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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Return to Moria: House Rules

My Return to Moria game is hewing pretty closely to 1st Edition AD&D rules, but we're adding a number of house  rules to add our own flavor to the game. Here they are:

Attribute Checks

Certain situations call for the use of a specific character attribute. We've always used a 'd20 roll under' system for attribute checks in our games. This time I'm flipping it and using an attribute + d20 roll. This allows me to keep my notes a bit neater, flips a roll under mechanic to a roll over, and doesn't really change the results.


We're using 2nd edition THAC0 rules. Everyone at the table is familiar with it and it saves me some table searching.

Critical Hits and Fumbles

Any natural one rolled is a fumble and will be rolled on the fumble results table. Any natural roll of 20 is rerolled, and if the second roll hits, the result will be rolled on the critical hits table. We use a second roll to increase the difficulty of critical hits due to the rather unpleasant nature of our house critical table, which divides result by damage type. An example result (roll of 84):
  • Slash - large slab of meat carved from leg, 3x damage, half movement, roll DEX or fall for 1d3 rounds
  • Crush - masterful display results in normal damage, but dazzles target, they lose 1 round
  • Pierce - weapon pierces and entangles guts, normal damage, subsequent attacks do additional 1d4 yanking damage
Yeah, kind of like that.

Hero Points

Each player (not character) gets a number of tokens at the beginning of the game, and at various points during the game (typically after an encounter completed). These tokens can be spent to achieve specific results in game. One token spent grants:
  • +1 (+5%) to a single die roll (to hit, damage, or save for example) The cost of affecting any single die roll doubles beyond 1st: +2 costs two, +3 costs four, +4 costs eight, etc.
  • Force an opponent to re-roll a single die roll (to hit, damage, save, etc.)
  • Exchange for 100 XP / level of the character gaining the XP.
  • A free use of a charged or use per day magic item (does not include potions, scrolls, or other consumable items).
  • Gain a free non-combat action in a combat round.
Any player can use a token for any player-character (i.e. Player One could give Player Two's fighter a +1 on a critical to hit roll by spending a token).

Hit Points and Death

Characters are fully effective until they reach zero hit points, which renders them unconscious. Characters are slain if their hit points drop to negative constitution. Characters regain consciousness whenever their hit points rise above zero.

Spell Books

Spell books are unique artifacts, created by each magic user to house their encoded understanding of magical spells. They are generally high quality books with dozens of pages and can hold up to 30 spell inscriptions. Spell books are somewhat large and bulky (think encyclopedia volume), and magic users should pack light to allow their spell book to fit into their 'backpack' encumbrance.

Each magic user must decide if they are going to risk their spell book in the dungeon. Spell books are subject to damage, which might cause irreplaceable loss of spells. Specifically if the player suffers an elemental attack and fails their saving throw the spell book will be tested for damage. Swimming (or drowning) might also cause damage. Spell books might be stolen or taken by intelligent foes. The flip side is a magic user cannot recover any spells without their spell book. Note that magic users may attempt to copy a spell from another magic user's spell book, but they cannot memorize a spell directly from its pages (no sharing spell books for memorization).

A new, blank spell book costs 500 GP in materials and takes a week of constant work and ritual to properly prepare.

Spell Copying
Spell copying allows magic users to share or exchange spells, or learn new spells from arcane sources (scrolls typically).
  • One attempt is allowed per day.
  • Scrolls are destroyed by a copy attempt, successful or not. Spellbooks are not.
  • Each attempt takes one hour per spell level.
  • Each spell can be attempted once per character level, no matter the source.
  • Chance to know (INT based from PHB) determines copy success.
  • Attempting to copy a spell you can't cast yet suffers a penalty of 5% / level difference (required level to use vs. caster level).
Identify Spell

Since I'm not forcing the 100 gp gem material component, here's how Identify works:
  • It can only be cast on an item once per day.
  • When cast there is a INT x 5% chance of revealing one characteristic of the item.
  • Having an appropriate LORE adds 15% to the chance of revealing a characteristic.
  • The caster suffers any potential ill effects from an item when casting this spell.
  • Normal 'try it and see' methods can be used as well.
Most magical items have an obvious heritage (Men, Elves, Dwarves) which determines which lore is applicable, though things like potions are less clear.

So there you have it, our house rules. I'm probably missing something in this list, but it should be pretty complete. Nothing too bizarre or unusual (or at least I don't think so), but maybe some of you have different opinions.

On a final related, but different note, a quick print preview with all tiddlers open in my Return to Moria working file shows I have about 275 pages of campaign material written. Over preparation for the win (again). One day I'll learn to either prep less material or leave out some details.
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