House Rules for D20 Games

The following are house rules that I generally apply when DMing games based on the D20 System (such as Dungeon's and Dragons).

Source Material

The Player's Handbook is fair game. The Dungeon Master's Guide is fair game for equipment (including magic items) only. Material from other sources is likely to be allowed, but requires GM approval. I generally regard Monte Cook material highly (since it is generally both balanced and interesting).

At the time of writing, that Book of Eldritch Might is available for free download in PDF format.

Points Buy System

Ability scores start at 8. Raising them costs credit. Players start with 25 credit to spend.

One ability point costs one credit until the ability reaches 14. So an ability of 10 costs 2 credit, while 14 costs 6. To raise to 15 and 16, a player must spend 2 credit each time. 17 and 18 cost 3 credit each. So an ability score of 18 costs 16 credit.

Scores may be lowered, but to no lower then 6 for one credit per point. Below average ability scores must be backed up by the character background.

Modifications to ability scores through race, levels, and items are applied after the points buy is complete.

Starting Equipment

Characters may have equipment to a total value appropriate for their level taken from the table below. No single item may be worth more then 50% of the total. Items may be selected only from the core rule books for the game without GM approval.

LevelStarting Gold
1As specified by class


All characters should have a back-story to give them motivation beyond "Monster Bad. Must Slay. Treasure Shiny! Must Horde!".

5 NPCs

Character backgrounds should include reference to 5 NPCs, all of whom should have a different type of relationship to the player character (and be important to the character). Examples of relationships include:

…the list could go on.

Of these five, one (and only one) must be dead.

Party Ties

Why do groups of adventurers travel together? How did they meet? What keeps them together? Each player character background should include a reason to know at least two other characters. This might be a direct meeting, but it would be better if player character A knew one of the Important NPCs described in player character B's background. The relationship could be more tenuious – replace PC A with an Important NPC from A's background.