D&D Classic: House Rules

I thinking about playing D&D Classic again for a more simple and old-school experience compared to D&D 5e. So I am basically talking about these versions:

  • Basic/Expert (B/X)
  • Basic/Export/Champion/Master/Immortal (BECMI)
  • Rules Cyclopedia

However, all rules are a bit subject to taste, and I will put a few house rules here. They may change over time. Some of these rules come from, or are inspired by, OSR clones (in particular the Swedish Svärd & Svartkonst).

Named Weapon

A character can name one weapon which gives +1 to hit and +1 to damage. Only one weapon can be named at a time, and change of weapons can only happen between adventures.

Sacrifice Shield

A shield can be destroyed to save the wielder from a strike that would otherwise give him 0HP. This can only happen once per combat.

Thieves can attack with Dexterity

Thieves can use Dexterity instead of Strength when they attack with a weapon doing at most 1d6 damage. Damage is still Strength.

Two handed weapons

When a two handed weapon is used, the wielder rolls initiative at disadvantage (roll two d6, pick the worst).

Two Weapons

When two weapons are used, the wielder rolls initiative at advantage (roll two d6, pick the best). If the dice are equal the attack is made with the off-hand weapon at -2.

To be decided: Two simultaneous attacks, and if this rule applies to all one handed weapons and all classes.

Death and more

D&D Basic is deadly. 0HP means death. Poison is often saving throw or death. Petrification is instant and permanent. Let us give each character three lives per adventure.

  1. st death (or similar) results in unconsciousness. A successful (suitable) saving throw will make the character recover in his own during the next turn (not round) at 1HP. A failure means death, unless character is cared for during next turn.
  2. nd death (or similar) as 1st death. Also there is a permanent injury. If the saving throw succeeds it is just esthetic but if it fails it comes with a suitable penalty.
  3. rd death is definite.

Movement and Encumbrance

Let us start with the baseline:

Coins
(20/lbs)
Encounter
(feet / round)
Running
(feet / round)
Encounter
(m / round)
Monsters
150(50) Spectre
0-4004012012120(40) Hydra
401-8003090990(30) Hobgoblin
801-12002060660(20) Skeleton
1201-16001030330(10) Beholder
1601-24005151

(I got rid of feet/turn when exploring dungeons).

I suggest:

ArmorMax DEX
AC
Encounter
(feet / round)
Running
(feet / round)
Encounter
(m / round)
None, Leather4012012
Scale-211
Chain-210
Banded-130909
Plate-18

A character can carry a number of items equal to his Strength. Small items can be carried together in a sack/backback (which counts as 1). For every extra item carried, movement is reduced by 10feet/1m per round. If you use grid, round down.

500 coins or gems count as one item.

Background: this is complicated. I have a Swedish D&D with metres instead of feet. Neither pounds nor coins are very convenient to recalculate. I kind of like the 5e dexterity limitation to heavy armor. At the same time it may be more in the OSR spirit to let heavy armor limit movement to make escape harder. I also makes sense to let Strength have something to do with it.

  1. Rollformulär Titan Games D&D | TechFindings - pingback on 2020/05/12 at 18:32

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