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Foreword to the 2nd Edition
It has been a long time getting here. I don't mean the months, perhaps even years, you may have waited for a revised, expanded, and improved edition of the AD&D game. I mean the long time it has taken me to reach this point, the writing of the foreword.
Forewords are written last, so that you can summarize your feelings and experiences about the book you have written.
It's not accurate to say this is a book that I alone have written. First off, there are a lot of other names listed in the credits. They, especially the editors, contributed time and talents that I don't have. Improving the organization and readability was one of the reasons we started this project in the first place. These are tasks that can't be done without talented editors who play and care about the game. If you discover that it's easier to find rules during your gaming sessions and that everything seems to make more sense, thank the editors.
Even with the editors, this is not our work alone. None of this would ever have come into being without interested and involved players. The people who really decided what needed to be done for the AD&D 2nd Edition game are the players who mailed in
questions, everyone who wrote an article for DRAGON® Magazine, and everyone who button-holed me (or other designers) at conventions. These were the people who decided what needed to be done, what needed fixing, what was unclear, and what they just didn't like. I didn't sit in a vacuum and make these decisions. As the designer and developer, I had to make the final choice, but those choices were based on your input. And your input
So how do I feel? Excited, exhausted, relieved, and nervous -- all at once. It's a great bag of emotions. I'm excited to see this book come out. I've spent more time on this than I have on any other single work I've done. That leads to exhaustion. The AD&D 2nd Edition game has demanded and received hours upon months of attention. Now that it is finally coming out, the feeling of relief is beginning to set in. There were times when the task looked impossible, when it seemed it would never end, or when everything was going wrong. Only now, when it's in the final stages of polishing, am I beginning to realize that it is really done. And of course there is the nervousness. The AD&D game is the granddaddy of all role-playing games. You've made it perfectly clear that you liked the original edition of the AD&D game, even with all its warts. I liked (and still like) it. So, now with the arrival of AD&D 2nd Edition, of course I'm nervous.
None of this comes as any surprise. I volunteered to prepare this Edition because I wanted to do something for the game I liked. The ten years of experience I've had in game design has shown me what works and what doesn't and sometimes even why. At the very start, we outlined the goals: to make it easier to find things, to make the rules easier to understand, to fix the things that did not work, to add the best new ideas from the expansions and other sources, and, most important of all, to make sure the game was still the one you knew and enjoyed. Of them all, the last was the hardest and most demanding, conflicting as it did with my basic desire to design things. Fortunately, things didn't rest on me alone. Lots of eager eyes, from those of fellow designers to those of enthusiastic playtesters, minutely examined this book and restrained me from overzealousness. It hasn't always been easy to walk the fine line between "not enough" and "too much."
In the past two years, I've talked to interested players many times, hearing their concerns and sharing my ideas. It was at the end of one of these talks (at a convention in Missoula, Montana), just as I described some rules change, that one of the listeners smiled and said, "You know, we've been doing that for years." And that is what AD&D 2nd Edition is all about--collecting and organizing all those things that we, as players, have been doing for years.
David "Zeb" Cook
2nd Edition design: David "Zeb" Cook
Development: Steve Winter and Jon Pickens
Playtest Coordination: Jon Pickens
Editing: Mike Breault, Jean Rabe, Thomas Reid, Steven Schend, and Ray Vallese
Proofreading: Jean Black, Teresa Reid, Curtis Smith, Vallerie Vallese, and James Ward
Graphics Coordinator: Sarah Feggestad
Graphic Design: Dee Barnett
Too numerous to mention by name are the hundreds of players who assisted us in playtesting the AD&D 2nd Edition game. Their efforts were invaluable in improving the
Finally, credit must also be shared with anyone who has ever asked a question, offered a suggestion, written an article, or made a comment about the AD&D game.
This is a derivative work based on the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master® Guide by Gary Gygax and Unearthed Arcana and other materials by Gary Gygax and others.
Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, AD&D, Dungeon Master, Dragon, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Ravenloft are registered trademarks of TSR, Inc. Dungeon Master, DM, and the TSR Logo are trademarks owned by TSR, Inc.
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of TSR, Inc.
Random House and its affiliate companies have worldwide distribution rights in the book trade for English language products of TSR, Inc. Distributed to the book and hobby trade in the United Kingdom by TSR Ltd.
Distributed to the toy and hobby trade by regional distributors.
©1995 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Before we even start, I want to make sure everyone understands one very important fact:
This is not AD&D 3rd Edition!
There, everyone can breathe again.
Rest assured that this is still the same version of the AD&D game that your friends, classmates, and business partners have been playing for years.
Yes, there are some small and subtle changes in the rules, but you would have to read the whole book very carefully, and have a tremendous memory, to find them. (The changes are the sorts of minor corrections and clarifications we make every time we reprint, and we've reprinted both the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide more than 10 times since 1989!)
So what has changed? Obviously, the books look different. We were awfully proud of them when they were released in 1989, but the world doesn't stand still for anyone. We decided that after six years, it was time for a new look.
And as long as AD&D was getting a new suit of clothes, we elected to let out the seams a bit, too. Both books are a lot bigger: 25% more pages in the PHB, 33% more in the DMG. And we used them up just looking good. Inside you'll find bigger illustrations, lots more color, and pages that are easy to read. Making the switch turned out to be a lot more work than most of us expected it to be, but it was well worth the effort.
Since the 2nd Edition was released, the AD&D game has grown in ways we never
anticipated. We've traveled to a multitude of fabulous worlds, from the misty horror of Ravenloft, to the exotic bazaars of Al Qadim, and across the burning face of Dark Sun. Now the endless horizons of Planescape beckon to us, and beyond even that we see spearpoints and banners waving above the gathering armies of Birthright. And, of course, presiding over it all is the grand and legendary Forgotten Realms.
Products change, but our goal stays the same: to publish things that make fantasy gamers exclaim, "That's just what I was looking for!" And we do it for the same reason that you play: because it's fun!
February 6, 1995
Table of Contents
Welcome to the AD&D® Game
How the Rule Books are Organized
Learning the Game
Coming From the D&D Game
The AD&D Game Line
A Note About Pronouns
Creating a Character
The Real Basics
An Example of Play
Step-by-Step Character Generation Chapter 1: Player Character Ability Scores
Rolling Ability Scores
Alternative Dice-Rolling Methods
The Ability Scores
What the Numbers Mean
Chapter 2: Player Character Races
Minimum and Maximum Ability Scores
Racial Ability Adjustments
Class Restrictions and Level Limits
Chapter 3: Player Character Classes
Class Ability Score Requirements
Schools of Magic
Priests of Specific Mythoi
Spells Allowed (Spheres of Influence)
Balancing It All
Multi-Class and Dual-Class Characters
Multi-Class Benefits and Restrictions
Dual-Class Benefits and Restrictions
Chapter 4: Alignment
Law, Neutrality, and Chaos
Good, Neutrality, and Evil
Playing the Character's Alignment
Chapter 5: Proficiencies (Optional)
Effects of Weapon Proficiencies
Related Weapon Bonus
Cost of Specialization
Effects of Specialization
Using What You Know
Using Nonweapon Proficiencies
Nonweapon Proficiency Descriptions
Chapter 6: Money and Equipment
Daily Food and Lodging
Tack and Harness
Tack and Harness
Getting Into and Out of Armor
Creatures with Natural Armor Classes
Encumbrance (Optional Rule)
Basic Encumbrance (Tournament Rule)
Specific Encumbrance (Optional Rule)
Encumbrance and Mounts (Tournament Rule)
Magical Armor and Encumbrance
Effects of Encumbrance
Chapter 7: Magic
Schools of Magic
Spell Components (Optional Rule)
Chapter 8: Experience
Group Experience Awards
Individual Experience Awards
Where's the Specific Info?
Chapter 9: Combat
More Than Just Hack-and-Slash
The Attack Roll
Figuring the To-Hit Number
Modifiers to the Attack Roll
Weapon Type vs. Armor Modifiers (Optional Rule)
The Various Types of Weapons
Impossible To-Hit Numbers
Combat and Encounters
The Combat Round
The Combat Sequence
Standard Initiative Procedure
Group Initiative (Optional Rule)
Individual Initiative (Optional Rule)
Multiple Attacks and Initiative
Spellcasting and Initiative
Weapon Speed and Initiative (Optional Rule)
Magical Weapon Speeds
Attacking with Two Weapons
Movement in Combat
Movement in Melee
Movement and Missile Combat
Charging an Opponent
Attacking Without Killing
Punching and Wrestling
Weapons in Non-Lethal Combat
Non-Lethal Combat and Creatures
Touch Spells and Combat
Missile Weapons in Combat
Rate of Fire
Ability Modifiers in Missile Combat
Firing into a Melee
Taking Cover Against Missile Fire
Types of Grenade-Like Missiles
Parrying (Optional Rule)
The Saving Throw
Rolling Saving Throws
Saving Throw Priority
Voluntarily Failing Saving Throws
Ability Checks as Saving Throws
Modifying Saving Throws
Effects of Magic Resistance
When Magic Resistance Applies
Successful Magic Resistance Rolls
Evil Priests and Undead
Injury and Death
Treating Poison Victims
Herbalism and Healing Proficiencies
Death From Poison
Death From Massive Damage
Raising the Dead
Chapter 10: Treasure
Dividing and Storing Treasure
Chapter 11: Encounters
The Surprise Roll
Effects of Surprise
Chapter 12: NPCs
Player Character Obligations
Chapter 13: Vision and Light
Limits of Vision
Chapter 14: Time and Movement
Jogging and Running (Optional Rule)
Holding Your Breath
Types of Surfaces
Actions While Climbing
Appendix 1: Spell Lists
Appendix 2: Notes on Spells
Appendix 3: Wizard Spells
Appendix 4: Priest Spells
Appendix 5: Wizard Spells by School
Appendix 6: Priest Spells by Sphere
Appendix 7: Spell Index
(Tables 1-9, 13, 18, 21, 22, 24, 26-30, 33-36)
Racial Ability Requirements
Racial Ability Adjustments
Constitution Saving Throw Bonuses
Average Height and Weight
Class Ability Minimums
Warrior Experience Levels
Warrior Attacks per Round
Paladin Spell Progression
Wizard Experience Levels
Wizard Spell Progression
Wizard Specialist Requirements
Priest Experience Levels
Priest Spell Progression
Rogue Experience Levels
Thieving Skill Base Scores
Thieving Skill Racial Adjustments
Thieving Skill Dexterity Adjustments
Thieving Skill Armor Adjustments
Backstab Damage Multipliers
Bard Spell Progression
Specialist Attacks per Round
Nonweapon Proficiency Groups
Nonweapon Proficiency Group Crossovers
Movement While Tracking
Standard Exchange Rates
Initial Character Funds
Missile Weapon Ranges
Armor Class Ratings
Modified Movement Rates
Carrying Capacities of Animals
Weapon Type vs. Armor Modifiers
Standard Modifiers to Initiative
Optional Modifiers to Initiative
Armor Modifiers for Wrestling
Punching and Wrestling Results
Cover and Concealment Modifiers
Character Saving Throws
Base Movement Rates
Base Climbing Success Rates
Rates of Climbing
Welcome to the AD&D Game
You are reading the key to the most exciting hobby in the world -- role-playing games. These first few pages will introduce you to the second edition of the most successful
role-playing game ever published. If you are a novice role-player, stop right here and read the section labeled The Real Basics (on the next page). When you understand what role-playing and the AD&D game are all about, come back to this point and read the rest of the introduction. If you are an experienced role-player, skip The Real Basics.
How the Rule Books are Organized
The AD&D game rule books are intended primarily as reference books. They are designed so any specific rule can be found quickly and easily during a game.
Everything a player needs to know is in the Player's Handbook. That's not to say that all the rules are in this book. But every rule that a player needs to know in order to play the game is in this book.
A few rules have been reserved for the Dungeon Master® Guide (DMG). These either cover situations that very seldom arise or give the Dungeon Master (DM) information that players should not have beforehand. Everything else in the DMG is information that only the Dungeon Master needs. If the DM feels that players need to know something that is explained in the DMG, he will tell them.
Like the DMG, the Monstrous Manual™ supplement is the province of the DM. This gives complete and detailed information about the monsters, people, and other creatures inhabiting the AD&D world. Some DMs don't mind if players read this information, but the game is more fun if players don't know everything about their foes -- it heightens the sense of discovery and danger of the unknown.
Learning the Game
If you have played the AD&D game before, you know almost everything you need to play the 2nd Edition. We advise you to read the entire Player's Handbook, but the biggest changes are in these chapters: Character Classes, Combat, and Experience. Be sure to read at least those three chapters before sitting down to play.
If you come to a term you do not understand, look for it in the Glossary.
If you have never played the AD&D game before, the best way to learn to play the game is to find a group of experienced players and join them. They can get you immediately into the game and explain things as you need to know them. You don't need to read anything beforehand. In fact, it's best if you can play the game for several hours with experienced players before reading any of the rules. One of the amazing things about a role-playing game is that the concept is difficult to explain, but marvelously simple to demonstrate.
If none of your friends are involved in a game, the best place to find experienced players is through your local hobby store. Role-playing and general gaming clubs are common and are always eager to accept new members. Many hobby stores offer a bulletin board through which DMs can advertise for new players and new players can ask for information about new or ongoing games. If there is no hobby store in your area, check at the local library or school.
If you can't find anyone else who knows the AD&D game, you can teach yourself. Read the Player's Handbook and create some characters. Try to create a variety of character classes. Then pick up a pre-packaged adventure module for low-level characters, round up two or three friends, and dive into it. You probably will make lots of mistakes and wonder constantly whether you are doing everything wrong. Even if you are, don't worry about it. The AD&D game is big, but eventually you'll bring it under control.
Coming from the D&D® Game
If you are switching to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game from the Dungeons & Dragons® game, you have some special adaptations to make. You know everything you need to about role-playing, but you will need to adjust to doing certain things different ways.
Much of the jargon of the two games is very similar. Don't let this mislead you into thinking that they are the same game. There are many subtle differences (along with
some obvious ones), and you will need to read the rules in this book carefully to catch them all.
Pay special attention to the chapters on PC races and classes, alignment, weapons and armor, and spell descriptions. The terminology of both games is quite similar, sometimes identical, when discussing these rules. These similarities often hide important differences between the way the rules work or how the numbers line up.
Overall, it is best to approach the AD&D game as if it is a completely new game and be pleasantly surprised when you find overlapping concepts. Don't make the mistake of assuming that a rule, item, or spell with the same name in both games works the same way in both games.
The AD&D Game Line
Quite a few books and other products are published for the AD&D game. As a player, you need only one of them -- this book. Every player and DM should have a copy of the Player's Handbook. Everything else is either optional or intended for the Dungeon Master.
The Dungeon Master Guide is essential for the DM and it is for the DM only. Players who are not themselves DMs have no cause to read the DMG.
The Monstrous Manual supplement is also essential to the DM. It includes the most commonly encountered monsters, mythical beasts, and legendary creatures. Additional supplements, called Monstrous Compendium® Annuals, are available for specific
AD&D product lines, such as the Ravenloft® and Forgotten Realms ® campaign settings. These supplements expand the variety of monsters available and are highly recommended for DMs who play in those settings.
Expanded character class books--The Complete Fighter, The Complete Thief, etc.-- provide a lot more detail on these character classes than does the Player's Handbook. These books are entirely optional. They are for those players who really want a world of choice for their characters.
Adventure modules contain complete game adventures. These are especially useful for DMs who aren't sure how to create their own adventures and for DMs who need an adventure quickly and don't have time to write one of their own.
A Note About Pronouns
The male pronoun (he, him, his) is used exclusively throughout the second edition of the AD&D game rules. We hope this won't be construed by anyone to be an attempt to exclude females from the game or imply their exclusion. Centuries of use have neutered the male pronoun. In written material it is clear, concise, and familiar. Nothing else is.
The Real Basics
This section is intended for novice role-players. If you have played role-playing games before, don't be surprised if what you read here sounds familiar.
Games come in a wide assortment of types: board games, card games, word games, picture games, miniatures games. Even within these categories are subcategories. Board games, for example, can be divided into path games, real estate games, military simulation games, abstract strategy games, mystery games, and a host of others.
Still, in all this mass of games, role-playing games are unique. They form a category all their own that doesn't overlap any other category.
For that reason, role-playing games are hard to describe. Comparisons don't work because there isn't anything similar to compare them to. At least, not without stretching your imagination well beyond its normal, everyday extension.
But then, stretching your imagination is what role-playing is all about. So let's try an analogy.
Imagine that you are playing a simple board game, called Snakes and Ladders. Your goal is to get from the bottom to the top of the board before all the other players. Along the way are traps that can send you sliding back toward your starting position. There are also ladders that can let you jump ahead, closer to the finish space. So far, it's pretty simple and pretty standard.
Now let's change a few things. Instead of a flat, featureless board with a path winding from side to side, let's have a maze. You are standing at the entrance, and you know that there's an exit somewhere, but you don't know where. You have to find it.
Instead of snakes and ladders, we'll put in hidden doors and secret passages. Don't roll a die to see how far you move; you can move as far as you want. Move down the corridor to the intersection. You can turn right, or left, or go straight ahead, or go back the way you came. Or, as long as you're here, you can look for a hidden door. If you find one, it will open into another stretch of corridor. That corridor might take you straight to the exit or lead you into a blind alley. The only way to find out is to step in and start walking.
Of course, given enough time, eventually you'll find the exit. To keep the game interesting, let's put some other things in the maze with you. Nasty things. Things like vampire bats and hobgoblins and zombies and ogres. Of course, we'll give you a sword and a shield, so if you meet one of these things you can defend yourself. You do know how to use a sword, don't you?
And there are other players in the maze as well. They have swords and shields, too. How do you suppose another player would react if you chance to meet? He might attack, but he also might offer to team up. After all, even an ogre might think twice about attacking two people carrying sharp swords and stout shields.
Finally, let's put the board somewhere you can't see it. Let's give it to one of the players and make that player the referee. Instead of looking at the board, you listen to the referee as he describes what you can see from your position on the board. You tell the referee what you want to do and he moves your piece accordingly. As the referee describes your surroundings, try to picture them mentally. Close your eyes and construct the walls of the maze around yourself. Imagine the hobgoblin as the referee describes it whooping and gamboling down the corridor toward you. Now imagine how you would react in that situation and tell the referee what you are going to do about it.
We have just constructed a simple role-playing game. It is not a sophisticated game, but it has the essential element that makes a role-playing game: The player is placed in the midst of an unknown or dangerous situation created by a referee and must work his way through it.
This is the heart of role-playing. The player adopts the role of a character and then guides that character through an adventure. The player makes decisions, interacts with other characters and players, and, essentially, "pretends" to be his character during the course of the game. That doesn't mean that the player must jump up and down, dash around, and act like his character. It means that whenever the character is called on to do something or make a decision, the player pretends that he is in that situation and chooses an appropriate course of action.
Physically, the players and referee (the DM) should be seated comfortably around a table with the referee at the head. Players need plenty of room for papers, pencils, dice, rule books, drinks, and snacks. The referee needs extra space for his maps, dice, rule books, and assorted notes.
Another major difference between role-playing games and other games is the ultimate goal. Everyone assumes that a game must have a beginning and an end and that the end comes when someone wins. That doesn't apply to role-playing because no one "wins" in a role-playing game. The point of playing is not to win but to have fun and to socialize.
An adventure usually has a goal of some sort: protect the villagers from the monsters; rescue the lost princess; explore the ancient ruins. Typically, this goal can be attained in a reasonable playing time: four to eight hours is standard. This might require the players to get together for one, two, or even three playing sessions to reach their goal and complete the adventure.
But the game doesn't end when an adventure is finished. The same characters can go on to new adventures. Such a series of adventures is called a campaign.
Remember, the point of an adventure is not to win but to have fun while working toward a common goal. But the length of any particular adventure need not impose an artificial limit on the length of the game. The AD&D game embraces more than enough adventure to keep a group of characters occupied for years.
Aside from a copy of this book, very little is needed to play the AD&D game.
You will need some sort of character record. TSR publishes character record sheets that are quite handy and easy to use, but any sheet of paper will do. Blank paper, lined paper, or even graph paper can be used. A double-sized sheet of paper (11 _ 17 inches), folded in half, is excellent. Keep your character record in pencil, because it will change frequently during the game. A good eraser is also a must.
A full set of polyhedral dice is necessary. A full set consists of 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 20-sided dice. A few extra 6- and 10-sided dice are a good idea. Polyhedral dice should be available wherever you got this book.
Throughout these rules, the various dice are referred to by a code that is in the form: # of dice, followed by "d," followed by a numeral for the type of dice. In other words, if you are to roll one 6-sided die, you would see "roll 1d6." Five 12-sided dice are referred to as "5d12." (If you don't have five 12-sided dice, just roll one five times and add the results.)
When the rules say to roll "percentile dice" or "d100," you need to generate a random
number from 1 to 100. One way to do this is to roll two 10-sided dice of different colors. Before you roll, designate one die as the tens place and the other as the ones place. Rolling them together enables you to generate a number from 1 to 100 (a result of "0" on both dice is read as "00" or "100"). For example, if the blue die (representing the tens place) rolls an "8" and the red die (ones place) rolls a "5," the result is 85. Another, more expensive, way to generate a number from 1 to 100 is to buy one of the dice that actually have numbers from 1 to 100 on them.
At least one player should have a few sheets of graph paper for mapping the group's progress. Assorted pieces of scratch paper are handy for making quick notes, for passing secret messages to other players or the DM, or for keeping track of odd bits of information that you don't want cluttering up your character record.
Miniature figures are handy for keeping track of where everyone is in a confusing situation like a battle. These can be as elaborate or simple as you like. Some players use miniature lead or pewter figures painted to resemble their characters. Plastic soldiers, chess pieces, boardgame pawns, dice, or bits of paper can work just as well.
An Example of Play
To further clarify what really goes on during an AD&D game, read the following example. This is typical of the sort of action that occurs during a playing session.
Shortly before this example begins, three player characters fought a skirmish with a wererat (a creature similar to a werewolf but which becomes an enormous rat instead of a wolf). The wererat was wounded and fled down a tunnel. The characters are in pursuit. The group includes two fighters and a cleric. Fighter 1 is the group's leader.
DM: You've been following this tunnel for about 120 yards. The water on the floor is ankle deep and very cold. Now and then you feel something brush against your foot. The smell of decay is getting stronger. The tunnel is gradually filling with a cold mist. Fighter 1: I don't like this at all. Can we see anything up ahead that looks like a doorway, or a branch in the tunnel?
DM: Within the range of your torchlight, the tunnel is more or less straight. You don't see any branches or doorways.
Cleric: The wererat we hit had to come this way. There's nowhere else to go.
Fighter 1: Unless we missed a hidden door along the way. I hate this place; it gives me the creeps.
Fighter 2: We have to track down that wererat. I say we keep going.
Fighter 1: OK. We keep moving down the tunnel. But keep your eyes open for anything that might be a door.
DM: Another 30 or 35 yards down the tunnel, you find a stone block on the floor.
Fighter 1: A block? I take a closer look.
DM: It's a cut block, about 12 by 16 inches, and 18 inches or so high. It looks like a different kind of rock than the rest of the tunnel.
Fighter 2: Where is it? Is it in the center of the tunnel or off to the side?
DM: It's right up against the side.
Fighter 1: Can I move it?
DM (checking the character's Strength score): Yeah, you can push it around without too much trouble.
Fighter 1: Hmmm. This is obviously a marker of some sort. I want to check this area for secret doors. Spread out and examine the walls.
DM (rolls several dice behind his rule book, where players can't see the results): Nobody finds anything unusual along the walls.
Fighter 1: It has to be here somewhere. What about the ceiling?
DM: You can't reach the ceiling. It's about a foot beyond your reach.
Cleric: Of course! That block isn't a marker, it's a step. I climb up on the block and start prodding the ceiling.
DM (rolling a few more dice): You poke around for 20 seconds or so, then suddenly part of the tunnel roof shifts. You've found a panel that lifts away. Fighter 1: Open it very carefully.
Cleric: I pop it up a few inches and push it aside slowly. Can I see anything?
DM: Your head is still below the level of the opening, but you see some dim light from one side.
Fighter 1: We boost him up so he can get a better look.
DM: OK, your friends boost you up into the room . . .
Fighter 1: No, no! We boost him just high enough to get his head through the opening.
DM: OK, you boost him up a foot. The two of you are each holding one of his legs. Cleric, you see another tunnel, pretty much like the one you were in, but it only goes off in one direction. Thee's a doorway about 10 yards away with a soft light inside. A line of muddy pawprints leads from the hole you're in to the doorway. Cleric: Fine. I want the fighters to go first.
DM: As they're lowering you back to the block, everyone hears some grunts, splashing, and clanking weapons coming from further down the lower tunnel. They seem to be closing fast.
Cleric: Up! Up! Push me back up through the hole! I grab the ledge and haul myself up.
I'll help pull the next guy up.
(All three characters scramble up through the hole.)
DM: What about the panel?
Fighter 1: We push it back into place.
DM: It slides back into its slot with a nice, loud "clunk." The grunting from below gets a lot louder.
Fighter 1: Great, they heard it. Cleric, get over here and stand on this panel. We're going to check out that doorway.
DM: Cleric, you hear some shouting and shuffling around below you, then there's a thump and the panel you're standing on lurches. Cleric: They're trying to batter it open!
DM (to the fighters): When you peer around the doorway, you see a small, dirty room with a small cot, a table, and a couple of stools. On the cot is a wererat curled up into a ball. Its back is toward you. There's another door in the far wall and a small gong in the corner.
Fighter 1: Is the wererat moving?
DM: Not a bit. Cleric, the panel just thumped again. You can see a little crack in it now.
Cleric: Do something quick, you guys. When this panel starts coming apart, I'm getting off it.
Fighter 1: OK already! I step into the room and prod the wererat with my shield. What
DM: Nothing. You see blood on the cot.
Fighter 1: Is this the same wererat we fought before?
DM: Who knows? All wererats look the same to you. Cleric, the panel thumps again.
That crack is looking really big.
Cleric: That's it. I get off the panel, I'm moving into the room with everybody else.
DM: There's a tremendous smash and you hear chunks of rock banging around out in the corridor, followed by lots of snarling and squeaking. You see flashes of torchlight and wererat shadows through the doorway.
Fighter 1: All right, the other fighter and I move up to block the doorway. That's the narrowest area, they can only come through it one or two at a time. Cleric, you stay in the room and be ready with your spells.
Fighter 2: At last, a decent, stand-up fight!
DM: As the first wererat appears in the doorway with a spear in his paws, you hear a slam behind you.
Cleric: I spin around. What is it?
DM: The door in the back of the room is broken off its hinges. Standing in the doorway, holding a mace in each paw, is the biggest, ugliest wererat you've ever seen. A couple more pairs of red eyes are shining through the darkness behind him. He's licking his chops in a way that you find very unsettling.
Cleric: Aaaaarrrgh! I scream the name of my deity at the top of my lungs and then flip over the cot with the dead wererat on it so the body lands in front of him. I've got to have some help here, guys.
Fighter 1 (to fighter 2): Help him, I'll handle this end of the room. (To DM:) I'm attacking the wererat in the first doorway.
DM: While fighter 2 is switching positions, the big wererat looks at the body on the floor and his jaw drops. He looks back up and says, "That's Ignatz. He was my brother. You killed my brother." Then he raises both maces and leaps at you.
At this point a ferocious melee breaks out. The DM uses the combat rules to play out the battle. If the characters survive, they can continue on whatever course they choose.
Ability--any of the six natural traits that represent the basic definition of a player character: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. A player character's abilities are determined at the beginning of a game by rolling 6-sided dice (d6s). The scores continue to be used throughout the game as a means of determining success or failure of many actions.
Ability check--a 1d20 roll against one of your character's ability scores (modifiers may be added to or subtracted from the die roll). A result that is equal to or less than your character's ability score indicates that the attempted action succeeds. AC--abbreviation for Armor Class.
Alignment--a factor in defining a player character that reflects his basic attitude toward
society and the forces of the universe. Basically there are nine categories demonstrating the character's relationship to order vs. chaos and good vs. evil. A player character's alignment is selected by the player when the character is created.
Area of effect--the area in which a magical spell or a breath weapon works on any creatures unless they make a saving throw.
Armor Class (abbr. AC)--a rating for the protective value of a type of armor, figured from 10 (no armor at all) to 0 or even -10 (the best magical armor). The higher the AC, the more vulnerable the character is to attack.
Attack roll--the 1d20 roll used to determine if an attack is successful.
Bend bars/lift gates roll--the roll of percentile dice to determine whether a character succeeds in bending metal bars, lifting a heavy portcullis, or similar task. The result needed is a function of Strength and can be found in Table 1.
Bonus spells--extra spells at various spell levels that a priest is entitled to because of high Wisdom; shown in Table 5.
Breath weapon--the ability of a dragon or other creature to spew a substance out of its mouth just by breathing, without making an attack roll. Those in the area of effect must roll a saving throw.
Cha--abbreviation for Charisma.
Chance of spell failure--the percentage chance that a priest spell will fail when cast.
Based on Wisdom, it is shown in Table 5.
Chance to know spell--the percentage chance for a wizard to learn a new spell. Based on Intelligence, it is shown in Table 4.
Charisma (abbr. Cha)--an ability score representing a character's persuasiveness, personal magnetism, and ability to lead.
Class--A character's primary profession or career.
Common--the language that all player characters in the AD&D game world speak. Other languages may require the use of proficiency slots.
Con--abbreviation for Constitution.
Constitution (abbr. Con)--an ability score that represents a character's general physique, hardiness, and state of health.
d--abbreviation for dice or die. A roll that calls for 2d6, for example, means that the player rolls two six-sided dice.
d3--since there is no such thing as a three-sided die, a roll calling for d3 means to use a
d6, making 1 and 2 be a 1, 3 and 4 be a 2, and 5 and 6 be a 3.
d4--a four-sided die.
d6--a six-sided die.
d8--an eight-sided die.
d10--a ten-sided die. Two d10s can be used as percentile dice.
d12--a twelve-sided die.
d20--a twenty-sided die.
d100--either an actual 100-sided die or two different-colored ten-sided dice to be rolled as percentile dice.
DMG--a reference to the Dungeon Master Guide.
Damage--the effect of a successful attack or other harmful situation, measured in hit points.
Demihuman--a player character who is not human: a dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, or
Dex--abbreviation for Dexterity.
Dexterity (abbr. Dex)--an ability score representing a combination of a character's agility, reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and the like.
Dual-class character--a human who switches character class after having already progressed several levels. Only humans can be dual-classed.
Encumbrance--the amount, in pounds, that a character is carrying. How much he can carry and how being encumbered affects his movement rate are based on Strength and are shown in Tables 47 and 48. Encumbrance is an optional rule.
Energy drain--the ability of a creature, especially undead, to drain energy in the form of class levels from a character, in addition to the normal loss of hit points.
Experience points (abbr. XP)--points a character earns (determined by the Dungeon Master) for completing an adventure, for doing something related to his class particularly well, or for solving a major problem. Experience points are accumulated, enabling the character to rise in level in his class, as shown in Table 14 for warriors, Table 20 for wizards, Table 23 for priests, and Table 25 for rogues.
Follower--a nonplayer character who works for a character for money but is initially drawn to his reputation.
Gaze attack--the ability of a creature, such as a basilisk, to attack simply by making eye contact with the victim.
Henchmen--nonplayer characters who work for a character mainly out of loyalty and love of adventure. The number of henchmen a character can have is based on Charisma and is shown in Table 6. The DM and the player share control of the henchmen. Hireling--nonplayer characters who work for a character just for money. Hirelings are completely under the control of the DM.
Hit Dice--the dice rolled to determine a character's hit points. Up to a certain level, one or more new Hit Dice are rolled each time a character attains a new class level. A fighter, for example, has only one 10-sided Hit Die (1d10) at 1st level, but when he rises to the 2nd level, the player rolls a second d10, increasing the character's hit points.
Hit points--a number representing: 1. how much damage a character can suffer before being killed, determined by Hit Dice. The hit points lost to injury can usually be regained by rest or healing; 2. how much damage a specific attack does, determined by weapon or monster statistics, and subtracted from a player's total.
Infravision--the ability of certain character races or monsters to see in the dark.
Infravision generally works up to 60 feet in the darkness.
Initiative--the right to attack first in a combat round, usually determined by the lowest roll of a 10-sided die. The initiative roll is eliminated if surprise. is achieved. Int--abbreviation for Intelligence.
Intelligence (abbr. Int)--an ability score representing a character's memory, reasoning, and learning ability.
Italic type--used primarily to indicate spells and magical items.
Level--any of several different game factors that are variable in degree, especially: 1. class level, a measure of the character's power, starting at the 1st level as a beginning adventurer and rising through the accumulation of experience points to the 20th level or higher. At each level attained, the character receives new powers. 2. spell level, a measure of the power of a magical spell. A magic-using character can use only those
spells for which his class level qualifies him. Wizard spells come in nine levels (Table 21); priest spells in seven (Table 24).
Loyalty base--a bonus added to or a penalty subtracted from the probability that henchmen are going to stay around when the going gets tough. Based on the character's Charisma, it is shown in Table 6.
M--abbreviation for material component.
Magical defense adjustment--a bonus added to or a penalty subtracted from saving throws vs. spells that attack the mind. Based on Wisdom, it is shown in Table 5. Maneuverability class--a ranking for flying creatures that reflects their ability to turn easily in aerial combat. Each class--from a top rank of A to a bottom rank of E--has specific statistical abilities in combat.
Material component (abbr. M)--any specific item that must be handled in some way during the casting of a magical spell.
Maximum press--the most weight a character can pick up and raise over his head. It is a function of Strength and may be found in Table 1.
Melee--combat in which characters are fighting in direct contact, such as with swords, claws, or fists, as opposed to fighting with missile weapons or spells.
Missile combat--combat involving the use of weapons that shoot missiles or items that can be thrown. Because the combat is not "toe-to-toe," the rules are slightly different than those for regular combat.
Movement rate--a number used in calculating how far and how fast a character can move in a round. This number is in units of 10 yards per round outdoors, but it represents 10 feet indoors. Thus, an MR of 6 is 60 yards per round in the wilderness, but only 60 feet per round in a dungeon.
MR--abbreviation for movement rate.
Multi-class character--a demihuman who improves in two or more classes at the same
time by dividing experience points between the different classes. Humans cannot be
Mythos (pl. mythoi)--a complete body of belief particular to a certain time or place, including the pantheon of its gods.
Neutrality--a philosophical position, or alignment, of a character that is between belief in good or evil, order or chaos.
Nonhuman--any humanoid creature that is neither a human nor a demihuman. Nonplayer character (abbr. NPC)--any character controlled by the DM instead of a player.
NPC--abbreviation for nonplayer character.
Open doors roll--the roll of a 20-sided die to see if a character succeeds in opening a heavy or stuck door or performing a similar task. The die roll at which the character succeeds can be found in Table 1.
Opposition school--a school of magic that is directly opposed to a specialist's school of choice, thus preventing him from learning spells from that school, as shown in Table 22. PC--abbreviation for player character.
Percentage (or percent) chance--a number between 1 and 100 used to represent the probability of something happening. If a character is given an X percentage chance of an event occurring, the player rolls percentile dice.
Percentile dice--either a 100-sided die or two 10-sided dice used in rolling a percentage
number. If 2d10 are used, they are of different colors, and one represents the tens digit while the other is the ones.
Player character (abbr. PC)--the characters in a role-playing game who are under the control of the players.
Poison save--a bonus or a penalty to a saving throw vs. poison. Based on Constitution, it is shown in Table 3.
Prime requisite--the ability score that is most important to a character class; for example, Strength to a fighter.
Proficiency--a character's learned skill not defined by his class but which gives him a greater percentage chance to accomplish a specific type of task during an adventure. Weapon and nonweapon proficiency slots are acquired as the character rises in level, as shown in Table 34. The use of proficiencies in the game is optional.
Proficiency check--the roll of a 20-sided die to see if a character succeeds in doing a task by comparing the die roll to the character's relevant ability score plus or minus any modifiers shown in Table 37 (the modified die roll must be equal to or less than the ability score for the action to succeed).
Race--a player character's species: human, elf, dwarf, gnome, half-elf, or halfling. Race puts some limitations on the PC's class.
Rate of fire (abbr. ROF)--number of times a missile-firing or thrown weapon can be shot in a round.
Reaction adjustment--a bonus added to or penalty subtracted from a die roll used in determining the success of a character's action. Such an adjustment is used especially in reference to surprise (shown on Table 2 as a function of Dexterity) and the reaction of other intelligent beings to a character (shown on Table 6 as a function of Charisma). Regeneration--a special ability to heal faster than usual, based on an extraordinarily high Constitution, as shown in Table 3.
Resistance--the innate ability of a being to withstand attack, such as by magic. Gnomes, for example, have a magic resistance that adds bonuses to their saving throws against magic (Table 9).
Resurrection survival--the percentage chance a character has of being magically raised from death. Based on Constitution, it is shown in Table 3.
Reversible--of a magical spell, able to be cast "backwards," so that the opposite of the usual effect is achieved.
ROF--abbreviation for rate of fire.
Round--in combat, a segment of time approximately 1 minute long, during which a character can accomplish one basic action. Ten combat rounds equal one turn. S--abbreviation for somatic component.
Saving throw--a measure of a character's ability to resist (to "save vs.") special types of attacks, especially poison, paralyzation, magic, and breath weapons. Success is usually determined by the roll of 1d20.
School of magic--One of nine different categories of magic, based on the type of magical energy utilized. Wizards who concentrate their work on a single school are called specialists. The specific school of which a spell is a part is shown after the name of the spell in the spell section at the end of the book.
Somatic component (abbr. S)--the gestures that a spellcaster must use to cast a specific spell. A bound wizard cannot cast a spell requiring somatic components.
Specialist--a wizard who concentrates on a specific school of magic, as opposed to a mage, who studies all magic in general.
Spell immunity--protection that certain characters have against illusions or other specific spells, based on high Intelligence (Table 4) or Wisdom (Table 5) scores.
Sphere of influence--any of sixteen categories of priest spells to which a priest may have major access (he can eventaully learn them all or minor access (he can learn only the lower level spells). The relevant sphere of influence is shown as the first item in the list of characteristics in the priest spells.
Str--abbreviation for Strength.
Strength (abbr. Str)--an ability score representing a character's muscle power, endurance, and stamina.
Surprise roll--the roll of a ten-sided die by the Dungeon Master to determine if a character or group takes another by surprise. Successful surprise (a roll of 1, 2, or 3) cancels the roll for initiative on the first round of combat.
System shock--a percentage chance that a character survives major magical effects, such as being petrified. Based on Constitution, it is shown in Table 3.
THAC0--an acronym for "To Hit Armor Class 0," the number that a character needs to roll in order to hit a target with AC 0.
To-hit roll--another name for attack roll.
Turn--in game time, approximately 10 minutes; used especially in figuring how long various magic spells may last. In combat, a turn consists of 10 rounds.
Turn undead--an ability of a cleric or paladin to turn away an undead creature, such as a skeleton or a vampire.
V--abbreviation for verbal component.
Verbal component (abbr. V)--specific words or sounds that must be uttered while casting a spell.
Weapon speed--an initiative modifier used in combat that accounts for the time required to get back into position to reuse a weapon.
Wis--abbreviation for Wisdom.
Wisdom (abbr. Wis)--an ability score representing a composite of a character's intuition, judgment, common sense, and will power.
XP--abbreviation for experience points.
Step-by-Step Player Character Generation
To create a character to play in the AD&D game, proceed, in order, through Chapters 1 through 6. (Chapter 5 is optional). These chapters will tell you how to generate your character's ability scores, race, and class, decide on his alignment, pick proficiencies, and buy equipment. The necessary steps are summarized here. Don't be concerned if you encounter terms you don't understand; they are fully explained in chapters 1 through 6. Once you've worked through this list, your character is ready for adventure!
Your character needs scores for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
Step 2: Choose a Race (chapter 2)
See Table 7 for ability score requirements. Then adjust the character's scores according to the race chosen:
Dwarf Con +1, Cha -1
Elf Dex +1, Con -1
Gnome Int +1, Wis -1
Half-elf no adjustments
Halfling Dex +1, Str -1
Human no adjustments
Consult tables 1-6 and record the various bonuses and penalties the character receives for having particularly high or low scores.
Consult the racial descriptions in chapter 2 and record the character's special racial abilities.
Finally, check Tables 10, 11, and 12 to determine the character's height, weight, starting age, and age effects.
Step 3: Select a Class (chapter 3)
Select a class that is available to your character's race:
Dwarf F, C, T, F/T, F/C
Elf F, R, M, C, T, F/M, F/T, M/T, F/M/T
Gnome F, I, C, T, F/C, F/I, F/T, C/I, C/T, I/T
Half-elf F, R, M, C, D, T, B, F/C, F/T, F/D, F/M, C/R, C/M, T/M, F/M/C, F/M/T
Halfling F, C, T, F/T
Human F, P, R, M, I, C, D, T, B
Check Table 13 for class-based ability score restrictions. Read the class description and record special class abilities and restrictions.
If your character is a fighter, paladin, or ranger, is not a halfling, and has a Strength score of 18, roll d100 to determine exceptional Strength. Consult Table 1 and readjust those bonuses affected by exceptional Strength.
If your character is a mage, consult Table 4 and record his maximum spell level, chance to learn spells, and maximum number of spells per level. Ask your DM what spells the character knows.
If your character is a cleric, consult Table 5 and record bonus spells and his chance of spell failure. Note the spell spheres to which the PC has access.
If your character is a thief, record his base thieving skills scores from Table 26. Modify these scores according to Tables 27 and 28. Then apportion 60 points between those abilities, assigning no more than 30 points to any one score.
If your character is a bard, not his thief abilities from Table 33. Modify these percentages according to Tables 27 and 28. Then apportion 20 points between these abilities.
Step 4: Choose an Alignment (chapter 4)
In selecting your alignment, abide by class restrictions:
Paladin lawful good
Ranger lawful, neutral, or chaotic good
Mythos Priest any acceptable to deity
Bard any neutral combination
All others any
Step 5: Record Saving Throws and THAC0 (chapter 9)
Consult Table 60 to determine the base saving throws for your character. Consult Table 53 to determine your character's THAC0.
Step 6: Roll Hit Points (chapter 3)
Roll the appropriate hit die for your character. If the character is multi-classed, roll all applicable hit dice and average the results.
Step 7: Record Base Movement (chapter 14)
Find the character' base movement rate on Table 64 and record it. If the optional encumbrance rules are in effect, also record the encumbrance categories from Table 47 and modified movement rates and combat abilities.
Step 8: Select Proficiencies (optional, chapter 5)
Consult Table 34 to determine the character's weapon and nonweapon proficiency slots. Add the character's number of languages known (from Table 4) to his number of nonweapon proficiencies.
Select weapon proficiencies. If the character is a fighter, you may select a weapon specialization.
Select nonweapon proficiencies. Record their relevant abilities and check modifiers.
Step 9: Equip Your Character (chapter 6)
Consult Table 43 to determine your character's starting funds. Using Table 44, select and pay for your character's starting equipment.
Consult Table 46 to determine your character's armor class rating. Modify this base AC by his defensive adjustment.
Record the weight, size, damage, rate of fire, and range information for each weapon carried. Include type and speed factors if those optional rules are in play.
To venture into the worlds of the AD&D game, you first need to create a character. The character you create is your alter ego in the fantasy realms of this game, a make-believe person who is under your control and through whom you vicariously explore the world the Dungeon Master (DM) has created.
Each character in the AD&D game has six abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The first three abilities represent the physical nature of the character, while the second three quantify his mental and personality traits.
In various places throughout these rules, the following abbreviations are used for the ability names: Strength--Str; Dexterity--Dex; Constitution--Con; Intelligence--Int; Wisdom--Wis; Charisma--Cha.
Rolling Ability Scores
Let's first see how to generate ability scores for your character, after which definitions of each ability will be given.
The six ability scores are determined randomly by rolling six-sided dice to obtain a score from 3 to 18. There are several methods for rolling up these scores.
Method I: Roll three six-sided dice (3d6); the total shown on the dice is your character's Strength ability score. Repeat this for Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Chrisma, in that order. This method gives a range of scores from 3 to 18, with most results in the 9 to 12 range. Only a few characters have high scores (15 and above), so you should treasure these characters.
Alternative Dice-Rolling Methods
Method I creates characters whose ability scores are usually between 9 and 12. If you would rather play a character of truly heroic proportions, ask your DM if he allows players to use optional methods for rolling up characters. These optional methods are designed to produce above-average characters.
Method II: Roll 3d6 twice, noting the total of each roll. Use whichever result you prefer for your character's Strength score. Repeat this for Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. This allows you to pick the best score from each pair, generally ensuring that your character does not have any really low ability scores (but low ability scores are not all that bad any way!).
Method III: Roll 3d6 six times and jot down the total for each roll. Assign the scores to your character's six abilities however you want. This gives you the chance to custom-tailor your character, although you are not guaranteed high scores.
Method IV: Roll 3d6 twelve times and jot down all twelve totals. Choose six of these rolls (generally the six best rolls) and assign them to your character's abilities however you want. This combines the best of methods II and III, but takes somewhat longer.
As an example, Joan rolls 3d6 twelve times and gets results of 12, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15, 9, 12, 6, 11, 10, and 7. She chooses the six best rolls (15, 12, 12, 11, 10, and 10) and then assigns them to her character's abilities so as to create the strengths and weaknesses that she wants her character to have (see the ability descriptions following this section for
Method V: Roll four six-sided dice (4d6). Discard the lowest die and total the remaining three. Repeat this five more times, then assign the six numbers to the character's abilities however you want. This is a fast method that gives you a good character, but you can still get low scores (after all, you could roll 1s on all four dice!).
Method VI: This method can be used if you want to create a specific type of character. It does not guarantee that you will get the character you want, but it will improve your chances.
Each ability starts with a score of 8. Then roll seven dice. These dice can be added to your character's abilities as you wish. All the points on a die must be added to the same ability score. For example, if a 6 is rolled on one die, all 6 points must be assigned to one ability. You can add as many dice as you want to any ability, but no ability score can exceed 18 points. If you cannot make an 18 by exact count on the dice, you cannot have an 18 score.
The Ability Scores
The six character abilities are described below. Each description gives an idea of what that ability encompasses. Specific game effects are also given. At the end of each ability description is the table giving all modifiers and game information for each ability score. The blue-shaded ability scores can be obtained only by extraordinary means, whether by good fortune (finding a magical book that raises a score) or ill fortune (an attack by a creature that lowers a score).
Strength (Str) measures a character's muscle, endurance, and stamina. This ability is the prime requisite of warriors because they must be physically powerful in order to wear armor and wield heavy weapons. A fighter with a score of 16 or more in Strength gains a 10% bonus to the experience points he earns.
Furthermore, any warrior with a Strength score of 18 is entitled to roll percentile dice (see Glossary) to determine exceptional Strength; exceptional Strength improves the character's chance to hit an enemy, increases the damage he causes with each hit, increases the weight the character is able to carry without a penalty for encumbrance (see below), and increases the character's ability to force open doors and similar portals.
The rest of this section on Strength consists of explanations of the columns in Table 1.
Refer to the table as you read.
Hit Probability adjustments are added to or subtracted from the attack roll rolled on 1d20 (one 20-sided die) during combat. A bonus (positive number) makes the opponent easier to hit; a penalty (negative number) makes him harder to hit.
Damage Adjustment also applies to combat. The listed number is added to or subtracted from the dice rolled to determine the damage caused by an attack (regardless of subtractions, a successful attack roll can never cause less than 1 point of damage). For example, a short sword normally causes 1d6 points of damage (a range of 1 to 6). An attacker with Strength 17 causes one extra point of damage, for a range of 2 to 7 points of damage. The damage adjustment also applies to missile weapons, although bows must be specially made to gain the bonus; crossbows never benefit from the user's Strength.
Weight Allowance is the weight (in pounds) a character can carry without being encumbered (encumbrance measures how a character's possessions hamper his movement--see Glossary). These weights are expressed in pounds. A character carrying up to the listed weight can move his full movement rate.
Maximum Press is the heaviest weight a character can pick up and lift over his head. A character cannot walk more than a few steps this way. No human or humanoid creature without exceptional Strength can lift more than twice his body weight over his head. In 1987, the world record for lifting a weight overhead in a single move was 465 pounds. A heroic fighter with Strength 18/00 (see Table 1) can lift up to 480 pounds the same way and he can hold it overhead for a longer time!
Open Doors indicates the character's chance to force open a heavy or stuck door. When a character tries to force a door open, roll 1d20. If the result is equal to or less than the listed number, the door opens. A character can keep trying to open a door until it finally opens, but each attempt takes time (exactly how much is up to the DM) and makes a lot of noise.
Numbers in parentheses are the chances (on 1d20) to open a locked, barred, or magically held door, but only one attempt per door can ever be made. If it fails, no further attempts by that character can succeed.
Bend Bars/Lift Gates states the character's percentage chance (rolled on percentile dice) to bend normal, soft iron bars, lift a vertical gate (portcullis), or perform a similar feat of enormous strength. When the character makes the attempt, roll percentile dice. If the number rolled is equal to or less than the number listed on Table 1, the character bends the bar or lifts the gate. If the attempt fails, the character can never succeed at that task. A character can, however, try to bend the bars on a gate that he couldn't lift, and vice versa.
Lift Gates Notes