Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

Poisons: Part 2

Last week, I did some brainstorming on Poisons and there was some positive feedback. So I whipped up a preliminary version of some random poison tables. I did add one thing that I didn’t think of. Detection. Does the poison taste bad or stink? Well, I added that. So go ahead and check out the little PDF.
Oh and thought of another little house rule, if you want to throw that into your game. For monsters with poison attacks, it does a number of d6 damage equal to the creature’s HD.

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Thinking About Poison

In old-school games, there was generally one kind of poison. Save or die. That’s pretty final. And kind of boring. Why shouldn’t poisons be as interesting and versatile as potions, spells, or magic items?
Now, I’ve seen some more advanced systems for poisons somewhere. I can’t remember where. There’s just too much gaming junk bouncing around inside my head. So why not just start working on my own. The way I look it there’s four major factors for poisons: Delivery Method, Effect, Time to effect, and Potency.
Delivery Method: Attacks (weapons, traps, and bites), Contact (Just touching the stuff. Traps again), Inhaled, and Ingested. To add more customization, a poison could used with all or some of the delivery methods.
Effect: Here’s the big wide world of poison. Of course, there’s save or die, extra damage, paralyzation, blindness, penalties, ability score “damage”. Let the imagination go wild.
Time to Effect: So how long does it take for the poison to work? Instant, round, minutes, hours, or maybe even days?
Potency: How strong is the stuff? Get a saving throw or not? Any bonuses or penalties to the saving throw? If a character does make the save, is there any secondary effects?
So yes. Here’s the kernel of an idea. Got to work our some simple random tables for this.

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Spell Quirks

You know I like Dungeon Crawl Classics and one of those cool things from it is Mercurial Magic. There generally isn’t anything like that in your standard games. So, I grabbed that inspiration and cam up with Spell Quirks.
These are just odd little things that make a spell imperfect. The house rule is that when the magic-user learns a spell, there’s also a Spell Quirk. Note: If you haven’t looked at the chart yet, there’s a good chance that a spell won’t have a quirk. To get rid of a quirk, the magic-user “learns” the spell again and rolls again. Both versions of the spell are considered to be different spells for purposes of memorization. And that’s basically it.
Spell Quirks
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Magical Research

Things are moving fast and I’m putting together even more house rules for Swords & Wizardry. Now, these have been in my notes for quite a while but I just haven’t posted them here. So here it it.
First, this uses the previously posted Skill rules. But for a recap and just use this here’s the low down. Bonus: Average of Int and Wis Modifiers (Wits Skill) +2 (for being a Magic-User doing magic stuff). Skill check number is based on the character’s level. Just check out Attack Save Cheat Sheet.
So what to roll, how long does it take and how much is it going to cost?
Scribe spell from spell book or scroll: 1 Day/Spell Level; -1/Spell Level; 10 GP/Spell Level
Scribe spell scroll of a known spell: 1 Day/Spell Level; -2/Spell Level; 50 GP/Spell Level
Research new existing (already in the rule book) spell: 1 Week/Spell Level; -2/Spell Level; 500 GP/Spell Level
Research a brand new (not in the rule book with GM approval) spell: 1 Month/Spell Level; -3/spell Level; 1,000 GP/Spell Level.
Of course, other modifiers may come into play. Found an ancient book of arcane knowledge? Summon a demon to give you a hand? It’s old-school so this part is very much based on what the player’s have done, found or previously researched.
Fail the roll? Then you just lost time and a whole lot of money. I may do some lab accident type random table but that’s for another post.

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Luck: That’s How I Roll

I admit it. I like luck mechanics. I like the Bennies in Savage Worlds, Inspiration in 5E, and Dungeon Crawl Classics Luck and Fleeting Luck rules. So as I sit here pondering various house rules and hacks for upcoming Swords & Wizardry campaign, my brain started thinking about adding some sort of Luck Mechanic.
Now I know it isn’t “old-school” I get that but I do like that extra bit of punch it can add to a session and it avoids that annoying one-bad-roll-kills-you thing. So I started thinking about those mechanics that I mentioned before plus some others that have crossed my gaming path over the years and here’s what I came up with.
At the start of each session, each player gets one Luck Point. No carryover from the previous session.
Using Luck Points: Spending a Luck Point before you roll grants Advantage on a d20 roll. Advantage/Disadvantage is pretty cool and simple bit from 5E. I like it and it’s been fun at the table. If the player spends a Luck Point after they roll then the player can reroll but must take the second roll even if it is worse and Natural 1’s cannot be rerolled. The player may only spend one Luck Point per “action”. A Luck Point may also be spent to heal one HD worth of HP.
Gaining Luck Points: The rule of cool is in force here. Do cool stuff. Keep the game and story going. Make everybody at the table laugh. That sort of thing. I know players should be doing that sort of thing anyway but if there’s an incentive to do it then it’s more likely that players will do cool things.
Losing Luck: If the player rolls a Natural 1 on a d20 (except Initiative if that’s what you use). The player gives all of their remaining Luck Points to the GM who gets to use them for the monsters/NPC’s. See Luck ain’t a free ride.

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My Little Swords & Wizardry Cheat Sheet

I really like one page cheat sheets. Maybe that’s why I generally don’t use your standard GM screen. More often than not, there isn’t the chart of table that I need. It’s not organized as well as I like it. Or there’s lots of stuff that I don’t need but it’s there just to fill space. So I cooked up this little sheet. Note: It does include my house ruled skill check. So here you go. Enjoy!
Attack Save Cheat Sheet

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Making 5E More Dangerous

When I was doing my initial brainstorming about running The Blight, I did a lot of thinking about how to make 5E more deadly and grimmer. But my players decided that they wanted to do Swords & Wizardry so I’m cool with that. But I still had these ideas. so I figured what the heck share them.
I wanted to do something that fit within the existing rules and didn’t screw around too much with everything else. For lack of better terms, I came up with two ideas. Let’s call them strategic and tactical.
For strategic, I’m thinking long term effects of game play over the campaign and this one is pretty simple. Slow down character progression. Keep the characters at lower levels longer. I’m thinking about twice as long. This keeps those low-level threats still threats even longer. And the higher level ones be even more dangerous. Simple.
Then for the tactical side. This for something that actually effects the characters as they are adventuring. I didn’t want to mess with long and short rests. Heck. Let those stay the way they are. There’s a lot of class abilities that are tied to those and I didn’t want to mess with all that. I didn’t want to nerf the healing abilities because there are so damned many. So I started thinking and flipping through the Players Handbook for ideas. Then it struck me. Exhaustion. And here’s what I come up with.
For each failed Death Save, the character takes one level of Exhaustion.
Sure a character can get all their HP back but they ain’t going to feeling that great. This becomes really dangerous when you break it down and the following isn’t stuff I’m making up. It’s right there in the PHB. At 6 levels of Exhaustion, the character dies. For levels 1 to 5, the character has more and more penalties as their combat capabilities are reduced. A Long Rest recovers one level of Exhaustion. A Cleric can “heal” one level of Exhaustion with Greater Restoration (A fifth level spell).
And that’s it.

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