Year of the Shadows
Official House Rules
The Big Emerald d30 Rule
Once per session each player may opt to ask the referee to roll his big emerald d30 in lieu of whatever die or dice the situation normally calls for. The choice to roll the big emerald d30 must be made before any roll. The d30 cannot be rolled for generating character statistics or hit points.
Attribute & Proficiency Rolls
For attribute checks, the GM can assign qualitative difficulty levels to tasks as follows: Easy, Average, Challenging, Formidable, Heroic, Nearly Impossible. Attribute checks of average difficulty are rolled on 3d6, as stated in the rules. Easy checks are rolled on 2d6. Challenging check are made on 5d6, Formidable on 6d6, and so on.
Taking a Non-Weapon Proficiency allows use of that proficiency, rolling on a 3d6 for average tasks, as above. Unskilled use of General proficiencies is allowed! Take one die penalty per slot the proficiency would normally cost. Ergo, a skilled horseman with the Riding proficiency would make an average check on 3d6, while his unskilled companion would make the same roll on a 4d6.
It is possible to take multiple slots in a proficiency. Each additional slot taken subtracts 1d6 from the pool rolled, to a minimum of 2d6. So, for example, making a Challenging roll on 5d6 with a proficiency in which you’ve invested three slots would reduce the pool to a mere 3d6.
Oftentimes, bonuses or penalties for attribute or proficiency rolls will be given in the rules. These modify the target number, not the number rolled, and can be used as-is with this system.
Hovering on Death’s Door
We will be using a slightly modified version of the optional “Hovering on Death’s Door” rule from the Dungeon Master’s Guide:
Characters who reach 0 hit points automatically fall unconscious, but are not necessarily dead. A character remains alive until he hits a negative total of hit points equal to his Constitution score.
After reaching 0 or fewer hit points, characters automatically lose 1 hit point per round. His survival from this point depends upon the quick thinking of his companions. If they reach the character before his hit points reach his negative Constitution score and spend at least one round tending to his wounds, the character does not die immediately.
Binding and tending wounds requires a use of the Healing proficiency at normal difficulty (see Attribute & Proficiency Rolls below). A new attempt can be made every round if the roll is failed. Once the roll is passed, the character no longer loses a hit point every round, but neither does he gain any. He remains unconscious and vulnerable to further attacks.
If a cure spell of some sort is cast upon him, the character is immediately restored to 1 hit point—no more. Further cures do the character no good until he has had at least one day of full and complete rest. Until that time, he is weak and feeble, unable to fight and barely able to move. He must stop and rest often, can’t cast spells (the shock of near-death has wiped them from his mind), and is generally confused and feverish. He is able to move and can hold somewhat disjointed conversations, but that’s it.
If a heal spell is cast on the character, his hit points are restored as per the spell, and he has full vitality and wits. Any spells he may have known are still wiped from his memory, however. (Even this powerful spell does not negate the shock of the experience.)
Characters heal 1 hit point per level for every day of rest.
Critical Hits & Misses
Rolling a “natural 20” on a melee or ranged attack is considered a critical hit. All critical hits automatically do double damage: roll the indicated damage dice twice, then add any bonuses.
A critical hit with a weapon has an additional effect. The exact effect depends on the type of damage the weapon primarily deals: slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning.
- Slashing weapons cause carry-over damage: if the damage from the attack is enough to reduce the opponent to zero Hit Points, the excess damage is automatically “carried over” to any other opponent within five feet.
- Piercing weapons cause follow-through damage: if maximum damage is rolled, then roll the damage dice again and add that “follow through” damage. If the maximum is rolled a second time, more “follow through” damage is added. Keep rolling damage until less than the maximum is rolled.
- Bludgeoning weapons cause triple damage: roll triple the amount of damage dice, then add bonuses.
A roll of a “natural 1” represents a flubbed attack. If attacking unarmed or with natural weapons, the roll represents a slip, trip, or stumble—one attack is lost the following round. If attacking with a weapon, the roll represents a drop—you lose your weapon (or drop your arrow) and must switch weapons or spend the next round picking up the dropped weapon.
Shields Shall Be Splintered!
Shields provide the usual +1 bonus to AC. However, they may also be used to “soak” damage from a single attack, thereby reducing damage to zero. Soaking damage destroys the shield.
Shields may also be used against any attack that allows a save for half damage, such as a fireball or dragon’s breath. In that case, the shield is destroyed, as above, and the save is considered automatically successful, thereby guaranteeing half damage.
For magical shields, each +1 enchantment bonus gives a 10% chance of surviving a damage soak.
Due to their unwieldy nature, tower shields impose a -2 penalty to melee attacks when used from horseback.
We will be using the Command Words optional rule. However, anytime a wizard picks up a wand, staff, or rod, his first use of the item is “free”—no command word need be spoken. This is a good way to determine what the item does without need for recourse to divination magic or the services of a sage, but it does burn one of the item’s charges in the process, obviously.
Just as fighters can specialize in selected weapons, mages can specialize in selected spells. Sacrifice a spell memorization slot to designate one spell of that level as your Signature Spell. From that point on, you may cast that spell without memorizing it in place of another memorized spell of the same level. You may have one Signature Spell per spell level.
Optional Rules In Use
The following is a list of the optional rules from the PHB and DMG that we will be implementing:
- Maximum Number of Spells per Level
- Basic Encumbrance
- Individual Initiative
- Weapon Speed and Initiative
- Jogging and Running
- Exceeding Level Limits
- Horse Traits
- Researching Extra Wizard Spells
- Individual Experience Awards
- XP for Gold
- Critical Hits
- Hovering on Death’s Door
- Artifacts and Relics
- Command Words
- Weapon Proficiency Groups (CFHB)