Saturday, August 10, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 37: The Dragon #3

Cover-dated October 1976, the third issue of The Dragon was released not long after Swords & Spells (it has a full page ad for the product, as well as for the Lankhmar wargame). It kicks off with an editorial defense of including fiction in the magazine by Tim Kask, and has the following articles that are irrelevant to this blog: Gary's reminiscences about an old play-by-mail wargame called War of the Empires; more DM listings in Mapping the Dungeons; a round-up of recent miniature releases in Wargaming World; an defense of the way the D&D tournament was run at Gen Con IX, and list of the winners; and the first letters column, Out on a Limb, wherein Scott Rosenberg uses the lack of TSR accessories to defend his rampant copyright violation, and Lewis Pulsipher goes Full Tolkien Nerd in criticising the article about the Eldar from issue #1. Also we have the first installment of the Finieous Fingers strip, and I should have noted that the Dirt strip started back in The Strategic Review #7.

Now, the articles that are relevant:

"Notes on Women & Magic - Bringing the Distaff Gamer into D&D" by Len Lakofka: We just had Jennell Jaquays' ideas about female PCs in Dungeoneer #2, and now it's time for Len Lakofka to weigh in on the matter. It begins by limiting a female's Strength score, and replacing Charisma with Beauty, which is certainly a whole thing I don't want to get into. Apparently they also "surpass men as thieves". Yup, I'm just going to move on here.

It then provides alternate level titles for each class, which I'm happy to include as an option for whoever wants to use them. They're different to the ones in Jaquays' article; I'll use those for the specific classes he introduced, and these for generic fighters/magic-users/theives/clerics. They are:

  • Fighters: Fighting Woman; Swordswoman, Gladiator, Battle Maiden, Shield Maiden, Myrmidon, Heroine, Valkyrie, War Lady
  • Clerics: Novice, Initiate, Postulant, Apostolate, Sister, Deaconess, Canoness, Prioress, Superioress, Matriarch
  • Thieves: Wench, Hag, Jade, Succubus, Adventuress, Soothsayer, Gypsy, Sibyl
  • Magic-Users: Medium, Seer, Sage, Mystic, Oracle, Enchantress, Illusionist, Sorceress, Witch

Female thieves are given spellcasting abilities, and the power to see the future via tarot reading, at higher levels. I think I'm going to split these off as an NPC faction; the thief titles above (which are pretty rough) will apply only to members of that faction. Fighters get a few seduction abilities, and magic-users get some female-only spells. Female clerics are the same as males, except that Chaotic clerics get access to the worship spell. For the sake of simplicity, the faction I posited above will include fighters, thieves and magic-users. Clerics are unchanged enough that I don't think they need to be a part of it.

Here are the new spells below. Very few of them are ever used going forward in D&D:
  • Charm Man I through III
  • Tarot Reading
  • Seduction I through VIII
  • Charm Humanoid Monster I through IV
  • Magic Mount
  • Mind Meld
  • Poison
  • Spirit
  • Horrid Beauty
  • Worship

As you can see, most of them are variants of charm spell. I'll have them known and in use by the faction I mentioned above, but it's doubtful they'll survive in the campaign long-term (unless a PC gets hold of one and takes a liking to it).

"The Search for the Gnome Cache: Chapters 3 and 4" by Garrison Ernst (aka Gary Gygax): In these two chapters Dunstan gets away from the ne'er-do-wells he hooked up with last issue. He also hires a tableboy named Mellerd to go along with him on his journey.

Some details I need to remember:
  • The Inn of the Riven Oak is run by Innkeeper Krell, with the help of Meggin the buxom tavern wench.
  • The soldiers searching for Dunstan serve the Overking, and are called Warders.
  • Silver pieces are known as nobs, and there are 20 coppers to 1 silver. This is different to the exchange rate from D&D, which is 5 copper to a silver, and the one from AD&D (10 cp to 1 sp).
  • South of the area around Endstad are forbidding deserts. To the east, not far from Endstad, are the Monley Isles. West lies the vast expanse of Silent Forest, and beyond that the outpost of Far Pass and then nothing but arid steppes. North the realm of the Overking stretches for a time, into the blue Upplands, until reaching Arnn River, where the independent northern folk give strong resistance.
  • The Overking is named Eddoric IV.
  • The badge of knighthood in the Overking's realm is a pennon and acorn.
  • Huddlefoot is a small village at the base of the Upplands, about a day's ride by horse from the Inn of the Riven Oak. It is on a secondary lane which connects Forgel Road at Dyrham to the Wild Road just above Edgewood. It has a large inn, stables, a blacksmith, other businesses and yeoman's cottages.
  • Mellerd is a stableboy at Huddlefoot's inn, apprenticed to Master Grund. His brother is named Taddy.
  • About half a day's walk north from Huddlefoot is a stream that is the only inlet to Lake Dyrn. The Hills of Dyrn continue for two days travel beyond this, at which point Crosshill Street cuts across them.
  • Not far from the Hills of Dyrn are the Hills of Nyrn, said to be home to gnolls, and slimy creatures that live in cursed lakes.

"Birth Tables for D&D" by Brad Stock and Brian Lane: I don't know that I'll ever use birth tables for PC generation, but there are some things about the setting that can be gleaned from reading the tables. Bastards (the Game of Thrones variety) are a thing. Peasants exist, as do knights, orators, courtiers, sheriffs, and magistrates. Barons, Counts, Earls, Marquis, Dukes and Royalty exist as part of the nobility. Half-goblins and (more significantly) half-orcs are mentioned for the first time.

Also included is the first ever D&D skill system, or at least a determination of the skills a PC might have based on their father's occupation. Here's the full list:

  • Vagabond
  • Farmer
  • Serf
  • Tinker
  • Miner
  • Woodsman
  • Sailor
  • Fisherman
  • Craftsman
  • Soldier
  • Adventurer
  • Merchant/Master Merchant
  • Scribe
  • Seaman
  • Slaver
  • Animal Trainer
  • Shipwright
  • Bird Trainer
  • Asassin
  • Spytracker
  • Sheriff
  • Magistrate
  • Sage
  • Alchemist
  • Physician
  • Artist
  • Sculptor
  • Musician
  • Engineer
  • Interpretor
  • Writer
  • Astronomer
  • Don Juan (yes, really)
  • Orator
  • Actor
  • Dream Interpreter
  • Biologist
  • Gambler
  • Astrologer
  • Tailor
  • Smith
  • Fletcher
  • Cobbler
  • Horseman
  • Weaver
  • Carpenter
  • Armorer
  • Bowyer
  • Mason
  • Cartographer
  • Jeweler

The article also changes the rules for ability scores, giving different races a different amount of dice to roll for certain abilities. For example, a Hobbit rolls 4 dice for Dex and Con, but only 2 for Str. I wouldn't use this, especially not for PCs, but it's interesting to note that this is about a year before demi-humans get any sort of ability score adjustments in the official rules. There's also a chart for starting experience points, which can allow a character to start at higher than 1st level. Again, I wouldn't use this for PCs.

It's noted that demi-humans can't rise higher than the rank of earl in human lands. Elves are never less than gentlemen or nobility, and half-orcs and half-goblins are never more than commoners. There's also an example character created at the end, a noble, well-to-do bastard whose father was a 4th level magic-user, a duke, a courtier, and an interpreter. I named the character Briad Stane by combining the names of the article's authors. Briad is a 2nd level cleric.

"A Plethora of Obscure Sub-Classes"

  • "Healers" by C. Hettlestad: This is a spell-casting class with a spell list that includes cleric and magic-user spells. They can't be Chaotic. I'll keep them as NPCs, possibly as part of a healer god's church. Some new spells are included as part of this article:
    • Detect Phase
    • Cure Blindness
    • Energy
    • Cure Lycanthropy
    • Wake Spell
    • Cure Paralysis
    • Longevity
    • Size Control
    • Improved Cure Serious Wounds
    • Sterilize
    • Remove Charm
    • Cure Deafness

  • "Scribes: New Specialists Described" by David Mumper: A new type of specialist that has the ability to copy spells from scrolls and books into the spellbooks of the PCs. They're said to be the only ones who can do so without going insane, but this obviously doesn't apply to magic-users, who can also do this job. They still have a small chance of insanity, so I'll say that they're the only non-spellcasters who can do it without going mad for certain.
  • "Samurai" by Mike Childers as modified by Jeff Kay: A fighter sub-class that's very attached to their katana, wakizashi and composite bow. Their main ability is to strike critical blows that can deal extreme amounts of damage, and sever limbs. They can also throw people about and stun them with judo. I'll include them as a type of fighter, but any critical strike ability will simply be folded into whatever standard critical hit system I use.  These are, I think, the first D&D appearances for the katana, wakizashi, yumi (japanese bow) and samurai armor. Any samurai in the campaign will hail from the same land that ogre magi originate from.
  • "New D&D Character Subclass: The Berserker" by John Pickens: Not just fighters that can go berserk in battle, this class also has a "were-shape" ability. Each of them belongs to a clan dedicated to one of the varieties of lycanthrope, and at higher levels they can change into that animal's form when going berserk. They can gain bards as followers, so I'm going to tie these clans to the barbarians that follow the druids. Each of the clans has a single Clanmaster, who can be duelled for the title.
  • "A New View of Dwarves" by Larry Smith: An article that brings dwarves more in line with Tolkien. There are said to be seven families of dwarves, and seven dwarf kings. One of these is the line of Durin. They get their own level titles (Dwarf, Warrior, Spearman, Dwarf Hero, Swordbearer, Axewielder, Champion, Dwarf Lord, Dwarf King). A duel must be fought to become a Dwarf King, unless the post is absent. They get a number of new abilities related to appraising gems, recognising magic arms and armor, and weaponsmithing. They hate orcs and goblins, dislike elves. They reach adulthood at about 50, and live to around 250. This fits well with my use of Middle-Earth as the campaign's distant past, but I won't be using it to alter current-day NPCs. It'll only come into play if the PCs somehow find themselves in the past.
  • "The Idiot Class" by Gordon Davidson: A very stupid person that can be hired to come along into the dungeon with the purpose of confusing monsters with their idiocy. You can hire one with dwarfism for a bit extra, which apparently gives a bonus to the confusion chance. You guys, it was 1976. I'll probably leave this out altogether, to be honest, it's very silly.
  • "The New Category: Jesters!" by Charles Carner, William Cannon & Pete Simon: A uses humor and jokes to incapacitate its foes. They can only use weapons such as smelly socks, pillows, and dirty underwear, and their spells are mostly in the form of terrible jokes and puns. I almost have to respect a class that has a spell called "ballbuster", but this is well past my tolerance for bad D&D humour. As with the Idiot class, this one's going right in the bin.

"Combat Modifiers for Dexterity" by Steve Cline: A chart that grants bonuses to melee attacks, damage, missile attacks and Armor Class for having a high Dexterity. It even takes into account the exceptional Dexterity score introduced in The Strategic Review #7. I doubt I'll incorporate thisstuff beyond what's already in the core D&D rules.

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