What is Epic Path?

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Is Epic Path supposed to be 'Epic Pathfinder'?

Well, yes and no. When we started on this little project, extending the very good Pathfinder rules into the 'epic' levels was certainly a goal we had in mind. But even from the very beginning, we wanted Epic Path to be much more than just 'Epic Pathfinder'.

Epic Path is a d20 system game, designed to be run on pen and paper, just like the good old days. Everything here is based upon the hard work and love of the game of thousands of players over decades. We all love this hobby and have a ton of fun with it, and everything published here is with one goal in mind: Fun!

These rules are designed as enhancements and balance tweaks for the marvelous d20 engine. The 'core rules' of the d20 system are embodied in the d20 System Reference Document (SRD). If there's anything unclear in these rules anywhere, it's probably because we've missed telling you something that's in the SRD. An excellent copy of the SRD can be found here.

The spiritual successor to the 'D&D 3.5' game is Pathfinder. We cannot praise Pathfinder enough, as we were developing, balancing, and re-tuning these rules, we were continually impressed by how much thought and hard work went into everything that Pathfinder did. Huge sections of the game rules are untouched from Pathfinder, and that's because we found them to be spot on, just the way they are.

Many players and referees have commented on the balance issues in D&D 3.5 for decades. Tremendous amounts of work went into D&D 4E to correct those imbalance issues, but in the process of doing so, the developers discarded the classic D&D spell-casting system and made all the classes feel very similar to each other. This created a mechanically sound game with excellent balance, but it threw away the 'soul' of the game in the process. D&D 5.0 is the latest of the classic d20 games, and in that version, to address the imbalance issues the game designers chose to compress the dynamic range of the game to nearly the minimum possible. Once again, this created a balanced game, but the compressed dynamic range means that a level 20 character really isn't much different from a level 1 character. Whether this is a good thing or not depends upon your philosophy on gaming, but suffice to say, we do not agree with this approach. We feel that characters should grow and change as they advance through the levels, and they should feel heroic through each step of that journey.

We began writing Epic Path to re-tune and re-balance the ENTIRE game, across all classes, to all levels, while still keeping the wild and crazy soul of the game completely intact. Epic Path extends the levels all the way to 35, and has systems in place to go even higher than that. So, yes, it is indeed epic Pathfinder, in a lot of ways. But we think we've made serious improvements at all levels of play.

We've had to make some large changes, but we've run analyses of all of these changes and we think we're on the right track. This job was made much easier by the tremendous amounts of work Pathfinder put into the spellcasting system, the excellent ideas embodied in all the various d20 system games, and the thousands upon thousands of fans whose work we have built upon in working on these rules. Nothing here would ever have been possible without the fans of the game and all those thousands of great, creative ideas.

So what's new? First, we worked to make all the classes relevant in and out of combat at all levels. We used every mechanism we could think of to make all the classes interesting and unique. We tried to make sure that for every main role (damage dealer, healer, buffer, and tank) there were multiple classes that could do the job either well or 'ok'. No longer must every party have a cleric. No longer must every party have an arcane spell-caster. Obviously, it's still possible to make parties that won't work perfectly, but it's much harder to find a combination that simply can't function.

We worked very hard to make sure that the game stayed 'within a d20 roll' between the various classes and at all levels. This means fewer cases of needing only a 20 to hit the monster, or fights where a strong tank makes the encounter completely trivial. Fewer fights where one class is singly made useless because the monster is immune to their brand of combat.

Many of the classes are radically different, although we tried very hard to preserve the 'feeling' of the old favorites. Rangers are still rangers, although they are mechanically completely different than they've ever been before.

As mentioned, to give that 'Epic Pathfinder' feeling, we've expanded character development all the way to level 35 and beyond. But we have not neglected the lower levels! Indeed, far more development effort went into levels 1-20 than was expended on the epic stuff. We wanted EVERY player, at ANY level to feel like they could step into a high-fantasy story and hold their own right beside the characters of literature and screen.

Even at first level, an Epic Path character is already a person to be reckoned with, a budding hero (or heroine!) worthy of the greatest stories ever told. We deliberately sought to create that larger-than-life swashbuckling heroism right from the start. A first level Epic Path character isn't a delicate flower. It's a genuine hero, ready for heroic challenges!

What's New?

To be blunt, everything is new. It's a whole new game. However, some of the highlights are:

  • All character classes: All classes in Epic Path have been written with an eye towards fun, flexibility, and balance. Each class plays uniquely and offers something useful to any party, whether in combat or out. Furthermore, no one class is mandatory in an adventuring party. No one is stuck playing the cleric anymore, unless they want to (and you should; our cleric is awesome).
  • New Races: All playable races in Epic Path are viable for any class, and each race is distinct from its fellows. Creating custom races for your campaign is also simplified.
  • Skills: All of the skills have been re-written with an eye towards making them more interesting, versatile and more clearly defined. Several skills have been combined: Craft is now part of Profession, while Swim, Climb and Fly were all merged into a single skill called 'Movement'. Bailiwick skills have been added to let each character class shine in their areas of expertise, even outside of combat.
  • Feats: We've re-written most feats, but the classics are still present. In most cases, feats were given a boost, particularly as characters gain higher levels. A number of feats were removed for balance purposes. If you don't see it here, there's probably a reason for that.
  • Weapons and Weapon Qualities: All weapons have been completely re-written and re-balanced from top to bottom. Dozens of new and interesting qualities have been added make sure every weapon has a unique blend of abilities. Even simple weapons are now 'good' and exotic weapons are truly excellent.
  • Status Conditions: We've re-written all of the status conditions in the game, with an aim towards making each of them distinct and unusually hurtful. Each status condition also lists how it can be cured, in addition to restoration spells or a Paladin's cleansing ability.
  • Monsters: Possibly the largest change in Epic Path is in the monsters you will face. All monsters are completely new and improved. Epic Path monsters are MUCH more challenging, not least because you will now fight many monsters at once. But they're also easier for a GM to run. Even tremendously large fights with dozens of bad guys are possible to finish quickly and satisfactorily. Even better, there are many different 'flavors' of monsters now, represented by giving some monsters Roles. Roles include such things as "heavy" monsters, "killer" monsters, "sneak" monsters, "shooter" monsters, and worst of all, "threat" monsters. Threat monsters are so nasty they have their own henchmen to help them in combat, and are meant to be so tough they can face down an entire party by themselves. After all, the real measure of a great hero is a great villain, and we are certainly providing plenty of those.
  • In addition, many rules have been modified or clarified (see table below). Please refer to the actual rules section for full details, as the synopsis provided here is not a complete picture of the rule change.

Quick Rule Change Overview

Rule Change Synopsis
Retraining When you level, you may swap out one non-prerequisite element of your character (feat, skill points, etc.) for something else.
Weapon damage rules Weapon base damage is doubled at 8th level, tripled at 15th level, quadrupled at 22nd level and quintupled at 29th level.
Maneuver Offense and Maneuver Defense Score Calculation CMB and CMD are replaced by Maneuver Offense and Maneuver Defense, and these scores are the sum of your character level, STR and DEX (instead of just BAB + STR). Casters may now calculate Maneuver Offense based on their Caster Stat for magical effects where noted.
Action_Points Players get one action point per encounter, and may use it to gain a free standard action, reroll a die, or add a d6 to a result.
Injury and death rules Heal checks restore character to 0 hit points, magical healing (including potions) restore starting from negative value.
Stances A new type of special ability, entered with a swift action, disrupted if knocked prone or denied actions.
Charge rules Now a standard action with a single move. -2 AC penalty, no to-hit bonus. Movement path clarified and simplified.
Stealth rules Stealth is now a stance. Rules expanded and clarified, to include rules for targeting stealthed or invisible enemies.
Forced movement rules Rules for "push", "pull" and "slide" forced move types. Forced movement never provokes attacks of opportunity.
Damage and Resistance Clarified types of damage, removed the "Epic" damage type and added a "Primal" damage type.
Distance and movement rules Diagonal movement only costs 5 feet of movement per square.
Areas of effect rules AOE's are now all squares in shape, with rules on how those squares are placed. Sizes of larger AOE's reduced.
Three-dimensional movement rules Medium creatures occupy a 5'x5'x5' cube of space, diagonal vertical movement is still 5 feet of movement per square.
Sunder Sunder is now used for ALL interactions with objects: Hardness and hit points of objects removed from the game.
Rolling Damage Players may always take average on any damage roll or even individual dice within the damage roll.

What Stayed The Same?

  • Character Creation - largely unchanged, but refer to the Character Creation page for details. Note that the Races and Classes are VERY different, but the PROCESS is the same.
  • Combat rules - unchanged except for any changes listed above
  • Spells - mostly. Note that any spell in the d20pfsrd that inflicts a status condition should be reviewed by the GM before use. In particular, spells which inflict "staggered" and "sickened" will need review.

What has been removed?

  • Any class not listed on this wiki is out of the game.
  • Any feat not listed on this wiki is out of the game. Any feat listed with a "removed from game" entry is, in particular, not available. If you find a 3rd party feat you're interested in, talk it over with your GM, but expect the answer to be "no".
  • Favored class bonuses are out of the game, except for the default +1 skill point or +1 hit point per level gained in your favored class.
  • Multi-classing and dual-classing are out of the game. These may be added back in after more play-testing has been done on the base classes.