The Second Great War and other stories
My main house rule is not so much a “house rule” as an extension of the rules themselves. It goes like this:
Any improvement to your character stacks with any other improvement to your character, unless they come from the same source or grant the same type of bonus.
In other words, there are some times within the 3.5 rules where an effect will specifically say that it does not stack with specific other effects. These restrictions are removed.
For example, the Improved Critical feat, the keen edge spell, and the keen weapon property, according to the core rules, do not stack with each other. However, if you look at them, you will notice that the Improved Critical feat is based on knowledge of the weapon, while the spell and enhancement both improve the weapon itself. Thus, there is no logical reason why the feat should not stack with the spell or weapon enhancement (though keep in mind that two doublings makes a triple, as per the rules). On the other hand, the spell and weapon enhancement do precisely the same thing – make the weapon sharper and thus able to deal more damage. These do not stack with each other.
For another example, take a look at the Rapid Shot feat, the haste spell, and the speed weapon property. Each of these grants an extra attack. The spell and weapon enhancement, according to the core rules, do not stack, and it is not particularly clear whether either stacks with the feat. The feat represents a technique that the character has perfected to fire another arrow in each round. The spell makes the character move faster, effectively granting them another attack in each round. The weapon enhancement makes the weapon move faster, not the person. This distinction is important, although admittedly somewhat academic (the truth is, I think it’s more fun when people can get 6-7 attacks per round). Since none of the three spells/abilities affect the same portion of the character, they all stack with each other.
For a non-example of this rule, take a look at the bull’s strength spell and a belt of giant strength +4. Both of these provide a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength, which means they do not stack, even if they didn’t affect the same portion of the character (which they also do).
This rule is designed to make the stacking bonuses more intuitive and less restrictive without undermining the structure of the game. Extensive testing has shown that it does not significantly impact the power of a character.
House Rule #2: Feat Skill Bonuses
As of now, feats such as Alertness, Stealthy, and Nimble Fingers – namely, all the feats that grant a +2 bonus to two skills – now grant a +3 bonus to their skills.
Further, Skill Focus grants a +5 bonus to the skill you choose, instead of a +3.
This is to address the fact that these feats are among the weakest feats in the game. This should shore them up a bit.
House Rule #3: Cavity Searching is Not Compulsory
Not really a house rule per se, but something important to note.
When you search someone, you generally find things that are useful to them. Staves you can’t use, rings (oh god SO MANY RINGS OF PROTECTION), demon-summoning crystals, evil black-magic spell foci and material components that you’d never even want to consider using, you name it. Some of these things most people in their right minds would never want to pay for. Some of these things are so expensive that nobody (even in their wrong minds) would have the funds to buy them from you.
Besides which, sometimes it’s hard to search a body when you’re running away from someone. Only sometimes, though.
In any case, I don’t care whether you search the bodies or not. My job is to get the right amount of loot into your hands. If you don’t search the bodies, you’ll get more stuff from the grateful townsfolk, or an itinerant hero, or some crazy artificer who lives in a bag, or…you get the idea. In any event, I will not punish you for searching bodies, but I won’t exactly reward you for it either. If you want to take 17 rusty longswords, 38 ratty sets of leather armor, and 14 javelins back to town to sell them, great. If you don’t, I’ll even it out for you at some point in the future.
[This may be rambling. If so, that’s because I’m still sick. But I figured I’d get this out when I’m thinking about it.]