Thursday, December 1, 2016

House Rules 3: treasure, XP, play, and that sort of thing

You might actually want to read this one! But probably not, in all honesty. I'm not really breaking new ground here. I'm mostly just following people like Jeff Rients and Zak and those guys at Ten Foot Polemic and the Hill Cantons and probably a good few others to boot.


Studded leather doesn't exist. Leather is AC 7.

Torches are good for setting fire to things, blinding yourself with an open flame, and making lots of smoke. If people insist on using them in dungeons they light an area of 20' radius and you'll probably constantly be blinding your companions and dripping pitch everywhere and coughing on the smoke. Bring a lantern.

Plate armor is expensive, rare, and custom-made. The price listed in the book is the price for getting a found set re-fitted to you. It must roughly fit you already (no resizing dwarfplate to fit your human fighter), you have to find someone who works with the stuff, and wait about a month. Getting a new set for yourself costs about 300gp and takes 1d4 months to complete.

Weapons all do 1d6. Using a two-handed weapon allows you to roll twice and take the higher result. Using a weapon in your off hand gives you +1 to hit.

Using a silver holy symbol (or one otherwise upgraded) gives you a +1 to your Turn Undead roll.

We're using my simplified encumbrance rules.

Helmets come with all armor, unless you're a halfling. If you're unarmored and wear a helmet, it won't change your AC but might help you out in specific situations (like not causing you to take extra damage from a falling rock trap).

Treasure and XP

Coins are 50/lb. They're still big, but not absurd. This makes a copper piece roughly the size of a £2 piece, a silver piece slightly larger than a quarter, and a gold piece between a dime and a nickel. Assuming they're pure. They're usually not, which would make them somewhat bigger or smaller (but still weigh the same).

Treasure liberated from the dungeon or wilds is worth 1xp per gp shared equally with the party. Magical treasure does not give XP.

Further, some activities in town are also worth XP. Carousing is worth 1XP per gp spent up to the maximum. Other frivolous spending is worth 0.75XP per gp spent up to the maximum, and 0.5XP per gp spent afterward. All expenditures must be from treasure; reinvesting after staking a wildcatter who makes good on his claim might be a good idea, but it doesn't earn you XP.

Carousing: In order to carouse, roll d6x100gp. (This will be larger in well-connected places, and smaller in dinky backwater villages.) This is how much you spend. If you don't have enough, you can borrow from other PCs. If nobody's willing to spot you, you end up indebted to some local of the DM's choosing. Thieves may choose to take +1 to this roll.

Further, roll a Wisdom check. If you succeed, everything's fine - you managed to keep work and play separated and didn't wake up next to anyone you didn't intend to. If you fail, you roll on the Carousing Mishaps table stolen shamelessly from Jeff Rients. (I tried to improve it, but really: can you?)
Carousing Mishaps
1) Make a fool of yourself in public. Gain no XP. Roll Charisma check or gain reputation in this town as a drunken lout.
2) Involved in random brawl. Roll Strength check or start adventure d3 hit points short.
3) Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Roll Charisma check. Success indicates a fine of 2d6 x 25gp. Failure or (inability to pay fine) indicates d6 days in the pokey.
4) Romantic entanglement. Roll Wisdom check to avoid nuptials. Otherwise 1-3 scorned lover, 4-6 angered parents.
5) Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much you lose. (No additional XP for the second carousing roll.)
6) Gain local reputation as the life of a party. Unless a Charisma check is failed, all future carousing in this burg costs double due to barflies and other parasites.
7) Insult local person of rank. A successful Charisma check indicates the personage is amenable to some sort of apology and reparations.
8) You wake up in a barn with no memory of how you got there and no clothes. Your stuff is: Roll 1d6 1-3 buried in the cowbyre 4 carried off by thieves 5 impounded by the authorities 6 nowhere to be found
9) New tattoo. 1-3 it’s actually pretty cool 4 it’s lame 5 it could have been badass, but something is goofed up or misspelled 6 it says something insulting, crude or stupid in an unknown language.
10) Beaten and robbed. Lose all your personal effects and reduced to half hit points.
11) Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewelry. Roll Wisdom check for each magic item in your possession. Failure indicates it’s gone.
12) Hangover from hell. First day of adventuring is at -2 to-hit and saves. Casters must roll Int check with each spell to avoid mishap.
13) Target of lewd advances turns out to be a witch. Save versus polymorph or you’re literally a swine.
14) One of us! One of us! You’re not sure how it happened, but you’ve been initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Did you really make out with an emu of was that just the drugs? Roll Int check to remember the signs and passes.
15) Invest all your spare cash (50% chance all gems and jewelry, too) in some smooth-tongued merchant’s scheme. 1-4 it’s bogus 5 it’s bogus and Johnny Law thinks you’re in on it 6 actual money making opportunity returns d% profits in 3d4 months.
16) Wake up stark naked in a random local temple. 1-3 the clerics are majorly pissed off 4-6 they smile and thank you for stopping by.
17) Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling d6 x 1,000gp paid. All weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
18) Despite your best efforts, you fall head over heels for your latest dalliance. 75% chance your beloved is already married.
19) When in a drunken stupor you asked your god(s) to get you out of some stupid mess. Turns out they heard you! Now as repayment for saving your sorry ass, you’re under the effects of a quest spell.
20) The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! Accidentally start a conflagration. Roll d6 twice. 1-2 burn down your favorite inn 3-4 some other den of ill repute is reduced to ash 5-6 a big chunk of town goes up in smoke. 1-2 no one knows it was you 3-4 your fellow carousers know you did it 5 someone else knows, perhaps a blackmailer 6 everybody knows. 

Frivolous Spending: This includes all spending that doesn't specifically help you be an adventurer. Donating to the local temple, handing out money to beggars, commissioning a portrait, having your armor engraved, and purchasing real estate in town all count. Restocking supplies, upgrading your weapons, and spending gp on rumours do not.

Further, money spent in the 0.5XP range is reflected in the prosperity of the settlement. Drop enough into the local economy and you'll get people moving in, more market opportunities, etc.

XP from Monsters
Monsters are worth a flat 50XP per HD. Monsters of <1HD are worth 10XP.

Heroic Sendoff
When an adventurer dies and the party is unable (or unwilling!) to have them raised from the dead, a PC or retainer (see below) 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 or more. Magic items that would have been unusable by the deceased do not count.

Player Roles
Certain roles taken on by the players accrue a 5% bonus to XP for their characters. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:
  • Cartographer. The person who actually draws the party map. It is not necessary that this player's character be the party mapper.
  • Chronicler. The person who writes up session reports. These need not be terribly in-depth, but should give someone who missed a session a good idea of what important things happened
  • Snack-bringer. Self-explanatory
  • Other roles as I think of them or as they are invented around the table.

Once per session, the players will decide who was MVP for that session. This person gets a 5% bonus or 100XP, whichever is greater.

Exporation is also worth XP. Here are some guidelines. These are per individual involved, but will only be given out once. If it's your first time, but not the first time, too bad.
  • New hex discovered: 20
  • New hex explored: 50
  • New town, village, landmark, or site discovered: 100
  • First time a dungeon is entered: 100
  • Alternate dungeon entry found: 100

Other exploration awards may be added to this list or given in play at the DM's discretion.

Gameplay and Miscellaneous

Shields Shall be Splintered!
This old Trollsmyth beauty. For a magical shield, roll 1d6. If you roll at or under the plus value, it doesn't shatter. Otherwise it does.

Retainers, Henchmen, and Hirelings
Here's the difference, laid out plain.

Retainers are limited by your CHA score. They gain half a share in all XP, and the standard agreement is half a share in treasure plus expenses. Expenses include room and board, plus any equipment replacement or upgrades the retainer may require. (New armor or weapons, a mount, etc.) Retainers typically come with their own starting equipment. Retainers must be lower level than the PC hiring them. Yes, this means you can only start hiring a retainer at 2nd level. Further, retainers are the only sort of follower who has or gains class levels.

Henchmen are mercenary sorts who have hired on for pay to help explore a dungeon or local dangerous wilderness. For dungeon exploration, typical rates are 20gp per diem plus all expenses, though rates may be lower for less-dangerous jobs (e.g. guard the caravan while we go exploring). Henchmen typically come with their own arms and armor (usually along the lines of leather and club). If a henchman survives long enough, he may become a retainer.

Hirelings are non-combat day-laborers. Linkboys, porters, drovers, lackeys, and that sort. Hirelings do not count as skilled labor; if you want to hire a cartographer or a locksmith look elsewhere. Hirelings do not engage in combat or other dangerous pursuits if they can at all help it, and will revolt or abandon the expedition if forced into dangerous situations. A typical agreement for dungeon exploration includes 1gp per diem plus room and board.

Good Help is Hard to Find
Hirelings may be found in pretty much any centre of civilization from the smallest hamlet on up for short-term work. For long-term work, find a town or offer more. If actual numbers are needed, roll 1d10x20 for a village, 1d10x200 for a town, and so forth.

Henchmen are harder to find, but still potentially available even in wide spots in the road. For villages, roll 1d6. For a town, roll 1d6x10, and so forth.

Retainers are hard to find, since people with class levels are rare. They are effectively unavailable in villages, whereas you can find 1d2 in a town, 1d2x10 in a city, and so forth.

Extensive advertising (costing 25gp) will double the number of followers to be found, as will doubling the offered remuneration.

Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote
In Labyrinth Lord, retainers make a Loyalty Check at the end of every adventurer/foray and never return if they fail. However, the player whose character has retainers may decide upon one who will not do so. He still makes a Loyalty check, but if he fails, instead of outright leaving, he requires something more of the PC. This may be a pay raise, better equipment, some time off, or help with something (getting out of debt to the local crime boss, finding a cure for his sick mother, rescuing his brother from bandits, and so forth). If the PC acquiesces to the demands, the retainer will stay.

Planning for the future
A PC may bank wealth and up to one magic item for inheritance. If the PC dies, his heir inherits this money, -10% in straoge and security fees.

Bob is dead, long live Bob!
If a character dies, the player has several options for making a new character.
  1. Roll up another one. Starts at level 1 with 0 xp. Can enter play any time, even in a dungeon. The DM will work it in.
  2. Discover an heir. The heir will only be able to join once the party returns to civilization, but will be entitled to anything put away as an inheritance.
  3. Promote a retainer. A retainer of that PC may now be played as a PC with his current experience and equipment.
Dungeons is Dangerous!
At the end of every session the party must end up back in a safe place. This is not necessarily a town, though all towns count. It could be a base camp, or a caravan, or an idyllic spot in the woods, or even certain seldom-visited portions of the dungeon. If the party fails to make it to a safe spot before the end of the session, make a save vs death. If you succeed, you escape unharmed. Otherwise, roll 1d20 on the table below shamelessly stolen from Jeff Rients:

Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom (d20)

1. You lucky dog! You manage to somehow escape the dark forces of the dungeon. You return to civilization, naked and half-delirious.
2. Waitaminute, Lefty’s not right handed! Situation appears to be #1, but you’ve been replaced by a shapeshifting badguy.
3. Maimed. You escape but suffer the effects of a random critical hit. Also, 50% of your stuff is gone, randomly determined.
4. Alas, you are no more. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains and your stuff back to civilization.
5. Pining for the fjords. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains back to civilization, but your stuff is lost.
6. Dead as a doornail. The general location of your body is known to any surviving comrades.
7. Your stuff has become part of a monster’s hoard and your body part of a monster’s supper.
8. That is an ex-character. The location of your body is unknown to all.
9. Bought the farm. Your body and possessions irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc.
10. Also dead. Your body is irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc. but your stuff is still around for some other jerk to nab at a later date.
11. Held for ransom by seedy humans. A member of the Thieves Guild can arrange release for 1,000gp per character level. 1 in 6 chance the money disappears.
12. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on and the type of monster holding you captive.
13. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on, but not the type of monster involved.
14. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the type of monster involved, but not what level to search.
15. Captured by monsters. Unseen monsters spirit you away to an unknown location.
16. A fate worse than death. Drafted into the ranks of the monsters. Roll d6: 1-2 undead, 3 lycanthrope, 4 charmed, 5 polymorphed, 6 other.
17. You and your stuff are sacrificed to the loathsome Frog Gods in order to gate in d6 Croaking Demons that are added to the dungeon key.
18. A gorgon or somesuch has petrified you. Escaping characters know what level to search for your statue.
19. Lost in the dungeon. GM sets your location each session. Re-enter play if the party finds you.
20. Opportunity for betrayal. Pick one other character who got away safe. Roll 1d6, 1-4 he takes your place and has to roll on this chart while you escape, 5-6 you both suffer the fate rolled by your victim.


  1. I'm super stoked to see that other people are finding my house rules of some use!

    I'm currently in the middle of fiddling with a few rules as part of my apparent annual tradition of tidying up the house rule doc, so it's nice to see what bits people are actually pulling out for their own use!

    1. I look forward to the tidying. A lot of them are intriguing, and I'll definitely be using it for inspiration, but I didn't want to overload this too much at the beginning.

      It's always easier to add complexity than to take it away again, and one of my natural impulses is to make things really complex.

    2. Totally man, I'm the same. Albeit I don't come from a background of GURPS.
      Most of the "tidying" is simplifying things that rarely get used, or that are too fiddly to enforce.

      Like weapon breakage is something I like in theory, but something I forget about. So I'm tweaking it to be easier to handle and easier to get the players to engage with. Fingers crossed!