Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 33: JG1 City State Map

Judges Guild was founded in July 1974, by Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen. Their goal was to sell D&D products, and so they made a trip to TSR headquarters hoping to convince the company to publish some of the material from their home campaign. They weren't achieve that, but they did get verbal approval from Dave Arneson to produce their own line of D&D play aids.

Their first product was a huge city map, which they sold on the first day of GenCon out of the trunk of Owens' Mustang. By Saturday they had their own table, and the maps continued to sell. At a size of 34" x 44" (so big that it was actually sold as 4 sheets of 17" x 22") and with over 300 buildings, the detail was staggering, and people started asking Owens and Bledsaw what was actually in those buildings. These details hadn't been written yet, but Bledsaw came up with the idea of selling subscriptions to the City State on that day. Within a couple of months the first installments were being mailed out, and Judges Guild was a going concern.

Bill Owens left Judges Guild in late 1977, but with Bob Bledsaw at the helm it would go on to publish scores of products for D&D, AD&D, and other RPGs such as Traveller and Runequest. By the early 1980s it started to decline, and stopped producing new products in 1983, but in its hey-day Judges Guild was a vital part of the hobby, and D&D in particular.

I wasn't able to get a hold of the original City State Map, as they are something of a rarity and there don't seem to be any scans on-line. There's a reproduction available at, which features a number of maps with varying levels of detail, some intended for the DM and some for the players. Most are in colour, but one is black and white like the original. Here's an image below.

Obviously that image is too small to give away any of the finer details, but every single street has a name, every building is mapped, and most of them are labelled to show their purpose. There are so many intriguing areas I want to read more about: the Cryptic Citadel, the Goblin Reservation, the Redoubt of the Dead, the Plaza of Profuse Pleasure. I gather that every location on the map is detailed eventually, and I'm psyched to read it (in approximately six posts' time).

Eventually these details get fleshed out into the Wilderlands of High Fantasy campaign, which I guess is the first published campaign for D&D? Given that Judges Guild were producing TSR-approved material, their stuff is at least semi-official, so I have to include it in the Ultimate Sandbox. I already have a long list of portals to other worlds that I need to include in and around Castle Greyhawk, and I so no reason not to add one that leads to the City State. If I ever got to the point where I can run multiple groups, I'd consider basing one in the City State as well. There's certainly no lack of material.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 32: The Dragon #2

Cover dated August of 1976, The Dragon #2 sees TSR deep in preparation for GenCon IX. In terms of articles not relevant to this blog, there's part 2 of the short story "Search for the Forbidden Chamber" by Jake Jaquet; another list of DMs in "Mapping the Dungeons"; "Shadow of a Demon", a story by Gardner Fox featuring Conan knock-off Niall of the Far Travels; "The Feathered Serpent", an article about the worship of Quetzalcoatl, which is far too steeped in Earth history for me to use; and reviews of the games Venerable Destruction and Star Command. Relevant articles are quickly summarised below.

"Monkish Combat in the Arena of Promotion" by John M. Seaton: This article provides a new combat system for use when monks duel for level advancement. Rather than rolling dice, it involves each combatant picking a series of maneuvers and comparing the results. If I do use this system, it will be exclusively for monk advancement, and won't be usable elsewhere.

In terms of fluff, it's said that these advancement duels are fought in a ceremonial arena, overseen by the next highest master. The combatants approach from opposite sides of the arena, and bow three times: once to their past masters, one to their sensei, and once to their opponent. Then combat commences.

"The Gnome Cache chapter 2" by Garrison Ernst (aka Gary Gygax): In this chapter Dunstan encounters some bandits who convince him that they rob from the rich and give to the poor. Further details I gleaned:

  • Three leagues from Endstad (the village that Dunstan came from), the Wild Road runs into the King's Way, and there is a shrine there to Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel (who has already been introduced by way of Supplement III).
  • A short walk through the woods from the shrine is a thorp that is home to the Inn of the Riven Oak.
  • Along Wild Road is the Edgewood, and therein is a castle inhabited by Baron Teric.
  • There are "strange lands" westward beyond Far Pass.

I'll have to try to make these details fit with the World of Greyhawk. At the moment this is all small picture stuff, and shouldn't be too difficult.

GenCon Update: Details are given for the GenCon IX tournament scenario, the set-up of which is as follows:

“ . . . The group of adventurers in question has offended the resident Wizard of the town in which they reside, having referred to him as a ‘shriveled old nit.’ He is about to end their miserable existences with a well-placed fireball, but stops short of uttering the final words of the incantation. Eyeing them speculatively, he offers them a chance to redeem themselves. He tells them a tale of a highly magical staff that once belonged to him, but was stolen a few ages ago. He now believes it is in the dungeons of a nearby ruin, and says that if they find it and bring it back to him he may just see them in a different light, so to speak. The party is ecstatic, relatively, at the opportunity to save their skins, and readily agree to the adventure, thinking that they will be able to line their own pockets as well as retrieve the old fool’s bit of magic kindling. As they neglect to ask him why he doesn’t go with them, or why he hasn’t recovered this bit of magic aforenow, he does not volunteer the information. Before sending them off, he takes the Mage aside and tells him they should begin their search off the Sixth Stairway, at the same time covertly slipping a curiously carved piece of amber into the Mage’s hand. . .”

This scenario was written by Bob Blake, and will eventually be published by Judges Guild as JG55 GenCon IX Dungeons.  More on that in a few posts time.

"Hint for D&D Judges part 3: The Dungeons" by Joe Fischer: Fischer provides some hints on dungeon design, and along the way drops some Greyhawk tidbits and provides ideas for some tricks and traps. Right at the start he talks about some entrances to Greyhawk Castle:

  • Through the castle itself
  • Through an old dry cistern
  • Under a pool of quicksand
  • In a simple hole in the ground

I'll have to incorporate these. In my earlier post in this issue I said that Gary had disavowed the quicksand entrance. I'm not sure where I got this from, but it means that it might not actually exist. One possibility is that this was one of Rob's entrances, added once he started co-DMing. I'm inclined to keep it.

The rest of the traps and tricks I will incorporate into the already-mentioned Castle Blackstar from Fishcer's last article:

  • Entrances under the nearby town, the guard barracks, and a peasant's hovel.
  • A shattered skeleton that, when reassembled, will either attack, serve the party until destroyed, lead to the nearest unguarded treasure, or lead to his master (a high-level magic-user).
  • There's a chart here for determining traps on treasure chests that I will use only in Castle Blackstar.
  • Some of the coins in this dungeon are sentient, and will attack, or scream if taken from their resting place.
  • Somewhere in the dungeon is a dragon who has a hoard of gold pieces that are really made of chocolate wrapped in gold foil. (Ehhh. This one I might ignore.)
  • There's an area here guarded by a realm of chaotic dwarves.
  • Some gems in this dungeon can be commanded to transform into a random monster.
  • Some monsters in this dungeon will turn into gold pieces when killed. (Just like in Super Mario!)
  • The following destinations can be reached via portals in Castle Blackstar: the Santa Maria on its way to discover America, the Normandy beaches on D-Day, the USS Nautilus (a nuclear-powered sub) on its shakedown cruise, and the Little Big Horn as blue-clad cavalry attack. Other destinations are Larry Niven's Ringworld, Tolkien's Moria, Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea, Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World and Fritz Leiber's Nehwon, the Starship Enterprise and the Bermuda Triangle.
  • The following special monsters may be encountered here: those found in the works of HP Lovecraft, the sandworms of Dune, Larry Niven's "Puppeteers", Dickson's "Dorsai", and the martians from War of the Worlds.
  • There's a 10'x10' room that will shrink anyone crossing it so that it seems to be 200'x200'. This serves to drive mappers crazy.
  • There's a room maze full of transporters that constantly return the party to the centre.
  • There's a room with unguarded treasure that, when touched, activates secret doors allowing hordes of hobgoblins to attack.
  • There are underground rivers and lakes here, as well as a random chart for determining the inhabitants of islands.
  • Somewhere in the dungeon is a Pool of Endless Ogres.
  • Somewhere in the dungeon is a room full of gems. Three turns after the gems are taken from the room, half of them turn into orcs and attack.
  • Some magic items found in this dungeon: a ring that works like a Staff of Wizardry, an Unholy Sword, a dagger that works like a Wand of Fireballs, an idol that answers yes/no questions once a week, and an incense burner that works like a Crystal Ball.

Lastly, there are a number of new magic items given here that I will probably only place in Castle Blackstar:

  • The Hobbits' Pipe
  • Pipeweed of Tranquility
  • Pipeweed of Stoning
  • Pipeweed of Illusion
  • Pipeweed of Acapulco
  • Ring of Magic Missiles
  • Bag of Infinite Wealth
  • Helm of Forgetfulness
  • Ring of Infravision

"Creature Features" presumably by Gary Gygax: This article introduces the Remorhaz, as illustrated by Erol Otus.

"A New D&D Character Class: The Alchemist" by Jon Pickens: This is an expansion of the alchemist, introduced as a specialist in D&D Vol. 3, into an adventuring role. Their abilities mostly involve around the creation and use of poisons, drugs, potions and acids. Transmutation is mentioned as being possible. Some new special items are introduced:

  • Purification Powder (makes food and water fit to eat)
  • Flash Pellets (blinding)
  • Dust of Sneezing
  • Tanglefoot Pills (surprising to see, and no doubt influential on 3rd edition's tanglefoot bags).
  • Dust of Paralyzation
  • Potion of Immunization from Lycanthropes
  • Potion of Cure Disease
  • Potion of Regeneration
  • Potion of Mind Damp (immune to mental location or attack)
  • Greek Fire
  • Gunpowder
  • Hallucinogens
  • The Grimoire of Archaic Alchemy (adds a level for alchemists, damages others)
  • Philosopher's Stone (transmute lead into gold or silver, aids research, cures disease)

A system for variable poison damage is introduced at the end of the article.

"D&D Option: Weapon Damage" by Jon Pickens: Pickens introduces a system whereby fighters and thieves master weapons as they advance and deal more damage with those weapons. The concept of dual-wielding is also dealt with.

The list of weapons includes a Dwarf Hammer.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 31: Swords & Spells

We come at last to Swords & Spells, the last official rules supplement for original D&D (although it's not actually named as Supplement V). Published in the same month as Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, Swords & Spells is less a rules addition to D&D, and more an update of Chainmail. While Chainmail and its fantasy supplement provided the inspiration for D&D, Swords & Spells is the first mass combat system written with D&D specifically in mind.

Probably the biggest difference between Chainmail and Swords & Spells is that the new system has diceless resolution (a fairly revolutionary idea in 1976, as I understand things). Casualties are determined by cross-referencing damage, HD and Armor Class. Swords & Spells works on a scale with one figure equalling ten men, but it also allows for single characters to operate on the battlefield as well. Dan Collins (from the excellent has done some extensive testing on this, and came to the conclusion that single characters don't last long at all under this system. Realistic perhaps, but not desirable if you want your PCs taking part in mass battles. I'll have to work up a mass battle system at some point, but I'm not sure if I'll be working from Chainmail, Swords & Spells, AD&D's Battlesystem, or the "War Machine" rules from the D&D Companion boxed set. It's possible I might eschew all of these, and go for Dan's own Book of War rules; he's certainly done a more thorough mathematical investigation of these rules than I'll ever be able to.

Back to Swords & Spells, here are some things I might be able to pull out and use for the Ultimate Sandbox:

  • The turn sequence rules are similar to those from Chainmail, but specifically take things like spells and breath weapons into account.
  • There's a fairly comprehensive spell list (at least as far as the spells presented in the supplements go) that gives ranges, area of effect and duration for each spell.
  • The concept of "readied spells" is mentioned during the turn sequence. A readied spell goes off right at the start of the turn. I had previously thought this might be a new ability for magic-users, with the idea that they could ready any spell before combat and discharge it immediately in the first round. Now, I'm thinking that it just refers to those spells (7th to 9th level) that take an entire turn to prepare. If you cast a 9th level spell, it's not going to go off until the round after you started casting. (I believe this might be the first reference to casting times in D&D).
  • I didn't mention it when I covered the updated box art to the original D&D boxed set, but that was the first time the traditional pig-faced orcs were depicted. Swords & Spells shows them again, for the first time in the interior of a D&D product.
  • My copy of Swords & Spells is a later printing, with hobbits and ents renamed to halflings and treants (due to legal troubles with the Tolkien estate). I'm not sure if this product was ever printed with these creatures under their original names. The switch wasn't made in the D&D boxed set until 1977 (around September, if my notes are correct). It seems a little early for this to have happened in the first printings of Swords & Spells, but it's possible. It might even be the first D&D product to feature these name changes.
  • Finally, there's a combat example between a good wizard and an evil high priest. The good wizard's forces include: the wizard himself (wearing a +1 ring of protection), two sub-commanders (a Lord (with a +5 sword, +2 armor and a +2 shield) and a Swashbuckler (with a +1 bow, 10 magic arrows, +1 armor and a +1 shield), another Swashbuckler (with 2 javelins of lightning, +1 armor and a +1 shield), 400 pikemen, 60 elite guard infantry, 200 crossbowmen, 300 elven spearmen, 50 warrior maidens mounted on unicorns, 3 ballistas with 30 crewmen, 2 treants, and 300 battleaxe-men. The EHP's forces consist of: the priest (12th level, with a +3 mace, +1 armor and a +1 shield), a sub-commander (a Necromancer with a displacer cloak), 200 goblins mounted on wolves, 6 manticores, 40 ogres, 60 hobgoblins with pole arms, 800 orcs, 300 orcs with bows, and 3 fire giants. The battle goes against the EHP's forces, and he is forced to escape with a word of recall to avoid death or capture. His forces are routed thereafter, with the forces of good inflicting many casualties as they retreat. A map of the terrain is shown below.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 30: Supplement IV - Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

Released in July 1976, Supplement IV was intended to be the last D&D supplemented. In absolute terms this is plainly untrue, but as far as numbered supplements for the original edition of the game, this is the final one. It was apparently intended in part to illustrate the absurdity of many of the high-level campaigns going on around the country at the time; after all, Gygax thought, if they can see the power level that a god like Odin is operating at perhaps they'll reconsider their own style of play. Instead, it just gave those players more powerful things to kill, and better treasure to loot. So it goes.

Having read over my original post for this product, I find that it was pretty concise to begin with, so I don't really need to summarise anything. I'm going to be lazy this time around, and reproduce that post much as it was in (gulp) 2009. So if it seems familiar to you, mea culpa.

Supplement IV is a strange beastie, not at all like its predecessors. It has a much more focused goal: the presentation of a number of mythologies and pantheons for use in D&D. It's pretty much just a bunch of stats and descriptions for gods, kind of like a super-charged Monster Manual. It's not something I've ever needed to use in a game, but it could provide for some fun in high level campaigns I'm sure.

As the material here doesn't really pertain to the development of D&D and its signature mythos, I won't be going into too much depth. I'll cover each mythology presented here in brief, list the gods who get write-ups, and talk a little bit about how they'll be incorporated into the campaign. If you really want to know more about Zeus, for example, your own research will be far more effective than anything I can write here.

EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY: As noted these are the gods of ancient Egypt. The following gods get write-ups: Ra, Shu, Geb, Thoth, Set, Osiris, Anhur, Ptah, Seker, Horus, Bes, Isis, Tefnut, Nephtlys, Anubis, Bast, Renenet, Amset, Hapi, Tuamautef, Qebhsennuf, Apesh, and Apshai.

A number of new monsters are also introduced. The Minions of Set are powerful fighters that can turn into giant snakes. The Sphinx is a lion with a woman's head. While bloodthirsty, they may spare someone in exchange for a good story. Fire Snakes are small serpents that like to sit on piles of treasure, and can breathe fire for lots of damage. Winged Serpents also have treasure, and can spit a powerful contact poison. The Phoenix is a large flaming bird that regenerates damage and is 100% magic resistant.

Life Sceptres are weapons used by the gods. Any god wielding this weapon is unkillable, as their life force is held in the weapon itself. If the god is struck he will take no damage – only destroying the weapon can kill him.

Given that the World of Greyhawk is a parallel Earth, it is easy to say that the Egyptian gods were once worshipped there by a great many people. While this may have waned over the centuries, there are still pockets of worship here and there, and these gods can still be called upon if any character so wishes.

It's noted that some of these gods will give aid to mortals. For example, there's a 5% chance that Set is watching when a being does a highly evil act, and will gift him with some powerful minions. Ptah may aid someone who invents something useful. Horus might help a Lawful character seeking vengeance. The percentages given are quite high, and I honestly don't want such a proliferation of divine intervention in the campaign. I will restrict these chances to either those who openly venerate the Egyptian gods, or to those deeds done in the lands where they were once worshipped.

INDIAN MYTHOLOGY: The following gods are covered here: Indra and his elephant, Agni and his red chariot, Shiva, Surya and his chariot, Vishnu, Brahama and his 70-foot tall goose, Rudra, Kali, Devi, Lakshmi, Sarasuati, Ratri, Vasha, Yama and his buffalo, Varuna, Tvashri, Karttekeza and his peacock, and Krishna.

There are a number of monsters detailed as well. Maruts are wind spirits in the form of powerful warriors, the shock troops of the gods. Rakshasas have been introduced already in The Strategic Review #5, but here they are far more powerful, bearing little resemblance to their weaker cousins. Yakshas are similar to but weaker than the Rakshasas here, though still slightly stronger than those shown earlier. I suppose that Rakshasas come in a variety of power levels, and only the weakest are found commonly. Elves in Indian mythology are called Ribhus, and serve the gods directly. Indian Ogres are the same as the regular kind, except that they can polymorph themselves at will. The Nagas here come in three varieties. The Guardian Naga and the Water Naga are not much different than those already introduced in The Strategic Review #3. The Master Naga is new, having seven cowled heads and the ability to cast Cleric and Magic-User spells at 10th level.

As with the Egyptian mythos, the Indian gods were once widely worshipped but have since fallen into obscurity.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY: The following Greek gods are presented here: Zeus and his white eagle, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Athene, Ares, Hermes, Hera, Cronos, Coeus, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Atlas, Oceanus, Crius, Nike, Hecate, Hephaestus, the Furies, Pan, Cerberus and the Hundred Handed One.

Cyclopses are presented here as a variation on the Storm Giant. Satyrs are introduced here as very strong protectors of the forest.

Again, the Greek gods were once worshipped in the World of Greyhawk.

CELTIC MYTHOLOGY: These Celtic deities are presented here: Daghdha, Manannan Mac Lir, Donn, Oghma, Goibhnie, Silvanus, Dunatis, Nuada, Dioncecht, Git, Medhbh, Liegh, Cu Chulain, Math, and Balor.

The Torc of the Gods is a short rod that lets it wielder shapechange at will. The Tathlum is a weapon, made by coating the head of an enemy in lime and letting it harden. It will do great damage to friends or relatives of the head's former owner. Druids are prevalent in Celtic mythology, and are the same as presented in Supplement III.

The Celtic mythos are a part of the campaign in the same way as the previous pantheons.

NORSE MYTHOLOGY: The following Norse gods are in the book: Odin (and his many accoutrements), Thor (ditto), Tyr, Bragi, Balder, Heimdall, Hoder, Vidar, Vali, Uller, Forseti, Loki, Frey, Njord, Frigga, Freya, Idun, Aeger, Ran, Hel, the Norns, the Valkyrs, the Einheriar, various giants (Hyrm, Surtur, Mimir, Sterkodder, Hymen, Vafthrunder, Skyrmir, Mokkerkalfe), Garm, the Fenris Wolf, the Midgard Serpent.

In addition, various monsters are detailed. Dragons of the green, red and white varieties are here with no changes. Dwarves here are statistically the same as in D&D, but have a number of cultural differences. Light Elves are the same as D&D Elves. Dark Elves are mentioned in D&D for the first time, as evil subterranean dwellers. Nissies are dwarves with pointed red caps. Neck are like a hybrid of Nixies and Harpies. Mermen are the same as in D&D. Fossergrims are mermen that live in waterfalls.

The characters from the Sigurd Saga are given here, mostly focused on Sigurd himself. I'll need to research these stories to see if they can have any historical context for the World of Greyhawk.

The Norse mythos are a part of the campaign in the same way as the previous pantheons.

FINNISH MYTHOLOGY: The real stars of Finnish mythology are not gods but powerful heroes. Those presented here are: Vainamoinen, Lemmikainen, Kullervo, Joukahainen, Ilmarinen, Ilmatar, Louhi, Thumb Height Man, Sampsa Perlervoinen, Water Hero, Tounelea, Old Crone of Pohjola, Son of Pohja, Maiden of Pohja. There are gods shown here as well (Ukko and Ahto the only two given full entries) followed by a selection of unique monsters. Even the mothers of the various heroes get a general write-up, and are pretty bad-ass.

The Finnish mythos are a part of the campaign in the same way as the previous pantheons.

HYBORIAN MYTHOLOGY: I've already established that Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age is a part of the history of my World of Greyhawk. Here we get write-ups for many of the gods and monsters from Howard's stories.

We start with Conan himself, who is presented as a 15th level Fighter with the abilities of a 9th level thief. It's evident here that the D&D rules were never good at modelling fictional heroes, because Conan doesn't conform to the rules much at all. And his ability scores are obscenely inflated.

In additon we get entries for Crom, Mitra, Set, Asura, Tsathoggus, Hanuman the Accursed, the Blood-Stained God, Yama, Thugra Khotan, Thoth Amon, the Black Seers, Epemistreus the Sage, and many other monsters and items. Any of my readers out there who haven't read Howard's Conan stories are urged to do so. Not only are they a major influence on D&D, they're ripping good yarns in their own right.

MELNIBONEAN MYTHOLOGY: This is the mythology of the Elric stories, as written by Michael Moorcock. Now, we already have the Hyborian Age in the recent past. A bit further back in the past we have Tolkien's Middle Earth. The world of Elric can be incorporated even further into the past than that, before the world was reshaped by the war between Law and Chaos. Again, if you haven't read the Elric stories, get out there and do so. They're awesome.

Elric gets an entry here, of course. He's a 10th level Fighter and a 19th level wizard, and has a magic ring and the sword Stormbringer on top of that. Other characters given entries are: Moonglum, Yyrkoon, Theles Kaarna, Arioch, Lord Xiomberg, Orunlu, Mordagz, Fate, the Dead Gods, The Mountain Gods, Kakatal, Straaash, Grome, Misha, Meerclar, Haaashasstaak, Roofdrak, Muru-Ah, Lileet, Nnuuurrrr'c'c. Elenoin, Grahluk, and a whole bunch of unique monsters and things.

MEXICAN MYTHOLOGY: The following divine entities are given entries here: Quetzacoatl, Tonatuh, Huitzilopochtli, the Goddess of the Jade Petticoat, Tezcat, and Mictantecuhtli. There are Water Women that act as Nagas, and Water Monsters that are like OD&D's Sea Monsters.

This mythology is treated in the same manner as the other real-word mythologies in this book.

EASTERN MYTHOLOGY: The following gods are shown here: Huan-Ti, Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya, Shan Hai Ching, Lei Kung, Yu Shih, Fei Lien, Feng Po, Wen Chung, the Spirits of the Air, Lu Yueh, the Beings Called 'Center', 'Spring, 'Summer', 'Autumn' and 'Winter', Shang Ti, Tai Yang Ti Chun, Yama, Chung Kuel, Kuan Yin, Tou Mu, Lei Chen Tzu, Chao Kung Ming, No Cha, the Shen Shu, and Ma Yuan Shuai.

Eastern Demons are the same as Indian Rakshasas. Their Fairies are small winged humanoids with powerful magic. There are also Evil Spirits that can inhabit statues and animate them.

Eastern Dragons are very different from the regular D&D types. They have three stages of metamorphosis. When young, they have the head of a horse and a lizard's body. In their middle years they have a camel's head, demonic eyes, metal skin and spotted wings. In old age they look like regular D&D dragons. They get a number of abilities not found in the regular types: polymorph self, invisibility, and ESP. Green dragons are lawful, and immune to anything made from wood. Blue dragons are made of the sky, and immune to anything launched into the air. Red dragons are evil fire-breathers. Gold Dragons can be any alignment. There are Yellow Dragons, also known as Imperial Dragons, that can breathe fire and summon storms. They live underwater and are fond of eating pearls and opals. There's also a type of dragons that draws treasure to it like a magnet, and is coated in gold and gems like armour. Its breath weapon is twice as strong as a gold dragon's.

This mythology is treated in the same manner as the other real-word mythologies in this book.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Interlude #3: Empire of the Petal Throne

Released about halfway through 1975, Empire of the Petal Throne is the second RPG published by TSR. (Okay, maybe the third, I'm not sure when Boot Hill was released in relation. Regardless, it is definitely the first published RPG setting.) The game is the work of M.A.R. Barker, a university linguistics professor whose name is commonly started with three initials, and whose fantasy world has a strong basis in its invented languages. Gee, that does sound familiar...

Gary Gygax noticed the similarities as well, and in the introduction to EPT he declares Barker's work to be at least painstakingly detailed as Tolkien's. I think it's safe to say that Tolkien outstrips Barker in the field of literary merit, but when it comes to working as a game EPT may have the edge.

I've struggled with EPT and its setting of Tekumel for a while. It's all over the earliest issues of The Dragon, and I've never quite been able to wrap my head around it. Dungeons & Dragons, for all its weirdness, is firmly rooted in western folklore and mythology. With EPT, the influences are much further out of my comfort zone, drawing on Asian and South American influences, and everything is weird and unfamiliar.  Even so, the game is so prominent in TSR's periodicals that I wanted to include it as a part of the Ultimate Sandbox, so I've read through the original rules to see how compatible it is.

The answer is that yes, it's extremely compatible with D&D. In many ways it's just a D&D variant, albeit one that's much better defined and organised. There are differences of course. Players roll their stats on 1d100, and Wisdom and Charisma have been replaced by Psychic Ability and Comeliness (the latter of which would be added to the D&D stats, at least for a little while). Damage dealt in combat is dependent upon the Hit Dice of the attacker and defender, with stronger characters dealing multiple dice of damage against weaker ones. There's a skill system.  Players can score an "instant death" kill on two natural 20s, and any natural 20 deals double damage (probably the first appearance of that ubiquitous D&D house rule). There are innumerable small tweaks and adjustments to the D&D rules, but at it's heart it's much the same game.

The real interest lies in the setting, however. There's a lot of densely packed information in the game's 120-odd pages, and I know I've only got the barest sense of it, but I'll do my best here. As I understand it, the world of Tekumel was colonised by the human race during an era of space exporation far in our future. They terraformed the planet, which drove a lot of the native races into hiding.  After some time there was a mysterious event that shunted Tekumel's solar system into another dimension, one where it was discovered that people could wield mystical forms of energy (i.e. magic). A lot of mankind's technology was destroyed though, and they eventually devolved to a more primitive society. At the same time, Tekumel's native races started to fight back as well.  At the time of the game's setting, there are five human empires: Livyanu, Mu'ugalavya, Salarvya, Yan Kor and Tsolyanu. Tsolyani society is heavily traditional and ceremonial, with multiple intrigues and cults and sects. It's honestly all a bit dizzying to me on a first read; I'd need to go over it again pretty diligently to get a proper grasp on it.  It's all quite daunting, and that's just from reading it; I don't know how I'd dump all of this on my players.

That is mitigated somewhat by the assumed beginning of a Tekumel campaign: that the PCs are strangers from distant lands, and know next to nothing about Tsolyani culture. Thus, the players would be learning about things at the same time as their characters. It's a good way to introduce such an alien culture, and also sounds like a big challenge for players and DM alike.

What's easier to grasp is the standard mode of play for EPT: it's a dungeon crawl! All over Tekumel there are ruined cities, and subterranean labyrinths, filled with weird creatures, old magic and ancient technology. It's a great pulpy set-up. The monsters are suitably bizarre, with not an orc in sight, and will definitely be a surprised to any seasoned D&D player. Their stats are 100% compatible with D&D as well, so I can use them with no problems at all.

EPT is an impressive product overall, especially considering the state of D&D at the time. The text is organised and well-edited, the rules are tight and precisely explained, the interior art is flavourful and high quality, and the maps are the sort of thing that would have looked at home in a TSR product from a decade later. Here are the maps of Tekumel and the city of Jakalla below:

The City of Jakalla

Tekumel's northern continent

The question remains: will I include Tekumel in the Ultimate Sandbox? I think I will, perhaps via a portal in or near Castle Greyhawk. I'm already planning for portals to Barsoom, the Old West, Nazi Germany, the Starship Warden, and some others I've probably forgotten, so one more won't hurt. The rules are similar enough to D&D that I won't need to do much work on that side of things. The setting is a lot more daunting, but the prospect of dumping some PCs into the intensely stratified and ceremonial culture of Tekumel is an intriguing one, as is the notion of players being somewhere completely alien to baseline D&D.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 29: Dungeoneer #1

Dropping around the same time as TSR's The Dragon #1, the first issue of The Dungeoneer was pretty much entirely put together by one person, then 19-year-old Jennell Jaquays. Jaquays goes on to become one of the seminal D&D writers and designers of the late 70s and early 80s, mostly working with Judges Guild. The Dungeoneer is eventually bought by Judges Guild, and merged with the Judges Guild Journal.  Judges Guild products were sort of semi-official, so I'm going to start covering them on the blog. I don't have a copy of Dungeoneer #1 to work with, but I do have the The Dungeoneer Compendium, which collects the first six issues. Using that and an on-line index I think I can cover most of it's contents.

"Fatigue Factors" by Jennell Jaquays: This article provides a more detailed fatigue system than D&D's very generous "one turn of rest for every five turns of movement". Every PC has a number of Fatigue Factors equal to the average of their Strength and Constitution x 10.  Everything from moving around to fighting to taking damage to casting spells fatigues you. Spells especially: magic-users casting high-level spells could drop dead from the strain. Clerics get it a little easier, as it's assumed that their deity helps out a little. Characters take penalties to attack rolls, damage and Dexterity when they've dropped to 66% and 50% fatigue, and fall unconscious at 30%. If they somehow hit 0, they're dead.

A lot of early D&D articles are focused on increasing the realism of the game, and this is certainly in that tradition. It's a lot of work, though, and to me it looks like it would take much of the fun and adventuring spirit out of the game, as PC's would be forced to hole up and rest rather frequently. I prefer to have them forging ahead rather than resting or retreating. I doubt I'll implement any fatigue rules for my campaign, and if I do they certainly won't be as extensive and punishing as these.

"The Arcane Elders" by J. Mark Hendricks: This is chapter 1 of a serialised novel that runs through the first (I believe) six issues of The Dungeoneer.  Hendricks gives new meaning to the phrase purple prose, never using one simple word when three arcane ones are available. Here's a sample: "So dark was the sky, one would accuse the monarch of light as having dipt his crimson ship beneath the world's edge aeons ago, and only occasionally did this queen of luminescence peer from about her cloud-curtained chamber to observe those below conspiring dark deeds." It certainly has some evocative phrasing and imagery, but it can be a tough read. The story's about an old wizard named Valmous who sends his apprentice off to learn from the Arcane Elders.  The apprentice, Rohcyl, escapes just as his master is killed by six barbarians. I'm not sure if this will be of relevance to anything (maybe in Judges Guild's Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting) but I'll keep an eye on it.

"The Monster Matrix": This presents three new monsters as detailed below.

  • "Gremlins" by Jennell Jaquays: This is a variety of kobold with the ability to burst into flames (specifically likened to Marvel's Human Torch). They can only do this for 1 turn per day, but the flames are hot enough that they have a 20% chance of melting weapons (lower for magic weapons). 1-in-20 encountered will be able to cast spells as a 3rd level magic-user, and given that they show up in groups of 2-200 in the wilderness that could be quite a lot of spell power.
  • "The Wax Golem" by Merle Davenport: These were created accidentally when a wizard's assistant (an "ugly" - see below - named Max Fritsson) left wax inside the mold during the creation of an iron golem. The resulting wax golem could reform when melted, and could trap weapons in its body. It could not be killed with weapons, but it could be slowed with a cold spell and then shattered.
  • "Uglies" by Mark Hendricks: Uglies are servants of evil magic-users and alchemists, who are loyal, stupid, and horribly misshapen. Most of them will either be 3'2", 7'9", or a 5'1" hunchback. They can act as thieves and assassins, but their stupidity results in them fouling up most tasks. (This monster is riding the line of humour here, to the point where it almost defies logic: I'm not sure why any magic-user would use a minion that's going to wreck their plans half of the time. If I tweak the numbers, though, they do a decent job of covering a genre staple that's not explicitly in D&D: the misshapen servant. You could just do it using humans, but it's always more fun to have some monster stats, even if those thief and assassin levels are a bit much.)

I'll use these monsters, but probably not as a part of the Greyhawk setting. Eventually I'd like to expand things to include the Judges Guild material, and when I do that I'll include them as part of the Wilderlands setting.

"F'Chelrak's Tomb" by Jennell Jaquays: An adventure for higher-level adventurers in the tomb of a dead wizard (this seems to be one of the most popular themes at this point). I had some trouble figuring out how all of this fit together: Jaquays' penchant for using both the horizontal and vertical planes is already evident, and the text is pretty badly organised. The adventure itself is gonzo, with all sorts of crazy stuff that can mess up your character. Probably the most notable are the magic statues, which can have all sorts of effects when exposed, including splitting your character into two separate people. What about a pendant that allows you to polymorph into an ooze, but leaves you permanently in that form the tenth time you use it? Or a 100' deep pit that's filled with gas that explodes for 20d6 damage when you fall in? This adventure is deadly, and weird, and very much of its time, but I kind of love it.

We don't learn much about F'Chelrak, except that he was an evil wizard (13th level when he died), and before he died he placed his soul into an urn with magic jar. The runes on the front door warning people away were written in Lawful, which suggests his enemies sealed him in there... But then again he's Lawful Evil, so he could have written it himself. Not sure why he'd be warning people away when he wants a new body, but it could be reverse psychology.

I'll definitely place this adventure in the Wilderlands setting, though I can't be sure where it should go until I've read more Judges Guild material.

"The Goodies Bag": This recurring feature is for new magic items, two of which are introduced below.
  • "Elven Blades" by Jennell Jaquays: These swords were forged by the elves long ago, in a time when men, elves and dwarves worked and lived amongst each other. They're pretty obviously modelling the magic swords from Tolkien. They get +1 to hit vs. kobolds, +2 vs. goblins and orcs, and +3 vs. wights, wraiths and spectres (although there's a 25% chance that such undead might disintegrate the sword when struck). The sword glows blue when the above creatures are near. The swords are always Neutral, and always have the special purpose of slaying evil opponents (not sure that those two go together). Rather than having the powers of most intelligent swords, elven blades instead determine their powers randomly from the artifact powers in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry. (Jaquays uses quite a bit of material from Eldritch Wizardry. If I have the release dates correct there was only a month or so between that supplement and this issue, so it was a pretty quick turnaround.)
  • "The Arcane Crystal" by Mark Hendricks: This crystal can be used to commune with the spirit of one of the Arcane Elders. It seems that in the author's home campaign, these crystals were the only way for magic-users to learn new spells. A magic-user will be given one at 1st level, and can only ever have one at a time. If the crystal gets broken, the magic-user has no way to learn new spells until he finds another (and they're quite rare). This item might perhaps be a little too setting specific for me to use as is, unless the Wilderlands setting uses the same set-up. If not, I might just keep the general idea of communing with ancient wizards via crystal, as an alternative way of learning new spells.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 28: Palace of the Vampire Queen

Cover art by Judy Kerestan

In 1976, TSR wasn't interested in creating adventure modules: Gary Gyax thought they wouldn't sell, apparently. Despite that, they were happy enough to acquire the distribution rights to the Wee Warriors catalogue, which included Palace of the Vampire Queen.  Though not the first D&D adventure ever published (it was beaten by "Temple of the Frog" from Supplement II: Blackmoor, and possibly by the adventure in Dungeoneer #1), it was the first stand-alone adventure module, and for that if nothing else it's earned some significance in the RPG hobby.

The set-up for this adventure is that the dwarven nation of Baylor has been terrorised by the Vampire Queen for three centuries. Recently she took the princess to her palace in the mountains, and the king has offered fabulous riches, land and titles to those who would brave the dangers and bring her back. It's a solid enough hook, and I do find it kind of funny that the first ever D&D "rescue-the-princess" plot has a dwarven princess as the damsel in distress.

The dungeon consists of five levels, designed very much like old-school dungeons rather than an actual palace. Here are a couple of the maps below:

Level 1

Level 5

The encounter keys are fairly bare bones, most of them simply listing whatever monsters or treasure are in the room, with the occasional special area.  Level 1 is mostly home to goblins, bandits, and rats, although there is a madman with a horde of cats. Level 2 is ruled over by an evil magician and his zombies, and features a laboratory. Level 3 brings in ghouls and werewolves, as well as some captive dwarven children that the vampires have been feeding upon. Level 4 seems to be mostly vermin and some vampire guards, as well as a stone lammasu that can be revived by replacing the gem in its eye socket. It also has a garlic garden, which will require some explaining; why would the Vampire Queen keep it growing? Level 5 has loads of vampires, a balrog, a Chaotic temple complete with evil priests, and the captive princess as well as the Vampire Queen.

Part of the encounter key to Level 5.

There are lots of other encounters, and none of it fits together with much rhyme or reason, but even reading through it I can think of ways to have it make sense. It's not inspired material, but there are just enough interesting encounters that I feel like I could make something workable.

The background has quite a lot of details crammed in that I'll need to add to my campaign, so I'll list them below:

  • The dwarvish island of Baylor. It's large enough to have mountain peaks, multiple villages, and a capital city (Ar Toe).
  • The princess, who was taken by the Vampire Queen a few weeks ago, and her father King Arman, Defeater of the Ten Orc Tribes. (I wonder if perhaps these orc tribes were the original inhabitants of the island, and Arman defeated them to carve out his kingdom?)
  • The Vampire Queen. It's said that long ago she was shipwrecked on the island, barely alive and all but drained of blood. She was wrecked along with her guards and ladies-in-waiting, as well as all her riches. Later on the same night she died, and her subjects took her into the mountains to build her a majestic tomb. Nobody knows what happened after that, but for the last 300 years the Vampire Queen has terrorised Baylor from her mountain palace.

As an island, this should be pretty easy to add to the campaign world. I just need to figure out which country she was the queen of and I'm good to go.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 27: The Dragon #1

Cover art by Bill Hannan

With TSR and the fantasy gaming hobby as a whole exploding in popularity, The Strategic Review was cancelled to make way for two magazines. The first, called Little Wars, dealt primarily with miniature wargaming, and I assume has little of relevance to D&D players. The other was The Dragon (later shorted to just Dragon), which covered fantasy and sci-fi gaming in all its forms, but primarily Dungeons & Dragons. It was initially overseen by Tim Kask, who would be the magazine's editor for its first few years.

The first issue is about a third larger than the last issue of The Strategic Review, and contains an eclectic selection of material. "Dragon Rumbles" and "In the Cauldron" do the standard introductory stuff, "Wargaming World" and "GenCon Update" give news about upcoming cons, "The Search for the Forbidden Chamber" is a short story by Jake Jaquet that's far too anachronistic for me to bother with, "Hobbits and Thieves in Dungeon" provide new character types for that board game, there are reviews for such games as Classic Warfare, Citadel, and White Bear and Red Moon, and Len Lakofka provides his own hefty set of mass combat rules as an alternative to Chainmail.

As for relevant D&D-related articles, here we go (in brief):

"Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Say Their Say" by Fritz Leiber: This article gives some details about the world of Nehwon, with some amusing banter from Fafhrd and the Mouser thrown in. I doubt there's much of relevance here, but this setting is eventually tied to D&D with Lankhmar: City of Adventure in 1985. I'll make a note to refer back to this article if necessary.

"The Battle of Five Armies in Miniature" by Larry Smith: This article gives suggestions for staging this battle from The Hobbit using the rules from Chainmail. For reasons I'll get to later Middle Earth could be relevant to my campaign, so I'll keep this article in mind.

"How to Use Non-Prime-Requisite Character Attributes" by Wesley D. Ives: This article provides what might be the first "skill system" for D&D, using a bunch of rolls against a PC's ability scores to determine success with any action. For my tastes it uses too many dice rolls, and also allows high-Dexterity character to outshine Thieves at lower levels.

The main thing of relevance from this article is the sample PC, Grod the Myrmidon. Grod is a 6th-level Fighter with the following stats: Str 17, Int 9, Wis 5, Con 14, Dex 14, Cha 12. At some point in his past he and three minions were attacked by two bugbears. He tried to convince his minions to hold them off while he rolled away a boulder blocking the exit to the dungeon. He also tried to use a censer of controlling air elementals. I'll use him as an NPC in and around Greyhawk.

It should also be noted that the article gives characters a small chance based on Intelligence to use items that their class normally wouldn't allow. I'll have to think about whether this is a possibility I want to include.

"Magic and Science: Are They Compatible in D&D?" by James M. Ward: This article tries to present the idea that magic and science are very compatible, and does so by introducing the Artificers, a highly technological race that lives on the island of Atlantis. It says they "teleported their island land Atlantis to another nearby dimension", which I'll have to interpret at some point. The Artificers are possessed of a lot of technology designed to counter magic: spheres that fire different rays, and a super-computer that can analyze and counteract any magic sent against it. I'll place this society somewhere in the campaign, either on an island or in a pocket dimension somewhere.

"Languages or, Could You Repeat That in Auld Wormish?" by Lee Gold: An article that delves into languages in D&D. It asks a lot of questions, such as whether animals, plants, bugs, bacteria, and even inanimate objects like stones have their own languages. The existence of "group" languages such as Equine (for horse-like creatures), Canine (for dogs), Auld Wormish (for older dragons), and the Great Tongue (for Giants) are also posited. Lycanthropes are given a greater chance than other monsters of speaking Common, which makes sense. Cavemen are said to speak "Cavish". Cultural and national languages are brought up. I can get behind the idea that every sentient creature has some form of language, and that there are certain non-human equivalents of Common. I'll adopt most of this, I think.

The idea is brought up that characters might be able to learn the alignment tongue of an opposing alignment, albeit with great difficulty. I'll hold off on adopting this one to see what later books say about it.

"Creature Features: The Bulette" by Gary Gygax (I assume): The bulette is introduced, said to be a cross-breed from snapping turtle and armadillo stock. They were thought to be extinct up until recently, and have a fondness for eating horses and hobbits.

"Hints for D&D Judges Part 2: Wilderness" by Joe Fischer: Some general tips for creating and mapping wilderness areas. It's solid, basic advice for beginners, but doesn't have anything I can pull out for the campaign.

"Mighty Magic Miscellany: Illusionist Additions" by Peter Aronson: Gives new spells and abilities for the Illusionist class, including spells of Levels 6 and 7 for the first time. The new spells introduced here are:

1st level
  • Detect Illusion
  • Color Spray
2nd level
  • Dispel Illusion
  • Blur
3rd level
  • Phantasmal Killer
  • Illusionary Script
  • Dispel Exhaustion
6th level
  • Mass Suggestion
  • Permanent Illusion
  • Shadow Monsters III
  • Programmed Illusion
  • True Sight
7th level
  • Vision
  • Alter Reality
  • Prismatic Spray

The vision spell allows an illusionist to contact higher powers and ask questions of them, but these ones don't punish the caster as harshly as those contacted by magic-users. Whatever powers they end up being, I'll probably make them Neutral in alignment.

"Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age Additions" by Lin Carter and Scott Bizar: Conan eventually gets some D&D modules, so I'll need to keep an eye on articles about the Hyborian Age. This one gives some details about the armies of Khitai, the Kushites, and Juma's Kushites specifically.

"The Gnome Cache" by Garrison Ernst: Psst, Garrison Ernst is Gary Gygax. This is the beginning of a novella that runs through The Dragon for a few months before quietly disappearing, unfinished. This installment tells the story of Dunstan, a youth unsatisfied with his lot as a merchant's son, who steals some of his father's gold and sets out to find glory.

The opening paragraphs are very significant. The parallel worlds theory is stated outright and applied to Oerth, which is specifically said to be a counterpart to Earth. It has a similar make-up, although Asia is a little smaller, and Europe and North America are a little bit larger. History apparently branched off significantly about 2,500 years ago. It should be noted that this is the first use of the name Oerth that we've seen, although it isn't specifically tied to Gary's D&D campaign world yet.

All of the above ties together a lot of stuff: references to real-world places in monster entries, the use of Earth mythology, adventures in Nazi Germany. It also allows me to incorporate Middle-Earth (in the very distant past) and the Hyborian Age (in a less distant past).

As for the story, it probably happened at some point in the past of the campaign world, though I'm not sure how long ago.  The following elements are included:

  • Dunstan, and his merchant father Rodigast
  • The small town of Endstadt, with the Nallid River looping around it to the west and north.
  • Rauxes, city of the Overking of Thalland

"Three Kindreds of the Eldar" by Larry Smith: An article that ties D&D elves to Tolkien elves. It equated Silvan Elves to Wood Elves, and Grey Elves to the Sindar. The greatest elves are said to be the Noldor (who I might relate to the Fairy Elves that have been mentioned a few times in early D&D and Chainmail). They get extra powers and different level limits, and are said to be immune to sickness and disease, but also have a longing to return over the sea to the land of the Valar. I probably won't use these rules, unless an elf who has somehow survived all the way from Tolkien times shows up (or the players do some time travelling). Current D&D elves are diminished from their ancestors, and the way to Valinor is closed so they no longer have a longing to cross the sea.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 26: Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry 2nd printing

From the second printing onwards, Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry features some text under the entry for the Codex of the Infinite Planes that wasn't in the first printing. This text is often referred to as the Tzoonk Fragmet, and I'll reproduce it below:

In any event, the Codex of the Infinite Planes somehow survived the cataclysm, for the Wizard Tzoonk, before his disappearance recorded the following:

"... and thereupon the voice belled forth in tones of hollow iron and spoke of the Coming of the
City of the Gods. Such future events interested me not, no I gave the command: 'Answer in th ..
.' (here the fragment becomes entirely illegible) . . . so knowing both the secret and the spell
which would unlock the Way to this horde of the Demon Prince Nql . . . (another break in the
writing unfortunately occurs here). . . gathered the nine as required and proceeded forth. With
me in addition were the dyoph servants necessary to transport the Code, for I would not leave it
behind on even so perilous a journey as this." (Here the entire fragment ends.)

This is obviously very much open to interpretation, but if I had to take a stab, it begins with a wizard named Koontz seeking information. He might be using divination magic, or possibly the Codex itself. Either way, he's told about the future coming of the City of the Gods (which might refer to the Dave Arneson module), which is of no interest to him. He learns the "secret and the spell" which would open the way to the horde of the Demon Prince Nql (which may or may not be that entity's entire name), and goes off to do battle with "the nine" at his side. These nine might be the "dyoph servants" required to transport the Codex, or they might be other henchmen or fellow adventurers. Tzoonk takes the Codex with him on his adventure, and the story ends there. I'd be inclined to say that he failed in his confrontation, and that "Nql" now holds the Codex.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 25: Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry

Eldritch Wizardry, written by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume, was published in May 1976 as the third supplement for D&D.  The cover immediately signals a new era of production design for TSR, swapping the beige and monochrome of earlier products for vibrant colour.  The image apparently wasn't without controversy either, perhaps the first of many that the company would endure.

The interior signals a shift as well, moving D&D away from traditional mythology and Tolkienesque fantasy, and much more towards the weird fantasy genre. It's far more steeped in D&D lore than any other product before it, and a number of the game's most famous figures appear here for the first time.

I'll summarise the contents below. Note that I'm really skimming over this stuff, mostly as an aid to my own memory. For a more detailed look, start from this post right here.

New Rules Introduced

  • Psionics and psychic combat
  • A new initiative system that introduces segmented combat rounds.
  • Expanded wandering monster tables for the wilderness, the astral and ethereal planes, and psionic encounters.

New Classes Introduced

  • Druids (a sub-class of clerics)

Psionic Attack Modes Introduced

  • Psionic Blast (actually modified from the Mind Flayer ability)
  • Mind Thrust
  • Ego Whip
  • Id Insinuation
  • Psychic Crush

Psionic Defense Modes Introduced

  • Mind Blank
  • Thought Shield
  • Mental Barrier
  • Intellect Fortress
  • Tower of Iron Will

New Psionic Powers Introduced

  • Reduction (Fighters, Magic-Users)
  • Expansion (Fighters, Magic-Users)
  • Levitation (Fighters, Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Domination (Fighters, Clerics)
  • Mind Over Body (Fighters, Clerics)
  • Invisibility (Fighters)
  • Precognition (Fighters, Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Suspend Animation (Fighters)
  • Body Equilibrium (Fighters, Clerics)
  • Clairaudience (Fighters, Magic-Users)
  • Clairvoyance (Fighters, Magic-Users)
  • Body Weaponry (Fighters)
  • Energy Control (Fighters)
  • Telekinesis (Fighters, Magic-Users)
  • Dimension Walking (Fighters, Clerics)
  • Astral Projection (Fighters, Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Molecular Rearrangement (Fighters, Clerics)
  • Molecular Manipulation (Fighters)
  • Body Control (Fighters)
  • Mind Bar (Fighters)
  • Detection of Evil/Good (Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Detection of Magic (Magic-Users)
  • ESP (Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Hypnosis (Magic-Users, Clerics)
  • Molecular Agitation (Magic-Users)
  • Telepathic Projection (Magic-Users)
  • Dimension Door (Magic-Users)
  • Teleportation (Magic-Users)
  • Etherealness (Magic-Users)
  • Shape Alteration (Magic-Users)
  • Empathy (Clerics)
  • Cell Adjustment (Clerics)
  • Animal Telepathy (Clerics)
  • Aura Alteration (Clerics)
  • Telempathic Projection (Clerics)
  • Mass Domination (Clerics)
  • Probability Travel (Clerics)

New Spells Introduced

Druid 1st level
  • Predict Weather
  • Locate Animals
  • Detect Snares & Pits
  • Purify Water
  • Faerie Fire

Druid 2nd level
  • Produce Flame
  • Locate Plants
  • Obscurement
  • Heat Metal
  • Warp Wood

Druid 3rd level
  • Protection from Fire
  • Call Lightning
  • Hold Animal

Druid 4th level
  • Produce Fire
  • Protection from Lightning
  • Plant Door
  • Control Temperature, 10' r.
  • Hallucinatory Forest
  • Animal Summoning I (a different name for Conjure Animals)

Druid 5th level
  • Control Winds
  • Pass Plant
  • Hold Plant
  • Animal Growth (a different name for Growth of Animals)
  • Commune with Nature
  • Anti-Plant Shell
  • Animal Summoning II

Druid 6th level
  • Conjure Fire Elemental
  • Weather Summoning
  • Transport via Plants
  • Anti-Animal Shell
  • Animal Summoning III
  • Turn Wood

Druid 7th level
  • Fire Storm
  • Conjure Earth Elemental
  • Animate Rock
  • Creeping Doom
  • Transmute Metal to Wood

New Monsters Introduced

  • Demon, Type I
  • Demon, Type II
  • Demon, Type III
  • Demon, Type IV
  • Demon, Type V
  • Demon, Type VI (not actually new, just a new name for the Balrog)
  • Succubus
  • Demon Lord, Orcus
  • Demon Lord, Demogorgon
  • Couatl
  • Ki-Rin
  • Shedu
  • Intellect Devourer
  • Su-Monster
  • Brain Mole
  • Cerebral Parasite
  • Thought Eater
  • Mind Flayer (not new, but brought over from The Strategic Review #1 and given some psionic powers)

New Artifacts Introduced

  • Invulnerable Coat of Arn
  • Mace of Cuthbert
  • Sword of Kas
  • Axe of the Dwarvish Lords
  • Wand of Orcus
  • Rod of Seven Parts
  • Codex of the Infinite Planes
  • Hand of Vecna
  • Eye of Vecna
  • Baba Yaga's Hut
  • Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless
  • Queen Ehlissa's Marvelous Nightingale
  • Machine of Lum the Mad
  • Mighty Servant of Leuk-O
  • Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty
  • Crystal of the Ebon Flame
  • Heward's Mystical Organ (misspelt here as Reward's)
  • Horn of Change
  • Ring of Gax
  • Crowns, Orbs and Sceptres (one set for each alignment)
  • Throne of the Gods
  • Orbs of Dragonkind

Details and conjecture relevant to the Ultimate Sandbox

  • Druids and monks are unable to develop psionic abilities.
  • Of the player character races, only humans can develop psionics.
  • Druids are neutral, attuned to Nature, and worship no specific deity. They have a secret druidic language and a strict hierarchy: in all the world there are only four druids of 11th level, two Archdruids of 12th, and a single 13th level Great Druid.
  • The Astral Plane is given some more detail. Demons and other creatures lurk their, and monsters such as medusae and basilisks can gaze into it. Those projecting into the Astral Plane are connected to their body by a "silver cord", and there are psychic winds which may blow their astral forms away and snap the cord.
  • The psionic powers refer a lot to scientific concepts such as molecules and cells. While the technological level will be a fantasy mix of medieval and renaissance, magical research will have advanced a lot of scientific theory into a more modern time-frame.
  • The concept of parallel worlds is introduced, with some psionic characters given the ability to travel across them.
  • The Ethereal Plane is solidly established.
  • Invisible Stalkers can now be encountered on the Astral and Ethereal Plane
  • Demons of Type VI and above that are defeated on the material plane will be banished to the Abyss rather than killed.
  • Naming a demon might summon it.
  • The Balrog is reclassified as a Type VI Demon
  • The Abyss is ruled over by multiple Demon Princes. Orcus and Demogorgon are just two of them.
  • Orcus is Demon Prince of the Undead, and wields the Wand of Orcus.
  • Demon Lords, High Devils, Saints and Godlings are mentioned, and all said to be of like status to Orcus.
  • Demogorgon is rumoured to be supreme among demons.
  • Demon Princes and Lords keep their essences stored in small amulets. These amulets need not be kept by their owner, although lesser Demon Lords usually carry theirs or keep them near. Possessing the amulet gives the owner power over the demon for a time (never more than 24 hours).
  • Couatl are regarded as divine by the people of their homelands (warm jungle-like regions). They can also be found in the Ethereal Plane.
  • Shedu are cousins to Lammasu.
  • Brain Moles are said to inhabit "most places above and below ground".
  • The Coat of Arn (whoever he may have been) is the relic of a bygone age.
  • St. Cuthbert is mentioned for the first time, and was probably a cleric of Law.
  • Kas was once the bodyguard of Vecna, and the mightiest swordsman of his age. His sword was a thin, grey blade "of some metallic substance".
  • The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords was forged from the heart of a volcano by a long-forgotten dwarven king. It passed from father to son until it disappeared in battle a thousand years ago, and has been rumoured to have appeared in various places around the world. It apparently requires human sacrifice to function, so it's possible that it was forged during a particularly bloody dwarf/human war.
  • The Rod of Seven Parts was broken and scattered in various places around the world.
  • The Isles of Woe upon the Lake of Unknown Depths were once ruled by a wizard-cleric who owned the Codex of the Infinite Planes and used it to gain knowledge of great power. This knowledge caused the wizard-cleric's downfall, and the waters of the lake swallowed his domain. The Codex also requires human sacrifice, and frequent users may eventually become a demon or godling. (It should also be noted that wizard-cleric's are an impossible combination under OD&D rules.)
  • Vecna was an ancient lich who was so powerful that he was able to imbue his hand with great power before he was destroyed, enabling it to live on long after him. It's rumoured that one of his eyes also survived, although it's feline glittering casts doubt on whether it was actually Vecna's true eye.
  • Baba Yaga was apparently the greatest wizardress of all time.
  • Tuerny the Merciless, and the Groaning Spirit contained in his flask, remain mysteries.
  • Queen Ehlissa is said to have reigned for several centuries, bending her Marvelous Nightingale to her will and never allowing it to escape.
  • Lum the Mad, and his relationship to the machine named after him, remain a mystery.
  • The Mighty Servant of Leuk-O is a relic of a visiting race of space travellers, which could tie in to the aliens from Supplement II's Temple of the Frog, or perhaps the crashed ship in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Oddly, its users are compelled to undertake a holy quest.
  • The Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty is rumoured to have once been the property of  'the fabled Shah Cham'Ponee'.
  • Heward (here named Reward), and his relationship to the Mystical Organ named after him, remain a mystery.
  • So too does Gax and his connection to the Ring of Gax. The stone set in it can't be identified by even a dwarf or a jeweller.
  • There are several sets of the Crown, Orb and Sceptres, one for each alignment, all scattered and well hidden. Does that mean Chaos, Law and Neutrality, or does it include Good and Evil as well? What about the various alignment combinations? (A look at the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide says that there are three: Good, Evil and Neutrality.)
  • The Throne of the Gods was carved into the heart of a mountain by an ancient race in honour of their gods.
  • There are five Orbs of Dragonkind, each with the essence of a dragon trapped within. They are: the Orb of the Hatchling, Orb of the Dragonette, Orb of the Dragon, Great Firedrake's Orb, and the Orb of the Eldest Worm.