A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons
Tag Archives: House Rules
October 11, 2021Posted by on
The official rules for Lycanthropy in D&D 5E don’t make it clear on how a DM should run the game should a player’s character become effected by the curse. I was looking to come up with some house rules when I ran across this post by Halfling Hobbies. I didn’t think I could improve on it much so I thought I would share.
August 15, 2021Posted by on
Can my D&D character die of old age?
In 3.5 and earlier editions of D&D your character could die of old age. This is not presented as an option in 5th edition. If you want some rules for how your characters are effected when they are magically aged, with the possibility of dying from old age, this post is for you.
Your character ages normally as time passes in your campaign. Most campaigns won’t represent a long enough time for your character’s advancing age to effect your character’s abilities. But the world of D&D is a world full of magic and anything can happen.
The Player’s Handbook tells you when each race is considered an adult and their expected lifespan. You also learn that the “petrified” condition ceases aging and creatures under the effect of the “imprisonment” spell don’t age. You also learn that the “resurrection”, “true resurrection”, and “revivify” spells don’t work on creatures that died from old age. I would also have to assume that a properly worded “wish” spell could change the age of a creature.
From the Dungeon Master’s Guide you learn that both the “Boots of Immortality” and the epic “Boon of Immortality” both stop you from aging, make you immune to any effect that would age you, and with them you can’t die from old age. You also learn that a creature trapped in an “iron flask” doesn’t age.
The Monster Manuel only has one monster that effects aging. The “Ghost” has a “Horrifying Visage” ability that can age a character 1d4 x 10 years. The aging effect can be reversed with a greater restoration spell, but only within 24 hours of it occurring. [For the following rules to work as intended, change the aging from “1d4 x 10 years” to “one age category”.]
In the magical world of D&D there may be additional spells or magical effects that are not in any of the core books. As the result of some magic, you might be unnaturally changed to any older (or younger) age. I have created the following unofficial rules to provide a framework for the DM to handle these situations.
I have divided the ages into 3 groups: Young, Mature and Old
Each of these groups are further divided into three categories. Although the Player’s Handbook says that you can choose any age for your character, it is assumed that a starting player character would normally be somewhere in the “Mature” group.
The three age groups and the categories for each group are as follows.
Young: Infant, Child, Adolescent
Mature: Young-adult, Adult, Middle-aged
Old: Senior, Elderly, Venerable
When a creature is affected by magic which changes its age, it will typically make it older (or younger depending on the magic effect) by a single age category. When your age is changed in this way your character changes as described below. Please note that, except for Infants, you are NOT changing any ability scores. Also these changes are NOT cumulative. When your age is magically changed to one of these categories you should start by removing any previously applied changes from earlier age changes before applying the new changes.
PC age categories
Infant: Your size becomes tiny, Your speed becomes 0, You loose all ability to communicate. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. All of your ability scores become 3. You automatically fail all ability checks and saves.
Child: Your size becomes small. Your speed becomes 10. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. You have Disadvantage on STR, INT, WIS and DEX checks and saves. You have Advantage on CHA checks and saves.
Adolescent: You loose all weapon and armor proficiencies. You must succeed on a concentration check to cast any spell. You have a -2 on STR, INT and WIS checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA checks and saves.
Young-adult, Adult, and Middle-aged: No changes.
Senior: You have a -2 on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves.
Elderly: You have disadvantage on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA and WIS checks and saves.
Venerable: You automatically fail all STR and DEX checks and saves. You have advantage on CHA and WIS checks and saves. If you fail any CON save you receive one level of exhaustion. If you die from exhaustion, you will have died from old age.
Too young or too old:
If magical ageing makes you younger than the youngest category you die from never having been born. Your body dissipaters and your sole returns to the font on the Positive Energy Plain from whence it came.
If magical ageing makes you older than oldest category you die of old age.
For the races that are in the Player’s Handbook.
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-49
Mature: Young-adult 50-99, Adult 100-149, Middle-aged 150-199
Old: Senior 200-249, Elderly 250-299, Venerable 300-350
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-99
Mature: Young-adult 100-199, Adult 200-299, Middle-aged 300-399
Old: Senior 400-499, Elderly 500-599, Venerable 600-750
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-13, Adolescent 14-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-49, Adult 50-89, Middle-aged 90-129
Old: Senior 130-159, Elderly 160-199, Venerable 200-250
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-79, Elderly 80-99, Venerable 100-120
Young: Infant 0, Child 1-3, Adolescent 4-14
Mature: Young-adult 15-24, Adult 25-34, Middle-aged 35-44
Old: Senior 45-54, Elderly 55-64, Venerable 65-80
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-39
Mature: Young-adult 40-99, Adult 100-159, Middle-aged 160-219
Old: Senior 220-279, Elderly 280-339, Venerable 340-500
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-14, Adolescent 15-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-34, Adult 45-69, Middle-aged 70-94
Old: Senior 95-119, Elderly 120-144, Venerable 145-180
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-5, Adolescent 6-13
Mature: Young-adult 14-23, Adult 24-33, Middle-aged 34-43
Old: Senior 44-53, Elderly 54-63, Venerable 64-75
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-99, Elderly 100-119, Venerable 120-150
Monster age categories
For NPCs and all Creatures that do not have a class level (monsters) what happens when they are magically aged depends on their type. They will use the age categories that are shown below for the monster type. We can ignore their actual age in years.
Aberrations, Celestials, Constructs, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead are immune to magical aging.
Beasts are assumed to start as an Adult.
Beast age categories:
Child: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adolescent: -2 on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adult: Starting age.
Old: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Dragons have their own age categories. When they magically change to a different age category all of their stats change to those for a dragon of the same color but with the new stat block.
Dragon age categories:
Wyrmling 0-5 years
Young 6-100 years
Adult 101-800 years
Ancient 801+ years
They will change color, and the abilities associated with that color, as they change change age categories.
Faerie Dragon age categories:
Red 0-5 years
Orange 6-10 years
Yellow 11-22 years
Green 21-30 years
Blue 31-40 years
Indigo 41-50 years
Violet 51 years
Giants and Humanoids
Use the same age categories as shown for PCs.
Giants and Humanoids are assumed to start as an Adult.
Plants are assumed to start as an Adult and they don’t die from old age, they just get larger. Use your common sense, for instance plants that don’t have a speed or move rate don’t get them when they change size.
Young: Size decreases from Adult by two size categories and reach decreases from Adult by 10′ and speed decreases from Adult by 10′.
Young-adult: Size decreases from Adult by one size category and reach decreases from Adult by 5′ and speed decreases from Adult by 5′.
Adult: Starting age.
Middle-aged: Size increases from Adult by one size category and reach increases from Adult by 5′ and speed increases from Adult by 5′.
Old: Size increases from Adult by two size categories and reach increases from Adult by 10′ and speed increases from Adult by 10′.
July 25, 2021Posted by on
Armor & Weapons AC and HP
There may come a time when a character needs to destroy some armor or a weapon. By RAW (rules as written), in D&D 5E you can’t attack armor or a weapon during combat while some creature has it in its possession. Nevertheless, this need sometimes arises and that is the reason I created the following tables to use in my games. The AC (armor class) listed for the various types of armor is the AC for the armor itself and not the AC that the armor provided to its wearer. Damage types that any armor or weapon is resistant to only does half damage to the item, and any that they are vulnerable to does double damage.
All armor types are immune to cold, force, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, and thunder damage.
|Padded||10||10||bludgeoning||acid, fire, slashing|
|Leather||11||12||bludgeoning||acid, fire, slashing|
|Studded leather||12||14||bludgeoning||acid, fire|
|Hide||12||14||bludgeoning||acid, fire, slashing|
|Chain shirt||12||15||bludgeoning, slashing||piercing|
|Scale mail||14||16||bludgeoning, slashing||piercing|
|Breastplate||14||17||bludgeoning, slashing, piercing|
|Half plate||15||18||bludgeoning, slashing, piercing|
|Ring mail||14||17||bludgeoning, slashing||piercing|
|Chain mail||16||18||bludgeoning, slashing||piercing|
|Plate||18||20||bludgeoning, slashing, piercing|
|Shield||14||10||bludgeoning, slashing, piercing||fire (wood shields only)|
All weapon types are immune to poison, cold, radiant, necrotic, thunder, force, and psychic damage.
|Simple Melee Weapons|
|Light hammer||19||15||bludgeoning, fire|
|Simple Ranged Weapons|
|Martial Melee Weapons|
|Martial Ranged Weapons|
Weapons with wooden shafts.
The Staff has these traits which are different from its metal head:
AC 15, HP 10, no resistances, vulnerable to fire.
Magical armor and weapons.
Other than potions and scrolls, most magic items have resistance to all damage.
July 16, 2021Posted by on
How to publish your own D&D 5E adventure (or any other D&D related content such as alternate rules or home-brew monsters).
If you just want to share your stuff.
If you are just a fan and only want to share your stuff for free with other fans (like I do on this blog) you could simply abide by the WotC’s (Wizards of the Coast) fan content policy.
What is WotC’s fan content policy?
WotC claims the IP (intellectual property) rights to everything they publish. I am a fan, and everything I share here is free and unofficial. To the best of my understanding, everything I make available here complies with their fan content policy. WotC’s fan content policy explains what you, as a fan, can and can’t do with their IP. Most of it is pretty simple. Don’t claim any of their stuff is yours and don’t try to sell it.
There is a little more to it than that. You should read their official fan content policy (HERE).
If you want to sell your stuff.
Then it gets a little more complicated. WotC does a good job explaining most of this (HERE). Below are my thoughts on the subject. (You should check with a lawyer. I am not a lawyer and nothing contained here should be taken as legal advice.)
Probably the safest way to avoid any legal hassles is to use the WotC’s OGL (Open Game License), OGC (Open Game Content), and SRD (System Reference Document). Abiding by these rules you can publish anything you want, any where you want. WotC also provides an easy way to publish your stuff on-line with the Dungeon Masters Guild.
What is the OGL (Open Game License)?
The OGL is a short contract Wizards of the Coast created. It contains provisions that explain the rules surrounding what D&D material you can use in your published work.
What is OGC (Open Game Content)?
OGC is a “body of work” that many creators have contributed to over time. It’s the open-source world of D&D material. Anything in the OGC is free to use as long as you properly credit and cite the original publisher and abide by the OGL’s rules.
What is the SRD (System Reference Document)?
The SRD is an example of OGC you can use in your writing if you use the OGL. The SRD contains most of the basic D&D 5E rules and guidelines for publishing content under the OGL.
What is the Dungeon Masters Guild?
The Dungeon Masters Guild is an officially supported website that allows you to create content using Wizards of the Coast intellectual property (IP) and sell it on their site. You can charge whatever you want, you get 50% of your sales. The other 50% goes to Wizards of the Coast and OneBookShelf, which runs the DMs Guild marketplace. They have their own set of somewhat more flexible rules (HERE).
Another, riskier, option
You could ignore all of the above and use your own common sense (and a good copyright lawyer wouldn’t hurt).
Why some people choose NOT to use the “Open Gaming License”.
If you agree to the terms and conditions in the OGL, you are bound by it. That means that WotC doesn’t need specific legal backing to go after things – they can leverage their license itself to enforce things.
Many things that WotC wants to protect by the OGL are already covered by existing copyright and trademark laws. The primary things in 5e that you are not allowed to use in your work because they are protected under these laws are:
- Product identity – terms like Dungeons and Dragons, 5e, Dungeon Master, etc.
- Lore, settings, adventures, and characters. This includes places like the Faerun, the Underdark, specific monsters like Beholders and races like Githyanki. This also includes the proper names referenced by spells and items. Spell names like Bigby’s Hand are protected, though spell names like Fireball are not (too generic).
- Actual wording and expression of the rules. This includes the specific text that describes spells, items, and features.
If you agree to the OGL, it does allow you to use a bunch of their stuff exactly as they worded it. But the OGL gives you very few other rights you do not already have, and by agreeing to it you are giving up the right to do a lot of stuff you could have done otherwise.
- For one thing, no one can copyright, trademark, or patent the rules of a game.
- For another, take the phrase “world’s greatest role-playing game”. That’s required by the OGL, but under normal conditions, having never signed on to the OGL, you could just say “Compatible with D&D 5e rules” as much as you like. The only thing stopping you from doing that is the OGL.
- No one can claim mythical creatures, literary archetypes, or that kind of thing as their intellectual property. That includes the overwhelming majority of the names of all D&D classes, races, and monsters. You can already use those names. The stuff you can’t use are names like beholder or Illithid that were invented by WotC. But they are not available in the OGL anyway. As long as you never agreed to the OGL, you can create generic versions with different names and you’re okay. For any creature, pact, effect, etc., as long as you don’t copy the WotC descriptions word for word you should still be okay. Any one of these names in and of itself can’t be copyrighted, but the paragraph of description can. So, just be careful. Or, better still, just create your own stuff from scratch.
I hope this helps. Good luck writing your own D&D 5E Adventure.
P.S. If you are interested, you can purchase and download a copy of the adventure whose cover I show above (HERE).
July 10, 2021Posted by on
“Using different Speeds” on page 190 of the Player’s Handbook says:
“If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you’ve already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move.
For example, if you have a speed of 30 and a flying speed of 60 because a wizard cast the fly spell on you, you could fly 20 feet, then walk 10 feet, and then leap into the air to fly 30 feet more.”
This rule is simple and makes for fast game play, but it bothers me because of all the ways it can be used that make no logical sense. Foe instance, you can not do their example in reverse. You cannot first fly 30 feet and then walk 10 feet. That would not be allowed because if you subtract the distance you’ve already moved (30 feet) from the new speed (30 feet) you get zero – no move remaining.
I do it this way:
A combat round is only 6 seconds. When you switch from one move rate to another you see how much time you have used and then see how much time you have left. Use this to see how much farther you can move.
Because one round is 6 seconds, to convert “speed” to “feet per second” divide the speed by 6.
- Walk speed of 30 ft. = 5 ft per second
- Fly speed of 60 ft. = 10 ft per second
If you fly 30 feet (taking 3 seconds) you could then walk 10 feet (taking 2 seconds) and then you could take the rest of your time (1 second) to fly an another 10 feet. And your trip back will work the same way.
Lets say you only walked 20 feet, and then flew as far as you could. It took you 4 seconds to walk that 20 feet so you only have 2 seconds left. You can fly another 20 feet.
If you walk 30 feet you can’t move any farther because it took all 6 seconds to move that 30 feet.
This also applies if you get up from prone. This takes half you move, therefore it takes 3 seconds to stand up, leaving only 3 more seconds regardless of your move rate.
July 5, 2021Posted by on
In Dungeons and Dragons, according to the Great Wheel cosmology, all souls in the multiverse originate from fonts on the Positive Energy Plain, sometimes called the Plane of Life. When a sentient being is born his soul enters his body with his first breath. How long that soul existed before it occupied the newborn and how the choice of host is made is not known. A PC’s soul then continues throughout his life and beyond. A PC’s soul isn’t typically destroyed when he dies and if he is brought back to life, his soul re-joins his body. It is possible for his soul to be moved into an object or another body or travel to other planes and other timestreams. In a very real sense, a player’s character’s soul is that character.
What is a “soul” in D&D? Is that different than a “spirit”?
In 1st-edition D&D; humans, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and half-elves had souls. Elves, orcs, and half-orcs had spirits. Those with souls could be resurrected and the others could not. This was changed in later editions.
In D&D 5E, a “spirit” is a creature’s bodiless life force. As mentioned in the “Speak with Dead” spell, an animating spirit is the part of your life force that makes your body move to your soul’s wishes and has some semblance of awareness. A “soul” is a creatures spirit that also includes it’s memories, personality, and alignment. All souls have a spirit but a spirit can exist without a soul.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) seams to imply that all living creatures have souls:
“When a creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the Material Plane, travels through the Astral Plane, and goes to abide on the plane where the creature’s deity resides. If the creature didn’t worship a deity, its soul departs to the plane corresponding to its alignment.” (DMG p.24)
In D&D 5E what creatures have, or don’t have, souls?
There is nothing official that I can find in any of the published books, so here are my thoughts on this subject.
As a house rule, I propose that most creatures have souls. Creatures that don’t have souls are: beasts, constructs, elementals, oozes, plants, unaligned creatures, and most undead.
The following are the undead in the Monster Manuel (MM) that specifically DO have souls.
A ghost has a soul:
“A ghost is the soul of a once-living creature, bound to haunt a specific location, creature, or object that held significance to it in its life.” (MM p.147)
A rvenant has a soul:
“A revenant forms from the soul of a mortal who met a cruel and undeserving fate.” (MM p.259)
A will-o’-wisp has a soul:
“Will-o’-wisps are the souls of evil beings that perished in anguish or misery as they wandered forsaken lands permeated with powerful magic.” (MM p.301)
June 23, 2021Posted by on
Below are the house rules I use when I run a 5th Edition D&D game.
You can wait until the d20 is cast to decide if you’re going to use your inspiration to roll the second die to get advantage.
2) Initiative Order
On the first round only – On your turn you can change your initiative to one less than another character which has a lower initiative.
Clarification: This will change your initiative to that lower number for the rest of the encounter.
3) Passive Perception
I very seldom use it.
Clarification: If it is something you would probably notice, you notice it. If it is something you might not notice, I have you make a Perception check.
4) Changing weapons
Attacking with a weapon includes drawing the weapon.
Clarification: If you have a weapon in your hand and want to change to a different weapon you can use “interact with one object” to sheath the weapon you are holding and then draw and attack with a different weapon.
5) Secret Doors
If you are searching for a secret door and there is one, you will automatically find it.
Clarification: This also means that if there is some kind of trap there, you will activate it. You have to say where and how you are searching. Saying “I am always searching for secret doors” is not allowed. Sometimes I may require you to make an investigation check to determine how to open it.
6) Invisible Creatures
If a creature can’t be detected by using any of your senses then you can only guess at its location.
Clarification: If you can notice some clue as to its location you must succeed in a Perception check to locate it. You can make this check with advantage if you use the Search action. If it has taken the Hide action your Perception check will be against its Stealth check.
7) Attacking unseen creature
You only get advantage on attack against a creature that can’t see you if you can see the creature.
8) Magic Spells – Components
V – Verbal: It must be spoken in a clear voice that could normally be heard 20 feet away. It cannot be whispered.
S – Somatic: You cannot cast a spell that requires a somatic component if your hands are bound or tied together.
M – Material: 1) A spellcasting focus must be presented boldly. 2) It is assumed that you stocked up on material components with no listed value during your downtime. 3) For a material component with a listed value under 100gp you can assume that your character acquired it during your down time and you can simply deduct its value from your character sheet at the time you cast the spell. 4) For more valuable components you must have procured the item and have it listed on your character sheet.
9) Magic Spells – Area of Effect
A creature is considered to be in the area of effect if the center of the square it occupies is wholly inside the defined area.
Clarification: You can aim your AoE any way you want, but if it just touches the center the creature’s square it is unaffected. So if a 5 ft. wide “line” AoE runs horizontally or vertically between two 5 ft. squares, it won’t effect creatures on either side.
June 17, 2021Posted by on
For learning new languages without having to spend down time.
1) You can become proficient in a new language by having another character spend a few hours per day training you in a language that they are proficient in.
2) You can only learn one new language at a time.
3) The teacher can only teach one student each day.
4) It will take 125 days of in-game play minus your intelligence score to learn the language.
5) You must pay the teacher a minimum of 2 gp per day of training.
6) If you have had one or more days of training but are not yet proficient in the new language, the DM may allow you to attempt to read, write, speak or understand a short phrase or sentence of ten words or less in the new language. This will require an intelligence check. The DC of the check is the number of your training days remaining divided by 4. A natural 1 on the check will be an automatic fail.
7) The maximum number of new languages you can learn this way is equal to your Intelligence modifier.
8) If your intelligence score is 11 or lower, you can learn one new language this way, but you will only become proficient in speaking the language, you will not be able to read or write it.
March 2, 2021Posted by on
If a character doesn’t start at level 1, what should they start with in terms of gold and magic items?
Whenever a PC dies and the player rolls up a new character, I always have the new character start at the same level as the rest of the party. The same goes whenever a new player joins an existing game. So when they roll up their new higher level character I have them start with their first level inventory and any appropriate equipment based on their class and level. I also give them magic items similar in power to the items the other PCs have.
However, sometimes it is not that easy. That is when I use the following.
I give them gold based on their level. They start with their level 1 gold based on their class, and then add the following gold based on their starting level.
They spend from this to equip their character. They can spend as much of their gold on magic items as they choose up to the limit shown below.
I use this for Magic Item Prices:
Note that this is for newly created characters only.
Your character gets 2 points for each character level. You can buy magic items from the provided list (I often modify the list based on the campaign) based on the chart below.
|Very Rare||16 points|
You can’t have more than one of any non-consumable magic item. For every combat item you get, you must get at least one noncombat item before selecting another combat item.
Example: If you are 8th level you will have 16 points to spend. You can get 1 very rare, or 2 rare, or 8 common, or 1 rare and 1 uncommon and 2 common magic items, or any other combination that adds up to 16. Half or more must be noncombat items.
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”.