Monday, June 26, 2017

House Rules for Campaigns

I like 2nd Edition AD&D because it is what I grew up with and what I'm familiar with. I like the Player's Option material. I like the splat books. I like the campaign settings. I like the world building. If you don't like that stuff, that is totally a'okay!

That being said, just because I like 2nd Edition doesn't mean that I don't house rule. House ruling is, in my mind, the divine right of DMs. I don't think I've ever actually met a DM that doesn't house rule. Even DMs who will go on about RAW will make a house rule in the heat of the moment - and there is nothing wrong with that! So when I find something I like from any source, I'll make a house rule to incorporate it into my game. So I thought I would share some of my house rules here, and everything here is filtered under: "In my not so humble opinion."

  • Removing Class Restrictions: This one is probably one of my earliest changes. Class restrictions and level restrictions seemed stupid. The underlying assumption that it is necessary for a human-centric world is also wrong - population limitations on Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings would work fine. If, in 100 years you have x6 human population growth, and x0.01 elf population growth, for every elf who chooses to become a wizard you'll have probably have ten or more humans making the same choice. Further, larger communities - even if outcasts - would provide for a greater pool of cooperation, debate, research and fresh perspectives meaning that human magic would probably advance faster then elven magic.
  • Human Modifications/Dual Class Removal: The above works for the world, but for players who want to play humans and not feel like they're not getting anything, I usually provide a few boosts. For example, human characters can start the game with proficiency and a +1 to hit bonus with any one weapon of their choice. If part of a campaign setting, I usually make this cultural ("The Kingdom of Irilka has long insisted that all citizens must fight, and starting at the age of 12 under the local Guildmaster or Lord, the people train on the green or other public place in the skills of the longbow."), and provide a few options ("House Irilka's insistence on a strong yeomanry is due to the constant raiding of the Danor, their brutal lifestyle and association with orc tribes has led their people to train constantly with the battle axe as it is key to their festivals, celebrations and warfare. Only the network of fortifications keep the Kingdom safe.").

    Moving back to regional changes, I also worked out specific non-weapon proficiencies based on terrain types. Humans from certain terrains could choose one as a bonus non-weapon proficiency based on how humans are quick learners and can pick up a wide variety of skills. Water environments, such as ocean shores, lakes, and rivers would have fishing, seamanship or rope use. Urban environments would include heraldry, a modern language, or etiquette. These might be adjusted by social standing of course, but the idea is that the player gets an option of three NWP to choose from that are a cost of 1 and come from the General table.

    In most fantasy settings humans cities are often describe in typical medieval fashion compared to elven or dwarven cities: dirty, squalid, and packed to the parapet. These conditions have one natural outcome: disease. Disease often rips through human cities and kills the weak. Those left multiply and grow, having stronger resistance. Humans thus gain resistance to non-magical disease similar to how halflings and dwarves have resistance to poison and magic. They gain a +1 to their saves for every 3.5 points of constitution. The save type depends on the special attack used by the creature. Rats, for example, use the Save vs. Poison chart. If no save is allowed or outlined (i.e. rabies from a large bat) the character can make a Save vs. Poison without their bonus.

    Finally, I grant human intuition. Due to the constant infighting humans engage in, many humans develop an intuition about who can be trusted and who cannot be. When encountering other humans, the DM rolls a 1d6. On a roll of 1 or 2, the character will know if the person can be trusted or not. Alignment is not at question, only the actual actions of the NPC towards the PC. A chaotic evil bandit, who is more concerned with getting drunk then harming the PC will not register as a threat. A neutral good Lord who is planning to undermine the PC in front of the King will register as a potential threat.

    In addition, dual classing is completely removed and humans are allowed to multiclass.
  • Unified Experience: One thing that we did do back in the late 90s was create unified experience tables. We settled on the cleric's experience table and let everyone advance using that. This was due to our feeling that though classes might have strengths and weaknesses, everyone was better off at the same level - and in general we believed in supportive play styles and didn't mind the wizard blasting everything away. It was part of the fun. Over the years I've expanded it. Using these rules:
  • Rogue = Fast. For characters who meet the bonus XP requirement for their class.
  • Cleric = Average. In general what all characters use.
  • Fighter = Slow. If you are multiclassing, each class uses the slow table. Experience is split.
  • Wizard = Very Slow. This is for characters who do not meet the class requirements but still want to be in the class.

As a final note on unified experience, another advantage for humans would be to let them use average for all classes, and demihumans can use average for any class they can go over 10 levels in normally (10+), and slow for all other classes.

What home rules do you use? How did you develop them?

1 comment:

  1. House rules define our games and our groups. The ones that define our groups are no doubt the best! My group prefers to make things a bit more difficult.

    I suppose that our biggest change is with the magic system, we play 2e as well, but I've stripped the wizard spells out. Basic spells are present, but casting times are much longer since we use a ritual system. Wizard magic is rare, people fear wizards so they must hide what they do. I also didn't want it acting like science, if completed, the spell effects are unpredictable, very powerful, and hard to control. It is a pain in the butt, but the players have no idea what magic is out there, and what isn't.

    It has taken a long time to develop the system through play, finding a balance to keep the mage productive but mysterious, but I think that it was worth it.