House Rules

Armant uses a few standard house rules that most of my campaigns take advantage of, as well as a new system for making Called Shots.  These are detailed below:


  1. Called Shots
  2. Magic Item Creation



Improved Unarmed Strike
Martial arts are a common pursuit of the populace of Armant, and it is not unusual to see characters trained in unarmed combat, even if they are not hand-to-hand masters like monks.  When creating a character, if they are proficient with all martial weapons, you can choose to replace this proficiency with the feat Improved Unarmed Strike.  Characters who do so inflict 1d4 damage with their unarmed attacks (instead of the usual 1d3), until they reach 5th level.  At this point, they calculate their unarmed damage as if they were a monk of a level equal to their character level - 4.


Some classes (such as bard, druid, and inquisitor) are proficient in only a few martial weapons; these classes are also eligible to trade out all these proficiencies for Improved Unarmed Strike.  They inflict normal unarmed damage until 5th level, when their damage improves to 1d4.  Starting at 9th level, they calculate their unarmed damage as if they were a monk of a level equal to their character level - 8.


Regardless of what Martial Weapon Proficiencies the character trades in, they retain any Simple Weapon Proficiencies they have.  If a character who has taken advantage of this rule gains levels as a monk, they calculate their unarmed attack damage (but no other class abilities) by adding the 'virtual' monk level of their original class to their actual monk level.


Automatic Bonus Progression
Due to how magic and lineage work in the Armant setting, characters with a lineage gain the benefits of the Automatic Bonus Progression rules, with one major modification: weapons and armor with special qualities (like a flaming longsword or breastplate of light fortification) do not reduce the enhancement bonus granted by your bonus progression.  Instead, when adding special qualities to a weapon or armor, double the effective enhancement bonus you use to calculate its price.


Under this system, a +1 bonus costs the listed price of a +2 bonus, +2 becomes +4, +3 becomes +6, +4 becomes +8, and +5 becomes +10.  So a flaming longsword would cost 8,315gp to produce, while a keen impact spear (normally a total bonus of +3) would cost 72,302gp and a vorpal greataxe would be 200,320gp.  The same holds true for armor and shields, with a breastplate of light fortification costing 4,350gp up to studded leather of spell resistance (19) costing 100,175gp.


Special qualities that cost a flat amount rather than having an enhancement bonus (such as shadow armor or a transformative weapon) cost the normal, listed amount, as do any mundane modifications, such as making the item masterwork or fashioning it out of a special material.


Action Point
Your character has an action point they can use each day that grants them an additional standard action per day or a +1d6 to any one d20 roll they make.  At 6th level it increases to +2d6 and at 12th level to +3d6.  They must declare they are using the bonus prior to rolling.


You can stack critical rolls on attacks if you roll a natural 20 on a confirmation (and only on a 20, regardless of the weapon's threat range).  You then confirm the double-critical as normal, with additional rolls of natural 20 stacking more potential criticals.  Every potential new critical confirms the previous one (i.e., if you threaten to crit and then roll a 20, you have confirmed the normal critical; even if you fail to confirm the double-critical, you would still inflict the normal critical).  For every additional critical you add to a super-critical, increase the weapon's multiplier by +1 (x2 on a longsword becomes x3 on a double-critical, x4 on a triple-critical, etc.).


Critical Failures
In addition to automatically failing an attack on a roll of 1 (or failing a skill check in combination with a natural 1), you threaten for a critical failure.  You must "confirm" the failure by rolling again with the same bonuses and/or penalties as the original attack or check.  If you fail the roll a second time, you screw up in a context-appropriate way.  A critical failure in an attack might have you dropping your weapon and losing the rest of your attacks in the round, or having your bowstring snap and having to spend a round restringing it.  Critically failing to pick a lock might damage your lockpicks.


Instant-Death Effects
One of the most annoying things about Pathfinder is all the effects that can one-shot even powerful characters.  Thus, for PCs and certain powerful NPCs, they have a second-chance save against these sorts of effects.  If you are struck by an instant-death effect and fail your save, you drop immediately to -1 hit points.  The next round, you make a second save at the same DC.  Failure means death, but success means you remain alive (but not stabilized) at -1 hit points.  If an effect does not allow for a saving throw (such as a critical hit with a vorpal weapon or the power word: kill spell), you are treated as having automatically failed your initial save and then gain a save based on relevant factors (usually 10 + spell level or 1/2 character level + applicable ability score modifier).



When making an attack with a melee or ranged weapon (but not spells, even if they require an attack roll), characters can attempt a "called shot" to target certain parts of the enemy, allowing them to apply penalties to the target, inflict more damage, or even kill the target outright.


Making a called shot can be done as a standard action, including in conjunction with the combat feats Power Attack, Deadly Aim, Vital Strike, or Spring Attack.  It cannot be done while charging or when using Cleave or Great Cleave.  Once per round, you can make a called shot as part of an attack of opportunity, but doing so requires intense concentration and imposes a -2 penalty on the attack roll.


Depending on the area you are aiming for, the target's AC improves and certain other criteria may have to be satisfied.  This bonus to armor class is applied even if the target is flatfooted or otherwise denied their dexterity bonus to their AC; it is even applied if the character is immobilized or helpless.


There are three categories of target: large, medium, and small.


Large targets are those that take up a significant portion of the creature's anatomy, such as arms, legs, tails, and wings.  Targeting these limbs gives the creature a +4 circumstance bonus to their AC against the called shot.


Medium targets are smaller areas, but still not insignificant, including hands, feet, horns or antlers, and certain special organs (such a beholder's central eye).  Targeting these areas gives the creature a +8 circumstance bonus to their AC against the called shot.


Finally, small targets are the smallest areas of a creature that can be specifically targeted, often being the most critical or physically weakest, including the eyes, throat, and organs such as the heart, lungs, or liver.  Targeting these vulnerable spots gives the creature a +16 circumstance to their AC against the called shot.  Many of these areas are also blocked by armor, scales, hide, or some other protection.  When attacking the protected area, it receives a DR bonus against successful attacks equal to the hardness of whatever material is protecting the area.  The attack must inflict at least 1 point of damage to be considered successful.


If you attempt a called shot and it fails, then the attack is treated as if it had missed normally.  Abilities that allow missed attacks to be rerolled are made against the target as a normal attack, rather than as another called shot.  Abilities that still affect the target despite a miss do so normally, with no additional benefits for the original attack having been a called shot.  You cannot use abilities that allow attacks to automatically succeed in conjunction with a called shot, nor can you use abilities that let you make a touch attack with a weapon that normally does not allow it.


Called shots do not automatically succeed on a natural 20.  Instead, if the player rolls a natural 20, but the result would still not be enough to exceed the target's modified AC, then they miss the called shot but can treat the attack as a normal attack roll instead (including rolling to confirm their critical threat).


The effects of called shots (and the enhanced effects of a successful critical) for the most common anatomical areas are listed in the chart below.  GMs are encouraged to come up with their own ideas for effects on unconventional anatomies or even adjust the effects based on the circumstances and weapons a character is using; after all, a blow to the eyes from a lance on a charge is likely to be very different from one with a whip or a sledgehammer.


Creatures that have no discernable anatomy or are otherwise immune to critical hits do not suffer any of the effects associated with a called shot.


Area Size Effect¹ Critical Effect¹ Notes
Arm Large

Target suffers a -2 penalty to any attacks, skill checks, or ability checks involving the arm.

Arm broken; cannot be used to wield items or attack.
Leg Large

Target movement speed is reduced by 10 feet (up to ½ speed) and can only run up to x3 their movement speed.

Leg broken; fall prone.  Target speed reduced to 10 feet and requires an Acrobatics check to balance (DC 20) to stand on remaining leg.
Wing Large Target fly speed is reduced by 10 feet (up to ½ speed) and must make a Fly check (DC = damage inflicted) or begin falling. Wing broken; cannot fly.
Tail Large Target suffers a -2 penalty to any tail slam attack. Tail broken; cannot be used to wield items or attack.
Hand/Elbow Medium Target drops anything held in hand of affected limb.  Also suffers penalties for called shot against arm. Hand severed or elbow shattered; useless until regenerated.²
Foot/Knee Medium Target drops prone, reduced to ½ speed, and cannot run. Foot severed or knee shattered; useless until regenerated.  Target speed reduced to 5 feet and requires an Acrobatics check to balance (DC 30) to stand on remaining leg.²
Horn/Antler Medium Target suffers a -2 penalty to any horn/antler attack and it gains the Fragile weapon quality. Horn/Antler shattered; useless until regenerated.²
Nose Small Target dazed for 1 round, then shaken; cannot use Scent ability. Nose broken; attack inflicts +50% damage.  Cannot use Scent until regenerated.² Armored target (helm)³
Eye Small Target blinded. Eye burst; attack inflicts +50% damage.  Blind until regenerated.²
Throat Small Target stunned for 1 round, then shaken; rendered mute. Throat crushed; target begins to make Constitution checks as if suffocating until healed.  Mute until regenerated.² Armored target (gorget)³
Heart Small Attack inflicts maximum damage and target is shaken. Heart pierced; attack treated as coup de grace against target.² Armored target³
Lung Small Attack inflicts +50% damage and target is fatigued. Lungs pierced; target begins to make Constitution checks as if suffocating until healed.  Exhausted until regenerated.² Armored target³
Liver Small Attack inflicts +50% damage and target gains Bleed equal to attackers BAB/4 (minimum 1). Liver pierced; attack inflicts maximum damage.  Target suffers Bleed damage equal to attacker's BAB.² Armored target³
¹ - Unless otherwise stated, the effects of a called shot last until the target receives the effects of magical healing, naturally recovers all the damage inflicted by the attack, or receives a Heal check.  The Heal DC is equal to 15 (for Large areas), 20 (for Medium areas), or 25 (for small areas) and increases by +5 if the attack was a confirmed critical.
² - The effects of some called shots are too severe to be overcome simply with natural healing, first aid, or cure spells.  In these instances, even if the hit point damage is restored, the side effects remain until the target has received a regenerate spell, recovers the damage inflicted by the attack with the regeneration special ability, or has their body physically reconstructed, such as with the polymorph any object spell.
³ - If a target is wearing any sort of armor or has a natural armor bonus to their AC of +1 or higher, these targets are considered "armored" and that armor must be pierced before the target is successful.  In essence, this means that the target has DR equal to either the material of the armor in question (2 for leather or hide, 10 for iron or steel, 15 for mithral, and 20 for adamantine) or to their natural armor bonus.  Targets that have both armor and natural armor combine these DRs.  If the called shot does not inflict at least 1 point of damage, then it does not have the listed effect.



After careful consideration, I have decided that the magic item creation rules for Pathfinder do not function as well as I would like.  To that end, I am currently play-testing a different method of magic item creation, as outlined below.  I understand that these rules require one's players to keep to the spirit of the game and have some potential for abuse; thus, they may not work with every player party.  Implement them at your own discretion:


Spell Power
Creating magic items requires the introduction of a new "stat" for magic-using characters to keep track of: spell power.  This is simply the sum total of all the spell levels a character can cast per day, including all bonus spells, additional spells for high ability scores, and spell-like abilities.  Though they can be used to satisfy creation requirements, spell completion and spell trigger items (such as scrolls or staffs) cannot contribute to a character's spell power rating.

Thus, a 1st-level universalist wizard with an intelligence of 16 would have a spell power of 2 (1 1st-level spell, 0 bonus spells, 1 additional 1st-level spell for high Int).

A 5th-level evoker with an intelligence of 14 would have a spell power of 19 (3 1st-level , 2 2nd-level, 1 3rd-level spells; 1 bonus spell of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd levels; 1 additional 1st and 2nd level spell for high Int).

This is only a measure of a spellcaster's potential; the slot does not have to be specifically filled with a spell to count and slots used to cast lower-level spells still count at their actual level, not the level of the spell stored.

0th-level spells never contribute to spell power.

When a spell is cast, its spell power is used up until the next time the spellcaster regains their used spells.  Our 5th-level evoker from above would have their spell power reduced from 19 to 16 by casting a fireball (a 3rd-level spell).  Upon resting and regaining his daily spells, his spell power would return to 19.

If a character has levels in more than one spell-casting class, they can add all their arcane spells or all their divine spells to their spell power (but must keep track of the two different types of magic separately and cannot use both to craft the same item).


Magic Item Creation
Item creation feats still function as normal.  The only change is to the actual process of creating items, though consulting the Pathfinder item creation rules can be useful if you have any specific questions as there are some areas of overlap between the two methods.  Use the following process:

  1. Select (or design) the item to be created.
  2. Make sure you have the appropriate Item Creation feat.
  3. If applicable, determine the caster level to be used to create the item.
  4. Determine the item's base price.
  5. Pay half that amount as a creation cost, plus any additional price for costly material components if applicable.
  6. Divide the base price by 50 and round up to determine the amount of spell power that needs to be invested in the item to complete it.
  7. Complete any additional requirements (such as specific spells that must be cast along with the item).
  8. Make a Spellcraft check (DC 5 + item's caster level).  You can substitute a relevant Craft skill for certain items.


For example, let us say we wish to create a +1 flaming longsword:

  1. We will create a +1 flaming longsword.
  2. You need Craft Magic Arms & Armor.
  3. The minimum caster level is 3rd for the +1 enhancement and 10th for the flaming ability, so we must have a caster level of at least 10th.
  4. The item's base cost is 8,315 gold (8,000g for the total +2 enchantment and 315g for a masterwork longsword).
  5. Pay 4,157 gold and 5 silver in material costs.
  6. The item will require a total spell power of 187 (8,315/50 = 186.3 and you always round up).
  7. After investing all the spell power necessary, cast flame blade, flame strike, or fireball into the blade (for the flaming enhancement).
  8. Make a Spellcraft or Craft [Weaponsmithing] DC 15 to complete.


Thus, an item that would have required your average 10th-level wizard 9 days to complete in the old system can instead be finished in about 3 days.  The effect is even more impressive at higher levels and the stronger a spellcaster is, the more capable they become at crafting.  Alternately, if the group is on the move, the wizard can continue to craft the item by investing spell power into it a little at a time, whenever he has a few spell slots unexpended at the end of the day.


Investing Spell Power
Using your spell power to create items is called "investing," and is both quick and easy.  The crafting spellcaster only needs a relatively clean, stable workspace and no distractions.  It takes one minute of concentration to invest a single point of spell power into an item.  The power invested corresponds directly to the spellcaster's spell slots, meaning using a 3rd-level slot requires 3 minutes and invests the item with 3 points of spell power.  The spellcaster then loses whatever spell was in that slot (or access to the slot if a sorcerer, bard, or summoner or if they hadn't prepared a spell in the slot) as if they had cast the spell.

Being interrupted during the process means you expend whatever spell or slot you're using without investing the spell power into the item.

Investing can be a gradual process, meaning a spellcaster can create magic items on the run, maybe only investing a few spell slots into an item each evening around the campfire.  They can also put away unfinished items and come back to them later, if circumstances require.

For magic items that require certain spells (such as our +1 flaming longsword above), that spell must be provided at the end of the process and is separate from the spell power being invested.