Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 36: JG2 Dungeon Tac Cards

While writing Booklet I, the first details for the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen came up with the idea for the Dungeon Tac Cards. They were shipped to subscribers in the initial Judges Guild package, but were printed before any of the other products sent out.

The first set consisted of 135 cards, and the 2nd printing had 140. The cards featured such things as weapons, to-hit charts, and actions such as jumping and parrying; the intention was that players would keep these cards in front of them and hold them face up when a certain action is performed or a weapon is being used. It reminds me of the cards that I saw a lot of players using to keep track of their powers and abilities during 4th edition.

I don't have a copy of these cards, but I found a list of what was on each card. Some cards have two actions on the. From the first printing:

  • 6 Move/Charge Move cards
  • 6 Parry/Get Up cards
  • 6 Punch/Grapple cards
  • 3 Heavy Crossbow cards
  • 6 Dagger cards
  • 3 Horsebow cards
  • 4 Sword cards
  • 4 Short Sword cards
  • 3 Shortbow cards
  • 4 Hand Axe cards
  • 6 Shield cards
  • 6 Mounted Lance/Pike cards
  • 6 Miscellaneous Equipment cards
  • 6 Morning Star cards
  • 6 Flail cards
  • 4 Two-Handed Sword cards
  • 4 Battle Axe cards
  • 6 Mace cards
  • 4 Halberd cards
  • 3 Composite Bow cards
  • 6 Spear cards
  • 3 Light Crossbow cards
  • 4 Pole Arm cards
  • 4 War Hammer cards
  • 4 Staff/Wand cards
  • 3 Longbow cards
  • 6 Torch cards
  • 3 cards with the Men Attacking and Saving Throw charts
  • 3 cards with the Monster Attacking and Monster Damage charts
  • 3 cards with the Man-to-Man melee charts from Chainmail

Later printings with 140 cards don't add anything new, they just have different amounts of certain cards. It's possible that these numbers were tweaked due to play-testing, but I have no idea. Below is an image of what the cards were like.

The weapon cards appear to have the Weapon vs. AC charts, as well as damage against man-sized and large opponents. The topmost pink card features a rule for parrying that doesn't come from any of the D&D rulebooks: a character can negate the damage from any blow, but their weapon will be broken. It finishes with the rule from Supplement I: Greyhawk that allows Fighters (and only Fighters!) an AC bonus for having a high Dexterity. I don't mind that as a desperation play to avoid a particularly nasty hit, but I'm not that keen on weapons breaking with every parry.

There are also actions written along the sides of the cards, such as Fly, Speak and Read. Presumably you can indicate different actions based on the orientation of the card.

I wouldn't adopt a card system like this, unless I was playing something with tons of powers like 4th edition. Original D&D is a simple enough game that they seem unnecessary, and a potential limiting factor to the game's free-wheeling nature. Still, it's interesting to see companies like Judges Guild thinking outside the box, and stretching the boundaries of what a D&D product can be.

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