Gatekeepers Campaign, for PF2 – Optional Rule Houserules, 1.0

I’ve already gone over the rule options and houserules I’m starting with in my upcoming Gatekeepers campaign for PF2. However, being a game designer, I obviously also need houserules specifically for my rule options. 🙂 So, these are those.

(None of the players know anything about the Underhill Grotto yet… but they will. Art by JuanJos.)

Free Archetypes And Normal Archetypes
Normally, once you take an archetype dedication feat you can’t take another dedication feat for a different archetype until you’ve taken a minimum number of feats (often 2) from your first archetype. However, I’m going to allow characters to have one archetype using their free archetype feats, and a second archetype if they choose to spend their normal class feats to gain it. So, for example, assuming they met all the appropriate prerequisites, a 2nd level fighter could take the Barbarian dedication feat as their free archetype feat, and also expend their 2nd level Fighter class feat to take the Bastion Dedication feat. However, they’d be at their limit until they acquired 2 more feats in at least one of those archetypes (and could, if they wished, at 4th level could spend both their free archetype feat and their 4th level Fighter class feat to grab 2 barbarian archetype feats).

Proficiency Without Level and Static DCs
Using the Proficiency Without Level rule has no impact on opposed checks against targets of your level — in other words when talking about attack roles against defense or save DCs against saving throws, your chances of success against a foe of your own level are the same whether or not you are both adding your level to the proficiency total. The same, however, is not true for static DCs, such as many skills include. Within the Proficiency Without Level Rules themselves this is noted as acceptable on the assumption that the campaign is designed to be lower-powered (and thus less likely to see Legendary successes for example). However, that is NOT my goal in selecting this houserule, so I want to tweak even the suggested static DCs the game suggests (and alter how some non-static, non-opposed DCs are set as well).

In fact, overall I’d rather PCs be more likely to hit static DCs. There is no universal “take 10” or “take 20” rule in PF2, and rolling a 1 downgrades your level of success/failure even if you hit the DC, so even very low numbers run some risk and drama when the die is rolled. And if someone untrained should have a good chance of succeeding at a task, and they don’t add their level to the roll (and remembering I’m using the -2 to untrained checks version of proficiency without level), even a DC of 5 means a typical person fails 35% of the time.

And, of course, some tasks require a given level of proficiency to even attempt. A task DC might be 20, meaning even someone with +0 bonus has a chance at rolling well enough to hit the DC, but if it requires you to be a master in the appropriate skill and you aren’t, it’s actually a 0% chance of success.

So in the Gatekeepers campaign the baseline static DCs (which are also used for any task that lists DCs from in the same categories, such as Medicine) are as follows:

Proficiency Rank DC

Untrained 5
Trained 10
Expert 15
Master 20
Legendary 25

For other non-opposed DCs (including any targeting a DC set by a creature’s own ability scores and proficiencies) there is, sadly, a formula. It’s not too complicated and won’t come up often, and I’ll likely make myself a custom GM screen so I can find it quickly.

If the DC is 10 or less, use the listed DC. For DCs over 10, halve the value above 10. Thus the Athletics check to make a high jump goes from 30 to [(30 = 10+20) half of 20 is ten, (10+10=)] 20.

Using the same formula, the Athletics DC for a horizontal leap ends up being the distance in feet if 10 feet or less, for 11 or more feet it’s 10 +1/2 feet further than 10 you want to go.

I’m also making one small change to Assurance, based on the fact I am using both Automatic Bonus Progression and Proficiency Without Level. Characters add their skill potency bonus from the Automatic Bonus Progression to their Assurance total. That often means getting Assurance with a skill you have selected for your potency bonus is by far your best bet, and I’m okay with that.

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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

Posted on October 3, 2022, in Game Design, Microsetting, Pathfinder 2nd Ed and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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