Wednesday, August 18, 2010

D&D Basic Set part 13

Dwarves: This entry wisely directs the DM to the Dwarf PC class for special abilities. Otherwise things match with OD&D, but with several things omitted. There’s no chance given now for higher-level Dwarves to own magic items. The tendency of Dwarves to use wolves and bears to guard their strongholds didn’t make it in. The only change is that Dwarven leaders now range from level 2-7 instead of 1-6. Plus the standard alignment change, from Neutral or Lawful to Neutral or Lawful Good.

Oh, and despite being weapon-wielders in a game where all weapons deal 1d6 damage, dwarven damage is listed as 1d8. As I said for the berserker entry, shenanigans. I’ll keep it in, though; a back-to-basics approach at the Adventurers’ Guild isn’t likely to extend to monsters and NPCs, so it makes reasonable sense despite being an obvious discrepancy in the rules as written.

Elves: Again, the section on character creation is cited for elven special abilities. In OD&D they could be Lawful or Neutral. In Holmes Basic, they are usually Chaotic Good or Neutral – there’s that pesky Law-Chaos switcheroo again! There’s an interesting change to the types of elves. In OD&D, there were woodland elves and meadow elves. Now, there are Wood Elves and High Elves. So are Meadow Elves and High Elves the same thing? If so, I heartily approve of the name change. Like Dwarves above, elven leaders are now of generally higher level. Their ability to move silently is now gone, as is the invisibility given to them by their grey-green cloaks. They can’t do split-move and fire any more, either, which I guess indicates that Holmes wasn’t approaching this from a war-gaming perspective. And lastly, they don’t get a +1 damage bonus when wielding magic swords any more. This represents the first and probably the last ever time that elves get slightly nerfed.

Gargoyles: In OD&D, gargoyles were Chaotic, but in Holmes they are Lawful Evil. Their damage entry has been simplified, as they now deal 1d4 with four attacks instead of having different ranges for their horn and bite. The only other difference is that in OD&D they were given a 75% chance to attack anything or anyone, whereas in Holmes there are no mechanics to simulate their natural hostility.

Gelatinous Cube: Just like those in Supplement I, but their spell immunities are less specific.

Ghouls: Ghouls were Chaotic in OD&D, and now they are Chaotic Evil. Their damage range has been simplified, with their bite doing the same 1-3 as their claws, instead of 1-4. They get a description now, as bestial humanoids that live on dead bodies. Their paralysing touch is clarified, as it specifically states that the ghoul needs to land a hit in melee for it to take effect, and that the target gets a saving throw. And in a crushing blow to me, those killed by ghouls no longer rise up as ghouls themselves. For shame, Holmes, for shame.

Giants: Giants are now limited to throwing rocks once every five rounds. Holmes provides a method for determining rock throwing based on the catapult rules from Chainmail. It works, but I can’t help feeling that it should just be simplified to a standard attack roll. All six types of giant are presented here. Hill giants have now gone from Chaotic to Chaotic Evil. Stone giants are slightly shorter than in OD&D, as are frost giants. Plus, frost giant damage is listed simultaneously as 4-24 and 2 dice +1. The latter is from OD&D and the former is from Supplement I; I think I’ll go with the more recent rule, the one from Supplement I. Fire giants and cloud giants have the same discrepancy. Unless this is supposed to be their damage for throwing rocks? Fire giants have changed from Chaotic to Lawful Evil. Cloud giants are two feet shorter. Also, their damage range has a probable typo – it reads 6-63, but in Supplement I their damage range was 6-36, so it looks like an error to me. Storm giants have gone from Lawful to Chaotic Good. Otherwise, same as before.

Giant Ticks: Ticks previously had an 80% chance of carrying disease, but now they all do. At least the disease doesn’t drive you insane any more…

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