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

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
When you actively roll the die for a skill you have a passive score in (usually Perception), your result is a minimum of (Passive Score +1).

When you level up, instead of rolling the die for HP you can choose to take the average rounded up as your roll. If you do roll it you must keep it, even if its a 1.
 

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CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I have a few in a one note folder.

Main ones:
  • Players roll defense. Monster damage is fixed at max damage.
  • No inspiration. Instead each PITBF can be used to gain advantage on a roll that relates to that PITBF once per day per item
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Intelligence and Skills
You get a bonus skill proficiencies from your class equal to your Intelligence modifier. You get this retroactively but only based on your natural Intelligence.

Mind and Fluency.
The maximum languages you can know is equal the sum of your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma modifier. You are only considered fully fluent in a number of languages equal to half this sum. When speaking a language you are not fully fluent, you must make a Intelligence check DC 10 to recall the right words.

Shields
Shields provide +4 to AC.

Two handed Weapons AC
You have +1 to AC when weilding a weapon two handed weapon or a versatile or reach weapon with two hands.
 
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Prepared casters can prepare additional cantrips. For a wizard you have to scribe it into your spellbook first. If you have a cantrip, prepared you can cast it at will as normal.

Absolutely essential to avoid totally destroying my suspension of disbelief that you can know hundreds if spells all the way up to 9th level, but if you didn't choose light or mage hand as one of your 4-6 cantrips you will never be able to cast it, even though you can cast daylight or telekinesis.

Probably in second place is giving small characters disadvantage when wielding a versatile weapon in one hand.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
This is debatable whether it’s a house rule or not; I certainly think there’s support for it in the RAW, but it’s definitely a nonstandard way to resolve checks:

DM calls for ability checks, not skill checks, and players can add their proficiency bonus if one of their proficiencies is applicable.
 

This is debatable whether it’s a house rule or not; I certainly think there’s support for it in the RAW, but it’s definitely a nonstandard way to resolve checks:

DM calls for ability checks, not skill checks, and players can add their proficiency bonus if one of their proficiencies is applicable.
So basically, you could use STR or CHA for Intimidation?
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
So basically, you could use STR or CHA for Intimidation?
I think it's that you can apply your Intimidation to Str or Cha checks if it's relevant.

I've tried, and personally I think it's harder to NOT think in terms of skill checks, so I usually call for a skill check rather than a ability check. But I'm open to using different skill-stat combinations if the player thinks it's warranted.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I use a few I've seen listed above: max PC HP at every level, healing potions always do their max amount, you can't roll below your Passive score on a Perception check, warlocks get their patron spells for free, a couple others.

Others I use:

1) warlocks have proficiency in martial weapons

2) magic circle has the Ritual tag (why in the world didn't it already?)

3) monk way of the shadow is a goblin tradition

4) typically I ban all full casters except warlocks

5) as such, warlocks become prepared casters and are not limited to a list of spells known unless the player wants the character to run that way

6) sometimes I ban all damage dealing cantrips too (they really rub me the wrong way)

7) sometimes I ban all caters and use the spellcasting feat progression that was in one of the playtest packets

8) when I do allow full casters other than warlocks, I generally limit wizards to what I call True Specialization, so wizards from different traditions actually cast different spells from one another

Unlike many, I really like the standard healing and rest rules. I like to run Sword & Sorcery style games, and I don't remember Fahfrd, the Mouser, Conan, or any of the others convalescing for weeks after a battle.

There are more; these are just off the top of my head.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Body points. Everyone has between 1 and 6 of these (adventurers usually in the 2-5 range), reflective of actual physical damage your body can take. Harder to cure and-or rest back than normal hit points, which are gained by class or hit dice as usual. Con sets a minimum but does not otherwise affect the roll - and it's ALWAYS a roll - so a Human with Con 16 would roll a d5 but if the roll is less than 3 it becomes 3. The BP roll is only ever done once per character and is locked in when done.

The other type of hit points are fatigue points, which are what you gain by level. Thus, a 1st-level Human Fighter with Con 16 might start with 3 BP [roll 2 forced to 3 by Con minimum] and 6 FP [4 on d10+ 2 Con mod] for a total of 9 h.p.

Bigger creatures have more BP on average, smaller have fewer. Leprechauns, for example, have d3 BP (and no minima). Centaurs have d7. Giants might have 2d10.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
The BP roll is only ever done once per character and is locked in when done.
If your CON goes up, does your BP? I mean, you might have a CON 16 and the minimum 3 BP, but the raise your CON to 18, so does your BP go up to 4?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So basically, you could use STR or CHA for Intimidation?
I think it's that you can apply your Intimidation to Str or Cha checks if it's relevant.
TwoSix is correct. I, as DM, don’t call for Intimidation checks. When the player describes an action, I determine which of the six abilities its success hinges on most, and call for a check with that ability. Then the player evaluates their proficiencies and if they think any of them are relevant, they can add their proficiency bonus. So I might ask for a Strength check or a Charisma check depending on what you’re doing, and if you think Intimidation proficiency is relevant, you can add it (regardless of which ability the check is being made with).

I used to have the players suggest a proficiency, which I would approve or deny. But it was more trouble than it was worth, so now I just trust my players to use their own best judgment.

I've tried, and personally I think it's harder to NOT think in terms of skill checks, so I usually call for a skill check rather than a ability check. But I'm open to using different skill-stat combinations if the player thinks it's warranted.
It takes a little getting used to, if you’ve been calling for skill checks for years. For me though, it’s much easier to pick from a list of six very broad categories instad of 18 more specific ones (or those 18 in addition to the 6, of you count straight ability checks with no skill).

It also clears up a lot of the cases where it’s not entirely clear which skill applies - Athletics vs. Acrobatics and Perception vs. Investigation being the most obvious examples. When a player is trying to do some physical stunt, I only have to decide if being muscular or being coordinated is more necessary for success, instead of having to get into the weeds of what exactly constitutes athleticism or what a trained acrobat should be capable of. When a player is trying to study or find something, I only have to decide if it’s a matter of awareness or problem solving.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I have sooo many. I've rewritten many of the 5e mechanics. But here are the big ones:

1) ACTION PONTS: Everyone starts each session with a number of action points equal to half your proficiency bonus (rounded up). You can use an action point to reroll a d20, take an extra action, or other things (there's a list). There's a lot of ways action points can be used in my games. Unused action points are lost once the session ends, unless the player has earned bonus action points for excellent play and overcoming significant challenges. Bonus action points roll over until used up, with regular action points being used before bonus action points.

1) VITALITY POINTS: Rather than death saves, characters have a second pool of points called vitality points. Players start with vitality points at level 1 equal to the maximum of their hit die plus their con bonus. Players only gain more VP on on levels when they would gain an ASI or feat, gaining a number of VP equal to the average roll of their hit die plus their con bonus. When players take damage that would reduce them to 0 HP (with damage from that attack that would reduce them below 0 being ignored), then further damage is subtracted from VP. Once a player is in VP, they gain one level of exhaustion and gain the dispirited condition. While dispirited, a player has disadvantage on all attack rolls, and enemies have advantage on any saving throws against spells cast or abilities used by the dispirited character. Any healing is first applied to VP, and then once a player has at least 1 HP they lose the dispirited condition, though they keep any exhaustion levels gained. A character that is reduced to 0 vitality points dies or is knocked out (depending on what the situation or story calls for).

I adapted this from Angry GM, and it is meant to allow characters to continue to act, but signals that they should focus on defense or escape rather than attack. Theoretically it acts as an intermediate state between fighting and death/unconsciousness. I've been using it for 4 years now across several campaigns and it has really improved combat at my table.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If your CON goes up, does your BP? I mean, you might have a CON 16 and the minimum 3 BP, but the raise your CON to 18, so does your BP go up to 4?
No. Nor does it change should your Con drop. It's locked in forever at time of roll; the only thing that can change it is some permanent serious injury e.g. loss of a limb might knock it down a point.

All our hit point rolls are locked in, for that matter; subsequent Con change (up or down) does not affect them.
 

Ace

Adventurer
Everyone starts with a feat at 1st Level.
There is no variant human.

That's rather interesting .

My "must have"is custom backgrounds are fine.

Also Path of the Berserker Barbarians Frenzy is adjusted as follows.

Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you can chose to go into a frenzy when you rage. If you do so, for the duration of your rage you can make a single extra melee weapon attack as part of your attack action. This ability may be used 1 once per day and gains an additional use at 6th and 17th. The ability resets on a long rest.
 
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Ah here's another one that makes sense to me.


So you know how you just hate that sometimes, after taking a class/race and a background, you get skills that "double up?" Yeah the book says you can swap it out for another skill, but here's a thing that I allow. The doubling of a skill, if it happens, allows you to use half your prof rating to it. Then if you actually spend downtime and the gold to train in that skill again, you then get Expertise.(For skills that don't double, you have to train to get half prof rating, then train more and spend more gold/downtime to gain Expertise.) So with enough time, gold, and surviving long enough, your character can get Proficiency in all the skills and eventually get Expertise in all. the balancing being, the increased gold cost and if your character survives long enough to reach that point.

Another House Rule I have is that at Level 15, your character can pick a Virtue from Adventures in Middle-Earth. So if your an Elf, you can choose one of the generic Virtues or one of the Virtues that apply to Elves only. If your a Dwarf, then one of the generic ones or the Virtues that apply to Dwarves only, etc, etc.
 
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guachi

Explorer
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.

I also implemented 10 minute Turns so that everyone does things in one block. I explained to new players that Old School D&D did that and it works well from a book keeping stand point. Plus, everyone stays engaged as no one is doing nothing while others are doing something.

I also eliminated Short Rests for anything but regaining HP via HD expenditure and moved every ability to Long Rest based. It made structuring challenges easier and it smoothed out a lot of the differences between classes. Players don't have to worry about how many resources they'll have during an Adventuring Day (I've made a Long Rest one week) and a ten minute Short Rest matching the time needed to do other Actions means the PCs either all do whatever they wanted to do or something happens and none of them do.

EDIT: I also allow players to, at character creation, move their racial ability bonuses around to some extent. Many races get a +2 to some ability. Players may take one '+' from the ability with a +2 and put it towards any other ability score to a maximum of +2. Humans who have +1 to all abilities can move one '+' to any other ability and get 1 +2, 4 +1, and 1 +0 ability score. This allows all (or almost all) non-humans to get a +1 in any ability score they want and when combined with point buy a lvl 1 PC can get a 16 in anything. I've found this makes players happy and can encourage a wider variety race/class combinations.
 
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guachi

Explorer

I've said this before but I love this. I'll go so far as to state this is the single best idea (and it's so simple!) to encourage players delving into their characters I've seen for 5e. No one knows your character better than you.

I particularly love one variant you proposed where the players would earn a d6 when getting Inspiration and they could only use it to boost another PC's die roll AND it could be used after the roll.
 

dave2008

Legend
I have two related houserules that I have either used since 1e or will use forever more:

  1. Armor w/ Damage Reduction (DR): We have used some form of armor as or w/ DR since 1e. Our current rule is that an armor's DR potential is equal to its AC - 10 (so 8 for full plate). However, you typically use armor as AC and only use the armor's DR when your HP are 0 or on a crit. That is when you are really being hit and the armor reduces the damage by its DR at those times only.
  2. Bloodied Hit Points (BHP): Ever since 4e introduced the bloodied condition we have had a version of "meat" points we call bloodied hit points that represent your actual body points. I can't imagine not using some form of this rule now. Your BHP = (Str mod + Con mod) x Size. Medium size = 1, so for PCs BHP = (Str mod + Con mod). You lose BHP after your HP is 0 or on a critical hit. When BHP = 0, you die. You regain 1 BHP / Extended rest (1 week).
 
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Added more abilities scores (for an easier conversion of characters and monsters from other RPG systems):

- Spirit (Grace (luck/karma/fate/divine bless/guardian angel), Willpower and courage. Wisdom would be the good sense and self-control for social composure, or to stop or avoid a stupid or wrong action, or sanity vs madness, and Spirit/Courage self-control against fear to dare taking the next step.

- Acuity (Perception and Astuteness, social manipulation, wits, fast mind, creativity to improvise, or noticing about the details as clues for an investigation). (evil divine spellcasters could use acuity instead of wisdom).

...and the option to add (racial) sub-abilities as bonus (racial) feats, for example body mass for Con to save check against poisons): Dexterity divided into two sub-abilities: agility (fast reactions and coordination) and technique (pre-learned actions or with precision, to disarm traps, aim for ranged attacks, crafting, playing music, dance and martial arts).
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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