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Hey I Can Chan

The Islands: House Rules

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You Play Your Gender: If you are male, youíre characterís male. If youíre female, youíre characterís female. Things are easier on me that way.

Ability Scores: Your ability scores are 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18, arranged how you want. Okay, Jason, so you donít want an 8. Fair enough. Anyone can instead choose 10, 10, 12, 14, 16, 16. I guess if you wanted to you could go 10, 12, 12, 14, 14, 16 or even 12, 12, 12, 14, 14, 14. Iím not sure why youíd want toóthis is Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, after alló, but any of those are options for everyone.

You canít begin play at an age greater than middle age −10% (Playerís Handbook 109). This avoids age shenanigans and willful extremism (ďI want to be venerable with Str 5 and Int 21!Ē).

Open Locks: The Disable Device skill includes the Open Locks skill. All references to the Open Locks skill instead reference the Disable Device skill when the Disable Device skill is used to open locks. I donít want to have to decide whatís a lock and whatís a device and have it really matter.

Precision Damage: Precision damage applies only to living creatures with discernible anatomiesóconstructs, oozes, undead, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is invulnerable to precision damage. Precision damage isnít multiplied on a critical hit. This is probably quantified somewhere, but itís here because itís important. This is a mechanical decision to make writing easier. Sneak attack and skirmish damage is precision damage; favored enemy damage isnítófavored enemy damage is I-hate-those-assholes damage (seriously, thatís actually not a house ruleóIím just clarifying).

Item Creation Feats: When you take an item creation feat as a permanent feat (i.e. the feat doesnít go away when you regain spells or is granted by a magic item or spell or whatever), you gain an XP pool of 25 XP ◊ your level when you gained the feat. You can spend this XP only for creating items with your permanent item creation feats. You can spend your XP instead of or in addition or in any combination with XP your item creation XP pool.

Some Spells and Effects Arenít Banned, ButÖ: PCs have access to very few I-get-to-pick-what-appears illusion spells (e.g. silent image), no spells that allow I-get-to-pick-what-I-change-into shapechaging (e.g. alter self or polymorph), very few high-level long-distance travel spells (e.g. plane shift, teleport), very few spells that allow long-distance spying (e.g. scrying), almost no spells that grant invisibility (e.g. invisibility, greater invisibility), almost no spells that do nothing but change your size category (e.g. enlarge person), and no spells that create areas of silence (e.g. silence and suspended silence) or darkness. Spells that bring other creatures onto the battlefield are also limited. I had bad experiences with these spells, trouble playing a game with these spells being commonplace, or know how hard it is to adjudicate their effects because theyíre poorly written. You can still, during play, access these spells (such as through magic items or careful feat selection or knowing a dude who can cast them), and your opponents might have access to them, but Iím not going to give them, at least in quantity, to your class. Itíd be really cool if you respected my decision to try to keep them out of the PCsí grubby hands, but if you feel that you must have them, seek them out. Just be prepared to bring with you all of the books, errata, Sage Advice columns, rulings, and FAQs that are associated with them so we can work out how they should be gamed together.

If you have or gain access to a spell I donít like (even if I gave it to you), be prepared for me to play the spell to absolute letter of the rules. Also, be prepared to solve any problems I would have with the spellóif you have considered beyond-the-obvious counters to it, let me know. Finally: I have the world to manage; you have one PC. I canít have your single trick monopoloize the spotlight. If you can turn into, for example, an itty-bitty fish, you should have an itty-bitty fish stat block prepared before you hit the table, along with page references so I can anal retentively make sure youíre right. Same thing for complex effects like invisibility and charms. I donít want the game slowed because you donít understand what you can do.

ďCan I Get This?Ē: My default answer is yes. Thatís my superpower as Dungeon Masteróthe ability to say yes. Everyone else at the table can sigh and tell you, ďHell no, nobody would ever let you have that!Ē or, ďHoly shit, thatís going to totally snap the game!Ē and I will still say yes. I will ask you, however, why you want something. If you want something because it leads you to something else, tell me what that is, and letís discuss that instead. If you want something because you want to break the game with it, tell me how you plan to break the game with it so I can plan for that and figure out why no one has ever done it before. If you want something because it will give you an absurd unbeatable numerical bonus, explain to me why you want thatóI mean, do you really want your character to be invulnerable? Why is that fun for you? What sort of adventures does an invulnerable character have? You could just play video gamesówith save points and restartsóby yourself instead of hanging out with us. If youíre going to rule the campaign world with what you pick, you can do that, but what stories can be told about after that?

I know it sounds geeky, but whenever your character gets something, that something should lend itself to telling more and bigger stories. Thatís really what we do at the table. I donít want to have to say no. Saying no means that you had something in mindóhad an image for your characteróthat I have just squashed, and you only get that one character while I get the whole damn world. Itís inherently unfair for me to limit you. But itís also unfair for you to choose to make the game less fun. Pick things that are fun. Pick things that tell bigger stories. Donít just chase numbers.

Remember: You're not multiclassing; your custom class should do everything you want it to do without the need for multiclassing, so the choices you make are things like feats, allocation of skill ranks, selectable class features (every class has some), skill tricks, and sometimes spells. If you want to multiclass to get some class feature your class doesn't have because that multiclassing class feature fits your concept, let's fold it into your class instead.

Psionics, Action Points, Auras, Chakras, Essentia, Invocations, Martial Maneuvers, Mysteries, and Other Piles: I have no particular bias against things unmentioned in these rules, but I donít know them that well, so many classes donít do anything with them. If you really want to incorporate one of these other piles into your character, Iím not adverse, but you have to find a way to do so on your own, and youíre going to have to explain the rules to me and how those rules interact with everything else in the game. Usually, each pile has a way for you to get a few benefits from the pile using your featsóif thatís how you want to go, rock on. Just try to keep it fun.

If thereís something reasonable that you want to do that can only be done with more than a passing dip into a pile, letís find a way. If we canít, Iíll just make shit up.

Leveling Up: You gain 1 level for every 4 session in which you participate. The game skews to the highest level PC at the table, and for every level you're below that, the value of the session increases by 1 for your PC. For example, if 1 PC is level 4 and another is level 1, the level 1 PC's session counts as 4 sessions, and he'd level up at the end of it. In other words, you'll catch up rapidly if you're behind, but you still gotta tough it out. I'd prefer everyone start at level 1 even if the group's way beyond that, but that's something that can be discussed at the table.

Useful References: There are different kinds of special abilitiesóextraordinary, spell-like, supernatural, and natural (Playerís Handbook 141 and 180, Dungeon Masterís Guide 289). Things with no Ex, Sp, or Su tags are natural abilities.

Next: Spellcasting (spoiler: All PCs cast spells.)

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  1. Banshee's Avatar
    "do you really want your character to be invulnerable? Why is that fun for you? What sort of adventures does an invulnerable character have? You could just play video gamesówith save points and restartsóby yourself instead of hanging out with us. If youíre going to rule the campaign world with what you pick, you can do that, but what stories can be told about after that?"

    EXCELLENT POINT!!! I wish some of the folks in my old group understood that concept. Sometimes, when your character falls on his face, it's just funny. Sometimes that humor leads to bigger and better things. A player who can't laugh at his own character's expense is really better suited to video games, as you pointed out.

    As an aside, I wish that either you were running this campaign online somehow, or that you (or I, really) didn't live on the opposite side of the country so that I could play too!!!

    Great work. I look forward to reading about the goings-on in your campaign world as the game progresses.