D&D 5E Miscellaneous House Rules (longish; PEACH)

DammitVictor

Trust the Fungus
Supporter
For Context: I am not a big fan of 5e, so I don't have the same level of in-depth experience I have with, say, 3.5 or PF1. I'm pretty much ripping out all of the content of 5e to upholster its structure with content I like better. Which is to say, nothing I am proposing here should be construed as an attempt to fix any specific problem-- real or imagined-- with the existing 5e rules so much as an attempt to deliver a more tailored... 5e-adjacent gaming experience for my table.

There's a whole lot more going on under the hood here, but I'm only presenting the stuff that might be relevant to people playing something closer to legitimate 5e.

Critical Hits: Only mentioning this because of the Extra Attack rule below. On a critical hit, maximize the normal weapon damage, then roll it once and add it to the total. If any bonus dice apply to the attack, you can do the same thing with one die per source of bonus damage dice.

Extra Attack: Collapse multiple attacks against a single target into a single die roll. If you have Extra Attack, roll a single attack against a single target with a critical range of 19-20. If the attack misses, deal damage as if you hit with a single attack. If the attack hits, deal damage as if you'd hit with both attacks. On a 19, one attack is critical; on a 20, both attacks are critical.

If you have Extra Attack II or Extra Attack III, a miss still counts as one hit and a hit counts as all hits. Critical range is 18-20 or 17-20, with a 20 being a critical on all attacks and each lower result reduces that by one attack. Multiple critical hits allow you to include more bonus damage dice as part of the critical.

If you have Extra Attack, you can use it to attack two separate targets normally. If you have Extra Attack II or III, don't divide the number of "attacks" by the number of targets; Extra Attack II can attack 2x2 or 3x1 and Extra Attack III can attack 2x3, 3x2, or 4x1.

This is a significant boost to the frequency and severity of critical hits. This is intentional, but it's also partially mitigated by the armor rules below; attack cantrips are not a factor in the rules these rules apply to. Classes that gain Extra Attack also have access to other multiple-target or area-of-effect attacks. That's TBD and also probably not relevant to anyone but me.

Hit Points & Hit Dice: No CON bonus, step Hit Dice down. Start with 1.5x max. At level up, roll level x HD and reroll a number of dice equal to CON bonus if positive. If that's bigger than your old HP total, that becomes your new HP total. If it's not, increase your old HP total by +1 or 1/2 your CON bonus.

You have Hit Dice equal to your level + your CON mod + half/full/double your Proficiency Bonus, depending on class/race/feats. You can spend one HD in combat per short rest as the Fighter's Second Wind ability. Healing spells/effects enable you to spend HD faster and more efficiently, but there's no healing without someone spending a Hit Die.

Short Rest healing works normally, but you maximize the first Hit Die you spend. On a Long Rest, you recover some of your Hit Dice first, and then roll all of your remaining Hit Dice (without CON bonuses) to recover that many hit points.

Death & Dying: You're not automatically incapacitated at 0 hit points. There's a new condition track called Mortality. When you are reduced to 0 hit points by an attack, or you take further damage while at 0 hit points, either allow yourself to be incapacitated or increase your Mortality by +1 (per "attack") and roll a CON Save (DC 10 + Mortality) to keep fighting. Special attacks or critical hits might count as more than one attack.

Once you're incapacitated, you're incapacitated until you take a short rest or you get hit with revivify, which also allows you to spend a single Hit Die. Other healing spells can allow you to spend HD/restore hit points as normal, but they don't remove the incapacitated condition.

After any combat in which you've been reduced to 0 hit points, roll a CON Save (DC 10 + Mortality) or die. If you are not incapacitated, or you have a positive hit point total, you may roll this Save at Advantage.

Reduce your maximum hit point total by your Mortality. Reduce your Mortality by 1 for every Hit Die you spend healing while resting.

Ability Score Generation: I'm using an alternate system for ASIs and feats and abilities aren't capped at 20, so the uncapped abilities aren't depriving players of more interesting choices.

At character creation, after choosing your basic concept-- origin/class, but not specifics-- assign your ability scores using the standard array or 27 point buy.

For every ability score, rolling in order, roll 6d4 and record each individual die from highest to lowest. You may choose one ability score to keep all six dice, two ability scores to keep the highest five, and the other three may keep the highest four. Use the higher of the assigned or rolled value for each ability.

Technically, this means a character can start with a score of 19-24 in an ability, but the player does not have control over which ability this is. The average of 6d4 is 15. Statistically, this system increases average ability scores but disproportionately affects the scores the player is neglecting.

Anyway. These are for a specific game, not general recommendations for universal houserules. Curious what other people think.

 

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DammitVictor

Trust the Fungus
Supporter
I forgot armor.

Massive Damage: Your character has a Massive Damage Threshold, like in d20 Modern. Take more damage than that from a single action (an attack, a multiattack, a spell), roll two CON saves (DC modified by the attack and Mortality). Pass both, no problem; pass one, take +X Mortality; fail both, take +X Mortality and incapacitated (at your current hit point total). Still working on the math on this one.

Armor & Unarmored Defense: Armor has an Armor Value. Light Armors (up to chain) are AC 10 + armor value + DEX + 1/2 proficiency. Heavy Armors are AC 10 + armor value + full proficiency. Unarmored Defense/Natural Armor varies, but it usually assumes DEX + something + full proficiency.

Armor (and natural armor) also reduces most forms of damage by half of armor value for standard attacks, or full armor value versus criticals, multiattacks, backstabs/smites, and area of effect attacks. It also adds half of its armor value to DEX saves versus area attacks and CON saves versus (massive) damage.
 

dave2008

Legend
Thank you for sharing, it is always interesting to see someone else's house rules. I don't personally find this very interesting, nor how they make the game more like 3e/PF, but if they work for you - great!
 

Which is to say, nothing I am proposing here should be construed as an attempt to fix any specific problem-- real or imagined-- with the existing 5e rules so much as an attempt to deliver a more tailored... 5e-adjacent gaming experience for my table.

It's still not really meaningful to evaluate a house rule without knowing the intent behind that rule. I can't really say if the change is good or bad because I don't know what you're attempting to achieve with the change.

Extra Attack:

I think the change to Extra Attack is pretty weird all around. It feels like you're trying to turn attacks into Cantrips, but I don't understand what the purpose of doing that is. Attack rolls are not particularly complicated enough to justify simplification. It's very unclear how two weapon fighting would work, let alone feats that grant extra attacks.

I have no opinion beyond that I don't know what the effect really is, but it seems like it would be worse overall.

Quite honestly, if I were unhappy with how the attack rolls worked in any edition of D&D, I would not play that edition of D&D. It's too fundamental to the game's combat.

Hit Points & Hit Dice: No CON bonus, step Hit Dice down. Start with 1.5x max. At level up, roll level x HD and reroll a number of dice equal to CON bonus if positive. If that's bigger than your old HP total, that becomes your new HP total. If it's not, increase your old HP total by +1 or 1/2 your CON bonus.
I have absolutely no idea what the result here even is. What is "step down"? What is "1.5x max"? This is extremely complicated with zero examples. It is word salad. I cannot even tell if the result is higher or lower than the core rules because I can't understand what it's trying to say.

You have Hit Dice equal to your level + your CON mod + half/full/double your Proficiency Bonus, depending on class/race/feats.

That seems real confusing with multiclassing. Is that even allowed?

You can spend one HD in combat per short rest as the Fighter's Second Wind ability. Healing spells/effects enable you to spend HD faster and more efficiently, but there's no healing without someone spending a Hit Die.

Short Rest healing works normally, but you maximize the first Hit Die you spend. On a Long Rest, you recover some of your Hit Dice first, and then roll all of your remaining Hit Dice (without CON bonuses) to recover that many hit points.

I guess, sure. You're likely to see a lot more long resting, meaning Fighters, Monks, and Warlocks are going to be worse.

Death & Dying: You're not automatically incapacitated at 0 hit points. There's a new condition track called Mortality. When you are reduced to 0 hit points by an attack, or you take further damage while at 0 hit points, either allow yourself to be incapacitated or increase your Mortality by +1 (per "attack") and roll a CON Save (DC 10 + Mortality) to keep fighting. Special attacks or critical hits might count as more than one attack.

Once you're incapacitated, you're incapacitated until you take a short rest or you get hit with revivify, which also allows you to spend a single Hit Die. Other healing spells can allow you to spend HD/restore hit points as normal, but they don't remove the incapacitated condition.

After any combat in which you've been reduced to 0 hit points, roll a CON Save (DC 10 + Mortality) or die. If you are not incapacitated, or you have a positive hit point total, you may roll this Save at Advantage.

Reduce your maximum hit point total by your Mortality. Reduce your Mortality by 1 for every Hit Die you spend healing while resting.

If your goal is to make sudden character death more frequent or long rests more mandatory, this will do that. It seems very complicated to me and a lot to track, but if that accomplishes your goal then sure.

Ability Score Generation: I'm using an alternate system for ASIs and feats and abilities aren't capped at 20, so the uncapped abilities aren't depriving players of more interesting choices.

At character creation, after choosing your basic concept-- origin/class, but not specifics-- assign your ability scores using the standard array or 27 point buy. For every ability score, rolling in order, roll 6d4 and record each individual die from highest to lowest. You may choose one ability score to keep all six dice, two ability scores to keep the highest five, and the other three may keep the highest four. Use the higher of the assigned or rolled value for each ability.

Technically, this means a character can start with a score of 19-24 in an ability, but the player does not have control over which ability this is. The average of 6d4 is 15. Statistically, this system increases average ability scores but disproportionately affects the scores the player is neglecting.

Well, that will achieve that goal. Again it seems very complicated. Offhand, it looks like it virtually guarantees most characters will have 6 scores above 12. It's a ton of math to completely evaluate it, so I'll just make an example.

Gnome Artificer aiming for Armorer
Str 10 (4,4,4,2,2,1)
Dex 14 (4,4,4,3,2,1)
Con 14 (4,4,2,2,2,1)
Int 17 (4,4,3,3,2,1)
Wis 12 (4,3,3,2,2,1)
Cha 8 (4,4,4,3,2,1)

Str would be 17 with 6 dice, 16 with 5, or 14 with 4
Dex would be 18 with 6 dice, 17 with 5, 15 with 4
Con would be 16 with 6 dice, 15 with 5 dice, 4 is null
Int would stay 17 with 6 dice, so it's null.
Wis is 15 with 6 dice, 14 with 5, 4 is null.
Cha is 18 with 6 dice, 17 with 5, 15 with 4.

[Edit: It seems clear that you should always take 15,15,15,8,8,8 for your array with 27 point buy, but this example is literally my last character, and he used standard array.]

So I'll take:

Str 14 (4)
Dex 18 (6)
Con 17 (5)
Int 17 null
Wis 14 (5)
Cha 15 (4)

So I get +4 Str, +4 Dex, +3 Con, +0 Int, +2 Wis, +7 Cha.

I guess I'm probably switching to Artillerist now? I could also take high Cha instead of Dex and then switch to Bard or Sorcerer. Or even go High Cha and Str and go Paladin.

I don't know why you'd want to do this in the game, though. Again, I don't see a design goal beyond higher stats.

It feels like I should start every game as a Monk, Cleric, Rogue, Paladin, Barbarian, Bard, or Artificer and then see if I get any broken high stats I can capitalize on. If multiclassing is allowed, then I'll multiclass as needed. If multiclassing is banned, then I'll still have a class where I can probably take advantage of whatever busted thing I have.
 
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I forgot armor.

Massive Damage: Your character has a Massive Damage Threshold, like in d20 Modern. Take more damage than that from a single action (an attack, a multiattack, a spell), roll two CON saves (DC modified by the attack and Mortality). Pass both, no problem; pass one, take +X Mortality; fail both, take +X Mortality and incapacitated (at your current hit point total). Still working on the math on this one.

I've always considered massive damage rules a solution in search of a problem from a mechanics perspective, and insult to injury from a gameplay perspective.

If the risk of sudden death is important, then sure, but I don't really care for it.

Armor & Unarmored Defense: Armor has an Armor Value. Light Armors (up to chain) are AC 10 + armor value + DEX + 1/2 proficiency. Heavy Armors are AC 10 + armor value + full proficiency. Unarmored Defense/Natural Armor varies, but it usually assumes DEX + something + full proficiency.

Armor (and natural armor) also reduces most forms of damage by half of armor value for standard attacks, or full armor value versus criticals, multiattacks, backstabs/smites, and area of effect attacks. It also adds half of its armor value to DEX saves versus area attacks and CON saves versus (massive) damage.

Is that for the NPCs, too? I guess that kind of requires the really high stats, but now I don't understand why you start with basic stats and then add the second system to them. This AC is way higher, and the game really doesn't scale that way. It's such a fundamental change that I don't think I can even evaluate what you're doing even if I knew what the goal was.

Quite honestly, the more I read, the more I get the feeling you might be happier with Worlds Without Number or Dungeon Crawl Classics.
 


dave2008

Legend
It's still not really meaningful to evaluate a house rule without knowing the intent behind that rule. I can't really say if the change is good or bad because I don't know what you're attempting to achieve with the change.
@DammitVictor, I also really agree with Bacon on this one. It is really hard to evaluate / give feedback on a house rule if we do not know the intent of the rule. For example, I could think the rule is great; however, the actually mechanics of the rule could achieve a very different result than you intend. One I might like, but you wouldn't.
 

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