Important Changes


AD&D’s 1 minute combat round is unrealistic for traditional Sword & Sorcery games, but it outrageously so for modern fire arms! To remedy this there are some changes, starting with Time and Initiative rolls.


One Hour = 6 Turns

One Turn = 10 minutes

One Minute = 6 Segments

One Segment = 10 Seconds

One Standard Round = 3 Segments (30 seconds)

One Combat Round = 10 Seconds

When reading spell or skill descriptions they may say Casting Time, Duration, Time to Complete etc is
1 Turn = 10 minutes
1 minute or X minutes.  These are full minutes (60 seconds or 6 segments.)
If the description says 1 Round or x Rounds, it means Standard Rounds or 30 seconds.  There are 2 Standard Rounds in a minute.
If the description refers to Segments OR Combat Rounds it means 10 second.

If the description refers to Instantaneous it means it will occur at some Second in the Combat Round.  Usually on Initiative + 1 second.  See Surprise and Initiative for details.

Hit Points vs Health (Constitution)

Hit Points are different in Victorian Dreadful then in most other AD&D games. Hit Points are a reflection of Toughness, vitality and your ability to shrug off pain, discomfort and fatigue. Losing all your Hit Points will not, in and of itself, kill you!

Your Constitution score reflects your actual Health. Losing all your Constitution points CAN kill you!

We have all watched the hero, and some villains, in a movie take a terrific battering. Punched, kicked, slashed, cut, clubbed, thrown from windows… He is bloodied, bruised, winded, staggered, but still able to fight on and when it is over walk away. The damage he/she took was to Hit Points, not Health (Constitution.)

When a character is hit by a blow or a bullet in the normal course of events, the damage is deducted from Hit Points ONLY. Until such time as all the Hit Points have been used up. After that any damage is deducted from Constitution. (There are exceptions!  See Critical Hits.)

Blows to Hit Points cause minimal bodily harm. Bruises, scratches, abrasions…. They wear a character down, stunning him, dazing him, making him hurt, but are not inherently life threatening. These losses can be restored through rest, normal healing and time or Cure Light Wounds (if available.)

Damage to Constitution reflects REAL SERIOUS injuries. These are the types of wounds that represent holes in the body, blood loss, etc… And these injuries require more advanced medical care, Physician or Surgeon in attendance or Cure Serious or Cure Critical Wounds.

When a character’s Hit Point total drops to 0, he or she starts taking damage to his Constitution. When Constitution drops to -1 he is dying, but still conscious IF he/she males a successful System Shock at the INJURED CN stat.  When it drops to –CN score the character is DEAD.

Blood Loss directly effects Constitution/Health NOT Hit Points!  Injuries that only result in loss of hit points do not cause sufficient blood loss to be dangerous.


A Rogue with a Constitution of 13 and 9 Hit Points takes 8 points damage leaving him with 1 hit point and full health. The next round he takes 3 points damage. One point subtracts the Rogue’s last Hit Point, the other 2 are deducted from his Constitution Score. CN 13-2 = 11.

If the Rogue makes a successful System Shock Roll at the CN score of 11, he may continue to act. (Note, he is bleeding out CN at a rate of 1 per minute.)

The next time he is hit he takes 8 points damage. 11 – 8 = 3 If the Rogue makes a successful System Shock Roll at the CN score of 3, he may continue to act. (Note, he is still bleeding out CN at a rate of 1 per minute.)
The next round he takes 5 points damage. His Constitution is now -2. He is Unconscious and BLEEDING at a rate of 1 point per MINUTE.

As he is laying on the field of battle a nearby explosion inflicts damage of 18 points to everyone present. The Rogue was -2 he is now -20. His Constitution was 13. He is dead.

A Character with 25 Hit Points and a Constitution of 11 can absorb 47 points of damage before he or she is irretrievably DEAD. (This may seem like a lot but keep in mind that bullets can do a lot of damage and there is no known way to bring someone back from the dead!)

Also, that same character can continue functioning, fighting, casting spells, etc until he or she has absorbed 36 points of damage. The last 11 being the type that causes major spurts of blood, intestines slipping out, limbs mutilated…. These injuries require more advanced medical care, Physician or Surgeon in attendance or Cure Serious or Cure Critical Wounds or Heal.

Exception: Critical Hits. Damage from Critical Hits, regardless of weapon type, go directly to the target’s Constitution!

Gaining Hit Points

Each time a character goes up a level he rolls the appropriate hit dice for the class, D6 for Adepts, D8 for Mystics and Rogues and so on. The character’s Constitution bonus, if it applies, is added to the roll and the result is added to the character’s current maximum hit points.

Maximum Hit Points


Once a character reaches that total they will not gain anymore Hit Points regardless of level. A constitution of 12 means that the maximum Hit Points the character can have is 120.  It does not matter at what level she reaches that number, she stops accumulating hit points when she advances future levels.

Armor Class

In Victorian Dreadful traditional body armor is almost unheard of (though for reference sake some descriptions will refer to AC as an armor type. Example: Equivalent to Scale Mail.)

An individual’s AC (Without armor) is not a reflection of his or her ability to absorb blows and damage, but rather to avoid, deflect and minimize the hits and damage of battle. One does NOT dodge bullets! One dodges the assailants aim. Twisting, ducking or otherwise getting out of the way as much as possible. Body armor, regardless of type, is NOT BULLET PROOF! It can help the character survive by absorbing some damage, causing a  ricochet or deflection when he or she is trying to avoid the attack, but a point blank shot to the body, where the character cannot, or does not, attempt a defense will not be stopped by even a cuirass.

A character’s Armor Class (AC) represents how hard it is for opponents to land a solid, damaging blow on the character or hitting them with a gun shot. An individual’s starting AC is 10. This reflects an individual Standing Still or Immobile.  AC can ONLY be improved by Dexterity Adjustments, Class Bonus or Magic.   MOST ARMOR DOES NOT IMPROVE AC!  What Armor DOES DO is absorb Damage BEFORE it is applied to the character.

Body Armor DOES have a place in Victorian Dreadful, but it does not make you harder to hit.  It will Absorb or deflect Damage from things that hit you!  Go to Armor and AC for details.


Class Bonus to AC

A character’s class and level grant the character an innate bonus to Defense. This bonus applies in all situations, even when the character is flat-footed or when the character would lose his or her Dexterity bonus for some other reason.

See the page on Ability Generation or the class descriptions for details.  

Surprise And Initiative 

Changes have been made to the way Surprise and Initiative are calculated.  Dexterity benefits a character in Initiative Rolls BUT NOT on a Surprise Roll


The number of available Classes has been reduced, but there are several Sub-Classes available.

To start, the Cleric and Druid class is merged into one new class called ‘Mystic.’

Wizards and Illusionist are now known as ‘Adepts

Paladins and Rangers are no more.

Assassins and Bards do not exist.

Thieves are known as ‘Rogues‘ and are subdivided into three types. Burglar, Robber and Swindler.

Fighters are subdivided into three categories based on training and proficiency. They are: Professionals, Outdoorsmen and Sportsmen

A new class called Medium has been added.