Swords & Wizardry House Rules

Swords & WizardryI should be finishing up the S&W adventure I am writing for Origins 2013 in Columbus, Ohio in a few weeks, but instead I find myself putting my initial house rule document together for Swords & Wizardry!

I have mentioned Swords & Wizardry on this blog before, but as many know it is a retro-clone that hones in on the Original D&D brown booklets. It does a lot to clean them up and smooth over some of the rough edges without adding a plethora of rules to the system. While I own the OD&D booklets, it is nice to have a system that is readily available to new players in either physical or electronic format.

I have gone back through the rulebook in prep for my upcoming game to take my first shot at house rules and my own clarifications for the system. Some of the items below are house rules and some are just clarifying a particular option that will be in use for games I run. The house rule document is a living and breathing document and will certainly morph as actual play continues.

So here we go…

The S&W House Rules

Character Stats

Ability Scores:  Roll 3d6 six times. Arrange the results as the player sees fit. If character seems utterly hopeless, consult the GM for possible options.

Hit Points:   Roll your hit die twice, take the highest result.

Character Classes

Assassin:   The assassin may add their level as bonus damage on a successful backstab. This bonus is added after damage is doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.

Fighter:  The multiple attack ability gets better as the fighter advances in level. At 5th level the fighter gains one additional attack against 2HD creatures for each level he exceeds 5th level. At 10th level the fighter gains one additional attack against 3HD creature for each level he exceeds 10th level by. At 15th level the fighter gains one additional attack against 4HD creatures for each level he exceeds 15th by. At 20th level the fighter gains one additional attack against 5HD creatures for each level he exceeds 20th level by.


Shields:  The character may opt to sacrifice their shield to absorb all damage of a successful melee hit against them. This destroys normal shields, rendering it useless.

The shield can be used in a similar fashion against damage causing spells and breath weapons. If the spell or breath weapon grants a Saving Throw the shield can be sacrificed to automatically succeed at the saving throw. Spells that do not normally have a saving throw allow one for half damage. Use of the shield in either fashion destroy a normal shield, rendering it useless.

Magic shields can also be used in this fashion. When used in this manner the shield has a 15% chance of not being destroyed. For each +1 modifier above +1 the shield has an additional 10% chance of not being destroyed (i.e. a shield +3 has a 35% chance of not being destroyed).

Combat Encounters

Ascending AC:   Ascending AC will be used from the GM’s side of the screen.

Combat Order:   Combat order will be used as described in the S&W Complete rule book. The alternative methods are not being used.

Fumbles:  Fumbles will be used. Rolling a 1 on a d20 attack roll causes a -1 to hit until one round is spent recovering (i.e. not attacking).

Criticals:   A critical hit grants a +1 bonus to damage for that attack.

Movement in Melee:  Moving past a combatant in melee results in a free attack on the person moving by the occupied square. A person bearing a shield is able to prevent someone from moving by them in combat.

Ranged Attacks into Melee:  A miss when firing into melee may result in striking a friend in engaged in melee with the initial target. Roll another 1d20 against the friend’s AC to determine if damage is dealt. Spending one round aiming negates this penalty.

Retreating from Melee:   The enemy gains a free attack against the person trying to leave melee.

Death and Dying

Death:   A character at 0 hit points or lower continue to lose 1 hit point per round. A character dies when they reach their character level in negative hit points. (i.e. a 5th level character dies at -5 hit points.)