Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Equipment Packs for Holmes

 
An expedition begins, illustration by DCSIII from B1 In Search of the Unknown


In my early D&D days, buying equipment during character creation was fun, but these days it feels like more of a chore to complete before play can begin. It also slows down the process of character creation, which can be an impediment for new players.

Taking a cue from Jean Wells*, and others since, here's an option for Holmes Basic: each new character can choose to take an equipment pack for the appropriate class in lieu of rolling for starting gold. A standard dwarf or hobbit gets the fighter pack, and a standard elf can choose the fighter or magic-user pack. The DM can also use these packs for on-the-fly determination of NPC equipment. They can also be used for OD&D, which has essentially the same equipment list, if you are using the Holmes' rule for scroll creation. One reason I created these packs is to highlight that a M-U with sufficient funds can start with a scroll.

Fighter
Chainmail & Shield
Sword & Spear
Short Bow & Quiver with 20 Arrows
Water/Wine Skin, filled with water
Leather Backpack (300 coin capacity), holding:
  • 50' Rope
  • Tinderbox & 6 Torches
  • 2 Large Sacks (300 c.c. each)
  • Standard Rations (1 person for 1 week)
  • 5 GP

Magic-User
Book of First Level Spells (contains known spells)**
Dagger
Water/Wine Skin, filled with water
Small Sack (50 coin capacity), holding:
  • Standard Rations (1 person for 1 week)
  • Scroll with one first level spell (choose from known spells)

Cleric
Chainmail & Shield
Mace
Wooden Cross (or other holy symbol)
Water/Wine Skin, filled with water
Leather Backpack (300 coin capacity), holding:
  • 1 Vial of Holy Water
  • 1 Bunch of Wolvesbane
  • Tinderbox & 6 Torches
  • Standard Rations (1 person for 1 week)
  • 13 GP

Thief
Leather Armor
Sword & Dagger
Short Bow & Quiver with 20 Arrows & 2 Silver Arrows
10' Pole
Water/Wine Skin, filled with water
Leather Backpack (300 coin capacity), holding:
  • 1 Set of Thief's Tools***
  • 12 Iron Spikes
  • Mallet & 3 Stakes
  • 50' Rope
  • 4 Flasks of Oil
  • Tinderbox & 12 Torches
  • Large Sack (300 c.c.)
  • Standard Rations (1 person for 1 week)
  • 5 GP

Specific Notes:
*As far as I can tell, the term and concept of "equipment packs" first appeared in TSR D&D in the original orange-covered version of the module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, by Jean Wells (1981). There may be an earlier non-TSR source.

** "Magic-users can not bring their magic books into the dungeon with them" (pg 13 of the Basic Rulebook). This is presumably because they are unwieldy "giant volumes" like the thaumaturgist's spell books in the Sample Dungeon (pg 44). There's no cost in the rules for these spell books.

*** "Thief's Tools" are not found in the equipment list, but can be found for sale at bank in B2 Keep on the Borderlands, with an actual value of 35 gp. Here, I've assumed that each thief starts with one set at no cost, similar to the magic-user's spell book. These can be omitted if you don't use them in your game. 

General Notes:
The packs are based on 110 gp, just above the average rolled by 3d6 x 10 (105 gp).

I've assumed that Leather and Chain Armor come with appropriate head coverings, and the Helmet on the Holmes equipment list is either for Plate Mail, or replacement cost. This is open to interpretation as neither OD&D or Holmes has clear rules for the Helmets listed in the equipment list.

Each pack has a light source, food and water, so that each class can operate somewhat independently in a dungeon.

I favor the view of the Thief as "Expert Treasure Finder", and they have the most spare money, so here I've given them the most dungeoneering tools - 10' pole, 12 iron spikes, mallet, etc

I'll eventually make some class-specific character sheets including these packs, to speed up character creation. This will be part of Holmes Ref, which is still in progress.

13 comments:


  1. The magic-user had no gold left over?

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    1. I'd presume that that scroll is where the money went. Those things aren't cheap for 1st-level characters.

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    2. Yes, that's right. Scrolls cost 100 gp per spell level, so there's only 10 gp left over for the other equipment.
      Alternately, if a MU doesn't want a scroll the small sack & contents could be exchanged for the thief's leather backpack (minus thief's tools) and 2 extra daggers. This would leave 70 GP, which could be used perhaps to hire some men-at-arms...

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  2. I've always been a fan of starting packs. The few I've done are pretty close to what you have, but I add a few choices in there. And then make a list of twenty mundane items and they can choose from them for free. I have them roll a d4 to determine how many they get. Now I have a post idea Adam.

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    1. I was trying to make a simple base here, but I'm all for adding more randomness. The list of random mundane items is a great idea, Tim. I'm actually working on a list of starting magic items right now, for the next issue of Dungeon Crawl zine.

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    2. Great. Always like these kind of lists.

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  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome!

      As a further note, I meant to include a note above that any items can be swapped out for items of equivalent value if the player wishes. For instance, the Fighter's Sword and Shield could be swapped for a Two-Handed Sword plus 5 more GP. I was just going for sort of a generic baseline for each class.

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  4. Glad to hear the ref is still in the work. . .

    How about "Tower of Zenopus" dungeon level 2?

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    1. That's been on hold lately. It was supposed to be for the issue #15 of Fight On, which was going to be dedicated to Holmes, but the current issue (#14) has been delayed, and I'm sure if #15 will be produced if it is still going to be a Holmes issue.

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    2. I'm certainly still hoping for a #15. :-)

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    3. #14 just came out, so there's hope! Though I'm not sure if #15 is still going to be the Holmes issue or not.

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  5. Brilliant. Thank you, this just became part of my DM's toolkit.

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