House Rules

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Performing a Task

Core Mechanic

  • The player always rolls. The GM never rolls.
  • Characters can perform only one task per round unless they have an ability which dictates otherwise.
  • To perform a task, the player rolls a d20 and tries to meet or beat a target number. Target numbers are set by the difficulty of a task and is always 3x the difficulty. For example, if a task is difficulty 3, the target number is 9. The player must roll 9+ on a d20 in order to succeed.
  • Players rarely get bonuses to the roll itself. It is rare to modify the roll after it is rolled. Instead of adding to the roll the Cypher System changes the chances of succeeding at a task by modifying the difficulty.

Ways to Modify the Difficulty

  • If a character has a skill which is applicable to the task, the difficulty is reduced. This in turn reduces the target number. For example, reducing a difficulty 5 task to a difficulty 4 task reduces the target number from 15 to 12.
    • The difficulty is reduced by 1 if the player is trained in a skill.
    • The difficulty is reduced by 2 if the player is specialized in a skill.
  • If the character has an asset the difficulty is reduced by 1. Under most circumstances a maximum of 2 assets can be applied to a single task. Example assets include:
    • Light weapons are always considered an asset when rolling to hit because they are easier to wield.
    • Having appropriate tools (lockpicks, an alchemy set, crafting tools, rope, etc.) can be considered an asset.
    • Many abilities gained through Descriptors, Distinctions, Races, and Roles provide assets under certain circumstances.
  • A player can apply Effort to reduce the difficulty. To apply Effort, the player spends points from their appropriate Stat pool. It costs 3 points to apply 1 level of Effort and 2 points for each additional level of Effort.
    • There is a limit to how many levels of Effort a player can apply to a single task, as recorded on their character sheet.
    • Effort can also be spent to increase damage. One level of Effort increases damage done to an opponent by +3. Levels of Effort spent on damage count toward the total levels of Effort which can be spent on a single task.
    • Some abilities also require the spending of stat Pool points to activate. Effort costs extra beyond that point expenditure.

Intrusions, Bonuses, and Effects

  • A natural 1 on a roll always results in a free GM intrusion. A GM intrusion allows the GM to dictate a complication for the players. Normally, the GM must give the player a brownie point when making an intrusion but a 1 allows the GM to do so for free.
  • If a task is a damage-dealing attack it deals extra damage on a 17, 18, 19, or 20.
    • 17 +1 damage.
    • 18 +2 damage.
    • 19 +3 damage.
    • 20 +4 damage and any Stat pool points spent on the task are regained.
  • If the task is something other than a damage-dealing attack it achieves an effect on a roll of 19 or 20.
    • 19 Minor effect such as finishing a task faster, gaining an +1 to a roll on the next task involving a target, or extending the duration of an effect an extra round.
    • 20 Major effect such as gaining an advantage on the next task involving a target, doubling the duration of an effect, or impressing an opponent so much they lose their next turn and all Stat pool points spent on the task are restored.


  • Edge reduces the amount of Stat pool points which must be spent on a task. To determine the final cost for Stat pool expenditure on a task, add up the various costs (cost of the Ability + the cost of Effort) and then subtract the appropriate Edge.

Retrying a Task After Failure

  • If a character fails at a task and wishes to retry they must spend at least 1 level of Effort to do so. The Effort reduces the difficulty as per normal. The GM can rule retries are impossible. Rerolling a task due to spending a brownie point does not count as a retry (see below).

Cooperative Actions

  • If the helper's skill level involving a task is less than or equal to the acting character's skill level, the acting character gains a +1 to the task.
  • If the helper's skill level involving a task is greater than the acting character's skill level, the acting character gains an asset on the task.


  • A character can move up to 10 feet as part of another task.
  • Moving between 10 and 50 feet is considered its own task. No roll is needed unless there are special circumstances.
  • Moving between 50 and 100 feet is considered its own task and requires a roll (base difficulty 4).

Damage and Healing

Taking Damage

  • PCs do not have hit points. Instead, damage done to them is taken directly from their stat Pools. Unless damage is specified as affecting a Stat pool the damage is done to pools in this order:
    • Might (unless the Pool is 0) then Speed (unless the Pool is 0) then Intellect.
  • Armor reduces damage by an amount equal to its value. Some Armor reduces specific kinds of damage.
  • A PC who has points in all three Stat pools is considered hale and suffers no penalties or ill effects.
  • A PC with one Stat pool at 0 is considered impaired. Effort costs 1 extra point per level applied. The PC cannot gain minor or major effects by rolling a 19 or 20 and rolling a 17+ only adds +1 to damage.
  • A PC with two Stat pools at 0 is considered debilitated. They can take actions.
  • A PC with all three Stat pools at 0 is dead.


  • PCs may rest up to 4 times per day. Each time they rest they recover d6+their tier in points which they may restore to their Stat pools as they wish. No significant actions can occur during a rest. Sleeping counts as rest.
    • The first rest of a day can be done as a single combat action.
    • The second rest of a day takes 10 minutes.
    • The third rest of a day takes 1 hour.
    • The fourth rest of a day takes 8 hours.
  • Rest may be stacked. Someone who hasn't rested yet for a day can rest for a 1 hour and 10 minutes and recover 3d6+(3 x their tier) pool.
  • Healing can also be done through the use of medical skills and magical abilities.

Brownie Points vs. XP

Brownie Points

Rather than have a single XP pool which can be spent for rerolls and character advancement, we will have two pools.

  • Brownie points can be earned in game via nomination by players. When a player is nominated for a brownie point she receives two points. She keeps one and gives one point to another player she believes is deserving.
  • Brownie points can also be earned via GM intrusion. This is when the GM decides something should happen regardless of a player's skills or rolls. The player can accept the intrusion and gain a brownie point in the process or deny the intrusion by spending a brownie point.
  • Brownie points can be spent to reroll any roll with an additional asset.


  • XP will be earned by accomplishing goals and tasks as a group and can be spent on character advancement.
  • At each tier, a player can spend 4 points to buy one of the following. Each type of advancement below can only be purchased once. When all four are purchased, the character advances to the next tier.
    • Increasing Stat Pools The character gains 4 points to add to existing stat Pools.
    • Increasing Edge The character gains 1 point to add to one of their Edges.
    • Increasing Effort The character's Effort is increased by 1.
    • Skills The character becomes trained in a non-combat skill. If already trained in the chosen skill the character becomes specialized.

Magic Items

  • There are three types of magical items in Krystallos: oddities, cyphers, and artifacts.
  • Alchemical items are not considered cyphers. Instead they are consumable assets which help with a specific task.
  • Cyphers and artifacts have levels. An item's level can help determine its effects and can serve as a difficulty for determining its nature.


Oddities are minor magical items which perform an interesting but fairly inconsequential action. They are valuable as curiosities and toys. Examples might include:

  • A crystal the size of a pebble which reforms after it is shattered.
  • A wooden rod which grows an inch each month.
  • A cup which instantly heats any liquid poured into it to the perfect temperature for tea.


Most magical items of use to adventurers in Krystallos are cyphers. Cyphers are consumable items which perform a useful task. Cyphers come from a variety of sources. Some were brought to Krystallos by Tiamat's slave-armies, some have been created by native artisans using mystical knowledge gained during the Invasion, and some occur spontaneously in nature.

  • Most cyphers are single use items. A rare few have multiple uses.
  • Cyphers radiate fields of magic. Because of this, carrying too many can be hazardous to the health of the bearer. The cypher limit section on each character sheet lists how many cyphers can be carried safely before adverse effects kick in. If a character is carrying more cyphers than their limit a 1d100 is rolled. The roll is increased by +10 for every additional cypher carried over the character's limit.
    • 1-60: Nothing happens.
    • 61-70: The character's senses are altered. Roll 1d6.
      • 1: The world becomes monochromatic.
      • 2: Everything tastes like metal.
      • 3: Sense of smell stops working.
      • 4: Everything feels unpleasant and abrasive.
      • 5: There's a high pitched whining noise in the background.
      • 6: Roll twice on this table. If 6 is rolled a second time all 5 of the above effects occur.
    • 71-80: One of the cyphers, determined randomly, fizzles and stops functioning.
    • 81-90: The character feels ill and subtracts 1 from all die rolls.
    • 91-95: Two of the cyphers, determined randomly, fizzle and stop functioning.
    • 96-100: The character feels very ill. Increase the difficulty of all tasks performed by 1.
    • 101-110: All of the cyphers fizzle and stop functioning.
    • 111-120: The character feels deathly ill. Increase the difficulty of all tasks performed by 2.
    • 121-130: Two of the cyphers detonate or dissolve into acid, doing 6 points of damage to the character. Armor does not help.
    • 131-140: Three of the cyphers detonate. The character takes 10 points of damage and everyone within 10 feet takes 3 points of damage. Armor does not help.
    • 141-199: All the cyphers dissolve into energy. The infusion of energy reduces one stat Pool by 5 permanently.
    • 200: The cyphers merge together, becoming a creature which is sentient and hostile.
    • 201+: The energy radiated from the cyphers punctures a hole in reality. The character and the cyphers are sucked into the resulting rift, never to be seen again.

Lasting negative effects of cyphers are eliminated once a character returns to carrying a number of cyphers less than or equal to their cypher limit.


Artifacts are rare and potent magical items which are more permanent and stable than cyphers. While craftsmen can create cyphers with expense and hours of work, artifacts cannot be created deliberately except by powerful entities such as Icons, Totems, and Tiamat's Generals. Occasionally a cypher randomly becomes an artifact due to exposure to strange and unusual events.

  • Artifacts have a depletion value. Every time an artifact is used the player rolls a die to determine if the artifact is depleted.
  • Some artifacts are immune to depletion.
  • Artifacts do not count against a character's cypher limit.


During each Tier, the GM will award the PCs with 4 advancement points. An advancement point can be spent on one of the following. Each option can only be purchased once.

  • Increase Capabilities: Gain 4 points to add to your stat Pools however you wish.
  • Moving Towards Perfection: Add 1 to an Edge of your choice.
  • Extra Effort: Increase your Effort score by 1.
  • Skills: Become trained in one skill you do not have or become specialized in one skill you do have. You cannot select attack of defense skills with this option.

Once a PC has gained all 4 advancements, they move up a tier.

Pathfinder House Rules

Pathfinder: Krystallos
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