[note to self: am I just on an adrenaline high after three straight crushing defeats in "Magic the Gathering" on top of back-to-back skin-o-the-teeth victories in Apples? Maybe. Who knows...it's been an exciting and fun-filled day on a lot of fronts]
So anyway, to the point: I was never a "house ruler."
Not that anyone will or should care, but I AM writing this blog as my own "testament" of role-playing history. You can chalk it up to laziness or young, naive idealism, but I never house-ruled ANYTHING when I played AD&D 'back in the day.'
Oh, well maybe I house-ruled a couple things...I did get my original start in B/X play and the "all miscellaneous gear weighs 80 cns" was too easy NOT to carry over to AD&D. But even so, I recall spending long hours (at one point) trying to figure how much encumbrance a character was carrying. In the end, I reverted to B/X simply because of its expedience.
However, everything else was straight from the PHB and DMG (as modified by Unearthed Arcana later on). Initiative and combat especially...with weapon "speed factors" and adjustments versus different armor types, the 1 in 6 chance of hitting helmets, and especially the rules for "two weapon combat" in the DMG (many PCs were fond of two-fisting long before 2nd edition gave us ambidextrous rangers)...system shock and negative hit points, aging, disease, intoxication...all that craziness was used in our games.
I've said before that I personally played fast and loose with time and encumbrance...the minutia of record keeping and resource management. But in RULES...especially casting times (and material components!) and rounds and segments I was a stickler. This was the REAL meta-game/gamist management of our campaigns...how combat worked. And if we never used miniatures and were easy with ranges and distances ("oh, he's at long range right now") at least I can say most of our combat took place strictly at melee range unless spell-casters/ranged weapons were deliberately "hanging back" while other fighters were up "front and center" keeping the enemy occupied.
But even so, no house rules. If we failed to randomly check starting distances (or keep track of turns such that wandering monsters were rolled for, besides "when it was interesting"), the failing was on ME, the individual DM. We ALWAYS tried to stick to the rules as written...the main reason being that Gygax's words were out Gospel, but an even MORE important reason being CONSISTENCY between DMs and campaigns.
I mean, we had a single game world (a "milieu," I believe it's called), but multiple DMs that would rotate in duty...and while all DMs had slightly different styles, we followed the rules as written consistently, sans alteration. All the players stayed the same from session to session (a PC in one DM's game became an NPC when that player took a turn as DM) and we all wanted to make sure we played by the rules. For us, it worked.
And it worked well, too. Certainly we added things from Dragon magazine, or some of our own little additions (there is no universal "trap/trick manual" unlike the Monster Manual, so DMs are forced to come up with creative obstacles. Hell we even created a slew of random tables for determining random taverns (along with the fare, drink, and vices offered for sale). But additions aren't "alterations." What was written was carved in stone as far as we were concerned.
Intellectually, I understand that a lot of people like to house rule D&D. Even Pat, a huge and traditional B/X fan, adds extra rules to increase survivability in his game (shield saves and bandaging of wounds for example). However, while I can get along with one player/DM's house rules, it doesn't make me feel strictly comfortable. I guess I'm too much of a "purist."
Or maybe I'm just stubborn and a rules lawyer and house rules don't allow me the leeway to do what I want to do. But, boy-o-boy, I HOPE I'm not that much of a spoiled brat!
I've always felt game designers write their rules a specific way for a reason...if they'd meant the game to play a different way, they would have written the rules differently. Me corrupting the game to my liking does them a disservice.
On the other hand, isn't refusing to follow the change of editions kind of a way of "house ruling?" If I say, I'm going to play D&D, just not 4th edition, am I really playing D&D the way the owners of the Intellectual Property owners prefer to have me play? Not really...I'm simply inserting a lot of earlier edition rules in place of the latest edition, in effect "house ruling."
Unless I consider B/X its own game, distinct from BECMI (which, admittedly, I kind of do...), all I'm doing is altering certain rules in a fashion that will only be acknowledged around my gaming table, under my roof. And everyone is admitted to doing that to a greater or lesser degree.
It irks me a bit...but oh, well.
Okay, it's 3:41 in the morning and my eyes are finally starting to close, so I'm heading for bed. More later I'm sure (though perhaps not till after Sunday's game). Hasta manana, folks!