Thursday, April 17, 2014

Part 28: "Thus We Find Were-Sharks in Polynesia"

Part 28 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 28 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 

Hydra

I've written about Holmes' hydras before: Blue Book Hydras. The main difference from OD&D hydras, which have 5-12 heads, is a lack of an upper or lower limit on the number of heads. Holmes specifically mentions 3-headed Hydras, which are outside the range of the original. These weaker hydras are more useful for low-level adventures. This could be taken as far as having a 1-headed hydra with 1 HD and 6 hp.

Holmes also follows the original source in having the number of heads equal the HD, with 6 hit points per head. This reflects the original d6 hit dice of OD&D. This is also one of the few monsters in the Holmes manuscript that gets more than the standard number of attacks per round - one per head. 

The only change between Holmes manuscript and the published rulebook is to change "this beast is a dinosaur with many heads" to "...is dinosaur-like with many heads".

Kobold

Kobolds are described in OD&D, Vol 2 at pg 3 (stats) and pg 7 (description). Holmes keeps the 1/2 HD, although he writes it as "less than 1. Randomly assign 1-3 hits per Kobold". This reflects that Holmes was using a d6 for monster HD. The published rulebook changes this to "1/2 (1-4 hit points each)", in accord with d8 for HD. For treasure, Holmes follows OD&D in giving them "1-6 Gold pieces each", while the published version changes this to give them one of the new Treasure Types, J, which is 3-24 copper pieces per individual.


The original description of kobolds in OD&D Vol 2, pg 7, is minimal, simply stating that they should be treated as goblins except with a 1/2 HD. Thus, the Holmes manuscript has but a single line describing Kobolds, which is the same as the first line in the published version:  "These evil dwarf-like creatures behave much like goblins, but are less powerful". His addition of "evil dwarf-like creatures" provides some description lacking in the original, and
probably reflects their mythological origin. It wasn't until David Sutherland's drawing in the Monster Manual, published after Holmes Basic, that D&D kobolds became scaly & dog-like.

The published version adds three lines after this, describing how kobolds have chieftains and bodyguards that fight as gnolls, are resistant to magic (+3 on all saving throws except dragon breath), and have infravision.

The reference to gnolls is made despite the fact that gnolls are not included in the rulebook until the 2nd edition. In B2, the Kobold Chieftain has 2 HD, AC4 (chain & shield) and does 2-8 points of damage with a battle axe. The 2 HD and 2-8 damage are the same as a gnoll in the 2nd edition Holmes rulebook. His guards only have 1+1 HD, however. B/X follows these HD exactly for kobold chieftain/guards, but gives them damage that is "1-4 or by weapon -1". The Monster Manual has kobold leaders and guards equal only to goblins.

Later versions of D&D seem to appear to drop the magic resistance of kobolds completely. B/X has them saving as a normal man.

Lizard Man 

Lizard Men first appeared in Greyhawk. The Holmes manuscript follows the original description but adds a bit of macabre humor about their feeding habits: "...with the man served as the main course!". The original description gave them a chance of living "wholly under water or in very wet places (65%/35%)", but Holmes simplifies this to "aquatic". The Monster Manual would later describe them as "semi-aquatic".

Holmes retains their "use of weapons such as spears and clubs" from the original. Greyhawk is a bit confusing on this point because while this is mentioned in the description, under the varying dice damage, they are noted as attacking with "2 claws/1 bite" and doing "1-3/claw, 1-8/bite", with no mention of weapon type. Holmes, of course, leaves out the varying dice damage and multiple attacks in the manuscript. The published rulebook just adds in a single attack of "1-8" without noting what form of attack it is (i.e., bite or spear/clubs?). The module B2 treats them the same.

The Monster Manual and B/X go in different directions in resolving this. The MM has them with a "1-2" per claw and "1-8" bite, with the addition of hurling darts and javelins and using "clubs (treat as morning stars)" in melee, if they are of the more advanced type. B/X has them with a single attack, per Holmes, doing "2-7 or weapon +1", and noting that they use spears or large clubs (treat as maces) gaining a bonus of +1 on damage rolls due to their great strength".

Lycanthrope:

Four of the five 'standard lycanthropes' go back to the original rules (werewolf, wereboar, weretiger and werebear); the other was added in Greyhawk (wererat). All were included in the published Basic rulebook, so it is surprising to see that the Holmes manuscript only includes three of them, although they are probably the three most commonly used - werewolf, werebear and wererat. So the other two were added back by Gygax/TSR.

The original entry gives little description of the various lycanthropes, so Holmes in the manuscript adds a flavorful intro, which is preserved in the published version: 





The reference to the were-shark is not surprising, as Holmes had earlier used them in his home campaign, describing them in a campaign story, "Were-shark", published in Alarums & Excursions #11 (July 1976), which later was revised to become Chapter 2, "Dark Water" of his Boinger & Zereth novel, The Maze of Peril (1986). Holmes' "Were-shark" story also mentions the Polynesian origins of the were-shark tales. Gygax later included his own version of the were-shark in The Monster Manual II (1983).

Following the list are several more paragraphs with rules for lycanthropes. This includes two rules not found in OD&D, both of which were retained in the published rulebook.

First, lycanthropes are "vulnerable to all weapons in [human] form".  Perhaps Holmes thought it would be too easy to detect a lycanthrope in human form if they were immune to normal weapons. This rule does not appear to have survived into later editions.

Update: This rule does appear in B/X, Mentzer and 2nd edition AD&D. Thanks to
C. Wesley Clough on DF for pointing this out. Unless something turns up in OD&D this seems to be a rule that Holmes added that survived through to B/X, Mentzer and 2E.


Second, lycanthropes "are repelled by wolfsbane". OD&D included "wolvesbane" in the equipment list but without further explanation. Note the two different spellings. B/X uses "wolfsbane" and elaborates on the "repelled" rule with a "to hit" roll followed by a Save Vs Poison or flee.

In the last paragraph, there are a few changes to the published rulebook. The manuscript describes Were-bears as "often lawful" and this is changed is changed to "often good".

The OD&D description of the wererat included: "They move very quiety (as a 7th level thief). They can control rats as a Vampire does" - which is a 60% chance of moving silently per Greyhawk, and 10-100 rats per OD&D, Vol 2. The Holmes manuscript includes this as "They can move more silently like a human thief and can command normal rats like a Vampire". Holmes may have dropped the reference to the 7th level thief since that level is not covered in Basic. The published Basic rulebook changes this sentence to "They can move more silently, and can summon 10 to 100 rats as a vampire", thus omitting the reference to the thief entirely. By dropping the reference to "normal rats" they make it ambiguous whether the rats are normal or giant. B/X and the Monster Manual both have them summoning giant rats, but in much smaller numbers - only 1-2 or 2-12, respectively. The Monster Manual has no reference to the silent movement, but B/X lets them surprise on a 1-4 in 6. 

Manticore

Holmes' entry here follows the OD&D source very closely, including the mention of "horns" in the description. The only change to the published manuscript is to delete the reference to "horns" in the description. The second edition of the rulebook adds a picture of the Manticore by TSR artist Dave Trampier, who passed away recently.


Look Ma, no horns!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Part 27: "Mules Can Often Be Taken Into Dungeons"

Part 27 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 28 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 

Griffon 

The original entry for Griffons is on page 18 of OD&D, Vol 2, but lacks any description of what they look like, presumably because the traditional monster is a familiar form. So for the manuscript, Holmes adds a description, "The griffon is a fierce, swift, and loyal steed with the wings, heads and forelimbs of a giant eagle and the hindquarters of a lion". The next two sentences in the manuscript are concepts from the original entry. The only changes to the published rulebook are additions to the stats: a neutral alignment (Holmes didn't include one) and attacks/damage per Greyhawk.

Harpy 

This monster was added to D&D in the Greyhawk Supplement. The manuscript text includes all of the concepts from this source, just with Holmes' typical rephrasing. As with the Griffon, the published rulebook adds an alignment & attacks/damage. In this case, the variable attacks/damage, "1-4/attack" for "2 claws + 1 weapon", are a simplified version of those in  Greyhawk, "1-3/claw, 1-6/weapon". Strangely (or not?), the Monster Manual reverts to the OD&D numbers, and B/X combines the two: "1-4/1-4/1-6". There are two other minor changes in the published version: (1) The word Charms was underlined in the manuscript, and the published rulebook removes this formatting, and (2) the published rulebook adds an exclamation point to the end of the last sentence, adding the drama required by "...or be drawn irresistably to his doom!" 

Hell Hound 

Another Greyhawk beast. In the original source, their breath weapon damage "corresponds to the number of hit dice they have". In the manuscript, Holmes interprets this as a small amount of damage: "causing 3-7 points of damage (equal to the hounds' hit dice)". In the published rulebook, Gygax clarifies that the damage is similar to a fireball:  "causing 3-7 6-sided dice of damage (equal in number to the hounds' hit dice)". The rest of the manuscript is the same as the published rulebook, which as usual just adds an alignment and attack/damage per Greyhawk. 

Hippogriff 

The original entry in OD&D Vol 2 states "Although the name would imply a cross between the horse and the Griffon, the Hippogriff is another kind of beast entirely" and that they are fierce fighters that attack with hooves and sharp beaks, but gives no further description. As with the Griffon, Holmes adds more of a description: "The foreparts of a winged Griffon, the hindquarters of a horse, the Hippogriff is a fierce fighter, attacking with beak and hooves". The published rulebook accepts this sentence with two changes: the first part is changed to "Having the foreparts of a great eagle..."; and the end is changed to "attacking with claws and beak". The OD&D entry attack forms suggested the Hippogriff had hooves instead of claws; the revised attacks bring it in line with the tranditional conception as well as the varying attacks indicated in Greyhawk (claws + bite). Holmes also adds that they can be used as steeds, which was missing from the original description in OD&D Vol 2, but was referenced in a number of places in OD&D Vol 3. The published rulebook retains this. No other changes to the published rulebook. 

Hobgoblin 

Holmes makes a mistake in the manuscript, giving them HD 1, but the published rulebook corrects this to HD 1+1 . Following the original entry, Holmes' description has two sentences, but leaves out the reference to morale as there are no morale rules in his Basic. Holmes changes the number of bodyguards from 2-4 in the original to 1-4; this is retained in the published rulebook. The published rulebook changes Holmes' second sentence from "Hobgoblins are big powerful Goblins whom they resemble" to  "Hobgoblins are big, poweful goblinoids, and their morale (such as a saving throw against fear) is always a +1". This introduces one of the few references to morale in the Holmes Basic rulebook.

Greyhawk had most of the humanoids listed with two possible damages; for example, for Goblins/Kobolds, "1-4 or by weapon type" or for Hobgoblins, "1-8 or by weapon type". Holmes of course didn't include any of the variable damage. When Gygax added this back in, he left out the "by weapon type" for the humanoids, presumably because the Basic rules don't include variable damage. B/X went back to including the "or by weapon" option for humanoids". 

Horse 

Most of the info in Holmes' entry (e.g., movement, HD) comes from the table of stats on page 4 of OD&D, Vol 2. The description of Horses in OD&D, pg 21, lists the carrying capacity for all horses, but Holmes only includes the amount for mules (3500 gp) while mentioning that "Horses can usually carry more", perhaps because he thought that only the mules' carrying capacity was needed for the Basic rules, which focus on dungeon delving. For armor class, Holmes writes, "7, unless wearing barding (horse armor)". Barding is listed in the Equipment List but explained nowhere else in Holmes Basic, or OD&D for that matter. 

There are no significant changes from the manuscript to the 1st edition of the published rules. A later editor at TSR must have realized that the fighting capacity of horses was missing, so the 2nd edition of the rullebook adds an Attack/Damage stat, giving a single routine for all horses: 2 hooves for 1-6, 1 bite for 1-4. This is similar, but not identical, to the Medium Horse in Greyhawk, which has 2 hooves for 1-6, 1 bite for 1-3.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Part 26: "Always Attack Dwarves on Sight"

Part 26 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 27 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

Gnome 

Holmes' description is a rewording of the short original in OD&D, Vol 2 (pg 4 and 16). OD&D Vol 1 listed Gnomes along with Dwarves in the column of "Lawful", but Holmes gives them a "Neutral" alignment. In Strategic Review #5 (Feb 1976), Gygax introduced the 5-point alignment system and had placed gnomes in the square for Chaotic Good (near the border for Lawful). Thus it's no surprise that the published rulebook changes the alignment to "chaotic good 75%, neutral 25%". Later editions have them as "Neutral to Lawful Good" (Monster Manual) or "Lawful/Neutral" (B/X).

The published rulebook adds one sentence to the end of the description: "They favor crossbows". This preference doesn't appear in the Monster Manual, where they use short bows, slings and spears as missile weapons, but Tom Moldvay did keep it in B/X.

Gnomes as PCs is usually considered an AD&D-ism, but like many other rules it has roots in OD&D. In the Greyhawk Supplement, the section on Dwarf PCs on page 5 describes Dwarves as being "...of various types (hill, mountain, or burrowers)(such as gnomes)". Being in the character section, the implication is that the player can choose a type for a dwarf character, including a gnome. Holmes used some of the Dwarf descriptive material from Greyhawk in his section on characters, but left out the reference to the sub-types. 

In the Monster Manual gnomes receive an extensive new write-up that gives the first hint of their magical powers: "It is rumored that there exist gnomes with magical abilities up to 4th level, but this has not been proved" (pg 46). Gnomes were finally introduced as a full player character race in the Player's Handbook, where these magical abilities were revealed to be illusionist abilities, but of 5th to 7th level rather than 4th.

Goblin

Holmes draws on OD&D, Vol 1 (alignment) and Vol 2, pages 3 (stats) and 7 (description). Holmes lists their Alignment as "chaos", unusual because he doesn't usually include alignment if the monster is chaotic. Holmes has their Hit Dice as "1 - 1 point (but always a 1)", a typo corrected in the published rulebook as "1 -1 point (but always at least 1)". Holmes has their Treasure as "1-6 Gold Pieces each" which is from page 3 of Vol 2. The published rulebook changes this to a new Treasure Type, L, which is 2-12 electrum pieces per individual. 

The manuscript description is taken from two paragraphs on page 7 of OD&D, Vol 2, and follows it closely but drops a reference to morale since Basic doesn't include morale rules. Holmes adds a new sentence at the end about the leader-types: "They are large and fearless, fight at full strength under all conditions and take nothing of their hit die, in dark or light". Holmes may be equating these big goblins with Saruman's Uruk-Hai, who had resistance to sunlight. Holmes uses the term "hit die" to refer to the attack roll, something seen occasionally in OD&D. The published rulebook doesn't make any changes to the description.

Goblins are an important part of Holmes' "flavor text" in Holmes Basic: the first combat example is a battle with one, and a group appears in a room in the Sample Dungeon.


Update: Another tibdit. In Greyhawk, Goblins do 1d4 per hit. In the published Holmes Basic rulebook its upgraded to 1d6, the same as would later appear in the Monster Manual.




Illustration from the 1st edition rulebook

Holmes included all of the original OD&D "Clean-Up Crew" in Basic. We've previously seen the Black Pudding and Gelatinous Cube (added in Greyhawk), and next up are two more.

Gray Ooze

The manuscript retains all of the concepts from the original with just the typical minor editing & re-phrasing. The published manuscript changes "two dice of damage" (2d6 in OD&D Vol 2) to "two 8-sided dice of damage" to bring the damage in line with the alternate damage introduced in Greyhawk. Note that both the original and Holmes Basic say it takes a turn to do this damage, which would be ten minutes in OD&D, or 10 combat rounds in Holmes Basic. This may be a place where the original rules used "turn" to mean "round", because B/X clarifies the damage is per round.

Also, Gygax used Grey Oozes in the Shunned Cavern (Area G) in the module B2, which was originally written for Holmes Basic. There he provides some clarification for the Grey Ooze attack: "Each causes 1-8 points of damage on the first round, unless attacking from above, because half of their damage will be taken up in destroying the foot and leg protection of the victim. Thereafter, attacks cause 2-16 points of damage, as do attacks from above".

The 1st edition rulebook includes an illustration of the grey ooze (see above) that was cut from later editions. The art is unsigned but is likely by David C. Sutherland, or possibly Tom Wham. 

Green Slime

Again the manuscript retains all concepts from the original, even the reference to the Cure Disease spell, a third level Cleric spell which is not described the Basic rulebook. Holmes changes the word "non-mobile" to "non-motile, which the published rulebook changes back. I guess Holmes thought "motile" (able to move on its own) was more accurate than "mobile" (which more broadly includes things that can be set in motion). As we've seen repeatedly, the published rulebook adds a new sentence at the end of the description: "It often drops from high places, such as ceilings", perhaps to clarify how it might attack without being able to move. Does it drop from ceilings on its own accord when it senses the heat of an animal?

The Monster Manual clarifies that green slime is a "plant monster", so it could be subject to a Plant Control ring. Perhaps one could keep it from releasing from a ceiling, or even cause it to release itself from flesh.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Part 25: "Horrors are Naturals for Dungeons"

Part 25 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 26 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

Giants

Five types of giants are described in OD&D Vol 2, pg 8: Hill, Stone, Frost, Fire and Cloud. Holmes reproduces the table from this page and adds Storm Giants from Greyhawk, pg 34.
The Vol 2 entry begins, "As stated in CHAINMAIL, Giants act as mobile light catapaults with a 20' range", and Holmes goes to this source, using material from page 12-13 of Chainmail to describe the giants' thrown rocks. The published version keeps all of Holmes' text, including the material sourced from Chainmail, and adds a few columns to the table: "Alignment" and "Damage". The info for the "Damage" column comes from the varying dice table on page 17 of Greyhawk. However, in the last column the published version also retains the multiple dice damage from Vol 2 for the larger giants, resulting in two different ranges for damage. For example, Frost Giants are listed as doing "4-24" in the "Damage" column but 2 die + 1 damage per hit (i.e., 3-13 points of damage) in the last column. This inconsistency remained through all printings of the rulebook.

For those of you with later printings, I'll note that the first printing of the rulebook also contains two short paragraphs of text following the table that were deleted in the 2nd edition (1978) when the Monster List was reformatted:


These sentences are from Holmes' manuscript, and the subect matter is also sourced from the material in Vol 2, with the exception that the original only mentions the gold and not the rocks in the shoulder sacks. In an earlier post ("Blue Book Hydras"), I noted that the Monster Manual doesn't mention hydras in any of the entries for giants. But looking at B/X now, I note Hydras, along with Hell Hounds, are listed as guards for Fire Giants. So this early concept of Hydras as the pets of giants was retained in one later aspect of D&D.

Giant Animals and Insects



This is an important entry that was included in the manuscript but deleted from the published rulebook. It explains the various "giant vermin" that Holmes mentions throughout the rulebook. In the past, I had wondered why he mentions giants rats, spiders and other undescribed creatures in his examples and the Sample Dungeon when they aren't described in the Monster List. But now we see that they actually did have a point of reference in this catchall entry that follows the lead of OD&D, Vol 2, which has two entries for "Insects or Small Animals" (which includes wolves, centipedes, snakes and spiders) and "Large Insects or Animals" ("includes giant ants and prehistoric monsters"), that give some general, vague guidance on stats for these creatures. 

The dungeon encounter tables in Vol 3 of OD&D include some "Giant" creatures in the tables, such as "Giant Rats", "Giant Ants" and "Giant Snakes" but also just "Centipedes" and "Spiders". Greyhawk, page 18, includes some varying dice damage for these creatures, but no other stats. Most of these monsters didn't receive a full write-up until the Monster Manual, which was published after Holmes Basic. So Holmes synthesized what had come previously as this "Giant Animals and Insects" entry. He interprets a Giant Animal's hit dice as equal to its dungeon level, such as 1 HD giant rats on level 1, 2 HD giant rats on level 2, etc. It's a simple way to scale vermin by dungeon level. Earlier in the manuscript (Part 18), we saw an example of Holmes using such creatures in the Second Combat Example, where he has the party attacked by "six giant spiders with 1 hit die each", "armor class 3" and a bite that does the standard d6 of damage plus poison. 

This comes from a simpler era when giant animals weren't so codified, and DMs were expected to be able to easily come up with stats for these creatures themselves. As much as I like the original Monster Manual, I do like this simplicity - do we really need separate entries for every type giant animal? It also allows for more variety in the size of each type of giant animal.

In the published rulebook they simply deleted this entry without any corresponding replacement. This left the rulebook littered with mentions of giant vermin without any reference point in the Monster List. In particular, this created problems with the Wandering Monster Tables, as I've mentioned previously (for example see the post, "Basic Level Monster Tables 1974-1978"), although some stats for these creatures were present in the random tables in the Monster & Treasure Assortment also included in the boxed set along with the 1st edition rulebook. TSR may have thought these stats were sufficient.

Giant Ant, Giant Centipede, Giant Rats

These three entries were adding to the 2nd edition of the rulebook in 1978, after the Monster Manual was published, and are apparently adapted from the entries there. Naturally, they are not present in the manuscript.

Giant Tick 

This is the only "giant" animal that Holmes gives its own entry in the manuscript, and this reflects that it was also the first "giant" animal (along with Giant Slugs) to get its own full standard entry in OD&D, specifically in the Greyhawk supplement (although some aquatic "giant" creatures had their own descriptions in a special section for Naval Advenures in OD&D Vol 2). Holmes' description of the ticks follows the Greyhawk description closely, including a mention of the spell Cure Disease which is not described in the Basic rulebook. The published rulebook follows the manuscript, with no changes to the description and only adding a single attack for d4 damage to the stats.

Gnoll

This is another entry not included by Holmes in the manuscript, and thus not found in the published rulebook but was later added to the 2nd edition. This one differs from the others in that Gnolls were fully described back in OD&D Vol 2, are humanoids rather than vermin, and are even an entry on the 2nd level of the Wandering Monster table that Holmes included in the manuscript (see Part 7). Holmes may have overlooked these humanoids when compiling his Monster List, but possibly in left them out in favor of the many other types of humanoids.

Update: Andy C on G+ asked about the Tom Wham "Gnoll" illustration in the first edition rulebook. Yes, it's there near the 'G' monsters (on the top of page 26), even without an entry for Gnoll. It's not clear if Wham originally intended for the creatures were to be gnolls, although the look remarkably similar to Sutherland's gnoll in the Monster Manual (which was published after the rulebook, but possibly drawn earlier). 

Gnolls are also mentioned in the Holmes manuscript in two other places: the languages that elves speak, and the humanoids subject to Charm Person.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Enter the Gateway to Adventure

1980 advertisement for Holmes Basic. Click for larger view

Here's a great scan of a Holmes Basic ad from 1980, courtesy grodog in a post at the Acaeum. This particular ad is from the Sept 1980 issue Fantastic Films, a sci-fi/fantasy movie magazine that ran from 1978-1985. The ad probably ran in other publications around the same time.I've posted a shot of this ad before, but it was a low res photo of a clipping that was being auctioned on Ebay so I had no idea of the source.

This ad shows later edition of the Holmes Basic Set, that includes the module B2 and chits instead of dice. This was the same version that I got as my first set, at the rather late date of 1982. The rulebook is probably the last (third) edition, which is dated December 1979 on the title page.

The module B2 has a copyright date of 1980. Frank Mentzer started working at TSR on January 20th, 1980, and one his first jobs was editing B2. The Library of Congress lists a date of July 2nd, 1980 for B2. So mid-1980 may be the date for the appearance of the Basic Set with B2. Which is not very long before the Moldvay Set appeared in early 1981 (January according to the title page, Feb 16th according to the Library of Congress listing).

One interesting detail is that the ad apparently shows a pre-production cover of the module B2. If you look closely, the cover is apparently black rather than purple. Also, the upper left corner with "B2" is white rather than purple. There are also two bits of text that are only found on the title page of the published version: The IBSN number, lower left, below "Printed in the U.S.A." and the last three lines of text on the cover that begin "Distributed to the book trade..." No actual printings of a module looking like this have been found; the consensus is that it is a pre-production mock-up. So the photo may have been taken before the module was actually printed, perhaps in the spring of 1980. 


There's an earlier version of this ad showing the 2nd edition of the Basic Set with the module B1 and chits. The scan I have is black and white although it possibly was run in color as well.



"Gateway to Adventure" was also used as the title of TSR catalogs from around the same time period, which can sometimes be found with Basic Sets on Ebay. Here are several versions of this catalog:


Grey "Demon" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1980


Black "Demon" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1980
I have one of these rare black covered Gateway catalogs but need to make a scan of the cover. This image is from an old auction. IIRC it predates the more common grey cover.



Brown "Doorway" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1981. Source: Tome of Treasures
In my experience this is the most common of the "Gateway" catalogs found on Ebay. And there are at least three different versions of this catalog, all with the same front cover. The earliest one has a blank brown back cover, which can be see here at Tome of Treasures. According to that post, "There are a few items that have "Coming In 1981" in the product picture area for items that weren't quite ready for this publication.

The second version has a t-shirt order form on the back cover, including a Sutherland Red Dragon T-shirt), but also still has a number of items listed as "Coming in 1981". When I bought the pdf of the B/X Expert Set from D&D Classics last year, it included a scan of the entire earlier version of this catalog at the end of the pdf. You can also see it via the flickr link provided by 2warps in the comments down below. 

The third version also has the t-shirt order form on the back cover, but the interior has been updated with pictures for new items. It also replaces the OD&D listings on page 9 with new products like the minigames and the Fiend Folio.

(I updated this section of this post on 3/13).


"Morley" Gateway to Adventure catalog, circa 1982. Source: Tome of Treasures
This catalog, featuring the irksome "Morley" the wizard (also found in the boardgame Fantasy Forest), is the last one to feature the "Gateway to Adventure" tagline. In the 1983 catalog, Morley reappears but with a different tag, "Follow me to the Promised Land of Adventure Games".


"Morley" Adventure Games catalog, circa 1983. Source: Tome of Treasures

Friday, March 7, 2014

Part 24: "Winged Beasts of Hideous Aspect"

Part 24 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 25 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 

Elves: The material is sourced from in OD&D, Vol 1, page 17 (alignment) and Vol 2, pages 4 (most stats) and 16 (description). Holmes keeps the stats the same, except for alignment. The original table has Elves listed under Law and Neutrality, but Holmes represents this as "usually Lawful". The published version changes this to "chaotic good (some neutral)".

For the description, Holmes reduces the original from eight sentences to three.  The content of the first sentence is retained, referring to the two types, "wood Elves and meadow-land elves". The published rulebook changes the second type to "high elves". 

The OD&D source then presents elvish leaders: for every 50 elves, there is an elf Fighter Lvl 1-4/M-U Lvl 1-6, and for every 100, an elf of Lvl 4/8. Fighter 4 and M-U 8 were the level limits of elves in the original rules. Holmes changes this to: "When a group of 50 is encountered, they will have a leader (fighter or magic-user) of 4th to 8th level". The "fighter or magic-user" presumably refers back to Holmes' section on characters where elves could decide to be fighters or magic-users for each adventure. It also gives the appearance of allowing for Fighters up to 8th level. The published rulebook takes it back toward the original, with a "leader (fighter/magic-user) of 2-4 level/2-8 level ability", and adds "(possibly fewer)" to the number of elves.

Ents
Here we have another 'wilderness' monster that, like Centaurs and Dryads, was cut from the manuscript by TSR. The stats and text are drawn straight from the OD&D source. 

Early printings of OD&D referred to these creatures as 'Ents' per Tolkien but later printings changed them to 'Treants'. This changed was made in late 1977, after the 1st print of Holmes Basic was released, and at the same time other Tolkien references such as "hobbit" and "balrog" were generally removed from the OD&D booklets.

Fire Beetle:  This monster was added, along with several other low HD creatures, by TSR to the 2nd edition (Nov 1978) of the rulebook. As expected, it is not found in the manuscript.

Gargoyles: The material is sourced from in OD&D, Vol 1, page 17 (alignment) and Vol 2, pages 3 (most stats) and 14 (description). Holmes' stats are identical to the original, though he leaves out the alignment as usual when the monster is chaotic and evil. In the description, he adds the descriptor "of hideous aspect" and simplifies the original's 75% chance of attacking to "will attack nearly anything". He also changes "at least semi-intelligent, and usually can be relied upon to behave with forethought and planning" to "are semi-intelligent and cunning". He also inexplicably leaves out the last, important sentence that "Only magical weapons/attacks affect Gargoyles". The published rulebook restores the "at least semi-intelligent" and the final sentence: "They can only be hit with magic weapons". The published rulebook also gives them four attacks for 1-4 points of damage each. This is a simplification of Greyhawk, pg 17, which has them with "2 claws/1 bite/1 horn" for "1-3/claw, 1-6/bite, 1-4/horn". It's quite an attack upgrade from OD&D Vol 2, and the Holmes manuscript, where they get only the single standard attack of 1d6, making Gargoyles much more fearsome opponents.

Gelatinous Cube: Gelatinous Cubes were briefly described in OD&D, Vol 2, pg 22, but lacked any stats. Greyhawk remedied this, providing full stats and an expanded description (pg 39). Holmes follows this source closely, even mentioning the non-standard (2d4) damage in the the description. He simplifies "subject to normal weapons and fire, but lightning, cold, paralization, fear, and polymorph attacks do not harm them" to "subject to fire and normal weapons but not to cold, lightning or most spells". This can be considered a defensive upgrade as it seems to preclude more spells (like magic missile or sleep). The published rulebook retains this change. The Monster Manual later explained this as immunity to electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph and sleep; Moldvay Basic simply drops the "most spells" portion. A minor change in the published rulebook is a change from "sweep through rooms" to "move through rooms" in the second sentence.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Part 23: "Shy and Beautiful Female Tree Sprites"

Part 23 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 24* of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...   (* page 23 if you have a 2nd or 3rd edition).

Today we cover the 'D' monsters in the Monster List: 

Dervishes



Following the trend, another 'man-type' (along with Buccaneers and Cavemen) that was cut from the manuscript. The material is sourced from OD&D, Vol 2, pages 6 and 22-23. The original notes that "they fight as Berserkers, never checking morale, with +1 on hit dice, and otherwise as Nomads". The original's "+1 on hit dice" may just mean that they have 1+1 HD as Berserkers, but Holmes interprets it as a +1 to hit. 

Displacer Beast: A Greyhawk Monster, described on pages 6 (alignment), 19 (attacks/damage), 33 (other stats), 38 (description) of that supplement, and referring back to the Displacer Cloak in OD&D, Vol 2, pg 36. In the manuscript, Holmes faithfully transcribes the stats but leaves out the alignment (which as noted earlier implies "obviously chaotic and evil") and leaves out attacks/damages as usual. In the description, Holmes omits a nice bit of description from the original that they have black fur and eyes that "glow a hellish green", and their 'enmity' with Blink Dogs (perhaps because he already mentioned this in that entry.
Holmes also replaces the reference to the Displacer Cloak with its actual effect (-2 to be hit and +2 to saving throws). The original also stated that they have high magic resistance, "equalling that of a 12th level fighter". It's a bit unclear what this means, but presumably that they save as a 12th level fighter versus spells. This would be +4 over what an ordinary 6 HD monster would receive, or +2 more than their regular bonus. Holmes just states twice that they get a +2 on their saving throws, when it probably should be a +2 on most saves, +4 on magic. The published manuscript keeps Holmes text exactly as written, including the double mention of +2 on saving throws. The later Monster Manual and Moldvay Basic also just give them a +2 on all saves, without mention of high magic resistance, so it seems the "12th level" save dropped out with Holmes and was never brought back.

Djinni: This is the first monster found in the published rulebook that is not found in the manuscript. Djinn originally appeared in OD&D, Vol 2, but the text in the published Holmes rulebook appears to be a intermediate between that source and what would later in the Monster Manual. The material is generally the same, but with more detail added as Gygax  did generally for all of the monsters in the MM. Perhaps the entry here was drawn from a draft of the Monster Manual. It's unclear why Gygax added this higher HD (7+1), fairly complicated monster to the Basic rules. Later in B/X Djinni were relegated to the Expert set.

Dopplegangers: Other than the title this entry is on a page missing from the manuscript. As I reported back in Part 1, page 67 is missing from all copies of the final manuscript including the one that I have a scan of (I've requested a copy of the same material from an earlier draft but haven't received it). So there's not much to comment on here other than that Holmes included Dopplegangers (a Greyhawk monster) in the manuscript and they made it into the published rulebook.

Dragons: Unfortunately, the first half of the entry on Dragons is also on page 67. The remainder is on page 68. I'll hold off on commenting on this in hopes I can later see the whole entry from an earlier draft.

Dryad



Another 'wilderness' creature that, like Centaurs, was included in manuscript but then cut by TSR. The material is sourced from OD&D, Vol 1, page 3 (Neutral alignment) and Vol 2, page 3 (other stats) and page 16 (description). Holmes gives a -1 to the saving throw versus the Charm, but the original had a "+10% chance of succeeding", which would actually be a -2 on a d20. The statement that "If their tree is cut down they die" is an addition by Holmes.

Dwarves: The material is sourced from in OD&D, Vol 1, page 17 (alignment) and Vol 2, pages 3 (most stats) and 16 (description). Holmes keeps the stats the same, except for alignment. The original table had Dwarves listed under Law and Neutrality, but Holmes represents this as "Lawful 25%, Neutral 75%". The published version keeps this but changes "Lawful" to "Lawful Good". 

For the description, Holmes reduces the original from six sentences to two. His first sentence just refers to the section on Characters, and this is retained as published. His second sentence says "For every 40 Dwarves there will be one high order Dwarf, the leader, who may have magic arms or armor". This is a simplification of the second and third sentences of the original. As noted by Desert Scribe, Holmes uses 'order' here again in place of 'level' (see also Parts 5, 7 and 8 of this series), and in this one case this terminology survived into the published manuscript. The published rulebook also put "(or possibly fewer)" after "40 Dwarves", and adds "...and be of level 2-7" at the end. In the original rules Dwarves could only work up to level 6 in Fighter; Greyhawk allows for levels 7 or 8 with high strength (as well as thieves of unlimited level).

Holmes leaves out a few concepts from the original. First, that Dwarves take 1/2 damage from Ogres and Giants. This concept would later reappear in AD&D as a -4 to be hit, but did not re-appear in the subsequent D&D line (Moldvay etc). Perhaps Holmes wasn't sure if this applied to Players or not so left it out. Second, Holmes leaves out that Dwarves may have intelligent beasts such as bear or wolves.