Three Great Optional Rules To Spice Up Your D&D Campaign

As I prepare to jumpstart an ambitious new campaign with my RPG group of six years, I’m excited to explore several optional rules to enrich my players’ experience–let’s jump into them!

1. Dael Kingsmill’s Major Injuries

Magical healing can really lower the stakes for your adventuring party. Have a good enough healer, every cut, bruise, and chopped off limb will be good as new before you can so much as say “Counterspell” to the dwarf cleric’s Mass Heal. But fret not–Dael Kingsmill has got you covered, as long as you want to leave a mark on your players’ characters.

At some point late in my last D&D campaign, I did start using an injury system; ironically, it also makes use of the trigger Kingsmill has chosen – the loss of half a creature’s maximum hit points all at once. Mine was Player Character-only, though, and without the Injury Saving Throw; without any of the glorious, beautiful tables provided at the Monarchsfactory. I love how there’s a table for each type of damage here, and the versatile, logical approach Kingsmill shows in tackling every one of them.

My players are bound to love this tweak! And, for the record, please check out Dael Kingsmill’s YouTube channel, if you haven’t – she’s absolutely brilliant, and an unending source of inspiration for my games.

2. Plot Points

One of the defining role-playing experiences my group and I have had over the last year has to do with playing Kieron Gillen’s DIE RPG*. While not lacking in mechanics, DIE is a narrative-led experience that encourages co-operative storytelling in ways that vanilla D&D does not. This rule, which I came upon earlier today in my copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, might serve as an excellent bridge towards an even more co-operative D&D storytelling experience! What do these Plot Points do? I quote:

Plot points allow players to change the course of the campaign, introduce plot complications, alter the world, and even assume the role of the DM. If your first reaction to reading this optional rule is to worry that your players might abuse it, it’s probably not for you.

Worry? Oh, no, no, no. My first reaction, Reader, was glee! Think of all the mischief, all the chaos that my players might introduce! If you’re not familiar with this optional rule, you can find it here.

*I’ve spoken about DIE at length: you can find my introductory post here, my discussion of the Dictator here, and the joy of bossing a Godbinder around here.

3. A Trade In Memories

This one is something I came up with, and is very much a narrative work-in-progress. The opening to this new campaign has been inspired by that classical RPG conceit, the ‘blank slate’ heroes. But having five blank slates without much in the way of personality doesn’t sound fun, does it? What we’re doing is introducing this as an engine for collaborative storytelling: my idea is that these characters might have a shared history together, a weave of interconnected friendships and betrayals and gods-know-what-else. The players can have an object, an action, or a chance encounter trigger one such memory; the floor is theirs to tell the stories they want to, alone or with their fellow players.

But for every memory they tell, I get to tell one, too — with their input. My hope is that we eventually have almost a dual narrative; the present of these characters interwoven with glimpses of their past. It’s obviously untested and I cannot begin to know if it’ll work the way I envision it until I’ve tried it…but I’ll keep you posted on our experience with the Trade in Memories (TM no steal, bad trash raccoon!!!).

What about you? What optional rules do you add to your games? Let me know!

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