Tag: DM Tips

Optional, House and Reminder Rules

Overview

This is a collection of the optional and homebrew rules that we use in our game.

Rules

Rules: Vision and Light

A quick reminder on the visibility rules in D&D 5e:

  • Lightly Obscured: dim light, patchy fog, moderate foliage; creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • Heavily Obscured: darkness, opaque fog, dense foliage; creatures suffer from the blinded condition.
  • Blinded: creature automatically fails any ability check that requires sight. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • Darkvision: a creature with darkvision can see in darkness as if the darkness were dim light. So areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far as the creature is concerned.

 

Picking Locks

Overview

During our game it became clear that there was some confusion around picking locks. We were using Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks in order to resolve these. Here are the rules around picking locks and the different scenarios in which it can occur.

The Rules

  • You have thieves’ tools and you are proficient with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and add your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You have thieves’ tools and you have expertise with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and add twice your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You have thieves’ tools and you are not proficient with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and you do not add your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you are proficient with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check and add your proficiency bonus to it, but you have disadvantage on the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you have expertise with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check and add twice your proficiency bonus to it, but you have disadvantage on the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you are not proficient with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check, but you have disadvantage to the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools, nor any improvised tools: you have to find another way to open the lock.

Dual Wielding, Rules, Interpretation and House Rules

Overview

During our game sessions I have gotten increasingly confused about dual wielding weapons (known in the rules as Two-Weapon Fighting) and I’ve seen our group make some similar mistakes and have overlooked some limitations. This is meant as a reminder. At the end, I house rule dual wielding slightly to accommodate our game somewhat without drastically changing the game.

The Rules

Two-Weapon Fighting

According to the Player’s Handbook, it says the following on Two-Weapon Fighting:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

This means that anyone can use two weapons, regardless of class. Keep in mind that in order to cast a spell which has a somatic component does require you to have at least one free hand, as per the somatic Component rules in the Player’s Handbook.

So while you can use a bonus action to make an off-hand attack, you can only do so if both your main hand weapon and off-hand weapon are light. Also your off-hand attack does not benefit from ability modifier bonuses to damage (strength modifier or dexterity modifier in the case of finesse weapons), unless that modifier is negative.

Light Ranged Weapons

While the rules explicitly state that only light melee weapons can be dual wielded, the Hand Crossbow is also designated as light, which suggests that any light weapon can be an off-hand weapon, even ranged weapons.

Feat: Dual Wielder

The Dual Wielder feat in the Player’s Handbook provides the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

This means that only with this feat you can draw two weapons at once, and fight with two weapons where one or both weapons aren’t light.

Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting

The Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style in the Player’s Handbook provides the following benefits:

  • When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

The only three classes that can learn fighting styles are Fighter, Paladin and Ranger, and only the Fighter and the Ranger can choose the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style.

House Rule

While dual wielding, the main hand weapon can be either a light or finesse weapon, while the off-hand weapon should always be a light weapon.

Consequences
  • Dual wielding will become easier, allowing weapons like the rapier as well as the whip to be the main hand weapon with another, light weapon as the off-hand weapon.
  • The Dual Wielder feat will diminish slightly in value, as the group of weapons that can be used to dual wield is expanded by the finesse weapons as main hands.
  • In the event of someone using a finesse weapon to dual wield, then we’ll have to be mindful of how D&D Beyond responds to it. We might have to create a custom weapon which has all of the same properties but also has the light weapon property.

House Rule: Identify Spell and Material Components

Overview

This is a house rule intended to make the Identify spell a little more limited and define what the spell provides in terms of information.

Material Components

The rules around spellcasting components in the Player’s Handbook state the following:

If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell.

The identify spell has a material component requirement of an owl feather as well as a pearl worth at least 100 gold pieces. However, it does not explicitly state that the pearl is consumed, meaning that the same pearl can be used again and again.

House Rule

The Identify spell requires the pearl to be crushed, dissolved in liquid, the liquid needs to be stirred with the owl feather, and the liquid needs to be consumed. This means that the pearl is consumed during casting.

According to the Player’s Handbook, any component that has an explicit value, or is consumed, cannot be replaced by a spellcasting focus. In this case, only the owl feather can be replaced by a spellcasting focus, which will need to be on hand while the crushed pearl is stirred by other means.

The effect of the spell is that it gives insight into the item’s abilities, but the history of the item will still be unclear. While certain bits of information about the history of the item might become clear through the Identify spell, a Legend Lore spell is required to learn the precise history of the item. The less frivolous and more powerful the item, the more likely there are important details to its history that will impact the character using the item.