Inq. of the Week: Modifying Your Game

Two weeks ago, we asked one of the big questions: what RPGs are you playing? Unsurprisingly, given our audience, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of D&D 4e, with nearly 300 votes (72% of total votes) cast. Second place was the sum total of all systems not listed, with third place being older editions of D&D with 100 votes (or 24% of voters). Third place was any flavor of Star Wars. If you want to eliminate D&D and all d20 games from the equation, all the members of the World of Darkness come up next with Savage Worlds close behind.

Apologies to those of you who tried to vote but couldn’t- we had some bugs related to some new security features, but thanks to Eric, those should be ironed out now. (Do let us know if there’s anything else still not working for you!)

During the week in which that question was asked, we ran a week of homebrew rules, some advice, and even a mini-game. In case you missed it:

I hope you enjoyed it- if you’d like to see more like that, or have any other ideas for theme weeks, let us know. And to close out the homebrew week, I ask the following question in relation:

[poll id=”159″]

Feel free to share some examples to give us a better idea of your preferred level of customization.

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. I stick to the rules as written. That said, I do have one or two…additions I’ve made to the rules. Really minor, and not changes. Specifically I’m thinking about the Background Skill house rule I added, although we haven’t used them in some time in my campaign, they are there.
    .-= Jeff Greiner´s last blog ..The Tome Ep 129: Players Handbook 3 =-.

  2. highbulp says:

    I’ve gone very far afield in previous games (I rewrote most of the 3.5e combat system for one campaign), but I’ve recently tended to correct closer to the rules as presented–probably because 4e is actually a pretty good representation of the kind of D&D I want to play (and such).

    Of course, I change large portions of the game in terms of the story told, but I’m not sure that’s the same thing.

  3. I fiddle a lot with a game’s engine.

    4e was a special beast because since I have to master the RAW perfectly so I can publish with it. Thus my tweaking has been with ancillary systems like treasures, failures and combining systems (traps/skill challenges, traps that turn into monsters, Terrain Features that turn into traps that turn into terrain powers…)

    By the time I was done playing 3.5 though, my piles of houserules made it in a near different game for sure.

  4. Our group uses a *lot* of rituals (which, from what I understand, is pretty rare in most groups). Since any rituals we receive as loot (at paragon level) would take 16 hours to master – thereby making them unusable in the current adventure, we have a rule (implemented initially when I took a turn as DM) that once you take an extended rest, you can use a ritual you have acquired. I’m such a ritual-addict that I even mutli-classed my Fey pact warlock Gwenn into a Bard so I could use their rituals too.

    We also implemented the idea of “potion belts” (prior to the addition in AV2) that don’t take up a waist slot. So using a potion is just a minor. Pulling one from your belt is a free action.

    We also implemented a “save ends” rule on dailies – whereby the damage/affect can’t be saved against unless it has affected the NPC at least once already (generally, to address the weird “sustain minor” *and* “save ends” notation on a lot of warlock powers). I can’t count how many times I have used an “awesome” daily, only to have it do absolutely no “save ends” damage.

  5. I fiddled..and fiddled…and fiddled…
    And ended up writing my own.

    Not even because I didn;t like some of the offerings on the market, or because they were bad. They were just a bad fit for the setting and game I wanted to run.

    And That has become something of a mantra to me. A ruleset is the physics that create/back up the fluff of a world. And once you change the lethality, the damage system, the hp system, the skills system, the EXP/level system, the progression, the magic, the economy, so that it actually is a square peg going into a square slot…often you are in the place of your own ruleset.

    But the investiture added often makes for a longer lasting setting/campaign.

    (and Dave, I loved the foray into gritty-dom. I really enjoy games with consequences.)
    .-= LordVreeg´s last blog ..edited Trade Guilds of Igbar =-.

  6. I cannot vote but I mess with most games… RPG, Board games, hell if I had the source code of some video game amd the time I’d probably mess with some of them. 😉

    It cames pretty much from my youth where my nephew(same age then me, big family), a friend and I would create games. We created between 8 to 10 games including our own RPG, a restaurant game, a lumberjack game, a wizard battle set in modern New York with big mutant, a squad level tactical game, three strategy games, not including those games that we change so much that it was a shadow of the original game. All off them with board, rules and cardboard all drawn with graphics and colours (My nephew now wins his life as an artist but he had one hell of a training drawing all these cards). We tried to market them, got scared off getting our idea stolen and let it accumulate dust to eventually lose most of these game. I’m confident that some of these game would have been good sellers given a few twek.

    Point is, I got not restrain whatsoever to change a rule that does not fit the group need, are not as fun as it could be or counter intuitive.

  7. I’ve never met a game I didn’t like to modify. Typically, I’ll start RAW to get a feel, but my mind usually starts conjuring changes as soon as I start reading the rulebook. That said, I think Marvel Super Heroes and D&D 3E hold the record for being played RAW the longest.
    .-= Kameron´s last blog ..Silke and the Red Sheaf =-.

  8. Chris Sims says:

    I always modify. For instance, I thought from the beginning that the hit chance in 4e was too low for a tabletop RPG with random damage. I changed the system to my taste with a simple rolling mechanic change. It worked wonders for fun, and it also made the grind that can occur in some 4e combats history.

  9. I have seven 3.5 Monster Manuals. Seven. I’m not buying a new one, damnit. They all work just fine: Fort, Will, and Ref “saves” just take a ten. Done. Plus, the art is way better.

  10. VegasAndorian says:

    I tinker like crazy. Right now, the only 4e houserules I use are no item power limits beyond daily/encounter, but once you use that slots daily (or encounter), that’s it for the day (or encounter). So no using an armor’s daily and then changing into some other armor to use that one’s daily; and I use the leveling items option in DMG 2 (?), some of the party’s items periodically level, instead of that character getting a new, more powerful item.

    In my old 3.5 campaign I kitbashed it like crazy: gestalt characters, feats at every level, many of Cook’s alternate rules. If I ever run 3.5 again, I’ll do it that way again.

    And years ago I ran a kitbashed d6/Storyteller system.

  11. Scott Wallace says:

    I’m a Homebrew fiend, so i take a several systems fillet out what i like, saute with a little connection formulas. Chop out what doesn’t work and serve with a big heaping of fun and “Yes, now roll!”

  12. @Chris Sims: What rolling mechanic change did you make? A couple of my players have been trying to get me to change to 2d10 instead of a d20.

    For me, it depends on the system. I always make a change of some kind, it seems, but they are usually changes or additions to the mechanics to reflect the flavor I want.

    When I played WEG 2nd ed Star Wars, a buddy and I came up with a system for the Dark Side of the Force which brought back the bonus dice for Dark Side Points that 1st ed had, but took it further. It was a brutal but popular system (with the internet crowd at the time). I played Star Wars d20 for a bit, and I was fixing to make a similar change there, but the game ended before I implemented it.

    While playing 3.5e D&D, I ported over the Vitality and Wound rules from Star Wars d20 (long before Unearthed Arcana did) for a Dragonlance game, and turned Vitality into a spellpoint system for wizards (to reflect the flavor of them getting weaker as they cast their spells).

    I haven’t changed much in 4e yet, but I haven’t had the need to so far. Now that I’m DMing it more, I may start making a few changes, though.


  1. […] weeks ago, closing out our week of homebrew related posts, Dave asked how much you like to change the rules of your RPGs. An impressive majority of you (71%) like to make a few minor tweaks to the systems but leave the […]