Thursday, September 2, 2010

Call for House Rules - Requests

After reading your comments to my last post I remembered another aspect of the rules on my shortlist: they often deal elegantly with an issue that DMs have been fussing and fighting with for years.

I think these are often the places that D&D is just a little too abstract for most people. Examples are critical tables and skills. Since the moment I was told about D&D, I've seen people reinvent those wheels a hundred times, trying to find a sweet spot between playability and satisfying detail.

Remembering this, I thought it might be a generative way to think of great house rules: what areas are you, and DMs you've seen, constantly house ruling. Which rule sections are almost guaranteed to get house ruled or have a question asked in a forum "How do you handle . . . ?"

I'm thinking two things might result from this 1) you may see someone commenting on X always being troublesome and remember "Hey, Joe Blow's rule really handles X well." 2) In the back of my compilation I could put a section called Requests, sort of millennium challenge for awkward D&D bits.

So, what always gets house-ruled?


  1. Ok, here's a more useful one:

    I've never liked the Basic D&D Resting rule (resting 1 turn in 6 or suffering -1 to hit/dam until they do, page B19, Moldvay)as they're only moving an average of 12' a minute anyway. That's a looong time to walk the length of a (short) bus, and more to the point, not very strenuous.

    We house rule that to the following: After any *combat* (or other equally strenuous prolonged ation), characters must rest for 1 turn or suffer -1 to hit/damage rolls.

  2. "If you roll a natural 20, roll again, if you get a 2nd natural 20, whatever you're attacking is dead." Cleans up all the extra tables and possible outcomes, and keeps critical hits in the "rare and cool" realm.

    "PCs start with 10x their Charisma in gold" - I use this instead of starting money (technically I use silver, but my campaign is based in silver instead of gold). Seeing as how the world is all about connections, higher Charisma characters should be better liked than lower Charisma ones, and able to get further (generally speaking).

  3. The things I've seen get houseruled the most are rolling up a character, initiative, grappling, new spell acquisition, the adjudication of mind-control spells, and the adjudication of social conflict.

    The biggest, of course, is how EXP is awarded, from making it mission-based to saying treasure must be spent (and how it must be spent) before you get any EXP from it.

    Recently, there have been some great attempts at redoing encumbrance, and I'd definitely look at what Raggi has done about that in his LotFP game.

  4. What's always getting house rules at my table is magic. How spells are cast, at what point do they disappear from a spell caster's mind, how to make spell casting seem more magical. You know, just about every about it.

    The other thing is how to make choices in combat matter. Not adding realism, per say, but have to make it less of a "I hit you, you hit me" fest. Add description is great, but after a while you realize that the description has nothing to do with how well your character is doing.

    Well, those are the big things for us.

  5. Thank you all so much.

    @Trollsmyth: yes, psionics are an itch that hasn't been scratched for me.

    Raggi is in already. I've been thinking carefully about carousing, my mages would never really carouse, but maybe ZakS's tweak of allowing the party to choose who "pays the piper" would work just as well.

  6. I forgot mass combat.

    I've never seen a system simple enough to wage wars in a normal campaign, while bring detailed enough to feel different than normal combats.

  7. Well, this is really not an area that needs much house-ruling but for a number of reasons, my brother pretty much always redoes the weapons and armor tables for whatever version of D&D we play (AD&D, C&C, 3e, 3.5e). Partly to get rid of unnecessary weapons, partly to add things, but mostly to get the weapons "right." Lately the emphasis has been more on simplicity and speed than realism. The latest weapons chart is actually pretty elegant. I'll put it up on my blog if I can get him to send me a copy.

  8. Thanks mike, I understand that striving. I wanted everything on my list to have some reason people might choose it, and thus made flails avoid shields, etc.