How to upscale the death house and still keep it fun?

Due to Reasons™, my intro level to my current run of Curse of Strahd for a new group didn’t involve the Death House, I wrote my own intro-level this time.

I always had a lot of fun running it for other groups, though, so wanted to keep it in the game for a later stage. I’ve already written it in the world in a place that’s pretty likely to be found by the players.

The issue is that I still want to keep it a Death House, which it clearly is at levels 1-3, but I expect the party to find it at the earliest by level 5, probably 6. While it still would not be a breeze, I ran a number of the encounters with likely upscales of their current party and it did not feel deadly at all. I could just up all DCs and make each monster group a bit larger, but I don’t feel like that’s particularly interesting.

Assume my Plan™ survives first contact with the players and they find the House. What is an interesting way to upscale the Death House to party level 5-6? The party will be either 4 or 5 characters, depending on who can make which session, and the group is paranoid enough about dying that they seem to insist on running at least 2 healers at all times.

New DM on House Rules, concerning Nat20 & Rule of Cool

As a DM making a house rule, am I allowed to grant "Rule of Cool" to Natural 20 rolls in exchange of giving "Rule of Uncool" effects for Natural One rolls? (but all within the boundaries of RAW as well).

  • In battle, a small PC rolling Nat20 successfully maneuvers himself and climb on the back of the big bad creature (Legolas Style), only to roll Natural 1 in his attack and accidentally hit his allies.

  • Failing Deception on guard with Nat1 roll additional 2 arrives and a High Ranking Knight, only to roll Nat20 and convinced the High Ranking Knight instead literally allowing you to pass the area with no consequence at all.

I just want to encourage imagination by introducing some Matrix dodges and Epic fails in the game that is somewhat lighthearted and funny especially to noobs like me.

Am I being a bad example of being a DM? Should I discontinue this approach?

Good house rules for 1-on-1 game

I’m DMing a game for my son so this is his solo game, and first D&D game. For any dads or anyone else with 1 on 1 gaming experience, what are some good house rules to add? I was thinking of bonuses like doubling his proficiency, giving him an extra HD per level, extra actions, etc to make his character more survivable. Especially at low levels, as a single unlucky critical hit can end his game. But I don’t want to break the game.

Something I’d rather not do is just throw 1 enemy at him at a time. We had 2 encounters so far. The 1st encounter with 2 goblins was successful but he almost died. The 2nd encounter with 3 goblins had him drop to 0 HP, but I wrote it off by saying they captured him instead of killing him outright. For his next session he’ll have to find a way to escape.

So rather than just giving him 1 thing to fight every time, what are some other ways I can make his character more survivable while giving him exciting fights?

If it matters, he’s a 1st level fighter.

House Rule – Upcasting Enlarge / Reduce to extend duration

The party is deep into my 5e-updated classic Greyhawk Giants series.

The hill giants and their orc and goblin minions have attacked the Sterish city of Headwater and have taken about a quarter of the city. The party is about to embark on a mission to go behind enemy lines, kidnap and assassinate a stone giant who is critical to the hill giants’ city / siege offensive as being their only trained engineer. While the party’s patron recognizes that the stone giant needs to die, she also recognizes that at present the Stone Giant Thane has not joined the giant alliance and wants to keep it that way. Thus, she is requesting that they carry the body of the slain giant honorably back to his Thane in an effort to preserve a fragile peace between the humans and the stone giants. I would like the party to be able to accept this mission, without it becoming either a logistical challenge involving wagons and draft animals, or without loaning them a portable hole.

Instead, I would like to provide them with a version of the Enlarge / Reduce spell which is in all aspects identical to the original except that it can be upcast to extend the duration.

I figure the giant is 17 feet high and 1000 pounds; after reduce it would be 8.5 feet and a manageable 125 pounds.

For this version of Enlarge / Reduce I am proposing that:

When cast at 3rd level against living creatures, it lasts 10 minutes

When cast at 3rd level against objects, it lasts 1 hour

When cast at 4th level against living creatures, it lasts 1 hour (similar to polymorph)

When cast at 4th level against objects, it lasts 8 hours

When cast at 5th level against living creatures, it lasts 8 hours (much less than geas)

When cast at 5th level against objects, it lasts 24 hours

The party Wizard is currently 8th level and getting close to 9th. Requiring her to use both her fourth level slots and maintain concentration for the duration of travel every day in order to move swiftly and stealthily into the mountains with the body is just the right level of challenge for the group.

My only concern is that allowing this version of the spell to the party wizard permanently will have some unforeseen interaction with some other spell, ability, or item that I will later regret. This question, for example, asks about upcasting enlarge to permit two changes in creature size, and answers identify the interaction with levitation and grappling being problematic. I am interested in a similar troubleshooting review.

What balance pitfalls result from this house rule regarding levitating creatures?

My table is considering the following house rule:

A creature suspended above the ground and unable to move on its own (e.g., under the effect of the levitate spell) is especially susceptible to forces that would push or pull it. When you successfully target a suspended creature with an effect that would move it, you can choose to move it an additional number of feet equal to 5 times your relevant ability modifier (e.g., your Strength modifier if you shoved the creature with a special melee attack, or your spellcasting ability modifier if you used a magical effect, such as the gust spell or the shove effect of the Telekinetic feat). The additional movement must be in the same direction as the normal movement caused by the effect you used.

A creature with a flying speed is not affected by this rule.

The logic here should be obvious — a creature hanging in mid-air, with no ability whatsoever to stop itself from being moved, should be easy to move. But what are the implications of such a house rule from a balance standpoint? Are we setting ourselves up for headaches?

(For context: this might seem like a corner case, but we’re playing a heavily psionics-themed campaign, and so maximizing players’ opportunities to embody the tropes of telekinesis even at low levels is important. It isn’t inconceivable that someone else in a similarly-themed campaign might have similar ideas.)

Is it a game breaking house rule, if all in combat healing source heals the rollable maximum?

In the next week I will start a new campaign where I will be the DM. The players will be totally new to the DnD World, and because of that, I want to let them to freely choose the class and race which they want to play, but it seems like there will be no healer PC, just damage dealers and some kind of PC which maybe will have some healing.

I want to play with them in a relatively long campaign (I’m planning from level 1 to 20) and because of that, I really want to give them more opportunity to overcome the missing healing power. Will it break anything, if I let the semi-healer PC to heal the maximum roll-able number with any healing skill, which he/she uses in combat? For short rest I wouldn’t allow this house rule, so I really want to know, if it would be too powerful in combat house rule or not, and why?

House rules for Force Fields

We are thinking about changing the rules for Force Fields in our Rogue Trader RPG as we see some problems:

  • The percentage is rather cumbersome and adds a lot of rolling dices during the combat.
  • The "complete or no" negation is an issue. With that kind of rules, a Force Field can completely negate the shots of tanks or even titans for several rounds, specially the stronger fields like the Eldar Force Field with a shield rating of 75.
  • It doesn’t really match with the fluff. Goge Vandire had himself shot and was protected only by a force field, a risk he’d probably not have taken if the Rosarius only had a 50% chance of stopping the shot.

Has anybody created house rules for those shield in order to address these issues? I’ve found a discussion in the FFG forum and there are some interesting suggestions but in the end, they all lack of the problems mentioned above.

We’ve thought about a fixed number of hit points for each shield but a member of the party is not happy about that. I therefore thought somebody here might have an idea on how to solve the issue. Suggestions from other systems using force fields are also very welcome.

Is my accidental house rules on weapon damage in D&D 5e balaced?

TLDR: In my game, finesse and ranged weapons don’t get a stat damage bonus and Dueling gives the damage bonus to 1- and 2- handed weapons. Is this balanced?

Starting running a game for the first time in several years. Two of the players are new to D&D (a Warlock and a Bard). The other hasn’t played since 2nd edition (a Ranger).

During character creation, I gave them incorrect rules about weapon damage which I must have misremembered. I told them that Finesse and Ranged weapons don’t get a damage bonus, whereas other weapons get a strength bonus. The correct rule, having checked, is that Finesse and Ranged weapons get a damage bonus from dexterity.

Now, the Ranger player, remembering 2nd edition, gave his character a high dexterity for archery, but chose to have them wield a longsword with no shield. That means has base damage dice is the same as the bard with his rapier – both a d8. However, his bonuses are actually lower. At 1st level, he was a worse fighter than the bard!

After the first session, I took his player over the bonus and dual-weapon rules and checked if he wanted to keep using the longsword and not use a shield, and he did: he just chose to wield it two-handed for the higher damage dice. So I decided to keep my rules error a feature of the game. That way at least the Ranger gets a bonus on his damage dice, and the Bard does not.

I’m not sure why the Ranger wants to keep the longsword, I think he’s just got a strong image in his head from his 2nd edition Ranger characters. As a result, I also rejected the obvious compromise of letting the Ranger have a "longsword" that’s actually a rapier. I figured that might also cause problems with distributing magic items (is it a rapier? is it a sword?).

At 2nd level, the Ranger chose Duelling and, again, I’ve let him keep it as +2 damage with his longsword even though, strictly speaking, it’s not supposed to be used two-handed.

I haven’t explained to the players that I’ve got the rule wrong. Not out of fear of losing face but because it makes the party a little better balanced, and I don’t want the Bard claiming his +3 damage, putting him back in front of the Ranger. None of the other players has a rulebook.

I don’t believe this is in any way game breaking: it just gives the party a marginally lower damage output. So long as I tailor the encounters accordingly, I don’t see it as an issue. But I know D&D 5e is much better "mechanically balanced" that some older editions and I might have missed something. Is my approach here balanced and fair?

How much does a house cost?

I’m running my players through the Lost Mines of Phandelver starter campaign and the fighter character with an aversion to low standard living arrangements is interested in buying a local home that she could be comfortable in on their downtime. I have searched through the Player’s Handbook and DM Guide and I cannot find anything about what kind of price range a simple house would cost. The closest I have found are some of the ships players could buy.

Am I missing something and one of the books has a starting point? Or is there perhaps something in the greater D&D materials I could use as a base guide?