Campaign Rulings

Author: Steve, the DM

This page will serve as a repository of my various rulings and decisions about things that are different in my implementation of the Rules from the default Pathfinder rules, or about my rulings regarding gameplay in general. (My rulings may also be different from the default 3.5 rules, just so you know.) (In general, I will be referring to This Fantastic Site for any adjudication that is not contained below, as applicable.)

Look at Rules Clarifications for implementations, explanations, specific applications, and examples of Rules-As-Written.

NEW: Magical Writings

It has come to my attention that I have been overlooking an aspect of the use of magical writings (as it applies to the party, mostly scrolls), that being the necessity of deciphering the magical writing prior to calling it into use.

Identifying a scroll via Detect Magic or Identify and the associated Spellcraft check is insufficient to actually *use* the scroll, it merely identifies what the scroll does. To cast a spell from a scroll, the magical writing has to be deciphered, via Read Magic, or a Spellcraft or Use Magic Device check (DC 20 + spell level or 25 + spell level respectively). Skill checks to decipher spells take one minute per page/spell and can only be attempted once per day; Read Magic takes a minute per page/spell and is a guaranteed success. Any magical text need only be deciphered once, additional checks or magics are not required once the writing is properly understood. Any such deciphering is a personal result, however, so if Tarquin deciphers a scroll of Cure Light Wounds and then hands it over to Alazen, Alazen would still have to decipher the scroll for himself before he could use it.

Please consider any scrolls currently in your possession (as of Start-Of-Play on April 15, 2010) to be deciphered by all party members; any future acquisitions will need to be deciphered as I've indicated.

Also, while not expressed in the Rules as Written, I am ruling that being aware of the contents of a scroll (such as via Detect Magic identification or the deciphering efforts of another person who mentions the result) gives a +2 bonus to any check to decipher it.

It is possible to take 20 on a Spellcraft check to Decipher a scroll or other magical writings (and only Spellcraft, not Use Magic Device), provided that one has 20 minutes in which to conduct the study — note that this ruling is a diversion from and an exception to the general rule that skills that have a daily limit or a penalty for failure preclude taking 20. Spellcraft and Use Magic Device are still, of course, trained-only skills. Please remember that spellcasters who have something other than Intelligence as their primary casting stat should use their primary casting stat rather than Int for the ability score modifier for Spellcraft.

Declared Actions:

I like to think of myself as a laid-back, easygoing kind of guy, but I want to give everyone notice that I will not, in general, allow you to "take back" or revise actions you describe your character as actually taking. (In the beginning, I may allow a few "take-backsies" on the basis of your lack of familiarity with your 4th level character; by the time you reach 5th level at the latest I will not be so permissive.) Among other things, this means that if you are not certain about how a particular ability or effect works, please ask me rather than taking action on the basis of your belief and potentially being upset because I rule that something doesn't work the way you thought. Note that you can ponder things, but that I would prefer such pondering to take place prior to your actual round in the initiative order. Ideally, questions about how something works could be written down and handed to me as your turn comes up, for me to answer all at once, speeding up gameplay.

Full 3.P:
  • Core Classes as presented
  • Feat progression as presented
  • Racial Traits as presented (plus Elves retain 4 hour Trance) (note that this does not address "vital statistics" such as Height/Weight/Age/etc. Vital Stats are retained from Greyhawk (3.5 PHB)
  • Magic Items (descriptions, purchase and crafting)
  • The Combat Maneuver System


As presented in Pathfinder except as follows:


You can appraise common or well-known objects with a DC 15 Appraise check. Failure means that your estimate of value is adjusted by the DM as appropriate to the situation.

Appraising a rare or exotic item requires a successful check against DC 18, 20, or higher. If the check is successful, you estimate the value correctly; failure means you cannot estimate the item’s value.

A magnifying glass gives you a +2 circumstance bonus on Appraise checks involving any item that is small or highly detailed, such as a gem. A merchant’s scale gives you a +2 circumstance bonus on Appraise checks involving any items that are valued by weight, including anything made of precious metals.

These bonuses stack.

Modified as follows:

You can attempt to identify an item as a standard action by taking a -5 penalty to your check. Attempts to appraise as a standard action, if re-tried as a standard action, will return the same estimate as the initial hurried attempt. If you first attempt an appraisal as a standard action and then take a full minute (10 rounds) to re-examine the item, you will be able to make a new check (without the -5 penalty for hurrying). Once you have made a 1-minute Appraisal you cannot try again.


Spellcraft, for spellcasters whose Spellcasting Stastic is something other than Intelligence, should use that statistic rather than Intelligence to modify their Spellcraft checks (e.g. Clerics, Druids, Priests and Rangers would use Wisdom, Bards, Paladins, and Sorcerers would use Charisma). Ex: a level 1 Bard with Int 10 (+0) and Cha 20 (+5), with one rank in Spellcraft, would have a total modifier of +9: +5 (Cha) + 3 (Class Skill) +1 (Rank).


In general, assume that the 3.5 version of a spell (rather than the 3.P version) is my intended implementation except for the following:

  • The Polymorph Subschool will function as presented in 3.P (this needed serious adjustment and I like the 3.P changes)
  • Return-From-The-Dead spells (Raise Dead, Ressurection, Reincarnation, etc.) will be as in 3.P
  • Any XP cost listed as a casting component - 3.P no longer views XP as a consumable resource; usually XP expenditure has been replaced with a costly material component.
  • Identify and Detect Magic in 3.P allow/require IDs of magical items via Spellcraft. I will be implementing this. (Note that Identify no longer requires a pearl but only grants a +10 bonus on the Spellcraft check to ID an item.)
  • Dispel Magic allows the caster to target an identified effect (using the targeted Dispel option) with a dispel check against the DC of the effect rather than 11+caster level. Dispel Magic will retain the Area Dispel option that 3.5 allowed, as well as the ability to dispel multiple effects on a target creature. If the caster has identified multiple spell effects, the caster may elect to make Dispel checks against the DCs of those effects rather than against the caster level for those effects.
  • Darkvision will still work in the area of a Darkness spell (though in Deeper Darkness it won't)
  • Mending and Make Whole will be implemented as presented in 3.P
  • If you would prefer the 3.P implementation over the 3.5 version, bring your preference to my attention and I will render a ruling after examining your request and the reasoning behind it.


In general, I do like the feats that Pathfinder has presented, and will tend to use them over older 3.5 feats. That said, there are a number of feats that bear discussion as to which version is to be used (see post in forums) since in general the 3.5 version is more flexible and the 3.P version is in theory easier to implement in play. Given that our group is big and there are probably going to be a fair number of modifiers to juggle and Jenn will not necessarily always be willing/able to help with the math, I favor the 3.P versions.

  • Power Attack
  • Combat Expertise
  • Improved {Maneuver}
  • I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting…
  • Quick draw: Change: Wands (and potentially other items) can be brought to hand using Quick Draw - this is a direct alteration of the feat as presented in 3.P which specifically excludes wands. While I do not see Quick Draw applying to potions or scrolls in general, I will entertain arguments / explanations as to why it should in specific cases.

Mithral Weapons:

Mithral Weapons are masterwork weapons that can bypass DR/silver, benefit from greater hardness, and weigh half as much as a steel counterpart. You can use Weapon Finesse with a one-handed mithral weapon, even if it isn’t a light weapon for you. If you can normally use a steel counterpart of the mithral weapon proficiently with weapon finesse, then you can use the mithral weapon with a non-magical +1 competence bonus to hit (on top of the +1 to-hit bonus from being masterwork). A thrown mithral weapon increases its base range increment by one-half.

Item cost modifiers:
+20 gp for ammunition,
+500 gp for a light weapon, a thrown weapon, or a buckler;
+1,000 gp for a one-handed weapon, one head of a double weapon, or a light shield;
+2,000 gp for a two-handed weapon, both heads of a double weapon, or a heavy shield.

You can also make mithral versions of wooden weapons. They would weight the same as their wooden counterparts and only benefit from being masterwork weapons that deal silver damage with the hardness and hit points of mithral. A mithral tower shield only benefits from improved hardness and hit points, not reduction in armor check penalty or increasing of the maximum Dex bonus to AC, since a tower shield is still bulky and unwieldy.

Action Points:

Start Play with 24 Action Points — (5+(HD/2) per level (rounded down), so 5+6+6+7=24).

Starting Equipment:

Unrestricted acquisition of Starting Equipment; note that this is as a result of the degree of abstraction involved in generating a non-1st-level character and that your ability to acquire equipment (especially magical equipment) during play will potentially be more limited and based on a number of variables. Of course, for example, if one is willing to take the time to have an existing item improved via standard Magical Item creation rules, that's still peachy!

Equipment in General:

RAW, Armor weight is supposed to count for weight-carried. I feel (having personally worn various types of armor) that this is fundamentally silly, and so I allow players to disregard the weight of equipped-in-use items such as armor and shields. Counting fractions of a pound is up to you - generally anything that weighs less than half a pound is regarded by the rules as negligible for the purposes of standard non-silly/absurd implementations. (Ex: carrying 5 shuriken is negligible, carrying 500 is not.)

Specific Magical Items & Effects:

Wands (and potentially other items) can be brought to hand using Quick Draw - this is a direct alteration of the feat as presented in 3.P which specifically excludes wands. While I do not see Quick Draw applying to potions or scrolls in general, I will entertain arguments / explanations as to why it should in specific cases.

Any Spell Trigger item (Wands, Staves, etc.) that contains a spell with a casting time of less than a standard action (swift action, immediate action) (including Quickened spells) can be Triggered with the commensurate action. Ex: A Wand of Nerveskitter can be activated as an immediate action. Ex: A wand of Swift Expeditious Retreat can be activated as a swift action.

This next subject is something I chanced upon on the Paizo Boards in the "Rules Questions" forum that addresses an issue that has come up in the past in Lou's game: Flaming Weaponry. The ruling that was handed down by James Jacobs on the subject reads: "While it's a command word to activate or deactivate a weapon like a flaming or a frost weapon… once activated it stays on. Sheathing it suppresses the energy automatically, and when you draw the weapon later it's ready to go. You'd only want to turn off the energy effect, as a previous poster said, when you're facing something that using that type of energy against is a bad idea." I add to this that weapons that do not "sheath" like Warhammers, Maces, Bows, Crossbows, etc. still only Flame when wielded in combat, remaining "activated" harmlessly and without visual display when not in use.

A character with a +1 Flaming Flail will not have to spend a standard action to "Flame on" at the start of each combat, each day, each adventure segment, or at all unless the character has deactivated the weapon specifically, and sometimes not even then (see next topic).

Character Actions and Blanket Statements:

I will allow you to keep a list of "Standard Actions and Behaviours" that your character engages in, that will act as a blanket default for routine stuff. Examples include: "In general my +1 Flaming Flail is always Flaming," or "I always cast Healthful Rest on the party in the morning after I prepare spells," or "I always try to conceal our camp whenever we rest away from civilization." The one caveat to this is that I will expect you to keep track of resources expended in the course of following through with your designated actions (no resources for the Flaming weapon usually, a 1st level Spell slot for Healthful Rest used each day, and any mundane gear you might use up in concealing the camp like alchemical items or the like). Naturally, you can designate an exception to your standard routine ("This morning, I'm not preparing Healthful Rest") but you will have to remember to do so at the appropriate time and call the fact to my attention, or I will assume that you have gone about your usual routine (and therefore might object when you try to sack a spell for Cure Light Wounds). My initial point at the top of the page regarding "take-backsies" applies to this aspect of play as well: If nobody else can verify that you said that you were doing something different, I will generally rule that you took your default listed action. I do credit your characters with common sense, however, so if (for example) you happened to find yourself trapped in an area where regaining HP via resting was not possible (thereby negating the benefit of Healthful Rest) *and* you indicated that you wanted to sack your last 1st level spell after you neglected to mention that you had done something else rather than memorizing and casting Healthful Rest, I would usually still allow the retroactive change.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License