House Rules

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Hello all,

I was just curious and wanted to see what House Rules other people used for their own campaigns.

So let's start a list! 
You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.
Hello all,

I was just curious and wanted to see what House Rules other people used for their own campaigns.

So let's start a list! 

None, that I can think of. I can't stand houserules.

However, I will make calls on things. Everyone at the table "Do Something Cool" power which lets them (including the DM) try unusual things involving powers, skills, or just description. These are handled case-by-case, though and do not set firm precedence.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

No elctronic gizmos at the table.

But as far as game mechanics: none. Plenty of improv with skills, but that is as intended.
Some of these aren't true House Rules, per se, but ...

1. Use of Inherent Bonuses system.
2. Don't bother tracking non-magical ammunition.
3. Start with a reasonable amount of equipment; spend the 100gp on ritual components, consumable magic items, ritual formulas, alchemical recipes and the like.
4. No alignment.
5. No half-races.  Half-Orcs are simply Orcs, Half-Elves simply don't exist.
6. No divine classes
7. The Raise Dead ritual does not exist.  Once you are dead, you are dead.  There is no coming back.
7a. PCs only die at negative-bloodied HP.  When reduced to zero HP, you are 'down'; you can't take actions, but are fully conscious and can see and hear normally and recieve healing effects normally.  When you fail three 'death' saves, you are then unconscious and cannot recieve healing effects until the short rest post-combat.
8. Stances don't end when you're knocked unconscious.
9. Free Rituals: PCs can use a number of rituals per day without expending components based on tier.  The ritual must have a fixed expenditure (aka 'Not enchant magic item').  2 at heroic, 3 at paragon, 4 in Epic*
10. Time is abstracted.  A round is not 'about six seconds', it's 'however long it takes everybody to do their allotted actions'.  A short rest is 'the breather after a battle', whether it's 10 seconds or 5 minutes.

*I may end the game at 20th, as I'm not a fan of Epic play, so this won't matter.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Right on.  I would sometimes persuade my DM to let my Warlord give a speech, or some sort of rallying cry in the heat of battle for a +1 to attacks against that enemy.
You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.

1. Improved Defenses feat for free. 



I'm debating on this (and free Expertise), ironically for the reverse reason most people seem to do it ... not that every character will take them anyway, but that nobody will...
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

7a. PCs only die at negative-bloodied HP.  When reduced to zero HP, you are 'down'; you can't take actions, but are fully conscious and can see and hear normally and recieve healing effects normally.  When you fail three 'death' saves, you are then unconscious and cannot recieve healing effects until the short rest post-combat.



Hmm, I like that one. I may just steal that for myself.

Nothing.

That is all.

The only one we use (and the players like) is MAX damage times 1D6 on Crits.  This only applies to PC crits.


Then gnome ranger doing 240 HP with one arrow makes for a great after session story  

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

The only one we use (and the players like) is MAX damage times 1D6 on Crits.  This only applies to PC crits.


Then gnome ranger doing 240 HP with one arrow makes for a great after session story  



Just a weeeeee bit unbalanced ...
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yeah, but it can make combats "a little" faster.


It also makes the 11 year old player of the Gnome feel a tad Heroic.  usually ends up being "wasted" on a standard.  

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

I have a natural tendency to shy away from house rules, myself, especially any which may be perceived as limiting or nerfing the PCs. The only house-rule I had became an actual rule later on (bonus saving throws can't hurt you).

There are some elements of my campaign setting which are a little unusual, such as a few additional races, a full-custom pantheon, regional languages (no Common), and no magic item shops. One of the PCs from my previous campaign ended up ruining the magic item economy 100 years previous to my current campaign, so any magic items the party gets must be either found or crafted; they cannot be bought. Mechanically, since the party has two ritual casters capable of crafting magic items, this isn't even a mechanical change, but I think it adds a bit of depth to the setting. 
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.
In 4e, the system is balanced enough (nothing's perfect) that house rules as they have existed in past editions are not necessary.

I put forth that the only house rules you need create and apply should be specifically geared toward making a particular style of D&D game work, not to modify the game itself for the sake of modifying it. And that style of game should be something you and your players agree to before you put pen to paper.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

And that style of game should be something you and your players agree to before you put pen to paper.


QFT.

It's sad how many people forget that part. 
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.
I have a general distaste for houserules because they are so often sprung on us.

Our current DM (we rotate every few months/levels) decided that when you roll a natural 1, "something bad happens".  This was not dicussed with the group, this was simply declared about halfway through our first encounter under this DM. It was eventually walked back to being purely flavor-text, with no mechanical effects whatsoever.

Cue two weeks later, when the Psion drops a dimensional scramble, and one of her four rolls on the enemies (she'd spent PPs to avoid hitting allies) crit misses. All of a sudden the cleric got hit by the Scramble instead.

Not attacked, hit. DM just decided he got hit, because she'd rolled a 1. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

I have a general distaste for houserules because they are so often sprung on us.

Our current DM (we rotate every few months/levels) decided that when you roll a natural 1, "something bad happens".  This was not dicussed with the group, this was simply declared about halfway through our first encounter under this DM. It was eventually walked back to being purely flavor-text, with no mechanical effects whatsoever.

Cue two weeks later, when the Psion drops a dimensional scramble, and one of her four rolls on the enemies (she'd spent PPs to avoid hitting allies) crit misses. All of a sudden the cleric got hit by the Scramble instead.

Not attacked, hit. DM just decided he got hit, because she'd rolled a 1. 


Sounds like an "old-school" DM. Back in the day, every character had a 1 in 20 chance of being a complete dunce every time they took an action. Many DMs carry that mentality with them to this day. It's strange that, in 3.5E, when a creature rolled a natural 20 on a saving throw, I never saw a DM rule that the spell had any unusual effect; the creature just avoided the spell really well. But when you shift the rolling onto the caster, suddenly a nat-1 (which is, essentially, the same result) means the caster did something wrong, and is suddenly a complete screw-up (sometimes accomplishing feats they could never do intentionally).

For some reason, DMs who played older editions tend to put a lot of weight on the dice. It's disconcerting for younger players, or those who know the math.

So again, I point to where I mentioned that all house-rules should be agreed upon by the entire group, with the POSSIBLE exception of house-rules that are integral to the nature of the campaign.
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.
Yeah, my post was pretty much agreeing with your point, Novacat. I don't usually mind houserules that are agreed-upon by the group beforehand (our group does use a few like that).

The problem is we're level 7, and this DM just started DMing, and all of a sudden this is the rule. That sort of unillateral shift in gameplay is jarring to begin with. That it was done in a group that is, by nature, not "the DM's table" but instead group-run (because we rotate DMs) really grinds my gears.

Fortunately, I play a semi-lazy warlord, so if it gets worse, I will just get lazier. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

So again, I point to where I mentioned that all house-rules should be agreed upon by the entire group, with the POSSIBLE exception of house-rules that are integral to the nature of the campaign.



Definitely, though even when using house rules as a stylistic choice, I'd still put said house rules out for discussion and revise them as needed. I might not have considered something that the other five participants in the game can easily spot.   So, so many DMing problems come from lack of transparency and not discussing things with the rest of the group. A simple conversation fixes a lot.

I agree with your diagnosis of the "old school" DM. And I feel for you, Cohen95. I've argued on these very forums that people should approach each version of D&D as if it was its own separate game, taking no assumptions with you between versions except the goal of having fun. A lot of these "house rules" are throwbacks to a time when house rules were necessary to plug glaring design holes in the game and after a certain point, they just began to feel "normal." I'm as guilty of this as the next guy, too, because even if you've stumbled upon this realization, sometimes you really have to examine your assumptions about the game to determine their source. It's easily missed until it becomes a problem when you're running a game in a different version.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I'm surprised to see some of the same things I do listed above.  Our 3.5E house rules:


  • Electronic Toys Rule:  No playing with electronic devices at the table:  texting, video games, TVs, music players, that sort of thing.  (Cuts down on distractions and speeds up play.)

  • "Dungeons & Accountants Rules":  These rules cut down on record-keeping (which isn't fun for the types of campagins and playing style for my group, reduce interruptions in the game, and speed up the game so we can focus on the "good stuff":


    • D&A Rule #1 - Streamlined Ammo:  Don't track "muggle" ammo.

    • D&A Rule #2 - Streamlined Starting Gear:  At character creation, I pass out a pre-printed adventuring gear "cheat-sheet" that includes a pool of standard adventuring equipment, and PCs start with a slightly lower amount of money; this is so that PCs don't have to worry about buying anything but weapons and armor.

    • D&A Rule #3 - Streamlined Adventuring Equipment:  Within reason, used or lost standard adventuring gear from the "cheat sheet" can be replaced for "free" between adventures starting at 3rd level (it's cheap enough that it would only cost the party loose change after a short while.)

    • D&A Rule #4 - No Experience System:  Don't worry about tracking XP - level-ups happen at convenient times between adventures, at the beginning or end of a session.

    • D&A Rule #5 - Ignore Encumbrance Tracking:  I don't worry about encumbrance, unless something silly comes up; that "something silly" has never come up for my group, but I figure we'll know it when we see it.  (My players are pretty good about using their imagination and saying "we stash that heavy stuff here so we can come back for it, and so we don't have to drag it everywhere."  I've never used that as a "gotcha" opportunity.)



  • "Chaotic Stupid / Lawful Annoying" Rule:  I don't use alignment - my players are better at creating believable characters without it.  (Improves the quality of character backgrounds and descriptions, and encourages role-play.)

  • Evil Character Rule:  Also known as the "What's a Player To Do Rule", from some common complaints in that forum.  In my group, there are "heroic" campaigns and "gritty/evil" campaigns.  In heroic campaigns, the PCs are expected to work together and try to do the right thing most of the time.  "Evil" or "edgy" characters, Player-on-Player attacks, Killer DM tricks, and that sort of thing are reserved for the other type of campaign.  The group agrees to the style of campaign before the campaign begins.  (This reduces the chance of game derailment and arguments caused by unexpected PC personality conflicts.)

  • Core Content Rule:  Any mechanics found in the PHB-1 can be assumed to be OK, unless I explicitly "outlaw" it some day (I've never had to ban any core content, and if I ever do, players will know about it before character creation.)  Anything from a source other than PHB-1 must be run by me first and I'll consider it on a case-by-case basis; count on third-party content having a very good chance of being rejected.  I am willing to home-brew stuff, but I try to keep home-brewed content as close to core precedents as possible.  (Keeps the addition of unbalanced outside content to a minimum.  My players have never complained, as I buy the books anyway.)

  • "Fluff" Rule:Mechanics should be changed only with caution, but "fluff" or "flavor" text can (and should) be changed as desired; run changes in fluff descriptions and backgrounds by me first, but I'm far more likely to embrace than to reject changes in fluff/flavor text.  Players are free to invent new   (Encourages player investment in the game world, and promote creativity.)

  • "Goblin Gear" Rule:  In one of the first games I ran, a player wanted to loot the weapons and armor of the Goblins the party just beat up.  I rules that the Goblin gear is part of the the pool of "gold pieces" collected after the fight, and that "gold pieces" collected from monsters actually refers to their cheap weapons and armor and other trade goods, in addition to some pocket change.  I've done this ever since, and describe a quick selection of the sort of "trade goods" collected from dead monsters rather than just calling it "15 Gold Pieces".  (Keeps looting sane and streamlined.)



My group doesn't like keeping track of XP, money, ammo, and generic equipment, and they seem to be fine with dropping alignment, Surprise Evil PCs, and 3rd-party content. 

So, these house-rules work great for my group, but your group's mileage may vary.

(Edited to add the "Dungeons & Accountants" rules.)
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri


  • "Goblin Gear" Rule:  In one of the first games I ran, a player wanted to loot the weapons and armor of the Goblins the party just beat up.  I rules that the Goblin gear is part of the the pool of "gold pieces" collected after the fight, and that "gold pieces" collected from monsters actually refers to their cheap weapons and armor and other trade goods, in addition to some pocket change.  I've done this ever since, and describe a quick selection of the sort of "trade goods" collected from dead monsters rather than just calling it "15 Gold Pieces".  (Keeps looting sane and streamlined.)






Great idea, I wonder how I never managed to think of this. 

IMAGE(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/SoulCatcher78/techdevil78.jpg)
Some of these aren't true House Rules, per se, but ...
4. No alignment.
5. No half-races.  Half-Orcs are simply Orcs, Half-Elves simply don't exist.
6. No divine classes

7a. PCs only die at negative-bloodied HP.  When reduced to zero HP, you are 'down'; you can't take actions, but are fully conscious and can see and hear normally and recieve healing effects normally.  When you fail three 'death' saves, you are then unconscious and cannot recieve healing effects until the short rest post-combat.



Hmm...these were interesting...hopefully Salla is still watching the thread and will comment some on the motivations behind them.  Wondering how much these were driven by a desire for a certain style of game world, and how much by issues that crept up during game sessions...especially interested in the motivation for no divine classes.



  • "Goblin Gear" Rule:  ....)




Great idea, I wonder how I never managed to think of this. 



Glad you liked it - I'm surprised I thought of it. 

[spoiler Goblin Gear Rule History and Example]
I'm notoriously bad at thinking quickly on my feet - I think of snappy come-backs days after the fact, and, worse still, I was distracted that night, so I'm amazed I thought of it.

But, somehow in a flash I pictured the party going through a full-cavity Dead Goblin Body Search, and players asking me:

"25 GP in their pockets, 5 silver pieces for each armor, and 2 silver pieces for each morning star?  Woohoo!  We'll be rich in no time!  Now, what about the dirty Goblin Socks - how much are those worth?  And if we skin the Goblins and tan their hides, can we get maybe 5 copper pieces per hide?  And we might be able to sell the meat to a dog food company, and his bones to a fertilizer company, sell his blood to the Red Ankh, and weave his hair into souvinir bracelets that we can sell on the street corner, and... oh, wait - is the Goblin morning star better than my longsword?  And will his leather armor fit my Human Fighter to replace his nice scale mail?"

"NO!"  I cried out to that imaginary glimpse into insanity; "that '25 gp' refers to every bit of wealth you can scavenge from the sad remains of those poor Goblins in the form of coin, gear, and anything else you can think of, so let them rest in peace and move on with the story!"  From that point on, I'd simply tell them: 

"After the fight, you found 25 gp worth of inferior armor and weapons, silver nose-rings, woodcuts of Goblin Porn, and a gold tooth among the remains of the Goblins.  Furthermore, the biggest Goblin also obtained somehow a Masterwork shortsword of strange design, you might want to make a note of that.  You can now take a closer look at the room...."

That solution seemed to make everyone happy, and so the Goblin Gear Rule was born.
[/spoiler]

I've also done the "No Half- races" thing, but I agree with Salla:  it's not really a "house rule". 

In our case, it was more an aesthetic choice for our home-brew campaign settings.  3.5E Half-Orcs regularly get replaced with the "Caliban" from the D20 Ravenloft setting (a re-fluffed Half-Orc), and I leave the Half-Elves open to be similarly re-fluffed, with small mechanics changes, into any odd PC race the players might want to use (the only time a player took me up on that was for a cat-folk character.)
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Some of these aren't true House Rules, per se, but ...
4. No alignment.
5. No half-races.  Half-Orcs are simply Orcs, Half-Elves simply don't exist.
6. No divine classes

7a. PCs only die at negative-bloodied HP.  When reduced to zero HP, you are 'down'; you can't take actions, but are fully conscious and can see and hear normally and recieve healing effects normally.  When you fail three 'death' saves, you are then unconscious and cannot recieve healing effects until the short rest post-combat.



Hmm...these were interesting...hopefully Salla is still watching the thread and will comment some on the motivations behind them.  Wondering how much these were driven by a desire for a certain style of game world, and how much by issues that crept up during game sessions...especially interested in the motivation for no divine classes.




The first three are simply things I've always hated.  Alignment is nothing more than an argument-inducing pain in the butt, genetics do not work that way, and my game worlds have no gods.

The last is a combination of philosophy and irritation.  For the former: I believe that easy PC death is bad for RP, as nobody will spend effort RPing a character and exploring the personality if they don't think it will live long enough to do so.  For the latter: I have an extremely pessimistic player who whines 'Well, if this guy dies, I'll just make another one' any time a battle tips against the PCs even a little bit, and I'm both sick of hearing it and sick of him thinking his character is a disposable resource and, as such, simply makes the character's race and class the sum total of his personality.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I'm surprised to see some of the same things I do listed above.  Our 3.5E house rules:


  • Electronic Toys Rule:  No playing with electronic devices at the table:  texting, video games, TVs, music players, that sort of thing.  (Cuts down on distractions and speeds up play.)

  • Streamlined Ammo:  Don't track "muggle" ammo. (Cuts down on record-keeping.)

  • Streamlined Starting Gear:  At character creation, I pass out a pre-printed adventuring gear "cheat-sheet" that includes a pool of standard adventuring equipment, and PCs start with a slightly lower amount of money; this is so that PCs don't have to worry about buying anything but weapons and armor.  (Speeds up character generation.)

  • Streamlined Adventuring Equipment:  Within reason, used or lost standard adventuring gear can be replaced for "free" between adventures starting at 3rd level (Cuts down on record-keeping - it's cheap enough that it would only cost the party loose change after a while.)

  • No Experience System:  Don't worry about tracking XP - level-ups happen at convenient times between adventures, at the beginning or end of a session.  (Cuts down on record-keeping, and the distractions of leveling-up in the middle of a session.)

  • No Alignment System:  I don't use alignment - my players are better at creating believable characters without it.  (Improves the quality of character backgrounds and descriptions, and encourages role-play.)

  • Evil Character Rule:  Also known as the "What's a Player To Do Rule", from some common complaints in that forum.  In my group, there are "heroic" campaigns and "gritty/evil" campaigns.  In heroic campaigns, the PCs are expected to work together and try to do the right thing most of the time.  "Evil" or "edgy" characters, Player-on-Player attacks, Killer DM tricks, and that sort of thing are reserved for the other type of campaign.  The group agrees to the style of campaign before the campaign begins.  (This reduces the chance of game derailment and arguments caused by unexpected PC personality conflicts.)

  • Core Content Rule:  Any mechanics found in the PHB-1 can be assumed to be OK, unless I explicitly "outlaw" it some day (I've never had to ban any core content, and if I ever do, players will know about it before character creation.)  Anything from a source other than PHB-1 must be run by me first and I'll consider it on a case-by-case basis; count on third-party content having a very good chance of being rejected.  I am willing to home-brew stuff, but I try to keep home-brewed content as close to core precedents as possible.  (Keeps the addition of unbalanced outside content to a minimum.  My players have never complained, as I buy the books anyway.)

  • "Fluff" Rule:  Mechanics should be changed only with caution, but "fluff" or "flavor" text can (and should) be changed as desired; run changes in fluff descriptions and backgrounds by me first, but I'm far more likely to embrace than to reject changes in fluff/flavor text.  Players are free to invent new   (Encourages player investment in the game world, and promote creativity.)

  • "Goblin Gear" Rule:  In one of the first games I ran, a player wanted to loot the weapons and armor of the Goblins the party just beat up.  I rules that the Goblin gear is part of the the pool of "gold pieces" collected after the fight, and that "gold pieces" collected from monsters actually refers to their cheap weapons and armor and other trade goods, in addition to some pocket change.  I've done this ever since, and describe a quick selection of the sort of "trade goods" collected from dead monsters rather than just calling it "15 Gold Pieces".  (Keeps looting sane and streamlined.)



My group doesn't like keeping track of XP, money, ammo, and generic equipment, and they seem to be fine with dropping alignment, Surprise Evil PCs, and 3rd-party content. 

So, these house-rules work great for my group, but your group's mileage may vary.



Yeah, okay I definitely like most of those. Some are simple enough. I've always figured the "Goblin Gear" rule was assumed, especially in 4e. When my players try to loot corpses for everything they can possibly find and sell, I stop handing out X GP and start handing out "X GP worth of equipment" so that they stop trying to loot everything.

The Core Content rule bugs me a little. I've always assumed all of the Player's Handbooks and (Power Source) Power books were totally legit, at a minimum, as long as you have whatever book you're using. Our current campaign allows everything except Playtest. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

He's playing 3.5.

Though that rule STILL doesn't make sense, since the cleric, druid, and wizard were broken right out of the starting gate.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
As a general rule, I take great pains to keep the game the same as it is. Alignment is generally Unaligned or "nicer" but will usually be ignored anyway. I do disallow races that aren't in a player resource (PH1-3, HotF..., and HoS/F), and we turned away a guy who wanted to play a Warforged wizard and flavor him like IronMan.

I prefer a game that resembles the core of the rules/setting being used as closely as possible. I don't want to disallow divine characters in FR any more than I want to allow them in DS, for instance.

Rules Updates are probably the biggest houserule we use. When a rule is updated/errata'd, we only start using it if A) the new rule is easier, B) the new rule is more fun to use, or C) the new rule favors the PCs.

I've never played with crit fails in 4e, because I hated them so much in 2nd/3.X, and I'm very, very upset to have had them forced upon me now, but there's not much that can be done about that. 

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

He's playing 3.5.

Though that rule STILL doesn't make sense, since the cleric, druid, and wizard were broken right out of the starting gate.




Bad experience as a player in an earlier edition with some new players who dragged all sorts of questionable wackiness into the game out of magazines, obscure books, and apparently out of thin air.  The DM was in a good humor that first day and allowed it, apparently thinking "what could possibly go wrong?"  The results were hopelessly broken.  That DM started saying "no" more often after that (while those players responded "no fair" and pitched tantrums), but every time he said "yes", we regretted it.  He eventually settled on his house rule of "I don't allow anything from a book I don't own" and left it at that.

When I started DMing in 3rd and 3.5, none of my players ever played a Druid or Wizard, and the only Clerics and Sorcerors we've ever had in the group were my DMPCs (who were multi-classed with NPC Expert, with lower stats than the regular PCs, which I did to cripple the character as a result of my bad experiences with other folks' DMPCs in earlier editions, experiences I didn't want to inflict on my players; I would have done the same thing with any class, though.)

So, I'd never even known about the apparent broken-ness of the 3.5E spell-casters until I joined this forum Laughing

My version of my old DM's rule "I don't allow anything from a book I don't own" is similar, in that I only own the three core 3.5E rulebooks, the three Ravenloft D20 core books, and a couple of monster books, so PHB-1 is pretty much the only real Player's Handbook I own.  It's different in that I trust my players enough to consider alternatives, as long as I know what they are up to.  But, they seem happy with just using the paperback versions of the PHB-1 I bought them as gifts, as they've never bought anything else or asked to try anything wacky, so it's a rule that I've never had to invoke.

It worked for my group, but your group's mileage may vary
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
One very minor houserule that 4E needs, in campaigns where it's relevant, is additional musical instruments.

Most Bard rituals require a musical instrument of a specified minimum value (depending on the ritual) as a focus. Here are the different minimum values in GP, in order:

5
20
50
680 
840
1,000

Now here are the values of actual musical instruments, in GP, with the locations of the above costs marked by <:

3
5 <
7
9
10
12
15
<
<
520
680 <
<
2,600
65,000
3,125,000

In particular, notice that a ritual which requires a 20- or 50-GP instrument, effectively requires a 520-GP instument. And the ritual that takes the 840- or 1,000- instrument effectively takes a 2,600-GP instrument.

If this were the intent, those rituals would require more expensive instruments. More likely, it's a communication failure regarding a specialized subsection of a minor section of the rules.

Worse, all instruments over 15 GP are found (according to the online Compendium) only in Dragon. So a player who doesn't have access to DDI can only use 4 of the 11 Bard rituals... ALL of which are in either PHB2 or Arcane Power.

The DM (Iserith) running the game where I play a bard agreed that it is perfectly reasonable for an accomplished bard to have an extremely well-crafted and well-decorated - but non-magical - harp worth 50 GP.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Here are a few I use:

1. Inherent Bonuses - obviously not exactly a house rule but I've always thought the characters should be good no matter the weapon they pick up.  They may not be as flashy but they can still hold their own.

2. No raise dead ritual - If the characters dies i really want it to have an impact on the group, not just a monetary penalty.  They are harder to kill though (see 3).

3.  PC's die when they hit negative bloodied value - similiar to what Salla uses.  Though I play mine a bit closer to the rules in terms of being unconcious and what not.  I'm still contemplating having some type of penalty if you fail all the death saving throws.  

4.  When you roll a nat 1 your character inadvertantlly kills a little blonde girl.  More of a running gag than a houserule but the girl has basically become a highlander.

5.  I don't have them keep track of mundane ammo.  I have stated that if the story calls for a limiting of resources then they might need to but I don't forsee it happening.

 I'm definitely going to steal Salla's rituals per day rule.  I really like that.  I know the last person who did rituals would have liked that rule.  

  1. No Alignment. Some systems require additional house rules.

  2. Don't track ammo. (exception for 4 poisoned arrows)

  3. PC vs PC rolls only if both parties agree. If one says it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

  4. DM rolls in the open. Players roll wherever.

  5. DM needs all character sheets before first game.

  6. First session is all character gen and campaign expectations. As in, histories, backstories, and how the PCs know one another, what they did before the adventure. If you want to write mechanical stuff go ahead.

  7. Point buy is used when possible.

  8. No XP. 4e we will use it when I create encounters, but don't track it. We level when a majority of the group agrees.

  9. PC needs to explain how their combos, and rules work before the game. This is to ensure the PC knows how it works for real, and how it will work in this game. (Make sure you didn't copy and paste off the internet and don't know how it works)

  10. Inherant bonuses for 4e. 

  11. There is a wiki for the game. Having a character backstory and pic on there wins you brownie points. Having an after session in character recap wins you action points (or similar depending on game). New wiki is set up for each new game, unless it continues on the old game.

  12. Debate rules after the game.

  13. You have to bring, a copy of the obscure rulebook you want to use to the game. Or at least a photocopy of relavent rules. (I own more books, for a wider variety of systems than any of my players, usually not an issue)

  14. There is a must read and a should read section of mechanical house rules. Must read is always under half a page and fairly basic. (should read numbers 80+ for 3.5, most others its 2-4 pages)

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Our own house rules:

Math fixes: All players get a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls and defences, increasing to +2 at paragon and + 3 at epic tier.  We have redesigned the various weapon expertise feats to grant an untyped, nonscaling +1 bonus to hit with the chosen weapon in addition to the other benefits.  This makes the weapon expertise feats truly optional and frees up feat slots for fun things like multiclassing.

Multiclassing:  Power-swap feats can be taken for free at the appropriate levels once you have taken the initial multiclassing feat.  This makes multiclassing a bit more attractive.

Potions:  Retrieving and drinking a potion costs a single minor action.  A character may use their shield hand to do this even if they are using a heavy shield.  Retrieving and administering a potion to someone else costs a standard action.  We have found that the existing rules on drinking and retrieving potions are cumbersome and penalize shield-using classes.  This simplifies things.

Healing: if there is a leader class in the party, then we assume that that person is using their healing powers to improve healing surges spend during a short rest.  Any static or die-roll bonuses are added to any healing surge spent.

Ammunition: We don't track mundane arrows and bolts, but we do track thrown weapons like javelins.
We started raw from the beginning, so these are a result of the most common issues from all past games for the group.

1) Everyone starts with an 18, a 16 and four 10s. We roll 3d4 (drop lowest) four times and add to the 10s for our other stats.
2) Math fixes are free
3) 1 free weapon or armor proficiency.
4) 1 free weapon, 1 free set of armor and 1 free S.A.K. Buy anything else you want with the starting GP.
5) We don't track non magical ammo, but you must have at least 1 bundel of it to work an ammo based ranged weapon.
6) Nixed weight out. It was always forgotten or a hastle, so we just dropped it.

Past this, it falls into table manners and other such things that have little to do with the game on a mechanical level.

Multiclassing:  Power-swap feats can be taken for free at the appropriate levels once you have taken the initial multiclassing feat.  This makes multiclassing a bit more attractive.



I like this. I may start adding this in next campaign
...
6) Nixed weight out. It was always forgotten or a hastle, so we just dropped it.



That's one I forgot to mention - I don't worry about encumbrance, unless something silly comes up (that "something silly" has never come up for my group, I figure we'll know it when we see it, though.)

It's another "Dungeons & Accountants" rule.  I hate record-keeping and math that don't contribute anything fun to our game
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I have a book of house rules for fourth edition, maybe I should send it to WotC for publishing have be called... Extended Rules for Thinkers or something like that :P.
I am Blue/Black "The Red Dragon is pulverizing your friends..." -Me "Okay so I'm up here?" -Shrui "Yeah..." -Me "Okay I want to triple backflip down from the ceiling while holding my family's katana and drive it through the Dragon's head." -Shrui "Yeah you'll take a -15 because he's moving his head." -Me "Don't care, I try it anyway." -Shrui (Acrobatics Roll Succeeds) (Attack Roll Succeeds) "How much extra damage do I get for this attack?" -Shrui "It dies, you don't need to do an attack roll." -Me Evil Dungeon Master says, And now young adventurer... you die.
I have a book of house rules for fourth edition, maybe I should send it to WotC for publishing have be called... Extended Rules for Thinkers or something like that :P.



If a house rule doesn't make the game more fun or attempts to add complexity to the game in the pursuit of realism, I would submit that it is not only unnecessary, but bad.

Outside of a stylistic choices which can change from campaign to campaign, house rules are not required in 4e. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I have a book of house rules for fourth edition, maybe I should send it to WotC for publishing have be called... Extended Rules for Thinkers or something like that :P.



How about a couple highlights from your most commonly-referenced and popular house rules?
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I have a book of house rules for fourth edition, maybe I should send it to WotC for publishing have be called... Extended Rules for Thinkers or something like that :P.



If a house rule doesn't make the game more fun or attempts to add complexity to the game in the pursuit of realism, I would submit that it is not only unnecessary, but bad.

Outside of a stylistic choices which can change from campaign to campaign, house rules are not required in 4e. 



I guess that's true, but sometimes I find that fields which handle to many tasks become far too vast in variance, I prefer a level of organization with less of this large zone of variance. Like I said, Leucis could make a history check while aiming for the eye of a dragon to remember his training, but he could also just take a more complex route which could make it more believable.. and hold enough suspension so that if it fails or hits it has major value as to how he is remembered.
I am Blue/Black "The Red Dragon is pulverizing your friends..." -Me "Okay so I'm up here?" -Shrui "Yeah..." -Me "Okay I want to triple backflip down from the ceiling while holding my family's katana and drive it through the Dragon's head." -Shrui "Yeah you'll take a -15 because he's moving his head." -Me "Don't care, I try it anyway." -Shrui (Acrobatics Roll Succeeds) (Attack Roll Succeeds) "How much extra damage do I get for this attack?" -Shrui "It dies, you don't need to do an attack roll." -Me Evil Dungeon Master says, And now young adventurer... you die.
I try to keep the house rules to a minimum and stick to what is in the books as much as I can, but I do have a couple of things I do as a house rule.

1) First level adventurers get a free adventurer's kit.  This is a holdover from a DM I've played with.

2) Simplified experience.  This is suggested as an option in the DMG, where instead of giving out an experience amount, which requires math and experience tables, you simply level characters after a certain number of encounters.  After an encounter, combat, roleplaying, or skill challenge, I award players an encounter based on the difficulty of the challenge.  I predetermine the level of that encounter so that if it turns out to be easy due to player creativity, it's a reward.  The number of encounters required to level at lower levels is set at 8, and as characters progress, the number increases up to 10.

3) RP counters.  Going along with the simplified experience idea, I award characters RP counters if they do something creative or interesting during the course of the game.  I award these for good roleplaying primarily, but I also sometimes will award them for other reasons.  An example of this is asking my players to identify which NPC I had to come up with on the spot in the previous week.  The player who answered first and correctly got an RP counter for that.  In terms of game mechanics, five RP counters equals a regular combat encounter, so a player who roleplays is going to advance more quickly than a person who sits back and watches.  I avoid giving out counters for good combat decisions, though I would reward creativity or flavorful usage of powers that adds to the game. 
I guess that's true, but sometimes I find that fields which handle to many tasks become far too vast in variance, I prefer a level of organization with less of this large zone of variance. Like I said, Leucis could make a history check while aiming for the eye of a dragon to remember his training, but he could also just take a more complex route which could make it more believable.. and hold enough suspension so that if it fails or hits it has major value as to how he is remembered.



We're playing a game of magic and dragons and pixies. There's nothing believable about it. And if there's nothing believable about it to begin with, adding complexity, more rolls, modifiers, and other house rules to explain the physics of a sling stone doesn't add to the fun. The players are going to remember stealing the kobold's sling stones using cantrips, not how many rules they overcame to get to succeed at it. They'll remember firing an arrow into the dragon's eye, not whether or not the dragon blinked just in time to avoid being blinded due to some arcane rules you designed for reasons unknown.

Nobody needs their coolness justified by arbitrary legalities. So skip it, reduce your table transactions, and focus on the action, not the minutiae that makes that action somehow more "real."

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I guess that's true, but sometimes I find that fields which handle to many tasks become far too vast in variance, I prefer a level of organization with less of this large zone of variance. Like I said, Leucis could make a history check while aiming for the eye of a dragon to remember his training, but he could also just take a more complex route which could make it more believable.. and hold enough suspension so that if it fails or hits it has major value as to how he is remembered.



We're playing a game of magic and dragons and pixies. There's nothing believable about it. And if there's nothing believable about it to begin with, adding complexity, more rolls, modifiers, and other house rules to explain the physics of a sling stone doesn't add to the fun. The players are going to remember stealing the kobold's sling stones using cantrips, not how many rules they overcame to get to succeed at it. They'll remember firing an arrow into the dragon's eye, not whether or not the dragon blinked just in time to avoid being blinded due to some arcane rules you designed for reasons unknown.

Nobody needs their coolness justified by arbitrary legalities. So skip it, reduce your table transactions, and focus on the action, not the minutiae that makes that action somehow more "real."



XD Sorry the Dragon blinks, since you didn't time it properly and find the equation of the line on your graph the arrow skims his eyelid.
Don't worry I'm not this insane of a DM, maybe I'll mix my rule with yours a little for the eye shot, but to be honest I ended up cutting the slinger thing out entirely after remembering that a stone would have more force, plus more importantly he was too far away to pick up the stones from the side. I'm sorry but everytime I read the Dragon blinking line I can't stop laughing, I might joke about this in the game just for laughs.
I am Blue/Black "The Red Dragon is pulverizing your friends..." -Me "Okay so I'm up here?" -Shrui "Yeah..." -Me "Okay I want to triple backflip down from the ceiling while holding my family's katana and drive it through the Dragon's head." -Shrui "Yeah you'll take a -15 because he's moving his head." -Me "Don't care, I try it anyway." -Shrui (Acrobatics Roll Succeeds) (Attack Roll Succeeds) "How much extra damage do I get for this attack?" -Shrui "It dies, you don't need to do an attack roll." -Me Evil Dungeon Master says, And now young adventurer... you die.
I have a book of house rules for fourth edition, maybe I should send it to WotC for publishing have be called... Extended Rules for Thinkers or something like that :P.

The smiley implies you're not being serious, but we're all thinkers here.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Alright, I'm not sure how to reply but this isn't meant to be offensive... just saying.

I am Blue/Black "The Red Dragon is pulverizing your friends..." -Me "Okay so I'm up here?" -Shrui "Yeah..." -Me "Okay I want to triple backflip down from the ceiling while holding my family's katana and drive it through the Dragon's head." -Shrui "Yeah you'll take a -15 because he's moving his head." -Me "Don't care, I try it anyway." -Shrui (Acrobatics Roll Succeeds) (Attack Roll Succeeds) "How much extra damage do I get for this attack?" -Shrui "It dies, you don't need to do an attack roll." -Me Evil Dungeon Master says, And now young adventurer... you die.