Empire & Flame

House Rules v4.5

Modified Rules

Beyond 1st Level (PH, 15)

Rather than tracking experience points, leveling up happens after completing a number of play sessions or major milestones. One session or major milestone for 2nd and 3rd levels, two for 4th level, three for 5th through 10th, four for 11th through 16th, and five for 17th through 20th.

Alternate Option: When you return to relative safety...

Additionally, gain your currently level times 100 XP for playing a session.

When using this alternate option, humans are granted a 10% boost to XP gained.

When granted an ability score improvement class feature on any level other than 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, or 19th, it must be used for improving one of the class's primary abilities or starting saving throw proficient abilities (PH, 45).

Inspiration (PH, 125)

Inspiration may be spent to gain advantage on an attack role, save, or ability check before or after making the initial roll.

Inspiration may be handed out at any time at the DM's discretion. However, these situations grant inspiration more often:

Getting Into and Out of Armor (PH, 146)

Donning or Doffing a shield only takes a bonus action.

Advantage and Disadvantage (PH, 173)

Advantage and disadvantage stack and cancel each other out, one for one.

Proficiency Bonus (PH, 173)

If a PC has both a skill and a tool proficiency that apply to a check, they may roll with advantage. (XGtE, 78)

Ability Checks (PH, 174)

Checks are only made when the task is possible to do and the outcome is uncertain and potentially dangerous. If something would have a DC of 5 or lower, no check is needed. The character can simply accomplish the task. Also, if 5 plus the character's relevant modifiers (ability and proficiency bonuses) would meet or exceed the DC, the task is automatically successful without a roll. Conversely, if something would have a DC higher than 30, no check is made. The task is impossible for the character to accomplish.

Rolling a natural 1 is a fumble and always a failure and rolling a natural 20 is a critical and always a success, even if the modified roll would not have failed or succeeded numerically when compared to the DC of the task. Failing or succeeding a roll in such a way may introduce new complications or advantages.

Checks for a particular task can only be made twice. If the first character to try fails, one other person may try, as long as the first character didn't fumble. The two passed or failed checks represents all the efforts of the entire party combined.

Failing a roll doesn't always mean failing a check. At the DM's discretion, a failed roll can still accomplish a given task, provided some other complication or danger is introduced. Players may request this compromise from the DM after a failed role, but the DM is under no obligation to offer it.

Skills (PH, 174)

Use the variant rule: Skills with Different Abilities.

Passive Checks (PH, 175)

Passive checks are not used. Instead, the DM will call for a roll when a check wouldn't automatically succeed or fail. In some cases, the DM may make such rolls on the player character's behalf in secret.

Working Together (PH, 175)

PCs can only help, granting a fellow PC advantage on a check, if they have proficiency in a relevant skill or tool.

Lifting and Carrying (PH, 176)

PCs have a number of item slots equal to their Strength score. PCs carrying items that fill up to twice this many slots are encumbered, reducing their speed by ten feet. PCs carrying items that fill more are heavily encumbered, reducing their speed by twenty feet and imposing disadvantage on ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls using Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. PCs can never carry items that fill more than three times their Strength score in item slots.

Items that can be held in one hand use one slot. Items that require two hands to carry or wield use two slots. Small items can be bundled together into one slot. Tiny or very light items do not require a slot until they are collected in significant quantities. In general, every five pounds of equipment counts as one slot.

Examples of things that use 1 slot:

Examples of things that use 2 slots:

Alternate Option: Simply use Variant: Encumbrance.

Saving Throws (PH, 179)

If an effect grants a bonus to an ability check, be it numerical or advantage, that same bonus is applied to saving throws for that ability. In addition, if an effect grants a bonus to AC, half that bonus is applied to Dexterity saving throws.

Darkvision (PH, 183)

If a player character is granted darkvision from their race, they can see in dim light as if it were bright up to the listed range, but the range for seeing in darkness as if it were dim light is divided by six and rounded up to the nearest 5 foot increment (usually resulting in 10 feet).

Resting (PH, 186)

A character may spend one hit die after each hour of rest during a short or long rest to recover hit points. Hit dice spent during a long rest automatically restore their maximum amount of hit points.

Bonus Actions (PH, 189)

Usually, any single small interaction that doesn't require a roll may be performed for free during an encounter as part of your movement and action. To do more, a bonus action may be used. A bonus action may also be used to perform any proficient skill checks.

Disengage (PH, 192)

Instead of spending an action to disengage, you may choose to make a fighting retreat, expending half your movement speed.

Rolling 1 or 20 (PH, 194)

If the d20 roll for an attack is a natural 1, the target may make an opportunity attack using their reaction.

If the d20 roll for a saving throw is a natural 1, damage is dealt as a critical hit.

If the d20 roll for a saving throw is a natural 20, all harmful effects are avoided.

Grappling and Shoving (PH, 195)

Grappling and shoving do not require the use of the attack action. Instead, they are their own action.

Damage and Healing (PH, 196)

Damage to hit points above half a character's hit point maximum is superficial, consisting of tiring cuts and bruises that leave no lasting signs of injury.

Damage to hit points below half a character's hit point maximum is more serious, representing injuries that may need medical attention. The character becomes wounded—a condition that is visible to all.

Once a character is wounded, one use of a healer's kit must be applied to them in order for them to naturally regain hit points using hit dice during a short or long rest, or regain hit dice during a long rest.

Critical Hits (PH, 196)

A critical hit deals the maximum damage possible plus the result of rolling all the damage dice again.

Damage Resistance and Vulnerability (PH, 197)

Damage resistances and vulnerabilities stack when granted or imposed from differing sources.

Dropping to Zero Hit Points (PH, 197)

Without the use of magic, stabilizing a creature requires one use of a healer's kit and a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check. For each level of exhaustion, the DC increases by 5.

When a PC fails a death saving throw, they gain one level of exhaustion.

Identifying a Magic Item (DMG, 136)

Use the variant rule: More Difficult Identification

Attunement (DMG, 136)

Characters can attune to a number of magical items equal to their proficiency bonus.

Flanking (DMG, 251)

Use the optional rule: Flanking.

Additional Rules

Luck Coins

Luck coins are a meta-currency that allow PCs to gain inspiration.

Luck coins are gained between sessions by completing the following tasks:

Unspent luck coins expire after the following session.

The Oaken Table

In the middle of the tavern sits an oaken table, upon which past adventurers have carved a map of the surrounding region. The PCs can carve additions into this map. They can also make a rubbing to be carried abroad. The oaken table can be a real object in the world or simply a metaphor. Either way, the dungeon master provides a map to the players that they may modify as they explore and gain new information.

Pushing a Roll

To push a roll, a PC may gain one point of exhaustion to reroll their dice. They may keep rerolling and gaining additional points of exhaustion until they have six and begin making death saves.

They may also push at death's door, marking a failed death save in exchange for staying conscious long enough to make an additional reroll. They may continue to push in this way until accumulating three failed death saves, at which point they die.


When a play session ends in a safe location, it is up to the PCs how much in-game time passes before the next session. They should agree on a duration. In cases where consensus cannot be had, the average is taken.

When a play session ends with the PCs in a dangerous location, time is paused until the next session. Optionally, the PCs may decide to roll to return to safety, turning over to chance their riches and well-being. One of the PCs rolls a Wisdom (Survival) check, adding +1 for each of the following: they have mapped the way, they have cleared the way, they are well equipped, they are unencumbered. If they succeed, they return to safety unmolested. If they fail, they still return to safety, but at great cost.

Rules Restrictions

Common Races

Using races beyond the common races (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human) is discouraged but allowed.


Taking feats is subject to DM approval on the grounds that many feats are superseded and rendered useless by house rules and rulings.


Multiclassing is discouraged but allowed.

Rules Expansion

Only options from the core rules (PH, DMG, MM) and rules expansion (XGtE, TCoE, MotM) may be used. Exceptions for options from other sources may be made at the DM's discretion.