A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons
Tag Archives: House Rules
January 17, 2021Posted by on
Rules for conducting a seafaring campaign in D&D. Including rules for Ship-to-Ship Combat.
This is a re-post. I first posted this in 2015. It has been by far my most downloaded file. My records for downloads doesn’t go back farther than July 2019, but just in 2020 there were over 30,000 downloads. For any of my followers that may have missed it, here is a copy of the original post. For those who have downloaded this and used in your games I am very happy that this has been so well received. So here again is – Nautical Adventures.
You can download a free copy here: 5E_Nautical_Adventures.pdf
This is a complete re-write of the Ship to Ship Combat rules I published before (3.5 version here).
In keeping with the spirit of 5e, this is not about conducting massive sea battles, moving small model ships around on a hex battle map exploring tactics and the intricacies of wind and sail. Rather this is about what the PCs can do with ships. Ship-to-ship battles do take up the majority of the pages here, but the battles are from the point of view of the player characters on board their ship. Care has been taken to assure each payer has something to contribute each round of ship-to-ship combat. Each player controls one of their ship’s officers. That officer can be his or her PC or it may be an NPC and he has several actions available to him that are specific to that officer.
I copied liberally from Wizards of the Coast’s 1997 publication “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons of Ships and the Sea”. I also got a lot of good ideas from Pathfinder’s “Skull and Shackles” (their “Wormwood Mutiny” adventure path will work with these rules for those of you who want a good Pirates campaign.)
I also found a lot of good information in Kenzer and Company’s “Salt and Sea Dogs”.
July 29, 2020Posted by on
5.0-EZ Version 6
Download your free copy here.
This version contains several minor corrections to the previous version.
This is a supplement to fifth edition dungeons and dragons for those who prefer simpler rules or want an easy way to introduce the game to new players.
If you sometimes feel that the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules are too complicated, this is for you. I created this set of house rules to simplify character creation and advancement among other things. It also introduces a whole new way to select and track the casting of magic spells.
One thing I tried very hard to do was keep the characters levels and power as close as possible to the Player’s Handbook characters so that if you play using these rules, you can still use published 5th edition adventures, and the monsters will require little or no modifications
March 19, 2020Posted by on
How to Play on a 1 inch = 10 feet square grid.
I am the DM for a table top “Storm King’s Thunder” campaign. The final battle map is drawn in the book with one square = 10 feet. I usually draw the map on my battlemat with each 1 inch square = 5 feet. But this is such a large playing field that it won’t fit on my table at that scale so I am drawing it with 1 inch = 10 feet. I have occasionally done this before, but adjusting movements and attacks have always been a hassle. In anticipation of a large complicated battle I came up with this set of house rules.
To play with miniatures on a square grid where each square on the grid represents 10 feet:
Start with the rules in Variant: Playing on a Grid (PHB, page 192). Change “Each square on the grid represents 5 feet” to “Each (one inch) square on the grid represents 10 feet.”
For game purposes, creature sizes and speeds don’t change and if they have a 5 ft. reach they can attack creatures in adjacent squares even though creatures in adjacent squares are considered to be 10 ft. apart for all other purposes.
– Gargantuan Creatures
These each occupy a 2 inch square (four 1 inch squares).
– Large or Huge Creatures
These each occupy a single 1 inch square.
– Medium and Small Creatures
You can have more than one medium or small creature in one square. (I recommend flat, one inch diameter, tokens rather than minis. If there is more than one creature in a square you can stack them.)
A medium or small creature occupies one 1 inch square. Up to 4 creatures of this size can occupy a single square, but they are each considered occupying the entire square. If there is more than one such creature in a square they are considered to be 5 feet apart from each other.
A single medium or small creature can not be attacked by more than 8 medium or small creatures (or 4 large or larger creatures) with 5 ft. melee attacks.
– Tiny Creatures
You can stack 16 tiny creatures in one square. They are considered to be 2 1/2 ft. apart. You can have a combination of tiny and medium or small creatures. There can be a maximum of: 1 medium or small and 12 tiny, 2 medium or small and 8 tiny, or 3 medium or small and 4 tiny.
Speed and movement doesn’t change, but you can’t move into a square if you don’t have enough movement left (10 feet).
Example: If your move rate is 25 feet, you can only move 2 squares (25 ft. rounded down = 20 ft.), but if you dash you can move 5 squares (25 ft. x 2 = 50 ft.).
Medium or small creatures can move through, but not stop in, a square occupied by a Gargantuan or Huge creature but it can’t move through a square occupied by a Large creature.
Medium or small creatures can move through, or stop in if they choose to, a square occupied by fewer than 4 medium or small creatures, regardless if the occupying creatures are hostile or not. If it is occupied by 4 non-hostile creatures you can move through it but you can not stop in it.
Ranges and areas of effect:
All ranges and areas of effect are rounded down to a multiple of 10 feet (minimum of 10 feet).
Some examples: All melee attacks with a range of 5 feet will have a range of 10 ft. (or, rather, they are treated as if they were actually only 5 ft. away.) So you can attack a creature in an adjacent square with your short sword, or you could attack it with your long bow without disadvantage because, for everything other than 5 ft. melee attacks, it is 10 ft. away. For the same reason an attack on a prone creature in an adjacent square is with advantage if you make a 5 ft. melee attack (it’s 5 ft. away), but it is with a disadvantage if it is made with range weapon (it’s 10 ft. away). A blowgun’s range changes from (25/100) to (20/100). The spell Word of Recall‘s range changes from 5 ft. to 10 ft. The spell Lightning Bolt will form a line 10 ft. wide instead of 5 ft. The Gust of Wind spell will push a creature 10 ft. instead of 15 ft.
Your 5 ft. reach becomes 10 ft. in regard to creatures in adjacent squares. So if a hostile creature moves out of an adjacent 10 ft. square you can make an opportunity attack against it. But if it moves from within the same square you are in to an adjacent square you can not (because it will still be within range).
January 2, 2020Posted by on
A sword and planet/space pulp RPG.
Download your free copy here.
This is a conversion of The Savage Worlds of Flash Gordon from the Savage Worlds core system to Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition..
I have attempted to convert the information contained in The Savage Worlds of Flash Gordon into a playable D&D alternative..
Update #1: July 2020 Corrected some errors. Revised and expanded Mongo-Tech spellcasting.
September 20, 2018Posted by on
My thoughts on Components.
First, here is what it says in the Player’s handbook:
A spell’s components are the physical requirements you must meet in order to cast it. Each spell’s description indicates whether it requires verbal (V), somatic (S), or material (M) components. If you can’t provide one or more of a spell’s com ponents, you are unable to cast the spell.
There are some monsters which can cast spells with their innate spellcasting ability they do not have to provide any components. Unless stated otherwise if you cast a spell from an item you can do so without any components.
V – Verbal: Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. Chanting is by definition a clearly audible sound. A sorcerer with the subtle spell meta-magic, or a level 20 druid with the Archdruid class feature can ignore the verbal component when casting a spell. My house rule is that it must clear and a voice that can be heard from at least 20 feet away in normal circumstances. It cannot be whispered.
S – Somatic: Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. This requires a free hand and will be clearly visible. A sorcerer with the subtle spell meta-magic, or a level 20 druid with the Archdruid class feature can ignore the somatic component when casting a spell. Any spellcaster with the War Caster feat can use hands occupied by a weapon or shield. My house rule is that because of the exaggerated gestures required, you cannot cast a spell that requires a somatic component if your hands bound or tied together.
M – Material: If you have a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (which may be a holy symbol depending on your class), you can ignore all material components which have no indicated costs. The Ranger is notable for not having access to a spellcasting focus, and will always need a component pouch or the specific component. A free hand is needed here. If you cast a spell from a spell scroll you do not have to have the material components. A way of the four elements monk does not have to provide material components for their elemental spells.
My house rules regarding material components:
1) Component pouch or spellcasting focus.
This must be presented boldly.
2) Material component with no cost listed.
These are not needed if you are using a component pouch or spellcasting focus. If you are using the material component then I will assume that you stock up on these during your downtime but only if you are in a location where you would have access to them.
3) Material component with a listed cost.
Your PC must have procured the item and have it listed on his character sheet. If not, you cannot cast the spell. I will make an exception for low cost items (typically less than 100gp value). For these I will assume that your character purchased them during his down time and you can simply deduct its value from your character sheet at the time you cast the spell.
4) Rare or uncommon components.
There may be, from time to time, a spell that requires a rare, uncommon, or even unique component. You must, of course, have that component before you can cast such a spell.
March 31, 2018Posted by on
This is an expansion to a previous post. You may want to first read [D&D 5E – Creating the Party] before trying to make any sense out of this.
If you are using my “Creating the Party” rules to create your party, what if a new player joins the group?
The process will be similar to “Creating the Party” rules, but the other players will suggest his role and relationships.
The new player selects preferred Race and Class. Then all of the existing players have input regarding his role in the group and his relationships with the existing PCs.
First, have each of the existing players describe his character, its role in the group, its relationship with the other characters and its conflicts.
The group decides what role they would like for the new Player Character to assume in the party. If the new player would prefer to take on a different role then it is discussed and a mutually acceptable role will be agreed upon. The new player can change his selection of Race and/or Class at this time if he chooses to. He should also choose his character’s name.
2) PC’s relationships
The DM will ask for one of the existing players to come up with a relationship that his Character has with this new Character. If no one volunteers, the DM will randomly select someone. The group can all chime in with suggestions. It is okay if more than one existing Character has a relationship with this new Character.
If you are using this optional rule then, as with relationships, the DM asks for some player to come up with some trait or something from the new character’s past that his Character is uncomfortable with. Again, if the new player objects then it is discussed among the group until an agreeable conflict is selected. As with relationships – additional conflicts are okay.
4) Roll-up the character
Like everyone else did, using the role, relationships and conflicts as a guide for abilities and background.
If an existing player needs to roll-up a replacement character (if for instance his original character died), use the same process listed above, but allow that player to select a role, a relationship or two, and a conflict or two.
Because the player has been playing with the group, he already knows the relationships and conflicts that exist within the group so he can create a new character that can fit in well. Of course, encourage group discussion of his suggestions and allow the other players to suggest different options.
Refer to [D&D 5E – Creating the Party] for examples of Character Roles, Character Relationships and Objectionable Character Traits or Past actions.
The Player of this new Character can object to any of the other player’s suggestions and make counter suggestions of his own. The DM has final approval. Try to remember that this new Character must be fun for the player to play, if he has strong feelings for or against anything the others may want, you should typically allow his wishes to prevail – within reason.
March 7, 2018Posted by on
The Sedan Chair
This are my house rules for sedan chairs. Sedan chairs are essentially carts carried by strong humanoids, referred to as chairmen. All sedan chairs have silk tarps and heavy leather curtains to protect against snoops or the weather.
These portable covered chairs sport side windows and a hinged door at the front. Sedan chairmen insert long wood poles into metal brackets on either side of the chair. The poles are long and springy and provided a slightly bouncy ride. They are arranged in such a manner that the chair will remain in a horizontal position as the chairmen climb up steps or steep slopes. Passengers enter and exit between the poles.
For the more ornate sedan chairs, painters will create beautiful scenes on panels mounted on the sides, and many are extravagantly upholstered in silk on the inside. The less affluent have plainer, leather covered chairs.
Because these portable chairs can be carried inside buildings, people can be transported around the city without being identified. This makes it easier for people who were evading the law to go about their business, or for public personages to carry on trysts.
Chairmen have to be strong, fit and healthy as they are often standing outside in all weathers.
Cost for chairmen.
Permanent employ: 10 gp per week (5 gp for each chairman)
Per day: 2 gp per day (1 gp for each chairman)
Speed: The chair weighs 60 lb. If the total weight carried is under 200 lb. then the speed is 30 ft. If the total weight carried is 200 lb. or more, the speed is reduced to 20 ft. (Unless both chairmen have a strength of 20 or higher.)
January 27, 2018Posted by on
How do the PCs Come Together and Stay Together?
After watching this video “The coming revolution in role-play games? ” I started thinking that, when I begin a new Fifth Edition Dungeon and Dragons game I could do my character creation in a similar method. The reason that I might want to do this is that in many games the PCs don’t seem to have any good reason to be together, much else to function as a group. I have tried different things to encourage this, but borrowing some ideas from “Hillfolk” (a DramaSystem game) might work out well.
The idea behind DramaSystem is to build a varied and nuanced character with connections to other characters. This is not the sort of game that you go into with a preconceived notion of your character. Your character will change as you intuit the group’s overall build and decide that you would fit better in a different way. Then play takes place as a series of scenes. Each scene is determined by a player and may or may not include all of the other players. As you see, this is definitely not D&D.
DramaSystem is a true “role playing game”. D&D says that it is a role playing game, but it is primarily a “fight the monsters, get the treasure, save the world and get out alive” kind of game. I have no desire to turn it into an “explore your character’s true motivations and come to grips with your inner conflicts” kind of game. That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to start the game with the PCs having closer relationships with one another. So I borrowed heavily from DramaSystem to come up with this idea for running a session zero.
What is a Session Zero?
This is simply getting the group together before the first gaming session to roll characters together and talk about what kind of game it will be. It is not required and many DMs skip it altogether, or simply include it at the beginning of the first session.
Session zero usually involves the group meeting to discuss and establish the following.
- Game rules set to be played
- Table rules (table etiquette, behavior expectations, bringing up topics that players feel uncomfortable with, etc)
- House rules (changes from the core rules set, home-brew material, etc)
- Campaign expectations (Do we want to play an intrigue campaign? Dungeon crawler? An epic campaign?)
- Character creation
What I am suggesting here only addresses the last bullet point, Character creation.
Running Session Zero
Here is how I suggest that you as the DM might run a session zero.
The players may want to decide on their character’s race and class beforehand but otherwise they should not create their characters before they come to session zero.
You should start by describing the Campaign that you have in mind. Among the things you should explain to the players will be the level of magic and the overall theme of the campaign. Will it be mostly Gothic horror, nautical adventures, airships, a traditional dungeon crawl, or what? Then tell the players that they already know each other and have come together to form an adventuring party to rid the world of evil (or to explore ancient dungeons and get rich, or to find out what is causing all of the cattle to die, or to rescue the princess, or whatever the overarching theme is for your campaign).
1) PC’s Roles
Read aloud to the players, or paraphrase everything in maroon below, starting with:
You are not only creating your individual characters, but also their relationships with each other in order to create a group that can better function as a team. As you develop your PC each other player will build on that to develop his PC.
Have each player roll a d20. This will be a special initiative roll, but with no modifiers. Let ties be resolved by another roll between the tied players.
In initiative order describe your character including name, race, sex, class and what role your character will play in the group. Feel free to ask other players for ideas or suggestions. You should stop at that and not describe your character any further at this time. Specifically, you should not give your character any background information. That will come later. [Some examples of possible character roles are listed at the end of this page.]
Group participation is encouraged. By default, the first character to select a role to take in the group should get it, however if two characters both want to fill the same role, the other players can chime in and you can work it out as a group to everyone’s satisfaction.
If you are sitting around a battlemat; Write your character’s name in front of you on the mat, in large letters so everyone can see.
2) PC’s relationships.
Still in initiative order, explain your character’s relationship to one of the other characters of your choice. If possible, you should select a character that has not yet been selected, and that hasn’t selected you. How do you know that character? How did you meet? How long have you known each other? Tell us of some interesting event in your past that the two of you shared. [Some examples of possible character relationships are listed at the end of this page.]
We are just making stuff up here. The story you are telling about your character’s past is also helping to define the background of other characters in the group. If another player objects to what you say about his character’s background, he will say why he objects and suggest an alternative story. The group will decide what story they like best. I (the DM) will be the final arbitrator and can veto any story that I feel doesn’t fit into the campaign that I have in mind.
If you are sitting around a battlemat; Draw a line connecting your character’s name to the name of the character that you have a relationship with. Write a word or two along the line as a reminder to everyone as to what that relationship is.
If every character has a relationship with every other character or has a relationship with someone that does, you can continue on to step 3. In other words, if you can trace a path from everyone to everyone else that connects directly or goes through no more than one other character. If not, repeat step 2. Only add; This time you can select any other character that you want. It is okay if some characters are picked more than others.
3) PC’s Conflicts [Optional]
After step 2, you can quit this and have everyone finish creating his or her character as you normally would. Or for a little more interaction between PCs, continue on with this final step.
On your turn in the new initiative order, select someone else’s character. This does not have to be a character that you have a relationship with. Come up with one thing that your character doesn’t like about that character, or that makes your character uneasy. This can be something that he has done in the past, or some mannerism or personality trait. [Some examples are listed at the end of this page.]
Again, if the other character’s player objects, the group gets to decide if this would be fun for the group and the DM gets the final verdict.
4) Roll-up the characters
Have everyone roll-up his character as you normally would, but they should use the partial background just created as a jumping off place to assign ability scores and to fill in their character’s background. If there are backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook (PHB) that fit with what was discussed, he can choose one of those. If not, work with him to create a background that is unique to his character. Refer to “Customizing A Background” on page 126 of the PHB.
5) Play D&D
The idea here is to produce a Player Character Party where the individual members know each other better. Hopefully it will result in more personal interaction and cooperation between PCs than the typical “My character is an orphan. I just met these other guys. I couldn’t care less about them. I just thought I would have a better chance to survive if I wasn’t alone.”
EXAMPLES of CHARACTER ROLES
Some examples of what your character’s role in the group might be include:
the dealer with undead
the magical blaster
the magical buffer
the moral compass
the ranged support
the skill monkey
the spell caster
the trap finder
EXAMPLES of CHARACTER RELATIONSHIPS
This can be a family relationship such as wife, husband, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, etc. Or it can be a longtime friend. Some examples using the name “Fred” as the PC you have a relationship with:
“I am from a large family. We lived just outside of a large city (the DM can insert the name of a big city here). When I was just a lad, we were attacked by goblins and they almost wiped out my entire family. My brother Fred and I were the only survivors.”
“I met Fred when I as a temple guard. He was a raw recruit and I taught him everything I know about enforcing the law.”
“Fred is several years older than I am. He caught me stealing fruit off an apple cart. He took me in and taught me everything I know about being a thief in the big city.”
“Fred and I just happened to be at the same bar when we were both impressed into the navy. We served on the same ship for three years and became fast friends.”
EXAMPLES of OBJECTIONABLE CHARACTER TRAITS or PAST ACTIONS
I don’t like the way he:
Looks down on people that are of a higher (or lower) class than he is.
Looks at me.
Thinks he is smarter than everyone else.
Eats his food.
Is never around when there is work to be done.
Treats (one of the PC’s).
Drinks too much.
Eats too much.
Is always primping.
Is always daydreaming.
Can never sit still.
Is always sharpening his weapon.
Talks too much.
Stole something from me.
Beat me in a contest.
Saved my life.
Stole the love of my life.
Played a practical joke on me.
Watched while I almost died.
Wouldn’t share his food when I was starving.
Borrowed money from me and has never paid his debt.
Broke my heart.
Nearly killed me.
Saved someone I love.
Whatever trait you choose, fill in some specific details like who, what, when and where?
January 6, 2018Posted by on
Can I cast spells underwater?
This came up recently in a game I was running. I handled it with a decision at the table. After more thought, this is what I came up with.
First, I don’t allow you to cast a spell that you mumble under your breath. In air, You must say the magic words (the verbal component) in a clear and forceful voice that can be heard from at least 20 feet away.
Here are my house rules regarding speaking and casting spells with a verbal component while you are underwater.
1) After 1+(con bonus) minutes of holding your breath underwater you begin to drown. Each round that you speak or attempt to cast a spell with a verbal component takes 30 seconds from the time you can continue holding your breath. If you are just talking, this can be a simple sentence no more than about 10 words.
2) You are harder to understand when you talk while underwater. There is a 50% chance that you won’t be understood when speaking, and a 50% chance that your spell will fail when uttering the verbal component.
3) Sound travels further underwater, so she verbal component of a spell will be heard at least 40 feet away. The same for normal speech. If it can be understood, anyone further than 40 feet away will have to succeed in a perception check with a DC = the number of feet beyond 40 feet.
4) You can’t whisper or yell underwater.
5) If you are underwater, no one that is not in the water will be able to understand anything that you are saying.
6) If you can breath underwater you can talk and cast spells without restriction.
You may also want to see to my post regarding drowning here.
December 29, 2017Posted by on
5.0-EZ Version 5
A supplement to fifth edition dungeons and dragons for those who prefer simpler rules or want an easy way to introduce the game to new players.
This version is a major re-write after play-testing the previous version. The changes mainly relate to bringing the rules more in line with those in the Player’s Handbook to make it easier for a new player to transition from this to the full set of rules found there.