Hearth & Blade Overview

Hearth & Blade is a campaign setting built using a modified version of the P6 Codex, created by Brian Habing. In turn, the P6 Codex is an implementation of Ryan Stoughton’s E6: The Game Inside the World’s Most Popular Roleplaying Game designed for Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

So, What Exactly Is “P6”?

Normally, characters in the Pathfinder (and most d20 RPGs) progress from level 1 to level 20 in a linear fashion. Ryan Dancey, and employee for both WOTC and Paizo, has suggested that this has resulted in four distinct quartiles of play:

Levels 1-5: Gritty fantasy
Levels 6-10: Heroic fantasy
Levels 11-15: Wuxia
Levels 16-20: Superheroes

P6 caps regular PC and NPC advancement at 6th level, after which point only feats are gained. This allows the game to focus on the gritty and heroic stages, and bypasses much of the bloat and number crunching the occurs at higher levels. Hearth & Blade uses P6 as a way to reinforce the setting’s low-magic, survivalist themes.

P6 can be seen as an off-shoot to the idea of having a lower level cap, as presented in the Gamemastering chapter of the Core Rulebook. However, instead of simply ending the campaign at 6th level, characters advance as normal through 6th level and then continue to earn feats after that point. A P6 character with many feats beyond 6th level is certainly more powerful than a 1st, 3rd, or even 5th level character, but they can not wade through armies of foes or fell a dragon with a single blow.

The Fundamental Rule

Upon reaching 6th level, characters cease normal advancement. Instead, for each 8,000 additional experience points received beyond 6th level, the character may select a new feat that they meet the prerequisites for. The list of feats available for this “epic advancement” is expanded to include both epic and signature feats, which are unavailable to characters who are below level 6. These feats are designed so that a character can approximate being 7th level after five epic advancement feats, and even have the opportunity to earn a power or ability that would typically have been earned at 8th level (or 9th, in some uncommon cases).

For purposes of encounter balancing and experience awards, characters with 5 epic advancement feats will generally be equivalent to 7th level, and those with 10 epic advancements will be roughly equivalent to 8th level. Depending on the optimization of the character class choices, individual feats chosen, and magic items acquired, these might be beneficially adjusted up or down for any particular encounter. Beyond ten epic advancements, additional feats still add to the character’s power, but the characters begin to fall behind in terms of hit points, base attack bonus, saves, available magic items, and spells. They will likely never approximate the raw combat capability of 9th level characters but may still be able to challenge even more powerful foes by less brute force means.

This fundamental rule has a large impact on Hearth & Blade’s world design. Spells for PCs and NPCs stop at 3rd level except for a few epic rituals, extremely powerful monsters are exceptionally rare if not absent, and magic items are vastly limited. In particular, there is almost no teleportation and the only way to return from the grave is as one of the undead. On the other hand, the lack of super-heroic powers gives a logical reason for castles and armies to still exist.

One way of envisioning the character levels is that a 1st level character is roughly equivalent to a journeyman craftsman – a squire just completing their training, a conscripted farmer just off their first tour of duty, or a wizard just finishing their apprenticeship. A 3rd level character is roughly equivalent to a master craftsman – well above the peasants, common laborers, and even craftsmen in most rural villages, but not uncommon in the towns and cities. Fifth level would include the renowned master craftsman – one who has achieved a rare height for their profession; they would only be found haphazardly in anything smaller than a city and be few in number for any given profession even in a larger city. Beyond 6th level, a character or NPC would be truly epic, the type about whom legends will be spun unless they work hard to hush them up.

Hearth & Blade Implementation

There are five guiding principles presented in Hearth & Blade:

A Focus On Core
95% of the content found in Hearth & Blade is presented in – or inspired by – the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. Although there are many new feat, class, and race options for players to explore, an emphasis was put on making the game playable using only the Pathfinder CRB and this website.

No Feat Taxes
Inspired by this articleHearth & Blade uses a revised feat tree that removes a great number of feat taxes that slow character progression. This change was implemented to allow characters to hit their builds a bit faster and to increase the overall enjoyment of low-level play. Additionally, there are a few new combat options that players can utilize without taking a feat.

Epic Feats
After progressing to 6th level, characters are able to gain access to epic and signature feats. Epic feats may only be purchased during epic advancement (and not as part of obtaining 6th level). They are often capabilities that would be obtainable by a 7th level character in Pathfinder. Signature feats are epic feats that impart a capability typically available for an 8th level character in Pathfinder (or in rare circumstances, 9th level). Each character may take one signature feat.

Low Magic
Access to spells above 3rd level is severely restricted in Hearth & Blade. Only casters who have taken epic ritual feats can do so, and only with increased casting times and at the cost of many memorized spells. Teleportation, resurrection, wishes, and many other potent magicks are notably absent in the world of Hearth & Blade.

No Crafting
Characters have no access to crafting of any sort in Hearth & Blade. Magical items are rare, and are generally only found during adventuring rather than bought in shops or created by PCs.

Setting Specific Content

Hearth & Blade features new and revised classes, races, feats, and equipment. Class, race, feat, and equipment content that is not presented on this website is unusable in the campaign setting. A few notable changes include:

All Pathfinder RPG races have been removed. All characters must pick a human lineage – presented under the “People” tab above – which grants traits and powers similar to a more traditional race selection.

Druids, Paladins, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Monks have been removed. In their places are Wardens, Crusaders, Mystics, and Delvers.

New weapon and armor lists replace those found in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

As mentioned above, the standard feat list in Hearth & Blade is slightly altered from the one found in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

Acknowledgements, Permissions, and Copyright

This web site uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Publishing, LLC, which are used under Paizo’s Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This web site is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Publishing. For more information about Paizo’s Community Use Policy, please visit paizo.com/communityuse. For more information about Paizo Publishing and Paizo products, please visit paizo.com

Pathfinder is a registered trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC.

Many thanks to Ryan Stoughton for the development of his E6: The Game Inside the World’s Most Popular Roleplaying Game, and Brian Habing for adapting the rule-set for Pathfinder in in P6 Codex. This site was not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by either party.

Product Identity: The following items are hereby identified as Product Identity, as defined in the Open Game License version 1.0a, Section 1(e), and are not Open Content: All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, locations, characters, artwork, and trade dress. (Elements that have previously been designated as Open Game Content or are in the public domain are not included in this declaration.)

Open Content: Except for material designated as Product Identity (see above), the game mechanics of this game product are Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d). No portion of this work other than the material designated as Open Game Content may be reproduced in any form without written permission.

Hearthandblade.com is published under the Open Game License version 1.0a Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Please see each product for its own copy of the Open Game License and Copyright Notice.

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.
1. Definitions: (a) “Contributors” means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content; (b) “Derivative Material” means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted; (c) “Distribute” means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit or otherwise distribute; (d) “Open Game Content” means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity. (e) “Product Identity” means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts, creatures, characters, stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content; (f ) “Trademark” means the logos, names, mark, sign, motto, designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the Open Game License by the Contributor (g) “Use”, “Used” or “Using” means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content. (h) “You” or “Your” means the licensee in terms of this agreement.
2. The License: This License applies to any Open Game Content that contains a notice indicating that the Open Game Content may only be Used under and in terms of this License. You must affix such a notice to any Open Game Content that you Use. No terms may be added to or subtracted from this License except as described by the License itself. No other terms or conditions may be applied to any Open Game Content distributed using this License.
3. Offer and Acceptance: By Using the Open Game Content You indicate Your acceptance of the terms of this License.
4. Grant and Consideration: In consideration for agreeing to use this License, the Contributors grant You a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license with the exact terms of this License to Use, the Open Game Content.
5. Representation of Authority to Contribute: If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your Contributions are Your original creation and/ or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License.
6. Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copyright date, and the copyright holder’s name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute.
7. Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark. The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that Product Identity. The owner of any Product Identity used in Open Game Content shall retain all rights, title and interest in and to that Product Identity.
8. Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content.
9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.
10. Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You distribute.
11. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so.
12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected. 13. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. All sublicenses shall survive the termination of this License.
14. Reformation: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable.
Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
E6: The Game Inside the World’s Most Popular Game Copyright 2007, Ryan Stoughton.; Author Ryan Stoughton.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Players Guide © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, James Jacobs, Steven Kenson.
The Book of Experimental Might © 2008, Monte J. Cook. All rights reserved.
Tome of Horrors © 2002, Necromancer Games, Inc.; Authors: Scott Greene, with Clark Peterson, Erica Balsley, Kevin Baase, Casey Christofferson, Lance Hawvermale, Travis Hawvermale, Patrick Lawinger, and Bill Webb; Based on original content from TSR.
P6Codex.com © 2013, Brian Habing; Author: Brian Habing
HearthandBlade.com © 2015, Mathew & Michael Iantorno; Author: Mathew & Michael Iantorno