House Rules


So, house rules and alternate ways of doing things are some of my favorite things in a game. As all of my players know, I tend to use a lot of alternate rules in my games cause I don't like the original rules quite as much. So, here I'm exploring all available options. What I'm asking is that all those who wish to do so (I will too) just post the house rules you use in your games, along with what system the rule applies to, and, if you feel like it, what original rule it replaces and changes. I'm always interested in new ways of doing things and look forward to your ideas/rules!

The only house rule I recall using is critical fumbles in D&D (3.*): If you roll a 1 on an attack, re-roll. If you miss the target on the second roll, something bad happens - usually situationally dependent (falling or being disarmed is common, accidental seppuku is out of the question).

I have 250 pages of house rules. Seriously. I re-wrote the rulebook to consolidate the hybrid between 1st and 2nd Edition that we play. We made some minor mechanical changes too. If you are really interested I'd email you a copy. It has artwork in it that is used without permission, is not edited for style and has large chunks of the original D&D text. It is what I would give a potential new player to introduce them to the mechanics that we use and the races/cultures. It is very much recognizable as 2nd Edition D&D though. I orignally called it D&D 3rd Edition and some of the text calls it that. When 3rd Edition came out I renamed the title page to 4th Edition. I haven't used this document in a long time (perhaps 8 years).

Some of the highlight changes --

I've been using the 10 second combat round instead of the one-minute round for quite some time (long before the published change happened). Each segment was half a second and initiative was rolled on a d10 (which we changed from d6 before 2nd came out) and determined your starting segment. Spells therefore, would have a start and ending segment based on the casting time. If I cast a fireball (3 segment spell) and I roll a 6 for initiative (subtract 2 for dex and get 4) my spell would start on 4 and end on 7. I think this is different from any of the published versions, but I'm not really sure any more.

No Alignment :
All characters are unaligned. The cosmogony allows for a life energy force called TANTAN and a corrupt force of evil undeath called ARADJA. Aradga and Tantan can be detected through magic or divinity, but all living creatures possess Tantan while only undead spirits or demons possess Aradga.

Level up:
At every level characters gain special abilities. These abilities are the result of the training they receive from their masters/teachers/colleges and are based on role-play and story. We have been playing the game for twenty years and the characters are 15-16th level, so going up a level is a big deal. Going up a level would often take up to two hours per player of role playing and would invariably result in new directions of adventure as quests, new knowledge and responsibility, and other in game actions were required to complete the advancement. One of the players decided to play a Monk. I didn't want him to get a special ability at every level and felt the character class was out of balance. He also had to face challenges at every level -- a contest to prove his worth. I thought this would be a good paradigm to share. Clerics received "blessings" or "holy relics" or learned special charms or orisons (another house rule that became D&D canon some twelve years later).

Clerical Prayers:
A clerical prayer can be interrupted, but that does not cause the prayer to be lost. The priest can re-start the blessing with no adverse effect. Arcane casters will be disrupted.

Clerical Lists:
Each diety has a unique list of spells and what level they are attained. Some clerics are better at healing than others, as some might receive cure light wounds at second while another will have it at first. The entire priest spell list is divided into four categories and 17 spheres (Four Celestial, Four Ecclesiastical, Four Elemental, Four Natural, and the Heaven Sphere). The Hiamastic dieties have a prime sphere which they preside over and they receive spells from spheres adjacent to theirs in a decaying manner. Two spheres will be in direct opposition to theirs and no spells from those spheres will be accessible. These two dieties also represent the most divergent viewpoints on the spectrum and priests from these opposing schools are in conflict. All the goods are good in spite of the fact that some share opposite viewpoints. There are other gods who are Dual Sphere, and four Gods who each represent one of the four categories (Elemental, Ecclesiastical, Celestial, and Natural).

Wow, that sounds like a serious piece of work.
I guess that's what you get playing the same campaign for 20 years :)

I'd love to get a copy of your tome, Gil. Sounds really interesting, and I'm in the mood to branch out into interesting systems right now. I'll be sending an e-mail shortly. Like

I've used several different rules throughout my short days. Most of mine I actually didn't make, I found them other places (sometimes in the books themselves) and went from there. So I actually have surprisingly little to offer here. :( In fact, I can't even think of anything at this particular moment. Hmmm. A great variant, good for both DnD 3.x and 4e and originally made for 2nd I think is a critical fumbles and critical hit variant. You can dl it off the net just on limewire, and it's not illegal. I know I'm gonna continue using it. Basically, you confirm both fumbles and crits, then, if confirmed, roll on a table to see the results, stuff spanning from (for crits) normal crit damage to the sword going through your opponents eye and dealing instant death and similar (without the instant death) for fumbles. It's really great, and I like to use it. Adds to the specialness of crits and such. If I find any other house rules, or invent them, I'll tell you guys. Until then, keep on posting your own, from any system.

Hmm... house rules. The first one that comes to mind for me is where the character doesn't die at negative ten. They have to reach half their hit points again in the negatives before they are dead. It wasn't done to make it so that players are gods or anything who can't die. I'm pretty sure than my GM invented it because he didn't want another significant death in his campaign anytime soon. Its interesting if a little imbalanced.

Isn't that they it works in 4E?

Roughly, yeah. Dying is "negative bloodied", if I recall correctly. If you have 50 hitpoints, you're bloodied at 25. You're unconscious at 0 hitpoints, then have either a) four failed death saving throws or b) -25 hit points. Any healing brings you to 0 hitpoints immediately, then heals (so, healing 10 brings you to 10hp).

Yes and no, zip and Morbus. That's basically massive damage death. If any one attack deals enough damage to drop you to negative half your hp, then you die. If not, and your in the negatives, you've got 3 turns to heal or you die. Also, if people continue to deal damage to you, you die either when you reach negative half hp or 3 turns and no save passes, whichever comes first. Gotta say, this is a lot better than 3.5. Makes more sense, and we've all had games where people just ignored the dying person till later cause "he's only at -3 hp. we've got 7 rounds!"

Lets see, home rules, I run pretty powerful games so I have a couple I use as staple rules, for character stat generation they get 5d6, reroll 1's, drop the two lowest, and reroll anything below 10. They get max hp every level instead of just level 1. This makes sure they have sufficent stats and hp for unforgiving situations.

I also dont use weight in my games, so usually I designate a cetain slot limit on all the diffrent types of bags ingame, each item takes up one slot regardless of weight and size( within reason ), gear worn doesnt count agianst the slots, and coins dont have a weight, this system seems to work for my players making sure they dont collect to much stuff but at the same time dont have to constantly worry about being able to pick up treasure.
Backpack = 5 slots
Bag of Holding I = 10 slots
Bag of Holding II = 15 slots
Bag of Holding III = 20 slots
Bag of Holding IV = 25 slots
Hand Haversack = 10 slots ( but with the niffty features )
Portable Hole = Unlimited slots

I'm also usually allow metamagic feats that only cost one higher spell slot to be free. Gives my casters more freedom with silent spell, still spell, energy substitution and the such without being penalized for it, oh and I dont use the concentration skill, think thats about it.

All around as long as it makes it more fun for my players I dont worry about it unless I see it being gamebreaking, I may have to adopt negative half there max for death rule, it seems alot better then dying at -10 which never seemed to make much sense when you have hundreds of hitpoints at later levels.

Yeah, but my monsters tend to EAT bodies at negative three, and my wizards love AOE. So nobody ignores the dying guys if I've still got monsters lurking about.

As for my favorite house rules:

All bards with vocal performing skills must actually rp their perform checks in combat. It's funner that way.

All social skills must be role-played and then rolled. DM will modify number based on how good your bluff, appeal, or discussion is. This one is always handy.

Hidden knowledge rolls are fun, too. Keeps the players from going meta too often.