Fantasy Fridays! Ask the readers, Pathfinder RPG House Rules?

Hello readers! Sorry for another skipped week RL and all that. I’m very interested in continuing my contributions to the blog with at least one post a week. Let’s do this…

You’ll notice I’ve switched around the title, this week it’s Fantasy Fridays! Don’t worry, my sci-fi campaign continues apace, and I’m very happy with it. However, the major prep for that campaign is done, and while I continue to write and create for the Wanderers of the Outlands campaign, I’ve got to start prepping for the next campaign.

That may sound crazy, but it’s part of my method, and I’ve blogged about it before. Once a campaign is running I begin to plan for the next one parallel to the one I’m running. I don’t devote that much time to it, about 25% of my prep time goes to future campaigns. Right now I’m on the stage where I try to decide what games I’m interested in running so I can share some preliminaries with my players and gage their interest.

Currently I know they want to return to our Dawn of a New Age supers campaign, and I’m considering whether to run it using Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition, or switch to ICONS (the Assembled Edition is now out on PDF and you can pre-order the print book). I’m also considering running a Vampire the Masquerade 20th anniversary game (about which I blogged here and here some time ago). But neither of these campaigns are the subject of this post. What has me stumped are the possible fantasy campaigns.

Despite having a long running fantasy campaign, I think it’s time to do some creating and maybe establish a new fantasy campaign. What has me stumped is which one to choose! For all three I feel the need for house rules, or modifications to the Pathfinder rules to fit my vision of the game.

The first campaign… The transported city

One campaign would be set in a great cosmopolitan metropolis. A sprawling city of magical wonders, the jewel of the world, a place where all the races came together after the arrival of a messenger that brought the plans of a magical machine that would bring great glory to this world. The united races built the machine and drove back the forces of evil. After centuries the machine is ready, a great celebration commences and the machine is activated…

And the disaster! The city is wracked by earthquakes, the skies grow dark and when the dust clears, the city is in another world. And the great machine is gone. The idea of this campaign is exploring a new world, unknown not only to the PCs but to the NPCs around them.

Some basic ideas:

  • Old magic and secrets no longer work; the PCs are part of discovering the new ways magic works. The powers that made the city possible are gone!
  • This means there are NO higher level NPCs, at least not in the ruins of the city, there will be in the world beyond its broken walls.
  • The known gods don’t answer prayers. This brings complications for divine characters. How do they gain their power?
  • No extra-planar travel, no access to the spells. Should I simply do away with them or have those available to PCs when they reach appropriate levels?
  • As the PCs explore the world they will discover another similar city in the planet, others have built great machines and been taken here before!

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for possible house rules or modifications for this campaign?

The second campaign, the Sword & Sorcery city

This is an urban campaign, set in a city that was once part of a larger empire, but now that empire has crumbled and the city is a remnant of civilization in a world in chaos. A benign monotheistic church has been replaced with a polytheistic dark faith of cults and blood sacrifices.

Some basic ideas:

  • I don’t see this going to very high levels, perhaps 10 or 12
  • Less reliance on magic items
  • Magic is dangerous and corrupting, perhaps the secrets of arcana magic take a toll on its practitioners, physically and mentally
  • The magic of the cults is more effective than the old faith, but dangerous
  • The old faith exists, but casting spells it teaches is hard, and time consuming

Suggestions on changes, rule modifications or existing rules I could adapt?

The third campaign and the harder one to describe!

From all appearances the game might run like a traditional campaign, but some of the assumptions would be changed. The world has NO gods, no contact with the outer planes, only the elemental planes. Humans were once the slaves of the genies and their giant servants. It is from them that humans learned arcane magic. Elves are a dying race, there are perhaps a hundred left, allied to dragons who showed them the secrets of divine magic. Gnomes were once a clan of dwarves that destroyed the islands where they lived during a great war. They now hide from the dwarves that are sailors in steampunk ships. Orc were shown the secrets of the sea by dwarves and they rebelled, they are now raiders up and down the inhabited coasts. Halflings are ethereal otherworldly fey creatures. I can think of various house rules and changes needed:

  • NO extra-planar travel of communication spells
  • Elves are the masters of divine magic
  • Humans are the best arcane casters
  • Dwarves are sailors and masters of steam technology
  • Elves can share their essence with any other race, so half-elves are more of a template than a race. How to construct it?
  • Lizardfolk and other such races as playable races, they serve the dragon potentates

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, suggestions?

I’m pretty set on using the Pathfinder RPG game, so here is the question to you, how would you implement these changes for Pathfinder? Do you know any existing rules (by Paizo or third party publishers) that could meet my needs? I know there are other fantasy systems out there, and if the need arises I may consider them, but for the time being I’m looking for ideas for Pathfinder. Thanks in advance for your input.

Any of these campaigns are way off, at least a year or more, but what can I say, I like to prepare ahead of time! Your feedback and suggestions are welcome. Looking forward to reading your comments…

Welcome reader, thanks for taking the time to find out just who I am! My name is Roberto, although in the Internet I usually go by the name of Sunglar. Long time pen & paper RPG player, mostly a GM for the better part of that time; some will say that’s because of my love of telling a good story, others because I’m a control freak, but that’s debatable… I was born, raised, and still live in Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean, with a small but active gaming community.

I’ve played RPGs for 30 years, and for most of that time I played D&D in all its various permutations, including Pathfinder and I'm currently playing D&D 5th edition. Other games my regular gaming group has played over the last few years include Mutants & Masterminds and Savage Worlds, but I have played many other games through the years, and plan to play many more. I am a compulsive homebrewer and rarely play a campaign I have not created myself.

You can follow me on Twitter as @Sunglar, and find me in Google+ also as Sunglar. I'm very active in Facebook where you can find me posting regularly in the Puerto Rico Role Players group. Looking forward to hearing from you!

2 thoughts on “Fantasy Fridays! Ask the readers, Pathfinder RPG House Rules?”

  1. I can make some suggestions:
    First campaign Idea: The transported city

    Once you take away magic the main powers of magical classes will be missed so you have to find a way to compensate. I recommend making all pc’s non-magic user classes and make all magic users the high class of the city. When the new rules apply, the pcs has to choose to help the hierarchy or replace it. At the same time the hierarchy will be using all the resources at their disposition (and they will have a lot more than the pcs) to find a way to replace the source of their power by a new one that can power their spells.

    On the other hand, If you make the campaign the other way around it will be easy to play. Make the original city a technological one without magic and then, when transported to the new planet make it a magical one. Characters can start at level 1 and as they learn the rules of the new reality, they chose a new fantasy class after they are under the new rules.

    I once started writing a short story with the same theme. This is something that I used in the story. The source of every one of the city special abilities is not blocked by been in the new world but each city (I have nine in my draft) has to adapt to the new planet and the limited resources. Some of them were looking for a way back, others for someone to blame and many were looking only to survive.

    One day we can meet and compare notes about this idea my friend.

  2. I am a big fan of using house rules to define a setting. You are making some major changes here, especially for divine casters, which will be an interesting strain on the system.

    I will check trough my references and ponder to see if there is anything of use.

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