This section lists some frequently asked questions regarding Darker Dungeons. If your question isn't answered here, do contact me.
No. This an unofficial compilation of house-rules for D&D 5e—rules that can be used to supplement material found in the PHB and DMG.
I enjoy D&D, but—like all GM's—I like to run games my way. That means focusing on themes of exploration, danger, survival, and player-driven adventure. I think vanilla 5e is weak in some of these areas, so I've added features over time to expand on these themes.
I wrote this handbook to compile all my house rules together in one place—it means I can get my rules peer-reviewed, and it helps players understand exactly the type of game I like to run so that there's no confusion.
My group plays 5e predominantly, so it's easier to modify a system we're already enjoying. This way, we can also dip into all the other 5e homebrew lying around. Plus, I enjoy doing this kind of thing.
There's a lot here, but you don't have to use it all at once—take whichever bits work best for your table and leave the rest. Consider trying out just a couple of features at a time if you're unsure.
Note: While I've tried to write Darker Dungeons features to be modular, this hasn't always been possible. I'm in the process of decoupling these, but keep an eye out for interlink between modules you do/don't select.
I find random character generation exciting—I like not knowing what the character is until I've finished unwrapping it. There's no optimizing or strategizing, just roll a complete person and try to keep them alive.
A fun by-product is that this ends up creating a much wider variety of characters at the table, as it prevents players falling into familiar tropes. Goliath barbarian? Hmm. Goliath wizard? Now you have my attention.
Sure you might. But it's much more likely that you won't. Live a little—roll and play the hand you're dealt. If it's a bad hand, play smarter and go the distance.
Note: This is something the group should agree on before anyone rolls for character stats. Maybe you all agree to use the result, no takebacks? Or maybe you all agree to reroll if anyone gets under X total points? Whatever the case, everyone should agree on the rules before rolls are made.
If you hate the idea of random generation, absolutely don't use it at your table. Or try randomizing only small parts of character creation—race and class, for example, but not your ability scores.
You don't always have to randomize a whole character—sometimes, just randomizing one aspect can be a fun exercise in itself.
This is how I would randomly create a character, but feel free to use your own variants. Want to use 4d6? Want to roll class before background? Want to roll twice for race and pick between the two? Go ahead and do whatever's best for your table.
Some features use a mechanic known as Usage Dice (taken from the Black Hack rpg).
Whenever you use a limited consumable (such as ammunition), you roll a usage die—if your roll is a 1 or 2 then the usage die shrinks one step. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a d4, the item is all used up.
d20 → d12 → d10 → d8 → d6 → d4 → 0
The larger the starting usage die, the more uses you'll get out of an item before it expires. The Usage Dice table shows the average number of times you can expect to roll a usage die before it's down to the very last use.
|Starting Size||Average Uses|
Instead of rolling attacks against the players, I like letting players roll to defend because:
Active Defense has worked out well at my table, and I definitely recommend trying it out at least once.
I use a static +22 modifier and not the +11/-8 modifiers found in the original Unearthed Arcana article. This is because the UA article is inaccurate and actually makes the players far more likely to succeed in their attacks.
As an example, here we see Clanda as she attacks an orc using Acid Orb. Clanda has a spellcasting DC of 13 and the orc has a Dexterity saving throw bonus of 1.
As we can see, the UA modifiers make Clanda 15% more likely to succeed vs the RAW rules, whereas the static +22 retains the same chance of success.
That's fine. If you prefer the traditional system, stick with it—I'm not going to come in and take away your GM dice.
Instead of the standard turn-order/queue-based initiative, I like to use Active Initiative for four main reasons:
This has worked out well at my table—but it's not for everyone. Some people prefer the familiarity of turn-based initiative, and that's ok.
Online VTTs: If you're playing online, or using a virtual tabletop (such as Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Foundry, etc), you may find it easier to stick with the pre-programmed initiative system.
Yes, players have a slight edge because it's easier to chain actions together. But in my experience that's a good thing—players should be rewarded for working together, and it means the GM can risk using more dangerous monsters.
You get your turn when you win the initiative, someone passes over to you, you spend an inspiration point to interrupt, or you take damage and then interrupt.
Changing long rests from 8 hours to a week is one of the simplest—yet most effective—ways of changing the tone of your game.
I highly recommend that, if you change only one thing for your game, you change the long rest period. It's the smallest change with the biggest impact.
No, because we're not changing the expected number of encounters per adventure—the GM should still aim for the normal 6-8 encounters per long rest as mentioned in the DMG (p84).
Changing the long-rest period means there is a longer recovery period at the end of an adventure, and that players have to more careful with their resources over the 8 encounters to ensure they don't run out too early—but it does not mean characters with long-rest abilities are unfairly handicapped.
If your players just aren't comfortable with a week-long rest, or you want to keep your game timeline moving at a brisk pace, try using Safe Long Rests instead.
Safe Long Rests: To take an 8-hour long rest, you must be in a sanctuary of some kind—such as a village, town, or city. Sleeping outside in the wilds isn't restful enough for your character to recharge their abilities.
Yes, as of v1.6. Unfortunately, I didn't own the artwork that I was using before and it wasn't viable to keep using that art in the long-term. Instead, I'm now trying to finalize a consistent look that I can apply to all my work.
In the future I may look into commissioning custom artwork, but it's good to have a general style that doesn't depend on artwork—it means I can iterate on documents a little faster, which is a big help to me.
No—this document was created using my own custom HTML/CSS/JS framework, not Homebrewery or GM Binder. Unfortunately, that means I don't have any markdown for you to use in your own Homebrewery.
Feel free to reference parts of this handbook in your own free homebrew if you like, with appropriate credit. However, please don't replicate it wholesale, or include my work in any for-sale variant.
Not at the moment, no. I'm currently looking into this as a few people have requested a print copy. In the meantime, this project (and most of my other work) is released on Pay-What-You-Want terms.
If this supplement has helped out your game and you'd like to support my work: