Power Fantasy for the first edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Sometimes, you just want to pretend you are a hero of vast and spectacular power. And if you are a fan of PF1, there are lots of ways to build a campaign that does that.

All of these are ideas designed to make characters that totally break the expected power curve of characters of a given level. For each idea you implement, you can treat characters as 2 levels higher when determining APL for encounters. However, for the epic power level feel, it’s best to double the creatures in an encounter, rather than use higher-CR foes. Yes, four 1st level characters using three PFOs (Power Fantasy Options) can usually* take a single CR 7 foe. But it’ll feel more epic if you put them up against sixteen CR 1 foes as a challenging encounter.

(*Characters using multiple PFOs should have the bonuses and numbers needed to take on more powerful single foes, but may not have access to higher-level options to overcome some specific powers. Check if creatures have incorporeality, drains, flight, planar movement, or things linked explicitly to HD, and if those powers are beyond the reach of the abilities and spells available to the PC’s actual level, rather than their power level.)

Here are some PFOs.

(Art by Grandfailure)

Amalgam Characters
Amalgam characters pick two classes, and blend them. They get the best of the two classes’ skill points, hit dice, base attack bonuses, and base saving throws, and all the proficiencies, spellcasting, and class features of both classes.
All of the abilities of both classes are considered to be native to the amalgam class. This can be important for rule interactions. For example, an amalgam magus/wizard treats all their wizard spells as being magus spells when determining if they can cast spells without suffering from arcane spell failure.
Some amalgam class combinations are much more powerful than others. A ranger/paladin has lots of options, but doesn’t benefit from blending abilities nearly as much as a magus/warpriest. A cleric/shaman or druid/monk can be horrifying. This PFO also makes significantly more powerful characters if you use the power fantasy ability score buy.
It’s a good idea to outlaw any character that ends up with multiple animal companions and/or familiars, just because they end up with a lot of time spent dealing with those and their extra actions on their turn.

Bonus Esoteric Feats
Pathfinder has… a lot of feats. So many feats it can be tough for characters to delve into many of the more esoteric ones from beyond the core rulebook. So, this PFO gives characters 3 bonus feats, plus one bonus feat per character level above third… but the bonus feats must be taken from sources other than the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

Custom Gear and Bonus Progressions
Rather than random starting money and only random treasure, characters all begin with 2,500 gp of equipment at 1st level as their “core gear”. At each character level, they may reselect their core gear up to a total value equal to half the average wealth per level for that character level. Also, beginning at third level, character gain automatic bonus progression.
This is on top of whatever random treasure they receive. This option also allows GMs to not have the buying and selling of magic items in the campaign, since characters have plenty of ways to get the bonuses and options they need through this PFO.

Horrifically Overpowered Feats
They exist. Don’t take this option. Don’t use these feats. Don’t even buy the pdfs.

Yeah, the mythic rules are a very different system. But it would be remiss of me not to mention it, as it’s a well-established, expansive system designed to power up characters. That said, you should use the mythic rules regarding CR adjustments for PCs and foes if you add mythic rules, rather than my simpler PFO options. That said, you could treat one mythic tier as a single PFO.

Power Fantasy Ability Score Buy
Using the ability score point costs, rather than using the value for high fantasy (20) or epic fantasy (25), you use the value for power fantasy–50 points to buy ability scores. Characters still cannot begin with a score above 18 (before adjustments for species). It’s also totally reasonable not to allow characters to sell ability scores down below 10 with this option… though really at this point it won’t make a huge difference unless someone is building multiclass amalgam characters.

I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!


About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens

Posted on November 5, 2020, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: