Wednesday, March 23, 2011

House Rules for the Dragonport Campaign

I haven't posted much about the Basic D&D campaign lately but I have been working on a map using Hexographer and considering some house rules for the game. The map will come later but here are the rules as they stand several months into the campaign.

First the old ones:
  • Max hit points at 1st level 
  • Natural 20 to hit = maximum damage for that attack
  • Natural 1 to hit = dropped weapon unless shooting into melee, in which case it means an ally is hit
  • 0 hit points= unconscious, not dead. You then lose 1 hp per round until aided by another or you reach -10 at which point you die.
  • Anyone can "bind wounds" as their action for a round or after combat. Binding wounds adds a d3 hp to a wounded character and wakes up an unconscious character. It does nothing for a dead character.
  • Monster XP = 100xp per hit die
Original discussion of these is here.

 New ideas that I am looking to implement:

Style Options
  • Using a single weapon with nothing in the other hand grants a +1 to hit for melee attacks with that weapon
    This is to explain and allow the Duelist or Swashbuckler type character seen in the artwork sometimes
  • Using a weapon in each hand allows a character to roll the normal damage die for one of the weapons and a d6 then take the higher of the two for their damage.
    This is to give some kind of mechanical system for using two weapons in the game which has been requested
  • Using a two-handed weapon lets the user add a +1 to the damage roll on a successful attack
    This is mainly to give two-handers a small bump to keep them even with the other choices. It also means battle axes do a little bit more than a sword in exchange for being a two-hander 
  • Using a weapon and shield means that attacks happen as normal but the wielder can benefit from the new shield rule below 
Shields shall be splintered
  • Shields shall be Splinntered is in effect. the original post by Trollsmyth is here but here's a summary
    You get the usual -1 to your AC with a shield. However, any time you take damage, you can opt instead to say your shield absorbed the force of the blow. The shield is shattered and must be discarded, but you don't take any damage from that hit. It's quick, it's easy, and it's valuable. My take on magical shields is to allow them one free "splinter" per day per plus saying they regain their power overnight.
    My take on using them against magical attacks is that  instead of soaking up an attack a player can "splinter" one to automatically succeed on a saving throw against a damaging spell effect, and yes you can wait until you fail against it just like you would splinter after a successful to-hit roll
I'm still debating whether to restrict these options to certain classes or even whether to go with the full weapon mastery rules from the D&D Cyclopedia. For now I like these simpler options better.

For all characters:
  • A failed "save or die" roll does not cause instant death but drops you to 0 hit points and you immediately begin the death spiral of -1 hp per round until aided or you reach -10 and die. This applies to poisons and death ray type effects. Petrification still turns you to stone, Massive damage still does massive damage, etc.
  • Someone hit by poison can be stabilized at 0 hit points but cannot regain consciousness without a potion or spell effect to neutralize the poison 
  • Level drain effects allow a saving throw and drained levels return at one per week, assuming you are not turned into a wight during the battle. 
This is my attempt to mitigate the nastiness of some of these effects as right now they are devastating to a party. I know it used to be that way but most people I knew hated them back then too, and now I'm in a position to do something about it.

They are bad mainly because there's nothing the player can do to stop them - you can play a dwarf in plate with a shield and carrying a potion of neutralize poison, but if the spider hits and you roll a 3 to save, you're dead, despite taking all the sensible precautions that you could. If someone gets to you and administers the potion then you may come out alright but that's a big if, and if you don't have such a potion you're just screwed. I've considered making it a form of ongoing damage to give a character time to drink his own potion instead of making them dependent on another character but I'm stopping short for now.

For level draining I'm also thinking about adding in a restoration spell (maybe a level 3 cleric spell).

One thing I am very much against when house-ruling old school D&D is complicating the game, I'm working on a separate post about why someone would play Basic D&D nowadays  and one of the reasons is the simplicity. Most of my house rules do not require any additional die rolls or make one divergent mechanic work just like another one in an attempt to keep things as simple as the rest of Basic D&D.

Thinking through all of these house rules also got me started thinking about a more drastic option too, but that's another topic for yet another post.

    1 comment:

    Unknown said...

    These all seem most workable and the sort of thing I would add to a Basic/Labyrinth Lord game.