House Rules/DM rulings on existing rules.   Posted by DM.Group: 0
 GM, 2 posts
Wed 23 Mar 2022
at 02:10
House Rules/DM rulings on existing rules
I use a few house rules, covered below.  Feedback is welcome but I reserve the right to ignore it. ;)

One of my long, long standing pet pevees with D&D is that a character with 1 hp left out of 100 is still every bit as strong as one at full health.  I get that this is a game, but come on, it just isn't realistic for that to be the case, it really bugs me.  At the same time I don't want to cripple my players.  Below is the wound system I have come up with and used over the years.  It provides minor penalties as a character becomes more injured, but doesn't generally overwhelm them.  Please note that I do apply the same penalties to monsters/npcs and while I generally won't ever tell players a foes actual hp, I do keep you informed if they are injured/wounded/critical which gives you a rough estimate of how much health they have remaining.  So, here is how wounds works:

Every character has a safe zone.  This is equal to your largest HD + your Con score + your level.  So a level 1 barbarian with a Con of 14 has a zone of 27 (12+14+1) hp, while a squishy level 5 wizard with a Con of 10 has a zone of 21 (6+10+5).  Until you have taken this much damage, you are never penalized, even if you would normally qualify for one of the  penalties.  Until that barb hits 28 hp lost, he is golden.

For those of you doing the math, yes this means penalties will pretty much never apply to low level characters.  This is intentional and the system is designed to growth with a character.  At low level you will generally have no penalty or your character will be on the ground making death saves, because you're pretty much only skilled enough to get hit or not get hit.  As you grow in experience you get better at both rolling with the punches, minimizing the actual injuries even when you get hit, and at controlling your body and pain responses to push through the effects of those injuries you take.  So you will go from nothing or death, to nothing but badly hurt as you managed to avoid some of the effect and stayed on your feat, til eventually at higher levels spending much of your time at either wounded or injured level, taking some penalties but pushing through multiple injuries that would have dropped a younger less experienced version of your character.

Once you have taken enough damage to put you out of your safe zone, you are considered injured, and start taking a -1 penalty to AC and to all d20 roles to represent the negative effects of these wounds.

If you reach a point where you are out of the safe zone, and are also below half your total hp, you are considered wounded and these penalties increase to -2.

Finally if you are out of the safe zone and have fewer hp remaining then 20 - your level, you are considered critical and these penalties increase to -3.

Penalties from wounds DO NOT apply to death saves, these are made with no penalty.

Barbarians as an additional benefit to rage ignore all injury penalties to d20 roles (but not penalties to AC) while raging.

Dwarves and Warforged, as an additional racial ability, add +5 to their safe zone.

Players may take the following feat if they chose at any time they could normally select a feat:

Feel no Pain: Add +1 to Con or Wis (player's choice).  Player ignores all negative penalties from wounds.

Variant variant human
Base PHB humans are in need of some love.  On the other hand the feat of your choice on variant humans goes too far in the other direction in my opinion, as evidenced by the fact that they are considered the optimal build for pretty much everything.  Therefor, humans in Avalar will get an total of 4 points for ASI, no more then 2 of which may be applied to the same ability score, and their choice of 3 bonus skills or one bonus skill plus expertise in 1 known skill.  They will not receive a racial bonus feat.

Sidhe-born are a custom homebrew race... but only kinda.  This setting does not contain an elven race.  The closest are the Sidhe, an ancient extremely powerful race of magical shape changers.  These beings are powerful enough that there are multiple gods that are widely suspected of just being one of the Sidhe in disguise, and pure Sidhe or even half or quarter bloods are too powerful and not available for a player race.  However, in ages past Sidhe (as well as dragons and giants) interbreed frequently with the various lesser races as a way to boost their extremely low birthrate.  As a result there are many families with a trace of Sidhe blood in their veins and this sometimes effects their children.  This pops up most commonly in human families, and human Sidhe-born may use the racial traits and abilities of either half-elves, changelings, shifters, or elves as in place of their normal human racial traits.  They are still, however, considered human.  While less common, Sidhe-born can and do pop up in other races as well.  If you wish to play a non-human Sidhe-born, contact me and we will work out how to modify your race appropriately.

Abilities beyond 20
I'm not a fan of hard caps, only increasing difficulty.  Therefor ability scores are NOT capped at 20.  When you get an ASI increase, you may chose the normal 2 point option, the normal feat option, or you may chose to increase an ability score of 20 or above by 1.  This means it will take two of your limited ASI just to get to 22, and I don't know that many folks will find it worth it, but the option is there if you chose to take advantage of it.

Item wish list
There will be a specific thread for the wish list.  I would like each player to put a post in there containing 1 uncommon magic item you would like, 1 rare magic item you would like, and 1 very rare magic item you would like.  My knowledge of 5th edition is not yet encyclopedic so please include a source book for the item to make it easier for me to look up or even type of the item description if you are feeling energetic.  Its rare to have a chance to buy magic items in this setting so I use this as a way to tailor rewards to what you actually want for your character.  I also use this as a way to reward good play -- I use milestone xp, so don't give out bonuses there, and players will all get roughly the same number of magic items, but each case of good role play or clever solutions to problems will earn you a small bonus for the next time I role to give you a wish list item, improving the odds of you getting a rarer piece of gear, if only by a small amount.

Party leader
Before the campaign starts, please talk among yourself and pick a party leader.  This can be the in character leader but does not have to be, it can be a purely out of character role.  The party leaders job it to help keep the campaign flowing smoothly.  If things are stalled for 2 or 3 days, either with players arguing or no one doing anything, its his job to say "Ok we do this", whatever this maybe, to get things moving and its up to the other players to conform to what the leader decides.  If a player hasn't posted in combat for a couple days, we know they are on vacation, or they appear to have left the game but I haven't bowed them out/killed them off yet, the party leader may also ask for general actions for me to take for that character -- "hey, can you have Fizban throw a fireball at the goblins?"  If you take this role, please try to be fair and pick courses the party as a whole supports, abuse of the position will not be tolerated.  However as a reward for your extra responsibility, you may pick one dice to reroll (yours, another players, an NPC or monster, anyone) per short rest, and you may add a legendary item to you wish list (odds of getting it are VERY low, but you get a chance!)

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:27, Wed 23 Mar.