Paul Gorman

House Rules

We play original 1974 little brown book D&D, but some material from the Supplements might appear as the campaign progresses.

If you don't have access to Volume 1 Men & Magic, use my Original Fantasy Player Reference [PDF] to create a character.

For the most part, the house rules below are options you can exercise, not requirements you need to memorize.


When rolling abilities for a new character, roll 3d6 in order. You may swap the rolls for one pair of abilities.

When advancing a level, increase one ability score that is currently less than 9 by one point.

Hit Points

First level characters start with maximum hit points.

Re-roll all hit dice when advancing a level. Keep your current total if you roll lower than your existing hit points.

Encumbrance and Movement (and Wandering Monster Checks)

Only consider armor worn for initial encumbrance.

Armor Worn Base Movement
None/Shield 18''
Leather 12''
Chain 9''
Plate 6''

Shields don't affect encumbrance

If the characters haul something very bulky or heavy, movement drops to the next lower movement tier. A fighting-man in plate dragging a statue, for example, falls to 3''.

Every 250 coins of found treasure carried drops the character's movement by one tier.

Wandering Monster Checks

The referee makes a wandering monster check each real hour of play time.

Movement Odds for Wandering Monster
18'' 1 in 6
12'' 2 in 6
9'' 3 in 6
6'' 4 in 6
3'' 5 in 6

The referee adds an additional check at 1 or 2 in 6 when the characters do something that might attract monsters, like noisily bash down a door or roast a kobold.


Although we do not use variable weapons damage (all attacks do d6), Fighting-Men can use Gruesome Chops.

Shields Shall be Splintered*

When a fighting-man takes a hit (even after damage has been rolled) he may sacrifice his shield to negate the damage.

Carrying an extra shield increases encumbrance.

Gruesome Chops

A roll of 20 to-hit or a roll of maximum damage gives the Fighting-Man the opportunity to make a Gruesome Chop. The player chooses the hit location; here are some examples:

  1. Eyeball run through. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or be kebab'd. Monsters with more hit dice lose an eye* (-2 to hit, cyclops -4).
  2. Neck slit. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or suffer beheading. Monsters with more hit dice loose their voices, and must Save when using a breath weapon.
  3. Limb chop. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or be dismembered and bleed out. Monsters with more hit dice (and four or fewer legs) are reduced to zero movement.
  4. Bifurcation (horizontal or vertical). Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or be bisected.
  5. Evisceration. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or spill their guts.
  6. Ribcage crush. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or suffocate.
  7. Sever artery. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or BLOOD SPRINKLER!
  8. Break the monster's sword, splinter its shield, sunder its sandals, etc.
  9. Force the monster to fall back ten or twenty feet to the spot you want them (over pit trap, under portcullis, etc.).
  10. Impale. Monsters with hit dice fewer than or equal to the fighting-man must Save or wriggle in grotesque death throes. Monsters with more hit dice are pinned (movement zero).

Any monster that survives a Gruesome Chop immediately checks morale (less than 9 on 2d6 means the monster flees, or surrenders if flight is impossible.

A fighting-man may wish to develop one or more "signature moves".

N.B. — Most monsters do not make Gruesome Chops, but enemy Fighting-Men do.


Magic-users start with three first-level spells in their spell books: one chosen by the player, one rolled randomly, and Read Magic. When magic-users gain access to a new level of spells, they may choose one spell of that level and roll one randomly. All other spells must be found through adventure or research.

Magic-users of any level may scribe a scroll of any spell they know. Scribing a scroll costs 100 gp and 1 week per spell level.

Wizards are horrible freaks

Strike a diabolical bargain in order to cast any spell you know (even exceeding allowed spells per day), but save versus Spell or lose 1 point of Charisma.

Face these consequences if the magic-user's Charisma falls too low:

Charisma Score Consequence
4 All henchmen abandon you.
3 Everyone treats you with open disgust.
2 Strangers run from you.
1 Strangers try to kill you on sight.
0 Humanity lost. Turn your character sheet over to the Referee, you monster.


When a character falls to zero or fewer hit points, the player chooses to either save versus Death or roll on the Dismemberment Table below. Rolling save versus Death, success means the character is unconscious and failure means death. A roll on the dismemberment table gurantees survival with the immediate recovery of 1 HP.

Arm severed at shoulder
Arm severed at elbow
Hand severed
Eye plucked out
Ear lopped off
Lost a finger
Ear chopped off
Nose cut off
Foot severed
Leg severed at knee
Leg severed at hip

Re-roll if the character can not be further dismembered in the way described (e.g. — both legs already lost).

New & Replacement Characters

New and replacement characters start at first level. However, players have the option to adopt an existing henchman as their player character.

Funerals for the Fallen*

Surviving characters earn one XP for every gold piece they spend on funeral rites (funeral, wake, tomb, etc) for their fallen comrade, but only if they recover the remains. New characters share this XP.


Spears and polearms can attack from the second rank.

There's no prohibition against missile fire into melee, but a to-hit roll of 1 indicates a friendly fire hit.

Although we do not use variable damage dice, monsters with multiple natural attacks make multiple to-hit rolls against multiple opponents. For example, a bear (claw/claw/bite) makes three attacks against three or more opponents, two attacks against two opponents, and one attack against one opponent.

Ascending AC and Attack Bonuses

Sum your d20 to-hit roll with your to-hit bonus (which is based on your class and level) and any other bonuses (magic weapons, etc.). If this total exceeds the enemy's Armor Class, you score a hit.

Ascending Armor Classes
Without armor10
Shield only11
Leather w/ sheild13
Chainmail w/ shield15
Plate w/ shield17

(Subtract a traditional descending AC from 19 to find the equivalent ascending AC.)

Fighting-Man Attack Bonus

*If we decide to use to-hit bonuses for high Strength, these are reduced to +0 and +2.

Cleric Attack Bonus
Magic-User Attack Bonus
Monster Attack Bonus

Monsters have an attack bonus equal to their hit dice, with hit die "pluses" bumping them to the next higher attack bonus. For example, monsters with one-half hit die have a +0 attack bonus, monsters with three hit dice have a +3 attack bonus, monsters with 4+1 hit dice have a +5 attack bonus, etc. Monster attack bonuses are capped at +12.

Experience Earned & Carousing

Characters earn zero XP by killing monsters. No XP is earned for treasure found. Experience is only awarded for treasure spent, either on carousing (1 GP spent = 1 XP) or class-based activities (1 GP spent = 2 XP). No matter how much they spend, characters never gain more than one level per week (i.e. — between the end of one session and the start of the next).

General Carousing

Any class may engage in general drugs, drink, and debauchery to earn one XP for each gold piece spent. The details of such carousing are hand-waved, and it has no further consequences except that local prices on basic goods and services increase by a multiple of 2d4 for the next week.

Experience for Fighting-Men

Experience earning activities for fighting-men generally involve political or martial endeavors.

paying salaries of retainers and experts; purchase of real estate for civil or martial development; building and maintaining fortifications; building and maintaining infrastructure (bridges, roads, dams, aquaducts, walls); construction of ports, shipyards, and ships; employment and training of armies and navies; conducting military expeditions, sieges, and capture of enemy strongholds; payment of bribes and tributes to political advantage; founding and security of a treasury, and the minting of currency; taming of wild frontiers for settlement and agriculture (if Law) or laying waste to civilized areas (if Chaos); founding of an armory, employment and training of armorers; facilitation of animal husbandry and agriculture; commissioning of jeweled scabbards for magic swords; employing bards to sing their praises; development of "custom moves" or entire distinct martial fighting style (in effect, a Gruesome Chops table unique to the character); running a patrol in a city neighborhood or on the road through a dark wood (how much this is a public service as opposed to a protection racket is up to the player)

Experience for Magic-Users

Magic-Users: magic research

monster breeding, gardening (magic components and monster plants)

Experience for Clerics

Clerics: furthering of faith and church

construction of temples, shrines, churches; organization and financing of public festivals to honor deity; recruiting and funding missionaries and similar proselytizing; commissioning religious art (murals, sculptures, music); sacrifices