Thursday, 26 January 2012

Multiple HD PC Species

Totally unplaytested.

Starting a non-human PC with more than 1HD - If you start at Level 1 with more than 1d8 hit points (OK, d10 for some classes in 1E) you have effectively got the extra HD on a "mortgage". To pay this "mortgage" off you cannot gain any more hit points until you have completed levels past your starting HD equal to the number of levels for which you were over-rated.

Badly explained. Time for an example.

OK, Bugbear PC. Level 1 but 3HD (ignore pluses unless they are 4+ in which case treat the species as being 1HD more than printed). "Cheating" for Levels 1 and 2, catches up at level 3. To cancel out the bonus gained at Levels 1 and 2 cannot gain hit dice for levels 4 and 5. Starts gaining HD at Level 6 again.

So assuming a Bugbear is just a B/X or BECMI Fighter with surprise ability and 3d8 for hp.

Level 1 - 3d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained once)
Level 2 - 3d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained once)
Level 3 - 3d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained once)
Level 4 - 3d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained once)
Level 5 - 3d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained once)
Level 6 - 4d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained twice)
Level 7 - 5d8 hp + CON bonus (CON bonus gained three times)

and so on.

Neanderthal or Lizardman PC - Both of these species are 2HD creatures, so will be 2HD + Con bonus until reaching Level 4. (Lack of advance at Level 3 "pays off" "cheating" at Level 1).
There is probably a point past which such species unbalance a low level game. You'd have to decide that for yourself. It's also easily abusable by that sort of player so regard it as a litmus test of whether or not a player is the sort of player you'd like to play with.

(Citadel Miniatures ADD56 Bugbear - one of my all-time favourite Citadel castings - halfinched from here -


  1. Reminds me of the old BECMI monster-PC rules from the PC- series of books ("Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, Top Ballista, etc."). Your version seems to 'front load' monster abilities rather than 'drip-feeding' them in as BECMI did, but that's fair enough; people want to play monsters to use their special abilities.

    Certainly simpler and more usable than the dog's breakfast that was 3E's monster-as-PC rules (Monster HD + Class Levels + Level Adjustment = Effective Character Level). What a mess that was.

  2. That's better than the D&D PC series (with rules for playing everything from Werewolves, through Mermen, to Leprechauns), or Orcs of Thar, where you started as 'trainees' (or something), with 1HD and negative XP, reaching 'natural' HD at 0 XP.

  3. Why not just start as an orc that grows into an ogre by 4th level that turns into a giant at level 12?

    Rules for playing monsters were written into the original d&d rules. Just start at 1HD like everyone else and figure out an xp advancement table.

  4. btw: I have to say that I really like the PC series of books for D&D - D&D doesn't make any kind of sense as a system of 'simulating' medieval life and combat, it isn't even a very good fit for gaming in fantasy worlds of legend or fiction. If you have a flying city full of gnomes, and centaurs coming into town to trade, and every other cottage has a resident faerie - and if the PCs can play a gnome, a centaur, and a faerie, the wonky game system seems to fit the gonzo setting.