Friday, March 29, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 3: D&D Vol. I - Men & Magic

Chainmail may not have set the world alight (although it did perform respectably for Guidon Games), but it did well enough to reach Minneapolis, and the hands of a gamer named Dave Arneson.  Arneson was inspired by Chainmail's Fantasy Supplement to create a game where players would each control a single adventurer, braving the dangers of an underground labyrinth beneath Castle Blackmoor.  (Actually, it's not clear whether the supplement inspired Arneson's game, or if he was playing the game already and just adapted some rules; I'm pretty sure I've seen both accounts.)

In the fall of 1972, Arneson showed his Blackmoor game to Gary Gygax, who was enamored with it and asked to see Arneson's notes.  He was soon running his own version, set in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk.  The two collaborated on the game, with Gygax writing the final version of the rules and manuscript.  The name Dungeons & Dragons was coined, apparently chosen from a number of alternatives by Gygax's two-year-old daughter Cindy.

Gygax and Arneson were unable to find a publisher for D&D, so in October 1973 Gygax decided to form a company with friend Don Kaye, which they called Tactical Studies Rules.  Brian Blume, a fellow gamer whose father was willing to finance the company, was brought in as an equal partner in December.  In January 1974, the first Dungeons & Dragons boxed sets were published.

The original set was contained in a woodgrain box, with the cover art pasted on the front.  The rules were contained in three booklets: Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure and The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.  It also included a booklet of reference sheets, and the 2nd and 3rd prints (available in January and April 1975, respectively) had a corrections sheet.

Today I'll be covering D&D Vol I: Men & Magic, which mostly covers everything relevant to player characters.

New Character Types

  • Fighting-Men, or Fighters (previously included in Chainmail as Heroes, Super-heroes and Anti-heroes).
  • Magic-Users (previously included in Chainmail as Wizards, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Magicians).
  • Clerics and Anti-Clerics
  • Dwarves (included in Chainmail)
  • Elves (included in Chainmail)
  • Hobbits (included in Chainmail)

Monsters Mentioned

Those previously included in the Chainmail 1st or 2nd edition rules marked with an asterisk
  • Man*
  • Hobbit*
  • Ent*
  • Unicorn
  • Pegasus
  • Hippogriff*
  • Elf*
  • Lycanthrope*
  • Roc*
  • Dwarf*
  • Gnome*
  • Centaur
  • Nixie
  • Pixie*
  • Dryad
  • Orc*
  • Ogre*
  • Dragon*
  • Wyvern*
  • Hydra
  • Purple Worm* (called purple or mottled dragon in Chainmail)
  • Sea Monster
  • Chimera* (not a specific monster in Chainmail, but a category)
  • Minotaur
  • Giant*
  • Balrog*
  • Goblin*
  • Kobold*
  • Hobgoblin
  • Gnoll
  • Troll*
  • Wight*
  • Wraith*
  • Mummy
  • Spectre
  • Vampire
  • Medusa
  • Manticore
  • Gargoyle
  • Gorgon
  • Witch
  • Mule
  • Draft Horse
  • Light Horse*
  • Medium Warhorse*
  • Heavy Warhorse*
  • Invisible Stalker
  • Air Elemental*
  • Earth Elemental*
  • Fire Elemental*
  • Water Elemental*

Weapons and Armor Introduced

All of these can be assumed to have shown up in Chainmail, but here they're appearing in D&D proper for the first time.  These are the arms and armor most commonly available in and around the City of Greyhawk.

  • Dagger
  • Hand Axe
  • Mace
  • Sword
  • Battle Axe
  • Morning Star
  • Flail
  • Spear
  • Pole Arm
  • Halberd
  • Two-Handed Sword
  • Lance
  • Pike
  • Short Bow
  • Long Bow
  • Composite Bow
  • Light Crossbow
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Arrows
  • Quarrels
  • Silver Arrow
  • Leather Armor
  • Chain-type Mail
  • Plate Mail
  • Helmet
  • Shield
  • Barding

Other Equipment Introduced

  • Saddle
  • Saddle Bags
  • Cart
  • Wagon
  • Raft
  • Small Boat
  • Small Merchant Ship
  • Large Merchant Ship
  • Small Galley
  • Large Galley
  • Rope
  • 10' Pole
  • Iron Spikes
  • Small Sack
  • Large Sack
  • Backpack
  • Waterskin/wineskin
  • Torch
  • Lantern
  • Flask of Oil
  • Mallet and Stakes
  • Steel Mirror
  • Silver Mirror
  • Wooden Cross
  • Silver Cross
  • Holy Water
  • Wolvesbane
  • Belladonna
  • Garlic
  • Wine
  • Iron Rations
  • Standard Rations

Rules Introduced

  • Race and class
  • Alignment (Law, Neutrality and Chaos)
  • Forms of multi-classing and dual-classing are present
  • Ability scores (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma), ranging from 3 to 18.
  • Languages
  • NPCs, and the influencing and hiring thereof
  • The ability to bequeath wealth and items to a relative
  • Buying equipment
  • Encumbrance
  • Experience points, and levels
  • Hit Dice and hit points
  • Armor Class
  • The attack roll (using 1d20 and a chart)
  • Saving Throws
  • Magic and spellcasting for magic-users and clerics
  • Turning Undead

Spells Introduced

Magic-User level 1
  • Detect Magic (included in Chainmail as part of the Detection spell)
  • Hold Portal
  • Read Magic
  • Read Languages
  • Protection from Evil (included in Chainmail 2nd edition)
  • Light (included in Chainmail as Wizard Light)
  • Charm Person
  • Sleep
Magic-User level 2
  • Detect Invisible (included in Chainmail as part of the Detection spell)
  • Levitate
  • Phantasmal Forces (included in Chainmail)
  • Locate Object
  • Invisibility (included in Chainmail as an innate Wizard ability)
  • Wizard Lock
  • Detect Evil
  • ESP
  • Continual Light
  • Knock
Magic-User level 3
  • Fly
  • Hold Person
  • Dispell Magic (possibly used in Chainmail as the Wizard's counter-spell ability)
  • Clairvoyance
  • Clairaudience
  • Fire Ball (included in Chainmail)
  • Lightning Bolt (included in Chainmail)
  • Protection from Evil, 10' Radius
  • Invisibility, 10' Radius (possibly represented in Chainmail as the Concealment spell)
  • Infravision (included in Chainmail as an innate Wizard ability)
  • Slow Spell
  • Haste Spell
  • Protection from Normal Missiles (included in Chainmail as an innate Wizard ability)
  • Water Breathing
Magic-User level 4
  • Polymorph Self
  • Polymorph Others
  • Remove Curse
  • Wall of Fire
  • Wall of Ice
  • Confusion
  • Charm Monster
  • Growth of Plants
  • Dimension Door
  • Wizard Eye
  • Massmorph
  • Hallucinatory Terrain
Magic-User level 5
  • Teleport
  • Hold Monster
  • Conjure Elemental (included in Chainmail)
  • Telekenesis
  • Transmute Rock to Mud
  • Wall of Stone
  • Wall of Iron
  • Animate Dead
  • Magic Jar
  • Contact Higher Plane
  • Pass-Wall
  • Cloudkill
  • Feeblemind
  • Growth of Animals
Magic-User level 6
  • Stone to Flesh
  • Reincarnation
  • Invisible Stalker
  • Lower Water
  • Part Water
  • Projected Image
  • Anti-Magic Shell
  • Death Spell
  • Geas
  • Disintegrate
  • Move Earth (included in Chainmail 2nd edition as Moving Terrain)
  • Control Weather
Cleric level 1
  • Cure Light Wounds/Cause Light Wounds
  • Purify Food & Water/Putrefy Food & Water
  • Detect Magic
  • Detect Evil/Detect Good
  • Protection from Evil/Protection from Good
  • Light/Darkness
Cleric level 2
  • Find Traps
  • Hold Person
  • Bless/Curse
  • Speak with Animals
Cleric level 3
  • Remove Curse
  • Cure Disease/Cause Disease
  • Locate Object
  • Continual Light/Continual Darkness
Cleric level 4
  • Neutralize Poison
  • Cure Serious Wounds/Cause Serious Wounds
  • Protection from Evil, 10' Radius/Protection from Good, 10' Radius
  • Turn Sticks to Snakes
  • Speak with Plants
  • Create Water
Cleric level 5
  • Dispell Evil/Dispell Good
  • Raise Dead/Finger of Death
  • Commune
  • Quest
  • Insect Plague
  • Create Food
Cleric spells after the / are for Chaotic clerics only, but aren't specifically named in this product, except for the Finger of Death.

Details and conjecture relevant to the Ultimate Sandbox

  • The Great Kingdom is mentioned, as follows: 'From the map of the "land" of the "Great Kingdom" and environs - the territory of the C&C Society - Dave (Arneson) located a nice bog wherein to nest the weird enclave of "Blackmoor", a spot between the "Great Kingdom" and the fearsome "Egg of Coot".'
  • The following are mentioned as inspirations: Burroughs' Martian adventures, Howard's Conan saga, the de Camp and Pratt fantasies, and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.
  • An archetypal D&D dungeon is described in the introduction as follows: 'the dungeons beneath the "huge ruined pile, a vast castle built by generations of mad wizards and insane geniuses"'.  This could more or less describe Castle Greyhawk.
  • The possibility for PCs to claim land, build castles and become barons would indicate that there's a decent amount of unclaimed wilderness in the areas surrounding the campaign area (which will probably be the City of Greyhawk).
  • High-level clerics are dedicated to either Law or Chaos, indicating that this allegiance is at this point more important and common than the worship of singular deities, at least as far as clerics are concerned.
  • Demi-human level limits could indicate that demi-humans simply lack human potential, or that in the areas ruled over by humans there's a prejudice against them that stops higher-level NPCs from training them above a certain level.
  • Xylarthen the magic-user is given as a sample character, and will be present as an adventurer in Greyhawk when my campaign begins.
  • There is a "common" tongue spoken by most humans in the campaign world.  Each race has its own language, and about 20% can speak common as well.
  • Each of the alignments has its own special language, probably handed down from the gods or another powerful force at the dawn of time.
  • Based on languages known, dwarves would be friendly with gnomes and antagonistic towards goblins and kobolds.
  • Elves speak the orc, hobgoblin and gnoll languages, and so have probably been at war with those races.
  • Along humans, the places that dwarves and elves hail from are called 'Dwarf-land' and 'Elf-land'.
  • Every character class has a different title for each level; these titles are accepted ranks and marks of skill, and their use is widespread.
  • The spell Contact Higher Plane allows a magic-user to seek advice and knowledge from creatures inhabiting a higher plane of existence.  These planes are numbered 3rd through 12th, and contacting them brings a chance of being driven insane.  (I've pegged this as the Abyss, as it's the only one of the Outer Planes with enough levels, but it's not clear.  Even AD&D doesn't codify which planes are being contacted.)
  • The spell Invisible Stalker mentions that the creature is 'extra-dimensional', but doesn't specify what the dimension is like.
  • The Raise Dead spell specifically only works on men, elves and dwarves.  This creates two contradictions with later editions: it doesn't work on hobbits, but it does work on elves, and both of these are the opposite in AD&D.  My rationale for hobbits is that their souls go to a realm that is currently beyond arcane knowledge, and that by AD&D that's changed. With elves it's harder.  I'm tying it to the Tolkienian idea of elves as a race on the wane, and as they grow weaker in life, they are drawn more strongly to the realm they reside in after death.
  • Using the Commune spell, clerics can ask for help from some unspecified 'powers above'.
  • Based on the illustrations, somewhere in the world there are amazons who go into battle wearing very little.

  • Also based on the illustrations, elves can grow beards.  This fits with Tolkien, or at least his description of Cirdan the Shipwright, the most ancient elf to appear in The Lord of the Rings.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 2: Chainmail 2nd edition

Cover still by Don Lowry

The first edition of Chainmail was Guidon Games' biggest hit, selling about 100 copies a month.  In July 1972, about a year-and-a-half after its publication, a 2nd edition saw print.  It was revised and expanded, with a number of additions to the rules.  (Most of these new rules first saw print in the January 1972 issue of International Wargamer, but I don't have a copy.)

From this point forward I'm working with PDFs or physical copies of the material, so any information given should be accurate.

New Character Types
  • Wizards now incorporate three weaker sub-classes: Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Magicians (given here in order from strongest to weakest).  These match fairly well with the magic-user levels in D&D.  (The term "magic-user" is specifically used.)  The number of spells a caster can use per game is based on these levels, as is the range of those spells.  The former of these rules fits well with D&D, but the second doesn't and will have to be chalked up to battle magic being a little different (my catch-all explanation for all magical discrepancies between Chainmail and D&D).

New Spells
  • Moving Terrain
  • Protection from Evil

That's it for today. Just a short post, as there really wasn't much added to 2nd edition Chainmail as far as I'm aware. Next week's post, covering Men & Magic will be much longer.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 1: Chainmail 1st edition

Well, it's been a while.  I haven't posted since June of last year, in fact, mostly due to a commute that ate up about 30% of my day and 100% of my mental energy.  Now that's changed, and I have no commute, and my mental energy is... eeeeehhhhh let's just say it's middling.  I have enough to do some blogging every now and then so here I am.

I'm not going to jump right back into the Ultimate Sandbox though.  I figured that, with such a lengthy break, it would be a good time to quickly recap what I've covered so far, hit up some semi-official products that I've missed, and consolidate the various campaign details as they would stand as of the release of the Players Handbook (the last product I covered).  And so, onward, with a look at the 1st edition of Chainmail.

Cover by Don Lowry

Chainmail is not the first D&D product, but it's such an important foundational work that it needs to be covered.  It began as four pages of medieval wargame rules by Jeff Perren, a member of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA).  He introduced the rules to fellow member Gary Gygax, who modified the rules for publication in the fanzine Panzerfaust (vol. 5 no. 1).  Gygax further modified and expanded the rules for publication in the newsletter of his own Castle & Crusade Society, Domesday Book (no. 5).  These rules also saw near-simultaneous publication in Spartan International Monthly.  There's an argument to be made that these three publications might be the true foundational beginning of D&D, and a better place for me to start this recap, but A) I'll probably never be able to get my hands on any of them, and B) none of them contain the all-important Fantasy Supplement.

All of this brought Gygax to the attention of Guidon Games, and they hired him to develop a medieval miniatures wargame for publication in March 1971.  During the process of rewriting the rules as Chainmail, Gygax added the Fantasy Supplement as an addendum, and Dungeons & Dragons was partway conceived.

At this point I'm going to run through the various fantasy elements that Chainmail introduces that were brought forward into D&D.  It should be noted here that I don't have any access to a copy of the 1st edition; I'm working purely on knowledge gleaned through research, so if anything here is incorrect or misleading, please let me know.

New Monsters and Races

  • Hobbits (although it's noted that they have little place in a wargame)
  • Sprites
  • Pixies (identical to sprites)
  • Dwarves
  • Gnomes (equated with dwarves, although they have a special hatred for kobolds rather than goblins)
  • Goblins
  • Kobolds (equated with goblins, but with a hatred for gnomes rather than dwarves)
  • Elves
  • Fairies (equated with elves)
  • Orcs
  • Wraiths (Nazgul are included as a specific example)
  • Werebears
  • Werewolves
  • Trolls
  • Ogres
  • Balrogs
  • Giants
  • Ents
  • Dragons (red dragons are covered in detail, while white, black, blue and green are all mentioned as possibilities)
  • Purple Worms (mentioned in passing as purple or mottled dragons, but the description fits the purple worm exactly)
  • Rocs (said to be equal to the eagles of Tolkien)
  • Wyverns (equated to Rocs)
  • Griffons (equated to Rocs)
  • Elementals (Air, Earth, Fire and Water)
  • Djinn (equated to air elementals)
  • Efreet (equated to fire elementals)
  • Basilisks
  • Cockatrices (equated to Basilisks; both creatures are recommended only under specific circumstances)
  • Chimerea (not the specific monster, but a catch-all for similar types such as griffons, wyverns, hippogriffs, etc.)
  • Hippogriffs (mentioned in passing under Chimerea)
  • Giant Spiders and Insects
  • Wights
  • Ghouls (equated to wights)

New Character Types

  • Heroes and Anti-Heroes (presented here as being equal to "four figures" in battle)
  • Super Heroes (twice as powerful as heroes)
  • Wizards
  • Combination hero-wizards are mentioned as a possibility, with Elric of Melnibone given as an example.

New Spells

  • Invisibility (extrapolated from the wizard's special ability to become invisible)
  • Infravision (extrapolated from the wizard's ability to see in the dark)
  • Protection from Normal Missiles (extrapolated from the wizard's immunity to non-magical missile fire)
  • Dispel Magic (extrapolated from the wizard's counter-spell ability; it's not a perfect fit, bit it's the best option from early D&D)
  • Fire Ball
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Phantasmal Forces
  • Darkness
  • Wizard Light (probably becomes Light, but at this point it only dispells darkness)
  • Detection (a mash-up of Detect Invisibility and Detect Magic)
  • Concealment
  • Conjuration of an Elemental

New Magic Items

  • Magic Swords
  • Enchanted Arrows
  • Magic Armor

Other Rule Elements

  • The Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment axis is established, though only as a guide for which creature types fight for which side

Rules that could fill gaps in D&D

  • Turn sequence/initiative
  • Terrain effects on movement
  • Movement in different types of armour
  • Fatigue
  • Missile fire rules
  • Catapults
  • Morale
  • Weather
  • Mass combat in general
  • Sieges
  • Jousting
  • Parrying
  • Multiple attacks when fighting with a much faster weapon than your opponent

Details and conjecture relevant to the Ultimate Sandbox

  • Mass combat as a whole implies that there are wars being fought, and that PCs might get involved in them.
  • The list of monsters and troop types are those most commonly found on D&D battlefields (though hobbits, basilisks and cockatrices are called out as being unusual).
  • Wizards can use magic weapons (with swords and arrows given as the only examples), and their spell-casting doesn't line up exactly with D&D magic-users, so I've posited the existence of specialist battle-mages to cover those differences.
  • Dwarves and goblins have a mutual hatred.
  • Gnomes and kobolds have a mutual hatred.
  • Elves have an invisibility power and are said to be armed with magic swords, so I'm going to say that elven hosts arrayed for war will always be wearing elven cloaks and wielding magic swords.
  • Orcs are said to be over-grown goblins, so there's some relation there.
  • Five clans of orcs are given here: Orcs of the Red Eye, Orcs of Mordor, Orcs of the Mountains, Orcs of the White Hand, and Isengarders.  These all have enmity with each other.  This is all very Tolkien, and I'm extrapolating from that to say that Middle Earth was in the distant past, and those were the five ancient clans that all orcs sprang from.
  • Wraiths and wights paralyze rather than level drain, so I'm saying that they're a little weaker on battlefields than in dungeons and other places of evil power.
  • The red dragon is classified in Latin as Draco Conflagratio or Draco Horribilis, so I'm positing the existence of a similar language of antiquity that was used to classify monsters.
  • Dragons in Chainmail can refresh their breath weapons more often than their D&D counterparts, so they are probably more vital than their dungeon-dwelling, treasure-hoarding brethren.
  • Purple worms being classified as dragons could be chalked up to a sage's error, or it could be the result of a dragon who has no treasure to sleep on.
  • Werewolves and werebears generally don't fight alongside animals of their were-type in D&D, but it could be that the Chainmail variety are of a more ancient and powerful breed, or that it's due to the environment.  It's only possible in Chainmail when there are woods present, after all.
  • Odin's spear and Thor's hammer are mentioned under magic weapons, pointing to the existence of at least the Norse pantheon
  • Excalibur is also mentioned, which is perhaps trickier to incorporate.
  • Magic weapons are listed as exclusive to the side of Law, which suggests that they're only available in large quantities to that side, probably via the elves.

I thought that post would be shorter, to be honest, but once I get going it's hard to stop me.  I'll be back shortly with another Recap & Roundup, this time for Chainmail 2nd edition.