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House Rules
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TOPIC: House Rules
#18384
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
After a hiatus of several months (due to moving to Michigan), I've started running D&D games again. My experiences with Iron Heroes led to adoption of some house rules.

Reserve points, as per Unearthed Arcana. You have as many reserve points as your full normal hit points. When you are injured and not engaged in strenous activity, you convert reserve points to hit points at 1 per minute. This won't affect combat during an encounter, but it will allow characters to rest for a few minutes to "get their wind back" and proceed on the adventure, instead of retreating to rest for a night. The result is that the characters can go through more encounters in a day, which I like.

Characters begin with 8 extra skill points, and gain an extra 2 skill points per hit die gained. All skills are considered class skills except Speak Language, which is cross-class unless listed for your class. You can take a half rank in a language, which gives you a smattering, or a full rank for fluency. So, a character might speak Common, Elvish, Dwarvish, and have a smattering of Goblin and Orcish.

Hit points are maxed out for first level, and average for the die thereafter. I've never liked a character being permanently hosed for a bad hit die roll.

I use Action Points, as listed in Unearthed Arcana. It gives the players a lot of options, and helps to smooth out the problems of bad luck with the dice.

I use the Death by Massive Damage modified by size. Pixies are more vulnerable, dragons less so.

I use the Instant Kill rules. A 20, followed by a 20, confirmed to a successful attack roll is instant death. This one came into play during Saturday's game, as the Dwarf fighter got his throat ripped out by a fiendish dire rat. 20 - 20 - 19 = dead Dwarf. I guess there's a reason the locals avoid the Howling Cavern.


These are the rules I'm using. What house rules do you use in your games?
Kradlo
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#18385
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
When I gamed with my buddies back home in Michigan (small world, eh?), we used to use "Fatigue Points" and "Fate Points" long before Warhammer and D&D started using the like.

Fatigue points are just that--an extra lot of points (rolled on a 1d10) that basically absorb the first few blows in combat instead of having them go directly to the body. Think of Conan charging into battle and essentially not feeling the first few blows struck against him because of his adrenaline rush. After awhile, that wears off and wounds start inflicting damage to the body (points).

Fate points are rolled at the beginning of the game on a d4. You don't have the opportunity to gain extra fate points beyond that unless you've REALLY, REALLY played in character extremely well and/or have been tremendously helpful to the party above and beyond the "normal" call of duty. Fate points are used to avoid nasty little things like oh... say, death, or amputations, etc. etc. etc. Since our adventures were usually really long and particularly harsh, you had to think long and hard over whether or not to burn your fate points.

For Critical Hits, we use our own combat charts, specifically designed for "quick play" combat (rules originally developed for Convention play but then adapted for home use). When a critical hit is struck (a small percentage to Crit), we roll for Penetration to see if it was a Glancing Blow or if it actually landed. Then we roll on a location chart in the Warhammer Fantasy Role Play book. Critical hits are usually VERY nasty when using those charts (exploding spleens & skulls, severed spines, limbs, etc. etc. etc.).

Another house rule we came up with is that Magic users can break their focus device (staff, wand, rod, amulet, etc.) for a "tactical nuke" option when the party is in extremely dire straits. That of course, carries the risk that they will annihilate themselves and/or the friendly party members if standing too closely to the explosion. This was only used once or twice in the past 26 years of gaming.

In general, player characters can try almost anything as long as it's not too preposterous. Even if a player doesn't have a specific skill in something (haggling or bartering for example), if they've seen/heard/witnessed one of their party members successfully carry out the task, they can make an attempt, but at a severe penalty (a minus on their roll). I do give them a very small amount of XPs for the attempt. This helps them "learn" the skill as they go. There are limitations to this however. Not everyone can just "learn" spell casting simply by travelling with a spell caster and seeing him cast dozens of spells.
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#18386
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Your mention of spellcasters breaking their focus reminds me of a story I heard from Skip Sanders, a GM from my earliest days of D&D (back in 1977). Skip told me of a GM that had mapped out a huge dungeon complex with over twenty levels, and so detailed that it even listed the support pillars. A wizard was up against the main support pillar on the eighth level of the dungeon, faced with a horde of attackers (orcs, I think). He used his staff for a final strike. Staves then had 200 charges at creation, and it still had plenty of charges left. The GM rolled the dice, and the explosion took out the orcs... and the wizard... and the support pillar.

The seventh level above, with its main support pillar destroyed, collapsed. As did the sixth level... and the fifth... and the fourth, the third, the second, and the first. The eighth level, with all of the levels above collapsing upon it, collapsed on the ninth... then the tenth... and so on, until there was a twenty-mile wide crater in the ground where a dungeon used to be.

I heard the GM actually cried afterward.
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#18387
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
In a Legend of Five Rings (samurai fantasy) game, we had a rule that once per session, each player could use a fortune cookie in place of a die roll -- it was up to the very creative GM to figure out how to apply the fortune to the game.

I have a rule that attempts to make familiars more useful. Wizards who do NOT have familiars can only get new spells by copying scrolls, or buying them from (or trading with) other wizards. A familiar can teach its wizard a number of spells equal to the wizard's INT bonus at each new level, the spells being added to the spellbook. (Classically, a familiar was a divine or infernal assistant who offered guidance and knowledge.) This is a neat way to introduce a new player-created spell when the characters don't have access to research facilities, or if the player likes to design new spells but the character isn't actually an R&D type. It also allows the GM to "hand down" spells that he knows will be useful in the future, or round out a spellbook for a player who (on his own) only bothers with offensive spells, or refuses to take ice spells, or whatever. This can apply to sorcerors as well, if the GM rules that sorcerors must learn new spells from another sorceror.
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#18388
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Kradlo,

I am NOT using this to make light of today's anniversary, but your GM's sad example is just another case of art imitating life. With the same horrible results.
Gravity can be a terrible destroyer; no matter how strongly we build, a big enough blast can drop ANY dream.
Maniacal fanatics did it to us in New York, with massive aircraft and full tanks of kerosene.
One idiotic wizard did it to himself and all of his party in that long-ago dungeon, with an over-charged staff.
The odd thing is, the fanatics didn't expect the results they got, according to some reports. Nor did they expect the response we gave them, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Just as, I'm sure, the wizard didn't expect the results HE got, either.

And yes, I cried too, five years ago.

Never Forget.

See ya!

Jim
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#18389
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Some of my house rules...

Critical hit roll of 20 results in double maxim damage with no die roll required. I.E. a 1d8+3 attack would result in 22 damage.

You can call a shot and are successful on a natural twenty. (I want to shoot the vampire through the heart.)

All fractions are rounded in the players favor.

You may re-roll a 1 when you are rolling for hitpoints. (leveling up, healing)

Attacks of opportunity only occur against someone attempting to flee combat.

I use a basic d6 initative with no modifiers. I roll and a party member rolls. Whoever wins goes first and it alternates from that point forward.
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#18390
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
philip--those are really good house rules. I recognize several that I use but take for granted, hence my not mentioning of them. I love finding other GMs who run games similar to how I run so this was nice to read.
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Dante's Inferno Canto III (77-80)
 
#18391
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
These aren't "house" rules, but I love the exploding dice in HackMaster. You roll max damage on a die, you keep rolling till you don't roll max damage... Makes those magic missiles killer as you have a 25% chance per die of exploding.
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#18392
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Thanks! Great minds think alike :)

In my game if a player fails a savings throw vs. an energy attack (Fireball, Dragon Breath, Lightning Bolt), high falls, similar etc... all of their items must save. I use the AD&D tables on the old DM screen for item saves. If a wand, staff or rod containing charges of an energy type fails its save it expels all of its charges. This can start a horrific snowball effect, especially if two wizards are standing side by side. I have had player characters literally vaporize from carring around two much firepower. I have one player that will not touch a staff of fire for anything. This is a great way of limiting or balancing the power level of your players. It also clears the way for you to make up new and even cooler magic items to give them. If I have a player that is overly fond (my precious) of a magic item I usually have pitty on them and give them a lower roll to beat. Items of artifact or near artifact power can't be destroyed in this manner.
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Oblivion is in the eye of the Beholder.
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#18393
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Man... I swear you're my long, lost GM brother! ha ha... we ran pretty much the same kind of consequences back home in Michigan.

Another thing that I started doing was "levelling the playing field" for one particular player who always seemed to know how to take advantage of the system we played. He wound up getting his hands on a flintlock pistol (thanks to a small out of the way adventure with some pirates) and paid an alchemist to study the powder to reproduce it. At the same time, he paid an old salty dog to teach him how to fire the pistol. So... seeing how this could really tip the scales (it was my own fault for introducing it in to the game), I came up with a handy-dandy "Pistol Misfire Chart (TM)" heh heh... Talk about making him think twice before firing that thing. ;-}~
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Dante's Inferno Canto III (77-80)
 
#18394
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
Speaking of destroying stuff...

Shatter, in the right hands, is just a cruel spell.
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#18395
House Rules 8 Years, 2 Months ago  
I am going to be running D20 Conan (Mongoose version) soon and the rules they use might be interesting to apply to our next D&D game too. e.g. allowing int bonus skill points to be spent on any skill and not be 'cross class', allowing penalty free multi classing but not having any prestige classes, armour as damage reduction rather than AC modifying, also applying armour penalties to initiative rolls too. I suspect this will make for a 'grittier' feel to combat and allow potentially more options to players when developing character concepts. Haven't thought too much about balance issues yet but our group does not contain any min-maxers so it should be o.k.

Just my ramblings....

Dave
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