Back to Basics

Things have been pretty quiet for a long time on Kilgore’s game front. Oh, I’ve spent time looking over rules and browsing things daydreaming about games, but actual play sessions have been few and far between. But my daughter continues to be interested and we fired up a new game a few weeks ago. Three sessions in and some good adventure have convinced us to make another go of it, and hopefully we can stay on track until the campaign gets a life of its own.

We started out with 1e AD&D, but I’ve made the decision to shift over to B/X. Despite the nostalgia for 1e and my love of those books, my desire to stick close to BTB and our hope for a quick, easy-playing game with the focus on adventure and fun and less worry about rules and details has convinced me to go all 1981 Basic/Expert. I will freely import monsters and magic from 1e as desired, of course, but I continue to believe that B/X is the best-ever edition of the game and sometimes wish that I’d played it back in the day instead of 1e. Our 1e game played more like B/X than 1e, anyway.

Despite my plan to stick close to the rules as written, however, I cannot help but tweak a few things. First of all, even though I think the B/X rules are the best version, I don’t think they’re perfect. And I have my own sense of the type of game I want to run and how my campaign world looks. I want a little more gritty sword-and-sorcery and a little less high fantasy. Everyone is an “adventurer” first and a specialist second. Plus, with limited playing time and a very limited pool of players, no one is really interested in the long low-level grind. So:

Kilgore’s B/X House Rules

  • 4d6 six times, arrange as desired, no point trading
  • PCs begin at 3rd level
  • Re-roll 1s on hit points
  • Custom XP system that uses listed XP to level but dispenses with XP tracking
  • Thieves have d6 hit dice and can use a shield
  • Magic-users can wear leather armor and can use staff, sling, and club in addition to dagger
  • Clerics use the 1983 Mentzer spell progression but don’t get 6th-level spells
  • Clerics turn undead as two levels lower on the table
  • 2-handed weapons do NOT automatically strike last
  • Binding wounds hit point recovery after each combat

There will be some other various minor tweaks. The goal is to have a fast, fun game where combat is quick and deadly but not quite as risky as written. XP accumulation will not depend on killing monsters or accumulating mountains of treasure. I will be putting together Basic versions of some additional classes as needed. Initially, at least, all PCs will be human. Demi-humans exist, but they’re not quite they typical D&D demi-humans. Elves, in particular, are getting a significant makeover.

I want to put the dragons back into Dungeons & Dragons, so I’m working out a method that is sort of similar to the AD&D age system to allow a wide range of dragons to present challenges for a wide range of adventuring parties. I’ll probably write a little about the dragons (and the custom XP system) at some point if the game keeps going and I keep blogging.

Also, druids are not your typical friendly animal-loving defenders of nature. If you aren’t at least a little afraid of druids (and rangers, for that matter), you probably haven’t met any yet. Between the re-worked elves, druids, and rangers, it’s possible that orcs, undead, and dragons may be the least of your problems out in the Wild.

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1 Response to Back to Basics

  1. JB says:

    Sounds like fun. Once my boy can read and write regular (he’s getting there!) I’d like to start a game with him. Keep us posted on how it goes!

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