Friday, May 1, 2009


Thread here got me thinking on yet another house rule for B/X – seems like as good a time as any to run down what I’m currently using while I’m adding another one.

First the new steez: IMC, so far, I've given MUs Read Magic on top of the two random spells they get. Up until now I've just rolled straight random - yeah, I'm a meanie, let's see what you can do with floating disc and ventriloquism (for some reason that combo comes up a lot) - but I'm going to try something different.


MUs (not elves) get read magic in addition to their ususal two starting spells, as part of their training. For each of the two remaining spells, the DM will roll two spells and the MU player may pick which they want.

(This gives the MU SOME control over what they get, and a better chance of getting at least one combat spell, but they're still at the mercy of the dice. (Somehow I predict a lot of people rolling floating disc and ventriloquism twice in a row. LOL) Looking at it now, elves may or may not get the choice. Suck it up, pointy - enjoy AC2 and a non-suck hit die.)

That gets added to what’s already in play – let’s take a look.


I specifically haven’t specified this in the house rules docco, but my go-to method is 4d6 (best 3), in order – if I’m feeling magnanimous, you might get to swap any two scores. For a one-shot or special occasion, I might go with something different.

Also, I tend to use the adventuring equipment packs from B3 Palace of the Silver Princess when rolling up PCs for a whole group – having a table full of people all poring over how much wolfs bane to take and who has the torches takes way too much time from kobold whack-a-mole, and the packs give the group a good selection of standard equipment they might not think to take otherwise (like iron spikes).


They’re in, subject to highly arbitrary DM approval. As per the “Customized Character Classes” article from Dragon #109. (Get it if you don’t have it – must-have stuff for Classic, IMO.) Pitch me a concept (whether an AD&D race-and-class combo or something funky like a monster), and we’ll talk. (Vampiric gelatinous cube monk, anyone? :D) (NO.)


Spellcasting humans (i.e., clerics and magic-users) whose prime requisites are 16 or greater receive one bonus 1st level spell per day; those whose prime requisites are 18 (or greater) receive two. Note that this will allow a 1st level cleric to cast spells.

That last part is a deliberate design decision on my part – this lets me still have groups of 1st-lvl “acolytes” (usually cultists IMC, at least in the dungeon) functioning as sub-par fighters, but gives a PC cleric the possibility of a spell.

I realize that granting 1st-level MUs up to 3 SPD can significantly up the “nuke factor” if they get lucky and score sleep, but even with the new rule the chances of getting 18 Int AND “win encounter” are pretty low. (Hell, gotta let’em win sometimes.)


Consider actions such as changing one weapon for another or removing something from a belt pouch to take roughly half a round. If the party rolled 4-6 on the initiative die for this round, perform the action on the party’s initiative and then drop your relative initiative by 3 for your attack – this could result in your attack taking place after the monsters’, even if the party won initiative. If the party rolled 1-3 on the initiative die, the action takes up the whole round, and you cannot attack this round. Note that attacks with two-handed melee weapons always come last in the initiative sequence – you can’t combine these attacks with another action, other than movement. Dropping an item to the ground is free, and retrieving an item from a backpack or other storage takes an entire round.

(This one occasionally gets almost cut – so far I’ve avoided having to refer to the initiative die beyond “you won/lost,” and focusing on the actual numbers rolled starts to bring us into AD&D territory – I can run an AD&D melee round easily enough, but it’s not what I’m going for with B/X. I dunno, it hasn’t been much of a pain in play, so it’ll stay in until it gets to be a pain in the ass.)


Casting MU spells requires at least one free hand and the ability to speak clearly. Swapping equipment to free up a hand for spellcasting is a miscellaneous action as described above; swapping equipment back into the hand would require an additional miscellaneous action.

Casting clerical spells requires that the caster be able to speak clearly, and present a holy symbol. Note that “holy symbol” can simply be a weapon or shield, properly sanctified (in a ritual that takes 1 hour and 50gp worth of material) (and assuming the cleric's order is not ideologically opposed to such a thing).

(Classic doesn’t get into spell components (V/S/M), and I’m pretty comfortable with the idea that merely being loud and demonstrative with your cleric badge out is enough for a clerical spell. MUs are the ones who have to manipulate bizarre pseudo-science and eldritch formulas.)


Attempting to fire a missile while in melee will allow the foe to make a free strike against the character – if the attack is successful, the shot will be ruined.

In addition, when firing a missile weapon while engaged in melee, there is a -4 modifier to the attack roll (stacking with any range modifiers).


MUs can use quarterstaffs. OH, THE POWERGAMING

Ok, enough for now - I'll post more later. Home now, then to Paganfest. (I get to see Moonsorrow, Primordial, AND Korpiklaani in the same night. I'm awesome. LOL)



  1. Yeah, the fact that MUs couldn't use quarterstaves always confused me. Was there ever a more MUy weapon?

  2. I'm of the mind that the two-handedness and lack of throwing ability actually makes it a less attractive choice than a dagger, so I'm not really losing any sleep over it. Hell, I'd give them crossbows if I hadn't houseruled them to make them slightly more effective (more on that later).

  3. Went and saw the show Friday night in Worcester, MA. Primordial is a real change of pace in the middle of Moonsorrow and Korpiklaani. My wife hated Primordial and really enjoyed the other two, though I really enjoyed all three. Let the beer flow freely and be sure to get in the pit!

  4. Nice house rules. I should really use the packs from B3 in my own game.

    Your link to DF is a wee bit broken, by the way.