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D&D 5E What Is Your "Must-Have" House-Rule (If Any)?


I don't debate opinions.
For a long time I've been trying to make 5E "my own"--something I would continue to have fun playing. As such, I've spent a lot of time going over house-rules and variants, trying to find a blend I could live with so that the game feels right to me, but also isn't bogged down with extra rules other players might not care for or want to bother with.

So, in that light I was wondering, for those who care to share, what is an absolute must-have house-rule for you or your table?

If you don't have any, feel free to chime in to that effect, but the purpose of this thread is to share what others think are the most important house-rules for them that help make 5E fun.

Thanks to all who contribute. I am curious to see what others have to share.

I'll start:

Three Strikes And You're Out!
Once your character dies for a third time, the game is over for them--nothing can bring them back. Make a new character and get back into the fun.

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World Traveller
Short Short Rests
A Short Rest lasts 10 minutes.

Dungeon Turns
Exploration in a dungeon is handled in 10 Minute turns. An action, such as picking a lock or checking a trap, takes an entire turn. Multiple actions can be done on a single turn, if done by different players.

Investigate Secrets
You can use EITHER Perception or Investigation to locate traps or secret doors. Only perception can be used to detect creatures.

The first two are things I developed after reading B/X D&D (Specifically old-school essentials.) There is a great and simple system for dungeon crawling in there, tracking time in a dungeon, etc. The simple version forward to 5e is my houserule. From that it's easy to check for monsters say, every 30 minutes (3 turns) and that a torch lasts 1 hour (6 turns.) Making short rests 10 Minutes just fits into that system better. I find there is very little mechanical repercussions for making a short rest 10 minutes but I find players are more likely to take them this way, especially when there is a sense of urgency.

As for Investigation, I always found the difference between it and Perception confusing. Even when people explain it I found it too niche and open to argument from the players. Allowing Investigation to be used to detect traps makes the skill and Intelligence more useful I think, though just a little. But often I would have players, who didn't know Investigation was going to be used for traps, complain, because they took Perception instead. So I allow both. I keep them distinct by saying anything involving other creatures is still Perception (since stealth is often compared to Active or Passive Perception) and anything involving research or experimenting is Investigation. (Kind of like Library Use in Call of Cthulhu.)


Great idea for a thread, I am interested in seeing what people suggest!

I have a number of house rules I am running in my current campaign, we’ll see which one becomes the must clutch out of them.

One house rule I am having fun with so far is after every 3 rounds of combat initiative is redrawn. Adds a nice spice to combats that go on for longer. I call the rule “Fog of War”.


I run with a fair amount of houserules, but looking them over, there is only 2 for me.

1) Death Rules: No death saving throws. When players have 0 or negative HP, they are unconscious. Every round you are unconscious, you lose 1 HP until you are stabilized. At -10 you are dead (this is your death threshold). Healing automatically brings you to 0, and then you heal from there.

2) No resurrection magic (The 3rd level revivify is now 9th level....it is the only res magic in the game).

For number 1, it doesn't have to be this rule specifically, I have tried various houserules to limit the Yo-Yo effect or make going unconscious scarier. But the theme is clear....my must have houserules are to make 5e deadlier. 5e at base is training wheels to me, honestly even with these rules I find it nigh impossible to challenge my groups without tinkering with the monsters.

Also, I have never liked worldbuilding around the aspect that resurrection magic is in any way somewhat common for mid to high level people, or people "of means". Especially not revivify, it is hard enough to kill a player for them to just pop up alive the next round.

I love a lot of my other houserules, but these are the only ones that my game imo would truly suffer if I dropped.


One house rule I am having fun with so far is after every 3 rounds of combat initiative is redrawn. Adds a nice spice to combats that go on for longer. I call the rule “Fog of War”.

I like this idea. I have always found that rolling for initiative every round was just too much for me. But since many combats are over after 3 rounds...this is a way to spice up the longer fights in a way I don't deal with every fight. I may give this a shot!


I don't debate opinions.
One house rule I am having fun with so far is after every 3 rounds of combat initiative is redrawn. Adds a nice spice to combats that go on for longer. I call the rule “Fog of War”.
I also really like this rule. I might run it by our group tomorrow...

Hard to say, as I use a lot of houserules (sometimes I forget which is RAW, RAI and mine).

As a DM, I think the addition of resurrection penalties to Revivify. It's just better than all forms of resurrection if cast within 1 minuite, which isn't that harsh.

As a general rule, we allow 1d4 light weapons to be used with any other one handed weapon for Two Weapon Fighting. This pushes the damage to 1d8, 1d4, which is a flatter curve. In addition, once you add extra attack, it keeps TWF closer to the average damage.

  • It is the player's responsibility to make a character that (a) is interested in cooperating with the rest of the party, and (b) is interested in going on any adventures presented. This was my only written house rule for a very long time and it was caused by a disastrous one-shot I ran in high school. Or, rather, tried to run in high school.
  • Surprise rounds instead of 5e surprise. This one is mainly because nobody seems to remember how 5e surprise works. 5e surprise is much more nuanced than it needs to be and I don't want to explain it to the whole table for the 50th time. I want to have the ambushing side take their turns and then move to normal combat. 5e surprise is not a horrible system, but it's a needless change of a perfectly adequate system that everyone seems to intuitively understand.
  • You can draw as many sheathed weapons as you have attacks. Because, come on, do we really need to nerf thrown weapons and two-weapon fighting even more? Do we really need feat benefits like "you can draw two weapons instead of one!" Ugh.


Silver standard for vanilla worlds instead of gold.
Quarter staff is 1d6 two handed use only.
No leather whatever armor, you got padded and brigandine. Btw. what is ring mail (It does not exist in my campaigns of course, like it never did exist IRL)?
No long sword. There is arming sword bastard sword and two handed sword (which is also named long sword in history).

These equipment houserules apply for all campaigns which i DM which are "standard" worlds e.g. like FR, GH.
I am a bit pedantic on the realism of weapons, armor and currency - to enhance my personal make believe.
I discuss other things with my players but these are my rule zero.

Game mechanic wise, i rule that on a nat 1 i can get creative as a DM (if i want to :p), This applies for players as well as for monsters, of course.

Silver standard for vanilla worlds instead of gold.
You presumably mean directly replacing GP wit SP, effectively dividing the prices by ten? I tend to do that too, it is utterly absurd that a short sword would literally cost its weight in silver.

No leather whatever armor, you got padded and brigandine.
It would be weird to just directly replace studded leather with brigandine though. Brigandine is definitely not a light armour, it is very similar to lamellar.

For now, I'll list a few that come to my mind as the others are all in a notebook that I don't have on me right now.

-Players don't roll for HP. Instead they get max HP each level up.(So Fighters get 10hp each level up, Barbarians get 12hp each level up, etc)

-Warlocks get their Patron Spells added to their spell list automatically once they hit the levels they become available in the Class List feature and they don't count towards their spell list limits.

-Everybody starts off with a feat/super natural gift at Character Creation.

-We don't do Nerfs at the table. Example: Ancestral Barbarian gets to keep its D8.

-Noble(not the background but the class) gets an HP upgrade to D8 instead of D6.

-Critical Hit Damage: First die is ALWAYS maxed damage while the second die is rolled for damage. I rebuke having a Crit Hit only having the ability of doing 1+1 damage and then I roll an 8 on a 1D8 for a longsword and a non Crit Hit ends up doing more damage.

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