As the year draws to an end, I look back at the campaign we’ve had this year as we took on a new edition of D&D and all the fun and tribulations we’ve had with it. One thing I’ve decided to finally do was put together a draft of my group’s House Rules that we’ve ended up adopting for our D&D 4E game. While overall, I feel 4E is a rock solid game, there are a few things that we ended up changing or adding to.
What follows is taken from the current draft of the hand out I plan on giving to my group. It’s one part reference for both them and myself to keep up with the changes. It’s also there so others, when they decide to DM, can look back and see how I handled some situations.
Enjoy the read; feel free to tear it to shreds or propose new ideas.
Section One: General Combat
- Encounter and Daily Powers deal half damage on a miss.— Reliable powers are exempt.— Monster encounter powers do the same.
- Daily Item “Use” Limit is Bullshit.
— You get a daily power use per item, not per tier. At every Milestone, you may recharge one daily. Players can do this, Villains can do this. Have fun.
- On that note, screw not memorizing the same daily spell two days in a row. Edit: Apparently there was a misunderstanding on the phrasing under the wizard daily spell memorization.
- Healing Surges Redux: (Recent add on, inspired by Savage Worlds Bennies.)
In addition to how they normally function:
- -A Healing Surge may be spent to re-roll a failure.
-A Healing Surge may be spent to add +1d6 to a die roll (non-damage.)
-A Healing Surge may be spent prior to an attack roll to turn a success into a critical.
-Realize that even Monsters have Healing Surges (even if they don’t have Second Wind)
Section Two: Monster Morale
I’ve mentioned this system before, but elaborated on it a bit more. Original ideas and concepts inspired by Kaeosdad from Symptoms of Madness.
Considering combat is becoming much longer in Paragon Tier, especially when the dice hate everyone, I’ve implemented the “Monster Morale” rules to hopefully speed things up. I’ve written here the general guide line for my system:
- When an Opponent reaches the Bloodied state, it will require a Saving Throw vs. Demoralization. This works as a normal Saving Throw.
- Each Opponent is given a Morale Keyword; this keyword defines the reaction of Demoralization. Most grunts will have Surrender, Flee, or Feint/Shock. Essentially these NPC’s will either attempt to drop out of combat to save their life, or the brutality of the trauma will cause them to “freak out” and become incompacitated.
- Tougher opponents may have keywords like Rampage, Frenzy or even Kamikaze. These opponents, instead of dropping out of battle, will become more vicious, bloodthirsty and brutal. Their attack bonuses and damage will increase; however, their defenses will lower drastically as they become more wreckless.
- Minions will have the keywords Surrender and Flee.
- The Intimidation Skill may be used against surrounding opponents as an attack to invoke their keyword. The attack is treated as Close Burst 1 vs Will. Success automatically invokes the Keyword on Minions; causes a Morale Save on regular opponents. Good luck using that on Rampagers.
- Enemies who become demoralized will continue to ride the effects of their keyword until either the players are no longer a threat, or until they’re able to pass a Morale save. Note that fleeing and Surrendered enemies will only attempt saves if the players continue to engage them.
Misc. BS Rules/Guidelines:
- I don’t believe in the encounter design by numbers, treasure parcels, and all the other “balanced” formulas for adventure creation as the end all, be all solution. Those make for good tools, and helped us get into the game. But now, I worry more about plot progression. I want character development over gear acquisition. I’m sorry if the characters don’t have as much money or magical items as the suggested characters of their level. But I like keeping magical items…well…magical.
- Combat happens, probably more than I would like it to. Doesn’t mean it’s always the solution, or that there isn’t other options. Feel free to brainstorm, or postulate alternatives. Combat can easily turn into a skill challenge, or even an RP scene.
- Don’t be scared to try something not listed on your character sheet or your power cards. This isn’t just in combat; any crafting or talents you’d like to develop for your character, I’d be happy to work with you on. Some things may give me a headache to figure out, but we’re limited by our imagination, not rules.
- That said, I have no problems rewarding more EXP than normal. My formula for an encounter is roughly [Total EXP / (½ # Party Members)] rounded down. This means a group of 4 players is getting double their normal rewards, or two players get the same XP equivalent as if they were soloing an encounter (WHICH HAS HAPPENED!)
- Just for fun on a side note: We’ve also been using the Critical Hits! Deck from Paizo. It was originally a 3.5/d20 system product, but it’s been easy to wedge into 4E for some extra nasty side effects. Hey, it was that or convert Role Master charts!