CV Miscellaneous House Rules

Miscellaneous Rules









Fight In Spirit

This is a special combat action that you can take when you are out of the fight altogether. Once a round you can specify how your character is still there ―fighting in spirit‖ alongside the other party members. Come up with some story about what your character has done that could boost party morale. The GM may grant any ally a +1 bonus to attacks, Armor Class, or Saves. The first time each battle that someone fights in spirit may be a +2 bonus. The bonus lasts one to two rounds. If the fight is still on and you have something else to add to the story, sell it to the GM.

If you’re still (even partly) in the fight, then you can’t fight in spirit.

Lasting Wounds

In the spirit of old school, we’ll have some possibility for lasting wounds.

If you’re dropped to 0 hp or below one or more times during a fight, you take a lasting wound. Each lasting-wound reduces your maximum hp by an amount equal to 2 + your level. Lasting-wounds are cumulative. Staggered is still half or less of your maximum hit points. A full heal-up removes all lasting-wounds.

Additionally, if you fail a death saving throw you receive an injury that will require further magic to heal (see the table on DMG p. 272).

Meaningful Death

PCs can only be fully slain by named villains. PCs who fail three death checks fall into a coma and can only be brought back to consciousness once they’re fully out of danger or some other story-based criteria.


Rolling a natural 1 has no effect on the target, not even miss damage if you are using an attack that deals damage on a miss. At the GM’s discretion, rolling a 1 while in a precarious position (such as balancing on a narrow ledge) might entail some other bad result (such as slipping off said ledge). You might also hit an ally if you’re shooting into melee (see Friendly Fire).

Friendly Fire

Friendly fire rule: There’s no attack penalty when using a ranged attack to target an enemy that is engaged with one or more of your allies. But if you get a fumble (roll a 1), reroll that attack considering the engaged ally as the target. If there are multiple allies, the GM rules which ally is the target. Of course the rule also applies to monsters and enemies.

Recurring Elements

At the end of every game session that has gone well, the GM may ask you to pick an element of the session’s fiction you’d like to see as a recurrent part of the campaign. You might choose an NPC, a city, a type of monster, a legend, a magic item that got away, an ambiguously aligned cult of ecstatic dancing, or any other engaging element of the campaign that appeared in the current session. As the campaign develops further, the GM should incorporate the players’ picks into it. Some of these picks should recur once, with the session “resolving” that pick. For example, killing a recurrent villain resolves that pick. Other picks take central roles in the campaign.

If the campaign already has enough player picks that have not yet been resolved, the GM can stop adding new ones.

Level-Up Story Rule

Whenever a character levels up, you should choose some extraordinary experience that helped your PC solidify their gains and acquire new capabilities. This experience could be outside information, special training, access to ancient tomes, a spiritual experience at a holy site, unexpected insight in the middle of a victorious (or losing) battle, etc.

In the 1980s, adventurers often had to pay thousands of gold pieces for training to level up. In 13th Age, you don’t have to pay gold, but you do have to entertain the table with a story, or at least a few lines, explaining what extraordinary experience your character had, we’ll be doing the same. If there is some event or experience that happened during play, you can often interpret the situation to serve as your extraordinary experience. For example, if your fighter had a near-death experience against a foe that seemed unbeatable, you might look back later when you’re leveling up and explain that your fighter learned something new about combat from that experience, which they had never encountered before. Here are two options for using this rule:

Transcendent Moments

Moments that seemed transcendent or special during play work splendidly. Everyone wants to be reminded of such moments anyway, and a quick retelling when you level up allows you to rephrase the moment in light of subsequent experience.

New History

If you prefer, you can invent an extraordinary experience that no one has heard about before rather than remembering or reinterpreting a previous event. For example, you might say, “Remember that ship we sailed on to get to Brass Town? On that trip, you all noticed me hanging out with an old man. He was a retired swordsman, and he inspired me with his stories of heroic battles.” Throw in some details if you like, such as why the man retired. Feel free to suggest details about the world, especially your character’s place in it. The possibilities are wide open. Maybe your character took private training with a superior in their class, found an ancient scroll or talisman that increased their power, or underwent a ritual that granted them additional power.

If your GM is nice, he or she might tell you how long you have before the start of the next encounter so you can use that time for your invented extraordinary experience. You can also look for these experiences ahead of time. If your character spends some weeks in a metropolis, you can probably improvise a visit to some local library or epic-level NPC where your character could find training. Then when your next level-up comes around, it means that your training is sinking in and paying off.

Don’t interpret this rule to mean that only one event is solely responsible for your character’s advance in power. Rather, the character is constantly getting better in general through practice and experience. These extraordinary experiences represent crux points in a character’s growth. And the rule gives the hoary old level-up mechanic a story-positive role to play. Newly invented pivotal experiences often relate to your class. But they could also relate to an aspect of one of your character’s backgrounds. They might also relate to an experience the PCs shared, or you might invent an event that took place entirely off-stage.

Lastly, you are encouraged to write up either the Trancendent Moment or the New History so that it can be included in the Session Summary. But if you aren’t feeling bitten by the Muse Bug then just tell the GM your “insight” and he can write it up.

Ranger Option: Terrain Stunt

Terrain stunt: At the start of each battle in a non-urban environment, roll a d6. Any time after the escalation die reaches that number, you’ll be able to use a bonus action to execute a terrain stunt. Normally you can only use terrain stunt once per battle, but circumstances, geography, or excellent planning may suggest that you can pull it off more than once.

Terrain stunts are improvisational effects that play off your preternatural understanding of the wilderness and all the diverse forms of the natural world. Things like knocking a hornets nest no one had noticed onto your enemy’s head, maneuvering a foe onto a soggy patch of ground that slows them down, shooting the cap off a mushroom spore in a dungeon that erupts on your enemies, getting your enemy’s sword wedged into a stalactite, finding the tree branch that lets you vault up to attack the flying demon that thought it was out of axe range, and similar types of actions.


As a ranger player, you get to say things about the terrain that the GM may not have realized. If your suggestion is silly or ludicrous, the GM can veto it and ask you to work with nature, not with nonsense.


Ideally the power gets used to accomplish things no one expected rather than just being another attack. Terrain stunts that deal damage should probably deal no more than a d4 per level. Effects like one-round incapacitated and even one-round restrained seem like naturals. Anything worse than that may not be possible, and would certainly allow saves if it is.

Critical Saving Throws

When a character or creature saves versus a spell or spell effect and the result is a natural 20 it is considered a critical save. This will reflect the unstable nature of magic and perhaps put come cool in the save bank too.

The effect will vary depending on the source of the attack. In addition to the normal effects of a successful save, the following effects will take place.


The attacker takes 2 hp of feedback damage per level of the spell or the person saving versus the effect whichever is greater.


The spell goes off in the worst possible way. So for example if you cast a fireball on a creature that critically saves, then the spell now might go off centered on a group of innocent bystanders or on the villain’s minions (or be centered on the caster). If you tried to charm a person that critically saves, instead they charm you or they are filled with hate and have advantage on their attacks for the duration. And so on.

Success At A Cost

Failure can be tough, but the agony is compounded when a character fails by the barest margin. When a character fails a roll by 5 or less, you can allow the character to succeed at the cost of a complication or hinderance. Such a complication can run along any of the following lines:

  • A character manages to get her sword past the hobgoblin’s defenses and turn a near miss into a hit, but the hobgoblin twists its shield and disarms her.
  • A character narrowly escapes the full brunt of a fireball but ends up prone.
  • A character fails to intimidate a kobold prisoner, but the kobold reveals its secrets anyway while shrieking at the top of its lungs, alerting other nearby monsters.
  • A character manages to finish an arduous climb to the top of a cliff despite slipping, only to realize that the rope on which his companions dangle below him is close to breaking.

It is up to the player to determine if they want to succeed with cost, then the DM will determine the cost.

Knock Out

If a creature is attacked from suprise the attacker can attempt to knock them out. After successfully making an attack with surprise, the attacker can attempt to knock out the opponent. The opponent must make a DC 10 Con save. The save is adjusted up or down based on the difference in level/HD of the opponents (thus if a 3rd level character attacked at 5th level character the DC would be 8; or if an 8 HD monster attacked a 4th level character the DC would be a 14, etc.). A failed save indicates the creature is unconscious, usually for the rest of the encounter (though occasionally a creature might wake up if it has special recuperative powers, a companion aides it, etc.). If the attacker has multiple attacks or the defender is vulnerable to the attack then the save is at disadvantage. If the defender is resistant to the attack then the save is at advantage.

Death Attacks and Last Gasp Saves

Some deadly monsters have a special attack called a death attack that can kill (petrify, paralyze, liquefy, immolate, disintegrate) in a single attack. Such attacks offer the player a last-gasp save. A player that is affected by a death attack has a limited amount of last-gasp saves to try to throw off the condition of the death attack. On the first turn a player is affected, the player may make a single action (either their normal action or their movement or their bonus action), after which they get the saving throw described for the effect but with a +4 penalty (if there is no save given for the effect they must roll a hard save (16+) unmodified by ability or proficiency). If successful, the player shrugs off the death attack condition and can act normally on their next turn. If unsuccessful, their turn ends and the player may not take any other actions on future turns except for further last-gasp saves. Each successive last-gasp save is a hard save (16+). A successful save means that the player can act normally on the next round, unless the player rolls a natural 20 for their last-gasp save, which means that the player can take their turn normally in the current round.

Once a player fails three last-gasp saves while fighting off the death attack, the death attack effect succeeds, and the player is adversely affected as the attack indicates.

An ally may assist a player affected by a death attack. The ally must use a standard action to help the player shake off the attack. This gives the player a free last-gasp save that may be rolled immediately. (A failure doesn’t count against the four allowed saves.) In addition, the assisted save is done at the DC described in the effect as normally written up (or it becomes normal difficulty (11+) instead of hard if none is normally given).

An example of how this works:

When facing a Medusa with a Petrifying Gaze attack. When a character gets within range of the Medusa’s attack and she succeeds in hitting with her snakes or arrows she can cause her opponents to meet her gaze (this assumes that they haven’t taken precautions to force themselves to be unable to meet her gaze). Once that happens the character gets a single action as they resist the petrifying effect and then they get a saving throw to throw off the effect (DC 14 or 18 depending on the type of Medusa). If successful, the character acts normally on their next turn. If unsuccessful, their turn ends and they may take no actions on future turns except last-gasp saves. Again at the same DC. If you succeed you can act normally starting in the next round (or this round if you rolled a critical save). If on the otherhand you fail two more last-gasp saves (three in a row), then you do not throw off the death attack and you are turned to stone in this case.


Alignment is a general descriptor of how a creature is likely to behave. Thus when you generalize about halflings you can expect that most of them are good natured and lawful in outlook. Similarly, when you generalize about orcs you know that they are evil and care nothing for the orderly trappings of society. However, these are merely generalizations and any individual creature may or may not prove the exception to the rule. There are therefore good orcs and evil unicorns, just not very many.

The exception to this generalization is when you are referring to denizens of the outer planes that are created from the stuff of good or evil. These creatures are actually and truly good or evil and cannot be anything but. If they were to somehow be something else, they would cease to be what they are. An angel who is good by its very nature, that became evil, would cease to be an angel and would be something else. Similarly, a devil, evil by nature, that somehow became good, would no longer be a devil. There are no evil angels or good devils.


Prone works as stated with the following addition. When prone you can use your bonus action to steady your aim and negate the disadvantage penalty with your next ranged attack.

Targeting Knowledge

We’re not trying to make you waste your spells. When you want to cast a spell like Power Word that targets enemies beneath a certain hit point threshold, the GM should tell you whether you have a legal target.

Missing Players

When a player is missing we will have them stay at the inn/guard the horses if convenient. However if in a dungeon or other place where it isn’t convenient then we will use the “shadow character” option that we used last campaign.

Shadow characters are with the party during the adventure, but fade into the background for most of the time. However, at any time another player can have the shadow character say/do something that is in character for that individual. During combat another player can have the shadow character use their at-will attack. They take no damage, but if one of the characters present takes a killing blow the shadow character is instead knocked unconscious for the rest of the session. Healing magic can bring them back to walking/talking functionality as normal.

New Characters

New characters brought into the party after the start of the campaign will begin at 1st level. In 5e this isn’t as big of an issue as it has been in previous editions. The biggest problem will be fewer hit points that the other characters, so new characters will need to be a bit more careful to begin with and may be more needy of healing.

That said, they will advance slightly faster until they catch up. They will automatically advance to 2nd level after the 1st session and then will advance at 2x experience rate until they catch up to the average level of the party.

Area of Effect (TotM)

Given that many if not most of our combats will utilize the Theater of the Mind combat style will be utilizing the modifications for Area of Effect spells from the DMG for this type of combat. Thus we will use the following table to adjust AoE effects. Roll 1d3 to add or subtract from the number based on how bunched up the potential targets are.

Type of AoE Divide by (round up)
Cone size / 10
Cube or Square size / 5
Cylinder Radius / 5
Line Length / 30
Sphere or Circle Radius / 5

Example: Burning hands (a 15-foot cone) would be 15/10 = 1.5 rounded up to 2 so it would affect 2+/-1d3 creatures.

Experience Points / Level Advancement

Characters advance to 2nd level after the first session of play, 3rd level after the next session of play, 4th level after two more sessions, then another level after every 2-3 sessions depending on how intense the sessions have been and/or what might make sense for the story. This will make book keeping easier and mirrors standard XP advancement rates.

Absent players/characters count only sessions that they are present for.