2017 Grinder Finals will use the following rules with changes marked in red and unused options struck out. (These rules are subject to change up to the week before the Tournament)


The finalists are thrown into an arena to fight to the death (and beyond) to be crowned The King of Cheese.

The combatant with the most Victory Points at the end of the match wins (ties will be broken by a vote by the combatants).


Whenever a combatant hitpoints are less than 0 they are considered dead. Upon death the following instantly occurs. Yes, this means a contestant could die more than once in a round.

  • All effects, conditions, etc. are removed from the combatant
  • Contestant’s maximum health is set at 50% of maximum then fully healed.
  • Contestant is considered flat foot until the start of their next turn.
  • Contestant with all his gear are teleported to a random location in the arena
    • Contestant can choose what they are wearing and holding of their equipment
    • Equipment restored (e.g. a sundered sword, disintegrated armor, sundered wand, stolen bow, etc.)
    • Consumables, spells, abilities, etc. are NOT restored.

Crowd Attitude

While combatants do the actual fighting, the crowd remains an active participant. The audience can bolster or demoralize the competitors with their enthusiasm or scorn for what they see on the battlefield, with serious results. The DC of performance combat checks to improve crowd reaction is tied to the crowd’s current attitude. Each time the combatant does something spectacular on the battlefield, they have the opportunity to parlay that success into a better crowd reaction, but missteps can also create contempt among the crowd.

Each finalist begins with crowd favor.
You may earn crowd favor in one of two ways:
  • On your turn, take an aggressive action (attack, offensive spell, etc. – anything that would break a standard invisibility spell). It doesn't have to succeed, but it does have to be visible to the crowd.
  • Attempt to pump up the crowd as a move action or swift action, your choice. This is accomplished with a Perform check; with GM approval, you may substitute a Charisma check or any other Charisma-based Skill check (other than Use Magic Device). The DC for this check reflects the high expectations of the crowd, and making this attempt as a move action is easier than trying to rush it with a swift action.
If you began your turn with crowd favor and end your turn without having renewed it, you lose crowd favor.
If you began your turn without crowd favor and end your turn without having renewed it, the crowd turns on you. The effect of their disfavor is random (i.e. a roll on a table crafted by the tournament's sponsoring wizard), may be deadly, and may not affect only you.


The following are the general categories of crowd reaction and attitude. They are listed from lowest regard to highest.

  • Hostile: (Red) The crowd does not like what it is seeing.  The contestant is booed and the crowd hopes someone kills them soon. 
  • Unfriendly: (Orange) While still biased against the combatant, the crowd reserves its most vocal disdain for failed performance combat checks.   
  • Indifferent: (Grey) The crowd is waiting for something exciting to happen. Audience members show little emotion other than anticipation and a desire for daring feats of combat to occur. 
  • Friendly: (Blue) The crowd is beginning to be swayed toward the combatant. Audience members cheer when that combatant achieves some impressive feat in the combat. 
  • Helpful: (Green) The crowd loves what it is seeing from the combatant. Audience members stand up, chant, cheer, and scream for the combatant to push on toward ultimate success.

Contestants Starting Crowd Starting Attitude

The first thing a GM must do in a performance combat is determine the crowd’s starting attitude. Typically a crowd starts out with an indifferent attitude toward each combatant.

Increases Starting Reaction:

  • Completed most number of rooms (For a given alignment)
  • Has a Charisma Modifier >= 4
  • Has 11 ranks in: Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Perform

Decreases Starting Reaction:

  • Does not have 5 or more ranks in any of the following: Diplomacy, Intimidate or Perform
  • Has a Charisma Modifier < 1
  • Using a Pregenerated Character

Performance Combat Check

Whenever a combatant has a chance to affect the crowd’s attitude, she makes a performance combat check. The check is a Charisma ability check modified by the base attack bonus of the character plus any ranks the character has in Perform (act), Perform (comedy), or Perform (dance), whichever is highest. Making a performance combat check is usually a swift action, triggered when a combatant performs a trigger action.

Bonus on Performance

Base Attack                            Bonus Combat Check

1–5                                            +1

6–10                                          +2

11+                                           +3

Bonus on Performance

Highest Perform Ranks        Bonus Combat Check

1–5                                             +1

6–10                                           +2

11+                                            +3

Using a performance weapon grants a combatant a +2 bonus on performance combat checks. Some feats, spells, or other circumstances may grant a combatant a bonus on performance combat checks.

Succeeding at a performance combat check improves the attitude of the crowd by one step. Unlike skill checks, a roll of a natural 20 on a performance combat check always succeeds. Failing the check either leaves the attitude unchanged or, if the check fails by 5 or more, causes the attitude of the crowd to decrease by one step.

Performance Combat Check DC

The performance combat check’s DC is based on the current attitude of the crowd.



DC to Improve Attitude

Move Action = DC15 +/- GM Variables

Swift Action = DC20 +/- GM Variables

Hostile                         25

Unfriendly                   20

Indifferent                  15

Friendly                       20

Helpful                         20 to maintain, 25 to gain Victory Point

Affecting the Crowd’s Attitude

For a combatant to affect the crowd’s reaction in some way, he must accomplish some visible combat display that has a chance of motivating the crowd toward a new attitude. If the crowd cannot see the combatant (because of total concealment, invisibility, improved cover, or total cover), he cannot affect the crowd’s attitude for the better in any way, but concealment and lesser forms of cover do not affect a combatant’s ability to affect the crowd.

When a combatant performs or causes one of the triggers described in the sections that follow, he can typically make a performance combat check as a swift action (or a free action if the creature has the Master Combat Performer feat) to improve the attitude of the crowd. Making a performance check as a free action does not allow a character to take any special action granted to him by a performance feat (unless he has the Master Combat Performer feat), and making a performance combat check as an immediate action or as no action never allows a character to perform a special action granted by a performance feat (even if he does have the Master Combat Performer feat).

Other times, a performance combat check must be performed. These mandatory performance combat checks are not actions, and usually have detrimental effects if the check is not successful.

Swift Action Checks

The following triggers a combatant to make a performance combat check as a swift action. A combatant can always opt not to make a performance combat check that requires a swift action.

  • Charge: Whenever a combatant hits with a charge attack.
  • Combat Maneuvers: Whenever a combatant successfully performs any combat maneuver.
  • Energy Spells and Effects: If a combatant casts a spell or produces an effect that deals acid, cold, fire, electricity, force, or sonic damage in a visible way (including weapons with special abilities like flaming burst or shocking burst that deal bursts of energy damage on critical hits).
  • Feint: If a combatant successfully feints against an enemy.
  • Multiple Hits: If a combatant hits an opponent with two or more attacks on their turn. She gains a +2 bonus on this performance combat check for every attack she hits with beyond the second.


Free Action or Immediate Action Checks

The following triggers allow a combatant to make a performance combat check as a free action or an immediate action. A combatant may also opt to make any of these performance combat checks as a swift action instead, and gains the benefit of performance feats when he does so. A combatant can always opt to not make a performance combat check that requires a free action or immediate action. 

  • Critical Hit: When a combatant confirms a critical hit. When he does so, failing by 5 or more does not lower the crowd’s attitude.
  • First Blood: If the combatant is the first person to damage to another combatant that is at full health.
  • Vanquish Opponent: Whenever a combatant reduces another combatant to 0 or fewer hit points.


Mandatory Checks

The following performance combat checks must be attempted whenever possible. These checks don’t improve a crowd’s attitude, and the combatant gains no benefit from performance feats with these checks. Failing them typically has a detrimental effect on a crowd’s attitude. Making a performance check for one of these triggers is not an action. 

  • Magical Healing: Crowds tend to dislike the use of magical healing. On a turn when a combatant casts a healing spell or other healing effect, or uses a healing spell trigger, spell completion, or use-activated item. Success yields no change to the attitude of the crowd, but any failure reduces the crowd’s attitude by one step.
  • Rolling a Natural 1: When a combatant rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll or a saving throw, she must make a performance combat check. A success does not affect the crowd in any way, but any failure reduces the crowd’s attitude by one step.
  • Inactivity: Whenever a combatant does not do an aggressive action in a round.  (Using a full move action to advance toward another combatant, staying in melee with another combatant is considered aggressive)


Victory Points

The following is how a combatant gains Victory Points.

  • +1 Victory Point: Succeed in a performance combat check while combatant has crowd favor when the crowd is helpful to the combatant
  • +2 Victory Points: Kill another combatant that does not have crowd favor has a Hostile crowd reaction (shift crowd reaction 2 better)
  • +2 Victory Points: Kill another combatant that has a Unfriendly crowd reaction (shift crowd reaction 1 better)
  • +1 Victory Point: Kill another combatant that has an Indifferent or better crowd reaction
  • +1 Victory Point: Kill a creature brought into the arena by another combatant (killing someone else's summoned creature, familiar, eidolon, etc. gives you Victory Points, but not killing your own)

 The following is how a combatant losses Victory Points.

  • -1 Victory Point: Failing a performance combat check by 5 or more while not having crowd favor having a Hostile crowd reaction
  • -1 Victory Point: Get booed by the live crowd and fail a combat performance check (DC 25)


A contestant can commit suicide as a full round action (end of turn) or an immediate action (start of turn).

  • On a constants turn they can decide to forego their turn and instead die.
  • Can only be done with an effect that ‘pwns’ a contestant (paralyzed, held, petrified, dominated, slowed, poisoned, blinded, staggered, stunned, dazed, cursed, ability damaged, etc.) not due to hitpoint loss.
  • Contestant(s) that caused negative effect gains Kill Victory Point(s).
  • Immediate Action:
    • Same as a full round but the contestant that caused negative effect gains an additional Victory Point

The Arena

The Arena favors only the crowd and entertaining them!  The arena is in initiative.

Arena’s Action: 1D10

  1. The Pork-A-Lator: Random PC must make a DC 20 will save or look like a pig for 1 round. 
    • Can only move 30’ on their turn. 
    • Damaging the pig grants a swift action combat performance check.
    • Each time the pig is dealt damage it can squeal and make combat performance check (+2 to the check if the player actually squeals like a pig).
    • The audience loves the pig. 
  2. Hammer Time: Every contestant is struck by a large hammer (4d6+13 untyped damage no save).
  3. Boom Goes the Dynamite: A cackling skull appears above the random contestants head.  At the end of his next turn a 20’ radius explosion centered on him causing 10d6 force damage (reflex DC 20 for half).  Contestant gets credit for explosion and can gain victory points for the explosion and any kills.
  4. The Huddle: All contestants are transported to the center of the arena
  5. Mirror Mirror: Two random contestants swap hit points. 
  6. Freaking Flanking: All contestants gain flanking for the next round for all melee attacks.
  7. Extra Swing: All contestants get an extra standard action during their next turn.
  8. The Cleansing: All contestants lose all effects.  This includes beneficial and detrimental effects.  
  9. Doubling Down: Roll twice using 1d8
  10. The Anvil: A giant anvil falls onto a random contestant they are instantly killed.  Contestant gets to make combat performance check for spectacular death.

Rule of The Live Crowd!

People who are watching the event can help sway the event as it occurs.  Playing up to the crowd could gain you a bonus on your combat performance check, bonus set by the DM.  Or if someone is boring the crowd the contestant will be forced to make a combat performance check or lose a Victory Point

The Cheese Arena is a role playing spectator’s sport!!!

Rule Clarifications:

  • Rule Zero: If anything occurs in the arena that bogs down play or makes game play boring the DMs can and will improve the speed of game play and the enteratinment value for the Crowd by any means necessary (may include brining in an arena champion(s) to fight for the crowd).
  • Unseen But Seen:  At anytime a combatant becomes invisible, hiding, obscured from view, etc. the arena pin points where they are for the audience. 
    • A static illusion of the combatant appears in the combatant's square and follows the combatant. 
    • Contestant keeps all benefits of being invisible, hiding, obscured, etc. (e.g. if invisible defender loses dex bonus to AC)
    • Other combatants know what square they are in but not exactly where (e.g. if invisible still 50% miss chance due to total concealment)
    • All combat performance checks have a -10 penalty due to the static nature of the illusion.
  • Animal Companions, Eidolons, special mounts, familiars, etc.:
    • Do not automatically come back when killed.
      • Owner gains the following ability: Summon Pet (su): 1 round casting time, if the combatant takes damage he must make a concentration check DC 10+damage taken.  Failure causes the creature to not return.  Creature returns same as combatants (random location, 50% hitpoints, etc.)
    • Has the same crowd reaction as the owner.
    • Any combat performance checks use the creatures combat performance modifier.
      • The owner can use a readied action to do a combat performance check for the creature when the creature triggers a combat performance check.
  • All combatants provide flanking for other combatants even if they do not want to provide flanking.  The arena is very chaotic hard to tell friend from foe.
    • This includes a combatant’s summoned creatures, animal companions, eidolon, etc.
  • Turn Duration: Each player will be given a maximum of 2 minutes to complete their turn. 
    • Declare your actions quickly, when the time runs out your turn ends
    • Any things currently being processed will finish (fireball everybody and still rolling dice and making saves will continue past the 2 minute mark.  If you have actions remaining like a move or free you lose them, but we will processes out the current dice roll.)
    • If you summoned a creature and we are entering its data and it pushes past the 2 minute mark we will finish entering the data but your turn is over once the data is entered, no attacks, nada.