The Gestalt Houserule

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We have been hard at work to expand the Pathfinder character sheet and add support for character classes. This took a bit longer than planned, hence why our blogpost is a day late, but the news is good: character classes are now supported in Pathfinder settings! By default you get all the classes from the base Pathfinder book, including prestige classes, but you can modify this set at your leisure, adding new classes, and changing or removing default ones.

While it does mean you will need to do a small amount of work to add a new class, a major advantage of this method is that the sheet will now be able to automatically calculate your base save and base attack bonus - and more features will use these classes in the near future!

With the new classes, we also added two new houserules: Fractional Base Bonuses - a popular rule from the Unearthed Arcana - and Gestalt characters from the same book. With Gestalt characters, you get to select two classes each level and gain the benefits from each, taking the highest saves and base attack bonus of each class, etc. We use that rule in some of our own campaign, so leaving it out was not an option ^_^

One disadvantage of gestalt is that it can be interpreted in an odd way when staggering classes. Used strictly as it is written, a Sorcerer / Wizard gestalt character will get their regular low base attack bonus, but if you take one level of Rogue, going Sorcerer / Rogue at level 1 and then Sorcerer / Wizard every level thereafter, you’d get a +1 to your base attack bonus each level as the bonus every other level is staggered. Clearly that wasn’t intended.

The Fractional Base Bonuses rule solves this. Not only does our research show that almost all players prefer to use the Fractional Base Bonuses rule that way, but it is also listed with the Gestalt rules in the book, giving a clear indication of the intention of the creator. To prevent weirdness, we have implemented the houserules in such a way that if you use the Gestalt Rules, the Fractional Base Bonus rules are automatically activated as well.

While working on this, we did encounter one oddity, which results from the way Pathfinder handles prestige classes - a way not in use yet when Fractional Base Bonuses were implemented. In Pathfinder, your get an additional fractional bonus at first level - but only when taking a prestige class. Thus, upon taking the first level of Shadowdancer, you get +1 on your Reflex save, not just +1/2 as you would every other level of the class. Likewise, for low saves, you get +2/3 instead of +1/3 for your first level.

This is usually not a problem, but it gives an odd combination with the Gestalt rules: if you are a Fighter / Rogue and you gain a level and become Fighter / Shadowdancer, you will gain +2/3 on your Fortitude save, as your Fighter level, with a high Fortitude save, only adds +1/2 while your Shadowdancer level, with a low Fortitude save, adds +2/3rds. When you take your next Fighter / Shadowdancer level, you get +1/2 again, as by now, the Shadowdancers bonus has been reduced to +1/3. Very odd indeed!

We explored multiple ways of dealing with this, including an option to add additional houserules to help resolve the matter, but eventually we decided to leave the situation as it is - the extra +1/6th bonus is not going to make a big difference on most character sheets, and our development time is better spent adding more important features ^_^ Still, it was an interesting situation that required more thought than first expected!

Next week, we hope to add more features to the character classes and expand from there. For now, why not have a look at our changelog, or let us know what you think of the current changes on the forum!