House Rules = Cars?

Wednesday, 10. November 2010

Everyone does it to a lesser or greater extent.  We take our systems and tweak them either adding our own rules, changing the stock ones, or removing unnecessary parts.  Hmm, this sounds an awful lot like something else we own.  Vehicles perhaps?  Games; like vehicles are designed to function in a particular fashion with parts changes affecting their performance.  Everyone knows what a “stock” car looks like and how the normal game plays.  It’s somewhat expected that when you’re running a game, that there are some default guidelines that make it what it is.  The question is of course how much can you change under the hood before its no longer stock?  I’ll answer these after I get some feedback of course..

Unfortunately unlike cars there are some other complications behind lots of house rules or rules changes.  Unlike cars, where you can normally just hop in and drive without too many problems rules changes have to be memorized.  They have to be taught and they have to be remembered as well to be put to use and of course there are always the rules lawyers there to protest and exploit.  I’d guess with cars of course, this is assuming you aren’t swapping the gas and brakes or moving the steering wheel to the other side or messing with the shifting pattern…   So what are the structural components that are usually avoid being changed when house rules come into play?

What are some of your standard or nonstandard house rules?

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5 Responses to “House Rules = Cars?”



  1. runjikol Says:

    What I try to avoid changing:
    Basic combat mechanics; how to attack, defend, etc. Creating a dependent tree of exceptions can quickly break a game.
    Basic damage mechanics; hit points, critical wounds, effects thereof.
    Skill resolutions; messing with this makes it very odd. I find that one can trim a resolution system, by discarding what situations a test might be required in, without the same problems as expanding those situations.
    Silos: if there are silos, like class/profession, don’t intrude into other silos. Undermining a silos specialty will make it collapse and remove its niche. Have to say that I avoid games with silos.



  2. Oz Says:

    About the only rule I change when playing D&D (3.0 or 3.5…4.0 is for sissies who don’t want to use their brain), is to one that came out with the D20 starwars system….and that’s vitality and wound points. Your vitality is essentially your HP. Wound pounts = your constitution. In this system, critical hits go strait to your wound points…so if you have a weapon that does x3 crit damage and roll over an 18 for total damage…most likely you’ve just killed a humanoid character. This can be offset by the “fortification” ability…and makes this a very valuable asset. Other than this, I pretty much leave the system in tact though occasionally I’ll pull an optional hit chart or random encounter chart that I like. Or..I’ll go completely off the deep end. For example, I recently took a D10 werewolf and translated it into the RIFTS setting. Talk about intensive study! It took me almost 3 months but I think it turned out pretty cool. The hardest part was figuring out how to handle the RAGE and GNOSIS…but using PPE and ISP I managed to make it work. The key…is to be flexible and have a player that’s into the idea and that is willing to work with it.



  3. Grey Says:

    I continued this in a new post, but I agree that criticals and HP leave a fair amount of room to play around with if you’re willing to playtest them. Criticals can use a lot ot make them really dangerous outside of the lower levels, and making a wound points system ties that in nastily.

    Yeah, I think it would’ve been much simpler just to convert Rifts into D10 honestly :D



  4. Grey Says:

    Great thoughts! I am enshrining them and continuing in a new post~



  5. Don Says:

    House rules can be useful to help set the mood of a setting, or to provide a need. Two examples:

    In my D&D game, one town was very mechanically inclined, and had developed cannon and musket type weapons. Looking at the rules already out there, I didn’t find anything that reflected the relative lethality and finicky nature of them, so made up my own. I introduced the weapon proficiencies, etc, and a skill (Knowledge: Charged Weapons) which was used to do things like combat reloading, etc. Of course, to offset the extra feats and skill points a player would spend on becoming combat effective with it, I gave it a d20 damage die. Is a musket ball that much more damaging than a crossbow bolt or longsword? Probably not, but the damage potential had to provide incentive to spend the points in other character resources to justify it.

    In my d20 Modern game (set in real-world type genre, no magic or other fantasy elements), none of my players took the Field Medic or healing skills. After talking it over with them, none of them really wanted to, either. So, realizing combat was likely to become very lethal, I introduced the adrenaline “stim pack” concept into the game, and gave them a method to heal up a bit. Of course, over-use came with some penalties…

    So, all in all, House Rules have their place, especially if it helps develop a setting, etc, or makes up for something that would seriously affect player enjoyment.

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