A Codex Martialis conversion attempt for Pathifnder.

A Codex Martialis conversion attempt for Pathifnder.

Postby Loengrin » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:57 am

Hello there;)

Mmmh... Since this is my first post here I'm going with a (not so) short presentation :
First I'm french so sorry if there's some mistake with my English...;)
I have played Tabletop RPG since a looong time ago... Mainly D&D nut few years ago I've integrated a warhammer 1st ed. Table. Since then the DM has left and the other players appointed me to take the DM role. Since I'm a fan of D&D and pathfinder was looking really promising in terms of rules I've chosen this game.
But me players and I don't really like the way fight was handled, it's a bit too abstract and choice in combat are scarce I think it's lacking in term tactical options, plus my players are used to Warhammer fighting rules where fighting is dangerous even for powerful character, the miniature rules are not bad but take too many times in game so since the beginning I've tried to find Pathfinder combat rules that gives « Tactical options without the need for Magic or Miniatures » (This is a direct quote from the Codex Martialis book, well apart for the magic thing this is what I searched for :p ).
When the rules for armor as DR and wounds appears in the Ultimate Combat book. But unfortunately if these rules are good at low level at high level there's a lot of issue : for example at level 10 a fighter with 18 STR will have a To Hit chance of min.14 while the defense of lvl 15 rogue with 18 Dex will be 14 so I will touch it on a 2 on a D20... Well there's a lot of other issue with these rules I will not develop them here let's say that these rules are good for a E5 (a game where you only level up to level 5 max and then gain only a few things like feat etc.) but above it's completely broken.
So 4 days ago I was lurking the internet in search for some rules that could satisfy py players and me when I stumbled upon this forum... After reading al ittle things here and there on this forum I just bought the Codex Martialis V23 on DriveThruRPG and immediately read it...

And I couldn’t believe my eyes, they were there, the rules that I'v been searching for so long were there !
Using the CMD as Defense was something I had thought before too but giving dices to the players for them to choose freely what kind of action they want to do is , to put it simply, the best idea I have seen in order to make combat in D&D/Pathfinder more tactical without the need for heavy rules that would take a lot of time...

But then even if I really like the rules I had to find a way to integrate them to Pathfinder... Because, I'm sorry but my goal is not to make « realistic » fights in a low magic environment but « cinematic » combats with some realism in a medium/high magic environment. And of course I'm looking for a lot of tactical options that let my players freedom to express their combat creativity;)


So what I tried to do is integrate most of the Codex Martialis rules without tempering too much with the Pathfinder rules... And here are my temporary solution :

I'm going to use most of the rules in Pathfinder as they are, no tempering with the class, races or skills. No tempering with the BaB gain per class and level either I think this will help the non-caster class a lot.

- I will use the Wounds/Hit points rules from the Pathfinder Ultimate combat. No limit in HP. Critical hits goes straight through the armor and directly in the wounds. Critical Hits are automatic (no critical defense roll). I use the Critical cards and Fumble cards from Paizo. As per Codex Martialis rules a natural 20 on defense roll gives you an AoO.

- Instead of 8+DEX for Passive Defense I will use 10+DEX, it's easier to use this way and at high level more fair. No touching the CMD and CMB except for the weapons grapple bonus that got added to the type of maneuver that the weapon can do.

- For the Weapons I'm going to put them all at crit. 20/x2 and keep the three types of damage (so only B/P/S) and since I want to use Pathfinder weapons list I'm going to define the speed,defense bonus,armor pierce bonus and possibility to use at grapple range and graplle bonus on a case by case basis based on the example from the codex martialis rules. I'm thinking of testing the KO rules for Bludgeoning weapons but not with a Will save but with a Fortitude save (seem more realistic for me, you don't stay awake with Will only, a KO resist come from the bosy resistance to pain and lot of the time a KO come from when you brain is shaken in your skull so no willpower can save you from this;) ). No dynamic critical for now.
Reach weapons will keep their ability to hit at 10' with the Onset bonus, hit at 5' at onset range but no possibility to fight at melee and grapple range.
For the double weapon I will keep them and treat them for what they basically are : two weapons fighting rules... So I see no problem in using them as is.

- For the Ranged weapon I will also use the Pathfinder list and add the readied bonus, prep time and AP based on the Codex Martialis example. I will try to use the missile weapon range modifier to AP table if I remember it...:p
I will surely use the Piercing Critical Hits and Missile Weapons rules and the Cover rules from the Codex Martialis, but not the mounted rules, I will use the Pathfinder mounted rules.

- For the Mounted fight rules I'm going with the Pathfinder rules, more suited to my taste and quite complete already.

- For the Armors I will also use the list from Pathfinder and use only the first DR from the Codex Martialis (not the three typ of DR against diverse type of damage) and change the DR of armor according from the example in the Codex Martialis book (look like a general up to me;) ), I'm going to give the armors a bypass value also according to the Codex Martialis example and maybe use the rule that state that armor DR increase by 1 every 5 level. I also use the piece meal armor rule so I'll have to modify a lot of piece of armor as well and I think of using a bonus to the bypass value to complete armor set of the same type (value of +1) and look if it works...

- For the Shields I will also use Pathfinder list of shields and modify them to match the example from Codex Martialis, and use all the shield rules from Codex Martialis.

- For the Initiative I'm going to use two kind of initiative : a principal one and a melee one. The principal Init. will be the init. that are currently in use in the game as normal, each person will take action turn by turn based on their init rank etc.
But I'm going to add a « melee » init. so every character engaged in a melee will take action by their melee init order when every players has taken action in the melee we resume to the principal init and continue the round like that. I will use a rule that give a free principal init. bonus dice to character who has readied a distance weapon/spell but maintaining a readied distance weapon/spell will take 1MP per round (in addition to the maintaining a bow ready rule in the Codex).
I will roll init in each melee entry with a dice bonus for the longest weapon (as suggested in Codex Martialis rules) this will be the melee init.
The principal initiative rank of a melee will be the initiative rank of the character that had initiated the melee
Anyone entering an already initiated melee will have to roll this melee initiative on the beginning of the next round. But take a note that his first attack while entering an already iniated melee will be at onset range.
At the end of the melee each character will use their principal initiative again.
This is something I want to try and see if it works, if it take too long a time or if things seems not quite balanced because of this rule I'm going to use the « normal » init. rules, but these rules seems quite promising to me ;)

- Now one of the tricky part : the Feats. There's about 2000 feats in Pathfinder and roughly 800 combat feat. Since I love diversity I don't want to restrain my players choice by banning some feat. For this I will have to temper a lot with the MP pool (see below) and modify them to use more MP or to add some Extra or Free dice (like the modified version of rapid shot in Codex Martialis). I'm going to do this on a case by case basis when I need to. But I will try to keep the modifications to the minimum possible. The Codex Martialis feats and Modified feats example will greatly help me to find how to modify the existing feats.
But I will not deem a feat incompatible like the Codex Martialis do, instead I will modify the MP rules to adapt to the feat, for example the Codex Martialis state that the whirlwind attack feat is incompatible, I will instead rule that you have to use 4 attack dice to use this feat and use it as it is (1 melee attack on every opponent in reach). I will also have to create some feat that add magic dice to the pool. Well I will develop that in the dice pool section.
To be extra clear some feat will gives the players Extra Dice and some will give Free dice. Extra dice give you a dice that you can use to make a single throw with, adding one action possible in a round, while a Free dice need to use a dice from the pool to let you throw a supplementary dice (that give you more chance to succeed but not more action to take in a round, example : a shield give you a free dice for active defense when you use the shield letting you throw 2 dices when actively defending but if you don't use at least one dice to activate the Active shield defense you can't throw the free dice to defend).

- The second tricky part is the Magic casting. I'm still torn with this... There's no problem with most of the casting rules, Pathfinder concentration rules are good, and for the dice pool there's no issue with all the spells that are not 1 standard action to cast. The issue here is these 1 standard action spells, which most of the attack spells are...
I hesitate between a fixed number of dice to cast a spell or a number of dice based on the spell level. The issue with the fixed number of dice to cast a spell is that a cleric will only gain +2 Bab at lvl 3 and a wizard +2 Bab at lvl 4, if I put 2 dices for a spell then a caster cannot cast before attaining this level. So I thought of using something like 2 dices per cast or all your dice if you don't have 2 dices in your pool. But at high level this allow a caster to cast 2 (or more with feats) 9 level spell per round, I think it's too powerful.
So the solution I came by is that a spell cost a number of dices equal to half the level of the spell rounded up (min. 1 dice max. 4 dices). So level 0,1 and 2 spells will cost 1 dice, level 3 and 4 will cost 2 dices etc.
I think this way is fair for casters they can cast multiple low level spells per round or one powerful one. I have taken in account that casters gain less BaB than fighters a wizard will have +4 BaB only at lvl 8 and a Cleric at lvl 6 so they can't really cast a lot before these level and even after that that limit the casting they can do while not weakening the casting too much. I think this will allow for a good balance for the casters.
I'm still thinking about what to do for magic item use and magic abilities (Spell like and Supernatural capacity) I think I'm going to go with the same rules with an activation cost depending on the spell level.

- Now to the Dice Pool the thing that I'm going to change the most of the Codex Martialis rules... Since the MP in the Codex is for used for a more realistic approach of combat and what I want is only the tactical improvement of combat without touching at the high fantasy high magic part I had to modify the Dice Pool rules a lot.
First since I intend do modify a lot of feats to give free dice I had to set a maximum of dices in the Dice Pool (see table below). In the same vein of idea with feats giving more specialized free dice (rapid shot giving 1 free dice for a ranged attack for example) I have divided the Dice Pool dices in 5 categories : Attack, Defense, Counter, Magic and Movement. And to avoid some abuse of the Dice Pool rules I have fixed a maximum amount of dice type in the pool usable per combat.

So that give me this table :
Level Max Dice in pool Max Dice of one Type
1-5 8 4
6-10 12 6
11-15 16 8
16-20 20 10


Extra Dices count in the maximum Dice Type you can have but Free dices does not count.

So this mean that a human level 4 fighter will have 5 feat to choose, with 3 feat giving him each a dice in an attack and two feat giving him dices in Defense if we add his +4 Bab that would give him 4 dices it would give him 9 dices in his Dice Pool. Since he can only have 8 dice in his pool at the beginning of a combat he'll have to choose not to use one of his feat to get down to 8 dice in his pool. So at the beginning of the combat he choose not to use one of his attack feat that will give him 4 dices from BaB, 2 Attack dices and two Defense dices to use each round. But he cannot use these dices to make 6 attacks since his maximum dice type is 4, he can only make 4 attack per round, the other dices can be used for defense, movement etc. but not for attack purpose.

An Attack dice can be used for direct attack or attack maneuver.
A Defense dice can be used for any Active Defense or Saving Throw.
A Magic dice can be used for Casting a Spell or using a magical item or power.
A Movement dice can be used to make a movement, a change of range or to make a movement action such as retrieving an item from a bag etc.

The dices given by BaB are multipurpose dice, you can choose to convert them in any type of dice you want as long as this don't make you use more than the allowed type of dice authorized by your level.

Feat will never give you extra multipurpose dice, always a dice of one type and most of the time it will give you a specialized dice (Rapid Shot give you an Attack dice that you can only use for ranged attack.)
At the beginning of a combat you can't have more Dices in your pool than the maximum Dice in Pool authorized for your level, if you have too much dices you must discard some dice (and so forfeit to use some feat) until you have the authorized number of dices in your pool. You can change the feat you want to discard and use at any time by spending a full round doing nothing but this. (Mmmh... Not really sure for this, I'm thinking of trying this rule : use on of your Multipurpose dice to switch a feat for another not currently in use, might be better like this).


There are the things I have thought to adapt the Codex Martialis rules to Pathfinder, what do you think of this ? Is there something I'm missing ? A big flaw in my thought ? Do not hesitate to comment, these rules are still on test on my part, when I'll have some return on it after having played some sessions with them I will give feedback.

Loengrin Ismelung.
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Re: A Codex Martialis conversion attempt for Pathifnder.

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:30 am

Hi Loengrin,

Welcome to the forum!

Glad to hear you came from Warcraft FRPG, some of my other French friends got their start with that system, I wish it had been better known here when I was a young man I think I would have enjoyed playing it. Interestingly, I think you are the second person recently who is using Codex for a high-level campaign. Have you seen this post by Anarak?

viewtopic.php?f=15&t=827

It seems like you did a pretty good job thinking-through the details here, I can only think of a few comments right now but I might have more to add later.

General comment: Having written out all these modifications, after a few days of letting it rest, you might want to go back through it again with an eye toward simplification. Just a general rule of thumb, anywhere that you can reduce steps or die rolls, or consolidate two things into one, it's a good idea for gameplay. I'm not really sure if that would even apply here necessarily but it has helped me with my own campaign adaptions.

If you extend the MP beyond four dice, you may want to limit the number of dice that higher level characters can apply to a single attack - I'd recommend a Max of 4 dice per attack not counting Free Dice.

I like your idea of the distinction between Free Dice and Extra Dice I may use the latter myself, I'll have to think about it.

You might find that dynamic-criticals works well in the higher level campaigns as a way to help the non magic-using classes hold their own with the spellcasters. I think Anarak was saying that this worked for him in his campaign which I believe is also high-level.

I would love to hear campaign anecdotes or summaries of your game, both you and Anarak. I love reading those and I would be glad to provide some advice on continuing to tweak the modification. It would also be helpful to others if you indicated your observations and the best-practices you develop here on the forum where they can be read later.



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Re: A Codex Martialis conversion attempt for Pathifnder.

Postby Daeruin » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:57 am

This is great. I spent quite a bit of time a year or two ago trying to do something similar. I got pretty far but the game never got off the ground. Thanks for sharing this stuff.
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