Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gary Gygax's OD&D house rules (2005)

I suspect that this set of house rules has already appeared on every OSR / retrogaming forum, website or blog. Nevertheless, I believe that I should include it here. It's very good (almost perfect in its simplicity) set of house rules after all!
  • Not using the supplements. Only the three little books.
  • Ability scores rolled as best 3 out of 4d6. Arrange scores to taste.
  • All PCs get 1d6 hp/level. HP rolls are rerolled on a 1.
  • Fighters get +1 HP/die. All PCs get +1 HP/die if Con > 14.
  • Fighters do +1 damage if Str > 14.
  • Dex doesn't affect AC. (It does affect missile attack "to hit" rolls.)
  • PCs started at 3rd level.
  • PCs are unconscious at 0 hp. They can go as low as level +1 before death. (A 4th level fighter can be brought as low as -5 hp & just be unconscious.) A healing potion or cure spell restores them immediately.
  • 1d6 for surprise. 1=1 round. 2=2 rounds. 3 or more=no surprise.
  • PCs must declare actions before initiative. Casters must declare the specific spell being cast.
  • 1d6 for initiative. A tie means simultaneous.
  • A casting caster who loses initiative will lose his spell if hit.
  • No training necessary to gain a level.
  • To acquire new spells: Casters must find scrolls, spellbooks, or a friendly higher-level caster.
  • Clerics don't need spellbooks. (The original books can be read to imply that they do.)
  • Gary IDs most magic items immediately (charging large sums of money when they return to town to rest & recuperate for this service). (This is because the players are anxious to get back into the dungeon & don't want to bother with in-town adventures.) Potions must still be tasted to ID, though. Unusual items require a trip to the striped mage.


  1. What rules are you using for potion tasting? I was working on a scaled procedure for this at one point, so any experience with it would be useful.

  2. Arcane Lore skill (I shuld white about skills in my campaign in a few days) or just "drink it and then we'll see" :D

  3. And of course IDing a potion will require to taste it / commit more complex magical research.

  4. Interesting. Do you use any particular method of tasting, or just gulp some of it?

  5. Yeah, just drinking, even a small amount. In some cases, potion can have a short and partial effect (i.e. potion of invisibility can make a character transparent for a few moments).