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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

35 years ago this month (Mar 77)

     Thirty-five years ago this month, The Dragon #5 (March 1977) featured the second short story by Gardner Fox about the Conan-esque hero, Niall of the Far Travels. See Grognardia's review of this story posted yesterday. The cover of this issue features a scene from the story illustrated by David C. Sutherland III. Fox would go on to have ten different Niall stories published in Dragon, more than any other author. Holmes included Gardner Fox in his short list of fantasy authors in the Blue Book (pg 41, 2nd print), which came out later that year. Fox was a special guest at that summer at Gen Con X, which was first advertised on the inside cover of this month's Dragon.

     Holmes also attended Gen Con X, around the same time the Basic Set was released. I still don't have any hard proof of the exact date of release - it could be anywhere from June to Sep '77. But in the Spring of '77 Holmes was probably editing the Basic Set, or perhaps had already finished his draft and submitted it to TSR, in advance of publication.

     Pages 4-5, 7-9 and 28 of the issue have an article titled "Witchcraft Supplement for Dungeons & Dragons" by an anonymous author. While the witch in this article is not fully described as a class, it possibly was responsible for Holmes' mention in the Blue Book that AD&D would contain a witch subclass. The witch would later appear as a full PC class for OD&D in The Dragon #20 (Nov 1978). Last year,on the OD&D Discussion Forums, paleologos provided an extract of the later version of the witch for the Holmes set (i.e., levels 1-3). The earlier version from #5 is more of a difficult NPC opponent for OD&D characters, with high level witches having gonzo magic items like Mountain Seeds:

"Similar to Hill Seeds in function but much deadlier. When pitched into the air thee gloves will swell to the size of a castle almost immediately. With one such seed a wizard could crush armies or destroy a town. They are safest when dropped from above, but can be thrown up from the ground if you are able to use teleportation and escape before it comes down."

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