Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OED Fantasy Rules v1.04 Released

As many of us head back to work and school, I wanted to share the labors of some gaming work that I've done over the summer. In that spirit, I've updated my Original Edition Delta house rules to version 1.04, and made them available on the main page of the OED Games website.

If you check it out, among the main changes you'll see is that I've split off the Player's Rules from the Judge's Rules into two separate documents. This allows you to hand the short core version of the rules to interested players (the former fits on one sheet of paper, actually), and consider the slightly longer set of behind-the-screen suggestions for judges (what I personally play by) on your own. Another reason this seemed to make sense is that the player's rules seem to have become pretty stable in the last few years of playtesting, while the judge's rules are still somewhat in flux (in fact, at the end you'll see a short list of planned still-to-come future expansions).

The other big formatting change is that I've started adding extensive endnotes to all the rules, citing classic rules, outside articles and interviews, pulp literature, and blog posts where these ideas germinated and got tossed around -- along with various difficult points considered, "proud nails", and so forth. The hope is that this helps others ("gaming archeologists", as Prof. L. Schwarz calls us) to track down where these ideas came from more quickly, help them get a grip on the various issues being balanced, and save others time from re-doing the same scholarly research over and over again. (Of course, just ignore the section at the end if that's not your bag.)

As for the game rules themselves, you'll find some very-small edits to the Player's Rules, like a slightly streamlined presentation of the weapon and encumbrance mechanics. The Judge's Rules has a lot more new stuff, like consolidations of the research on player statistics, monster metrics, exploration, combat, and rewards that we've seen here on the blog (and some more besides). I've tried to go through and share most of the copious margin-notes that I have in my copies of the OD&D LBBs, that no one has ever seen before. There's also a new Player Aid Card and even a promotional flyer (under Add-Ons) if you want to share the drama with others.

Hope that's helpful to some of your games! As always, thoughtful feedback and comments on what you see are warmly welcomed here. Hope everyone has a safe and rewarding season coming up.


  1. Replies
    1. You're quite welcome! I'm thankful anyone reads them!

  2. Nice work. If someone does not have the 3 LBB, would you recommend any alternative? Such as LL Original Edition Characters, or Delving Deeper? Or something else?


  3. I just realized the obvious answer. Pick up the ODD pdfs from dmsguild.

    1. Right, that's my top recommendation at the moment.

    2. Well, for my part, I've used a goodly swath of Delta's rules over the years in concert with S&W:WB and then (and now) with White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game and, despite both being more spirit than the 'hard' rules of OD&D it's worked out very well. Also, might as well take the moment to say: Thanks for all the awesome, Delta!

    3. Eric: Thanks for your experience and the kind words!

  4. Thank you for your continuing hard work and scholarship!

  5. Replies
    1. Excellent. I did go rock climbing for the first time last month as part of that discussion. :-)

  6. Thank you for the new version! I actually took your old 1.01 rules document, added a few of my own rules, modified it into a tri-fold, and stuck a character sheet on the front. It made a very handy reference for con gaming. I'll have to see what I can do with the new material!

    1. Ooh, that's truly excellent. I'd like to see a version of that when you're happy with it! (delta at superdan.net).

  7. Thanks for the excellent update. I use many of your system and rules to run a D&D Rules Cyclopedia campaign. I have a couple of sugestions concerning a couple items.

    1. In the feats section Berserking seems under powered compared to other feats. I do not have the Dragon article you reference to look at, but I did look at the D&D 3ed rules and see that they offer a +4 to STR and CON. Not taking CON into account a +4 STR would add +2 to hit and +2 to damage. I would recomend adding 1d4 damage. So the feat would offer +2 to hit and an extra 1d4 damage.

    2. I would change tracking to survival, which would include tracking.

    3. For higer level abilities score, I would recomend the following:

    Levels 2-4 roll two abilities 2d6+6, others 3d6.
    Levels 5-7 roll three abilities 2d6+6, others 3d6.
    Levels 8+ roll four abiliries 2d6+6, others 3d6.

    1. +1d4 damage is considerably stronger than +2 to hit alone, let alone in addition. I'd be careful having both (my preference would be to just have the bonus damage, as it's more chaotic, and works nicely with Great Cleave). Maybe even a second feat to turn that into a d6.

      As for the ability scores, I'm not entirely happy with it, as it sort of implies you don't get the better stats unless you began at a higher level or you won't reach the higher level without them. I prefer a per level boost, maybe roll 1d20 against a stat of your choosing, and improve it if you roll over the stat. That way it's still random, but it's easier to improve weaker stats (a slight Mario Kart effect). Or maybe even +1 to two stats every even level.

    2. Spacelem,

      As far as the ability scores go the mthod I mention is stricter than what is presented in the OED player

      Have you seen the other feats in the players OED rules? Compared paired to below lsited feats. It is weak in comparison as it only works 50% of the time.

      4. Great Strength: The character adds +2 to Strength.
      8. Rapid Strike: Add one attack per round with any melee weapon.
      11. Two-Weapon Fighting: The character can fight with a light weapon in
      the off hand, for an extra attack or a parry (+2 AC) each round. 22
      12. Weapon Specialization: Pick one weapon type, and gain +1 to hit and
      +2 damage with that weapon. 23

    3. Thanks for looking at that (of course Berserking is the new addition), and at this point I think you might have a point there. The classic D&D Berserker benefit is to get +2 to hit; I even boosted their chance to go berserk over the old Dragon #3 article cited.

      Crunching a few numbers for a 4th-level fighter with a normal sword, it seems like the melee benefit for these different feats is around: Great Strength (+0.8 hp per attack), Two-Weapon Fighting (+1.4), Weapon Specialization (+2.2), and Berserking (+0.45).

      Perhaps I could add in the immunity to fear effects, or more generally any mental attacks (like Dragon #3 gives to them)?

    4. On the other hand, the at-creation ability boosts come out of copious simulations, and those I'm pretty comfortable with this at this point. The motivation is indeed to represent the survivorship bias from people who started with high abilities; on average, one really does need top-tier prime requisite to advance into the upper levels. See: http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2015/05/dungeons-demographics-pt-3.html

  8. As for stat increases, since I recall a previous analysis had indicated (roughly) an advantage of, on average, one ability score point per level for higher level characters over 1st level ones, I had toyed with the idea of just giving a +1 to the character's lowest score at each level, on a sort of "revealed strengths" justification.