3.P Tiered Gestalt Rules

This page describes rules for our original Tiered Gestalt character creation system.  The system integrates the Gestalt Rules from D&D 3.5's Unearthed Arcana with the Tier System for Classes originally by JaronK on the BrilliantGameologist's forum.  The intent is to allow more options for players to express character concepts as they realize their fantasy within the game.  More specifically, we want to strike a balance between power and build flexibility, such that traditionally non-viable or impossible builds become playable while reigning in some of the strongest options that reduce build diversity.

Years ago I was tempted to "fix" D&D 3.5 by applying thousands of small house rules and homebrew changes.  As these grew to be unmanageable, I took a step back and realized that I needed to reduce complexity to return the game to a playable state.  So I searched for the fewest changes that would bring the game to where I wanted it to be as both a player and as a GM.  Tiered Gestalt was my answer.  Unfortunately, I fear that tiered gestalt has simply made the game too unmanageably complex again, especially as I've had to introduce more house rules, so this solution may only really work for experienced players.  These rules continue to be a work in progress, but for those that can handle them, they're a ton of fun.

The basic idea is that players may create characters as a combination of two or more classes at each level.  Unlike in Gestalt, players don't select any two classes freely but must purchase access to classes by spending Character Points (CPs), which they earn each level.  The cost of each class level in CPs is set by that class's tier, such that tier 1 classes cost significantly more than tier 2 or lower tier classes.  For example, you could play a Wizard that gestalts with a Fighter for the first few levels, an Oracle that gestalts with a Paladin for its full progression, or even a mixture of three or more lower-tier classes like Bard, Ranger, or Rogue.  The end result should be a well-rounded character, capable of contributing to nearly any encounter, which realizes your character concept and fantasy.

The number of CPs you earn each level, and the cost of classes by tier and level are given below:

Level | Points Per Level Total Points Tier 0 Tier 0.5 Tier 1 Tier 1.5 Tier 2 Tier 2.5 Tier 3 Tier 3.5 Tier 4 Tier 4.5 Tier 5 Tier 5.5 Tier 6
1 12 12 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
2 18 30 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 4 3 2 1
3 24 54 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
4 24 78 10 10 10 10 10 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
5 24 102 12 12 12 12 12 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
6 24 126 14 14 14 14 14 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
7 24 150 16 16 16 16 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
8 24 174 18 18 18 18 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
9 24 198 20 20 20 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
10 24 222 22 22 22 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
11 24 246 24 24 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
12 24 270 26 26 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
13 24 294 28 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
14 24 318 30 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
15 24 342 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
16 24 366 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
17 24 390 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
18 24 414 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
19 24 438 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1
20 24 462 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 6 5 4 3 2 1


So at first level, a character would first gain 3 CPs, and then spend 1 CP each for access to their first level in up to 3 classes (you can choose to save your points for later levels too).  At second level, the character would gain another 6 CPs, spending 2 each for access to the second level of their classes, assuming that those classes are tier 5 or above.  By the time the character reaches eighth level, they'd gain 24 CPs (for 141 CPs total) and get access to their next levels in, say, a tier 2.5 class for 12 CPs, a tier 3 class for 8 CPs, and a tier 4 class for 4 CPs.  This assumes that they've been leveling these classes from 1 to 8, we'll get into the multiclassing rules later.  For a more complete walkthrough of the CP-based leveling process, see the Character Creation Tutorial.

Each class has been assigned to its own base tier.  This determines the cost of taking levels in that class according to the chart above.  The following lists all the official base classes in Pathfinder and their base tier.

Tier 0: Nothing (no published class is this powerful, but they can be with certain builds like a practical painter wizard)

Tier 0.5: Sorcerer (Razmiran Priest)

Tier 1: Arcanist, Cleric, Druid, Wizard, 

Tier 1.5: Bard (w/ Music Beyond the Spheres), Oracle (Spirit Guide, w/ Dreamed Secrets, Ancient Lorekeeper), Psychic (w/ Mnemonic Esoterica), Shaman, Skald (w/ Music Beyond the Spheres), Summoner (Blood Summoner), Witch

Tier 2: Oracle, Sorcerer, Summoner

Tier 2.5: Inquisitor (Monster Tactician), Psychic, Stalker

Tier 3: Alchemist, Antipaladin (Fiendish Bond w/ succubus or shadow demon), Bloodrager (Urban), Inquisitor, Investigator, Magus (Bladebound, Eldritch Archer, Hexcrafter), Mesmerist, Occultist, Paladin (Sacred Servant + Oath of Vengeance), Omdura, Rogue (Eldritch Scoundrel), Skald, Unchained Summoner, Vigilante (w/ spellcasting), Warpriest

Tier 3.5: Antipaladin, Bard, Barbarian (most archetypes), Bloodrager, Brawler (most archetypes), Hunter, Magus, Medium, Paladin, Spiritualist, Striker

Tier 4: Adept, Barbarian, Brawler, Fighter (Martial Master, Mutation Warrior), Monk (Monk of the Lotus, Qinggong Monk), Ranger, Rogue (True Professional), Unchained Barbarian, Unchained Monk, Unchained Rogue, Vampire Hunter, Vigilante

Tier 4.5: Fighter, Kineticist, Shifter, Slayer, Monk, Ninja, Rogue

Tier 5: Cavalier, Gunslinger, Samurai, Swashbuckler

Tier 5.5: Expert

Tier 6: Aristocrat, Commoner, Warrior

Others: Gentleman (the class is satirical / intentionally unplayable)

The following lists the third-party base classes available for Pathfinder (that we've reviewed):

Tier 0: Nothing (no reviewed class is this powerful, but they can be with certain capstones like the spellvampire shifter's Forever Evolving)

Tier 0.5: Vizier (Recordkeeper w/ Veilweaving sphere)

Tier 1: Psion (w/ Psychic Reformation), Wilder (w/ Psychic Reformation)

Tier 1.5: Psion, Taskshaper, Sphereshaper

Tier 2: Epilektoi, Fisherking, Harbinger, Mystic, Parasite, Rajah (Batal), Vizier, Wilder (w/ Student's Surge, Human FCB), Spellweaver, Transcendent (by Studio M-)

Tier 2.5: Aspect, Channeler, Daevic (w/ Knowledge Passion), Daevic Retold, Eclipse (w/ occultation), Fey Adept, Hedgewitch (w/ flex talents, most archetypes), Incanter, Necros, Prodigy (w/ custom techniques), Occultist (by Radiance House), Rajah, Sage (w/ ki clone, custom techniques), Shadow Weaver, Spiritualist (by Drop Dead Studios), Stalker, Thug, Troubador, Voyager, Warder, Wilder, Zealot

Tier 3: Armiger, Armorist, Conscript, Cryptic, Daevic, Dilettante, Dissident, Dragoon, Dread (w/o fear immune enemies), Eclipse, Enlightened Scholar (w/ spellcasting), Guru, Hedgewitch, Helmsman, Highlord, Huay, Medic, Nexus, Prodigy, Promethean, Psychic Warrior, Reaper, Sage, Scholar, Stormbound, Soul Weaver, Tactician, Thaumaturge, Theorist, Vitalist, Volur, Warden, Warlord, Wraith

Tier 3.5: Aegis (no archetypes / extra access), Blacksmith, Bravo, Courser, Elementalist, Eliciter, Envoy, Kheshig, Mageknight, Mountebank, Professional, Radiant, Sage, Scholar, Sentinel, Shifter (by Drop Dead Studios), Soulforge, Soulknife (Gifted Blade), Striker, Symbiat, Technician, Thaumaturge (Savant), Zodiac (Lunar)

Tier 4: Commander, Demon Hunter, Echo, Marksman, Mastermind, Voltaic, War Dancer, Zodiac (Solar)

Tier 4.5: Agent, Enlightened Scholar (w/o spellcasting), Crux, Kineticist, Kusa, Soulknife, Successor

Tier 5: Paramour, Vauntguard

Tier 5.5: Dread (w/ fear immune enemies)

Tier 6


For completeness sake (and for players who prefer the 3.5 version of classes), there's also a table of base classes and base tiers in D&D 3.5:

Tier 0: Nothing (no published class is this powerful, but some builds can be with options like the Incantatrix or near-infinite power point abuse.  Other prestige classes like Illithid Savant, Beholder Mage, or Shadowcraft Mage can get you here.)

Tier 0.5:  Erudite (Spell to Power variant), Psionic Artificer

Tier 1: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Shaman (Kalamar), Wizard

Tier 1.5: Cleric (Evangelist, Spontaneous), Death Master, Druid (Spontaneous), Erudite, Shaman, Sha'ir, Spirit Shaman, Psion, Tantrist, Templar (Athas), Urban Druid (not the ACF), Wu Jen

Tier 2: Binder (w/ Zceryll vestige), Favored Soul, Sorcerer, Truenamer (w/ Conjunctive Gate)

Tier 2.5: Ardent, Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Factotum (w/ Font of Inspiration), Imagist, Mystic, Shugenja, Wilder

Tier 3: Bard, Binder, Crusader, Psychic Warrior, Ranger (Mystic), Spellthief (Trickster), Swordsage, Warblade, Warmage

Tier 3.5: Dragonfire Adept, Duskblade, Factotum, Healer, Incarnate, Jester, Nightstalker, Psychic Rogue, Ranger (Wild Shape), Shadowcaster, Totemist, Warlock

Tier 4: Adept, Barbarian, Fighter (Dungeon Crasher), Kundala, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Scout, Spellthief

Tier 4.5: Brigand, Divine Mind (w/ Mind's Eye updates), Dragon Shaman, Fighter, Hexblade, Lurk, Marshal, Monk, Ninja, Savant, Sohei, Soulknife, Truenamer

Tier 5: Bard (Athas), Battle Dancer, Courtier, Gladiator (Kalamar), Inkyo, Knight, Noble, Master, Magewright, Mariner, Mountebank, Samurai (OA, CW w/ Imperious Command)Soulborn, Swashbuckler

Tier 5.5: Divine Mind, Samurai (CW), Expert, Gladiator (Athas)

Tier 6: Aristocrat, Commoner, Warrior

Others: Eidolon, Eidoloncer, Mlar, Truenamer (no optimization), the various racial paragons (these classes can be taken at 1st level, but they don't function as base classes in the usual way, so they don't get a tier rating).

Note that this game will use the Pathfinder classes and rules by default.  So players should reference the Pathfinder table when building characters with classes that also appear in D&D 3.5.  However, players unfamiliar with Pathfinder or that prefer D&D 3.5 classes can still use those versions.  We just don't want players picking underpriced classes for powergaming purposes.

That's all you need to know to get a basic sense for the system.  I usually help new players make their characters, so don't worry if this seems like a lot to take in.  Feedback on the system has been overwhelmingly positive, so it's worth the effort, I promise.  That said, I've answered some frequently asked questions below to help smooth out the process:

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder are both incredibly rich games that allow for incredibly diverse character concepts.  However, not every concept is viable, and many are simply impossible.  Often, building characters for these games is a process of approximation, requiring elements of multiple classes to realize a player's fantasy.  When multiclassing isn't enough, gestalt offers an alternative way to combine classes that works better for most builds.

For example, if a player's character concept was Batman, they'd typically be advised to use the Wizard class, since Wizards have the most options for their "utility belt."  Another phrasing of the concept might be, "As the world's greatest detective, Batman investigates the criminal underworld and is always prepared for any situation."  Wizards have both the intelligence and the tools to fit that concept.  However, another key aspect of the character is that he doesn't use magic or rely on supernatural abilities - he's an otherwise normal human capable of doing extraordinary feats.  A Wizard would be a poor fit for this aspect, but an Investigator or a Ninja might be a better match.  Unfortunately, neither class alone has as many tools as the Wizard, and so even a well-optimized Investigator or Ninja might have difficultly being prepared for every situation.  By combining these two classes together in gestalt, we can expand the character's toolbox and come closer to realizing the original fantasy without sacrificing any of the key aspects of the character.

That said, gestalt characters are markedly more powerful than normal characters, and they lend themselves to high-fantasy games where nearly superhuman capabilities are the norm.  As such, gestalt isn't appropriate for every group or playstyle, but it tends to enable more than it constrains.

Not all classes are created equal.  Even in the hands of new players unfamiliar with their potential, the core classes can feel unbalanced.  Over the years, the community has tried to explain this state of affairs with the Tier System for Classes.  Simply put, it is our best approximation for the relative power and versatility of each class.  This is useful when considering gestalt because gestalt tends to magnify the power and versatility of each class.  The gap between a tier 1 class and a tier 3 class becomes even wider in gestalt, especially if one character is a gestalt of two tier 1 classes.  To improve the viability of lower tier classes and the character concepts they support, I turned to the tier rankings to balance gestalt builds.

Continuing the example from the "Why Gestalt?" answer, an Investigator|Ninja gestalt character might better fit the concept of Batman than a pure Wizard, but a pure Wizard still has the potential to be more powerful and versatile than a mostly mundane character, especially if they gestalt with another class.  We don't want players to feel that they are missing out by choosing less-optimal options, so we give incentives to players to pick combinations of lower-tier classes.  In principle, this means that both a single-class Wizard and an Investigator|Fighter|Monk|Ninja|Rogue|Vigilante would eventually measure up to the same overall power and versatility.  In practice, this depends entirely on the system mastery and skill of the player.

While tiered gestalt dramatically raises the ceiling for character optimization, it also increases the floor in a way that provides a better foundation for those that can handle its complexity.  The tier system will always only be a rough estimate for each class, but it's the best we have for now.  I'll continue to re-evaluate the base tier for each class, and consider what options are sufficient to change the tier of a class.

Yes!  At first level you may choose up to three classes to be your primary classes and gain all of their class features simultaneously, as you would with two classes in gestalt.  Your first level in each primary class costs only 1 CP, so it's entirely possible to advance three tier 3 classes from level 1 to 20.  Such characters are definitely stronger than their non-gestalt counterparts, but the campaign's difficulty accounts for this.

In principle, there's no limit to the number of classes you can gestalt simultaneously, so long as you can pay the associated CP costs for access to each class.

By "base tier" we mean the tier of the class when played as intended by a player of reasonable skill.  You could think of it as the optimization floor for the class, excluding archetypes and similar options.  That is, as long as you're not intentionally trying to sabotage your build, you should expect to have a level of power and versatility roughly equal to other classes in your tier.  There's a lot of options that can change a class's tier, and the optimization ceiling for a given class isn't always clear, so the effective tier of a given class depends on the specific options taken for that build.  Ultimately, the GM will need to adjudicate whether a given option changes a class's tier, but players are advised to use their own discretion.

Players familiar with the original tier system threads may recall Why each class is in its tier.

Rather than break down each class individually, I'll discuss them as a group in their own section:

3.P Notes for Vancian Spellcasters

3.P Notes for Psionic Manifestors

3.P Notes for Martial Initiatiors

3.P Notes for Spheres of Power, Might, and Guile

3.P Notes for Akasha and Incarnum

3.P Notes for Occult Binders

See also the Archetype Tier List.  Note that not all archetypes or other options are shown in the tier listings above.  Most don't sufficiently change a class's power or versatility enough to warrant a tier change, and we expect players to bring any problematic options to the GM's attention.

One advantage of the tiered gestalt system is that bannings are rarely necessary.  If a class or option is powerful, we simply price it prohibitively.  A few options are not appropriate for the Ledge games, notably the Epic rules / options as presented in D&D 3.5 and a number of class that don't function in the usual way (listed as "Others" in the tier listings above).  Any other bannings will be listed here.

  • DANDWIKI is banned.  The site confuses new players and has proven unreliable in the past.  Always confirm that a rule or option appears elsewhere to be safe.
  • D&D 3.5 Epic rules and content are banned.  See the 3.P Mythic House Rules for updates.
  • By player request, Pageant of the Peacock has been banned.  It's just too abusable.

You may take third party classes not listed above with GM approval.  However, such classes will be priced as though they're a tier higher than expected until the GM has had sufficient time to review them in play.  So this means the GM will work with you to establish their base tier, and then allow you to test them out as though they were a tier higher than that.  This is to discourage, but not completely disallow, new content that might be poorly designed / balanced.

Once the base tier has been proven in play, the GM will consider listing the class for all players and removing the penalty.  The higher the demand for a third party class / subsystem, the more likely it will be reviewed and incorporated.

Most tier 1 and tier 2 classes have the potential for the same level of power, but tier 1 classes are more versatile.  Usually, this comes down to the differences between prepared and spontaneous casters.  If an archetype or other option would turn a spontaneous caster in a prepared caster, that might be sufficient to increase the effective tier (and associated CP pricing) by 1.  Similarly, if an archetype would change a prepared caster into a spontaneous caster, that would decrease the effective tier by 1.  Some exceptions are noted in the tier listings.  Access to powerful items can also change the effective tier of a class, such as Knowstones or Mnemonic Vestments.

Martial initiators might be considered tier 3 if not for their access to supernatural disciplines.  These disciplines are stronger than their extraordinary counterparts, and so tend to increase the tier of initiators with access to them.  A single such discipline might increase a class to tier 2.5, while two or more supernatural disciplines allows them to compete with tier 2 classes in combat.  The tier listings reflect how many supernatural disciplines an initiator class has access to by default.

Some options give characters more actions per round (see Font of Inspiration for Factotums), greatly increase a character's versatility (see Psychic Reformation for manifesters), or significantly increase a key statistic (see the Many-fanged dagger for sneak attackers).  Generally, if an option doubles the power or versatility of a class, it warrants an effective tier increase.

Notably, tier evaluations are made in a vacuum - I consider how strong an option would be in a non-gestalt game.  So specific interactions between classes in a build are not considered.  Also, tier changes are not applied retroactively, so if you choose an option that increases a class's effective tier, the level at which you chose that option is the first level for which you apply the new CP price.

Multiclassing is allowed and encouraged, following most of the same rules as non-gestalt games.  However, after your first three primary classes, any additional classes begin their CP cost progression as though you were taking your third level in that class.

For example, if you chose to multiclass into sorcerer after already taking at least one level in three other classes, then you'd have to pay 4 CP for your first sorcerer level, 8 CP for your second, 12 for your third, etc.  This means that you'll only ever pay 1 or 2 CP for the first two levels in up to three classes (your primary classes), excluding tier 5 or 6 classes.

Multiclassing or gestalting hybrid classes with their base classes is allowed.  Your primary classes don't strictly need to be the first three classes you take, but you should specify them at character creation.

Multiclassing in tiered gestalt can get complicated very quickly, so it's best to keep track of your classes and CP costs in a spreadsheet or table.  Link any level-by-level breakdown when you submit your character sheet.

2023 Note: Changes to the tier cost scaling removes the need for the "three primary classes" rule above.  No need to track anything like that anymore.

When prestige classes advance the primary class features of their base class, they continue the CP cost progression of that base class.

For example, if a Wizard takes the Loremaster prestige class, then each level of the Loremaster class has the same CP cost as though the character had advanced in another level of Wizard.  This is because Loremaster advances spellcasting, the primary class feature of Wizards.  This includes any changes to the effective tier of the base class, as dictated by other options.

When a prestige class doesn't advance the primary features of a class, you instead price it as though it were a new base class of the appropriate tier.

For example, if the Dragon Disciple prestige class didn't advance spellcasting or grant ability score increases, it would be the equivalent of a tier 5 class.  So a Sorcerer taking her first level of Dragon Disciple would only need to pay 2 CP (assume it's tier 5.5).  The next three levels advance spellcasting, so they'd cost the same CP as if she was taking additional levels of Sorcerer.  The 5th and 9th level also don't progress spellcasting, so she'd only need to pay 2 CP for each of those levels.  Ability score increases are handled separately, see the answer below.  She'd still be allowed to gestalt Sorcerer levels with those dead levels of Dragon Disciple (to retain full spellcasting progression), but in that case she'd pay both the CP cost for the Dragon Disciple and the Sorcerer (so 2 + 16 = 18 CP for the 5th and 9th levels).

Unlike in normal gestalt, dual-advancement prestige classes are allowed.  In this case, players must pay the CP cost for the progression in both base classes.  To determine this CP cost, you take the lesser of either the sum of both classes' CP cost, or the CP cost of one tier higher than the highest base class you're advancing.

For example, a Wizard|Cleric -> Mystic Theurge would still need to pay the CP costs for both their Wizard and Cleric spellcasting advancement.  If they summed the CP costs for both they would exceed the CP allotment per level (24 + 24 > 24), delaying their spellcasting progression (by 20th level they'd end up with 13th level spellcasting in both Wizard and Cleric, with ~4 levels in another class).  However, by pricing the Mystic Theurge as a tier 0 class, they can maintain nearly a full spellcasting progression (with 18th level spellcasting in Wizard and Cleric at level 20).  Similarly, a Magus|Inquisitor -> Mystic Theurge would be able to complete their spellcasting progression and still have enough CPs for another full class (of tier 3 or lower).  An Eldritch Knight advancing Wizard and Fighter might choose to pay the sum of each class's CP cost (perhaps 24+3), rather than pricing it as a tier 0 class.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a prestige class advances the primary features of a class.  For example, is sneak attack the primary class feature of the Rogue?  Are bonus combat feats the primary class feature of the Fighter?  For this reason, the pricing of each prestige class is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Check with the GM to be sure.

For players looking to use templates or unusual races, there are a few factors to consider.  First, Level Adjustment (LA) and Challenge Rating (CR) have little meaning in tiered gestalt, so ignore them and any associated rules (so LA - templates are available to players).  Second, most template progressions and racial hit die advance as tier 4 or 5 classes, evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Third, the ability score adjustments and granted class-features are handled separately (see below).  Finally, pathfinder races constructed with more than 15 race points must pay the difference in CP (so drow nobles cost 41-15=26 CP extra).

Let's use a dragon as an example.  The base racial hit die of a dragon are roughly equal to a tier 4.5 class, their sorcerer spellcasting advances as a tier 2 class, and their ability score increases advance using a special advancement each (see the next Q&A).  So just considering their hit die and sorcerer spellcasting, they would eventually cost 4+16=20 CP per level as they advance age categories.  The dragon's breath weapon, flight, and other natural abilities would be included in this price.

Players are encouraged to use template or racial progressions where available.  When level-by-level advance is not available, a (usually more expensive) lump sum will be calculated by the GM.

Yes.  Treat each ability score as though it were a tier 2 class.  So the first +2 bonus to a single ability score would cost 4 CP, the second +2 bonus to that score would cost 8 CP, etc. (assuming you didn't choose this as one of your primary classes).  A character with an arbitrarily high ability score and few abilities will never perform better than a tier 2 class, so eventually each +2 increase will cost 16 CP.  Permanent ability score penalties follow the same pattern, giving you bonus CP depending on the penalty you receive.

Note that these costs are delineated by ability score, so it's possible to pay 16 CP for a +2 bonus to your highest ability score and 4 CP for a +2 bonus to your lowest ability score.  These costs don't just apply to players who choose to increase their ability scores directly, but to all permanent ability score increases a character may receive outside of the standard progression (so excluding standard racial bonuses, leveling increases, or age/size changes, mythic bonuses, etc.). 

For example, both Dragons and Dragon Disciples gain permanent bonuses to their ability scores as they advance.  These increases must be paid with CP beyond the costs associated with their hit die or class levels.  Ability score increases from different sources compound, so if you take a template that gives a +2 bonus to an ability score, and then a second that gives a +2 bonus to that same ability score, you'd pay 4+5=9 CP not 4+4=8 CP. 

When taking a class, template, or unusual race, you can't forgo ability score bonuses to reduce the CP cost.  As with any other option, you must pay all CP costs to advance.  For the purposes of what qualifies as a permanent ability score adjustment, my rule of thumb is whether the bonus would persist for 24 hours in an antimagic field.  If the answer is yes, then you'll need to pay CP for it.  If the answer is no (because it comes from a spell or magic item), then you don't need to pay CP.  And to reiterate, bonuses received as part of every character's standard progression don't count toward these costs, so ability point buy, standard racial bonuses, leveling increases, age changes, size changes, or even mythic path bonuses do not incur any additional costs.  Items or abilities intended to replace items (such as Vow of Poverty) do not cost additional CP either.  Players are advised to track bonuses paid via CP separately.

2023 Note: Changes to the tier pricing have had a side-effect on ability score pricing.  Ability scores now use a unique pricing calculation.  The first increase to an ability score costs 4 CP, the next 5 CP, and each subsequent increase to the same ability score costs 1 additional CP.  So +6 to an abilty score would cost 4+5+6=15 CP.  This makes ability score increases equal to their costs in the Race Point system.  Otherwise the rules remain the same.  Penalties to ability scores can result in CP refunds, but only at half the normal rate.  So your first -2 would only give you 2 CP, for example.

Yes.  Treat bonus feats acquired in this way as though they were a tier 3.5 class.  So each feat would cost 6 CP, except for the first, which would cost 4 CP.  These feats can be any for which you qualify.  In some cases, feats might be especially High Value and cost twice as much.  Likewise, I'd allow players to purchase Low Value feats at half the normal cost.  I consider any feat that has never appeared in a handbook or guide to be low value - basically flavor feats.

No.  I allowed these options in the past and found them difficult to balance.  Templates, ability score increases, and bonus feats can cover most options anyway, so I don't see a reason to allow other CP expenditures beyond classes at this time.

No, you can save your CP if you wish.  Keep a running total of your expended vs unexpended CP, so you'll know how much you have available for your next level.

Your CP for that option is refunded.  Generally, you can't ever permanently lose CP - all of the CP you've earned should be invested in classes and abilities that you are actively using.

If you wish to use minions, you can either leave them unchanged from their stated abilities, gestalt them and choose their new abilities, or let the GM decide in the context of the story.  If you choose your minions, and gestalt them, then you must pay the CP costs for those minions out of your own character's CP pool.  On the other hand, if you leave your minions with their basic stats or let the GM decide, then your character will not have to pay any additional CP (but see 3.P Mythic House Rules).

For example, if a Wizard gains a familiar in the normal way (so the familiar isn't gestalted), then the Wizard doesn't have to pay any additional CP.  If that same Wizard took the Leadership feat and gained a cohort, she'd have a choice: either leave the cohort's design up to the GM or choose the cohort's abilities and pay the CP costs.  Since there are not default stats for a cohort (as there are with familiars), these are the Wizard's only two options.

See 3.P Characer Creation House Rules for more rules related to character creation and the 3.P Character Creation Tutorial for more guidance on character creation.

Yes actually!  Others have been motivated by similar goals to create the Minor Gestalt system, and I've heard of a number of Tier Gestalt-like systems floating around as well.  Players interested in point-buy leveling systems might like Buy the Numbers for D&D 3.5.  These systems tend to try assign point values to individual class features, which I feel is too error-prone to be useful.  I decided to use the tier systems given the relatively wide agreement within the community.