic boost in power from these rules. Beware! Even burly fighters and barbarians should avoid standing in front of cannons, and powerful adventurers should treat the readied actions of a musket line or a crossbow-armed mob with respect.

After extensive playtesting, I can confirm that these rules are very, very good. However, some parts of it are clunky and inelegant (so was Paizo’s TBF). It could do with a bit of tidying up.

Base Mechanics

  • Campaign Setting Firearm Propagation Level: 

Since the following rules render firearms roughly equivalent in terms of power with Longbows, it is recommended that a GM use the “Commonplace Guns” level of firearm propagation. Those who wish to avoid this aesthetic can simply apply the following rules to crossbows and siege weaponry alone.

  • Early Firearms are Martial Weapons. Advanced Firearms still require Exotic Weapon Proficiency or an appropriate class/archetype proficiency.

  • Firearm market values are reduced by 75% (A pistol costs 250gp, base price)

  • Reload Speed: Managing ammunition is a critical balancing factor for Marksman weapons, but fear not! The lost action economy here is made up for in the next section.

    • Alchemical cartridges do not increase reload speed. “Paper Cartridges” are the assumed standard load, but they function in all ways as standard black powder and shot (which is to say, they do not increase your misfire value).

    • The new Marksman feat (see below) replaces the Rapid Reload feat and sets the typical reload speed for a 2-Handed Firearm or Crossbow to a Move Action, and the typical reload speed for a 1-Handed Marksman weapon to “as part of a move action”

      • Marksmen wishing to make traditional full-round attacks should utilize Repeating Crossbows, Pepperboxes, double-barreled weapons, or the new Elemental Storm weapon enchantments below.

  • Deadshot: With minor modification, the Deadshot deed of the Gunslinger serves as a perfect vehicle to (1) maintain the aesthetic of a slow-firing weapon, (2) the necessary power to keep up with the full-attack capabilities of an archer, and (3) simultaneously reduce the abundance of misfires. All characters gain the following modified version of the Gunslinger’s Deadshot Deed:

As a Standard Action, a character wielding a marksman weapon may line up a shot for maximum efficacy. The character rolls out a Full-Attack Action (including the extra attack from Rapid Shot or Haste), but fires only a single projectile. This attack deals bonus damage equal to the base weapon damage times the number of extra hits made in the Full-Attack beyond the first. This bonus damage does not multiply on a critical hit, and any bonus precision or elemental damage is added only once. If any of the d20 rolls in the Deadshot threatens a Critical Hit, confirm the critical at your highest attack bonus and multiply the base and flat damage normally. 

Characters with the Two-Weapon Fighting feat may roll a second pool of Deadshot dice to represent their off-hand marksman weapon when making either a primary-hand Deadshot or a traditional Full-Attack. This secondary Deadshot attack is made using the same attack and damage bonuses as the traditional off-hand component of the character’s Full-Attack, with all the appropriate penalties.

Misfires and Fumbles (if applicable) are determined only by the first attack roll in the Deadshot – subsequent nat1’s or Misfire rolls are simply treated as misses. 

Magical effects and class features provide their bonuses to the accuracy of every attack roll, but any extra damage is added only once at the final resolution of the attack.

  • Note that this alteration means that [(Standard) Deadshot / (Move) Reload] becomes the marksman’s analogue to an archer’s Full-Attack Action. Any class feature which modifies or activates alongside a Full-Attack (such as a Magus’s Spell Combat) may instead be used as part of a Deadshot’s Standard Action. GMs are the final arbiters of which abilities do or do not qualify for this clause, but generally speaking a GM should rule in a player’s favor in this regard.

  • Note that as a Standard Action, Deadshots may be performed with a Readied Action. Wizards should be very wary of this. A warrior with a “Readied Action to Counterspell” can effectively negate even the most powerful of wizards, provided he has not already prepared a defense.

  • Finally, Note the terrifying synergy of all the above with the Called Shot rules of Ultimate Combat. Deadshot attacks have extremely high chances to threaten critical hits, and can easily break past the minimum damage required for a Debilitating Blow. Boom… headshot. Use these rules if you feel like your gunslinger is lagging behind the rest of the party, otherwise this should be regarded as “borderline OP” and set aside.

  • Armor Piercing: Historically, the advancement of crossbow and firearm technology has been the largest contributing factor to the parallel advancement of armoring technology. The term “bulletproof” in fact originated as a rating for breastplates to be used against Ottoman infantry in the late medieval period. My point, eventually, is that completely bypassing armor for Touch AC is stupid.

    • Rather than targeting Touch Armor Class, Marksman weapons gain a bonus to hit targets in their first range increment. The value of this bonus can not exceed the target’s combined Armor, Shield, and Natural Armor bonuses, but this is a very rare restriction to worry about.

      • Scatter weapons instead grant a bonus limited by the target’s combined Dexterity and Dodge bonuses. Don’t use scatter weapons on heavily-armored, low-dex foes. More relevantly, scatter weapons are best used to negate concealment or target swarms.

      • All Armor Piercing bonuses are negated by a target wearing Adamantine armor, even if the target also possesses a shield or natural armor bonus that might be penetrable.

      • Deeds and other class features which make reference to targeting Touch AC with firearms or crossbows now allow the appropriate character to apply Armor Piercing under the given circumstances.

    • One-Handed Firearms, as well as Hand, Light, and Repeating Crossbows (both light and heavy) gain a +2 AP bonus to hit.

    • Two-Handed Firearms, as well as Heavy and Double Crossbows gain a +4 AP bonus to to hit. 

    • Siege Weapons gain a +6 AP bonus to hit. Culverins, Double Hackbuts, and weapons with the Slow-Firing quality are considered Siege Weapons (see below).

  • Base Damage Boost: All firearms, crossbows, and siege weapons have their damage die boosted by one step along the appropriate track below. Note the abnormal jumps at 1d10 and 1d12. 

    • 1d4->1d6->1d8->1d10->2d6->3d6->4d6->6d6->8d6->12d6 

    •                             1d12->2d8->3d8->4d8->6d8->8d8->12d8

    •                                                                              7d6->11d6

  • Miscellaneous Marksman Weapon Rules: 

    • Double-Barrel Attacks: Double-Barreled weapons can be utilized to deliver devastating bursts of damage, but are much more difficult to aim and reload than a typical weapon. A double barrel weapon may be used to make two separate attacks before reloading, or both barrels may be fired simultaneously for an attack of greater efficacy. A double-barrel attack is a single attack roll made with a -4 penalty to hit, but deals an extra iteration of the weapon’s damage dice upon a hit. This may be combined with a Deadshot or Vital Strike attack as normal, effectively adding an extra “success” in the case of the former (dependant on at least one successful hit), or an extra stack of the feat chain in the case of latter. Ignore any magical effects (or lack thereof) of ammunition loaded in the “secondary barrel” of a double-barrel attack.

    • Scatter Attacks: Scatter attacks function as a normal attack roll made against a single target. Unlike a standard bullet attack, scatter attacks ignore a foe’s concealment chance and cannot be deflected or blocked by Deflect Arrows or similar features. Apply the firearm’s Armor Piercing reduction to a foe’s Dexterity, Size, and Dodge bonuses to AC rather than their Armor, Shield, and Natural Armor bonuses. Scatter attacks count as Area of Effect attacks for purposes of damaging swarms and destroying relevant objects.

      • Note that larger creatures with typically-negative combined Size/Dexterity/Dodge bonuses to armor class are typically unaffected by a Scatter weapon’s Armor Piercing capabilities. Don’t use birdshot on bears. Don’t use bearshot on birds.

    • Siege Weapons: All Siege Weapons are also considered Marksman weapons, and benefit from the Armor Penetrating, Base Damage Boost, and Deadshot rules above. This makes siege weaponry exceptionally dangerous, even to high-level player characters.

      • The Double Hackbut, Culverin, and all technological weapons with the “Slow Firing” quality are now classified as Siege weapons requiring 2 actions to load and 1 round to aim. 

        • Characters with the Marksman feat typically require a Standard action to load these weapons and can fire them immediately, making them cumbersome but still viable as openers… at least until Master Siege Engineer.

      • (as per RAW) In addition to their immense damage, Siege weapons bypass all object hardness that they deal damage to.

      • (as per RAW) Siege weapons are twice as expensive to enchant as a standard weapon.

        • Exception: the Wide Scatter property (see below) may be applied for normal price.

    • Advanced Firearms: Advanced Firearms retain their Armor Penetrating capability for an extra range increment beyond their first. Aside from their superior range and damage statistics, they are not any easier to reload or maintain than an early firearm. Their metal cartridges are not vulnerable to water like the paper cartridges of Early Firearms, but even with this protection, firing any ranged weapon underwater is a largely futile effort (see Environmental Rules, Core Rulebook). Even if a character possesses the Gunsmithing feat, they may not craft an Advanced Firearm until they reach level 8 (but they may purchase one on the market before then or loot one from an enemy normally).

    • Sneak Attack and other 30ft-limited effects: Unlike bows and thrown weapons, marksman weapons can remain cocked and ready to fire at a moment’s notice for extended periods of time, allowing a wielder to line up a shot at longer ranges. This feature makes marksman weapons – particularly crossbows and advanced firearms – ideal tools for sniping. A character may spend a move action to sight in on their target, extending the maximum range of their Sneak Attack, Focused Shot, Studied Target, Point-Blank Shot, or similar feat or feature out to the edge of the weapon’s Armor Piercing range (modified as appropriate by deeds, feats, or spells). This Move Action does not need to be taken in the same round as the weapon is fired – if a sniper has the time, he can easily load, aim, fire, and then re-stealth using two rounds worth of actions.

New Character Options

Note that the following feat prerequisites are designed with the “Free Feats” section in mind – it is assumed that Point Blank Shot is a “free” feat, and thus Marksman is available at level 1.

  • New Feat: Marksman

Your steady hand can strike a target with uncanny precision from a distance.

Prerequisites: 15 Dexterity, Point-Blank Shot

Benefits: When making a ranged attack with a firearm or crossbow, you may add half your character level (rounded down) as a bonus to damage rolls, or half this bonus for off-hand damage rolls. This bonus damage is multiplied by the number of hits you make in a Deadshot attack.

In addition, you may reload a Two-Handed Firearm/Heavy Crossbow as a move action or reload a One-Handed Firearm/Light Crossbow as part of a move action. When using a siege weapon, reduce the time required to reload the weapon by 1 action (minimum 1) and also the time required to aim the weapon by 1 action (minimum 0).

Special: This feat counts as Combat Expertise for the purposes of fulfilling the prerequisites of the Improved Called Shot feat.

Special: A Gunslinger or related archetype who would gain Dex-to-damage Gun Training (or some variation thereof) gains this feat instead. If the Gunslinger already has this feat, he gains a Combat or Grit feat for which he meets the prerequisites instead. This feat counts as Rapid Reload for all purposes, and may not be combined with the reduced action economy of Rapid Reload.

  • New Feat: Multi-Barrel Loader

By some combination of your specialized tools and manual dexterity, you can reload the barrels of your weapon alongside each other.

Prerequisites: Dex 17, Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Marksman

Benefits: When wielding a multi-barreled weapon with which you are proficient, you can reload all barrels simultaneously with the same action economy as reloading a single barrel.

Normal: Each barrel of a weapon – even an advanced firearm – must be loaded individually. This allows a revolver marksman with damage-per-hit features (Smite, Sneak Attack, etc.) to easily compete against a level-appropriate longbow archer (Multishot vs. Armor Piercing+Superior base stats)

  • New Magic Weapon Property: Elemental Storm
    Cost: +1 enhancement value

Effect: This enchantment modifies a firearm with evocation magic that instantly reloads it after being fired. Projectiles fired from a Storm weapon are composed of hardened elemental energy that explodes upon impact, dealing pure energy damage of an appropriate type (firestorm, shockstorm, etc.) rather than piercing and bludgeoning damage, but they still target normal armor class with the weapon's appropriate armor piercing bonus. Storm weapons can not be loaded with standard or magical ammunition, but they also can not misfire. Regardless of what base weapon this property is applied to, all storm weapons have similar base statistics.
CategoryDmgCritRange  APSpecial

1H Elemental Storm1d620/x220ft +2 APTWF penalty reduced to -2/-2

2H Elemental Storm1d820/x240ft+4 AP

Siege Elemental Storm2d820/x2100ft+6 AP1 round reload

Because size doesn’t necessarily correspond to the power of an elemental storm weapon, most enchanters prefer to place this property on the lightest and easiest-to-use weapons possible. Elemental Storm weapons retain any other properties of their base form, such as bonuses to concealment due to small size or the Scatter property.

Crafting Requirement: Fireball (Firestorm), Lightning Bolt (Shockstorm), Sleet Storm (Froststorm), or Acid Arrow (Acidstorm); Gravity Gun

  • New Magic Weapon Property: Thunderstorm
    Cost: +2 enhancement value

Effect: Thunderstorm weapons function identically to those with the Firestorm enchantment, but are instead attuned to Sonic damage. Additionally, Thunderstorm weapons may be further enhanced with the Sonic Boom property for the cost of a +2 enhancement value rather than the full +3 cost.

Crafting Requirement: Shout; Gravity Gun

  • New Alchemical Item: Dragonsbreath Rounds

Cost: 160gp (or 320gp for variants)

Effect: While attempting to modify the Firestorm enchantment to be compatible with individual pieces of ammunition, an enterprising wizard instead found an approximate solution for firearm bullets in the form of alchemy. When fired from a gun with the Scatter property, grooves in the tip of the bullet force air through a combustion chamber which creates a violent reaction with the chemicals contained within. Dragonsbreath cartridges deal half Fire and half physical damage appropriate to the weapon. The highly corrosive nature of the bullet’s chemistry causes it to deal full damage to objects (bypassing object hardness of 10 or lower and ignoring the half-damage reduction of a ranged attack), but lingers in the weapon, causing all subsequent attacks to be made at +4 misfire for two rounds thereafter. This penalty stacks with itself until the weapon either has time to cool or is destroyed.

Other elemental variants of Dragonsbreath Cartridges may exist, but are much more difficult to make or acquire. Crossbow bolts do not travel at the requisite speeds to ignite the chemical reaction within the bullet, but more traditional alchemical and magical arrows may all be fashioned into crossbow bolts.

Crafting Requirement: DC 30 Craft (Alchemy) (DC 35 for variants)

  • New Magic Weapon Property: Wide Scatter
    Cost: +15,000gp

Effect: 3/day when you make a Scatter attack with your firearm, roll an attack roll against each target within a cone-shaped burst with size equal to the firearm’s base range increment. This may be combined with a Deadshot or Vital Strike attack, or with any effects which increase the weapon’s base range increment.

Crafting Requirement: Diamond Spray; Gravity Gun

  • New Magic Weapon Property: Recoil Reduction
    Cost: +1 enhancement bonus

Effect: This firearm enchantment has a different effect depending on the type of firearm it is applied to. When a Double-Barrel firearm is enchanted with this property, the penalty for making a Double-Barrel attack with the firearm is reduced by 2. 

When applied to a Siege firearm such as a Culverin or Double Hackbut, this enchantment removes the penalty for firing the weapon when improperly braced or supported.

Crafting Requirement: Telekinesis; Lighten Object

  • New Unique Magic Weapon: Kinetic Gauntlet
    Cost: Market Value: 10,900gp

Effect: This Gauntlet is festooned with heavy copper plating and an enormous glowing gemstone in its palm.
In addition to being a +1 Gauntlet, the wielder of this weapon may channel its energy and make ranged attacks with it as if it were a +1 Firestorm Pistol. A Kinetic Gauntlet may not be loaded with normal ammunition, but the wielder can not be disarmed of it and may use the gauntlet-ed hand to grasp objects when he is not using it as a weapon. A Kinetic Gauntlet may be further enchanted and altered as a magic weapon – many kinetic gauntlets are made as Thunderstorm weapons instead, or have some other elemental variation. The melee component of the Gauntlet's magic must be enchanted separately from the ranged component.
Alternatively, A Kineticist may apply the enhancement bonus of the Kinetic Gauntlet to his Kinetic Blasts – the “gauntlet” corresponds to any melee attack rolls, and the “pistol” corresponds to any ranged attack rolls. No matter which elemental gem the Kinetic Gauntlet is built with, a Kineticist's natural elements overpower the gauntlet’s natural energy type to deliver the Kineticist's blasts as normal – of course, nothing stops the Kineticist from utilizing the gauntlet’s original element as a normal enchanted marksman weapon. 

  • New Spell: Gravity Gun

School transmutation; Level ranger 2, sorcerer/wizard 2; Elemental School metal 2, void 2

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range: touch

Targets: touched firearm or gunpowder siege engine

Duration: 1 minute/level (D)

Gravity Gun significantly increases the weight and density of projectiles fired from the target firearm the instant before they strike their target and then returns them to normal a few moments later. Any projectile fired from a firearm under the effects of this spell deals damage as if one size larger than it actually is.

  • New Spell: Communal Gravity Gun

School transmutation; Level ranger 3, sorcerer/wizard 3; Elemental School metal 3, void 3

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range: touch

Targets: one firearm/level

Duration 1 minute/level (D)

This spell functions as Gravity Gun, except it has multiple targets, and you divide the duration in 1-minute intervals amongst the targets.

  • New Spell: Firing Line

School transmutation; Level sorcerer/wizard 4; Elemental School metal 4, void 4

Casting Time 1 Standard action

Components V, S

Range: Close (25ft +5ft/2 levels)

Targets: one projectile weapon/level

Duration 1 round/level (D)

All bows, crossbows, slings, throwing weapons, guns, and ranged siege weapons affected by this spell deal damage as if they were 1 size category larger and have their base range extended by +50%.

Magical and Mundane Gear

Special Armor Materials

Everybody and their cohort’s mother seem to be investing in Mithral Armor. Since I don’t want to touch the Economics side of this issue to balance the high demand, the other options should be made relevant again.

  • Adamantine Armor

Adamantine armor provides double the damage reduction printed in the Core rulebook. DR 2/— for Light armor, DR 4/— for Medium, or DR 6/— for Heavy. Its price is unchanged. In addition, Adamantine Armor and Shields are not penetrated by firearms or crossbows of any kind (see Firearms and Crossbows, below) and provide their full AC bonus against such attacks. If a character or creature is wearing Adamantine Armor, its Natural Armor is also protected against firearm penetration. Additionally, half of the DR/- granted by Adamantine Armor is added to any other forms of damage reduction possessed by the character, whether from magic, a class feature, or a monstrous ability. (Thus, a suit of Invulnerable Adamantine Full Plate would grant its wearer DR 8/magic and DR 6/-, instead of DR 5/magic and 3/-)

  • Dragonhide Armor

In addition to being impervious to a given element and functioning as an effective workaround for a druid’s oath against metallic protection, dragonhide provides a measure of mundane elemental protection to its wearer as well. Dragonhide Armor is extremely difficult to make, but the quality of the materials reduces the Armor Check Penalty of the armor by 2 points (in addition to the Masterwork reduction). Dragonhide Armor costs as much as Adamantine armor on the market due to its rarity, but should the players salvage their own dragonhide, a skilled leatherworker can be commissioned to manufacture the given armor for double the cost of an appropriate Masterwork suit (a Player Character with Craft: Leatherworking or similar skill may attempt a DC 30 Craft check to accomplish this himself for free, however, failure by 5 or more results in a ruined materials.). All the above benefits are Extraordinary in nature, and stack with other forms of defenses against a given element. 

  • Dragonhide Shields provide their wearer a bonus to Reflex saves against their relevant element equal to their shield bonus to Armor Class before magical enhancement is applied – thus a Heavy Shield worn by a character with the Shield Focus feat might provide a +3 bonus to saves against the relevant element. This bonus should be applied sensibly however – obviously a black dragonhide shield provides no protection from a pit of acid.

  • Light Armor provides elemental resistance 3 and includes a wing-membrane cowl which grants a +5 bonus to Reflex saves against relevant elemental effects. 

  • Medium Dragonhide armor provides elemental resistance 5 and a +2 bonus to Reflex saves against relevant elemental effects. 

  • Heavy Dragonhide armor provides Elemental Resistance 10.

  • Enchanting a suit of Dragonhide Armor with the relevant elemental resistance costs half as much, and stacks with the innate non-magical resistance of the armor.

  • All forms of dragonhide armor grant a +2 circumstance bonus to Intimidate checks against dragons, but some dragons may have their initial attitude towards a wearer dramatically reduced.

  • Additionally, Dragonhide armor retains a modicum of their origin creature’s innate magic. The cost to add a wondrous item effect which closely mirrors or matches the dragon’s signature spell-like ability(s) or elemental resistances (specified by the GM) receive a 20% discount. 

Bucklers

  • A note on naming conventions (not related to rules): Whenever Pathfinder references a “Buckler”, the real-world equivalent of the described shield would actually be a Targe. Real-world “Bucklers” were expressly designed to be bashing weapons for use in conjunction with a light blade, thus, they are best represented by Light Shields in Pathfinder.

  • For purposes of all effects requiring a “free hand”, such as a Swashbuckler’s Precise Strike or a character’s Weapon Trick feat, your off hand is not considered to be “free” while wielding a Buckler, even though you may still use it to grasp and hold an object.

    • Don’t worry, duelists! Dex-to-damage feats no longer require a free hand!

  • A character wielding a buckler may choose at the beginning of their turn to forego its Armor Class benefits for a round to instead benefit from having a “free hand”.

    • Swashbucklers should therefore still equip their namesake shield – each turn, they have the option to assume an “offensive stance” or a “defensive stance” based on their Buckler’s position.

  • While wielding a Ranged weapon, a character does not gain the benefits of a buckler if he uses the relevant arm to hold, wield, or reload his weapon, but his attacks are otherwise unpenalized.

Dynamic Magic Item DCs:

A great number of the amazing and interesting magical items available for use in Pathfinder are rendered almost immediately useless by trivial static DCs associated with their effects. Oftentimes, these saving throw DCs are useless against even low-power threats that the PC encounters immediately upon being able to afford the item!

This alternate ruleset makes offensive magic items viable (even somewhat powerful) at all levels of the game. 

  • All magic items with set DCs may be activated using either their base DC, or a higher DC based on the item’s type (choose the highest formula). Certain item types are most efficaciously used by wielders with a particular attribute, but the most important measure of skill in magical item activation will usually be the character’s ranks in the Use Magic Device skill. As per standard Pathfinder math, all fractions are rounded down.

    • BAB refers to a player’s Base Attack Bonus

    • SL refers to Spell Level. Use the obviously-relevant spell in the item’s crafting requirements (or lowest-level, if in doubt).

    • UMD refers to the PCs ranks in the Use Magic Device skill – NOT the total modifier possessed by that PC.

10 + BAB

~ or ~
10 + UMD

10 + CON 

+SL

10 + INT 

+SL

10 + WIS 

+SL

10 + CHA 

+SL

10 +? UMD

or +? CL 

+SL

Weapons

Shields

Armor

Chest

Body

Belt

Shoulders

Hands

Wrists

Feet

Headband

Eyes

Staves

Neck

Head

Staves

Rods

Rings

Staves

Scrolls

Wands

Staves

Slotless Items

NOTE: Strength and Dexterity are intentionally removed from the list of options here due to the ease by which those statistics can be optimized. It is relatively difficult to raise a mental stat beyond 30, but between size bonuses, class features, and spell effects, it is trivial to achieve a Strength score of 40 or higher as an adventurer. Iomedae help you all if a Giant or a Dragon decided to use a hypothetical Strength-DC item against you. Strength or Dexterity-based Fighters and the like are instead able to utilize their BAB as an activation method that doesn’t even require them to expend their valuable skill ranks in Use Magic Device to produce a powerful DC!

  • ALTERED FEAT: Signature Skill (Use Magic Device)

Alterations are italicized.

Prerequisites: Use Magic Device 5 ranks

5 ranks:   Add +? UMD to the save DC of any effect generated from a magic item or Item Mastery feat.

10 ranks: You can use the aid another action to assist another creature’s Use Magic Device check

15 ranks: You can use this skill to emulate two races or two alignments simultaneously.

20 ranks: If you fail a Use Magic Device check to activate an item, you can reroll the check at -10 to successfully activate it. You must take the results of the reroll, even if it is worse, and you may not reroll it again.






Miscellaneous Unsorted Rules

Racial Modifications:

  • Dwarves

    • Alternate Racial Trait – Charismatic: While many dwarves are a bit rough around the edges, others are naturally cheerful and affable. Dwarves with this racial trait do not have a -2 racial penalty to Charisma, but nor do they have a +2 racial bonus to Wisdom.

  • Aasimar, Tiefling, Skinwalker, and other expansive “subrace” variants

    • Only the core race is allowable without very special GM allowances. 

    • Aasimar in particular should be restricted due to their attribute advantage.

Conditions / CC Overhaul (not Playtested yet):

To promote game balance for the players (hopefully no more bosses with inflated Saves) and make CC magic a bit more palatable for the GM (hopefully no more OHKOs vs bosses), effects which inflict conditions are universally nerfed. Of course, these are guidelines and not hard rules. While they will generally be adhered to, some monsters might still break these rules (like the Frightful Presence of Dragons inflicting a long-lasting Shaken condition.)

  • Conditions are divided roughly into three “tiers”. Each tier has some guidelines and rough definitions attached to it, which shall overrule Paizo’s RAW wherever appropriate. Many spells (such as Oneiric Horror) produce unique “conditions”, which will fit into the chart below according to the GM.

  • The “Fear” condition is completely altered. Instead of forcing the target to flee from the source of their fear (a tier-3 “denial of autonomy” condition in the chart below), Fear now prevents the target from approaching or attacking the source of their fear. The target is also Shaken for as long as they believe the source of their fear is present. The “Panicked” condition remains unaltered.

  • Bosses and Condition Resistance: ideally, it will not be necessary to give important narrative foes additional resistance to dangerous conditions beyond the universal rules presented here. Their higher saves, spell resistance, and multiplied HP pool should be sufficient to weather whatever storm the PCs throw at them. Should it be required, though, Bosses might gain an extremely limited pool of Hero Points or a similar “non-guaranteed” resistance to egregious condition cheese.

Guideline

Adjusted Rules

Tier 1

Conditions which inflict a penalty, but no significant impediment to the target’s autonomy. These conditions are sometimes applied as secondary effects on a successful save or as the result of a skill check or Combat Maneuver with no follow-up save. 

Ex: Dazzled, Shaken, Deafened, Fatigued

The duration of these conditions should usually be short, but only magic or waiting the duration out can easily remove them. Demoralize is nerfed via Starfinder’s rules (DC 15+1.5*CR or DC 10+Intimidate), otherwise most effects should cap at 1d4 rounds of duration.

Tier 2

Conditions which seriously impede a target and make fighting nearly impossible, or those which inflict a penalty exceeding a -3 to attack rolls or saving throws. These conditions are powerful enough to swing a dangerous fight in favor of the opposing side. 

Ex: Staggered, Blinded, Bestow Curse, Exhausted, Confusion, Nauseated, Fear

Afflicted targets gain a new saving throw at the beginning of each round to end their effects, with a stacking +2 bonus for each subsequent save (Targets do not get a save at the beginning of their first turn if they failed the initial save).

Tier 3

Conditions which utterly deny the target autonomy for as long as they last. These effects can translate directly into instant victory for the side which inflicts them. 

Ex: Stun, Paralysis, Hideous Laughter, Panic

Targets always gain a +2 to their saves against these effects, and they have a flat 1 round duration, no matter what.

Special

Conditions with nonstandard or permanent durations. Some may be as powerful as a Tier 2 or even a Tier 3, while others might not hurt you at all or for several days.

Ex: Blindness/Deafness, Geas, Flesh to Stone, Black Spot

These effects should read as “the party must halt their adventuring day until this problem is solved, possibly fleeing from this combat to do so.” Use RAW.

Dual-Elemental Evocation Magic

The whole point of these spells is that they are meant to be more effective against elemental-resistant bad guys, but in practice a 50 damage Flame Strike will do no more damage to a demon than a 50 damage Fireball. Additionally, spells like Mythic Cone of Cold which advertise "half cold and half slashing damage" actually deal LESS damage on average, since both DR and Energy Resistance could theoretically apply.

This change provides a strong buff to a small handful of evocation and conjuration spells which were otherwise inferior to others in their category. This also allows specialized evokers a limited way to deal damage to enemies otherwise immune or highly resistant to their primary mode of attack.

  • Spells such as Flame Strike which deal “dual-type” damage are more effective at bypassing elemental resistances. In cases where all or some of a spell’s energy damage is resisted, apply the average resistance or damage reduction possessed by the enemy against the spell’s total.

    • For example, a Flame Strike used against a Fiendish Tiger deals 50 damage. The average resistance possessed by the Tiger is 5 (10 fire resist, 0 untyped holy resist), so the Flame Strike deals 45 damage.

    • If a Kineticist were to fire a 50 damage Blizzard Blast (half Cold, half Piercing) at the same target, the average resistance would be 7 (10 cold resistance, DR 5/good, rounded down).

  • New Feat: Energy Admixture (Metamagic)

A more potent energy source allows you to strike foes at their weakest.

Prerequisites: Elemental Focus (fire, cold, electricity, or acid)

Benefits: A spell modified by this metamagic deals half its damage of its original type and half damage of a new, difficult-to-resist elemental type below. This metamagic feat may only be applied to spells which deal damage and benefit from a relevant Elemental Focus feat. A spell modified by this metamagic feat uses a spell slot 1 level higher than normal.

Hellfire Admixture: Fire / Untyped divine energy

Razorice Admixture: Cold / Piercing (magic/cold iron), inflicts Bleed = Spell Level on failed saves 

Thunder Admixture: Electricity / Sonic, and deals full damage to objects

Rot Admixture: Acid / Negative energy, and inflicts 1 point of CON damage on failed saves

Action Conversion

  • As per RAW, a Standard action may be freely converted into a Move action.

  • As per RAW, a Full-Round Action may be taken in conjunction with a swift action, but it is not defined as a “Move+Standard” cost. A Mythic character can not combine Mythic Haste and Amazing Initiative to take two full-round actions in a turn (although he could take a Move, Full-Round, Standard, and Swift in the aforementioned scenario).

  • NOT as per RAW, a standard action may be converted freely into a swift action or a move action during your turn. Bonus standard actions gained via class features, spells, mythic abilities, or other effects may be converted to Move actions normally, but only one "extra" swift action may be taken per turn without the help of the mythic spell Borrowed Time.

    • This ruling is a subtle extension and simplification of the Readied Action rules, which essentially allow a PC to do this already by spending their Standard Action to Ready a specified Swift Action with the trigger of “as soon as possible”.

Pseudo-Pounce

  • Any effect, feature, or ability which grants Pounce (or similar move+full-round attack effects) allows a PC or Companion Creature to make a single additional attack at full BAB instead of a Full Attack at the end of the charge. This restriction does not apply to non-companion monsters or summoned monsters who naturally possess Pounce or Pounce-like features, but does apply to NPCs who gain a Pounce-like effect via magic or a class feature in a way similar to how a PC might.

Channel Energy Buffs (not playtested yet Yes Playtested – they’re great.)

Widely lauded as a fantastic addition to Pathfinder in the days of the 3.5 switchover, Channel Energy has since fallen out of favor at many tables due to the offense/defense dynamic of Pathfinder, which incentivizes the prevention of future damage via an offensive action far above the recovery of existing damage. This results in a strange paradigm where, in combat, a Cleric will almost never use Channel Energy to heal her teammates when a well-placed Sound Burst will be more effective… yet that same Cleric will conserve her Channel Energy outside of Combat because *they might need it in combat later*. By making Channel Energy more powerful, it will become a stronger contender against a Cleric’s other mid-combat actions.

  • Enhanced Channel Energy: Whenever a character uses Channel Energy, they may add their appropriate spellcasting statistic (Wisdom for Clerics and Shamans, Charisma for Paladins and Oracles, Intelligence for Witches) to the amount of damage healed or potentially inflicted.

  • Dividable Channel Pool: When using Channel Energy, a character may choose to divide his or her Channel dice between healing and harming creatures of appropriate types within the burst (e.g. a Level 8 cleric may use their 4d6 of Channel Positive Energy to heal living creatures for 1d6 damage and damage undead creatures for 3d6 damage (Will halves) simultaneously). Elemental Channel and Alignment Channel add additional potential simultaneous effects.

  • Reliable Variant Channeling: Creatures who succeed their saving throws against an offensive Variant Channel merely negate the added effect rather than negating the effect and halving the already-halved damage. Variant Channels whose offensive effect is an enhanced damage percentage against a specific creature type still offer a saving throw against half damage.

  • New Feat: Blast Channel

    • Prerequisite: Channel Energy 2d6

    • When you Channel Energy, you no longer need to divide your channeling dice between healing and harming creatures of appropriate types within the burst. (Essentially, every time you Channel, you may choose to simultaneously Channel to Heal and Channel to Harm.) You may not use the Selective Channeling feat in conjunction with Blast Channel.

If you possess a feat such as Alignment Channel or Versatile Channel, you must choose which type of Channel you wish to use at a time – e.g., a Cleric can not simultaneously Blast Channel a wave of Positive energy (heals living creatures and damages undead simultaneously) and a wave of Lawful energy (heals Archons and damages Demons).

Expedited Out-Of-Combat Healing

  • When healing out of combat by such means as repeatedly using a Wand of Cure Light Wounds, you may choose to choose to take the average result of multiple charges in order to save time — like “Taking 10” on healing.

    • For example, if Valeros is missing 42 HP and wants to use the party’s Wand of Cure LIght Wounds to heal himself, Valeros’ player can either roll 1d8+1 repeatedly until he is at or near full HP (remember that a standard (CL1) Wand of Cure Light Wounds heals 1d8+1 HP per charge) and then note how many rolls it took to do so, or the player can save time by knocking off 7 charges of the wand for Valeros to recover 38 HP (1d8+1, average = 4.5+1 = 5.5, 5.5 * 7 = 38.5, round down = 38).

Banlist (very, very incomplete)

  • Full Sourcebook Bans

    • Pathfinder Chronicles – Cheliax: Empire of Devils

    • Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon

  • Traits

    • Magical Lineage

    • Agent of Chance

    • Fate’s Favored

  • Feats

    • Command Undead (see “Animate Dead / Create Undead / Control Undead” below)

    • Celestial Wild Shape

    • Leadership

    • Fey Foundling

    • Piranha Strike

  • Archetypes or Class Choices

    • Dirge Bard, Undead Lord Cleric (see “Animate Dead / Create Undead / Control Undead” below)

    • Oracle Mysteries: Bones, Juju (see “Animate Dead / Create Undead / Control Undead” below)

    • Daring Champion (Cavalier): Challenge + Precise Strike is too hardcore.

  • Magic Items

    • Bracers of Falcon’s Aim

    • Quick Runner’s Shirt

    • Boots of the Battle Herald

    • (ACG) Slayer Cloak of Resistance

    • (ACG) Executioner’s Blade

    • Effortless Lace

  • Spells

    • Mythic: Haste, Slow

    • Stunning Barrier / Improved Stunning Barrier

    • Dazing Metamagic

    • Animate Dead / Control Undead / Planar Ally / Dominate Person

      • Spells of this nature which create permanent or quasi-permanent minions for a player character can quickly grow out of hand. There is no problem with these spells if  they are used to accomplish narrative goals, but if they are not outright banned in combat scenarios, the GM should insist on reasonable limits such as a maximum party size in order to maintain the game’s pacing and not get bogged down in minions’ combat turns.

    • Visualization of the Body / Visualization of the Mind

    • Multiple layers of Explosive Runes, Glyphs of Warding, etc. (a given object can only one such casting active upon it, and subsequent castings by you overwrite previous castings, while subsequent castings by other spellcasters require a caster level check)

Class-Specific Changes

  • Barbarian

    • As Unchained Barbarian

  • Bard

    • Versatile Performance: When selecting a Perform skill with this feature, the Bard may reassign skill ranks from the associated skills.

    • 4th level: Gain a bonus Combat Feat or Bardic Masterpiece for which you meet the prerequisites.

    • 6th level: Deep Pockets, as per the Pathfinder Chronicler ( [Level-5] * 100gp ). The Bard may use this feature to withdraw minor magical items (such as scrolls, potions, or minor Wondrous Items) that fit within his or her reserved budget.

    • 13th level: Inspire Action (Move), as per the Pathfinder Chronicler, or a Bardic Masterpiece for which you meet the prerequisites.

    • 17th level: Inspire Action (Standard), as per the Pathfinder Chronicler, or a Bardic Masterpiece for which you meet the prerequisites.

      • These buffs were proposed before the release of Advanced Versatile Performances. Players should choose one of the proposed “fixes” for the class, but not both.

  • Cleric

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • See Channel Energy Buffs

  • Druid

    • New Feat: Balanced Summoning

      • Prereq: Ability to spontaneously cast Summon Nature’s Ally

      • Animals and Vermin summoned by the Caster’s spontaneous Summon Nature’s Ally spells benefit from the Counterpoised Simple Template, similar to the Celestial/Fiendish animals summoned by Summon Monster.

    • Wild Shape and abnormal-sized Animals: Wild Shape can allow a druid to assume a form of an animal modified by either the Young or Giant templates – Huge Lions are just as OK as Huge Rocs.

    • Druidic: The Druidic Language is known not only to Druids, but also by many wise animals. This supernatural shared language allows Druids to communicate with such beasts without the need for external magic, and serves as a powerful tool in their stewardship of the land. Animals capable of understanding Druidic are typically either very old and wise, or else come from a bloodline once sired by a Druidic companion. Most wolves, eagles, tigers, bears, elephants, and other great totem animals are capable of speaking Druidic from birth, but even smaller and less-revered animals such as beavers or lizards can learn Druidic with time. Animals typically respect and help humans who make requests of them in Druidic – even if these requests are unreasonable or extremely difficult. Animals capable of speaking the language have learned of the great wisdom and benevolence of Druids, but are not necessarily able to distinguish a Druid from another humanoid who has managed to steal the secrets of the language. The inherent naivete of animals and their “vulnerability” to the Druidic language is part of why Druids are so fiercely protective of its secret.

    • “Druidic Usurpers” may learn the language by investing or retraining 5 ranks into Linguistics while under the tutelage (forced or willing) of an existing speaker. They must devote their attention to learning this secret language at the exclusion of all others during this time. Teaching the Druidic language to one outside the Green Faith is considered a violation of a Druid’s oath if done without the express permission of an elder druid of recognized rank, and results in the loss of all druidic powers until the character seeks an appropriate Atonement spell.

      • At the GM’s discretion, certain Shamans, Clerics, Hunters, Rangers, or other player characters from a strong nature-themed background may begin play knowing Druidic – perhaps instead of Taldan or whatever other common tongue would be appropriate for a region. Such characters who respect the natural order innately are unlikely to draw the same ire from its defenders as a true thief of the language.

  • Fighter

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • Gain Combat Stamina as a bonus feat at 3rd level. 

    • At 6th level, Combat Stamina applies to all feats possessed by Fighter instead of just his Bonus Combat Feats.

    • Weapon Master’s Handbook provides further key supplements to this class, such as Advanced Weapon Training and a Weapon Mastery feats.

  • Monk

    • As Unchained Monk

      • Flying Kick is nerfed by Pseudo-Pounce rules. Instead of allowing an Unchained Monk to move as part of a Flurry of Blows, it allows the Monk to gain his or her bonus Flurry attacks following or preceding a Move action (including the possibility of a Ki-point bonus attack as a Swift Action and the ability to perform a second Style Strike at high levels), so long as the Move Action was less than or equal to the Monk’s Fast Movement bonus speed. If the Monk possesses the Spring Attack feat, the distance restriction is lifted and the bonus Flurry attacks may apply at any point and against any relevant target during the Spring Attack, potentially in addition to the extra attacks granted by Improved and Greater Spring Attack.

    • Ki Aura: In addition to a Monk’s extraordinary Insight bonus to armor class granted by their Wisdom modifier, a Monk may focus his mind to project a supernatural aura of nearly-invisible, quasi-physical Ki, which grants an additional +2 Armor Bonus. Although this Ki Armor does not stack with physical or Mage Armor, it does benefit from the enhancement bonus of Bracers of Armor or the Automatic Bonus Progression of Pathfinder Unchained.

      • At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the Monk’s Ki Armor bonus improves by 1. This replaces the standard scaling insight bonus to Armor Class.

    • A Monk may not benefit from the Brawling armor enchantment placed on Bracers of Armor.

  • Paladin

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • Smite Evil: In addition to Dragons, Undead, and Evil Outsiders, a Paladin’s Smite Evil also deals bonus damage on the first attack against foes with the Aura class feature associated with an evil alignment, such as Antipaladins, Clerics, and Warpriests. At the GM’s discretion, other beings of supreme evil, such as minions of The Great Old Ones, may also qualify for the extra Smite damage. Smite Evil does not automatically bypass DR/- or DR/epic. Effectively, the Paladin’s attacks are treated as if they were made with a +5 weapon.

    • Divine Bond: If the Paladin chooses the Weapon Bond option, add the following properties to the list of options the Paladin may select: Guardian (+1), Igniting (+2), Phase Locking (+2), Lifesurge (+2), Glorious (+2), and Nullifying (+3)

    • See Channel Energy Buffs

    • Channel Radiance (modifies Channel Energy): When a Paladin Channels to Heal, her radiance selectively targets those of non-evil alignments. When a Paladin Channels to Harm, the holy radiance of her deity’s light sears both the living and dead. All Evil creatures within an offensive channel (whether living or undead) must save or take damage from the Paladin’s Channel Energy. Powerfully Evil creatures (defined as those against whom Smite Evil deals extra damage) take an additional +1 of damage for each d6 rolled. The target of a Paladin’s Smite Evil takes a -2 Penalty on their saving throws against Channeled Radiance. Channeled Radiance’s selective targeting can be fooled by magic which masks or alters a creature’s perceived alignment.

      • Note that a Paladin may choose to take a Variant Channel Energy as if he were a Cleric. Doing so does not affect his or her Lay On Hands ability, but may add powerful offensive or utility effects to her Channeled Radiance.

      • Channel Radiance’s alignment selectivity can be fooled by explicit alignment-masking spells or effects, but as a Conjuration (Healing) effect, it does defeat Nondetection.

    • Holy Champion: a 20th level Paladin with this capstone feature may *choose* to end a Smite Evil to cast Banishment on an Evil Outsider.

  • Ranger

    • Animal Companions begins at full power, no -3 penalty to effective Druid level.

    • Companion Bond can be triggered either as a Move Action, or as part of making an attack against the designated target.

  • Rogue

    • As Unchained Rogue

    • See “Dex to Damage”, above

  • Sorcerer

    • 4+INT skills per level

  • Wizard

    • 4+INT skills per level

  • Alchemist

    • Extract List: Remove Shield, Shock Shield, and Transformation from the Alchemist’s spell list.

    • Extract Toxicity: An alchemist may only benefit from a limited number of extracts at one time before the toxicity begins to damage him. At 1st level he may only benefit from two extracts at a time. For the purposes of this limit, the alchemist’s mutagen and/or cognatogen counts as an extract. Each additional extract over this limit imposes a stacking -2 penalty to Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom which may only be removed by a full 8 hour rest or a *Restoration* spell (if the alchemist is still benefiting from too many extracts when healed, the penalties are immediately re-applied). Potions are not subject to this limitation unless the Alchemist utilizes them via Alchemical Allocation.

      • An Alchemist may choose to end any of their Extract or Mutagen effects as a Standard Action, or as part of consuming a new Extract or Mutagen.

      • At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the Alchemist may withstand the toxicity of one more concurrent effect (to a maximum of 7 alchemical effects at level 20) without suffering ability penalties.

      • This same limit applies to allies benefitting from Alchemist extracts if the the Alchemist selects the Infusion discovery

    • New Alchemist Discovery – Toxicity Resistance: once per day, you may imbibe an extract without it applying an ability score penalty from exceeding your extract limit.

    • Rapid Bomb: The Rapid Bomb (Fast bomb?) discovery lowers the damage dealt by each individual bomb. Each Rapid Bomb deals 1d6 base damage +1d6/4 alchemist levels beyond 1st instead of the normal base damage, and all saving throws associated with the bombs are made against the bombs’ standard DC-2.

  • Cavalier

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • needs a level 13-ish boost to maintain the relevance of high-level companion creature without access to Druid or Paladin buffs. Some kind of defensive ability maybe?

  • Gunslinger

    • Gun Training: Instead of adding Dex-to-damage (half-level-to-damage fills this role within the Marksman feat), at 5th level the Gunslinger gains an additional bonus feat, selected from the following list: Marksman, Multi-Barrel Reload, any Grit feat, or any Dare feat.

    • Deeds:

      • [1st] Deadeye: The Deadeye deed is buffed to allow Armor Piercing at any range increment for the cost of 1 grit point.

      • [7th] Art of the Gun: Instead of the Deadshot deed, at 7th level all Gunslingers gain the Art of the Gun deed from the Black Powder Vaulter archetype. This deed negates all attacks of opportunity from firing or reloading in melee so long as the Gunslinger has at least 1 grit point. Additionally, the gunslinger is treated as if he is threatening adjacent squares, and may spend 1 grit point to make an attack of opportunity with either his loaded firearm or the Pistol Whip deed.

      • [7th] Targeting Shot: Choose one of the following:

        • (Debuff route) Gain the Improved Called Shot feat, ignoring all prerequisites.

        • (Pure DPS route) Add an extra attack at full accuracy to the character’s Deadshot actions, as if they had Mythic Rapid Shot.

    • See “Marksman Weapons”, above.

      • New homebrew Firearms are mathematically very well balanced compared to a Longbow user – if a firearm user is utilizing DEX to damage, they will average roughly 10% more dps than a longbow wielder of similar feat investment (either with Musket deadshot or Pistol Rapid Shot), and the lack of Touch AC makes Deadly Aim Two-Weapon Rapid Double-Barrel shots nonviable without some truly epic levels of cheese.

    • See “Bucklers”. A Gunslinger may reload a firearm using the same hand which wields a buckler, but doing so (or juggling his firearm between hands for whatever other cheese he plans) causes the Gunslinger to lose the buckler’s bonus to Armor Class for that round.

  • Inquisitor

    • no changes

  • Magus

    • no changes

  • Oracle

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • See Channel Energy Buffs

    • Variant Channeling: At 1st level, an Oracle gains the ability to Channel Energy as if he or she were a Cleric of equal level, but must choose one of the Variant Channeling options associated with her Mystery or her patron deity’s portfolio. The Oracle may Channel Energy in this way 3+WIS times per day.

If an Oracle with the Life Mystery takes the Channel Energy Revelation, her Positive-energy Channels heal or deal full damage in addition to whatever boons are associated with the Variant Channel she has chosen.

  • Summoner

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • Unchained Summoner

    • No Synthesist

      • Seriously, no Synthesist. This is non-negotiable.

      • Master Summoner is a bad time too.

  • Witch

    • 4+INT skills per level

  • AntiPaladin 

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • Fist of Corruption: An Antipaladin may activate Touch of Corruption as part of a normal Attack or Full-Attack action. This Touch of Corruption attack may be delivered by a melee touch attack, or by a Gauntlet, Spiked Gauntlet, Cestus, Unarmed Strike, Natural Attack, or a weapon enchanted with the Conductive property. An Antipaladin with a Conductive weapon does not need to pay extra daily uses of the Touch of Corruption ability to channel the ability in this way. Most Antipaladins choose to use their Fist of Corruption ability as a Touch attack using the last attack of their Full-Attack action.

    • See Channel Energy Buffs

    • Channel Corruption (modifies Channel Energy): When an Antipaladin Channels to Harm, the unholy corruption of her deity’s darkness spares its minions. All non-evil creatures within an offensive channel must save or take damage from the Antipaladin’s Channel Energy. Powerfully Good creatures (defined as those against whom Smite Good deals extra damage) take d8s of damage rather than d6s. The target of an Antipaladin’s Smite Good takes a -2 Penalty on their saving throws against Channeled Corruption.

      • A truly craven foe may choose to save himself from the ravages of the corrupting darkness by embracing it at the Antipaladin’s command. By immediately changing his alignment to either Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil, a sentient being capable of making the choice of his own free will can be permanently turned to the path of evil – only an Atonement spell may purge the corruption which was voluntarily accepted by the victim.

      • Note that an Antipaladin may choose to take a Variant Channel Energy as if he were a Cleric. Doing so does not affect his or her Touch of Corruption ability, but may add powerful offensive or utility effects to her Channeled Corruption.

  • Ninja

    • Ninja Finesse: As Rogue Finesse. Gain Weapon Finesse at level 1 for free, then gain Weapon Grace at level 3.

  • Samurai

    • no changes

  • Arcanist

    • no changes

  • Bloodrager

    • use Unchained Barbarian Rage

  • Brawler

    • No changes

    • Note that Brawling is now a +3 armor enhancement, as per Ultimate Equipment Errata (HA!)

  • Hunter

    • no changes

  • Investigator

    • See Alchemist Toxicity.

    • See Alchemist Extract List.

    • Studied Combat: Studied Combat provides a +? level bonus to hit/damage instead of +?, making it more closely resemble Slayer Studied Target. There are MORE than enough buff options in Investigator Talents and Extracts to bring them “up to speed” without resorting to an infinite half-Smite.

  • Shaman

    • Expanded Spell Lore: At 2nd level, the Shaman gains the ability to add 1 spell from the Cleric/Oracle or Witch spell lists to the Shaman class spell list. Thereafter, it can be prepared and cast as if it were a Shaman spell of equal level. At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the Shaman may select an additional spell.

  • Skald

    • no changes

  • Slayer

    • no changes

  • Swashbuckler

    • See “Bucklers” alterations above.

    • See “Dex to Damage” alterations above.

      • These two changes together serve as a nerf to the Swashbuckler – the intent is to lower their obscene defense by removing bucklers from their “standard loadout”, but if a PC wants the defensive combo of Dex+Shield+Grace+CombatExpertise+Parry for their character, they can still do so by sacrificing the extra damage of Precise Strike while maintaining some variety of Weapon Grace.

  • Warpriest

    • 4+INT skills per level

    • See Channel Energy Buffs, I guess

    • Sacred Weapon: The Warpriest gains the full benefit of Sacred Weapon to his deity’s favored weapon. In addition, all weapons affected by the Warpriest’s Weapon Focus feat may also be treated as a Sacred Weapon, but the Warpriest’s level is treated as 5 lower for purposes of calculating the damage dice and the value of the enhancement bonus which can be added to it.

    • Sacred Weapons with a 20/x2 crit rate deal one “die step” of extra damage. Sacred weapons with a 20/x4 or 18-20/x2 crit rate deal one less “die step” of damage.

  • Kineticist

    • 4+INT Skill Ranks

    • Blue Flame Blast: In addition to ignoring Spell Resistance, Blue Flame Blast ignores all fire resistance and Immunity.

  • Medium

    • Dude I don’t fuckin know. This class is bonkers and I can’t even tell if it's busted or weak.

  • Mesmerist

    • No changes

  • Occultist

    • Spellcasting: An Occultist knows every spell on his implement-granted spellcasting list. Like an Arcanist, the Occultist spends each morning “preparing” a loadout of spells which he can spontaneously cast for the day. The Occultist may prepare one spell of each spell level for each appropriate Implement school he has access to.

      • This buff was proposed before Panoplies (particularly the Panoply of the Warrior) were released. Players should choose one of the two proposed “fixes” to the class, but not both.

  • Psychic

    • No changes

  • Spiritualist

    • Does the Phantom need a buff? 

  • Vigilante

    • No changes

  • Shifter

    • Bonus Feat: At level 1, all Shifters gain Feral Combat Training (Claws) as a bonus feat, and they are treated as having Improved Unarmed Strike for the purposes of meeting all feat prerequisites.

    • Minor Aspects: Gain all Minor Aspects at 1st level. Minor Aspects last for 1 hour/level/day until level 4, at which point they become infinite duration usable at-will. The Shifter is still limited in how many she can maintain simultaneously.

    • Major Aspects: Gain 1 Major Aspect at every-other odd level (standard aspect progression). Swift Action, assumable for Minute/level/day starting at level 1. The Shifter polymorphs into a hybrid form similar to a lycanthrope, adopting the natural features of the Major Aspect while maintaining the ability to speak, wear gear, and wield weapons. These features stack with Wild Shape, allowing a Shifter to polymorph into a chimeric fusion of multiple animals, elementals, and plants. The Shifter does not gain the size or ability score adjustments of her chosen aspect animal this way.

      • Note the Pseudo-Pounce nerf

      • Bear aspect Improved Natural Attack (Claw) stacks if the player already possesses the feat.

    • Wild Shape: As per a Druid of equivalent level, but with access to Magical Beast forms via Beast Shape. At level 14, the Shifter may assume the form of a Huge or Diminutive magical beast as per the new spell Magical Beast Shape.

      • See Druid for Wild Shape sizing restrictions. Huge-size Giant Lion is as OK as a Huge-size Young Roc.

      • Weretouched Shifters may only assume the Wild Shape form associated with a normal animal of their appropriate type (which obviously overrides the benefits of their Major Aspect). Instead of full Wild Shape, they gain Bloodrage and a Bloodrager Bloodline (not the bonus feats or spells). Werebadgers… I don’t even know man. They get something else entirely.

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