I get questions frequently about what house rules I’m using in my own 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game so I wanted to post them for everyone. I hope you’ll find something useful here and tag me on twitter if you have a question or want to share a rule of your own.
By and large, I stay fairly houserule light. This is because I don’t think most house rules add anything to a game. More often than not, people are compensating for some cognitive disconnect but it doesn’t bring much to a group at play. So more or less, I use rules as is with the exception of the one’s I’ve listed below.
There’s been a lot of contentious talk in my feed about building skills challenges in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Firstly, we need to develop a common understanding of what a skill challenge is in 5e. Secondly, we must get past the issues people have with 4th edition that make them so polarized. Thirdly, we need to focus on how different ways of resolving skills affect pace and tension. Moreover, we need to define some meaningful circumstances that let players drive the use of skills in creative ways. In these ways, we provide creative opportunities to do more than fight, and develop richer games in the process.
The development of safety tools has been one of the more useful advancements in Tabletop Roleplaying Games in the modern era. At their heart, these tools help groups normalize expectations, level set, and understand the range of issues a particular gaming group might experience. Firstly, these tools help people understand if a game is the right one for them. Secondly, it helps shape the conversation and understanding of how to deal with different topics in a way that honors the experiences and context of everyone at the table.
These rules are a summary of the 5e Dungeons and Dragons Alchemy and potion creation rules. These revised rules for Crafting Magic Items are presented in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, modified as per the creation of expendable items. Note that those rules replace the Item Creation Rules presented in the Dungeon Masters Guide. Additionally, this summary includes modifications made for the Alchemist specialty under the Artificer class.
People are stuck in a lot of bad thinking when it comes to how to use traps in 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Traditionally, people see traps as a way to use resources by dispensing some damage along the way. Largely, this falls flat in a 5th edition game where resting lets you recover quickly. Worse, randomly placed traps can come off as spiteful or thrown in just to annoy the players. So, if you want to make traps a more exciting part of an encounter, create traps that drive things forward rather than simple binary events.
5th edition Dungeons and Dragons has a bit of a rough patch with its skill checks model. Given the variability of a d20, all or nothing skill checks can be a fairly harsh mechanic. Indeed, there’s some evidence all or nothing checks is not the designers intent. The DMG Chapter 8 provides some alternative methods to consider with skill resolution under Resolution and Consequences which all hinge on a single die roll mechanic. In cases, there may be some utility using a progressive success or failure system instead of a single checks. Particularly in non-combat encounters, it is best to build skill checks in a way to build tension from failure rather than a collapse. DMDavid sparked a thought after a specific example posted on twitter, how to handle falling with failed climbing checks. Progressive failure and rising tension meshes well with the Thrilling Heroics Rules I posted awhile back. In fact, it compliments it enough that I thought it useful to post some examples here.
Thrilling heroics have always been an important part of adventuring in table-top roleplaying games. The rules of 5th edition are great for covering most basic action but occasionally players want something more exciting to happen. The swashbuckler may want to distract opponents by kicking the table at them, or the cavalier leaps from their charging horse to make a more devastating attack, this is all part of thrilling heroic action at the heart of adventure based roleplaying games.
Doing in-character voices is a hit or miss prospect for some games, and by no means required in a table-top RPG. As a DM that enjoys doing voices for various NPCs in my world I find this table helpful to develop different inspiration for voice types I might use, and having a reference like this lets me make a quick note so I can be sure to use the same voice next time. I compiled this list from a few descriptions for theater actors around the web and hope you’ll find it useful for your game as well.