29 September 2013

By the Book or House Rules

I am on the verge of beginning a fresh campaign to introduce some new players to Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons, and I am facing a difficult decision: Should I play strictly by the book or should I use my preferred house rules (both my own and some I've discovered in the OSR Web logs of others)? If the former, then I will be exposing them to a "pure" D&D experience. It may be less forgiving and it may make less internal sense due to inconsistencies, but they will understand the game's inherent strengths and weaknesses better. (The lie to this is that, as far as I know, no DM outside of official tournament play has ever run D&D 100% by the book.) If the latter, then their first experience may be smoother and potentially more interesting. If I choose the latter, should I tell them which rules are house rules, or would that distract and/or confuse them? Comments are welcome (as always, but here they are especially appreciated).


  1. Start with RAW (Rules As Written), then every time you hit a sour note, have a house rule suggestion and let them vote on whether to include it. For example, a 1st level mook gets taken out by a lucky blow from an orc sword. You say, "Well, by the old rules you're a goner, but if we use Shields Shall Be Splintered," you can sacrifice your shield to survive. What do you guys think? Worked with two groups I played with recently.

    1. That's a really good suggestion. Thanks!