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I mentioned previously that I had some Swords & Wizardry Whitebox house rules, so I thought I would share them. One of the reasons I like the game so much is that it’s a  lightweight rules system that is very amenable to house-ruling. I’ve had tons of fun playing and tweaking it. These were informed by lots of different sources, including Holmes Basic, Philotomy’s Musings, the Delving Deeper rules, and the OD&D FAQ from Strategic Review magazine (last modified: 2017-08-06).

Character Creation

  • Referee rolls ability scores, 3d6 in order
  • 3d6x10 starting gold, again rolled by referee.


UAB as modified with carrying bonus or penalty:

  • 3-6: -1 (-20lbs)
  • 7-14: 0
  • 15-18: +1 (+20lbs)
  • STR: Fighters only get a damage bonus (all classes get penalty) on melee and hand-hurled weapons. All classes get adjustment to open doors, and +/-20lbs carry weight for purposes of movement.
  • DEX: All classes get a bonus to-hit with missile weapons.
  • CON: All classes get a bonus to hit-points per hit-die.


Fighter (FM)

  • Fighters are the only class to get a bonus to damage from strength.
  • Fighters can parry in lieu of an attack – This effects a defensive bonus of the fighter’s STR+DEX UAB, or +1 at a minimum (so +1 or +2).

Magic-User (MU)

  • MUs can use the dagger or staff as a weapon.
  • At first level MUs get a spell book with all first level spells, at subsequent levels they gain spells automatically in their spell books as per the spells-per-day progression chart (a different spell book is used for each level of spells). They must acquire anything else through spellbooks, scrolls, tutelage or research. Example: A 7th-level M-U advancing to 8th-level would add one 3rd level spell and one 4th level spell to his spellbooks.
  • Scrolls can be penned by a MU of any level, for 100GP per level of the spell and one week’s labor, as long as he or she knows the spell to be transcribed.
  • When rested, a MU can re-memorize a spell after one turn of study per spell level.
  • MUs can parry with a staff only for a +1 defensive bonus, in lieu of an attack.


  • Same rules for spell recovery as for MUs.
  • Clerics do not have spellbooks, rather they have access to the entire list of spells at each level, and pray/meditate for what spells they will memorize each day.

All classes

  • Bind wounds: Any character can bind wounds of another after a combat. This cures 1d4 HP,  but can only be done once per day per PC.
  • Hit points are rolled fresh at each level gain, with a minimum gain of +1.



  • Halflings and Dwarves cannot use two-handed swords, long bows or polearms.


  • Dwarves can be Clerics of up to 7th level.
  • Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet, assuming no other light source brighter than moonlight is nearby.


  • Halflings of average or higher intelligence can speak Gnome and Elvish.
  • Interpret a Halfling’s ‘Near Invisibility’ to mean a 1-5/d6 chance of moving silently or hiding, adjusted down if needed based on circumstances, and never while wearing metal armor.


  • Elves get +1 to-hit with any bow, and do not incur any penalties for moving on foot and firing a bow in the same round.
  • Elves can be Fighters, MUs, or a Fighter/MU multi-class. In the case of the latter, experience is earned for one or the other class during any given adventure. Hit points are calculated as noted abovel – when an Elf gains a level, HP are rolled anew for the class in question, with a minimum gain of +1. When multiclassed, they can use any armor or weapons, but can only cast spells in magical armor or Elven chain.


  • Non-human races hear noise 1-2/d6, humans 1/d6.
  • Humans and Elves of average strength force open doors on 1-2/d6, Dwarves/Halfings 1/d6. Strength bonus will  modify this +/-1.


Note: 20 GP = 1lb.

Standard adventuring equipment weighs 20lbs. To that, add weapon and armor weight, then add any treasure at 20 coins to the pound to calculate encumbrance.


  • The ascending AC combat table is used, with the minor change that FM get a +1 BHB at first level (rather than no hit bonus).
  • There is a 50% chance of any fired arrow or quarrel breaking, getting lost,  or otherwise becoming unusable.
  • Players must give a statement of intent prior to the initiative roll.
  • There is a 25% chance that any character surprised by a monster (or vice-versa) will drop any one item they are holding.
  • Initiative is d6 per combatant or side, adjusted for dexterity in the case of individual initiative.
    • Combatants are normally allowed one action per round, i.e. full move, cast spell, missile or melee attack.
    • A half-move can be taken before or after melee or missile attacks. Such missile attacks are at -2 to-hit, but Elves on foot can half-move and fire bows with no penalty.
    • Spells can be interrupted by a successful attack on the M-U and are lost in such cases.
  • Six man-sized creatures can attack a single opponent in a 10-foot space, shields have no effect on AC in the three “rear” attack positions.
  • Rear attacks or attacks on retreating enemies are at +2 to-hit, and shields are not factored into AC.
  • Death is at 0 HP.
  • Humanoid monsters or FM with initiative or surprise can charge into melee at twice normal move rate for first attack only and gain +2 to-hit. If they miss, they suffer a +2 to the next attack(s) against them.
  • Spears do 2d6 damage when set against an initial charge from an opponent.
  • Spears and polearms can attack from the second rank.