Zhilin Campaign Journal: Rules Tweaks

In the last post, we described a bit about the players, the setting, and the characters involved in our new Mazes & Perils campaign set in the City-State of Zhilin. This time I’d like to cover a bit about some of the rules I’ve added or clarified.

Rules. Ugh.

I’ve been playing role-playing games since 1982, which adds up quickly. Though I started with the AD&D rules way back then, I’ve played dozens of different systems over the years. And one thing has held true for all this time: I’m not a rules lawyer. I understand that rules are important, but I feel a bit like pirate Jack Sparrow. He implied (paraphrasing) that the rules are more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. 🙂

So though we have a great set of Holmes-inspired OSR rules with Mazes & Perils, I’m not a stickler for them.

Here’s a list of the changes I’ve made or incorporated so far:

  • The addition of “Brownie Points” is standard in all of my games. I’ve even gone as far as purchasing a bunch of brown poker chips and handing them out at the beginning of each session and collecting them when we’re done. It serves as a great reminder that sometimes it’s good to have a bit of “Deus Ex Machina” on your side to keep things moving along in a fun direction.
  • The Cleric and Shaman classes can do a Wisdom check to stop “bleeding” in a target. Though it may not save the character’s life, it may give them enough time to figure out how to do so.
  • “Spells per day” becomes “Spells until a long rest,” stealing the idea from D&D 4e/5e where a long rest is 8 hours.
  • We’re using Vince’s new Wisdom chart, which gives Wisdom-based casters extra spells for a high Wis score.
  • I’m using an ascending AC instead of descending AC (THAC0) for simplicity. Though THAC0 was cool “back in the day,” I’m less about authenticity at this point and more about playability.

Note that all of these are “optional rules” in the system sense, but I’m using them to make it a bit easier at my table.

For Ascending AC

Instead of a descending Armor Class, which was very popular with older editions of D&D and other systems, we’re going to use an Ascending Armor Class [AAC].

  • Shield -1 [+1]
  • Leather -2 [+2]
  • Chain -4 [+4]
  • Plate -6 [+6]

The base armor class for all creatures is a 10. That makes Plate + a Shield equal to an AC of 17. If you roll a d20, add your to hit bonuses, and the attack number equals or is greater than the target’s AC value, then you hit. Easy peasy.

Converting the descending AC to ascending for monsters, we’ll just take their AC score in the book and subtract it from 19. For instance, with a Giant Rat we’ll go from a 7 to a 12.

Two Other Possible Rules

I’m pondering adding a similar mechanic for wizards with a high Intelligence score (extra spells per day with an Intelligence score of 13 or higher):

  • Intelligence score of 13-14, Int-based spellcasters gain an additional 1st level spell per day
  • 15-16, they get an extra 2nd level spell per day
  • 17, they get an extra 3rd level spell per day
  • 18, they get an extra 4th level spell per day

The idea here is that smart wizards would gain a bit more firepower during the day like their cleric/shaman counterparts.

And I’m pondering giving spellcasters a bit of a boost on their To Hit rolls with magic. If a Fighting Man gets a bonus to hit based on their primary stat and Dexterity gives a bonus to missile attacks, why not do something similar with the spellcasting types? Int for magic-users and enchanters and Wis for clerics and shamans. Something like:

Prime Requisite Score
Spellcasting To Hit Bonus








Kind of evens the score a bit between fighters and spellcasters, don’t you think?

Next up… I’ll actually get back to the first session. This post went longer than I would have liked. 🙂

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