D&D 4E House Rules

Summary:

  • Player Character Power Changes:
    • PC’s gain the full usage and benefit of their Theme Utility powers for free at the level that the Theme power would normally become available to them for swapping
    • PC’s gain a Skill Power Utility (must be chosen from Skill Power list) at Level 1, 5, 9, 15,
  • Player Character Balance Changes:
    • PC’s gain an Inherent Bonus of +1 Attack/Damage at Levels 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, and 27
    • PC’s gain an Inherent Bonus of +1 all Defenses at Levels 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, and 29
    • PC’s gain the Versatile Expertise feat (for all weapons and implements they are proficient in) for free at Level 5
    • PC’s gain the Improved Defenses feat for free at Level 7
    • PC’s gain +1 to the lowest Non-AC Defense they have at Levels 17, 22, and 27
    • PC’s gain the Melee Training feat (at full ability modifier damage) for free at Level 1 (specific classes only)
    • PC’s with the Melee Training feat can substitute the same Ability they chose for Melee Training in place of STR or DEX when using generic attacks (such as Grabs or Bullrushes)
  • General Rules System Changes:
    • Skill Checks use varying Ability Modifiers at DM discretion (Skills are not tied exclusively to one specific stat. Stat varies based on method of Skill usage.)
    • Scaling Non-AC Defense items that give an untyped bonus now do NOT have their defenses scale per tier. They are capped at +1 Defense. These items are the Belt of Vim, Boots of Quickness, Diamond Cincture, and Circlet of Indomitability.
    • Multi-classing now allows you to swap out one Encounter, Daily, and Utility power from your primary class with your new secondary class. You are NOT required to take the Novice, Adept, or Acolyte Power feats (essentially you get them for free when you multi-class). Bards who multi-class more than once are restricted to swapping powers with only ONE of their new classes.
  • Combat and Battle System Changes:
    • Second Wind is now a Move Action (instead of a Standard Action)
    • Saving Throws succeed on a d20 roll of 11+ (instead of 10+)
    • Saving Throws now have the possibility of having a Skill Save associated with them. A Skill Save requires you to shake a condition by making a DC Check using the associated Skill (such as Arcana DC 20 to break a Domination, or Endurance DC 15 to clear Ongoing Damage).
    • Action Points are renamed Fate Points and have a wider multitude of possible uses now (no longer just the default use of gaining an additional action on your turn).
    • TO DO STILL
      • Aasimar Race
      • Drag and Heal
      • Drag and Swap
      • Death System
      • Height increases ranged weapon reach
      • Heroic Interrupt granted by DM
      • White Wolf Stunts
      • Savage Worlds Interludes

1. New Race – Aasimar:

1. New (Old) Death System:

  • Problem:
    • The default death and dying system in 4E is boring and can result in a quick death if you’re unlucky with the dice. Waiting for your turn to come around just so you can roll a single 20-sided die to determine whether you live or die is not exciting. Conversely, at higher levels the system is so forgiving that death only serves as a speed bump, rather than a pivotal and game-changing moment.
    • Accidental character deaths are boring, add nothing of significance to the overall story being told at the game table, and only illogically impede the progression of the quest. Nobody likes dying insignificantly or haphazardly, nobody likes arbitrary death penalties, and nobody likes having to drop everything they are doing in order to romp back to town for a resurrection.
    • Raising the dead is too commonplace for it to make sense, even within the fantasy confines of the D&D game world. Such a power being so readily available reduces the significance of death drastically, making it merely a game event to be quickly remedied rather than a significant plot point. Realism breaks as one begins to ask why significant NPC’s are not raised as commonly as the protagonist heroes are, not to mention the extreme economic, political, and societal developments that would logically arise from priests having such ready access to death-averting power.
  • Solution:
    • A new death system that is simultaneously realistic and opportunistic for allies.
    • The Raise Dead ritual is no longer easily accessible.
    • Dead people (both Players and NPC’s) suffer true and final death now.
    • See below.
  • Death and Dying:
    • When a Player Character is reduced to 0 Hit Points they drop into the “Dying” state.
    • When a Player Character bleeds out to -10 Hit Points they are “Dead”
    • Dying:
      • A dying character is in a state of slipping towards death; while in this state they are unable to take actions of any type.
      • A dying character bleeds out at a rate of 1 Hit Point per Round (starting on the first of their turns in which they began the turn in the Dying state)
      • Bleeding must be treated with a Heal Skill Check to stabilize the dying
      • A stabilized person no longer bleeds out, but is still incapacitated and unable to take any actions.
    • Dead:
      • Items and abilities that grant a bonus to Death Saves now instead extend the Hit Point value needed to be considered “Dead” by 1 additional Hit Point per +1 bonus to Death Saves.
  • Reasons:
    • A new death system that serves as a mixture between several different roleplay systems (as well as previous editions of D&D itself) is implemented in an effort to create a more harrowing and urgent experience while dying, while simultaneously encouraging and allowing for heroic saves.
  • Sources:

1. Skill Check Changes:

  • Problem:
    • sad
    • Skill Checks do not have default Ability Modifiers associated with them. Skill Checks instead use an Ability Modifier deemed appropriate by the DM at the time of the Skill Check roll.
    • I base the mixing and matching on a simple rule of thumb: the goal or end result determines the useful skill, but the method determines the ability score.
  • Sources:

1. Action Points Changes:

  • Problem:
    • Action Point usage (whether intentional or not) feels fairly restricted. Typically, both Players and DMs only see the stated usage of taking a single extra action during a turn. This narrow view makes Action Points feel less “action-y” or more like a bland additional attack to tack on every once in a while.
  • Solution:
    • Action Points are now renamed Fate Points and given a large list of additional functionality. All feats and abilities that affect Action Point usage continue to do so normally.
  • Fate Points:
    • Fate Points have the following uses: Denying Fate or Defining Fate.
    • Fate Points are typically spent during your own turn, but certain usages allow for the spending of a Fate Point during someone else’s turn.
    • Only one Fate Point can be spent during each encounter, unless noted otherwise by the DM.
    • Denying Fate allows a Player to spend a Fate Point to attempt to change or curtail a negative outcome (such as re-rolling a failed Saving Throw)
    • Defining Fate allows a Player to spend a Fate Point to  influence a current or future event positively (such as gaining a small bonus to the next dice roll)
      • Deny Fate:
        • Flesh Wound – Change an enemy Critical Hit against you into a normal hit
        • Brace Yourself – Nullify Forced Movement inflicted upon you by an enemy
          • NOTE – Nullifying the movement in most cases also nullifies any effects that would trigger off of the movement (such as sliding to your death off a cliff)
        • Shake It Off – Immediately re-roll a failed Saving Throw
        • Die Hard – Immediately succeed on your Stabilization check while Dying (or immediately Stabilize an adjacent Dying ally)
        • Human Shield – Immediately take a hit for an ally within 2 Squares
          • NOTE – This usage of the Fate Point is treated as an Immediate Interrupt for game mechanical timing purposes, but does not count against your Immediate Action usage for the current round
          • NOTE – The enemy attack is considered an auto-hit against you (regardless of the die roll number) if you take the blow for a friend in this manner.
          • NOTE – You must be able to physically reach the ally in order to take the blow in their stead.
          • NOTE – Not all strikes can be diverted in this manner. Some restrictions apply as determined by DM (for example, not being able to become the new target of a mental assault targeting your friend).
      • Define Fate:
        • Aggressive – Gain an additional action (Minor, Move, Standard) to be used at any point during your current turn (the default usage of an Action Point)
        • Determined – Grant yourself a +3 bonus to any roll (Attack, Damage, Skill Check, Ability Check, Saving Throw, etc.) either before or after the die is cast
        • Fluid – Provoke no opportunity attacks during any actions taken this turn
        • Adaptable – Activate an action immediately as if you had previously established it as a Readied Action with the requisite trigger condition
        • Blessed – Gain an additional usage of Channel Divinity this encounter (but you can’t use the same Channel Divinity power twice in the same encounter)
        • Learned – You automatically succeed on a single Monster Knowledge Check (but you must reasonably explain how so in roleplay)
        • Punctual – Arrive at a scene, location, or event at exactly the right time (such as kicking the door down movie-style just before the princess is executed)
  • Reasons:
    • Action Points are boring by default. These changes greatly expand upon and encourage a much wider variety of usage for the Action Point and really drive the idea of them being “action-y moments of great heroism” home to both Players and DMs.

1. Multi-Class Changes:

1. Channel Divinity Changes:

2. Inherent Bonuses System:

  • Problem:
    • Player Characters buy magic items primarily to upgrade their attack, damage, and defense scaling. Items are a means to keep up with game math rather than unique and interesting objects of power.
    • Player Characters that use multiple weapon varieties (or both weapons and implements) are penalized by having to purchase and maintain multiple pieces of gear at appropriate tier scale or suffer falling behind the math curve and being unable to hit foes reliably
    • Player Characters that have heirloom items (such as a locket their father gave them) are forced to replace them as they level, since the heirloom provides insufficient statistical benefit as levels increase
    • Player Characters eventually walk around in full gear loadouts of magic items whose total gold value rivals that of entire kingdoms (breaks immersion/economical sensibility. No heroes in any fantasy story are covered head-to-toe in hundreds of thousands of gold coins worth of magical weapons, armor, bracelets, necklaces, cloaks, belts, boots, gloves, etc.)
  • Solution:
    • Player Characters receive Inherent Bonuses as they level up
      • NOTE – These Inherent Bonuses are Enhancement Bonuses
      • NOTE – Inherent Bonuses do NOT stack with the Enhancement Bonus of a magic item; only the higher of the two applies
    • Player Characters gain +1 Attack and +1 Damage as they level up
      • At Levels 2, 7, 12, 17, 22,  and 27
    • Player Characters gain +1 to All Defenses (AC, Fort/Ref/Will) as they level up
      • At Levels 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, and 29
    • Players Characters do NOT gain any Critical Damage dice from Inherent Bonuses
      • Critical Damage bonuses continue to come from magic weapons and implements
  • Reasons:
    • Allows Player Characters to maintain sidearms alongside their main weapons without suffering excessive gold deficits. This is primarily beneficial to Player Characters who utilize both weapons and implements as main weapons (Paladins, Avengers, Clerics, etc. Colloquially known as Multiple Item Dependent Classes).
    • Allows Player Characters to freely swap between weapons without being restricted by a weapon’s Enhancement Bonus (such as wielding a +3 Hammer, and coming across a +1 Mace of Super Awesome, which might have cool effects but a mathematically insufficient Enhancement for the current Character Level).
    • Keeps the focus of power upon the Player Characters themselves rather than upon their possessed objects. Magic items are now items that are more interesting for their properties, utility powers, and stories rather than simply being objects that allow Characters to keep pace with game math.
    • Heirloom items from Player Character backstories are no longer statistically useless after several levels, as items themselves are no longer required in order to scale Character stats.
    • Prevents the immersion-breaking accumulation of wealth and magic items, and thus keeps magic item acquisition to a reasonable amount.
  • Sources:

3. Math and Balance Fixes:

  • Problem:
    • Attack degrades by 4 over 30 Levels
    • NADs degrade by 4 over 30 Levels
    • Lowest NAD degrades by an additional 3 (for a total of -7)
    • AC degrades by 2 over 30 Levels
    • Melee weapon users that are not STR-based are unable to hit with an MBA
  • Solution:
    • Free Versatile Expertise (for all weapons you are proficient with) granted at Level 5
    • Free Improved Defenses granted at Level 7
    • Gain +1 to the lowest NAD at Level 17, 22, and 27
    • No change for AC (Needs no fix, as a standard 50 AC would be troublesome)
    • Tier-scaling NAD boosting items with an untyped bonus no longer scale
    • Free Melee Training granted at Level 1 for specific Classes (see second Note)
      • NOTE – Melee Training now deals full Ability Modifier damage (instead of half)
      • NOTE – This feat is granted for free only to those classes with access to a melee At-Will weapon power that is not STR-based (IE: Ardent, Avenger, Battlemind, CHA Paladin, DEX Ranger, etc)
  • Reasons:
    • Expertise feats are too good and edge out the design space of other feats.
      • A feat is meant to be an element of character customization and choice. When particular choices completely outclass other choices, then the choice is a null one. When particular choices are inserted into the design space in order to fix game system math, then the choice is a null one.
      • By granting Versatile Expertise for free not only is the math fixed, but the design function and intention of feats is restored: character customization choice. Players are no longer forced to measure all feat options against the incredibly powerful +1/2/3 to hit AND additional benefit of a single Expertise feat. Players are no longer forced to sacrifice a feat “choice” in order to fix faulty game system math by selecting an Expertise feat.
    • Attack does not scale properly with monster defenses.
      • Basic math clearly demonstrates that monster attack bonuses and defenses quickly out-scale those of the Player Characters barring special optimization choices on the Players’ part. In order to keep proper attack and defense curves and correct the deficits, Players must take math fix feats.
      • Expertise is a math balance patch packaged into a feat. Feats should be choices made for character design and customization, not balance fixes for the game. As such, a basic form of Versatile Expertise (given for all weapons and implements the character is proficient with) is now granted inherently. If you desire specific effects of other Expertise feats (such as Flail Expertise to prone foes on Push or Slide) then you must select that feat as is standard to achieve such specific benefits.
    • Non-AC Defenses do not scale properly with monster attack.
      • By the time Paragon hits, this is very noticeable, and in Epic it is possible to be hit on your lowest Defense on a monster attack roll of 2 (yes, a TWO, meaning 95% hit rate against you). Improved Defenses is a math balance patch packaged into a feat to rectify this.
      • As above, feats should be choices, not balance fixes for the game. As such, Improved Defenses is now granted for free. You can still take other defensive feats as well if desired during normal leveling.
    • Lowest Non-AC Defense drops to auto-hit range for monster attack.
      • By the time Epic hits, your lowest Defense will lag horribly behind, even with Improved Defenses. In order to achieve better balance, this lowest defense will gain a small additional boost in the Epic tier.
    • Tier-scaling NAD boosting items become overpowered once the math is fixed.
      • Under vanilla 4E math design, over the course of 30 Levels a Player Character’s NADs degrade by -4/-4/-7 (from strongest to weakest NAD of the Character). The math fix of Improved Defenses changes that to -1/-1/-4, and the additional weak NAD fix in Epic tier further improves that to -1/-1/-1, nearly eliminating NAD degradation by Level 30.
      • With NAD math now corrected however, the tier-scaling untyped bonuses of the Belt of Vim, Boots of Quickness, Diamond Cincture, and the Circlet of Indomitability become far too strong. The truth is, these items were too strong before, and actually edged out other item options (particularly for Defenders). This is corrected by reigning in their scaling and, in doing so, allowing other items to compete more evenly for those item slots.
    • Melee weapon users that are not STR-based whiff Melee Basic Attacks yet hit flawlessly with melee weapon At-Wills.
      • This one is a feat tax fix, power tax fix, and sensibility fix. It makes no sense that a CON-based Battlemind, or a CHA-based Paladin (etc.) can hit all day with their At-Will melee weapon attacks, but the second an MBA is called for they suddenly are woefully inaccurate.
      • Feats should be choices, not balance fixes to the game. Likewise, powers should be choices, and a Player should not be forced to take an At-Will that “can be used as a Melee Basic Attack” in order to make their MBA viable. This is particular true for Defenders, for which a solid MBA is of prime importance in ensuring that their opportunity attack remains a viable threat to monsters.
      • As such, Melee Training is granted for free to all Defender classes (your base class must be of the Defender role to qualify. Hybrids with one of their classes being from the Defender role do qualify). This eliminates feat tax, eliminates power tax, and restores sensibility to the game (if a WIS Avenger can handle their weapon flawlessly for WIS-based melee weapon At-Wills, then they should be able to for MBA’s as well, without being forced to take an At-Will that qualifies as an MBA to make up for this shortcoming).
  • Sources:

3. Ranged Weapons: Gain +1 Range per +1 Height

 

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