Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Upside Down D&D

A while back I made characters with people who have never played the game before and I was reminded of the confusion surrounding the fact that you have an attribute score and a modifier derived from that score.  That experience gave me this idea that evolved into a really simple story-gamey version of D&D.  This is simpler than Red Box Hack or Dungeon World (at least based on my minimal knowledge of those games) and maybe closer to the original game rules.  What the DM does in the game described below is pretty much the same as a DM in DnD.


Character generation:

1. players roll 3d6 in order for D&D abilities. (Low is Good)
2. roll 3d6 and the single best (highest) die roll is your HP.
3. roll those three dice again, one at a time once on each of these tables:

You are a...
1: Noble of House __________
2: Veteran of the ___________ War
3: Librarian from the City of ____________
4: Worshiper of ____________
5: Criminal who pulled the __________ Heist
6: Fey of the ___________ Woods

Who carries a...
1: Big Axe
2: Crystal
3: Knife... and more knives
4: Brutal Mace
5: Bow and arrows
6: Sword and shield

And who tends to be...
1: Crazed
2: Bon vivant or grump
3: A hero or a leader
4: A coward
5: Greedy
6: A sneaky schemer

Here's how it would work.
Any time you would roll dice in a regular game of DnD instead the Player rolls 3D6, or 2D6 if the DM says its really hard.  The DM says what ability is being rolled against (S, I, W, D, Con, or Cha) rolling over that ability means success.

The items don't add dice, instead they let you accomplish things you couldn't otherwise.  With an axe you might be able to chop down a door, with a bow you can hit somebody from across a room, what's a crystal let you do... etc.

The last die rolled above is like XP.  At the end of the game the DM writes down in order who generally acted the most in character.  The Player then gets that many bonus dice to add to any action or actions in the future that they want.  The DM can also give out Dice to PC's who act in line with their character in a way that is generally detrimental to the party.  For example, when the coward runs away, that PC could get a bonus dice to use later.

This isn't my ideal DnD, but I think something like this could be a great way to play with people who have never played an RPG before, and in that context, could be fun.


  1. I had an idea last year of rolling 3d6 to determine which attribute got a +1.
    No actual attribute score would be generated.

    e.g. Using SIWDCCh as attribute order a roll of 1,3,4 would result in a character with +1 Strength, +1 Wisdom & +1 Dexterity modifiers.

    One of the remaining attributes would receive a -1 modifier.

    Haven't actually played it, though.

    1. Yeah, that's nice and simple, too. and has the benefit of not being upside down, so you could transition to something more like regular D&D.

  2. This would be a great way to play with kids as well.

  3. Why upsidedown? Why not make checks 3d6 under the attribute with harder tasks 4, 5 or more d6?