Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

Cherrypicking my own system

About a week ago I came across a post showing off one DM’s Dungeons & Dragons houserules.
Since then I have been working on my own. The idea was just too good to let it go. Why should I not create my own set, after all, how hard can it be?
Not very much it turns out. But it is kind of time consuming, and very, very enlightening.
It’s interesting to create ones own variation of the game. I always loved the comfort and quickness of D&D, so why not use that for me? Why stick to rules that I would change anyway.
So I took the text versions of the Labyrinth Lord books (both the core and the Advanced Edition Companion) and stripped out everything that was superfluos for the players. My idea with that was to create a book that the players could use as a reference during the game. Not unlike, say, a Players’ Handbook so to speak.
I noticed early that my goal of making a digest sized version would be not too easy though: I wanted to include the spells to give my players the whole host of things they needed on their side, but those made the book grow about double in size.
I went on nevertheless. Out went all the parts which are basically DM material, out went all the things that I didn’t like, in went houserules and clarifications and variations.
Some of those things that I am trying to do:
* The Encumbrance rules went out. Oh sure, sometimes they are important, but I rarely ever use them as they just lead to too much bookkeeping. I will just say something as a GM if the encumbrance becomes too large (oh, hey, that anvil could come in handy…)
* The Gnomes I am sitting on the fence about. I don’t really like them. So why keep them in my own system. I am thinking of making them available as an advance race though.
* The wonderful LL dual system of Race as class and Race/Class will be kept and melded together, although the Race/Class system is right now marked as optional. But I figured that Half-Elves and Half-Orcs don’t really make much sense as their own racial classes.
* Orcs. I took them from the Frightful Hobgoblin supplement and from an old issue of White Dwarf. I never knew why orcs should be a NPC race, so why not give them some chance?
* Goblins! Kobolds! Uruk Hai! Yeah, I love those.
* Hobbits are Hobbits! Although I gave variations for Dragonlance Kenders and T&T Black Hobbits just for the fun of it.
* Fighters get some variations like Barbarian or Duelist which they can choose on first level. Keeps me from having to add a separate Barbarian class as well. Also Fighters can become Superheroes at 8th level.
* The Necromancer as a PC class with separate spell list. Because why not. Also the question will come up.
* The White Apes from Realms of Crawling Chaos and a few Lovecraftian spells for the fun of it.
* Elves get a Woodelf variant that uses the Druid spell list. The description of the others might be more in line of Melniboneans instead.
* Runequest-like Ducks because Ducks are cool.
* Clerics have a Cultist variation for that particular kind of evil/chaotic cleric living in secrecy.
* My Cat, Neanderthal, and Shaman classes are showing up. The Cat class gets a makeover towards a puss-in-boots adventurer, the Shaman will be an option for most goblinoid races. I just still didn’t create any spell list for them.
* Character generation is 3d6 straight. Maybe 7x3d6, drop lowest if they ask nicely.
* The experience rules got revamped into something… different. Hopefully it will keep them from fighting everything they come across. Influences here are Merp, DSA, T&T, Arduin, White Dwarf, and a lot of the OSR Blogosphere.

What I want to include, maybe, but don’t know how yet:
* There is a fantastic jester class that is compatible. I am just unsure if it would fit my style of game, or make sense at all. Notably a similar Jester is a perpetual feature in DSA since it’s 1st edition, and there he often is seen a superfluous flavor class that barely gets any play.
* Similar with the Alchemist from an old Dragon issue. It’s enticing, but…
* Psionics: Oh I so want this. The problem is how. Right now the easiest options would be to either adapt the SRD Psionics into something compatible, or use Hack and Slash’s Psionics, which arguably are a bit complex.


8 responses to “Cherrypicking my own system

  1. Old Guy February 22, 2012 at 4:07 am

    For a great many years I have maintained a custom PHB and I like it much better than simply adding post-its to a standard book. For one, I found notes to be constrictive. There was only so much you could put on a post-it so I kept my changes minimal. This made it hard to adequately rewrite certain spell descriptions. By maintaining my own PHB, I had complete freedom to be as verbose as needed. It also made it far easier to add, delete, and rename spells (as well as reorganize them alphabetically instead of by class and level). I found it useful to do the same for the DMG and MM as well.


  2. Brendan February 22, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    You might be interested in a psion class I whipped up a while back:


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  6. micahblackburn March 10, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I really like this idea. If I had a word doc of Adventurer Conqueror King I might do something similar. As it is, I’ve started adding notes to my pdf of ACKS which contain any houserules and such. Some of them are a bit too wordy, but in general, it works so far.


  7. Geoffrey March 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

    I already was using a preliminary version of my own rulebook in my last session. It does work. The system is exactly as I want it and if I notice I don’t like rules I can just replace them or kick them out altogether. It boils down to be a slightly more complex version of BX with a lot of crunch in between (lots of classes and spells extra), while still staying rather close to what both my players and me expect from the system. Also: no arguing about rules interpretations anymore, because I WROTE the rules.


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