Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My 5e House Rules

I don't have many house rules, hacks, or mods for 5e D&D, which is a pretty good indication that it's working well for me as a set of rules. (Let me know in the comments if you see any problems with how these work.) 

These are the only house rules from my games I've bothered to codify, with footnotes no less:

To determine their place in the initiative order, every participant makes either a Dexterity check or an Intelligence check. (1)

Inspiration may be expended to either gain advantage or to re-roll an unsuccessful attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. (2)

Hunter and beast master rangers gain a thematically appropriate spell known of their highest spell slot at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level from any class’s spell list. (3)

When you engage in two-weapon fighting, the additional attack does not use your bonus action but cannot be used on the same turn as another ability that grants attacks with a bonus action. (4)

A player can choose Intelligence instead of Charisma as the ability score that modifies their character’s warlock features, such as spell save DCs, spell attacks, and eldritch invocations. (5)


Existing weapons can be re-skinned as different armaments. For example, the properties and damage dice of a rapier could be re-skinned as a light thrusting spear. Feel free to change damage types as needed. Similarly, a player may opt to alter the type of damage dealt by a spell or ability when it is gained with the GM’s assent. Be careful with the force and psychic damage types; few enemies have resistance to those types of damage. (6)

* * *

(1) - Intelligence is the least utilized stat in 5e; this house rule gives a tiny additional incentive to not dump it.

(2) - I've found that if you just let inspiration grant advantage, as per the rules as written, no one ever uses it because no one wants to gamble on a limited resource that they might not need to use. Having it offer a re-roll gives a greater chance that it will actually get used in play.

(3) - Rangers should have gotten additional spells known in-line with other half-caster classes. It looks like WotC realized that error, as all of the newer ranger subclasses give additional spells known. I could make a codified list of what those spells should be for the hunter and beast master, but I'm lazy and also fine with letting players pick the spells that fit their idea of what their character is all about.

(4) - This is a revision of the rules I proposed (and tested) here. It turns out that you don't really want two-weapon fighting adding on top of the monk's bonus attacks, as an astute commentator pointed out at the time. They were right.

(5) - This one has seen extensive playtesting in one of my campaigns and it worked just fine.

(6) - This one has also been playtested a lot in my games. It builds off this post


  1. I think I will steal that Warlock one should anyone in my game ever play a warlock.

    1. Apparently an early draft of 5e had warlocks as an Int-based class, but it got revised somewhere along the way.

      One of my players made a warlock using this house rule and there weren't any rules hiccups over levels 1-12 or so, so I feel like it's pretty sound.

  2. I don't think I like the Two Weapon Fighting approach.

    I think you need to either go one way or the other: Bonus Actions that generate attacks don't count against your Bonus Action (but you only get one) or hey man, you get a single Bonus Action: that's it, choose well.

    It feels weird and clumsy that Bonus Actions work differently in this specific context from every other: Monks, you can either do a bonus thing OR get extra slapping in, but that Drizzt over there with his two scimitars can get his extra stabbing in AND do the same thing.

    I like just leaving the rules as they are but simply saying "You get one Move, one Action, one Bonus Action, and one Bonus Attack Action" is preferable to the more circumstantial approach.

    1. (But works at your table works at your table.)

    2. The reason I do it this way is that the way bonus actions work rules as written are essentially a penalty to the ranger, and to a lesser extent the rogue. I rarely see a monk do anything but use their bonus action for the extra martial arts attack, whereas two-weapon rangers (supposedly something the ranger archetype is made for) struggles between choosing to use the bonus action to cast hunter's mark, move hunter's mark, use an ability like the monster slayer's subclass ability, or make an off-hand attack.

      Compare that to, say, the paladin, whose extra damage is "always on."

      My house rule is admittedly not elegant, but it's the best I've come up with without needing to change the ranger out entirely.

    3. Legit. The monk at my table takes those extra attacks as such a given, I have to actively try to keep an eye out for when they're doubling up on them.

      What about the standardized Move, Action, Bonus Attack, Bonus Action? That solves the problem for Rangers, and maybe gives Monks something else to think about using (or not use, in which case no difference).

    4. Having four possible actions per round probably works, but I'd probably want to rename Bonus Attack to something to make it distinct from Bonus Action. I'll have to think on that awhile.


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