Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Part 6: "Fully Armored and Heavily Loaded"

Part 6 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 9 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

LANGUAGES: The paragraph in the Holmes draft follows the section "Languages" in Men & Magic, pg 12, very closely, with just a few changes. In the draft, the first sentence only refers to "most humans" knowing "Common" - just as in Men & Magic. In the published Basic rulebook, this has been changed to "most humans, elves, dwarves, and hobbits". A small change but it moves demi-humans out of the category of 'monsters', of which only 20% know common. For the third sentence, Holmes follows Men & Magic: "Law, Chaos and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each respectively". In the published rulebook this is naturally changed to refer to 5-point alignment system (see yesterday's post). In the second-to-last sentence, the draft just has "Thus, a man with an intelligence level of 15 could speak 7 languages". This is a simplification of the sentence in OD&D and the rulebook actually restores the full information of the original by adding "i.e., common, alignment, plus five others as selected".

In the situations where Holmes follows OD&D, and then is edited by TSR, it almost feels as if Gygax/TSR is making some 'official' clarifications to the OD&D rules.

Update: The 2nd edition of the rulebook adds a new sentence to the end of this paragraph, clarifying that languages must be selected before play starts. For further discussion, see this post.

TIME AND MOVEMENT IN THE DUNGEONS: In the first paragraph, there no changes except for "rounds" to "melee rounds". The concept of "each round lasting ten seconds", which does not appear in OD&D, is in the draft paragraph and passed through TSR without change. Holmes may have been influenced by either the Warlock Supplement (1975) or Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), each of which uses 10 sec combat rounds. See the end of this post.

The second paragraph is an example by Holmes of a party searching for secret doors while a purple worm approaches. The only change here is to reduce the amount of wall that the characters can search in a turn from a "20 foot section" to a "10 foot section". 

No changes to the third, fourth or fifth paragraphs, but there is a change to the Movement Table between the fourth and fifth. Here is Holmes' original table:

This information comes from two places in OD&D: Vol 1, page 15, and Vol 3, page 8. The table in the published Basic rulebook includes all of the information from draft table, but labels it "Exploring/Mapping" and adds a second column labeled "Moving Normally" where the movement values are all doubled.

One thing I noticed a while back is that while Holmes follows the movement example in Vol 3 of OD&D - "120 feet for a fully-armored character" - he fails to note that this is "two moves", and that there are "two moves in a turn", which comports with Vol 1 of OD&D, where an armored man has a move of 60 feet. The problem with omitting this information arises in relation to the the Monster List, where monsters are given the same movement as in Vol 2 of OD&D, but per turn, rather than getting two moves per turn. This leads to an unarmored man being faster than most monsters in the Monster List (and as fast as the fastest horse). To restore the OD&D ratio between humans and monsters, the monster moves in the Monster List should be doubled.

ENCUMBRANCE: This entirety of this section is missing from Holmes' draft. In the past I had thought that Holmes wrote this simply because the example uses Malchor, who appears in two other examples in the published rulebook. However, we did have a clue all of these years that this section was added at a late point during editing: it's not listed in the Table of Contents of the published rulebook, unlike the sections before and after it.

This section does a good job of explaining in simple terms what is meant by "heavily loaded" in the Movement Table. I wonder who at TSR wrote this: Gygax, Mike Carr (who edited the AD&D rulebooks and wrote the first module for Basic), Tim Kask (who edited the last three OD&D supplements), or someone else? I might be imagining things, but looking at this with fresh eyes it seems to share some of the clear writing of Mike Carr's introductory material in B1 - which is almost an extension of the Basic rulebook.

Update: Upon re-reading Gygax on Holmes, I get sense that Gygax wrote this material:
Among other quotes: "As it happened, I reviewed Eric's ms. and put in the material I was creating for the new AD&D system".

LIGHT: Here Holmes has rewritten a paragraph on light from page 9 of Vol 3 of OD&D. There are just few changes from his draft to the published version. The second sentence of the draft is missing the distance (60') that elves and dwarves can see in the dark, but is otherwise the same. Two other clarifying sentences are added in the published version, one indicating that a torch or a lantern allows 30' sight, and the other noting that elves and dwarves lose their ability to see in the dark if there is light within 30'. 

Continue on to Part 7: "Something Has Come Strolling Along"
Or Go Back to
Part 5: "Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript


  1. One thing I've always wished was included in the "Light" section is magic swords - which according to OD&D shed light for 10' iirc. This is a pretty key factor in allowing visibility for a party in the dungeon - the folks in front need light the most, but also need to have both hands free (sword & shield or arrow on a string). That magic swords shed a little light is nice to remember.

    1. The section in Holmes does mention that "magic swords and some staves shed light" but does omit the distance. Holmes' original also omits the distances for torches/lanterns. TSR put this back in but seems to have missed the magic sword.

    2. Looking in Vol 3 of OD&D, I don't see a distance for sword light (or torches), which explains why Holmes left it out of it of the rewritten paragraph. Is this somewhere else in the LBBs?

    3. To my knowwledge, it's not. The light range of a magic sword is an AD&D thing, which also defined the range of a candle, missing the fact that most lanterns were candle-powered before the invention of kerosene. If anyone playing OD&D cared about the range of light, they probably would use the same range for all light sources.

    4. I must have been mistaken about where I saw it - although I seem to recall that I came across magic swords and range of light in a secondary OD&D source. It's also in Chainmail, but a greater range. Maybe I was thinking about AD&D after all...

  2. The edited/published version of the Movement Table always seemed strange that the "running" rates were left under the "Exploring/Mapping" column. The "Moving Normally" column left running rates as blanks. Taken literally, PCs could run faster by mapping and checking for secret doors.

    1. Yes, I interpreted it as running being equal to 3 times the exploring move, not that you could search while doing that. Now we see that this formatting arose in the editing process.

  3. Yo, this is awesome, backlogged, but it brings me Holmentzer joy to see that Encumbrance and "placement on body" was an AD&D addition, which though seeming obvious, is nice to see confirmed... Currently working on something in regard to the wineskin/waterskin to discuss this, and the move to realistic. Happy new year. Cheers.