5E House ruling toward simplicity
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  1. #1
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    House ruling toward simplicity

    Most 5e house rules I've seen add complexity to the system. However, I'm broadly interested to know what other DMs have done to simplify 5e. FWIW, I'm perfectly comfortable running it as is, just picking brains for material as I work on a side project. Some examples might be an even simpler initiative system, changes to the action economy (handling of action/bonus action/reaction), reduced character creation options, etc.
    Last edited by Nevvur; Friday, 21st June, 2019 at 09:20 PM.
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    Healing surges can be removed entirely, to streamline that whole economy. They just aren't necessary. Likewise with Inspiration (if you used that).

    One very specific rule that I implemented in a previous campaign is that you can stow a weapon and draw its replacement as a single free interaction, so you wouldn't feel obligated to litter the map with discarded weapons.

    I also subscribe to a very loose interpretation of spell components: You can meet a somatic component, as long as you aren't paralyzed or bound; you can meet a verbal component, as long as you aren't gagged or silenced (or underwater); you can meet a material component, as long as you possess a focus. That simplifies the hand-economy quite a bit.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevvur View Post
    Most 5e house rules I've seen add complexity to the system. However, I'm broadly interested to know what other DMs have done to simplify 5e. FWIW, I'm perfectly comfortable running it as is, just picking brains for material as I work on a side project. Some examples might be an even simpler initiative system, changes to the action economy (handling of action/bonus action/reaction), reduced character creation options, etc.
    There is a lot of complexity, but it's hard to jettison without depriving players of options.

    Obviously, first, don't use any optional rules. Feats & MCing are just added complexity.

    Bonus actions and concentration add complexity, for instance, so do reactions - removing everything that uses them would reduce the complexity of the game. Not removing the mechanics (which might render a variety of things OP or otherwise broken), but everything that uses them - so TWF, healing word? use bonus action: gone. Haste, Summoning? use Concentration: gone. Opportunity Attacks, Delay? use reactions: gone.

    Sub-classes add complexity, you could pick the simplest/most-iconic sub-class of each class, and use only it for all instances of that class. Fighters'd all be Champions, Rogues all Thieves, Clerics all Life-Domain (healers), etc.

    Multiple classes with similar concepts add complexity: The Barbarian & Ranger are redundant with the Fighter, the Paladin redundant with both the Fighter & Cleric, the Sorcerer, Warlock, & Bard redundant with the wizard. The Bard & Monk redundant with the Rogue. In other words, cut it down to the Big 4 classes. (I'd say cut the Rogue, too, and give all it's out-of-combat toys to the Fighter, but that's not a popular opinion.)

    Mixing backgrounds & classes freely adds complexity. Peg each Background to a class, and have members of that class pick only from those backgrounds - much like a 2e Kit.

    Having both saves & attacks adds complexity, standardize on one. Better yet, take all rolls to one side of the DM screen - either the player always rolls (when the DM calls for a check), or the DM makes all checks and the players needn't even necessarily know stats.

    Six different saves adds complexity: just use highest mod + proficiency for all saves.

    Many different weapons add complexity. Give each type of weapon (by Combat Style, essentially) a set of stats, and use them for all such weapons. All two-handed weapons use the "two handed weapon" stats.
    All projectile weapons - bow, crossbow, sling, M-16 - use the same stats.

    Preparing spells adds complexity - convert all casters to known spells only.
    Casting spontaneously still adds complexity (full on analysis-paralysis from the many choice of not only any known spell to cast, but what slot level to cast it at!) - convert all casters to knowing a number of spells equal to their slots, and casting each one only once per day.
    Y'know what, that's still too complex, give them, like one spell per Tier.

    Y'know what, just cut the casters entirely.

    Champions & Thieves will do fine on their own.

    There, /that's/ simple!
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  4. #4
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    Simplified equipment encumbrance rules:
    You have equipment "slots" equal to your Str score (i.e. if your Strength is 15, your have 15 slots
    Equipment is worth 1 to 3 slots

    1 slot: a light weapon or armor, something small or convenient to carry
    2 slots: a medium weapon or armor, something moderately bulky, heavy, or awkward to carry
    3 slots: a heavy weapon or armor, something heavy, bulky, or awkward to carry

    If you exceed your number of used slots; you're encumbered.

    As a rule, if it's worth noting it down on your character sheet, it takes at least 1 slot, or must fit in a "small pouch" that uses 1 slot and can carry any number of trinkets, jewelry, or unworn accessories of negligible size and weight. (there is a bit more to it, but you get the idea)

    Stick to low levels
    ditch everything concerning level 12th and up.
    or ditch everything concerning level 8th and up.
    or ditch everything concerning level 6th and up

    Spontaneous Casters Only
    Ditch Wizards, Clerics, Druids, and Paladins. If you feel generous, allow the paladin with the ranger's number of spells known.

    Simplified Armor
    light armor: AC = 12+Dex
    medium armor: AC = 15+Dex (max 2)
    heavy armor: AC = 18

    I've seen propositions of simplified weapons too
    Last edited by Laurefindel; Friday, 21st June, 2019 at 09:49 PM.
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    Initiative: Each PC rolls initiative. The monsters roll initiative as a group. Each PC who beat the monsters gets to go; then the monsters go; then initiative proceeds clockwise around the table for the rest of combat. (I allow players to delay till after each other's turns, in the interests of not forcing everyone to swap chairs to optimize combat order.)
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    We have a few house-rules to speed things up. The first isn't a house-rule, so much as a return to RAW.

    1. Roll initiative once. It simply isn't worth the lost time to roll initiative every round. In fact, it is useless. All the arguments about metagaming a cyclical initiative, etc. don't hold water in actual game play. I used to believe in them myself until I realized the reality of it.

    2. Use average damage. We use it for nearly everything and things go SO MUCH faster! Sure, some players might complain about how they love to roll dice, etc., but for the increase in speed of play in combat, which can especially take up a lot of game time, it just isn't worth it. Rarely a player will actually roll for a sneak attack or fireball, but for single or two dice like weapons, we don't bother anymore. Our DM only rolls if average damage would kill, to give the player a random chance to live if the dice roll low enough.

    There are many others, but so much depends on what is taking up your time in your game? What are making things drag?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    Healing surges can be removed entirely, to streamline that whole economy. They just aren't necessary.
    The near-healerless party I ran for absolutely disagrees. Healing surges enable additional play styles and unlocks forcing a player into a healing role if no one wants to play one.

    I can see your point in a traditional party mix, but it has a very big effect in allowing players to play what they want - especially new players who don't have a "someone plays a healer" tradition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnd4vr View Post
    We have a few house-rules to speed things up. The first isn't a house-rule, so much as a return to RAW.

    1. Roll initiative once. It simply isn't worth the lost time to roll initiative every round. In fact, it is useless. All the arguments about metagaming a cyclical initiative, etc. don't hold water in actual game play. I used to believe in them myself until I realized the reality of it.

    2. Use average damage. We use it for nearly everything and things go SO MUCH faster! Sure, some players might complain about how they love to roll dice, etc., but for the increase in speed of play in combat, which can especially take up a lot of game time, it just isn't worth it. Rarely a player will actually roll for a sneak attack or fireball, but for single or two dice like weapons, we don't bother anymore. Our DM only rolls if average damage would kill, to give the player a random chance to live if the dice roll low enough.

    There are many others, but so much depends on what is taking up your time in your game? What are making things drag?
    With you on both with a small change. I used average damage for monsters while letting players roll. Players like to roll, and get little enough time on their turn as it is (as a fraction of combat). If I can speed up all of the foes that's already a big win.

  9. #9
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    For my current campaign:

    1. Initiative. The DM chooses which side goes first, generally based on context but occasionally with a roll. Each side goes in an order of their choosing from round to round. Anything else takes too much time for practically no benefit.

    2. Race Options. These are greatly simplified. Subraces are removed with a single subrace rolled back into the "main" race's stats. The game is based off of the 5B rules, so I'm not removing too many options.

    3. Class Options. These are greatly reduced and simplified. I rewrote every short rest ability into a long rest ability. It's much easier to do with Basic's four classes than the full 5E complement, which is one of the many reasons I'm not running the full 5E.

    4. Languages. Everyone pretty much speaks common. I've been playing D&D since 1984 and language fluency has probably come up less than five times.

    5. Alignment. Good, Evil, Neutral. Nothing else is needed--certainly not the wackadoo nine-point alignment which is simultaneously overly complicated and utterly insufficient. You can easily remove alignment altogether, but my campaign has a strong good vs. evil component so I included it.

    6. Backgrounds. Be anything you want. Pick 2 trained skills.

    7. Equipment. Adventuring equipment, rope, light sources, et. al. This is mostly ignored. None of this will solve an adventuring challenge. If it's needed, the PCs can have it. If they need to use it, it will also likely involve a skill check or some creativity on the part of the players. Managing equipment lists and encumbrance is not worth the trouble unless that's a specific focus of the campaign (such as a grimy dungeon-delve type of thing). Ammunition is likewise not tracked. Also--tool proficiencies are removed and their tasks rolled back into other skills (such as sleight of hand for lockpicking).

    8. Encumbrance. Most PCs get PB x 4 item slots to carry weapons, armor, shields, consumable items, magic items, etc. Clothes and jewelry are "free". Everything else takes a slot, no matter the size.

    9. Resting. A long rest is taken in "town" or another place of safety. You restore up to full, even HD. Camping in a wilderness or dungeon is an overnight rest which restores full hp and half HD, removes fatigue. It allows changing spell selections, but does not restore slots. A short rest takes only a few minutes and is primarily used for HD healing (first aid), since I removed short rest abilities.

    10. Spells. Greatly simplified. All spells require V and S components. M components are only required if they have a gp cost. I also removed a ton of spells which I consider problematic, boring or cumbersome. Monster summoning spells, for example, are always more trouble than they're worth.

    11. Skill Check DCs. The default DC for a skill check (or save) is 10 + the level of the adventure. The level of the adventure is roughly based on the "adventuring day" limit of a party of 4 of the same level.

    12. Experience Points. Completely reworked and simplified. PCs gain xp from completely quests and performing other feats as described in the adventure. For example, if the PCs hear about a griffon terrorizing the countryside in the midst of adventuring, I might tell them that slaying the griffon will net them x number of xp. They can choose to take on the griffon, or not, based on their interests and party condition. There is no default xp for slaying most monsters.

    Overall, I've been pretty happy with these changes and the players seem to agree. The games have been very fast-paced as a result and we haven't missed the added complexity at all.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Staffwand View Post
    9. Resting. A long rest is taken in "town" or another place of safety. You restore up to full, even HD. Camping in a wilderness or dungeon is an overnight rest which restores full hp and half HD, removes fatigue. It allows changing spell selections, but does not restore slots. A short rest takes only a few minutes and is primarily used for HD healing (first aid),
    That is a really good idea, and on more than just the topic of simplification.

    11. Skill Check DCs. The default DC for a skill check (or save) is 10 + the level of the adventure. The level of the adventure is roughly based on the "adventuring day" limit of a party of 4 of the same level.
    .
    Doesn't that rapidly overwhelm proficiency scaling/BA? (Or did I miss that being replaced with a similar level bonus?)

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