Here are a few ideas and "house rules" that I and my friends have developed over the years. 2nd Edition AD&D needs some tweaking! :)



  Although somewhat improved in Combat and Tactics, these powerful weapons are still too weak and one entire class of the weapon is missing. A light crossbow is the small version used by hunters that can be braced against the stomach to recock, gnomes and other small races would use these, as would thieves. The medium crossbow is cocked using a footbrace (cost 40 gp and uses same bolts as light crossbow). As anybody who has used a crossbow can tell you, they are actually as lethal as firearms, but not as accurate. The big advantage they have is sthat they can be carried at full cock for a long time, allowing instant firing (which is impossible with a bow). Crossbows should be available for high Strength, as they are in real life (you can get a 200lb draw weight crossbow), gloves would be required to pull the string, or you'd damage fingers. However the extreme cost (the base cost multiplied for every Strength point over 14, the precentage "ranges" cost a point each).

  Note that the extreme power of crossbows allows them to punch through armour! These reduction only couunt against a target's physical armour class, not that derived from Dexterity, magic or cover. Also common sense should prevail, an adult dragon's hide is so thick the AC reductions shouldn't apply.

Class of crossbow damage armour class penalty
Hand 1d4 -
Light 1d6 -
Medium 1d8 -2
Heavy 1d10 -5

 Dragons are the most mighty and terrifying creatures in AD&D, but that isn't reflected in their combat stats! A warrior can do almost as much damage as a full grown red wyrm in a round! Using the following rules makes it more believable, and terrifying, to face a dragon. Although their breath weapons are devastating, the effect of a one ton claw cannot be over looked! ;) Generally, only seige weapons, the most potent of blades and the smrtets of minds can defeat a dragon: meleeing one is almost certain suicide! Also note: you CANNOT "vorpalise" a dragon, they are too big!! Only giant-sized folk could do it, same with "sharpness" weapons.

  Dragons are incredibly tough, Hit Dice ranges aren't sufficient, 1 100 yeard beastie is gonna take a lot of killing! Just as humans get bonuses for high Constituion,so do dragons. So a read great wyrm with 23 Hit Dice gets a bonus of 138 hp on top!
Damage dice modifiers increase the amonut of dice done in damage (not the bonuses for age). So a great red wyrm would do 5d10+12 (1d10x5, +12) claw damage. Note that human-sized opponents are so small adult dragons generally can't use more than one attack against them!

  All dragons get a +4 to saves due to their size, magic abilities etc.

AGE Hit Die Modifier Combat Modifier Fear Radius Fear Save Extra hp per hit dice Damage dice modifier Magic weapon to hit
1 Hatchling -6 +1 - -




2 Very Young -4 +2 - -




3 Young -2 +3 - -




4 Juvenile - +4 - - 2 - -
5Young Adult +1 +5 15 yards +3 3 - -
6 Adult +2 +6 20yards +2 3 x2 +1
7 Mature Adult +3 +7 25 yards +1 4 x2 +1
8 Old +4 +8 30 yards 0 4 x3 +1
9 Very Old +5 +9 35 yards -1 5 x3 +2
10 Venerable +6 +10 40 yards -2 5 x4 +2
11Wyrm +7 +11 45 yards -3 6 x4 +2
12 Great Wyrm +8 +12 50 yards -4 6 x5 +3


  What do you think is more likely to knock someone out: a fist, or a 3lb steel mace? The KO punching rules should be got ridden of entirely! Attacking creatures with fists (1d2 hp, 1/2 of damage is real, the rest stun), and weapons (-4 hit, only 1/2damage, and half of this is stun) seems perfectly good enough.

  The knockdown rules in Combat and Tactics are too complicated, a simple Strength, Constitution or Save vs. Paralyzation should be used, where the DM thinks appropriate, bonuses and penalties for differing strengths, number of attackers and size etc should apply.


Characters don't get enough proficiencies and the tables are too complicated.

Intelligence proficiency slots should be usable for ANY skill, or saved for later in a character's career, as long as the DM agrees. Why couldn't a wizard have proficiency in long sword, or a warrior in spellcraft? And they have the ability to adapt and learn new things quickly later on. Provided it fits the character's background!

All characters should start off with 8 proficiency slots, and gain another 2 every 3 levels.

A roll of '1' should be great, and a roll of "20" results in something bad or done wrong, low rolls are best.

When several slots are in a skill, the "good roll" should be increased to equal the number of slots in the skill. For example, a dwarf has 3 slots in Weaponsmithing, on a roll of 1-3 (3 slots), he does a brilliant job.

All skills should cost only 1 slot. Someone with only one slot in a skill is only knowledgeable about it, not a master. An example, 1slot=you know about it well enough to do it. For a rough guide: 2=adequate skill; 3 slots=best in village; 4=best in town; 5= best in city; 7= best in region; 8=best in country; 9=best in continent, 10=best in world.

PCs generally learn lots of skills to help them survive, instead of having a single skill as their careers, so this seems reasonable.

  Why bother with quality materials, when in AD&D they give little advantage??!! For instance, mithril costs 100 times as much as steel but only gives a +1 weapon bonus and +4 saving throw versus Crushing Blow, hardly worth the expense, and also, where is the wonder in this mythical metal then?
   Items made of high quality materials should get attack and saving throw bonuses. However these bonuses are NOT cumulative with magical bonuses EXCEPT where saving throws are concerned! Magic items are darn near indestructible! They last for centuries, but then again, catastrophic attacks, like being struck by a dragon, should impose saving throw penalties!

Material (and description)
Attack/damage bonuses
Saving throw bonus
Stainless steel
+1, +4 vs cold/corrosion/crushing blow
Meteoric steel
+2, +4 vs Fire/cold
Adamantine (low grade alloy of adamant and iron common in the Underdark and used by drow and duergar, dull black with slight reddish tinge)
Mithril (ultra-polished silver colour, incredibly tough)
+5 Invulnerable to corrosion/decay
Adamantite (alloy of adamant and mithril, half the weight of steel, polished blue-black in colour)
Adamant (dull black, diamond hard and denser than iron)
+5 (impervious to all normal harm!)


  According to the AD&D rules, a heavy ballista firing a 25 lb bolt at 300 miles an hour would do 3d10 hp?!! Ever seen what the Romans' weapons did, or a trebuchet throwing a piano 200 yards? (A guy in England's got a trebuchet in his field!) Light ballistae were capable of firing a bolt 400 yards that could punch through a palisade wall and kill the poor sod standing behind it, check British archaeological studies.
  To reflect the deadly nature of siege weapons, their damage should be increased. Their THAC0s should be poor, as they currently are, as training them on a target isn't easy, however, they reduce the target's AC by 10, except for bonuses due to Dexterity, magic or cover, since they can punch through or flatten plate armour.
  Note: Catapults can fire single, large rocks that can bounce for some distance and hit numerous folk, while ballistae hurl giant bolts that can plough straight through several humans. Alternatively, both types can be altered (especially catapults) to fire lots of small projectiles that will affect a wide area (shrapnel).

Category of weapon
Solid shot Damage
Shrapnel Damage
Rate of Fire
3d10 hp
3d4 hp 10' diameter
1/2 rounds
5d10 hp
5d4 hp 15' diameter
1/3 rounds
7d10 hp
7d4 hp 20' diameter
1/4 rounds


  Weapon specilization is frankly, a pain in the butt to use! "3/2 attacks and +1 hit/+2 damage", that is awkward!! And there is ltitle in the way of customizing characters' weapon abilities, where as a priest and spellcasters and thieves have many options.

  Below, a better system is described. DMs as always, can veto any of these rules, or not allow them to be used by non-single classed warriors at all. Also, no character should start out with with Mastery, even if they have the slots! (proficiency slots may be kept spare though, i.e. the character has had lots of practice but little real experience, so he can add them into his skill later on, and Intelligence slots should be usable on any skill). DMs judgement about such matters is strongly advised. Only allowing 7th level characters to progress to Adept level, and 13th level charcater to Master level, seems fair. Weapon masters will stick to ONE specific weapon and rarely if ever use an other. Indeed they are often very attached to a specific weapon and may lose their bonuses until they get used to a new one.

  This system is designed to REPLACE the current specialization system entirely ! (i.e. characters have to purchase BOTH weapon specialization and precision to get extra attacks and hit/damage bonuses). All bonuses apply to both melee and missile weapons, but DART masters are not very likely! (i.e. DMs should control min/max munchkin players!)

And monsters should also get these abilites if the DM thinks it appropriate...

Skill type Proficiency slots : Fighter Proficiency slots: Multi-class fighter Proficiency slots: Non-warrior class Extra attacks per round Hit/damage bonus Special benefits
Weapon Specialization


2 3 4 1 - -
Weapon Specialization


4 5 6 1 - The extra attacks are cumulative with Weapon Specialization Initiatie bonus, so total is +2 attacks per round
Weapon Specialization


6 7 8 1 - The extra attacks are cumulative with Weapon Specialization Adept bonus, so total is +3 attacks per round
Weapon Precision


2 3 4 - +1/+1 -
Weapon Precision


4 5 6 - +2/+2 -
Weapon Precision


6 7 8 - +3/+3 -
Weapon Speed


2 3 4 - - -1 Initiative bonus
Weapon Speed


4 5 6 - - -2 Initiative bonus
Weapon Speed


6 7 8 - - -3 initiative bonus
Weapon Parry


2 3 4 - - +2 Armour Class Bonus

Parry only works on creatures approximately similar in size. So a human couldn't parry an ogre or a pixie.

Weapon Parry


4 5 6 - - +4 Armour Class Bonus
Weapon Parry


6 7 8 - - +6 Armour Class Bonus
Shield Initiate 1 1 1 - - +3 Armour Class bonus instead of +1 with shield
Shield Adept 2 3 4 - - As per Shield Proficiency plus can use a Shield Punch attack once per round and still get AC benefit. Damage is 1d3 hp, usual -2/-4 Attack penalties due to two weapon style attack.
Shield Master 3 4 5 - - As per Shield Adept but no attack penalties apply.
Disarm Initiate 2 3 4 - - When disarming someone, if the attacker hits a better armour class than the defender (each gets a standard attack roll to test this skill), the defender is disarmed. The defender gets a +4 bonus though, and 2 handed weapons cannot be disarmed.
Disarm Adept 4 5 6 - - As Disarm Inititiate, but the defender only gets a +2 attack roll bonus though.
Disarm Master 6 7 8 - - As Disarm Adept, but the defender gets no attack roll bonuses.