Monday, January 19, 2015

OD&D and Taking a Look at Other Peoples Blogs - 006 (comments on post)

Over on the blog Smoldering Wizard ~ Old-School Role Playing in a post titled The Many Unique Rules of OD&D, Doug M. (the blogs author) for each of the 3LBBs, creates a list of rules that are unique to OD&D. He has a lot of other posts you should check out, but this one was of direct interest to me. (With the number of blogs out there and the number of posts that interest me, I could work 60 hours a week and do nothing but this. However; since I must work for a living, that is not going to happen. Some of you have already sent me links to things that interest me and given time I will try to get to all of those and comment.) This post is part 1 of a 3 part post.

He states:

A few are carried into Holmes or Moldvay Basic (some as optional rules), but the combined flavor of these rules was never seen again.

What I am going to do here is go through and comment on each one of those rules as to whether I use it as it is or do I house rule something else. (Note that I began playing OD&D in Sept of 1975.) Everything showing in quote is in the rules and taken from his post. Yeah, he did the work to pull the information out and I am just commenting on it here.

Men & Magic Volume 1: 

Referee rolls starting abilities (3d6 in order) and starting gold.

Any OD&D refs out there use this rule? Bitd (in college) we never used this rule at all; however, a few years ago when I started up a new campaign only playing once per month I did it this way before the game, handed the players a few character sheets to choose from and there were no issues with my players doing this. In one playtest I ran for some ideas, I did not even give them a choice of sheets, I just gave them the one I wanted them to run for the playtest, again no issues. What has been your experience with this, if you have done it?

Encumbrance is measured in gold pieces, with 10 GP per pound and a maximum of 3000 GP.

Bitd and up to recently I have always used it this way, but I never liked it. Now as noted in my series of posts starting with Money (Treasure), the OD&D Economy & Equipment 001, I am starting to convert to a Silver Economy and as part of that process I am also correcting the coin size and the way encumbrance is measured. This is something in process and the information posted up until today date in that series of posts is not yet in the final form.

Players can be monsters, although there are no rules given for handling them.

Have you ever done this? I have done a  few, one of which was for dragons. The player wanted to play a dragon and that was a toughy to do since IMC while dragons can be killed, other than death by violence they are nigh on immortal creatures. I worked out a life cycle - part of which is when dragons will "hang" with other creatures such as men and the demi-humans. I will post that here one of these days.

Non-player monsters can be subdued or captured and sold.

This is something was we did a few times, but was not used very much. I am not really sure why we did not use it anymore than we did.

Hit points are rolled anew at each level.

This is exactly what we did bitd to start with, but I have also used a multitude of different house rules over the years too. I have done max at first level and then role each level once, max at first level and then roll each level once with a min of 2 per die, max at first level and then roll each level and keep track of each roll so that when you go up a level you get the chance to improve the previous roll.

There are no strength bonuses, only a bonus (or penalty) to earned experience for Fighting-Men.

When I use just the 3LBBs, this is the way I have always done it. Sometimes I use just the 3LBBs and sometimes I add things from the Supplements.

Dexterity does not affect armor class, it only confers a bonus or penalty to missile weapon to-hit rolls, and then only +/-1.

When I use just the 3LBBs, this is the way I have always done it.

All weapons do 1d6 damage (the one exception is a spear impalement doing double or triple damage).

When I use just the 3LBBs, this is the way I have always done it.

Magic-Users and Clerics must carry one spell book for each level of spell they know.

I have never done this, neither bitd nor currently. Characters are assumed to have one spell book containing all of their spells.

Clerics must choose to be either Lawful or Chaotic by 7th level.

In the original rules Clerics chose at the time of Character Creation and it was this was for the 1st through the 3rd printing (I have never seen a 4th printing so I don't know which way it was in the 4th printing); however, in the 5th print (IIRC) and later it was changed to the choose by 7th level. I have always played it that players chose at the time of Character Creation.

Cure light wounds acts over a full turn (10 minutes).

Two things here -one: both bitd and currently I have always played it that the healing acts immediately in the same round the spell is cast and two: one of the first house rules I ever implemented and used (and that was at the very beginning) was to change melee rounds to six sec instead of one min and that made a turn one minute long. I did this because I had seen swordplay in movies and how fast and furious it could be; later on when I saw live fencing matches how fast it could move, I was certain that the house rule was one of my better decisions. In addition, Warriors of Mars used 10 second rounds and it is reported that the original manuscript of Empire of the Petal Throne used one second melee rounds.

Monsters are worth 100XP per hit die. Fun fact – in the first OD&D supplement, Greyhawk, this formula is mocked as “ridiculous”.

Bitd I used this and I still do.

Experience is however limited by the ratio of monster and dungeon level (defeating an orc on the 5th dungeon level gives only 1/5 experience).

I have never used it this way, neither bitd nor currently.

Players may designate a relative to inherit their possessions should they die.

I have never used it this, neither bitd nor currently. I am not sure why, because I am and was aware of the rule, we just never used it.

Thus ends part 1 of 3 parts.


  1. Hey, thanks for the shout-out! I really like playing OD&D because of these differences, but I admit to not knowing about a lot of them until I actually read the rules.

  2. You did a lot of work pulling out the things that are not in the later rule-sets. So thank you! When did you start playing OD&D?

  3. I owned the OD&D rules and supplements as a kid...but played Holmes and then 1e. I only got back into OD&D by way of the clones, the first was S&W Whitebox. Last year is the first time I actually played OD&D proper.

  4. Happy to know that you are playing and enjoying it. I have two more posts to make in this series. I hope to be posing a number of things over the next few weeks.