WeD&D House Rules

edited March 2012 in Story Games
To celebrate our sixth session—and the fact that no one died (or even took a point of damage)—I thought I'd post the house rules we've developed in the last six sessions:

WeD&D House Rules
  • WeD&D exists to have fun in the context of playing the Moldvay D&D edition
    The Moldvay 1981 Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules shall be used as the prime reference for all rules
    Any Mentzer rules or new house rules shall be introduced ad hoc and be approved by the group
    This document attempts to list all house rules that we have adopted.
    All participants in WeD&D can make suggestions for house rules
    We only listen to music published in 1989 and earlier while playing WeD&D
    Players are encouraged to bring music to add to the collection
    WeD&D involves six characters who recur each session. The player of a character may be its creator or, if its creator is absent, another player who takes the role.
    Players must sit in marching order from left to right facing the GM.
    The position of caller cannot be held be a player attending WeD&D for the first time.
    As the GM, I will endeavor to make all to-hit, damage and saving throw rolls in the open.
    Wandering monster, trap checks and other exploratory rolls will be concealed.
    Death of a character you created gives you the first pick for creating a new character. In order to exercise this privilege, you must attend the session following your demise.
    If one of the six characters is killed and its owner cannot attend the subsequent session to exercise his or her privilege, characters can be created by new players on a first-come first-serve basis.
    If you kill a character you did not create, you must provide the creator with a cupcake, cookie or brownie.
    Taking over NPCs upon character death: If any NPCs are available for play upon the death of a PC, that player shall take on the roll of an NPC until the conclusion of the session. At that point, the player can decide to remain in the role of the NPC and thus elevate it to PC status or she can return the NPC to its former status and make her own new character
    You may not deliberately suicide or kill off a character.
    Moldvay has provisions for generating Hopeless Characters. We defined “hopeless” as a character with two or more penalties from stats.
    Moldvay has provisions for rerolling hit point dice that turn up a 1 or 2. We have embraced this enthusiastically.
    Tests against stats (d20 method) are used to resolve situations outside of the scope of combat, morale, reaction, saving throws and spells.
    Making a firebomb requires a Wisdom check
    Firebombs must be lit from an open flame
    Firebombs require a missile attack to-hit roll to be made against the target creature
    Firebombs ignite upon hitting on a 4+ on a D6.
    An unignited firebomb may be lit with a successful melee attack with a torch.
    If not in combat or simply attempting to block pursuit, there is no roll necessary to deposit flaming oil at a location.
    Rest on 6th Turn: We are not using the rule that requires the characters to rest every sixth turn of exploration.
    I believe it’s unnecessary given that the rate of exploration is so slow (usually 60’ per 10 minutes/1 Turn) and that combat lasts less than a minute but still still eats up a whole turn regardless of its actual duration in rounds.
    Also, since you usually spend so much time talking, the 1/6th rest rule seems triply redundant.
    Three watch rest: the rules in Moldvay are unclear how much time is exactly need to be considered rest. It says “a day” but what does that mean? B2 clarifies the point saying explicitly "24 hours are needed…." We have played with the rule that surviving three watches undisturbed in a dungeon allows for recovery of 1-3 hp per character and recovery of spells. I believe our ruling should override the clarification of rest in B2 and stand as we've played it.
    Players determine the order of watches. If there is no encounter on their watch, they must rouse the next watch with a whispered “All quiet.” or similar. If there is an encounter, that player is responsible for raising the alarm.
    Damage: We are using the optional damage rules for weapons as described in Moldvay. In addition, Moldvay states that the DM rolls for damage. While I see the clear benefit of this procedure, I am too stupid and disorganized to roll for each player's damage. Therefore, each player shall continue to roll his or her weapon and spell damage.
    Initiative: We use the optional rule for initiative called “Paired Combat.”
    Mining and Excavation: We have adopted the rather generous mining and excavation rules from the AD&D Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide. A STR check is also required.
    Rest: Resting in town costs money. Each hit point recovered from rest costs 3D6 gold.
    You may go into debt to your friends, the inn or local hospice
    If the price is too high for rest, you may move on to another town and reroll the cost.
    Travel: Travel overland or oversea via conveyance like caravan, post horse, roads, etc. costs money. Each hex traveled costs 2D6 gold.
    If traveling to a new location for a new dungeon, newly created characters do not have to pay this fee. They join the group once they reach their destination and thus do not travel per se.
    Javelins: Keep on the Borderlands describes javelins used by goblins, but there is no damage for javelin in Moldvay. I assigned them a damage of D4.
    Sipping a potion of invisibility (as described in Moldvay) causes invisibility that lasts for D4+4 turns.
This list is numbered and subnumbered in its native form, but I can't figure out how to get the subnumbering feature to work in HTML.
For example, Firebombs are all under one heading.
But you get the idea.


  • This house rules list thing seems like a really great approach to keeping old-school play from devolving into the usual tarpit of crossed expectations this game usually runs into.

    Oh, hey, most important question... why 1989, specifically?
  • this list is great! i especially like its comprehensiveness.

    also, re: 1989 - - because that's the year the wall fell, man! lol nah i just made that up.
    it does mean you can listen to Operation Ivy while playing, though, which is fine by me ^___^
  • 1989 because it's the end of the 80s! Moldvay was published in 1981, so 80s and back are the only tunes acceptable. Lots of punk rock, rap, new wave and metal with the occasional rock and Zappa floating by.

    The Moldvay rules instruct you to develop house rules. They state that they should be made as needed and cleared with the players. So most of this is a document of calls I've made during the game. Some of it reflects my opinion after the game.

    The document exists as a google doc that all players can comment on and modify if need be.
  • So wickedly cool Luke!

    'If you kill a character you did not create, you must provide the creator with a cupcake, cookie or brownie.' - I assume the DM needs to honour this rule most of all :)

    We played with a slightly different musical menu in the 80's.... Lots of the Police, Midnight Oil, ACDC, Black Flag and most delightfully..... Kate Bush.
  • We've heard from AC/DC and Kate Bush. Black Flag is in there somewhere.

    You point out a very interesting artifact in that rule: DM is exempt! It's meant to soft the sting of having your character killed when you're not there. So it works out in that respect, and we've had one mournful cupcake given.
  • Great list!

    I know most of the people playing and they rave about the game.

    Have you tried playing with up to eight players?

    The 1981 edition mentions the game works best with 4-8 players, and I imagine techniques like the Caller help keep this manageable. In most RPGs, I prefer 4 players but I find the idea of a game that supports more appealing. I wonder what other techniques, like the Caller, could be implemented to make this easier.
  • Hi Jenskot,
    We can't play with more than 6 because I can't fit any more than that around my table. We're at capacity. Also despite the role of the caller and the recommendations for the game, I feel like six is the upper limit for dungeon crawling.

    Check this out: In our set up we have a caller and two mappers. This also means that usually two other people are assisting the mappers (sometimes the caller is an assistant). Which means that one or two people are sitting around lost and bored at any given moment. The more players we add, the less they have to do. The less they have to do, the more boredom sets in. And boredom, as I've experienced, is a game-killer for multiple reasons. So six seems like our limit for keeping people focused and interested in the game.

  • edited March 2012
    (The original D&D text suggests 4-50 players "in a single campaign". I guess it's clear they don't mean at once, but still.)
    ((This is one of those times I wish SG had marginalia))
  • Thanks for the reply Luke!

    Is there anything the 1-2 lost and bored players can do while the caller and mappers do their thing?

    Could there be a treasurer? Someone who keeps track of everything you find, how much it is worth, how much it weighs. Maybe someone can track time and resources. It's been x turns, time for a new torch! I haven't played enough to know all the possibilities. It just makes me wonder what Caller and Mapper like roles are hiding to be discovered. Hopefully roles that aren't meta and represent what both the player and character are doing to keep the roles uniform.
  • edited March 2012
    I think this might be a separate thread, but I shall indulge you.
    When the mappers are mapping, everyone needs to be quiet. When the caller's calling, everyone needs settle down. We had a couple of sessions when everyone was talking over each other and I couldn't hear the caller—who was sitting right next to me. So there needs to be a time set out for other activities when those things aren't happening.

    At the moment, in our group, the caller keeps the log of encounters and treasure. One player has proposed splitting the role into treasurer and caller.
    According to the rules, time is tracked by the GM. The players are welcome to give it a shot but I'm not obligated to correct their time log. >:)

    Hope that helps,
  • edited March 2012
    Hey John, just yesterday I was thinking about a team leadership of Caller, Mapper and Quarter Master (treasurer). I figured that each night around the campfire the adventurers would hand over treasure that they'd collected during the day's dungeoncrawling, the Quarter Master would log it and then divvy it out to be carried by members of the party. Any time after the party has gone to sleep for the night, the DM could 'audit' the Quarter Master and make sure that no one was over encumbered, all the gold was accounted for, etc.

    EDIT: Luke and I cross posted. I think around the campfire is a good way to guarantee the Quarter Master has some quiet time: the other players will be figuring out how many HP their characters heal, which spells they prepare the next morning, etc.
  • edited March 2012

    What roll has encumbrance played in your game? For me it was allways such a hassel. Have the rules added to your fun?

    I was curious if you guys taked about any hoise rules for encumberance.


  • We used to have a mapper, keeper of the kill list, treasurer and diary keeper in our D&D game. You got 5% XP bonus for each of these roles.
  • Troy,
    We are using the optional encumbrance rules. Last night was the first time they came into play. A couple of the characters had to dump extra equipment to stay at the 60/20 movement rate. They have an NPC hireling (magic user) whose job it is to carry the coinage. So far, the hall hasn't been so great that they've had a problem carrying it out. It usually amounts to less than 100 coins per head (though the value might be higher due to the presence of gems and jewelry).

    D&D can get troublesome when the players become walking weapon piles. The encumbrance rules help hedge against that outcome.

  • Posted By: Troy_Costisick
    What roll has encumbrance played in your game? For me it was allways such a hassel. Have the rules added to your fun?

    I was curious if you guys taked about any hoise rules for encumberance.
    I'd like to hear a bit about that too. It was one of those things tht was a PITA to me as a kid, so we tended to just dump the whole concept.

    It was only a couple of years ago when i went back and looked again at those rules that I realized how important encumberance was to the whole play of the game, and how it was another resource to be managed, especially as it related to how a party acted both in the initial exploration of a dungeon, and what they hd to do to atually get out of the dungeon intact once they had acquired loot.

    (Hint: it's part of the reason that not all of your fighters should be Turtles with Sword and Board).
  • Great stuff. Especially the music clause.
  • So encumbrance serves primarily two purposes?

    1. To force you to make decisions about what tools you carry. You can't bring a spear, an axe, a sword, a crossbow, etc...

    2. It comes into play if you have to run away from something. When you need to outrun a monster (or a companion!), suddenly the armour you decided to wear is revealed as a meaningful (and possibly lethal) decision!

    Does that sound right, or are there more?

    Does Moldvay punish your thief skills or spellcasting for encumbrance and armour, for example?
  • 3. It limits how much loot you can carry out of the dungeon (and thereby potentially limits how much experience can be gained from returning coinage to town).

    Moldvay is very strict about armor for thieves (leather only) and magic users (none). Otherwise, there's no penalty for encumbrance specifically for these characters.
    We've found that there is benefit to be gained by keeping a high (unencumbered) movement rate, but we've also found that these characters can carry a lot of gear since they don't have big weapon/armor load outs.
    This has made true dungeoneers out of our magic users. They haul packs full of tools and surprises. Every so often they cast a spell or hurl a dagger.

  • Wow, that's hilarious.

    Do movement rates factor into exploration in any meaningful way? (I would imagine that generally the group travels at the speed of the slowest member, if you even keep track of time that precisely.)
  • Hi Paul,
    They factor profoundly into exploration.

    Unarmored/unencumbered: 120' of exploration every ten minutes (120'/turn)
    Lightly armored/encumbered: 90'/turn
    Moderately armored/encumbered: 60'/turn
    Heavily encumbered: 30'/turn

    Torches only last 6 turns. Lanterns last 24.
    Wandering monsters are checked for every two or three turns depending on the dungeon.
    Spells have durations in turns, for example LIGHT lasts 6 turns plus 1 per level.

    So your movement rate determines: how much area you can cover, how much light you burn covering that area and how many creatures you encounter while covering that area.

    So yes, meaningful.
  • Luke, one thing I was doing back when I was running Moldvay was to make one guy the Encumbrance Wrangler. This is probably about as boring as doing nothing, maybe moreso, but if some guy is getting on your case, you can be like, "Excuse me, Mr. Dungeon Master? It's been two turns, have any monsters wandered into us?" (This does not make that player more popular. But it was good to get out some spite.)
  • (Thanks, Luke! That makes a lot of sense -- those are elements of D&D rules I never experienced myself, so they're a bit foreign to me.)
  • Can someone explain why your exploration rate is slower encumbered (in the fiction and not from a gamey perspective)? Walking slowly and carefully with a heavy load might be more tiring but not in any way slower.
  • When you're doing it all day and needing to husband your energy, you go more slowly with a heavier pack on your back than with a little fanny pack. I don't know if that's the point, but it's true, in my experience.
  • Posted By: KripplerCan someone explain why your exploration rate is slower encumbered (in the fiction and not from a gamey perspective)? Walking slowly and carefully with a heavy load might be more tiring but not in any way slower.
    Yes, more tiring and also harder when negotiating rough or wet ground.

    Part of it is leftover assumptions from wargames; heavies simply move slower over the long haul than lights.

    As for the affect on play, consider what happens when the party comes to a three-way intersection, and nothing differentiates which section is going to be of interest.

    If you all stick ttogether, you may be temporarily safer, but you can only explore one tunnel at a time.

    The better answer is actually to eplore all three tunnels while the party waits at the intersection for three different scouts to go down each of the tunnels one move and report back.

    That's traditionally at least one thief, a lightly armored fighter, and probably a lightly encumbered elf.

    Assuming they all return, the paty then picks one tunnel and proceeds down it with new information gathered by the scout. The other two tunnels are covered by a guard (usually one of the scouts, preferably the light fighter or the elf, while the party moves on (prevents nasty critters coming up from behind).

    It's basically the same procedure as amilitary column on the move; You send out quick recon units to see what's up ahead and make sure noting is coming up on your own flanks.

    Always sticking very tightly together is actually a very bad plan, despite traditions that have developed.
  • We tested some of Kbob's assertions in our last two sessions.

    In one session, they stuck together without recon and found themselves stumbling from ambush to ambush.
    In the next, they sent two invisible Elves forward and managed to avoid many ambushes and a trap.
    Movement rate, however, was slow. The Elves were still moving at the relatively slow 60'/Turn for exploration.
    Luckily for them, the dungeon areas were relatively small.
  • edited March 2012
    If they were unencumbered, why weren't they moving 120' ?

    Was it just out of habit to stick close, or were the elfs, already invisible, still all gear covered?
  • Never said they were unencumbered. They were both geared up: plate mail, shield, weapons. Our Elves roll heavy.
  • Posted By: Luke WheelNever said they were unencumbered. They were both geared up: plate mail, shield, weapons. Our Elves roll heavy.
    Ah yes, when the urge to keep your personal character alive runs headlong up against what a minis gamer would do with a small unit of troops.

    Well, that's part of the fun really isn't it?

    I don't have my books handy; what's the chance for a goblin to hit an invisible target once they're even aware there is a target?

    Follow up question: have your players realized those odds yet?

    Mind you, I don't blame the players, and that's certainly in line with how we played as kids, which s part of the reason we skipped encumberance rules back in ye olden days.

    Even with just Basic rules though, there's a good reason to have a Conan type fighter with high Str, Dex, and Con up front as basically an unarmored scout, and have your more mediocre fighters playing the turtles. or have elfs acting as sorta kinda rangers, or halflings as thieves, even if the game doesn't give special rules for it.
  • edited March 2012
    In our experience, armor class trumps every other consideration at first level.

    Also, we don't have the luxury of characters with three high stats. We've had five our six original characters die in six sessions, plus two of their replacements. The high stat characters all died. The two longest surviving characters started with the worst stat blocks—and not for cowardice or being placed in the second rank, they've taken their hits with everyone else.
  • Posted By: Luke WheelLots of punk rock, rap, new wave and metal with the occasional rock and Zappa floating by..
    Frank "Character Killer" Zappa can suck it.
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