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 What are your houserules?

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Janx_14
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PostSubject: What are your houserules?   Fri May 17, 2013 3:44 pm

While 4e is definitely my favorite edition of D&D, its not perfect, I'm curious what other people do for their home games. My typical houserules are:

  • Everyone gets the scaling progression of the Expertise Feats by default. Like many others, I don't like having mandatory scaling issues be fixed by taking up feat slots. You can still take the expertise feats for their other perks.
  • Everyone gets inherent enhancement bonuses, same reasoning as above. I'd rather players be excited to get a fancy weapon because it does cool things, not because its part of their math progression. Crit dice on a weapon are still tied to the weapon's actual enhancement bonus though.
  • Classes that don't use strength for the majority of their abilities, get to use their primary for their melee basic attacks. This just feels like a feat tax for those who don't use strength, and classes who generally favor strength already tend to be the strongest classes in the game.
  • The original assassin class builds shrouds on themselves, this fixes a lot of issues with the class, and seems to make them pretty powerful despite their lack of multi-attacks.
  • If someone ever played one of the shaman types that have AC issues, i'd probably work to resolve those AC issues.
  • Item rarity is technically ignored, but my players rarely buy things so *shrug*.


That said, not all my changes are buffs for players.

  • Non-minion monster criticals all deal d6's to the highest basic magic weapon that is their level or lower. Minions deal double damage on criticals. Criticals on team monster tend to very uninspiring by default, and minion criticals normally mean nothing at all.
  • All monsters are updated to the new monster math. This is largely in thanks to using maptool. It lets me use code to easily math out what their damage and defences should be with the new math with ease.
  • I tend to outlaw Iron Ambands of Power and similar items, though I have given them back in my current game to no major balance issues.
  • Parcel system is removed, mostly because the Enhancement bonus treadmill is removed.


I also have a tendancy to create rather crazy solo monster fights, but I have a 9 player party. I can afford to throw crazy stuff at them, and there's a good chance they'll survive.

So, what do other people do for their home games?


Last edited by Janx_14 on Sat May 18, 2013 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri May 17, 2013 9:10 pm

We've been dabbling with some house rules recently. We've been going with the system for just over two years now and it feels like we've gotten to the point where we need to spice things up. Our biggest change has been for players to roll their defences. I can't remember where I discovered the house rule now, but the basic idea is: players create their defences as: one-half level + appropriate ability modifer + armour bonus or Intelligence/Dexterity modifier. As DM, I create DCs as: monster level + 15 (+17 for attacks vs. AC). I'll say something like: "The orc swings his greataxe at your head. 25 vs. AC" The player then rolls a d20 + their new defence modifier to try to match or beat the DC. It has worked wonders for our group.

To expand on this, we're about to introduce some additional off-turn actions from the Combat in Motion rules, although greatly simplified to our needs. This will hopefully create more engagement for everyone throughout the full combat round and will tie in nicely with the players rolling their defences.

Other than that, we've lowered monster HP by 25% and increased their damage by the same amount for a bit more grittiness. We're also using the Injury Deck for wounds; with minor injuries on being received on a failed saving throw at bloodied, and major injuries at 0 or less HP. Both seem to be working well for us. I've introduced morale (d20 roll against a predetermined value) for monsters and the desperate condition from Square Fireballs blog (-2 to defences and +2 to attacks when half or more allies are dead or fled) for both characters and monsters; to end the grind part of combats a bit quicker.

I'd definitely like to hear what other house rules are being used successfullyivy other groups. I've read a lot of house rules, but don't really have any idea what other people are doing in their games.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Sat May 18, 2013 3:27 am

These are my standard houserules, depending on setting, others may apply:

1. No expertise bonuses are allowed. Instead, the defenses of all monsters are reduced by 1 per tier. If a player wishes to take an expertise feat for a secondary benefit, understanding that he gains no attack bonus, this is okay.

2. Improved Defenses is disallowed. Instead, monsters have their vs-NAD attacks reduced by 1 per tier. Other NAD-boosters are allowed, if the player wants them.

3. Inherent bonuses(Dark Sun Version) are in use.

4. In tandem with #3, the parcel system/wealth by level guidelines are thrown out. You get what you get, for weal or woe.

5. Standard point buy is increased to 28 points. I find this results in more character diversity, as well as making me not feel guilty about...

6. Raise Dead and other resurrection abilities are disallowed. If the party is sufficiently interested in a revival, a Chrono-Trigger-esque quest may be undertaken, but the ability to thwart death is not openly available.

7. If you have a multiclass, power-swaps with that class cost no feats.

8. Every character, of any class, gets 5 trained skills. Class skill lists, as well as class based auto-skills, are out. 5 skills, chosen from the whole list.


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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Sat May 18, 2013 5:09 am

Me and my players have redrawn quite a few things since Next was first announced.

  • Turning Insight, Perception and Find Magic into something more akin to senses rather than skills. Each race gets a +1 to 2 bonus on each sense, totaling up to 4 between all three.
  • Skills are now divided into three categories; Physical, Knowledge and Talent. Each category has five skills. Each character gets 6 skills in total, with varying number of skill selection options between categories (based on class). Skills also have two ability score options instead of just one (example; one can make an Endurance check with either their Con modifier or their Cha modifier).
  • Removing the static ability score bonus from all races, allowing players to pick whichever two of three ability score bonuses from the race they want.
  • Dividing attack types into Physical and Magical for ease of tracking bonuses.
  • Experimenting with the option for an H type build of all classes, offering two primary ability score options in addition to two secondary ability score options instead of one on either end like the A and V type builds.
  • Using the Inherent Bonus system as standard, and including a Tier bonus for attack rolls and NADs to eliminate the need for expertise feats and the Improved Defenses feat. Enhancement bonus removed from magic items, and magic weapons armor and neck items that have effects based on their level run off of your Inherent Bonus instead.
  • Reworking some feats and powers to not be so useless.
  • Encounter and Daily attack powers become Rechargeable in much the same way monsters often roll a d6 for it. Encounter powers can be rolled for recharge during an encounter, and continue to auto recharge during a short rest. Daily powers can only be rolled for recharge during a short rest, and only one daily recharge roll per short rest. Other recharge clauses may exist (when first bloodied, spend an action point, on a miss, when you have no more encounter/daily powers available, etc.)
  • Opening up the multiclass system so feats are not needed to take powers from your multiclass. Bards can only choose from their first multiclass to prevent abuse.
We'll probably continue to play like this until Next either impresses us, or something comes along the road later that outdoes what we like about 4e.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Mon May 20, 2013 10:47 am

Depending on which campaign I'm in we've got two sets of house rules.

The simple one is that inherant bonuses are in effect and the players get improved defenses and one expertise feat for free at 6th level. We also have two setting-specific homebrewed races for that game, but that's beyond the scope of what I think the OP is asking about.

The more complex game has replaced all enhancement, feat, item and masterwork armor bonuses to attacks, damage and defenses with a table that adds the following;

-Attack, Light Armor, NADs: +1 at 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25 and 28.
-Heavy Armor: +1 at 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29.
-Damage: +1 at 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28 and 30.
-Enhancement (critical dice and special case rules): +1 at 3, 9, 14, 19, 24 and 29.

Special case examples include things like adding an off-hand enhancement bonuses or adding the enhancement bonuses to static damage (ex. magic missile).

This game also replaced AEDU with seperate attack and utility point pools that refreshed each encounter (this campaign only rarely saw more than one combat a day). Using an encounter power (including second wind) cost one point while a daily cost two. The points by level were as follows;

-Attack Powers: 3 +1 at 3, 7 and 11. +1 additional for every racial or theme attack power you have.
-Utility Powers: 1 +1 at 2, 6, 10, 12, 16, 22 and 26. +1 additional for every class, racial or theme utility power you have that is not gained at the levels above. Leaders get 2 additional points at level 1 and 1 additional point at level 16.

The players have mostly used this increased flexibility to pick more conditional powers with just one or two general-use powers as their bread and butter. It has also led to some interesting playstyle distinctions, such as with the party's two wizards. One usually relies on half-a-dozen encounter attacks spaced throughout the battle wherever they'll be most effective. The other blows all their points on three big daily attacks early in the combat to try and take out as much of the enemy as possible and then plinks away with at-wills for the rest of the fight.

So far neither approach has proven to be considerably more advatageous than the other in the campaign. Our mostly single encounter days tend to be HUGE set-piece battles with enough going on that it usually takes at least 6 rounds to deal with everything even when the second wizard's opening nova. The DM has also become fond of multi-stage encounters where reinforcements or some other twist(s) come into play part way through.

We're also using the Kingmaker kingdom-building and mass combat rules from Pathfinder in our paragon tier game (where the PC's carved out several independent city-states for themselves during heroic tier and are now banding those realms together to oppose a common foe). The kingdom-building rules required no real tweaking for 4E since everything PC-related involved ability modifiers or ability checks and the mass combat rules required just the slightest bits of tweaking to make it compatible (replacing CR with levels and assigning 3e-based skill checks to an appropriate 4E skill).
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Tue May 21, 2013 1:33 am

One of my biggest Houserules is one I learnt from Salla of on the WotC forums. It was a houserule about rituals and making them a better option to cast. Basically it was a rule where you could cast any ritual you have, immediately (1/2 casting time) as long as their combined levels of the rituals don't exceed your character level.

Example: If you're a level 2 wizard you could cast either two level 1 rituals, or one level 2.

I modified the rule a little where you payed 1/4 of the component cost on level 1- 10 rituals, 1/3 on rituals with levels 11-20, and 1/2 on rituals level 21-30.

It helps with rituals for sure.

-----------------------------

Another I would like to be able to have without making it broken would be to make character not forget daily powers as they level.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Wed May 22, 2013 8:23 am

Our group of 7 has been playing 4e for a little over 4 years now, and honestly I can say that 4e has been the LEAST house-ruled version of D&D that I have ever been involved in. That said, we have slowly evolved a few sets of houserules that span campaigns, no matter who is running.

1. No Superior Weapons (Mordenkrad, Executioner's Axe, etc) We were finding that all the everybody was grabbing these items, since the "feat tax" to use them was generally considered worth it, and the extra qualities (Brutal, High Crit) were a bit over-whelming at the cost of the feat. As DMs, we reserved the right to give out those kind of weapons, but do so as if they were magical (ie, you get a +1 greatsword that has the stat line of a +1 Fullblade)

2. Epic Destinies are unique within the campaign. Meaning you can't have 3 Demigods.

3. We have also pared the feat list down, replacing obsolete feats with the newer version when available.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Wed May 22, 2013 3:51 pm

DaBugbear wrote:
Our group of 7 has been playing 4e for a little over 4 years now, and honestly I can say that 4e has been the LEAST house-ruled version of D&D that I have ever been involved in. That said, we have slowly evolved a few sets of houserules that span campaigns, no matter who is running.

1. No Superior Weapons (Mordenkrad, Executioner's Axe, etc) We were finding that all the everybody was grabbing these items, since the "feat tax" to use them was generally considered worth it, and the extra qualities (Brutal, High Crit) were a bit over-whelming at the cost of the feat. As DMs, we reserved the right to give out those kind of weapons, but do so as if they were magical (ie, you get a +1 greatsword that has the stat line of a +1 Fullblade)

2. Epic Destinies are unique within the campaign. Meaning you can't have 3 Demigods.

3. We have also pared the feat list down, replacing obsolete feats with the newer version when available.

I like number 2 a lot.

That is one of thigns about 4e that bugged me was letting players choose Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies. I like them over Prestige Classes, but I really think it should be a thing the DM gives out and players don't choose.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Wed May 22, 2013 7:49 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
I like number 2 a lot.

That is one of thigns about 4e that bugged me was letting players choose Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies. I like them over Prestige Classes, but I really think it should be a thing the DM gives out and players don't choose.
I dunno, I'm of mixed feelings on the idea. I can see the value in not wanting it to be another thing people try to game for mechanical advantage, but I think the ability of a player to have a strong say in the destiny of their character should stick around.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Thu May 23, 2013 2:50 am

Currently I've switched from DM to player for our 4E games so I can't implement any houserules yet, but with my exposure to 13th Age I plan to instigate the following rules:

* ESCALATION DIE. Starting round two, I will be bringing out a d6 that has "1" faced up. At the start of each round I'll switch to the face that's one step higher until we have a "6". Whatever the value is currently facing up, that is what PCs get as a feat bonus to their attack rolls. As part of the implementation of this game element, none of the Expertise feats will scale; this way, those who didn't pick the feat won't get too penalized for it, and those who want to take Expertise feats can primarily benefit from other benefits of said feats, if any.
* SAVING THROWS. There will be three different types of save DCs to be implemented here: normal saves will need to roll 11 or better (not 10), while hard saves will need to roll a 16 or better, and easy saves will need to roll a 6 or better.
* POSITIONING/MOVEMENT RULES CHANGE. Already mentioned in the 13th Age/4E conversion rules in the WotC 4E forums, basic conversion would be
** 1 square or less = engaged
** 10 squares or less = nearby (can be reached with a single move action)
** 11 squares or greater = far away (takes 2 move actions to reach)
* COMBAT ADVANTAGE. Simply put, I'm going to remove the fiddly bit on Combat Advantage and simply assume monsters start off with 2 less defense than written; players will always try to gain Combat Advantage anyway, so why force the issue? Instead, all effects that require Combat Advantage (such as Sneak Attack) will work so long as you and at least one ally is engaged with the enemy.
* CHARGING. Another fiddly bit that gives precisely the same benefit as Combat Advantage, so again I'm removing the fiddly bits. If you want to charge, just take a move action to engage an enemy you previously weren't engaged with, then use your standard action to attack.
* DISENGAGE. Replacing shifting, you can either spend a move action to disengage from each enemy you were engaged with (but you'll need to convert your standard action to a move action before you can reach anyone else), or you can attempt to disengage: for every enemy that's engaged with you, roll a normal save; if you succeed, that enemy cannot make an opportunity attack against you, else only that enemy gets to make an opportunity attack against you. Powers that let you shift as part of them will allow you to "pop free" (automatically succeed in disengaging).
* INTERCEPTING. Rather than force creatures to ready actions during their turn, effectively doing nothing, all creatures that are not engaged with any enemy this turn can intercept any nearby moving creature that tries to get past them as an immediate reaction (to clarify: if you disengaged from an enemy then tried to move past them, that enemy cannot intercept you since he started this turn engaged with you).
* HEALING. All modifiers to healing surge value are removed, and everyone starts with 8 healing surges (except for Vampires). If you want more healing, get more HP. Everything that lets you heal "as if you spent a healing surge" instead spend a healing surge. To compensate, if you're out of healing surges but can/must spend a healing surge, you can regain half your healing surge value (instead of 1 HP). You can only heal yourself to bloodied value if you're out of healing surges.
* SECOND WIND, TOTAL DEFENSE. Second wind is now at-will (merging it with Total Defense), but for each use after the first, you must roll a normal save. On a success, you can spend a healing surge.
* DEATH SAVING THROW. Simplified to be as follows: roll a hard save. Success, you can spend a healing surge. Fail, you get closer to defeat/death.
* MINION OVERKILL. If your damage against one minion is equal to or greater than the minion's level (+5 at paragon, + 10 at epic), any excess damage will carry over to the next minin (usually the nearest). I may even allow you to move around as you take out multiple minions, so long as it makes sense to do so :-)
* AREA ATTACKS. Perhaps the only rule I'm taking from SWSE, whenever you roll for an area or close attack, you need only roll once to see if you hit all targets.
* DAMAGE. Perhaps the most controversial of the rules that I'd want to implement, so I'll only have this implemented for the first session per group before I have the group decide if they would want to keep this or go back to normal: all damage rolls will instead be averaged and rounded down, as the focus isn't on the number monitoring so much as the action involved. When you crit, damage will be doubled (giving you the max damage as normal) before adding crit dice. In addition, all attacks that do nothing on a miss would instead deal damage equal to your level, but only while the averaging rule is in effect.
* BACKGROUNDS AND CHECKS. Skills are removed. Instead, I will be giving everyone 8 background points each, to be distributed between various Background aspects (up to +5 per background). So if you were an Alchemist prior to adventuring, you gain a bonus to all ability checks pertaining to being an Alchemist, anwhere from INT checks (Alchemy knowledge and crafting) to CHA checks (maybe suggesting to some guards that you'll be crafting them some love juice later if they let you in for a little peak at some alchemical supplies or something to that degree), the bonus being equal to the value you write next to the background aspect (so if it's +5 Witch Hunter, that's +5 to everything witch hunting related). The background aspects and background stories would still have to be cleared with me (the DM).
* STUNTS. Stunts would be any improvisation done during combat that can inflict harm on enemies, and can be attempted once per round (to give chance to others). With sufficient in-story explanation you can choose to either deal damage equal to your level or inflict a condition as a minor action, so long as you successfully hit the enemy with your attack roll or ability check (if more appropriate). You can also choose to inflict both damage and an effect (in addition to free movement, multiple enemies affected etc.) by executing the stunt as a standard action. Just take note that you'll be dealing half damage instead of full (or your level in damage, whichever is greater), and it'll still be one attack roll per enemy.
* FAILING FORWARD. Players roll non-combat actions to determine not if the action succeeds, but how hard their PCs' lives would be as a result of those actions. Succeeding the DC would cause the action to pull through just as planned no strings attached, failing the DC would add a complication; maybe it took you so long to bash the door down that the enemies in the room got to secure better defensive positions, or maybe negotiations pulled through but it turns out that the foreign king had... odd habits and you have to deal with this king's habits or risk ruining diplomatic ties between him and your country.

I'll see if I can add more of my houserules-to-be here in the near future Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Thu May 23, 2013 4:41 am

I've been tinkering with 13th Age here lately too, and while I like it I do not think its better than 4e (Even though 13th Age is basically 4e's Pathfinder). There are definitely some great things you could easily implement into 4e from the game. I especially like the way 13th Age does saving throws. It allows different effects to be harder to shake off.

I might as well put a few more Houserules in here I was thinking about using.

- Salla's Ritual Houserule (With my own personal tweaks)

- Profession Skills: The Profession Skills are: Alchemy (INT), Cooking (WIS), Engineering (INT), Fishing (WIS), Herbalism (WIS), Jewelcrafting (INT), Perform (CHA), Prospecting (WIS), Smithing (INT), Tailoring (INT), Woodcrafting (INT)

A Character can begin play with 1 Profession Skill as if it were a Class skill. ('m actually thinking about putting the rules for these in the "Forge" category.

- Raise Dead is banned from the game (like many others games)

- Called Shots: You take a -2 for arms or legs, a -4 for the head (Its not as hard to hit as people like to think), and a -6 for hands or feet, and a -8 to attacks focusing on a specific organ . Results of a successful hit are dictated as the DM desires Twisted Evil

- 13th Age Saving throw DCs: I really love the way 13th Age handles them. Easy Save: 6 or Above, Medium Save: 11 or above, Hard Save: 16 or above.

- Reworked Death and Dying Rules: Dying is pretty hard to do in 4e (At mid to high levels anyway) so I had to change a few things around. You still die at negative bloodied but, when you roll a death saving throw anything less than 20 you take bleeding damage. Bleeding damage goes as follows, 5 for Heroic Tier, 10 for Paragon, and 15 for Epic. The only way to stop bleeding is to be stabilized, which is still the normal stabilize DC. Rolling a 20 on your saving throw doesn't bring you back up it just stops you from bleeding out any further. Also there are no "if you go into negative hitpoints you comeback at full HP type powers". If you choose a power that allows this it only allows the use of a healing surge + your level.

- Feats: Feats that just increase damage, attack bonuses, or defenses by tier are banned from the game. The ritual casting feat is also only obtainable if you get in game training through NPCs.

- Inherent Bonuses: This system is a must in games I run. It gets rid of the need for magic items (which is good in my mid to low fantasy style games).

I may add more. I would really like to implement the range system from 13th age where you have different ranges for theater of the mind play.

Feel free to give me more ideas or ways to rework or balance the current rules.






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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri May 24, 2013 11:25 am

Quote :
* BACKGROUNDS AND CHECKS. Skills are removed. Instead, I will be giving everyone 8 background points each, to be distributed between various Background aspects (up to +5 per background). So if you were an Alchemist prior to adventuring, you gain a bonus to all ability checks pertaining to being an Alchemist, anwhere from INT checks (Alchemy knowledge and crafting) to CHA checks (maybe suggesting to some guards that you'll be crafting them some love juice later if they let you in for a little peak at some alchemical supplies or something to that degree), the bonus being equal to the value you write next to the background aspect (so if it's +5 Witch Hunter, that's +5 to everything witch hunting related). The background aspects and background stories would still have to be cleared with me (the DM).
We tried this for about four sessions in our 4E game before dropping it. While the concept of open-ended background related skills seems AWESOME, we quickly discovered that there were a few backgrounds (and not even esoteric backgrounds, but dirt common ones) that could easily be stretched to cover just about every skill in the game.

1) Cat Burglar: Ended up being applicable with pretty much every use of Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception, Stealth, Streetwise or Thievery.
2) Scholar: Covered pretty much the whole of Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature and Religion... also occassional heal (there are books on anatomy after all).
3) Socialite: If you needed to use Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight and Intimidate this was your background.
4) Wilderness Scout: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Heal, Nature, Perception and Stealth related actions all ended up being lumped under this one.

While people did variations (ex. Noble instead of socialite) the net result was that unless the GM wanted to be a stickler about it, it was extremely easy for someone to claim the check they were attempting applied to at least one of their backgrounds to the point you may as well just presume they're all trained in every skill.

After the fourth session we decided to go back to the standard rules (we use the Scales of War backgrounds in our campaigns so we don't even feel the need to say any class can train in any skill... since those backgrounds mean you pretty much can already).
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri May 24, 2013 5:09 pm

Pardon me for my ignorance. But what is Scales of War?
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri May 24, 2013 10:01 pm

Scales of War was the first 4e adventure path printed in Dungeon magazine. It ultimately culminated in a show down against Tiamat. Being written before the MM3 advent of monster design, the path is considered easy to handle, so monsters should be updated before the adventurers in the path is used.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri May 24, 2013 11:08 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
Pardon me for my ignorance. But what is Scales of War?
ToeSama covered what Scales of War is, but the main reason I mentioned it specifically is because, like the original FR backgrounds, the SoW backgrounds usually added two skills (instead of the one skill in later backgrounds) to your class skill list, thus making it very easy for half your trained skills to fall outside of your normal class list (it was especially useful for human fighters who were pretty much carbon copies in terms of skill lists without such backgrounds).
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Sat May 25, 2013 10:50 am

tl;dr -- generic/bland backgrounds are not a good way of handling backgrounds.

Chris24601 wrote:
Quote :
* BACKGROUNDS AND CHECKS. Skills are removed. Instead, I will be giving everyone 8 background points each, to be distributed between various Background aspects (up to +5 per background). So if you were an Alchemist prior to adventuring, you gain a bonus to all ability checks pertaining to being an Alchemist, anwhere from INT checks (Alchemy knowledge and crafting) to CHA checks (maybe suggesting to some guards that you'll be crafting them some love juice later if they let you in for a little peak at some alchemical supplies or something to that degree), the bonus being equal to the value you write next to the background aspect (so if it's +5 Witch Hunter, that's +5 to everything witch hunting related). The background aspects and background stories would still have to be cleared with me (the DM).
We tried this for about four sessions in our 4E game before dropping it. While the concept of open-ended background related skills seems AWESOME, we quickly discovered that there were a few backgrounds (and not even esoteric backgrounds, but dirt common ones) that could easily be stretched to cover just about every skill in the game.

1) Cat Burglar: Ended up being applicable with pretty much every use of Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception, Stealth, Streetwise or Thievery.
2) Scholar: Covered pretty much the whole of Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature and Religion... also occassional heal (there are books on anatomy after all).
3) Socialite: If you needed to use Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight and Intimidate this was your background.
4) Wilderness Scout: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Heal, Nature, Perception and Stealth related actions all ended up being lumped under this one.

While people did variations (ex. Noble instead of socialite) the net result was that unless the GM wanted to be a stickler about it, it was extremely easy for someone to claim the check they were attempting applied to at least one of their backgrounds to the point you may as well just presume they're all trained in every skill.

After the fourth session we decided to go back to the standard rules (we use the Scales of War backgrounds in our campaigns so we don't even feel the need to say any class can train in any skill... since those backgrounds mean you pretty much can already).
The way I handle backgrounds would involve avoiding generic placeholders such as what you have mentioned. Instead, I would've encouraged a more detailed fleshing out of character.

In the case of the cat burglar, I would ask the following (initial probing) questions:
1) did you often plan for your heists?
2) was it always a solo job, or did you have accomplices or a gang to support you?
3) what was your usual point of entry: doors, windows, chimneys (if applicable), or do you make your own point of entry?
4) what sort of security did you usually face as a cat burglar?

These questions (and more) will help me and the player(s) understand where those skills best apply at. And yes, I am fully aware that you could use the cat burglar skill for every Dexterity-related check, but how often do you find a Rogue-ish PC that is trained in Thievery, but not in Stealth and Acrobatics?

In the case of the scholar, again I would ask probing questions to determine what sort of books were read by the PC, where those books came from, and how their knowledge from those books can be applied to "real life" so to speak; after all, reading a book on surgery vs. actually performing a surgery can be two very different experiences.

Same with the socialite and wilderness scout: probing questions, fleshing out details, knowing more about the character, and detailing how, when and where those backgrounds apply. After all, backgrounds detail the character's past, so the easier the character can relate to the scenario at hand, the better.

[ The Wilderness Scout is already a step in the right direction; the fact that it has the term "wilderness" in it, means that the scout's skills in the wilderness don't apply in urban areas. ]

Again: generic, bland backgrounds are off my table, not by rule, but through discussion. If you insist on being Mr. Generic then you'll have to agree that you'll only have access to generic (basic) skill and knowledge, but not highly in-depth knowledge a well as very specialized skills.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:00 am

I figured I'd add that we've had a new addendum to our more elaborate house rules in our high level game. As we've shifting into more 'ruler of the realms' mode, we've wanted to speed up our combats to get back to the political intrigue a bit faster and have identified option paralysis (our least complex characters have at least a dozen potential options on their turns plus a minimum of two triggered options to keep track of) and having to roll for large AoE's (and applying increasingly complex effects based on hit/miss/crit results for same) as the main things slowing down fights.

So we've decided to modify the 'power points' system we've been using. Instead of burning the points on choices in combat as we go, they are instead pre-assigned to the powers you want. If you assign 5 points to a single encounter power, it can now be used at-will once per round(the rationale being that if you can use a power in five different rounds of a single combat, then it may as well be at-will). If you assign 2 points to a daily power, you can use it once/encounter (and if its a personal effect that lasts until the end of the encounter, it can be considered a permanent effect). Theoretically, if a character had 10 points available (only possible at higher levels and only with utility powers) they could use a short-duration daily utility power at-will, but this hasn't come up yet.

These choices are not permanent, but can only be changed out between game sessions (and preferably when in a situation where the party is taking an extended rest between the sessions).

The net result of this has been to reduce the options any given player has to deal with in single round from over a dozen to about 5-6 options and a greater distinction between the characters.

We also decided to use a single attack roll vs. the defenses of every target in an AoE. If a critical hit is scored, then all targets are automatically hit regardless of defense, but any extra damage/effects apply only to one target of the attacker's choice.

While these have been in place for two sessions now, tonight is the first time we'll likely be getting into combat and really seeing if it helps, so I'll let you know now it goes.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:42 am

Chris24601 wrote:
Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
Pardon me for my ignorance. But what is Scales of War?
ToeSama covered what Scales of War is, but the main reason I mentioned it specifically is because, like the original FR backgrounds, the SoW backgrounds usually added two skills (instead of the one skill in later backgrounds) to your class skill list, thus making it very easy for half your trained skills to fall outside of your normal class list (it was especially useful for human fighters who were pretty much carbon copies in terms of skill lists without such backgrounds).

This. I've never been interested in running official adventures but the backgrounds were great.

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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:58 am

CHIA wrote:
This. I've never been interested in running official adventures but the backgrounds were great.
We've never used the adventures either, but every last campaign we've run has used those backgrounds. I'm honestly not sure why they pulled back so hard to "add one skill to your list, add one language, or add +2 to one skill." Yes, some of them were a slight bit of power creep, but they made a LOT of character concepts a lot more viable when you could get two different skills or even a free weapon proficiency out of it.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:53 am

I'm not a huge fan of houserules, so I try to keep them to a minimum. That said, here are the ones I'm using with my current group (who are, it should be noted, not optimisers at all):

1) Failed death saves reset as soon as you're no longer dying, rather than when you rest. (We've still had three PC deaths in the last 8 levels... like I said, "not optimisers at all".)

2) Concealment applies when you trace a LoS through an obscured square, rather than only if the target is actually in an obscured square. Because the RAW on this are silly. Shooting through a wall of smoke should make it harder to hit the guys on the other side, not just the guys standing in the wall.

3) Magic item rarity is largely ignored, except that rare items cannot be bought for gold and can only be selected by a character starting above level 1 if the player provides a good background reason.

4) Setting-specific feats (e.g. Dragonmarks) and paragon paths (e.g. Lyrandar Wind-Rider) can only be selected if the player provides a good background reason. Aside from this, anything in the online Character Builder is fair game.

5) We use my own alignment system, rather than the 4e default. Basically, it's the two-axis system from previous editions, except that Law/Chaos is simplified/clarified into whether the character values society or the individual more highly and Good/Evil becomes a measure of what a character is willing to do to achieve his or her ends. There are no alignment restrictions, even for divine characters (so you can play a chaotic good paladin of Vecna if you want). Evil characters are fine as long as they're not played in a disruptive way and as long as the player provides a good explanation for why they're willing to pal around with non-terrorists.

6) The free action attack rule introduced by Essentials is ignored as long as the players aren't abusive (at which point the RAW allow the DM to limit free actions on the fly anyway).

7) If you roll a natural 1 on your first attack roll of a turn, you grant combat advantage until the start of your next turn. I'm not personally a fan of critical fumble rules, but my players asked for one and this is the least silly/intrusive/unbalancing version I could come up with.

8 ) This one isn't really a houserule as such, but virtually every monster I throw at the PCs is home-made. I use the MM3 guidelines for the numbers, but powers/traits/resistances etc. are chosen based on how I want the monster to 'feel', rather than being dictated primarily by balance concerns or the worry that certain conditions might not be 'fun'. So, my fire elementals are immune, or at least highly-resistant, to fire attacks, for example. (My players took one look at the not-resistant-to-their-own-element-at-all 'official' elemental statblocks in MM3 and made it pretty clear their willing suspension of disbelief would not survive an encounter with them.)

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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:52 pm

That was the fantastic bit.

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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:04 pm

I have a couple of house rules, but they aren't edition specific. They've come in to play due to events that have happened in the various campaigns I've run since 1981.

1. Never, under any circumstances, is anyone allowed to use a water-logged badger as a weapon of any sort. Anyone who thinks they have found a way for it to work will find that it doesn't work. If, inadvertently, something happens in the game where a water-logged badger ends up functioning as a weapon, it will immediately NOT WORK!

2. Players are not allowed to name their character with a name that is the same as, similar to, our sounding like, the name of one of the other people at the table. I refuse to deal with that sort of confusion.

2A. Players are prohibited from using the name of someone that we all know as the name of their character. I don't care how funny it is, just don't do it.

3. If, after defeating the Naga, you tell me you want to skin it to make a Naga Hide Chair (or other piece of furniture), your character will die. And probably your replacement character as well.

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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:54 am

My main house rule, as I've mentioned in another thread here, is to grant PC's an extra damage die at paragon, and again at epic. Instead of the RAW thing, where at-wills go from 1dx to 2dx at level 21.

For example, a basic attack with a dagger is 1d4 at heroic, 2d4 at paragon, and 3d4 at epic.

This goes for all AEDU's as well.

I feel that is necessary, and fair. After all, most monsters get that, and monsters often have too many HPs in 4e anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:03 pm

One that I've kicked around and my players have loved is a take on the Mage's spellbook. Everyone gainstwo encounter powers of the level but can only use one per encounter.

Simpler terms: you have two level One encounter powers, but can only use per battle.

I've tweaked this a bit and allow player to trade down. You can use a level seven encounter power to use a level three or one.

My players have really liked this as it allows them to choose the "optimized" options as well as more niche options.
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PostSubject: Re: What are your houserules?   Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:05 am

So I was digging through old documents yesterday and I came across the "D&D Commandments" that I had made up a while ago. The background is this: I had a group that was more into socializing than actually playing the game. We'd get together and it would take over an hour to get started once everyone showed up. And even though we had 6 hours put aside for gaming, it seemed like we only ever got about 2-3 hours of actual gaming in. So before starting another campaign, I came up with this.


The D&D Commandments
Or, a handy guide to a happy game…

For my games, I have some guidelines for game play at the table. These have to do with how everyone (the DM included) should try to conduct themselves at the table during game play. This isn’t an attempt to control how people act or what choices they make. This is entirely to try to streamline game play and make sure that we can all have fun playing the game. I don’t intend to stop game play and say “You just broke rule #3, you are suspended for 2 game sessions!” But, I’m just hoping that by putting them out there, it will make everyone aware of the possible “pitfalls” of game play.

Guideline #1: You are responsible for knowing what your character can do.

This is your character, not mine. You picked the class, race, feats, powers, and items. I don’t expect you to be a rules expert, but I do expect you to understand the basics of your character’s powers and abilities and also have an understanding how the basic mechanics of the game work.

Guideline #2: Keep your non-game items for non-game time.

We all have cell phones, music players, laptops, etc. When we’re at the table, leave the unnecessary things somewhere else. I realize that some of us use these devices to manage our character or other game-related things. This is fine, of course. I don’t mind if you need to send/receive a text during the game once in a while. We all have a life outside of the table. Lets all do our best to minimize this so that time isn’t wasted re-explaining what is going on in the game.

Guideline #3: Pay attention to the game, even if it isn’t your turn.

Lots of things happen on turns other than your own. These things can affect what you may choose to do when your turn comes around. If you need a drink or whatever, that's fine. I’m just saying that if we all put in a little extra effort to be aware of what is going on, when your turn does come up, you are ready to go with your choices.

Guideline #4: Communicate with and be considerate of the other players

Your characters are supposed to work together. I can appreciate role-playing characters that may squabble or have a reason to dislike each other. This does not mean that you should disregard what that PLAYER is thinking/planning/etc. If you plan on using anything that will affect an ally, let them know before you start so you give them a chance to at least speak up if they have a concern about it. I’m not saying you can’t use powers that affect allies. I’m saying that you need to give them a chance to let you know what their plan is. Tell your allies what you are planning/thinking/etc. The characters are in a combat situation and all in the same place (typically). While I understand it isn’t “realistic” to have them have an in depth discussion of tactics, it is very reasonable to think that they could shout across the battlefield to say things like “move around him for flank” or “push him back so I can blast him” or “I got your heal coming, just hit him” These things just make the game run much more smoothly.

Guideline #5: When your turn is done, it is done.

On your turn, take your actions, roll your attacks, move, heal, etc. It is your turn and you do what you do. When you’re done, however, you’re done. Please don’t tell me when it is the turn of the third person after you that you forgot to add 2 points of fire damage. If you’ve forgotten at that point, it doesn’t happen. This goes with Guideline #1 (know what your character can do and know the basic rules). If someone states that they are going to use an area effect and you didn’t use your move action, don’t say “oh, well I forgot to move after my attack I would have moved here” and then move your character. This goes with Guideline #3. If it isn’t your turn, but you’re thinking of blasting an area or you want to move into flank, tell your ally on his turn what your plan is. Ask them if they want to move to a flank position before their turn is over. If you forget, well, that’s just what happens.

Guideline #6: Make game day your plan

We all have lives outside of the game. Opportunities to do other stuff come up and we miss the game. That’s fine. I understand totally and I would never be mad at you for going on vacation, going to a family event, or being sick and missing a game. However, it would probably bother me if I knew that you missed game day just because your neighbor asked you to come over and drink beer and hang out. I do my best to make a schedule that accommodates everyone as much as possible. And I will post the planned day and time for game online and send emails. I do this so that we can all be “on the same page” for game days. I want to make it as easy as possible for all of us to get together and have fun playing the game. So I will continue to do my best to manage the schedule of when we play and accommodate everyone in everyway that I can. If you know that you are going to be absent more than you are present or if you regularly want to skip game “just because” then maybe this game isn’t for you and you should consider bowing out gracefully. I won’t be mad at you.

Guideline #7: Share the Spotlight

This is a cooperative game. That means that we are all cooperating to achieve the goals put forth. Sometimes your character has the key ability to solve a challenging puzzle. Sometimes you have that devastating attack that will turn the tides of the battle. And sometimes, you can’t do a darn thing to help out in the least. Most of the time, every character has something to contribute in some capacity. But there are times when one character may be able to really shine (or really suck). If the attention is centered around you because you’ve got a killer Thievery skill and there’s a trap that must be disable, then by all means, let your character be the hero of the moment. Just keep in mind that for every moment of real time that you have the spotlight, everyone else has nothing to do. And sometimes this can be boring. If you think that you’ve been the focus of the game’s attention for a while, try to either involve the other characters or pass the focus to someone else. If the others are stacking dice and checking their text messages while you're talking to the Duke, you might be hogging the spotlight too much.

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