D&D 5E House Rule Idea: Exploding Weapon Dice


He / Him
I had an idea for a house rule to increase some of the deadliness of combat in 5e. I would love some feedback on what you think the effects of it would be!

The house rule is a simple one:

When making a weapon (or natural weapon or unarmed) attack that deals 1d4 or greater damage, any weapon damage dice that roll a maximum result are rolled again, adding to the total damage. Any rerolls that roll maximum are again rerolled, and so on.

Only weapon damage dice (the dice listed as damage in the Equipment List) are rerolled, never additional dice added to damage, such as through Smite or Sneak Attack.

For example, a fighter attacking with a longsword rolls a natural 10 on their damage die, and so rolls another d10 and adds it to their total damage.

A barbarian attacking with a greatsword rolls 2d6, and gets a 3 and a 6. Because of the 6, they roll another d6, and get a 6. They roll yet another d6 and get a 2. Their total weapon damage is 3 + 6 + 6 + 2 + Strength Modifier.

A rogue attacks with a dagger, rolling 1d4 + 2d6 for Sneak Attack. Their damage dice only explode if they roll a natural 4 on the d4, not if they roll any 6's on their Sneak Attacks.

A monk critically hits with an unarmed strike, dealing 1d6 + 1d6 for the crit. They roll 6 and 6, and so roll two more d6's for exploding dice.

Flavor-wise, I suppose this would be a kind of critical hit unique to weapons (and natural attacks). The exploding dice represent weapons doing what they're made to do: puncturing armor, breaking bones, cleaving meat, etc.

I also think this would make d4 weapons a little more interesting, since they would have a higher chance of exploding. I like the idea that a dagger isn't always effective, but when it strikes deep it really hurts!

Okay, what do you think? Would this make combat a little more deadly? Would it be fun? Are there unpredictable results?

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The High Aldwin
This what we do for critical "damage" instead of rolling a 20 for a critical hit.

FWIW, we apply it to ALL damage dice, spells, weapons, features, whatever.

It works great. We love it, and I encourage people to use it for a rule to determine "critical damage" and remove the natural 20 mechanic, which we think is not as good.

EDIT: in case you are interested in the math, it bumps the average by N/(N-1). So, if your d6 averages 3.5, exploding the die (without limit) increases the average by 6/5, bringing it up to 4.2.

Good rolls are always a point of excitement at the table especially when tied to a bonus effect so I could certainly see it being fun. Would just need to try it out for a bit to see how it effects play.


The High Aldwin
I'm not sure why that's a problem? I feel it fits my goal of making combat a little more deadly.
Frankly, it was a feature for the system, but a bug, when we adopted it. ;)

FWIW, if you allow other dice to explode (spells, smite, sneak attack, etc.) IME the players start getting a stronger edge with the system instead of the DM having it.


Guide of Modos
Sounds cool. I'm sure the dagger-wielders will love it, and casters will hate it. I might prefer to tie extra damage to quality-of-hit though: +1 damage on a 16 attack roll, +2 on 17, +3 on 18, etc.
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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So you need to evaluate the dice, then do a separate set of rerolls, possibly more than once?

There is no way whatsoever that a slight increase in the average damage done over a bunch of rolls is worth that extra time in combat, already the most mechanically long type of scene there is. (A half hour combat will have more mechanical interactions than a half hour scene of any other type.) Sure, it's cool when there's a big roll - and we already have a mechanic for that called critical hits.

Sorry, the bar is quite high to slow down combat even more.


The High Aldwin
The nice thing about this system is it never allows a lesser die to become greater than the next die up:

d4: avg. 2.5 => 3.33 (+0.83)
d6: avg. 3.5 => 4.20 (+0.70)
d8: avg. 4.5 => 5.14 (+0.64)
d10: avg. 5.5 => 6.11 (+0.61)
d12: avg. 6.5 => 7.09 (+0.59)

So, while the lower dice benefit from the greatest increases, the exploding average is still less than the next larger die, even without exploding.

IMO it makes more sense if you allow the d20 to remain binary (hit or miss, without the critical on 20), and allow the damage die to indicate the critical (maximum damage). Since a lot of tables do maximum damage + a die roll instead of double dice, it gives that result (or better).

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