Things Necropraxis Beat Me To

Meaningless! Meaningless! There's nothing new under the sun! I wanted to take this time to appreciate Brendan S of the Necropraxis blog. I think we all recognize him for the hazard die which has basically swept old-school play, but there are many other ideas Brendan came up with.

  • Rationalized Hit Dice: A systematic reevaluation of OD&D-style (d6-only) hit dice, attempting to standardize rates of acquisition for the three main classes. I was originally going to include something like this in the FMC optional rules before deciding it felt too arbitrary; little did I know that Brendan already came up with something like it!
  • Backpack Encumbrance: Rather than counting pounds, only keep track of a character's armor type and whether or not they are wearing a backpack. I thought I was clever for generalizing D&D Basic's simple encumbrance from treasure to backpacks, but Brendan beat me to it!
  • Ascending AC in OD&D: Isn't it kind of funny that you can read the first row of target numbers for combat as ascending armor class? Hahahaha. He did that already.
  • Hit Dice as Attack Bonus: It exists. It's been done. Using the rationalized hit dice above.

What this tells me is that when it comes to optimizing OD&D as an individual system (not including its supplements), there's basically few ways to go and they're all about consolidating disparate subsystems. This is without compromising the unique, particular play style of OD&D compared to its successors in AD&D and D&D Basic. This, to me, leads to an obvious question: does there exist an optimal, modern OD&D? The answer, I think, is also obvious: yes.

I don't want to editorialize FMC since its aim isn't to provide a specific reading or reinterpretation of OD&D, but to confront the reader with the impossibility of an objective reading (and, by extension, how it produces multiple contradictory readings). However, it's so tempting to transform it into a modernization of the ruleset as it was at one point conceived. What might a modernized OD&D need?

  • "Rationalized" hit dice, as above.
  • Simplified encumbrance, as above.
  • Ascending armor class, as above.
  • Attack bonuses based on hit dice, as above.
  • An interface between individual and mass combat, by abstracting groups of figures into units.

There's probably room for many more changes and optimizations! But I think the above is a start, and also that we have Necropraxis to thank for presenting such a cohesive vision of OD&D that does not bow to its later revisions.

I’m going to run OD&D/FMC this weekend (twice, actually)—probably, if we do another session, I’ll start introducing modernizations like the ones above. Playing it as written is basically a novelty, but I think we will all appreciate QOL improvements for this janky mess of a rulebook!


  1. Necropraxis is great. In addition to those modernizing tweaks, I would revitalize OD&D's magic system by throwing in _Wonder and Wickedness_ (Lost Pages, 2014): it's a great reimagining that adds cool stuff while keeping flavourful familiar elements and preserving the spirit of the original.

    1. Wonder & Wickedness remains one of my favorite things ever

    2. wonder and wickedness is so good! i love the maleficence mechanic, and have probably played with it in more games than not at this point (at least lately).

    3. Necropraxis is the best. I have read his blog from start to finish, like a good book.


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