Thursday, February 7, 2008

How often do you House-Rule?

To all GMs reading this: How often do you implement house-rules, and to what extent?
Those are the questions, and I'd appreciate answers in the form of comments to this post.

I ask because of the thread on the Scion forums about house-rules. Ginormous lists of house-rules from several of the sharpest frequent posters. I had been feeling bad about all the house-rules I've been implementing. Now I know that I'm not alone, at least in regards to that RPG.

Please share with me how often you house-rule, to what extent you do so. Also, do you house-rule as the game progresses in response to issues that come up, or do you pro-actively analyze a system pre-campaign and hunt for things you'll have to change?

12 comments:

r_b_bergstrom said...

I'll get the comments started: In general, I accept the notion that I'll have to make a few house-rules in any campaign, but I usually try to keep them limited. While I'll often expand player options with new powers or new skills, but I try to keep the rules as close to the written book as possible.

Obviously, that hasn't held true for Scion.

r_b_bergstrom said...

The only other game where I've house-ruled to this extent was 7th Sea.
It was specifically for a one-player campaign. I upped the precision of the repartee system and the Sorte system as befitted a campaign focused on a Fate Witch.

While I was at it, I simplified damage rolls, gave drama dice a shot in the arm, tweaked the other sorceries a bit, made virtues/hubris/wiles/flaws more common, and rescaled the XP system.

So the changes were extensive.

r_b_bergstrom said...

I must admit, after Episodes 1-3 came out, I also ran a Star Wars d6 campaign in which I heavily house-ruled combat because all the PCs were Jedi.

But in that case, all the changes were to one or two narrow areas (melee actions predominantly, but I also added some force powers).

What's more the changes were on the lines of a general over-riding philosophy as opposed to line-item-vetos to individual rules.

r_b_bergstrom said...

For Continuum, I terribly simplified the entire resolution system, but doing so amounted to basically just one house-rule. It replaced attacks, normal task resolution, and frag rolls with a single less-fiddly resolution system.

r_b_bergstrom said...

For the LARP, we were jumping 5-20 years between story-arcs, which required some alterations to the experience system.

We also altered specific NPC-types (Salubri, Baali, Harbingers and Werewolves) so that PCs couldn't learn the big secrets of the setting by just reading the books.

The only other house-rules where on the specific issues where the book contradicted itself. Starting blood per session, costs to heal Agg damage, procedures regarding virtues and humanity, etc. If the book had a single definitive answer, we used it.

r_b_bergstrom said...

I may end up making all these comments into posts on their own tomorrow (or next week), so they'll be searchable and show up when viewing by label. For today though, I'll leave them as just comments so that visitors to this blog see the big question at the top of the page.

r_b_bergstrom said...

Back to Continuum: I also added one new Time Combat stratagem. I should put it up on this blog.

r_b_bergstrom said...

In the past couple years I've learned that me-too-ism bugs me, and so my intention going forward is to actively seek to switch tasks from a "every one rolls and law of averages says some PC succeeds" paradigm to a "only the best (at this) PC rolls, and everyone else just aids to grant a bonus" paradigm. That's the one area I actively seek to alter.

SiderisAnon said...

Well, I was wondering what 8 people had commented on your post about how they house rule, only to discover that you've dominated the conversation. Have we perhaps developed multiple personality disorder? ;)

Okay. Humor aside. I tend to house rule a lot, once I know a system. After playing it a lot, I can see the flaws, the bumps, and the places that really need adjustment.

There have been a few systems where I've spotted problems before I ever played. Sometimes, it's just an area that is not covered. (I know I want to do something, but there's no way under the rules.) Sometimes, it's just a glaring error in the rules. (Paladium had a bunch of those.) Once in a while, it's just a rule or combination or rules that obviously broken, so it has to be fixed, patched, or banned.

Generally, however, I prefer to get comfortable with a system before I tweak it. I feel like I should give it a shot first to see how it plays.

Scion is one of the few where I am going to be using house rules from the very first session. There's just too many fiddly bits.



When talking about house rules, I don't count something that I think every good DM/GM/ST does, which is to make calls on the fly for situations. Your character wants to climb a wall using a tapestry to pull themselves upward? Unless this is 3.5 D&D, there's probably no specific rule, so you wing it. I don't consider that to be house rules because they aren't permanent, they're situational.

(Oh, and there really is that rule in 3.5. It was on the version of the Herald DM test I took for RPGA. It's in the DMG instead of the PHB. It was the only one I got wrong.)

SiderisAnon said...

In the past couple years I've learned that me-too-ism bugs me, and so my intention going forward is to actively seek to switch tasks from a "every one rolls and law of averages says some PC succeeds" paradigm to a "only the best (at this) PC rolls, and everyone else just aids to grant a bonus" paradigm. That's the one area I actively seek to alter.

Do you think this will be as fun for the players? With some people, the idea of rolling the being the one who rolls high is important, and I think they'd be disappointed with the idea that all they get to do is help on something.

I think it would require a semi-balanced group where people had different specialties so that everyone got chances to be the one rolling.

However, that being said, I do agree with you that this is a better way of doing things from a story and GM'ing perspective.

digital_sextant said...

SiderIsAnon wrote: "When talking about house rules, I don't count something that I think every good DM/GM/ST does, which is to make calls on the fly for situations."

While I certainly don't have the experience or (either volume or recent-ness) that I'm sure y'all do, I found for my style of game playing and game player (very casual gamers, once a month type games that had a single all-night storyline), the seat-of-the-pants call was a staple. Often, if someone came up with a strange request like that, I would just use the general Star Wars difficulty rules to call a number they had to roll.

But again, like I said, this is in a game of people who really don't care much whether we got the technicalities right.

Aside: my character was a recovering alcoholic, and in stressful situations my GM made me roll to see whether I went on a bender. Since I was the only force-powered character much of the time, when I was drunk there was real trouble.

Aside2: Rolfe, let me tell you about my character...

r_b_bergstrom said...

siderisanon said: Do you think this will be as fun for the players?

You've got a really good point there.

In short, my experience is that it is fun. I've only GM'd it, not PC'd it, so I don't honestly know if it's the same level of fun or not. It has, however, been well-received by my play group.

My full response ended up long-winded enough that I decided to put my reply in a post of it's own and make a "Me-Too-ism" label to connect it to the older posts on the same topic.