House Rules

Rules for character creation

We’re starting out at level 1 this time around.

Check out Starting the game for suggested backstories for new characters. We’ll be building characters together, but coming to the first session with an idea of what you want to play is a good idea.

  • Rolled stats: 4d6, drop lowest, assign to stats in any order. If your cumulative stat mod is less than 4 or no stat is higher than 13 you get three ‘mercy dice’. Each mercy die is a d6 that must be added, in its entirety, to a single stat. No stat can be raised over 18 (before racial bonuses) with a mercy die.
  • Rolling stats for characters must be done with the DM present.
  • Every character gets a randomly-rolled psionic wild talent.
  • Consider taking a character theme. It’s not required, but is recommended.
  • If you have at least one arcane daily attack power, you automatically get the Arcane Defiling power.
  • No metal weapons or armor are allowed at character creation. If you have an item that would normally be made of metal (like a sword), it’s made of bone, obsidian, wood, chitin, or some other available material.
  • Character backgrounds from the Character Builder are also recommended, but are subject to DM approval1.
  • No characters with Evil or Chaotic Evil alignments.


If you really want to make a character that goes against these restrictions, talk to me. If it’s a sufficiently interesting concept and you can make it work with the setting, I’ll probably allow it.

If a class is disallowed, that includes multi-classing feats and hybrid classes. If a race is disallowed, that includes half-versions of the race.

  • Disallowed classes: (No divine power source on Athas)
    • Cleric
    • Paladin
    • Avenger
    • Invoker
    • Runepriest
  • Disallowed races: (extinct or otherwise don’t exist on Athas)
    • Devas
    • Gnomes
    • Kobolds
    • Ogres
    • Orcs
    • Trolls
    • Warforged

Character trees

  • A character tree is just a set of four characters. One is the active character – whichever one you’re playing at the moment – and the other three are inactive.
  • Only the active character gains experience, but when the active character gains a level, one of the inactive characters also gains a level (it’s assumed that the inactive characters are adventuring elsewhere). The chosen inactive character must be lower-level than the active character.
  • Players can choose which character to activate at the start of an adventure, when the active character dies, or during an adventure if it’s plausible and subject to DM approval. During a dungeon, etc. is not a likely time to switch, but in a city might work fine.
  • In some cases, it may take some amount of in-game time for the new active character to arrive. This will be determined according to the circumstances.
  • If your active character dies, create a new character at level 1 before the next session to fill the empty slot.

It’s up to the player to decide what connections exist between his characters. They might all be sons of the same noble, gladiators who fought together, or just four random people with similar goals. They might working directly together, or loosely associated.

Ongoing rules

  • Characters wearing metal armor take a -5 penalty to Endurance checks made to resist the effects of heat.
  • Weapon breakage: When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll using a nonmetal weapon, the item breaks (yes, even if it’s a magic weapon).
  • Ritual availability is restricted to things that fit the setting. Check with me before taking a new ritual.
  • We will be using the standard XP rules for this game.

Fixed enhancement bonuses

To offset the weapon breakage rule, we’ll be using the Fixed Enhancement Bonus rules. At discrete levels, characters gain flat bonuses to attack rolls, damage rolls, and defenses3. These flat bonuses do not stack with enhancement bonuses gained from magic items, and they progress at a slightly slower rate.

When you score a critical hit, you deal 1d6 extra damage per point of fixed enhancement bonus to the attack roll (replace this the critical effect of your magic weapon, if you have one).

Magic items

I’ll be using the new magic item rarity rules for this game, as best as I can. Since they haven’t actually rolled this into the compendium yet, it might be a little rough, but the basic guidelines are here .

The short version is, magic items will be primarily found as treasure or given as rewards for quests. You will only be able to buy simple items that give static bonuses (or consumable items). If it has an activated power, it won’t be for sale.


Magic items found as treasure will be at least partially randomly generated. In general, I’m not going to give out items that the party would find completely useless, like an implement for a class that isn’t in the party. It might happen on occasion, however. As a result, I recommend against specializing in a particular weapon type, since you may or may not be able to get one.

I’ll also be handing out fewer magic items than standard (only 2 per level instead of 4).

I’ll accept item wishlists for this game, but only general ones – let me know the type of items you’re interested in, and they’ll be more likely to show up as rares.


1 In general, don’t take anything from Eberron or Forgotten Realms, anything that involves other planes, or anything that doesn’t fit in with a desert environment. The Dark Sun backgrounds, obviously, are a safe bet.

2 Athas is not a friendly place, and PC death is definitely on the table if you’re not careful. Preferably, sketch out a general idea of a backup character, name them, and let me know so I can integrate them into the game as an NPC in the meantime.

3 For reference, here’s the fixed enhancement bonus table:

Level Attack / Damage Defenses
1st +0 +0
2nd +1 +0
3rd +1 +0
4th +1 +1
5th +1 +1
6th +1 +1
7th +2 +1
8th +2 +1
9th +2 +2
10th +2 +2
11th +2 +2
12th +3 +2
13th +3 +2
14th +3 +3
15th +3 +3
16th +3 +3
17th +4 +3
18th +4 +3
19th +4 +4
20th +4 +4
21th +4 +4
22th +5 +4
23th +5 +4
24th +5 +5
25th +5 +5
26th +5 +5
27th +6 +5
28th +6 +5
29th +6 +6
30th +6 +6

House Rules

The Burning Sands october