Do you love playing DnD 5e but find the official rules to be too restrictive? Are you looking for some new homebrew rules that will spice up your next game? If so, then you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best homebrew rules people have come up with for DnD 5e. We will also provide links to some great resources where you can find even more homebrew content. So, what are you waiting for? I present to you the best DnD 5e homebrew rules!
1. Injuries that Matter and Lingering Injuries
Character damage doesn’t mean much aside from a decrease in hit points. So let’s spice things up a bit with lingering injuries and injuries that mean something. Rather than simply decreasing hit points, your DM assigns specific injuries to your character.
Let’s say a goblin lands fires an arrow at your fighter and lands a critical hit. The DM describes the arrow going through the fighter’s left arm. Since your fighter carries his shield with his left arm, he’s no longer able to effectively use the shield. You might as well drop the shield.
Or imagine a dwarf hits your druid in the leg with his warhammer. Your druid takes normal damage with an attack roll just high enough to land the hit. But with a critical hit, the warhammer breaks your druid’s leg. A broken leg might mean a penalty to your movement and a temporary decrease in your max hit points. And because a broken bone requires a longer time to heal than a mere flesh wound, normal methods of healing (healing potion, healing magic, short rest, long rest, etc) don’t work instantaneously. Thus, you maintain a movement penalty and your max hit points are decreased until the Dungeon Master determines the bone has healed.
The Dungeon Master doesn’t have to rely on a critical hit to inflict serious or lingering injuries, but a critical hit makes the most sense. A high enough attack roll compared to a character’s Armor Class might be enough to shatter a rib or cause a concussion.
2. One Feat at 1st Level
This is a classic homebrew rule to add more customization to your character. Gaining new spells and abilities is the best part of leveling up in Dungeons and Dragons. But choosing a new feat is a close second best because feats add permanent flavor, passive abilities like Alert, and active abilities like Crusher.
A feat like Great Weapon Master allows your fighter to enjoy some extra flavor in combat. Give your cleric a feat like Healer to grant her more opportunities to heal without spending spell slots which are precious in first few levels of a campaign.
3. Critical Skill Checks
This is one of those homebrew rules that seems like a given. Why apply natural 1s and 20s only to attack rolls? Critical skill checks offer so much opportunity for entertaining fails and epic successes.
A rogue trying to sneak across a rooftop critically fails a stealth check and falls off the roof onto a guard below and gets arrested. Now the party has to break him out of jail.
And a barbarian trying to scale a wall to catch a criminal critically succeeds and leaps over the wall, tackling the criminal on the other side in an awe-inspiring feat of athleticism. CRITICAL HIT!
4. Cushioned Hit Dice on Level Ups
Normally, when you level up, you roll a hit die to to determine how many more hit points you gain. The obvious downside here is if you roll a 1, that level up can feel like a waste, especially on level ups when you don’t gain any extra abilities or features.
One alternative to this optional rule is to double the hit dice you roll. So, if you would normally roll a d8 to determine your hit point increase, you instead roll 2d4. This way, you’re guaranteed to gain at least 2 hit points every level up. And the chance of rolling two 1’s with 2d4 is 6.25% while the risk of rolling a 1 with a single d8 is 12.5%. So not only are you setting a floor at 2 hit points instead of 1, but the chance of rolling the minimum with 2d4 is even lower than rolling 1 with 1d8.
Another alternative to this optional rule is to set a floor at the average of the hit die you’re rolling. The average roll of a d8 is 5, so if you roll lower than a 5, you can choose to take 5 hit points instead. I’m not a fan of this version of the homebrew rule. It feels cheap. Why are we rolling dice if you can just negate the number you roll?
5. Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Death Saving Throws
This is one of my favorite homebrew rules I didn’t know about until writing this article. One of the “problems” with death saving throws from a strategy perspective is the DM and your allies know how close to death an unconscious player is. That knowledge will impact how urgently they treat that unconscious player.
So if you hate metagaming and want to add more tension to battles, run this idea by the table. Every time players make a death saving throw, they must hide the roll and not tell the other players.
6. Make Death Mean Something With Resurrection Rituals
One of the problems with Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition is how casually death is treated. 0 hit points makes you unconscious. Then you have 5 chances to “self-stabilize” and prevent yourself from dying, and in the meantime anyone can cast a healing spell on you to bring you back to full battle-ready consciousness. And if you do die, a 5th level cleric can just bring you back from the dead with Revivify (assuming you’ve only been dead for less than a minute of course).
So, permanent character death is basically nonexistent once you can afford to resurrect a dead character because by then you have plenty of tools to prevent a character from going unconscious or failing all three death saving throws.
Resurrection rituals that involve multiple ability checks and require contributions from several player characters who knew the deceased. The contributions can be something like praying to the deity of the fallen character or offering up a sacrifice in the character’s name.
The Dungeon Master determines the DC for each check and then makes a final resurrection roll to determine if the ritual is successful. The DC for the final roll depends on how many times the fallen character has been resurrected before and how successful the player characters’ contributions were.
Matthew Mercer fleshed out the rules if you want the full instructions.
Conclusion—Best DnD 5e Homebrew Rules
There are a lot of great homebrew rules out there that can make your DnD 5e game more fun and exciting. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites, but be sure to experiment with different ones to find the ones that best fit your gaming group.
Which of these homebrew rules have you tried in your own DnD games? What are your favorite house rules? Let us know in the comments below!