DM David's Houserules

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We playtested these houserules (comments in blue below).

After our playtesting (and reading the boards here), these are the houserules we're thinking of testing out in our next session.

Why houserule playtest materials? Because they specifically asked what elements of the rules didn't work out and what things we changed to suit our tastes. In my mind, the houserules here answer both those questions.

Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!


Hit Points Per Level
Current Rule: Every level, PCs add HPs based on the greater of a HD roll or their CON mod.

Problem: Fighter has large HD and benefits less from high CON, whereas wizard has small HD and benefits massively from high CON. e.g., assume CON 16 (+3) for both. Fighter rolls d10 HD and rolls a 3 (roughly 30% of max). Wizard rolls d4 HD and rolls a 1 (25% of max). Both end up adding 6 HP (3 from HD, +3 from CON), even though they rolled roughly the same % of max on their HD.

Revised Rule: Every level, PCs roll their HD a number of times equal to their CON mod. You gain HP equal to the best result. plus your CON mod. (Gambling Variant: PC can choose to re-roll one HD at a time, but MUST keep most current roll).

Playtest Results: This works as long as you don't add CON mod to the result.


Short Rest (Healing Kits)
Current Rule: Spend a healing kit to “spend” HD in order to heal.

Problem: HP are an abstraction, including “no signs of injury” if at/above half max HP. It is goofy that you need a kit (to clean and bind wounds) if you have no injuries.

Revised Rule: If you are at/above half max HP, no kit is required to spend your HD. If you are at less than half max HP, use short rest rules as written (using kit).

Playtest Results: We've decided we really dislike the concept of healing kits altogether. We already have the limitation of how many HD per day you can spend (which we're still not certain we like), so why have the additional limitation of having kits on hand to spend those HD? HP are an abstraction. You're not really seriously injured until you're at 0 HP. Why track the quanity of bandaids? We say make the healing kit requirement an optional element for those who want to use it, but not the default.


Extended Rest (Between Short Rest & Long Rest)
Current Rule: There is no such rest.

Problem: There’s nothing between short rest (10 min) and long rest (8 hours). HP are an abstraction, including “overall level of energy.” There is no serious injury until you hit 0 HP. Even at 1 HP, the worst you would have is cuts and bruises. Back-to-back short rests is still limited by your daily HD pool and healing kits. If you’ve spent your HD and/or have no more kits, you should be able to rest for a few hours and be less fatigued (i.e., heal up). This will also help reduce the one-fight-per-day-then-back-to-town-till-tomorrow problem, should PCs roll poorly.

Revised Rule: An extended rest is a period of extended downtime, about 2 hours long during which you sleep or perform light activity (same conditions as long rest and must have at least 1 HP). At the end of each 2 hours of extended rest, roll your total HD. You regain HP equal to the result plus your CON mod. (Note that CON mod is added per HD in short rests, but only once per extended rest).

Playtest Results: We had mixed feelings on this. Players liked the idea that you could rest a few hours and recover, but they felt there should be a limitation on it. Otherwise, it is fight + rest for 2 hours, and repeat over and over. One idea we had was to ditch the extended rest and expand the short rest to do what we're trying to accomplish. Perhaps something like use short rest rules as written, except: no healing kits required, and can be done a number of times per day equal to 1 + CON modifier (rather than HD times per day).


Cure Light Wounds Spell
Current Rule: Cure light uses flat d8 + casting mod.

Problem: Healing is not percentage (HD) based. It ends up being unbalanced (ends up healing the d4 wizard more than the d10 fighter) and takes longer to heal up PCs with higher CON.

Revised Rule: For cure light wounds, roll the target’s HD (such as d4 for wizard or d10 for fighter), plus target’s CON mod, plus caster’s WIS mod.

Playtest Results: We disliked this houserule. It slowed things down (unless you pre-calculate your heals per target) and ultimately felt unnecessary.


Healing Word Spell
Current Rule: Heals 1d6 HP.

Problem: A final result of a 1 shouldn’t be possible with such a valuable resource as a spell.

Revised Rule: Heals 1d4 plus half caster’s WIS mod.

Playtest Results: We disliked this houserule. We're considering changing it to simply healing 1 + caster's full WIS mod and no dice roll.


Overcasting
Current Rule: None. Once you’re out of spell slots per day, you’re out of spells (other than minor ones).

Problem: Why not open up the option for casters to gamble and push themselves beyond normal limits at a high cost?

Revised Rule: After all spell slots per day have been used up, a caster can “overcast”. The caster regains the use of one spell slot of their choice (or prepared spell for wizard) and immediately loses HPs equal to 5 x spell level regained (overcasting is physically exhausting). This HP damage cannot be healed by the regained spell. The overcast spell must be cast in the same turn it was regained, and is rolled at disadvantage (if the spell requires an attack roll). (Variant: If overcasting needs more negatives to be balanced, it can also grant advantage to those making saves against the spell).

Playtest Results: We disliked this houserule. It was easy to abuse and made casters too powerful, even with the negatives built in. Might as well just add one more spell slot per day to all casters and call it a day.


Armor
Current Rule: You add +1/2 DEX mod to medium armor and add nothing to heavy armor.

Problem: This makes medium armor useless. There needs to be more benefit for wearing heavy armor (a light armor and high dex PC has the same AC as heavy armor PC).

Revised Rule: Heavy Armor adds +STR mod to AC, benefiting strong PCs. Medium Armor adds +1/2 DEX mod plus +1/2 STR mod to AC, benefiting PCs with bonuses to both stats.

Playtest Results: We had mixed feelings on this houserule. Give the dwarf fighter a heavy shield, and he had a 20 AC (10 base, +5 chainmail, +2 shield, +3 strength). Kobolds couldn't hit him, even with advantage. So it seemed very overpowered at that point. But to be fair, we haven't made it very far in the adventure, and I can see the Orcs have +2 or +3 to hit, while the Chieftain is at +6. So we'll keep this houserule for now and see how it goes against toughter foes.

Rolling a 1
Current Rule: Has no consequence.

Revised Rule: Rolling a 1 on check/attack/save is a critical failure. If this roll would result in you taking damage, you to take max damage from spell/effect.

Playtest Results: We're indifferent on this. Doesn't seem to make much of a different.


Coup de Grace
Current Rule: There are no rules for protecting fallen ally against this.

Revised Rule: If you are adjacent to your fallen comrade, you can spend your action to protect that ally which bestows disadvantage to foes trying to deliver a coup de grace to your fallen ally. In addition, should a foe make the coup de grace attempt on your fallen ally, you can make an attack against that foe as a Reaction (making yourself a more interesting target).

Playtest Results: It didn't come up in play yet.


Surprise
Current Rule: Suffer -20 to initiative if you are surprised.

Problem: You can achieve the same net result with a simplier/quicker method.

Revised Rule: Add +20 to initiative if you are surprising a foe. (Variant: Those aware of foes roll advantage on initiative while those caught unaware [surprised] roll disadvantage on initiative).

Playtest Results: It was quicker than the -20 mechanic, but it still felt cumbersome. We miss the old rule of not being able to act during a surprise round if caught unaware.


Unconscious
Current Rule: You keep Dex to AC.

Problem: We had a PC's attack miss an unconscious foe's AC (even with advantage), but would have hit if the foe was denied Dex to AC. That's goofy. The foe was unconscious!

Revised Rule: Add to the unconscious condition that you lose Dex to AC (and/or Str to AC, per above houserule).

Playtest Results: It didn't come up in play yet.


Moving Past Foes To Attack Other Foes
Current Rule: There is no downside to ignoring an adjacent foe and walking right past to attack another foe.

Problem: Formerly, this provoked OA/AoO. There is merit to the concept of having a disincentive for ignoring that initial adjacent foe. There should be defensive positioning tactics (walking past a foe in a 10-ft. wide hallway to get at foes in the back should have a consequence).

Revised Rule: If you start your turn adjacent to a foe and move to attack a secondary foe (or are adjacent to a foe at any point during your movement towards a secondary foe), you make your attack at disadvantage.

Playtest Results: This felt OK. It certainly gave the players something tactical to do (wizard and fighter kept trying to reposition themselves to force the foes to pass by the fighter and suffer disadvantage on attacking the wizard).

Hit Points Per Level

Current Rule: Every level, PCs add HPs based on the greater of a HD roll or their CON mod; then add CON mod on top.


The How to Play document doesn't say this at all. If you roll lower than your Con mod, you add your con mod, that's it. You don't double-dip Con. In your example, both players gain 3 HP at level up.

Hit Points Per Level

Current Rule: Every level, PCs add HPs based on the greater of a HD roll or their CON mod; then add CON mod on top.


The How to Play document doesn't say this at all. If you roll lower than your Con mod, you add your con mod, that's it. You don't double-dip Con. In your example, both players gain 3 HP at level up.



Correct. I didn't mean to add the double dip. The point is still valid though, based on all the other posts I've read on it.
On the whole, I think your houserules were well-made. I particularly like the changes you implimented with the healing and rest mechanics, those would allow for much quicker game-time play and less delays: more fun for all, and more intensity!
Interesting ideas. I just don't see the point in houserulling a system that is under construction...just me though...
HP: I like this idea.  Rolling more dice is always fun.  This keeps a high Constitution as something valuable, and also preserves the intent behind the current rule (not adding Con mod to HP with each level in order to keep HP from exploding over time).  It also fits nicely within the existing framework, as it is the same way Advantage works.

You could even have a penalty for low Con: roll twice and take the lowest.  But that might be too harsh.

Short Rest: I like this one too.  It makes sense and keeps you from going through dozens of Healer's Kits at higher levels.

Extended Rest: I assume this doesn't take away from your Hit Dice for the day?  I don't think implementing this will cause any issues, but I don't think it is needed.  In a game sense, there isn't much difference between resting for 1 hour or 8.  Both give monsters plenty of time to act.  And you aren't going to be spending an hour resting in a dangerous area.

Cure Light Wounds: I go back and forth with this one.  On the one hand, proportional healing is neat and tidy (and having it based on a pre-existing mechanic makes it very easy to remember).  But on the other hand, it makes sense that the Fighter would require more healing magic than the Wizard.  The Fighter is tougher and thus able to take more damage.  The same amount of damage would kill the Wizard.  So the Fighter isn't getting punished, he just has a lot more HP.  The Wizard isn't better off just because he can get back to full health faster using magic...his full health will still be less than what the Fighter has at less than full health.
My only worry is that doing this will make people not want to use the spell on the Wizard.  From a group resource perspective, you are wasting HP.  But try it out; I am curious to see how it plays out.

Healing Word: Yeah, I agree.  Even though you get to attack and use the spell, rolling that 1 is a huge let down.

Overcasting: Attacking at disadvantage isn't enough, as many spells don't require an attack roll.  I would also grant advantage to any targets for purposes of saving throws.  I don't think this needs to be part of the core system, but I am curious to see how it plays out.  How often will players opt to take use it?

Armor: I think you will inflate AC too much by adding Strength mod to heavy armor.  The Dwarf Cleric already has an AC of 18...your option will boost it to 20. 
Have you thought about instead giving Medium and Heavy armor damage reduction?  You could have Medium armor give 1 point of damage reduction (vs Blunt, Piercing, and Slashing damage) and Heavy armor give 2 points of damage reduction.

Rolling a 1: Yeah, I think this is a good idea for saving throws.  When you attack, rolling a 20 is a crit and you get to deal max damage.  But if your attack instead grants a save, there is no way to get max damage other than rolling it.  I implemented this in my playtest, and it worked out great.

Coup de Grace: Wow, we have a lot of ideas in common; probably a good sign.  This is very similar to what I put in my feedback (I suggested just making the Coup de Grace action impossible if you are in the threatened area of an enemy).  Your idea is cool (especially the attack as a reaction), but it relies on initiative order.  If a monster goes before you, there is nothing you can do.  I guess if you are fine with that, then it is perfect.

Surprise: This one doesn't really work, because you won't always surprise all of the enemy.  Say you sneak up on a group of monsters (goblins and bugbears).  The bugbears notice you, but the goblins don't.  The goblins are thus surprised, and would take a -20 penalty to initiative. 
If you instead wanted to give the attacker a +20, you would also have to give it to the bugbears.  Nothing wrong with that, it is just involving more than simply applying a -20 to surprised creatures.
I guess I just don't see how your revised rules are simpler or quicker, but they certainly won't break the game.

Unconscious: Add paralyzed and stunned to this.  It makes sense, because all three conditions already state that you automatically fail Dex and Str saving throws.

Moving Past Foes: I proposed the same thing (as well as two other options that can be used separately or stacked together, depending on how dangerous you want moving past foes to be).
The other options are:
1) The creature gains advantage on its attacks against you until your next turn.
2) You take damage equal to the creature's Strength modifier, Dexterity modifier (if it is using a finesse weapon), or Magic Stat modifier (if it has a minor spell that is a melee attack).
If you insist on using hit points as an abstraction, and therefore "not actually being physically hurt," that's fine.  But who's to say that the healing kit during short rests doesn't contain some type opf D&D Gatorade.  Some herbs mixed in a vial that helps replenish all those lost minerals you expunged while sweating up a storm in combat.  Maybe now that you've used your kit, you won't fall victims to cramps.  Laughing
My 2 cents: house ruling is against the point of play testing in my opinion. Run the rules, give your opionions, Fill out the serveys and help develope the rule engine.
My 2 cents: house ruling is against the point of play testing in my opinion. Run the rules, give your opionions, Fill out the serveys and help develope the rule engine.



On the contrary, they have specifically said that you should try alternate rules to see which play better!
My 2 cp: We've been specifically instructed to play with these rules and see where they break down with our playstyles. Making and posting House Rules is a way of telling the developers "This didn't work for me, and this is what I did about it." That's pretty valuable information to them, and may lead to further rules tweaks. It gives them data points to work with.
56816218 wrote:
What I find most frustrating about 4E is that I can see it includes the D&D game I've always wanted to play, but the game is so lathered in tatical combat rules that I have thus far been unable to coax the game I want out.
When the Cat's a Stray, the Mice will Pray

Thank you all for taking the time to post your thoughts. To those that asked why bother houseruling playtest materials... the adventure specifically asked what elements of the rules didn't work out, and what things did we change to suit our tastes. In my mind, the houserules here answer both those questions.


Extended Rest: I assume this doesn't take away from your Hit Dice for the day?  I don't think implementing this will cause any issues, but I don't think it is needed.  In a game sense, there isn't much difference between resting for 1 hour or 8.  Both give monsters plenty of time to act.  And you aren't going to be spending an hour resting in a dangerous area.



Correct, it does not take away from HD for the day (just like long rest).

Our group liked the option of getting "just enough" HP back without having to wait until tomorrow (long rest). It allows them to keep putting the heat on the foes in certain circumstances. Giving foes 2 hours to prepare can often be quite different from giving them 8+ hours. For example, if an enemy spellcaster used up all his spells, giving him 2 hours to prep doesn't help him, but giving him a long rest grants him all his spells back (and he can prepare more appropriate ones for the PCs he just dealt with). If a bunch of foes hole up in a dead-end room, the PCs can wait outside, rather than retreat to make camp.

The resting might very well be in a dangerous area, or it could be a fairly safe area nearby. But at least this provides the option.

Overcasting: Attacking at disadvantage isn't enough, as many spells don't require an attack roll.  I would also grant advantage to any targets for purposes of saving throws.  I don't think this needs to be part of the core system, but I am curious to see how it plays out.  How often will players opt to take use it?



Very interesting idea to disadvantage the attack and advantage the save. I'm concerned that it will completely neuter the overcasting to the point where it will rarely be worth the HP cost. But maybe it will play out better with your suggestion. We're going to try it this week.


Armor: I think you will inflate AC too much by adding Strength mod to heavy armor.  The Dwarf Cleric already has an AC of 18...your option will boost it to 20. 
Have you thought about instead giving Medium and Heavy armor damage reduction?  You could have Medium armor give 1 point of damage reduction (vs Blunt, Piercing, and Slashing damage) and Heavy armor give 2 points of damage reduction.



My first thought was actually to use DR exactly as you describe (1 for medium, 2 for heavy). But the posts I was reading on these boards seemed pretty convincing that the DR mechanic was hugely flawed. You get issues with swarms of low level foes unable to harm the heavy armor PC and so on. So I was doing my best to work within the new system rather than add a new mechanic.

One other idea I had to differentiate light armor from medium/heavy was to allow medium/heavy armors to utilize advantage/disadvantage system somehow. Nothing spectacular came to mind though.

Surprise: This one doesn't really work, because you won't always surprise all of the enemy.  Say you sneak up on a group of monsters (goblins and bugbears).  The bugbears notice you, but the goblins don't.  The goblins are thus surprised, and would take a -20 penalty to initiative. 
If you instead wanted to give the attacker a +20, you would also have to give it to the bugbears.  Nothing wrong with that, it is just involving more than simply applying a -20 to surprised creatures.
I guess I just don't see how your revised rules are simpler or quicker, but they certainly won't break the game.



I don't see the problem. PCs not surprised (+20 init), Bugbears not suprised (+20 init), Goblins surprised (+0 init). The issue with -20 is that you end up with negative initiatives and subtraction. It is simply quicker to do addition, and you achieve the same net results.


We hated the surprise rule.  I liked the older versions of surprise that grants a round to those not surprised, but we had a compromise solution.  We have everyone who isn't surprised roll intiative.  They go first.  Then, when they are done, the surprised creatures/PCs get to go based on their dexterity.  They fit into the initiative order that way.  

This way, they don't lose a turn, but they go last.

 

A Brave Knight of WTF

Overcasting is a very good idea (I'm a Shadowrun player too), but that implementation is just begging to be abused to hell and back. HP are way too easy to get back, especially if you have more than one healer (two clerics or a cleric/paladin duo). What you're doing is effectively trading one 2nd level or two 1st level cleric spells for one 2nd level wizard spell. Or depending if you get lucky, one 1st level cleric spell for a 2nd level wizard spell. Or the wizard could cast his/her 2nd level spell, then down a healing potion or three. That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure there's plenty of other more devious ways that mechanic could be broken.

On top of that, wizards are powerful enough as it is without being able to get spells back that easily. Their at-will spells are pretty much just as effective as the rogue and warrior cleric and are pretty close to the fighter. Only difference is the wizard's squishier.

I really like concept of overcasting, or possibly even combining spell slots (like using three 1st level spell slots to prepare a 2nd level spell even if you're only 1st or 2nd level) as it adds more flexibility to the magic system, but that particular mechanic just isn't going to hold up very long.
Fair enough. After the explaination, I can see the value of creating, using and posting the results of house rules.
I also wrote about a very similar hit point rool rolling HD + con modifier dice. So 16 conf fighter rolls 4d10 taking best result. Addin the con modifier again seems way too much.

I like the armor suggestion A LOT!

The surprise +20. I also thought of that but when you have 6 NPC's and only 3 of them are surprise the whole +20 is much harder to use then the 3 who failed are -20. I do like the variant advantage/disadvantage option though. However, I can see a player getting pissed when he suprises an NPC  and then goes last in the combat.

The other rules I don't like at all... sorry. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions though 
My group doesn't like the current -20 initiative surprise rule either. Though it has the same effect that Rhenny was suggesting in practice - the surprised figures go last.

An idea we've been batting around in my playtest group is this: Surprise is a condition that requires an action to shake off. Surprised figures cannot move and their only action can be "Shake off Surprise". (In other words, you still roll initiative, but you won't get to do anything the first time your number comes up.) We haven't tried playtesting the idea though.

Another idea we've considered is having characters stuck in "Surprise" until they make a save of some sort, but that idea had a lot of problems.

In a Vancian system, Overcasting doesn't make much sense to me. The spells you prepare "exists" in a magical plane, awaiting your V,S or M to unleash them. The number and strength of spell you can "shepard" depends on your level and intelligence. (Scrolls bind these constructs to a piece of paper, etc.) But then again, I like Vancian magic, so take that for what it's worth.
might have been posted before but here we go:


why not give those who are suprised a Disadvantage on their initative rolls and the supriser an Advantage.
I posted our playtest results of these houserules in the original post. Overcast = way too powerful.
Try the DR houserule with a few adjustments maybe:
1. No damage can be reduced to less than 1 per die rolled unless it's damage on a miss.
2. If a monster has a damage modifier for a high stat, minimum damage is instead equal to this modifier if more (possibly half the modifier for heavy armour).
3. DR only applies to slashing/blunt/piercing (more complex rules can adjust these to reflect real world advantages later)
4. DR and mimimum applies per die of damage rolled.

E.g. A minotaur's great axe inflicting 1d12+4 would inflict 1d12+3 minimum 4 damage if in medium armour or 1d12+2 minimum 2 damage in heavy armour.  A minotaur's charge inflicting 3d6+6 would inflict 3d6+3 minimum 6 damage if in medium armour or 3d6 minimum 3 damage in heavy armour.  Magic armour can tease these figures up slightly then without completely screwing with the damage mechanic.