Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder | Starfinder

<- Return to All Rules (Group by Source)

All Rules in Gamemastering

+ An entry marked with this has additional sections within it.

Mastering the Wild

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 122
This chapter presents a number of ways to enhance adventures into the wilderness.

Discovery and Exploration: When you want to challenge PCs as they explore a section of wilderness, whether through a dense jungle or amid the rubble of remote mountain passes, this section presents rules on how to do that narratively. It can even be used with the hex-based exploration rules presented in Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Campaign.

The First World: The mysterious land of the fey holds many treasures and great peril. This section provides details about this strange plane, including guidance on running adventures within it and a sampling of some of its dangers.

Foraging and Salvaging: Far from civilization, adventurers can find raw materials for crafting or repairing hard to come by. This section gives guidelines on foraging for materials and reclaiming items through salvage.

Harvesting Poisons: Herbs, toxic substances, and venoms that can be distilled for nefarious purposes abound in wildlands. This section provides details on harvesting poisons and creating antivenoms, as well as a list of new poisons.

Hazards and Natural Disasters: While the creatures of the wild are often fearsome challenges, the environment itself can rise up to thwart interlopers. This section provides rules for some of the most dangerous aspects of nature.

Herbalism: While some herbs can contain deadly poisons, others can provide beneficial power. This section details useful plant life in the wild and how to harvest its benefits.

Spells of the Wild: Many spells have the power to grant succor within the wild or can be used against your enemies with devastating effect. This section provides information on how spells can enhance or thwart adventures in the wild.

Trophies and Treasures: Raw materials harvested from monsters can be worth as much as any treasure trove. Many are provided in this section.

Weather: One of the chief challenges of adventuring in the wilderness is dealing with the elements. This section provides a system of generating weather in a region and details the dangers the extreme manifestations of weather present.

Animal Companions and Familiars: This chapter expands your choices for both animal companions and familiars. Not only does it provide you with dozens of each type of companion, but it also presents guidance on magic item slots for animal companions and familiars, guidelines on plant and vermin companions, and a number of archetypes and feats for companions and familiars.

Discovery and Exploration

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 124
Unspoiled wilderness and uncharted lands represent an opportunity for exploration and the discovery of ancient secrets, lost treasures, natural wonders, and the remote lairs of terrible beasts. As exciting as exploring wilderness can be, the fact that there are no city streets or dungeon walls to guide choices can make running exploration in uncharted wilds a challenge. The rules presented in this section can be used when a group enters such uncharted lands to discover what lies within, and at your discretion can serve as an expansion on the rules for exploration as presented in Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Campaign. Brief definitions of terms used in this section are listed below.

Discovery Points: As the PCs explore a territory, they’ll accumulate Discovery Points—an abstract measure of how thoroughly they have explored the region. Note that while gazetteers, maps, research, and rumors can grant bonus Discovery Points for a region even before the PCs set foot within the wild, inaccurate information gleaned from such sources can penalize the accumulation of Discovery Points.

Exploration Check: As the PCs search a territory, they’ll attempt exploration checks to determine how many Discovery Points they accumulate. Exploration checks are typically Survival checks, though unusual territories may require other specialized skills. A character can attempt an exploration check using Perception in place of the required skill with a –5 penalty.

Location: A location is an adventure site or other point of interest within a territory—it could be an ancient ruin, a dragon’s cave, a druidic monument, a hidden treasure, a portal to the First World, or anything else of note. Each location has a discovery score equal to the number of Discovery Points required to find the location.

Territory: Territories are discrete geographic areas with defined boundaries. These can be political borders or geographical transitions. If you’re using the exploration rules from Ultimate Campaign, a single hex constitutes a territory. Alternately, a territory can be a much larger region; in this case, the PCs’ exploration of the territory is a much more abstract concept and doesn’t involve tracking exact locations on a map. In either case, each territory has its own Challenge Rating, which determines the danger of wandering monsters in the territory as well as the DC for exploration checks to earn Discovery Points.

Way Sign: Way signs are events, objects, or terrain features that give a hint to find a location. Discovering a way sign, either by stumbling across one in the wild (such as by reaching a vantage point that gives an excellent view of the lay of the land, or by stumbling across an old road sign) or by researching a region beforehand (such as by consulting gazetteers, maps, or the rumor mill), can grant bonus Discovery Points or reveal the existence of previously unknown locations—but some way signs may be inaccurate or misleading.

The First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 128
Located before, between, and beyond the Material Plane, the First World is a dimension of extremes and unpredictability. While the Shadow Plane straddles the metaphysical gulf between the Material Plane and the Negative Energy Plane, the First World lies between the Material Plane and the Positive Energy Plane. The First World has been said to be a sort of “first draft” of reality—under a sky of whirling stars and moons that change shape and texture as they track their way through the vibrant heavens, inconsistent natural laws and wellsprings of primal magic and natural splendor create vistas unfathomable to mortal minds. Here stand ancient forests as tall as mountains, living lakes and rivers, traveling faerie courts alternately benevolent or sadistic, and landscapes of all manner that constantly shift and reinvent themselves. And ruling over all in this realm are those powerful entities known as the Eldest. It is from this realm that dread linnorms, fey creatures, the original gnomes, and far stranger beings hail.

First World Planar Traits

The First World has the following planar traits. For more information on planar traits, see Planar Traits.

Erratic Time: Time progresses faster in some areas and slower in others, often according to the whim of the Eldest or other powerful individuals. For most visitors from other planes, their own timestream clings to them like a protective shell, but it’s not uncommon for a creature who spends a day in the First World to find upon their return home that a year or more has passed.

Highly Morphic: The First World can be altered by strong-willed individuals, such as the Eldest.

Minor Positive Dominant: The First World grants fast healing to creatures only in certain areas where life is particularly potent and concentrated.

Mildly Neutral-Aligned: The First World does not impart alignment-based Charisma check penalties to anyone.

Foraging and Salvaging

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 134
When far from the crafters and the markets of the city, an adventurer needs to have skill in foraging and salvaging to acquire materials and repair useful gear.

Harvesting Poisons

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 142
While some think of poison as an assassin’s tool, the herbalists and naturalists of the world know that poison carries in it no more inherent evil than fire or water. Indeed, in the wildlands of the world, harvesting poison to give a hunter an edge or to aid in the production of antivenom is a time-honored practice.

While Craft (alchemy) is necessary to brew long-lasting poisons, there are many natural sources of poison in the world, and poison crafters who wish to avoid the expense of purchasing raw ingredients may seek to harvest poison from natural sources instead. The following section presents rules for harvesting poisons from the wild.

Unless a dose of harvested poison is preserved (see Preserving Harvested Poison), it remains potent for 24 hours after it is harvested.

Harvesting from Dead Creatures: Once a venomous creature is slain, its venom sacs can be removed, allowing 1 or more doses of its venom to be harvested for later use. In order to harvest venom, the creature must have been dead for less than 24 hours. Every hour the source creature has been dead reduces the lifespan of the harvested poison by an hour. Removing venom sacs is a messy and time-consuming process, requiring 10 minutes of work, access to surgical tools, and a container to store the venom in. If proper surgical tools are not available, a dagger or other light slashing weapon can be used, although this imposes a –2 penalty on checks to harvest the venom. The harvester must succeed at a Survival check (DC = 15 + the dead creature’s CR) in order to successfully harvest poison. On a success, the harvester acquires a single dose of the creature’s venom, plus 1 additional dose for every 5 by which the result of this check exceeded the DC (to a maximum number of doses equal to the creature’s Constitution modifier, minimum 1). Failing the check causes all of the venom to be lost. Failure by 5 or more exposes the harvester to 1d3 doses of the creature’s venom unless she has the poison use class feature.

Harvesting Poison from Hazards: Some hazards, such as poison oak and spider vines, feature poisons that can be harvested by those who know how to do so. This process requires 1 hour and an alchemist’s lab or alchemy crafting kit. If the harvester succeeds at a Survival check (DC = 15 + the hazard’s CR), she collects 1 dose of poison. Harvesting poison from a hazard in this way requires getting close enough to it to touch it, which may expose the harvester to the hazard’s effects.

Milking Venom: Venom can be harvested from a living creature without harming the creature, although the process is dangerous unless the creature has been trained for that specific purpose (see the Handle Animal skill). For most venomous creatures, this involves stretching a thin canvas over a jar or vial and then coaxing the creature to bite into the canvas before massaging its venom glands, causing the venom to drip from its fangs into the container. Similar methods are used for creatures that deliver venom in other ways, such as with a stinger.

Milking a single dose of poison from a creature takes 10 minutes of work and requires a successful Handle Animal check (DC = 10 + the donor’s Hit Dice + the donor’s Wisdom modifier). Failure by less than 5 indicates that the venom is not collected, but the handler suffers no other ill effect. Failure by 5 or more indicates that the creature bites, stings, or otherwise injects the handler with its venom. It automatically hits the handler with one of its natural attacks that delivers its poison, and it applies the effects of the attack normally. The creature might continue to attack the handler after doing so, possibly initiating combat. Milking venom from a cooperative intelligent creature doesn’t require a Handle Animal check but presents a 5% chance of exposure to the venom.

A creature can produce a number of doses of venom in this way each day equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum 1). A creature that is milked of venom this many times in one day (whether or not the attempts are successful) loses its poison special ability until the next time it rests.

Preserving Harvested Poison: Poison harvested from a creature or hazard remains potent for 24 hours. If a character wishes to preserve harvested poison for a longer period, she must treat it alchemically, as if crafting the poison with Craft (alchemy) but using the poison dose as the raw ingredients normally needed to brew a dose of the poison and thus avoiding the gp cost to craft the poison.

Hazards and Disasters

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 146
The wilderness can be a dangerous place. Monsters roam and hunt within their territories, barbarians protect their settlements with frightening force, and sudden shifts in the weather can overwhelm the unprepared or unlucky explorer. But sometimes the landscape itself presents dangers that dwarf all others. The following are just a few ways that the environment can challenge hapless adventurers in the wild.


Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 152
Herbs and useful plants and fungi abound in most wilderness regions, and while these valuable plants can be obtained in special markets or shops, the skilled herbalist knows where to go to gather these resources by hand in the wild.

Gathering Herbs: Gathering herbs is similar to foraging and can be accomplished while you are traveling or as your sole activity during an 8-hour period. If you gather herbs while traveling, your overland speed is halved. Spending 8 hours doing nothing but gathering herbs from the area grants 1 additional yield of each herb you’re gathering. When you start your day of herb gathering, you must declare which herb you are looking for. If you have 5 ranks of Profession (herbalist), you can search for two different types of herbs at once, and for each additional 5 ranks you have in this skill, you can search for one additional herb, to a maximum of 5 herbs at once if you have 20 ranks in Profession (herbalist).

Each herb listed has a gather DC. At the end of the time spent gathering, attempt a Profession (herbalist) or Knowledge (nature) check against each herb’s gather DC. If the terrain you are searching in is one of your favored terrains, you can attempt a Survival check instead. If the herb in question is present in the region you searched (this is always subject to the GM’s discretion), success results in a single yield of that herb. Success by 5 or more grants 1 extra yield. Success by 10 or more grants 2 extra yields.

A single yield of herb weighs 1/10 of a pound unless otherwise noted in its yield section in its stats.

In addition to determining whether a particular herb is available to gather in a region, the GM also determines how many attempts to gather that herb can be attempted in the region. Typically, a region can support 1d4 herb-gathering expeditions before the herbs must be given 2d6 months to regrow.

Preparing Herbs: Most herbs must be prepared to unlock their potency. If this is the case for an herb, its stat block describes the method required to process it, the Craft (alchemy) DC to accomplish this task, and the amount of time needed to do so. A Profession (herbalist) check can be conducted instead of a Craft (alchemy), but the DC of the check to prepare the herb increases by 5 in this case. If the preparer fails this check by 5 or more, the dose of the herb is ruined; if she fails by less, she can try again with the same herbs.

Preparing Multiple Herbs: An herbalist can normally prepare one type of herb per day, but she can prepare a number of doses of that single type of herb equal to her ranks in Profession (herbalist). An herbalist with 7 or more ranks in Profession (herbalist) can simultaneously prepare a second type of herb. At 14 ranks in Profession (herbalist), the character can prepare up to three types of herbs at the same time.

Herb Lifespan: A raw, unprepared herb spoils 24 hours after it is harvested. A prepared herb spoils after 1 month unless otherwise noted in its Use entry.

See Herbs

Spells of the Wild

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 156
The might of magic is a great force of change and power, and most adventuring parties count one or more spellcasters among them. Since spells cover an incredible range of possibility, defining “wilderness spells” is a broad subject. In this section, spells accessible to nature-themed classes such as druids and rangers receive special attention. Spells that assist in navigating the less settled regions of the world and those that manipulate weather or terrain are also explored in greater detail.

Intrigue in the Wild

Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Intrigue features a section called Spells of Intrigue. Applications of several intrigue-themed spells listed in Ultimate Intrigue are also appropriate for wilderness campaigns. In order to focus on spells more specific to wilderness adventuring, this book purposefully avoids spells that were already covered in Ultimate Intrigue. Intrigue-themed spells that are particularly appropriate for wilderness-heavy campaigns but were covered in Ultimate Intrigue include the following: blood biography, commune with nature, create treasure map, detect poison, find the path, locate creature, speak with animals, speak with plants, and stone tell.

Trophies and Treasures

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 162
Monetary treasure can be a rarity in the wild, but canny scavengers and survivalists know how to reap nature’s bounty. Eggs, furs, and ivory of exotic beasts are well-known commodities, but some have also studied the mystical sympathy between certain creatures and different forms of magic. To the right buyer, these components are valuable as more exotic materials.

The following rules for harvesting trophies from creatures and monsters should augment the classic method of dispersing treasure and rewards, but they are not intended to increase the expected wealth by level at your table. If you use this system for trophies, you should make sure to reduce the amount of other treasure and rewards by an equal amount to the harvested components.

At their most basic, trophies function as art objects. Whether an adventurer seeks to mount a dragon’s head on the wall of his home, craft a necklace from a claw harvested from every beast he has slain, or simply make new arrows from the teeth of a fallen foe, the process is much the same—the valuable commodity must first be harvested from the creature.

Note that some cultures have taboos against harvesting parts from humanoids and monstrous humanoids or certain other creature types. Other societies may view the taking of trophies from intelligent creatures, endangered specimens, or even from plentiful game as abhorrent. Characters might need to be careful to avoid insulting such groups if they don’t want to find themselves in an unnecessary conflict. At the GM’s discretion, harvesting trophies (particularly in the case of trophies taken from innocents, intelligent creatures, or outsiders) should have alignment repercussions.

As with all content that might be uncomfortable for some players, you should make sure to have your table’s consent before introducing the harvesting of trophies into your game.

Weather in the Wilderness

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 165
While many of the physical dangers a group faces in the wilds vary significantly based on the nature of the terrain they explore, the weather can pose an array of challenges within a single region. When the weather is calm or good, it can make even the most unpleasant of terrains less grueling, but when the weather turns bad, even gently rolling hills, idyllic woodlands, and pastoral plains can become death traps.

While you can simply decide what the weather’s up to at any point in your campaign—and indeed you should always feel free to have it start raining, thundering, or gusting with wind when the story is enhanced by dramatic shifts in the weather—you can also use the following system to generate weather for your game.

In keeping with Pathfinder’s primary goal of providing a shared game experience first and foremost, this system for generating weather is narrative-based rather than a fully scientific simulation. While this system takes into account generalities such as climate, elevation, and season, its primary focus allows you to set the norms for weather in a particular area of your choice, using a number of broad categories based on general climate and favored terrain categories. You can then add weather details and events outside that norm, from mere hassles to catastrophes, either randomly generating those weather events or picking and choosing ones that support your campaign’s greater narrative. This makes it easier for PCs whose classes enhance their skills in certain terrain types to better thwart environmental dangers that are created or provoked by such terrains’ weather.

Extreme Temperatures

Temperatures of 40° F and lower or 90° F or higher are hazardous, growing more dangerous the more extreme they become. Without the benefit of endure elements or some other form of protection, characters exposed to temperatures beyond these ranges run the risk of taking damage and suffering other effects. The effects of cold dangers and heat dangers are in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

Companions and Familiars

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 176
Many classes involve more than just a single hero or villain. What is the druid without her trusty animal companion, the cavalier without his steadfast mount, or the witch without her devoted familiar? These classes split their powers between the hero’s personal abilities and those of a companion of some sort—be it a relatively minor creature like a familiar associated with the class’s magical traditions, or a significant battlefield presence such as an animal companion or a mount. This chapter explores all these variants and provides dozens of new options for players who are making decisions about the next staunch sidekick their character will adopt!

In addition to the new animal companion and familiar options presented in the following pages, all six of the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary volumes offer additional choices for your character. In addition, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic provides options for vermin companions and other familiar options. As with all expansions to the rules, make sure to secure your GM’s approval before selecting your character’s animal companion or familiar—not all of the options presented on the following pages (or those in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary volumes) are appropriate for every campaign or every game world.