Top 10 Worst House Rules Ever in Dungeons & Dragons


I-I can’t believe I just died again. This game is a real meat grinder. Yeah, no kidding. Now you gotta start at level 1 again because
of our dungeon master’s house rule. Hahaha, you suck! You know, this house rule has affected all
of us, and I feel that it overall detracts from the sum total of fun in the game. Perhaps our Dungeon Master would consider
changing it? No, this is the rule we’re using. We’ve talked about this before. Yeah, but Mr. Dungeon Master, sir, none of
us like this rule. It’s just not fun. Look, I’m the dungeon master. My word is law. If you don’t like the rules, you can leave. Indeed. That is a fine idea. Wait, where do you guys all think you’re
going? Hey, come back here. I’m the dungeon master. You can’t just leave. Who do you think’s in charge around here? Okay, fine, I’ll just play D&D by myself
then. [raising voice] You hear that? I don’t need you! Welcome to the DM Lair. I’m Luke Hart, and I’ve been a dungeon
master since high school. On this channel I give practical dungeon master
advice that you can implement at your table. Today in the Lair we’re going to be talking
about the top 10 absolute worst house rules in Dungeons & Dragons. See, I’m in the middle of an entire video
series on house rules, and I thought that it might also be valuable to go over the things
dungeon masters should consider NOT doing. Because avoiding pitfalls is important, too. Now, this list will include things that I
personally have experienced as a player. However, I also pinged you all not too long
ago over in my community tab about the worst house rules you’ve experienced. So, I’ve included some particularly juicy—that
is, horrendous—house rules from there, too. Before we jump in, I just want to remind you
I have a bunch of free D&D adventures available over on my site thedmlair.com for dungeon
masters looking for pre-made content. These are adventures that I personally created
and ran for my groups, and you essentially get my DM notes and maps. I also wanted to call your attention to that
shiny JOIN button down below. If you click that, you’ll get information
about becoming a channel member and the benefits thereof. Things like access to a VIP discord channel,
monthly hangouts with me—stuff like that. It’s also a great way for to just support
the content I create, if you’d like to do so. And now that the plugs are out of the way,
on to the list of horrible house rules! [CU] Oh, and by the way, if you use any of
these house rules and are mildly offended by their inclusion here—well, how’s that
saying go? “Sorry, not sorry?” NUMBER 1, critical fumbles on a natural 1
attack role. Holy crap, it is amazing how much players
hate, hate, hate critical fumbles. It doesn’t matter if you are using a stupid
table to look up results or saying dumb stuff like “Your weapon flies out of your hand”
or “Your weapon breaks.” Yeah, let’s find a way to unevenly punish
melee players over spellcaster players. AND unevenly punish the PLAYERS (who usually
get more attacks) over the ENEMIES. Oh, and that’s not to mention how much it
bogs the game down by having to roll on the tables and determine results. I personally have NEVER had players who enjoyed
critical fumbles. In my experience, they are nearly universally
hated by players. I did use them several years ago in my Sword
Coast Guard game, and they didn’t last but three sessions before it became clear that
we all hated them. NUMBER 2, re-rolling your character at LEVEL
1 when they die. Okay, look, dying and having to re-roll a
character sucks enough for players. Like, many players just don’t like it. It is merely adding insult to injury to make
them re-roll their level 16 character at level 1. Now I get that this may be the old school
gritty way of doing things, and that’s great and all. And I can appreciate nostalgia about how folks
used to do things back in the day as much as the next person. But I feel like today’s players may be just
a wee bit different. So if I die, I can live with that—I personally
don’t mind it when my PC dies because it’s an opportunity for me to try out a different
cool build I might have in mind—but please don’t make me start at level 1 again. It sucks for lots of actual game reasons,
not just because I’m a special snowflake or something. NUMBER 3, screwing with the experience points
system, specifically in ways that make it unbalanced for players. For instance, the worst way to tweak the XP
system is to only award XP to the character who dealt the killing blow. So, that crowd-control wizard who makes your
battles a crap ton easier via hold monster or hypnotic pattern or banishment or any number
of amazing spells but rarely kills anything just gets the shaft? Or just awarding experience points randomly
or at the dungeon master’s discretion, often favoring certain players. Oh, the dungeon master is a thespian themselves
and gives more XP to players who exhibit the same behavior? Or the DM loves combat and gives more XP to
players who excel in that area. No, pass please. How about we don’t make D&D a competition
between players, huh? Like, seriously, one of the things that distinguishes
D&D and other table-top roleplaying games and is a HUGE compelling gameplay component
is that the players DON’T compete with each other. Let’s not ruin that, shall we? NUMBER 4, permanent injury tables triggered
by critical hits or similar game mechanics. ARG!!! These things are horrible, especially the
ones in the dungeon master guide. I mean, some of these injuries are so bad
that you might as well just re-roll your character. A lost arm? A reduction to the bard’s charisma score? A permanent limp reducing movement? I’m sorry, that stuff is crap. NUMBER 5, punishments for not role-playing
your alignment “properly.” Come on, let’s take one of the most contentious
topics of D&D and weaponize it. Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure that will be fun. And what am I talking about? Well, the fact that almost no one can agree
on what defines any particular alignment. That is, most folks have a different idea
of what things like lawful good and chaotic good even mean. So, the chances are very high a dungeon master
will have a different understanding of alignment than their players. And if in-game punishments are involved for
not role-playing your alignment, then players will usually end up screwed. Either they get punished with lose of experience
points or something similar OR they are forced to role-play their character according to
the DM’s definition of alignment. And that effectively steals player agency,
something I’ve stated before as being something a dungeon master should avoid doing at all
costs. NUMBER 6, house rules that nerf class abilities
or core game mechanics. Now look, I’ll be the first one to admit
to being guilty of doing this. I know, however, strive to always discuss
these sorts of changes with my players first and then ONLY change things when absolutely
necessary. For instance, my players and I have spoken
about the spell Healing Spirit, and we universally agree that it’s horribly overpowered as
written. The feat Elven Accuracy is another example. The problem as I see it is when dungeon masters
nerf things due to a lack of understanding of game mechanics or because they just don’t
like them. And then furthermore when they nerf things
without first discussing what they perceive as the issue with their players. It’s always best to talk to players and
see if a mutual agreement can be reached. NUMBER 7, rolling ability scores in order. So, your first roll is your Strength, the
second roll is your Dexterity, and so on. Now, I personally don’t have quite as high
an aversion to this idea as others, but I do know that many many players hate this. Now, some dungeon masters will say that this
will encourage your players to player classes that they ordinarily wouldn’t play. They may also appeal to nostalgia how back
in the day this is how it was done. And you may have noticed this, but in general,
I hate appealing to nostalgia just for the sake of nostalgia. Like, convince me with logical arguments and
facts, not just some flighty “Well back in the day” statement. I mean, back in the day thousands of people
died from polio every year, but none of us want that again, do we? Anyway, the main problem with this house rule
is that prevents players from playing characters that they actually want to play. Oh, you wanted to be a ranged fighter or a
rogue? Touch luck. Your dexterity is 8. And, you know what, most players just don’t
find that to be much fun. NUMBER 8, skill checks auto-succeed on natural
20s. So, I suspect that in part this exists not
because DMs make it a house rule, but because they simply don’t understand the actual
game rules. Only attack rolls are auto-success on natural
20s, not ability or skill checks. Rolling a natural 20 on a Persuasion check
will not allow me to convince the king to abdicate his throne. Rolling a natural 20 on a on a Stealth check
will not allow me to hide from an enemy who’s staring directly at me while I have faerie
fire outlining my form. If an Arcana check DC is 25, the barbarian
doesn’t magically know the secrets of arcane runes because they got lucky on a 5% chance. Simply put, some things are just not possible. NUMBER 9, any house rule that allows the dungeon
master to take away player agency. Now, I know this is a loose grouping rather
than a specific rule, but I hear about lots of these. And, usually they are made up on the spot
by a capricious dungeon master who just doesn’t like something. For instance, a dungeon master overruling
a player’s actions because “that not what your character would do”. Who exactly should be the judge of what a
player’s character would or would not do if not the player themself? NUMBER 10, any house rule that favors the
enemies but not the players. For instance, ruling that enemies get infinite
reactions to use on attacks of opportunity, but that players don’t get the same. Basically the rule of thumb I go by in my
games is that if it works for the dungeon master, it works for the players—and vice
versa. Let me know the house rule you hate the most
from a game you’ve been in. Next week I’ll be talking about something
interesting, I’m sure, but until then click here to learn about seven house rules you
can use to improve your D&D game. And until next time… Let’s play D&D!

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