Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Newly Revised Arandish Campaign House Rules

In the spirit of "everything old is new again" that seems to be sweeping over me lately, I have looked over my January 2010 revision of the Arandish Campaign House Rules and realized they need one more slight overhaul. A few things have changed since game play began, so here is the latest scoop:

Newly Revised Arandish Campaign House Rules

Generating Attributes
Attribute scores are generated by rolling 4d6 and discarding the lowest die roll. The player then orders them in any way s/he chooses. 

The following list of the six available Arandish alignments is originally borrowed from here, and is also posted here.  (Please also note this succinct breakdown of the meaning of alignment terminology and a follow-up post for first-edition gamers by James Raggi.) 

Chaotic: Inimical to civilization and possibly reality itself – the alignment of demons, Faerie, and the insane.

Neutral: Apathetic and/or unconcerned with the battle between cosmic forces.

Neutral (Balance): The philosophical stance that a balance between Chaos and Law is necessary for the well-being of the cosmos.

Lawful (Good): The philosophical stance that civilization exists to foster the common good.

Lawful: The philosophical stance that civilization, regardless of how it is organized, is preferable to other alternatives.

Lawful (Evil): The philosophical stance that civilization exists to allow the strong to lord it over the weak.

Critical Hits and Fumbles
Any time a player rolls a natural ‘20’ on a to hit roll, it is a critical hit. Damage is doubled.
Likewise, if a player rolls a natural ‘1’ on a to hit roll, it is considered a critical failure or fumble. Typically, this means the combatant hurts himself, drops his weapon, breaks his weapon, or just plain falls down – Labyrinth Lord's discretion.

The optional encumbrance system in the Labyrinth Lord rulebook (p. 44) will be ignored; if how much a character is carrying becomes an issue, it will be dealt with intuitively.

Except in special circumstances, NO individual initiative is rolled (see LL p. 52), just initiative for each group, rolled on 1d6 once per combat encounter, NOT once per round as per LL p. 50 – that is too much die rolling for me!

Item Saving Throws
YES, see LL p. 55.

Ability Checks
YES, see LL p. 55.

I prefer high-powered monsters with little fear, so I am leery of morale checks for any but the weakest or most disorganized Arandish monsters.  But since so many old-school RPGers I respect seem to favor morale checks in D&D combat, I will use this rule when the combat circumstances warrant it (see LL p. 56). 

Multiple Chances to Detect Secret Doors
As James Raggi IV has written:

Apparently the Moldvay Basic and Labyrinth Lord state that a character gets only one try to find a secret door, and if that fails, pffft, tough shit! I have never played like that, and as I said was never aware that such a rule existed.

Doublechecking yesterday morning to make sure I haven't been playing wrong for a quarter of a century, I did confirm that OD&D, Holmes Basic, Mentzer Basic, AD&D, OSRIC, and Swords & Wizardry do not have this "one try only" language in the rules for secret doors.

I'm truly flabbergasted that a game that so features exploration as a primary activity would have such a limitation. To me, secret doors are time sinks, and if a party wants to take the time to make an extra check (or five) at the cost of a turn each, running down their light sources and risking wandering monsters, that's great!

I agree with Mr. Raggi and hereby waive the "one try only" rule as printed in LL.

Shields Shall Be Splintered! 
This brilliant set of concepts originates with Trollsmyth, but I like this nice encapsulation by David at The RPG Corner, from whom I horked many of the best of my own house rules.  Here's the rule:

Shields provide the usual +1 bonus to AC. However, they may also be used to "soak" damage from a single attack, thereby reducing damage to zero. Soaking damage destroys the shield.

Shields may also be used against any attack that allows a save for half damage, such as a fireball or dragon's breath. In that case, the shield is destroyed, as above, and the save is considered automatically successful, thereby guaranteeing half damage.

For magical shields, each +1 enchantment bonus gives a 10% chance of surviving a damage soak.

The D30 Rule
Once per session each player may opt to roll the referee’s d30 in lieu of whatever die or dice the situation normally calls for. The choice to roll the d30 must be made before any actual rolling has occurred. The d30 cannot be rolled for generating character statistics or hit points.

Awarding Experience Points
Experience points are gained from two sources, treasure and monsters. Characters only gain XP from treasure of a non-magical nature, at a rate of 1 XP per 1 gp value of the item.  As James Raggi has discussed, this only counts treasure/money gained during adventuring, NOT from opening a profitable inn or becoming a ruler and taxing one's subjects. All defeated monsters (either outsmarted or killed), grant XP based on how powerful they are (see LL p. 49).


  1. And I haven't even formulated a contribution yet!

    The main change from the original house rules is the change from d20 initiative back to the standard d6, with the once per encounter staying the same. d20 would tend to lessen the DEX bonus a party might have (and lessen penalties, I suppose). Where did the d20 initiative come from originally, and why was it abandoned (not that I mind since it benefits the party greatly)?

  2. I use d20 initiative in my Mutant Future campaign - Carter might have taken it from there, but it is the norm in 3e or 4e. As you say, the current state of the houserule does make Hazel's +3 Dex modifier of great import.

  3. Yes, I stole the d20 for initiative from Carl's MF campaign -- I think it works well there, but I agree that for our LL campaign, I wanted the PCs to have more of an edge in this area.