Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













Rich Burlew's House Rules

From Giant in the Playground, here are Rich Burlew's house rules:

There are many things that are changed due to the setting I run my campaigns in, such as the racial benefits of being certain races or the division of magic into different schools. These are NOT those changes. These are those changes that are merely clarifications or alterations to the base rules that have nothing to do with setting or the world; they are pure rules changes. NOTE: I have not exhausted the possibility that there are more subtle 3.5 changes I have yet to find. These may change as I become more familiar with the new rules.

Note: If you know of an egregious loophole that exists, you can bring it to my attention, but it's safe to assume that if I didn't mention (for example) the changes made to Haste that I am more or less neutral about them, and thus will play with the 3.5 version. As someone who is going to be asked to design products for 3.5, I want to keep the system as close as possible while ruling out stupidly broke combos.

If you are not a spellcaster, you can probably ignore the Spells section, which is the bulk of this post.


A druid's or ranger's animal companion is considered to have the type "magical beast (augmented animal)"; they are affected by any spell that can target a magical beast OR an animal.

A druid's Wild Shape ability follows the rules for Polymorph, below. In particular, note that a druid cannot assume the forms of templated creatures (so no fire element dragons, thanks.)

All prestige classes must be cleared with the DM before you may gain a level in that class; it's probably a good idea to clear them with me before taking any unpalatable prerequisites as well.

Spells from any book other than the 3.5 Player's Handbook are considered "rare" at best, or nonexistent. If you would like your spellcaster to prepare one of these spells, it must be found or researched. A word of warning: treat any such researching as if it were a totally new idea for a spell being given to the DM; it is possible that you might attempt to research a spell from a sourcebook only to have that research "fail" because the spell is unacceptable.

Standing from prone does not provoke an attack of opportunity.


Disable Device: Using this skill on a lock breaks the lock, forcing it to remain in the current position. It thus does not unlock a locked door.

Hide: When a creature attempts to Spot an invisible character, they must beat the higher of the following: the static DCs on DMG pg. 295, OR character's Hide check +20 (+40 if not moving), as detailed on PHB pg. 76. This allows a rogue who is invisible to gain greater benefit from hiding while invisible, and sorts out what otherwise seems like a contradiction in the two sources.


These changes are beyond the alterations I've made in the spell-school system; these are changes to the actual spell descriptions. Almost all of these are about fixing abusable loopholes, though a few are changed because I like the 3.0 version better.

Antimagic Field: If any portion of a creature is within the antimagic field, that creature is considered to be within the antimagic field. So if the antimagic field covers 10 feet of a 30-foot-long creature, that creature is considered to have "entered" the field. Any other creature occupying part of the same space as the creature that is not within the field, however, is unaffected. Thus, it is possible for a dragon to be in the antimagic field and its rider not. (Fixes confusion on how much of a Huge or bigger creature needs to be within the area.)

Astral Projection: Any equipment created by this spell (as a result of creating a duplicate body on another plane) gains the magical properties of the original. However, while a duplicate magic item exists, the original loses all magical power. If the astral duplicate is slain, all equipment vanishes and the original regains any magical properties. (Fixes loophole to use this spell to duplicate all of your magic items by Plane Shifting back to your home plane. I don't really care about duplicating nonmagical items by 17th level characters.)

Awaken: No creature can gain the benefits of Awaken more than once, and the spell cannot be affected by metamagic. (Fixes loopholes with empowering Awaken or casting it multiple times.)

Baleful Polymorph: You may not use this spell to grant the form of a creature with a template. (Fixes a loophole in which you can turn your fighter into a paragon hawk, permanently, and be better off than as a human.)

Bear's Endurance, Bull's Strength, Cat's Grace, Eagle's Splendor, Fox's Cunning, Owl's Wisdom (and Mass versions of the same): Increase duration to 10 minutes/level. (I just like this better.)

Blasphemy, Dictum, Holy Word, Word of Chaos: No creature can be affected by one of these spells more than once per minute. If subjected to a second casting within a minute of a prior casting (even from a different caster), the target is immune. (Fixes a loophole in which certain powerful fiends/celestials can keep opponents permanently dazed with no saving throw because they can use this as an at-will spell-like ability)

Contagion, Deathwatch, Eyebite, Symbol of Pain: These spells do not have the [Evil] descriptor.

Darkness, Deeper Darkness: These spells create an area of darkness that is equal to shadowy illumination, but they do not brighten an area that is already of shadowy illumination or darker. (Just a clarification from the spells' really bad wording.)

Enlarge Person, Mass Enlarge Person: While the creature gains only a +2 size bonus to Strength, its carrying capacity multiplies by 8 (after taking the +2 Strength into account); this supercedes the normal increase in carrying capacity for size increase. (Fixes a loophole in which the average character would be crushed by the weight of their own equipment, which also increases in weight.)

Fabricate: You cannot create masterwork items or alchemical compounds with this spell. This spell's duration is permanent (not instantaneous); objects crafted via Fabricate radiate magic. If subject to dispelling, the object falls apart into scraps of raw material. (Fixes problem where this spell nullifies the relevance of normal craftsmen.)

Fire Seeds: This spell creates only 4 holly berry bombs, not 8. Detonating the holly berry bombs requires a standard action. (Otherwise, one casting can be clustered together to inflict 8d8+88 damage as a free action on the first day the druid learns the spell, and 8d8+160 at 20th level; more than many higher level spells.)

Flame Arrow: Reduce level to Sor/Wiz 2. (This got nerfed too much to remain a 3rd level spell.)

Fly: Increase duration to 10 minutes/level. (I just like this better.)

Forcecage: Creatures that are not flat-footed can attempt to make a Reflex saving throw when the cage comes into existence. If they succeed, they are immediately moved outside the cage's area. (It's just too powerful to lock a creature in a Forcecage with no save and then pelt it with arrows for a few hours.)

Gate: Eliminate the "calling creatures" function entirely; Gate is now simply an accurate transport spell (that is nausea-free; see Teleport, below). Use Greater Planar Ally or Summon Monster IX for creature-summoning. (Fixes more loopholes than I care to reiterate.)

Hallow, Unhallow: These spells counter and dispel each other; a Hallowed site subjected to Unhallow becomes a normal area, and a second Unhallow can make it an evil party-town. (Fixes a loophole where certain powerful fiends/celestials (those with one of these spells as a spell-like ability at will) could permanently Hallow/Unhallow the entire world, since they need no material component and have an infinite amount of time. Now they can still try, but the other team can undo it.)

Hold Animal, Hold Person, Hold Monster (and Mass versions of same): Creatures under the effects of these spells can still take purely mental actions, such as casting quickened spells or communicating via telepathy. (Fixes some bad wording that makes it seem like such is not the case.)

Keen Edge: This spell stacks with the Improved Critical feat, but not with other magical effects that increase a weapon's threat range. (This was nerfed too much in 3.5; in my experience, a high crit range is not overly powerful.)

Liveoak: The tree animated as a treant cannot subsequently animate trees. (Fixes a loophole where one spell can net you 3 treants.)

Major Creation, Minor Creation: All alchemical compounds (acid, alchemist's fire, tanglefoot goo, alchemical silver, etc.) cannot be created with these spells. (Fixes loophole involving creating gallons of acid.)

Magic Jar: Spells or effects cast upon you before entering the magic jar do not transfer to the jar or any creature you possess. (Clarifies/fixes a loophole where you can cast spells on yourself than transfer them to another body.)

Mirror Image: You cannot gain a Cleave attack for destroying a mirror image. (Clarifies a loophole where a character with Great Cleave can basically entirely eliminate Mirror Image in one round.)

Mordenkainen's Disjunction: This spell does not destroy magic items. Instead, treat this spell as a targeted Greater Dispelling, targeting every creature and magic item within the area independently. Thus, it can potentially suppress every item for 1d4 rounds and dispel every magical effect. There is no cap to the caster level you can add to your caster level checks; artifacts are immune to this spell entirely. (Yes, this is a major change, but I hate this spell. It is pure player-hosing, and makes epic levels unplayable by requiring the PCs to re-acquire all of their magic items after any encounter with a spellcaster.)

Permanency: Spells made permanent by Permanency can only be dispelled by a Dispel Magic effect targeted on the creature, and not by an area casting of that spell. For effects cast on yourself, always use your current caster level (rather than the level at which you made the effect permanent). (It's too easy to lose spells on which you spent valuable XP.)

Planar Ally, Planar Binding (and Greater and Lesser versions of the same): A creature summoned by this spell cannot use any spell-like ability that would cost XP if it were a spell. (Fixes ability to bind an efreet for 3 wishes.)

Plane Shift: You cannot Plane Shift to the Ethereal Plane or Plane of Shadow. (Fixes a loophole making Etherealness and Shadow Walk somewhat irrelevant.)

Polymorph: This spell does not change your type or subtype. You cannot assume the form of a creature with a template. (Fixes more loopholes than I care to reiterate, most notably Awakening yourself or Polymorphing into a type that is immune to polymorph.)

Polymorph Any Object: Only targets without an Intelligence score (an inanimate object or a mindless creature) can increase Intelligence as a result of this spell (or gain Wisdom or Charisma, if relevant). Any target can lose Intelligence as a result of this spell, however. Transmute Water to Dust still isn't a real spell, so this spell cannot duplicate it. (Fixes Intelligence-gaining loopholes.)

Protection from Chaos, Protection from Evil, Protection from Good, Protection from Law (And Magic Circles against the same): These spells do not block Enchantment (Charm) or Enchantment (Compulsion) spells. They do block commands given as part of an ongoing Enchantment (Compulsion) effect, as if the target was out of the spell's control range, but do not end an effect or prevent a new effect from taking hold. For example, casting Protection from Evil does not cause a character under the effects of a Sleep spell to wake up, or a character under the effects of a Confusion spell to act normally. It does prevent a character under the effect of Dominate Person from being given commands. Possession is blocked entirely. (This was a nonsensical 3.5 change that would cause all Enchantment spells to be negated by a single 1st level spell.)

Reincarnate: A creature Reincarnated is of the same age category as he or she was previous, and applies the same age penalties to their physical ability scores. (Fixes the fact that otherwise, this spell is effectively immortality at level 7.)

Scrying, Greater Scrying: Only the caster sees the image in the pool or mirror. (This is actually how the spell is already worded, but it is a common misinterpretation that everyone sees the image, like a cliched crystal ball.)

See Invisibility: This spell negates all bonuses to Hide skill checks due to being invisible. (Necessary clarification, because the PHB states on pg. 153 that invisible creatures gain a +20 or +40 bonus to Hide checks, which the See Invisibility spell description says nothing about.)

Sending: A creature learns who is sending the message prior to hearing the words, and can choose to simply not hear the message at all. This spell does not wake up sleeping creatures; the spell fails if the target is sleeping at the moment of casting. (These measures prevent PCs from "spamming" the BBEG wizard in the middle of the night. It also bugs me that you can just annoy someone with daily Sendings.)

Shadow Conjuration, Shadow Evocation, Greater Shadow Conjuration, Greater Shadow Evocation, Shades: These spells have the casting time of the spell you are copying; spells with a range of Touch or Ranged Touch retain their range rather than gaining a range of Close. (Fixes a loophole where you could create objects via Major Creation in combat time. Fixes a loophole allowing you to mimic spells like Scorching Ray in such a way that they hit automatically.)

Shapechange: You do not gain the type or subtype of any forms you change into, but you gain any immunities or vulnerabilities a creature of that type and subtype would possess. You may change into forms with no more than one inherited template, but you may not apply templates that represent a greater-than-average form of a creature, including (but not limited to) paragon monsters and monsters of legend. You gain all of the creature's extraordinary abilities, but you do not gain the creature's supernatural abilities EXCEPT as follows: breath weapons, damage reduction, displacement, freedom of movement, gaseous form, gaze attacks, incorporeality, any movement forms (such as supernatural flight), natural invisibility, whirlwind form, and vortex form. Clarification: Because a creature Shapechanging does not actually gain the HD of the form, the save DC for special abilities will be based on the caster's HD and stats, which may raise or lower it from the listed value in the Monster Manual. (Fixes a few hundred loopholes, such as turning into a barghest and feeding. There are probably others anyway.)

Shield: Increase duration to 10 minutes/level. (This spell as written is inherently worse than Mage Armor, which is the same level.)

Simulacrum (Let's just kill this spell and be done with it.)

Teleport, Greater Teleport, Teleportation Circle: Teleporting causes stomach distress due to the shifting of your molecules. After teleporting, any creature is nauseated for 2d4 minutes (unless they are have the construct type). Any creature that lowers its spell resistance or magic immunity traits in order to be teleported keeps them lowered for the same 2d4 minutes, regardless of type. Exception: creatures that can use one of these spells as a supernatural or spell-like ability ignore the nausea, but not the lowered spell resistance. (I hate scry-and-teleport ambushes, on both sides. This change makes them virtual suicide.)

Wall of Iron: The wall is Permanent, so that it radiates magic and can be dispelled. (Fixes abuses where you can sell the iron or use it for crafting, wrecking the economy and providing as much gold as you want.)


8/24/03: Invisibility: Increase duration to 10 minutes/level. (At 1 min./level, this is weak for infiltration and becomes a combat-only spell.)

8/29/03: Revised Teleport fix to keep Golem Suicide Squad out of the game, as well as worsen things for demons and devils with Greater Teleport at will.

* Last Edit: Aug 29th, 2003, 4:24pm by The Giant *

Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.
Created with
        Emacs Made on a