House Rules

Characteristic Rolls

If a roll is called for vs. one or other of your character's Characteristics, it will be rolled on one or more d6. You succeed if the total rolled is UNDER the required Characteristic.

There is no upper limit on the number of dice that might need to be rolled, but the difficulty of any given task is based on an average character's abilities — hence the average being 3d6.

If your characteristic score is greater than the most that can be rolled on the dice, then you automatically succeed. If it is lower than the least you could roll, you automatically fail.

Being Good At something will reduce the difficulty level of the roll by a d6.
Being Very Good At it will reduce the difficulty level by 2d6.

There will doubtless be circumstances where two or more characters might like to try to pool their abilities to achieve a CHAR test. See below for details on combining CHAR scores.

Opposed Characteristic Rolls

In a situation where two (or more) creatures are opposing each other with Characteristic Rolls, the process is slightly different.

The side with the highest CHAR score determines the number of d6 BOTH sides roll.

That number is the lowest number of d6 that could encompass the highest CHAR total, so for most PCs, with CHAR totals ranging from 3 to 18, that would be 3 dice.

For Example: A fighter with a STR of 17 is attempting to escape being grappled by an ogre with a STR of 19. The lowest number of d6 that could encompass the ogre's STR is 4, so both sides roll 4 dice.
The ogre rolls 15 on 4d6, beating it's STR score by 4, but the fighter rolls a lucky 7, also on 4d6, beating his score by 10 and he breaks free of the ogre's grip.

Both sides roll the determined number of d6, and the side which rolls the most under their CHAR value (or which fails by the least) wins the contest.

If both sides' scores are equal, there is a stand-off and the contest continues into the next round.

Determining How Many d6 to Roll

The most common Opposed CHAR Rolls will be STR vs. STR, but there might be others. For example, a PC attempting to lie their way past a gate guard might have to roll their CHA vs. the guard's WIS.

Generally speaking, if an opposed CHAR vs. CHAR contest is lost, you can only try again if circumstances change.

Skill Use

I will adopt the idea of Character Background from 5e, though not in the sense of a formal list of skills and what-not, to determine the sort of basic range of knowledge the character has. Common sense will usually tell you if a certain skill is likely to be appropriate to a character of your background; I am prepared to be somewhat lenient in the face of a decent argument, but don't push your luck.

Skill use is not exclusive to any individual class (see below), and if it can be reasonably justified, anyone can have a go at anything. The idea that a character can only perform a certain skill (like picking locks, or tracking, or puzzling out hieroglyphs) if they have a certain character class is stupid and dumb, and I'm doing away with it. Success, of course, is not guaranteed.

Along with this, we'll use the Good-At skill system at the rate of one slot per 5 whole points of INTELLIGENCE and WISDOM. Being Good At a skill reduces the number of d6 in an appropriate Characteristic Roll by -1.

Wherever possible, I would prefer to adjudicate skill use narratively. However, where a die roll is deemed appropriate for any reason (probably because I'm lacking dramatic inspiration, or am just being plain lazy) then the Characteristic Check, as detailed above, will be used.

Bear in mind that the difficulty of a task is determined according to how hard a normal, average person would find it. Circumstances might adjust the difficulty of the task at hand: things like taking extra time over a task, or getting skilled help with it might lower the number of d6, while lack of access to proper tools or a very stressful environment might raise it.

Class Skills

Some skills are, by the rules as written, specific to individual classes, such as a Thief's Pick Pockets or a Ranger's Tracking.

That is no longer the case. Anyone can give it a go. However, most specialist skill tests will start at the Hard (4d6) level and go up from there. Remember that the difficulty level is based on how likely it is for an average person to be able to achieve it.

The CHAR (or the average of two Characteristics) required will depend on the skill. If an average is required, round in your favour if rounding is needed.

SkillRequired CHAR (or Average)
Climb WallsDEX and STR
Detect NoiseWIS
Find TrapsINT and WIS
Hide in ShadowsWIS
Move SilentlyDEX
Open LocksINT and DEX
Pick PocketsDEX
Read LanguagesINT
Remove TrapsWIS and DEX
TrackINT and WIS

If your class has a specific skill listed, then it will give you a bonus to your skill roll target number (i.e. the number you have to roll under) to succeed:


A note regarding lock-picking, trap disabling etc.: It will not necessarily be a binary succeed-or-fail roll. More complex locks, for example, might require three or four or five successes to open. Situational modifiers apply, as with any skill test.

Peripheral XP Awards

Note that these are in addition to the general session XP awards for killing things, nicking their stuff, and creating general mayhem.

  1. Session award — everyone gets 100 xp just for turning up. If you turn up to every session and do pretty much nothing, you'll still go up a level.... eventually.
  2. I've been meaning to be giving out points on the fly for especially good ideas, bravery, cunning, or even entertaining stupidity. (Take careful note of the word "entertaining" there.) I have been forgetting. Don't let me forget. But don't nag. I am subtle, and quick to anger. Note that these awards will be pretty puny, on the order of 50 or 100 XP, but every little bit helps.
  3. At the end of each session, I'd like to give one character a Best Character Award of an extra 150 XP, the lucky character to be decided by a secret ballot, with me holding the casting vote. The criteria are utterly unimportant; you can choose anyone you like, even yourself. However, if everyone just chooses themselves, then nobody gets it.

Gold for XP

If you garner sufficient XP to advance in level, you don't have to train formally. However, you can spend gold in lieu of XP at the rate of 1gp to 1xp, up to half that required for a new level, if you can find somebody able to train you up.

In other words, while treasure gained does not automatically give you XP, it can be used to offset part of the XP requirements to advance.

For example: a halfling fighter-thief needs 3,000 more xp to advance to 6th level thief. She has a bulging purse with 5,400gp in it (presumably on a sturdy cart of some kind, being unable to lift that much cash) and can trot along to the Thieves' Guild and get them to train her up to 6th level. Or else she could just wait until she's garnered another 3,000xp and just advance in level without paying a bean (except for the standard Guild fees for having her new ability formally recognised).

Note that while formal training to rise in level may not strictly be necessary, if you don't train formally, then your level status will not be recognised by the appropriate guilds.

Otto the Omnipotent, peripatetic wizard, is practically of level 7. However, due to a combination of parsimony and circumstance, he has not actually trained formally since level 2. As far as the wizardly colleges and what-not are concerned, he is only level 2, and would therefore not be eligible for any of the benefits that would normally accrue to a character of his actual level, such as library or laboratory access, or discounts at the college cafeteria. Worse still, having left it so long, if he wanted to get his qualifications recognised, he would have to pay the examination fees for levels 3 to 7 inclusive. A tidy sum. And it's only going to get more expensive.


I discard dual-classing; everyone can multi-class, as long as they have the minimum racial and characteristic requirements. You can start a new class when training to go up a level — you can't just adopt a new class out of the blue. You do have to find somebody to teach you the basics of your new profession.

Hit-points are generated exactly the same way as for single-classed characters; the hit-die will of course depend on whichever particular class is advancing.

Experience points gained are split evenly between all a character's classes. If a character qualifies for an experience bonus for one of their classes but not the other, then the bonus applies only to the experience applied to the appropriate class.

If species-based limits apply to the maximum level of one or more of the character's classes, then experience is only split up to the point where the limited class tops out. After that point, all experience can be devoted to the character's other class(es).


There is no infravision. Nobody gets infravision, because infravision is a stupid concept. Those races which are listed as having infravision instead get an enhanced ability to see in dim light, but that ability is more like a cat's visual acuity, not like some Handwavium-based Advanced Optics Night Vision Apparatus.

Note: The Infravision spell will still work, because that's a magical effect and doesn't require me to suspend disbelief as much as the ridiculous "natural" ability.

Armour Class & Attack Bonus

We will use Ascending Armour Class and Attack Bonus instead of AD&D's descending AC and THAC0.

Ascending AC = 20 - AC.

Example: If you're wearing plate armour, your AD&D descending AC would be 3. 20 - 3 = 17, so the AAC for plate would be 17. Someone would need to roll 17 or better on d20 to damage you.

Attack Bonus = 20 - THAC0.

Example: If you are a 10th level Thief, your THAC0 would be 16. 20 - 16 = 4, so your Attack Bonus would be +4 — you would add +4 to the d20 die roll when trying to hit something.

Fighting Defensively (Parrying)

  1. You have to declare whether you're fighting defensively BEFORE initiative is rolled. If you choose to do so, then
  2. You can add HALF your attack bonus (round up) to your armour class for that round only, BUT you may make no attacks, OR
    You can add HALF your attack bonus (round up) to the AC of another creature right next to you, and can make no attacks, AND your AC is penalized by -4 against attacks on YOU (because your attention is on the one you're protecting). You only get to add your AC bonus if the attack is coming from your side of the person you're looking after.
    If two or more people are protecting a single other, the best fighter adds half their attack bonus, the next best adds a quarter, and for each additional protector, another +1.
    In theory, you could get six human-sized defenders around a human-sized defendee, such as a flimsy and peril-prone wizard for example, but if the attack is coming from a single Big Meanie, the chances are that only three of them will count as defenders. The AC bonus will depend, in that case, on who's on the side that the attack is coming from.
  3. You can't choose to fight defensively if you're Surprised.

Demi-human Level Limits

I am keeping the demi-human level limits, so only human characters will be unlimited in all classes. (I've put this in as a house rule because I'm aware that it hasn't been a commonly enforced part of D&D for quite a while).

Note: Inevitably, some smart-arse is going to look at the vast sums being spent on level training and think "Huh, I could make a mint just training people instead of doing all that dangerous, perilous, exciting adventuring..."

Well, tough. It turns out that most of that money goes on hiring assistants and premises, getting hold of exotic creatures and/or substances, licence fees and so forth. If the aforesaid smart-arse wants to set up a training institution, that's all well and good, but the profits will most likely be slim and the competition will be disgruntled.

3-3 110
4-2 120
5-1 130
6-1 140
7-1 15+1
80 16+2
90 17+3
100 18+4

Charisma & Ego Saves

I'm adding a facet to the CHARISMA stat: I'll be using it for Willpower and Self-Image saves — for example, to resist the effects of vampiric domination and the like.

I feel that self-confidence and determination is a big part of Charisma, so I think it makes sense to transfer this stuff from Wisdom, where it used to live. Plus, it makes Charisma more useful as a characteristic.

Scroll Spells

Spells from scrolls can be read and cast directly by a magic-user even if they are not able to learn the spell themselves.

Scroll spells of a higher level than the magic-user could normally use can also be cast directly from the scroll, but with a chance of failure or even backfire.

There is a cumulative 20% chance per level difference that the spell will simply fail (wiping itself from the scroll in the process), plus a cumulative 5% per level chance of backfire or some other catastrophic failure.

Example: a 5th level magic-user can cast up to 3rd level spells. If they attempted to cast a 6th level spell from a scroll, there would be a 60% chance that the spell would simply fail, and a 15% chance of something terrible happening.

So, You've Been Damaged to Below Zero Hit-Points...

According to the rules as written, being taken to below zero hit-points is amazingly serious, and will take you out of the action for a whole week unless hugely powerful healing magic is employed.

That's all very well, but it does impede playability quite a lot. Therefore, I am modifying things slightly.

While you're below zero, you will be bleeding at the rate of one point per round. This can be stabilized by somebody spending 1d3 rounds attending to your wounds — so if you're very unlucky, you can actually bleed to death while your comrades are trying to bandage you up. This stabilization does not, however, return any hit-points; only proper rest or magical healing will do that.

Note that magical healing (cure light wounds et. al.) will return hit-points to the victim and immediately stabilize bleeding. However, if the hit-point total is still below zero, any violent movement, or further damage, will start the bleeding process all over again.

If you take any further damage while you're still below zero hit-points and not stabilized, you die. If you bleed to below -10hp (i.e. -11) you're dead. If you get to -8 or lower, you're assumed to have been hideously mangled and scarred by the terrible wounds that didn't quite kill you. Hopefully.

If you drop below zero hit-points, assuming you don't bleed to death, you will be comatose for 2d6 (plus or minus your CON modifier) hours, with a minimum of one hour. When you wake up, you will be at -24 to your usual STR and DEX scores, and to all attack or saving-throw rolls. This penalty reduces by 1d3 per hour, until everything returns to normal in eight hours at the earliest, and one full day at the most.

So, even if you've had enough magical healing to return you to full hit-points, you're still going to be as weak as a kitten for a few hours at least. That magical healing is still worth while though, as it will save you from dying if a brick accidentally falls on you while you can't move out of the way.

A Heal spell will completely negate all these terrible effects, and return you to full hit-points minus 1-4.