#1: Ritual mastery, and surge powered rituals:
Rituals require 8 hours to learn.
When learning a ritual, a character makes a skill check against a Hard DC of that ritual's level against one of that ritual's key skills (the character's choice). For every 5 points he exceeds the DC by, the time required to learn the ritual decreases by 2 hours to a minimum of 1 hour. For every 5 points he fails the DC by, the time required to learn the ritual increases by 2 hours instead. Once this time has been determined, no subsequent attempts can be made to change it (except via Aid Another or Triviality rules as below).
Aid Another: Rituals can be learned in half the normal time (to a minimum of 1 hour) if the person learning the ritual benefits from a successful Aid Another attempt on the skill check to master that ritual by another creature who has already learned it. On a failure, the ritual takes twice as long to learn as the student is mislead and confused. Only one creature can use Aid Another in this way.
Triviality: Rituals half a character's level or less are considered trivial for that character and can be learned in the duration of a short rest without a check (5 minutes).
Transcribing Rituals/Creating Ritual Books:
Rituals require 8 hours to transcribe, including for scrolls.
The time required to transcribe a ritual can be reduced as per the rules for learning them (this includes the rules pertaining to trivial rituals).
Mastered rituals that are half the caster's level or less (rounded down) count as being Memorized and have the following properties:
- Memorized: They don't require a ritual book, spellshard or any other such receptacle to use for the caster.
- Surge Spending: Their component costs can be paid for by losing a healing surge rather than the normally required cost.
- Faster Cast Time: They can be done within the duration of a short rest (or 5 minutes/50 rounds), or half their normal cast time (minimum 1 minute/10 rounds, unless their default cast time is less, in which case it doesn't decrease), whichever is faster.
- Expediting: They can be cast in 5 rounds (expedited) by losing an additional healing surge, quickening its completion with an investiture of raw life force. These surges are lost at the time the ritual's cast time starts before any checks are made on its behalf.
- Greater Expediting: Once expedited, the caster may lose up to 2 additional surges to further reduce the cast time by 1 round per surge expended in this way. These surges are lost at the time the ritual's cast time starts before any checks are made on its behalf.
- Extending: They can be extended. When a mastered ritual is cast, its caster may lose any number of healing surges to extend it if it has a duration other than Instantaneous or Permanent. For each healing surge lost in this way, the ritual's duration is extended by its initial duration.
- Termination After Extended Rest: They end upon their caster's completion of an extended rest, even if extended as above. Only permanent duration rituals are an exception to this rule. For rituals with a permanent duration paid for with healing surges in this way, you must lose a healing surge to sustain it at the end of each extended rest, or its effects end. A ritual sustained in this way for a year and a day becomes permanent.
Variable Cost Rituals:
Special rituals with variable costs like Raise Dead are either excepted from being paid for with surges (DM's discretion; they may be expedited), or value healing surges at 5 GP * 5/50/500 per tier (so 25 GP for a heroic character per surge, 250 GP / paragon surge, 2500 GP / epic surge). A character spending surges in lieu of components must equal or exceed the component cost with surges spent in this way. The latter option permits use of variable cost rituals with healing surges without allowing for abuse of rituals such as Raise Dead, given the exceedingly high cost of its components.
Focuses and Wealth Creating Rituals:
Focuses, and the component costs of any ritual that creates a permanent item or effect with a defined monetary value (such as Brew Potion or Enchant Magical Item) can _never_ be paid for in this way with healing surges (but they may be expedited).
Healing Surges Lost to Ritual Casting/Sustaining:
Any creature that loses healing surges to sustain or cast rituals with this rule supplement cannot have more healing surges than their normal allotment of healing surges per day minus any healing surges lost in this way. Any healing surges above this maximum are immediately lost. Healing surges lost in this way are regained at a rate of one per extended rest per tier.
- Subtract the number of creatures that unsuccessfully used Aid Another to assist in performing a ritual from those that did so successfully.
- If this difference is positive, divide the casting time by 1 + this difference. Otherwise multiply it by 1 + this difference (as a positive number).
Note that any character using Aid Another in this way will be preoccupied for the full duration of the ritual.
The casting time of a ritual cannot be reduced to less than 5 rounds in this way. These casting time modifiers apply before all others.
Rituals Without Skill Checks:
For rituals with no skill check, you instead make a skill check against a Hard DC of that ritual's associated skill (you choose if there are multiple associated skills) and level. If your check succeeds, you can reduce the casting time of that ritual by 20% of its post-modifier cast time, plus another 20% for every 5 points your check exceeds this DC to a minimum of 5 rounds. Failure by 5 or more points means you take twice as long to perform the ritual instead.
This allows for the more consistent application and utility of rituals, particularly at the lower levels by making them practical to use and affordable, while simultaneously retaining definitive limits on their frequency of use. It also helps with issues of purchasing insufficient quantities of the needed reagent/component type. In the context of a 'work/adventuring day' it further presents a risk vs reward component, and introduces resource management depth to the game, particularly for casters with smaller healing surge pools (like the Wizard); the healing surges they spend could make all the difference between life and death. Lastly, it makes all rituals benefit from having a high score in their associated skill, rendering ritual casting more consistent and 'fair'.
Overall, this would neatly solve and address the problem of rituals rarely seeing use because of uncertain utility and prohibitive and recurring costs (especially at the lower levels) which are highly unpopular or even truly untenable for most players and campaigns, as well as no check rituals completely failing to reward/penalize high or low skill checks. It also makes them situationally but potentially useful in combat encounters given the 5 round cast time floor, perhaps permitting an interesting scenario where the party wizard struggles to conjure an escape portal while he's defended by his allies.
#2: Feat Tax Fixes Each player gains one free expertise and one free defense bolstering feat of that player's choice. The defense feat chosen must permanently and unconditionally increase at least one defense. An expertise feat gained in this way may only be retrained into another expertise feat. A defense bolstering feat gained in this way may only be retrained into another defense bolstering feat as defined here.
Why? Both Expertise and defense boosting feats are required to keep pace with monster defense and attack roll progressions; these are universal feat taxes.
Further, these feats are so powerful relative to other feats of the same tier (particularly by Paragon) that they are de facto feat taxes.
#3: Defender Melee Training Each defender that has a primary ability other than strength gains a free Melee Training or other feat that enables them to substitute their Strength with their primary ability score for the attack rolls of opportunity and/or melee basic attacks. This feat may only be retrained into another feat of the same type as defined here.
Why? Precludes non-strength defenders from suffering an unnecessary feat tax in the form of Melee Training and equivalents. These feats are required if the defender wants a strong opportunity attack, which is essential for the role.
#4: Anti-Forced Movement/'Ping-Pong' Cheese A creature can only take damage from entering or exiting a zone, square, space, aura or area once per turn.
Why? Prevents degenerate forced movement combos accumulating massive amounts of automatic damage (see Storm Pillar + readied forced movement as an example).
#5: Alternative Reward Limits PCs are only allowed one (1) slotless Alternative Reward item (boons, grandmaster training, etc...) per tier.
Why? Generally, these items are incredibly and disproportionately powerful for their cost and rarity. Coupled with the fact that they're slotless, they're far too strong to be permitted without any such limiter.
#6: Anti-Intimidomancy Cheese Elites gain a +5 bonus to resist Intimidate checks and Solos gain a +20 bonus to resist Intimidate checks to force surrender if their level is equal to or greater than an Intimidating creature's. A creature gains a +2 bonus to resist Intimidate checks to force surrender for each level they're above an Intimidating creature, and for each ally it is aware of (including the creature) that exceeds the total number of enemies it is aware of.
Why? Helps reduce the impact of Intimidate optimization abuse in a way that conforms to verisimilitude. Without such rules, Intimidate optimization can easily and instantly eliminate bloodied threats en masse, including Solos and Elites.
#7: Hidden Rules Loophole Fix Hidden status and/or the benefits of Hidden status cannot be used to satisfy the requirements/prerequisites for becoming Hidden or remaining Hidden.
Why? Because letting Hidden status satisfy its own prerequisites is broken and recursive and yet this is entirely legal per the RAW. On a personal note, it's truly sad that the stealth rules are so poorly worded as to require this addition.
#8: Anti-Chargecheese Characters may only benefit from one beneficial item effect/property, feat, power and/or class feature per tier (Heroic/Paragon/Epic) per charge that enhances a charge attack specifically (such as the Horned Helm, Surprising Charge, Badge of the Berserker and the Lance mounted bonus), and/or is specifically triggered by one (such as Boots of Adept Charging, Iron Wolf Charge, etc).
Why? Helps address and curtail the massive, universal and centralizing optimization hegemony that charge optimization (known colloquially as 'chargecheese') permits.
#9: Anti-Frostcheese Lasting Frost is reworded as follows: Benefit: Each target you hit with a power that has the cold keyword gains vulnerable 5 cold after that power resolves. This vulnerability lasts until that target takes cold damage, or until the end of your next turn, whichever comes first. When a creature gains vulnerability in this way during a turn, it cannot do so again until the next start of that turn.
Why? Prevents cumulative abuse of the feat + cold damage type combo (known colloquially as 'Frostcheese'), particularly vs single targets, leaving it powerful, particularly when it comes to AoE attacks/attacks against multiple targets, but limited.
#10: Anti-Multihitcheese You can apply positive damage modifiers, additions and bonuses to only one instance of damage per target, enemy creature or object, per action or power per round (i.e. from the turn that action or power was used until the next start of that turn). This includes extra damage from vulnerabilities.
Why? Prevents abusive synergies between damage bonuses and powers that hit multiple times such as Flame Spiral, Brutal Barrage and Twin Strike, which can normally apply those bonuses on each hit, resulting in excessive damage outputs.
If I'm missing any other high priority/important house rules, be sure to let me know.
Less Essential Houserules:
Though not as critical to an enjoyable 4e experience as the above changes, I find the game does work better with these additions:
Added the following under "Less Essential Houserules":
#1: PCs have a +1 innate enhancement bonus to all attack rolls and damage rolls for implement or weapon attacks and to all defenses at level 5. This bonus increases by +1 every additional 5 levels thereafter. PCs further have bonus critical damage dice equal to +1d6 per enhancement bonus gained in this way. These bonuses overlap but do not stack with enhancement bonuses from other sources.
Why? Allows PCs to viably use a broader variety of gear in combat, notably increasing player options without penalizing and disincentivizing investments in primary gear overtly. Normally secondary gear sets far too fall behind to be useful at higher levels, which results in stagnant, fixed loadouts.
#2: Basic bolt and arrow ammo isn't tracked. Currency weight isn't tracked, nor are currency denominations except where necessary. Players are always assumed to have adequate basic ammo (bolts and arrows), food and water unless in situations where these essentials are scarce at which point it's up to the DM to decide what rations the PCs have unless they've undertaken especial efforts to stock sustenance.
Why? Prevents the game from being bogged down in pointless, simulationist minutiae. Most games follow this rule in practice anyways.
#3: Super Minions
There is a new creature type called the Super Minion. It's worth twice as much XP as a Minion of its level. Whenever a Super Minion takes damage while unbloodied, unless that damage is equal to or greater than its Soak, it is bloodied instead of destroyed. Whenever a Super Minion spends a healing surge to regain hit points, or regains hit points equal to or greater than its Soak while bloodied it is no longer bloodied.
Soak is usually defined as the bloodied value of that creature if it were a Standard.
Why? Adds a 'happy medium' option between Standards and Minions which can exploit and interact with bloodied/unbloodied states/mechanics.
#4: Improved Generic Attacks:
SpoilerBull Rush - Attack
You hurl yourself at your foe and push it back.
Standard Action - Melee touch
Target: One creature. You cannot target enemies with phasing if you don't have phasing.
Attack: Strength +3/6/9 vs. highest of Reflex and Fortitude; If this attack was made as part of a charge, increase the attack bonus from charging by +2. You automatically hit willing allies and creatures that can't take actions (make an attack roll to determine how far you push the target). The target gains a +5 bonus to its Fortitude defense and -5 penalty to its Reflex defense against this attack for each size category it is larger than you beyond the first, or a +5 bonus to its Reflex defense and -5 penalty to its Fortitude defense against this attack for each size category it is smaller than you beyond the first.
Hit: You push the target 1 square plus 1 square for every 2 points your attack roll beat the target's defense by. Each time you push the target 1 square in this way, you may shift to a space that puts the target within range and line of effect of your touch attacks with each square of this movement bringing you closer to the target. If you cannot or will not, you cannot push the target any further. If you exceed the target's defense by 5+, you can then choose to knock the target prone. You cannot shift or push the target more squares in this way than your speed.
Special: You can use this power in place of a melee basic attack during a charge.
Grab - Attack
You reach out and grasp your foe, preventing it from moving.
Standard Action - Melee touch
Requirement: You must have a hand free.
Target: One creature. You cannot target enemies with phasing if you don't have phasing.
Attack: Strength +3/6/9 vs. highest of Reflex and Fortitude. You automatically hit willing allies and creatures that can't take actions (make an attack roll to determine if you immobilize a larger target if necessary).
Special: For each size category beyond the first the target is larger than you, your attack roll must have exceeded its defense by 5+, or the creature isn't immobilized by your grab, though you may still use the Hold On Tight! power as though you waived your grab's immobilization.
Hit: You grab the target until the end of your next turn, or until the target gains phasing while you don't have phasing. The target has a +5 bonus on all checks to escape this grab for each size category it is larger than you beyond the first. You can end the grab as a free action.
Sustain Minor: The grab persists per the hit clause.
Grabbed: The grabbing creature can perform the following actions against a creature it's grabbing. The Grabbed status is otherwise identical to that in the Rules Compendium.
Drag - Attack
You lurch your foe about.
Move Action - Melee touch
Target: One creature you are grabbing. You cannot target enemies with phasing if you don't have phasing.
Attack: Strength +3/6/9 vs. highest of Reflex and Fortitude. The target gains a +5 bonus to its Fortitude defense and -5 penalty to its Reflex defense against this attack for each size category it is larger than you beyond the first, or a +5 bonus to its Reflex defense and -5 penalty to its Fortitude defense against this attack for each size category it is smaller than you beyond the first. You automatically hit willing allies and targets that can't take actions.
Hit: You move up to half your speed and pull the target with you. You and the target don't provoke opportunity attacks against each other for moving in this way. If you hit by 5+, or succeed on a Strength check against an Easy DC of the target's level if you automatically hit, you can move your full speed instead.
Pin - Attack
You force your opponent to the ground.
Standard Action - Melee touch
Target: One creature you are grabbing. You cannot target enemies with phasing if you don't have phasing.
Attack: Strength +3/6/9 vs. highest of Reflex and Fortitude. The target gains a +5 bonus to its Fortitude defense for each size category it is larger than you beyond the first. You automatically hit willing allies and targets that can't take actions.
Hit: You and the target fall prone and neither of you can stand from prone until your grab on the target ends. You don't grant combat advantage to the target for being prone.
Hold On Tight!
Caught in your grasp, the dragon seeks to become airborne in order to shake you loose; you decide to come along for the ride.
Free Action - Melee touch
Trigger: A creature you are grabbing that is larger than you attempts to move willingly without teleporting
Target: The triggering creature
Effect: You can waive the immobilized effect of your grab on the target for the triggering movement. If you don't, the target can perform the Escape action if it spent a Standard or Move action to attempt the triggering movement. If you do, you move with the target (including vertically) and can take an opportunity attack against the target as normal if the triggering movement would provoke. You don't provoke opportunity attacks for this movement, and this movement doesn't end the grab unless you cannot move with the target, and the target ends this movement outside of your reach.
A grabbed creature can perform the Escape action:
You pry free from your opponent's grasp or slip through its fingers.
Move Action - Personal
Target: The creature or game element grabbing you
Effect: Make an Athletics check against the target's Fortitude or an Acrobatics check (or the DC provided with the Grab if any) against the target's Reflex. On a success, the target's grab on you ends and you can shift 1 square.
These rules replace Grab's 'move a grabbed target' option, replace the Escape option and redefine the Grabbed condition.
Why? Makes the Grab and Bull Rush options less situational and more interesting to use. Improves verisimilitude by preventing grabs/bull rushes on targets with phasing while you don't have phasing.
#5: Attack rolls of attacks that use neither weapons or implements and have a scaling attack bonus that's less than +3 per tier (+3/+6/+9) according to their power description now have an attack bonus that scales at a rate of +3 per tier (+3/+6/+9).
Why? This scaling is more proportionate/commensurate to the real attack bonus advancement enjoyed by weapon and implement attacks over the tiers and has been adopted by new WotC material as a new standard for implement & weapon free attacks. Unfortunately this new standard has not been applied retroactively hence the need for this rule.
#6: Skill Save Ends and Skill Save Cures:
Skill Save Ends:SpoilerThe DM may assign certain effects (normally monster effects) a Skill Save Ends duration. Skill Save Ends durations are identical to a (save ends) duration for all purposes and in all ways with the exception that a skill check is made against a DC in place of a simple 1d20 against a target number of 10. If this skill check is a success, the associated effect ends. These can be substituted for (save ends) durations as desired; a Skill Save Ends duration requires the following parameters: one or more skills to be checked, the action cost to use that skill (No Action by default), and the target DC for each of those skills; I recommend consulting the DC table on Page 126 of the Rules Compendium for an appropriate DC. If multiple skills can be checked to end a Skill Save Ends effect, the creature making the check chooses only one to make a skill check for. In order to make a skill check with an action cost other than No Action, a creature must be able to satisfy that cost with any actions he has remaining and available for use at the end of his turn.
While subject to a Skill Save Ends duration, whenever a creature would normally make a saving throw against an effect, including from powers and effects, that creature can make a Skill Save check as above. Checks made in this way are subject to all applicable bonuses and penalties to both saving throws and skill checks. As with (save ends), effects with a Skill Save Ends duration may have alternate ways of ending them (such as with a Skill Cure as below).
Example: Lotharos has taken ongoing 5 force damage (skill check ends, Arcana DC 21 Free Action, Endurance DC 26). When the end of his turn comes up Lotharos would normally decide to use Arcana, but he is unfortunately stunned, and so cannot expend the Free Action required. He makes an Endurance check instead, and succeeds with an Endurance check of 27 thereby ending the effect.
Skill Cures:SpoilerSkill Cures: The DM may assign certain effects (normally monster effects) a Skill Cure Ends duration. Though Skill Cures effects may have other termination conditions/methods (such as save ends, or Skill Save Ends), they normally last until the end of the encounter or until ended via a successful Skill Cure. A Skill Cure Ends duration requires the following parameters: one or more skill to be checked, an action cost for each of these skills (Minor, Move, Standard, etc...), and the target DC for each of those skills; I recommend consulting the DC table on Page 126 of the Rules Compendium for an appropriate DC. If multiple skills can be checked to end a Skill Cure Ends effect, the creature making the Skill Cure check chooses one of them to make a skill check for.
By default Skill Cures require a Standard action, and that the user be within reach of the target, but as above, other parameters may be specified.
Example: Tombak has taken ongoing 10 necrotic and poison damage (Skill Cure Ends, Heal DC 21 Minor Action, Religion DC 26 Standard Action within close burst 5). His ally Melhved is 3 squares from him; too far away to make the Heal check, so she makes a Religion check instead, ending the effect with a roll of 30.
Why: Helps skills become more useful in combat and rewards their investment outside of Acrobatics and Athletics, and niche skill challenges.
#7: Melee Training & Generic Attacks:
Melee Training allows a character to substitute a Melee Training attribute of their choice for Strength or Dexterity when it comes to making Generic Attacks as detailed in 'Less Essential Houserule' #4.
Why? Allows PCs other than Strength specialized builds to effectively use the new Generic Attacks.
#8: Defense Save Ends:
Defense saves are triggered whenever a regular saving throw would be, including by abilities that grant additional saving throws, and are subject to the same bonuses and penalties and are otherwise identical to regular saving throws with the exception that the saving creature rolls a 1d20 and adds an indicated defense against a DC equal to attack roll of the attack or effect that inflicted the effect being saved against + 10. If a defense save ends effect was inflicted by an attack with multiple attack rolls, the DC is set by the attack roll against the defense featured by the saving throw, or the highest attack roll otherwise. If that effect did not feature an attack roll, the DC is instead equal to 23 + the level of the effect’s origin. This DC might be modified by other effects at the time the attack roll is made or the effect is inflicted, such as a bonus to attack rolls.
Example: Ferrum is subject to a Thin Man's toxic spit that inflicts 5 ongoing poison damage (Fort save ends). This hit him with an attack roll of 20, setting its DC at 30 (20 + 10). As normal, whenever Ferrum makes saving throws, typically at the end of each of his turns, he makes a saving throw against this effect, rolling 1d20 and adding his Fortitude defense of 15 to it, including whatever bonuses or penalties he may have to saving throws (or his Fortitude defense). If this amount equals or exceeds the DC of 30, the effect ends.
Why? Improved verisimilitude as it allows a character's nature to play a bigger role in determining its resistance to effects; a hulking, durable warrior is more likely to shrug off a physical affliction than a sickly wizard as an example.