To Start With

To start with…

What is presented here is a review of the 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, published by Wizards of the Coast (WoC) supporting the play of their game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

The 5th Edition (5e) Player’s Handbook (PHB) is readily available.  You can buy the 5e a hardbound copy of the PHB from Amazon for about $30 at this link.  I strongly encourage you to obtain a hard copy of this critical, basic reference.

As of early November 2021, you can download a PDF of the 5e PHB at this link.  If that fails, try an Internet search for something like “download 5e player’s handbook pdf”.

Nothing presented here is intended to make a profit for myself and I have no intention of violating any of the copyrights held by WoC or any other publisher.  My only intent in presenting this information is to provide my players with a readily accessible version of my own “House Rules” (or “Homebrew” if you prefer), using computer automation and the Internet to facilitate gameplay and share information.

These House Rules (HR) are the changes, modifications, and restrictions I’ve made to the current official 5e PHB (and other official references) to bring them in line with my style of play and the game setting (milieu) I use in my campaigns.

Many of these HR are the result of more than 30 years of serving as Dungeon Master (DM).  Like most DMs who bother to lay out a set of house rules, many factors have driven my modifications, such as (1) simplifying and streamlining an already complicated and time-consuming game, (2) an attempt to correct what I believe are imbalances in the rules (races and classes, for example), and (3) a desire to impart some semblance of “realism” to a game filled with magic and monsters.  That last bit about “realism” will hopefully become clearer as you read through my HR.

Lastly, some of these HR are due to my having arrived at the conclusion that we – the D&D gaming community, as well as the publishers who regularly feed our appetites with new updates and new rule books – have pressed for an ever-higher level of fantasy, in an ever-more magical world, with ever-more extravagant character races and classes with ever-more powerful abilities.

Today, in 5e every single class is either a spell caster or gains the ability to cast spells through a subclass or a level advancement choice.  Further, most races have special abilities that replicate some form of magical ability, as well.

The result is that, even at low levels many Player Characters (PCs) are difficult to challenge with the sorts of mundane adventures that should be challenging to low-level parties.

Some of the new rules have improved the game.  Many have not. The truth is that D&D can be and should be a (relatively) simple game… and that’s the way it used to be.

So-called “min-maxers” and “power gamers” love this trend, of course.  If that’s your thing, you should seek out another Dungeon Master.

On the subject of magic; in my milieu – specifically the World of Greyhawk (hereafter, WoGH) – and in accordance with my own house rules, magic is still a bit rare and special.  Magic items are available, but not plentiful.  Magic weapons are rarer still, but they’re out there to be found by the adventurous… or taken by the bold.  Wizards set up residence and take in apprentices, but a spell-caster may have to search out spells, and that may be the basis for several adventures.

On the subject of classes; classes are held to reasonable attributes, and as a result, low level adventures are still exciting.  I restrict some classes entirely and disallow some sub-classes, but it’s all done to facilitate a more “playable” game.

On the subject of races; Humans with no innate magical abilities whatsoever are the predominant race in the WoGH.  Playing a Human PC will allow you to move about in relative anonymity.

In fact, playing a demi-human PCs (an Elf or Dwarf, for example) in the WoGH may actually be slightly detrimental to a low-level party, drawing unwanted attention and possible suspicion in the wake of the recent 12-year-long “Hateful War” fought against the Goblinoids (Goblins, Hobgoblins, Orcs, Kobolds and Gnolls).  In truth, that conflict is not yet truly over, and some final, horrible outcome may yet be seen.

That’s not to say you cannot play a demi-human.  But it’s important to understand that the majority of the population of the WoGH is human, and there’s an undercurrent of ethnocentrism, even between the various human races.

So I hope you accept these HR in the spirit they are intended – an attempt to improve the D&D experience for my players… and have fun!

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