My Favorite House Rules

Pen and paper role playing games are by their nature very adaptable, that is they practically beg to be altered and house-ruled into the exact game that you and your gaming buddies like to play. For a quick pickup game now and the rules as written aka “RAW” are more than sufficient, but over the course of a long campaign as player character accumulate allies and wealth there are bound to be numerous situations that the rules simply do not cover. Publishing a rule for all the little situations that creative players can come up with is simply inefficient, that is why there is Rule 0.

Since I began playing pen and paper role playing games in late 2005 I have tried numerous systems and played in many more games run by a myriad of DMs. Over that time I have encountered many different styles of play and lots of “Well, this is how WE do that,” As a result I have picked up a love of tweaking the system to create an experience that is recognizable as the core game, but unique in its own ways to make play more fun. This post will be a listing of alternate rules I like, a description of the rules, and why I like them; some I have picked up from other DMs, some from the internet, some from other gaming systems, and some are of my own creation.

Epic 6th
Abbreviated E6 is as much a gaming philosophy as it is a variant rule. Based upon the article Gandalf Was Only a Fifth Level Magic-User, E6 caps level advancement at level 6 and allows for feats to be gained at a fixed XP interval after that.

Why I like it: E6 changes the fundamental assumptions of Dungeons and Dragons, it makes for a believable low powered setting that avoids all the high level nonsense present in 3.5. The PCs are epic heroes, but they are still mortal and the plight of the common man is an important issue.

E6 reduces prep time as creating encounters only requires using NPCs and monsters in the CR 6-12 range. With the exception of spell selection I can create any enemy in my head on the fly.

White Wolf games including Exalted and Scion involve a mechanic where players can gain bonus dice to a roll by describing their character’s actions in a dramatic way that includes using the environment to their advantage.

Why I like it: When added to Dungeons and Dragons, it makes combat feel more exciting and the environment comes into play much more. Giving a +1 or +2 bonus to a to-hit roll for jumping down from a high ledge using gravity to add force to your axe as you strike a foe is not a game breaking addition and it encourages your players to look for interesting terrain to use and helps them think outside the “box.”

Characters do not gain experience points from killing monsters or solving puzzles, rather they can gain a level when it is appropriate for the story.

Why I like it: Players often find ways around problems that you did not think of and sometimes can skip large parts of your adventure and thus miss out on the experience of killing all of those goblins and are under-leveled when they reach the big baddie. On the other hand players will waste time trying to fight random monsters simply to gain a level. By eliminating experience points and granting levels when appropriate for the story you can eliminate the possibility that PCs will be under or over leveled when they face your big baddie. Grinding does not provide a benefit, but PCs don’t lose out for being creative.

Variant Alignment Paladins
Allows for Paladins to have Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil, and Lawful Evil alignments as well as the traditional Lawful Good

Why I like it: The Paladin’s alignment restriction and code applies not only to the Paladin, but also limits the types of characters that he can associate with, thereby restricting the role playing opportunities available to others. The variant alignments allow for Paladins who are still good, but not such a stick in the mud as well as allowing for an evil party to have their very own crusader for injustice.

Not all races/classes available
Due to story or setting details some classes may not be available

Why I like it: There are several classes, MONK, that I feel don’t belong in the Dungeons and Dragons setting. Some classes just have an odd set of abilities or don’t match the feel of a world based on Western Europe during the middle ages. When I write my own settings I often find that perhaps the nature of magic as it was described doesn’t allow for sorcerers, or the existence of a large empire doesn’t allow for barbarian PCs.


~ by katallos on October 12, 2009.

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