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Pathfinder 1E Exemplars: Varient rules for very small groups


(he, him)
I have mentioned this in passing in a couple of threads, but I thought it deserved its own thread: Some people in our group are more into RPGs than others. Some are happy to play once a week (or even twice every four weeks), but there are three of us who are a bit more hardcore. Therefore, we have an extra session on Sunday nights just for the most hardcore players. The extra session only has two players (plus the GM), and none of us really like running multiple PCs. But conversely none of us have time or energy to write custom adventures for smaller groups. So we run normal stuff and upgrade things on the PC side.

The series of upgrades we give are respectively referred to as "Exemplars", and comes in two varieties. Lesser Exemplars are what we mostly use, and are for two-player games. True Exemplars are for solo games, and are mostly used for fill-in games when the regular games get pre-empted for some reason.

The current version of the Exemplars rules is attached below. We have using them for a while (probably about a year and a half), and they work pretty well at higher levels. But at lower levels, not so much. We had a near TPK a few weeks ago in our PoA campaign, and then followed that up this Sunday with an actual TPK two sessions into Savage Tide. So, we need to add something to help at lower levels, that does not help too much at higher levels.

We are thinking of something like this:
Exemplar Resilience (Ex)
When reduced to zero hit points or below, the range at which an exemplar can still act but are staggered is increased by a number of values equal to their Constitution bonus (if any), and the range at which they are alive, but unconscious is increased by their Constitution score (twice their Constitution score for a true exemplar). While staggered, the character loses a hit point if they take a standard action but can safely take a move action, just as if they were at zero hit points. For a typical character, this means that a character will stay conscious until a negative hit point total equal to one less than the inverse of the constitution bonus, and will die at a negative hit point total equal to twice their constitution score. However, these increases in range stack with other such abilities.​
If they have an ability such as the Diehard feat that allows them to remain conscious and act at negative hit points, they decide whether to use it when they when they would fall unconscious by the above rules. When they reach the point that they would normally have died (usually negative Con hit points), they may choose again to fall unconscious – if they do not wish to, they must make a Fortitude save or a Will save to remain conscious (whichever has the better bonus). Each multiple of the normal death threshold they reach without actually dying requires another save to remain conscious. The DC of these saves is equal to 10 plus the inverse of the current hit point total.​
In addition to adding double their Constitution score (for a total of 3x Con before dying for most characters), true exemplars also gain Die Hard as a bonus feat (even if they do not meet the prerequisites), and do not automatically fail the saves to stay conscious on a natural one.​
Exemplars which would normally die at zero hp still extend their range as described above. If they lack a Constitution score & bonus (for example due to being undead or a construct), use their Charisma score and bonus in its place, and also add their Strength or Charisma bonus to Fortitude saves to remain conscious.​
Exemplars at negative hit points who receive an effect that restores hit points reset their hp total to zero before adding the hit points restored by the effect.​

Of course, that only helps if they have something they can usefully do at with those actions, and at very low levels that is by no means a given, so how about this as well:

Exemplar Second Wind
As a swift action, you regain a number of hit points equal to 10 plus your level (20 plus level for a true exemplar). Until the start of your next turn, you also gain a +2 bonus to all AC and all saves, and a +4 dodge bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity. If you take the withdraw action while under these effects, for the duration of that action you gain the benefits of the Mythic Mobility feat (even if you are not Mythic, or otherwise do not meet the prerequisites). If you actually have the Mobility or Mythic Mobility feats, the dodge bonuses provided by the feats themselves and this ability are both provided (and stack). This ability is a Extraordinary Healing effect. It can be used a number of times per day equal to Wisdom or Charisma bonus (whichever is greater), but only once per encounter.​

The only other thing we are still debating is action economy. Even at higher levels, large number of foes can overwhelm Exemplars. For both the TPK and the near TPK, the party were significantly outnumbered. And even higher-level Exemplars are not immune - I had a 14th-level true exemplar be one slightly-worse damage roll away from going down twice in one adventure - if they had not been able to teleport away they would have died for sure. I am not sure what (if anything) to do about that.

So, does anyone have any thoughts, either on the attached or the above proposed additions?

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(he, him)
160 views and nobody has anything to say?

Anyway, since nobody had any strenuous objections (either here or in my local group), I went ahead and added the above features (and also gave lesser exemplars their action points back, having previously removed them - it seems like you do not need them until you really do....

EDIT: I forgot that one of my players noted that stabilising when at -1.5 x Con would be hard to do and suggested a bonus to stabilisation checks. Now added. I went with +5. EDIT2: Somehow managed to delete the attachment or fail to attach it in the first place. Attached now.



  • Exemplars PF1 0.6.1.pdf
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