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House rules for AD&D 1st edition
gaming
saxifrage00
For the Edge of Empire campaign I'm using 1st edition AD&D rules, but with some tweaks.

First, we're using stone weight encumbrance from Delta's AD&D house rules. This reduces the amount of calculation immensely, and results in numbers that are easy to visualise. A knight wearing 3 stone of armour, carrying 1-½ stone of weaponry, and hauling 2 stone of gear has a total of 6-½ stone of equipment. With average strength, that means she's moving at half speed.

Since Delta's rules and Gygax's tables are a pain to reconcile on-the-fly, I've done up a set of tables for stone weight carrying capacities and their effects on movement rate: Stone Weight - Weight and Speed tables. (More win from Google Docs.)

In addition to that lovely encumbrance system, we're also using two different Experience houserules instead of awarding XP for monsters defeated and treasure recovered. The first is a modified version of Clinton R. Nixon's Sweet20 experience system, which brings the Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday to D&D 3e. (We're modifying them to suit the different philosophy behind XP in 1e.) The idea is that each character has one or more Keys, which are bundles of actions that grant the character XP. For example, the Key of Conscience rewards a character with XP for helping the helpless or less fortunate, while the Key of the Vow rewards the character with XP when they keep a vow (which is chosen by the player) despite inconvenient or dangerous circumstances.

The other XP system we're using (only slightly modified) is Wyrds from Chimera Creative Workshop. (Yay for the Wayback Machine, since that page doesn't exist anymore!) Wyrds are personal quests or goals that give a roll bonus (that increases with level) when doing anything in pursuit of the Wyrd and that, when completed, give a significant amount of XP. Wyrds are player-chosen and can be anything on any scale, so it could be as big as "save the village from the marauding dragon" or as small as "defeat the goblins guarding that door", or even just "cross this river". What keeps it from getting ridiculous is that a character can only receive experience for completing a Wyrd a limited number of times per game session.

What I like about both these XP systems is that they're player-driven. A player can decide that the "Forsaken Temple" on my map looks like it might be full of undead, and declare her Wyrd as "cleanse the Forsaken Temple of undead". I hadn't decided what was in that dungeon beforehand, and now I have a player telling me clearly what kind of adventure they would enjoy having next. (Note too that there are measures built into those systems to change or add to the details of a pull should a player want things to go in a different direction.) What sort of Key a player gives their character also tells me a lot about what kind of play they hope for—a game with a bunch of PCs with the Key of Bloodshed is going to be completely different than a group with the Key of Diplomacy and similar.

Really, that's the best part. They're pure pull mechanics: the player adds something to their character sheet that quietly tells me "do this thing and I will have fun". GMs in traditional games often have a real hard time soliciting any feedback at all, and end up trying to guess how well their campaign direction is being received. A lot of bored players and stressed GMs is a frequent result, though really good GMs learned how to judge and guess what their players want. With two big pulls being laid on me through the Experience system, I will have a much easier time deciding on where to take the game. I won't have to worry about trying to tell the differenced between players who don't like how I'm running the game and players who are just uninterested in the direction it's going. Now, the players are responsible for not only where their PCs go, but also why. I just have to make it happen and make it interesting.

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Your XP systems sound surprisingly similar to WoD's Nature/Demeanor and nWoD's Virtue/Vice systems that determine Willpower regeneration, mixed with 7th Sea's Background system. I like it. Much better than the encounter XP system, I think, which always tends to overemphasize successful combat over RP.

I can only take credit for looking for and pulling together alternatives that others already made. :)

Interestingly, both Clinton R. Nixon's The Shadow of Yesterday (where Keys come from) and Storytelling System were published in 2004. If we arbitrarily rule out coincidence, I'd guess that the WoD people were paying attention to stuff being discussed at the Forge, where TSoY was brewing.

That's what I love about the indie games movement. So much solid roleplaying theory is being articulated and it's leaking into the mainstream.

The encumbrance table seems to go

None - Light - Moderate - Heavy
x - x+3 - x+6 - x+9 (where x= bonus weight)

This means that the difference between encumbrance levels is the same at all levels of strength. The relationship between strength and x follows that weird hockey-stick-with-a-drooping-handle curve that D&D favours for reasons beyond my comprehension - what's the point of stats between 7 and 14? And why the sudden curves at either end in a system that's modeled on bell curve randomness?

Why not base it directly on one's strength number with each tier of exceptional strength adding 1*?

Consider:
<= strength/2 = full move
str = 3/4 move
1.5 x str = 1/2 move
str x 2 = 1/4 move

Voila: a much smaller chart, and one more interesting to characters of non-outlier strengths



*"Exceptional strength" is bascially a fancy name for "the numbers 19-23." Being a fighter should just give you a bonus to strength, period.

As a teenager, being the only person with so much as a tenuous grasp on how numbers work led me to grit my teeth at the gaming table.

Actually it stil does.

Caveat up-front: the stone-weight table is just a straight-across adaptation of the original encumbrance system. It also "featured" the minimal differences between encumbrance levels.

Note that 9 stone is quite a lot of weight. With 1 stone = 15 lbs, that's 135 lbs. The dynamic that it sets up is the "straw that broke the camel's back" style of encumbrance. A mighty-thewed barbarian can haul around 360 lbs without breaking a sweat, but up that to 405 lbs and she's starting to feel it. 495 lbs is back-breaking, and 500 lbs is just right out.

For a fantasy game, that doesn't bother me as in-game reality. It also has the nice advantage of skewing movement rates closer to the full rate for most strengths and loads, rather than quickly pro-rating them.

Your proposal is a much simpler table, yes. It doesn't have the usual handling-time disadvantage that calculations have versus lookup tables because it'll be written down on the character sheet as a small lookup anyway. So, that leaves what it models in the game world.

As I wrote earlier, the barbarian with 18/00 (we'll translate that to 23 for this system) would be able to pack around an incredible 690 lbs at a trudge, but would find herself slowed with a mere 173 lbs. With the original system, the same barbarian can pack 495 lbs at a trudge, but doesn't even feel 360 lbs. I like both, but which system is "right" is a matter of what kind of fiction is being explored. For a dungeon-crawling 1e game, I prefer the OP version. (I reserve the right to change my mind with play experience, of course. :) )

Something else you said:

what's the point of stats between 7 and 14?

Very little, mechanically. Ironically to our modern perception of the game, old school D&D was very much about making character features matter fictionally instead of mechanically. Five of the Original D&D stats didn't give any bonuses to anything (DEX bonus to AC is the exception). Stats "did" nothing at all. OD&D players and DMs were expected to use stats for adjudicating how the PC interacted with the environment, sans mechanics, as they saw fit.

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