Like most 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons DMs, I’m constantly tinkering with the rules in hopes of improving the experience at the table. But it takes a bit of time and testing before I consider an idea worthy of officially adding to my game. As such, I’ve been testing out some ideas on Twitter for feedback. These are the various rules I’ve thrown out for feedback during up through the end of April 2021. After a time, if they seem worthwhile I’ll officially add them to my own house rules list.
Handling failure is something people seem to struggle with in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. When to fail, what happens when you do, and how to keep the game moving are constant topics of discussions. In my view, Progressive Failure and Rising Tension is a very useful technique, but it’s just one of many in the DMs toolbox. As a discussion topic, people often seem to misunderstand the role of failure in RPGs. Worse, a small sub-population has begun to take terms like ‘failing-forward’ to mean failure shouldn’t be possible. So taking a moment to consider the options and tools available can make even failure a fun experience in TTRPGs.
Few things are more iconic than the image of someone charging into battle on horseback. Yet, 5e doesn’t have satisfying rules to make mounted combat a fun part of play. So I created these rules to provide thrilling options for mounted combat by players, while maintaining balance with existing rules and abilities. As with all rules, these are guidelines and the DM should do what is fun and fast, using what adds to the game, and ignore the rest.
It’s a weakness of experience based advancement in 5e D&D that it directly addresses only one of the three pillars of play, combat. This forces DMs to either ignore advancement through social interaction and exploration, or create some way to include it. Ignoring it seems a bad option for a ‘pillar’ of play and creates a sense of wasted time. Likewise, a poorly crafted experience system for these pillars messes with pacing and play balance. Therefore, a simple, clear, and consistent method for including all pillars helps diversify play without sacrificing progress. In this post, I’m going to talk about how I do that with the social interaction pillar. So this is how I award experience for roleplaying in my campaigns.
Creating your own potions and magic items can be a satisfying element of gameplay in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. General guidelines for crafting different rarity items are provided in the core books, but many gaps exist. Specifically, the details of how to learn to craft items, and how to collect ingredients is left vague. While I don’t think crafting needs to have a fully gamified system, having some central methodologies can keep things consistent. Notably, a set of rules that create proactive options for players can enhance their engagement with the setting. While, an understandable set of guidelines for item crafting can develop character goals and drive roleplay. Taken together, players who want to craft items can use gathering rules as a fun gameplay hook.