OED Update (v. 1.05)

The last time I posted a new version of the OED House Rules was over a year ago (in September, 2017). Since then I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to run a regular campaign with a great group of cunning players here in New York City. Of course, as players "bang" against the rules in real time, some adjustments have been made. In fact: I've gotten pretty liberal about letting the cosmos jitter in supernatural ways between sessions, and thereby try out new rules on a regular basis, sometimes just for a single evening. Nonetheless, it seems like our favored ruleset tends to get more stable over time, so the New Years seemed like a good time to publicly update it.

Below are some of the more interesting (I think) rules edits in this version, 1.05. Of course, there may be other more minor edits to be found if you look really closely; and I'm always updating the endnotes with more comprehensive historical references, justifications, and side-comments for why we've chosen to do things this way.

Player's Rules

  • Highlight that humans get unlimited level advancement.
  • Dwarf/elf detection keyed to stone/wood materials.
  • Allow 3 retries for thief & wizard skills. 
  • Make spears specialty attack from 2nd rank.
  • Make ranged attack modifier −1 per 10 feet.
  • Adding a new class costs 1,000 XP.

Judge's Rules

  • Added guidelines on advertising for hirelings, expected pay, etc.
  • Light rules made a bit more generous based on recent research. 
  • Insanity Cards recommended for sanity mechanic (link). 
  • Rapelling/rope break rule made only in case of sudden jolt.
  • Wandering monster checks increased to every 15 minutes.
  • Critical hits possibly only for those above 1 HD.
  • Poison: Death in 1-6 rounds (so curatives can help).
  • Healing: Simplified to level + Con bonus per week of rest.
  • XP Awards: Explicit note to use EHD from OED monster database.

Get version 1.05 on the OED Games website.

Enjoy, and hope you have a happy New Year!

P.S.: Have you been watching the conversations on the Wandering DMs YouTube Channel? This past weekend Paul and I debated the utility of the Thief class in old-school D&D. We plan to be back Sunday Jan-13 and regular alternate Sundays after that (1 PM EST).


  1. Going through this … what's the difference between a crossbow and a light crossbow? Thieves and halflings are explicitly mentioned as only being able to use a "light" crossbow, which doesn't look like it does anything different. Note 17 has them firing faster in Chainmail, which doesn't seem like much of a restriction.

    1. That's a fair question; basically in my man-to-man engagements, there really isn't any difference. If you pull back to mass scale then the difference is maximum range (18" vs. 24" as per Chainmail or Greyhawk). I'm not fond of further slowing down heavy crossbows because everyone is already aggravated by even the basic crossbow firing 1/2 of the rounds.

  2. It's good to have players who are loose enough to let you switch things around and playtest on the fly. How many times do we hear "but you said X last time!"

    1. My current players are SOO great. I'm completely thankful for that!

  3. Love to see this update! I like to see the multiclassing cost (sacrifice your highest level) set to something static. Although now I’m wondering if it should be 1,000 xp times highest class level to keep the price progressive in some way. I’m going to have a new campaign to try that out in soon in this new year. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! The 1,000 is the same as what seems to work for an initial 0-level training period, per my demographics simulations. (Done off-screen for PCs, of course.) So my mini-OCD was pretty happy to have that synchronized in that way.

  4. I'm interested to see things swing around to a Level +Con for healing.
    Only just noticed that wizards can't wield a staff (which makes sense, since they are not weapons)
    Always appreciate the notes on why.

    Sorry I keep missing the stream live...

    1. Yeah, I did definitely feel like healing times are roughly consistent across levels -- and this seemed smoother than the AD&D rule that "everyone's always healed fully after 4 weeks" (while keeping the Con modifier bonus). This roughly keeps things in scale with the OD&D 1/2 point per day healing (esp. around 3rd level or so). Plus making it per week of full rest hammers home to the players that you can't expect healing over a single day or night.

      Likely you've seen this post here on the subject.

  5. I'm wondering, why did decided to allow 3 retries for thief skills? The chance for picking locks and removing traps doubled.

    1. That is a massage partly for clarity, and partly to intentionally increase that chance of success. Everyone I've ever played with agreed that 10% to remove traps or something at 1st level was too low, to the extent that no one wanted to play a thief (or was super disappointed when they did).

      Interestingly, we recently discovered that in Dave Cook's MSOLO1 module (Blizzard Pass), he gives a similar mechanic that a thief at 1st level gets multiple rolls (I think 3) at any particular thief skill.