Anyway, it is time to present the house rules for the campaign:
- Ability scores: roll 3d6 twelve times, chose six and arrange as desired. If you include the lowest score rolled, you get to roll one other ability score again. Three times. If you roll higher than the current score, you get to keep the higher score.
- Bonus spells: Clerics and magic-users receive bonus spell slots based on their Wisdom respectively Intelligence. INT or WIS 13-15: one first level bonus spell, INT or WIS 16-17: one second level bonus spell, INT or WIS 18: one third level bonus spell. The spell slot becomes available when a cleric or magic-user becomes elligable to cast spells of that level.
- Strength bonus is added to weapon damage.
- Elves are called swamp elves. Their appearance is wizened, with flinty black eyes, twisted arms and legs. They are reed thin. Apart from that they follow all the rules of the elven class.
- Alignment: all clerics and all dwarves are lawful, all magic-user and elves are chaotic.
- Starting Gear: all characters start with the same starting gear. Leather armor, shield, small weapon, dagger, traveling clothes, backpack, purse, bedroll, latern & lamp oil, one healing potion (1d6+1), 10 iron rations and 1d6 sp. Since each iron ration fills one encumberance slot, I give the players the option of foregoing some or all rations and gaining 1 sp per ration not taken instead. Magic-users and elves start with a spellbook, of course. Reasoning behind this package is to get gaming as fast as possible.
- Two new common activities: Legend lore (knowledge about the campaign world) and busking (useful for performing and earning money). Legend lore starts at 1 in 6 and is modified by the Intelligence modifier. Busking also starts at 1 in 6 and is modified by the Charisma modifier. A successful busking roll earns 1d6 times roll result in copper pieces.
- Starting spells for magic-users: Read magic. Then the player rolls 3 plus Intelligence modifier times on the chart of first level magic-user spells. Duplicates are re-rolled. He can pick three. The magic-user does not get more spells, he just has more choice. I want to emphasize the professional nature of the magic-user. For elves nothing changes. Their acquired spells are a matter of chance.
- Hero points: Each session a character receives 3 hero points. Role-playing entertainingly, bringing food, or otherwise contributing to the game, may gain additional hero points. Each hero point can be used to either add a +2 to a roll on a d20, completely re-roll a d20 or to add a small detail to the narrative. We have just played a bit too much FATE 3rd edition to make do without any player empowerment. It probably will not hurt the game and also give the player characters a bit of an edge in surviving the lower levels.
- Experience points: Since I don't want to place treasure all over the place, experience will be awarded differently. 500 XP for attending the game. +100 XP for each hex travelled or each dungeon level explored, + 100 XP per HD of monsters defeated (to be distributed evenly among the group), +250 XP if the player creates something that enriches the game-play for everyone (e.g. keeping and publishing a journal, drawing characters, and so on). In case a game has to be cancelled, every would-be participant receives 250 XP.
House rules that my players didn't like:
- The elven class becomes the tiefling class. Tieflings have small horns, cloven hoofs and smell faintly of sulphur or brimstone. They are more like the Planescape tieflings than the 4E tieflings.
- The halfling class becomes the swamp elven class. Swamp elves are wizened, with flinty eyes, twisted arms and legs and they are rail thin. They are medium-sized and count as elves for rules purposes.
Note: That also means I am dropping the tiefling idea. There will be no tieflings as a player character class in the land beyond the Drowning Woods.