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.

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