Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Copyright Records

More copyright records related to Holmes Basic:

Monster & Treasure Assortment Set 1, included in the 1st edition Holmes set:

     This has a 2/15/77 publication date, indicating it was available before the Holmes Set. I've always had that impression, probably from something written on the Acaeum. M&TA Set 2 has the same publication date in the database, but Set 3 is listed as being published 5/10/78. This matches the Acaeum, which records a 1978 copyright date for Set 3. Was there really more than a year between the publication of the first two sets and the third one?

Edit: These dates do fit with the product lists for the first three printings of the Holmes rulebook. The first (1977) and second printing (Jan 1978) list the first two M&TA sets listed with prices (i.e., available for purchase), with the third as a "Future Release". The third printing (May 1978) has the third M&TA now listed with a price.

     The database doesn't have a record for the Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1, which was also included in the early Holmes sets. The Acaeum records a 1976 date for this product, which means that it may have been registered before the Copyright Office electronic records begin in 1978. Geomorphs Set II and III each have a 9/21/77 date, after the Basic Set.

Edit: On the other hand, all three Geomorphs sets are listed as available starting with first printing of the Holmes rulebook.

B1 In Search of the Unknown, included in the 2nd edition Holmes Set:

     This record indicates a 3/13/79 publication date. This seems late, as the 2nd Edition Holmes Basic rulebook is dated Nov 1978 on the title page, and also refers to B1 by name on page 39. On the other hand, the copyright information in the B1 module itself is dated 1979. Perhaps the Holmes Set that included the 2nd Edition rulebook and B1 was not actually available until March '79? Alternately, the B1 copyright record is incorrect, as the Acaeum seems to assume (dating the first print of B1 to Nov 78 despite the 1979 date). It's hard to know how accurate the registration records are, particularly because some of them were registered long after the fact; for example this B1 record was registered in 1983. Dragon magazine #22 (Feb '78) has a full-page advertisement for B1 but this doesn't really provide evidence either way.

B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, included in the 3rd edition Holmes Set:

     This record indicates a 7/2/80 publication date. This is also much later than I'd previously thought for B2. Again, the associated rulebook (3rd edition Bluebook) has a much earlier title page date (Dec 1979). And again, the module itself list the next year (here, 1980) for the copyright date, and the Acaeum indicates that it must be wrong. I'm not really sure. But if the 1st print of B2 didn't come out in July 1980, that doesn't leave much time for it be for sale until the Moldvay set comes out with a revised version (Feb 81, according to the copyright info).

Saturday, October 29, 2011


    Saw Anonymous last night, the new "Who's the Real Shakespeare?" movie, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't believe the theories, but they make for an entertaining story, and they push them to the limit in this one. Lots of polearms, too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

TSR Basic Set copyright record

     Above is a record I've never looked up until now - the copyright registration for the Holmes Basic Set at the U.S. Copyright Office, which maintains the records (and is part of the Library of Congress).

     The database can be searched on-line here and includes registrations from 1978 to present. Some older titles are included if they were registered later, such as the Basic Set (registered 6/21/78). The "Basis of Claim" is "rev. text, ill. & compilation". This could refer to 2nd edition of the set (Nov 1978), but more likely just refers to the changes over the OD&D set. Each TSR product seems to have only a single record in the database, regardless of how many editions/printings. There's not another one for the Basic Set until the Moldvay Set, which has a listed publication date of 2/16/1981, giving us a date for the start of the end of the Holmes Era (the Holmes Basic Set was still available through TSR's Mail Order Hobby Shop until at least 1986).

     The most interesting piece of information in the copyright registration is the publication date of 7/10/77. This is the earliest date I've seen for the set, but doesn't necessarily mean it was available for sale at this time. The earliest advertisement I've seen is in the September 1977 issue of The Dragon (#9). This advertisement describes but doesn't actually show the set itself, just the cover art. IIRC, Dragon magazines were prepared a few months in advance, which could approximate the July 10 date. A big question is whether the set was for sale at Gen Con X in Aug 1977. There is a record of Holmes being at this Gen Con, although it wasn't until the next Aug that he was honored as a special guest for his editorial work. A few 1st print Basic Sets have been spotted with blank bottoms, and one hypothesis advanced on the Acaeum is that these represent early Gen Con releases (They could also simply be some extra copies where TSR ran out of printed box bottoms and substituted blank ones). I asked Tim Kask (organizer of Gen Con X) about this on Dragonsfoot, and he said it was a possibility but he couldn't remember any specifics. The date listed in the copyright record at least supports the possibility the set was available at Gen Con X.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two new Hobbit books out today

     Each year produces a crop of new Tolkien-related books. Already having a decent collection of "Tolkien Studies" (the entire History of Middle-Earth series by Chris Tolkien; books by Tom Shippey, Douglas Anderson, Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull, John Rateliff and Charles Kane), I've grown selective about new acquisitions. But two books released today look promising. Both tie in with next year's 75th anniversary of the original publication of The Hobbit. They are currently only available in the UK but hopefully they will be released in the U.S.

- The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull

     This is an book of art by Tolkien, like Hammond and Scull's earlier (and awesome) Artist and Illustrator. This one focuses solely on the art for the The Hobbit, containing "the complete collection of more than 100 Hobbit sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien ... Some of these images are now published for the first time, and others for the first time in colour". And with a nice slipcover! (see picture above).

-The History of the Hobbit (One-Volume Edition) by J.R.R. Tolkien and John D. Rateliff

     This book combines the two volumes of the History of the Hobbit published in 2007 (Mr. Baggins and Return to Bag-End), with corrections and new additions. I have the originals and love to pick one up before bed and read one of the short essays by Rateliff on various Tolkien themes. In a recent long interview at, Rateliff said the following about the new edition:

 "...I spent this summer preparing the new edition that’ll be out soon (sometime later this month, I think). I’d prepared a new appendix (Appendix V: The Author’s Copies List) and what I call the Addendum several years back, but they needed a lot of work to see them through the press. Esp. the latter, which represents a few pages of new material by Tolkien, mainly dating from circa 1965-66 (found by Christopher Tolkien in one of his father’s copies of The Hobbit, but too late for me to include in the original printing).

This is a ‘new edition’ in that it adds some new material at the end and fixes errors where I’m aware of them. But it’s not a complete re-write: we weren’t able to re-typeset the whole, so I couldn’t add as much new material as I would have otherwise. For example, information I’d put up on my blog re. a Sixth and Seventh ring of invisibility that could have been among Tolkien’s sources for Bilbo’s ring is referenced in a daggered note referring people to the blog entry, since we weren’t able to squeeze whole new paragraphs into that chapter. A long piece on trolls turning to stone in Grettir’s Saga (which I owe to Marjorie Burns) and in a piece by Helen Buckhurst (which I owe to Doug Anderson) appears in abbreviated form. I’d also have liked to add more acknowledgments than there was room for, to thank all those who sent in errata by name. I was able to add about a page regarding a still-earlier form of Denham’s list. And the whole benefits from Charles Noad’s scrupulous proofing."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dr. Holmes and the Cthulhu Mythos in Deities & Demigods

Cthulhu by Erol Otus, from DEITIES & DEMIGODS (1980)
     Every player of AD&D knows the story of how the Cthulhu Mythos was excised from later printings of Deities & Demigods ("Banned!" as some Ebay auctions would have you believe). Theories abound as to why this occurred, but what is little appreciated is the role Dr. Holmes played in co-authoring this material. In the Credits and Acknowledgments section of D&DG (pg 4), Holmes is thanked "especially for his help with the Cthulhu Mythos", but his contribution was more extensive than this implies.
     Back in the summer of 1977 at Gen Con X, Dr. Holmes and Rob Kuntz met and discussed writing a summary of H.P. Lovecraft's mythology for a revision of Gods, Demigods & Heroes for AD&D. This was just prior to the initial release of the Basic Set edited by Dr. Holmes (Fall '77). Holmes and Kuntz corresponded several times, which resulted in a collaboration, "The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons", published in The Dragon #12 (Feb 1978). This article was presented in a Sorcerer's Scroll column by Rob Kuntz, but the introductory paragraph attributes it to "Dr. Holmes ... with additions by my humble self". Kuntz later wrote that the original draft was by Dr. Holmes and that he added "Hastur and a few others". A letter from a reader in The Dragon #14 criticized some details in the article, and was followed by a letter from Dr. Holmes in The Dragon #16 (May 1978) titled "A Rebuttal to "The Cthulhu Mythos Revisited"", which ends with an editorial note indicating he was a co-author of the original article. In this letter, Holmes implies that he worked on at least the entries for Azathoth, Cthulhu, Elder Signs, the Necronomicon, the Old Ones, and Shaggoths [sic]. For example, he writes: "My description of Alhazred's fate is taken from H.P. Lovecraft's "History and Chronology of the Necronomicon"". Now compare the material concerning Alhazred in the original article and in D&DG:

"Alhazred was seized in the streets of Damascus by invisible demons and devoured horribly in front of many witnesses. Those who have studied his writings have sometimes met a fate nearly as terrible" (The Lovecraftian Mythos in D&D, pg 18-19)

"Alhazred was later seized in the streets of a desert city by invisible demons and devoured horribly in front of many witnesses. Those who have studied his writings have sometimes met a fate nearly as terrible" (D&DG, page 48)

      As can be seen, the two are almost the same. Some entries in the D&DG chapter were revised more than this, but each entry in the D&DG chapter corresponds to one found in the original article. Only one entry in the original article ("Yig, Supreme God of Serpents") is not found in D&DG.

      I think the evidence, particularly Rob Kuntz's statement, points to Holmes being the primary co-author of the original article, and since much of the original article remains in the D&DG chapter, in my opinion he deserved a co-author credit for that section of D&DG.

-"The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons", article by Rob Kuntz and J. Eric Holmes, THE DRAGON #12, Feb 1978, pg 18 & 20-21
-“A Rebuttal to “The Cthulhu Mythos Revisited”", letter by J. Eric Holmes, THE DRAGON #16, May 1978, pg 22.
-"Cthulhu Mythos", DEITIES & DEMIGODS, 1980, pg 43-48
-Post by Rob Kuntz, 2002, Pied Piper Publishing Forums, "General OAD&D Trivia" thread
-Post by Frank Mentzer in, 2004, describes auction of Holmes-Kuntz correspondence and manuscript

-J. Eric Holmes Annotated Bibliography

This topic was originally discussed here at the OD&D Discussion Forums.

See also: Part II, where Holmes' original manuscript for the Dragon article is examined.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holmes Basic, as intended

Over on Dragonsfoot, forum member paleologos describes playing D&D with his young son for the first time, using the Holmes rules.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phantom Cat

Rubens, Study of a Griffon and a Mountain Lion
     The module B2 also contains several dangerous "normal" animals that don't appear in the Blue Book, including huge dogs (page 8, jewel merchant's quarters), adders (page 10, bank vault) and a puma (page 13, mad hermit). Here is a standardized version of Gygax's puma for Basic/OD&D, re-christened "phantom cat" (after the real world phenomenon):

Phantom Cat

Move: 150 feet/turn
Hit Dice:  3 + 3
Armor Class: 6
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: neutral
Attacks: 3
Damage: 1-6 hit points each

    Solitary "stalk and ambush" hunters including pumas, jaguars and other more mysterious large cats such as the onza. They roam large territories in the deep woods, swamps or other wild areas, yet are seldom seen. Due to their speed (18 dexterity) they attack first in each round. In the first round of combat they will leap on an opponent from a high place (tree branch or cliff), gaining a +2 to hit on each attack for the first round. Thereafter they will fight normally from the ground unless given the opportunity to return to a height and leap again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Giant Rat King

The Cat and the Old Rat, Gustave Dore, 1868
     In the Blue Book, most of the humanoids are led by exceptional types (kobold leaders fight as gnolls, goblin leaders fight as hobgoblins, etc). In B2, Gygax extends this conceit to the giant rats who live in association with the kobolds in Cave A of the Caves of Chaos: "but their leader (rat #18) who will be at the back of the pack, a huge fellow (DX 12, AC 5 due to speed and cunning, HD 1-1, hp 4, #AT 2 , D 2-4, i.e., 1-3 + 1) wears a thin silver chain set with 5 small gems" (pg 15). This is a step up from the standard giant rat in terms of hit dice, attacks, damage and speed, and gives us another monster variant to add to the Blue Book Monster List:

Giant Rat King

Move: 180 feet/turn, 90 feet/turn swimming
Hit Dice: 1-1
Armor Class: 5
Treasure Type: Q
Attacks: 2
Damage: 2-4 hit points

     For every 15 giant rats encountered, one will be a leader of exceptional size, speed and cunning (typical giant rat dexterity is 8; typical leader dexterity is 12), who commands his minions from safety at the back of the pack. When forced to, these leaders attack twice (bite and claws). They have a fondness for gems and jewelry such as necklaces. They otherwise conform to standard giant rats.

Postscript: While looking for an image to go with this post, I came across this disturbing article about real-life "Rat Kings" (tangled rats).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Holmes on Holmes Basic

A compilation of quotes from J. Eric Holmes regarding the creation of the first Basic Set:

From “Fantasy Life in a Game Without End”, by Beth Ann Krier, LA Times, 7/11/79 (pg H1):
"Holmes recalls reading all the way through the [OD&D] rules and still not knowing how to play the game. He first became angry and later offered to edit the rulebook. "Some like having D&D simplified. And there are others for whom it can never be too complicated" he says, adding that his revision attempted to preserve some of the Byzantine D&D flavor and didn't dare tamper with such beloved phrases as "loathsome trolls are tough and rubbery and have the ability to regenerate."
From "Basic D&D Points of View" by J. Eric Holmes, DRAGON #52, 8/81, pg 14 and 16-17:
"When Tactical Studies Rules published the first DUNGEONS & DRAGONS rule sets, the three little books in brown covers, they were intended to guide people who were already playing. As a guide to learning the game, they were incomprehensible ... When I edited the rules prior to the first edition of the D&D Basic Set, it was to help the thousands (now millions) of people who wanted to play the game and didn’t know how to get started. Gary Gygax acknowledged that some sort of beginner’s book was badly needed, and he encouraged me to go ahead with it. What I discovered is that the invention has four vital parts: the first is character generation ... the second part concerns magic ... third, a section on "the encounter" ... Finally, there needs to be a section of the rulebook intended for the DM ... [that] include guidelines for setting up and conducting adventures, usually with several examples. I struggled very hard to make all these things clear to the readers of the first Basic Rules and yet retain the flavor and excitement of the original rules. I even used the words of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Collectors Edition (the original books) whenever possible. I had disagreements with Gary over some items (I wanted to use a spell point system, for instance), but we kept the rules as close as possible to the original intent. D&D is, after all, a truly unique invention, probably as remarkable as the die, or the deck of cards, or the chessboard. The inventor’s vision needs to be respected."

"The first Basic Set rulebook contained some irritating typographical errors. Someone at TSR rewrote the wandering monster table and put in a number of creatures that were not in my list of monster descriptions. But most of the errors were corrected for the second printing."

"The first Basic Set had one of those diagrams which said that blink dogs were lawful good and brass dragons were chaotic good. I never felt that this was particularly helpful. I am sure Gary Gygax has an idea in his mind of what chaotic good (or other “obscure” alignments, etc.) may be, but it certainly isn’t clear to me."

"Organizing a Party, The Caller: I think this rule should have been thrown out. I put it into the first Basic Set because it was in the original invention. I have never seen a successful game where one of the players was elected caller and actually did all the talking to the DM. Usually everybody talks at once. The resulting confusion is much more lifelike; one can hear the characters dithering at the cross corridor as the monsters approach."

"I’m glad to see Moldvay included the dragons just as I did in the first edition. It seems almost silly to describe dragons in a book intended only for player characters up to the third level. On the other hand, think how disappointed you would be if you were an inexperienced player who bought a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game and found nothing about dragons inside!"

"I’m proud of the original Basic Set, and I like to think I did a good job of describing a great invention, the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game, so that everyone could enjoy it. The nicest compliment I ever got for it was from a game-store manager who said, “That’s made a lot of people happy.”"

From Fantasy Role Playing Games by John Eric Holmes, November 1981:
"In 1974 I persuaded Gygax that the original D&D rules needed revision and that I was the person to rewrite them. He readily conceded that there was a need for a beginners' book and "if you want to try it, go ahead.
I went through the original three rule books and the first two supplements, Blackmoor and Greyhawk, of which Greyhawk is the greatest help. Trying to use the original words of the two game creators as much as possible, I edited a slim (48 page) handbook for beginners in role playing, published by TSR in 1977 as Dungeons and Dragons and usually marketed as "the basic set"” (pg 68).

"The Basic Set of Dungeons & Dragons can be purchased as a rule book alone or as a boxed game with rule book, dungeon module, dice and miscellaneous playing aids. While limited, the game is complete in itself" (pg 80, caption for picture of Holmes Basic Set with rulebook, module B2 and chits).

"Most game stores no longer sell the original three little D&D booklets, so these need not be considered by the beginner. It was out of these booklets, plus the supplements that were issued every year, that I edited the Basic Set rulebook. This has been re-edited and reprinted and the version now sold has eliminated some of the inconsistencies and typographical errors that appeared in the first edition. The boxed set includes dice and a pre-written dungeon adventure. The dice are usable but so cheaply made that most gamers throw them away and buy another set" (pg 79).

"When and how should he transfer from one game system to the other be made, and should the Basic Set be used at all, since the game will outgrow it? 

Let me answer the first question last, since the Basic Set is, to some extent, my own creation. It fairly represents, I think, the game as it was first produced. As much as possible it uses Gygax's and Arneson's words from those first scrambled rule books. It seems to me to be unfortunate that Advanced D&D does not grow smoothly and naturally out of the Basic Rules, but it doesn't. The combat system is different. Anyone is going to go on with the game to higher and higher levels (the Basic Set only covers the first three levels of experience) should start with the Advanced D&D and not bother buying the Basic Set. I think I can give this advice objectively, since I have no financial interest in the sale of Basic D&D sets" (pg 84).

"Earlier criticism of D&D was based, very rightly, on the total obscurity of the rules. It was literally true that one could only learn to play the game by watching a game in progress. I would like to think that this problem was solved by the "Basic Set" booklet, which takes the beginner into the first three levels of experience" (pg 98).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warrior Zombie

WOG20 Zombie & Skeleton Infantry. Image from the Lost Minis Wiki

     Another source of "lost" monsters by Gygax is in the module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. The irony here is that B2 perhaps had the largest print run of any TSR module. However, while B2 was written specifically for Holmes Basic, it has some non-standard monsters that are not found in the Blue Book Monster List. Unlike most other TSR modules, these monsters were not presented in a special section in the back of the module and thus tend to be forgotten. One of these is the zombie guards who were "once 3rd level fighters", found in the anteroom to the Chambers of the Evil Priest in the Caves of Chaos.
     Here is a standardized adaptation for Holmes Basic or OD&D:

Warrior Zombie 

Move: 120 feet/turn
Hit Dice: 2+1 hit point or more
Armor Class: variable
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: neutral
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-8 hit points

     The animated corpses of fighting men, often commanded by an evil priest. Hit dice is equal to the former fighter level plus 1 hit point, with a minimum of 2+1. Their armor class depends on the type worn. Thus a warrior zombie created from the corpse of a third level fighter and wearing plate mail and shield would have a hit dice of 3+1 and an armor class of 2. Being stronger and faster than regular zombies, they get one attack per round and strike  for 1-8 points of damage, generally with a weapon.
     They can be turned by clerics in a manner dependent on hit dice. A warrior zombie with 2+1 hit dice is turned as a regular zombie, one with 3+1 hit dice is turned as a ghoul, one with 4+1 hit dice is turned as a wight, and so forth. They otherwise conform to standard zombies.

Image from the Lost Minis Wiki

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Iron Skeletons of Grusyin

Adapted from Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (1543), pg 163

     Most of Gygax's monster creations are well-known from being compiled in the various AD&D hardcover beastiaries. There are, however, a few "lost" Gygaxian monsters that appeared only in one or another obscure product. Such as the Aurotyugh, a relative of the Otyugh that mimics a pile of gold and is described only in the sample encounters in Dungeon Geomorphs: Set Two - Caves & Caverns (1976). Or the Iron Skeletons of Grusyin, found only in the AD&D-lite board game in the 1979 AD&D Coloring Album. Below is an adaptation of these skeletons for Holmes Basic (or OD&D).

Iron Skeleton

Move: 60 feet/turn
Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 0
Treasure Type: F
Alignment: neutral
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-8

     Wrought iron skeletons first forged by the mad wizard Grusyin in the distant past. Certain sorcerers have re-discovered the difficult process of creation and use them as guards, sometimes in false crypts hiding treasure. Occasionally one "bone" of the skeleton is a key to open a lock to the treasure. They appear as grey but otherwise ordinary skeletons wielding a weapon or tool of iron.
     Being minor golems they are not turned by clerics, but like the undead they are unaffected by sleep or charm spells. The low armor class reflects the difficulty in damaging the metal bones. 

(Notes: In the Coloring Album game the Skeletons can take only 1 "Hit" but are the most difficult monster to hit, beyond even the Xorn, which has an AC of -2 in AD&D. No monster in Holmes has an AC below 2, so I placed the AC at 0. In Holmes Basic skeletons only have 1/2 HD and AC8, so the iron skeletons are much tougher. For AD&D, you might use an AC of -3, and possibly a higher HD).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adventures in the Dungeon

Adventures in the Dungeon is a mini-boardgame by Gary Gygax included in the 1979 Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album (published by Troubadour Press in conjunction with TSR; art by Greg Irons). The game uses the board shown above, which is found in the center of the coloring book. As I wrote previously, the map on this board is re-drawn from the Sample Dungeon map in the Blue Book.

The game is for 1-4 players who control the following four characters:

(This table integrates info found on pages 4 and 6 of the album. Click on the table for a clearer view.)

The party enters the dungeon at spot marked Start (the same entrance as in the Holmes Sample Dungeon). The goal of the party is to recover the Holy Talisman of St. Cuthbert. Combat uses 2d6 for both the character and monster attacks, much like DUNGEON!, except that a successful strike causes damage (a "hit"). Each character or monster can take a specified number of hits, which should be tracked during the game. Thus, the game is sort of part way between DUNGEON! and D&D.

(This list summarizes info found on pages 8-16 of the album)

There's also a scoring system which gives the characters 25 points for each surviving character; this is pretty much meaningless except that it denotes whether the victory is Pyrrhic (25), Costly (50), Resounding (75) or Triumphant (100).

And last we have the monsters. They are described room-by-room on pages 22-30, one paragraph per room. There's little information other than the monster stats and abilities, except for "Area 13: The Crypts: There are four coffins here, each containing one of the Iron Skeletons of Grusyin (a mad Wizard of the Past Age)".  For quick reference I turned the descriptions into a stat table:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Disque flottant de Tenser

A few more notes about the French translation of the Blue Book:
The translation is coverless, 32 pages, and titled Donjons et Dragons on the top of the first page. After checking more closely, I determined the translation was made from the 2nd edition (Nov 1978) rather than the 3rd edition (Dec 1979) of the Blue Book. The game company that made the translation was Jeux Descartes ("Descartes Games"), founded in 1977-78 and continuing until 2005. See here (English) and here (French, translated via Google Translate). Their game shops were called Descartes or Descartes Relais. The translation was provided only in Parisian shops. The translated Blue Book was also placed in Moldvay Basic Sets until the translated Moldvay set was available. Sannois, a city outside Paris, is where the translation was printed.

Information was gathered from the following sources:
Holmes was translated into French! (OD&D74 Discussion forums)
French Basic Set (Acaeum forums) This also has nice photos of French Moldvay & Mentzer Sets.
Questions boites Holmes (Le Donjon du Dragon; in French, translated via Google Translate)

Thanks to snorri, kabuki, le Rahib and lookiwookie.

I've made a page on the website for all of this information.

And finally here are the French translations of the M-U & Cleric Spells:


Livre des sortileges du premier niveau (Book of First Level Spells)
Personne Charmee
Lumieres Dansantes (Dancing Lights)
Detection de la magie
Amplification (Enlargement)
Porte retenue (Hold Portal)
Projectile magique (Magic Missile)
Protection contre le mal (Protection from Evil)
Lecture des langages (Read Languages)
Lecture de la magie (Read Magic)
Ecran (Shield)
Sommeil (Sleep)
Disque flottant de Tenser (Tenser's Floating Disc)
Ventriloquie (Ventriloquism)

Livre des sortileges du premier niveau (Book of Second Level Spells)
Hallucination auditive (Audible Glamour)
Lumiere Continue (Continual Light)
Obscuritie (Darkness)
Detection du mal (Detect Evil)
Vision de l'invisible (Detect Invisibility)
Perception ESP (ESP)
Sesame (Knock)
Localisation d'object
Image (Mirror Image)
Bouche Magique (Magic Mouth)
Forces phantasmatiques (Phantasmal Forces)
Rayon d'affaiblissement (Ray of Enfeeblement)
Force (Strength)
Tolle d'araignee (Web)
Verrou de sorcier (Wizard Lock)

Livre des sortileges du troisieme niveau (Book of Third Level Spells)
Dissipation de la magie (Dispel Magic)
Runes explosive
Boule de feu (Fire Ball)
Envol (Flying)
Protection/Mal 10 mn (Protection/Evil 10')
Protection/project. normaux (Protection/Normal Missiles)
Corde magique (Rope Trick)
Charme de ralentissement (Slow Spell)
Respiration dans l'eau (Water Breathing)
Ralentir le temps (Haste Spell)
Immobilisation (Hold Person)
Invisbilitie, 10 mn
Anneau d'eclair (Lightning Bolt)
Appel des monstres (Monster Summoning I)


Livre des sorts clericaux du premier niveau (Book of First Level Spells)
Soigner une blessure legere (Cure Light Wounds)
Detection du mal (Detect Evil)
Detection de la magie (Detect Magic)
Lumiere (Light)
Protection contre le mal (Protection from Evil)
Purification de l'eau et de la nourriture (Purify Food and Water)
Anihilation de la peur (Remove Fear)
Resistance au froid (Resist Cold)

Livre des sorts clericaux du second niveau (Book of Second Level Spells)
Benediction (Bless)
Detection des pieges (Find Traps)
Connaissance du caractere (Know Alignment)
Immobilisation d't personne (Hold Person)
Resistance au feu (Resist Fire)
Buile de silence de 15 pieds (Silence: 15' radius)
Charme des serpents (Snake Charm)
Parler avec les animaux (Speak with Animals)

Causer des blessures legeres (Cause Light Wounds)
Detecter le bon (Detect Good)
Obscurite (Darkness)
Contaminer l'eau et la nouriture (Contaminate Food and Water)
Provoquar la peur (Cause Fear)
Malediction (Curse)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baguette de paralysation

Some magic item names from the French translation of the Blue Book:

1. Croissance (Growth)
2. Diminution
3. Force de geant (Giant Strength)
4. Invisibilite
5. Forme gazeuse (Gaseous Form)
6. Acceleration (Haste)
7. Voler (Flying)
8. Impression (Delusion)
9. Poison
10. Soin (Healing)
Anneau (Rings)
1. Invisibilitie
2. Controle des animaux
3. Controle des plantes
4. Faiblesse / affaiblissement (Weakness)
5. Protection + 1
6. Trois souhaits (3 Wishes)
7. Regenerations
8. Marche sur l'eau (Water Walking)
9. Resistance au feu (Fire Resistance)
10. Inversion / contraire (Contrariness)

Baguettes et batons (Wands and Staves)
1. Baguette de detection de la magie (Wand of Magic Detection)
2. Baguette de detection des portes secretes et pieges (Secret Door & Trap Detection)
3. Baguette de peur (Fear)
4. Baguette de froid (Cold)
5. Baguette de paralysation
6. Baguette de boule de fue (Fire Ball)
7. Baton de guerison (Staff of Healing)
8. Baton Serpent (Snake Staff)
9. Baton Frappeur (Staff of Striking)
10. Barreau de conjuration (Rod of Cancellation)

Objets magiques divers
1. Boule de cristal
2. Medallion E.S.P.
3. Sac porteur / Sac de portage (Bag of Holding)
4. Manteau d'elfe (Elven Cloak)
5. Balais Volant (Broom of Flying)
6. Casque de telepathie (Helm of Telepathy)
7. Sac devoreur (Bag of Devouring)
8. Casque due bien et du mal (Helm of Evil/Good)
9. Corde de montee (Rope of Climbing)
10. Gant d'ogre (Gauntlets of Ogre Power)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lemunda la Superbe

 Excerpt from the French translation of the Blue Book

A few years ago Snorri (of A Wizard in a Bottle) reported in the OD&D74 forums that a French translation of the Blue Book was made at some point between 1978-1982. The translation is of the 2nd edition (Nov 1978) rulebook or later as it includes the extra monsters (Fire Beetle, etc) added starting with that print. It's basically a straight translation in terms of content, except that it lacks all illustration, including the cover, the alignment chart and the Sample Dungeon map (despite including the text for this). And there's no publishing information other than a place (Sannois) at the bottom of the last page.

One interesting twist is that "Halflings" are translated as "Gnomes", but the "Gnome" in the monster listing is unchanged, so Gnomes completely replace Halflings as a character class.

Recently another French poster, kabuki, reported that this translation was included in an imported Holmes Box Set he bought in July 1980, "folded in two in the rules book ... My father and I didn't expect a translation at all and we were very happy to find it inside ... the shop [told us] we were lucky to have this because the previous batch didn't have any translation." This may explain why the map and other illustrations were not included in the translation - it was just intended to accompany the purchase of the English-language set (which kabuki reports also had dice and the module B1). The printing location matches that of the French distributor, so they may have made this translation in order to facilitate sales and happy customers.

Here are the French translations of the monster names. Use them to throw off your players.
"A Charognard What?!?"

Black Pudding
Chien Intermittents (Blink Dog)
Ours De Cauchemard (Bugbear)
Charognard Rampant (Carrion Crawler)
Serpent-Coq (Cockatrice)
Puma Demenageur (Displacer Beast)
Dragons - Blanc, Noir, Rouge, Cuivre (White, Black, Red, Brass)
Nains (Dwarves)
Scarabees En Feu (Fire Beetle)
Cubes Gelatineux
Geants (Giants) - des monts (Hill), de pierre (Stone), de glace (Frost), de feu (Fire), des nuages (Cloud), des tempetes (Storm)
Fourmi Geante (Giant Ant)
Mille Pattes Geant (Giant Centipede)
Rats Geants
Tique Geante (Giant Tick)
Cendre Gluante (Gray Ooze)
Boue Verte (Green Slime)
Chien D'Enfer (Hell Hound)
Cheval (Horse)
Homme (Lizard Man)
Lycanthropes - Sanglier-garou (Werebear), Rat-garou (Wererat), Ours-garou (Werebear), Tigre-garou (Weretiger), Loup-garou (Werewolf)
Momie (Mummy)
Ocre Suintant / Gelee Ocre (Ochre Jelly)
Ours Huant (Owl Bear)
Ver Pourpre (Purple Worm)
Rouille Monstrueuse (Rust Monster)
Ombre (Shadow)
Crieur (Shrieker)
Squelette (Skeleton)
Araignees (Spider) - Grosse, Enorme, Geante
Licorne (Unicorn)
Espirit (Wight)
Revenant (Wraith)
Moisissure Jaune (Yellow Mold)

Some monsters have different translations in the Wandering Monster table:
Hobgoblins are Farfadets, Stirges are Oiseaux-Vampires, Wights are Etres, Dopplegangers are Mutants, and Blink Dogs are Chien Dresses.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blackmoor & the Blue Book

     As other blogs noted, yesterday marked the date of Dave Arneson's birthday. In looking at the Blue Book I tend to focus on the interaction between Gygax's continual development of the rules and Holmes' editorial choices. So it's worth being reminded that the original text of OD&D, which Holmes retained in many places, is by Gygax and Arneson. Luckily there are folks like Havard and Aldarron who tirelessly highlight Arneson's contributions to the game.

     The First Fantasy Campaign was published by Judges Guild in 1977, the same year that the Holmes Basic Set was first released. Arneson's notes received minimal editing before being released as FFC (many folks love it for just this reason). Thought experiment: try to imagine if Holmes edited both of these products in one set, with a Blackmoor sandbox campaign book forming the second book in the Holmes Box set. A hypothetical graphic for this is above. Such a book could have incorporated more material from OD&D Vol III (Underworld & Wilderness Adventures) along with using Blackmoor as an example of how to develop your own campaign. Perhaps a dungeon (Castle Blackmoor) with small wilderness and a homebase (Blackmoor town), in the vein of the later B2.

     A Revised Foreword to the Blue Book would include:
     "...The campaign referee will need to devote a number of hours to laying out the maps of his "dungeons" and upper terrain before the affair begins. The First Fantasy Campaign book of this set will be of great help in this respect, for a number of helpful suggestions regarding to how to accomplish it all have been given in order to help you accomplish this task with a minimum of time and effort".

     Or perhaps call it "Your First Fantasy Campaign".