I’ve already established a few house rules to help make characters, particularly low-level ones, more hardy and decided on a few mechanics to make the game more intuitive for gamemaster and young players. Players roll 4d6 and keep the highest three for ability scores, assigning them as they like. They use the same rolling scheme to determine starting gold pieces (though I’m tempted by the idea of pre-determined equipment kits for simplicity’s sake). I’m using Ascending Armor Class (AAC), which requires me to figure out combat bonuses by class and level based off the “Character Attacks” table and rework the “Monster Attacks” table to reflect a flat combat bonus (pretty much +1 for each hit die up to 9); though once that’s done, it’s far more intuitive during the game. Despite my urge to streamline everything, I’m sticking with the standard five saving throws instead of condensing them into one; averaging scores at the different levels for each class just seemed like too much work; my current B/X character sheet has spaces for five saving throws anyway.
Starting Hit Points: I adjusted starting hit points to increase character survival rates at lower levels. Each character begins with the maximum hit points as if rolled on one die level higher than their class hit die plus any ability score adjustment; i.e., a fighter who normally rolls 1d8 for hit points starts with 10 hit points (the max on a 1d10) plus any adjustments. Upon gaining a new level, characters roll their usual hit die to increase their hit points.
|Shields should matter.|
Skill System: I’ve waffled over various mechanics to resolve “skill” uses...essentially anything someone wants to attempt not covered by other rulings (like thief skills, clerics turning undead, folks looking for secret doors, etc.). I’m not a fan of “roll under” systems like ability score checks. I considered giving everyone a 1 in 6 chance of succeeding at anything – essentially requiring them to roll a 6 – yet factoring in ability score modifiers; that didn’t seem to have the granularity I’d like. So I settled on a 2d6 roll on a table similar in spread to the “Monster Reactions” table: 2: exceptional failure; 3-5 simple failure, 6-8 marginal success, 9-11 clear success, and 12 extraordinary success. All rolls adjusted by the relevant ability score modifier. Once again, this skews toward character success, though with some gradations to liven up results.
|I want my spellcasters to feel like this.|
I’m resisting using the advantage/disadvantage die mechanic introduced in D&D fifth edition, just as I am resisting defaulting to that latest iteration of D&D for our core game rules. Although it’s the most popular roleplaying game today and enjoys a vast community of players, I prefer having control over something with which I have greater familiarity; I don’t have time to read my D&D fifth edition intro box rules, nor do I want to invest in the core rulebooks. Like many gamers before him, my son’s initial foray into D&D – however you define it, with whichever edition – will contain enough iconic elements that he can, should he choose, move on to enjoy whichever version he encounters in the future...or any other roleplaying game that catches his interest.
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