Saturday, February 6, 2016

Gygax House Rules, Comments & Additions for OD&D - Part II

I have copied this information from the odd74 forum with permission and placed it here for your perusal. It was complied and  organized by poster krusader74

I (krusader74) uploaded a slightly modified version of the Markdown file to my Pastebin:

Then I used Pandoc to create a PDF version of the Markdown file. It is 5.5 inches wide and 8.5 inches high. There are 27 pages. There is no cover yet. If anyone would like to contribute a cover (or cover art), let me know.

I shared this PDF in my Dropbox.

For those interested in making their own customizations to the PDF, here is the Pandoc command-line I used to create it:

pandoc --toc --toc-depth=2 --smart -V geometry:paperwidth=5.5in -V geometry:paperheight=8.5in -V geometry:margin=.5in -o output.pdf
You could use Pandoc to convert the Markdown to HTML, ePub, mobi, tex, etc. For PDF output, you can adjust the paper size, etc.

If anyone finds any typos or errors, please let me know and I'll make corrections.

If anyone would like to suggest any additional Gygax-iana for inclusion in this collection, please let me know. There were some other articles Gygax wrote for newsletters in the 70s about early OD&D adventures that may be of interest:

See The d6 HD OD&D Thief at the ZENOPUS ARCHIVES. (The original 1974 thief compared to the thief in the Greyhawk Supplement.)

Gygax House Rules, Comments & Additions for OD&D

I have copied this information from the odd74 forum with permission and placed it here for your perusal. It was complied and  organized by poster krusader74.


This is a compilation of excerpts of articles and rules by Gary Gygax about OD&D. Most of this stuff can be found right here on these boards or on related blogs, and all references are given in the Contents section. I wanted to put it all together in one file to print out and include with my box set of LBBs. The file is Markdown-formatted plain text. You can get it from my pastebin here. Below it is rendered into BBCode using my program, described in this post. There are many tools around the web to convert Markdown to HTML, PDF and other formats. PM me if you need help.



  1. Swords & Sorcery in Wargaming

    • This article by Gary Gygax originally appeared in the Wargamer's Digest Vol.1 #7 May 1974.

    • Grendelwulf's Axe & Hammer blog reprinted an article. That link is dead but preserved on the Wayback Machine

    • The user kent typeset this article in PDF as described in the thread called Gygax 1975 - How To Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign on the Original D&D Discussion.

    • Mentioned on RetroRoleplaying: The Blog in July 2010, along with the following quote:
      Grendelwulf's Axe & Hammer blog reprinted an article by Gary Gygax from the May 1974 issue of Wargamer's Digest recounting a D&D adventure with Mordenkainen at 13th level and Bigby at 11th level. They are later joined (after things go wrong) by two fighters (Lords Yrag and Felnorith) and a cleric (Bishop Raunalf). In this adventure, Mordenkainen is turned to stone, Yrag dies, and Bigby is also turned to stone. Old school adventuring is dangerous. The article is a great read, you can find it here.

  2. How To Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign
  3. 1974 Thief rules

    • These rules were published in "The Great Plains Game Players Newsletter" #9 (June 1974; pages 8 -- 9), edited by Jim Lurvey.

    • Jon Peterson discusses them in a blog post entitled Gygax's "The Thief Addition" (1974)

    • There is thread devoted to them called 1974 Thief rules (Gygax) at the Original D&D Discussion

  4. Solo Dungeon Adventures
  5. Questions Most Frequently Asked about Dungeons & Dragons Rules
  6. Gygax House Rules 2005
  7. Gygax House Rules 2007

    • These rules come from a forum posting that Gygax himself made in 2007. Unfortunately, that link is dead and the Wayback Machine doesn't have it archived. Lucky for us, they are recorded for posterity at the Cyclopeatron blog.


Ever since Tolkien's fantasy books attained popularity, there has been a continuing growth of interest in the subject of Swords & Sorcery games. Of course, we are all exposed to fantasy as children through the medium of fairy tales, and now as adults we are treated to many of the more mature stories of the genre, such as those being presented by Ballantine Books in their Adult Fantasy series edited by Lin Carter. Somewhere in between the children's works and the (often dry and slow) so-called adult works there lies the world of Swords & Sorcery---fast-paced, heroic yarns which are filled with brawny swordsmen, magic swords, wicked magicians, monstrous beasts, and beautiful women who must be rescued from them (pick any of the above for them). The champions of Swords & Sorcery are Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt, and Poul Anderson to name but a few. All of the activity in the field of fantastic fiction has stimulated considerable interest in fantasy wargaming. For example, consider CHAINMAIL.

Early in 1969 the evolution of a set of Medieval rules began, and when they were published in 1971 a fantasy supplement was included. Despite the fact that the Medieval is a reasonably popular period, and the rules contained in CHAINMAIL are both playable and realistic, about nine out of ten purchasers were attracted by the fantasy element.

During three successive wargaming conventions there was a great demand for fantastic games---about equal to that for World War II or Napoleonics---while the Medieval was generally ignored. Now the most popular periods for miniatures are, in descending order of popularity, WWII armor, Napoleonics, American Civil War, and Ancients, with the Medieval following about fifth or sixth. While there is no absolute confirmation at this time, it appears that fantasy wargaming might move into a high place in the popularity ratings. This is indicated by something more than the evidence stated above.

There are several large and active groups of wargame enthusiasts in the Twin Cities area. Dave Arneson, a true fantasy buff, worked up a campaign from the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules, with considerable expansions in many areas. The battle reports were so interesting and humorous that there was no stopping a handful of Lake Geneva players from horning into things. In a few weeks the rules Dave had done were subjected to even more expansion and change. The result was an entirely new body of rules, now entitled DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and being marketed by Tactical Studies Rules. The most noteworthy thing, however, is the attraction evidenced by the fantasy campaign thus generated. The Twin Cities affair has been running continuously for three years, while the game handled by this writer (with Rob Kuntz as co-referee) is entering its second year. Longevity indeed for wargame campaigns! Equally as important, the number of participants has steadily grown. The semi-weekly meetings for the campaign in LakeGeneva have seen an increase from an original half-dozen to as many as 16 eager players, crowded close to hear the moderation by the referees, and loving (almost) every second of it! Those who can be only occasional visitors have all expressed a desire to begin their own local campaigns. What makes Swords & Sorcery wargame campaigns so enthralling? Nothing if you're not of such a bent, but nearly everything if you are at all interested in Swords & Sorcery!

Players select a 'character' type to begin the campaign---either a fighter, magicuser, or cleric (whether human, elf, dwarf, or what have you; and naturally, they can also opt to play as monsters instead). Each class has disadvantages to balance its advantages. Thereafter each 'adventure' which the player survives adds to his 'experience', increasing his abilities proportionately. Adventures are of two kinds: underworld expeditions to the labyrinthine dungeons, or perilous treks in the wilderness. The former kind of game is typically the most varied, for it is played on a series of maze maps designed by the campaign referee, each map representing a successively lower level of passages and rooms deep beneath some weird castle. Fearsome beasts lurk within these dungeons, and the players seek to find them and best them in mortal combat, for most guard some item of treasure or magic. However, the way is strewn with pits, traps, and blind corridors; while secret doors, shifting walls, and other tricks serve to confuse and confound the intrepid explorers. Rather than try to even briefly describe the large numbers of monsters, tricks, and traps used (or even a fair sampling of them), a brief dramatic account of one of the more memorable dungeon expeditions is in order:

A Memorable Dungeon Expedition Undertaken by the Wizards Mordenkainen & Bigby

The pair of darkly cloaked wizards had already descended to the fourth level of the dungeons. They were Mordenkainen, a 13th-level magic-user, and his one-time apprentice, Bigby, himself now a wizard of the 11th level. Together they made a near undefeatable combination---or so they thought. In an earlier expedition some dozen levels down they had come upon a key and a few lines of verse. Returning to their chambers, the pair had huddled over tomes bound in dragonhide, consulted ancient parchment scrolls and even older clay tablets, and drawn liquors from bubbling alembics in order to complete some arcane divination as to the key's use. Eventually they achieved some degree of success, for they managed to translate the verse and identify the general area in which lay the gate which the key would open.

Proceeding by a twisty route north and east, they now approached a widening of the passage. The crash of massive iron bars behind surprised neither, for this place was familiar territory. Likewise, the sepulchral voice which now spoke was expected: "Choose from the four chests before you!" it commanded. The wizards opened the first coffer, and as its lid was raised a five-headed hydra appeared. But before it could strike one of the pair made a swift pass with his staff, and the creature wavered and became a tiny snail.

Without pause, the other slipped the newly-made slug into his wallet, and the opening of the remaining receptacles continued. Finally the voice which had originally spo-ken once again sounded, for they had lifted the lid of the charmed case: "You are granted one wish of limited power," intoned the bodyless speaker.

"We wish to find the door which this key will unlock!"

"Pass through the iron portals and go north. You will find beyond the gates of the Great Hall."

The room in which they stood extended far to the east, and both knew that its far boundary was broken by two tall doors of iron. Hurrying thence, they forced open these doors. The way was cunningly barred by numerous hidden entrances and false passages, but perseverance eventually brought them before the huge portals of the Great Hall. Mordenkainen duly inserted the oddly-shaped key, and the gates creaked open. Proceeding yet eastward, the pair soon came to a vast open space, and they knew that the first part of the adventure was over, for they stood on the threshold of the Great Hall.

With cautious steps the wizards paced ahead, hundreds of feet past a splashing fountain of alabaster, until a thick tapestry curtain barred the path. Parting the hanging, Mordenkainen and Bigby peered into yet another cavernous space, with massive pillars of ivory ranked right and left. These wondrous items they examined immediately, and by levitating to the top it was learned that each column was a titanic pedestal, some ten feet in diameter, fifty feet high, and each hewn from a single piece of ivory! Pressing yet further into the hall they encountered a dais, and upon ascending its steps still another marvel greeted them. There, seated upon granite thrones, were three iron statues. Those to either hand appeared to be likenesses of kings, one holding forth a broadsword, while the other presented a dagger. It was the central figure which was most commanding, however, for it was gigantic.

The features of its face were vaguely human, expressionless, with a gaping circle of a mouth. As the startled wizards watched it stirred to life, arising from its seat with a hollow grinding, and advanced toward them. The pair retired slowly at first, but as the iron golem began to move swiftly toward them, both Mordenkainen and his fellow took to their heels. The metal monster gained, so in desperation they sought refuge atop one of the ivory pillars. The golem hurled its bulk against the base of their retreat and the column shook. Mordenkainen leaned perilously over the edge and began the incantation that would turn the stone beneath the monster's feet into viscid mud---sufficient to entrap, and possibly even to totally destroy, the ghastly thing, he supposed. The incantation reached its climax, and the paves beneath the iron monster's feet shimmered and turned glutenous, but the golem floated above the mud, and in another moment struck the pillar another blow. It cracked. In desperation the wizards brought forth the brass urn which contained an enslaved efreet, commanding it to do battle. When the ebon servant sallied forth, however, the golem belched out a sheet of flame from its maw, and the efreet withered under the blast. There was but one gamble to try.

The two wizards descended to fight the creature themselves. At their approach it hesitated and then shot forth fire once more, but this did but small damage due to their prowess and talismans. While his companion recovered the wounded efreet, Mordenkainen attacked the golem. The blow from his staff seemed to cause the thing no harm, and its return slash with an evilly discolored sword was barely avoided. Several similar exchanges took place; but then, as Bigby completed his task and turned to jointhe fray, he saw the monster's metal whip lash out and strike Mordenkainen full in the body. Instantly the wizard was turned to stone! There was nothing more to be done now, the astonished magic-user realized instantly, and fled. When sufficient space was gained, for the golem gave up pursuit when the tapestry was passed, Bigby teleported to the stronghold of his associates and related what had happened.

Within a few hours he was back once more before the gates of the Great Hall, and with him were two fighters of exceptional ability, the doughty Lords Yrag and Felnorith, as well as a cleric, the Bishop Raunalf. The party approached the mighty curtain with caution, but when it was parted the scene was quiet, and they continued to advance. Nearby was the calcified Mordenkainen, and all paused while his fellow performed the ritual which would restore his flesh. The spell did its work, but the wizard was far too shaken to be of any help in the ordeal that lay ahead, so he awaited the confrontation well to the rear. Bigby, guiding the four, crept up the steps and beheld the three thrones. As their feet touched the last step the iron golem stirred as before. Yrag and Felnorith leapt into action. In a few quick bounds they reached the other two statues, and as one wrenched for the sword, the other tore out the dagger from the iron hands which presented it. Here, likely, were the very weapons with which to defeat the golem.

They turned to see their foe already in action, and as its whip flailed the stricken Bigby met the fate of his fellow, and became stone. The two fighters smote the golem simultaneously, both with telling strokes. It faltered, and the arm that held the lash fell from it with a resounding clangor. Yet it managed to retaliate, and its sword fell full upon Yrag. The Lord gasped, his visage mottled green, and died. Felnorith, now fighting alone, struck again and again at the iron monster, somehow managing to fend off the golem's strokes, and with a desperate blow finally brought the huge thing crashing to the floor in pieces. The battle was over, but what had been its purpose? The survivors began to investigate.

A thorough examination of the area revealed the two remaining statues to be hollow repositories of a fortune in precious stones. Better still, there were tiny coral miniatures of the Great Hall, and from these relief maps it was easy to plan for another expedition at a future date. Now, however, it was time to gather the treasure and bring the body of Yrag back into the clean air and daylight of the surface in order to entreat the Patriarch of Greyhawk to restore his life (regardless of the cost!), and also there was Bigby, whose stony members had to be returned to flesh once again. The three adventurers turned to these tasks.

Final Note:

Fantastic? Most assuredly, and perhaps a bit on the corny side also. Nonetheless, it is one whale of a lot of fun. I can vouch for it, for in the adventure related above I was playing rather than judging. To my knowledge the only fantasy campaign rules currently available are the Dungeons & Dragons set. During their development and final testing they brought hundreds of hours of enjoyment to all concerned, and we look forward to much more of the same. As a final word, it is necessary to point out that the referee or referees must put in a lot of work preparing for a campaign, but again I can tell you that it is well worth the trouble. Give it a go.


Let us assume that you have shelled out the requisite number of dollars to purchase all of the materials necessary for a D&D campaign---rules, dice, reams of various kinds of paper, pencils, and so forth. Several persons have expressed a desire to play the game, so all you really need now is the game! That's right, folks. The referee of the campaign must structure the game so as to have something to play. He must decide upon these things:

  1. The overall setting of the campaign;
  2. The countryside of the immediate area;
  3. The location of the dungeon where most adventures will take place;
  4. The layout and composition of the nearest large town;
  5. Eventually the entire world - and possibly other worlds, times, dimensions, and so forth must be structured, mapped and added.

This might seem to be too large a task, but it isn't really if you and your players are enjoying the game (and it is odds-on you will!). Furthermore, not all five things need not to be done before play commences, In fact, most of the fine referees I know of work continually on their campaign, adding, changing, and expanding various parts continually. A thorough discussion of each of the five areas of campaign play is necessary before considering how to go about involving players in the affair.

Step 1 is something you do in your head. Now fantasy/swords & sorcery games need not have any fixed basis for the assumptions made by its referee (my own doesn't) except those which embrace the whole of fantasy. This sort of campaign can mix any and all of the various bases which will be mentioned below - and then some. Regardless for what setting you opt, keep it secret from your players, or else they can study your sources and become immediately too knowledgeable, thus removing the charm of uncertainty. Settings based upon the limits (if one can speak of fantasy limits) can be very interesting in themselves providing the scope of the setting will allow the players relative free-reign to their imaginations. Typical settings are: Teutonic/Norse Mythology; Medieval European Folklore (including King Arthur, Holger the Dane, and so on); The "Hyborean Age" created by R E Howard; Fritz Leiber's "Nehwon" with Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser; Indian Mythology; and Lost Continents such as Atlantis or Mu. Regardless of the setting you can have it all taking place on an 'alternative earth' or a parallel world. In this way minor variations can easily be explained/justified. When the setting is decided upon some good books dealing with it should always be kept handy. The time has come to begin working on the campaign.

Step 2 requires sitting down with a large piece of hex ruled paper and drawing a large scale map. A map with a scale of 1 hex = 1 mile (or 2 kilometers for those of you who go in for recent faddish modes of measure) (yes, I often use rods, chains, furlongs, and leagues too!) will allow you to use your imagination to devise some interesting terrain and places, and it will be about right for player operations such as exploring, camping, adventuring, and eventually building their strongholds, Even such small things as a witch's hut and side entrances to the dungeon can be shown on the map. The central features of the map must be the major town and the dungeon entrance.

Step 3 involves the decision aspect already mentioned and the actual work of sitting down and drawing dungeon levels. This is very difficult and time consuming. Each level should have a central theme and some distinguishing feature, i.e. a level with large open areas swarming with goblins, one where the basic pattern of corridors seems to repeat endlessly, one inhabited by nothing but fire-dwelling or fire-using monsters, etc.

As each level is finished the various means of getting to lower levels must be keyed and noted on the appropriate lower levels, so that if a room sinks four levels it will then be necessary to immediately show it on 4 sheets of graph paper numbered so as to indicate successively lower levels. A careful plan Of what monsters and treasures will be found where on each level is also most necessary, and it can take as long to prepare as the level itself, for you may wish to include something unusual (a treasure, monster, and/or trick or trap not shown in D&D) on each level.

Before the rules for D&D were published Old Greyhawk Castle was 13 levels deep. The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the participants had ever played such a game before. The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie pool and a fountain of snakes. The third featured a torture chamber and many small cells and prison rooms. The forth was a level of crypts and undead. The fifth was centered around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles. The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs (3 dice) in inconvenient spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars. The seventh was centered around a circular labyrinth and a street of masses of ogres. The eighth through tenth levels were Caves and caverns featuring Trolls, giant insects, and a transporternexus with an evil Wizard (with a number of tough associates) guarding it. The eleventh level was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle. He had Balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridors which was full of poisonous critters with no treasure. Level twelve was filled with Dragons. The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took the players 'clear through to China', from whence they had to return via 'Outdoor Adventure', It was quite possible to journey downward to the bottom level by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the likelihood of following such a route unknowingly didn't become too great until the seventh or eighth level. Of the dozen or so who played on a fairly regular basis, four made the lowest level and took the trip: Rob Kuntz, now a co-referee in the campaign went alone and three of his friends managed to trace part of his route and blunder along the rest, so they followed him quickly to the Land of China. Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hob-goblins, and Gnolls continually warring with each other, a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a Giant's home, and a garden of fungi.

Step 4 should be handled concurrently with designing the first three or four dungeon levels. Here your players will find lodgings, buy equipment, hire mercenaries, seek magical and clerical aid, drink, gamble and wench. The town would do well to resemble some of those, in Howard's "Conan" series or Leiber's city of "Lankhmar". Strange towers, a thieves quarter, and temples of horrible deities add greater flavor to play. The 'Thieves Guild', a society of evil clerics, a brotherhood of lawful men, and so on bring a bit more interest also. If a few warring nobles from the surrounding territory also send large parties of men into the place occasionally some interesting brawls can occur. Honest and dishonest merchants should be indicated. Taverns which drug patrons should likewise be indicated, and so on. In any event be sure and leave room for additional things and expansion.

Step 5 is as noted something that you won't immediately have to worry about; but it is a good idea to have a general plan in mind immediately. The general geography of the 'world' should be sketch-ed out. If you plan to make it possible to visit other worlds, times or places the general outline of all such areas should also be sketched out. For example, you might wish to have the Moon an inhabitable (and inhabited) place which can he traveled to by means of a Flying Carpet. A description of this lunar world should be located somewhere as well as a means of getting there, but only after you have something solid in the way of maps and the like.

Having accomplished those parts of the five steps which are immediately necessary (probably taking a week or so), you are ready to begin to play.Let us further assume that there are four prospects. These players should begin together and for a time at least operate as a team if possible. Each in turn rolls three dice to record the various scores for the makeup of the character they are to play and how large an initial bankroll the character begin with. This accomplished, players decide what class of character they wish to play, the type (human, elf, etc), and the alignment of the character (the latter can be secretly told the referee, with an announced alignment being false). At this stage each player locates his base in some inn or the like, and then they can set forth to explore the town and purchase their adventuring equipment. Those that are careful and/or lucky might also be able to hire a few men-at-arms to accompany them. The latter is particularly true if players pool their funds. In a short time the first dungeon expedition can be made, but that is the subject of Part III of this series, so we will return to it again later.

There is one further subject to be dealt with here, and that is selection of character type. It is pretty obvious that high base scores in the areas of strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Dexterity indicate that becoming a Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric or Thief (see the upcoming D&D Supplement "Grayhawk" to be released sometime before the summer of this year). But what about those players who roll just average (or worse) totals? They are the ones who should take advantage of the non-human types, for these have built-in abilities despite the general handicap of being unable to work up as high as humans. If the character is poor anyway, will he ever be worked up very high? Possibly, but the odds are against it as a human, but as an Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, Half-Elf or even some other creature some interesting possibilities exist. It is up to the referee to help his players in this area by pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each type. What do you do if a player opts to become a Golden Dragon? Agree, of course. Allow the player to adventure only with strictly Lawful players, and normal men-at-arms would never go near even a good dragon. He would be Very Young, size being determined by the die roll. Advancement in ability would be a function of game time (the dragon would normally take about four years to grow to its next level) and accumulated treasure---let us say that for every 100,000 pieces of gold (or its equivalent) the dragon in effect gains an extra year of growth, counting magical items which go into the horde as fairly high in gold value. While the player will be quite advanced at first, those who are playing more usual roles will surpass him rather quickly, and in this way you'll not find a G.D. dominating.



by Gary Gygax

Recently I received a telephone call from Gary Schweitzer who hales from sunny California. It isn't all that sunny out there, however, for are many dungeon expeditions regularly being led beneath the grim pile of the castles which are scattered throughout that land. Anyway, during the course of our conversation he mentioned that his group was developing a new class of character---thieves. Gary gave me a few details of how they were considering this character type, and from these I have constructed tentative rules for the class. These rules have not be tested and should be treated accordingly.


There are now four (4) main classes of characters.

  • Fighting Man

  • Magic-Users

  • Clerics

  • Thieves

Thieves: This class is different from any of the others. Thieves are generally not meant to fight, although they are able to employ magic swords and daggers (but none of the other magical weaponry), and the only armor they can wear is leathern. They have no spells such as magic-users and clerics are able to employ, but they do have certain unique abilities:

  • Open locks (by picking or even foiling magical closures)

  • Removal of small trap devices (such as poisoned needles)

  • Climb almost sheer surfaces rapidly, up or down

  • Steal items by stealth and/or sleight-of-hand

  • Strike silently from behind

  • Listen for noise behind a closed door

  • Move with stealth

  • Hide in shadows

Thieves are always neutral. Their prime requisite is dexterity. Men, Dwarves, Elves, or Hobbits may become thieves.

ThievesXPHDOpen Locks/Rm TrapsHear NoiseMv Silent/Hd Shadows
Footpad12001 +120%/15%1-225%/15%
Burglar48002 +135%/30%1-335%/25%
Sharper200003 +145%/40%1-355%/45%
Master P'r.600004 +165%/60%1-465%/55%
Master Thief1150005 +185%/80%1-485%/75%
M.T., 2nd230000695%/90%1-595%/85%
M.T., 3rd3450006 +1100%/95%1-5100%/90%

A "Master Thief 4th level" would have seven dice for accumulated hits, a 100% chance to remove traps, and a 95% chance to remain undetected when hiding or moving through shadows, gaining these advantages when 460,000 experience points had been accumulated. At the 5th level a Master-Thief would have 7 +1 hit dice, always hear noise, and always be able to hide without being seen provided he wasn't observed prior to hiding, and there were shadows, of course. Another 115,000 experience points would be required to go from 4th to 5th level Master Thief.

Other Possible Considerations:

  • Third level thieves (Robber and above) are able to read languages, so treasure maps can be understood by them without recourse to a spell.

  • Ninth level thieves (Thief and above) are able to understand magical writings, so if they discover a scroll they are able to employ any spells thereon, excluding clerical spells.

Example of a Thief in Action: Assume that a fifth level thief (Cutpurse) is a member of an expedition aimed at looting a known treasure on a dungeon level. After the guardian of the treasure has been dealt with, the thief goes into the area and examines several chests in the room. He notes that two have traps – which he has a 35% chance of successfully removing. He succeeds on the first, and a vial of poisonous gas is removed; however he cannot open the lock (the referee rolled above 40%) so it must be forced open---a very time-consuming process. Failure to remove a trap, incidentally, activates it with regard to the thief and any others within its range. After lucking out on his second chest all around, the party is heading back when a slight detour takes them past a monster which immediately goes into persuit of the adventurers. As the party dasher around a corner to throw off the persuit, the thief remains in hiding. If the monster fails to notice him (35% chance) he can then slip into its lair and snatch the loot while it is elsewhere. This same Cutpurse later sees a man with some item he desires. His chance of removing the object, be it from the person of the owner or from his immediate vicinity, is 45%, the same likelihood as he has of moving with absolute silence. If the thief strikes silently from behind he will do two dice of damage for every four levels he as attained, minimum damage of two dice, and hit probabilities from behind should be increased by 20% (+4 on numbers shown to hit).

Attack Ability, Alternative Combat System: For purposes of attack probability only treat Thieves (class) as Clerics, advancing probabilities in four levels/group.


by Gary Gygax, with special thanks to George A. Lord

Preliminary testing: Robert Kuntz and Ernest Gygax

Although it has been possible for enthusiasts to play solo games of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS by means of "Wilderness Adventures", there has been no uniform method of dungeon exploring, for the campaign referee has heretofor been required to design dungeon levels. Through the following series of tables (and considerable dice rolling) it is now possible to adventure alone through endless series of dungeon mazes! After a time I am certain that there will be some sameness to this however, and for this reason a system of exchange of sealed envelopes for special rooms and tricks/traps is urged. These envelopes can come from any other player and contain monsters and treasure, a whole complex of rooms (unfolded a bit at a time), ancient artifacts, and so forth. All the envelope should say is for what level the contents are for and for what location, i.e. a chamber, room, 20' wide corridor, etc. Now break out your copy of D&D, your dice, and plenty of graph paper and have fun!

The upper level above the dungeon in which your solo adventures are to take place should be completely planned out, and it is a good idea to use the outdoor encounter matrix to see what lives where (a staircase discovered later just might lead right into the midst of whatever it is). The stairway down to the first level of the dungeon should be situated in the approximate middle of the upper ruins (or whatever you have as upper works).

The first level of the dungeon is always begun with a room; that is, the stairway down leads to a room; so you go immediately to TABLE V. and follow the procedure indicated. Always begin a level in the middle of the sheet of graph paper.

Save what you develop, for if you decide not to continue each solo game as part of a campaign, the levels developed in this manner can often be used in multi-player games. Likewise, keep a side record of all monsters, treasures, tricks/traps, and whatever. If the opportunity ever comes (as it most probably will) you will have an ample supply of dungeon levels and matrices to entertain other players.

Descretion must prevail at all times. For example: if you have decided that a level is to be but one sheet of paper in size, and the die result calls for something which goes beyond an edge, amend the result by rolling until you obtain something which will fit with your predetermined limits. Common sense will serve. If a room won't fit, a smaller one must serve, and any room or chamber which is called for can be otherwise drawn to suit what you believe to be its best positioning. At all times you are serving in two roles, referee and player, so be sure to keep a fair balance.

Now proceed to the tables which explain all play.


1-3Continue straight, check again in 60'
4-7Door (see TABLE II.)
8-10Side/Passage (see TABLE III.), check again in 30'
14-16Chamber (see TABLE V.)
17Stairs (see TABLE VI.)
18Dead End (walls l., r. and ahead can be checked for Secret Doors, see TABLE V., footnote)
19Trick/Trap (see TABLE VII.), passage continues, check again in 60'
20Wandering Monster (see Vol. III, D&D), check again immediately to see what lies ahead so direction of monster's approach may be determined.


Location of Door:

1, 4Left
5, 8Right
9, 12Ahead

Space Beyond Door is:

1,2Parallel passage or 10'x10' room if door straight ahead
3Passage straight ahead
4Passage 45 deg. ahead/behind
5Passage 45 deg. behind/ahead
6-12Room (go to TABLE V.)

*If no room is beyond a door check again on TABLE I. 30' after passing by or through a door.


1left 90 degrees
2right 90 degrees
3left 45 degrees ahead
4right 45 degrees ahead
5left 45 degrees behind
6right 45 degrees behind
7left curve 45 degrees ahead
8right curve 45 degrees ahead
9passage "T's"
10passage "Y's"
11four-way intersection
12passage "X's" (if present passage is horizontal or vertical it forms a fifth passage into the "x")

Passage Width:



DieResult (check on width of passage on TABLE III.)
1-4left 90 degrees
5left 45 degrees ahead
6left 45 degrees behind
7-10right 90 degrees
11right 45 degrees ahead
12right 45 degrees behind

TABLE V. CHAMBERS AND ROOMS: (Roll for Shape and Size, then Exits, then Contents)

Shape and Size:

DieChamber Shape and AreaRoom Shape and Area
1Square, 20' x 20'Square, 10' x 10'
2-4Square, 20' x 20'Square, 20' x 20'
5Square, 30' x 30'Square, 30' x 30'
6Square, 40' x 40'Square, 40' x 40'
7Rectangular, 20' x 30'Rectangular, 10' x 20'
8, 9Rectangular, 20' x 30'Rectangular, 20' x 30'
10Rectangular, 30' x 50'Rectangular, 20' x 40'
11Rectangular, 40' x 60'Rectangular, 30' x 40'
12Unusual Shape and Area, see sub-table below--

Unusual Shape and Size (Roll Separately for Shape and Size):

1-3CircularAbout 500 sq. ft.
4,5TriangularAbout 900 sq. ft.
6,7TrapezoidalAbout 1,300 sq. ft.
8,9Odd-shaped*About 2,000 sq. ft.
10OvalAbout 2,700 sq. ft.
11HexagonalAbout 3,400 sq. ft.
12Octagonalroll again and add result to 11 above (if another 12 repeat the process, doubling 11 above, and so on)

*draw what shape you desire or what will fit the map

Exits: Number, Location, and Direction (Passages in Chambers, Doors in Rooms)

DieRoom AreaNumber of Exits
1Up to 600'1
1Over 600'2
2Up to 600'2
2Over 600'3
3Up to 600'3
3Over 600'4
4Up to 1200'0*
4Over 1200'1
5Up to 1600'0*
5Over 1600'1
6Any size1-4, roll to determine

Die**LocationDirection (If a Dorr use TABLE II instead)
1-5opposite wallstraight ahead
6-8left wallstraight ahead
9-11right wallstraight ahead, 20' wide
12same wall45 deg. left/right

* A secret door might exist, and a search may be made if desired. For
every 10' of wall space checked roll a 12-sided die -- a 1 indicates
a secret door has been found, a 12 indicates a wandering monster has
come in.

** If a passage or door is indicated in a wall where the space immedi-
ately beyond the wall has already been mapped then the exit is either
a secret door (1,2) or a one-way door (3-6).

Chamber or Room Contents

13-14monster only (determine from D&D, Vol. III)
15-17monster and treasure (see table below)
18special* or empty
19Trick/Trap (see Table VII.)
20Treasure (see table below)

* insert a sealed envelope indicating room contents which can be
prepared for you by any willing person, and open the envelope when
indicated above.

Treasure Without Monster

01-251,000copper pieces/level
26-501,000silver pieces'level
51-65750electrum pieces/level
66-80250gold pieces/level
81-90100platinum pieces/level
95-971piece jewelry/level
98-00-Magic (roll on D&D table)

Treasure With Monster

According to the type indicated in D&D, Vol. III for "Outdoor Adventures" with pro rata adjustment for relative numbers.


1-5Down 1 level*
6Down 2 levels**
7Down 3 levels***
8Up dead end (1 in six is collapsing chute down 1 level)
9Down dead end (1 in six to chute down 2 level)
10Chimney up 1 level, passage continues, check again in 30'
11Chimney up 2 levels, passage continues, check again in 30'
13Chimney down 2 levels, passage continues, check again in 30'
14-18Trap door down 1 level, passage continues, check again in 30'
19,20Trap door down 2 levels, passage continues, check again in 30'

* 1 in 12 has a door which closes egress for the day

** 1 in 10 has a door which closes egress for the day

*** 1 in 8 has a door which closes egress for the day

N.B. Check for such doors only after descending steps!


1-5Secret Door unless unlocated: Non-elf locates 1 in 6, elf locates 2 in 6, magical device locates 5 in 6 (then see TABLE II.) Unlocated secret doors go to die 6,7 below.
6,7Pit, 10' deep, 3 in 6 fall in.
8Pit, 10' deep with spikes.
920' x 20' elevator room (party has entered door directly ahead and is in room), descends 1 level and will not ascend for 30 turns.
10As 9 above, but room descends 2 levels.
11As 9 above, but room descends 2-5 levels, 1 upon entering and 1 additional level each time an unsuccessful attempt at door opening is made, or until it descends as far as it can. This will not ascend for 60 turns.
12-14Wall 10' behind slides across passage blocking it for from 10-60 turns.
15Arrow trap, 1-6 arrows, roll for each to see if and score hits, 1 in 6 is poison.
16Spear trap, 1-3 spears, 1 in 12 is poisoned
17,18Gas, party has detected it, but must breath it to continue along corridor as it covers 60' ahead. Mark map accordingly regardless of turning back or not. (See Gas Sub-Table below.)
20Use a trick/trap from a sealed envelope, make up one of your own, or roll again until a 1-19 turns up.

Gas Sub-Table:

1-5Only effect is to obscure vision when passing thru.
6Blinds for 1-6 turns after passing through.
7Fear: run back 120' unless save vs. Magic is made.
8Sleep: party sound asleep for 2-12 turns.
9,10Strength: adds 1-6 points of strength to all fighters in party for 10-40 turns.
11Sickness: return to surface immediately.
12Poison: save vs. Poison or dead.

CAVES AND CAVERNS FOR LOWEST LEVEL: You may wish to have "rough-hewn" and natural tunnels in lower levels, and where chambers and rooms are indicated substitute Caves and Caverns. Exits are as above, and there is a 1 in 6 chance for monsters, 5 in 6 that the monster has treasure.


1-3Cave about 40' x 60'
4Cave about 50' x 75'
5Double Cave: 20' x 30', 60' x 60'
6Double Cave: 35' x 50', 80' x 90'*
7-9Cavern about 95' x 125'*
10Cavern about 120' x 150'
11Cavern about 150' x 200'*
12Mammoth cavern about 250'-300' x 350'-400'**

*Roll to see if pool therein
**Roll to see if lake therein


1-5No pool
6,7Pool, no monster
8,9Pool, monster
10,11Pool, monster & treasure
12Magical pool


1-5No lake
6-8Lake, no monsters
9-11Lake, monsters*
12Enchanted lake**

* 1-4 monsters, 4 in 5 chance of treasure

**enchanted lake leads any who manage to cross it to another dimension (if special map is available, otherwise treat as lake with monsters) -- lake will have from 2-5 monsters

Magic Pools: (In order to find out what they are characters must enter)

1-3Turns gold to platinum (1-3) or lead (4-6), one time only.
4-6Will on a one-time-only basis add (1-3) or subtract (4-6) from one characteristic of all who stand within it: 1 = strength, 2 = intelligence, 3 = wisdom, 4 = dexterity, 5 = consitution, 6 = charisma (add or subtract from 1-3 points, checking for each character as to addition or subtraction, characteristic, and amount).
7-9Talking pool which will grant 1 wish to characters of its alighnment, damage others from 2-12 points; 1-2 lawful, 3-4 neutral, 5-6 chaotic. Wish can be withheld for up to 1 day.
10-12Transporter pool: 1-2 back to surface, 3-4 one level down, 5-6 100 miles away for outdoor adventure.


The space limitations of D&D (and it was difficult to get all we managed to in three booklets!) forced us to gloss over certain areas, hoping that this would not cause undue problems for readers. While the number of letters with questions regarding D&D indicates that our assumption was correct, even one or two percent of the readers represents too large a portion of unsatisfied buyers, so we herewith offer a few more details in those areas where questions most frequently occur. In addition, there are a few errors which have been corrected by means of additional sheet in the latest printing of D&D. Those of you with sets of the rules which do not contain these corrections can acquire one simply by sending a stamped return envelope to TSR requesting D&D Corrections.

Combat: CHAINMAIL is primarily a system for 1:20 combat, although it provides a basic understanding for man-to-man fighting also. The Man-To-Man and Fantasy Supplement sections of Chainmail provide systems for table-top actions of small size. The regular CHAINMAIL system is for larger actions where man-like types are mainly involved, i.e. kobolds, goblins, dwarves, orcs, elves, men, hobgoblins, etc. It is suggested that the alternate system in D&D be used to resolve the important melees where principal figures are concerned, as well as those involving the stronger monsters.

When fantastic combat is taking place there is normally only one exchange of attacks per round, and unless the rules state otherwise, a six-sided die is used to determine how many hit points damage is sustained when an attack succeeds. Weapon type is not considered, save where magical weapons are concerned. A super hero, for example, would attack eight times only if he were fighting normal men (or creatures basically that strength, i.e., kobolds, goblins, gnomes, dwarves, and so on). Considerations such as weapon-type, damage by weapon-type, and damage by monster attack tables appear in the first booklet to be added to the D&D series---SUPPLEMENT I, GREYHAWK, which should be available about the time this publication is, or shortly thereafter. Initiative is always checked. Surprise naturally allows first attack in many cases. Initiative thereafter is simply a matter of rolling two dice (assuming that is the number of combatants) with the higher score gaining first attack that round. Dice scores are adjusted for dexterity and so on.

Combat Example: 10 Orcs surprise a lone Hero wandering lost in the dungeons, but the die check reveals they are 30' distant at the time of surprise, so they use their initiative to close to melee distance. Initiative is now checked. The Hero scores a 3, plus 1 for his high dexterity, so it is counted 4. The Orcs score 6, and even a minus 1 for their lack of dexterity (optional) still allows them first attack. As they outnumber their opponent so heavily it is likely that they will try to over-power him rather than kill, so each hit they score will be counted as attempts to grapple the Hero:

  • Assumed armor of the Hero: Chainmail & Shield-- AC 4.

  • Score required to hit AC 4 -- 15 (by monsters with 1 hit die).

  • Only 5 Orcs can attack, as they haven't had time to surround.

  • Assume the following dice scores for the Orcs attacks: Orc #1 - 06; #2 - 10; #3 - 18; #4 - 20; #5 - 03.

  • Two of the Orcs have grappled the Hero, and if his score with 4 dice is less than their score with 2 dice he has been pinned helplessly. If it is a tie they are struggling, with the Hero still on his feet, but he will be unable to defend himself with his weapon. If the Hero scores higher than the Orcs use the positive difference to throw off his attackers, i.e. the Hero scores 15 and the Orcs scored but 8, so the Hero has tossed both aside, stunning them for 7 turns between them.

  • Round 2: Initiative goes to the Hero.

  • Score required to hit Orcs -- 11 (4th level fighter vs. AC 6).

  • Assume the following dice score by the Hero: 19; 01; 16; 09. Two out of four blows struck...

  • Note that he is allowed one attack for each of his combat levels as the ratio of one Orc vs. the Hero is 1:4, so this is treated as normal (non-fantastic) melee, as is any combat where the score of one side is a base 1 hit die or less. There are 8 orcs which can possibly be hit. An 8-sided die is rolled to determine which have been struck. Assume a 3 and an 8 are rolled. Orcs #3 and #8 are diced for to determine their hit points, and they have 3 and 4 points respectively. Orc #3 takes 6 damage points and is killed. Orc #8 takes 1 damage point and is able to fight.

  • All 7 surviving/non-stunned Orcs are now able to attack.

  • Continued attempts to over-power the Hero are assumed, and no less than 4 Orcs are able to attack the Hero from positions where his shield cannot be brought into play, so his AC is there considered 5, and those Orcs which attack from behind add +2 to their hit dice. In the case it is quite likely that the Orcs will capture the Hero.

Saving throws for monsters are the same as for the appropriate type and level of man, i.e. a balrog would gain the saving throw of either a 10th level fighter or a 12th level magic-user (the latter based upon the balrog's magic resistance), whichever score is the more favorable for the balrog. A troll would be equal to a 7th level fighter as it has 6 dice +3, virtually seven dice.

Morale: This is a factor which is seldom considered. The players, basically representing only their own character and a few others, have their own personal morale in reality. Unintelligent monsters fight until death. Occasionally, however, it is necessary to check either troops serving with a party (in whatever respect) or the morale of intelligent monsters. This is strictly a decision for the referee. The system used is likewise up to the referee, although there is one in CHAINMAIL which can be employed, or he can simply throw two dice -- a 2 being very bad morale, a 12 being very good morale. With situational adjustments this score will serve as a guideline for what action will be taken by the party checked.

Experience: Low value should be placed upon magical items as far as experience is concerned, as such items will be highly useful in gaining still more treasure. Thus, in the Greyhawk campaign a magic arrow (+1) is worth a maximum of 100 points experience, a +1 magic sword with no special abilities is valued at a maximum of 1,000 points, a scroll of spells at either 500 or at 100 points per level per spell (so a 6th level spell is worth a maximum of 600 experience points), a potion is worth between 250 and 500 points, and even a genie ring is worth no more than about 5,000 points maximum. Valuable metals and stones, however, are awarded experience points on a 1 gold piece to 1 experience point ratio, adjusted for circumstances -- as explained in D&D, a 10th level fighter cannot roust a bunch of kobolds and expect to gain anything but about 1/10th experience unless the number of the kobolds and the circumstances of the combat were such as to seriously challenge the fighter and actually jeopardize his life. For purposes of experience determination the level, of the monster is equivalent to its hit dice, and additional abilities add to the level in this case. A gorgon is certainly worth about 10 level factors, a balrog not less than 12, the largest red dragon not less than 16 or 17, and so on. The referee's judgement must be used to determine such matters, but with the foregoing examples it should prove to be no difficulty.

Spells: A magic-user can use a given spell but once during any given day, even if he is carrying his books with him. This is not to say that he cannot equip himself with a multiplicity of the same spell so as to have its use more than a single time. Therefore, a magic-user could, for example, equip himself with three sleep spells, each of which would be usable but once. He could also have a scroll of let us say two spells, both of which are also sleep spells. As the spells were read from the scrolls they would disappear, so in total that magic-user would have a maximum of five sleep spells to use that day. If he had no books with him there would be no renewal of spells on the next day, as the game assumes that the magic-use gains spells by preparations such as memorizing incantations, and once the spell is spoken that particular memory pattern is gone completely. In a similar manner spells are inscribed on a scroll, and as the words are uttered they vanish from the scroll.



In 2005, Gary ran an OD&D campaign for his group. This is a compilation of notes about the rules for that campaign. The info was gleaned from Q&As in Gary's Q&A threads on ENWorld & DF as well as some tales of the campaign posted by Deogolf.


  • Only use the three little books---none of the supplements.

Character Generation and Advancement

  • Ability scores rolled as best 3 out of 4d6. Arrange scores to taste.

  • PCs start at 3rd level.

  • Fighters get +1 HP/die. All PCs get +1 HP/die if Con > 14.

  • No training necessary to gain a level.


  • 1d6 for surprise. 1=1 round. 2=2 rounds. 3 or more=no surprise.

  • PCs must declare actions before initiative. Casters must declare the specific spell being cast.

  • 1d6 for initiative. A tie means simultaneous combat.

  • A casting caster who loses initiative will lose his spell if hit.


  • All PCs get 1d6 hp/level. HP rolls are rerolled on a 1.

  • Fighters do +1 damage if Str > 14.

  • Dex doesn't affect AC.

  • Dex does affect missile attack "to hit" rolls.

  • PCs are unconscious at 0 hp. They can go as low as level +1 before death. (e.g. a 4th level fighter can be brought as low as -5 hp and just be unconscious.) A healing potion or cure spell restores them immediately.

Spells & Magical Items

  • To acquire new spells casters must find scrolls, spellbooks, or a friendly higher-level caster.

  • Clerics don't need spellbooks. (The original books can be read to imply that they do.)

  • Gary IDs most magic items immediately (charging large sums of money when they return to town to rest & recuperate for this service). (This is because the players are anxious to get back into the dungeon & don't want to bother with in-town adventures.)

  • Potions must still be tasted to ID, though.

  • Unusual items require a trip to the striped mage.


  • STR > 14: +1 to hit and +1 to damage if a Fighter

  • INT > 14: +1 1st level m-u spell

  • WIS > 14: +1 1st level cleric spell

  • DEX > 14: +1 to AC, and +1 to move silently

  • CON > 14: +1 HP per HD (same as a Fighter class gets, +2 if a Fighter)

  • CHA > 14: +1 (positive) on reaction checks

  • HPs: Characters are only unconscious at 0 HPs. For each level a character may have a minus HP total equal to the level, so a 1st level PC is dead at -2, a 2nd level at -3, etc.

  • When taking damage allow -1 HP per character level