Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

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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YARC: Skills Part 2

Previously, I gave a little overview of how I want to do skills for Yarc and now it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
The overall mechanic is roughly skills as save. I won’t be using the character’s regular Saving Throw but instead it will be it’s own check. Roll a d20 equal to or greater than then you succeed. It’s that simple. Here’s the break down.
Skill Check
Level 1; Skill Check:18
Levels 2-3; Skill Check: 17
Levels 4-5; Skill Check: 16
Levels 6-7; Skill Check: 15
Levels 8-9; Skill Check: 14
Level 10; Skill Check: 13

First, why stop at Level 10? Well, it’s a nice round number plus lower level adventuring seem more fun than the really high level stuff. Characters can be heroic without being super heroes. Of course, the Skill Check will modified by a range of “skills” and further modified by race and class (but more on those modifiers as I do the races and classes). I’ve tried to limit the number down to it’s most basic based on what I’ve seen practically all character try to do. Each skill has rating. To determine this, average the ability score modifiers on the abilities noted for each skill. OK why average? I answered that in a previous post. Also, skills should be very broad. And here’s the list:
Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performing
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, and Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, haggling, diplomacy.
Craft (WIS & DEX): Building things, hands on DIY type stuff and healing.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting secret doors, avoiding surprise, searching, detecting lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Locks & Traps and anything mechanical.
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving quietly, blending into the crowd. (The exception to the two ability scores rule.)
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. foraging, and so on.
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore
There it is 10 skills to cover most situations and like I said races and classes will get additional modifiers but more on that when I start writing those up.

Skills in YARC: Part 1

Yes, I’m still playing catch up but that’s now what this post is about. It’s about skills. So let’s get down to it.
First, let’s hit the big one. Skills aren’t Old School! Well, I’d say a huge number of skills aren’t old school and a skill roll isn’t the answer to everything. I’d also say that if you include non-D&D games in the old school category then you’ve got Runequest and Traveler. Both with skills. So in my mind skills are OK. Just don’t make them too important and have take a moment to decide when to roll ’em and when not too.
So yes, I am going to do some sort of skill system for YARC but I’ve got a bunch of ideas bouncing around inside my head so I’m using this post to throw ideas out there and see what happens. So here’s the systems that have caught my fancy.
x in D6: It’s simple and easy. I believe the basic concept is pulled from the old “Open Doors” and “Find Secret Doors”. Lamentations of the Flame Princess, White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, and Swords & Wizardry Light uses it. My only problem is that it’s not very granular and there’s very little room for improvement as a character progresses. I’ve used the system before and threw in my own house rule to adjust difficulty by die type. So average tests are x in d6, but it’s very difficult it might be x in d10.
%: Hey Thief skills are already percentile based then why not make the rest of the skills based on that as well. It worked to Runequest/Basic Roleplaying. A more accurate example than the Thief skills is in the Rules Cyclopedia and look at the Mystic’s (aka Monk) Acrobatics ability. It’s (3 x Dex Score)+2% per level. While it is much more granular than the above x in d6, it’s almost too much.
Saves as Skills: I think this originated over here and was adapted to Crypts & Things (which I love). Since YARC is built on the Swords & Wizardry framework. This is a no brainer. And the one I’m most likely to use.
So there are my thoughts. I know you’re probably wondering what exactly are the skills? Well, that’ll be in Part II as bring the skill system together.

Stat Bonuses for YARC

So yes, YARC is Swords & Wizardry at its core and most of the changes are the player facing ones. And here’s another. Last time I talked about roll stats. This time it’s about what those numbers mean. First, I don’t mind modifiers and second I prefer a simpler unified bonus table. Trust me it will make sense later. I want some penalty for lower stats but to the point that it’s punishing. It basically makes sense to those who have been around the block a time or two. Strength is for Hit and Damage; Dexterity, AC; Constitution, HP; Intelligence, Additional Languages; Wisdom, Spell Saves; Charisma, Social Reactions.

Score Modifier
3 -2
4 to 7 -1
8 to 12 0
13 to 16 +1
17 +2
18 +3

Yes, one chart to rule them all. Yes I know it’s simple but that’s what it’s about. Rules should be simple and keep the action going rather than min-maxing the crap out of characters and encounters. And yes I am planning something special for the fighter. Crap I’ve written enough about them and you’ve probably already seen that.