I have added a few house rules to either make the game more playable or else give the setting a bit of flavor. They are as follows:
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.
Super-Criticals: 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 or skill check on a roll of 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 or losing the rest of your attacks in the round. Critically failing to pick a lock might damage your lockpicks.
Impossible Scenarios: Some rolls of 1 may not automatically fail, just as some rolls of 20 may not automatically succeed. If the total of your roll and any modifiers is at least 10 points away from failing (on a natural one) or succeeding (on a natural 20), then an additional d20 roll will be called for, which will be used to adjust the total. In the event of rolling a 1, you will take the new d20 roll and add it to your normal modifiers -20 for your total. If you rolled a 20, you will take the new d20 roll and add it to your current total.
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 blade 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).
Raising the Dead: Returning a dead character to life requires the direct intervention of the source of a character's divine magic. The spell raise dead only brings the attention of the caster's patron to the situation. While any Great Beast that is already granting their follower access to 6th-level magic will usually allow them to raise a person from the dead, they will likely be required to answer to their patron about why this person and their circumstances required such an expenditure of power. This is because raising the dead diminishes the Great Beast in a way that normal spellcasting does not, weakening them and, in extreme cases, costing them their lives as well. This restriction does not apply to the spell breath of life, which actually keeps the soul from departing the dead body and returns it before the character truly passes on.
Magic Item Creation
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:
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:
- Select (or design) the item to be created.
- Make sure you have the appropriate Item Creation feat.
- If applicable, determine the caster level to be used to create the item.
- Determine the item's base price.
- Pay half that amount as a creation cost, plus any additional price for costly material components if applicable.
- 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.
- Complete any additional requirements (such as specific spells that must be cast along with the item).
- 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:
- We will create a +1 flaming longsword.
- You need Craft Magic Arms & Armor.
- 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.
- The item's base cost is 8,315 gold (8,000g for the total +2 enchantment and 315g for a masterwork longsword).
- Pay 4,157 gold and 5 silver in material costs.
- The item will require a total spell power of 187 (8,315/50 = 186.3 and you always round up).
- After investing all the spell power necessary, cast flame blade, flame strike, or fireball into the blade (for the flaming enhancement).
- Make a Spellcraft or Craft [Weaponsmithing] DC 15 to complete.
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.