The Shards of Belear
“The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.”
–The Great Gary Gygax
“Rule 0: The unwritten rule in tabletop role-playing games (such as Dungeons & Dragons) which grants the game master the right to suspend or override the published game rules whenever he deems necessary.”
Following are house rules and other options used in this campaign.
Feel free to use the 2e/3e-era alignment system to describe your character if you prefer the extra granularity. For more info on alignments, click here.
Choosing to Disregard One’s Chosen Alignment
If a player does not role play in accordance with their alignment, they will be penalized. This does not mean if they role play ‘badly’ or in a way I do not like, but if, per say, the NG Druid purposely harms an innocent chipmunk for no reason. We will be using a revised version of an idea called ‘Dark Side Points’ taken from the Star Wars RPG Player’s Guide. Simply put: if you commit an act of significance (DM’s discretion) against your alignment, you will receive one point. If you receive three points, your character will change alignment, resulting in changes in the character ranging from retraining (to fit the new personality) or becoming unplayable (if it is unable to cooperate with the party). Every time a character’s main ability score increases, one point may be cleared as not happening (This happens at 4th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 28th levels).
Leveling by Plot
Individual experience point totals will not be maintained. Instead, the player characters will level up in accordance with the plot and pacing of the game. It will be difficult to notice the difference from ‘natural’ leveling as it would happen around the same time anyways. (Exact timing will be at the discretion of the DM, taking into consideration major events, the completion of quests, time passed and goals accomplished since the last level gain, any training or study the characters undertake, etc.) This may even level characters faster seeing as how it accounts for non-combat encounters where there are no experience points possible. This option has been suggested by the DMG under the heading “Simpler Experience Points” on page 121. It greatly simpliﬁes bookkeeping and is made possible by the fact that XP are no longer a resource. They are not spent to cast spells or create magic items anymore; all they do is track progress and give budgets to DMs for balancing encounters.
Slowed no longer means a speed of 2, but results in half-speed rounded down. On page 65, the Player’s Strategy Guide mocks how a level one at-will Ray of Frost can cut a speed of 20 into one of 2. I agree with that not sounding correct and think this is more fair.
New Effects From time to time, I will throw out made up status effects and expect you to take them and find some way to act them out. One example: scared(save ends) could be tacked on to the end of a fear spell. If you refuse, you will have an upset DM and I will probably try and kill you (save ends both).
DM-relevant Rule Tweaking
Monsters and Saves Monsters in upper levels almost always have a bonus to saving throws. I throw these out the door, because a ‘+5 to all saves’ is unfair in every way against a controller who does nothing but ‘save ends’ status effects. Solos and some elites may still have a +2 to saves to show their toughness and battle prowess.