I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Friday, August 24, 2018

Nobody wants your house rules!

Says the guy who writes a blog with hundreds of house rules...

Anyway, I realized about half my players don't appreciate house rules or share my desire to "fix" all RPGs I play. They want to play the game as written.

Of course, maybe all your players love YOUR house rules! I hope they do! However, it has been a common experience for me both as a player and as a GM to see resistance to house rules.

This is what many people think about house rules... (source here)
I, personally, have a hard time using the rules as written (or "RAW") when I GM. I love to mess with mechanics and, in some cases, find RAW to be completely absurd (see how having proficiency in Constitution saves will avoid starvation in 5e, but not dehydration, or how falling damage works).

As a player, I like SOME house rules... while others irritate me. I have also heard of GMs changing the rules so thoroughly as to make a number of character concepts impossible.

For me, house rules are not only a way to make the game better or more balanced but... more interesting! Why not have a Str monk or Int sorcerer?

And, of course, more fun - which is why many of my house rules are meant to make the game simpler.

Finally, house rules are COOL! See the PrinceCon 1978 D&D variant rules. They were creating an improved version of D&D (with three saving throws!) a couple of years after the game was created - to use for a single weekend!

Anyway, I like house rules, but half my players don't.

My solution so far has been this: (most) house rules are OPTIONAL for PCs. So, I create new weapons and feats, but the PCs can use the ones in the books if they prefer.  Something like "carrots, not sticks".

I allow people to stay conscious after the first failed death save - they can continue fighting (its their funeral!) or they can choose to drop unconscious as the game dictates.

I give a couple of classes that I find lackluster a small boost (PCs can pick it or leave it), but do not "fix" classes or spells that I find overpowered. I'm not really a fan of feats like Lucky or Sharpshooter, but use what you like! I haven't seem a 5e build that would really ruin games.

If you have a character concept that is a bad fit for 5e, I probably want to give you a boost. If you want optimization, OTOH, I'd say RAW has plenty of options for that already.

I prefer rolling skills with 2d10 most of the time, but if you REALLY want to keep using 1d20 - be my guest. Just keep it consistent (you get to choose it only once).

I offer critical hits to PCs, but would NEVER impose fumbles (which I find silly anyway).

Rules that mess with damage are generally mandatory, so don't expect to survive a 100-foot fall too easily in my games (however, I will warn you if you attempt to jump from the tower of the castle believing you will fall softly...).

NPCs don't have to play by the same rules, of course. And I'm certainly not restricted by random treasure tables!

RAW is optional for GMs, after all! ;)


  1. I like your idea about staying and fighting once you reach the "Death Save" phase. This offers the opportunity for a Hero's Death, instead of a chump bleeding out after three rounds. I also ignore fumbles, when I had them in they just wasted time and weren't that interesting. Although if someone rolls a 1 on their first attack I take away their second one if they have one. So I guess I have a minor fumble.

    1. Yeah, that's te idea - in my game I call it "sacrifice", it is something the PCs get if they're willing to die fighting.