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Pen & Paper House Rules

General Information

Here are the house rules I currently use in my paper and pencil (PnP) AD&D campaigns. These guidelines are always under modification as DM preference and player input changes. I will not try to implement all of these rules under the Neverwinter Nights game system, but will try to stick as close as possible to the official rules of 3E Dungeons and Dragons.

Character Generation

Starting Level: All characters will begin at a minimum of third level. Single class mages and rogues will begin at fourth level.

Existing Characters: Experienced players may have favorite characters that they wish to play. If you wish to use such a character, look over the players guide, adjust the character seems necessary to fit into the Eradain campaign. I will review the character and make any changes necessary. *Keep in mind that at the beginning of the campaign all the characters will begin at roughly the same level. Later in the campaign higher level characters may be introduced.

Starting Equipment: Players may equip their characters with any basic equipment that can be found in the player's handbook, and 100gp per level of experience. Animals or any unusual items must be purchased with the characters starting money or obtained during play.

History: All characters who submit a history or background for their characters will start with a magical item of some sort. The item can be of the players choice, but may only be a mid to low power item. For example, a ring of invisibility is a powerful item and would not be allowed, but a +1 sword would be fine. If you have an idea for a unique item or would like a suggestion, let me know.

Character Generation: The method of character generation I use should allow a player to obtain the character class they wish to play.

  • -I use all the basic character statistics of-. Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma.
  • -Roll 4d6 die, dropping the lowest number. Record this result.
  • -Repeat this six more times.
  • -If none of the rolls is at least 15 then the results may be discarded and re-rolled.
  • -Choose one of the seven results to discard.
  • -Arrange the six numbers however you choose among the character statistics.
  • -Hit Points: The first die is a "freebie" and is maximized according to class. Any result of a 1 is discarded and re rolled.


In order to achieve the type of intrigue that I would like to have in this campaign, I am not using the AD&D alignment system. In this campaign you will not know if the advisor to the king is "evil" by just casting a spell, and player interaction with NPC's is not easily classified into good or evil.

  • Spells and abilities that detect evil etc., will still function, but their effectiveness will be limited. If a person is truly good, but thinking evil thoughts, even about inanimate objects, they may radiate evil. By the same token, an evil person thinking nice thoughts may radiate good. It is possible to consciously mask your alignment by thinking the appropriate thoughts.
  • Creatures that truly are "good" or "evil", such as creatures from the outer planes, certain types of undead, monsters, etc., will still radiate their proper alignment.

Spell Casting and Armor

The second edition rules are very harsh on multi-class characters using magic and wearing armor. I am using a variation that will allow characters to use proficiency slots in order to wear armor.

By using a weapon proficiency, characters who are mages or bards may wear armor. This is a progressive proficiency, and a character must be proficient at wearing a lighter armor before moving up to heavier armor. The generic name of the armor class is given, but counts for any armor of roughly equivalent encumbrance and AC.

All characters must be proficient in at least one weapon, warrior-mage combinations must be proficient in at least two weapons.

  • 1 slot: Leather Armor
  • 1 slot: Studded Leather/Dwarven Scale
  • 1 slot: Scale Mail/Elven Chain
  • 2 slots: Chainmail

*Example: A fourth level fighter-mage has five weapon proficiencies. Two have been used on weapons, long sword and bow. The additional three slots have been used for leather armor, studded leather and scale mail. This allows the character to wear scale mail armor and still be able to cast spells.

Spell Memorization

I am using a modification of the standard D&D spell system. Single Class mages and priests can select what spell they wish to cast directly from their list of available spells at the time of casting. Multi-class spell casters must record their selection of spells for that day, but may cast any of those spells up to their normal limit.

For example: Wondo the fighter/magic-user has 2 1st and 1 2nd level spells. He memorizes detect magic, magic missile, and invisibility. He can cast detect magic once or twice, or magic missile once or twice, but may only cast invisibility for his 2nd level spell. Whereas Marak, a single class mage of the same level can cast any two of his first level spells and any one of his seconds.

Weapon Specialization

Only fighters may specialize in wielding a particular weapon. Dual wielding is considered a specialization and may not be taken in addition to specialization in a particular weapon. Multi-class fighters, rangers and paladins may spend extra proficiency slots to gain weapon expertise. Weapon expertise allows characters to gain extra attacks, but no combat bonuses.

Criticals and Fumbles

Any character rolling a natural 20 to hit on an attack roll will score double damage on that attack. This is calculated by doubling the damage die rolled then adding any other bonuses for damage. When a player rolls a natural 1 to hit the player must immediately make a second to hit, without adding any bonuses. If the result is a hit, no fumble occurs and the player merely misses. If the second roll is also a miss, then they have fumbled and the DM will determine the outcome, with the default being loss of the next rounds attackers.

Death's Door

I will use the optional deaths door rule from the Players Option: Combat and Tactics handbook. A character that is reduced below zero hit points will not actually die until dropping to -10 or lower.

  • Creatures reduced to negative hit points are incapacitated and begin losing 1 hit point per round until they reach -10, at which point they die.
  • A creature's loss of hit points can be halted by binding its wounds, using the healing proficiency, or using some kind of cure magic on the victim.
  • At exactly 0 hit points, the character is simply unconscious, and remains so until healed or until 2d6 full turns pass. If a character's death is prevented by binding wounds or healing, the character remains unconscious for 1 turn per hit point below zero. Thereafter the character will remain weak and nearly helpless for 24 hours.
  • It is dangerous to leave characters at a negative hit point total for long. Each day that a character begins with negative hit points, roll a d10 and compare it with the absolute value of the character's hit points. If the die roll is less than this number, the character loses 1d4 additional hit points. This loss of hit points can be avoided if someone with the healing proficiency is there to tend to the patient or if curative magic is used.

Hero Point System

I have devised a system to reward players who have successfully pulled off some daring or bold action. From time to time during game play I will award Hero Points, which can be used as follows:

  • +2 Bonus to hit.
  • Maximum damage from a weapon used in melee combat.
  • +1 Damage per die for spell effects (i.e. fireball!)
  • +2 Bonus to a saving throw.
  • By using 2 Hero Points, a player may re-roll a failed saving throw.
  • +2 Bonus to a skill/stat check.
  • Other uses that may arise during game play, to be determined by DM at time of use.

In any action where a Hero Point is used, the player will automatically receive a 50 experience point bonus.

Division of Experience

I will record, track and divide all the experience earned by the players.

  • Standard experience will be awarded for slaying monsters. This will be divided evenly among the party members that damage each individual opponent.
  • No experience will be awarded for monetary treasure.
  • Individual experience bonuses for magical treasure will be awarded, but only if the items are actually used.
    • A potion of invisibility yields 250 experience points. A player would receive the experience after actually imbibing the potion.
    • A wand of fire has 10 charges, and is worth 4,500 experience. Each charge used will gain the player 450 experience.
    • Magical weapons will yield experience after being used and fought with for at least one week per + I bonus.
  • A party experience sheet will be maintained and distributed from time to time by the DM. This will be bonus experience distributed to players for excellent role-playing or otherwise overcoming obstacles and monsters in ways that do not actually involve combat.
  • Priest characters that successfully cast a healing spell and roll an 8 will receive a bonus of 100 experience points.

Miscellaneous Spell Changes

  • Most continual spells (invisibility, stoneskin, etc.) will be negated if the affected character sleeps, or rests for more than two hours.
  • Continual Light has been removed from available spells.
  • Shocking Grasp cannot be channeled through metal weapons.
  • Know Alignment has been removed from available spells.
  • Command spell has a range of ten feet.

Training and Level Advancement

Characters who receive enough experience to advance in level must obtain training to actually gain the benefits of increased level. This training must be from someone of the same class at least three levels higher than the one to be gained. The time and cost of this training will vary, but the minimum is 2 days and 100gp per level. Characters of 8th level or higher may train themselves.

Mages Starting Spell Books

All the options available in the handbook are open to players, if you wish to use any of the kits please show me the details. With the exception of a mage's starting spells, I will adhere to all the rules regarding the chance to learn spells, memorization times, and spell books. A mage will be required to keep a record with specific details about his or her spell book. This will include the size (standard or traveling book), construction (certain types are more resistant to damage), any magical protections (if anyone tampers with it), and of course the spells contained within the book.

    Spell Books:
  • Each spell recorded in a book requires a number of pages equal to its level. A standard spell book can have no more than 100 pages. A traveling spell book can contain no more than 50 pages. Construction of a standard spell book costs 50gp per page, a traveling book 100gp per page. Inscription of new spells into a blank spell book can be completed by the spell research guidelines available in the Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters guide, or by copying a spell from scroll into the book at a cost of 100gp per level.
  • A standard spell book composed of normal materials is constructed of heavy leather, inlaid with metal for extra durability, with vellum pages. A standard spell book has an encumbrance value of 450gp (approximately enough to fill one backpack). A normal spell book has a saving throw as "leather or book" and has a +2 bonus on saves vs. acid, fireball, disintegration, and lightning attacks.
  • A normal travelling spell book is composed of supple leather, and parchment pages that are thin and fragile. A travelling spell book has an encumbrance value of 60gp (approximately five such books will fit into a backpack). A travelling spell book has no saving throw bonuses.
    Starting Spells:
  • All mages will begin with a preset group of "primer spells", excluding any spells from the opposition school for specialist mages, plus a choice of bonus spells based on level. A single class mage gains a number of bonus spell levels equal to four times their level. A multi-class mage gains a bonus of three times their level.
  • Example: A 4th level magic user would have the basic "primer spells" and his choice of additional spells adding up to 16 spell levels. This could be one additional 1st level spell, one 3rd level and six 2nd level spells or any other combination.

  • A player's starting spell book will be a standard book composed of normal materials.
    • Primer Spells
    • 1st- Armor, Cantrip, Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Feather Fall, Identify, Light, Magic Missile, Protection from Evil, Read Magic, Shield, Sleep, Wizard Mark, and Unseen Servant.
    • 2nd- Detect Invisibility, Levitate, Mirror Image, Magic Mouth, and Web.


Players wishing to become a Paladin will be required to be part of specific religious orders, so a potential Paladin should review the information under priests. The religious orders that have paladins are the Swords of Tyr, and the Knights of the Horn. Most paladins will be of the Danrae noble class. A paladin's detect evil ability will function with more accuracy than a mage or priest spell.

Paladin's Code of Conduct: Valor, Mercy, Honesty, Piety, and Moderation. Valor- Courage on the battlefield, a Paladin will be at the forefront of any engagement. Mercy- It is unchivalrous to slay prisoners who have surrendered. Honesty- A paladin's word is his bond, treachery and deceit are the tools of evil. Piety- Reverence for your gods and priests of your faith. Worldly goods shall be donated to the church. Moderation- Valor does not mean poor battle tactics. Mercy does not apply to genuinely evil beings (like demons) or vile monsters (such as trolls). Honesty does not preclude stealth. Piety is not lip service.

A Paladin will begin with 10 honor points and will gain or loose these points by their personal actions as determined by the DM. If a Paladin slips into negative honor points they must immediately go on a quest to atone or lose their Paladin-hood. A Paladin sacrificing personal honor for the greater good will never go below zero honor points.