Wednesday, February 18, 2009

House Rules

Aha. There has been some interest in my proposal...but I won’t take any of the offers as firm until after the prospective players have had a chance to look over some of the house rules I play. After all, they may (reasonably) choose to bow out.

This would not be a definitive list. But it does include most of the things which would affect beginning players in my world.

1) Starting characters roll 4d6 and choose the 3 highest dice for statistics. Players choose where to allocate the final six numbers. Further character stats are generated according to my own systems.

2) Classes are restricted to cleric, druid, fighter, paladin, ranger, mage, illusionist, thief, assassin, monk and bard.

3) Races available to players are restricted to dwarves, gnomes, halflings, elves, half-elves, half-orcs and humans.

4) Class limitations for races are those which appear on page 14 of the Player’s Handbook. Dwarves, elves and gnomes may be clerics. Halflings may be druids. There are no race/level restrictions.

5) Any race and any class may be multi-classed.

6) There are no race/ability score minimums or maximums.

7) I do not expect players to adhere to any racial preferences, most of which are illogical for my campaign anyway.

8) Monks have a d6 for hit points. Their starting armor class is two levels higher than that indicated on page 31 of the PH.

9) There is no such thing as “alignment.” Paladins may be jerks if they wish.

10) Druid required experience is 20% higher than that indicated on page 21 of the PH. Thus, a druid requires 2,401 X.P. to reach 2nd level.

11) All spells have verbal and somatic components. No spell requires material components.

12) Clerics, druids, mages and illusionists are not permitted to take multiple duplicates of a single spell. Thus, cure light wounds cannot be used more than once per day by any level of cleric.

13) Clerics and druids receive 1 spell and 2 spells respectively at first level, plus bonus spells for wisdom. Typically, since a cleric wouldn’t likely be run with a wisdom of less than 14, clerics begin with 3 spells; druids usually start with 4 spells, though often the highest stat is necessarily committed to charisma.

14) Mages and illusionists receive 3 spells at first level. Mage spells are chosen from those which are successfully rolled for in their spell book (% determined by intelligence). Spellbooks are generated in excel. Both mages and illusionist must keep spellbooks in order to “learn” their spells daily.

15) To re-acquire spells, all spellcasters must sleep for six consecutive hours without disturbance. Clerics and druids pray; mages and illusionists study. Spells are reacquired at a rate of 15 minutes per level (fireball would require 45 minutes). Spells which were not cast since last prayed for or studied need not be reacquired.

16) Only fighter types (including paladins and rangers) may fight from horseback. Only fighter types may successfully ride warhorses while armed.

17) Thieving abilities include those in the PH. The “read languages” ability indicates the thief’s ability to read the magic scroll of any spellcaster.

18) Backstabbing and assassination may only be accomplished against surprised or stupefied creatures. Neither may not be accomplished in combat against an opponent who is aware of the thief’s or assassin’s presence.

19) Many of the spells have been rewritten and are periodically subject to review as occasionally my rewrites attempting to give more punch to the spell gives a bit too much for its level. Spell descriptions as they apply in my world will be given to spellcasters.

20) Cantrips exist, as suggested in the Unearthed Arcana. Many of these have also been subject to change. For each new spell a mage or illusionist receives, they also receive one cantrip from a random category.

21) Multi-classed characters need not have a ratio of 1:1 with the main class. The main class may have a ratio of as much as 4:1 against secondary classes.

22) More than two classes for multi-class are permitted. No restrictions exist on which classes may be joined with which classes.

23) Experience is not divided for multi-classed characters. The total required experience is added together and that is the number which must be obtained in order to reach the next level. Thus, a fighter/thief would require 3,251 X.P. to reach second level. If the ratio were 2:1 for the fighter/thief, the character would require half the thief’s necessary X.P.: 2,626 (+1 X.P. is always added).

24) In cases where multi-classed characters have uneven ratios, only partial abilities are provided for the lesser class when the player is promoted. Thus, in the fighter/thief example above (2:1), the thief would gain half the % increase for skills. A mage would not gain a new spell until the fighter achieved 3rd level, but would receive the accompanying cantrip at the fighter’s 2nd level.

25) Multi-classed characters always receive the best possible choice of weapons and the worst possible restriction on armor. Thus a fighter/mage must be unarmored but may use any weapon. A druid/monk would have a monk’s AC but could not wear armor, but would have a range of weapons available to either class.

26) I cannot speak any language but English, so there are hardly any languages in use in my world but “common.” There is no orcish, elvish or that of any other race; there are no thieves’ or assassin’s cants; no other languages at all beyond those which have been hopelessly lost for centuries and may be encountered only in very rare books or inscriptions. This is because I simply can’t “fake” the use of another language and I have no interest in the “translation” issues which are supposed to be so interesting in the game. They are not, so the issue is in the garbage.

27) I use the character mass+level hit point system which I have described in recent posts. This means that humans, dwarves and half-orcs have more hit points than elves, gnomes and halflings.

28) At present I use a money system in which a gold coin (weighing 7 grams or a quarter of an ounce) is equal to 16 silver pieces. One silver piece = 12 copper coins. Electrum and platinum coins do not exist. Typically 80 coins will fit into a small belt pouch and 300 into a large belt pouch. I do not use coins as a unit of weight. I use “pounds.”

29) Swords, spears, long bows, pole arms and other footmen’s weapons cannot be used from horseback. Scimitars were curved by Arabs that would allow this, but Europeans invented smaller versions of flail, mace and so on. Most fighters with long swords were expected to ride into combat and dismount.

30) Long bows cause 1-8 damage. Short bows still cause 1-6 damage and may be used from horseback. Either may be fired every other round normally, but a -4 penalty may be accepted if a player wishes to fire a bow every round.

31) Light crossbows cause 2-12 damage, but may be fired only once every 3 rounds. Heavy crossbows cause 4-14 damage, but may be fired only once every 4 rounds. These damage changes were made to give players a reason to pause when facing a group of town guardsmen.

32) Javelins have a range of 90 feet. Hand weapons may not be hurled a distance greater than 45 feet. Generally, ranges are 15’ per range point indicated on page 38 of the PH.

33) There is no difference between outdoor ranges and indoor ranges. One foot is one foot, always.

34) Psionics do not exist.

35) Combat is accomplished according to the example which I published here.

36) All players begin at first level, regardless of the present level of the party. Low level characters associated with high level party members who SURVIVE tend to go up levels very quickly.

37) Experience points are awarded for damage done (10 X.P. per point) or for damage received (20 X.P. per point). The total for all damage received by every party member is then totalled and redistributed according to the rule of 1 share per character, ½ share per henchman.

Example: 3 characters (cleric, fighter, thief) and a henchman (assassin) get into a combat. When the battle ends, the cleric has suffered 5 points (100 X.P.), the fighter 10 (200 X.P.), the thief 4 (80 X.P.) and the assassin 2 (40 X.P). The total (420 X.P.) is then divided by 3.5, giving the main characters an additional 120 X.P. each and the henchman assassin 60 X.P.

This would be true regardless of which creatures were attacked.

As I said, hardly comprehensive, but enough to turn a few heads. If you have not seen the film The Gamers then you ought to, now. I laughed, and it is suggestive of what I would do as a film vehicle (more about that another day). But I would argue that the DM was about the worst example of a referee imaginable, and I cannot understand why D&D players must always be depicted as drunken frat boys. If I wanted to spend time with drunken frat boys, I would go get drunk at a frat (I’m still welcome there, I think).

I am all for humour; it might be difficult to get the sort of gut-wrenching situations that leave everyone rolling on the floor from an online format, however. It would be nice if there could be a few moments of tension, real drama, high success and quality risk-taking. And even if none of you are heroes, I’ve no doubt you have the potential for bravery.

Waste my time, however, and I’ll waste you. Ha ha. Just kidding.


  1. Me either.
    Do you have a specific part of the world would be the starting point?

  2. I'd like to throw my hat into the ring as well.

  3. For various reasons, I need to start the game in Germania...player's choice:

    Mecklenburg, Saxony, Sudetenland, Vogtland (west Czech), Erzgebirge, Bohemia, Moravia, Upper Austria or Bavaria. Those all work for me.

    I'll take five players (since that many have offered) on Friday, roll characters on the weekend and perhaps get started Sunday evening or Monday. I'm running my regular D&D game Saturday, so I'll fit in the character development as possible.

  4. Bavaria would be my preference.

    Nothing here scares me off. Bard was UA? That would be the 1E book I don't have. Time to go buy a PDF.

  5. Chgowiz,

    The bard was not UA...and I wouldn't buy the pdf on my account. Everything I use from the Unearthed Arcana I've rewritten and I have on file.

    The bard I use is mostly my own creation.

  6. Mind sharing the info on that class? For some reason, a bard/thief combo sounds intriguing to me.

  7. Chgowiz,

    I've done some game testing with it and there are some precedents and changes I haven't put down on paper yet; I planned to do that in the next few days in case someone wanted to be a bard. I'll try and post about it later today.

  8. Awesome. I was looking for precisely this kind of thing.

    Thanks again, Alexis.

  9. Just recently found your post & really like some of the house rules you have. Hope u won't mind if I use some in my campaigns.

  10. Finally found "The Gamers" on youtube .... esp loved the portrayal of the "absent player." Now - on to the sequels!


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