For each entry, there will be a Confirmed, Review, or Testing after the entry’s name. Confirmed means we WILL be using that house rule. Review means I want your opinion, plz to be reading and giving me said opinion. Testing means we’ll be trying it out and seeing how it goes. If something is rejected, I’ll just delete it.

Death Saving Throws (Confirmed)

Under normal D&D 4E rules, when you fall below 0 HP you enter the Dying state. You fall prone, and when it comes to your turn, you can take no other action besides rolling a death saving throw. If you roll a 10 or higher, you hold on to your life. If you fail, you slip closer to actual death. Fail three death saving throws in a single encounter, and you die. Additionally, if you manage to roll a 20+ on a death saving throw, you get to spend a healing surge and on your next turn can act normally.

House Rule: The above still applies except for the following. You can spend a healing surge and act normally on your next turn if you roll a 16+. If you roll a natural 20 on your death saving throw, you immediately spend a healing surge, stand up, and can take your full action.

Reasoning: When you’re dying, it’s boring. You just roll your dice then go back to whatever else you were doing, because there’s only a small chance you’ll be able to heal yourself, and even then you only get to act on your next turn. With this adjustment, it widens the ability for you to be able to do something on your own, and also gives you the possibility of doing something awesome on top (the nat 20 roll). That way, you can feel like death saving throws are interesting.

Additional Critical Effects, Fumble Effects (Review)

Current Rules: When you roll a natural 20 on your attack roll, you maximize the result of all dice you normally would have rolled if it was not a crit, then roll extra damage dice based on what your weapon enchantment is, whether you have High Crit or not, and some other miscellaneous factors. When you roll a natural 1 on your attack roll, you simply miss, no matter how low the enemy’s defense or how high your bonus.

Suggested Rule: Using two iOS programs put out by Paizo (iCrit and iFumble), add additional effects to both crits and fumbles. These effects will need to be translated to 4E, but largely that is no problem.

Examples. For the Crit side, results are split up by damage type: Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing, Magic. The results listed are translated to 4E format.

  • Bludgeon Result: Shattered Hand — Normal crit damage, and target takes a -2 penalty to Attack until the end of the encounter.
  • Piercing Result: Infection — Double the result of your critical damage dice, and the target takes ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
  • Slashing Result: Nerve Slice — Double the result of your critical damage dice, and the target cannot take a standard action next turn.
  • Magic Result: Power Surge — Triple the result of your critical damage dice

For the Fumble side, the type of fumble is split between melee, ranged, natural (for claws and the like) and Magic.

  • Melee Result: Spinning Swing — You are dazed (save ends).
  • Ranged Result: Tunnel Vision — You gain +1 bonus to attack rolls, but -4 to defense (save ends).
  • Natural Result: Jam a Finger — Your target takes normal damage, but you take twice that.
  • Magic Result: Monster Rift — Your spell is miscast so badly it opens a rift and summons an extra monster that attacks you.

Keep in mind these effects will apply to both you and your enemies, both crits and fumbles. If you guys feel like this would be a fun addition to the game, let me know. If you only like some parts (such as feeling crits are already good enough but fumbles could be interesting), that’s fine too.

Reasoning: Because it might be more fun. Certainly on fumbles, which currently amounts to ‘nothing happens’.

Escalation Die (Review)

Current Rule: Nothing similar!

Suggested Rule: Stolen from 13th Age. Beginning on the 2nd round of combat, there is a scaling bonus to attack rolls (for Heroes only!). This starts at +1, then goes up by 1 per round, to a maximum of +6.

Reasoning: This will prevent things from becoming a slog. There is nothing worse in a fight than having to pick off the last mob or two and rolls just being terrible. However, this might not be necessary with a few other changes I will be doing to monsters. Let me know what you think.

Skill Challenges + Warhammer Fantasy Dice (Review)

Current Rule: In a skill challenge, players roll their skills and if they beat certain DCs, they gain a success, and if not, gain a failure. Most skill challenges allow for only three failures, but the number of successes required can range anywhere from six to twelve. Further, there is little chance for anything interesting happening—either you succeed or you fail.

In the end, I’m going to do /something/ to spice up skill challenges, this is just my first attempt.

In this set up, you’re still rolling your skills and seeing whether you succeed or fail. However, there is no set limit of how many successes you must reach, and no limit of fails. Instead, success or failure builds a dice pool, using Warhammer Fantasy dice. Once each player has rolled a skill (or there might be two or three courses, depending on how complex the challenge is), then the GM rolls the dice pool, and details what happens.

A quick overview of Warhammer Dice. They use symbols, not numbers. The dice are: conservative dice, reckless dice, ability dice, fortune dice, challenge dice, and misfortune dice. The symbols are: success, failure, boon, bane, comet, chaos. Failures kill successes; if you have one success left after comparing success and fail, you win the roll. Boons and banes cancel each other, depending on which you have more of, you can color the result (a bad success or a happy fail). Comets and Chaoses mean something unexpected happens, good for comets or bad for chaos.

Example of use. Party must sneak into a Aundairan nobleman’s party. This isn’t terribly hard, so DM sets the difficulty at two challenge die (average). Each party member chooses a skill to roll, and describes what they are doing. Party Member 1 decides to try and steal some invitations, so he rolls Thievery and succeeds. He gets a Expertise die because this was a good plan. Party Member 2 decides to help grease the wheels by bribing some guards to overlook bad invitations—just in case. She rolls Bluff and succeeds, gaining a conservative die, as this is a careful calculation. Party Member 3 attempts to acquire good clothes for everyone so that they don’t stand out, and rolls Streetwise to see if he can find any good tailor shops that’ll do good clothes on the cheap. Unfortunately, he fails, but he’s still buying clothes, so he gets a reckless die—the tailoring might be not so good, but it might still pass.

Party Member 4 thinks the party needs to arrive in style if they’re to pull this off, but he doesn’t have the cash to pay for an Orien stagecoach. Instead, committed to his plan, he offers to work for a day, coming up with some story about how he wants to impress a lady he just met. He rolls Endurance—but oh! He fails, and earns a misfortune die. The party has no stagecoach and he’s now tired. Party Member 5 stops to check out the area around the nobleman’s estate, casing the joint to discover ways in or out, if their plan should fail. He rolls Perception, and succeeds, earning another conservative die for his careful diligence. Finally, the last party member tries to research a little about their ‘host’ to see if there’s anything worth noting about him that might help the party. She rolls History, but despite a good roll, ends up failing. She finds it very hard to get any information at all on the man’s activities, strange.

Typically, this would be a failed skill challenge because there were three failures. Instead, the DM assembles a dice pool based on the rolls. It comes out to: 2x conservative, 1x reckless, 1x expertise, 2x challenge, 1x misfortune. Rolling, the DM gets: success x2, fail x1, bane x2, comet x1.

The efforts bear fruit: the party is successful at gaining entry to the party. However, the banes suggest that the guards who took the bribes are now under suspicion by their fellow non-corrupt guards, and they may be on higher alert. But the comet suggests something interesting happening… perhaps at the gate, the guards nearly stopped the party, but a noblewoman sweeps in and airily waves away the guards, vouching for her ‘friends’. Who might this person be…?

Reasoning: Skill challenges are some of the worst designed things about 4E, in my opinion. Doing it this way, you allow for much broader flexibility and creativity in how to approach any given skill challenge, since a failure doesn’t directly hurt your party (and in the above example, the reckless dice could’ve turned out to be /very/ good, but actually came up blank this time, neither hurting or helping). It also allows for more interesting outcomes. In this case, the party gains entry, but subsequent skill checks are harder because of the guard’s eyes on them. On the other hand, their new ally opens up new opportunities.

Let me know what you think.

Tiered Difficulty on Saving Throws (Review)

Current Rule: Roll 10+ on a saving throw, no matter what it is, and succeed.

Suggested Rule: Set it up so saving throws have Easy, Normal and Hard difficulties, having to roll 6+, 10+, and 16+ in order to save from them.

Reasoning: Saving throws are, for 90% of the game, done pretty well. Except in the case of Daily Powers and using them on Elite or Solo creatures. Because they have +2 and +5 to saving throws respectively, your daily Save Ends effects are less effective on them… even if they’re the ones you typically WANT to use your save ends effects on!

Save ends difficulties will be applied on a case-by-case basis, but Daily Powers will typically have the Hard difficulty automatically. Item Powers might have the Normal difficulty (because, especially with an Artificer in the party, you typically can recharge them easier than actual daily attack powers), and things like saving throws to not fall off a ledge would be Easy. Let me know what you think.


Cold Shadows nabikasu