So after recently reading “The Children of Hurin” and a great deal of R.E.H’s stories of Conan, including “Hour of the Dragon,” I’ve settled on a few house rules to add to ACKS to bring about a more Sword & Sorcery feel to my games and let the players play the part of characters who are larger than life.
Starting Ability Scores:
You can choose your character’s scores using the following restrictions:
- The sum of all your scores must not exceed 75 points.
- The sum of all bonuses/penalties derived from the scores must not exceed +4.
- Only one score may be an 18.
- No score may be less than 8.
All PCs start with 2,500 XP.
All PCs start with maximum hp for 1st level. At levels 2-9, PCs gain the indicated amount as follows (modified by Con as usual).
d4 = 2 hp per even level; 3 hp per odd level
d6 = 3 hp per even level; 4 hp per odd level
d8 = 4 hp per even level; 5 hp per odd level
Notes on the above rules:
I’m allowing the players to choose the type of character they’d like to be. I know I’ll get more-or-less cookie cutter ability arrays, but I’m okay with that. They also start with a very good base level for scores (12.5 on average). That’s not on Conan’s level IMO, but I plan to grant bonus points to add to their scores as they level (perhaps around 5th level) so they can grow into such scores. The score limits are there to mitigate min/maxing.
I like the concept of starting the players at a higher level than 1st to represent their characters as more heroic. It’s the least intrusive way to make a character so.
For hp, the PCs get the benefit of max. hp at 1st level and a standardized progression ensures that a PC won’t end up with an unlucky roll for hp.
Game Play Rules:
Hit points (only in the case of PCs and important NPCs) strictly represent energy level, luck, and minor wounds(nicks, cuts, bruises, minor burns, etc). So for example, even if you get hit by a fireball spell and fail your save, as long as you have at least 1 hp left, you have only minor burns. The verisimilitude of this is going to depend largely on my description of the damage caused and somewhat on the players buying into the idea that hit points aren’t exactly “life points” when they “hit” Malkus the Vile, their arch enemy.
Due to the above assumption of what hp are, natural healing of hp gets a boost and is equalized amongst all the classes. For each day that a PC obtains adequate rest and nurishment, a character will recover 20% of it max. hp (take your hp total and divide it by 5 to get this number - round fractions to the nearest whole number).
A caster can always use a higher-level spell slot to cast a lower level spell. For instance, a mage who can cast 3rd level spells may use a 3rd level spell slot to cast a 1st or 2nd level spell.
Except for Sunder, all listed penalties to attack throws for these maneuvers are dropped. (And consequently, related profiencies provide a bonus instead of reducing the penalty).
This is a movement option that must be declared. The combatant may not move (unless a fighting withdrawal is also declared) and suffers a -2 on attack throws, but gains a +2 AC bonus against attacks he’s aware of.
Dodge and Parry:
A combatant may attempt to dodge or parry an attack he is aware of. If a combatant is hit in combat, and has not yet acted that round, he may forego his action, and attempt a save vs. Paralysis (this choice must be made before damage is rolled). If successful, the character avoids the damage.
I’m not sure I’ll include this last rule yet, but I’m really tempted to. Optionally, I’ve made a table for it that trades a lesser effect for the damage. A summary of it:
2 drop an item in hand
3 Glancing blow (d3 non-lethal damage)
4 Off balance (-1 to initiative next round)
5 Give Ground (you can avoid the damage if you fall back 5’)
6-8 Unscathed! (no consequences)
9 Wardrobe Malfunction (an article of clothing, jewelry, or exposed item, such as a backpack, belt pouch, etc. gets damaged)
10 Damaged Armor (armor or shield’s effectiveness reduced by 1)
11 Dive (you must go prone to avoid the damage)
12 Damaged Weapon (your weapon suffers either -1 to hit or -1 to damage)
Let me know what you think.