House rules

Although primarily a fluff GM I do also change some of the crunch. Areas I will admit to on a public forum include:

[top]Multiclassed spellcasters

OK, this is one where the standard rules really cripple someone who multi-classes, that's not necessarily a bad thing for a spell-caster - a lot of the problems of D&D ?realism? at higher levels come from the spell-caster as an artillery piece / buff-meister etc. But that viewpoint aside, the standard game is designed for heroic play where players double in power every 2-3 levels, and a spell-caster who multi-classes simply doesn't do that - the loss of the high level spells is rarely balanced by gains to skill points or hit points. This is true even for spell-casters who multi-class into another spell-casting class.
In some more 'far out' games I'd merge all spell lists into two - a greater and lesser path with the lesser path being charms, illusions, divination, and spells of all types cast as if twice their actual level. I'd then have two caster classes, true mage and magician. That makes 'priest' a job title rather than a class. To reflect a deep understanding of magic I'd allow a certain amount of instinctive casting - say 1 spell level per level + stat bonus in spell levels of spells that are known so well that they can be cast spontaneously.
I try to fix this power loss (to a limited extent) by making the following rules:

[top]Spell-caster to spell-caster multi-class combinations

2.1. To determine the number of spells available at each level, add the spell-casting levels together using the spells per day table of the primary caster type (the one with higher level) and the relevant ability for bonus spells - intelligence for wizards, charisma for sorcerors, etc.
2.2. The secondary caster type is limited in maximum spell level equal to their caster level.
2.3. At least one spell at each level open to both classes must be used for a spell of the other class.
2.4. Example.
Wizard 4 priest 2, intelligence 16 (+1,1,1 bonus spells).
Using the wizard tables a 6th level caster has, including ability bonus but ignoring cantrips, 4*1st level spells, 4*second level spells, and 3*third level spells.
They could split these as:
1 cleric, 3 mage, 2 cleric and 2 mage, or 3 cleric and 1 mage at level 1 or 2.
3 mage at level 3.

[top]Back-up spell-caster spell levels

Paladins and Rangers are what I call back-up spell-caster?s, they have a minor amount of spell-casting of the druid and priest type but not much.
3.1. I convert their spell tables into druid/priest spell-caster levels, i.e. a paladin gets 1 cleric spell caster level at L6 and then gets another spell-caster level every 2-3 levels thereafter.
3.2. This also makes it easier to multi-class under the above combination rules.
I'm considering removing these classes and simply telling people to multi-class, but I'd need to work out a conversion between casting levels and granted powers first.
Longer term plans would be to re-jig the magic system to remove the direct combat stuff - I see combat more and more as the fighter's thing and the biggest problems I see in the current system come from wizards able to out-fight fighters, make themselves invulnerable, etc.

[top]Skill points and boosted intelligence

4.1. I can see the logic to saying that intelligence gains aren't back-dated, but it's annoying when creating NPC's, at what point did Onwen the Blue increase their intelligence? Why should two wizards with the same level and intelligence at L10 have different skill points anyway? So I just ignore the back-dating rule. It doesn't apply for anything else, and it's not unreasonable to say that if you are now smarter you can make better use of existing knowledge - although I would make a high level player 'enhance their understanding' over a short period rather than get a dozen CP's at once.

[top]Level one skill points and saves

5.1. Similarly with skill points. A Fighter 1 /Rogue 1 and a Rogue 1/fighter 1 simply cannot be compared, the latter has around twice the skill points (ignoring intelligence bonus's). Again it's a big problem when creating characters at levels other than 1.
5.2. The save rules have the same issue, at first level a bonus of 2 is applied to one or more of the save types. If you give this bonus when multi-classing, the saves can rapidly go through the roof, if you don't then again the order of multi-classing can have a huge impact.
5.3. Therefore I rule that whenever multiclassing into a class with higher skill points than an existing class, the (N)PC gets 4 times the surplus (i.e. the fighter turned rogue gets (8-2)*4=24 skill points not just 8. Similarly if the save hasn't had a bonus of 2 from a class level before they get it now. This makes the characters 'reversible' and removes the 'I take rogue at level 1 to get the skill points' scenario. To stop munchkinism slightly the new CP's must be spent on class related skills, and likely 'catch-up' over a period.
Ideally I'd make level zero templates to remove the skill point and +2 save issue all together, perhaps when I re-create a skills and powers system for 3.5e...

[top]Cross class skills

6.1. In Neverwinter Nights I found a useful tactic to avoid the cross-class skill cost burden was to save up skill points when advancing in one class, then take another class which had desired skills as class skills. I could splash out the accumulated points buying the skills at 1 point per level at the cost of having an otherwise unwanted class level, this is however blatant munchkinism.
6.2. Similarly when building NPC?s, time was wasted working out when they buffed up skill levels, and which class they did it in ? I couldn?t even use excel to check I?d spent the right number of skill points as cross-class skills cost twice as much.
6.3. Accordingly I remove the ?double-cost? feature of cross class skills while retaining a combination level cap. i.e. class A has a cross-class skill in Move Silently, class B has it as a class skill. 10 levels of class A plus 4 of class B means a maximum skill rank of 12 (3+10/2+4=12), for a cost of 12 skill points regardless at which level it is buffed. This means that a ?pure? character of class B will always be able to be better than a hybrid with class A, but the cost is the same for both if they only want a moderate skill level.
This effectively gives all characters the 'able learner' feat (pg 150 of Races of Destiny) - thanks to irdeggman for identifying the feat.

[top]Prime class feats

The feats of primary classes really just don't compare to the prestige classes, I have seen very few prestige classes that aren't simply better than a standard class. You may think that that's the point, but I prefer balance in all things and the fact that prestige classes tend to be focused on one type of feat doesn't really hold water as a balance mechanism - if the PC didn't want the feats anyway they wouldn't take that prestige class.
7.1. So I roll the standard 1/3 feats per level into the main classes.
7.2. The fighter gets 1 feat each level, a fighter feat at even levels and an 'open' feat otherwise. They don't get a bonus fighter feat at L6, L12, or L18.
7.3. Prestige classes don't get the 1/3 feats rolled in - they tend to have one every level anyway...
It's a start. Generally creating a disadvantage to the prestige class would balance better than buffing the primary classes more. I.e. if the prestige class gives lots of item creation feats, limit the metamagic feats they can take, or make them known for being spell-smiths and bothered by the regent for 'free' magic items although social limitations are rarely effective.

[top]Magic item max bonus 3

I don't like tanks that can walk across a battlefield and laugh at a hundred archers because they have an AC of 20+. I don't like a wizard who can plunk on bracers of defense and a ring of protection and sneer at the plate-clad fighter for his low armor class. Just plain don't like it, not my kind of game.
8.1. Maximum bonus of any item is +6 total including powers, at most +3 of this in any single power (including the 'base' bonus) unless the item is an artifact of some sort. So you can have a +3 longsword with the flametongue ability, but not a +4 sword.
8.2. Defensive magic items can either give a deflection bonus to AC or an armor bonus. They can only give an armor bonus equal to 1/2 the natural bonus from the armor. So chain can be +3, whereas leather can be +1 only. Bracers cannot give an armor bonus nor can a magic cloak - deflection yes, armour no. If you want to be a tank, you have to look like one.
8.3. Shield and armor magic bonus's don't stack beyond a total of +3.

[top]Technology level

9.1. Similarly I remove anything better than banded mail from the game for commoners, platemail is made only by the dwarves and perhaps a handful of legendary armorers in Anuire. Again this keeps the amor class down.
9.2. No black-powder in weapons, no repeating crossbows, no 'special arrows' aside from burning ones with poor range, no katana's (possibly for a special culture or if dwarf made), no mithril/adamant/etc unless dwarf made, etc.
9.3. For that matter if you're a Vos/orog good luck trying to work steel - iron is about the best the Vos can do, and even then most of the work is by captured slaves as few Vos have any interest as something as dishonourable as mere craft. The Anuireans, Brecht and Khinasi have a number of smiths who can easily work steel, mainly in the larger realms but still mainly use iron, albeit often with bearded weapons (the edge is steel, the main bulk is iron). The Rjurik have the great smiths of Halskapa, but otherwise the Rjurik work mainly with iron - or even bronze amongst the nomads.
Elves don't work metal at all (they don't mine either - can you see an elf digging? Neither can I; they get the dwarves to do it for them in exchange for magic) except in very rare occasions - when usually some arcane skill substitutes for the physical labor. Dwarves on the other hand cruise into fine steels technologically and can work even more exotic metals - it's called a technological edge for a reason...
Loosely the Rjurik (outside Halskapa) and Vos can make 'poor' quality weapons, the dwarves, and maybe a few dozen other smiths can make exceptional weapons. That said, the Vos are quite capable of kidnapping skilled Brecht/Khinais slaves, or taking weapons from fallen foes...

[top]Domain action

10.1. I let extra GB be spent on any action to change the DC just like RP. This makes having a lot of cash very handy - otherwise it's possible for a guild/temple ruler to have masses of cash they have no use for.
10.2. To me, temple holdings are something special, people don't just go to the temple on the corner, they follow a faith. I increase all temple rule/create action DC's by 5, double the effect of defensive holding levels, and increase the DC on the domain loyalty table by 5 for each net temple holding level reduced during a domain turn. This makes it hard to grow a temple, but very hard for opposing temples to move in, and very dangerous to suppress a faith for the province ruler, as it should be.
10.3. A wise regent maintains a court to ensure they can react to many actions, a foolish regent can be left unable to act through counting their pennies overmuch. I allow a regent to 'buy' extra actions on the fly if need be as if they had maintained a court - but such rapid action is costly and wasteful and rarely as effective as a regular court. A player can retrospectively buy court levels during a domain turn at double the normal cost, each court action suffers a cumulative penalty of 2 to all DC's. Court size can be increased by the higher of 50% of the existing court size and 2 GB at most.

[top]Elven Realms

To reflect the way I see elven realms I rule the following:
11.1. Elven populations live in harmony with nature and so do not reduce the source levels of the provinces in which they live. Wonderful, that's L9 source holdings all round... I would reduce these by the size of the largest non-elven holding in the province - you want a L4 temple from 'refugee Djiirans' the source goes down by 4...
11.2. Few guilds, elves simply don't value something as ephemeral as temporal wealth or have interest in monotonous repetitive labor. When you live for millennia and can take a year or two to get around to delivering a non-urgent message working all hours to buy a rug simply doesn't factor in your plans. Elven provinces support guild holdings equal at most half the population level, further any guild maintained by elves in the population over L3 degrades source levels as described above at (holding level -3), when you start exploiting the land / industrializing etc that cuts into the mebhaighl flow.
11.3. To reflect the fact that I see elves as subsisting partly on mebhaighl (I certainly don't see them as farmers clearing the forests to grow crops) I set the maximum population level as equal to half the source level. 'Excess' elves become torpid or leave the area.
11.4. Elves think differently, if you want to have Mheallie forming law holdings and contesting Fhiele's law she will be at a major disadvantage. Firstly occupying an elven realm and contesting a non-elven guild does not impact morale as long as 2 RP is spent per level of the holding contested, secondly all non-elven regents have +5 to the DC of any domain action in the elven realm.
These do put the elves at a disadvantage, particularly when taking birth-rate into account. I balance things out for elven regents by allowing elven realms a greater number of high (8+) level mages and indicating that they have legendary mysteries best left unexplored to discourage invasion.

[top]Dwarven Realms

I like to see Dwarves as relentlessly practical; charity and respect for their fellows is part of their nature (long term it's beneficial) however the idea of creating buildings with no worship beyond prayer, supporting people who spend hours simply praying / honouring their lord etc is not. To me a dwarven temple might hold law or guild holdings, but not temple holdings per se - the mechanics just aren't appropriate, particularly as the dwarves have very few spellcasters (certainly in my campaigns).
Similarly another small change is to remove the concept of dominant greed - to me that's a mis-interpretation arising from the dwarves demand for fairness - a dwarf would never accept less than full price for goods as to do so would be disrespectful to the craftsmen and laborers - they might give it to a friend, but that's another matter. Similarly dwarves demand full payment debts because honor and duty demand it - they would be equally driven to pay a debt. Dwarves in my campaigns value gold merely for how it can benefit their clan and themselves, not from greed; meaning that they will spend gold like water when necessary without hesitation, albeit being highly prudent at other times to ensure that they can spend when required.
So I do the following:
12.1 Dwarves can have double the normal number of guilds, but no temple holdings. I.e. a L4 province could support two L4 guilds - to allow other people to use a realm I design I would simply use the temple slot to reflect the other guild. To stop the dwarves getting masses of trade routes, or at least stem the tide slightly, I say that dwarves cannot have sea trade routes (heavy ores, seasick sailors, bad combination). Of course a dwarven realm willing to build roads to its human neighbors could rapidly gain a fortune...
12.2 Dwarven priests can use source holdings as if they were a wizard. So when converting the church of Moradin to my rules, I would remove a L5 temple holding, and replace it with, say, a L2 guild holding (representing its income from production of forge-work and tithes), a L1 law holding (representing its ability to settle disputes) and a L5 source holding (its magical might).

[top]Trade in general

13.1 Trade routes to/from high level (L6+) produce 50% greater GB (max +1 GB)
13.2 Trade routes with dwarves or elves produce 50% greater GB (max +3 GB)
13.3 Certain realms can have 'special resources' which increase income from trade, i.e. gold, fine marble, bountiful fields, etc. These can increase income to 1 Gb per guild level, add 0.5, 1, or even more to trade route value, etc.


14.1. Penalties for occupation are the guild and temple holder's defense against a dominant lord - or a minor law holder. As such occupation needs to be a last resort for the ruler - perhaps something often threatened but certainly not something done lightly. I would add 10 to the DC of all domain attitude checks in the season after an occupation per holding level destroyed, amortising thereafter by 10 per season. (So +50, +40, +30, +20... destroying a large temple in particular could lead to unrest for a year or more...)

[top]Source holdings

15.1. Source holdings rely on a mystical connection the land, all other holdings rely on the reverence of the masses. As such source holdingas are immune to influence by other holdings and vice versa - they cannot be contested unless the opposing regent also has a source holding, an occupying army can reduce a source level by 1 per unit (if they can find it) - but themebhaighl recovers at 1 per season after the damage ceases.
15.2. No income. Some people give mage regents income, the need for cash is what drives the mage to be sociable and interact with other regents - so I don't.
15.3. RP spend. As however all actions cost 1 GB the mage regent needs 3+ GB per turn or misses actions / has to take character actions which is little fun. So I let a mage regent substitute RP for GB at 5:1 (not quite as good as alchemy but not far off) in source-only actions such as create sourece / leyline, etc.

Tags for this Page

Similar Pages

  1. AndrewTall/Alternate domain court rules
    By AndrewTall in forum User
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 12-30-2009, 09:36 PM
  2. Comments: 0
    Last Post: 03-12-2009, 11:39 PM
  3. AndrewTall/The Paladin
    By AndrewTall in forum User
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 02-08-2009, 01:11 PM
  4. AndrewTall/Varsk-Like beasties
    By Sorontar in forum User
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 05-13-2008, 06:30 AM


Posting Permissions

Posting Permissions
  • You may not create new articles
  • You may not edit articles
  • You may not protect articles
  • You may not post comments
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your comments
BIRTHRIGHT, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, D&D, the BIRTHRIGHT logo, and the D&D logo are trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and are used by permission. ©2002-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.