I do use a lot of house rules myself, and it was therefore with some interest, that I read Dane of War’s blog on House Rules for 4E. Yet those house rules are everything, that I don’t like about house rules.
Caveat: It is not obvious, but the rules are apparently made by his pupils (assumingly 6th – 9th graders), not just used by them. None the less …
More or less each rule adds more complexity, that either requires more book keeping or reduces the options of the characters. Most things become more difficult (harder to gain levels, magic thrown items must be picked up, damage causing extra effects, limited time for the PCs to act, forced to use to different powers, must guess the amounts of hit points etc.). Most of these rules I’ve seen before. There is nothing unique new or about them – and I also wonder how much he influenced his pupils in their design?
Half the time the rules seem to attempt to add “realism” to the game, half the time it seems like it is either an attempt to bring back a former version of D&D or to fix a perceived error. Of all the rules only a few seem to approach what I use houserules for:
Adding more drama/fiction to the game-aspects
“Stunting, called shots, creative descriptions during combat etc are all encouraged and when the entire group participates in some form of this during a combat round the following round the entire group will receive a +1 to all rolls the subsequent round. “
– but this is a tiny bonus compared to all the added to complexities and added difficulties.
Shaping the game
In the wizard campaign XP’s are gained from attending classes, not adventuring – this looks a bit like the “Character Advancement & Training Requirements”-rules except, that DoW’s rules are just added to the regular requirements, whereas ours are used to reflect, that the campaign is about students, and attending classes is a part of the game-fiction (much as it is in the Harry Potter-books), just as gathering gold in Dungeons in the earlier versions of D&D were an abstract reflection of the challenges of exploring a dungeon.
There are rules, that adds book keeping to the game and rules, that makes it harder for the players to be succesful by making the rules work against them. Those are not my kind of house rules. I have earlier mentioned ChattyDm and Wrath of Zombie as they have suggested ways to adopt rules from one game to another in order to shape or improve the game, that I find inspiring.
Well, back to the house rules.