I return from my holiday feeling somewhat rested but no more enthusiastic than I was beforehand. I did not game that whole time, and D&D was really not on my mind at any point. Oh, 4th Edition, see what horrors thou hast wrought!
So here's the plan. I only have a few more products to cover before I reach the end of the OD&D era for TSR, and the beginning of the AD&D era. (For reasons I will get to at a later point, I have decided that the D&D Basic Set authored by J. Eric Holmes is the beginning of the AD&D era.) I plan to tackle those products, namely issues #6 through 9 of The Dragon, and all three sets of the Monster & Treasure Assortment, before changing things up a little.
Once that change comes, I'll be consolidating some of the data I've gleaned so far. Take Castle Blackstar, for instance, the home dungeon of D&D contributor Joe Fischer. There is very little that Fischer wrote for D&D after this, so I feel confident in working up the bare bones of a large dungeon for this location. I also plan to delve into what can be gleaned from the internet and other articles about the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor campaigns, in order to work up a basic timeline of events from before the beginning of my campaign. It's a way to continue the project while changing gears a little bit, which will hopefully refresh my batteries.
But for now, we have The Dragon #6. As always, I'll begin with a quick recap of the articles that I'm not using for the project. The Dragon Rumbles editorial talks about expanding the magazine's coverage of games other than D&D and Empire of the Petal Throne; The Forest of Flame is a short story by early TSR artist Morno that feels the need to spell wizard as wysard; and holy crap, that's it! So much for The Dragon's resolution to cover different games, eh?
An Alternate Beginning Sequence for Metamorphosis Alpha: Like it says in the title, this is a different way to begin a Metamorphosis Alpha campaign. Instead of playing as tribesmen on the Starship Warden, the players begin as clones of the original crew created by the ship to fix the current disaster and get things running the way they should be.
These clones have much greater technical knowledge than the average MA character, though I gather that their potential for mutation is smaller. Even so they have a chance to start with some, and exposure to radiation increases that chance. Some of the special skills that can be generated here are pretty nifty, from immortality to resurrection to the ability to power technology with your mind.
I doubt that I will use this article as intended, given that the majority of PCs in my campaign will be created as D&D characters. But I will certainly include clones like those shown here should the PCs ever venture into the Starship Warden. I also wouldn't rule out introducing a PC who is a clone should a player need to be introduced to the game while the party is stuck in the Starship.
Sea Trade in D&D Campaigns: This article provides a means for the DM to determine the success of any trading ventures the PCs might decide to invest in. Not that this system will be used should the PCs go along for the ride – if that is the case the usual wilderness adventure rules apply. This is for when some wise-ass PC decides he wants to run a sea trade business in absentia while still adventuring.
It's a really nice set of rules, I think – not too complex, and with an element of risk. The PC writes out a set of orders detailing how much cargo the ship will carry, how many ports it will visit, how much to buy, etc. As is the way of things in OD&D, success is determined by a big ol' chart. The number of ports bypassed increases the chance for a big profit, but it also increases the chance that the ship will be lost. Risk vs. reward, and all it takes for the DM is one roll on a chart.
Something tells me I won't ever need these rules, but you never know. They're easily adapted for use with land trade, as well.
Legions of the Petal Throne Painting Guide: Wow, this Empire of the Petal Throne thing is detailed, man. This article has M.A.R. Barker going through all of the EPT miniatures and giving the actual colours that they would be in his world. Not just the soldiers get this treatment, but all of the very strange beasties as well. This is full-on stuff, and I very much doubt that there are many other worlds out there that get into this level of minutiae. As for applicability to my campaign, I will be keeping this on hand for when I need to write descriptions and flavour text and the like. And hopefully I will remember the details should I need to come up with this info off the cuff!
That's it for me tonight, as it is stinkingly, wretchedly hot here for we Southrons. I'll be back in a couple of days with more stuff from The Dragon #6.