Friday, May 31, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 14: The Strategic Review #3

Issue #3 of The Strategic Review was cover-dated Autumn 1975. It kicks off with a bit of the old Gary Gygax invective, as he lets rip on a bad review of D&D that appeared in a rival publication. There is also some news at TSR, as Gygax becomes a full-time employee (which I'm surprised he wasn't already), and the manuscript for M.A.R. Barker's RPG Empire of the Petal Throne nears completion. Mention is also made of the upcoming D&D tournament at Origins I, and the horrible place in which participants will be adventuring. I believe this is the first oblique reference to the Tomb of Horrors.

Also included is a "comedy" article giving stats to various types of gamers, another detailing the Battle of the Ebro River for Napoleonic wargaming, and a parody song about a unicorn.

As for the D&D-relevant articles, here they are:

Creature Features: A sizable number of new monsters are introduced for the first time here, most of which are staples of the game.

  • Yetis
  • Shambling Mounds (aka Shamblers)
  • Leprechauns
  • Shriekers
  • Ghosts
  • Guardian Nagas
  • Water Nagas
  • Spirit Nagas
  • Wind Walkers
  • Piercers
  • Lurkers Above
It's noted that Shriekers are a favourite food of Shambling Mounds and Purple Worms. Of more interest is the curious note that Ghosts are not true undead. They are said to be the spirits of humans who were totally evil, but I'm still puzzling out how they're different from other undead creatures. I wonder if they are perhaps just a naturally-occurring phenomenon, rather than the result of evil magic, or a curse? A look at the AD&D Monster Manual shows that Ghosts are considered undead by that point, so I might just ignore this reference. Perhaps its just that they can't be turned at this point, leading scholars to misinterpret their nature.

Gallery of Gunfighters part 1: This is a short art that gives some history and context regarding the art of gun-fighting in the Old West. This is intended for TSR's Boot Hill game, but given that there are rules in the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide for converting from Boot Hill to D&D, I will probably make it possible to access the Old West somehow.

Mapping the Dungeons: This article gives a round-up of what's going on with various campaigns around the country. The most interesting note here is a report from Dave Arneson about some of his Blackmoor adventurers travelling through a teleporter into Nazi Germany, and having a skirmish with the locals. These adventurers included The Great Svenny, Marty the Elf (who died), Richard the Hairy, and five berserkers (2 of whom died). They drive off the Nazis, just as their reinforcements arrived (3 magical-types and another 12 berserkers). A rematch was apparently set to happen soon after. I'll definitely include The Great Svenny and Richard the Hairy as NPCs in the Blackmoor area of my campaign.
  Gary Gygax notes that there was a similar battle in his Greyhawk campaign, but I won't get into that here because it gets reported on in greater detail in a later magazine.

Deserted Cities of Mars: This article discusses the nature of the many uninhabited cities on Mars, the setting of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter novels. It ends with some random tables for determining some of the features of these cities. This setting has already been mentioned in some earlier D&D books, and I know that Gary had some of his players travel there, so I will include it as a possible destination as well.

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