log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E How many house rules?

How many house rules is too many?

  • 0 (RAW only)

    Votes: 1 1.7%
  • 1-2 (short and sweet)

    Votes: 6 10.3%
  • 3-5 (only if they're short)

    Votes: 16 27.6%
  • 6+ (keep 'em coming)

    Votes: 16 27.6%
  • None

    Votes: 6 10.3%
  • A few sentences

    Votes: 5 8.6%
  • A few paragraphs

    Votes: 14 24.1%
  • A few pages

    Votes: 18 31.0%

  • Total voters
    58

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Let's see. I do use alternate rest rules from the DMG but also house rule that any spell that lasts more than half an hour gets duration multiplied by 5.

Others are pretty simple:
  • Ability score adjustment items: add to, but do not replace ability scores. Anything that's capped at 20 max or less doesn't require attunement.
  • Bag of Holding: require an action to retrieve an item.
  • Bows: you can use either strength or dex, they are finesse weapons.
  • Heward's Handy Haversack: retrieve items as normal.
  • Potions: drinking a potion is a bonus action.
  • Raise Dead/Resurrection: raise dead is not as simple as casting a spell, resurrection is practically unheard of. This is done mostly to keep in line with the Norse mythology where even gods can die.
  • Thrown weapons: you can draw them for free and throw multiple every turn. I assume you have either a bandolier or quiver of some sort to hold them.

So that's it. Just convenience things that don't make much difference in actual play; bonus action to drink a potion probably has the biggest impact. The issue with a ton of house rules that change the nature of the game is that without a lot of playtesting you aren't going to really understand the impact. Even if it works for one group of people, it may not work for another. If I'm playing D&D I want it to feel like D&D, not someone's homebrew game system.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
3 and kiss is about my rules for everything, I am making a 5e adjacent sfrpg and I lose the proficiency bonus for skill ranks, so that skill level 1 is +d4, level 2 is +d6; I think rolling dice is more fun anyways.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Impossible and/or unnecessary to calculate an answer... because more often than not your game will never see 3/4ths of the house rules that were written ever actually come up during the game.

DMs are notorious for looking at a book, seeing hundreds of different rules and bits that make them go "WHAT?!? NO!!! NEVER!!!", then write down a "correction" that "fixes" the problem for them... but then once the game starts the situation never actually comes up. And all the hullaballoo the DM went through was unnecessary.

I mean really... how many DMs out there have spent long amounts of time coming up with better 20th level capstone abilities for all 12 classes because they think the ones WotC made all stunk... only to have less than half of those classes actually ever get selected by their players... and game itself never actually come close to reaching 20th level in the first place?

A house rule is merely a "Ruling" that you tried to jump the gun on. And if you'd never utter the phrase "I'm only going to make less than 12 rulings at the table during this entire campaign..." there's absolutely no reason to make the same statement about house rules.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Quality matters far more than quantity, I'm afraid. A small number of bad house rules can make me rethink participating, but a large number of good ones doesn't bother me at all.

Just seconding this.

I also don't believe the players or the even DM need to really know all the rules with perfect retention - just the most common ones with "good enough" retention - so for me the question about house rules in my current game is, does the house ruled situation come up enough to matter or is it a big deal enough even if infrequent to matter? Otherwise, 🤷‍♂️

On the other hand, in the past I have had so many house rules (mostly for flavor and consistency between editions) that I had a whole binder and later a wiki for them. People who bought in didn't care. Those who didn't were annoyed by them.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Ironically 5e's lack of structure, over simplistic design, and natural language cherry on top makes house rules more difficult in 5e if you actually want to change anything because it creates a cascade of edge case things that need to be addressed now that you changed something. You can see evidence for this in the incomplete fix them yourself variant rules in the dmg where even wotc couldn't manage to make a simple optional rule that actually accomplishes the thing it sets out to do rather than inviting a parade of problems for the gm to finish.

edit: for example. If I want to lock in everyone's archetype at level 1 but give some of it early I'd need thirteen different subrules because classes start at 1 2 & 3 with different progression of class/archetype stuff. If I want to modify the rest schedule or what rests give I have a disaster because classes are pegged to different rests (often with literally the exact same abilities as a class with a different rest need). If I want to change what happens at zero hp... holy hell.... I need to rebuild the whole system.
 
Last edited:


Dragonsbane

Proud Grognard
As many as are needed to achieve the group's vision for the theme of the game. In my experience of D&D 5e, this hasn't been very many, perhaps less than half a dozen, including variant rules. At a certain point, enough house rules would encourage me to just use another system more suited for the vision of the adventure or campaign.
This. We switched to Cypher System after we had too many house rules, but run 5E and 3E modules.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm most comfortable with few house rules. Some customization and change to fit the table, but not enough that makes you go "why not just play another system".

That said, I personally differentiate between house rules to change the base game, and house rules to support the feel of a particular campaign. I'm fine with plenty of the latter.

For example, in a hexcrawl using a slow rest variant but not quite the one from the DMG, an extended exhaustion chart so it can be given out more frequently without it being so immediately punishing, a bunch of custom backgrounds, a new race, and the banning of a couple of races and subclasses that don't fit the world theme works fine for me, and hasn't touched the "house rules to modify the game" where I'd prefer few.

As a side note, sometimes people may not even realize they are using a house rule. For example, when I DM you roll damage individually for every magic missile, scorching ray, eldritch blast, or other multi-ray spell. This is technically a house rule if used with multiple targets (Under Damage Rolls, PH pg 196 - "If a spell or other effect deals damage to more than one target at the same time, roll the damage once for all of them".) So many tables that think they are playing by RAW actually have their own minor variations.

Which does feed into the poll. I use "drinking a potion yourself is a bonus action, inspiration is a reroll declared after seeing the die, and multi-ray spells roll damage individually" - I consider that "short and sweet" (and so voted) even though by the poll it's the next category up. Also when writing out house rules I would always share why the choice was made, so while I want it short and sweet, I want a few paragraphs.
 
Last edited:

As a bit of a rules purist I find games with more than a few HRs to be massive red flags for a bad game.

I dont use many. I retain auto pass and fail saves on a 1 or a 20, shorten short rests to 5 minutes (max 2 per long rest) and rule once you've used sneak attack you can't do it again till the start of your next turn.

Thats really about it.
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
As a side note, sometimes people may not even realize they are using a house rule. For example, when I DM you roll damage individually for every magic missile, scorching ray, eldritch blast, or other multi-ray spell. This is technically a house rule if used with multiple targets (Under Damage Rolls, PH pg 196 - "If a spell or other effect deals damage to more than one target at the same time, roll the damage once for all of them".) So many tables that think they are playing by RAW actually have their own minor variations.
I'm moderately certain that this rule refers to spells like Lightning Bolt and Fireball, rather than those with individual targeting like EB and Scorching Ray. I thought I saw that clarified by the designers a while ago, though I confess I don't remember it well enough to say who or when or where that was, so it's possible I'm mistaken.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I was a bit undecided, but went with "3-5" and "a few sentences".

For this purpose, I am considering "house rules" being actual rules changes. There was a time when "house rules" was mainly used as a term for stuff related to the game but outside the actual rules of how the game action itself is played (and typically not mandated by the books), such as what happens to an absent player's PC, how to distribute treasure, or what level do you create a new PC after you died. I am not going to consider this kind of house rules against the number here, because these are things that every group eventually has to decide one way or another.

Then, I also need to make a distinction between changes and additions. The latter rarely bother me... for instance, if you want to add more detailed rules on how different weapons & armors interact with each other, or rules for lingering wounds, or crafting rules and so on, usually I am OK with those "modular" additions. Whether they work well or not, we shall see, but in general I am not against using those as a way to characterize a campaign differently.

However, rules changes can be either done to give your campaign a twist (as in "let's try to see what happens if we change this", which is fine by me), or because of a perceived necessity to "fix" the game. If I get the feeling that the DM thinks they are better, and they are "fixing" the game, I would rather not play with them. And it is usually very easy to see when that's the case, because they are always very keen on explaining why they are changing those rules, typically because they say something is either "underpowered" or "overpowered". I'll still play if it's only a very small bunch of changes, but if it looks like I need a written list to remember them all, forget it.
 


I basically use two house rules:
  1. Rest variants. Depending on campaign type.
  2. Natural 1s allow "double or quits" - an optional reroll
    1. If you don't take the reroll you fail normally (same as a 2)
    2. If you take it and succeed you've succeeded
    3. If you take it and fail you've had a critical failure (DM's choice)
People who love fumbles get them. People who hate them never do. And some people only take them in high risk situations.

I consider this sort of length of house rules a pretty easy sell - but once you're in several paragraphs it becomes hard.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm moderately certain that this rule refers to spells like Lightning Bolt and Fireball, rather than those with individual targeting like EB and Scorching Ray. I thought I saw that clarified by the designers a while ago, though I confess I don't remember it well enough to say who or when or where that was, so it's possible I'm mistaken.
I agree, but the way it was written was overly broad. Thanks for the heads up; I'll look through SA/errata so I can remove that from my house rules list.
 

slobster

Hero
To be honest, I have no idea how many house rules my games have. I have a few written down (I have a wound system in my games, Inspiration does a lot more than RAW, Advantage/Disadvantage stack, a few other things). But then I also have a bunch of things that have collected over the years that adjust the RAW, except I don't even think about them anymore. Sometimes I'm honestly surprised to read something in the core rules and realize that I've been sort of unconsciously ignoring that for years in favor of my own table's houserules.

And that isn't even getting into all the monster stat block changes I've made that players take for granted now, like gelatinous cubes being resistant to most physical damage types. I assume those don't really count as "houserules" since they are limited to a single enemy type at a time, but in aggregate they change up how my players play the game as much as any of the big official "houserules".

So I mean you can fit the number of houserules I officially have on a single page sure, but if you wanted to document all the little unspoken houserules, whoof. I have no clue!
 

Greg K

Hero
Do the following count as house rules for this discussion?

Races
  • banning specific phb races and/or specific PHB subraces
  • allowing specific new races (thirty party and/or official supplemental)
Classes
  • banning specific PHB classes and/or subclasses
  • allowing specific supplemental subclasses
  • adding specific new third party classes and/or subclasses

Backgrounds
  • adding new backgrounds
Spells
  • banning specific PHB spells
  • adding specific new spells (thirty party and/or official supplemental)
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Do the following count as house rules for this discussion?

Races
  • banning specific phb races and/or specific PHB subraces
  • allowing specific new races (thirty party and/or official supplemental)
Classes
  • banning specific PHB classes and/or subclasses
  • allowing specific supplemental subclasses
  • adding specific new third party classes and/or subclasses

Backgrounds
  • adding new backgrounds
Spells
  • banning specific PHB spells
  • adding specific new spells (thirty party and/or official supplemental)
Maybe? When I think of house rules it's more along the lines of the common "potions take a bonus action to use" and similar. Literally changing the rules of the game. But sure, a list of banned races, classes, feats, spells, etc could be considered a house rule. Likewise a list of allowed third party stuff. For the purposes of this, I'd consider the whole of that (banned, allowed, etc) as 1-2 house rules. Either one or all of that as a whole or one for the list of banned stuff and one for the list of third party stuff.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top