Thursday, July 14, 2022

B/X House Rules

Spectre by Erol Otus

Recently I started a 1:1 campaign of B/X with my partner. Going to be doing a 'Stonehell on the Borderlands' style setup building on the skeletal version of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos presented in the back of the Expert book. The goal is short one or two-hour sessions of good ol' vanilla fantasy with extremely minimal prep and a megadungeon focus.

We'll be using the classic 1981 Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons set by Moldvay and Cook with the following small addendums and alterations:

Animate Dead. This spell is added as a 3rd level spell to the cleric list (lawful clerics would consider this spell a taboo, similar to finger of death). 

Code of Clerics. Chaotic clerics are beholden by their religious codes to use edged weapons. Neutral clerics may have some other suitably esoteric codes regarding permitted weaponry. 

Combat Maneuvers. If the attacker rolls a successful to-hit, the attacker can perform a maneuver in lieu of dealing damage to the defender. That maneuver is constrained to weapon type and other feasibility.

Dual Wielding. Some characters (those who attack as fighters and and the thief) and monsters can fight with a weapon in each hand. They make one attack but gain a +1 to hit from the second weapon.

First Strike. In the first print of The Keep on the Borderlands, Gygax reminds us that pole-armed fighters will strike the first blow when used against a charging foe. Similiarly, Moldvay has a combat example where a character with a ready bow shoots even after having lost initiative. As such we grant combatants with spear-type weapons and notable reach to simultaneously strike incoming foes in combat, regardless of lower initiative. If a combatant has a missile weapon readied at the beginning of a round and is not in melee, they may fire at a closing opponent on the opponent's initiative, regardless of lower initiative.

Gnomes. Gnomes are a playable class in this game.

Languages. Languages known can be held in reserve. The first time a language is encountered, characters must declare whether they know it or not. Note that some languages cannot be learned this way.

Shields Shall Be Splintered. Before damage is rolled, a shield may be sacrificed to negate a single strike. This only works for conventional strikes - other, specific types of shields might stop magical attacks.

Sweep. Fighters (including any who attack as a fighter) and most monsters get one attack per level when fighting opponents with one HD or less in melee. 

Thief Skills. We will use this as a guideline concerning the Thief and how the class functions.

Turning the Undead. There is no limit to how often a cleric may attempt to turn undead each day, but a failure prevents any further attempts for the remainder of an encounter. Some chaotic clerics (and even some neutral clerics) may command undead rather than turn undead. When rolling to command undead, they are controlled for 1 turn per level of the cleric. If they would have been destroyed, they are controlled for 1 day per level of the cleric instead. Controlled undead behave as if charmed and if the duration ends without incident, they will flee as if turned.


A Quick Note on Weapons

We will be using the variable weapon damage with the below additions (based off of Delta's rules):

  • Axe-types gain a +2 vs opponents in medium or heavy armor.
  • Club-types gain a +4 vs opponents in heavy armor.
  • Spear-types are effective against charges doing double damage and often gain first strike.
  • Sword-types can be drawn and used in the same round (we assume others take a round to ready)

These armor bonuses against armor are applied to creatures with tough hides (AC 5 or better!), but not extra-dimensional, fey, or undead. Simple wooden weapons should not get these bonuses.

We will be dropping the bit about all two-handed weapons losing initiative and will make one-handed d6 weapons (maces, spears, and now battle axes and swords) deal d8 damage when two-handed.

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