Thursday, June 23, 2022


Just a quick note on a Thursday morning (before the day REALLY begins):

The more AD&D I play, the more I simply default to the rules as written.

I didn't have all that much deviation to begin with (duh), but the more I play. the less its various oddities and nonsensical bits bother me. Most of the regular rules are pretty dead simple anyway. The complexity and complication of AD&D comes mainly from all the little bits and exceptions one needs to remember to use...and that "remembering" becomes far easier with practice. 

It just does.

For the curious (and for my own recorded history of this moment in time), I offer the following list of modifications currently being used at our table. If it's not listed below, you can assume we're currently doing it "by the book:"
  • No alignments or alignment restrictions. "Evil" (of the detect evil variety) is for supernatural (diabolic, demonic) evil. "Good" (of the detect good variety) is for supernatural (divine) goodness.
  • All 1st level player characters (and classed NPCs) receive full hit points at first level. Assassins roll 8-sided dice for hit points.
  • A "bastard sword" is just a longsword wielded with two hands. Speed factor is 6, regardless.
  • We are not using weapon versus armor this time.
  • Lack of helmet reduces listed AC by 1. Great helms have not been seen in play so far, but I'd be tempted to give a +1 bonus to AC (with associated penalties), for wearing one.
  • First level magic-users receive three spells to start (randomly rolled). A magic-user may cast any spell known ONCE per day (no doubling up on spells). A magic-user only knows the number of spells listed by level, plus the additional two at first.
  • Clerics do not memorize spells at the start of the day, but instead pray for their miracles as needed.
  • Scrolls do not "fade" upon opening; scrolls do not require a read magic spell to use, but may only be used by the type of caster for whom the spell is written.
  • Combat rounds are 30 seconds long (not one minute). Each round is composed of six 5-second segments (not ten). In combat a side takes action on the segment determined by the result on its opponent's initiative die. Spell casting time begins on this segment (and thus a spell may not go off until AFTER an opponent has acted, even if the spellcaster wins initiative). Tied rolls result in simultaneous combat (speed factor is checked in the case of opposing individuals wielding weapons). 
  • A character/creature's full attack routine occurs on its initiative segment (i.e. it is not broken up over the course of the round). In the case of a creature striking multiple times with a "special effect" attack (claws and bite of a ghoul, a carrion crawler's tentacles, a hasted giant spider, etc.) no more than ONE saving throw is made by a single character for a single effect in the round, regardless of the number of hits struck.
  • A side may be partially surprised, completely surprised, or not surprised (depending on the surprise roll). "Complete surprise" consists of two segments; a side is never achieves more than "complete surprise" (thus, no opponent will ever receive more than two free segments of action, regardless of the die result). 
  • Some spell effects have been changed. Not very many, however...maybe half a dozen.
  • I am not using training costs. Full level abilities are awarded upon advancement.
  • I have made alterations to the bard class...however, no one has played a bard (yet). Both my children have started their own AD&D campaigns, and are currently using the 1E bard as written in their games (apologies...I just think that's interesting).
  • I have made alterations to the illusionist spell list...however, no illusionists have yet been seen in play. All other spell lists (despite the hours I spent curating them over Lent!) are as currently listed in the PHB.
  • A demihuman character advancing as a single class in a career that normally allows multi-classing (per the PHB) increases its max level by +2. For example, an elven fighter with 17 strength (normally restricted to 6th level) may advance as high as 8th level.
  • Age, height, and weight tables have been rewritten for my campaign world. My children use the original age tables from the DMG (centuries old demihumans, etc.). Female player characters (not NPCs) are not restricted by strength limits listed in the PHB...although this has not yet come up in the game.
  • At this time, the whole of our canon consists of the PHB, DMG, MM, and FF. Monsters from S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth are nominally included in the canon, but the MM2, as a whole, is not. The UA is used to calculate the XP/gold of some magic items not found in the DMG (for example, a dagger +1 or a battle axe +2). 
  • Players receive individual bonus x.p. for damage inflicted and damage received in combat: 10 x.p. per point of damage inflicted, 20 x.p. per point of damage received. This bonus x.p. is not divided amongst the group. All other x.p. received (from foes defeated and treasure acquired) is distributed evenly amongst all surviving party members (NPCs receive a full share but only advance 1 x.p. for each 2 x.p. awarded).
  • Psionics have not (yet) been included in the game.
  • Player characters all start as independent operators: they are not tied to any guild, sect, temple, etc. They are free to join such organizations in play as they like...assuming they can find such a group and gain acceptance to it.
And that's about it. At this point, I'm not using B/X for any part of the game (I know some folks like it for easy reaction, morale, and/or encumbrance rules). My wandering monster tables are my own (I mostly treat the ones in the DMG as "guidelines"). Economy, population distribution, weight of goods and cost of services are generally based on my own research (except when the information in the books suffice)...but these are "world building" considerations, not rule deviations. Same with issues of cosmology: I don't have a particular pantheon of gods for players to pick and choose from (it's generally either "Catholic equivalent" or "Satan adjacent")...I'll deal with that stuff more (as/if needed) when players start hopping other planes. At this time, that stuff's a lot less important to the players than just trying to make their way in the world.

Happy to answer any questions or complaints folks have.
; )


  1. There's something familiar about your experience rules ...

    1. Well, duh...
      ; )

      I do not do the "group damage xp distribution" you use; instead, I use the standard monster XP value as the group reward (divided amongst survivors); assuming, of course, that the monsters are defeated.

      But adopting the XP for damage inflicted/sustained still provides: A) incentive for participation, B) rewards for partial success and/or failure. This has proven immensely valuable.

    2. Sure, but would a call-out to my wiki page kill you? Here, let me help.

      Experience X.P.

      Don't publish if you feel the self-promotion is too garish.

    3. Ha! Not “too” garish…and, in this case, not at all! Both your wiki and blog have been great helps to forming my game…I’m sure they’d be helpful to other people, too!
      : )

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  3. Every time I look in the original DMG it seems I find something I have never noticed before. Most recently this was the rule for multiple attacks due to weapon speeds (DMG pg 66). Something I have never heard anyone talk about, let alone play with. Curious if you have been using this rule?
    Also coincidentally, the Fire Emblem games allow an extra attack when a combatant's speed exceeds their opponents by 5. Same as this rule. Wonder if this is where that came from, or if it is just a coincidence.
    Anyways, been enjoying reading about one of the people I consider one of the original BX proponents making the move to ADnD 1e. Look forward to further thoughts and comments by yourself as you explore it.

    1. @ Stacktrace:

      Yes, we use that rule. It just doesn't come up very often.

      RE B/X converting to 1E

      I intend to write a post or two about this is the coming days. Stay tuned!

    2. Stacktrace, for the record, I also used that rule for about three years. Changed my combat system and dropped it.

  4. Very interesting to hear. Guess it was not as obscure/hidden as I had thought.

    Will be interesting to see where JB goes with further house rules. Your mass based HP especially is one I embraced long ago.

    1. At this particular moment in time, I believe that it is a mistake to place combat (in the D&D game) on any particular kind of pedestal. That is to say: it will screw up your game to attach an over-abundance of importance to fighting/battles.

      Doesn't mean it's not a necessary aspect (see #3 on my 7 Elements post: too much focus on that particular bit detracts from the whole of the game.

      [felt a Public Service Announcement might be needed]

  5. If your clerics are quasi-Roman Catholic or quasi-Satanist, how do you handle druids? Close to historical Celtic druids, or something else entirely?

  6. Enjoy your house rules list, and am curious about the purpose of participation XP for combat damage? Does it replace GP/treasure XP, for example?


    1. @Allan:

      It does not.

      AD&D x.p. Is extremely binary: you defeat the monsters and find treasure…or you font’s. As written, there’s really no half measures.

      Adding x.p. for damage taken/inflicted (see Alexis’s link above for the initial inspiration)…adds a reward mechanism for “partial” successes. You hung in the combat with a hydra for a couple rounds but were forced to run? There’s still something to be earned (x.p.) from the experience.

      A 1st level character’s single combat with an orc is a pretty dicey thing (no pun intended). But the x.p. reward for an individual orc is pretty minimal (compared to what the character needs to advance to 2nd). At 10 x.p. per point inflicted and 20 per point of damage sustained, it becomes a more rewarding (literally) experience. However, at high levels this is a much lesser bonus.

      It’s still objective rather than subjective, and it encourages ACTION. I dig that and it works for me.

  7. Wow. Such a different experience. Such a different mind set. Such different results.

    "The more AD&D I play, the more I simply default to the rules as written."

    I can, without a doubt, point to AD&D 1st Edition as not only the reason I started modifying and homebrewing rules on the regular but also the reason I stopped playing any sort of D&D. After a 3 1/2 year campaign, one of my best ever to this day, I was done.

    The more I played it, the less sense it made, with all the little bits you mention eventually getting on my nerves to the point where it all fell apart for me.

    After making so many house rules I could fill a hardcover Dungeonmaster's Guide of my own creation I realized what the issue was - IMO, if you have to change and add that much to make a game work for you and your players, you are simply playing the wrong game.

    I find it interesting that you play 'Rules as Written' but then also have about two dozen modifications of your own (give or take). Not a criticism or 'gotcha' but merely a curious notation on how we (gamers) think.

    Posts such as this are endlessly fascinating to me as a peak inside an alternate approach to the hobby from that of myself and others I game with.

    I look forward to your next post and further insight!

    1. Welll...most of these changes aren't so much modifications as "clean-up." Limiting the instructional texts (i.e. rulebooks used) isn't really a's just a setting of the game's parameters, while several of these changes are reversions to earlier (OD&D) rules that formed the basis for AD&D...things like the bard being a single class, the illusionist spell list, and the six-segment (as opposed to 10-segment) combat round. Other the surprise rules or monster saves...are clarification, or (with regard to psionics and weapon vs. armor) the dropping of bits that were optional to begin with.

      The real modifications are mainly changes that I find AID players in pursuing (what I'd call) "normal D&D activity." The original scroll rules are strictly adversarial, alignment and guild affiliation are unneeded when you have adequate factions in your world building, and training costs become unnecessary (as a resource drain) when your economy (another world building aspect) is robust enough to empty PC coffers.

      Minor tweaks for playability (helms, attack routines, extra hit points) generally streamline play without changing its overall feel.

      [he longsword thing is a pet peeve of mine...I make no apologies for it]

      The only change that really feels like a gross modification to longtime AD&D players (aside, perhaps, from the alignment thing) is the change to magic-user spell use/acquisition. I've had no complaint from my players (perhaps because they're not yet "longtime AD&D players" and I've been using these rules since my old OD&D game a couple years back), but in their OWN campaigns, my kids use the original rules (including magic-users needing read magic and only being able to cast a single spell per day at first level). My children are rather "hardcore," you see, and it *does* make for a rather tense, exciting game for low level wizards. However, I've played enough AD&D that I know what magic-user play TENDS to look like at the mid- to high-levels and I want something different for my campaign. Maybe I'll change it back in the future...however, no one seems to want to play magic-users anyway, so it's kind of a moot point at the moment.
      ; )

      ANYway...even two-dozen "changes" to the D&D rules are hardly what I'd call an "overhaul;" for the most part the game is procedurally the same. Same combat/save tables, same gold/xp value for treasure and magic items, same classes/races/ability scores, same equipment lists, proficiencies, spells (mostly),monsters, dungeons, etc. The game is pretty darn robust as long as you're doing the necessary world building to support the game...and the DMG has a lot of good advice on that score.

      For the devotee of fantasy adventure, I'm not sure why you'd want to play any other system.