Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Super-Official" Super-Casual House Rules

Here is the "official" list of house rules for the Super-Casual Pulp Campaign I've started recently. Hopefully this will be easier for my players and I to reference than the post linked above and the various notes I've scribbled here and there. I plan to update this post if I add or change anything.
Additions from the Rules Cyclopedia
  • My B/X + RC Reference Sheet is in effect.
  • The Mystic class uses the house rules found HERE.
  • Page 19: Magic-Users may wield the following weapons: dagger, staff, blowgun, flaming oil, holy water, net, thrown rock, sling, whip. (Note that staves do 1d4 damage per hit; see page X25.)
  • Page 130: To generate ability scores at character creation, roll 3d6 eight times and keep the six best scores. Assign these scores to the character's abilities in the order of your choice.
  • I'm going to start the campaign with the default rule that 0 HP=death. However, if that eventually gets old due to high attrition, I'd be willing to use the "Keeping Characters Alive" variant rule from page 266 of the Rules Cyclopedia.
Major Changes
  • For PCs, Fighters and Thieves are combined into a single class, as explained HERE.
  • Replacements for dead PCs each start at a level based on their players' Checkpoints, as explained HERE.
  • Brand new players joining the campaign in progress will make characters starting 2 levels below the least experienced living PC.
  • Players don't have to roll for HP. They can just take the maximum possible amount each level.
  • No more spell memorization! Spellcasters are still limited by their spells per day, but if they have a particular spell in their own spellbook (or general repertoire for Clerics), and they have an unused Spell Per Day (or "spell slot") of the appropriate level available, they can cast the spell as if they had memorized it. This goes for NPCs as well.
Misc. Default B/X Rules to Ignore
  • Page X4: Wielders of two-handed weapons no longer lose initiative automatically.
  • Page B17: The spell "Read Magic" is removed from the game. Scrolls, runes on wands and magic items, and other typical magical writing that normally requires the use of this spell can instead by read automatically by any Magic-User/Elf. This skill is considered a basic part of a Magic-User's/Elf's training. Essentially, every Magic-User/Elf is under the permanent effect of a "Read Magic" spell at all times.
  • Page B19: PCs are no longer required to rest for one turn after every five turns of movement.
  • Page B20: The optional encumbrance system is not used.
  • Page B21: Unlocked dungeon doors are no longer considered by default to be "stuck" and only capable of being opened with a d6 roll modified by strength. (At the DM's discretion, "open doors" checks may still be used to force open certain locked doors or doors that are specifically selected by the DM to be stuck.)
Other Notes for Players
  • You may play as any class from the Rules Cyclopedia, or any class from one of the Gazetteers or Creature Crucibles or other official Basic D&D books, but I reserve the right to make changes to these classes first.
  • If you want to play a class you found on a blog or something, I'll probably allow it, but run it by me first, please.
  • If there's a rule or something in the Rules Cyclopedia or another supplement you'd like to try out, feel free to ask me about it.

Checkpoint XP - A Simpler Idea

Checkpoint Levels work fine if all of your character classes have the same XP requirements for each level, and if you don't mind consulting an extra chart. But here's an easier and more widely-applicable method of letting players "save" some of their progress between characters when those characters kick the bucket.

Checkpoints 2: Check Pointier
When a player's first PC dies, they divide that character's experience points in half (rounding down if it's not a whole number) and record that as their "Checkpoint." The next character they create in the same campaign will begin with that much XP, and the corresponding level for their class.

Every time that player loses a character in the same campaign afterward, they divide that character's XP in half as before, then compare it to their current Checkpoint. If it is higher than the Checkpoint, then it becomes the new Checkpoint, and the next character begins play with that much XP. Otherwise, the old Checkpoint remains, and the next character begins with that XP amount. Thus, one's Checkpoint never decreases within a given campaign.

Clarifications and Caveats
If a PC dies, the player of that PC may create a new character within the campaign at any level less than or equal to the equivalent of the player's current Checkpoint. Each player is responsible for keeping track of their own Checkpoint; it would probably be best to write it on their character sheets. Checkpoints do not transfer between players or between campaigns.

A PC can lose levels due to magical "energy drain" or other such in-game effects, but a player's Checkpoint never decreases within a given campaign. For example, let's say Susie loses her first PC, a level 4 fighter, meaning her Checkpoint is 4,000 XP (assuming it's a standard game of old-school D&D). She picks another fighter for her next character, who begins at level 3. Unfortunately, she soon loses a level to the chilling touch of an evil specter, becoming level 2. Susie's Checkpoint remains at 4,000 XP, even if her current PC dies with less experience, so she can still make her next character at a level equivalent to 4,000 XP. Of course, if Susie wants to increase her Checkpoint beyond that, she will still need to play at least one PC who survives to gain at least 8,002 XP.

(Yes, this means that a player could have their level-drained PC rush recklessly into danger specifically to get killed so they can make a new character at a higher level. I personally think that would almost always be incredibly lame, and I probably won't feel bad if the player gets mocked for this, but it is technically allowed.)

By default, each player can only control one PC at a time.* This does not include retainers, henchmen, etc., as they are technically NPCs controlled by the referee (and are simply "ordered around" by a PC unless the referee explicitly allows otherwise), they are created by the referee rather than a player, and they are not subject to the benefits of a player's checkpoint level.

*If a referee wishes to allow multiple PCs per player, they could simply determine a player's Checkpoint based on the highest amount of XP that any of their PCs have ever reached in the campaign, as usual. This could be prone to exploitation, as a player with one PC at a significantly higher level than all of their other PCs could purposefully kill off their lower-level PCs for instant higher-level replacements, and that would be pretty lame. To prevent this, stricter rules may be desired. For example, the referee could allow each player a certain number of "slots" to be filled with living, active PCs, and require each player to track a separate Checkpoint for each slot.

Fighter/Thief - Hybrid Class for My Super-Casual Pulp Campaign

As I've discussed before, I'm combining the Fighter and Thief into a single class in my Super-Casual Pulp Campaign - for players, that is, but not necessarily for NPCs. Here's how it'll work.

Fighter/Thief - A class for Player Characters in Basic D&D and similar games

Prime Requisite: Strength or Dexterity, whichever is higher. (If Strength is higher, apply XP Bonus as Fighter. If Dexterity is higher, apply XP Bonus as Thief. If both ability scores are equal, it doesn't matter which one you use.)

Hit Dice: As Fighter

Attacks: As Fighter

Saving Throws: As Fighter

XP per Level: As Fighter

Maximum Level: 36th

Armor and Shields: Any, but cannot use most Thief abilities if wielding a shield or wearing armor other than Leather

Weapons: Any

Special Abilities: As Fighter, and as Thief (with some restrictions: see below)

Race: Humans only

Thief Abilities: This class can Open Locks, Find and Remove Traps, Pick Pockets, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Hear Noises, Backstab, Read Languages, and Cast Spells From Magic-User Scrolls as a Thief of the same level. However, they can only use these abilities if they are not using a shield or wearing armor other than Leather, with the exception of Reading Languages.
At the Dungeon Master's discretion, this class may also be forbidden from using these same abilities if they are encumbered by more than 800 coins' weight.

Name Level: When a Fighter/Thief reaches 9th level, they must choose between either building a Castle/Stronghold and becoming a Baron/Baroness as per the Fighter class, or constructing a Hideout and attracting Thief followers as per the Thief class.
If your campaign includes other alternative Name Level options for Fighters and/or Thieves, such as becoming a Traveling Fighter, Paladin, Knight, Avenger, or Travelling Thief/Rogue, these are also allowed, but all of these options are mutually exclusive.
This does not alter the abilities of the Fighter/Thief described above, but it does limit the territory, construction projects, and attracted followers of the character to those of either a Fighter or Thief of Name Level.

Restriction to Player Characters: NPCs cannot be members of this hybrid Fighter/Thief class. NPCs of the Fighter or Thief classes function as usual, including retainers, hirelings, mercenaries, and henchmen. However, if a Non-Player Character becomes a Player Character, as in the case of a PC dying and one of their retainers becoming the new PC for the same player, the Dungeon Master may allow the character to be "promoted" to the Fighter/Thief class. (In fact, the DM is encouraged by this humble blogger to do so.)
Alternatively, the DM may allow retainers to be members of the Fighter/Thief class (since they are at least partially controlled by players) while excluding other types of NPCs.
Thieves who are promoted to the Fighter/Thief hybrid class are converted to the level indicated by their current amount of XP and the Fighter XP table, rather than their old level as a Thief.