Friday, February 24, 2012

Its all been done before

I was thinking about some of the changes that have come about in 3x and 4e D&D and while they may seem monumental, in retrospect many of them are not that different than the house rules we used to play with back in the 2e days.

The examples that most stuck out for me were

#1 Weapon Finesse.

We allowed dexterity modifiers to be used in melee to hit (but not damage) way back in the early part if 2e. This house rule was developed buy a gaming group I was briefly in(apologies to them if they are reading this as I cannot remember which one) to give rogues a little combat boost as the DM and players thought they were a bit underpowered. Everyone seemed to like the rule and given the big TAHC0 differences between rogues and warriors, even the warrior players were fine with it since it didn't hurt their niche any.

#2 3e Critical Hits

A version of this rule was in use apparently back in 1e by a So-Cal DM. we all called D. Balrog. Basically crits (counting as double damage) happened if a natural 20 was rolled and followed with a successful to hit roll "backed" in their parlance. It was not quite as sophisticated as the D20 version but it very similar and when I started on 3e I had zero learning curve

This group was rather interesting in many ways as they had gamed since the 70's and had a heavily hacked D&D variant that included this rule along with a ton of other materials that were shared only DM to DM. Given I played and DM for some of these guys I got a peak. And yes that restriction was kind of Hackmasterish . The group did have a cloistered, gamist and adversarial play style and if you had met them they were very much like the Knight of the Dinner Table.

#3 At Wills

This late 3e and 4e development showed up in 2e as well, in Dragon 221 as The Little Wish. Amusingly we played briefly with a variant that allowed Read Magic and Detect Magic to be used as At Will. It didn't prove to show any balance issues but I'd probably nix the Detect at will for the annoyance factor.

I am sure that if I looked hard enough I'd find others but as the old saying goes, nothing new under the sun.


  1. Back in my 2E days, our critical hits rule was on a natural 20 one could do (before bonuses) either double damage or full damage (player's choice, prior to the damage rolls of course). This added a nice little tactical choice to any crit: take the save boring road for full damage or go all in on double but risk rolling a 1 for damage.

  2. Not a bad rule Brendan. The choice is interesting enough to be fun but not complex enough to slow play.