I've blogged recently about how I felt the best running D&D (or in this case, Pathfinder), when I was ignoring the rulebooks completely. The rules were not supporting what I wanted out of the game. (the good old "It was a great session, we didn't roll the dice even once!" fallacy - well, why are you not playing a game where the dice rolls do make a great session?)
Turns out, this is not really special. In the old days, supposedly the way to play was "rulings, not rules". The game was just a framework. Which is why one group's D&D was never quite the same as another's.
I've went over the rules again, thinking about where and how and why and when. I've slowly become more comfortable with them, because I now know much better how to make them work for the benefit of all. How to a) make the game fun for the players (I hope) and b) how to not break myself over using the rules.
I'm cool with it, I'm relaxed, I'm confident about the system. I'm excited to run. I have stuff in store.
But! (there's a final but!) there's three house rules I'd like to make. Two are purely colour. They don't really change anything mechanically, but change the tone of the game somewhat. It's experimental. I'm going to try it and if it works it works, if not, I'll drop it. No biggie. I'm just curious. The third one is a big deal. It changes a few assumptions. It doesn't make a lot of changes, but it changes the flow, which might or might not mean that the ripples will spread into the rest of the system and start cracking the seams. I don't think it will, but it might. So, if my players don't like the third change, I'm ok with it, or if it breaks the system, I'm ok with it. I can live without it. But I would be happier if it would work right.
I will run these by my players and see what they think.
The first two house rules are:
1. keep the players' hit points secret
subrule 1.1. do your very very best to convey to the player in fiction how bad exactly it is, without using numbers
reasoning: I want to strengthen the fiction. Mechanically it's all the same, but removes the players one step from the crunch and one step towards "in-character"
2. change "saves" to "defenses", ie. the person who has set the "DC", rolls d20+(DC-10). Whereas the person who has to make the "save" sets up a defense equal to save bonus+12.
So, if we have a Sea Hag with Horrific Appearance DC13 and a PC with a Fort Save +3, that changes to Sea Hag d20+3 vs Fortitude Defense 15.
reasoning: I think is clears up a bit the question whether to call for saves or not. When the character acts, he rolls an ability or skill check, a save is for when he's acted upon. So why not have the "attacker" roll. No other reason than wanting to try it in action. I really don't care about this one much.
I think the math is ok in the second. I checked, but not like, double checked.
As mentioned, the third one is a biggie. I'll deal with that in a follow-up post when I hammer it out a bit.