Combat Houserules

Damage Reduction

In this campaign, damage reduction bypassed by adamantine, cold iron, or any other sort of ferrous metal is instead bypassed by weapons made mostly of normal iron or steel, and damage reduction bypassed by magic, a certain alignment, or any other sort of mystical property is instead bypassed by weapons made of or covered with silver.

Fighting Stance

While wielding a natural or manufactured weapon (including unarmed strikes or shields, if you are proficient with them), at the start of your turn as a free action you may choose to subtract some number from all attack rolls, all damage rolls, or your armor class for 1 round in exchange for adding that same number as a bonus to one of the other two values. This number may not exceed the lower of your Strength bonus and your base attack bonus.

If you are wielding a shield, an armor class bonus you gain using from this ability is doubled. If you are wielding a two-handed weapon, a damage bonus you gain from using this ability is doubled, If you are wielding a light weapon, an attack bonus you gain from using this ability is doubled.

For example, a 4th-level fighter (BAB +4) with a Strength score of 16 (Str +3) wielding a light sword and a shield may take -3 to attack to gain +3 to damage, -2 to AC to gain +4 to attack, -1 to damage to gain +2 to armor class, or any other valid combination.

Any other ability that imposes a penalty to attack, damage, or armor class in exchange for a bonus to a different one of those attributes, such as Combat Expertise, part of the Shock Trooper feat, fighting defensively, and so forth, is removed in favor of this houserule.

Full Attacks

In this campaign, a full attack requires a standard action instead of a full-round action. Additionally, full attacks use the following pattern of attack bonuses and iterative attacks instead of the normal one:

Base Attack Bonus Normal Iteratives Modified Iteratives
+1 +1 +1
+2 +2 +2
+3 +3 +3
+4 +4 +4
+5 +5 +5
+6 +6 / +1 +4 / +4
+7 +7 / +2 +5 / +5
+8 +8 / +3 +6 / +6
+9 +9 / +4 +7 / +7
+10 +10 / +5 +8 / +8
+11 +11 / +6 / +1 +10 / +10
+12 +12 / +7 / +2 +11 / +11

Natural Weapons
Normally, a creature can attack with all of its natural weapons in a single full attack, a single primary natural weapon attack at -0 and the rest at -5, with the Multiattack feat reducing the secondary weapon attack penalty to -2 and the Improved Multiattack feat removing it. Natural weapons can also be added to a full attack with manufactured weapons, treating primary natural weapons as secondary ones. In this campaign, a creature full attacking with its natural weapons uses the above full attack rules using any combination of weapons (so a bear with BAB +7, a primary bite, and 2 secondary claws, for instance, wouldn’t get a bite at +7 and 2 claws at +2, it would get two attacks at +5 which could be bite/bite, bite/claw or claw/claw).

The Multiattack and Improved Multiattack feats grant two extra natural weapon attacks each, up to a limit of the number of natural attacks the creature possesses (so the above bear could take the Multiattack feat to be able to make three attacks in a full attack, bite/claw/claw at +5 each, but could not make four attacks because it only has three natural weapons), and natural weapons cannot be combined with manufactured weapons in the same full attack. If a creature’s base attack bonus is too low to allow it a second attack on a full attack, the Multiattack and Improved Multiattack feats grant only one or two extra attacks instead of two or four extra attacks, respectively, and the initial attack and all the extras are made at -4.

Hex Grid

This campaign uses a hex grid instead of a square grid in combat. There are only two major changes between square- and hex-based combat: movement costs and areas of effect.

Moving from one hex to another always costs 5 feet of movement (when moving towards your front; see facing for further details), instead of movement costing more along diagonals.

Areas of effect in hex-based combat do not center effects on a target grid intersection and radiate along grid lines; instead, they are centered in a target hex and radiate out a certain number of hexes. The below diagrams give examples of a 5-foot radius burst, a 10-foot radius burst, and a 15-foot cone, where the red dot indicates the point of origin:


Likewise, effects such as walls that are explicitly placed along grid lines from one intersection to another may, at the caster’s option, be placed within hexes from the center of one hex to the center of another.

Fighting Larger Creatures

Sometimes a creature is so large that it can actually be easier to attack a certain body part than it is to attack the creature’s center of mass, such as attacking a kraken’s tentacles when most of its body is underwater or attacking a frost giant with an axe when everything above its knees is out of easy reach.

When attacking a creature two or more size categories larger than you, all attacks (including attacks of opportunity, maneuvers, or attacks made as part of a full attack) are resolved as Called Shots against body parts that are within easy reach by default, instead of needing to take a separate standard action to make a called shot, and its wound threshold is reduced by -5 for the purpose of determining the outcome of these called shots. If you do take a separate standard action to make a called shot against the creature, the creature’s wound threshold is also reduced by -5 (for a total of -10 for called shots against body parts within easy reach).

Fighting Smaller Creatures

Sometimes a creature faces a number of enemies that are so much smaller than it that it can easily engage many of them at a time, such as when a human is swarmed by pixes or when a massive linnorm is surrounded by humans.

When attacking multiple creatures two or more size categories smaller than you, you can make an area attack against them, which works as follows. As a standard action, roll two attack rolls and damage rolls and take the higher of each. Apply these rolls against a single creature in your front or side flanks as if you had rolled those attacks normally, applying any appropriate per-creature bonuses or penalties (such as if some creatures are in your flanks or if one of them has chosen you as its Dodge target). You may then apply the same attack against another creature within 10 feet of the first target, using the same values as against the first target but with a -5 penalty to the results. You may continue doing this, taking an increasing attack penalty each time (-10 against a third target, -15 against a fourth target, and so forth) until you miss an attack or run out of creatures within reach. Precision effects such as critical hits, sneak attacks, or called shots cannot be used in conjunction with an area attack. If you have the Whirlwind Attack feat, the penalty for each successive attack is reduced from -5 to -2 when attacking into your front flank, and you can continue the area attack into your rear flank.

You may choose to make an area attack as a full-round action to add a nonmagical ability (such as a fighting stance, feat, combat maneuver, martial maneuver, proficiency benefit, or the like) to the attacks you make during an area attack; any checks involved in the additional effect are also rolled twice, taking the better result, and also take a cumulative -5 penalty, and if such an ability would move you (a Bull Rush, for instance) it does not do so. When using this option, abilities that would require extra limbs (such as Rake or Rend) or that would occupy the limb after the attack (such as Improved Grab or an unarmed Disarm) cannot be used except against the last creature you attack.

For example, a kraken wishes to knock a group of sailors off a ship so it can get its tentacle around the ship and smash it to splinters; the soldiers have an AC of 16 and a bull rush check of +2. As a full-round action, it makes two tentacle attack rolls (rolling a total of 27 and 40), two damage rolls (rolling a total of 19 and 21), and two bull rush attempts (rolling a total of 22 and 34), for a final result of 40 attack, 21 damage, and 34 bull rush.

  • The first soldier is hit with an attack result of 40 and rolls a 15 to resist the kraken’s 34 bull rush, so he takes 21 damage and is knocked back 20 feet and overboard.
  • The second soldier is hit with an attack result of 35 and rolls a 12 to resist the kraken’s 29 bull rush, so he takes 21 damage and is also knocked back 20 feet and overboard.
  • The third soldier is hit with an attack result of 30 and rolls a 17 to resist the kraken’s 24 bull rush, so he takes 21 damage and is knocked back 10 feet, staying on the ship.
  • The fourth soldier is hit with an attack result of 25 and rolls a 13 to resist the kraken’s 19 bull rush, so he takes 21 damage and is knocked back 10 feet as well.
  • The fifth soldier is hit with an attack result of 20 and rolls an 11 to resist the kraken’s 14 bull rush, so he takes 21 damage and is knocked back 5 feet.
  • Finally, the sixth soldier is missed with an attack result of 15, and the kraken’s fearsome tentacle sweep is concluded

Combat Houserules

Saga of the Northlands PsychicTheurge