Character Building Variants

( ⇪ Game Feel )

Some characters in this universe are built differently from other campaigns. See also the House Rules article.

Assisted Ability Score Rolls

I hate players having a terrible time because their ability scores just don’t work well for this game. I care about rolling for ability scores with actual dice (a game feel concern) and not just modifying the resulting score if it’s below expectation (which takes away from the feel of rolling dice). I have players reroll part of or the entire score (a game feel concern) if it’s a terrible result, but I also don’t give infinite rerolls because I want quick results that stick. I want PCs which exceed (+2 mod or better) in at least three scores, and do not have more than one terrible (-2 mod or worse) score, but where on very rare occasion exceptionally bad luck can still stick. As such, I don’t allow point buy or score floors or pre-generated arrays. Use the following method to roll ability scores, in-person, as it pretty-much guarantees (but not entirely) that you won’t get a bad set of scores:

    1. For each score, roll 4d6, dropping lowest die. If there’s a tie for lowest die and they’re 1s or 2s, drop one of those dice and then reroll the other lowest dice until they’re any higher die roll.
    2. Then, if at least 4 of your 6 ability scores are lower than 14, you may choose to reroll all of your Ability Scores again. You may repeat this as many times as desired, but you must always use the newest set of rolls.
    3. After applying the above, if your lowest ability score is lower than 8, reroll that ability score (as above) until it gets any higher number. If there’s a tie for lowest score (and they’re lower than 8), you must reroll the tied ability scores until they get any higher number.
    4. If this is the first time you’ve rolled up a D&D 3.5 character, assign these ability scores in-order (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA) and discover your character from there. If not, assign them in any order (as I’m trusting that you’ll be careful to not be literally Batman).

For example:

  • 18,16,12,12,11,10 : May reroll all ability scores.
  • 17,16,14,14,7,7 : Must reroll lowest ability score(s) (the 7s).
  • 17,16,14,14,9,7 : Must reroll the 7 (it hasn’t improved).
  • 17,16,14,14,9,8 : It sticks, so assign them in the appropriate order.
GM’s Note: The theoretical worst possible array you can get stuck with is 14, 14, 14, 7, 7, 7 (normally the worst is all 3s). Statistically, the most likely array T is 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 10 (normally the most likely array is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 9).

Unrestricted LA+0 Templates

To prevent ridiculous template stacking, in this setting it’s recommended that you only allow a creature a single LA+0 template that isn’t “unrestricted” as defined here. The unrestricted LA+0 templates are Dragonborn, Hyperion, and Manikin.

Gaining Fixed Hit Points

Source: Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 198

Instead of rolling for hit points when you gain a level beyond 1st (the 1st Hit Die is maxed out), you take the average roll for the class (see the table below). Constitution modifiers still apply. Below-average hit points hurt a PC more than above-average hit points help, so this variant makes characters slightly more powerful.

Typical Classes that use that Hit Die
Hit Die d4 d6 d8 d10 d12
Hit points at even level (2nd, 4th, etc.) 2 3 4 5 6
Hit points at odd level (3rd, 5th, etc.) 3 4 5 6 7
GM’s Note: You can tweak an encounter’s difficulty by changing the HP value of NPCs.

Pathfinder-Style Character Building

A number of obvious improvements were made to the core 3.5 game in Pathfinder. The following changes to character-building are copied from Pathfinder, but that doesn’t mean that other Pathfinder material is allowed.

Click here to learn more…

Alternative Class Feature Chaining

If a feat or other permanent effect (such as an alternative class feature) grants access to something which is also a class feature, and that class feature has an alternative class feature that replaces it, the feat or effect counts as a valid target for the alternative class feature. If the text of the ability says that an effect happens starting at a certain level, you only gain access to the new ability at the associated character level (if using a feat) or class level (if using some other effect).

For example, the “Obtain Familiar” feat (from Complete Arcane, p. 81) can be swapped out for an alternative class feature which requires giving up your familiar (so long as you meet the alternative class feature’s other prerequisites besides class levels). You can still only have one familiar once the alternative class feature’s effect resolves. In this way, a sha’ir for example can gain the Arcane Reabsorption alternative class feature by taking the Obtain Familiar feat (and retain his gen familiar). For another example, the “Foe Hunter” feat (from Player’s Guide to Faerûn, p. 38) can be swapped out for the “Arcane Hunter” alternative class feature. The same can be done with the “Rival Organization” alternative class feature. For another example, a Generic Spellcaster can pick up the Familiar option at first level. They can then use the animal-using ACF originally for sorcerers and wizards to trade their familiar for an animal companion. You could trade away a totemist’s wild empathy feature for the “Hypertech Empathy” alternative class feature because the totemist version being traded away is comparable to (or better even) than the original wild empathy ability.

However, feats like “Spontaneous Summoner” that have a uses-per-day limit (where the original class feature it emulates did not) cannot be swapped out for alternative class features such as “Spontaneous Rejuvenation” since what’s being traded away is significantly weaker than the original feature it emulates (in this case, because of its uses-per-day limit). Likewise, you can’t gain a class feature of a substitution level in this way because what you’re trading away is significantly weaker than what you gain, it’s the entire level that’s being traded out. What you lose to gain that substitution level is the entire relevant level in the original class.

Fractional Base Bonuses Without Boosts

The progressions of base attack bonuses and base save bonuses in the Player’s Handbook increase at a fractional rate, but those fractions are eliminated due to rounding. For single-class characters, this rounding isn’t significant, but for multiclass characters, this rounding often results in reduced base attack and base save bonuses.

For example, a 1st-level rogue/1st-level wizard has a base attack bonus (BAB) of +0 from each class, resulting in a total BAB of +0. But that’s only due to the rounding of each fractional value down to 0 before adding them together — the character actually has BAB +3/4 from her rogue level and BAB +2/4 from her wizard level. If the rounding was done after adding together the fractional values, rather than before, the character would have BAB +1 (rounded down from +1+1/4).

The table below presents fractional values for the base save and base attack bonuses presented in Table 3–1 in the Player’s Handbook. To determine the total base save bonus or base attack bonus of a multiclass character, add together the fractional values gained from each of her class levels. However, unlike the original version of this variant from Unearthed Arcana, in this setting you don’t get multiple +2 boosts for multiclassing two classes which both have good save progression, you only get the +2 boost once. That is, a multiclass Cleric 1 / Paladin 1 doesn’t get +2+3/6 +2+3/6 = +5 to Base Fort Save, they just get +2+3/6 +3/6 = +3 to Base Fort Save.

For space purposes, the table does not deal with the multiple attacks gained by characters with a base attack bonus of +6 or greater. A second attack is gained when a character’s total BAB reaches +6, a third at +11, and a fourth at +16, just as normal.

Class Level Good BAB Average BAB Poor BAB Good Save Poor Save
1 +1 +3/4 +2/4 +2+3/61 +2/6
2 +2 +1+2/4 +1 +31 +4/6
3 +3 +2+1/4 +1+2/4 +3+3/61 +1
4 +4 +3 +2 +41 +1+2/6
5 +5 +3+3/4 +2+2/4 +4+2/41 +1+4/6
6 +6 +4+2/4 +3 +51 +2
7 +7 +5+1/4 +3+2/4 +5+2/41 +2+2/6
8 +8 +6 +4 +61 +2+4/6
9 +9 +6+3/4 +4+2/4 +6+2/41 +3
10 +10 +7+2/4 +5 +71 +3+2/6
11 +11 +8+1/4 +5+2/4 +7+2/41 +3+4/6
12 +12 +9 +6 +81 +4
13 +13 +9+3/4 +6+2/4 +8+2/41 +4+2/6
14 +14 +10+2/4 +7 +91 +4+4/6
15 +15 +11+1/4 +7+2/4 +9+2/41 +5
16 +16 +12 +8 +101 +5+2/6
17 +17 +12+3/4 +8+2/4 +10+2/41 +5+4/6
18 +18 +13+2/4 +9 +111 +6
19 +19 +14+1/4 +9+2/4 +11+2/41 +6+2/6
20 +20 +15 +10 +121 +6+4/6

1 If you have a prior class which grants a good saving throw of this type, subtract 2 from this entry.

Character Building Variants

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