Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

Averaging is Your Friend

This is something I’ve done in my other old school games successfully. There aren’t any skills so to speak and most folks go with roll something versus an ability score. But in the past I’ve always what I felt was the best mechanic available. One good stat made a character great at a whole family of things. So I’ve gone to averaging.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the games put out by Old Skull Publishing and I’m working on a nice little review of Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, a campaign for it, and some other little goodies. The point of this is that I’m going to be adding that this to my game.
Like I said, instead of making checks against one stat, make a check against the average of two. I’ve thrown these checks into a few broad categories.
Athletics (Strength and Dexterity) or (Physique and Agility: Climbing, Acrobatics, Jumping and all that stuff.
Craft: (Intelligence and Dexterity) or (Agility and Intellect): This is for doing stuff with your hands. Skinning an animal, hot wiring a car, even first Aid.
Wits: (Intelligence and Wisdom) or (Intellect and Will): This isn’t about knowing stuff rote. It’s about understanding information and being able to parse that information.
And, of course< there are more options but use as you will. And you don't even have to add this to character sheets. It's just make check against and list them. My players already know what I mean.
And it works. It makes more than one stat important to preform an action. So min maxing is not your friend. It's easy. And generally works well with the existing system.
Like any rules hack, your mileage may vary. Remember the most important thing isn't the rules your using but the fun you're having.

Minor Psychics

I find a game and then go crazy on it. And such is the case with Dark Streets and Darker Secrets. And as I’ve said before there are a lot of ideas bouncing around inside my head. There’s redoing New Bay City and putting some gentle modifications DS&DS better fit. And in that vein, here’s the first installment. Going through my old New Bay City notes and going through the rule book, I noticed that one of the NPC’s just didn’t quite fit and I also wanted to have this option open for player characters. So the idea of the Minor Psychic took form.

First, the Minor Psychic is not an Archetype but an option that can be added onto any other Archetype except for The Gifted. This isn’t a flash bang type power. Instead the character has visions, can perform Psychometry, minor acts of divination and just get a bad feeling about a person, place, or thing. The GM can use at their discretion to give the PC’s a clue, lead, or even a warning. Heck, it’s even good to use as an adventure hook.
Of course, the players will want to actually use this too. The quick and easy method: Just make a Luck Check. If you want to go with something different, I’ve got an alternate idea. Make a Willpower Test using 2d20. If both dice fail, then no vision/nothing. If one succeeds then there’s some quick and vague visions. If both dice succeed then the character has a much clearer and more accurate vision.
Like I said before, this ability is tacked onto an existing archetype but it ain’t free. When the character’s ability manifested there probably wasn’t anyone around who could explain it to them or guide them. Therefore, the character begins play with 1d6 less Sanity than normal.
There you go and more to come. Unpleasant Dreams!

Return to New Bay City Part 1

So I’m slowing digging through my old notes and I’m relying on memory and what few I’ve found. I know the complete is somewhere on one of the old hard drives.
So to catch up every one up in case they aren’t usual readers of the old blog. First Old Skull Publishing just finished up a successful Kickstarter for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. This would be Diogo Nogueira’s own little game of monster hunting using his game hack that used for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. This of course got me thinking again about New Bay City.
So New Bay City is my own little urban fantasy setting. It’s located somewhere in east Texas. It’s sort of like the odd love child of Houston and New Orleans with some other inspiration thrown in there. I’ve ran games in this city twice before. The first time was with World of Darkness. And then again with the Dresden Files RPG. To be honest, each game had it’s good points but neither just quite did it for me. So along comes Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. Now, I’ve ran Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and loved it. And as a quick update. Yes, the setting I’m working on for that will be published soon. I know I’m working really slowly on it. Real life can suck sometimes. But enough about that. More about the game.
So I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the rules and the directions I want to go with it and like I said before the system is easy and a blast to play. So here I am beginning to convert all that old stuff and this is your first installment. Now, remember this is still very much a work in progress and I’m gathering old notes from the Dresden Files version. So you may see some familiar aspects. (Get it?) My plan is to alternate between doing campaign fluff pieces like this and crunchy house rules stuff.
So here you the first batch of notes on Return To New Bay City

More on Kits for BX and other games

I made a post last week about using the concept of kits for a BX game. And I’ve had some time to think more on it.
My first impression was to do the whole run of subclasses as kits. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I put pen to paper, looked over some rule books and traveled deep into quagmire that is my brain. While the base classes are pretty standard across the board, the subclasses aren’t. There are many an interpretation as well as my own. So lots of options.
This all doesn’t mean I’m not working on a crunchier way of doing this. But I’ve got the quick ersatz way of doing it right now and like many good things it’s pretty simple.
If you’re running a game that only has the four basics and don’t really feel like adding in more classes. Start by talking to the players and negotiate a little. At first level, the characters would start off as the base class. Let’s face it. Most of the subclasses have pretty much the same abilities as the core classes plus some extra bennies. And after that bit haggling and discussion, the GM and the player should have some idea on what direction the character is headed. At second level, the character is headed down that special path then at third they start getting whatever cool stuff added in.
Now, I do want to make an exception for the so called specialist wizards. You want to be illusionist. Hunt out and learn illusion spells. Necromancer. Same thing. And there’s always spell research.
As far as clerics go, this should be something at first level. Because in my humble opinion, all of the cleric’s abilities derive from their faith. Now they may pick something cool based on divine quests.
So there you more rants and thoughts on another project that I’ve got on the fire. And more specifics are on the way.

Magical Aging & Level Drain in Old School Games

I’ve been thinking about these for a while. Let’s face it level drain has been debated to death. No put intended. And I’ve said before that I don’t mind it. But I will admit that it is really harsh. And then there’s magical aging. This is usually due to the old Haste Spell when the target ages a year. I always thought that it was kind of meh. And if the target was an elf, then it’s a who cares. To an elf, what’s another year. With the upcoming Labyrinth Lord game, I decided to think about these two and came up with a couple of ideas that I wanted to simple and still have that old school feel about them and that I could convert on the fly.
Level Drain: Instead of draining levels, monsters with this ability do extra damage (1d6/Level Drained). This damage is special and must tracked separately. It will not heal naturally. Potions will not work. Only a character employing healing spells who also has the Turn ability can attempt to heal the damage. For any healing spells to actually work, the caster must make a turning attempt (for each spell cast) and must successfully “turn” the creature that caused the damage.
Magical Aging: For each year that a character is magically aged, a Saving Throw versus Spells must be attempted. On a failure, the character permanently loses 1 point of Strength, Dexterity or Constitution (determined randomly).
So those are my quick thoughts on that. I’ll give the players the option on the level drain if they want to go hard core old school or something gentler. We shall see.

Return to Zoong. At faster than I thought.

So I thought I had about six to prep for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign (starting off with Keep on the Borderlands). Now it looks like I may be starting as early as this Thursday. So it’s time to into overdrive and get the necessities done.

First up. The campaign area/”world” map. For this whole campaign, I want everything to feel as much as possible like back in the day. So it was time break out the colored pencils. I grabbed the hex paper from incompetech. I don’t remember where I found those icons so many years ago and started filing stuff in.
I had also planned on typing out all my old notes and making the all pretty. That plan is down the drain. So we’re going really old school. Scribbled a bunch down in a composition notebook and will fill in as need be and as inspiration hits.
I was going to do a custom character sheet. And I still might. But in the mean time, I’ve made this very simple and handy spell cheat sheet so players don’t have to refer back to a book every time they cast a spell. Spell Cheat Sheet
And I was going to be do more thinking about some old house rules but I’ll throw them out here:
God Call: Characters can call on their god for aid whenever they want (even after death). The chance that the god intervenes starts a t 5%. Every time the character levels up this increases by 1%. Every time a god call is attempted the chance decreases by 1%. But there’s a downside and that Wrath. This starts at 100%. Every time a God Call is attempted this increases 1%. So first time. 100; second, 99-100; third, 97-100 and so on. Wrath is when the god is had their fill of the character’s pleas and will kill them outright or if they’re already dead; it’s no happy after life and there’s a good chance a divine heavy is going to claim all of that charcter’s gear. To be clear, it’s one percentile roll. Low good things happen. High, bad things happen.
I’m still playing around with some ideas on dealing with undead level drain but I’ll get to that later.

Variable Thief Skills for your Basic Games

I constantly play around with rules and since I just rambled on about Thieves’ Guilds on the good old pod cast. I guessed I should do a little rant on skills.
The thing is that in the early editions all thieves has pretty same chance to do their trademark skills. No real specialization other than creating more specialized classes. Later editions and other games (like Dungeon Crawl Classics) came up with various ways of changing this up a bit. So I sat and thought for a minutes on a quick and easy method that just feels right with those earlier days. So here you go.
The player can choose to modify their some (or none) of the character’s skills at first level. Skills may be either raise or lowered once. You can’t do both to the same skill. Raised skills: roll 1d10 and add the percentage, Lowering skills: Roll 1d10 and lower that percentage (except Climb Walls and reduce that by 2d10 since it’s much higher). Since Hear Noise is on x in d6. That should be tougher. So to raise it by one, double reductions to another skill.
Any way just a thought for a little tweak. In case a player wants to play a pick pocket or burglar or trap specialist or whatever you want to call it.
Have fun, folks! And of course the usual disclaimer, some body may have already done this better than me.