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Friday, July 25, 2014

House Rules - Do You Do Them and Why?

Recently I was asked if I had my house rules for S&W in one place, and the answer I wanted to give was "Yes. In my head."

It's not that I don't have them written down - most if not all of them have been posted and discussed here at The Tavern - I just don't have them all in a single post, let alone a downloadable document. Maybe with next week's mostly staycation I'll have a chance to rectify that.

The thing is, with me, I find it damn near impossible to run any game, especially an OSR game, as written. With nearly 35 years in the hobby, I have my own ideas of what works best. These days, with all of the OSR games available (many for free) making a mongrelization of the various rule sets is much like picking from the classic Chinese Restaurant menu - 1 from column a, 1 from column b, etc. Swords & Wizardry Complete is my baseline, but my games step far away from that baseline in actual play.

Do you use house rules in your campaigns? Just a few minor ones or a crapton of large ones? Maybe something inbetween. Do you RAW (run as written) and if so, why? If you house rule, why?

22 comments:

  1. I believe that every referee uses house rules. Some of us are both conscious of that fact and willing to admit it. A few of us try to write them all down.

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  2. I house rule almost as quickly as I read new rule sets.
    I think it's just how I'm wired, I live to tinker.

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  3. Yes, although I'm more house 'rule out', as in restricting Pathfinder characters to a single childhood trait when the rules allow for multiple.

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  4. I run a combination of B/X and AD&D. Which means I could actually run Advanced Labyrinth Lord without any house rules.

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  5. Yes, I house rule and I have them written down. Primarily topics which I think are important but which the rules as written don't adequately address. Some might argue that writing down house rules goes against the old-school philosophy of "rulings, not rules". I disagree, it's simply a means of helping ensure my rulings are consistent. But nothing says I cannot make a different ruling later on, if I think it's warranted.

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  6. I'm going to get lynched, but I run BECMI with a handful of supporting house rule documents that in total are a bit under 200 pages. A significant amount of it is for unusual situations that don't apply to most situations, but yeah it is a lot of house rules. Oddly though, I often find that the house rules match up with the majority of original rules than the rules they replace.

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  7. I write down my house rules, and then run them RAW. I prefer written house rules, because I want my players to have the option of reading them once in a while. ;) And a written text can be critically tested much easier than an obscure collection of memorized house rules, rulings, and their exceptions.

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    1. Amusingly, those are exactly the reasons I DON'T write them down.

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  8. On reflection most of the games I used to run (Call of Cthulhu, Champions, Star Frontiers, Gamma World) I ran strictly by the book. Houseruling seems to be mostly restricted to (A)D&D, at least for me.

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  10. If you count unique spells my 1e house rules are a 65 page book.
    Without it is still 48 pages.
    I have my own initiative system, combat sequence, weapon specialization, weapons, etc. I also have alternate rules for many classes, my own classes, special hirelings, custom disease and parasite rules, and more.
    36 years in the same campaign will do that I guess.

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  11. If you have a house rule document what you have is an OSR game waiting for a clean rewrite and polish before release. Share and share alike!

    That said, for AD&D I have a short doc about 8 pages long with my 1E/2E houserules. I'm not sure I'd include all the additional material I've accrued over the ages (I have dozens of unique priests of specific mythoi for 2E, for example) as those are not so much house rules as additional content.....but beyond the basic houserules not much else.

    For 5E I'm debating about some crit damage house ruling and maybe expanding skill options....but waiting for the main books to see what it offers there first. Also, despite liking a "double damage" crit rule I've already slaughtered a couple 5E PCs without trying so they seem a bit squishy even with the current mechanic in place. Skills are the bigger deal for me....I am pro skill systems, love them to death, hoping that the main rules offer more options for expanding skill training and options.

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  12. I house rule.
    For one thing, I can't resist tinkering.
    For another, I'm currently running RIFTS, and to run that game without house rules is to do violence to one's own sanity.
    I always prep a house rules doc and share it with all players electronically. Everyone has to be on the same page.

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  13. My house rules metastecized into their own game. Now I'm writing more games. Weird man

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  14. 1. Yes: I house rule. I've written 1 book of Greyhawk (for ToEE, over 200 pages!) specific house-rules, expanded races, classes, ect., and I'm currently doing the same for Forgotten Realms and the Ruins of Adventure (in booklet form, 64 pages max).

    2. I find it almost impossible that anybody actually played AD&D or even 2e "BtB," even Gygax.

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    1. I can tell you that I myself have run Moldvay Basic "by the book", and I doubt I'm the only one. But you're probably right about AD&D. Back in the 1980's I played AD&D in three states - including at college with people from all over the country - and I never met a single person who used segments, weapon speeds, or weapon vs. AC. To this very day I really don't understand how segments or weapon speed are supposed to work with the d6 initiative system.

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  15. I'll run Rules as Written as soon as the players agree to do the same and not try to do anything outside what's in the rulebook.

    And there's why we all have house rules.

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  16. I use S&W (with Moldvay) but I use a lot if my own DIY hacks, some of which are based on stuff I have found in the OSR blogiverse.

    S&W is my "core" ruleset because it is so easy to hack.

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  17. I run most games RAW, though my current campaign players asked for house rules in DCC. So, now they have general skills supplementing their occupation (but no skill bonus like thieves). With about three more house rules no one has asked for more since about half a year.

    The last BECMI D&D short campaign a friend ran for us was so chockful of house rules, looking into the red box books was almost pointless. It was fun.

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  18. I house rule, but I try to keep it to a minimum (most can be seen on my blog). If its going to cause more work at the table, the payoff has to be good. I'm contemplating using the XP for damage done/taken rules from the Tao blog instead of the xp per HD. I'm using Adventures in the East Mark as my base.

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  19. Buffet style, like yourself. Sometimes a great idea will hit you during the game - just got to go with the creative flow.

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