House Rules

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Ability Scores

Character Ability Scores will be rolled using a modified version of Method V from the Players’ Handbook:

  • Roll four six-sided dice (4d6). Discard the lowest die and total the
    remaining three. Repeat this five more times, then assign the six numbers to the
    character’s abilities however you want. This is a fast method that gives you a good
    character, but you can still get low scores (after all, you could roll 1s on all four dice!).

Once assigned to each ability, the player can then raise the points on any particular ability score by sacrificing 2 points from another. So if a character had 17 for Dexterity, 12 for Wisdom and 13 for Intelligence, the player could reduce his character’s wisdom by 2 points in order to raise his Dexterity to 18, or reduce both Wisdom and Intelligence by 1 each. This re-allocation of ability scores cannot be used to raise an ability above 18.

Perception

Characters have an additional ability score: Perception. Players roll a straight 3d6 for this ability, but at each new level, they can add 1/3 of their original perception roll to their current ability score. After all, great heroes survive because they learn to trust their instincts.

When testing perception, the DM may ask the players to roll anything from a d20 to a d100 against the character’s perception scores, though it will usually be a d100, often with a modifier to the die roll.

Dying

A character will die when they reach -10 hit points. Any character dropping to 0 hit points or less is rendered unconscious, and if on negative hit points will bleed, losing 1 hp per round until he is treated by another character. So far, so standard, however, a player may choose when their character initially reaches negative hit points to take a Constitution check in order to apply first aid to themselves. If the check succeeds, the character stops bleeding. If they fail, an extra hit point is lost and they are then unconscious and cannot attempt this self-treatment again.

Combat Rules

Critical Hits

In combat, if a combatant rolls a 20, that player may then roll another d20 in order to see if the hit was ‘critical’. A second successful hit on a d20 will mean the player can then roll double the normal damage dice. This is potentially unlimited, if a player (or the DM) rolled 4 successive natural 20s, then a minimum of 4 times the normal damage dice would be used.

Critical Misses

Any combatant who rolls a natural 1 on their attack roll runs the risk of hurting themselves, their allies or otherwise putting themselves at a disadvantage. To avoid this, on rolling a natural 1, the player (or DM) must roll another d20 attack roll. If this ‘attack’ hits, the character avoids damage and only suffers a -2 penalty on their initiative. A ‘miss’ indicates that the character (or their allies) potentially suffers the normal damage from their intended attack – though the actual amount is at the DM’s discretion depending on the circumstances.

Parrying

Players have 2 options when parrying. They may choose from either the official parrying rules (below) or can choose to attempt to parry a specific attack – either to themselves or another character.

Official Parrying Rules

To make himself harder to hit, a character can parry—forfeit all actions for the round.
He can’t attack, move, or cast spells. This frees the character to concentrate solely on
defence. At this point, all characters but warriors gain an AC bonus equal to half their
level. A 6th-level wizard would have a +3 bonus to his AC (lowering his AC by 3). A
warrior gets a bonus equal to half his level plus one. A 6th-level fighter would gain a +4
AC bonus.

This benefit is not a perfect all-around defense, and it’s not effective against rear or
missile attacks. It applies only to those foes attacking the defender from the front. This
optional defense has no effect against magical attacks, so it wouldn’t do anything to
protect a character from the force of lightning bolt or fireball spells.

House Rule for Parrying a Specific Attack

Players may decide that there is one potential attacker who’s blow they wish to fend off, either to protect their own character or to defend another. To do this, the player must give up a melee attack (characters engaged in spellcasting or other actions that preclude them engaging in melee this round are not able to use this parry rule) in order to attempt to defend against one attack roll, provided their character is within attacking range of the blow. Characters with more than one attack in a round can parry multiple times or attack and parry during the same round.

Players must declare in advance which opponent’s strike they wish to parry. They may choose to defend a specific attack if such information is known (ie, if fighting against a monster with slash and bite attacks, a player may decide to defend the bite attack or one slash attack per parry). When using a parry, the player must roll as if attacking in the usual way, the AC that the character would have hit is then compared against the AC the incoming attack would hit. The parry is successful if the defender’s roll indicates an equal or lower AC than the attacker.

Miscellaneous

Secrecy

Secrecy is highly encouraged in this campaign. This is not to say that everyone should play a devious, scheming, unprincipled character, but that no-one is an open book. When you meet someone new, you don’t immediately know the innermost workings of their minds, nor do you know all that has happened in their lives up to now. In the same way, I find it more satisfying if these things are revealed in a natural way or at the appropriate moment during the course of play. Imagine how much greater the impact will be on the players if on being arrested, the characters are not thrown in prison, but instead are brought before the King, who just happens to be the illegitimate father of one of the PCs, because NO-ONE (except the DM) KNEW.

Not to mention that you may be playing an unprincipled character like a thief, and you wouldn’t want everyone to know that you’d swiped all the best loot…

How will this affect the game? It means that when a character scouts ahead, any information gained by scouting will be given to that character’s player alone, it will be up to him how/if he then reveals it to the group. Perception checks will work the same way. Occasionally, if the situation demands it, players may be asked to go into another room while a situation is resolved with another character or characters.

Corrections of Official Rules

Crossbow bolt damage is woefully underpowered in AD&D for a weapon that it was thought at the time would end warfare. See ‘corrections’ below:

Quarrel Type Damage S-M Damage L
Hand 1d4+1 1d4
Light 1d8 1d8
Heavy 1d10 1d10
Coin Weights

To add a bit more realism into the economics of a fantasy world, coins’ weight is not 50 per lb, but 120 per lb. This means they weigh approximately the same as a modern sterling 1p coin.

House Rules

With Malice Aforethought Valmar