Jason's AD&D 2nd Edition House Rules

     What's a campaign without house rules? So, here are a few of the custom rules I've used in my D&D and AD&D sessions over the years. The principal theme here is to change some of the odd game mechanics to high fantasy, matching up against my favourite novels and movies.

Energy Drain

     I've never, ever liked this bizarre concept. Certainly scares the hell out of players to lose levels, but it isn't all that realistic or fun as it completely changes how they face undead encounters. The following modifications attempt to change it to a life drain concept.

  • On a hit, the creature drains 1 point of both wisdom and constitution from its victim. No saving throw as usual. Attribute bonuses/penalities adjust accordingly.
  • When the victim's wisdom reaches the half-way point from its original, a saving throw vs death magic is required for each subsequent attack. If the throw is failed, the victim loses all will to resist and freely allows the attacker to continue to drain them. Victim can take no offensive or defensive actions (e.g. fighting or running away).
  • For every two points drained, the attacker regenerates as if they received a cure/cause light wounds spell. For creatures with HD 6 or higher, the effect matches the cure/cause serious wounds spell.
  • If either of the victim's attribute stats hit zero, the victim dies immediately and will rise as an undead (if the attacker is intelligent, then the victim rises only if it was intended). If their HP hits zero first, they will also rise as an undead if they suffered any attribute damage.
  • If the victim survives the encounter, constitution returns at 1 point per hour of rest and wisdom returns at 2 points per day.
  • Double drains are permitted as per monster descriptions (e.g. vampires)

Magic User Casting

     The magic system has a nice level of functionality, but doesn't have a great fantasy style to it. These mods change both PC and NPC mages to match those of high fantasy sources. More dangerous, but more fun by allowing them to cast more freely and more powerfully.

  • Retain spell cast limits per day per level as they exist (e.g. level 3 mage can cast 2 first and 1 second level spell per day).
  • Keep the concept of the spell book, verbal, gesture, component and armour restriction rules.
  • For the spell book, require the mage to memorize all needed spells each morning (or after equivalent rest period).
  • Memorized spells are now merely memorized spells; they are no longer magical patterns imbued into the mage's mind. Hence they can be forgotten at will (so, they no longer have to be cast to be cleansed).
  • However, all spells need to be re-memorized each day as needed due to complexity. If not, the mage loses all but previously memorized spells of his level divided by three (rounded down). So, starting at third level they no longer need to memorize first level spells. Then second level spells beginning at class level six, etc.
  • Memorization times are now shortened (e.g. it used to be 10 minutes per spell level per spell). It now requires one hour standard, regardless of level (assumes the better the mage, the more spells that can be memorized in an hour and of higher level). If memorization is interrupted, use a percentile roll to determine the amount of spells that were memorized so far from bottom up.
  • When casting, the mage can freely select any spell memorized and cast any combination of spells up to his daily casting limit (per spell level tier). For example, a mage that can cast 2 third level spells has options of fireball and lightening bolt. He can cast either one of each in a single day or cast two of just one type as needed. Say, two fireballs.
  • If all the spell allotments are used up for a certain level limit, the mage may use a higher level allotment to cast a lower level spell. It uses a free spot from the next available tier allotment upward (not of the mage's choice). From the previous example, he uses up his 2 third level spots casting fireball. He now wants to cast another fireball. He has 1 fourth level spot left, so he can use that for another third level spell instead of casting a fourth level spell.
  • The idea here is now fatigue and caster ability. The mage can only cast so many spells before his mind is exhausted and he can't cast any more until rested.

Cleric Casting

     The original cleric casting system is already pretty close to the new mage system, so this just sums up equivalent mods.

  • Keep spell cast limits per day per level as they exist.
  • Each morning he must pray to maintain his abilities. If not, no spells are available.
  • One hour memorization as per mage.
  • The cleric no longer memorizes selected spells.
  • He can now cast any spell available to him up to his max number each day per level limits.

Round Duration

     In the older game versions, rounds were 10 seconds (while in the newer versions itís 6 seconds). Of course, AD&D second edition uses rounds of one minute and spends a huge chunk of both the PHB and DMG trying to justify the idiocy of that duration. It just doesn't work.

     So, I changed mine back to 10 seconds. This requires movement rate adjustments. Combat movement would now be the base times 10 and then divided by 3. So, a 9 movement would be 30 feet in a round. The character would then be able to move and attack up to half the new rate (15 feet). Turns remain functionally unchanged.

     Spells or events of duration may need to be recalculated. For example, Feather Fall would become 20 feet per round.