Thursday, December 29, 2022

A Fistful of Crystals

Character Generation
and House Rules for My Home Game

I'm going to be running a Crystal Frontier game online, the first semi-public game I've run since the end of G+.  In preparation rather then introduce my house rules piecemeal I've prepared a character generation and basic rules document for the game.

It includes the major subsystems for my house ruled version of Original Dungeons & Dragons (the 1974 pre-Greyhawk version, but not using Chainmail). This is the system I've used for several years and I find it works quite well for dungeon crawls. The goal is a quick, low complexity system that makes exploration a coequal element of play and can be used for online two to four hour sessions in an expedition based (each session you must leave the dungeon) campaign.

They make significant changes to the base OD&D system, though I think most of these changes fill in voids in the original rules or streamline areas where the design doesn't support contemporary games. At it's core though it should still be that same sort of D6 and D20 based flatter power curve, high lethality system as the original.

Major changes to OD&D include:
  • Minor adjustments to Stat bonuses/penalty.
  • Minor adjustments to class abilities and progression.
  • Regularizing combat maneuvers and actions. 
  • Non-Vancian cleric casting based.
  • Replacement of all magic-user combat spells with "Maleficence".
  • Armor system simplification
  • .Skill system that allows wider variation within "Thief" class.
  • Replacement of Weapon v. AC system with "Weapon Tags" system.
  • Death Save.
I've also added some specifics to support the setting:
  • Cleric spell lists for 4 different deities.
  • Equipment generation tables by class.
  • Assorted explanations for why and how various subsystems are meant to be used.
At some point I may decide to combine these rules (or at least the equipment lists) with additional rules for horses with a more in depth gazetteer of the frontier, but that is likely far off.


  1. Your house rules look excellent. I've only skimmed them so far, but the weapon qualities ("overpowering", "unpredictable" etc.) and the various combat options (e.g. fighting defensively) are creative and well-thought out (and restrained -- the mark of an experienced designer / DM). Very nice! Keep up the good work & a Happy New Year to you!

  2. Great content. I really love the equipment lists! They speed up character creation and add give a great intro in a non-boring way.

    I'd be very interisted in hearing (reading?) your thoughts about the 3-8d6 cheks, specifically how you decide on difficulty, for example do you consider the attribuete score of the character?

    1. I do not consider the PC stats. The difficulty is generally something I write beforehand in my notes. As noted in the doc, most tasks don't require a roll: climbing a wall or a tree is just done. Trick dangerous tasks require a roll.

      Let's take an example here of a door. Forcing a door loudly requires 3D6 vs. STR (rather then the 1-2 on a D6 - we'll get to that). Forcing a door quietly (no additional encounter roll beyond the turn a 4D6 - still easy for someone with a high STR). On failure you'd have to roll again and/or it would make a lot of noise depending on the door.

      Picking the lock would be harder (because I want a skill involved) - maybe 6d6 for a regular lock? Of course the skilled character subtracts 1 or 2 D6 and can decide between two stats to roll under.

      So it's subjective, but largely designed in at the adventure design level (as are most things) and so it fluctuates at least to some degree with the difficulty I want to put in the adventure/expected PC level. Of course the fiction also justifies the difficulty (e.g. The lock is magic or the door is iron).

  3. Replies
    1. If you are on Discord you can! I regular post sessions on the NSR discord and it's an open table.

      Derek one of my regular players is publishing these very good play reports - quite perceptive about my design process as well.


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