Thursday, August 16, 2012

Character Class Emulation: b/x / Labyrinth Lord to USR

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying (USR) from The Trollish Delver (it's free, download it if you haven't) and sometimes, I like to use it instead of D & D b/x for dungeon crawls. I rarely need to refer to the rules (although , I do sometimes as a refresher) and, more importantly, characters have a better chance of surviving! 

I've done it enough times now, that I've got a cheat sheet of specialisms I use to emulate the character classes from b/x and Labyrinth Lord (and, I imagine, other retro clones). Thought I'd share it in case any one is interested.

Added bonus:  If I were to find someone else interested in playing a dungeon crawl, USR takes about 2 minutes to explain and maybe 5 minutes to create a character if they have an idea of what they want to play. If not, it can take quite a bit to nail down the three specialisms. This post should help with that a bit.

Below are what I'll call "the easy" classes - fighter, rogue (i.e. thief), dwarves and halflings (these are primarily based on b/x concepts for these classes, thus race-as-class.). 

My Recommendations for Attribute Dice:

Fighters: Action :d10,wits and ego as desired.

Rogues: Action or Wits should be d10 depending on focus.

Dwarves: Action d10, wits and ego as desired.

Halflings: Wits d10, action and ego as desired.

Obviously, you can use whatever assignment you want that supports the character you want to play. For example, maybe you want a bumbling fighter who survives more by luck than brawn - in that case, put the d8 or d6 in Action, depending on how bumbling you want him to be.

My Recommendations for Specialisms:

Fighter: Smashing things (doors, chests, etc.) (Action +2), melee weapons mastery (Action + 2) and one of the following: lifting things(action +2), dodge(action +2), intimidate(Ego +2),  tactics (Wits +2), open hand combat (Action +2), missile/range weapons mastery (Wits +2)

Rogue: any 3 of the following:Dodge(Action +2), stealth(i.e. hide in shadows, move silently, etc. action +2), pick pockets (action +2), pick locks(Wits +2), set traps(Wits+2), disarm traps(Wits +2 ), detect traps(Wits+2), climbing(Action +2), melee weapons mastery (Action +2) or missile/range weapons mastery (Wits +2)

Dwarves (race-as-class): Mining(Wits+2) and any 2 fighter specialisms.

Halflings (race-as-class): Dodge(Action +3 due to their small stature), missile/range weapons mastery (Wits +2) and any 1 from rogue abilities or may choose either Trash Talk(Wits +2) or Tippler
(Action +2).
The above have worked well enough for me.

But, maybe three specialisms isn't enough for you to feel like you've captured the class well enough. 

You can add more, indeed you can earn a new one if you level up, but let's be fair, if your dungeons are like mine, most characters won't last long enough to see the next level. 

If I was going to allow starting with more, I'd probably require a flaw be taken as well for each additional specialism. A reverse specialism if you will, something your character is terrible at.

Examples: Swimming(Action -2), climbing(Action -2), reading (Wits -2), running(Action -2), intimidation(Ego -2), etc.

What about magic-users, clerics and elves? 

A decent magic system is more complicated, at least from my perspective, and I've approached it in multiple ways, which I'll talk about in the next part of this, whenever that might be! 


  1. I love your USR mixed with D&D rules. I'd be interested to see your take on a magic system. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

  2. Hi Scott, thanks for stopping in! Provided I have some time to write, I hope to post on my take on magic with USR next week. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my ideas.