First game with the new crew was really fun last night. Thought I'd share some of the house rules I used in the game that went over really well with everybody.
Since its inception, turning undead has been too damn complicated, both for the player and DM. Roll on this table to determine your turning power, then roll on this other table to determine how many HD you can turn, and then, worst of all, roll to see how long the creature runs away from the party.
DnD isn’t about a bunch of jerks trying to chase down a freaked-out skeleton, its about kicking ass against evil and, on rare occasion, taking down a few names. That said I use the alternative turning rules, such that when the cleric turns an undead he does 1d6/level energy damage to any undead in line of sight within 30 feet (they get a will save for half). Turn resistance for undead becomes damage reduction, easy peasy. Devin used this to great effect in our high-level Ravenloft campaign.
Purchasing Magic Junk
As I like to use the Jamis Buck’s Dungeon/NPC/Treasure/Monster generators when planning my games, the treasure and monsters are mostly random that I’ll be doling out (I figure out why there's a wyvern guarding a Hat of Intellect in room 6b after the fact, if I have time). So if the party monk specifically wants those +4 flaming burst nunchucks from the DMG he’s probably going to need to save up for them. So I don’t hinder the player on needing to find a big city to purchase highly magic items or whatever anymore. If the player has the gold for a magic item they really want, and they’re in-between adventures, they can remove the gold from their character sheet and put the magic item on there, and then give us all a sweet-ass story about how they came upon the flaming nunchucks (and how they lost all that gold – the two stories don’t have to be related).
I'm old-school when it comes to dungeon levels. Level 2 is twice as dangerous as level 1. Level 3 is twice as dangerous as level 2. So when the players find a staircase going down it means they better be ready to up their game (and get more XP). Last night's game ended at the top of the first staircase down.
Here’s one of my newest and favorite changes to the rules. Instead of the critical-threat/critical-hit deal, all weapons only crit on a 20, and when a weapon crits I have the players roll a D20, and look up the result on my homemade crit chart, which gives me the mechanical effect that occurs. Then I think up a reason for these mechanics to occur and give them a description of what happens and what it means. This way even if they roll the same two crits in a row, they won’t necessarily be gaining a bonus for the same reason. This also applies to critical misses, which are much more fun for me to describe. Note that if a certain weapon’s main benefit is a much better crit chance (like 18-20 for rapiers and bladed gauntlets) then I’d probably just let them use a higher multiplier when they crit (double becomes triple, etc).
Here’s the charts I used last night (chart changes on my whim and when I get bored):
1-3 Double Damage
4 Double Damage + enemy is dazed next round
5 Double Damage + -4 to random attribute of opponent
6 Double Damage + +2 to random attribute of player for 1 day or until critical miss is rolled
7 To the Hilt! – Triple Damage and weapon is stuck in enemy, causing 1d4 dmg/round (but you have to let go of it)
8-9 Double Damage + Extra immediate attack (not necessarily on same opponent)
10 Double Damage + Player gains +2 to all saves for 10 rounds
11 Double Damage + gruesome display causes Fear DC 10+dmg to enemies within line of sight
12 Double Damage + player gains 1d6 hit points/level of opponent (as the spell “aid”)
13 Maximum Normal damage + opponent falls prone
14 Double Damage + player gains +4 to AC
15 Double Damage + player gains regeneration 3 hp/round for 10 rounds
16-17 Maximum Normal Damage + Next attack auto-hits on anything but a 1
18 Double Damage + Gain monsters XP value times 2
19 Maximum Double Damage + Opponent is sickened (-4 to everything)
20 Decapitating Strike! – 10d10 damage + Str/Dex bonus x 2
1 Complete Meltdown! - Character is tripped, falls on his weapon (takes normal damage), and bursts into flames (1d6 dmg/round, anything combustible explodes).
2-3 Cold streak – Character takes -2 to all attacks for 1 day or until a natural 20 is rolled
4 Freak Hit – Character hits ally instead of opponent
5-6 Banana Peel – Character trips and falls prone
7 Stop hitting yourself! – Character hits himself instead of opponent
8 Groin pull – Character pulls a muscle, -2 to any Str-related activites for 1 day or until a natural 20 is rolled
9 Concussion – Character gets hit in the head, forcing a DC 15 Fort save or be dazed for 1d4 rounds
10-11 Stinger – Character gets a stinger in their primary hand and has to change weapon hands. -4 to attacks unless Ambidextrous.
12 Sickened – Character is sickened for 1 day or until natural 20 is rolled
13-14 Disarmed – Weapon falls 1d4 squares (1d6) 1: behind player, 2-3 left, 4-5 right, 6 forward.
15 Stunned – Character is stunned for 1 round
16 Cursed! – Character takes -4 to all actions for next 1d10 rounds or until natural 20 is rolled
17-18 Weapon breaks (if nonmagical) or if magical is damaged (-1 to hit/dmg) until repaired
19 Hole in pocket – Character suddenly realizes he lost 1d00 gold pieces somewhere along the way. He also misses his attack.
20 Armor damaged – Nonmagical shield breaks (Magical at -1). If no shield then armor is damaged at -2 until repaired.
I of course embellish any critical effects appropriately. Last night we only had one sling bullet accidentally shot into the back of a paladin's head and one case of the everpresent dungeon peril: the dreaded banana peel. I was sad some of the crazier ones didn't come up, but there's plenty of time for that. Anybody got any good ideas for critical effects I can switch out? Game on!