Evils of Illmire – Campaign Prelude

We are letting our Barrowmaze campaign take a backseat for a little while and shifting to a more orthodox series of adventures following a band of adventurers – not quite such an open table, but aiming to keep the flexibility for those of us for whom a long-term weekly gaming slot is tricky to maintain, what with life and all.

We’ll also be putting Off-White Cube aside and trying out Old School Essentials. We’re all a little unsure of the rules, finding even this beautifully laid out version of old B/X D&D a bit finickity and crunchy compared to our usual tastes, but we’re game to give them a try (I, in particular, don’t want to be guilty of throwing babies out with bathwater before at least seeing how much potential these babies have).

It being traditional D&D though, we have already introduced some house rules, and I’m sure many will follow.

House Rules

Inventory Slots

Each character gets ten inventory slots. One item takes up one slot. If the item is stacked on the equipment list in the OSE rules, that many items can be combined into a slot. Movement rates ignore whether treasure is carried and are just affected by the armour the characters are wearing. Backpacks can carry four slots’ worth of items.

This keeps inventory management simple whilst still placing emphasis on player choice.


When reduced to 0HP, the character must make a save vs death. On a failure, they are dead. On a success, they survive. If they took damage which would have taken them beyond 0HP, each point of that damage fills up an Inventory Slot, which can be recovered at a rate of 1 per proper night’s rest in a bed (or equivalent. If all ten slots are filled up in this way, the character succumbs to their injuries and dies.

This reinforces the idea of HP as ‘not-getting-hit-points’, and the loss of slots represents injuries a character might take without having to refer to a separate table. The save vs death stops slots from just becoming free hit points – characters are still vulnerable and can’t guarantee that they’ll be injured rather than killed.

Hexcrawl Procedure

Four turns in a day (roughly four hours each), and one action per turn:

  • Move to another hex
  • Explore this hex
  • Hunt – find D6-d6 worth of meals for the day
  • Rest – recover d3 HP

Characters must eat one ration and rest once per day, or lose an Inventory Slot for each one missed.

Group Experience

XP will be earned by perilously-earned wealth transferred, be it spent or given away, on a 1:1 XP to GP ratio. Each character will get 25% of the total, whether or not they were there at the earning or transferring of said wealth, and even though there will almost certainly be more than four characters involved over the course of the adventures.

This was suggested by one of the players, and seems to be a decent solution to the hypothetical situation of one character doing all the work whose player misses the ‘cashing in’ session, and cuts down on the admin needed to calculate a fair proportion.

The less lucrative XP for encounters overcome will be divided equally between whichever characters took part.


For Barrowmaze we’ve been making extensive use of Roll20 since it allowed me to set up in advance the entire megadungeon with dynamic lighting, which has worked pretty well and meant that I have very little pre-session prep to do map-wise.

However, there is quite a bit more variety in Evils of Illmire, and I haven’t found Roll20 to be that useful for impromptu mapmaking. So this time round we’re trying out Owlbear Rodeo – a simpler, more intuitive tabletop platform, and one which allows me to try using my digital drawing pen and pad

We’ll also be using Discord for audio communication and Google Slides for our character sheets.

All conveniently on one document, with plenty of room for expanding the stable of characters.

A summary of the first session to follow soon.

3 thoughts on “Evils of Illmire – Campaign Prelude

  1. I’m glad you’re jumping into running Illmire now! Hopefully you can revel in the oddness and faction play a bit more than we were able several months ago.

    High-five on your comments and houserules for OSE.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do enjoy reading a module I’ve played through just to see how things might have gone differently. (Alas that our game was so short-lived!) The first session of this campaign was certainly less cautious in nature.

      I really like the concentration of content in Illmire – less dense than Hot Springs Island, and the better for it. I find it to be more ‘episodic’ than most other modules of similar length, so far more manageable for a read through.

      I’m trying to hold the houserule shears in reserve before letting them loose upon OSE’s multiple task resolution mechanics. Ought to give history a chance…


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