House Rules: When it works.

I'm interested in understanding what make a good house rule good. In my game, I use an expanded hero point system that replaces hero points with mana. The idea is that everyone has some innate magic ability, and that ability helps the player do things, in a way the hero points might, such as gaining or imposing advantage. My players enjoy it. It gives them more choices and expands the possibilities of their characters. I think that is why it is successful, but I am not sure. What makes a good house rule good?

Comments

  • Sounds trite, but the answer is when it makes the game better for your players.

    Trite and tautological.

    I think the key components to good houserules are that they either simplify the game-- like Pathfinder Unchained's Grouped Skills-- or they open up new avenues of play, like your hero points, without overcomplicating things.

    My house rules generally fit neither quality, which is why they suck, but I will eventually get them right.

  • edited June 14

    Trial, error and honest player feedback. Being able to explain the rules and their consequences, whereever they might occur, really helps too.

    House rules should also only add flavor to a campaign, not just make characters more powerful. Best way to do that is to make the rule "universal", e.g. NPCs have it just like the players.

    Pathfinder has a lot to reference too, most house rule ideas are easily done by modifying some existing rule slightly.

    Scrap stuff that doesn't work as soon as possible. Your players aren't guinea pigs and don't want to play rules, but a world and their characters.

    Btw. Your hero point house rule reminds me of the psionics rules. I think using the basic abilities from those could work for your idea.

  • Trial and error is nice, but hey, Rule of cool is a big house rule. If its fun enough and it doesn't break the game. Shields technically count as light weapons. Can a rogue technically be a dual shield basher pacafist? Well it doesn't mess up the game too much and its interesting, so why not?
  • Trial and error is nice, but hey, Rule of cool is a big house rule. If its fun enough and it doesn't break the game.
    Shields technically count as light weapons. Can a rogue technically be a dual shield basher pacafist? Well it doesn't mess up the game too much and its interesting, so why not?
    I'm just saying that stuff that isn't cool or fun enough (or even breaks the game) should be kicked out again, before it takes root...

    I wouldn't consider your shieldbash rogue a house rule, it's fully covered by the base rules. Allowing the rogue to shieldbash sneak attack for non-lethal damage would be a house rule. One that makes total sense - and makes the pacifist leaping out of the shadows to whack someone with two shields more fun. ^^
  • I think the first step to creating good house rules is to understand the core rules before you begin fiddling with them. I've encountered my share of house rules which attempted to fix something based on a broken understanding of the core mechanic, or which tried to build upon something by using an incorrect assumption of how it works.

    Once you think you have a good grasp on the core game mechanics, feel free to tinker. Run them by your group's rules lawyers to make sure they stand up to scrutiny. Then run them by your munchkins to make sure they don't break things too terribly.

    If you've gone through that process and come out with a house rule everyone enjoys playing with, give yourself a pat on the back. You've created a good house rule.
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