Gestalt characters are a classic D20 variant that allow players to mash two classes and create a truly powerful PC, above what multiclassing offers.
Since gestalt characters have a lot more powers and moving parts, they are best suited to small groups, anywhere from a solo campaign with only one PC to a small group of three. Any more than that, and you risk turning every battle into a either a slog or a slugfest. These rules are meant for groups who enjoy powerful characters and system mastery, where the challenge is to find the most powerful combinations possible.
Gestalt characters aren’t meant for standard campaigns and shouldn’t be allowed in them. Making gestalt characters should be a GM decision at the start of the campaign, and if these rules are used, all PCs in the campaign should be gestalt characters.
Basic PC Rules
- Gestalt characters choose two classes. You gain all class features and spells / powers / maneuvers of both classes.
- You gain a full set of (usually three) talents from both classes. (This is to make sure classes like the Druid are viable.)
- Whenever you gain something from both classes, take the better option.
- No restrictions: Gestalt characters aren’t subject to any of the restrictions that are required to keep multiclass characters balanced to single-class characters, because they are not supposed to play in the same campaign.
- Use common sense: If something probably shouldn’t work, then it doesn’t. For example, double melee attack, fighter maneuvers and bardic battlecries all trigger off a specific natural attack roll. Common sense says that you can only trigger one thing off each roll. You don’t have to announce which class you’re going for in advance though.
- Slower advancement: Since gestalt characters get crazy powerful quickly, it’s better to have them advance at a slightly slower pace, at 5 or 6 incremental advances per level. Allow them to take the new power / spell / maneuver advance twice, once for each class. You can also allow a +1 to one of the 3 defenses (AC, PD, MD) as an incremental advance.
- Single-class PCs: If a player insists on playing a single-class PC in a gestalt campaign, make the PC one level higher than the other PCs. They won’t be as flexible, but more competent in their niche. Another option is to have them double up in their class. They are the same level as the other PCs, but get twice as many talents as well as spells / powers / maneuvers of their own class.
Encounters for Gestalt Characters
Harder battles: A party of two gestalt characters should be given challenges aimed at a party of three standard PCs. Three gestalt characters should be able to tackle challenges for 5 PCs.