Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #6 Part 2

Before I tackle the Bard, there is one more article that needs to be mentioned – The Quest for the Vermillion Volume, a short story by Robert J. Kuntz. I was all set to discount the story, since it is an obvious parody, but it's also Rob Kuntz. As Gary's major partner in the creation of D&D's earliest lore, I'm scraping through this story for nuggets that I can use, while ignoring the most obvious parody elements. The most obvious thing that can be useful is the cast of ready-made NPCs, as detailed below.

Drystaff the Necromancer: Drystaff is a stereotypical magic-user with his beard and staff and pointy hat. He is described in the story as a Necromancer, which makes him 10th level. He has in his employ a number of men-at-arms, as well as a troupe of elven scouts. Drystaff makes a number of anachronistic references to Earth culture, and given that my campaign will involve frequent world-hopping it would not be too much of a stretch to say that he has travelled to modern day Earth. But no, he says instead that he has scried other planes using his crystal sphere - either way works fine for me. We are also given some other minor details of his life: He has a cheating wife, and was trained in magic by the great Thaumaturgist Grimm. He rides a mule named Grumbold. He has also met a barbarian named "The Hog" in the north-eastern marches – perhaps the Ice or Frost Barbarians in the far north-eastern regions of Greyhawk.

Highton: Highton is an elf, the leader of the scouts working for Drystaff. He was chosen by his Lady, the Witch-Queen Evvolon, for the mission.

Lamhand: Lamhand is a Hero (a 4th level Fighter) who works with Drystaff, possibly as a henchman. He is a simple-minded oaf, and that's as much as we get from him in the story.


So what happens in this story? It seems that the characters above are hired (or ordered in the case of Highton) by the Witch-Queen Evvolon to retrieve a book from near the lands of Stra-Tac. Stra-Tac is home to Dunn-Red, the Enemy, and his spies and servants are abroad searching for the book as well. They find the book, but Lamhand (who was sent ahead with a company of horsemen) steals it back from them. Drystaff and the elves are captured by Dunn-Red's spies, but Lamhand rescues the wizard and Highton. They escape with the book, only to fall into a trap set by a mysterious rotund thief, who absconds with the book.

Which leaves me with the biggest mystery of the story. Who is this guy? The whole punchline of the story is the reveal of his identity – which is given as RST. I have no idea who RST is, beyond being a rotund thief. It's quite plausible that it's a joke that won't translate at all well as a usable NPC, but I'd still like to know who it's meant to be, if only so I know what that story was on about.


We learn that there's an Elf-Witch named Evvolon who lives in the Greenwood with her subjects. Could this possibly be the 'Elf-Land' that I conjectured from details in Men & Magic?

The Enemy of the elves is named Dunn-Red, and he rules the land of Stra-Tac. Little is shown of him, except that he employs human spies as well as armies of hairy, brutish humanoids – most probably orcs.

It's interesting to note the depiction of the elves here – these aren't your god-like Tolkien elves. Instead they're short with curly-toed shoes. They're more like the modern depictions of elves, Santa's helpers and Keebler elves and such. This fits into my conception of elves as a race on the wane - they used to be like Tolkien elves (and they may regain that power some day) but now they are diminished and wearing pointy shoes.

Silver Nobles are mentioned as a type of coinage – I'll keep that in mind when I'm looking for more evocative names for coinage than your average "Silver Piece'.


The events of this story will have occured in the recent past of the campaign. With the book (whatever its purpose) having been stolen by the mysterious RST, both Evvolon and Dunn-Red will have servants hunting for it. The PCs could come into this story at any point, allying with one side or the other as they wish. How this scenario plays out could have a lot to do with the identity of RST – anyone out there have any ideas?

The NPC Drystaff will be active in the area of the Greenwood and its surrounds, as well as his men-at-arms and henchman Lamhand. Highton, as head of Evvolon's scouts, will remain in her service, perhaps heading up the hunt for the book.

The Greenwood and Stra-Tac will no doubt be minor regions in the World of Greyhawk. But thankfully that world is quite open to customisation, and I'll no doubt be able to fit them in somewhere.

Drystaff's mentor, the Thaumaturgist Grimm, I will have working as a trainer at the Guild of Magic-Users. Similarly, the barbarian known as "The Hog" will be a powerful chieftain, encountered should the PCs venture up into the realms of the Frost or Ice Barbarians.

Next up I'm tackling the Bard for reals.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #6 Part 1

The Strategic Review #6 sees a definite branching out of subject matter as compared to previous issues. With some fiction, reviews, as well as articles ongames like Fight in the Skies, War of Wizards, Dungeon, and Ancient Conquest, it's getting much closer to its later incarnation as The Dragon. There are also a number of fascinating D&D articles, as usual, starting with an overhaul of alignment.

THE MEANING OF LAW AND CHAOS IN DUNGEONS & DRAGONS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS TO GOOD AND EVIL: It seems that even in the old days alignment caused a lot of arguments, so here comes Gary to clarify things. But it's more than a clarification – this is a revamp of the whole system.

We already have Law, Neutrality and Chaos as alignments from the OD&D boxed set. This article introduces another axis of alignments – Good and Evil. These can combine in in six different ways – Lawful/Good, Lawful/Evil, Chaotic/Good, Chaotic/Evil and Neutral. It's pretty much the system used in AD&D, with a few options missing (Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, etc.). And it's exactly the system that was used in the Eric Holmes version of Basic D&D.

Before this point Law and Chaos were the only real cosmic considerations in the campaign, so I'll need to introduce something pretty drastic to justify the inclusion of Good and Evil to the system. I've already set up Law and Chaos as the two primal forces of the universe, constantly at war. Clerics before this don't worship specific gods, but are devoted to Law or Chaos. I'm thinking that this is the point where I will introduce specific churches, splintering the Church of Law and its chaotic counterpart into factions. From that point on a character's stance on Good vs. Evil will be just as important as his stance on Law vs. Chaos.

The article provides a chart to be used for tracking alignment shifts in PCs, but of greater interest are the details around the edge – our first glimpse of the Outer Planes! Eight of the planes are named and assigned to an alignment: Heaven (Lawful/Good), Paradise (Good), Elysium (Chaotic/Good), Limbo (Chaos), The Abyss (Chaotic/Evil), Hades (Evil), Hell (Lawful/Evil), and Nirvana (Law). Small details, but it's the clearest picture yet of the Greyhawk cosmology. However, further reading indicates that these planes have shifted a little in alignment once 1e comes around. I'll chalk this chart up as faulty research on the part of some sage or another. They've managed to explore into some of the Outer Planes, and discerned that they are related to the cosmic forces of Law, Chaos, Good and Evil, but their conclusions are wrong, as there are a whole lot more planes out there they don't yet know about.

There are also four types of beings that epitomize the most extreme alignments: Saints are Lawful/Good, Godlings are Chaotic/Good, Demons are Chaotic/Evil, and Devils are Lawful/Good. This is the first real mention of demons and devils, and their alignments here match later depictions. There are no Saints in later editions so far as I know, but there are Angels – I believe that I can safely equate the two terms. Godlings are another matter. Nothing in later D&D mentions them, but to me the term conjures up images of demi-gods such as Heracles. Still, I'm not all that inclined to create a new race of demi-gods just yet – I'm placing these guys on the back-burner until further reading gives me some ideas.

Following this is another big old chart, the same as the previous one, but with D&D monsters scattered over it to indicate their new alignments. No real surprises here, although it should be noted that Orcs are Chaotic/Evil, not Lawful/Evil as AD&D has them. Liches are also listed as Lawful/Good and Lawful/Evil, indicating that the process of becoming undead to live forever doesn't necessarily make you a bad guy. Finally, the Chromatic Dragon and the Platinum Dragon, said in Supplement I to be unique, are here listed as plural. I'll take that in a multiversal sense – each world has only one, but there is more than one of each spread across multiple worlds.

After that Gary gives some rough guidelines on tracking PC alignments, and provides the following interesting line: "The player-character who continually follows any alignment (save neutrality) to the absolute letter of its definition must eventually move off the chart and into another plane of existence as indicated." That's cool, and I'll definitely be implementing it as a possibility for super-high-level characters.

It's also interesting to note that while good and evil are said by Gary to be subjective, Law and Chaos are not.

There's another line that gives a good indication of the D&D cosmology: "If we presuppose that the universal contest is between Law and Chaos we must assume that in any final struggle the minions of each division would be represented by both good and evil beings." So Law and Chaos are still the ultimate forces in the universe, with Good and Evil simply being modifiers within those factions. The former shows what side you're on in the universal struggle, and the latter shows how you act in pursuit of that struggle. Gary's also quick to point out, though, that outside of some epic final battle between Law and Chaos, Good beings are more likely to ally with others who are Good, and the same goes for Evil.

There's a bit about paladins, and how they must toe the line as far as being Lawful/Good goes. The loss of their powers still occurs if they violate their alignment, but a divine quest or intervention can now help them be restored to paladinhood.

This bit about Clerics is interesting, and contradicts some of my assumptions from earlier. Clerics of either Good or Evil alignment must remain so – but they are able to switch between Law and Chaos without retribution? I find this strange... But I'll tie this in with the burgeoning of specific deities and churches. Law and Chaos might be the fundamental forces driving the universe, but the gods who grant clerical powers are in general more concerned with matters of good and evil, and more likely to withold powers on that basis. The one mechanical thing to take out of this is that your standard clerics are Good, and anti-clerics are evil.

There's a final note that most of humanity is Lawful, and about halfway between Good and Evil. Few are Chaotic, and very few Chaotic/Evil. Sounds fair enough to me.

Whew. That was one hell of an article, so I'll be stopping here, I think. Next time I'll be looking at the latest class for D&D – the Bard.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #5

The Strategic Review #5 opens with a note that Blackmoor has just been released, and a general round-up of how TSR is expanding (quickly, by the sound of things). They also provide a number of bios on the various folks who work there, none of which is relevant to the project, but informative nonetheless.

STURMGESHUTZ AND SORCERY: As noted in an earlier post, characters from Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign have made forays into Nazi Germany. This article explores Gary's own attempts at such a game, and establishes that travel to the World War II era is possible near the City of Greyhawk as well.
The fantasy characters that were used in this game involved the Servants of the Gatherer, a motley force of undead, ogres, trolls, and orcs under the command of an Evil High Priest (who I take to be the Gatherer himself). They are said to live in a castle, so I'll be using these guys as the inhabitants of a castle on the Outdoor Survival map for when the PCs make wilderness forays. There are stronger warriors that normally inhabit this castle, but they're away warring with a Neutral Lord who insulted the Gatherer. I'll need to establish who this Lord is as well – I'll probably make it Lord Robilar, who was a prominent character in Gygax's campaign, but more on that at a later date.

The situation is that a fog has sprung up west of the Gatherer's castle, which leads into Nazi Germany. After a bit of scouting and such, a pitched battle erupted between the fantasy characters and the Nazis, with the Nazis taking the worst of it. The Gatherer loses a couple of ghouls, a troll, and his giant scorpion, not to mention various orcs. These events will be a part of the history of the campaign world - should the PCs everenage in drunken conversation with the Gatherer, he might start rattling off old war stories about Nazis soldiers.

Following this is a guide to rules for using the Nazi weaponry in combination with D&D rules. It's heavily reliant on the Tractics rules, which I understand is a miniature wargame for World War II. It's all handy stuff, though, especially the chart for damage for various firearms and cannons. A cross-genre campaign like this one needs this kind of material.

Oh, and there's a rough map showing the castle and its surroundings, which I must remember should the PCs come across it.

The possibility of sending the PCs into World War II appeals to me, and I like the idea that a randomly occuring fog can roll in at any time and send them there. I'll be including it as a possibility on the wilderness encounter tables, with a very low chance of occuring. I'll probably also include a way to make the Adventurers' Guild portal lead there as well, in case the PCs get the urge to make regular Nazi-smashing trips.

MIGHTY MAGIC MISCELLANY: A few magic items get introduced here, the first of which is the Robe of Scintillating Color. Usable by any class, it appears as an average robe, but it can only be activated by a character with a combined Intelligence and Wisdom of 25. It can be used to form a dazzling pattern that makes the wearer harder to hit – attackers get -1 to hit on the first round, -2 on the second, until -5 is reached. It also has a 5% cumulative chance per round of hypnotising anyone who looks at it (and it's even more effective out of combat).
And because OD&D always throws in something awesome like this: if a magic-user with an Intelligence of 17 or 18 gets hypnotised, there's a chance he'll go permanently insane. Cool!

The other item introduced is Prayer Beads, usable only by Clerics. They're a string of valuable beads, with a chance that some of the beads have divine powers. There are a few types listed. Beads of Atonement give a character a chance to regain an old alignment if he has transgressed. Beads of Response allow him to directly communicate with his patron deity, though they don't guarantee the response will be favourable. Beads of Damnation are great, in that they allow you to (unwittingly, I assume) communicate with your patron's nemesis – always a bad idea. Beads of Karma temporarily increase a Cleric's level. Beads of Succor increase the chance that a god will respond to your prayers, and Beads of Hindrance reduce this chance.
The catch with this item is that each strong of beads has an alignment which affects how it will work. For example, a Chaotic Bead of Damnation actually contacts a Lawful deity! So it's difficult to know exactly what these beads are going to do without careful study.

This is also the first mention I've seen that players can pray to their deity of choice, with a chance of reply. I like the concept, but something mechanical would be nice. I'm tempted to go with a flat 1% chance, with the caveat that the gods don't generally like being pestered too much.

GALLERY OF GUNFIGHTERS 3: This is a description of the life of Ben Thompson, another western gunfighter who will be roaming around as an NPC if the players ever visit the Old West. (See earlier posts for my reasoning in including western characters.)

CREATURE FEATURES: One classic creature and a couple of others get the treatment here.

Rakshasa: These 'evil spirits encased in flesh' are noted as originating from India, which I will take to mean the area of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds to India. As is usual with D&D monsters they eat people, and to aid themselves in this they have a host of abilities, including illusions, ESP, Cleric spells of 1st level and M-U spells up to 3rd level. They're also pretty nasty in melee with teeth and claws, and are almost impossible to damage – spells under 8th level don't affect them, they're immune to non-magical weapons, and weapons under +3 only do half damage. The best weapon against them is a crossbow bolt blessed by a cleric, which kills them instantly. I take this as a simple Bless spell. This might seem a bit simple, but I'll be making this information difficult to come by. Anyone who gets a hold of the knowledge will deserve it.

It's interesting to note that we're still in a time when it's assumed players will have certain knowledge outside of the game – there's no description here of just what a Rakshasa looks like.

Slithering Tracker: A transparent dungeon predator that is difficult to see, it rarely attacks immediately, preferring to follow its chosen victim and kill it in its sleep. The Tracker has a semi-fluid body that can slip through very small gaps, and a touch that paralyses its victims. And once you've been paralysed, it will suck out your plasma in 6 turns. That's right – your plasma!

Trapper: Another predator that has adapted to dungeon life, this one is an amorphous thing that can make itself look like a regular floor by altering its coloration. So it waits on the dungeon floor for someone to walk over it, then it wraps around and suffocates them. Simple, ridiculous and awesome.

That's it for The Strategic Review #5, except for an ominous message that is recurring through the issue – THE DRAGON IS COMING!

But that's for another time. In the next post I'll be tackling The Strategic Review #6.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 5


The first official D&D adventure is an odd one, that's for sure. It's as old-school as it gets, really - there are no guidelines on what levels to run it for (I would say about 10th), or how to get the PCs there. It's just an adventure site presented as is, for the DM to use as he sees fit. The basic setup is that of a Temple in a remote swamp where the priests are breeding killer frogs, but there's a definite Arneson-style twist to the affairs. There's a good adventure in here somewhere, but it needs a lot of work to sort out the haphazard notes and make it playable.

I won't go into depth about the adventure itself, but there is a load of info here that pertains to the World of Greyhawk and to Blackmoor in particular. There are some probable spoilers ahead, as well.

The temple is placed near Lake Gloomey, in the Swamp of Mil nearby. These are prominent terrain features of Blackmoor, I assume.

We have the Brothers of the Swamp, a sect believing that man is an abomination, and animals more fit to populate the world. They started breeding killer frogs, and trafficking in slaves to help them increase their frog output. About 100 years ago they made a pact with bandits, who pretty much took things over until the current High Priest named Stephen the Rock sorted them out. Since then the temple's power has grown, and the swamp is teeming with killer frogs.

There adventure3 also features intelligent humanoids that are either from another dimension or another world. They are highly technologically advanced, with hovering satellite stations, and at least some of them are interested in policing dimensional nexus points from other invaders. It sounds a little Star Trek, actually, but what it establishes is that there are worlds out there in the universe that are scientifically advanced, rather than everything operating by magic.

That's all the stuff of wider importance. The adventure will be there for the PCs to stumble across from the start, and eventually they will start hearing rumours of killer frogs infesting the swamps, and slaves being taken to the Temple. If the players don't bite I might have an authority figure in Blackmoor hire them to investigate. Pretty simple plot hook stuff.

UNDERWATER ADVENTURES: This section begins by mentioning the sunken cities of Mu, Atlantis and Lemuria - as well as the treasure therein. There's my adventure hook to entice the PCs to explore underwater, then. It also fits with the backstory given to the Sahuagin - these cities were submerged when the world was flooded.

It follows with the effects of being underwater on movement and combat. In general you can't swim in armor heavier than leather, and both hands must be free. Missile weapons don't work underwater, but there are special crossbows that can. Melee weapons have their damage halved, except for Tridents. It's noted that electrical attacks electrocute anything in range, and that fire attacks are completely useless.

Then there is a list of various terrain features, those being seaweed and sand. Not much of interest here.

Following that are random encounter charts, one for underwater and one for when you are sailing. It's nice to see these being expanded on when appropriate.

SAGES: Sages are greatly expanded on here. Whereas before the sages you hired were knowledgable on a wide range of subjects, they now have special areas in which they excel - things like Botany, History, Folklore, Philosophy, Astronomy, etc.

The Guild of Sages gets another mention, and it's noted that the prices listed to hire them in OD&D are for low-level types. I guess that explains their lack of specialisation.

There's stuff about chances to succeed, with a great bit about sages giving wrong answers rather than saying when they don't know something. Arrogant bastards.

You can buy a library to aid the Sage's chance of success, but that's an expensive affair - you could be looking at an expenditure in the hundreds of thousands of gold pieces.

Dismissing your sage could be risky business - if the guild deems you did so without reason, they'll never provide you with a sage again. And even if they change their minds, they're likely to present you only with the same guy you got rid of. These guys could stand to learn a thing or two about customer service, but I suppose they have a monopoly.

Sages must have some kind of cosmic significance, because killing one automatically makes you Chaotic, unless the sage was Chaotic. I suppose that they are favoured of the gods. They also have the power to bestow curses if they've been brought close to death through violence. A high-level sort can curse you to never make a saving throw again! And don't expect Remove Curse to bail you out there - you'll need some sort of Cleric-assigned quest.

DISEASE: Ah disease - yet another tool in the rat-bastard-DM arsenal. This is the first time that the subject gets dealt with in D&D, and we get a number of interesting types to inflict upon players.

The diseases included are: Grippe (a catch-all for colds, flus and belly aches), the Bubonic Plague, Dysentery, Cholera, Malaria, Small Pox, Tuberculosis, Typhus, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, Advanced Leprosy, Crud (various nasty rashes), and Spotted Fever.

Each disease has an environment and seasonal conditions under which it might be contracted, a percent chance of catching it, incubation, duration, recovery time, and a fatality percentage. These numbers are modified by a high or low Constitution as would be expected. It's surprisingly detailed, but I think including them would really change the tone of the game, away from fantasy adventuring and more towards gritty and medieval.

Some random notes:

A Chaotic Cleric can use a reversed Cure Light Wounds to give someone the Grippe. Hmmmm, inflicting the flu or 2-7 points of damage? Tough choice...

There's an extremely rare type of bark that can cure Malaria - it's also relished by both Displacer Beasts and Blink Dogs. Perhaps that's the root of their enmity? There's a certain simplicity in this that I like; not everything can be ancient wars and epic hatred. Although, the idea of ancient and epic Bark Wars between these two have a certain charm.

Spotted Fever is the disease transmitted by giant ticks. Not only is it potentially fatal, but it can drive victims insane.

Advanced Leprosy is the disease that Mummies inflict with their attacks. Whereas before it just slowed a character's rate of healing, now it is 95% fatal, and characters killed by it can't be raised.

Since all of these diseases get introduced at once, I'm planning to make their release part of an agenda by some evil organization or another. The PCs can investigate and tackle it if they want, or perhaps the plan will simmer away as diseases take their toll?

AAAAAAND that's it for Supplement II: Blackmoor. I've also caught up to myself on this project, as it had started as a thread on So over the weekend I'll be back to new material, and resuming with The Strategic Review #5 on Monday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 4

Sorry about the delay folks - Easter and all that. We now resume our regular schedule.

SAHUAGIN: Wow. That's one long entry - at a time when most monsters get a paragraph, these 'Devil Men of the Deep' merit about two pages worth of stuff. It's pretty good stuff as well.

The first thing we learn is that they're vicious, evil buggers who pal around with Giant Sharks. They're smart like elves, but perverted (they say it like being an elf isn't perverted as well!).

Then we get some history that I feel can easily be tacked onto Greyhawk - In eons past there was a great flood, which may or may not have happened twice, when the ice caps melted during a war between the gods for control of the planet. Some of the gods grabbed up their subjects to save them from the flood, while others transformed their subjects to adapt to the water - sea elves and mermen were created by the gods of Law and Neutrality, while those of Chaos made the Sahuagin, who are said to be the most evil of the evil.

Physically they pretty much look like evil fish-men. They can swim quickly, and have a hide equal to leather armor. Their teeth and claws are sharp, and they have a tail that can club people for 2d6 damage. They can even rake with their back legs. Add to that sensitive ears and eyes that can see underwater, and you'll definitely want to fight these guys on land.

They have a few weaknesses. Their eyes aren't suited to being on the surface, so they only come up at night and during storms. Their ears can be damaged by loud noises. They also can't breathe air or fresh water.

They live in large communities, with their underwater capital housing 100,000 of the nasties. They have the usual array of high-level fighters and magic-users, as well as lots of sharks. They fight with tridents and barbed nets, the former usually poisoned (joy).

They take prisoners, but usually only to eat. Those they don't eat get thrown to the sharks with nothing but a knife to defend themselves.

The Sahuagin have one king, and nine princes, all of whom are subject to challenge for their position by other Sahuagin. Some of these leaders are rumoured to have four arms. It's also interesting to note that Sahuagin never stop growing, which makes me instantly think of using an absolute behemoth from the dawn of time who has prolonged his life with potions of longevity.

Sahuagin eat cripples and unsuccessful challengers, as well as the sick. Their women fight, and look just like the men. The young hatch from eggs - and after a few days are pretty much as tough and vicious as any other Sahuagin! I guess you have to grow up quick in such an evil society.

Anyway, this is a really cool entry, and the sort of thing we won't see much of in a long while. Even the AD&D Monster Manual rarely goes into this kind of detail.

FLOATING EYES: Small fish with one big eye that they can use to hypnotise PCs or make the afraid. Other monsters follow them around and snack on the victims.

IXITXACHITL: "A race of Chaotic Clerical Philosophers, they resemble Manta Rays, with one in ten being a vampire equivalent." Has their ever been a better sentence written in the English language? That's about all we learn about them too, except that they all have cleric levels and some have magic-user levels. It's a pretty bloody good springboard, though.

LOCATHAH: Because with mermen, tritons, sea elves and sahuagin, we need another bloody race of undersea humanoids. Anyway, these guys are eel-riding nomads, who use castles as their base camp and are neutral and fairly civilised.

MORKOTH: Another favourite of mine. They're also known as Morlocks. A 'shrouded wraith of the deep' that lives in spiralling tunnels. When the tunnels are viewed from above, the hypnotic pattern draws the victim down to be charmed. It can also reflect spells cast upon it back at the caster.

POISONOUS CORAL: If it cuts you, save or die in 12 turns.

MASHERS: Like a big coral-eating purple worm, but harmless unless frightened.

STRANGLE WEED: Sea weed that wraps creatures like a tentacle and crushes them.

LYCANTHROPES: There are no new were-creatures given here, but the curse/disease itself gets significantly expanded. Before, all we knew was that if a lycanthrope damages you for 50% of your total hit points, you'll become one unless you get a Cure Disease spell. Some things are clarified here - the victim must be warm-blooded. If the wounds are taken under a full moon during spring, the Cleric casting Cure Disease must be 10th level to heal you. The were-personality can now assert itself in much the same way as an intelligent sword. Also: we know that men affected turn into animals with human intelligence, but animals can be affected as well - being able to become men with animal intelligence. That's cool! Being a lycanthrope confers a lot of bonuses, such as more hit dice, greater speed, better AC and increased Strength and COnstitution. Doesn't sound like such a bad deal, actually.

NYMPHS: Apparently they are just like Dryads. Presumably underwater Dryads.

MOTTLED WORMS: Aquatic Purple Worms.

GNOMES: Some gnomes live in underwater cities enclosed by domes, with tunnels to the surface.

KOBOLDS: Like gnomes, but they live in 'air-enclosed cave complexes'.

EVIL HIGH PRIESTS: Some EHPs live in underwater castles protected by a spell that allows them to breathe underwater.

SEA HAGS: Before any other type of Hag, we get the underwater variety. They're like Dryads, but they try to kill people with their ugliness.

KAPOACINTH: Underwater gargoyles with fins instead of wings.

KOALINTH: Water-breathing hobgoblins.

LACEDONS: Underwater ghouls, sometimes led by a wraith.

Other monsters that may be found underwater: Leeches, Ochre Jellies, Green Slime, Ropers, and Gelatinous Cubes.

Thankfully it won't take much explanation to introduce most of these creatures - they've just been living underwater the whole time, where the PCs have yet to explore. Getting the PCs down there will be the tricky part, but a few rumours of treasure in sunken Atlantis ought to do the trick.

Supplement II introduces a few new magic items, all of which are related to aquatic adventuring in some fashion. Since there aren't many, I'll do a run-through of the lot.

RING OF FREEDOM: Lets you move and attack as normal when underwater.

RING OF MOVEMENT: This works like a ring of flying, but only when underwater. (Uh, can't characters already effectively fly underwater? I guess it would come in handy if you're wearing plate mail, though.)

CLEARWATER POTION: Removes salt from water in a 10' diameter. The only use I can think of for this is to provide a source of drinking water, especially if your characters get stranded at sea.

CLOAK OF THE MANTA RAY: This cloak lets you breath underwater and swim at the same speed as a manta ray. You can also release the cloak, and it will fight like a manta ray.

NECKLACE OF WATER BREATHING: Self-explanatory, but it only works for 2.5 days before it needs a rest.

TRIDENT OF FISH CONTROL: This allows the wielder to control any swimming creature that can't also breath air - that's a lot more than fish. For some reason it doesn't work on the Portuguese Man-of-War, probably because it is a mindless jellyfish.

NET OF SNARING: Automatically snares any swimming target you throw it at.

HELM OF UNDERWATER VISION: Lets the wearer see further when underwater.

PEARLS: Regular pearls are treated just like gems.

PINK PEARLS: These are much more valuable, and treated like jewels.

BLACK PEARLS: Lets a magic-user cast one additional spell from his repertoire - whether the pearl is then used up is left vague, but I have to say yes.

GOLD PEARL: Like the black variety, but it works for Clerics.

RED PEARL: Heals the wounds of Fighting-Men. Why no other class? It bears further thinking.

SILVER PEARL: These are worth 10-100,000 gp. Apparently 5% of gems are Silver Pearls?!? That's a bit common for such a valuable thing. Let's say that 5% of gems found underwater are Silver Pearls, or possibly just 5% of pearls.

That's a bunch of stuff that's useful underwater and not much use on land. That they aren't yet integrated into the treasure tables is a good thing, as they're niche items.

As with the aquatic monsters, these items will come into the game when I manage to lure my players into some underwater adventuring.

Tomorrow I take a look at the very first official D&D adventure: The Temple of the Frog.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 3

FIRE LIZARD: They look like large grey dragons without wings, and are even known as False Dragons. Not only do they look like dragons, but they share similar habits as well, like keeping treasures hoards and sealing their caves to sleep for ten years at a time. Though they only take 10 years to mature, they live for a century, and can go as long as ten years without eating. Unlike dragons, though, they hate their kids. They can breathe fire, though damage is small, and are immune to fire in return.

What's interesting is that Fire Lizards are believed to be the ancestors of present day dragons. And not only that, but Dragons will avoid fighting them. I see no reason not to make this true, unless I come up with something I like better in the meantime.

Basically, a big lizard with horns and not much else to recommend it.

ELASMOSAURUS: Dinosaurs! These guys are swimmers with long necks, whose 'favourite trick' is to snatch crewmen from passing ships.

MOSASAURUS: Another marine dino that likes to overturn small watercraft.

PLESIOSAURUS: Vicious sea serpents that are an endangered species (because other dinosaurs are so common?).

I love dinosaurs, but most of the time I find them a bit out of place in D&D. The land dinos work when placed in a Lost World type setting, but the aquatic ones are great anywhere - they don't seem quite so out of place when you think about how medieval sailors feared giant sea monsters.

GIANT SHARK: Let me repeat: Giant. Shark. They are pretty much like a regular shark, but bigger - big enough for a Hobbit to be noted as 'bite-sized'. There's an interesting note at the end that they are a hereditary enemy of Mermen. Weird.

WHALE: Of all the animals that haven't yet been statted up, we need a whale? They're generally peaceful, but if attacked they will batter and swallow their enemy. And remember: 'There is a 1% chance per hit point that their immense bellies will hold treasure'. Plus their oil and flesh are valuable, so go hunt these suckers down. I'm pretty sure the entire Japanese whaling industry is predicated on that 1-in-100 chance.

GIANT EELS: They live in tidal areas or rivers, and can give electric shocks, which get more powerful the stronger the eel is.

LAMPREY: Like leeches they drain blood, but get this: they drain it at a rate of one level per hit point. Really? Is a drain of 18 levels a round possible from a friggin' lamprey? And then it says that they drain blood very quickly (2-5 turns). I'm at a loss for what that means - so I need to interpret I guess. I suppose the lamprey sucks blood for 2-5 turns, at the end of which time it is sated. I'm running the level drain as being one level per hit point, but not per round. That will be the total amount drained over the 2-5 rounds. Still, they're going to be deadly little buggers...

SEA HORSES: Harmless creatures that are only here because Mermen ride them.

PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR: Uh, name-change please? I guess these things originate from the area of Greyhawk that corresponds to Portugal, and I also guess they're a type of jellyfish. They possess 10-60 tentacles - does this mean they have 10-60 attacks a round? Looking at the section on Attack and Damage by Monster Type - that says under Attacks they have 1-100 tentacles. Seriously? Man, some of the monsters here are very ill-thought out. Anyway, they have camouflage, are totally silent and have no brainwaves. The tentacles can paralyze, but a single point of damage is enough to sever one. If you're using the hit location rules, only destroying the body kills it.

DOLPHINS: Uh, yeah. Apparently they're really smart, and live in organised communities, and will attack any larger creature that threatens them. And get this - a dolphin's nose is AS DEADLY AS A LONGSWORD. Plus, they can be fitted with a war harness! Sweet.

They'll aid any humans being attacked by evil sea monsters, and will attack sharks on sight if the odds are good. All standard dolphiny stuff until it gets a bit weird - they're telepathic(!), have magic resistance like dwarves(!!), and can detect magic within 50 miles(!!!).

AQUATIC ELVES: The elf expansion begins... They're the elvish equivalent of Mermen. They love dolphins, live in great caverns at the bottom of reefs, blah blah elfy blah. They do have ties to the surface, though, as they trade fishing equipment to the land elves for metal. They're also mortal enemies of sahuagin and giant sharks AND fishermen, who catch them in their nets and kill them thinking they are Sahuagin. I dunno if it's necessarily a mistake - I mean, who likes elves?

PUNGI RAY: They look like a patch of sea weed or grass, but in reality each of the stalks is filled with NERVE POISON. Each part of you that touches this thing takes a potential hit, and if you land on it that could be anywhere from 20 to 30 attacks! If the thing somehow manages to get on top of you, it drains levels like a Giant Leech. There's a good chance it will have gems inside the carcass, but I don't know if the risk is worth the reward.

MANTA RAY: These things are huge - about 75 feet across - with 15-foot mouths that can swallow just about anything in a single bite. It's stinger can paralyze, and it also blends well with the sea floor and attacks with blinding speed. Again, gems in the stomach are a possibility.

GIANT SEA SPIDER: Weird. They live in air bubbles near seaweed beds, and spin webs to catch fish. Their lairs can be entered through a sort of 'air-lock' and they have air inside, which could be handy for drowning adventurers.

WEED EELS: These small eels look like swaying reeds, but when alarmed will disappear into their lairs. Their tunnels expand to 5 foot in diameter, so presumably PCs can fit inside - but they won't want to. Get this - their bite will kill you in 1 turn, and if you aren't then resurrected within 6 turns you're dead forever. Jeezus, first the ridiculous Lamprey and now this. Whoever wrote these entries has a serious Eel fetish.

Tomorrow I finish up with monsters, including the ludicrously detailed Sahuagin entry. Be there!

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 2

HIT LOCATION DURING MELEE: It's D&D's first critical hit system, huzzah. This one is pretty complicated, so bear with me.

Basically, each part of a creature has a point value equal to a percentage of the creature's total possible hit points. So if you're fighting an Ogre, with 4+1 hit dice and 33 total possible hit points, then 33 is the number you work the percentages from no matter what the Ogre's actual hit points are. I like this - it makes the numbers needed to inflict meaningful criticals a little higher, and means you can precalculate them all before the game starts.

Each type of creature gets a chart, and a percentage chance indicating what area gets hit based on where the attacker is standing. So if you're attacking, say, a reptile from the rear there's no chance you can hit it in the head.

Knocking body parts to 0 points can have a variety of effects. The head and chest will result in death. Limbs damaged result in loss of dexterity, as well as movement. And then there's this hilarious line: "Decapitation of limb will cause one damage per limb lost per turn untreated." Merely a flesh wound!

This is followed by a chart that factors in the height of the attacker and defender and determines what areas can be hit. It's whole other level of complication, and more than I like in a game. Still, I've set myself up for this...

I'm going to make critical hits optional. It will be an option provided through guild training, but it will only be on if the PCs choose to use it - I'm playing it as a reckless combat style that places you open to similar attacks. So if the PCs want to use hit locations, the monsters will do the same. If not, the monsters won't use it either - they know how to exploit it, but not how to initiate it.

ATTACK AND DAMAGE BY MONSTER TYPE: As in Supplement I, this is a list of damage ranges for the monsters in this book. Nothing too outlandish here, except to say that there is a definite focus on giant animals, insects and aquatic creatures. This is followed by the stat chart for every monster. A few previously established monsters get stats clarified - Giant Crabs, Giant Octopi, Giant Squids, and Giant Crocodiles. Mermen also get new stats, including a drop in hit dice from 1+1 to 1. I figure the early mermen were an elite warrior caste that are mostly wiped out by this point.

And now we come to the new monsters, much earlier than expected. As noted above, Blackmoor's 'Monster Manual' is filling in that underwater niche.

MERMEN: Mermen were included in OD&D Vol. II, but here they get a significantly expanded entry. They are more intelligent than Lizardmen, able to use weapons, and they mostly eat fish (which they keep penned in with nets like a sort of fish farm). They also use giant seahorses for transport, as unlikely as that seems.

The previous stuff is mostly new fluff, but there's a major crunch departure here - when out of the water they take damage from suffocation and dehydration, more in sunlight than in darkness, and they also take much more damage from fire. They do have special suits to retain their moisture, but mermen wearing them are slowed way down.

The rules for mermen grappling ships are reiterated, but the amount they can slow ships is now reduced.

All of this is stuff that greatly reduces the power of Mermen, which weren't that powerful to begin with really. This will all tie in nicely with those elite Mermen I posited above - they were extra-special as they could survive on the surface and were better at grappling ships.

GIANT CRABS: Another monster that's been around since the OD&D boxed set. A lot of things get clarified here. They can't swim, but instead walk on the bottom of the ocean, and they always stay close to water. They also get the ability to seize opponents in their pincers, though what this means mechanically isn't clarified. There's a nice bit about giant crabs raiding merman farms, and the mermen being able to easily pull them onto their backs. In the spring (which confirms that Greyhawk has a similar set of seasons to Earth) Giant Crabs leave the water en masse to mate and lay eggs - in true D&D fashion, they'll attack anything in their path when in this state.

GIANT OCTOPI: Another monster updated from OD&D! They live in the shallows in dark caves, and feed on giant crabs, unwary swimmers and small boats. They're generally peaceful, but will attack in numbers if provoked.

GIANT SQUIDS: Yep, it's another old monster with new info. They're more aggressive than Octopi, and can even feed on whales (!). They're pretty cowardly though, and they also tire quickly. And when they grapple a ship, their beak acts as a ram upon it.

GIANT CROCODILES: Giant Crocs get a slightly expanded entry, but it's nothing that wasn't already covered earlier.

GIANT TOADS: Just so you know it's an Arneson project, here are the toads. They're peaceful, but will fight to the death if provoked. They can also be found in many different types of terrain and have the ability to blend into their surroundings - which is treated as invisibility! As would be expected they can jump a long way, and they can attack with their long tongues. They have a cool attack with the tongue that can draw PCs into its mouth. They'll attack any insect of less than 2 hit dice on sight, but I can't see it coming up in games too often!

GIANT FROGS: Because you can't have enough entries for what is basically the same creature. But when the entry begins "This giant man-eating frog is truly vicious"? That's how you write a monster entry. Generally they're the same as Toads, but only found in swamps and along rivers, and with a far meaner temperament.

GIANT LEECH: Yeah, we've seen these guys before in OD&D Vol. 2. Here they get some habitat info, and their blood drain attack gets beefed up as well. Not only do they drain levels, but the victim so drained must get a Cure Disease spell within a month or die. Giant Leech - deadlier than Wights, Wraiths, or Spectres.

GIANT BEAVER: Now now. They start out like standard beavers - they'll flee, but fight when cornered, and they like to build dams and such. But then the entry goes on about their intelligence, and how you can pursuade them to build stuff in exchange for jewelry, gold, or - get this - gourmet bark. Not only are their pelts valuable, but you can sell their kids as well.

GIANT OTTER: They don't usually attack unless their young are threatened, but they're very playful, and their antics can scare your horses and overturn wagons. A good lightning bolt should fix that right up. Apparently they have a "vast native intelligence", and can't fall into non-magical traps - kind of like the Road Runner. Like Beavers, you can skin 'em or sell 'em.

GIANT WASPS: Yay! I love giant insects. They have a deadly sting but it can only be used once or twice. And there's no saving throw - the victim is toast unless he gets a cure poison within a day. He'll be in trouble if he's by himself as well, because the poison paralyses its victim after an hour. Not only that, but it also reduces the resurrection survival roll by 30%! One thing I do appreciate about this supplement is that it's trying to branch out into different types and strengths of poison. Too bad it's usually erring on the over-powerful side...

GIANT STAG BEETLE: Ten feet long, with two ten foot horns, they like to raid grain fields and forests. Otherwise they just attack whatever gets in their way.

RHINOCEROS BEETLE: This one is twenty foot long, and only found in equatorial rainforests, with one bloody great horn. Usually they just fly about eating fruit, but they'll also destroy anything in their path.

BOMBARDIER BEETLE: This one's only 6 feet long (puny), scavenges dead flesh and lays its eggs in offal. When attacked they release an acid cloud with a deafening bang.

FIRE BEETLE: Much like the other beetles, but smaller, and with glowing spots near their eyes. Apparently they're highly prized by adventurers, but there's no mention of being able to cut the glowy bits out and carry them - do adventurers have to herd them or something?

BORING BEETLE: Slightly more intelligent beetles that feed on yellow mold and cultivate slimes and oozes - a boring beetle lair actually sounds like a fun adventure site.

There's a final bit about what happens to adventurers eaten by beetles - they are ground up by the mandibles and - wait for it - impossible to resurrect. I love that such mundane creatures can trump even the most powerful of magic.

Tomorrow I continue with more monsters - big lizards, big fish, and other gigantical nasties.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 1

The second D&D supplement, Blackmoor, is supposedly written by Dave Arneson, but in truth it is a hodge-podge of material from various writers. It's the first shaky D&D product - there's some good material in here, but there's also a lot of stuff that's of questionable usefulness. But in this project, that is irrelevant - it's all going in whether it's good or not!

FOREWORD: It's written by Gary, and the main thing of interest here is that it actually advises potential readers to put the book down and flee! It's an addictive business, this D&D...

Ooh, there's also a mention of "Dread Blackmoor Castle", which is the first we hear of that edifice. It's the main dungeon of Dave Arneson's home campaign, and even predates Greyhawk. Needless to say, Blackmoor will a part of the early going of my campaign - I'm planning to have the Adventurer's Guild portal already set up to transport PCs there if they wish to go.

MONKS: Ah. Damn it. I can't say that I'm a fan of this class, honestly. The occasional Asian-influenced character I don't mind, but I have a player that always wants to play one and it gets on my nerves to be honest. At least here they are a sub-class of Cleric, which could make them some sort of divinely powered ascetic martial artist. Strip out the Asian elements and I'm there.

They belong to the Order of Monastic Martial Arts, which is a cool name for their guild that I will use. Clerics must have Wisdom 15, Strength 12, and Dexterity 15 to become monks, and they also have to be human - that's a tall order. They aren't restricted by alignment, but most are Lawful, with only a very small number being Chaotic.

I didn't know this - Monks have to give away their extra gold like Paladins. They also can't use armor, which I gather would make it really hard to survive low levels. At higher levels it wouldn't matter too much, as their AC improves naturally. They can use any weapon, and when doing so add a damage bonus of half their level.

Their greatest advantages come when fighting unarmed, though - if any hit is 5 better than they needed, there's a 75% chance they will stun the opponent, and a 25% chance of killing it outright. They also deal a lot of damage unarmed, beginning at 1-4 at first level, up to 4-40 at 16th. This is combined with multiple attacks - that 4-40 attack will be coming in 4 times a round, and when you also factor in the stunning and instant death? Crikey mick. I doubt many monks survive those low levels, but at high level they're terrifying.

Monks are also hard to surprise, and they get the following thief abilities - Open Locks, Remove Traps, Hear Noise, Climb Walls, Move Silently, and Hide in Shadows. Which is nearly all of them - is there ANY statistical reason to play a Thief over this class? I can't think of one. But then again, in OD&D your choice of class is influenced by your dice rolls, so it works out.

Monks also get an absurd amount of special abilities. They can fall certain distances without harm; speak with animals at 4th level and plants at 8th; feign death at 5th; resist ESP at 6th; cure light wounds on themselves at 7th; immunity to suggestion and hypnosis at 8th; gain 18 Intelligence with regard to Telepathy used against them, and are immune to Quest and Geas at 10th; at 13th they get the infamous "Quivering Palm", which allows them to cause any creature they have struck to die upon command (usable once a week).

And here you think the list is over, but there is more - they can dodge missile attacks with a saving throw, and all sorts of magic missiles as well - I gather that includes lightning bolts and fire balls. Once they hit 8th level, even failing the save results in half damage.

The balance comes with magic items - they can only use weapons, rings, and miscellaneous items usable by Thieves. They can't use scrolls (fair enough) or potions - perhaps the sanctity of their bodies is too precious to pollute with such things? They are also forbidden from having followers until they reach 6th level. And among many other restrictions, they can't have any permanent hirelings.

And now the ultimate check on the power of Monks - from 7th level onwards, they have to challenge a Grand Master to a duel, and win to advance in level. This will be a lot of fun for me, especially so if two Monk characters hit high level in the game.

What I'm seeing here on paper is a class that looks very fragile at low levels, and just about unstoppable at high levels. Perhaps it's not the case (much as the 3e Monk wasn't as good as it looked on paper), but I don't think so - the combination of multiple high damage attacks and lots of immunities seems like a potent one to me. The limitations might balance it out, though.

As I've already shown Monks starting to fight on the battlefield, I'll extrapolate that further to introduce them to the campaign. The battlefield Monks will be Chaotic, and some of their number will show up in the Greyhawk dungeons looking to increase their Order's power. The Church of Law will eventually follow suit, producing its own Monks to counter them.

ASSASSINS: Assassins are a sub-class of the Thief, and even at the start the writer is cautious about it, stating that it should only be allowed under special circumstances or in large campaigns.

Only humans can be assassins, and they need a dexterity of 12, a strength of 12, and an intelligence of 12. It's also noted that they are always Neutral, which kills any lingering thoughts I had about OD&D alignment as morality. Killing for money is evil in my book, but if all alignment represents is what side you're on, then Assassins are definitely Neutral; they'll work for whoever pays them.

Assassins may "serve as" Thieves - which I assume to mean they get all of their special skills - at two levels lower. They can only wear leather armour, but they can use shields and wield any weapon. Again, here's a class that can do everything the Thief can with other things on top.

Every Assassin has to be a member of the Assassin's Guild, fitting nicely with my guild-centric campaign structure. They can't get followers until reaching 14th level, but after that they get the services of an entire guild of 1st level guys to train up, which could be useful.

Assassins have the ability to disguise themselves as another person, which is a mess of rules stuff about chances to be recognised and such. I'll have to work up rules for the other classes to attempt disguises as well.

Assassins can also learn different alignment languages if they have high intelligence, which is a first. I've set up alignment languages as those handed down from the gods, and anathema to those of opposing alignments, but I guess the Assassins have figured a way around that. Perhaps they have a patron god who straddles all three alignments?

They can also use poison, especially poisoned weapons. This is kept in check with a rather absurd rule - every round that the weapon is on display, there's a 50% chance that any person in viewing range will see it and go berserk, attacking with huge modifiers. So if you wave your poisoned dagger under Phil the Baker's nose, there's every chance he will flip out like a ninja and try to kill you. I can't really figure this one out with anything approaching logic. Perhaps poison is considered anathema to the Church of Law, which instills its followers (and that is pretty much everyone) with a pathological drive to kill anyone using it.

There's more stuff about the price of hiring assassins (which thankfully takes into account the numbers from OD&D). The one thing it indicates is that most assassins hired are of the 6th level. There's also a bit about Assassins gaining XP from assassination.

Finally, similar to the Monk, for an Assassin to progress beyond 13th level he has to challenge his Guildmaster to a duel to the death. Victory doesn't grant an actual level gain, but it does grant leadership of an Assassin's Guild, and all the power that entails.

Finally finally, there's an Assassination Table, with percentage chances for successful killing of the target based on the level of both parties. There are no guidelines for how this is to be used, and I'm thinking that it's there for a quick determination of whether an assassination mission has succeeded. The question is, should it be applicable during combat? Under certain circumstances, surprise being one of them, I say yes.

Tomorrow I take a look at D&D's first ever critical hit system, and some new monsters.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Pre-Blackmoor Round-Up

This is the updated campaign as it sits at the moment, just before Supplement II. Any changes from the last round-up are highlighted in bold.


The rules used will be from OD&D, the original three booklet set from 1974. There are several things that are open to interpretation in these rules, and they are listed below:
• Player characters reroll their hit points at the beginning of every session - some days they feel great, and other days awful.
• Elves must pick what class they will play as at the start of every session, and abide by all the rules pertaining to that class. The only exception is that they can wear magic armor and still function as Magic-users.
• The 'system shock' roll no longer applies to paralyzation after the rules from Greyhawk are put in place.

In addition, the following rules will be imported from CHAINMAIL:
• Turn Sequence
• Movement Rules
• Terrain Effects
• Fatigue (but only for the first session in the campaign, until the characters become used to adventuring)
• Specific Missile Fire rules
• Morale
• Catapults and cannons
• Random Weather
• First Strike rules for melee
• Parrying
• Mounted Combat
• Jousting
• Racial abilities for Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits and other monsters
• Class Abilities for Heroes and Superheroes, and Wizards. Mostly this involves various bonuses to morale.


New rules will start to be introduced once a decent length of time has been spent playing with just OD&D. I would like to run through an entire 'campaign' using just the OD&D rules - so perhaps these will start to trickle in once the first lot of PCs hit name level. This is the general order (a rough guide) in which new rules and additions will be made to the campaign. Some of these changes will be made without the players knowing, and others will be explained to them through NPCs in the Guild:

The Strategic Review #1
• Session 1: Mind Flayers start to appear in the dungeons.
• Session 2: The key that allows players to access the Pit of Ultimate Chaos will be hidden in the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk.
Supplement I: Greyhawk
• Session 3: NPC hirelings now gain a half-share of XP – they are learning better how to profit from adventures under the leadership of a PC. NPC hirelings are also starting to become subconsciously aware of when their employer is Chaotic, and their Loyalty thus becomes lessened.
• Session 4: The gods have decreed – there is now a limit to the number of times a mortal may be raised from the dead.
• Session 5: Monsters and PCs are developing techniques that make Charm spells less effective.
• Session 6: Experience points gained from defeating monsters is lessened – the earliest adventurers were truly exploring the unknown, and so gained more experience from killing monsters. Newer adventurers are operating with knowledge gleaned from previous adventurers.
• Session 7: The new monsters from Supplement I: Greyhawk start appearing in the dungeons and wilderness. The new magic items from Supplement I: Greyhawk start appearing. The secret of using the Stone of Controlling Earth Elementals and the Broom of Flying is discovered to be easily usable by any class. Elementals are attuning themselves more to the magic of Earth, and now more powerful magic weapons are required to harm them. The Druids have heard about the new delvings into the Greyhawk dungeons, and will begin investigating to make sure that it will not upset the balance of nature. A book or scroll will be placed into Castle Greyhawk that details how to use magic armour and shields in unison - either the PCs will find it, or eventually an NPC will do so.
• Session 8: The Thieves' Guild starts to take an interest in the dungeons around the City of Greyhawk. They will petition to join the Adventurer's Guild, but the "Guild of Clerics" will object – and will only relent if someone from the Thieves' Guild retrieves the Cleric's Orb, Crown or Sceptre from the Greyhawk Castle dungeons. The Guildmaster of Thieves will set this as a quest which the PCs may complete, and if they do so the Thief class will become a playable option. Otherwise, an NPC will complete this quest after a while, and the Thief class will likewise be available. The Guild of Thieves will impose no level limits on demi-humans, and this will prompt the heads of the Adventurer's Guild to "discover" that Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits with exceptional scores in their prime requisites are able to progress beyond their old level limits.
• Session 9: From this point on, when a Lawful Fighter with sufficient Charisma is created, the gods will appear to him and offer to make him a Paladin of Law. If no player meets these requirements and accepts the offer, an NPC will eventually do so, becoming the first Paladin in Greyhawk's recent history. Also note that this is not restricted to humans – Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits may also become paladins.
• Session 10: Human-Elven half-breeds are becoming more common, enough so that some are starting to become adventurers.
• Session 11: A slew of new spells are introduced to the Adventurer's Guild – probably through a cache of Zagyg's spell books hidden in Castle Greyhawk. These are the new spells introduced in Supplement I: Greyhawk. With more spells now available, Magic-Users no longer have the capability to learn every single spell. Higher spell levels (7th to 9th) are introduced that require the magic-user to have high intelligence to learn. With more things to teach, the trainers no longer have time to teach 6th level spells to those students with lower intelligence.
• Session 12: In reaction to the increased power of the Guild of Magic-Users, the heads of the "Guild of Clerics" release the knowledge of prayers previously restricted to their inner circle.
• Session 13: As training becomes more reliable, Fighters become harder to kill, and so do Clerics to a lesser extent. Magic-Users, with increasing arcane demands, become less hardy. (In other words, the new hit dice method is introduced). Also at this point, the hit point totals become fixed, rather than rerolled at the start of each adventure. Constitution bonuses for hit points will also be increased at this point.
• Session 14: Monsters become hardier as they grow more used to raids from adventurers.
• Session 15: Monsters and PCs work out how to minimise damage from such weapons as daggers.
• Session 16: Monsters and PCs also learn how to make other weapons do more damage. A trade of for this, however, is that these techniques require more space when fighting with larger weapons.
• Session 17: Monsters learn how to use their natural attacks more effectively, while PCs learn how to minimise others.
• Session 18: Fighters can now train to make better use of their Strength, and to attain Strength levels that were heretofore impossible. At the same time, the training of Fighters and other classes has become more specialised and intensified, and weaker characters no longer receive the training that minimised their lack of Strength.
• Session 18: Fighters can now train to use their Dexterity to dodge and parry more effectively in combat, making their defenses much better.
• Session 19: Weapon Type vs. Armor: The Adventurer's Guild trainers have worked out how to apply techniques that make certain weapons more effective against certain armor types. At the same time, monsters and players alike have worked out how to use armor more effectively against certain weapons.
• Session 20: More effective techniques are developed for attacking those who have fallen over.
The Strategic Review #2 (Session 21):
• Ropers begin to appear in the dungeons near Greyhawk.
• Rangers hear about the dangers being posed by the newly reawakened dungeons, and some of their number join the Adventurer's Guild through the Guild of Fighting-Men. They will become player characters at this point.
• New types of pole arms start to appear on the battlefield.
The Strategic Review #3 (Session 22):
• The following monsters start to appear in the dungeons and wilderness: Yetis, Shambling Mounds, Leprechauns, Shriekers, Ghosts, Nagas, Wind Walkers, Piercers, Lurkers Above.
The Strategic Review #4 (Session 23):
• Even more types of pole arms start to appear on the battlefield, most of them redundant.
• An order of monks is making its presence felt on the battlefield, introducing the Jo Stick, the Bo Stick and the Quarterstaff.
• The secretive Guild of Illusionists is now rumoured to exist. They will be approached to join the Adventurer's Guild, and will do so for their own reasons – but they will refuse to share their magic with regular Magic-Users.
• A Manual of Golems with the means for creating a Clay Golem will be hidden somewhere in the Greyhawk dungeons.
• IOUN stones will begin to appear.


The World of Greyhawk is currently at a level of society and technology equivalent to the Middle Ages of Earth. It consists mainly of the Great Kingdom. In a bog nearby is the weird enclave of Blackmoor, lying between the Great Kingdom and the fearsome Egg of Coot. The City of Blackmoor is a small village, a one-horse town. The City of Greyhawk is much larger, and detailed further below.

The world is flat, and ships can sail off the edge. The wilderness is generally an unexplored land dotted with cities and castles. These castles may be inhabited by any number of creatures fell or fair, but are most always ruled by some powerful character. Somewhere in the world there is a primordial swamp filled with dinosaurs. Elsewhere there is a mountain range that is home to a number of prehistoric mammals. There is also at least one forest which is home to many magical creatures such as centaurs and unicorns.

There is a common language that is known and spoken by most humans throughout the continent. Every other race that can speak also has its own language, and 20% of them can also speak the common tongue. In addition to this there are alignment tongues, special languages that were passed down to mortals by the primal forces of the universe. A creature aligned with Law that is able to speak will possess inherent knowledge of this language, and the same is true for each of the other alignments. The alignment tongues are now mostly reserved for ritual and prayer, but they are also frequently used by secret cabals and sects, and religious extremists who would never sully their tongues with less divine speech.

An ancient civilization once spanned the continent. They are known to have embalmed their dead, and that is why mummies are so prevalent in dungeons everywhere. Their language was once used to categorize monsters in a semi-scientific manner. That language survives in the name of the Red Dragon: Draco Conflagratio, or Draco Horribilis. It may also be the same language that gave us Chimera as a category of monster.

There is a group known as Rangers, descended from an ancient line of kings, who patrol the borders of civilization and protect it from evil monsters.

There are also Witches in the world. If a male character is captured by one, he will either be turned into a pig or kept as her lover, depending upon his Charisma. Some Witches are old hags, and others are beautiful.

Their is a civilisation of Amazons, whose traditional dress consists of little more than boots, belt, and a loincloth of some kind.

The Druids live in the wilderness, presiding over their barbaric followers and harnessing the power of nature for their own ends.

There is a thriving slave trade, fuelled by Bandits, Pirates, and others of their ilk.

Electrum is a valuable metal, but its exact value depends upon who you are dealing with. Most value it at half the price of gold, but there are others who believe it is sacred, and give the metal double gold's value.

The rare silvery metal known as mithral is mined by the Dwarves.

The strange alloy known as Adamantite was once used to make powerful magical armour, but the secret of its making has now been lost.


The City of Greyhawk is large, with bazaars, inns, taverns, shops, temples, and a risky Thieves Quarter.

There is an Adventurer's Guild in the city, and this is the only place where the PCs may receive training. There are three sub-guilds that unite to form this organization: the Guild of Fighting-Men, the Guild of Magic-Users, and the Guild of Clerics. The Guild Elders claim that they are incapable of training demi-humans to the same level as humans, but there is a widespread belief that this is just a case of prejudice.

The Guild bestows specific titles to those that progress through their class. For example, Fighting-Men begin as Veterans, and when they progress to the next rank they become Swordsmen. Each of the classes has a unique progression of titles.

Beneath the Guild is a strange circular portal, surrounded by hundreds of empty slots. There is a key for each slot, and when each is activated the portal has a different destination. Some of these destinations include Mars and Blackmoor.

The guild also runs a service whereby adventurers can name a beneficiary of their wealth and items, often a relative. The guild charges a fee of 10% of the goods transferred.

The following Guilds and occupations also operate in the city: Alchemists, Blacksmiths (including Armorers), Assassins, Animal Trainers, Engineers, Sages, Seamen (including Ship Captains), Spies and Men-at-Arms.

There is plenty of untamed wilderness near the city, and a large portion of it resembles the board from Outdoor Survival. This wilderness is ripe for conquest by the PCs, who may use it to build their own castles, but many areas have already been claimed by NPCs with castles of their own.

The lands around are lawless, and so the various humanoid types, especially Orcs, Ogres and Giants, are especially effective when they launch raids, possessing great hoards of treasure.

Somewhere in an around the City of Greyhawk there is a cult that sacrifices naked women to giant snakes.


Castle Greyhawk is a huge ruined pile, a vast castle built by a mad wizard who is also an insane genius.

The dungeon beneath has over a dozen levels in succession downwards, with more than that branching off at various points. At least two level are under construction at any time. Included within the dungeons are a museum from another age, an underground lake, a series of caverns filled with giant fungi, a bowling alley for 20' tall giants, an arena of evil and some crypts. In addition the tunnels often change their configuration from one visit to the next, and there are various teleporters and strange corridors that make mapping the place very difficult.

The castle and dungeon itself seems to hinder the PCs; monsters inside can always see in the dark, but the PCs and their allies cannot. In addition, doors that are always stuck for PCs, and always swing closed on them, open easily for monsters.

Somewhere in the depths of Castle Greyhawk is an object decorated with a bearded demonic face (this is pure conjecture on my part, based on the illustration in OD&D).

The tricks and traps mentioned in Supplement I: Greyhawk are all a part of Castle Greyhawk.

One room in Castle Greyhawk is called "The Living Room" – it is full of animated furniture that will trip, confine, and smother.

On level 2 of Greyhawk Castle there is a fountain that issues a continuous stream of snakes.

Somewhere in the Greyhawk dungeon is a Great Stone Face with two archways nearby. This face is also known as the Enigma of Greyhawk.


Somewhere in a dungeon near greyhawk there is a special iron golem that can only be killed by the very weapons that it guards. It has a fiery breath, a poison sword, and a whip of cockatrice feathers that can turn its victims to stone. Though many tales about it have been told, its location is unknown to most.

There is another dungeon near the City of Greyhawk. It has ten levels, and is six levels deep (as can be seen in the cross-section in D&D Vol. 3). The bottom level is dominated by a huge cavern. One of the 5th levels will include the sample dungeon level from Vol. 3. Level 1 will feature details from the sample of play in Vol. 3, notably a room with 6 gnolls guarding thousands of coins and a pair of Elven Boots.

Another dungeon can be accessed only through the portal below the Adventurer's Guild – The Pit of Ultimate Chaos. Though certain locations in the dungeon are always present, the layout is never the same from one visit to the next.


The most common civilised races are Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits.

There are three types of Dwarves – Hill Dwarves, Mountain Dwarves, and Burrowers (otherwise called Gnomes).

Dwarves and Gnomes share a great affinity, and may be different strains of the same species. Dwarves have a history of constant war with Goblins, and the same applies between Gnomes and Kobolds.

Dwarven clerics exist, but they do not venture forth and become adventurers. Their clerics are all accomplished fighters.

There are three general types of Elves that live in the world - wood elves, high elves and meadow elves. Though most Elves live on the same plane as the other races, many have retreated from the world to live in the Faerie Realm, and are known as Fairies. Elves share many of the same habitats as Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls, and battle frequently with all of them. Elven warriors that remain in their homelands are all outfitted with Elven Cloaks and Boots. Those who leave to pursue a life of adventure are not openly shunned, but these traditional garments are denied them. Some elves with human ancestry are starting to appear, several of whom have even been seen sporting beards. There are also Elven clerics that do not become adventurers and rarely leave the Elven homelands.

Dwarves and Elves each have their own homelands. Among humans they are referred to as "Dwarf-land" and "Elf-land".


Common Dungeon Monsters: Those shown in the Wandering Monster Tables in Supplement I - Greyhawk.

Other Dungeon Monsters: These monsters are occasionally encountered in dungeons, though not very often. They are: Cyclopses, Juggernauts, Living Statues, Giant Crabs, Giant Leeches, Giant Octopi, Crocodiles, Giant Squids, Pterodactyls, Cyborgs, Robots, Androids, Shadows and Dopplegangers. It is not known from where the Cyborgs, Robots and Androids come from. (This list has had the monsters expanded on in Supplement I removed from it.)

Common Underwater Monsters: Mermen, Nixies, Dragon Turtles, Giant Leeches, Crocodiles, Giant Crocodiles, Giant Snakes, Giant Octopi, Giant Squids, Giant Crabs, Giant Fish

The following notes show how some monsters differ to what is in the rules:

Wraiths grow weaker when they venture forth from the dark demesnes; their level draining touch is reduced to that of paralysis, and this is how they act when fought in mass combat. Wights react in a similar fashion.

Zombies, regardless of whether they are encountered on the battlefield or in a dungeon, are immune to missile fire and can paralyze their opponents with a touch as cold as the grave.

The ghouls in dungeons occur naturally, though sages are as yet unsure how. Those found on the battlefield are created and strengthened with dark magic, and are immune to missile fire.

Spectres are also occasionally referred to as 'Nazgul', though the origin of this term is shrouded in mystery.

Trolls and Ogres are believed by sages to be a related species, though there is little evidence to support this supposition.

The dragons that venture forth to fight in mass combat are generally more vital than their dungeon dwelling brethren, who spend most of their days sleeping on piles of treasure. As such, they have no limit upon the number of times they can use their breath weapon. The current wave of dragons being encountered are the youngest generations, which age more quickly than did their ancestors, and are much less potent. Rumours persist that the ancient dragons yet live, slumbering in the bowels of the earth, and that they will yet awaken.

The Purple Worm is often called the Purple or Mottled Dragon. It is believed to be the result of a dragon that has no treasure hoard to sleep upon. They lurk everywhere, just below the surface of the earth.

Each type of Elemental can only be summoned once per day. This is a magical precaution against incursions from the elemental planes; the elemental summoning spell seals the plane behind the summoned elemental, and such is the strength of that seal that it cannot be opened again until the next day. Magic-Users are working to weaken it, but with little success so far.

The word Chimera was once used as a group name for strange monsters made up from parts of others - Manticores, Wyverns, etc. Eventually the creatures were given individual names, but the name Chimera stuck with the beast with three heads (lion, goat and dragon).

Every Goblin tribe has a King, who claims to be the one true king of the goblin race.

As strange as it may seem, the sorcerous interbreeding of Gnomes and Trolls resulted in the hyena-headed race known as Gnolls. Sages are still baffled.

Though Lycanthropy is a curse that can be passed to many humanoids, the various types of were-creatures are each a race unto themselves. How they feel about their cursed brethren is as yet undetermined.

Efreet reside in the fabled City of Brass.

Orcs are so common that they are freely available to hire as foot soldiers in large numbers.

Different kinds of Men can be found in any habitat. The same goes for all of the evil humanoids, including Trolls and Giants, as well as Demi-Humans and Ents.

Most cities in Greyhawk are built on the foundations of ancient ruins and graveyards, and as such encounters with undead may happen in certain city areas.

The presence of Cavemen suggests that the Men of Greyhawk evolved along similar lines to those of Earth.

The Dragon King, also known as the Platinum Dragon, lives in a palace behind the east wind. He is the king of all Lawful dragons. His main goal is to oppose the Dragon Queen and her host.

The Dragon Queen, also known as the Chromatic Dragon, is the Queen of all Chaotic dragons. She lives in a huge cavern beneath the earth, and her main aim is to spread evil.

Displacer Beasts and Blink Dogs have a mutual hatred, though the reason for this is lost in antiquity.

The dungeons are now home to a type of lice that becomes a burrowing killer if disturbed.

The Ogre Magi hails from the area of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds to Japan.

Bugbears, a hybrid of Giant and Goblin, often wear ceremonial battle masks carved out of pumpkins.

Shriekers, a type of large mushroom, are a prized food of Purple Worms and Shambling Mounds.

Ghosts are not true undead – their existence is a natural phenomenon rather than the result of an evil curse or magic.

There are vampires that hail from Greyhawk's equivalent of Asia, and they have different abilities.

Giant Rats are thought to originally hail from the part of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds with Sumatra.


The Adventurers' Guild supplies all of its students with spellbooks. They receive one per spell level, and each book contains all of the spells commonly in use. Magic-Users receive books full of magic spells, and Clerics receive Prayer Books with the sacred forms and rituals required to contact the forces of Law and Chaos. Originally, the only spells commonly available are those listed in Vol. 1 of the OD&D boxed set. Later on the spells from Supplement I - Greyhawk will be made available.

In the beginning, the only Magic Items that have been regularly discovered are those listed in Vol. 2 of the OD&D boxed set. Later on the items from Supplement I - Greyhawk will be available.

All Magic Swords possess some form of intelligence. In ancient times they were bound with the spirits of the living, and to this day they retain some sort of sentience. Some of these swords have minds that are slowly dying, while others are as vital as ever.

The following Artifacts are known to be somewhere in the vicinity of the City of Greyhawk: a Teleportation Machine (the portal beneath the Adventurers Guild); a Crown, Orb and Sceptre for each of the three classes (Fighting-Man, Magic-User and Cleric); and the Stone Crystalization Projector. The Crowns, Orbs and Sceptres were once held by the most powerful guild members of each class, but the Guild has dwindled of late, and these items were stolen by a thief and lost within the depths of Castle Greyhawk. The Stone Crystalization Projector fires a ray that will turn anyone it hits to stone (with no saving throw), but its whereabouts are unknown.

Magic books require a specific size, shape and configuration – if they deviate from this design in any way, they will not hold the magic. (This applies only to magic items, not spell books, and is my half-assed way of explaining why they all look alike).


Xylarthen would have been better suited as a Cleric, but became a Magic-User instead. His statistics are: Strength 6, Intelligence 11, Wisdom 13, Constitution 12, Dexterity 9, Charisma 8. He has 70 gold pieces and 0 experience points. He will be available for the PCs to hire at the Guild.

The following adventurers have operated in and around the city of Blackmoor – The Great Svenny, Marty the Elf and Richard the Hairy. Marty the Elf was killed by Nazis on a foray into 20th century Germany.


Law and Chaos are the fundamental forces of reality, and most creatures are aligned with one or the other. Some are neutral, not caring which side wins the cosmic struggle.

Clerics do not serve specific deities, but devote themselves to either Law or Chaos. The cross is a potent symbol of Law used by its devotees. Cleric spells are divinely given.

Many Magic-Users believe that there are no great forces of Law or Chaos, and that Clerics have merely found some other method of tapping into the same arcane energies that they use. Clerics grow heated at this suggestion, and as such there is a great rivalry between the Clerics' Guild and the Magic-Users' Guild, to the point where someone of one class will not be permitted to switch to the other.

On a similar note, the Guild of Sages is highly protective of the niche occupied by its members, and resents that Clerics and Magic-Users often encroach on that territory. As such its members do not hire out to these classes.

These are some of the beings that are powerful deities or representatives of Law and Chaos: Odin, Crom, Set, Cthulhu and the Shining One. The war god Mars is also present, and often rides around on the shoulders of Talos, a giant man of bronze.


There is a spell that Magic-Users can cast to obtain knowledge from beings on "higher planes". There are 8 planes so far accessible through this spell, numbered 3 to 10 (the first plane being the material, and the second the Astral). These planes are levels of Hell, and it is demons who answer the questions - the higher the plane contacted the more likely the answer will be correct, but the higher the chance that the caster will be driven insane by contact with things man was never meant to know.

Clerics can similarly contact "powers above" for answers - these are the Gods, Demi-gods, Demons and Devils, powerful forces of Law and Chaos.

There are realms of the dead, but very few have been delved with magic - only those of Men, Dwarves and Elves are so accessible, and thus only these races can be brought back via the Raise Dead spell. The Hobbit realm of the dead is as yet unknown.

There is an extraplanar "non-dimension" which is where Invisible Stalkers are summoned from. Aerial Servants also come from this same dimension.

Travel to Mars has been documented, though the means to do so is as yet unknown. It is believed that the portal beneath the Adventurers' Guild in Greyhawk may provide such a journey if the correct key is found. The following monsters are said to reside there: Apts, Banths, Thoats, Red Martians, Tharks, Black Martians, Yellow Martians, White Martians, Calots, White Apes, Orluks, Sith, and Darseen. Martian architecture will be generated using the article in The Strategic Review #2.

The spell Rope Trick grants access to an extra-planar pocket dimension, but where exactly this is remains a mystery.

The Astral Plane has been discovered and named – Magic-Users now have a spell to enter it, and those beings in the Astral Plane can see into the primary plane, but are invisible to non-Astral beings. Anyone whose spirit is separated from their material body is sent to gibber and shriek on the floor of the lowest hell.

There is a plane known as Valhalla from which the spirits of powerful berserker warriors can be summoned.

Travel to the American "Old West" is possible via the portal under the Adventurer's Guild. One person that the PCs might encounter is Doc Holliday.

Near the city of Blackmoor there is a teleporter that leads to Nazi Germany. Adventurers from Blackmoor have in the past made forays through this portal, and some from Greyhawk have made similar journeys.

Another destination possible via the Adventurer's Guild portal is the world of Tekumel. Names for Tekumel characters will be generated using the article in The Strategic Review #4.


Once the player characters reach 4th level they will start to get offers to hire themselves out as mercenaries. Should they accept such an offer, the game session for that night will be a Chainmail scenario with their own characters as special troops.

Common Battlefield Monsters: Sprites and Pixies, Dwarves and Gnomes, Goblins and Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Elves (also include Fairies), Orcs, Heroes, Anti-Heroes, Rangers, Super-Heroes, Wizards, Wraiths, Werebears, Werewolves, Trolls, Ogres, Giants (probably Hill Giants), Ents, Red Dragons, Rocs, Wyverns, Griffons, Elemental (Water, Air, Earth and Fire), Djinn, Efreet, Basilisk, Cockatrice, Chimera, Giant Insects, Giant Spiders, Giant Wolves, Dire Wolves, Wights and Ghouls, Zombies, Balrogs

The following monsters are found on battlefields, but only very occasionally: Blue Dragons, White Dragons, Green Dragons, Black Dragons, Purple Worms, Hobbits

The Wizards found on battlefields are usually specialised Battle Mages. They can wield swords, and their magic is often more potent, though it takes longer to cast and cannot be used in regular adventuring situations. They are also able to attempt magic more powerful than their level would allow, though at some risk.

The following battlefield spells are available at the beginning of the campaign: Phantasmal Forces, Darkness, Wizard Light, Detection, Concealment, Conjuration of an Elemental. The second time the PCs get involved in mass combat, Moving Terrain and Protection From Evil will become available. The third time they become involved, the following spells will be there: Levitate, Slowness, Haste, Polymorph, Confusion, Hallucinatory Terrain, Cloudkill, and Anti-Magic Shell.

The armies of Law are often armed with Magic Swords crafted by the Elves. The armies of Chaos have no such means to produce these weapons on a large scale.

The Arquebus and the Horsebow are weapons that are generally only available in armies and mass copmbat situations. The scarcity of gunpowder guarantees that Arquebus's are difficult to obtain, and Horsebows are mostly used by Horse Nomads and so aren't in circulation in the City of Greyhawk and the surrounding lands.

Pole arms begin to be differentiated in order to increase effectiveness in different situations.

Phew... That's it, and I have to say that was way too big. I need to find a way to make these round-up posts more manageable. They're already unwieldy, and they are only going to get bigger.

Tomorrow, I start on Supplement II - Blackmoor.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #4

As usual, there are a number of articles not relevant to this project. Those that I will be incorporating are detailed below.

A FEW MORE WORDS ON MEDIEVAL POLE ARMS: Not content with his lengthy treatise last issue, Gary feels the need to add a few extra paragraphs here. Mostly it involves naming obscure pole arms, and which of the more widespread pole arms they correspond to. It gets extra points for introducing the Bohemian Ear-Spoon.

CHAINMAIL WEAPONS ADDITIONS: The Jo Stick, the Bo Stick and the Quarterstaff are added to Chainmail. Perhaps one of Greyhawk's orders of Monks (maybe the Scarlet Brotherhood) are starting to get involved in military matters?

ILLUSIONISTS: A new class is introduced - the Illusionist. They are basically Magic-Users with a different spell list, and a few other changes - a 15 in Dexterity and Intelligence is required to qualify, and they are really limited in how many magic items they can use. Seriously - they can only use four wands, the crystal ball and illusionist scrolls. So it looks very underpowered on paper, but illusions in the hands of a creative player can be very effective.

The rest of the article introduces a whole host of new spells, most of which made the cut for AD&D. I'll only give descriptions for those spells that aren't self-explanatory from the name. The new spells are:

1st Level - Wall of Fog, Change Self (make self appear as a different humanoid), Gaze Reflection (reflects gaze attacks), Hypnotism (a more effective charm that requires the victim to look in caster's eyes)

2nd Level - Improved Phantasmal Forces (caster can move while using the spell), Fog, Blindness, Misdetection (might block detection spells), Hypnotic Pattern (fascinates creatures), Deafness

3rd Level - Fear, Spectral Forces (a better version of Improved Phantasmal Forces), Paralyzation, Nondetection (blocks detection spells)

4th Level - Improved Invisibility (attacking doesn't negate invisibility), Shadow Monsters (creates semi-real creatures), Shadow Magic (creates semi-real offensive spells), Minor Creation (create temporary objects), Emotions (make the target feel a number of emotions with set effects - even suicide is a possibility!)

5th Level - Summon Shadow, Major Creation (like Minor Creation, but better), Chaos (a Confusion spell with multiple targets), Demi-Shadow Monsters (like Shadow Monsters, but better), Demi-Shadow Magic (like Shadow Magic, but better), Create Spectres

The introduction of Illusionists in the campaign will begin as a new, secretive guild that opens in rivalry to the Adventurers Guild. At first there will be illusionists making forays into the dungeons in opposition to the players, but eventually I plan to soften this and make the Illusionists Guild join up and become a PC class.

TSOLYANI NAMES WITHOUT TEARS: This is a lengthy article about names in the game Empire of the Petal Throne, and how to generate ones that fit the setting of Tekumel. Whether I use this article depends on one thing - how close is EPT's game system to D&D? If it's basically a D&D variant, I'll be using Tekumel as another world the PCs can travel to. If it's a system unto itself, then I won't bother. The world of Tekumel is an interesting one, but my gut feeling on it is that it's just a bit too alien for the average player to 'get'. It's hard to get into the mindset of a person from that world. But take a group of D&D characters and throw them headfirst into Tekumel? Now that could be a lot of fun.

CLAY GOLEM: The latest new monster is a man-like automaton brought to life by a Lawful Cleric by way of various spells and a whole lot of gold pieces. Only its creator can command it, but in every turn that it is given a command it has a 1% chance to become Chaotic and go berserk. It's major ability is that it can Haste itself for 3 rounds. It's an obvious attempt to depict the Golem of Jewish myth, with a few D&Disms tacked on. Disappointingly, this version doesn't have the absurd requirements for healing damage inflicted by the golem that would creep into later editions.

I'll probably introduce this monster by way of a Manual of Golems - if a PC finds the book and wants to build one. That 1% chance of a rampage will be my little secret, though.

IOUN STONES: Taken from a Jack Vance story with the author's permission, IOUN Stones are little gems that circle around their owner and give him some sort of bonus based on its colour. There are nine colours detailed here, with bonuses including heightened ability scores, absorbing spells, hit point regeneration, better spellcasting ability, and allowing the user to go without food and water. I have an urge to introduce these items from another world, for some reason.

GALLERY OF GUNFIGHTERS Part II: This details the life and statistics of Doc Holliday. See my previous post for why a famed western gunslinger is going to be included in my D&D game.

TOMORROW: I've reached Supplement II - Blackmoor, but before that I feel that I should post another recap of what the campaign looks like at the moment.