Shadows of the Past
Character progression from level 1 to level 6 is as per Pathfinder RPG. Upon attaining 6th level, for each X experience a character gains, they earn a new feat.
X = Advancement Speed
Slow Advancement = 5,000
Medium Advancement = 7,500
Fast Advancement = 10,000
A diverse selection of feats should be made available in any P6 campaign, however, feats with unattainable prerequisites under this system remain unattainable. For the purpose of experience awards, treat each 5 feats as +1 CR (or level), to an upper limit of 20 feats. After this, a ratio of 10 feats to 1 CR can be used, as it becomes more and more difficult to bring all a character’s feats to bear in a given situation. Alternatively, and at the GM’s option, player-characters with more than 20 feats can simply be always treated as if they were level 10 for experience and challenge purposes.
FOR THE GM
P6 isn’t just a change for the players: Monsters are presented differently than in Pathfinder RPG. Just as level 6 parties in Pathfinder RPG aren’t expected to tangle with monsters higher than CR 10, the mighty monsters of P6 require special consideration for presentation in-game. P6 characters aren’t intended to go up against high-level threats under the same circumstances as high-level characters; those creatures, if they can be defeated at all, require the kind of resources and planning far beyond the typical encounter.
In terms of raw rules, CR 7-10 monsters are an excellent guide for what P6 characters can handle. As they rise to around the 20-feat range, the range is more like 7-12. Beyond that, a DM should take monsters in the CR 7-12 range and use feats (and to a lesser extent templates) to advance them. Hit die or class-based advancement beyond CR 12, or base monsters above CR 12 should generally be avoided as straight-up fights.
Of course, not every monstrous encounter is a straight-up fight. For example, insane horrors from another age might be a reason to run, and there is little a character could do in the face of an angry Titan. But these situations don’t call for direct confrontation, except with some special resource or amazing circumstance.
Perhaps, in a special ritual with the presence of 20 mages, a Titan can be bound to the mortal realm (lowering its stats to an Aspect of Kord), with whom the players can do battle. Again, that’s far from a straight-up fight with a CR 20 creature, but we can console ourselves with the fact that it’s probably a very memorable encounter.
If, as a result of the restrictions on items, an item cannot be created, then it should not be distributed as normal treasure. Like high-level monsters, such items should be placed carefully and built to make sense in the context of your game. For example, a +4 sword can’t be made by a human wizard, but it could be crafted by a Titan (which makes for great god-stats). That’s a sword that no mortal can make.
P6 will always inherit Pathfinder RPG’s balance issues at the same level, especially issues that result from scenarios where characters have long periods of downtime. The best approach is to be cognizant of these issues when considering what feats to allow in your P6 game.
ON ALLOWING FEATS
There are 3 philosophies on what feats to allow in an P6 game, each more generous than the last:
1) The Cautious Approach
2) The Gestalt Approach
3) The Lean Upward Approach
The Cautious Approach is exactly what it sounds like – a GM chooses what feats to allow in his P6 game very, very carefully. This GM does not make exceptions or new feats to accommodate players character concepts – he chooses what feats to allow and the players agree to work within that framework.
The Gestalt Approach dictates that if an ability can be learned under 6th level, then it’s learnable via some chain of feats. The Gestalt Approach usually means all Pathfinder RPG sources are available, as well as a few extra feats to provide ways to learn class features. These can be done on an ad-hoc basis for a given player. The Gestalt theory is the one used in playtesting.
The Lean Upward Approach looks at the Gestalt Approach and says “6th level plus many feats is clearly more powerful than 6th level. Thus, it won’t be game-breaking to allow feat chains that bring characters from 6th level to 8th level, although this progression should be quite slow.” GMs who like the Lean Upward approach might have feats to bring BAB to +8, or to gain
4th level spells, or 8th level class features, additional hit dice, and so on.