Monday, March 8, 2021

My house rules for B/X D&D (v1.6)

Howdy all!

I was planning to start a series on my emerging setting for my Old-School Essentials open table campaign, talking about 1) the process of creating a semi-sensible "kitchen sink" setting that allows me to toss in whatever dungeons I like from around the OSR, and 2) the interesting challenge I've set myself of incorporating certain B/X-specific mechanics directly into the worldbuilding (aka asking the question "OK, so a magic-user can only write down a set number of spells into their spell book... what does that mean for how magic works in this universe?) rather than building the world just out of whole cloth and retrofitting the mechanics to it.

Unfortunately, every time I started jotting down some coherent ideas, I found some great concept on Blood of Prokopius or Roles, Rules, and Rolls or some other blog and found myself rethinking things. Then I started Sanderson's Stormlight Archive. Then while waiting for book 4 of the former to come off of hold at the library I started The Silmarillion. And, well... my world's not done cooking yet - plus I'm still reading both of the above with much of the time I would otherwise be writing blog stuff.

The series mentioned above will come. Eventually. But for now, I'd like to share something just as good (or quite possibly better?) - my complete house rules for B/X D&D, as currently used in my open table Old-School Essentials Stonehell-meets-Dolmenwood-meets-anything-else-I-want-to-throw-in-there. They're linked below, and also on the sidebar.

(PDF link) Matt's B/X House Rules, v1.6

As the title implies, they're currently on their 6th iteration. Many of these could, and probably will, fuel entire blog posts on their own - but there's no use keeping them back and kicking them out piecemeal. If there's any you'd be interested in seeing some discussion of, feel free to comment below!


  1. Great houserules. I'll probably add some more thoughts later but the first that I came across that I like is giving Thieves backstab progression. I never understood why this was left out in BX or BECMI. Well done.

  2. Also wanted to mention that adding in backstab progression removes the need for an Assassin class. So players won't have to choose between dungeon utility or powerful sneak attacks. I think this is good thing in my view even though I am a fan of the Assassin class.