House Rules

House Rules and Decisions

We are playing 1st edition AD&D with some house rules to smooth out the rough edges. Generally, if it’s in the rulebooks, that’s how we play it; if it’s not, the DM adjudicates the situation. This page includes specific decisions made about the game, including rule changes. Much of it is also recapitulation of the books for handy reference.

Character Creation

  • Default character generation is: Roll 4d6, keep highest 3 dice. Roll this way a total of 7 times, dropping the lowest single result. Assign results to character abilities as you like. If you wish to play a ability restricted class – a Paladin, for instance – and do not have high enough stats, take your highest results and assign them to the per-requisite abilities and then raise those stats to the minimum necessary to qualify for that class. Alternatively players may use the following methods for generating characters.
  • Human characters roll abilities using Method V, outlined in Unearthed Arcana.
  • Demi-human characters roll abilities using Method III, outlined in Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Magic-User Spells

  • Ritual Spells may be cast directly from a spellbook and are not destroyed upon reading. Casting time is 10 times listed. Detect Magic, Identify, Find Familiar
  • Innate Abilities may be used 1/day/level. Read Magic, Write

Alignment: Characters (except those with compulsory alignments) begin as ‘unaligned.’ Player decisions and character actions will determine final alignment through play. Principles of Good and Evil, Law and Chaos are concrete things in the game world. That being said, alignments are guidelines so occasional deviations are expected. When in doubt, player may ask the DM (the ultimate arbiter of Alignment) to provide them with one or more clear ‘in alignment’ options. Characters – especially Paladins or clerics – will never ‘fall’ by accident – only through deliberate choice.

Experience Points: Experience may be gained by killing or defeating monsters, solving puzzles, coming up with brilliant ideas and though displays of excellent Role playing. Treasure also provides experience points – 1 g.p. = 1 exp. Point __when spent_. The successful completion of a major quest or adventure may be worth % bonuses as will clever or novel solutions to encounters.

Training: Characters who do not want to spend the time training may do so – but advance less quickly.

Movement and Scale: When measuring distances, the conversion goes like this:
• Where it says feet (3’) it means feet – it’s a distance that a PC in the game world would measure out as feet.
• For indoor scale, where it says inches (3") the distance is in tens of feet (3"=30’, or 30 feet).—
• For outdoor scale, where it says inches (3") the distance is triple in tens of feet (or singly tens of yards!) (so 3"= 90’, or 90 feet (or 30 yards)).

A character’s movement rate in inches equals:
• The number of feet the character can move per segment in combat (i.e. 9" = 9’ per segment, or 90’ per round).
• The number of feet the character can move per round while mapping (i.e. 9" = 0.9’ per segment, 9’ per round, 90’ per turn). [Mapping takes 10x longer than combat movement.]
• The number of 10’s of feet the character can move per round while exploring a dungeon (i.e. 9" = 90’ per round, or 900’ per turn).
• The number of 10’s of feet the character can move per segment while fleeing/pursuing (i.e. 9" = 90’ per segment, or 900’ per round). [No mapping possible.]
• 1/5 of the number of feet the character can move per round while following a known route or map through a dungeon (i.e. 9" = 45’ per segment, or 450’ per round). [It is 5x faster than combat movement.]
• The number of miles the character can move per half-day of overland travel across open terrain (i.e. 9" = 9 miles per half-day, or 18 miles per day). [DMG uses a different system.]

Movement in Combat
We are going to use a combat grid with 5’ squares (25mm figs.) For convenience and sanity – each 1" of movement is going to equal one 5’ square on a combat grid which your character can move in one combat round. A 12" movement rate means you can move 12 squares per round. This is vastly slower than the actual distance your character can cover in non-combat situations – but takes into account threats from opponents, terrain, vision and whatever.


Combat: When the party of adventurers comes into contact with enemies, game-time no longer follows a sequence of turns (rep- resenting 10 minutes), but is measured in rounds (representing 1 minute), subdivided into six-second long “segments.” The order of events is as follows:

1. Determine Surprise (d6)
2. Declare Spells and General Actions
3. Determine Initiative (d6, highest result is the winner, each party acts in the segment indicated by the other party’s die roll.
4. Party with initiative acts first (casting spells, attacking, etc.), and results take effect (other than spells, which have casting times to complete before they take effect). Note: Some actions may allow the other side to “interrupt” with an action such as a fleeing attack or attacking charging opponents with spears set against a charge.
5. Party that lost initiative acts, and results take effect (other than spells, which take effect when casting time is completed
6. The round is complete; declare spells and general actions for the next round if the battle has not been resolved.

1. Determine Surprise: If a group of combatants is surprised, its members are basically caught flat-footed and unable to act during the first few seconds of a battle. Surprise is checked only once per combat, at the beginning of an encounter. Each side rolls a d6. If the result is a 1, the group is surprised for one segment. If the result is a 2, the group is surprised for two segments. If the result is a 3-6, the group is not surprised. In some cases, monsters or particular character classes may have special rules for surprise (e.g. some monsters cannot be surprised; others are stealthy enough that the party may be surprised on a roll of higher than 2). If a party of adventurers has alerted monsters to its presence (by hammering away at a door for a round or two, for example), the monsters will not need to make a surprise roll at all; however, merely being alert to the possibility of danger is not enough to avoid making a surprise roll. If neither of the opposing forces is surprised, play moves on to the regular combat round, de- scribed below.

If one side is surprised while another is not, the unsurprised party may act for a “surprise” segment. For example, if the party rolls a 1 and the monsters roll a 2, the party is surprised for one segment, the monsters are surprised for two segments, and thus the party has one surprise segment in which to act. If the party rolls a 2 and the monsters roll a 5, the party is surprised for 2 segments and the monsters (who, having rolled a 5 were not surprised at all) have both of those 2 surprise segments in which to act.

Actions that would normally happen over the course of a round may be completed in one surprise segment: talking, attacking, charging, closing to melee, beginning a spell, etc., provided that it is possible for the action to take place during a single segment. In other words, a character cannot make a minute-long speech during that six seconds, nor can a spell be fully cast unless it is a one- segment spell.

A character’s surprise bonus acts to negate surprise segments if the character is surprised (or to create them, if the number is a penalty). Thus, a character with a +2 surprise bonus whose side rolled a 2 for surprise (normally a situation in which the character would be surprised for two segments) is not surprised. This can lead to a situation in which a party of adventurers is surprised with the exception of one member. For example, if the monsters rolled a 1, the party rolled a 2, and one party member had a +2 surprise bonus, the situation will resolve as follows:

• The party member is not surprised at all, because two segments of surprise are negated by his +2 bonus.
• The monsters are surprised for one segment, so the unsurprised party member may act during
that first surprise segment.
• In the second surprise segment, the monsters are no longer surprised, but the rest of the party is still
surprised (having rolled a 2), so both the monsters and the one unsurprised character can all take action
during the second surprise segment.

Dexterity cannot create surprise; only alter the number of segments for which surprise lasts.

If a monster surprises on more than a 2 in 6 (some monster descriptions may contain text such as “surprises on 1-3”), it is possible for the monster to gain more than two segments of surprise. Against a monster that surprises on 1-3, if the party rolls a 3 and the monster is not surprised, the monster would have three surprise segments in which to act.

2. Declare Spells and General actions: Before the two sides roll initiative, spell casters must state what spells (if any) they will be casting in that round. As the round proceeds, the spell caster may elect not to cast the spell, but may not substitute another action. This is simply because the mental preparations for casting a spell are so arduous that the caster cannot switch focus quickly enough to change actions. Non-spell casters should also tell the GM, in general terms, what they will be doing: “attacking with a sword,” “using my bow,” “climbing the wall,” etc. Before the players do this, the GM should already have formed a similar outline of the monsters’ strategy; the GM should not base the monsters’ actions on what he or she already knows the players will be doing.

3. Determine Initiative: After any surprise segments are resolved and spell casting is declared, the first combat round begins. At the beginning of a combat round, each side rolls initiative on a d6. The roll represents the six second segment of the round in which the OTHER group will be able to act; hence, the higher roll is the better roll (as the other party will act later). If the party rolls a 6 for initiative, and the monsters roll a 1, this means that the party will be acting in segment 1, and the monsters will not act until the sixth segment of the 10-segment round. Since a combat round is 10 segments long, and the initiative roll only covers the first six segments of the round, there are four remaining segments in the round after the two sides have already taken their actions: these remaining four segments are still important because spells may take effect during this time, and some combatants might “hold” (choose to delay) their actions, waiting to act until these later segments.

The dexterity bonus for surprise is not added to an individual’s initiative for melee attacks. If a character has a missile weapon in hand, he or she applies his missile attack bonus as a bonus to his initiative (as well as to the attack roll).

Initiative rolls may result in a tie. When this happens, both sides are considered to be acting simultaneously. The GM may handle this situation in any way he or she chooses—with one caveat. The damage inflicted by combatants during simultaneous initiative is inflicted even if one of the combatants dies during the round. It is possible for two combatants to kill each other during a simultaneous initiative round! Under any other circumstance, of course, the effects of damage inflicted during that segment will take effect immediately—a goblin killed in the first segment of the round will be dead (and thus unable to attack) by the time the fifth segment of the round arrives.

Some characters (and creatures) may have more than one attack routine. This does not refer to a monster that normally makes multiple attacks in a round – (A Troll or Bear, for example) all of these attacks are considered to be part of one attack routine. However, a fighter whose level grants him an additional attack is considered to be making a second entire attack routine. This is perhaps most clearly seen if the reader envisions a fighter who uses a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. These two attacks are part of an attack routine—and if the fighter is of high enough level or under the influence of a haste spell, he or she may also gain an entire additional attack routine. A creature or character with multiple attack routines cannot use the second attack routine until after the other side’s initiative segment has been resolved.

Once the party with initiative has acted, the party that lost initiative may then take action.

Note about spells: Spells have a casting time, the number of segments (or rounds, turns, etc.) required to cast the spell. The spell caster does not actually begin casting the spell until his initiative segment. That segment is the first segment of the casting time. The spell does not “go off” until the casting has been completed.


Combat actions normally should be declared by the players, and decided by the GM, prior to the initiative die being rolled. Certain actions, of course, are so integral to the game that methods for their resolution are set forth as rules. These actions are: fleeing, negotiating, holding initiative, firing missiles, setting weapons against a charge, attacking, casting spells, and engaging in unarmed combat. Each of these common actions is described below.

Charge: Charging into combat allows the attacker to move and then attack in the same round. A charge is made at twice the normal movement rate (and must terminate within the melee range of the target). If the defender has a longer weapon than the attacker, the defender attacks first (unless the defender has already acted in this round). The attacker gains no dexterity bonus against such an attack (and characters with no Dexterity bonus receive a +1 AC penalty). Additionally, if the defender has a weapon set against the charge (see below), he will inflict additional damage with a successful hit against the charging attacker.

Assuming that the charging character survives, he or she gains +2 “to hit” on his attack. Characters may only perform a charge once every 10 rounds (i.e. once per turn). Characters who are at the maximum en- cumbrance category may not charge unless they are mounted and the mount is below the maximum encumbrance category. A charge may end in an Overbearing attack (see below)

Charging is a desperate, dangerous business. Henchmen and Hireling may only perform a charge once every 10 rounds (i.e. once per turn). Characters (and Monsters) may attempt a charge as many times in a turn as they have levels.

Mounted Charges: An attacker riding a warhorse or other combat-trained mount and equipped with a lance inflicts double the damage rolled on the charge round. (Although the weapon damage is doubled, any bonus for strength, magic, specialization or other such modifier is not).

Closing in Combat: When two groups of combatants are not within the melee range, the attackers may choose either to charge into combat or to advance more cautiously, closing into combat.

Closing into combat does not allow the character to make an attack roll that round; the cautious advance does not generate the opening to make a significant attack. However, neither may the character’s opponent attack until the round after closing.

When closing into combat, the character may advance the full amount of his movement.

Fighting Retreat: A character may retreat backward out of combat, maintaining his defense, although the attacker may follow if not otherwise engaged. It is possible to parry while doing so, but not to attack. This maneuver may be used to “switch places” with another party member who is in combat, the first party member joining battle with the enemy to prevent the enemy’s pursuit while the second character makes a fighting retreat.

Fleeing from combat: Often, discretion is the better part of valor, and the characters will choose to exercise the said discretion at top speed. If a character is in melee combat and runs away, his opponent(s) may make an immediate additional attack at +4 to hit.

Hold Initiative: Holding initiative is simply waiting until the other side has acted before doing anything.

Melee attack: A melee attack is an attack with a hand-held weapon such as a sword, halberd, or dagger. A character’s strength bonuses to hit and on damage are added to melee attacks. It is only possible to make a melee attack when the two combatants are within melee range of each other (5 ft for small or medium weapons, 10 ft. for large weapons). Two combatants within 10 ft. of each other are considered to be “engaged.” When faced with more than one opponent, it is not possible to pick which opponent will be the one receiving the attack; in the rapid give and take of melee, any one of the opponents might be the one to let down his guard for a moment.

Two combatants with medium or small weapons within 5 ft. of each other are considered to be “engaged.” A combatant who has a large weapon (Spear, Great Sword) or is itself ‘large’ (Ogre, Owlbear, Troll) and within 10 ft. of his opponent may “engage” that opponent – who must then either move so that he is within his own weapon range, conduct a fighting retreat or flee.

When a character is in melee with multiple opponents, the target of an attack roll must be determined randomly, but note that characters or creatures with multiple attacks that are part of the same routine (such as a bear with a claw/claw/bite attack or a character wielding a sword and dagger) must make all attacks against the same opponent unless otherwise specified in the relevant monster’s entry.

Missile attacks: Missile attacks are attacks with a ranged weapon such as a crossbow, sling, or thrown axe. When using missiles to attack into a melee, it is not possible to choose which particular target will receive the attack; the target should be determined randomly from among all melee participants, and the missile-firer could well hit a friend.

If the attacker fails to hit his target – then the target should be determined randomly from among all melee participants in a 45 degree arc in front of the shooter. Large or Huge targets pose a greater chance of being hit.

A character’s dexterity bonus for missile attacks is added to the “to hit” roll when the character is using missile weapons.

If a character has a missile weapon in hand, his missile bonus is also added to his initiative roll, allowing the character to potentially attack first even if his party has lost the initiative roll.

Parley: Some combats can be averted with a few well-chosen words (including lies). If the party is outmatched, or the monsters don’t seem likely to be carrying much in the way of loot, the party might elect to brazen their way through in an attempt to avoid combat (or at least delay it until favorable conditions arise).

Parrying: A character who parries cannot attack, but may subtract his “to hit” bonus from his opponent’s attack roll. Parrying may be used in combination with a fighting retreat. Parrying only has value to a character with a strength or specialization-related bonus “to hit”.

Spell Casting: Spell casting begins in the spell caster’s initiative segment, and the spell is completed at the end of the casting time. It is possible to cast a spell while within melee range of an opponent (10 ft.), but if the spell caster suffers damage while casting a spell, the spell is lost. While casting a spell, the caster receives no dexterity bonus to his armor class.

Set Weapon against charge: Certain weapons can be “set” against a charge, which is a simple matter of bracing the weapon against the floor or some other stationary object. A character choosing to set his weapon against a charge cannot attack unless an opponent charges, but the weapon will inflict double damage against a charging opponent. A charge is any attack that allows the attacker to move and at- tack, and thus includes leaping attacks that may be made by some monsters.

Weapons that may be set against a charge include spears, lances (when used dismounted), most pole arms, and tridents.

Unarmed combat: Brawling attacks, such as those conducted with fist, foot, or dagger pommel, will normally inflict 1d2 points of damage. All characters are automatically presumed to be proficient with such weapons, i.e. a proficiency slot is not required to make such an attack without penalty. Two other unarmed attack forms are possible:

Grappling attacks: A successful grappling attack inflicts 0-1 (1d2-1) points of damage, but also restrains the target and prevents him from fighting. The chance of breaking a successful grapple should be determined according to the relative strengths of the creatures concerned. (An ogre could restrain a kobold almost indefinitely, and would be able to break free of the kobold’s grasp at will.)

Overbearing attacks: Overbearing attacks are Grappling attacks exercised at the end of a Charge (see “Charge” above). If successful, the opponent is prone rather than restrained. Otherwise the attack is treated as a grapple.

Combat Modifiers

Concealment: Concealment is anything that obscures an opponent’s vision, such as tree limbs or smoke, but does not physically block incoming attacks (which would be considered Cover rather than Concealment; see below). The GM must decide whether the defender is about a quarter (-1 to AC), half (-2 to AC), three-quarters (-3 to AC), or nine tenths (-4 to AC) concealed.

Cover: Cover is protection behind something that can actu- ally block incoming attacks, such as a wall or arrow slit. Cover bonuses are as follows:

25% cover: -2 AC
50% cover: -4 AC
75% cover: -7 AC
90% cover -10 AC

An attack from the unshielded flank denies the target any defensive advantages from a shield. An attack from the rear flank negates the defensive value of the shield and also negates any dexterity bonus.

Invisible opponent: An invisible opponent can only be at- tacked if the general location is known, and the attack is at – 4 to hit. If an opponent is invisible to the attacker, he or she cannot be attacked from behind (or from the flank). Note that more powerful monsters (those with sensitive smell or hear- ing, or more than six hit dice) will frequently be able to detect invisible opponents; the GM should determine the chance of this according to the creature concerned and the situation. Powerful magical monsters, or those with more than 11 hit dice, will almost always be able to see invisible creatures normally.

Prone Opponent: Attacks against a prone opponent negate the benefit of a shield, negate dexterity bonuses, and are made at +4 to hit.

Rear attack: An attack from directly behind an opponent ne- gates the benefit of a shield, negates dexterity bonuses, and is made at +2 to hit.

Sleeping Opponent: Sleeping opponents (natural sleep, not magical sleep) may be attacked with the same chance to kill as if the attacker were an assassin. The effect of magical sleep is described under the entry for the sleep spell.

Stunned Opponent: A stunned opponent receives no shield or dexterity bonus, and may be attacked at +4.

Two- weapon fighting: If a character desires to fight with one weapon in each hand, the off-hand weapon must be either a dagger or a hand axe. The weapon in the primary hand attacks with a –2 modifier, and the off-hand weapon attacks at – 4. The character’s dexterity bonus (or penalty) for missile weapons is added to both attacks. Thus, a character with dexterity of 3 would be attacking at -5/-7. However, although penalties can be offset, this rule can never result in a bonus to attacks! The off-hand weapon cannot be used to affect parrying.

House Rules

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