Rules Adherence: Having fun is always the first priority, but all players should expect full adherence with the rules as published in the Player’s Handbook and other core materials. The rules are there for a reason, and when you violate or stretch a rule, you run the risk of upsetting the balance of the game, or invalidating a particular choice that another player carefully made while putting his or her character together. Innocent mistakes are bound to happen and that is fine, but purposeful efforts to find loopholes or abuse certain rules will not fly. That said, issues with the rules will be discussed by the group, and any deviations from the published rules will be documented here as house rules.
Critical Hits and Misses: We will follow the standard rules for critical hits; however, if you roll a natural one, you make a critical miss. On a critical miss roll 1d6 to determine the outcome:
1. You injure yourself, taking half the attacks damage 2. You trip and fall prone, plus take 1d4 damage 3. You are dazed until the end of your next turn 4. You drop your weapon or implement 5. You take a -2 to your next attack roll 6. No effect, you pulled it out at the last second
Critical Successes and Failures: Rolling a natural twenty or a natural one on a non-combat d20 roll, may be a significant boon or bust for your character. If you have a critical success, you automatically succeed at whatever it is you were attempting, and gain additional benefits as per the DM’s discretion. If you roll a natural one, you automatically fail the attempt and may be subject to penalties as per the DM’s discretion. In some cases, failing a skill or ability check by ten or more points, may also result in a critical failure, as per the DM’s discretion.
Hero Bonuses: A Hero Bonus is a new typed bonus. It stacks with other bonus types and untyped bonuses, but never with another hero bonus covering the same roll or game mechanic. Hero bonuses are often given as player rewards for things like reliability, helpfulness, good role playing, etc. When a hero bonus is awarded, the DM will provide the player with a Hero Bonus Card that the player can redeem later for a +2 modifier to any single roll of his or her choice. Additional information covering hero bonuses will be provided during the first gaming session.
Starting Levels: All characters are assumed to start at first level. If, for some reason a new character is introduced at a higher level, that character begins play at the minimum amount of XP required to place him or her at the mid-range of a level one level lower than the current average level of the party – otherwise, follow the same rules outlined in the Dungeon Master’s Guide for starting characters at higher levels of play. Note that the DM may make exceptions to this rule when a new player joins the group.
Retraining: If you retrain any aspect of your character, you must describe the reason behind the retraining and how it was accomplished in terms of the groups roleplaying experience. It is not simply a matter of erasing a line and adding something new, there needs to be an in-character explanation for the change.
Masterwork Items: Masterwork weapons and armor are available within this campaign (for 10x their usual cost) and generally tend to take one of two forms. Masterwork-Balance adds a +1 to hit with weapons, or reduces the weight of armor by ½ and any skill check penalties by 1). Masterwork-Sturdy adds a +1 to damage with weapons, or adds an additional +1 to the AC of armor. These are non-magical item bonuses.
Components: Keeping track of your components for rituals and alchemical items is an important job. Unfortunately, these components are often expensive and difficult to acquire. Furthermore, there is no mechanic allowing you to acquire your own components other than buying them. For the purpose of this campaign, you may collect your own components. Using the Key Skill for a ritual or recipe, you can forage for the components needed. Foraging takes one hour and you must make a Skill check against a DC set by the DM (usually 15, 20, 25, or higher depending on the location) – the gp value of the components you find is equal to twice the difference between your roll and the DC that was set for the check (assuming you were successful). You can sell components for 1/5 their value, but may have difficulty finding people interested in purchasing your goods. Please note that this house rule is not to be abused… It is the DM’s prerogative to limit foraging.
Travel: Players are expected to know their characters overland travel speeds, and to work with the DM and the time keeper to understand how long it takes to get from point A to point B in game terms.
Food and Water: You must account for the food and water required to sustain your character. The rules for starvation and thirst exist for a reason. If you find yourselves trapped in a dungeon with nothing to eat or drink, you could wind up in a dire situation, creating fantastic roleplaying and character development opportunities. The same is true of mounts and companions, you need to be able to account for how they sustain themselves in game terms.
Lighting and Vision: Players are cautioned that lighting and vision will be an important aspect of this game. Make sure you know the radius, brightness, and duration for any light source you carry, how much fuel you have with you, etc. Darkness is a very real concern in the places adventurers go, so be prepared. Most room or location descriptions will include a line on illumination/light source availability.
Keeping Watch: Players should create a standard watch order that the DM is given. Whenever you take an extended rest, it is assumed that the watch order will be followed. Taking watch requires two rolls. The first is an endurance check (Against DC 10) to see if you remain awake for the entirety of your shift – this will only matter at lower levels of the campaign. The second is a perception check that will be used during your shift to determine what you notice and when. The DM will make checks for each characters shift to determine whether anything happens or not.
Extended Rests: You cannot benefit from an extended rest unless you’ve reached at least one milestone for the day. Also keep in mind that the Time Keeper will be writing down the number of rests taken and the amount of time spent resting. This could impact adventure story lines if you spend more time resting than you do adventuring.
Free Actions: During combat you are limited to no more than three free actions in a single round. Speaking does not count against this limitation, unless you speak more than a single sentence. Note that the DM may sometimes create situations in which your messages are not heard over the din of combat or for other reasons.
Attack Rolls: Certain bonuses to attack roles are situational. Please ensure that you are accurately applying those bonuses in terms of the conditions that apply. Also keep in mind that Line of Sight, Line of Effect, Cover, Concealment, lighting and vision, etc. will be key to many encounters.
Overtime: If a single encounter lasts for more than 45 minutes (according to the Time Keeper) the combat action goes into overtime mode. When in overtime, all attacks hit, and all damage is average damage for the attack in question. It is probably a good idea for you to include the average damage for each attack on your character sheet so that you don’t have to figure it out while in overtime mode. Note that unique battles may be given more time if needed at the DM’s discretion.
Adventure Cards: Whenever the group is exposed to a new adventure hook or legitimate adventure option, they will be given an adventure card to serve as a reminder of available options later. This does not mean that the party will be limited to those courses of actions presented on adventure cards, but those are the ones the DM is prepared to run. If the party decides to take an alternate course of action or pursue an activity not presented on an adventure card, the resulting adventure will likely be run off-the-cuff for that session and then properly outlined for the next session. Just be patient with the DM when these situations arise.
XP Awards: XP will be awarded after each encounter. Please note that the DM considers encounters to take many forms and combat is not the only way to handle a situation and receive the full XP value. In fact, players may gain higher XP awards for figuring out creative solutions to certain scenarios. Now, this does not mean that you should negotiate with every creature you encounter – but pay attention to the way that NPCs and creatures are introduced and look for ways to get past them – many times this may include combat. XP will also be awarded for various in-game activities depending on the situation and always at the discretion of the DM.
Leveling Up: When your character makes a level, you do not gain the benefits of your new level until you have taken an extended rest, and none of your new abilities are available to you until the next session. This will prevent players from slowing down the session pouring over options for levels they achieve. It will also give you a week to really make sure that you are advancing your character in the best possible way.
11th and 21st Levels: At levels 11 and 21, you assume your Paragon Path or Epic Destiny respectively. Do not assume that you automatically gain the powers and abilities of your Paragon Path or Epic Destiny. These are special times in the life of your character and as such are excellent roleplaying and storytelling opportunities. To take a paragon path or epic destiny, you must identify what you wish to take, how you arrived at that decision, and how you attain your training – all in a character context. This may require the characters to take a break from adventuring while they undergo the instruction, rights, or tests needed to advance to these stages of play.
Sideline Adventures: If the characters are in between adventures during a break between sessions, any player may suggest a sideline adventure their character undertakes. The sideline adventure will be managed during the course of that week via e-mail or telephone. Note that these are short, solo encounters specific to some activity a player would like their character to engage in while the rest of the characters are doing their own thing. Sideline adventures can take no longer than the amount of time that was agreed upon by the group for the adventure break. In other words, if the group said “okay, let’s take three days in the city to recuperate, rearm, and resupply” at the end of a session, your sideline adventure can take no more than three days to accomplish. The sideline adventure must be completed before the next session takes place, or their may be in-game consequences for your character (such as being left behind). Note that the DM may deny requests for sideline adventures based on availability and scheduling issues.
Absent Players: If a player notifies the DM (at least two days in advance of the session) that they will be absent from a session, that players character will receive half of the experience points they would have received had they been present for the session. If a player fails to show up and no notice is given, that players character will receive no XP for that session. When a player is absent, their character will be run in auto-mode by the DM or another player. Rules for auto-mode will be described later. If a character falls two or more levels behind the average level of the other characters, a character (or player) adjustment will be made.
DM Rotation: Players are encouraged to take part in DMing adventures from time to time. Any player may request to DM an adventure of any length or type – however, the guest DM will be required to work with the master DM to ensure that story continuity, rules interpretations, character profiles, treasure rewards, etc., are kept consistent and in balance with the rest of the campaign. While DMing, it is preferred that a guest DM’s character be removed from active play, but can be used as an NPC. The guest DM’s character will still gain all XP earned by the party as if he or she were an active participant in the adventure.
Master DM’s Character: Whenever a guest DM runs an adventure, the master DM will take a turn as a player, running his own character – this character must abide by the same character creation and management rules that any other player is required to meet, with the exception of character level management. The Master DM’s character will always be within the same average level range as the party members (including abilities, equipment, and wealth) – explaining his gains while absent as a part of the story line. If there are any questions about the master DM’s character, or any deviations from the rules are requested, the group and guest DM will be consulted for their input, unless such deviations are directly tied to key plot elements of the campaign.