Some questions


Has anyone had any luck mixing up some old school rules with pathfinder to keep combat from being a slog?  If so what kinds of things are you implimenting.

How about low level encounters - a dire rat could still be dangerous to a 7th level PC (or at least hit them) in say swords and wizardry (or various flavor of old school) and in pathfinder unless they attack the wizard it's kind of a toss up - what do people do with the lower level critters to make them stand out once the party gets some oomph to them.

How do people handle the trapspotter talent or the way rogues seem to quickly surpass even very difficult disable DC's quickly as they level?

Reading through the lost city of Barakus - one of the treasures you can find lets you invest points in knowledge dungeoneering at level up - this kind of made a light bulb go off over my head and wonder if many GM's restrict skill points at level up - if so how do you deal with it?

Looking for pointers as I'm feeling the old school vibe lately and getting really tired of the fact that combat gets sooooo bogged down in higher level pathfinder....  This seemed like a good place to see what other people are doing and possibly get some tips.

Lower level mobs are lower level mobs. They are fodder that might get lucky. They are part of the environment. But there are also higher level mobs that need to be avoided.  And traps.  But the worst thing is the room or piece of furniture that you describe in minute detail that is completely innocent....

If players want to learn/find/do something, they need to tell me how/what/where.  Just like 30 years ago. Then they get to do a roll with the DC modified accordingly.  I like the crunch and character building of Pathfinder but I need players to participate and be active.  The better the roleplay from the players, the less I need roll play from the players.

jmj_1975's picture

I've heard some groups require that a character find a tutor to teach them the Elven language, in order to take a point in Linguistics on level up and learn Elven.

I've also heard some groups just get their level up, and spend the point wherever, because they have the point and can say that the language would be useful, so my charcter must have been working on it between sessions.  Or even, I have the point and this is where I'm putting it without any in-game justification.

Neither approach is right or wrong, as they're just different styles of play.



There's an alternate ruleset, which came out at about the same time as the Pathfinder rules did.  It is called Trailblazer, and our group experimented with it for a campaign.  The premise was that the 3.5 rules were mathematically broken in a bunch of ways, and the developers of Trailblazer broke the game down mathematically and came up with a bunch of fixes for it.  There was both a main book and a monster book. 

There are a whole plethora of optional rules which a group could use to speed up play and to simplify things.  Some of them include capping iterative attacks at two.  Once a character reaches +6 BAB, instead of having an attack at +6 (plus all other modifiers) and another five back at +1 (plus all other modifiers), in Trailblazer you have two attacks both at +4/+4 (plus all other modifiers)... ie., both attacks at -2.  Once a character reaches +11 BAB, instead of having the traditional +11/+6/+1 (plus all other relevant modifiers), in Trailblazer they get the same two attacks, now both at -1 (so +10/+10).  And at +16 BAB, instead of +16/+11/+6/+1 in Trailblazer there are two attacks both without a penalty, so +16/+16.

The mathematical analysis shows that the first two attacks, for a challenging opponent, have a decent chance to hit but that the 3rd and 4th iterative attack is just a waste of time.  For a non-challenging opponent, either too far above you or too far below you, they're either too much of a challenge or not nearly enough of a challenge and the extra attacks don't make much difference.  In the case of needing a 20 to hit, or in the case of hitting on anything but a 1, the traditional iterative attacks are superior for a player.  In the case of needing more than a 2 to hit, or needing less than a 19 to hit, the Trailblazer iterative attacks are slightly superior for players.

The system is of course a lot less clogged when a character makes a maximum of two rolls in a combat (two-weapon or flurry of blows, notwithstanding), and mathematically aren't really losing much in that trade.


Another example is having buff slots.  Between character levels 1-5, a character can have two buffs.  Once they hit 6th (and through 10th) a character can have three buffs.  At 11th (and through 15th), a character can have four buffs.  Finally at 16th, a character can have a maximum of five buffs.

If a new buff is cast, beyond the 'buff slot' cap, the recipient gets to choose whether an existing buff has been overwritten (and which one) or whether they want to keep their existing buffs intact and have the new buff fail to take hold.

In our non-Trailblazer combats (at 9th level, in the campaign yesterday), we would have 8 or 9 buffs cast on each character, which is a rather large headache to keep track of.  Not to mention, without a program like Hero Lab, knowing if something stacks with something else or how much of a bonus it grants.  Being capped at three buffs (for the level range) would both simplify things and speed up play enormously.  That naturally applies to NPC or Monsters, in the same way as it applies to characters.



Trailblazer is in effect, a bunch of house rules which you can use entirely, or pick and choose.  But the end result is a simplified (in some ways) system, which greatly expediates the flow of play.  There are both benefits and detractions for the system, but if you want to speed up play and have the numbers 'work' better on a mathematical basis, their alternate rules are worth looking at.