Saturday, November 21, 2015

Some Thoughts on BX House Rules

Every once in a while I get on a kick thinking about how to house rule BX properly. And by "properly" I mean to suit my tastes.

So now I'm working on a new edit of house rules. It includes all of the ones I already use extensively. The arcane spell roll is there. It has served me well. I'm keeping the elven faery magic rule (random spells)...which I'm pretty sure I picked up from Gavin Norman's fantastic Theorems & Thaumaturgy. I'm making Dwarfs hard to knock down and making Halflings lucky little bastards. Fighters are getting some serious love with what I think is a pretty awesome multiple-attacks system that relies on the actual d20 face value to trigger it.

(In fact, in a recent play-test the Fighter flat busted a handful of skeletons in a single round thanks to this rule.)

The Thief is getting the crunchiest love. I'm not a big fan of crunch, personally. I like clear, concise rules but not a lot of them. Which is probably why BX has always been my true darling and I keep coming to it over-and-over again.

But the Thief is, by nature, the class that is going to be fiddly. Thieves, to me, are idiosyncratic and prone to individualism. Each Thief should be distinct, a function of the special mix of skills and talents picked up through a life of crime.

So Thieves basically get to pick specialties at every even level. Things like better damage with daggers and knives, better backstab damage, forgery skills, and so on. I also included climbing upside-down and ventriloquism...y'know. Because.

(Though the esteemed Frank Mentzer told me at Gary Con he thought those ideas, mentioned in BX, were "kinda silly"...hah.)

My thing about BX is purity. I don't like adding tables, I don't like changing tables, I don't like ignoring rules, and a I don't like adding rules. I like the IDEA that BX is perfect. But, of course, no game is perfect. And we all have our preferences.

My house rules for BX are intended to be a layer on top of the game where the pieces fit right in and no existing element is jettisoned.

What I would like to do is, eventually, publish some BX-style adventures and settings and include these house rules as a single page in each publication. You can use 'em or not.

Just some random 2 AM thoughts.


  1. Now I'm trying to figure out what fighter multi-attack house rule you are talking about. All I keep thinking of though are things to steal from 13th age like if it's a even numbered die roll and it hits, you may attack again type of things.

    1. I'm not familiar with 13th age. The rule I came up with was that a successful hit of 19+ (natural) = another attack. Then the range expands as you get to higher levels, topping out at 15+. It worked really well in a playtest!

  2. Yeah that sounds pretty good! Like it a lot.