Home‎ > ‎

Onderland House Rules

Book One: Swordsmen & Spellslingers 


Ability Modifiers

All Ability Modifiers, as represented in Ability Tables 1 through 6 are standardized in line with the Ability Modifier Table below.

Ability Score

Thus, the following Modifiers match those of the table above:
  • Ability Checks
  • To Hit (both Melee and Missile) 
  • Damage 
  • Portals (see Strength below) 
  • Reaction Adjustment 
  • Hit Points 
  • Learning Spells (see Intelligence below) 
  • Maximum No. of Hirelings (see Charisma below) 
Other significant changes are discussed below.


Opening stuck, locked, or magically held portals is resolved using a Strength Check. A stuck portal is an Easy Check (+4); a locked portal is an Average Check; and a magically held portal is an Heroic Check (-4). In the latter case, the Referee may wish to vary the difficulty by levying an additional -1 for every 3 levels of the caster. In the former two cases, the Referee may vary the difficulty based on unusually strong or weak doors or locks. 


The Modifier for Constitution Saves is the same as for Ability Checks, using the progression from Table 1.


Learning a spell is an Intelligence Check at Average difficulty. If the Wizard fails to learn the new spell on the first attempt, he can make additional attempts each week. The Referee may allow the Wizard to acquire information or training to aid in the attempt.

There are no maximum number of spells per level that can be memorized, nor maximum spell levels learnable for Wizards.


The normal maximum number of hirelings is 4. The standard modifier based on Charisma score will alter this.


There are no Racial Level Limits.


All Dwarves have the Warrior class. Alternately, they may multi-class as Warrior-Thieves, halving all experience earned (round down). Single-classed Warrior Dwarves are levied a -10% penalty on all earned experience.

Dwarves receive a +4 to Saves against Magic, as well as an additional +2 to Constitution-based Saves (in addition to the +2 granted by the Warrior's Iron Constitution for a total of +4). Perceiving slanting passages, new construction, and so forth is an Intelligence Check. Dwarves receive a +4 bonus to such attempts.

Dwarves may forge enchanted items. This ability functions as the Wizard ability to create permanent magical items, with the same time and costs, although a Dwarf will need access to a forge and other crafting equipment. Unlike a Wizard, a Dwarf is not placing magic into an existing object; rather he is creating a magical object from scratch. Should a Dwarf wish to create an enchanted item with spell-like powers, he may do so without the need for any actual spells to be cast. His magic is in his craft. A Dwarf may only create permanent magical objects and cannot create potions, scrolls, or charged items. 


All Elves have the Wizard class. Alternately, Elves may multi-class as Warrior-Wizards, Thief-Wizards, or Warrior-Wizard-Thieves, dividing all experience earned by the total number of classes (2 or 3). Single-classed Wizard Elves are levied a -10% penalty on all earned experience.

Finding a secret door is based upon player-description, not the roll of the dice. A Referee may, however, use an Intelligence Check to guide the character’s actions. Elves automatically detect secret doors (i.e. without conscious effort) on an Intelligence Check against an Average difficulty.

The bonuses described for Elves using magical swords only applies to special Elven blades rather than all magical swords. Such Elven blades function as a sword +1 when used by anyone other than an Elf.


All Halflings have the Thief class. Alternately, Halflings may multi-class as Warrior-Thieves, halving all experience earned (round down). Single-classed Thief Halflings are levied a -5% penalty on all earned experience.


There are no elite sub-classes. Each of the four classes may be adjusted with Background Skills to represent more specific careers. Thus, a Thief with an Herbalist (Poison) Background Skills and a penchant for murder could be called an “Assassin.” A Warrior with a specialization in long bows and a Hunter Background could be called a “Ranger.”

There are no Prime Requisites for any classes. If a player chooses to make his Strength 6 character a Warrior, so be it. This means that there are no Experience Bonuses for high scores.


Exceptional Strength – There is no Exceptional Strength.

Combat Reflexes – Warriors levy a -1 penalty on all in-coming attacks per every 3 full levels (3rd, 6th, 9th, etc.).

Weapon Mastery – Warriors receive a +1 to hit bonus with their chosen weapon, with an additional +1 per every 3 full levels. Alternately, a warrior may choose to specialize in defensive fighting, receiving an additional -1 per every 3 levels on all in-coming attacks (making a total of -2 per every 3 levels).

Steely Thews – Warriors add +2 to all Strength-based Saves. This is in addition to Iron Constitution.

Heroic Effort (see Heroic Effort below) – Warriors may use Heroic Effort to boost all rolls made in combat (both To Hit and Damage) and Strength- and Constitution-based Saves.


The practice of magic requires literacy. Spells are written in the Elder Tongue and all Wizards are therefore fluent in that language. In Onderland, many Wizards are priests because only priests are, as a rule, literate. Some Wizards are regular clergy, attached to a church, while others are itinerant. Despite this, many find Wizards a bit dubious. The sorcery practiced in Onderland was developed by the Wisse--indeed the very name means "the wizards"--and something of their taint remains upon magic. However, some cunning folk have learned a few spells and know only how to read those. These folk are often of Wissen descent and the stereotype of the short, dark-haired hedge wizard or witch is not far from the mark.

Weapons -- Wizards may use any weapons that they wish. However, any weapon other than a dagger, staff, or cudgel, has a -2 non-proficiency penalty applied to the Combat Roll. This penalty does not apply to Elves who have multi-classed.

Armour – Wizards may wear any armour. However, they are untrained in the wearing of such armour and suffer a -2 penalty to all Casting Rolls and Dexterity-based Saves. This penalty does not apply to Elves who have multi-classed.

Magic Item Creation – Potions may be created at a cost of 200 sp per level rather than 100gp.

Heroic Effort (see Heroic Effort below) – Wizards may use Heroic Effort to boost Casting Rolls (including dispelling attempts) and Intelligence- and Charisma-based Saves.

Champion (aka Priest) 

Certain individuals feel the call of the Higher Powers and dedicate themselves to becoming holy warriors for their chosen cause. These people are Champions. Examples include the original Knights Templar, the historical Assassins, the literary Paladins of Charlemagne, and the more romantic notions of the Round Table Knights. Their modes of action may differ – some Champions seek to convert the unbelievers, others attempt to aid the faithful (sometimes, even the unfaithful), whiles still others see themselves as defenders of some institution or ideal.

A 1st level Champion is a person who feels that they are called by some Higher Power to embark upon a life of crusading. Upon reaching 2nd level, their calling is verified by the acquisition of miraculous abilities (divine spells). Thus, Champions can only be aligned with Law or Chaos, the two powers of the cosmos. Only humans can become Champions; other species lack the peculiar crusading zeal of humans.

While some Champions are ordained priests, many are not. Conversely, the vast majority of priests are Normal Men. Champions appear from all walks of life: peasants, merchants, and kings. While many Champions join an order of like-minded peers, they need not do so.

Weapons – Champions may use any melee weapon. They may not use missile weapons in combat; instead, they must always be at the forefront of battle in the name of their cause.

Armour – Champions may wear any armour.

Divine Conviction – Champions add +2 to Wisdom and Charisma-based Saves.

Heroic Effort (see Heroic Effort below) – Champions may use Heroic Effort to boost their To Hit rolls in combat, Casting Rolls, and Wisdom- and Charisma-based Saves.


Thief Abilities – Thieves use the alternate, 2d6-based system (once available).

Appraising Eye – Thieves add +2 to Intelligence-based Saves. This is in addition to Uncanny Dodge.

Heroic Effort (see Heroic Effort below) – Thieves may use Heroic Effort to boost Thief Ability rolls and Dexterity- and Intelligence-based Saves.


The Alignments 

Good and Evil are mortal concepts of morality. The cosmos of Onderland has only two great and co-eval powers: Law and Chaos. Alignment represents a person's devotion to those powers. Note that devotion need not be strong; a "foxhole believer" has devotion in this sense as much as a priest does.

The vast majority of people are aligned with either Law or Chaos. In the Elder Days, the Faerie-folk were Neutral (Balanced) aligned. That didn't work out too well for them in the end. Neutral (Unaligned) folk are rare; they simply don't care about cosmic forces, despite the evidence around them.

Alignment Tongues 

All of the various religious institutions have a particular, obscure, ecclesiastical language. Most priests will be fluent in such languages. Most devotees will not, but they will have a familiarity with the sounds of such languages.


Magic in the Onderland Campaign is divided into two types: Natural Magic (virtues) and Demonic Magic (spells).  Natural magic is so-called because it utilizes the occult properties of the world as created by the One and administered by the Six-Fold Archons.  It’s on par with magnetism, to choose an good medieval example. Wondrous, but natural (i.e. Lawful). 

Demonic magic is the opposite: it relies upon summoning forces from the Underworld to enact their unnatural powers upon the world (i.e. Chaotic).  This doesn’t make it evil per se; there were and are many apologists for Demonic Magic who claim that they are following the example of the great Hexadic saints in using divine power to order demons and that it was actually a punishment for demons to be forced to do good things.  In addition, Demonic Magic spells are based upon grimoires and ritual and therefore the only real people able to practice it are the literate i.e. priests

The consequent rules-changes are:

1. The Priest and Wizard spell lists get rearranged.  Natural Magic largely equates to Priestly magic, such as healing, detection, and abjurations.  Those spells that appear on both lists (such as Light) are only Natural magic in this ordering.  The Demonic list is thus pruned a bit, leaving it the offensive and creepy spells--Sleep, Magic Missile, Arcane Eye, etc.

2. Wizards may use spells of either type.  They can, in principle, cast any spell in the game. Champions are restricted to Natural Magic as a gift from the Powers.

3. Natural Magic spells are called virtues.  They are cast using the usual D&D system--no casting roll.  They automatically work, as befits their Lawful nature, but the caster also always forgets them.

4. Demonic Magic uses the Spellcraft & Swordplay system--the casting roll, the chance of success or failure, the chance of retaining or losing the spell.  The randomness befits the Chaotic nature of the practice.  What the rules refer to as "memorizing the spell" is actually performing the ritual summoning and binding of the demonic power.  Casting is the unleashing of that demon.  If the Wizard's Casting Roll succeeds, the demon remains bound to him.  If he fails, the demon is released and scarpers back to the Underworld.  If the Wizard rolls snake-eyes, something weird and unpleasant happens.

The new spell lists are as follows.  Names in italics are spells renamed for flavour, with the old name in parenthesis.  New spells are noted with an asterix.

Level One

Natural Magic
1. Cure Light Wounds

2. Detect Evil
3. Detect Magic
4. Disrupt Undead
5. Light
6. Locate Animal or Plant
7. Predict Weather
8. Protection from Evil
9. Purify Food & Water
10. Read Languages

Demonic Magic
. Charm Person
2. Deathwatch
3. Elf-Shot (Magic Missile)
4. Hex (Bane)
5. Faerie Fire

6. Hold Portal
7. Inflict Light Wounds
8. Sleep
9. Summon the Will-o-Wisp (Dancing Lights)

Level Two

Natural Magic
1. Animal Summoning 1

2. Bless
3. Create Water
4. Detect Invisible
5. Divine Flame (Continual Flame)
6. Find Traps
7. Hold Person
8. Lesser Restoration
9. Locate Object
10. Remove Paralysis
11. Speak with Animals

Demonic Magic
1. Cloak (Obscurement)
2. Desecrate

3. ESP
4. Hand-Fire (Produce Flame)
5. Heat Metal
6. Invisibility
7. Knock
8. Levitate
9. Phantasmal Image
10. Wizard Lock
11. Warp Wood

Level Three

Natural Magic
1. Animal Summoning 2

2. Cure Disease
3. Dispel Magic
4. Hold Animal
5. Neutralize Poison
6. Protection from Evil, 10’ Radius
7. Protection from Fire
8. Protection from Normal Missiles
9. Remove Blindness/Deafness
10. Remove Curse
11. Water Breathing

Demonic Magic

1. Call Lightning
2. Cause Fear
3. Clairaudience
4. Clairvoyance
5. Contagion
6. Fire Ball
7. Fly
8. Haste
9. Infravision
10. Invisibility, 10’ Radius
11. Lightning Bolt
12. Plant Growth
13. Pyrotechnics
14. Slow
15. Speak with Dead
16. Staves to Snakes
17. Unholy Blight

Level Four

Natural Magic
1. Animal Summoning 3

2. Binding Oath*
3.Cure Serious Wounds

4. Daylight
5. Death Ward
6. Dimensional Anchor
7. Hold Undead
8. Plant Door
9. Protection from Lightning
10. Restoration
11. Speak with Plants

Demonic Magic
1. Arcane Eye

2. Black Tentacles
3. Confusion
4. Control Temperature, 10’ Radius
5. Cone of Cold
6. Charm Monster
7. Dimension Door
8. Enervation
9. Forest Legion
10. Hallucinatory Terrain
11. Inflict Critical Wounds
12. Insect Plague
13. Phantasmal Killer
14. Polymorph Others
15. Polymorph Self
16. Produce Fire
17. Vampiric Touch
18. Wall of Fire
19. Wall of Ice

Level Five

Natural Magic
1. Animal Summoning 4

2. Anti-Animal Shell
3. Commune
4. Create Food
5. Dismissal
6. Dispel Evil
7. Heal
8. Hold Monster
9. Planar Binding

Demonic Magic
1. Animal Growth

2. Animate Dead
3. Blight
4. Cloudkill
5. Conjure Elemental
6. Contact Underworld (Contact Higher Plane)
7. Control Winds

8. Create Undead
9. Feeblemind
10. Finger of Death
11. Firestorm
12. Geas
13. Harm
14. Insect Plague
15. Possession (Magic Jar)
16. Pass-Wall
17. Telekinesis
18. Teleport
19. Transmute Rock to Mud
20. Tree Stride
21. Wall of Iron
22. Wall of Stone

Level Six

Natural Magic
1. Anti-Magic Shell

2. Lower Water
3. Move Earth
4. Part Water
5. Final Rest (Undeath to Death)

Demonic Magic
1. Anti-life Shell
2. Blasphemy
3. Circle of Death
4. Control Weather
5. Disintegrate
6. Enchant Item
7. Freezing Sphere
8. Invisible Stalker
9. Projected Image
10. Reincarnate
11. Slay Living
12. Stone to Flesh


The economy is on the silver standard. All prices are converted from gold to silver pieces.  One notable change is that Plate Armour costs 90 silver pennies rather than 50.

Coinage varies a little from realm to realm, but the silver penny (sp) is the standard coin and is equal to 12 copper stycas (or copper pieces; cp). Conversely, it generally takes 20 pennies to make 1 gold shilling (or gold piece; gp).

1 gp = 20sp = 240 cp
.02 gp = 1 sp = 12 cp
.004 gp = .083 sp = 1 cp

Other contemporary, though less common, coins include the silver groat, equal to 4 pennies, and the silver farthing, ¼ of a silver penny. Antique coins from the Old Kingdom (frequently called crowns) can occasionally be found. They are usually gold and quite sophisticated. There value is based solely upon metal content and/or collector’s value, but an Old Kingdom coin is generally worth at least 10 shillings.

Many inhabitants of Onderland, however, are still, essentially, on the barter system and do not use money at all.

Book Two: Combat & Conflict 


Background Skills 

Background Skills are used. All characters possess one Background Skill. Players may choose their initial Background skill. The following are appropriate Background skills for the Onderland Campaign, although players are free to suggest new ones. Just recall that the setting is not High Medieval, so there is no heraldry, professional entertainers, or scholars, and so forth.

 ArmourerGroom  Miner
 Bard HerbalistPriest 
 Bowyer / Fletcher Hunter / Trapper Shipwright
 Brewer Husbandman Smith (Black-, Silver-, etc.)
 Chirugeon Jeweler / Lapidary Stonemason
 Cobbler Keel-boater Tailor / Weaver
 Farmer Leather-worker / Tanner Teamster / Frieghter
 Fisherman Limner / Painter Woodworker / Carpenter
 Forester Merchant / Trader 


Surprise and Initiative 

If one or more parties may be surprised, make a Dexterity-check with an Average Difficulty. Failure indicates surprise. If rolling for an entire party, the designated leader or vanguard makes the roll.

Table 1 Armour Type and AC

Table 1 is replaced by this new table:

 Armour Type Armour Class
 None  1
 Leather (Light)
 Chain (Medium)
 Plate (Heavy)

Table 2 Melee Attack Matrix by Weapon

Table 2 is replaced with the new table:


Damage from large, two-handed weapons wielded by characters is determined by rolling 2d6 and taking the larger. This does not apply to giant-sized monsters who may do more damage with such weapons.


Hit Points are an abstract measure of vitality, ability to withstand pain, defensive skill, and luck. They do not simply measure “wounds taken.” At the conclusion of combat, all characters who still have at least one hit point regain half of the damage sustained in the bout (rounding down). Thus if a character takes a total of 5 points of damage, even if from different opponents, he regains 2 points once the fight ends and he can catch his breath.

Characters fall unconscious when they drop to zero hit points or less and normal healing rules apply. Such characters have taken serious damage and will need downtime or magic to heal. They do not regain damage as above, but use the standard rules.


Saving Throw Matrix 

The Saving Throw Matrix is standardized for all classes. The target number for Saving Throws is a base 11 (as with Ability Checks). Characters receive a +2 bonus to all Saving Throws for every 3 full levels gained (levels 3, 6, 9, etc.). Each class receives a separate, additional bonus to certain Saves.


A character may alter the results of certain class-appropriate rolls to grant himself a better result. To do so, he uses up some of his vitality and luck i.e. Hit Points. Points can be sacrificed to raise the dice result on a one-for-one basis plus an additional 1d6-1.

This means that Heroic Effort is an uncertain action. Lower levels characters are unlikely to use it much since it could easily kill them (although they may do just that for an heroic death scene). But that is fitting, since low-level characters are not great heroes. Not yet.

Characters can only use Heroic Effort to affect certain class-appropriate rolls:
  • Warriors: Combat Rolls (both To Hit and Damage), Strength- and Constitution-based Saves. 
  • Wizards: Casting rolls (including dispelling), Intelligence- and Charisma-based Saves. 
  • Champions: To Hit rolls, Casting rolls, Wisdom- and Charisma-based Saves. 
  • Thieves: Thief Abilities, Dexterity- and Intelligence-based Saves. 


The garnering of treasure or other accomplishment of players goals by the use of tactics rather than combat always grants more experience than would otherwise be gained from slaying opponents.

As a rule, the XP gained will be 1.5 of that gained from killing the monster.

Book Three: Monsters & Magic

The Referee will change the appearance and abilities of monsters and magic whenever he wants to, in order to preserve the wonder of things.

Spellcraft & Swordplay is Trademark ™ and Copyright © 2008 by Elf Lair Games. This page is fan-created and no infringement, challenge or claim to ownership is intended or implied in the content herein, nor is any association with Elf Lair Games assumed, claimed, or implied.