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v4 House Rules

It’s been over a year since my last update to my houserules. Tenfootpolemic updated his death and dismemberment tables here, and it got me inspired to do the same with a year of experience in the flaws of my current DaD houserule. That, and I have not yet updated my house rule document to include my updated appraisal/haggling rule.

House Rules v4


I gave sections more space and stopped worrying so much about keeping the house rules to two pages, making it all easier to read. Most sections got slightly reworded and made more concise.

Simple Camping and Simple Travel

Just received some wording updates and a small change removing the stress reduction from drinking.

Learn by Looting

Players can carouse (and spend their loot) any time there is in-game downtime. I mean, why not, it’s their money.

Art of the Deal

I have included a pared down version of the appraisal rule linked above. This gives players an avenue to squeeze more money from their trades, with a risk of losing money. If they don’t want to use it though, it can just sit in the corner until they do, not requiring them to make checks for every random piece of art they pick up to figure out its value.

1’s and 20’s

Critical and fumble rolls have been updated to give me more options. Whereas before a fumbled ranged attack with no allies in the line of fire would have no effect other than a miss, now I can roll for a chance of what the fumble does: attacking a random new target in range, granting a free attack to a random opponent in reach, damaging the weapon/implement/school of magic until repaired, or dealing minimum damage to themselves.

Critical hits are still confirmed, but now you can choose to either do max damage or roll the damage die twice and sum both rolls with static modifiers.

Added an entry on critical successes on skill checks and saves, better than just automatic successes.

Investments and Building/Renting

Shamelessly stole tenfootpolemic’s pages for investing and building/renting.


Slimmed this section down and clarified the wording.


The notable houserule missing from the document is my previous rule on stress. While I like the rule, it simply doesn’t fit the style of game I am running, which unlike my previous excuses, is what I think the real reason I don’t have stressful events come up very often in game. If I run a more horror-aligned game using 5e rules, I will happily bring this rule back in, but it doesn’t square well with high-fantasy, especially when I can simply impose the same penalties of item breakage, insanity, or breakdowns when the specific effects that cause them come up. This also means that the various places that used stress as a cost or risk have been modified.

Death and Dismemberment

Moved away from the smaller and convoluted damage and dying mechanic of version 3. The problem was that it was almost impossible to actually die from the previous death and dismemberment table as injuries didn’t add cumulatively to future rolls. Additionally, overkill damage was severely reduced to the point that it had little effect. Additionally, the injury mechanic of rolling for location plus severity meant that I had to come up with relevant injuries on the spot. All the added effects and modifiers below the table came up rarely enough that they weren’t any more useful than making them up as I went. Also, the DC 10 death save mechanic meant that players would easily pop back to 1 temporary hp, when combined with only rolling a death save once per turn meant that dying took so long as to defeat the point of a death and dismemberment table.

Version 4 is a hybrid of the previous version and various, lengthy death and dismemberment tables from around the web. I keep the death dice mechanic from tenfootpolemic, but created my own 30 entry table that all injuries will use. I am taking the trade-off of having to narratively tie the damage source to the injury on the table for the benefit of not having a 30 entry table for each type of injury.

Each of my dice require a roll, so bleeding is a little less dangerous than other versions. My pain dice have an explicit duration of unconsciousness and my trauma dice are not instant death but they transition the sufferer into a state of dying, where death saving throws (made more difficult by each death die) can stave off death each round, needing three successes before a single failure in order to remove one trauma die and stop dying.

I added my own rule for nonlethal overkill damage, to offset 5e’s cost-free usage of nonlethal damage. More overkill results in a longer knock-out, but more risk of dealing lethal damage and therefore trigger a roll on the DaD table for the foe they are trying to keep alive.

Also, fall damage is now cumulative so that falls are much more dangerous (also, I can include more pit traps without having to think how dungeon designers are incorporating 60 and 100 ft pits into their designs).

Hooked On Phonics

I still enjoy the mechanic when it comes up, but added space for custom languages to list their related languages. Additionally, I put space for up to seven players to note their languages so that I can record it in one spot without having to ask whenever an exotic language comes up.

3 thoughts on “v4 House Rules

  1. I’m stoked to see you’re using some of my stuff! High praise!
    Despite having JUST tried to update Death and Dismemberment, I still found it a bit lacking. This is probably going up this weekend, but here’s a sneak preview of my latest (and probably last) attempt at putting this thing on paper.

    I really like your nonlethal rules, and collapsing all the death tables into one table was something I briefly flirted with before just rewriting all the tables. One day I might bite the bullet and just use yours though!


    1. Thanks for putting together a new ruleset, it really helped me think through what I wasn’t enjoying about my old DADT system. I’m glad I could come up with something interesting that you can use too!

      Yeah, I think a single table will be enough to give me lots of results to improvise the flavor of an injury without so much that I don’t end up using it at the table.

      Looking forward to the final version when you post it up.


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