I normally just read these things, but something with these questions got me thinking, and then gave me the urge to actually answer them. It’s a great collection of thoughts on what is the “core” of Old School D&D to me; this isn’t about whether it’s for you, but just how much of a fundamentalist you are…
(1). Should energy drain take away one level of experience points from the character? Yes or No? If no, what should level drain do?
Currently, I play that way, but I do allow a saving throw to avoid that level loss. This one is hard, though… it’s severe. In many ways more severe than killing the character off, actually, so I might change this one around.
(2). Should the oil used in lanterns do significant damage (more than 1 hp in damage) if thrown on an opponent and set on fire? Yes or No? If yes, how much damage should it do?
Definitely! LotFP uses D4, with a 4 causing lasting burn, but I usually go much further and use D6 damage with a save to avoid damage for one more round.
(3). Should poison give a save or die roll, with a fail rolled indicating instant death? Yes or No? If no, how should game mechanics relating to poison work?
Yes! Ish… fail the save and you’re out, and probably dead, but Slow Poison gives another save and Neutralize Poison saves you, provided they are used within 1 Turn. That’s for a lethal poison, of course – they can also paralyze, cause blindness, make you mad or what have you.
(4). Do characters die when they reach 0 hit points? Yes or No? If no, then at what point is a character dead?
No… that’s too harsh for me. They drop unconscious at between 0 and -2 HP, with no further danger. If they reach -3 or below, they will start to bleed 1 point per round, and even if brought above -3 they must roll a save to survive, and will suffer a loss of D3 points to a random attribute (the player him/herself makes up the injury/scar to explain the loss).
(5). Does the primary spell mechanic for a magic user consist of a “memorize and forget system” (aka Vancian)? Yes or No? If no, what alternative do you use?
For a Magic User, yes, but I do allow for a “Weird Magic” spell retention system to keep cast spells in memory, based on a saving throw and nasty side effects if the roll is low. Clerics have spell slots, but choose which spell to cast with them at the point of casting.
(6). Should all weapons do 1d6 damage or should different weapons have varying dice (1d4, 1d8, etc…) for damage?
Nope, I do the usual spread of D4-D10 for different sizes – pretty much exactly as in LotFP. I don’t have a strong preference either way though.
(7). Should a character that has a high ability score in their prime requisite receive an experience point bonus? Yes or No?
Nah… they will fare better on adventures and thus have a greater chance to get that gold, and thus that XP. That’s enough of a bonus. LotFP does give meaningful bonuses beyond an XP bonus for high attributes, though.
(8). Should a character with an strength of 18 constitution get a +3 bonus to hit points, or a +2 bonus to hit points, or a +1 bonus to hit points or no bonus to hit points? And should other ability scores grant similar bonuses to other game mechanics?
I use LotFP’s normal bonuses, since I enjoy the variation between characters. (13-15, +1; 16-17, +2; 18, +4). They affect game mechanics, but not in dramatic ways (Str affects To Hit, but not damage, for example).
(9). Should a character have 1 unified saving throw number, or 3 saving throw types based on ability scores (reflex, fortitude, will), or 5 types based on potential game effects (magic wand, poison attacks)? or something else?
I currently use the 5 “old classics”, but I will switch to the 3 Ref/Fort/Will saves as soon as possible; they are less Old School but make so much more sense. I will keep the LotFP way of having Int affect saves vs magic and Wis affect saves vs everything else, though, with the saves being class-based beyond that.
(10). Should a cleric get (A) 1 spell at 1st level (B) no spells at 1st level (C) more than 1 spell at 1st level?
I do 1 spell at first level. In LotFP Turn Undead is a spell, though, so it evens things out a bit. No bonus spells, though; my bonus for clerics is that they choose which spell they want to cast upon casting.