Saturday, 4 December 2010

OSRIC House Rules

For those of you who are interested (probably just the players) here are my standard OSRIC house rules. These are the basic rules that apply to any OSRIC game I run - but some rules may vary with the nature of the campaign setting. In Hyborian Age games, for example, all PC's must be human.

OSRIC House Rules:
Rules and Decision Making
  • The DM IS the Rulebook.
  • No flipping through books at the table because you want to prove the DM is wrong. The DM is never wrong. If there is a discrepancy, the BOOK IS WRONG. Not the DM.
  • The DM's decision is final.
Style of Play:
  • This will be old school gaming – take a look at the “Old School” Primer I sent you for ideas.
  • The DM will adopt a slightly adversarial relationship with the characters. I will not be actively trying to kill off your character but neither will I show any mercy. No punches will be pulled either. Do not expect to be capable of defeating every foe you might encounter.
  • That being said, save or die effects will be fairly rare, and there will always be a way to avoid having to make that save.
Absent Players:
  • Where possible I will try to to “write out” absent characters for the session they miss, in which case absent players get 0xp for the session. If this is not possible (the last session ended halfway through a dungeon with no “safe area's” discovered yet, I will play the character VERY CAUTIOUSLY and your character will earn 1/4xp for the session.
Player Roles:
  • These roles may be permanent or they may be rotated as the players prefer.
  • The Party Caller is the party spokesperson. He tells the DM what the group wishes to do and how it is going to be done.
  • The Mapper makes the maps. Note if you are the mapper, it is assumed that your character is actually mapping the dungeon as you explore. Anything that happens to the party map will happen to the players map as well. If the party map is destroyed or stolen, you'll loose the actual, physical party map. Make copies. You have been warned.
  • The Journal Keeper keeps the players campaign journal. The DM will keep a journal of his own.
  • The Treasure Tracker keeps track of the party treasure and who (or what) is carrying loot that has yet to be parcelled out.
Character Creation:
Note: I occasionally use an alternative system for non-humans characters in my campaigns. When the alternative version is in use, level-limits for non-humans are discarded. non-humans instead have a 10% xp penalty. Check with me before play.
  • As per the OSRIC rulebook which I have made available to you, with the following alterations.
  • There are no alignment-based languages.
  • Fighters may specialize and double specialize at first level as per the fighter class description if they wish.
  • Paladins and Rangers may not specialize or double specialize.
  • I will be imposing racial level-limits. This means demi-human characters should seriously consider multi-classing. However, I have house-ruled some of the level limits as listed below. Additionally, once this level limit is reached, characters can continue to gain levels in these classes but require twice the listed xp to advance to each new level.
  • Dwarfs can be 18th level fighters and max level 8th thieves.
  • Elves can be unlimited level Magic Users and max level 8 thieves. Elf (and half-elf) dual classed magic-users can cast arcane spells while wearing any armor permitted by their classes up to and including chainmail provided it has been made by an elf or custom made for that character (double the cost). If you think this seems unbalanced, remember that elves have no souls and cannot be raised from the dead.
  • Gnomes can be unlimited level Illusionists
  • Halflings can be 8th level clerics.
  • Half Elves can be 18th level Rangers.
  • Half-Orcs can be 18th level fighters or barbarians.
  • Ignore random starting age. Simply pick your characters age.
  • Also see below for optional character classes.
  • Alignment is a guide not a straight jacket
  • Paladins will not loose their powers by associating with non-good party members and will only loose their powers if they knowingly allow evil aligned party members to engage in evil acts. Petty acts of evil or selfishness (such as refusing to contribute funds to pay for a replacement weapon for a character who lost it through this own stupidity) do not count. Banditry and murder do.
Reduced to Zero Hit Points and Death:

  • At 0hp the character is merely temporarily incapacitated , knocked out, stunned, or lying in a groaning heap. He does not lose a hp per round due to bleeding. Cure spells will return the character to consciousness with no loss in memorised spells or penalties to dice rolls. The character can carry on adventuring as normal.
  • At -1hp or below the character loses all memorised spells. The character is now unconscious and bleeding to death. The character loses an additional hp per round until bandaged by another character(a full round action. The character will remain unconscious until brought back to a positive hit point total by magical or natural healing.
  • Even when conscious (back to positive hit points) the character will feel the effects of such serious injuries for some time. This is represented by a -1 modifier to all dice rolls for every negative hit point sustained by the character. This is cumulative -if the character was brought back to positive hit points and then dropped down to negative hit points again (even in the same counter) the total number of negative hit points acquired is used to calculate the negative modifier. This represents broken bones, sprains, deep muscle wounds, blood loss etc. This is refered to as a wound penalty.
  • The negative modifier is reduced by 1 for every full day of undisturbed bed rest.
  • Special Case: The heal spell instantly restores a character to full health. He regains full hit points and does not suffer any negative modifiers to dice rolls due to injury.
  • Any wound that drops a character to negative 5 hit points will leave a scar. For every five scars the character much choose to loose a point from either charisma, strength, dexterity or constitution. This reflects the general wear and tear of so many serious wounds on a characters health and appearance.


    Yoshi has 7 hitpoints. He is dropped to -6hp in a fight. He bleeds for one round and reaches -7hp. Then the party skukenja casts cure light wounds, healing him of eight hit points.

    Although he is now on 1 hp and conscious, Yoshi essentially remains incapacitated. He is at -7 to all dice rolls and has lost all his remaining memorised spells. After leaving the dungeon, Yoshi rests for three days at the party camp. He regains 3 hp and reduces his dice roll penalty for being injured to -4.

    On the fourth day the party is attacked by Brigands. During the fighting, Yoshi catches an elemental burst from a bandit wu-jen and goes down to -1 hit points. Adding this new wound penalty of -1 to his existing wound penalty results in a total wound lenalty of -5. He is now at -5 to all dice rolls and will require a total of 5 days of bed rest to recover from his wounds.

    With the party Shukenja dead, Yoshi remains unconscious for two more days, until he recovers two hit points through natural healing and sits on 1 hp. These two days count as bed rest so he is now at a -3 wound penalty. After three more days of bed rest, he is now on 4hp.
    He no longer operates under a negative modifier to all dice rolls.

    Despite still not feeling entirely at his best (still 3hp short of his maximum) Yoshi's wounds no longer hamper him. He is fit to continue adventuring.

Replacement Characters:
  • When a character dies, your new character begins with 1/4 the xp value of the old one.
XP and Money:
  • Gaining riches gets you experience at the rate of 1GP to 1XP. This applies not just to money but to items (magical or otherwise) sold. However, a magical item that is kept by the party for the use of its members is only worth 1/10Gp value in XP. Even if later sold.
  • The fantasy economy is inflated when compared to reality because gold is much more plentiful in the campaign setting that it is in the real word.

Leveling Up:
The following Levelling Up house rules do not apply to the Isle of the Earthsaker campaign.
  • Training Costs must be paid to level up. This does not necessarily represent simply the cost of paying someone to spar with or train you but also the cost of alchemical materials, ceremonial supplies for prayer, replacement spell-components, arrows and lock-picks for those used up in training, getting amour repaired after an adventure or training session etc. Training times do not apply as such training is assumed to occur during downtime throughout the characters career. For magic-users I will assume that training costs also involve buying a sufficient spell of common (10GP value or less) spell components to last until the next set of training costs. More expensive components will have to be paid for separately and listed in the characters equipment section along with the name of the spell they are used for and how many castings of that spell this quantity will allow. Illusionists do not need material components to cast their spells.
  • Training costs do not need to be spent all at once when the character has sufficient XP to level. The money can be paid in installments. Simply tell the DM how much money you are putting towards training after every expedition and I will keep track of your progress. However, you have your training costs for the next level fully paid before you can level up. You cannot have a "training cost debt" only a "training costs credit".
  • Training costs also represent the cost of "high living" associated with the adventuring life-style: Fight hard, play hard.
Spells and Components
  • Spells that only require verbal components can be cast by a spell-caster with no free hands
  • Spells with a somatic component require that the caster have one free hand.
  • Spells with a material component require that both hands be free, even if no verbal or somatic components are required. They also require that the spell-caster be in possession of the material component in question – see leveling above.
Surprise Bonus and Initiative:
  • The characters surprise bonus never affects the initiative roll, even when using missile weapons
  • Every party member rolls their own initiative using a ten-sided dice.
Searching, Trap Finding, Deactivating etc:
  • Players with a suitable character (dwarf, gnome, thief, assassin) can choose simply to make a roll to find or disarm things such as traps, secret doors, hidden treasure etc.
  • However, should you describe what you are doing, I will apply a bonus or penalty to the subsequent roll based on your actions and the chance of success. Do it really well for an automatic success. Do really badly and get an automatic failure.
  • Anyone (regardless of class) can find and disarm traps simply by describing their actions, what they are searching for etc. If you tell me you are carefully opening the door and peeking for trip wires, if there is a trip wire there you will automatically see it.
  • Paladins will be happy to know that I will NOT be allowing evil clerics to use their Turn Undead power on them.
Optional Character Classes:
  • The Houri, Necromancer, and Barbarian classes (from my blog) are playable in this campaign. Just bear in mind the inherent difficulties of playing so vile a character type as a necromancer. In other words, don't be surprised if your own party kills you. Cavaliers (from Unearthed Arcana) are also permitted.
  • Demi Human Barbarian Level Limits: Half Orc unlimited, Half Elf 12th level.
  • Demi Human Necromancer Limit: Half-Elf 15, Elf 15, Half-Orc 15, Gnome 8, Halfling 8
  • Demi Human Houri Limit: Half-Elf unlimited, Elf 12, Halfling 8, Gnome 8, Dwarf 8.
  • Demi Human Cavalier Limit: Half Elf: 15, Elf 12


migellito said...

"When a character dies, your new character begins with 1/4 the xp value of the old one."

I find this incredibly interesting! I've never heard of anyone doing this before, and never thought of it myself. This could be quite revolutionary.

Ian Coakley said...

"Elves have no souls"

See, this kind of anti-elf propaganda starts wars! You'll make Shadowdancer cry!


Otherwise, looks like a pretty solid job. Liking the traps rulings (I tend towards something similar) and reminding players that "Ooh, but I'm a goodNecromancer!" simply won't fly.

Dangerous Brian said...

@ migellito:
I've found that characters who are between 3-4 levels apart can still adventure successfully together. Any more of a level difference than that and the lesser characters either die constantly or have nothing to do except cower at the back until they catch up. It seem's to provide a good balance without simply giving the player a "free ticket" to a brand new character with the same xp as more cautious players who have managed to keep their characters alive. Giving a player a new character of the same level as the other players seems a bit unfair on more careful players -especially ones that have never lost a character. Conversely, always having a new character start at level 1 seems a bit too harsh, especially given how often OSR characters die through simple bad luck.

@ WTF People only think that because elves can't be raised that they have no souls. Shadowdancer is in a position to know better, since he keeps being reincarnated all the time.