Five House Rules

On Saturday when I was hooking up redirects from my old site, Talen’s Forge, I found an even older version of the site that had my old house rules from 2004. Some of them I’ve since found better solutions to, but here are the best of what I’d keep.

  1. No players lagging behind on XP. If a new character joins an existing game, they start with the same XP as the average of the rest of the party. Further, no player shall ever be more than one full level behind the highest level player character. In practice, a player lagging several levels behind is no good.
  2. Raised characters suffer only temporary negative levels. You can thank Andy Collins for this idea. A character who is raised suffers a negative level until the next time he levels up. The negative level cannot be removed before then by any means, short perhaps of a wish. This discourages players from simply abandoning their character for a new one to gain new equipment and avoid level loss.
  3. Ability scores for familiars and animal companions are rolled as a player character, instead of picking average. With this setup, players put more pride in their animal. It’s much more personal when you get lucky and roll a 17 or 18 for this bear, and need to go through character generation to get a new one.
  4. Starting gear is determined by DM. One of the oddities of third edition high-level play is that you’re able to pick your own starting gear. I don’t like this. Newly created characters, having had the luxury of picking from the list, are more powerful than organic characters, who must either deal with what they find or sell unwanted material at half-price.
  5. If the party forgets to loot the bodies, the party forgets to loot the bodies. Corollary: If nobody writes it down, you left it in the dungeon.

I came up with some summoning variant rules too, which I’ll see about posting in a few days’ time. See you then.

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Comments (3)

Jeff (November 17th, 2007)

Just found your blog. You’ve got some good stuff in here. Keep em coming!

Zaratustra (November 17th, 2007)

I don’t know the level-up rules for 3D&D, but for AD&D I liked to let the players level up when and only when they slept. Of course, my group had no sleep-scummers.

KasraKhan (July 19th, 2008)

1. I actually force new characters to start at lower levels, forcing the higher players to actually play protector. Of course, I soon catch them up to the others, but it adds for some interesting gameplay.

2. I don’t allow any return-from-death spells in my setting, except Raise Dead that must be cast the turn of or the turn after the PC’s death. Death in my campaigns is much more mysterious than in normal D&D.

3. I already use this idea! In fact, I once had (running a campaign allowing for ECL’s) one player decide to become another’s familiar. The familiar was a wyrmling black dragon, the master an Ogre sorceror. Strange choice, oddly effective.

4. I don’t give the new characters new gear. They get level 1 gear as per making a new character, and must simply use their old character’s gear or other items hanging around the ole warehouse or unused in companions’ backpacks. Gives the PCs a reason to keep a few extra of those Cloaks they got off of those drow assassins they thwarted…

5. Absolutely. And no “I’ll write it down later…”

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