House Rules

For the second Faerluria campaign. (D&D 3.5)

[Rules in blue are proposed rules that have not been officially approved for our game. Items in red are new or newly edited, and thusly highlighted for your convenience.]


The campaign starts with all PCs at character level 1.
We have players who are new to the game. Creating and running high-level characters would be unnecessarily complicated.
Increase starting money by 50 gp.
Starting money is listed on table 7-1, page 111 of the Player's Handbook.
Characters will start with a choice of fairly high Ability scores.
Choose your six Ability scores from any one line in this list, and assign them to your Abilities in any order you wish: These sets of Ability score rolls are ordered with the highest average at the top. This does not mean that the top set is the best. For example, if you have a "dump stat," an Ability that you don't care about, you may want the second set, which has the highest average of the top five rolls. And the bottom set, though it has the lowest average, is the only one that gets you a +3 Ability bonus in three different Abilities.

You may also start with an 18 in one ability. To do so, pick one of the above lines of scores. Change the first score to 18. Subtract 1 from the second score. Then subtract one from any score except for the sixth.

These are your Ability scores before applying racial bonuses and penalties, so you'll want to weigh the effects of those, as well.

You may select any race from the Player's Handbook. You may select other races if they have no level adjustment. If you really want to play a race with a level adjustment, speak with Joe to work out a way to do it fairly. (The previous game included a pixie, who started as a child without its full powers.)
No XP rewards. Everybody will level at certain times.
Calculating XP was a time consuming headache in the last campaign, and it worked out to everybody leveling up about once every two sessions, anyway. This time, each PC will gain one level per two sessions, until everyone is fairly familiar with the game mechanics. We might then start to level once per session, if the group feels it appropriate. (Note that this means that favored classes and XP penalties for multiclassing are out the window.)
Hit points beyond first level may be rolled, or you may take the average.
Your first hit die is always maximized. After that, you have two options. Subsequent hit point rolls can be made normally, with ones rerolled. Or you may take the exact average number of hit points you would get from your hit die. Use increments of one-half to accomplish this. At any level when you have a non-integral number of total hit points (typically the even levels), round the total up to find your effective hit points that level. Note that rolling is riskier, but gives a slightly higher average (because ones are rerolled). (To really min/max your choices, you could take the average for only your second hit die. It'll be rounded up, precisely matching the average of a roll with ones rerolled. And it'll be safer than rolling. Then roll all subsequent hit dice, for the extra 0.5 hit points per level on average. On the other hand, there's something to be said for safety over the next couple of levels. Staying centered can be advantageous because the difference between 14 HP and 17 HP is perhaps more significant than the difference between 17 HP and 20.5 HP.)
Feats will be gained at every odd level.
One feat every three levels just seemed like too few. Other groups already have this house rule in use, and like it. So I'm happy to try it out.
Weapon group feats
Variant rule from Unearthed Arcana page 94. Weapon proficiencies may be gained by group, both in initial character creation, and when spending feats on weapon proficiency. The book gives no rule about the initial proficiencies gained for the second (or subsequent) character class of a multiclass character, so I propose the house rule: If a new class grants more initial weapon groups than the previous class(es) did, one may take enough new weapon groups to make up the difference. (Do not count feats spent on weapon groups.) If the new class grants a choice of specific groups, one may be chosen only if none of the other choices (other than Basic Weapons) is already known. Weapon-specific feats may be applied to weapon groups. Note that these rules tend to make characters more versatile but not more powerful.
Fractional base save and attack bonuses
House rule from Unearthed Arcana page 73. Multiclass characters who are between base bonus increments in at least two classes may have multiple fractional bonuses that add up to an additional point in their base attack or save bonuses. Fractional bonuses are interpolated arithmetically.
A paladin, monk or psion who advances a level in another class is only temporarily barred from advancing in their paladin, monk, or psion class. A period of study with their trainer, master, religious institution or whatever is necessary to regain the ability to advance in that class.
Another perspective is that the studying character is earning experience that they then spend on regaining the ability to advance. (The amount of experience this involves is undetermined.)
Clerics and other religious folk may choose a deity from nearly any pantheon. Forces and philosophies are also available, as per the 2nd edition Complete Priest's Handbook.
One option is to take the druid or a priest of any of the faiths listed in the PHB exactly as described. Second, you may pick from Joe's pantheon (which has finally been adapted to third edition). Third, you may take a cleric as described in the PHB, pick any two domains you want, and invent an ethos to justify them. Fourth, with some work, you may take a priest kit from a supplement, which we can adapt from 2nd edition if necessary. Fifth, Jay's pantheon is available.
Rangers may select favored environments rather than favored enemies.
Variant rule from Unearthed Arcana, page 65. Favored environments are selected at first level, and once every five levels starting at fifth.
Level adjustment can be bought off with XP.
Oops. This rule broke when I got rid of XP. The original is a variant rule from Unearthed Arcana, page 18. To simulate it with only levels: Once you reach an effective character level equal to five times your level adjustment, you may reduce your level adjustment by one, and replace it with a real character level. You may do this only once.
The level adjustment of a monstrous race may be slightly reduced if the monster gains its racial abilities slowly.
Our only specific example is that a pixie who waits until about character level seven to come into its full abilities may take a level adjustment of +3 instead of +4. Note that one premise of this rule is the discarding of the idea (from Savage Species) that a character must gain all of its monster levels before taking a class level.
Third party feats?
Here are Joe's rulings about the more questionable feats from 3.0 and third party sourcebooks.
Free level adjustments?
A thought for a future campaign (i.e., not one with newbies): All characters may take up to three levels of level adjustment free. This could involve playing monstrous races and/or taking bloodlines (from Unearthed Arcana). Level adjustments usually invoke decreased XP to maintain balance, but this is unneeded if everybody has them, and if we eliminate the XP system in favor of automatic leveling (as above). Combats will just have to get a little tougher to stay challenging.
Rebalance the bard?
"My father taught me that bards are underpowered." - Nale.

Are they, really? The debate over this is intense. But nobody in our group has wanted to play one yet. A bard's versatility gives them total powers that outstrip other classes (until high levels), but since they (like all people) tend to do only one thing at a time, whatever one thing they happen to be doing at the moment is something that another class can do better. So we *could* improve them to make them more attractive to play.

On the other hand, bards may simply work better with large groups, which can afford to have a character whose best function is support for the others.

Other fractional bonuses
Another thought for a future campaign: Extend the rule for fractional base attack and save bonuses to include ability bonuses and perhaps other bonuses. For example, a Dex of 15 could give +2.5 (instead of +2) to ranged attack rolls. This would normally truncate to +2, but if the base attack bonus were +3.5 (using the rule above), the total ranged attack bonus could become 6 instead of 5. A Con of 17 could even give +3.5 HP/level instead of +3. Rules and effects that refer to just one bonus source (such as Dex bonus for the Combat Reflexes feat, or base attack bonus for the Power Attack feat) always use the truncated amount.

Effect: This would make odd ability scores nearly as useful as even ones, relieving that annoying imbalance between the two (except regarding the pure warrior classes' attacks, because they lack fractional base attack bonuses). It makes for more complicated bookkeeping, and it makes most characters slightly more powerful. So it seems best left to a group of experienced players with a predilection for min/maxing.

Rebalanced Warmage
These revisions apply to the Warmage class (from Complete Arcane):
Hit die: d8.
Reduce "Spells Per Day" (table, page 11) of each level by two.
Base attack bonus is 3/4 of level (same as Cleric).
Adjusted feat tree:
Level 2: Battlecaster Defense (Complete Mage, page 39)
Level 4: Battlecaster Offense (Complete Mage, page 40)
Levels 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18: Choice of sudden metamagic feat. (Prerequisites must be met.)
Advanced Learning occurs at every level.


Spellcasters do not have to select their prepared spells in advance. They have their entire repertoire of spells available to cast.
This addresses issues in both game balance and enjoyment. Under the original rule, without having prepared the appropriate spell(s) for the current situation, a wizard (in particular) is practically worthless. This will increase flexibility and PCs' willingness to use non-combat spells for adventure or role-playing purposes, and make the spellcasting classes far less frustrating to play. The abilities of the priest and wizard are thus brought back up to par with the other classes. Characters who studied or prayed for their spells must still perform an equivalent daily ritual in order to refresh their spellcasting ability.
Spellcasting classes use a system of spell points, in which one spell level equals one hundred spell points, for purposes of determining both the spell point cost of casting a spell, and a character's total daily spell point pool.
Thus, a character who could cast one third-level spell could choose to cast three first-level spells instead, or one first- and one second-level spell. This increases flexibility without changing overall power. Our experiences with role-playing systems that use a spell point system have been highly positive. Zero-level spells are worth twenty-five spell points each. Details can be found in the appendix below.
Note: You do not have to use this spell point system. Using your spell slots normally will conform to the system: It will not take full advantage of the flexibility of spell points, but it will be simpler.
Spellcasters may not cast more than twice the number of spells of each of their two highest spell levels as their casting table indicates for that spell level. (Zero-level spells are excluded here.)
This is to prevent characters from abusing the spell point system by using most or all of their spell points on high-level spells. A seventeenth-level wizard of high intelligence, normally allotted one ninth-level spell per day, could cast fifteen ninth-level spells per day (but then very little else) without this rule. Now, they could cast two ninth-level and four eighth-level spells per day (instead of one and two respectively), if they choose to so spend their spell points. This rule has no effect on spell costs or daily spell point pools. Add bonus spells from high ability scores to the spells allotted by the table before applying this rule.
The sorcerer's limit on total known spells of each level is multiplied by five.
This is an attempt to re-balance the sorcerer. The sorcerer class was initially balanced against the wizard (and thus below the other classes). The balancing advantage given to the wizard, that of not having to preselect spells, the sorcerer already had. Given that the sorcerer's known spell limit was so tiny as to make the class inflexible and very little fun to play, it was a natural candidate for modification and re-balancing.
The bard's limit on total known spells of each level is multiplied by two.
This will give the bard more options (and leave them knowing roughly half of all bard spells by level 20 (which is similar to the sorcerer's options)).
The warmage gains one spell (as per the Advanced Learning class feature) at each level, instead of just levels 3, 6, 11 and 16.
Same deal.
At every even level, the duskblade gains two spells instead of one.
Same deal.
Spellcasters know as many first-level spells from the PHB as their class allows.
Assume there's a cheap, mass-produced spellbook containing all those spells. All higher level spells must be gained normally through adventure, barter, theft, leveling, or whatever, but most will be readily available.
Magic Ratings
Variant rule from Unearthed Arcana, page 135. This has complex game balance issues (set forth below), but it is cool, and we're going to try it. Magic ratings are used in place of "caster level" for purposes of spell effects and spell save DC's, but not for spells (spell points) per day or maximum spell level. Magic ratings depend on class levels (with magical class levels contributing much more than non-magical class levels), and monster levels (with magical monster levels contributing much more than non-magical monster levels). One magic rating point is earned by every level in bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, wizard, and highly magical monster (fey, outsider); every two levels in monk, paladin, ranger, and magical monster (dragon, elemental, undead); and every four levels in barbarian, fighter, rogue, and non-magical monster. House rule: Arcane magical levels (class or monster) count as fighter levels (i.e., minimally) for purposes of divine spellcasting, and likewise, divine magical levels (class or monster) count as fighter levels for purposes of arcane spellcasting.
Game balance issues: This has no effect on a caster's number and level of spells; it affects spells' power. This does not help all spellcasters; rather, it makes multiclassing (or taking monster levels) hurt less. A single-class, tenth-level cleric (magic rating 10) is still tremendously more powerful (magically) than a sixth-level cleric / fourth-level ranger (magic rating 8). The latter casts cleric spells slightly better under this rule than a single-class sixth-level cleric (magic rating 6), however. A sixth-level cleric / fourth-level druid (magic rating 10), lacking the high-level spells of the tenth-level cleric, nevertheless casts the spells they have in common just as powerfully as the tenth-level cleric, due to having ten levels in two highly magical divine spellcasting classes.
Level adjustment reduction for monsters must subtract from their "monster level" with regard to this rule. (Otherwise, magical races can wind up with a caster level higher than their effective character level.)
The biggest change will be to magical monsters with class levels in a spellcasting class. It makes sense that a highly magical creature who is also a third-level wizard would cast the same spells as a human third-level wizard, but cast them better.
Note again that this does not help the most powerful spellcasters; it helps multi-class spellcasters to fall less far behind. Given that multiclassing gives up some power in exchange for versatility, I don't find this rule to be necessarily unbalancing.
Magic Item creation feats and XP?
Since we're not keeping track of XP earned, instead, keep track of all of the "XP" that you have spent to create items. The total should never exceed 1000 * (party level - 1). That way, you will never have spent an entire level's worth of XP on making items, and will not fall behind the rest of the party.
Scroll creation is limited.
The ability to cheaply create scrolls is overpowered: Carrying around many scrolls can render meaningless any limit on spells per day. The need for them is obviated by the ubiquity of spells available to be learned in this campaign. Therefore, there is a limit: At each level, a character can create scrolls whose total spell levels are twice the highest level of spell they can cast, minus one. (If partial levels are incurred by the use of metamagic, they should not be rounded for this purpose. Rather, the limit on total spell points used is one hundred times the limit on spell levels.)


Weapons with different damage types vary in their effectiveness against different armors.
Having tossed around several suggestions, this is now accomplished (in a small way) in the critical hit table.
Dice must finish rolling on the same surface upon which they were rolled.
It sounds anal retentive, but it should save time and be fair. (You know how, when the die falls off the table and rolls a 20, the player wants to keep the roll. When it falls off the table and rolls a 2, "Oops, it fell," and they reroll it. I do not want to get into debates over whether to keep it. I choose not to keep it because the alternative would suck when the die rolls under the couch.) GMs other than Joe are free to not enforce this rule.
Critical hits may have effects other than multiplying damage.
Instead of multiplying damage, a x2 critical hit can do normal damage, and a roll may be made on a critical hit table to determine an extra effect, such as a specific injury, damage multiplication, damage to gear, or other misfortune. Critical multipliers greater than two result in greater effect or damage multiplication, at the attacker's option. The tables may include GM-adjudicated (and undoubtedly player-heckling-influenced) damage that is specific to the weapon and armor involved, to satisfy the above rule suggestion. The critical hit table can be found here.
Called shots may be used to hit a specific part of a target in combat.
Called shots will not be used for any "trick shot" for which there already exists a rule, such as Sunder, Disarm, Trip, cover, concealment, size bonuses to AC (which can be used regarding small parts of inanimate objects), or Hamstring. A called shot cannot do extra damage, nor blind or cripple someone, no matter where it hits. (This sacrifices realism in the interest of preventing abuse.) You may take a full-round action to perform a called shot, with an appropriate penalty to hit. Example penalties are:
-4   arm or leg
-8   head, hand, foot, liver or lung
-12 eye, ear, finger, toe, heart or spleen

If the called shot misses, but the attack roll is good enough to hit the target without the called shot penalty, then there is a fixed chance that a normal hit occurred instead: 50% if the shot was directed toward an extremity, and 75% if the shot was directed toward a central part of the target.

A character who can perform sneak attacks, in an eligible position to do so, may make a called shot to a vital organ as a sneak attack, with only half of the standard penalty for the called shot. (There is still some penalty, because a normal sneak attack allows for a choice of vital organs to target; the attack is harder with limited options.) (In this case, missing the called shot but hitting the target does not cause sneak attack damage.)

A called shot may also be used to hit a target in a particular way. For example, to set off a trap (assuming this is possible). The to-hit penalty will be assigned by the GM.

We may allow a feat, Fast Called Shot, which allows a character to make called shots without having to spend a full-round action: Any attack (even a special attack) can be a called shot, though the penalty to hit still applies.

Other sourcebooks
We're open to optional rules from other sourcebooks. Just run it by us. (Some of the material from the 3.0 sourcebooks is unbalanced, and will need tweaking.)
Don't waste too much time. Combat takes way too long as it is.
Some calculations, such as your total attack values (excluding circumstances, but including feats and ability bonuses) with each of your weapons, should be done beforehand.

Spellcasters should try not to waste time looking up spell stats on their turn. Decide what spell to cast during someone else's turn, if possible. If using tricky metamagic, you can figure out how many spell points you just used after your turn is over.

Making snap decisions is really okay.

If you're not sure what your exact chance to hit is, just roll first. The result might be an obvious hit or miss, saving everyone the time that you would have taken figuring out whether that +1 bonus really applied right then.

Try to keep "helpful" advice to other players to a minimum.

(Allowances will be made for newbies, of course.)

Redundant feats
If you gain, as a class ability, a feat which you had already bought, you may "unbuy" that feat and buy a new one.
Springing up from a prone position.
You can take a move action to attempt to spring up from a prone position (action movie style) without incurring an attack of opportunity. Make a Jump check, DC 20. (Remember that Tumble gives you a synergy bonus on Jump checks, even if you lack the Jump skill.) If you fail, you land prone again, but still do not incur an attack of opportunity. [Without this rule, the Improved Trip feat is just too devastating.]
Too many sneak attacks.
If you have or take a form that normally makes multiple attacks (such as a tiger), there is a limit to the number of attacks in each round to which you can apply sneak attack damage. (This is for game balance.) That limit is the number of attacks that a human rogue of the same ECL (and the same or similar feats) would have. (For example, if you have Multiattack, your theoretical human rogue could be considered to have Two Weapon Fighting, and would effectively gain an extra attack. This would grant you sneak attack damage on one more of your attacks.)

Appendix 1: The Spell Point System

The casting cost of a spell is 100 spell points per spell level. 0-level spells have a casting cost of 25 spell points. Your character has a pool of spell points equal to the combined cost of all the spells she/he/it could cast in a day.

According to the official rules, spells gained through separate classes of a multiclass character are handled entirely separately; neither their knowledge nor their spell casting slots are interchangeable. This now applies to spell point pools as well. (However, magic ratings (see above) are an exception to this complete separation.)

Example: Nitpicker the wizard is third level, and has an intelligence of 13 (for one bonus first-level spell). Nitpicker has a daily casting total of four 0-level spells, three first-level spells, and 1 second-level spell. In our game, that translates to 25x4 + 100x3 + 200 = 600 spell points. He could use these spell points to cast two second-level spells and two first-level spells, four first-level spells and eight 0-level spells, or whatever other combination of spells he wants that doesn't exceed a cost of 600 spell points. (Exception: He cannot cast three second-level spells, due to the cap of twice the number of normally allowed castings of his highest two spell levels. He cannot exceed two second-level spells or six first-level spells.) The combination of spell levels doesn't have to be decided beforehand; he merely has to keep track of how many spell points he has remaining. In no case can he cast third-level spells, no matter how many spell points he has, because he's still a wuss who hasn't reached fifth level (the earliest level at which a wizard can cast third-level spells). Also, no matter how high his level gets, he will not be able to cast fourth-level spells unless his intelligence increases, due to the intelligence requirement of "10+spell level" to be able to cast wizard spells. (Luckily, he can add a point to his intelligence at his fourth character level.)

Clerics' domain spells and specialist wizards' bonus specialty spells compose additional spell point pools. These extra spell points cannot be used for general spellcasting, only for domain spells or specialty school spells. (However, if one of these special pools has from 1 to 99 spell points remaining, a first-level spell of that type may be cast, with the remainder of the spell point cost taken from the caster's general spell point pool.)

Here's where it gets hairy. Certain metamagic feats allow a wizard to augment a spell's effect, at the cost of considering the spell to be a level or two higher. Most metamagic effects come at the listed price, converted to spell points. For example, "Silent Spell" causes a spell to take up a slot one spell level higher than normal. Therefore, you pay an extra 100 spell points to cast a spell silently (if you have the feat). You must also be able to cast spells of that higher level. The casting will count toward your daily cap of spells of that higher level, if applicable.

However, some metamagic feats provide for a proportional increase in some aspect of a spell's effect. These feats are: Empower Spell, Enlarge Spell, Extend Spell, and Widen Spell. With these feats, the increase in cost of a spell is proportional to the increase in effect. You may choose the percentage increase in effect (and cost) when you cast the spell, assuming you have the appropriate feat. However, the increase cannot safely exceed a threshold of 10% per caster level, and cannot exceed (at all) a cap of 15% per caster level. Every percent increase (per caster level) beyond the safe amount yields a cumulative 10% chance of a wild surge. (The new "spell level" is the spell's new total cost divided by 100, rounded to the nearest integer. (One-half rounds down here, for purely pragmatic reasons.))

Example: Nitpicker has the "Enlarge Spell" metamagic feat, which allows him to cast spells at a greater range. He wants to cast Melf's Acid Arrow, which would normally have a range (for a third-level wizard) of 520 feet, at a target 640 feet away. That's a 23% increase in range, within his "safe" margin of 30%. The spell, which normally costs 200 spell points, now costs 246 spell points (and is still considered a 2nd level spell, by rounding the spell point cost).

Example 2: Nitpicker increases a spell's range by 42%. (This would have to be a 1st level spell. Doing that to a 2nd level spell would cost 284 spell points. That rounds upward, so it would be considered a 3rd level spell, which he cannot cast.) He divides 42 by his level (3) to determine that it's a 14%/level increase. This is just barely within his capabilities, and in addition to the cost of 142 spell points, he has to deal with a 40% chance that the attempt goes haywire and causes a wild surge. (Because 14%/level is 4% more than the 10%/level that he is safely allowed. 4% x 10 = 40%.)

Using multiple metamagic augmenting feats stacks their cost in a multiplicative manner, and their chance of a surge (if any) in an additive manner. That is, the cost multiplier and chance of surge are calculated separately for each metamagic augmentation, and respectively multiplied and added.

For example, Nitpicker also has the "Extend Spell" metamagic feat, which extends the duration of a spell. He wants to use his "Enlarge Spell" feat to cast Enlarge Person (sorry, unintentional coincidence) on his barbarian friend Lice Eater, who is thirty-five feet away, for a 14% increase in cost. That would cost 114 spell points. But Nitpicker only has 125 spell points left, and can't do anything else with the remaining 11 spell points, so he decides to spend them using his "Extend Spell" feat to extend the duration of the spell. Spending 125 spell points instead of 114 spell points is a 10% increase (by the magic of rounding), so the spell, which would have lasted three minutes (thirty rounds), will now last three minutes and eighteen seconds (thirty-three rounds). The new 10% increase is applied to the cost of 114, not to the original cost of 100. Since neither effect exceeded his "safe" threshold of 30%, the spell is in no danger of misfiring.

Had he used two metamagic feats at once, for increases of 42% and 47%, the spell would cost (1.42 x 1.47) 2.09 times as much as usual, and have a (((42-30)/3 + (47-30)/3 = 10 ) x 10%) 100% chance of misfiring. Oops. Good luck with that wild surge result roll.

Addendum: If you use a metamagic augmenting feat on a zero-level spell, the additional cost is calculated as though the spell were 1st level. (This is because the 25 spell point cost for zero-level spells is arbitrary, and open to abuse by metamagic. Imagine spending just 100 spell points to cause 4d6 damage by boosting Disrupt Undead to 400% power. Under this rule, that would cost 325 spell points. (Of course, it would take a 30th level wizard to do that safely, but you get the idea.))

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