Rules

Kilgore on March 2nd, 2012

I wasn’t going to do this, but decided what the heck. Our game is basic 3 book AD&D.

  1. Ability scores generation method?
    • 4d6 drop lowest, arrange as desired OR
    • 3d6 12 times, keep 6 best, arrange as desired
    • Player chooses before rolling anything
  2. How are death and dying handled?
    • 0 hp to -CON gets a save vs. death to be unconscious
    • Otherwise dead
  3. What about raising the dead?
    • As per spells or devices and VERY rare
  4. How are replacement PCs handled?
    • Depends, but usually met next time into town or on the road
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
    • Group: 1d6 per side
    • High roll wins, tie goes to the previous winner (momentum)
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
    • Not as a standard part of the combat system.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
    • Only in certain circumstances
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
    • Yes, if you miss your target
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
    • You will need to run from many encounters
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
    • Oh, yeah.
    • Lots of them
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
    • Yes
    • Save-or-die situations will almost always be obviously dangerous
    • Except poison
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
    • Moderately strict encumberance
    • Pretty strict ammunition and water
    • Very strict food and torches
  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
    • Standard AD&D GP expense per DMG just “vanishes” from PC’s account
    • Training is hand-waved but assumed to be ongoing
    • One random automatic new spell when a new spell level is available
    • Minimal downtime required…could be camp in the middle of an adventure
  14. What do I get experience for?
    • Money treasure (Coins, gems, jewelry, expensive art, precious metal items)
    • Combat (Enemies killed or totally defeated)
    • No XP for magic items or value of mundane items
    • Sometimes an “adventure reward” for successful completion of goal-oriented adventures, but this is never very big
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
    • Simple traps can be found by anyone looking
    • More advanced traps can be found x% of the time by looking
    • Some traps can only be found by skilled PCs (thieves, dwarves for stone traps, etc)
    • Thief or racial bonuses add to x% for non-skilled searchers
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
    • Yes, henchmen/retainers/hirelings are strongly encouraged
    • Morale/loyalty works as per AD&D rules except in exceptional cases
  17. How do I identify magic items?
    • Usually have to be tried out
    • Tasting a potion tells taster what it is
    • Identify spell can assist with items
    • Basic items (+1 sword, etc) IDed by DM after some use
    • Weird items or special powers sometimes unknown for long periods of time
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
    • No
    • Still no
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
    • Yes
    • Get to that point and we’ll work it out
  20. What about splitting the party?
    • Don’t prefer it for the logistical reasons, but allowed

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Kilgore on February 19th, 2012

The topic of level limits for demi-human characters seems to be making the rounds, and I see that I’ve not really ever weighed in on it except in my Roll To Advance system of alternative XP/advancement rules, so I’ll toss in my two cents here.

I’ve personally never been a big fan of racial level limits, and for a long period of time our method was to allow demi-human advancement past the listed maximum by doubling XP requirements from that point on.

Though I don’t like racial level limits, I do think that humans get shafted by the game as written and believe that there should be something to offset the pretty significant bonuses that demi-humans get. I might be biased, being a human who prefers to play human PCs, but I prefer a human-centric game. And as most of our games don’t reach the point where level limits become an issue, the balancing “cap” never really does a lot to balance our games.

If I were to monkey with the system these days, my approach would be to tweak the XP requirements for demi-humans, requiring elves to pay X% more per level, for instance, to offset their increased capabilities. I don’t know exactly what the numbers would be for each race, but it would be something noticeable but not overwhelming. Enough to make it a real difference from session one but not enough to force everyone to play a human.

Our current game is by-the-book AD&D so I’m fighting the urge to tinker with this, but if I was going to it would be via XP requirement adjustments in place of level caps or giving humans some sort of racial bonus.

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Kilgore on March 31st, 2010

We continue to work on our modified Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition game and I think I’ll have a serviceable player’s handbook ready for use by the end of the week. One of the many tweaks we’ve made is to the turning undead function. I love the turning undead ability of clerics, but I have always thought that it was over-powered, particularly once they start vaporizing skeletons and zombies willy-nilly. So we’ve changed it up a little to still allow for that while toning things down a notch.

Interestingly, a current thread on Dragonsfoot is discussing this topic and someone posted a bit from Gygax on turning:

So many of the very most interesting “monsters” were subjected to that rude capacity of turning/destroying that I initially bestowed upon the cleric class that I did indeed come to rue the initial benison gven to that class. My plan for a revised edition of AD&D was such as to limit that power somewhat while adjusting things for the capacity of undead to withstand “turning” so as to make things more challenging for PCs without emasculating the power of the cleric.

I was actually thrilled to read this, as it reinforces my belief that turning needed tweaking and that my solution is viable.

Here’s what we’ve done:

Cleric Level Turning Undead (d20) #
1 HD 2 HD 3 HD 4 HD 5 HD 6 HD 7 HD 8 HD 9 HD Spec.
1 13 16 19 20
2 10 13 16 19 20
3 7 10 13 16 19 20
4 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
5 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
6 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
7 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
8 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19
9 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16
10 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13
11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10
12 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7
# When rolling to turn undead:

Rolling target number +12 indicates that undead have been destroyed (save if 5+ HD)

Rolling target number +6 indicates that undead have been driven off for 2d6 rounds

Rolling target number or greater indicates that undead are held at bay (5’ radius)

A roll of natural ‘1’ always indicates failure

3d6 HD of undead are affected beginning with the weakest in terms of HD

The result of this is that turning is not pass/fail but graded. Standard turning does not scare away undead but only holds them off. Rolling higher may drive them away as normal and rolling real high may destroy them outright (or take control of them if the cleric is evil/chaotic/Dark Sided).

This has only very limited play-testing so far, but the initial results have been good. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Kilgore on March 29th, 2010

Here is a one-page PDF of the Roll to Advance system I introduced last week. Obviously, the one-page format does not allow for in-depth explanation or discussion of the system, but it does provide the basics needed to use it in play.

Roll to Advance PDF by Lord Kilgore

Roll to Advance - Free PDF
Click to download

This PDF currently uses the original racial modifiers despite the fact that I still suspect that they may be slightly too high.

A number of readers have expressed interest in trying this in their games. I would LOVE to hear feedback from those that do, particularly about adjustments that you’ve made and your experiences with the multi-class methods.

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Kilgore on March 26th, 2010

This is the conclusion to the series of posts on our Roll to Advance alternative experience and advancement system for our fantasy RPG. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated. We’re using it in our modified Labyrinth Lord game, but it should work similarly in any old-school version of the game.

Part 1 introduced the system and outlined its basic operation. Part 2 looked at the specific numbers for each of the standard character classes. Part 3 discussed demi-human races and the penalty paid by these characters, plus the elimination of the racial level limits. Part 4 looked at two options for multi-classed characters using this system. Today I’ll offer a few final thoughts and point out some feedback from readers.

In the limited time we’ve used this system, it has performed more or less like we expected. We haven’t had a lot of characters level up yet, but then we don’t get to play as often as we’d like, either. I expect with more use I will have better ideas about how to do things or at least some tweaks to try.
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Kilgore on March 25th, 2010

Welcome to part four of our series of posts on our Roll to Advance alternative experience and advancement system for our fantasy RPG. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated. We’re using it in our modified Labyrinth Lord game, but it should work similarly in any old-school version of the game.

Part 1 introduced the system and outlined its basic operation. Part 2 looked at the specific numbers for each of the standard character classes. Part 3 discussed demi-human races and the penalty paid by these characters, plus the elimination of the racial level limits. Today we’re looking at multi-classed characters.

To say that I’m not really a big fan of multi-classed characters would be a bit of an understatement, at least as they’ve been run before. And the dual-class option available to human characters in several editions of the game is even worse. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to made widespread changes to the multi-class system. This new approach looks like it will work quite well in our game, but others may not be fans. So I’m offering two options. No doubt there are others. My recommendation would be to decide upon one of these (or another) and stick with it rather than allowing multiple methods of multi-classing. But that, of course, is up the to players in each campaign.

The first alternative would be for the player simply to choose which class he or she wants to attempt to roll to advance at the end of each session. This is quick, easy, and will give results similar to the traditional method of multi-classing. Accumulated XP could be used toward either class, and a limit could be placed on how far apart the classes could be. Say, no more than three levels may separate them. Alternatively there would be no limit. Nothing would stop a player from making a 10th/1st level fighter/magic-user.

Example: A magic-user/thief may elect to roll to advance in level in either magic-user or thief, but not both. If the magic-user/thief reaches level 5/2, she may not attempt to advance further in magic-user until she gains at least one more level in thief unless there is no limit on the gap between classes. Attempting to advance to 6th-level magic-user would require a 28, while advancing to 3rd-level thief only requires an 18. XP used to gain levels in one class are used and may not be applied toward the other class after a later session.

When creating the character, roll both hit dice and divide by two. When rolling hit dice upon advancing, roll the die appropriate to the class being advanced and divide by two. Fractions could be retained to be used later, dropped, or rounded up. Another option would be to round the larger die down and the smaller die up.
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Kilgore on March 24th, 2010

This is the third part of my series of posts on our Roll to Advance alternative experience and advancement system for our fantasy RPG. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated. We’re using it in our modified Labyrinth Lord game, but it should work similarly in any old-school version of the game.

Part 1 introduced the system and outlined its basic operation. Part 2 looked at the specific numbers for each of the standard character classes. This part looks at racial modifiers to those numbers and the elimination of something I’ve never really liked: the level limit for demi-human characters.

Gamers who like the idea of level limits, and I know that there are at least a few of you out there, could probably just ignore this component of the Roll to Advance system. It’s designed to account for racial abilities and longevity in another manner. Gamers who detest the idea of level limits, and there do seem to be an awful lot of them, may read on.

Basically, every non-human race has a penalty at every level to offset the bonuses and advantages that demi-humans enjoy, including the extended lifespan that conceivably allows them to adventure for many decades or centuries longer than their human counterparts.

The penalties for each race are as follows:

Dwarf Elf Gnome Halfling Half-Elf Half-Orc Human
1 2 3 2 1 2 1 0
2 3 4 3 2 3 1 0
3 4 5 4 2 3 2 0
4 5 7 4 3 4 2 0
5 6 8 5 3 5 2 0
6 7 9 6 4 5 3 0
7 8 11 6 4 6 3 0
8 9 12 7 5 7 3 0
9 10 13 8 5 7 4 0
10 11 15 9 6 8 4 0
11 13 17 11 6 9 4 0
12 14 19 12 7 10 5 0

The appropriate value from this table is added to the standard class target to get the roll to advance number for a demi-human. Please note that, like the class listings, this table shows the number needed to advance from the current level, not to the next level.

Example: A fifth-level dwarf fighter needs a 30 to advance to sixth level, 24 from the class table plus 6 for being a dwarf.

If these penalties seem excessive, remember that demi-human characters will now have no limitation to the level they can reach. And their extended adventuring career, thanks to living so long, will give them the opportunity to reach those levels.
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Kilgore on March 23rd, 2010

Yesterday I introduced the Roll to Advance alternative system for character experience and advancement in our classic fantasy game. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated.

We’re using this system in our heavily house-ruled Labyrinth Lord game, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in other similar games.

Below are the rolls needed to advance at each level for each class. (Note that this table shows the number needed to advance from the current level, not to the next level. For example, a 4th level assassin needs to roll a modified 22 to advance to 5th level.)


Ass Clc Drd Ftr Ill M-U Mnk Pal Rng Thf
1 17 17 18 17 18 19 20 21 18 17
2 19 19 20 19 20 21 22 23 20 18
3 21 21 22 21 22 23 24 26 22 19
4 22 23 24 22 24 26 26 29 23 21
5 23 24 25 24 26 28 29 31 25 23
6 25 26 27 26 28 30 32 33 27 24
7 27 28 29 28 30 33 34 36 29 25
8 28 30 31 29 32 35 36 39 31 27
9 29 31 33 31 34 37 38 41 32 29
10 31 33 34 33 36 40 41 43 34 30
11 33 35 36 35 38 42 44 46 36 31
12 34 37 38 36 40 44 46 49 38 33

This table only goes through 12th level. Currently, that is what we’re considering to be our maximum level for any character in our game. Higher levels are possible, but we will essentially deal with that when we get to it, probably with a “high-level adventuring” type supplement to our core rules. The advancement rate for each class continues on in the same pattern it took to reach 12th level.
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