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, December 19, 2013

Four House Rules of the Apocalypse

Four house rules that I've been contemplating:

1.  1/2 share of GP/XP for Hirelings, even if they die. 
I've talked around this issue before.  We run through a lot of hirelings, they're fun mini-PCs and when PCs croak they get upgraded.  We currently give hirelings the half share now.  If they somehow don't make it back to town though, some gold goes to the family maybe but the PCs keep a bigger portion and the XP.  I've realized that this actually provides incentive to killing off the poor mooks.  I don't think the players actually play to that incentive but it would be nice to flip it and incentivise keeping them alive.  That might mean fewer mooks get hired but I doubt it.  Or it might mean the PCs try to enter into working relationships with NPCs which usually provides lots of opportunity for shenanigans.

2.  No negative attributes.
I use the basic D&D -3 for a 3 to +3 for an 18 modifier scale.  It's pretty common to have characters with some -1s, and I don't really mind, one of my favorite characters recently had more minuses than pluses.  He was a chickenshit backstabber, he was smart and he was fun to play.  I say was, because shortly before he made it to 3rd level he had a change of heart and tried to save the world.  He died and failed, setting a Godzilla sized fire elemental loose on the world.  The fire beast went straight towards the nearest metropolitan area and the surviving PCs went the opposite direction!  Anyway, It seems to me that negative modifiers only make it easier for 1st level characters to die and they don't need any help in that regard.  So, what if instead of the normal minuses we change what it means to have a low score , like this:
STR:  1 handed small weapons only
INT:  fewer languages, bad at speaking languages, this is pretty much Rules as Written
WIS:  Player has to make up a paranoia or dumb thing, like the PC doesn't know how to count over 10.
DEX:  takes a round to switch weapons.  (we normally go from missile to melee without loosing a round)
CON:  Save or passes out at 1, 2 or 3 HP.
CHA:  DM gets to make up an enemy NPC.

3.  It seems entirely reasonable to me for the DM to base the HD of monsters & NPCs entirely on how entertaining or enjoyable doing the NPC or Monster's Funny Voice is.

4.  Cleric's, Undead and Alignment:
Lawful Clerics: Turn Undead
Chaotic Clerics: Command Undead
Neutral Clerics: Speak with Undead

The Law and Chaos is normal, but I've never played with the Neutrals getting anything cool or unique.  I think in most versions they have to choose to be like Lawful or Chaotic Clerics.  I think it'd be fun to have a Neutral Cleric in the party and have Kurosagi's Corpse Delivery Service inspired adventures.


  1. No Negative Attributes and the Clerics and Undead are wonderful and I'm stealing them. No Negative Attributes is more fun and can be played for drama and laughs.

  2. Hmmm, not quite as apocalyptic as I'd hoped. But more importantly: 2 posts in 2 days?! Have you had any sudden dietary changes?

  3. I love the alternative to neg stats. It seems to really quell the desire for great attributes. A -1 stands out like a glaring flaw to some players, while the inability to use certain weapons or have a phobia is an amazing roleplaying option. Neutral specific clerics is also a great idea that I will be using. Thanks for the great post.

  4. In my current game, I've ditched ability modifiers entirely, making the only mechanical function of ability scores roll-under checks (which I call for often as a general resolution system). So far, I'm not missing the mods at all.

    Regarding the hireling incentive, it seems like that's only a problem if the hireling has 0 XP. Once the hireling has XP (and maybe even levels), they become much less disposable.

    1. Yeah, it seems like once a hireling makes it through a session or two they go from totally expendable to as dear to the players as their own PCs or more even.

  5. These are good mods.
    I don't know if I have ever mentioned it before, bit I love the illo in the header.

    1. Thanks! I want to draw a new one, this blog needs more art.

  6. Brett & Sheepish: Thanks! If you use any of these let me know how it turned out.