Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

Random Encounters More Than Monsters

I was thinking the other day that we get lazy as GM’s some times. If you look at the random encounter tables in most books, it’s generally monsters. So why not throw a little twist in there. Other types of encounters or just other things to keep the players on their toes. With this little exercise, I’m assuming some sort of dungeon or hex crawl of your pretty much standard variety. Let’s roll.

1. Just roll on the standard table. Nothing special.
2. Random character gets the feeling that some one or some thing is watching. 2 in 6 chance that they are right. Roll an encounter.
3. Random character is sure that they heard something. 2 in 6 chance that they did.
4. Random character saw some thing move “over there”. 2 in 6 chance they really did.
5. Dead monsters. Uh oh. Was it another party of adventurers? Or an even bigger monster?
6. Escapee from a bad place nearby.
7. Clue to something interesting nearby.
8. Survivor of another adventuring party that wasn’t so lucky.

Yeah, I know it’s short and simple. But that’s all you need sometimes to freak out the PC’s and get some interesting things happening during a session.

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Skills Revisited

The Swords & Wizardry game is going well and as you may remember I did a whole home brewed skill system. But when the dice met the table, I wasn’t that happy with it. The characters just felt too incompetent at low level. The math seemed to work but like I said I wasn’t totally happy with it. So I brainstormed a little more and came up with a little tweak to it. And you know I love tweaking rules.
The system remains basically unchanged. See the Attack Save Cheat Sheet. The only differences are how the skills bonuses are figured and reduce the Skill “Save” by two.
NOTE: What I’ve been doing for monsters and NPC’s is that if it was “good” at something then there’s advantage on the roll, if they were “bad” at then disadvantage. You know like 5E. Remember, one of the axioms of old-school gaming. Monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. So for the player characters:

Skills
Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performance.
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, Haggling, Diplomacy.
Healing (WIS & DEX): Treating Wounds, Diagnosis.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting Secret Doors, Avoiding Surprise, Searching, Detecting Lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Building Things, Locks & Traps, Anything Mechanical
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Deception, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving Quietly, Hiding, Blending Into The Crowd.
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. Foraging
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore

A character gains +1 to the starting score if either of the linked Attributes below are above 13. The starting score is further modified by Race and class as below (This part has remained basically unchanged):

Class Bonuses:
Assassin: +2 to three of the following Appeal, Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, Tinker. +2 to any skill check involving poison.*
Cleric: +1 Wits or Healing
Druid: +1 to any skill check involving Nature if WIS above 13.*
Fighter: +1 to two of the following: Athletics, Survival, or Instinct.
Magic-User: +2 to any skill roll related to magic and arcane lore.*
Monk: +1 to Athletics, Instinct, and Stealth.
Paladin: +2 Bonus to any skill check pertaining to Demons and Undead.*
Ranger: +2 Instinct or Survival, gain +1 in the other. Also, +1 to Athletics and Stealth.
Thief: +3 to three of the following: Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, or Tinker. +1 to the others.

Racial Bonuses (Yes, I’m using more races in home game but this gets you started):
All player characters gain +1 to skills of choice.
Humans: +1 to three skills of choice.
Elf: +1 Wits or Instinct.
Dwarf: +2 to any skill roll involving Stonework.*
Half-Elf: +1 Allure or Banter.
Half-Orc: +1 Athletics or Survival.

*These are not bonuses to a specific skill, only a bonus to a skill under the right conditions.

Skill Checks:
Roll a d20 add the skill modifier.

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Swords & Wizardry with Finesse

If you’ve kept up with the blog the you know that I’m running the Blight with Swords & Wizardry. Now most of my players only have experience playing Fifth Edition so when they saw there’s no equivalent to finesse weapons,, they questioned it. Of course, this got me thinking. Well, why not? I’ve imagined the quick swashbuckler vs the heavily armored in my own character concepts. This lead me to do a little thinking and come up with house rules for it.
First let’s talk about the bonus. Basically, use the Strength chart but use the character’s Dexterity score to figure out the modifier. Here’s a quick break down if your book isn’t handy.

3-4: -2 To Hit, -1 Damage
5-6: -1 To Hit, +0 Damage
7-12: +0 To Hit and Damage
13-15: +1 To Hit, +0 Damage
16: +1 To Hit and Damage
17: +2 To Hit and Damage
18: +2 To Hit, +3 Damage

But there’s a couple limitations. Just like Strength the bonuses are capped at +1 for non-fighters. Second, a character can only rely on finesse if they are wearing leather or lighter armor. I just can imagine a character in plate armor fighting like that.
What weapons can be used with finesse?
For right now, I’m limiting it to dagger (1d4) and rapier (1d6+1). I know rapier isn’t in the book. So I just added it. I decided to put it between a short and long sword as far as damage goes.
Like so many of rants, this is the bleeding alpha version. I’ll let you know better once the dice hit the table. Remember. Roll dice, kill monsters, take their stuff, and have fun.

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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.
Poisons
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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