Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

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.
Enjoy!

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.

Bard and Barbarian for my Labyrinth Lord Game

Here’s the first draft of my own take on Bards and Barbarians for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord game. I wanted to put my own spin on these. Heck, there’s a lot of other very fine versions out there. They just didn’t quite do it for me. Yeah. I’m weird. I like bards as jack of all trades and barbarians without armor and that’s the way I roll. I want to keep them simple but still give them their own feel. Or course, these are beta versions so there might be a change or two before the dice hit the table. Hell, there’s probably a typo in there too.
barbarian and bard

And The Players Have Spoken. Labyrinth Lord It Is


I talked last week with the players in our little group and they decided they wanted to totally old school and go with Labyrinth Lord! So here’s a bit of a rambling post about what I need to do, some thoughts on the new Advanced Labyrinth Lord book, and other stuff! Yeah I got the Orcus cover because Orcus.
First up some thoughts on the book itself. Glen “Old Man Grognard” Halstrom reviewed on his Youtube channel and it’s pretty spot on. Now there is one thing about it that kind of bugs me. And that’s the spell section. The most minor beef that I have is that the spell list is at the end of the spell chapter. I know that’s minor but hey it just makes a little more sense to me to have at the beginning. Another and more annoying thing is the layout of it. OK, spells are alphabetical by class. No problem. But if you open up the book in the middle of the spell chapter, it’s hard to figure out where you are in the spell lists. Am I looking at Illusionist or Magic-User spells? There is a header at the beginning of each section but I don’t think that it stands out enough if you’re quickly flipping through the book looking for a spell. Which is one of the many reasons that I grabbed up a hard copy of Necrotic Gnome’s B/X Essentials Magic-User and Cleric Spells. BTW, I got the monster book too.
So what else do have to do? Well, I need to tweak my White Box House rules and make them more in line with Labyrinth Lord plus pull a couple of other things from other games like Swords & Wizardry. I happen to like the Swords & Wizardry two-weapon fighting rules better along with a little tweak to those. Don’t worry you’ll see these posted here when I get them done. I’m going to pull some of the classes from James Spahn’s Class Compendium. I’m not planning on doing race as class but there may be a exceptions for really odd races or unique racial classes. Still working on that list too. And James West’s Black Pudding is just awesome for so many things.
And speaking of classes, I want to home brew a couple. I’ve got soft spot for bards and an odd fascination with barbarians. I’ve got various versions of each and none quite did it for me. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or that they didn’t emulate former versions of the classes. I just have a different idea in my head. So there’s another thing you have to look forward to.
I’m starting them off with Keep on the Borderlands but I want to spruce it up a bit and throw in some extra encounter areas from other small adventures that I’ve collected over the years. Additionally, I need to get off my butt and flesh out my world of Zoong out more. The good news is that I found my ancient notes form many years ago at the bottom of box. So there’s a bunch of nearly forgotten old stuff that I’m going to mix in with the new. Once more blog fodder, folks. Stay tuned for that.
And there’s a host of other little things that I want dust off and/or improve. Like finally getting around to clearing out and organizing my gaming bag.

Along with that I just have to bring my little box of index card wonders. I just love this box.

Of course, I still have to put together my GM Screen and Notebook. So yeah. Dozens of little projects to get done. And before any one asks, we haven’t really decided on when we are starting so I need to get to work on this along with all other projects on my plate.