Category Archives: Home Brew Hacks

Just some house rules that I made up.

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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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
Enjoy!
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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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