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.
Captivating Traps in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons are more than just damage delivery gimmicks. A great trap communicates something about who created it, the danger you face, and engages the environment in exciting ways. This is an example of trap design that creates an environmental challenge with Progressive Failures and Rising Tension that engages character skills. I used this trap in my campaign last night to great effect and wanted to share it with the community if it’s useful for you as well.
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.
How to manage anxiety as a Dungeon Master (DM) in Dungeons and Dragons has got to be the most common question I see right after, “first time DM, any advice”. Naturally this makes sense, as being a DM sits at an intersection of a number of high anxiety pursuits. That is, it combines the difficulties of managing social groups, event planning, writing, as well as improvisation and performance. Additionally, you represent every enemy, obstacle, and challenge to a group of people who themselves may be feeling similar anxiety. Given this, it’s no wonder DMs ask for advice and find anxiety to be one of the major roadblocks to running a game.