Tuesday, September 13, 2011

AD&D Monster Manual part 32


It’s probably no coincidence that this project went on hiatus when I got to this entry, because it’s probably going to be a little more complicated than usual.  It begins with a general overview of men.  We learn that normal men have 1-6 hit points, something that was pretty well implied in OD&D but not outright stated.  Groups of men encountered always have high level characters leading them, which says to me that high-level types aren’t particularly rare.  There’s a section on randomly determining magical equipment for them, which is an expanded version of the chart used for bandits in OD&D.  Each item category has a 5% chance per character level to be present, and they even get a re-roll for cursed items, so it’s not like magic items are a rare thing either when you’re going by the book.

Bandits: In general these are the same as in OD&D, but with some of the numbers jigged around.  Their number appearing has lessened from 30-300 to 20-200, but the numbers they need to have high-level fighters in their ranks is about the same.  It is, however, far more likely now that a bandit group will have a cleric or magic-user. The number required for this in OD&D was 200 bandits, but now it is down to 50.

Bandit lairs get a brief mention.  Most live in informal camps, but some have caves with a secret entrance, and others live in castles.  They also have important prisoners and camp followers.  The 2-20 prisoners usually found in bandit lairs is much the same is in OD&D; there are still one prisoner per ten bandits, but the number of bandits has decreased.

Bandit weaponry is detailed, with mostly the same results as in OD&D.  Most are light foot with leather armour and swords, and then there are a scattering of light bowmen and crossbowmen, light horse, and medium horse.  The numbers were screwed up in OD&D, as the various categories added up to 110%, but that’s been fixed here.  There also a category added for bandits with pole arms, because Gary is obsessed with pole arms.

Brigands in OD&D were just Chaotic bandits with better morale, and the same is true here; you just need to swap Chaotic alignment for Chaotic Evil.  As in OD&D, they only keep half as many prisoners as bandits.

So it seems that in my campaign the bandit gangs will be getting smaller for some reason, whether that be a concerted effort from the PCs or the local law enforcement.  On the other hand, they’re getting more organised in terms of connections to evil wizards and the Church of Chaos.

Berserkers: Like bandits above, the numbers of berserkers encountered has drastically dropped (from 30-300 to 10-100).  Here it is said that they scorn armour, whereas in OD&D they wore leather.  They still have an Armour Class consistent with wearing leather, so I guess they only scorn metal armour.  Their battle lust was previously modelled in OD&D as a +2 bonus to attack against Normal Men only.  Here they instead get either two attacks per round, or a single attack at +2.  As far as NPC fighters go, they have a lot more with them than they did in OD&D, and they also get a very high level war chief.  In OD&D berserkers could only have fighters with them, but now they have a chance for a “berserk cleric”.  The numbers here are ridiculous – for every ten berserkers, there’s a 50% chance of there being a 7th level cleric present.  That could be a lot of high level clerics, far more than I always thought would be the norm.

The biggest change here is that the berserkers have found religion, and this added zealotry can account for the change in there berserking bonuses.  Their newfound religious nature could also be a result of their dwindling numbers.

Buccaneers: In OD&D these guys were pretty much exactly like bandits, but here they get slightly more individuality.  The first thing I’m struck by is their 80% chance to be found in their lair, but that makes sense when you consider that a buccaneer is most likely to found on a ship.  They don’t get as many high-level fighters as bandits or berserkers.  The number of prisoners they will have has dropped by a lot.  Their NPC clerics can now reach the lofty heights of 15th level, another example of the ridiculous frequency of what I always assumed to be legendary figures.  They can have magic-users as well, but the levels there are a bit more sane.  Their troop types are also broken down a little more precisely than they were in OD&D, though it’s still infantry and crossbowmen.

I can’t think of any likely explanation for why those 15th level clerics are hanging around with buccaneers.  Unless there’s some sort of holy relic rumoured to be buried on an island in the high seas, and all of those clerics are racing each other to find it…  Yes, there’s a definite plot hook there.

Pirates: In OD&D pirates were just Chaotic buccaneers. Now they’re Chaotic Evil.

Cavemen: Compared to OD&D, the number appearing has dropped from 30-300 to 10-100.  Cavemen wear no armour, just as they did in OD&D.  Their exact AC was never stated in OD&D, but I assumed it to be 9, the standard number for an unarmoured man.  In the Monster Manual it’s listed as 8.  Whether that’s a function of high Dexterity or just a tough hide isn’t said, but I favour the latter.  Otherwise Cavemen are greatly expanded upon. They get some high-level NPC fighters and clerics, which they never did before.  Their treasures are more precisely detailed, as they are said to carry gold nuggets, uncut gems and ivory tusks.  They’re still cowardly, and as in OD&D they get a -1 to morale.

It looks as though while caveman numbers are dwindling, their greatest warriors are growing stronger.  I can’t say why that may be, but it’s something to think about.

Tribesmen: Tribesmen are a new category of Men that debuts here.  They are said to live in tropical jungles and islands.  They are similar to cavemen, but their cleric NPCs (or witch doctors) can reach higher level, and are actually druids.  It’s also implied that they’re all cannibals, which isn’t exactly the most PC thing that Gary has ever written, but it does make for better adventuring.

Dervishes: Dervishes are almost exactly as described in OD&D: highly religious Lawful Good nomads that fight with a fanatical fury that gives them +1 to hit and damage, and means they never need to check morale.  In OD&D they only got the +1 to hit and not to damage, but otherwise they’re the same.  They do get more NPC fighters now, and their cleric leaders are higher level.  We also get a description of their usual lair (a walled fortress) and a breakdown of their arms and armour (they’re pretty much all mounted).

Nomads: Statistically nomads are much as they were in OD&D, although they’re now much better at gaining surprise than they were (I assume that this only applies in their native habitat).  Like most of the types of Men detailed here, their NPC leaders are stronger and more numerous than they were in OD&D, although the nomads don’t get anything too outrageous.  We learn that they are 90% likely to lair in tents near an oasis, with the other 10% living in small walled cities.  The composition of their troops have been slightly re-jigged, but it’s still mostly lancers and mounted archers.

Merchants: This is the first time that merchants have been detailed with statistics in D&D.  It’s not the statistics of the merchants themselves that are important, however, but the merchants' caravans.  The entry goes into detail about what guards you can expect to find in a merchant caravan, as well as the treasure available.  Raiding merchant caravans would be a profitable business, as you’re never going to find one worth less than 12,000 gold pieces going by the book.

There must be some explanation for the sudden proliferation of very wealthy merchants encountered on the road.  I could always chalk it up to the influx of treasure coming out of Castle Greyhawk, or maybe tie it in to the growing slave trade and the Slavers modules.

Pilgrims: Pilgrims, detailed here for the first time, are simply groups of people on their way to visit a holy place.  As usual they’re accompanied by high-level NPCs, with a much greater variety than the other types of Men.  Depending in the alignment of the pilgrims, there could be paladins, rangers, druids, or even assassins.  The alignment chart given here only has five possibilities (lawful good, chaotic good, neutral, lawful evil, chaotic evil), evidence that the Monster Manual is still operating within the parameters of OD&D.

There’s a 5% chance that a high-level pilgrim will be carrying a religious artifact.  I wonder how literally I’m supposed to take that.  Are they carrying an actual "capital A" Artifact from the Dungeon Master’s Guide?  Or just a random holy object that may or may not have powers or value?  I lean towards the latter without discounting the possibility of the former.

Again, an explanation for the growth in pilgrim numbers must be explained in my campaign.  I can probably tie this into how I plan to treat religion in the game world, by starting out with churches to Law and Chaos, then shifting into the rise of churches to specific gods.  Once the worship of specific gods comes into fashion there will be a lot more pilgrims wandering around.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see this resume. I enjoy these type of OD&D/AD&D comparisons.