House Rules (DnD)

Mechanics Top

Defense Saves

This variant rule changes AC into a saving throw with proficiency bonus.

  • Defense Save. D20 + AC – 10 + Proficiency

With these adjustments, all DCs to defend against NPC attack need to be calculated as 14 + NPC Attack Bonus (instead of 12 + Bonus), as if the PC was defending against NPC spells using Saving Throws. This is because the PCs Proficiency bonus is now added to Defense rolls.

Escalation Die

The escalation die represents a bonus to attacks as the fight goes on.

At the start of the second round, the GM sets the escalation die at 1. Each PC gains a bonus to attack rolls equal to the current value on the escalation die. Each round, the escalation die advances by +1, to a maximum of +6.

Monsters and NPCs do not add the escalation die bonus to their attacks

If the GM judges that the characters are avoiding conflict rather than bringing the fight to the bad guys, the escalation die doesn’t advance. If combat virtually ceases, the escalation die resets to 0.

Players Make All Rolls

Note: This variant uses the Defense Save rule described above.

This variant has the players roll dice for all parts of combat, including such things as monster attack rolls and saving throws. By moving die rolls to the players’ side of the table, this option keeps things simpler for you as the DM. In addition, the more active you can keep the players in your game, the more engaged they’ll be.

Mechanical Changes

The following changes are made:

  • PC Spell DCs become Spell Effect rolls, where attack modifier is Ability Modifier + Proficiency Bonus.
  • PC Armour Class becomes a Defence Roll, where defence modifier is Dexterity Modifier + Armour/Shield Bonus (or AC-10).
  • NPC Attack Rolls become Defense DCs, where the DC is 12 + NPC Attack Bonus.
  • NPC Ability Saving Throws become Saving Throw DCs, where the DC is 14 + NPC Saving Throw Bonus.

On a successful Defence Roll, the attack misses because it was dodged, absorbed by the character’s armour, and so on. If a character fails a Defence Roll, the attack hits.

If the attacker would normally have Advantage on the Attack Roll, you instead apply disadvantage to the Defence Roll, and vice versa if the attacker would have Disadvantage.

If the Defence Roll comes up as a 1 on the d20, then the attack is a critical hit. If the attacker would normally score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20, then the attack is a critical hit on a 1 or 2, and so forth for broader critical ranges.

Rolls Summary
PC Attacker
  • Attack Roll. D20 + Attack Ability Modifier + Weapon Proficiency Bonus
  • Attack DC. NPC armour class.
  • Spell Attack Roll. D20 + Spell Ability Modifier + Proficiency Bonus.
  • Spell Attack DC. NPC Armour Class.
  • Spell Effect Roll. D20 + Spell Ability Modifier + Proficiency Bonus. (New)
  • Saving Throw DCs. 14 + NPC Saving Throw Bonus. (New)
PC Defender
  • Defense Roll. D20 + Defense Saving Throw. (New)
  • Defense DC. 14 + NPC Attack Bonus. (New)
  • Saving Throw Roll. D20 + Saving Throw Ability Modifier + Saving Throw Proficiency Bonus.
  • Saving Throw DC. NPC Spell DC.

Narrative Top


Originally from 13th Age.

The 13th Age Archmage Engine supports the concept of icons. An icon is a powerful NPC (non-playable character) that has a strong influence on the world outside of your campaign, yet may indeed aid or oppose your character over the course of your campaign, depending on the relationship your character has with the icon.

Icons have their own story, alignment, and personality. The general knowledge and history about them may vary in depth and accuracy; they may be well-known or mysterious. They have their own relationships with other icons, too, which may be friendly, tolerable, or acrimonious.

Your character may have relationships with certain icons. This relationship, if it exists, can be positive, conflicted, or negative.

Determine Your Icon Relationships

Your character’s relationship with icons is an important way to draw him or her into your game world. An icon may have its own champions and heroes (including you) to advance its cause in the game world.

Invest Your Relationship Points

At 1st level, each character gets 3 relationship points. Each point represents one d6 to be used when trying to leverage your connection to the icon (See Using Icon Relationships.)

The number of points you invest in a relationship with an icon doesn’t necessarily correlate with the closeness of the connection or the strength of the relationship. It does correlate with the utility of the relationship. It’s not necessarily about how well the icon knows you or how strong the icon feels about you. Instead, the points reflect the chance that your relationship will be helpful to you.

The Icons Relationships Master Chart summarises the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted, and negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous, and villainous icons.

Icon Positive Relationship Conflicted Relationship Negative Relationship
Heroic Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.
As far as this icon is concerned, you’re one of the good guys, a white-hat hero. Authorities often help you, and civilians often trust you. On the downside, you may be called on to serve representatives of the icon even when you have other plans. You might also be a target of villainous icons or this heroic icon’s rivals.
Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.
You’re probably one of the good guys, but for some reason, you’re suspect to the icon Maybe you’re a convict who has served his time or an imperial soldier who was too good and got drummed out of his legion. You have insider knowledge and allies who are in good with the icon but you also have enemies associated with the icon.
Spend 1 point.
In the icon’s eyes, you’re a dissident, opponent, rival, or foe. You may have contacts or inside knowledge that you can use to your advantage, but some form of trouble waits for you wherever this heroic icon has influence.
Ambiguous Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.
Thanks to your relationship with the icon you are a hero to some, a villain to others, and possibly even a monster to a few. The enemies of your friends may turn out to be your friends and vice versa. Advantages and complications will come from all sides.
Spend 1, 2, or 3 points.
Your relationship with the icon is complex, an uneven relationship with an icon who’s a hero to some and a villain to others. One way or another, you can find help or hostility anywhere. You don’t just live in interesting times—you create them.
Spend 1 or 2 points.
Your enmity with this icon makes you some enemies, but it also makes you some useful friends. You may be a dissenter, unwanted family member, or even a traitor in some way.
Villainous Spend 1 point.
You are able to gain secrets or secretive allies, but your connection to this icon brings trouble from people associated with the heroic icons who oppose the villain. Be prepared to justify why you’re not imprisoned, interrogated, or otherwise harassed by the heroic icons and their representatives whenever they encounter you. Or for that matter, by the other PCs.
Spend 1 or 2 points.
You mostly work against the icon but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.
Spend 1 or 2 points.
You mostly work against the icon but you’re also connected to the icon in a way you can’t deny. Your connection sometimes gives you special knowledge or contacts, but it also makes you suspect in the eyes of many right-minded would-be heroes.

This chart assumes that you’re playing a heroic character. A villainous character will need to swap the maximums between heroic and villainous icons.

Rolling Icon Relationship Dice

Sometimes the GM will ask you to roll your relationship dice, representing your relationship with your icon. Roll a d6 for each point you have in the relationship. This means that you will usually roll 1, 2, or 3 dice.

If any die is a 6, you get some meaningful advantage from the relationship without having complications. If two or three dice come up 6, that’s even better.

If any die is a 5, your connection to the icon is going to work out as well as a 6 would, but with some unexpected complication. If it’s a good icon you might be drawn into some obligation. If it’s a villainous icon, you might attract unwanted attention.

Rolling 5s when you also rolled 6s should make life both interesting and advantageous!

Icons’ Organisations

Icons are usually not directly part of the campaign. They rarely make an appearance personally, except perhaps at epic level. Most of the time, interacting with an icon means that you’re actually interacting with his or her lower-level functionaries, acolytes, disciples, bureaucrats, lieutenants, barons, priests, etc. In fact, any level of relationship with an icon can be enough to get you noticed by other people who are connected to that icon.

Using Icon Relationships

The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that generally provide you with outright assistance and useful information.

Negative relationships usually provide inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies, and possibly some sort of supernatural advantage against a villain.

Often you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy. You might get help, wealth and resources, and even magic items from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking.

In addition to aid from others, icon relationships provide characters with special knowledge.

A negative relationship with a thoroughly villainous icon is more in keeping with the heroic lifestyle, but you should expect that the assistance you get from a negative relationship may end up being more directly confrontational than more conventional conflicted and positive relationships.

Changing Relationships

When your character achieves champion level (10th), you gain an extra relationship point. Use it to increase an existing relationship by one die or gain a 1-point relationship with a new icon to match your character’s story thus far. You can save the extra relationship die and decide to apply it later.

At 10th level, or any time thereafter, you can switch an existing relationship point from one icon to another, including to a new icon. You owe the GM and other players an entertaining explanation of what this big change represents for your character personally, of course.

When you reach epic level (15th), you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase an existing icon relationship by one die, including up to 1 point over maximum. As at 10th level, if switching a relationship point from one icon to another makes sense for your 15th level character, go for it.

One Unique Thing

Originally from 13th Age.

Your character’s One Unique Thing (their unique) is a special feature invented by you, the player, which sets your character apart from every other hero. It is a unique and special trait to your character, and markedly unusual. The intent is that it provides a special flavour to the campaign and can assist the GM in determining how your character can interact with characters and story in the campaign.

Your character’s unique should not provide general practical value in combat. That is not the intent. The intent is to open up story arcs and fun roleplaying opportunities.

Some examples of ‘Uniques’ might be:

  • “I am the bastard son of the Emperor.”
  • “I hear pain as music. Sweet, sweet music.”
  • “I am the reincarnation of an ancient icon. I don’t know which one yet.”
  • “I have a clockwork heart made by the dwarves.”
  • “I am the only human child of a zombie mother.”
  • “I am the incarnation of a hero who lived ages ago, and I’m sure that Destiny has brought me back for a reason.”

Nature and Demeanour

Pulled from the pages of Old World of Darkness, these replace Alignment.

A character’s Nature is their basic personality, their fundamental behaviour and perception of the world. When a character acts according to their nature, they gain Inspiration. Nature is not the only aspect of the characters true personality, merely the most dominant aspect.

In contrast to a characters Nature, Demeanour is the image the character projected to the outside world. It does not impact the character’s traits as Nature would, but instead is effectively how the character is perceived, or at least how they want to be perceived.

Nature and Demeanour can be any set of descriptive personality traits you can think of, although a good starting point can be found on the WoD Wiki.

For example, a character with a nature of Child and a demeanour of Haughty Celebrant would gain Inspiration in situations where he gets someone to nurture or protect him, but overall acts like someone who enjoys life. His nature could manifest through a high degree of dependency, such as by partying until incapacitated and depending on someone to walk him home, provide a ride, or the like.

As a rule, Demeanours can be changed by characters with relatively little effort – they are, after all, surface impressions. Natures can be changed only in response to major events and should require roleplaying. A change in Nature represents a major shift in a character’s attitude and outlook.

Not Implemented Top

Armour as Damage Reduction

Note: This is not currently implemented in the campaign.

This house rule changes the effect of armour from a bonus to defence to damage reduction, to represent the armour reducing damage from a connecting blow, rather than causing it to ‘miss’.

The table below shows the Defense calculation and Damage Reduction value for a given piece of armour. Damage Reduction only applies against attacks that would normally target AC, such as weapon attacks, or projectile-like spells. All other attacks are unaffected.

Magical bonuses to armour and shields grant a bonus to the Defense value of the armour, as normal.

Important: With these adjustments, all DCs to defend against NPC attack need to be calculated as 14 + NPC Attack Bonus (instead of 12 + Bonus), as if the PC was defending against NPC spells using Saving Throws. This is because the PCs Proficiency bonus is now added to Defense rolls.

Armour Type Defense Damage Reduction Notes
No Armor Proficiency + DEX
Mage Armor (Deflection) Spell Proficiency + DEX + 3
Mage Armor (Barrier) Spell Proficiency + DEX + 1 1
Barkskin Spell Proficiency + DEX 3 Grants minimum DR3
Shield Spell +5
Unarmored Defense None Proficiency + DEX ½ × WIS or CON**
Padded Light Proficiency + DEX + 1 Stealth Disadvantage
Leather Light Proficiency + DEX + 1
Studded Leather Light Proficiency + DEX 1
Hide Medium* Proficiency + DEX 1
Chain Shirt Medium* Proficiency + DEX + 1 1
Scale Mail Medium* Proficiency + DEX 2 Stealth Disadvantage
Breast Plate Medium* Proficiency + DEX 2
Half Plate Medium* Proficiency + DEX + 1 2 Stealth Disadvantage
Ring Mail Heavy Proficiency 2 Stealth Disadvantage
Chain Mail Heavy Proficiency 3 Strength 13, Stealth Disadvantage
Split Heavy Proficiency + 1 3 Strength 15, Stealth Disadvantage
Plate Heavy Proficiency 4 Strength 15, Stealth Disadvantage
Shield Shield + 2
*Max DEX Modifier for Medium Armour is +2.
**The DR value for Unarmored Defense does not round, instead if there is a 0.5 remainder it becomes a +1 Deflection bonus to Defense.

Partial Success

Note: This is not currently implemented in the campaign.

Drawn from the partial success result from Dungeon World this offers players the opportunity to succeed at a cost when they would otherwise miss.

Any roll that is up to 4 less or 3 higher than the DC causes (40% chance) the player to succeed at their action, but with some form of cost determined by the GM. Alternatively, the GM may offer the player a number of options and have them choose one of them.

House Rules (DnD)

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