House Rules

House rules are pretty different from group to group even if they play the same game (although some seem common, like the “pot” for Free Parking in Monopoly) and this guy came up with a list of 20 common house-ruled circumstances. I’ll answer for our current 1E AD&D game.

1.Ability scores generation method? 4d6 drop lowest in order. If you don’t have high enough ability scores to qualify for a class, you can take points from a non-CHA ability score and put them in the insufficient ability score until you qualify at a 2:1 ratio.

2.How are death and dying handled? Unconscious at 0, lose 1 HP / rd to bleeding if below 0, dead at -10. If you’re helpless, an intelligent or voracious enemy can drop you to 0 HP in one round of attacks. A wild animal or nasty NPC might even go after you in a later round, killing you.

3.What about raising the dead? Raise Dead / Resurrection / Reincarnation are available. Raise Dead is usually the only affordable option although you can be Raised only once per point of CON. You can also use Limited Wish to act like a Raise Dead or a full Wish to act like a Resurrection.

4.How are replacement PCs handled? Roll it up. If the party is in town they can pick you up immediately. If they’re in a dungeon I’ll stick you in at the earliest opportunity (you’re lost in the dungeon, or a captured meal, or whatever). But you don’t wait.

5.Initiative: individual, group, or something else? No action declaration. d6 per side, highest wins, individuals may have different initiative based on DEX modifier. It’s the result of getting lazy about declaring actions, and as a result you can’t disrupt a spellcaster unless you hold action and smack him when he casts.

6.Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? No.

7.Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? If you don’t wear one (because you have a magic hat or something) you have a -1 AC penalty.

8.Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yep, your target is rolled randomly based on the sizes of all the combatants in melee with your target. DM can decide that you can aim at the target without mistake if you have a completely clear shot (humans fighting a giant for example).

9.Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? The things you encounter are based on what I’ve decided previously. You might waste time in a dungeon level that’s too weak for your party’s level, or you might stumble inadvertently into something really hard. Things generally make sense though. Short answer: you should consider retreat among all your tactical options.

10.Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yep. Restoration is a commonly-offered reward / payment from temples for you doing things for them. Otherwise they’re fairly expensive.

11.Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? All the time. You could die from damage from a Burning Hands, or a Ghoul could paralyze you and slay you on the following round if nobody else menaces it.

12.How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Players write down their encumbrance and determine movement based on their standard equipment load. Treasure gained in the dungeon is marked down as split up among the party and I tell them when they would start moving slower as a result. It’s not super strict.

13.What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? You need to spend 500 GP x current level and one week to train for the new level. Cleric / Druid spells are all available by level. For M-U type spells you need to capture a spellbook or transcribe from a scroll but you get one free standard spell of your choice that you can cast every time you level up. Everyone gets EXP at the end of the session, so the only possible way to gain a level mid-session would be to read a level-raising book (Libram of Gainful Conjuration etc).

14.What do I get experience for? Capturing treasure from adventure, carousing, and defeating monsters.

15.How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Large traps and secret doors are located and manipulated by description. If you search the area appropriately for the trap you get the standard “search for secret doors” roll by race (though since the whole group rolls you’re virtually guaranteed to find it). Anyone with Find/Remove Traps skill uses that instead of the Search for Secrets d6 roll if it’s better. Small traps such as poison needles in chests and doors can be located and removed only using Find/Remove Traps. The Find Traps spell finds all traps, including magical ones normally impossible to find or remove otherwise. Magical traps can be removed with Dispel Magic or descriptive manipulation by spell. A Knock spell opens any door or chest type thing without setting off related traps.

16.Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Not encouraged or discouraged. Morale is based on treatment, pay, alignment and Charisma of liege, etc. It’s rolled only if the retainer is offered some chance to make off with a lot of money or flee / desert in dangerous circumstances. I’m pretty lenient with morale: don’t roll unless the circumstances are pretty bad.

17.How do I identify magic items? Detect Magic tells you if it’s magical. You can experiment, or do Identify. Because ID has a small success chance and you need 100 GP worth of powdered pearl, and you expose yourself to any curses, it’s usually done by 7-8th level NPC M-Us for pay per item.

18.Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Rarely. Specific ones may be available for sale based on events in the game and high-level friends you make. Some potions may be available at irregular intervals. The purchase price is typically double the book’s sale value if available at all. There are no magic shops and if you make a shopping list of any extent I guarantee your disappointment. Some buying and selling can be done at some peril: a broker will expect a percentage commission, a black market or private deal has a chance of foul play (ambush or counterfeit), and high-level patrons have limited stock and expect your work or magic items in trade rather than accepting gold.

19.Can I create magic items? When and how? Yep, high level spellcasters can make magic items appropriate to their spell lists. You need a facility (lab, temple, library, workshop, grove, etc) and must expend resources or else buy them (metals, gems, incense, rare oils) which is basically just spending money. Some ingredients will be specific (you need a Displacer Beast hide to make a Cloak of Displacement). It’s up to you to stock up a reserve of cash and decide what special ingredients to use. After you describe your preparations I tell you how long it’ll take and after you finish I tell you your chance of success and have you roll. With sufficient prep, the chance is well over 75%, but time can range between days for a potion or scroll to months for a standard magic item. Permanent items (anything that’s not single-use or charged) require Permanency and a permanent -1 to your CON. Restoration and Wishes can’t prevent or repair this CON loss. Magic item creation is not a way to get rich; it’s not more profitable than adventuring. Look at it as a way to get ahold of a magic item you want but can’t find on adventure or from an NPC.

20.What about splitting the party? Go ahead but realize it actually takes longer at the table to handle it and each side of the split is a weaker group encountering the same dangers. That is, you’re at 50% strength and resources against the exact same dungeon, so you’re much less able to cope.

The answers are different for Game XYZ.

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