Design: Douglas Niles and Dale A. Donovan
Psionics Design: Bill Slavicsek and Dale A. Donovan
Development and Editing: Jean Rabe
Design Contributions: Rich Baker, Skip Williams
Editing Contribution: Dori Hein
Project Coordinator: Steve Winter
Typography: Angelika Lokotz
Graphic Design: Dee Barnett
Production: Paul Hanchette
Cover Art: Jeff Easley
Interior Art: Thomas Baxa, Doug Chaffee, Les Dorscheid, Jeff Easley, Ken Frank, Eric
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.
This work is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America.
Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork presented herein is
prohibited without the express written consent of TSR, Inc.
When I first began playing the AD&D® game (more years ago than I care to
remember), the system seemed to offer rules for every conceivable eventuality—indeed,
the books contained more systems and procedures than any player or DM could possibly
It didn’t take long to disabuse myself of that notion. As I recall, it was the first time the players asked me, the DM, if their characters could swim. How well? How fast, and for how long? And if their characters couldn’t swim, could they float for awhile? And how many gold pieces could you carry before you sank like a stone?
Many of those questions have been subsequently answered in accessories and, most
significantly, in the AD&D 2nd Edition game rules. However, for every situation defined
by rules, and every new procedure introduced to the game, more questions were asked by
creative (dare I say ‘devious’?) players, and more systems were improvised by every
It would nice the say that the Player’s Option™: Skills & Powers system will put all that to rest—but we’d all recognize that as an exaggeration, to say the least. Nor would that be a realistic objective. Part of adventure gaming is the discovery of the unknown and the unexpected, and we’ll always need a referee to oversee this.
However, I believe that this book adds a lot to the game, and I hope you will agree
that it does so without increasing the game’s complexity. The word ‘option’ is in the title
for a very good reason: We have attempted to add to the number of choices available to
players and DMs alike, without adding to the complications of resolving these choices.
All things in nature must evolve in order to keep pace with their surroundings.
Organisms must adapt as their environment changes if they wish to thrive. This also is
true in gaming. The AD&D game is one of the oldest role-playing rules systems around.
And it’s a great system; its longevity is proof enough of that. But in the time that the
AD&D game has existed, gaming itself has evolved, and so has the game. The original
AD&D game evolved from the D&D game in the late 1970s. Then, in the early ‘80s, the
Unearthed Arcana book, the first major evolution of the AD&D game, was published.
More evolutions followed, culminating in 1989 with the publication of the AD&D 2nd
Edition game rules. Now, the Player’s Option books (and the DM™ Option: High-level
Handbook to be published later this year) represent the latest evolutions of the AD&D
The central concept behind the Player’s Option books is player choice. We wanted to expand the AD&D game in ways that had never been explored before. We hoped to offer the players and DMs of the AD&D game more options (there’s that word again) than
they ever had. We wanted to give those who play the AD&D game more choices, more
control over their game and their characters than was previously considered possible. We
hope we’ve succeeded, but in truth, that decision is not in our hands. You, the DMs and
players of the game will have the final say in this matter.
We hope you use these rules in your games. We also hope you’ll give us your
feedback on these rules and the AD&D games you play using them, thus insuring that the
game will continue to evolve.
Strength, Stamina, Muscle
Dexterity, Aim, Balance
Constitution, Health, Fitness
Intelligence, Reason, Knowledge
Wisdom, Intuition, Willpower
Charisma, Leadership, Appearance
Alternate Subability Method
More About Ability Checks
Racial Ability Adjustments
Racial Level Limits
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