This is my rule before all the other rules: I side with the players in any rules dispute where a satisfactory answer cannot be decided on within a few minutes. Nothing’s worse than to have the excitement stop by a rules discussion or worse—argument. It’s easier to simply err on the side of the players when a rules dispute occurs and then look up the rule after the session is over.
D&D has a lot of rules… I mean, a lot of rules. Sometimes they can interact in strange ways. What seems like clear wording on paper occasionally turns into a 30 minute ponder session mid-game. Even in a group that has total mastery over the rules, questions about interpretations will come up. When an answer is decided on, find the ruling here for future consistency’s sake. Click on the links below to read more.
- Do cover and concealment penalties stack? Yes.
- If a monster dies, do conditions he places on others go away? No.
- Can you use the run action through difficult terrain? Yes.
- Can area powers be placed in three-dimensional space as cubes? Yes.
- How many cubes does a medium-sized creature take up? One.
- Can you flank while prone? Yes.
- Does being marked count against opportunity attacks? Yes.
- Can you delay while unconscious? No.
- Can forced movement move a bad guy through another bad guy? Yes.
- What action is picking up an unconscious ally? Minor.
- What movement is getting up onto small objects? Difficult terrain.
- Can social skills be used against PC’s? No.
- Are there any skills you can’t use aid another with? No.
- What if you roll lower than your passive Perception or Insight? Depends.
- Elven Accuracy: Do you reroll before or after knowing you hit? Anytime.
- Do monster powers target their allies? Unless it says “enemies only,” yes.
- Does death or unconsciousness clear conditions effects? No.
By the end of 3rd Edition’s lifespan, I had amassed quite a pile of house rules—not-so-affectionately know among my gaming friends as the House Tome. Fortunately, with 4th Edition, the slate was wiped clean. As of right now, only six house rules exist. Click on the links below to read more.
- Experience-less Leveling: In lieu of receiving experience for every social- and combat-related encounter, experience is ignored and the characters are leveled at predefined points automatically.
- Retraining: Why get stuck with a feat, power, or skill you later regret? Retrain what you want, when you want—as long as I am notified beforehand. Abuse of this rule gets the hose again.
- No Static DC’s: Rather than continuously look up how to calculate DC’s, every DC will be drawn from the Difficulty Class by Level table, ignoring any DC’s established in the skills chapter or other published rulebooks.
- The Impossible DC: Any time I think the characters shouldn’t have a chance of succeeding, they can roll against the impossible DC; this allows me to say yes and still give the player a chance—however small—of making the impossible, possible.
- Reliable Powers: If a daily or encounter power isn’t reliable and doesn’t have a miss effect, it now gains the reliable keyword
- Action Points: Every player receives an action point after every combat encounter, up to a maximum of two. They do not reset after an extended rest.
- Fortune Cards: The DM may award a Fortune Card for any reason, at any time. How that card is used is up to the discretion of the DM with a focus on flavor and fun.
What follows aren’t house rules, per se, but are instead hotly contested concepts within the 4th Edition framework. Since DM’s can view and interpret these concepts in different ways, I decided it would be a good idea to nail down how I make sense of, use, and adjudicate them. Click on the links below to read more.
- Hit Points: My feelings on hit points are summed up by the following: they are a mixture of luck, karma, skill, foresight, resolve, endurance, and other non-tangible limits.
- Minions: It’s obvious to players that minions are minions. After all, how fun would it be to drop a daily on a group of minions? Not fun at all.
- Magic Items: Rather than discontinuing the use of old magic items in favor of purchasing or finding more potent armaments, a character’s magic items will increase in power as he grows in experience. Read even more about my views on this concept here.
- Descriptions: The descriptions—otherwise known as “fluff”—of anything and everything can and should be altered to match your character and the moment. Read even more about my views on this concept here, here, and here.