Dungeon Master’s Rules

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As a DM, I like keeping the nature of the play group free-flowing and organic.  Much of the content and interaction in a roleplaying group emerges naturally, and too many rules imposed can stifle this environment.

Still, there are a few things I’ve learned throughout my experiences, and a few guidelines that have arisen because of them:

Statutes:

  1. The party must stick together.
    Not every character in a party need agree with every other in goals or values.  In fact, parties may be composed of self-serving evil characters, or even both good and evil characters, as long as the adventurers have some reason to continue working together.  It is when the major conflicts arise between party members (either in game or in real life) that a campaign is on its last legs.
  2. Do not argue with the DM.
    The campaign is my little world, and I am its king.  I reward individual thinking and creative thought, but there’s a fine line between an intellectual discussion and outright arguing/bickering.
  3. I will not kill your character unless you want me to.
    RPGs are more fun when you’re allowed to become invested in your characters over a long time, instead of constantly wondering if they’ll die during the next encounter. That being said, I will punish stupidity, and I can make your characters so unplayable that you’d wish they’d die. Play smart.
  4. Have an action prepared by the time initiative rolls to you.
    Spend some time during other players’ turns deciding your action.  If your character doesn’t have at least a simple reaction ready, I’ll rule that he or she has become frozen with indecision and skip your turn.  An entire party should not be consistently waiting on a single player.

House Rules:

  1. Everyone levels up at the same time.
    Unless someone is casting a large number of spells with an XP component, all party members will level up simultaneously, to keep bookkeeping simple and resentment low.  Generally, this is every two or three sessions (save for the first few levels).
  2. Characters can have a maximum of two classes (base or prestige).
    A “class” represents a great emphasis on both specific training and behavior. It does not make as much thematic sense for a character to have features from a wide range of classes.
  3. While in combat, Spot/Listen/Knowledge/other mental skill checks can be performed as a Move action.
    Curious if you know anything about that giant’s weaknesses?  Spend a quick moment in thought before deciding your action.
  4. “Natural” 20 rolls count as 30 when not automatically successful.
    This rule is used in checks that progress beyond DC 20, such as particularly tricky maneuvers or obscure knowledge checks. Add a 30 to your character’s bonus for the final result.
  5. Special attacks cannot be substituted in for Attacks of Opportunity.
    This isn’t only to prevent Spiked Chain+Trip/Disarm shenanigans.  An Attack of Opportunity represents an action taken quickly, on reflex.  You do not have time to pull off a complicated combat maneuver.

Additional:

The Craft (Jury Rig) Skill

Craft (Jury Rig) is a new skill that the DM may allow players to use. Whenever a character wishes to create a new device out of a few items he or she has lying around, he must make a Craft (Jury Rig) check (no retry). The result is then used to determine the chance of the device coming apart each time it is used:

DC 30: Jury-rigged object will hold indefinitely.
DC 27: Each time you use the jury-rigged object, also roll a d20. On a result of 1, the apparatus comes apart, and whatever action was attempted fails.
DC 25: Same as above, but with a d12.
DC 22: Same, but with a d10.
DC 20: Same, but with a d8.
DC 15: Same, but with a d6.
DC 10: Same, but with a d4.
<DC 10: The jury-rig attempt fails.

The DM has the right to increase or decrease the DC, based on the complexity of the resulting device.

As with other skills, taking ranks in it will improve the results of jury-rigging a device. (Nothing protects against a natural 1, however.)