Storm Kings Thunder
h3. Interpretations & House Rules
Over the past decade of GMing, I have learned that a D&D campaign is a cooperative effort both on the part of all the players as well as the DM. Because of this, I like to share, as early as possible, information about how I run a game so that players can be aware of my thought process ahead of time.
When DMing, I try to be reasonable while following the RAW (with the exceptions below). I do this as I feel predictability & constancy with the rules is a benefit to players as they know what to expect which lets them plan ahead. So, please feel free to ask for clarifications sooner rather than later. I am happy to answer questions as I want the game to be as successful as you do.
1) Electronics at the table: Please avoid excessive smart phone & tablet use during the game. Playing other games and engaging in other conversations is rude to the rest of the table. It also wastes time as the group will have to stop what they are doing to explain to you what you missed. (This is true even when your PC is 'absent' as the group loses the option to say, "we tell him what we learned.") Using a device or computer for books, character sheet, dice, or anything related to the game is perfectly acceptable.
2) Weight & Encumbrance: Players are expected to track the weight they carry. We will use the optional Encumbrance rules on PHB page 176.
3) Critical success & failure: Regarding skills, a 1 can succeed and a 20 can fail. Additionally, there is no extra penalty or reward for these rolls (apart from mockery or high-fives.) Regarding saves, a 1 always fails and a 20 always succeeds.
4) Skill Rolls: When it is time to roll a skill, I will ask you to make the roll. Until the roll is requested, your PC should assume that he/she is doing just fine. After all, who really knows that they just botched a Stealth roll? Similarly, for Investigating and Perceiving things… if you are not using your passive, I will usually make the roll in secret for you. After all, how do you know whether you did a good job searching?
5) Assumptions are not my fault: If your PC makes an action based on an assumption, that’s too bad. Years ago, I stopped listening to, “But if I knew…” and the many variations of that statement. If you are not sure, ask a question. If you honestly feel that I made the mistake, make a note of it, and bring it up after the session. We’ll figure something out then. Otherwise, we will continue with play with the action having occurred. Additionally, once I ask for a save or say you’ve got an AOO coming your way, no backsies.
6) Meta-gaming: During combat, lets see if we can keep this to a minimum. It’s hard, I know, but it may give the game sessions a bit more verisimilitude. If you are at 0 HP, you don't need to announce death saves and fails. After all, how would your friends know? Additionally, I’d like us to try to avoid chatter in combat, i.e. “if you do this, I can do that and it’ll work this way” or “these things are such and suches… they have magic resistance, and…” etc. If your PC knows something, shout it out on your turn and in character.
7) Note passing: I’d like to keep this to a minimum. I would ask all of you to trust each other not to use OOC knowledge in character. This would include things like stealing from each other or the party. I do not object to it, per se, but I think it should be done in front of all players so that one player does not have an advantage over another.
8) Monsters & Knowledge Checks: 5e doesn't have specific rules for monster knowledge. However, if I think your PC would know what a particular creature is, I will tell you. If I am not sure, I may ask for a roll.
9) Rules Disputes: These are certain to occur at some point. They are unavoidable. Please keep your argument brief. There is plenty of time away from the table to hash these things out. Also, you should know that I am MUCH MORE open to your argument when it does not happen in media res. If the rule is a life-or-death situation, I will be a little more lenient. And after all is said and done, if I am wrong and you are right, we will find a way to make it up to you. Finally, you may wish to be aware of arguments which I will summarily dismiss: “The rules don’t say I can’t…”, “I know X says this, but Y implies that…”, “Can you please show me that?” (The GM is assumed to be right until proven wrong.)
10) NPCs & Creatures: this is more of a reminder than a rule. The DMG instructs DMs to make racial adjustments to stock NPCs. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I do not; my goal here is to keep it interesting.
11) Concentration: when concentrating and taking damage, you roll one concentration check per attack roll, saving throw, or packet of simultaneous damage. Smites & Sneak Attack do NOT cause additional saves, although they do make the save more difficult by virtue of dealing more damage. Similarly, all Magic Missile damage is a single packet and causes only a single save roll. Conversely, a 5th level Eldritch Blast would cause two saves (assuming both hit) as each was a separate attack roll.
12) Counterspell: I don't play the Counterspell game where the players & GM try to outguess each other on when to cast. If I think your PC would know the spell, I will tell you and you can attempt to counter it. If I feel the NPC would know the spell, I may try to counter it. I promise my utmost to always be fair here.
13) Upcasting: please announce this when you start to cast the spell. That makes it less likely for anyone to be inadvertently select the level of the spell once they know how effective the spell attack roll or save is.