LL House Rules

Both Barrowmaze and Dolmenwood are statted out for Labyrinth Lord. Therefore, this campaign uses the Labyrinth Lord rule system, with additions from Wormskin and my own house rules.

There’s a ton of custom races and classes for this campaign; these are covered on the Character Creation page.

Strength Modifier:

A character’s Strength bonus does not apply to missile weapons, only to melee or hurled weapons. A Strength penalty does apply to all damage, however. (There may be rare bows strung for high-Strength archers which do provide a damage bonus, but these must be discovered in play.)

Multiclass Rules:

I’m using both race-as-class (from the Labyrinth Lord core rules) and race + class (from the Advanced Edition Companion). However, I’ve revised multiclassing (swiping the “combining classes” rule from the Basic Fantasy RPG), as described in this blog post.

Cleric Spells:

Clerics use the following progression table (adapted from Astonishing ACKS):

Clerics (and Druids) get bonus spells (as per AEC). I’m a bit of a softie, so starting Clerics with high WIS get their bonus 1st-lvl spell (indicated by the “0” on the table above). However, lower-WIS divine casters can suffer spell failure.

Fighter Crits & Cleaves:

Fighters (and Fighter subclasses) can make critical hits, inflicting double damage on a natural 20 to attack. (As per the Thief’s backstab, take all damage and multiply by two.)

Starting at 2nd level, Fighters (only; not subclasses) can also cleave like in ACKS. Here’s the relevant rules excerpt:

Whenever a Fighter kills or incapacitates an opponent with a melee or missile attack, he may immediately make another attack throw against another opponent within 5′ of the target he has just dropped. The additional attack throw must be with the same weapon as the attack that killed the previous opponent.

Fighters may make a maximum number of cleave attacks per round equal to one-half their level, rounded down.

Magic-User Spells:

Read Magic is a Magic-User class ability (not of a spell) that can be used at will. This is also true of M-U subclasses but not Elves.

Intelligent Magic-Users (including subclasses) get bonus spells (as per the AEC Wisdom table for Clerics) – but lower-INT mages can suffer spell failure.

Thieves Suck Less:

Thieves use d6 for HD, instead of d4. Also Leather armour is AC 7, plus Thieves (and subclasses) can wear Studded Leather (AC 6) without impairing class abilities.

1st-level (Human) Thieves receive 15 discretionary skill points which can be split between any Thief abilities except Climb Walls and Hear Noise. A maximum of +10% can be applied to any single ability. (Demihuman Thieves get their racial bonuses instead.)

Assassins use d6 for HD and can Backstab starting at 1st level. They apply discretionary points (or racial bonuses) at 3rd level when they gain their other Thief abilities.

Elves are Weird:

DolmenBarrow Elves are descendants of Hill Cantons-style Eld. They are ageless and are unaffected by all ageing magic. As fey creatures, Elves suffer double damage from cold iron weapons and cannot be resurrected or raised from the dead.

Instead of using spellbooks, race-as-class Elves learn “elf-runes”. Each spell they learn is a permanent innate selection, regained 1/day; they cannot change their repertoire (but conversely cannot be deprived of spells by losing a spellbook). They can’t use scrolls unless they select Read Magic as an elf-rune. Elves get bonus elf-runes (and a chance of spell failure) as per AEC Wisdom table for Clerics, but using their Charisma score. Their prime requisites are changed to DEX and CHA.

Unlike their race-as-class Elf brethren, AEC-style Magic-User Elves do follow the standard spellbook rules (and get Read Magic as a class ability). (Except maybe instead of bonus spells from INT they instead get elf-runes for high CHA. Cool idea, or too fiddly?)


Woldish is the “Common” tongue of Dolmenwood, while Old Woldish is often known among the well-educated. Liturgic is the scriptural language of the Church, while the Black Speech is its Satanic opposite. Caprice is the native tongue of the goat-folk of Dolmenwood (including Half-Goats), and Sylvan is the speech of fairies and fairy-kin. Gnomes, Moss Dwarfs, and Lumpen-Ones each have their own racial language.

There are no “Alignment” languages in this game, though Liturgic and the Black Speech fulfil similar roles. Characters may also encounter additional secret and lost languages (such as Drunic) during play.


  • “Slow” two-handed weapons (like polearms and two-handed swords) suffer a -1 penalty to initiative (instead of striking last each round).
  • Crossbows get +1 damage, but do not benefit from the wielder’s strength bonus. A character with STR 8 or less cannot reload a crossbow.
  • Lamp oil cannot be used in combat. Flasks of Military Oil only burn for 1d4 points of damage. Alchemist’s Fire burns for full 1d8 damage and costs 25gp.
  • Healing Salves can be purchased for 10gp. They heal 1d3 hp (as per ACKS comfrey), but can only be used once per character each day.

Purchase of alchemist’s fire and healing salves – as well as Holy Water (25gp) – are restricted to one each per PC per session (clerics can buy one extra holy water).

Experience & Levels:

Standard experience (for treasure recovered and monsters defeated) is shared evenly between surviving PCs. Henchmen receive a ½ share. In addition, each player gets a “participation award” of 1000XP per session – even if the PC dies during the game.

(If a player is not available for a session but their character still contributes as as henchmen, they’ll get 500XP and a ½ share.)

All experience gained will be kept by the Player; if their character dies (or retires), the earned XP can be applied to a new PC.

ACKS Mortal Wounds:

I think I’ll use the ACKS Mortal Wounds rules. I recently got a copy of the Expanded Mortal Wounds Table printed and laminated, and want to get some use from it!

Dice Rolls:

All dice rolls in this campaign will be made on the table, in the open, for all to see. This includes normally “secret” rolls by the referee, such as wandering monster checks and Thief skills.


1 Response to LL House Rules

  1. K-Slacker says:

    I’ve got a couple minor house rules penciled into my rulebooks but not mentioned on this blog. These are the ones I remember:

    Gnome infravision is only 60′ range (revision to CX1).
    1st-lvl Druids only get 1 1st-lvl spell (instead of 2).
    7th/8th/9th-lvl Illusionists (and other M-U Subclasses) only need 75k/150k/300k XP, and get 3/3/2 spells at 7th-lvl.
    Staffs can be wielded 2-handed for 1d6 damage – except by Magic-Users who still only do 1d4 damage because they’re wimps.
    Similarly, spears can be wielded 2-handed for 1d8 damage; they inflict 1d6 damage when used 1-handed or if thrown.

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