There are a LOT of rules in D&D and other TTRPGs, so the thought of adding more rules and stipulations doesn’t exactly seem enticing…but if you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know that our approach to the game is a bit more fluid. I’m not a fan of sticking strictly to the book, I prefer instead to use the rules as a means to help the game flow more smoothly, or add another dimension to the gameplay in such a way that makes it more engaging. The rules should amplify the experience, not limit it!
There aren’t really any guidelines for creating house rules of your own and they can vary from game to game, adapted to the story you’re telling and the play style of the people around the table. You might adopt new guidelines to make combat flow more easily, help to balance a party, or add more complexity to role playing certain social interactions…the possibilities truly are endless! In fact, I asked some of the Scribblers on Twitter what kind of custom rules they use in their games. Most of them had to do with combat, but there are examples to be found for just about any aspect of the game. …take a look! You may find some you’d like to include at your table too 🙂
While 5 th Edition D&D isn’t quite as “crunchy” as past editions, combat can still be pretty complicated for new players. Here are some house rules that can keep it engaging and help the players feel more heroic:
Healing in Battle:
- Taking a potion for yourself as a Bonus Action, use an Action to give it to someone else
- Clerics get an extra spell slot reserved purely for healing spells, which gives them more flexibility without sacrificing the ability to help their allies
- Double the damage rolled, versus doubling the number of dice
- Deal maximum possible damage, then roll with modifiers
Dealing the Final Blow:
- Once the big baddie’s HP drops to zero, allow the party to role play the ending instead of maintaining initiative order
While the established rules for Combat are pretty robust, D&D doesn’t really have as many built-in rules to guide role-playing and social interactions, so some tables have included these alternate rules to reward creative role playing and character interaction.
- Using alternate, non-Charisma abilities when charming, intimidating, or persuading someone. For example, using Strength or Athletics if trying to Intimidate, or relying on Intelligence when trying to persuade. Think in terms of the desired effect and get creative with how you achieve it!
- Assisted rolls can add the helper’s modifier rather than simply provide advantage
Contested Social Checks
- Making a “Willpower” or “Resolve” role in defense of a persuasion or intimidation check– you can add Intelligence, Wisdom, or even Constitution to a Charisma modifier.
- Lasting Injury or Character Death: if you fail your death saves, you have the option of taking a permanent injury or ability decrease rather than losing the character
- Spell Components: Unless it’s a high-value item, common components aren’t used by the spell.
- Arcane classes can learn eachother’s spells (for a price)
- Backstory-specific class features and abilities
- Rewarding XP for things other than combat to encourage creative problem solving
- If dice fall off the table, automatic disadvantage
- Max HP for levels 1-3, roll for 4 and higher
- Creating short and long term goals…extra XP if a player achieves them
These were just a few examples submitted by these fantastic Scribblers on Twitter! Check out the thread for more!
@mountain_foot @HungryScribbler @daniyogani @Dungeon_Camp @Bosco_ca @harra979 @o_cael @Monsters_Multi @quasidog1 @MunterBacon @LisaBwpg @BlackTomePress @Barrok @WorryWrite @HeatherRitchiie @shtoopy @RStorm31 @worlds_by_river @TheSithChicken @Starshinescrib @Red_Dazes @medik68 @RollForSanity @ThreeKobolds @DuncanWatson @CCrowbars @DM_Drakkoli @revMikeGarcia @melazera @MaesterRory @vicnedel02 @SJamoose @VeinexesVideos @althebard @ccpodcasthost @SCrapps_McGee @Keith0363 @Ellwood_46 @victhhe
There are plenty of additional house rules out there, but remember that it’s all about your game and the players at the table. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with something new…I’d love to hear more of your examples in the comments below!