Monday, March 8, 2010

House Rules Or Just A New Rule-set?

We've been playing our Swords & Wizardry campaign for about 7 months now. Prior to making my decision on which rule-set to use I did a lot of investigation as to what I wanted out of my game, what I enjoyed about D&D in the first place - pretty much what we've all been discussing over the past couple of years.

I've read through all the retro-clone rules (BFRPG, LL, S&W Core and WB, even Microlite), re-read Holmes and Modvay and skimmed through 1st ed. AD&D. I even read through the OD&D books. All of these rule-sets are great in their own way and each, even the newer reiterations, brings something new to the table, so to speak. So I did my homework. I ended up with S&W mostly because of the rules-lite mechanics and the room for customization.

I then scoured the forums and blogs to pull those customizations together and mix my homebrew stew. It was a fun process and I got to know my game really well.

As we have played, the house-rules have evolved based on suggestions and our collective gaming experience to make, I hope, our play better. I mean, you never know how a rule or concept might work until you play-test it a bit. So modifications have been made.

Now, Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition has come out, chuck-full of 'advanced' style rules and tweaks and chunkyness. I am sure I'll be adapting some of these elements to our game. Some may be optional rules and some not. But at what point am I doing too much work? Why not just adapt to another system that is closer to where the houserules seem to be evolving? I mean, my house-rules are not that unique or anything, just little tweaks here and there. Even if I were to switch to LL, I would most likely pull things out to make it more grittier which is why I choose the S&W Core + Houserules in the first place.

I feel like I'm hitting that middle point between the two extremes. For me, I think it may be easier to build up than to tear down so I think I'm fine sticking with where I'm at for the time being. We'll see where things evolve. As long as we're all still having fun, and I think that we are, then we'll keep on rolling down that same ol' road.


  1. I find that the middle point can vary between groups of players. I currently run a super-simple whitebox game for one group, and a somewhat chunkier LL game for another. I find that if the players (or even the DM) want more options (classes, spells, etc.) it's fairly easy to slip them into a game as time goes on.

  2. I feel your pain. We agonized over which rules to use when we realized we had no chance to play all of them that we wanted to. I settled on LL, added the AEC, and am now in the middle of re-writing it as our own game. It's taking LL/AEC and tweaking it in a decidedly OD&D direction.

  3. @ Cyclopeatron -The classes seemed to be the biggest issue. I adapted some of the classes from the Swords & Wizardry Companion website ( Then I pulled some from other sources such as Holmes and LL. I'll probably be adding the AEC spells too.

    @Kigore - Yeah, it sounds like you're going the top-down approach and I'm going from the bottom-up. I'd be curious to see where we both end up.

  4. This is where I came to when I started writing my own thing.

    Realize that there are certain rules that everyone ignores, everyone has different rules they change, and in the end virtually everyone "houserules" things.

    Heck, everyone seems to houserule Monopoly.

    If it comes down to fundamental mechanics like how classes and skills and such work, I'm sure there's a game system out there for you.