Tuesday, July 25, 2017

OSR Houserules

The Bare Bones
Roll under your attributes to succeed in a check.

If a skill would be relevant for a check, add +2 to the attribute being tested.

Saving throws are attribute checks that you make in a wink of an eye to avoid some catastrophe. Roll under an attribute per normal.

Let it ride. You cannot make a check more than once, unless something significant changes.

Use the Advantage / Disadvantage rules from 5E. They are good. 

If somebody helps you, roll with Advantage. If you fail and something bad happens, you both suffer the consequences.

A roll of 1 is a critical success. You may describe how you perform effortlessly, quickly, thoroughly, or impressively. A 20 is a critical failure. Your failure results in danger, death, or dismemberment.

Several mechanics describe spiraling down dice steps. Dice step down from d20 -> d12 -> d10 -> d8 -> d6 -> d4 -> ended/destroyed/vanished.

The Meat Grinder
A watch (sometimes called an "exploration turn") is an elastic period of time of ~10 minutes. A watch is the basic unit of time when exploring a dungeon. A watch is triggered when the player characters enter a new area, attempt an attribute check, or draw attention to themselves. Saving throws never trigger a watch.

When a watch is triggered, the GM rolls the watch dice.
1: Wandering monster
2-4: Nothing much
5: Torches gutter
6: Mana fluctuation

The watch roll can be modified on the fly. If the watch was triggered by inordinate noise from the player characters, for instance, a wandering monster might be found on a 1-3.

When torches gutter, everybody carrying a light source rolls on their light dice. On a 1-3, the light dice reduces by one step.

When mana fluctuates, all sorcerers concentrating on a spell rolls their concentration dice. On a 1-3, the concentration dice reduces by one step.

Nobody Likes Adventurers 
When you make your boy, smash the templates from the classes and the races together. 

Clerics have a pool of faith points equal to their level. The GM may grant a Cleric an additional 1-2 faith points for faithfully following the tenants of their cult. 
Each cleric follows a list of commandments, has a unique favored foe, and has a list of 10 spells that may be granted as miracles. (A few possible cults are here.)
Divine Aid: Drop to your knees and beg your god for aid. Spend a faith point and roll a d6. If you roll a 4, 5, or 6, you can perform one of the miracles of your god. If you fail, your faith is wasted. 
Lay on Hands: Lay on hands and expend a faith point to heal someone. The target rolls their HD and recovers that many hit points (first to Blood, then Sweat). 
Smite: Verbally castigate an enemy while you're smiting them and spend a faith point to deal +1d6 damage; deal an additional +1d6 damage if your enemy is a favored foe of your cult. 

Fighters have a pool of tactic points equal to their level. The GM may grant a Fighter an additional 1-2 tactic points for defeating a worthy opponent in combat. 
Tactics: Fighters may spend a tactic point to perform a free maneuver in addition to their turn. Additionally, fighters use a d6 Maneuver Dice instead of a d4
Favored Foe: At level 2 and every subsequent level, pick one of the notable monsters you helped defeat in your adventures. Your damage dice are increased by one step against these foes. 

Specialists have a pool of luck points equal to their level. The GM may grant a Specialist an additional 1-2 luck points for successfully acquiring ancient or precious treasure. 
Fortune's Favor: Specialists may spend a luck point to roll a saving throw with advantage. 
Highly Skilled: Specialists begin the game with four skills (not two). Whenever they level up, Specialists gain +1 point of training. This may be used for a new skill, or to improve an existing skill. Skills may be trained to a +4 bonus, max. 

Sorcerers may safely drawn on mana per day a number of times equal to their level. Sorcerers who wish to cast spells who are out of mana may do so, but must make an Intelligence check with disadvantage or trigger a catastrophe. 

Sorcerers can't cast spells if they are encumbered. Sorcerers can't cast spells if they are holding anything in their hands. 
Sorcerers use the spell lists from Wonder & Wickedness. Sorcerers are either generalists or school sorcerers. School sorcerers must choose one school of magic they've specialized in and one which they can never learn. 
Spell Acquisition: Sorcerers begin the game with 3 random spells. School sorcerers roll for these from their school specialty.
Sorcerers must pass an Intelligence check to learn a new spell. If they fail, they may never learn that spell. School specialists always succeed on checks to learn a spell from their school.

Concentration: Sorcerers may have one active spell concentrated on at a time. When the watch dice makes mana fluctuate, a sorcerer rolls their concentration dice. On a roll of 1-3, the concentration dice is decreased by one step. The concentration dice begins on a d8. School sorcerers use a d10 for spells from their chosen school.
Counterspell: Sorcerers may expend a point of mana to protect as many people equal to their level from the effects of a spell. This must be done before damage or saving throw are rolled. For example, a 2nd level sorcerer can spend a point of mana to protect two people from a spell. 

d12 Hit Dice
Favored Attributes: Strength and Constitution 
Goldnose: A dwarf can smell gold. If the dwarf spends time sniffing, he can detect the direction of the largest concentration of gold in the general area. If the dwarf spends time sniffing, he knows definitively the presence or absence of (golden) treasure in the room. 
Handy if Not Handsome: A dwarf can work instead of sleep and feel just as rested. When you camp, you can repair a single item of all notches. If an item is destroyed, though, it's pretty much gone for good. 
Sturdy: A dwarf's Constitution receives a +5 bonus when calculating how much he can carry.

d8 Hit Dice
Favored Attributes: Dexterity and Intelligence
Ancient Lore: Elves tap into their ancestral memories during the strange, meditative trances they undertake instead of sleeping. When they meditate at night, elves may ask the GM one question of something on the elven akashic record. 
Star Eyes: Elves treat starlight as sunlight. If they can see the stars, they can see as well as they can during the day. This doesn't help in dark, underground dungeons, but is helpful in the wilderness.
Tongue of Beasts and Birds: Elves make study of the languages of animals. When encountering a new type of natural animal, Elves can make an Intelligence check to see if they have studied that animal's tongue, exactly like when exposed to other languages per LotFP rules. Different beast languages are somewhat narrow: Mouse and Rat languages are different, for example (but perhaps in the same language family). 

Favored Attributes: Wisdom and Charisma
Lightfoot: If they move carefully, a halfling makes no noise. You move silently without requiring a Dexterity test. 
Lucky in a Pinch: You score a critical success on a roll of a 1 or a 2. Additionally, once per day, you may reroll any d20 that you or an ally rolls. 
Second Breakfast: When you perform a short rest, you may eat as many rations as you wish. Each ration consumed allows you to recover your HD in hit points.  
Sharp Eared: Halflings roll with advantage when testing to see if they are surprised.
Small Fellows: Halflings can't use large weapons. Halflings use medium weapons with two hands. However, they also get a +3 to their armor class due to their small size. 

d10 Hit Dice
Favored Attribute: Any; humans add +1d4 to any one attribute advancement test they make
Scions of an Ancient House: All humans are sworn in fealty to one of the great houses. When their house words or motto are dramatically appropriate for an action being attempted, they make the roll with advantage. 

Sample Great Houses:
House Ironpax - "Peace Through Strength"
House Crowell - "I Shall Do as I Wilt"
House Svenicus - "Always Loyal"
House Heartsbane - "Eat the Weak"
House Virginia - "Thus Always to Tyrants"

Live by the Sword
At the beginning of a combat round, all the players make a Wisdom saving throw. Everyone who wins the saving throw gets to move before the GM. Everyone who loses moves after the GM. 

If there is a surprise attack, the ambushers get to move first every round no matter what. All damage done by the ambushers during the first round of combat bypasses Sweat and goes directly to Blood.

To make a missile attack, the attacker tests their Dexterity. This roll is made with a -2 if their target has at least medium armor and -2 if their target is carrying a shield (these penalties can stack). If the attacker succeeds, he rolls his damage dice against the target.

You do keep track of arrows. Every arrow that successfully hits an enemy is lost, as they break off the shaft as they keep fighting. Every arrow that misses can be recovered after combat. There are twenty-four arrows to a quiver!

To make a melee attack, the attacks tests their Strength and the defender tests their Armor Class. 
  • If the attacker succeeds at his test and the defender fails at his test, the attacker rolls their weapon dice against them or may elect to perform a maneuver. 
  • If both the attacker and defender fail, the attacker may choose to perform a special maneuver against the defender. 
  • If the attacker fails and the defender succeeds, the defender may choose to perform a special maneuver against the attacker. 
If you are wearing no armor, you have AC 8.
If you are wearing light armor (like leather), you have AC 10.
If you are wearing medium armor (like chain), you have AC 11.
If you are wearing heavy armor (like plate), you have AC 13.
Carrying a shield grants +2 AC.

Light weapons, like daggers, deal d6 damage. Medium weapons, like broadswords, deal d8 damage (or 2d4 if wielded with two hands). Heavy weapons, like claymores, deals d10 damage. 
  • Swords: Swords use one higher maneuver dice for the Aim, Clobber, and Evade maneuvers. 
  • Daggers: By using the Grab maneuver, a dagger can be used to attack Blood directly.
  • Axes: If you roll max damage with an axe, you can opt to destroy an opponent's shield.
  • Hammers: If you roll max damage with a hammer, your opponent's heavy armor receives a notch. 
  • Flails: Flails use one higher maneuver dice for the Disarm and Trip maneuvers. 
  • Polearms: You make your attack roll with advantage if you are fighting against someone wielding a shorter weapon than your polearm. 
  • Bows: Bows do 2d4 damage. Each dice can "explode." If you roll a 4, roll again and add the total. If you roll another 4, roll again, and et cetera. 
  • Crossbow: Crossbows deal d10 damage directly to Blood. They are illegal to own. 
If you dual wield melee weapons, roll your damage dice with advantage. 

Critical Hits and Notches
If an attacker rolls a natural 1 on an attack action, he scores a critical hit. The attack wounds Blood directly, bypassing Sweat (if he hits).  

If a melee attacker rolls a natural 20 on an attack action, his weapon is notched. The damage dice is dropped by one step until it can be repaired.

If a missile attacker rolls a natural 20 on an attack action, his bowstring breaks. He must have a replacement and spend a turn restringing it.

If a defender rolls a natural 20 on a defensive roll, his armor is notched. His AC drops by one point until it can be repaired (to a minimum of 8).

Several maneuvers give d4 bonuses to subsequent rolls. Just put a pack of d4s in the middle of the table. When a maneuver is used that gives the bonus, pull one from the pile and place it on your character sheet. After it's rolled, put it back in the middle. 

Clobber - You gain a +d4 to your next damage roll.

Disarm - Your target drops one thing that they're holding (their choice). 

Evade - You gain a +d4 to your next armor class roll. 

Feint  - You gain a +d4 to your next attack roll. 

Grab - You hold on to your opponent to try and get them good. Your next attack with a small weapon against a grabbed opponent bypasses Sweat and goes straight to Blood, unless they Shake You Off or damage you first. 

Knockback - Your target is kicked back into a direction of your choice. If this would put them in mortal danger (like falling off a cliff), they get to make a Dexterity saving throw. 

Shake Off - You can cancel somebody's Grab maneuver with this maneuver. 

Trip - Your target can't move away from you next turn. 

Die by the Sword
Each character begins with Blood Points equal to the sides on their Hit Dice. That is, a human with a d10 HD begins with 10 Blood Points, whereas a halfling with a d6 HD begins with 6 Blood Points. 

Each level beyond the first, the player rolls their Hit Dice and adds the result to their pool of Sweat Points. 

Sweat is your ability to dodge away to minimize the brunt of attacks. Attacks remove damage from Sweat first before it hits your Blood. 

Blood measures your frail body's ability to absorb abuse. When attacks damage your Blood, you're getting hurt. 

Shields Shall Be Splintered
You may elect to destroy your shield to absorb all damage from a single attack. 

Dying, Dying, Dead
If you ever drop to 0 Blood, you automatically lose all remaining Sweat. You don't go into "negative" Blood. Whatever drops you to 0 just makes you drop to 0. 

Successful attacks against someone with 0 Blood are a coup de grâce. This causes death. Taking incidental damage in some other way just causes a 0 Blood character to fall unstable (see below). 

When at 0 Blood, you and crawl into a corner and wait for the battle to be over. If you want to do anything more taxing, you need to make a Constitution saving throw. If you succeed, you do the thing and are okay for now. If you fail, you do the thing and fall unstable. 

When you're unstable, you will die quickly if you are not healed. Roll your class's HD. This is how many rounds before you die. 

Stabilizing a dying character can be done with a successful Intelligence check. This check is made with a disadvantage if you're using improvised medical tools (e.g., ripped up cloak vs. herbal poultice). Healing the character back from 0 Blood will also stabilize them. 

Good for What Ails You
When you recover hit points, you first recover your Blood, and then recover Sweat. You can recover hit points in a few ways. 

You can take a short rest and eat a ration. This takes a watch. Roleplay a small campfire scene. Then roll your HD and regain that many hit points. You can take one short rest per day. 

When you take a long rest you bed down for the night. If you eat a ration and have either a fire or a bedroll, you recover some hit points. 
  • If you've taken damage to your Blood, heal all damage to Blood and regain a HD of Sweat points. 
  • If your Blood pool is already full, you regain all of your Sweat points. 
When you take a long rest, you also regain all of your daily abilities (luck, mana, tactics, etc.).

Dead Weight
When you waddle into the dungeon laden with adventuring gear, you expect to waddle out laden with treasure. 

Each discrete item takes up one inventory slot. Items that take two hands to carry take two inventory slots. Items that can be stacked in the palm of your hand don't take up any and can be written down in the "Bottom of your Bag" section of your character sheet--but you can only carry as many items there as you have space to write. Coins can be stacked 100 to one inventory slot. 

Shields take two inventory slots. Light armor takes up two inventory slots. Medium armor takes three. Heavy armor takes five. There are twenty-four arrows to an inventory slot. 
  • You can carry your Constitution score in inventory slots and be unencumbered. 
  • If you carry your Constitution + Strength score, you're encumbered. While encumbered, you roll Dexterity checks and saving throws with disadvantage. 
  • If you carry more than that, you're morbidly encumbered. You also roll your Armor Class checks with disadvantage. 
Usage Dice
Some items, like torches, rations, or lockpicks, occupy one inventory slot but can be used several times. These items have a usage dice attached to them. 

Torches check usage when the watch dice comes up 5. Rations check usage when you stop to eat for a short or long rest. Lockpicks check usage every time a thief tries to pick a lock. 

Usage dice usually start at d10, but finely crafted items might start at a d12. When you roll your usage dice, a roll of 1-3 indicates that the item is partially used up and drops down to the next dice type. 

From Peasant to King
When players accomplish their quests, they gain XP. 

The entire party shares the same Guild Quest. This is the party's main goal. Adventuring parties will go into the city to get the juiciest job, go out into the wilderness to fulfill the contract, and return to collect payment and drink away their spoils. This is their Guild Quest. 

Each player also has a Side Quest. Side Quests should be able to be fulfilled each session, and each Side Quest is probably unique to the player. At the beginning of the session, each player states what action or deed they want to accomplish that evening. Side Quests should be concrete, actionable, and interesting. "Proving that you're worthy" is too vague. "Challenging the Bandit Leader to a Duel" is a good way to prove that you're worthy, and is both concrete and interesting. 

Guild Quests are overarching goals for the party. Going into the Tombs of Atuan to excavate the sundered Ring of Areth Akebe is a good Guild Quest. Guild Quests should be fulfilled after two or three sessions. 

Side Quests are personal goals for that character. Having a serious conversation with a fellow party member about your faith, finding a clue about your wife's disappearance, finding the source of the undead, avenging a friend--these are good Side Quests. Side Quests should be fulfilled at the end of every session. If you didn't fulfill it this session, make sure you change it to be something attainable at the beginning of the next session. 

When the party completes a Guild Quest, everybody gains 3XP. 

At the end of the session, if you completed your Side Quest, you gain 1XP. 

Level 2 - 3 XP
Level 3 - 7 XP
Level 4 - 12 XP
Level 5 - 18 XP
Level 6 - 25 XP
Level 7 - 33 XP
Level 8 - 41 XP
Level 9 - 51 XP
Level 10 - 62 XP

Level 10 is the max level. By that point, you should have some kingdom to rule or farm to retire to. Let your character bow out gracefully.

Leveling Up
You level up when you have enough XP for a new level and you are in a safe place. You don't level up in dungeons. You level up when you return to the city triumphant. 

When you level up, you gain the following benefits:
  • Roll your race's HD. You gain that many additional Sweat points. 
  • Gain a new class level. 
  • Roll for attribute advancement. 
(I'm not providing specific rules, but I suspect that if the GM is amenable you can take a level in different classes. It should make sense based on how that character has been training and adventuring.) 

Attribute Advancement
When you fail an attribute check or saving throw, put a check next to it, up to a maximum of five. When you level up, erase the checks and roll as many d4s as checks erased. If the resulting total is higher than your current attribute score, increase that attribute by one. 

Your race will give you a bonus dice to your attribute advancement tests. Humans get +1 bonus dice to any one test they wish, whereas the demihumans always get a set +1 bonus dice to two attributes. This can raise the number of maximum dice that you roll up to 6d4. 

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