Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

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….

Skills in the World of Zoong

I talked a bit about this in previous podcasts and it happens to be where my mind is right now. Contrary to my OSR folks, I do like some skills but not too many. I think even 5E has too many skills. So for the upcoming White Box game, I want to do some sort of skill system. This is all still preliminary and will probably change down the road.
First, there’s Attribute Checks. You know roll under the score with a d20. I’m going to use that for some things. Mainly, things that rely on solely on a characters abilities with no sort of training. The prime example is the good old “Bend Bars/Kick in the Door” type roll. I know a lot folks use that for pretty all skills but I still have some memories back in the 2nd Edition days of using it and the Magic-User happened to better at sneaking than the Thief.
The rest of the skills would rely on the x in d6 mechanic inspired by the White Box Omnibus, White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventures, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
Everyman Skills: Let’s face it there are things that all the characters are going to try regardless of their class. Right now, I’m looking at just three or four skills.
1. Sneak: Because everybody wants to move quietly at some time. This starts at 1 in 6 and may be modified by Class or Race.
2. Athletics: Climbing, Jumping, and Acrobatic type maneuvers. This also starts at 1 in 6. If Strength or Dexterity is greater than 15 then add one (2 in 6). If both are above 15 the add two (3 in 6).
3. Sixth Sense: This is used for avoiding surprise, searching, and finding secret doors. This also starts at 1 in 6 and may be modified by Race and Class.
4. I don’t have a name that I like for this one. But I want some sort of social skill. I understand the whole Role Play vs Roll Play. I do want the players to role play out any social encounters but I want something simple that simulates subtle social cues like body language, intonation, and reading the mark. Like the others, this would start at 1 in 6 with a +1 for a Charisma greater than 15.
Improving Everyman Skills: When the character gains a level the player chooses one Everyman Skill and rolls a d6. If the result is higher than the current rating then increase that skill by one.
Everyman Skills Vs Class Skills: If a character has a class skill that would also include an Everyman skill then use the better of the two. Thinking mainly of the Thief here.
Unskilled Attempts: This is going to be judgement call on the GM’s part. But these attempts would fall into three categories:
1. No Way: The character just doesn’t have the training to attempt.
2. Snowball’s Chance: Sure try. Roll 2d6 and only succeed on the roll of double 1’s.
3. Sure give it shot: 1 in 6.
I know there’s a bunch of this will probably change when start really digging into classes. So stay tuned for that and Episode 11 of the podcast should be coming soon!

Playing It Wrong Episode 9: House Rules and Hacks Liner Notes

So on Episode 9 of the podcast I talked about some house rules for Swords & Wizardry but heck they’re pretty much usable for any of your OSR type games and as I’ve mentioned, I planning on starting up a Swords & Wizardry White Box campaign in the future so this is all in prep for that. So here they are in the written form as sort of liner notes.
Two Weapon Fighting: +1 to-hit. Fighters (and other martial types) roll both weapon’s damage and take the best. Others average the damage.
Shattered Shields and Sundered Helms: Sacrifice your shield and avoid the damage from an attack. Sacrifice your helmet and turn a crit into a normal hit. Reminds me. I need to write up a new crit/fumble table because those are always fun.
Attacks of Opportunity: I just wrote this.
Weapons and Armor by type: Let the characters describe their weapons. Just do the light, medium and heavy of each: d4, d6, d8 or +2/+4/+6
Changing up the Fighter: Instead of extra attacks against opponents of 1 HD or less. They get an extra attack when they drop an opponent. The total number of extra attacks a fighter can get is equal to their level.
Other stuff that’s coming soon: Going to tweak the skills from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Basically an x in d6 type system with my own take on a few things. Tweaks to the Cleric, Magic-User, and probably some other classes too.
So here’s the link to Episode 9 of Playing It Wrong.

Opportunity Attacks: A Little House Ruling

So I’ve binging on various OSR Anchorite podcasts of late and Radio Grognard got me thinking. I think it was Episode 10 when Glenn mentions Opportunity Attacks and well like I said, I got thinking. I dug out my Swords & Wizard book. Yep, they were there. I looked at my Mentzer Red Book. Yep, it’s there too. Although there is an option to half move without getting whacked. Hmm. Let’s think about these for a moment. Not sure why these are there (like Glenn said) but I do know how they ended up impacting, at least, our games. This made the fighters up front even more like meat shields for the magic user. Monsters would have to go thru gauntlet to get to that fragile but dangerous spell caster. Also, it made even more unlikely that PC’s wold run away from a fight that they should. Let’s by the time they figure out that they’re outclassed, it’s probably too late. My little mind set about for a simple way to do these without have such dire consequences and make them fell less like an attack but more like an escape. Because I think it’s more about one party escaping rather than the other attacking. And the answer is pretty simple. Saving Throws.
Here’s the deal. Want to back out/flee/go for the soft target. Make a Saving Throw. To keep the theme of Thieves as dodgy little buggers, go ahead make this like a Save vs Traps. Fail and take damage.
If a monster is avoiding a character, the damage is the base damage for the character’s primary weapon in hand. No bonus for any class stuff or high ability scores. But if there’s a penalty that applies.
If a player character is avoiding a monster, use the base damage of the monster’s primary attack. Do not apply any special conditions of the attack such as poison, paralyzation, level drain and so on.
There you go simple with some risk but not really an attack per se. I think I already said that.
Keep ’em rolling and enjoy.