Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

Even More Variable Weapon Damage for White Box

So yep still playing around getting ready to run a White Box game. We’ve talked some scheduling within the group and it looks like it will be just after the New Year. Yep, we plan that far ahead. Anyway, on to the subject at hand. I’ve been thinking about weapon damage and making a little variable or swingy as some say. My first gut instinct was just port in the variable weapon damage and HD from Supplement 1 or Basic. While it would probably work, it just doesn’t keep with the vibe of White Box (just needing d20’s and d6’s). I thought a bit and then I remembered some bits from Open D6. Hey that might work.
So here’s the low down. Each +3 bonus becomes an additional die. For example:
A fighter with 15 Str (+1) with a +2 Sword (d6+2). Normally, that would be 1d6+3. Under this it becomes 2d6.
Let’s take the same fighter but this time give him a +5 Great Sword. Normally, that be 1d6+7. Under this that become 3d6+1
Now let’s take these two examples and look at averages:
1d6+3: 6.5; 2d6: 7
1d6+7: 10.5; 3d6+1, 11.5
And now damage range:
1d6+3, 4 to 9; 2d6, 2 to 12
1d6+7, 8 to 14; 3d6+1, 4 to 19
Averages are close enough for my tastes. The damage ranges are more variable and have more of a bell curve. Which can put the idea of a crit that does more damage based on the damage roll rather than the to-hit roll. And it let’s the players roll more dice which most enjoy. Of course, the same would go for monsters and NPC’s too. So the PC’s might be on the receiving end of that damage.
Once again, the dice have not yet met the table on this one and YMMV.
I just talked about a Frankengame on the podcast. And this is an example.

House Rules: Season To Taste

Yep. House Rules. They’re like in every recipe you read. Season to taste. My philosophic rambles I’ll put in the Playing It Wrong Podcast. As mater of fact, here’s Episode 28: House Rules: Season To Taste. But then you’re here on the blog to read. So a reading you shall do. I’ve come up with a couple more house rules for my White Box campaign.

Why are you cool? Each player character gets a +1 bonus to something specific (HP, Attack, Save, AC, etc) or an extra “skill”(Roll 1d6: 1=1 in 6, 2-5=2 in 6, 6=3 in 6). Talk it out. Up to GM approval. Just a little boost to make the player characters been more special and customized without being overpowering.

Death & Dying: Save or Die=Dead. Level drain and so. Still dead. If “Normal” damage takes a character to Negative CON score HP then dead. Otherwise the character is at 0 HP. Make a System Shock check*. Failure means the character is dead. If successful then character then the character is still alive but will bleed out in a number of rounds equal to the number rolled on the System Shock check.

* System Shock: That’s in the Version 1 of the house rules. Here’s the quick version. X in d6 Chance based on character’s Constitution score.
3 to 5: 1 in d6
6 to 8: 2 in d6
9 to 12: 3 in d6
13 to 16: 4 in d6
17 to 18: 5 in d6

For reference: Here’s a link to the free PDF of the Third Printing of the Swords & Wizardry version; or the Fantastic Medieval Adventures by Seattle Hill Games. They’re both great and nearly identical. So get both…

White Box House Rules Version 1

Yes, I’m still working/prepping for a White Box (Swords & Wizardry/Fantastic Medieval Adventures) campaign. But if you’ve been around this blog more than one then you know that I just love house rules. So I put together my Version 1 of them. Because I know I’m going to change up some the stuff in there before I start. Ideas will come up and some feedback (Hopefully) will happen. So this is very much a living document.
I’m also hacking the basic classes and putting together my own versions of the “Advanced” classes plus some others that I just think are cool. And since I’m messing with classes I’ll probably do some other races too. And do some versions of the classic spells that are from Supplement 1: Greyhawk. Chances are that will end up as a cheap PDF on RPGNow. It’s been way too long since I’ve published anything but then I’ve said that before. Sigh.
White Box House Rules Ver 1
Like I said. Changes will happen to it. And remember folks. Roll Dice. Have Fun. That’s always a house rule.

Still Playing Around With White Box

Despite all the stuff that’s distracting me. I’m still planning on a White Box game that will be heavily hacked. So let me do this little rant about the basic (or core) four classes along with some random thoughts on each.
Cleric: What’s really bugged me the most about cleric’s is their spell casting. It never made sense to me that they would pray for the spells they need later on. I’ve always imaged them as praying as they need them. I’m playing with the idea of the spontaneous prayer for spells. It just take one round/spell level. Which limits their abilities during combat but smart use just prior to encounter can save the party’s bacon. Also, there’s something we did way back when. The DM at the time let cleric’s do “God Calls” basically ask for divine intervention at a cost. I’m still brainstorming exactly how I want to do this. I’m bouncing around some ideas using a pair of d20’s and if they match good things happen. But that’s still in buried in the depths of my brain category.
Fighter: Hey, the most common class. And also the pretty much the most boring in the old games. So first, I admit that I never liked the additional attacks based against opponents with less than one HD. Meh. I’m leaning towards the “chop when you drop” sort of thing. Drop an opponent get another attack. I’ve heard rumors on the Internet that it was Dave Arneson’s house rule but that’s just an Internet rumor. I’m also thinking of adding a very simple “fighting style” type thing. Either ranged or melee and giving a +1 to-hit and damage. Not much but enough to keep the plain old fighter the best at fighting.
Magic-User: This is probably, the one that I’m going to mess with the most. First, I’m thinking about using and x in d6 mechanic based on INT for chance to learn spells. Also, to use it for spell research and may be more. Also, magic is just too safe and predictable. I don’t want something as gonzo as DCC but I do want some risk. So every time a magic-user casts a spell there’s a spell-level in d20 chance that something could go horribly wrong. I’m thinking of reducing the chance by use of special spell components or even specific types of magic items. Hey, a wizard’s staff that helps with spell casting.
Thief: So I’ll be using the Thief from White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game from Seattle Hill Games. However, I think I’ll opt for two Thief Skills. The first Thievery for locks, traps, stealth and climbing. The second Skullduggery; for picking pockets, disguise, and general streetwise. So basically, Thievery is mechanical devices and the environment while Skullduggery is the social side of the underworld.
I’ll probably mess around with some additional classes too. I know I’ve talked about keeping to the basic four. But if they actually do get changed up enough, then they are worth the add. I’m also having a running internal debate on nonhuman races. I’ll probably go all crazy Cantina Scene to give the players some extra options but haven’t decided if I should run with Racial Classes or a limited selection of classes and multiclassing. I still have plenty of time to ponder and play around with that. Heck, if all this stuff turns out pretty decent I may throw it up on RPGNow as a cheap little PDF. We shall see.
Plus I need to clean up my House Rules document and redo and clean up the world stuff. So stay tuned for those posts.

Expanded Vocations for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells

Yep, I’ve ranted a lot about this game. Time for another one. Something that hasn’t been ranted about too much but does need to get a little shout out. And that’s Vocations.
Tracing the origin of this mechanic is pretty easy. And I’m pretty sure I’m on track here. The idea comes from FATE. One of its better ideas. Basically, there’s a thing called High Concept. You use it describe your character overall. And it works for SS&SS and can work for other games as well especially some OSR games.
In the case of SS&SS, it replaces the need for a long list of skills. But is should be for much more than that. And that’s how I’m going to use it in my game. Going back to FATE (and that time I ran the Dresden Files RPG), I learned a lot about dealing with this. So here’s what I’ve learned and how I’m going to apply it.
First, the Expanded Vocation should describe the character overall. This can include culture, “job”, personality, appearance, quirks and so on. Keeping with mechanics of SS&SS, the Expanded Vocation will not help the character in combat, to cast spells or do something that it the “thing” for another class. It sounds like there isn’t much left but there is. You’ve got the whole range of non-combat and professional skills, social interactions, reputation and so on. And here’s a hint for players and GM’s, take the Vocation both literally and figuratively.
Not only should the Vocation give the character a Positive Die when doing things, it should give a Negative Die for doing some things as well. I’m pull this basically straight from FATE. When the player (with the GM’s or other player’s assistance) designs a character’s Expanded Vocation, they should be able to think of three different ways they could use it to their advantage and three different ways it could be used to the character’s disadvantage. Now, I admit that this may take more time than it takes for the rest of character creation. That’s OK. One of our standard house rules is the Three Session Rule. Basically, you can change up your character if you don’t like but you can do that only for the first three sessions of a campaign. Like I said, the player doesn’t have to do it alone. The GM and the player’s should give some advice. Just don’t tell the player what they have to do. You know what I mean.
Moving right along on to bigger things. My campaign//play test begins on Thursday. Yep, you heard that right play test. I figure it’s time to let this cat out of the bag. I had a brief email exchange with Diogo and he gave a thumbs up. So after a couple years (my god has it been that long), I’m going to get something up on RPGNow. Don’t worry folks. Keeping with the tradition of SS&SS the pdf will be PWYW. The World of Skarynth is making a come back. I’ve played with this setting for a long time and SS&SS fits it and works (hopefully). I have faith that it’s going to work. Let me put it that way. Right now, we’re going to be play testing the new classes, races, spells, and monsters plus giving the setting a chance for contact with some players. So it’s play test, edit, lay out and publish. That’s the plan any way. So now that I’ve said it, I’m crossing my fingers. And don’t worry. More details will follow as things get finalized.

Hit Dice: Not Just for Hit Points?

I had this thought a long time ago when I was playing around with some ideas about hacking Swords & Wizardry and since I’m messing around with Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells the idea came back to me again. This time a little more thought out. So mixing that up, let’s play around a bit.
Initiative: This is lifted from SS&SS. Use HD for initiative. However, I like things a little random. So roll it. (I added this as house rule to the upcoming SS&SS game). Now there may be some disparity with OSR Thieves and Monks since they had d4 HD. For them, I’d probably let them add their Dex Mod or for initiative let them roll a larger die type.
Natural Healing: This is also from SS&SS and I played around with the idea when I working on the failed YARC (Yet Another Retroclone) project. Roll your HD for healing at whatever rate you use for your game.
Weapon Damage: Er what? This goes back to Damage by Class idea and doing weapons by “type”. So use the character’s HD as a base for medium weapons then use a larger die for “heavy”, and a smaller die for “light”. For the basic classes, it look something like this: Fighter: d6/d8/d10; Cleric: d4/d6/d8; Magic-User: d3/d4/d6; Thief: d3/d4/d6 (but for back stab: d6/d8/d10).
Armor Class: Huh? Yeah why not? If you’re doing Weapon Damage by class why not Armor Class too? Like weapons, do armor by type (Light, Medium Heavy). Use the Weapon Damage as above and divide the highest number on the die by two to get bonuses like this: Fighter: 3/4/5; Cleric: 2/3/4; Magic-User: 1/2/3; Thief: 1/2/3. Of course, this also depends on who can where what armor in your game. Thieves and Magic-Users in plate mail just don’t quite work so adjust to your rules of choice.
So yes. This is another of those posts to file under random ideas that I may or may not use and will probably mess around again with in the future sometime. And of course, YMMV.

White Box: Basic, Advanced, Supplement I?

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about that White Box game. It’s bouncing around my brain in all sorts of weird ways. Then this odd little idea popped into my head. Things like this go away in a couple days but this one has hung around. So here’s the elevator pitch.
Let’s combine a little of Supplement 1: Greyhawk into Swords & Wizardry just a little bit. Remember Grayhawk brought variable HD and weapon damage and that’s what’s I’m thinking about. Just porting in the HD and the variable weapon damage. OK, I know what you’re thinking why not just play S&W Complete. Well, I did think about that too. The remainder of the rules would stay the same. Yes, I know there is very little difference. But where I do see the difference is in the classes. Especially from other sources than the core White Book. These take the classes and distill them down to their very basics. I’m really basic and the core of what makes the class truly different. So the HD and weapon damage is something that might make things a little more familiar to my players and keep the core light White Box feel and rules.
Honestly, I don’t know. I admit that I may not even do this. It’s just one of those random thoughts….