Campaign of the Month: February 2016
Rise of the Durnskald
In case you were wondering, here’s the list of house rules that we use in my games. These rules have been used for several generations of games now and I’ve had no shortage of dead characters, nor have I had problems with any of the characters made with the LA/ECL adjustment option listed below in terms of being too powerful (if anything they were still slightly less so than their standard race counterparts at 18th level). Many of these changes are actually from the Rules Compendium book or are a variation from Unearthed Arcana.
- We roll 4d6 twelve times for character creation. 1’s may be rerolled the first time they show up in each throw of the dice, and players discard 1 die rolled (generally the lowest). They keep whichever 6 results they want to use in whichever order they want. Yes I’m well aware that this leads to overpowered characters, especially at low levels. It’s been my standard rolling method since I started playing D&D over 15 years ago. I tend to be harsh on my players (especially at low levels) and it’s served me well so far.
- I allow most races provided the backstory is fleshed out.
- I allow characters to buy off level adjustments as per the rules and limitations described in Unearthed Arcana.
- I remove (at the characters discretion of course) racial hitdice, instead granting a number of levels in “Commoner” from the DMG equal to the racial hit dice lost without the levels actually counting a levels gained. For instance, if a player wanted to make a character with Level Adjustment +2 and the race came with 3 racial hit dice I would consider it a 3rd level character. It would have the 2 levels for the level adjustment and the 1st level of whatever class the player was. It would have the BAB, Saves, and HP of a 3rd level commoner (If I remember correctly that’s maybe a +1 BAB, no save bonuses, and 3d4 HP) and the 1st level (treated as if it were indeed the 1st level, so full HP and Skill pts) of it’s chosen starting class. This results in characters who have slightly more HP than a 1st level character would but brings their ECL far more in line with their power level. If the above listed method doesn’t work I have been known to convert races into classes.
- There is at least 2 Homebrew classes that I allow and I try to be fairly flexible about class choices. Basically, as long as I own a physical copy of the book that the class is from I’m ok with it.
- Players have the option to join Houses, Guilds, and Chapters, which each provide different benefits.
- Players earn session based XP instead of encounter based. I’ve tried all of the “staple” XP methods in the past and this one feels the best to me.
- At the end of every session the players vote for whomever they think has earned the “Roleplaying Reward”, this is generally a bunch of bonus XP that is equivalent to about half of the session XP total.
- I occasionally (read:rarely) award bonus XP for fantastic ideas.
- Players may spend gold in additional costs/components/etc instead of XP when creating items at a cost of 5 gold per XP point.
- Most deities have tangible benefits for their followers, as well as limitations.
- My campaigns have their own pantheon.
- People must “Squid Head” to table talk, which frankly looks quite silly and helps keep table talk to a minimum. Squid Heading is when you put the back of your hand on your forehead and make your fingers wiggle around like tentacles. I reserve the right to say that anyone who talks while not squid heading is talking in game.
- When leveling up and rolling for HP, I allow the players to use the average die roll, as determined by the level they are rolling it for in regards to if it’s an odd number or an even number. As an example a 3rd level Rogue gets 3 HP if they take the average roll while an 8th level Barbarian gets 6 HP. A 9th level Barbarian gets 7 HP. The best way to get HP in my games is take take the average when it’s the higher of the 2 “average” numbers and to roll when it’s the lower number.
- Monsters are not bound by the alignments given in the monster manual, although they can be used as general guidelines.
- Players who have purchased (not received as a gift) a d30 may use it once per session in place of any d20 roll that they need to make. If they choose to do this on an attack roll and they roll a 20 or higher the d30 may also be used to attempt to confirm the critical hit. This adds a bit more excitement to die rolling and it makes the d30 actually have a purpose.
- Use Rope – Not Used. It’s just tedious.
- Disable Device – can be used to destroy locks if you don’t plan on relocking them, making the “Pick Lock” skill mostly redundant.
- Intimidate – Characters may use their strength score instead of their charisma.
- Divine Metamagic – You are channeling the turn energy to boost the spell instead of sacrificing the slot. The slot doesn’t even have to exist for you yet, provided your stats are high enough to allow casting a spell of the adjusted level.
- Invisible Spell – Allowed. Have fun with it, please don’t make me nerf it into the floor.
- Persistent Spell – Cannot be used in conjunction with the spell “Time Stop”. If you argue the point I’ll likely throw something at you.
- Extraordinary Spell Aim + Antimagic Field – Common sense will be applied. See the Questions and Answers page for more info.
- Craft Contingent Spell – Allowed. As a general guideline the trigger needs to be something that could also trigger a readied action, so it can’t rely on you saying something.
- Adamantine overcomes all non-magical forms of damage reduction as if it were a weapon of the appropriate type. This effects DR – / piercing, bludgeoning, slashing, silver, cold iron, etc. This does NOT affect DR amount/ – (like the DR granted by the Barbarian class feature).
- Nightsticks – They do not stack with each other, because again common sense has reared its head. More clarification can be found here: Questions and Answers.
- Players are generally expected to own (and bring) a physical copy of the Player’s Handbook.
- I encourage my players to own physical copies of any books that they need to reference frequently for their characters.
- Players may not reference any version of a Monster Manual, a Fiendish Codex, or a Dungeon Master’s Guide during play. This ban extends to anything that resembles such books as well with the exception of the Rules Compendium which is allowed.