Reader contributed D&D houserules

Posted on June 16, 2009 by


So, another reader makes my life as a blogger easier by providing material.  At this rate, I won’t have to write a word, and the site can live off guest writers.  I kid, I kid.  It’s always welcome though, and if it’s halfway decent, you’ll have a place here to publish your stuff if you don’t have an outlet for it.  So, today’s post comes from reader “Mike”, who has submitted an alternate mechanic system he uses in his games and is contributing it for discussion and critique.  Mike describes himself as a 15 year DM who is always looking to better his craft.

Here now is Mike:


*4e Rules*- I have purchased the core 4e books and the PHB 2 because I
wanted to judge for myself on 4e instead of just listening to other peoples
opinions, while valid, of 4e.  I read through all the books till my eyes
bled and found that many of the mechanics I really liked, but the classes
and the lack of customization, I really don’t.  I also don’t like that many
of the powers are honestly just variations on a theme.  So reading through,
I looked at what made 4e, to me, more fun/easier and decided what I wanted
to keep.

– All characters initiative going up every even level.  This makes sense
to me.  Adventures of level 12 still going at their original +2 (because
they don’t have a great dex or imp initiative) just seems so non-epic to me.

– I’ve kept healing surges, to lighten the load on the healers, but they
only get 2 + CON Mod (min of +1) healing surges per day.
– Bloodied- I’ve kept bloodied, but when bloodied characters take -2 to
all roles, showing that they are becoming fatigued.
– One thing that really annoyed me with 3.x is status effects.  The are
difficult to keep track of.  “You are poisoned, feared, etc for 2d4
rounds.”  I like 4e use of it goes on the whole encounter, but at the end
of your turn, you get a save.  I’m keeping that, but using 3.5 saving
– Powers- What I decided to do with the powers is at level one the
players can choose 2 powers, either encounter, daily, or utility.  Both
can be used once per day.  As they level up they can swap out powers for
something else.  Also if they really like a low level power, we buff it
up to match their level.  IE- I have a 3.5 warlock in my campaign who
really likes the 4e spell of Falagenos (spelling), which is a level 1 daily
and does 3d8 damage.  Not exactly a wow of a spell when you are level 12.
So we upped the damage to 8d8 + ½ level.  Bit better.
– I also like the status affects more in 4e, but haven’t had a chance to
play with those yet for 4e, but plan on attempting to add them to see how
they work.
– I’m using 4e races, racial abilities, and racial powers and seeing how
that works in 3.x
– Quick Draw feat gives an additional +2 to Initiative.  I like this.
– How do you update Monsters from 3.x to reflect the initiative
boost?  Simple,
look at their challenge rating or level advancement, and ½ that.  There
is their new bonus to initiative.  If they have a rapid strike or quick
draw feat give em +2 initiative.

*Monster Mods-* One of the things that always got to me about many
role-playing games is the length of combat.  Something that many GM’s and
players have struggled with.  To me combat should be fast, furious, deadly
without the really striving for TPK.  What I decided to do was create a
style of “minion” or “mook,” for lack of a better term.  They don’t have 1
HP, but can def be killed in 1 to 2 hits.  But to make them more of a
threat, I give them a higher initiative, higher attack, and up their damage
and saves.  So if the creature has an axe that normally does 1d8 damage, I
up it to 2 or 3 d8.

The next style of enemy has slightly higher HP and doesn’t do as much
damage, but has some tricks up their sleeves that can make them just as
nasty, but again, they can go down in 2-4 hits.

Then it goes to mini-boss and boss type creatures.  These can be anything…  A
goblin king to a shambling mound to a chaos beast to a lich.  I look at what
the MM says their abilities, stats, etc are, use those as a base, and up or
lower damage stats and etc.  Usually I do this on the fly and have gotten
decently good at providing a challenge for my players.

*Fencing-* I’ve heard that Nobis is coming out in July and has mechanics for
fencing and I’m excited to see what they have come up with and may take that
over what I’ve done.  One thing that I see players rarely take use of is
blocking, parrying, and dodging.  Why?  Because combat is a war of HP
attrition, and the one who loses HP faster loses..  And with 3.x mechanics,
you have to use your attack (sometimes full action) to block or parry an
attack.  Then there is a complex set of rules that allows you to oppose
roll, roll again, then roll again (I’m exaggerating) and you may get a hit
off on the target for doing this…

So what I’ve come up with (and am currently play testing this) is Fencing
points.  You get your level in fencing points and they refresh every level.
Fencing points can be used to dodge, or block attacks.  You can block 1
attack by target once per round by burning points.  They refresh ever level.
If you have 4 guys making one attack each on you, you can burn 4 points in
an attempt to block.  If you have three guys making 2 attacks each.  You can
only burn three points and block one attack of each enemy.  To block or
dodge you roll a DEX (the Modifier) or Athletics/Tumble check (whichever is
higher) and dodge the attack and shift one square away.  The DC is their
attack roll.  For blocking you roll an opposing attack roll, if you beat
them, you successfully block their attack.  The next part has more on
Fencing options in the Eberron rules.

*Eberron rules-* I like Eberron’s rules for Action Points.  You get 3+ your
level and they add +#d6 (depending on level) to your attack, save, skill
check, ability check rolls when you decided to use one.  They come in handy,
and allow the players to be exceptional.  I give everyone the Action Surge
Feat, which allows the player to burn three action points to take an extra
move or attack action (basically what burning 1 AP in 4e does).  In regards
to Fencing it also allows bonuses.  If you successfully block an attack,
even if it is not your turn you can burn three AP and make a free attack.  If
you successfully Dodge an attack, you can spend 3 AP and make a move action.
These actions are limited because it is NOT your players turn, but allow you
to do something extra.

*Pathfinder-* I’m also using rules and changes from Pathfinder Beta and when
the published book goes live, I’ll assimilate what I like from that and what
I like from the beta.  Pathfinder has quite a few changes that I like to
feats, combat, etc.

Alright..  So that’s it..  My little bit of knowledge..  Whether you like it
or not, I just wanted to put it out there for others to criticize or take
ideas from or whatever..



Thank you Mike.  Guys, the floor is yours for comments.  I’m sure Mike will appreciate it.

Tagged: , ,
Posted in: 4e D&D, Gaming