Here’s a first stab at house rules for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign. Part 2 will cover tweaks to the magic system.
Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances
Character statistics are rolled 3d6 in order. The human classes do not require any stat minimum to qualify, so you can play a stupid Wizard, foolish Cleric, klutzy Thief, or puny Fighter in the dice rolls go that way. If you are unhappy with your character to the point of considering kamikaze attacks, at least get killed as smartly as possible by absorbing some hits that might land on better qualified adventurers.
Random Bonus Languages
The additional languages granted by a high Intelligence score indicate starting languages only. See the [not yet] attached random bonus language charts to determine additional starting languages. Anyone, regardless of Intelligence, may attempt to learn more languages in play.
[I plan on using some pre-made adventuring packs for people who don’t want to take the time to buy equipment.]
Shields Shall Be Splintered!
Critical Hits & Fumbles
A natural 20 on the ‘to-hit’ roll indicates a potential critical strike. Another 20 on a confirmation roll calls for a percentile roll on the Labyrinth Lord’s Super Secret Critical Hit Chart of Doom. Similarly, a natural 1 indicates a potential fumble, with another roll of 1 confirming, sending the poor character to the Double Secret Probationary Fumble Chart of Wailing, Moaning and Gnashing of Teeth. (Hint: Arduin Grimoires may be involved.)
It’s All in the Wrist
Two handed weapons only automatically lose initiative when the optional Individual Initiative rules are being used. Which won’t be often.
One Last Breath
Any time a PC runs out of hit points that character is allowed a saving throw versus Death if they haven't already failed a saving throw to get 0hp. If the roll is made the character is at 1 hit point. At the Labyrinth Lord’s discretion they may also be stunned, unconscious, comatose, feverish, nauseous, mangled, bleeding, or otherwise in a world of hurt. If the saving roll fails, see the rules for replacement PCs below.
Hi! I’m the new party member!
Replacement PCs will be made just like starting PCs (3d6 in order, 0xp). A new PC can join the party immediately if the player desires. Alternatively, the replacement PC can be designated the heir of the dead PC, and as such is entitled to the old PC’s non-magical treasure (minus a 10% inheritance tax) and one magic item of the player’s choosing. However, the heir can only join the party when it returns to civilization or at the start of the next session, whichever comes first. Heirs must be of the same race as the deceased.
Every hero needs a sidekick
To avoid the hassles of starting over with 0xp and rolling up a new character in the middle of a game, the players are encouraged to recruit henchmen. Henchmen earn experience at half rate and normally expect a half share of treasure. They are generally loyal and normally the player runs them as secondary characters, though the Labyrinth Lord reserves the right to step in when needed to protect the interests of the NPC proletariat. If a character with a henchman is incapacitated, the player may immediately promote the henchman to full PC status. The new PC may be bumped back down to the ranks of the sidekicks should the original PC be raised from the dead or unpetrified or whatever.
Friends, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Bob’s cleric. What was his name again?
When an adventurer dies and the party is unable (or unwilling!) to have them raised from the dead, a promoted sidekick (see above) may opt to give the corpse a Heroic Sendoff. This requires at least 24 hours and something cool like a bigass funeral pyre, the raising of a burial mound, or a funeral ship floated down the river. The corpse must be armed and armored for combat, as appropriate to the class of the character. Each party member may donate up to 100gp times the level of the stiff as additional grave goods, the amount being spent is converted to bonus XP for the donor. Each party member may also donate one magic item to the grave. Scrolls, potions, and other one-shot items net a bonus of 250xp, while more permanent items get you 1,000xp. Magic items that would have been unusable by the deceased do not count.
You Shall Be Avenged!
Horus, the God of Vengeance, was slain some time after the fall of the long-gone Venuzian Empire. Yet somehow a trace of his power lives on. When a party member dies and the party causing the death is not immediately slain, a fellow party member may try to invoke the Vengeance Oath. Swearing “by the Dead God” that their friend’s death shall not go unpunished, the party member(s) roll d20. On a 1 they are filled with the Horus-Power. They are immediately under the effect of a quest spell (no save), but d6 statistics of their choice are temporarily boosted to 18 until they achieve their vengeance! Promoted sidekicks and heirs can take a Vengeance Oath, but non-heir replacement PCs cannot.
How do you afford your Rock-N-Roll lifestyle?
At the beginning of each session all PCs will be assessed living expenses for themselves and their henchmen, at 1% of their XP in gold pieces, minimum 1gp.
Ale & Wenches
Optionally when paying expenses as per above a PC may opt to ‘live it up’ by spending 1d6x100gp on general debauchery. The amount spent is converted into bonus experience points. However, rolling above your character’s level of experience indicates a roll on the Secret Carousing Mishap Chart. The 1d6 x100gp figure only applies in backwater burgs like the town near the starting dungeon. Should you travel to bigger towns or cities you can roll a larger die when raising hell.
Alternate Monster XP Rules
Each gold piece worth of treasure brought back to civilization still earns you 1 experience point. For defeating monsters will yield 100xp per hit die. That makes low level monsters worth a lot more but high level monsters score fewer points. Also no bonus XP are gained for special abilities, so a four hit die ogre is worth as many XP as a four hit die wraith that drains levels and is impervious to normal weapons. Pick your foes carefully!
The Big Purple D30 Rule
Once per session each player may opt to roll the Labyrinth Lord’s big purple d30 in lieu of whatever die or dice the situation normally calls for. The choice to roll the big purple D30 must be made before any roll. The d30 cannot be roll for generating character statistics or hit points.
Pick a Faith
Cleric’s must belong to one of three religions in the setting. Lawful clerics must choose between the Church of the Great Gold Dragon (a faux medieval Catholic sort of thingy) or the Twelve (a ‘pagan’ type pantheon with a dozen or so gods and goddesses). Chaotic clerics must choose between the Twelve or the Frog Gods (slimy, grinning amphibian demons). Neutral clerics can opt to be priests of the Gold Dragon, the Twelve, or the Frog Gods. There aren’t a bunch of mechanical differences between the three faiths, but it can make a difference when dealing with NPCs. Other PCs are encouraged to pick a religion, even if they aren’t particularly pious.
Dungeons is Dangerous
Ending a session inside a dungeon requires a roll on the Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom. Make sure you get out before the session ends!
Religion in Ravenloft: Takhisis and the Wolf God
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