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D&D 5E What House Rules Can You NOT Live Without?


The Game Is Over
Actually, that was kind of my experience as well. Long story but in the last game we rolled one person rolled incredibly well (multiple 18s, nothing below 14) while another person rolled a single 14, a 10 and everything else below. The person with the super high stats felt guilty and committed suicide by goblin.
Man, the goblin must have felt so incredible!---until the party killed it, too. ;)

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Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Hexes make it more difficult to gang up on a single foe as only 6 opponents can surround a target.
That's why they just swap out and one take the opp attack. :)

It works out to the advantage of team PC because I have at most 6 PCs and they're never all melee. It's also pretty rare that I'm going to have enough monsters to do that, I tend to go with mobs if it's a large number.


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I use hexes for wilderness and squares for buildings.
I've thought of doing that, but basically I'm not a stickler for staying exactly in a hex in a building. The hexes are used to measure distance, nothing more. Generally speaking if there's half a hex you can stand there and we just use our judgement to see if squeezing should be involved.

Seems to work well enough. I don't do dungeon crawls, but I do have a heavy mix of urban and wilderness encounters.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don’t really find that anything is required for 5e to be the game I want to play, other than things in the realm of player options, and things that add some DM-side complexity that makes scenes more fun.

I really enjoy flanking, level 1 feat or supernatural gift, +1 stat when class grants a feat, and either rolling or using a slightly higher point buy, but none are super important. The level 1 feat is the most important of those, but I’d still enjoy the game without it.

It’s funny to me to compare this to 4e, my other favorite edition, where the good news was that I only wanted to change 3 things, and the bad news was those things were the basic PC math progression, monster HP, and to make most stacking bonuses no longer stack. An undertaking large enough I never actually did it.


Added a "breather", a 5-minute rest where all you can do is spend a number of hit dice equal to your proficiency modifier. Limit once per short rest

Reroll ones for any kind of healing if you have a d6 or d8. Reroll ones and twos if you have a d10 or d12


You can use a bonus action as a standard action.

Open-ended ability, saves and attacks rolls (roll nat 20, roll again; that roll can nat 20 and spring another roll; same for nat 1). This replaces crits, and add fumbles. On saves, with a nat 20 if it's a save for half, you can save again for none. Otherwise you can give a nearby ally affected by the same thing the chance to reroll a failed save. If neither apply, you can force the attacker to save against their own effect (indicating some sort of backlash, accident or whatnot).

Potions can be drunk as bonus action.

Inspiration point grant automatic success or a "yes,but..." story change. Only way to regain an inspiration is to invoke your flaw, which requires automatic failure on a check.


For simplicity we just keep diagonals at 5-feet each, but alternating 5/10 isn't hard IMO. 🤷‍♂️


I think the big one is "short rests take 5-10 minutes, but you can only benefit from two between long rests". It just feels so much more natural (patch yourselves up and get going), and makes short rests things that players actually do, even if they don't get anything but healing from it.

Druids can get the equivalent of metal armours from magically treated wood or stone, or armour made from the bodies of impressive monsters.

Object interactions and spell components work on a system of "just don't take the mickey".

I also give a bonus feat at level one, from a limited menu that is basically "feats that I've never seen in an internet build". :)
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Elder Thing
Off the top of my head: we do max hit points every level and we use side initiative, rolled every round.

I run very deadly campaigns, I like small groups (max 3 PCs), and the extra padding from max hit points really up the survival rate.


Funny, I am the opposite. I never bothered to check, b/c I can't imagine it not costing (in my group's language) 1.5 boxes of movement to move diagonally.

EDIT: That is to say, I find the language of "alternating" confusing and prefer measuring distances in boxes anyway. So 1 box horizontal, 1.5 boxes diagonal is nice and easy to remember.
Sure it's easy to remember, but just slightly more irritating to add and occasionally leaves remainders. None of which are "difficult" to deal with by any stretch, don't get me wrong... but counting every square of movement the same regardless of direction is just easi-er. :)

Now the difference in ease between the two will probably be the thinnest of hairs for some people... but I know for me I care so little about true measurement and the like on the grid that I never saw the need to bother with the knowledge that a hypotenuse is longer than either leg. If worrying about true distances really mattered, we wouldn't be using a grid at all, we'd use tape measures like the Warhammer folks do. So once we handwaved true distances by using a grid, handwaving all the nitpicky distance details to make it as simple as possible was just the sensible thing for us.

I'm a rule-tinkerer and houseruler by heart, and to my own surprise, I found myself using using very few houserules in 5e, even though it's probably the easiest edition to tinker with and create houserules. Every campaign usually have one "big" houserule setting the tone of the campaign, but otherwise there's only a few I can't DM without. I always use these however:

1) Skills are dissociated from their governing ability.

2) I use my own Wild Surge chart which has more to do with the spell that was cast rather than amusing effects such as skin turning blue or breathing butterflies.

3) Initial Ability Scores generation. My group and I prefer rolling but I dislike big discrepancies (without having each player roll 15 series until one is "good enough"). So everyone roll one series of 4k3 (including DM). Then all series can be selected by all players. Each effectively become a "standard array" for this campaign. Custom NPCs are generated using these series as well. Out of four players + DM, there's typically two series than stand out, usually one with a single high score and one with a lot of 14-15s.


Makin' cool stuff
Hero points

Failing all death saves means being "taken out" (bad things, but not death, unless clearly stated otherwise when the swords were drawn), and you can concede (the character can't suffer any more harm, but can't do anything useful either) to receive a hero point

Regarding squares vs hexes:

My preference is to not use a grid at all.
1 inch = 5ft*; after a while, eyeballing it is pretty easy

Cons: It occasionally requires the DM to make a few judgement calls concerning whether or not someone is in melee.
(I typically rule in favor of the PCs, unless it appears that they're attempt to use some obvious cheese and be funny with positioning.)

Pros: The game world isn't required to fit into specific shapes.

(*I prefer 3ft increments.)


Oh! You know what’s an absolute must-have for me, both as a DM and as a player? Experience. Not technically a house rule, but story-based advancement is such a common house-rule that I think it’s worth noting here. No, I won’t accept leveling up whenever the octopus in your brain decides it’s time for me to, I prefer to have a measurable indication of my progress towards leveling up, thank you very much.

Oh, God, yes. I ran my first campaign for 5e using milestones, and we all hated it. I use XP now, including the characters having different XP totals. That being said, I allow players that miss a session to get half XP if I have their character sheet, and if there's a new player, they start at the lowest level of the group, at whatever XP that is.

Never want to go back to milestones.


Goblin Queen
Oh, God, yes. I ran my first campaign for 5e using milestones, and we all hated it. I use XP now, including the characters having different XP totals. That being said, I allow players that miss a session to get half XP if I have their character sheet, and if there's a new player, they start at the lowest level of the group, at whatever XP that is.

Never want to go back to milestones.
Minor nitpick: While Rise of Tiamat erroneously referred to story-based advancement as “milestone leveling,” it is not consistent with how the DMG describes milestone XP, which is essentially just XP awards for stuff other than encounters. I actually think milestone XP as described in the DMG is great, and award it for completing quest objectives.

Unfortunately, nobody reads the DMG and Rise of Tiamat’s misuse of the term “milestones” has become standard in common parlance. I try to use the terms the way the DMG does to set an example, but at the end of the day I’m probably just yelling at clouds.