Chapter III:
How to Play The First Time

After the players have created their characters, using character sheets to record ability scores and other information, the GM will describe the situation. Often, the characters are presumed to have already met and formed an adventuring party, but this is completely up to the GM. The GM’s description of the beginning of the game might include a few details about the world, or this knowledge might be reserved for the players to discover bit by bit. Regardless of the level of campaign information, the GM will also describe the characters’ immediate surroundings—a tavern, a wild moor, the top of a stairwell leading down into darkness, or whatever other situation the GM has chosen as the starting point for these adventurers’ careers. After setting the scene, the course and success of the party is down to the players’ judgment and creativity.

The players tell the GM what their characters are doing, such as “Leofric climbs the slope, sword in hand, to see what’s at the crest,” or, “I light my torch and head down the stairs.” The GM responds by telling the players what the characters see, hear, taste, smell and feel. There will sometimes be peaceful encounters with non-player characters (NPCs), and the GM will play the roles of these, either playing the part or giving the players a summary of what the NPC says and does.

Time Measurement

For the characters, time is not measured in the real time of the players around the gaming table. Time may pass faster or slower in the game world, even to the extent of the GM’s mentioning, for example, “a month passes.” Game time is measured in turns (10 minutes), rounds (1 minute) and segments (six seconds). Unless the party is engaged in combat, almost all game time in dungeons is measured in the 10-minute turn.

The GM normally records the passage of time, but a few GMs delegate keeping track of time to a particularly trustworthy player.

Measuring time can be important for many reasons; torches burn down to useless stubs, food is consumed, and wounded characters heal damage as they rest. In dangerous environments, such as wildernesses or dungeons, the GM will typically make periodic checks to see if any “wandering monsters” appear. These checks are normally carried out every so many turns, or hours, or days. Since wandering monsters rarely have treasure, the appearance of wandering monsters serves to reward characters who do not waste time (or more accurately, to punish those who do). See “Searching the Dungeon” for more on this.


In Fitz's Campaign...

Movement speed is calculated as follows:

3" (30') movement = 1 mph (sustainable)

So an unencumbered light riding horse, with a move rate of 24" (240'), can move without fear of exhaustion, at 24 ÷ 3 = 8 mph. It can keep up this rate for several hours at a time.


This move speed can be doubled by most creatures for short distances.

Every round after the first, when sprinting, the character must make a 3d6 CON save to continue. Each successive save is made at an incremental penalty of -1.

For example:
A character with a Move of 12" and a CON of 12 starts to sprint, and in their first round their speed increases to 24". At the beginning of the next round, they make a 3d6 CON save and must score 12 or less to keep sprinting. They roll an 8 and can keep running. The next round, they must save again but now their effective CON is 12 - 1 = 11. They roll the 3d6, but roll a 13. They cannot continue sprinting.

If the CON save is failed, the character cannot sprint that round. If they attempt to sprint again before having rested (see below) then they immediately start making CON saves (i.e., they do not get a free initial round of sprinting).

After a sprint, if a CON save has been failed, the character must rest for 1 Turn for every round spent sprinting including the round in which they failed their save or else suffer a penalty to all attack rolls or saving throws identical to the CON penalty of their last sprinting round.

Movement rates represent the distance a character (or monster) can move in one minute (1 round). If a character is moving cautiously (e.g., stalking, mapping), this movement rate is divided by 10. A party of adventurers with a movement rate of 90 ft would move at 90 ft per turn through a dungeon (moving cautiously), and in combat (not moving cautiously) they would be moving 90 ft in a round. Running allows the character to double his or her movement rate. During combat, a flat-out run is not possible unless performing a charge or fleeing from combat.

Dividing movement rate by 5 (e.g., 60 ft becomes 12) gives the number of miles the character can travel in a day at walking speed along fairly level terrain. Thus, a character with a movement rate of 120 ft can march 24 miles in one day. Mounted characters use their horse’s movement rate rather than their own, of course.

Encumbrance and Base Movement Rate

Having the right tool for the right task can mean the difference between life and death beneath the ground in an abandoned tomb or dungeon complex. Players may be tempted to load their characters up with too much gear, burdening movement and restricting their fighting capability. Naturally, there is a limit to what an adventurer can reasonably carry, and a character weighted down with every conceivable piece of equipment will soon find that it is best to be selective in choosing how much to carry. If for no other reason, those same sacks and backpacks need to be empty enough to carry out the vast troves of coins and other treasure the party expects to find! Moreover, if the party must flee from pursuers, it may not be important to be the fastest, but it is of crucial importance not to be the slowest!

The most weight a character can carry is 150 lbs, plus whatever additional weight is allowed for the character’s strength. This additional weight allowance permitted by the character’s strength is simply subtracted from the weight on the table below to determine a character’s level of encumbrance. For instance, a character carrying 85 lbs of gear would normally be encumbered; the same character with a 50 lb weight bonus can carry 85 lbs without being encumbered, and between 86–120 lbs in the 90 ft/round movement category. The GM must apply common sense to determinations of encumbrance, taking into account the fact that an extraordinarily bulky item, even if it is quite light, will be so unwieldy as to encumber a character. The bulk of listed armour and items is already taken into account for purposes of convenience.

However, keep in mind that a character wearing armour has a maximum movement rate based on that armour, independent of all weight calculations (due to bulkiness). Thus, armour sets a maximum movement rate and also affects the total weight a character carries.

Weight Carried Max. Movement Surprise
up to 35lbs 120 ft/round +1 (for armour lighter than chain mail only)
36-70 lbs 90 ft/round Normal bonuses apply
71-105 lbs 60 ft/round No normal bonuses apply (but penalties do)
106-150 lbs 30 ft/round No normal bonuses apply (but penalties do); -1 extra penalty

No movement is possible if attempting to carry more than 150 lbs (as adjusted).

Note that the table above assumes that the character in question has a base 120 ft move. If the character is of small race (such as a dwarf, gnome or halfling), a base move of 90 ft may apply (deduct 30 ft from all movement rates, with a minimum of 30 ft; but do NOT change the effect of encumbrance on surprise/ initiative).

Naturally, characters must have a container if they wish to carry liquids, large numbers of coins, etc. Capacities of sample containers are as follows:

Container Capacity
Small Pouch or Purse 1/4 cu. ft. or 2.5 lbs
Large Pouch 1/2 cu. ft. or 5 lbs
Small Sack 1 cu. ft. or 10 lbs
Backpack 3 cu. ft. or 30 lbs
Large Sack 4 cu. ft. or 40 lbs
Waterskin 3 pints

Gaining Levels

In Fitz's Campaign...

Gold can be used to offset the xp required to rise in level at a rate of 1gp to 1xp, up to a maximum of half the xp required to advance.

In other words, a character will always have to earn at least half the xp required for advancement, but can use money for professional training to advance earlier than they otherwise might.

If all the xp required are earned, then the character need not undergo any training to advance in level, though there may well still be costs involved in the form of guild fees and so forth.

Upon gaining the requisite number of experience points, a character may increase in level after completing a period of training under the tutelage of a more experienced teacher or, at higher levels, by study or practice. In general, the cost of training will be quite steep, even if the character is high enough level not to need a tutor.

The cost of training will be approximately 1,500 gp per level, and will require 1d4 weeks to complete. Alternatively, the GM may assign a number of weeks of training based on his or her evaluation of the player’s and character’s performance.


Monster Level Experience Value
1 20 xp or below
2 21-60
3 61-150
4 151-275
5 276-500
6 501-1,100
7 1,101-3,000
8 3,001-5,250
9 5,251-10,000
10 10,001 or higher
The “monster level” for experience point purposes should not be confused with the creature’s equivalent level for combat purposes.

Experience points (“xp”) are awarded by the GM for slaying monsters and recovering treasure. The GM may also choose to award additional experience points in any situation in which he or she feels that the players deserve it, although the authors recommend that such instances should not be overly frequent nor the awards made too large. For treasure recovered, the guideline is 1 xp to the party per gold piece value, assuming that the money in question is successfully extracted from the adventure area and brought to a suitable home base or town.

An exception is magic items, which should result in an experience point award of no more than one tenth of their gold piece value if kept. (Full experience may be awarded if such an item is sold to an NPC.) Award experience for slaying monsters according to the table given hereafter.

Note that if the player character level vastly exceeds the monster level, a proportional reduction should be made. Hence, for example, a tenth level fighter slaying an orc in single combat should expect no more than a single experience point for so doing. Monster levels may be calculated as follows:

Experience point awards for monsters slain

HD Base Per hp Special Exceptional
Less than 1-1 5 1 3 25
1-1 to 1 10 1 5 35
1+1 to 2 30 1 10 50
2+1 to 3 50 2 15 60
3+1 to 4 75 3 30 70
4+1 to 5 110 4 45 80
5+1 to 6 160 6 70 120
6+1 to 7 225 8 120 200
7+1 to 8 350 10 200 300
8+1 to 9 600 12 300 400
9+1 to 10 700 13 400 500
10+1 to 11 900 14 500 600
11+1 to 12 1,200 16 700 850
12+1 to 13 1,500 17 800 1,000
13+1 to 14 1,800 18 950 1,200
14+1 to 15 2,100 19 1,100 1,400
15+1 to 16 2,400 20 1,250 1,600
16+1 to 17 2,700 23 1,400 1,800
17+1 to 18 3,000 25 1,550 2,000
18+1 to 19 3,500 28 1,800 2,250
19+1 to 20 4,000 30 2,100 2,500
20+1 to 21 4,500 33 2,350 2,750
21+1 and up 5,000 35 2,600 3,000

“Special” is the bonus for slaying a monster with a special ability. If the monster has several such abilities, several such awards should be made. Examples of special abilities are use of spells or spell-like powers (3rd level and below), invulnerability to non-magical weapons, three or more attacks, and so on. “Exceptional” denotes the bonus for an exceptional ability, such as a dragon’s fiery breath, powerful spells or spell-like powers, very low armour class, very high damage potential, or unusual powers such as a gaze which petrifies its victims.

Some character classes allow an experience bonus for high stats.

Light and Vision

In a dungeon, the party’s light source is, of course, crucial. Torches may be blown out by gusts of wind or extinguished by water or even magic. Various light sources are available on the equipment table, and details of the illumination they provide are set forth hereafter.

Bullseye lanterns illuminate 80 ft (in a 10 ft wide beam) and burn a pint of oil every 4 hours. Such lanterns can be masked.

Hooded lanterns illuminate a 30 ft radius and also burn one pint of oil every 4 hours. Magical weapons illuminate 10-20 ft for an infinite period of time (dagger 10 ft, longsword 20 ft). Torches shed 40 ft of illumination and burn out in 6 turns (1 hour). Standard game candles shed 20 ft of illumination and burn out in 30 minutes, although longer-lasting ones may be purchased at additional cost.

Other light sources, such as lamps or magic items, will have their fields of lighting determined by the GM, who may use the information provided in this section as a guideline.

Note that light sources can be seen from much further away than the radius of illumination they shed. Approaching light will warn intelligent creatures of the approach of surface-dwellers, perhaps giving them a chance to prepare. If the party’s light source is visible to creatures in the dungeon, the GM should adjust the chance of surprise.


Infravision is the ability to see in the dark and is common to almost all subterranean creatures. Infravision cannot be used within the ambit of any light source. Unless otherwise stated, infravision has a range of 60 ft, although some exceptional subterranean creatures have a longer visual range. Infravision does not detect colours and is of little help while searching or making minute examinations, so sapient creatures such as orcs may well prefer torchlight even if they possess infravision.


Distance fallenDamage taken
< 5 feetNo damage
5 — 10 feet1d6
10 — 20 feet3d6
20 — 30 feet6d6
30 — 40 feet10d6
40 — 50 feet15d6
> 50 feet20d6

It is inevitable that at some point a character will fall into a pit, off a wall, or over a cliff. Damage from falling is determined as shown in the table to the left.

Optionally, kindly GMs may allow a saving throw against falling damage, and if the GM is so inclined and the saving throw is actually passed, the damage taken will be halved.

Item Saving Throws

Adventurers are not the only targets of the various impacts and other damaging events that accompany a life of danger; the gear they carry is also susceptible to being broken, ignited, frozen, etc. The table below sets forth saving throws for various substances.

Generally if a player character makes a saving throw, his or her gear is assumed to pass all its saving throws automatically. The table below should be employed only where the player character fails the save.

Note that magical items gain a +2 on all saving throws. Additionally, magic items with a +2 bonus or more gain a +1 saving throw bonus for every magical bonus point over +1. An exception is artifacts and relics; these have saving throws of 2 or 3 in all categories, and even if they fail, usually cannot be so easily destroyed—only temporarily neutralised.

Item Saving Throw Table

Item Type Acid Blow,
Disintegrate Electric
Bone/Ivory 11 16 10 2 20 1
Ceramic 4 18 12 4 19 1
Cloth 12 6 3 1 20 1
Crystal 6 19 14 7 20 5
Glass 5 20 15 6 20 1
Leather or book 10 4 2 3 20 1
Liquid 15 0 0 12 20 15
Metal, hard 7 6 2 1 17 1
Metal, soft 13 14 9 1 19 1
Paper 16 11 6 2 20 1
Stone or gem 3 17 7 1 18 2
Wood/rope (thick) 8 10 3 1 19 1
Wood/rope (thin) 9 13 6 1 20 1
Item Type Fall (5ft) Fireball Fire, Magical Fire, Normal Lightning
Bone/Ivory 6 17 9 3 8
Ceramic 11 5 3 2 2
Cloth 2 20 16 13 18
Crystal 13 10 6 3 15
Glass 14 11 7 4 17
Leather or book 1 13 6 4 13
Liquid 0 15 14 13 18
Metal, hard 2 6 2 1 11
Metal, soft 4 18 13 5 16
Paper 0 25 21 18 20
Stone or gem 4 7 3 2 14
Wood/rope (thick) 1 11 7 5 12
Wood/rope (thin) 2 15 11 9 10


In Fitz's Campaign...

We use Ascending Armour Class (i.e. higher numbers are better) and an Attack Bonus to hit in combat.

Attack Bonus = 20 — THAC0

In other words, find what score you need to hit Armour Class 0 on the charts shown below, and subtract that number from 20. The result is the bonus you add to your d20 "to hit" rolls in combat.

The number you roll on d20, plus or minus any modifiers including your Attack Bonus, is the Armour Class you can hit with that attack.

When the party of adventurers comes into contact with enemies, game-time no longer follows a sequence of turns (representing 10 minutes), but is measured in rounds (representing 1 minute), subdivided into six-second long “segments.” The order of events is as follows:

  1. Determine Surprise (d6)
  2. Declare Spells and General Actions
  3. Determine Initiative (d6, highest result is the winner, each party acts in the segment indicated by the other party’s die roll)
  4. Party with initiative acts first (casting spells, attacking, etc.), and results take effect (other than spells, which have casting times to complete before they take effect). Note: Some actions may allow the other side to “interrupt” with an action such as a fleeing attack or attacking charging opponents with spears set against a charge.
  5. Party that lost initiative acts, and results take effect (other than spells, which take effect when casting time is completed)
  6. The round is complete; declare spells and general actions for the next round if the battle has not been resolved.

1. Determine Surprise: If a group of combatants is surprised, its members are basically caught flat-footed and unable to act during the first few seconds of a battle.

Surprise is checked only once per combat, at the beginning of an encounter. Each side rolls a d6. If the result is a 1, the group is surprised for one segment. If the result is a 2, the group is surprised for two segments. If the result is a 3-6, the group is not surprised. In some cases, monsters or particular character classes may have special rules for surprise (e.g. some monsters cannot be surprised, others are stealthy enough that the party may be surprised on a roll of higher than 2). If a party of adventurers has alerted monsters to its presence (by hammering away at a door for a round or two, for example), the monsters will not need to make a surprise roll at all; however, merely being alert to the possibility of danger is not enough to avoid making a surprise roll. If neither of the opposing forces is surprised, play moves on to the regular combat round, described below.

If one side is surprised while another is not, the unsurprised party may act for a number of “surprise” segments. For example, if the party rolls a 1 and the monsters roll a 2, the party is surprised for one segment, the monsters are surprised for two segments, and thus the party has one surprise segment in which to act. If the party rolls a 2 and the monsters roll a 5, the party is surprised for 2 segments and the monsters (who, having rolled a 5 were not surprised at all) have both of those 2 surprise segments in which to act. Actions that would normally happen over the course of a round may be completed in one surprise segment: talking, attacking, charging, closing to melee, beginning a spell, etc., provided that it is possible for the action to take place during a single segment. In other words, a character cannot make a minute-long speech during that six seconds, nor can a spell be fully cast unless it is a one-segment spell.

A character’s surprise bonus (see “Dexterity”) acts to negate surprise segments if the character is surprised (or to create them, if the number is a penalty). Thus, a character with a +2 surprise bonus whose side rolled a 2 for surprise (normally a situation in which the character would be surprised for two segments) is not surprised. This can lead to a situation in which a party of adventurers is surprised with the exception of one member. For example, if the monsters rolled a 1, the party rolled a 2, and one party member had a +2 surprise bonus, the situation will resolve as follows:

Dexterity cannot create surprise, only alter the number of segments for which surprise lasts.

If a monster surprises on more than a 2 in 6 (some monster descriptions may contain text such as “surprises on 1-3”), it is possible for the monster to gain more than two segments of surprise. Against a monster that surprises on 1-3, if the party rolls a 3 and the monster is not surprised, the monster would have three surprise segments in which to act.

2. Declare Spells and General Actions: Before the two sides roll initiative, spell casters must state what spells (if any) they will be casting in that round. As the round proceeds, the spell caster may elect not to cast the spell, but may not substitute another action. This is simply because the mental preparations for casting a spell are so arduous that the caster cannot switch focus quickly enough to change actions. Non-spell casters should also tell the GM, in general terms, what they will be doing: “attacking with a sword,” “using my bow,” “climbing the wall,” etc.

Before the players do this, the GM should already have formed a similar outline of the monsters’ strategy; the GM should not base the monsters’ actions on what he or she already knows the players will be doing.

3. Determine Initiative: After any surprise segments are resolved and spell casting is declared, the first combat round begins. At the beginning of a combat round, each side rolls initiative on a d6. The roll represents the six second segment of the round in which the OTHER group will be able to act; hence, the higher roll is the better roll (as the other party will act later). If the party rolls a 6 for initiative, and the monsters roll a 1, this means that the party will be acting in segment 1, and the monsters will not act until the sixth segment of the 10-segment round. Since a combat round is 10 segments long, and the initiative roll only covers the first six segments of the round, there are four remaining segments in the round after the two sides have already taken their actions: these remaining four segments are still important because spells may take effect during this time, and some combatants might “hold” (choose to delay) their actions, waiting to act until these later segments.

The dexterity bonus for surprise is not added to an individual’s initiative for melee attacks, but if a character has a missile weapon in hand, he or she applies his or her missile attack bonus as a bonus to his or her initiative (as well as to the attack roll).

Initiative rolls may result in a tie. When this happens, both sides are considered to be acting simultaneously. The GM may handle this situation in any way he or she chooses—with one caveat. The damage inflicted by combatants during simultaneous initiative is inflicted even if one of the combatants dies during the round. It is possible for two combatants to kill each other during a simultaneous initiative round! Under any other circumstance, of course, the effects of damage inflicted during that segment will take effect immediately—a goblin killed in the first segment of the round will be dead (and thus unable to attack) by the time the fifth segment of the round arrives.

Some characters (and creatures) may have more than one attack routine. This does not refer to a monster that normally makes multiple attacks in a round—all of these attacks are considered to be part of one attack routine. However, a fighter whose level grants him an additional attack is considered to be making a second entire attack routine. This is perhaps most clearly seen if the reader envisions a fighter who uses a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. These two attacks are part of an attack routine—and if the fighter is of high enough level or under the influence of a haste spell, he or she may also gain an entire additional attack routine. A creature or character with multiple attack routines cannot use the second attack routine until after the other side’s initiative segment has been resolved.

Once the party with initiative has acted, the party that lost initiative may then take action.

Note about spells: Spells have a casting time, the number of segments (or rounds, turns, etc.) required to cast the spell. The spell caster does not actually begin casting the spell until his or her initiative segment. That segment is the first segment of the casting time. The spell does not “go off” until the casting has been completed.

Example: Halvaine the Arcane’s party is in battle with a group of orcs. At the beginning of the round, Halvaine’s player declares that the magic user will cast a spell with a 2 segment casting time. The party rolls a 5 for initiative, and the GM rolls a 4 for the orcs. Halvaine thus begins casting in the fourth segment of the round (as the ORCS rolled a 4, so Halvaine’s party is acting in segment 4). The orcs attack in the fifth segment (as Halvaine’s party rolled a 5), and Halvaine’s spell will go off in the sixth segment (as his initiative segment is 4, and he adds the casting time of 2)—provided, of course, that the orcish attack in the fifth segment does not interrupt and thus spoil his casting.

Combat Actions

Combat actions normally should be declared by the players, and decided by the GM, prior to the initiative die being rolled. Certain actions, of course, are so integral to the game that methods for their resolution are set forth as rules. These actions are: fleeing, negotiating, holding initiative, firing missiles, setting weapons against a charge, attacking, casting spells, and engaging in unarmed combat. Each of these common actions is described below.

Charge: Charging into combat allows the attacker to move and then attack in the same round. A charge is made at twice the normal movement rate (and must terminate within the 10 ft melee range of the target). If the defender has a longer weapon than the attacker, the defender attacks first (unless the defender has already acted in this round). The attacker gains no dexterity bonus against such an attack (and characters with no Dex bonus receive a +1 AC penalty). Additionally, if the defender has a weapon set against the charge (see below), he or she will inflict additional damage with a successful hit against the charging attacker.

Assuming that the charging character survives, he or she gains +2 “to hit” on his or her attack. Characters may only perform a charge once every 10 rounds (i.e. once per turn). Characters who are at the maximum encumbrance category may not charge unless they are mounted and the mount is below the maximum encumbrance category.

An attacker riding a warhorse or other combat-trained mount and equipped with a lance inflicts double the damage rolled on the charge round. (Although the weapon damage is doubled, any bonus for strength, magic, specialisation or other such modifier is not.)

Closing into Combat: When two groups of combatants are not within the 10 ft melee range, the attackers may choose either to charge into combat or to advance more cautiously, closing into combat. Closing into combat does not allow the character to make an attack roll that round; the cautious advance does not generate the opening to make a significant attack. However, neither may the character’s opponent attack until the round after closing. When closing into combat, the character may advance the full amount of his or her movement.

Fighting Retreat: A character may retreat backward out of combat, maintaining his or her defence, although the attacker may follow if not otherwise engaged. It is possible to parry while doing so, but not to attack. This manoeuvre may be used to “switch places” with another party member who is in combat, the first party member joining battle with the enemy to prevent the enemy’s pursuit while the second character makes a fighting retreat.

Fleeing from Combat: Often, discretion is the better part of valour, and the characters will choose to exercise the said discretion at top speed. If a character is in melee combat and runs away, his or her opponent(s) may make an immediate additional attack at +4 to hit.

Hold Initiative: Holding initiative is simply waiting until the other side has acted before doing anything.

Melee Attack: A melee attack is an attack with a hand-held weapon such as a sword, halberd, or dagger. A character’s strength bonuses to hit and on damage (see “Strength”) are added to melee attacks. It is only possible to make a melee attack when the two combatants are within 10 ft of each other. Two combatants within ten ft of each other are considered to be “engaged.” When faced with more than one opponent, it is not possible to pick which opponent will be the one receiving the attack; in the rapid give and take of melee, any one of the opponents might be the one to let down his guard for a moment. When a character is in melee with multiple opponents, the target of an attack roll must be determined randomly, but note that characters or creatures with multiple attacks that are part of the same routine (such as a bear with a claw/claw/bite attack or a character wielding a sword and dagger) must make all attacks against the same opponent unless otherwise specified in the relevant monster’s entry.

Missile Attacks: Missile attacks are attacks with a ranged weapon such as a crossbow, sling, or thrown axe. When using missiles to attack into a melee, it is not possible to choose which particular target will receive the attack; the target should be determined randomly from among all melee participants, and the missile-firer could well hit a friend. A character’s dexterity bonus for missile attacks is added to the “to hit” roll when the character is using missile weapons. If a character has a missile weapon in hand, his or her missile bonus is also added to his or her initiative roll, allowing the character to potentially attack first even if his or her party has lost the initiative roll.

Negotiation and Diplomacy: Some combats can be averted with a few well-chosen words (including lies). If the party is outmatched, or the monsters Don’t seem likely to be carrying much in the way of loot, the party might elect to brazen their way through in an attempt to avoid combat (or at least delay it until favourable conditions arise).

Parrying: A character who parries cannot attack, but may subtract his or her “to hit” bonus from his or her opponent’s attack roll. Parrying may be used in combination with a fighting retreat. Parrying only has value to a character with a strength or specialisation-related bonus “to hit”.

Spells: Spell casting begins in the spell caster’s initiative segment, and the spell is completed at the end of the casting time. It is possible to cast a spell while within melee range of an opponent (10 ft), but if the spell caster suffers damage while casting a spell, the spell is lost. While casting a spell, the caster receives no dexterity bonus to his or her armour class.

Set Weapon Against Charge: Certain weapons can be “set” against a charge, which is a simple matter of bracing the weapon against the floor or some other stationary object. A character choosing to set his or her weapon against a charge cannot attack unless an opponent charges, but the weapon will inflict double damage against a charging opponent. A charge is any attack that allows the attacker to move and attack, and thus includes leaping attacks that may be made by some monsters.

Weapons that may be set against a charge include spears, lances (when used dismounted), most pole arms, and tridents.

Unarmed Combat: Brawling attacks, such as those conducted with fist, foot, or dagger pommel, will normally inflict 1d2 points of damage. All characters are automatically presumed to be proficient with such weapons, i.e. a proficiency slot is not required to make such an attack without penalty.

Two other unarmed attack forms are possible: Grappling attacks and Overbearing attacks. A successful grappling attack inflicts 0-1 (1d2-1) points of damage, but also restrains the target and prevents him or her from fighting. The chance of breaking a successful grapple should be determined according to the relative strengths of the creatures concerned. (An ogre could restrain a kobold almost indefinitely, and would be able to break free of the kobold’s grasp at will.)

Overbearing attacks are Grappling attacks exercised at the end of a Charge (see “Charge” above). If successful, the opponent is prone rather than restrained. Otherwise the attack is treated as a grapple.

Combat Modifiers

Concealment: Concealment is anything that obscures an opponent’s vision, such as tree limbs or smoke, but does not physically block incoming attacks (which would be considered Cover rather than Concealment; see below). The GM must decide whether the defender is about a quarter (-1 to AC), half (-2 to AC), three-quarters (-3 to AC), or nine tenths (-4 to AC) concealed.

Cover: Cover is protection behind something that can actually block incoming attacks, such as a wall or arrow slit. Cover bonuses are as follows:

25% cover: -2 AC
50% cover: -4 AC
75% cover: -7 AC
90% cover -10 AC

An attack from the unshielded flank denies the target any defensive advantages from a shield. An attack from the rear flank negates the defensive value of the shield and also negates any dexterity bonus.

Invisible opponent: An invisible opponent can only be attacked if the general location is known, and the attack is at –4 to hit. If an opponent is invisible to the attacker, he or she cannot be attacked from behind (or from the flank). Note that more powerful monsters (those with sensitive smell or hearing, or more than six hit dice) will frequently be able to detect invisible opponents; the GM should determine the chance of this according to the creature concerned and the situation. Powerful magical monsters, or those with more than 11 hit dice, will almost always be able to see invisible creatures normally.

Prone Opponent: Attacks against a prone opponent negate the benefit of a shield, negate dexterity bonuses, and are made at +4 to hit.

Rear Attack: An attack from directly behind an opponent negates the benefit of a shield, negates dexterity bonuses, and is made at +2 to hit.

Sleeping Opponent: Sleeping opponents (natural sleep, not magical sleep) may be attacked with the same chance to kill as if the attacker were an assassin. The effect of magical sleep is described under the entry for the sleep spell.

Stunned Opponent: A stunned opponent receives no shield or dexterity bonus, and may be attacked at +4.

Two-Weapon Fighting: If a character desires to fight with one weapon in each hand, the off-hand weapon must be either a dagger or a hand axe. The weapon in the primary hand attacks with a –2 modifier, and the off-hand weapon attacks at –4. The character’s dexterity bonus (or penalty) for missile weapons is added to both attacks. Thus, a character with a dexterity of 3 would be attacking at -5/-7. However, although penalties can be offset, this rule can never result in a bonus to attacks! The off-hand weapon cannot be used to affect parrying.

Attack and Saving Throw Matrices for Monsters

In Fitz's Campaign...

The Attack Bonus for most monsters is simply calculated as +1 per Hit Die (or part thereof) plus 1.

• A 2HD creature has an attack bonus of 2 + 1 = +3.
• A 2+1HD creature has an attack bonus of 2 + 1 (for the partial HD) + 1 = +4.
• A 3HD creature would have an attack bonus of 3 + 1, also +4.

This does make monsters slightly better at fighting than PCs, but it provides an easy calculation for the GM who then doesn't have to keep looking up the relevant Fighter information. And monsters have the odds stacked against them in combat against the PCs most of the time, so I can't feel too bad about it.

Most monsters use the attack matrices of fighters. The GM should convert the monster’s Hit Dice to a level equivalent according to the following guidelines:

Up to 1-1 0 +0
1-1 1 +1
1 2 +2
1+1 to 2 3 +3
2+1 to 3 4 +4
3+1 to 4 5 +5
4+1 to 5 6 +6
5+1 to 6 7 +7
6+1 to 7 8 +8
7+1 to 8 9 +9
8+1 to 9 10 +10
9+1 to 10 11 +11
10+1 to 11 12 +12
11+1 to 12 13 +13
12+1 to 13 14 +14
13+1 to 14 15 +15
14+1 to 15 16 +16
15+1 to 16 17 +17
16+1 to 17 18 +18
17+1 to 18 19 +19
18+1 to 19 20 +20
19+1 or higher 21 +21

The above table is also used to determine the monster’s saving throws. Most monsters will save as fighters, but the GM should use discretion in following this guideline; in cases where the monster clearly possesses the abilities of another class, consideration should be given to using that matrix instead. (A good example might be a goblin shaman, which could save as a cleric instead of a fighter.)

In the case of powerful monsters that duplicate the abilities of several classes, the most favourable table should be used. (For example, a spell-casting dragon might save as a magic user or a fighter, whichever is better.) The level at which monsters cast spells is also normally determined by their hit dice unless the creature text indicates otherwise. For example, a magic-using dragon with 11 HD would cast spells as a 12th level spell-caster.

Huge but unintelligent creatures may have their equivalent level reduced for the purposes of saving throws, subject to the GM’s discretion; creatures such as dinosaurs would be appropriate for this. On rarer occasions, it may also make sense to reduce the creature’s effective level for the purposes of attack tables also; this might apply to a herbivorous dinosaur, for example.

Please note that certain creatures have a special bonus to their effective attack level. Stirges, for example, are creatures with 1+1 hit die that attack as equivalent level 5.

Generally, the GM should take account of situations such as positional bonuses. For example, where a group of monsters is attacking the party from a height advantage using spears, the GM may well wish to increase their effective equivalent level by 1.

Turning the Undead

Clerics and paladins can turn undead, causing them to flee or even turning them to dust by the power of religious faith. An evil cleric can also turn a paladin, but cannot destroy the paladin by turning. Evil clerics may choose to control the undead instead of turning them. If an evil cleric gains a result of "D" on the table, the undead creature falls under the cleric’s control for 24 hours. Normally 2d6 creatures are affected by Turn Undead. Exceptions are paladins and Type 13 creatures, of which only 1d2 are affected, and results of "D", which affect 1d6+6 creatures.

If the cleric is successful in a turning attempt, he or she may try again next round. If the cleric fails, no further turning attempt may be made during this encounter.

In Fitz's Campaign...

Successfully turned undead will back directly away from the cleric or paladin until they are out of line of sight, or until they are 50’ away, whichever is closer. Intelligent undead will likely be hissing, spitting and cursing as they do so, as they will never accept such compulsion with good grace.

As long as the cleric continues his or her chant, they will not approach again until 3d4 rounds have passed. However, if they have any powers that may be employed at such a distance, they may still do so.

In any Turning attempt, the effects are applied to the lowest-strength targets first. So, for example, if a party is attacked by a hundred zombies and two wights, the cleric or paladin would have to Turn (or destroy) all of the zombies before the wights can be affected.

The effect of the Turning on any given round will be confined to 240° to the character's front, where their holy symbol is brandished.

In the case of simultaneous Turning attempts from multiple characters, the targets of the Turning dice roll are determined randomly, so it is possible, even likely, that the effect of the Turning attempts will overlap. A target successfully subjected to multiple Turnings is affected as if by the highest-level cleric/paladin, and if successfully Turned from different directions will attempt to flee on a vector that will not take it directly towards any of them. If it cannot so flee, then the Turning is vitiated and fails unless it is a "D" result.

Note that the effective level of undead creatures, for the purposes of Turning, may be increased if they are on unholy ground or similar, and/or are under the direct control or protection of higher-level undead.

Turning lasts for 3d4 rounds. While turned, the creature must move away from the cleric at its fastest possible movement rate. It will attack a creature that is directly blocking its escape route, but otherwise may not fight.

The cleric or paladin must be holding his or her holy symbol to make a turning attempt. In most cases this will preclude attacking on the same round, and the cleric must sheathe or drop his or her weapon (or else set down his or her shield).

To turn undead, roll a d20 on the Turning Undead Table. If the result is equal to or higher than the number shown, the attempt is successful.

Exception: Certain religions exist where the cleric’s holy symbol is also his or her weapon (for example, some GMs may permit clerics of the god Thor to carry a hammer which doubles as a holy symbol). In this case, the cleric will be able to make a turn undead attempt with his or her weapon in hand, although even this situation does not empower the cleric to attack and attempt to turn undead in the same round. If the cleric is successful in a turning attempt, he or she may try again next round. If the cleric fails, no further turning attempt may be made during this encounter.

Optional Rule: An evil cleric may control no more Hit Dice worth of undead than his or her level of experience; thus a 9th level evil cleric could control no more than two wights, for example.

Turning the Undead
Type of
Example Cleric Level
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9-13 14-18 19+
Type 1 Skeleton 10 7 4 T T D D D D D D
Type 2 Zombie 13 10 7 T T D D D D D D
Type 3 Ghoul 16 13 10 4 T T D D D D D
Type 4 Shadow 19 16 13 7 4 T T D D D D
Type 5 Wight 20 19 16 10 7 4 T T D D D
Type 6 Ghast 20 19 13 10 7 4 T T D D
Type 7 Wraith 20 16 13 10 7 4 T T D
Type 8 Mummy 19 16 13 10 7 4 T D
Type 9 Spectre 20 19 16 13 10 7 T T
Type 10 Vampire 20 19 16 13 10 7 4
Type 11 Ghost 20 19 16 13 10 7
Type 12 Lich 20 19 16 13 10
Type 13 Fiend 20 19 16 13
  • For the purposes of evil clerics turning paladins, paladins are treated as Type 8 if they are level 1-2, Type 9 if level 3-4, Type 10 if level 5-6, Type 11 if level 7-8, Type 12 if level 9-10 and Type 13 if level 11 or higher. However, paladins cannot be destroyed by turning.
  • If the number on the die is equal to or greater than the number shown on the table, the creature is turned and will flee.
  • If the table indicates “T”, the undead creature is automatically turned, and will flee.
  • It the table indicates “D”, the undead creature is automatically destroyed and will crumble to dust.
  • For evil clerics, a result of “D” indicates that the undead are forced into the cleric’s command for a period of 24 hours.

Damage and Death

When a character or creature is hit, the amount of damage is deducted from his or her hit points. When hit points reach 0, the character is unconscious and will continue to lose one hit point per round from blood loss until death occurs at –10 hp. Note that any additional damage suffered by an unconscious character (aside from bleeding) will kill him or her instantly. The blood loss of 1 hit point per round may be stopped immediately in the same round that aid of some kind is administered to the wounded character. Being knocked unconscious is quite serious; even after returning to 1 or more hp (by means of a healing spell, potion, or natural rest) the character will remain in a coma for 1-6 turns and must rest for a minimum of one week before he or she will be capable of resuming any sort of strenuous activity, mental or physical. If a character is reduced to –6 hit points or below, the scars of the wound will likely be borne for the rest of the character’s life.

Characters who are slain may be raised from the dead if a cleric of sufficient level is available to perform the casting (exception: elves do not have souls, and are unaffected by the spells raise dead or resurrection). If no such character is available in the party, as will be the case for most low-level parties, the group may choose to approach a NPC High Priest for assistance in raising a dead character. The NPC will always charge a fee for such a casting, typically at least 1,000 gp.

Natural Healing

A character will recover 1 hit point per day of uninterrupted rest. However, if the character has a constitution penalty to hp, before rest will begin to affect the character’s hp the character must rest for a number of days equal to the constitution penalty. A character with high constitution gains a commensurate benefit after resting for one week; the number of hp regained during the second week will be increased by the amount of the character’s hp bonus at the start of the week. Four weeks of rest will return any character to full hp regardless of how many hp the character has lost.

Subdual Damage

A weapon may be used to beat down, rather than kill, an opponent. When the player desires, damage inflicted can be composed of half “real” damage and half “subdual” damage that does not kill. Such subdual damage is recovered at a rate of 1 hp per hour.

Not all monsters may be subdued. Generally only humanoids and special creatures such as dragons will be subject to such attacks. Some creatures may voluntarily agree to accept defeat from subdual damage (this is common in knightly tourneys) but in this case, subdual must normally be agreed with the foe in advance.

Life Energy Levels and Level Drain

Certain monsters, magic items and spells have the power to drain “life energy levels,” perform a “level drain,” or an “energy drain” (these phrases are used interchangeably in the OSRIC rules). If a player character is drained of a life energy level, he or she loses one complete level of experience and is placed at the beginning point of the new level. If the character is multi-classed or dual-classed, then the highest level of experience attained by that character is lost. If the character has two equal levels, then the level lost should be determined randomly. A player character drained below level 1 is slain (and may rise as some kind of undead creature). Non-player characters lose a level or hit die, as applicable.


Certain monsters, such as trolls or most undead creatures, are fearless and never need to check morale. The majority, however, will not continue to fight a hopeless battle, seeking to retreat, surrender, or flee. The GM determines when morale checks should be made. Generally, morale should be checked when it becomes clear that the monsters are losing the fight, or taking unacceptable losses. No more than two morale checks should be made per battle, however; if the monsters pass a second morale check, they are assumed to be fanatical and will fight to the death.

The base morale for most monsters is 50%, plus 5% per hit die of the monster. (Thus for example a monster with 8+1 hit dice gets [8x5%=] +40%, for a total base morale of 90%.) The GM should adjust this according to how cowardly or heroic the monster might be, and also according to the prevailing circumstances. For example, if the monster is very cowardly and fighting opponents who are inflicting serious damage on its fellows without taking any casualties, then the GM might impose a -30% penalty to its morale check. If it is elite and fighting close to its battle standard, the GM might allow a bonus of +10%.

Player characters do not need to check morale. However, hirelings, henchmen, and men-at-arms should be checked for normally. In this case the NPC’s morale may be affected by his or her liege’s charisma score and/or former conduct towards the NPC; the henchman’s alignment may also be taken into account. (As a rule, Chaotic Evil henchmen are much more likely to betray their masters than Lawful Good ones.)

Table of Common Morale Check Modifiers
(all cumulative)
Situation Modifier
Per friend killed, surrendered or fled +5%
Own side taken 25% casualties +5%
Numerical inferiority +10%
Own side taken 50% casualties +15%
Own side greatly outnumbered (2-1 or more) +20%
Own leader hors de combat +25%
Per foe killed, surrendered or fled -5%
Own side inflicted 25% casualties -5%
Numerical superiority -10%
Own side inflicted 50% casualties -15%

Effects of Morale Check Failure: Creatures that fail their morale check by a margin of 25% or less will generally seek to make a fighting withdrawal. If they fail by 26% to 50%, they will generally turn and flee; a failure by 51% or higher indicates that the creature surrenders. However, the GM should use logic in conjunction with this guideline, taking into account the creature’s intelligence and what it knows. A cornered creature that cannot flee, for example, or a monster that knows that its opponents move faster than it does, will surrender rather than make a futile attempt at flight.

No Quarter: Any creature subject to morale that sees surrender is not accepted, sees a prisoner being slain by the other side, or has some reason to believe it will be executed if it surrenders, will never surrender, regardless of other considerations. Such a creature will fight to the death if it cannot flee.

Poison, Disease and Insanity


Poisons commonly encountered in OSRIC-compatible games include animal venoms (such as snake and spider bites), vegetable toxins (often used to coat poison needles or similar devices on traps), and essentially magical poisons such as clouds of poisonous gas. Generally, when a player character ingests or inhales the poison, or it otherwise enters his or her bloodstream, he or she must roll a saving throw against poison (sometimes with a modifier—up to +2 for a relatively weak toxin such as that of a Large Spider, down to -4 for a particularly lethal one). If the saving throw is failed, the character dies.

In practice death from such cases is not instantaneous, although the character is typically incapacitated immediately. There is time for slow poison or neutralise poison to be cast on the character, if this is done reasonably soon (say, within about 15 minutes depending on the strength of the venom or toxin involved).

If the character dies as a result of poison, the poison must somehow be flushed from his or her bloodstream before any kind of raise dead or resurrection can succeed.

The general rule is that characters cannot employ poisons as easily as monsters. Venom taken from a creature’s poison glands will, for game purposes, typically begin to lose effectiveness immediately and have become completely denatured within a few hours. Some characters—often assassins—may learn how to create vegetable-based toxins that can last longer if kept in the correct way, but lethal toxins will still need to be handled with great care. The GM should determine whether any given activity involving the poison runs a risk of the handler receiving a tiny cut, scratch or nick (requiring an immediate poison save). Certain good aligned character classes, such as paladins, may not use poison and will object to their companions using it.

Finally, some creatures—particularly powerful ones such as dragons—are so large, and their body chemistries are so different, that poisons will not normally work against them.

The principle is that poisons in the hands of player characters change the balance of the game in undesirable ways, so players should be discouraged from using them.


Diseases in OSRIC-compatible games often come from monsters, such as mummies or giant rats, in which case the chance of disease and its effects are described in the relevant creature text. There are a few other instances where disease may be contracted that are explained here.

First, plagues (such as the mediæval bubonic plague or Black Death) may occasionally spread across the countryside. A character who comes into contact with plague will need to save against poison to avoid succumbing him- or herself. If the character saves, any future saving throws against the same disease will be made at +4. If he or she fails, then after an incubation period of 2d8 days, he or she will suffer a penalty of -1d6 on all characteristics and against all die rolls for the course of the disease, which lasts a further 2d8 days. If either of the dice show an “8” then the character dies at the end of this period, otherwise he or she recovers at the rate of 1 point less each day until cured. Further saving throws against the same disease will be made at +4.

Second, certain wounds can become infected. This applies where the GM feels it appropriate, but generally where a character with an open wound engages in high-risk activity such as exploring a sewer, a saving throw –vs– poison should be required, or else the character will become infected. The effects of infection in game terms are the same as plague, except that the onset time is measured in hours rather than days.

d% Insanity
01-06 Agoraphobia
07-13 Alcoholism
14-20 Amnesia
21-26 Anorexia
27-33 Catatonia
34-40 Claustrophobia
41-46 Dementia
47-54 Homicidal Mania
55-60 Kleptomania
61-66 Manic-Depressive
67-74 Megalomania
75-80 Paranoia
81-86 Pathological Liar
87-93 Phobia
94-97 Schizophrenia
98-00 Suicidal Mania


Insanity is possible as a result of certain spells or monster attacks. A character who becomes insane will receive an insanity from the table below. The kind of insanity may be decided by the GM or rolled randomly.

Note: The following section is intended as a description of insanity for gaming purposes. The reality of mental illness is very different to the discussion here. It is not our intention to be insensitive towards those with real life mental illnesses.

Agoraphobia: The agoraphobic individual will not willingly venture outdoors or into wide open spaces. If forced outside, the sufferer may (50%) become violent.

Alcoholism: The alcoholic character requires strong drink every day, and may become violent (50%) if this is denied. At least once a day, and every time alcohol is available (such as when in the vicinity of a pub or tavern), the character must have a drink. After drinking, there is a 3 in 6 chance that the character will insist on a further drink. Such behaviour will continue until the character passes out.

Amnesia: Amnesia is most dangerous for spellcasters. Every time the character attempts to cast a spell, there is a 50% chance that he or she will find the spell gone from his or her memory, in which case it cannot be recalled until the character memorises it again. Weapon proficiencies may also be forgotten, although the character may re-roll to see if the proficiency is remembered each morning.

Anorexia: An anorexic character will refuse all forms of food or nourishment and, if force fed, there is a 50% chance that he or she will induce vomiting.

Catatonia: The catatonic character loses volition and there is a 50% chance that he or she will ignore any situation as irrelevant to him- or herself.

Claustrophobia: Particularly difficult in dungeons, claustrophobia is the opposite of agoraphobia. The claustrophobic individual will not willingly venture into enclosed spaces and will fight to escape them. If in an enclosed space, there is a 50% chance that the sufferer will become violent.

Dementia: The insane character loses 1d6 points each of intelligence, wisdom and charisma.

Homicidal Mania: The character has an insatiable urge to kill. The victim must be of the same race as the insane character and normally (75%) of the opposite gender. The must kill at least once a week until cured.

Kleptomania: The character has an insatiable urge to steal. The character will take any opportunity to pocket a gem, coin or small magic item. If the stolen objects are taken away from the character, there is a 50% chance that he or she will become violent.

Manic-Depressive: During the manic phase (which lasts 2d6 days), the character will become very excited about something—virtually anything will do. The character will select a goal (which may be a very inappropriate one) and focus totally on achieving it. Then there is an intermediary phase, which lasts 2d6 days, and a depressive phase, in which the character will always assume that there is no chance of success. A depressive character will want to remain indoors in a place of safety, and in bed if possible. The depressive phase lasts 2d6 days, followed by which there is another 2d6-day intermediary phase before the cycle begins again.

Megalomania: The character will believe that he or she is the best—at everything. He or she will demand to be leader of the party, will issue peremptory orders to other party members, and there is a 50% chance that the megalomaniac will become violent if these are not obeyed. Any suggestion that he or she is not the leader and/or nor the best-qualified person for any particular job will always result in violence from the megalomaniac.

Paranoia: Paranoia is very dangerous in adventuring situations. The paranoid will believe that “they” are out to get him or her, and will suspect anyone and everyone of working for “them”—particularly party members. The paranoid will generally disobey orders and ignore suggestions on the assumption that they are intended to cause the character harm. Eventually the character will flee his or her group or normal social circle.

Pathological Liar: The pathological liar is concerned with deception, not necessarily untruth. Thus, he or she is capable of telling the truth, but will only normally do so if he or she will not be believed. Otherwise, the insane character must respond to all questions with lies.

Phobia: The character suffers from a strong and completely irrational fear of some substance, creature, or situation.

Schizophrenia: The character’s personality splits into 1d3 separate personalities, each of which may have a different alignment or even class. Typically the personalities are not aware of each other.

Suicidal Mania: The character is driven to self-harm. He or she may never flee from combat or any kind of dangerous situation. Faced with a pit or chasm, the insane character must jump over it; faced with a chest, he or she must open it; faced with an enemy, he or she must fight it, etc.