Friday, December 20, 2013

Holmes for the Holidays III - the winner is...

Welcome to the third annual 'Holmes for the Holidays' where I send a present to a randomly selected reader. This year instead of a copy of the Holmes Basic rulebook I have a brand new copy of Holmes' 1986 D&D novel The Maze of Peril to give away, pictured above. 

Same system as previously: if you are interested, add a comment in reply to this post. I'm going to run the entries for just two days this year, as that is the time limit before moderation starts on posts on the blog. After two days, I'll stop accepting entries and treat the list of comments as a table and roll randomly for the winner, using dice from a Holmes Basic set. 

I'll cover postage (media mail) for any U.S. address. I can ship to other countries but I ask that you cover the difference (any amount over $4) in shipping by PayPal; so if you are overseas please only participate if you have a PayPal account and willing to chip in the extra. I'll estimate the exact shipping and refund the difference if I overcharge at all.

This is intended for folks who don't have a copy of the novel, so please don't post if you already have a copy. 

Update #1: It's been two days - 41 entries. A winner will be selected soon.

Update #2: We made the official dice roll using the original TSR 'Percentile Dice' - a white d20 for tens, and a pink d20 for ones. We simply rerolled any number over 41. After three practice rolls, my dice chucker rolled '20' for the official result, so the winner is...

Alfons Holzli! I'll be contacting him privately now.

By the way, if you are still hankering for The Maze of Peril, there are two places it is currently available (I am not affiliated in any way with either of these companies):
(1) Noble Knight has 8 copies in stock for $9.95 + shipping. This is where I got it for this contest. They take Paypal or credit cards, and you can order on-line.
(2) Space & Time, the original publisher, still has the original book in stock for $6.96 + $1.50 shipping. But they require check or money order, and you have to mail the order to them, so less convenient. I'm guessing that Noble Knight has been ordering from them.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Part 13: "Melee is the Most Exciting Part of the Game"

Part 13 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 18 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


pg 18
1st paragraph: No changes. This is a very clear description of D&D combat, not present in OD&D, and now known to be written by Holmes. Significantly, the aside "(The more complex system used for advanced play allows for varying amounts of damage by different weapons and by various sorts of monsters)" was written by Holmes and not added by Gygax/TSR. Once we get to the Monster List in the manuscript we'll see that for the most part monster damage is not variable, so this aside makes sense in this context.

2nd paragraph: The manuscript has, "Full tables are given in DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, and GREYHAWK"; the published version adds "ADVANCED" to former, and removes the latter. Immediately following this is a sentence in the manuscript that was deleted: "Many gaming groups have their own variations, with additional special rules for weaponry, calculations of "critical hits" etc." The deletion of this sentence is similar to a deletion noted in Part 8 of this series, where TSR removed another reference to variations in the rules between gaming groups. Note that TSR did leave in Holmes' last sentence that "Once the sysetm is mastered, however, players can add whatever modifications they wish".

3rd paragraph: No changes.


Here is Holmes' original version of the attack table for characters:

This table is drawn from the one on page 19 of OD&D Vol 1, there called "ATTACK MATRIX 1.: MEN ATTACKING". Holmes drops all information for characters over level 3, in line with Basic covering only levels 1-3, although some information for higher levels would be useful for NPCs. Gygax mediates this in the module B2, pg 3, with a note that a +1 to hit is given to Fighters 4th & up, Clerics 5th & up, and M-Us 6th & up, though OD&D actually gives a +2 to hit at these levels.

Holmes also flips the axes, putting the armor classes and descriptions across the top rather than along the side. He may have done this to save vertical space he was dropping a number of columns from the original.

Two changes to Holmes' version in the published rulebook:
(1) Gygax changes the "Die Roll" row to "1st-3rd Level Character", and inserts a new "Normal Man" row above this, where all scores to hit are one number higher. This is in line with his addition of "Normal Man" to the Saving Throw table, covered in Part 9 of this series.
(2) In the last line the word "ADVANCED" is added to "DUNGEONS & DRAGONS".

pg 19
1st paragraph: This paragraph is the same in the published version, except the last sentence from the manuscript has been deleted, which reads:

"If a 20-sided die is not available you can use numbered chits drawn from a container o [sic] two sets of playing cards (red and black), Ace to 10"

This is the fourth location in the manuscript where Holmes suggests using cards if dice are not available. See also Part 2, Part 4 and Part 9 of this series. Chits were also mentioned in the first of these locations.

2nd paragraph: The published version is the same as the manuscript, except the end of the first sentence adds an aside: "(or possibly their skin/hide!)", clarifying that humanoid monster AC is not strictly dependent on armor worn. Of note, in this section Holmes provides an example of a vampire bat having AC3, and further suggests that DMs can likewise assign ACs to monsters that they make up themselves.


This table in the manuscript is derived from the one on page 20 of OD&D Vol 1, there called "ATTACK MATRIS II.: MONSTERS ATTACKING". As with the character table, the axes are flipped, but here Holmes includes all eight columns of the original (as rows), thus covering all hit dice of monsters - which fits with a Monster List including some high hit dice monsters. The original table is a bit confusing as several hit dice are listed in two different columns. Holmes tries to clarify this by changing the hit dice ranges as such:

Dice Up to 1 → up to 1+1
1+1 → 1+1 to 2
2-3 → 2 to 3
3-4 → 3+ to 4
4-6 → 4+ to 6+
6-8 → 7 to 8+
9-10 → 9 to 10+
11 & 1 (typo in original) → 11 up

There are no changes in this table between the manuscript and the published rulebook.

3rd paragraph: No changes. Holmes states here, "The number of damage points scored by a monster's hit is variable and is given in the monster section. In general, humanoid creatures and first level monsters do one six-sided die's worth of damage per "hit" - whether the hit is a sword blow, a bite, a horn gore, a clawing or whatever". This seems to contradict his earlier statement that variable damage for monsters would not be covered (see above). Did Holmes originally intend to include variable damage for monsters, but then left it out only to have TSR add it back in? Regardless, TSR didn't change either of Holmes' statements.

That's it for today. Combat continues...

Continue on to
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Part 12: "Clerical Spells"

Part 12 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 17 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


The introductory paragraph is the same in the manuscript and the first printing of the rulebook. Later printings, however, add a sentence at the end, "Second level spells are not available to clerics at below fourth level, and are included for use with non-player characters and scrolls", clarifying why they are in a rulebook that only covers character levels 1-3.

One source for this section is Greyhawk, page 8, which clarifies that: "All cleric spells are "divinely" given and as such a cleric with a wisdom factor of 3 would know all of the spells as well as would a cleric with an 18 wisdom factor".

Holmes rewrites this as: "Since clerical spells are divinely given, they do not have to be studied to master them. A second level cleric can call on any first level spell he wants to use, thus the entire gamut of spells is available to him for selection prior to the adventure".

Following this paragraph, the manuscript goes straight into the spell descriptions. There are no lists of the spells as for M-Us. Thus, TSR added the lists, which include headers similar to the M-U lists (i.e., "Book of First Level Spells"). OD&D Vol 1, pg 34, implied spell books for clerics: "Characters who employ spells are assumed to acquire books containing the
spells they can use, one book for each level", so this would fit with that, although you have to work to reconcile it with the "divinely given" update from Greyhawk.

As with M-U spells, the cleric spells in the manuscript exactly match the spells from Greyhawk, and thus do not include the new spells Remove Fear, Resist Cold (1st level), Know Alignment or Resist Fire (2nd level).


Cure Light Wounds: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D, Vol 1, pg 31, with some light editing. It adds a sentence at the end that "The zero range means the cleric must touch the wounded person to heal him". This is something not mentioned in the original spell, but Swords & Spells indicates the Range as "touch", so Holmes may have gotten it there.
The published rulebook follows the manuscript, but changes "one full turn" to "one melee round". This is another instance of TSR editing material that Holmes included as written from the original rules, possibly here because the original description not clearly distinguishing between "turns" and "rounds". 

Detect Evil: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Detect Magic: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Light: I think Holmes misinterpreted the duration here, which he has as "12 turns" and is retained in the published rulebook. However, the original actually says "The spell is the same as that for Magic-Users, except that it has a basic duration of 12 turns". The magic user spell has a duration of 6 + caster's level in turns. I think the use of "basic duration" means that clerical Light should be "12 + caster's level in turns". Swords & Spells supports this (sort of), having "6 + level" duration for M-U Light and "12 × level" for Cleric Light, assuming the "×" is a typo for "+".

Protection from Evil: No changes in the manuscript, or as published, from OD&D Vol 1.

Purify Food and Water: The only change in the manuscript from OD&D Vol 1 is the addition of a range of 10 feet, apparently an interpretation by Holmes since this spell does not appear in Swords & Spells. The published version is the same.


Bless: Holmes rewords the entry from OD&D but keeps the content the same, except for just having "raises morale" instead of "raise morale by +1", since he left the OD&D morale system out of the Basic rules. He also adds a range of 60 feet from Swords & Spells. The published version is the same.

Find Traps: No changes in the manuscript from OD&D Vol 1. Holmes left the word "feet" out of the range, so the published version adds this in.

Hold Person: The original in Greyhawk references the M-U version of the spell, except for having a duration of 9 turns and a range of 18". Holmes uses the description from the M-U spell, but mistakenly also the duration (6 + caster's level in turns) and range (120 feet). The original version of the spell just described the effect as similar to charm person; Holmes retains this but adds "Holds the person or persons rooted to the spot unless released or the spell wears out". Obviously this is the description of the spell that we all know from later editions, but I'm not sure where Holmes got this from since as far as I can tell it was never further clarified in any of the OD&D booklets. The published version follows the manuscript with the addition of "in turns" to the duration.

Silence: From Greyhawk. Holmes rewords the original description but it essentially the same, including range and durations. The published rulebook keeps the manuscript text, but adds a clarification: "Note conversation is not possible under a silence spell". The next version of Basic (Moldvay) would add that noises outside the area could be heard within, but that is not present here. 

Snake Charm: Another Greyhawk spell. Holmes follows the original but rewords it slightly changing, "one level (1-6 hit points) of snakes" to "one level of snake(s) (1 hit die of snakes)". Holmes changes the example from a 6th level cleric to a 3rd level cleric; presumably this is to fit with the Basic rules but unfortunately being a second level spell requires at a minimum that the caster is a 4th level cleric. Holmes changes the combat duration from 7-12 melee turns to 7-12 melee rounds. The published version follows the manuscript without change.

Speak with Animals: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 with minor rewording, and the published version is identical to the manuscript.


This section is completely absent from the manuscript, so it was added by TSR. Earlier in the section on Clerics, Holmes wrote "Spells for evil clerics differ slightly from those of good clerics" (this appears in the manuscript and also on 6 of the published rulebook), but there is no further explanation for this. In OD&D Vol 1 there's not much explanation either; it simply indicates which spells are reversed in the spell lists and references this on page 34 without any particular description or names except for the reverse of Raise Dead, The Finger of Death. So it makes sense that TSR doesn't fully describe these spells here, although I believe this was the first appearance of the reversed names for the spells.

That's it for spells - next we fight on to Combat!

Continue on to Part 13: "Melee is the Most Exciting Part of the Game"
Or Go Back to Interlude: "Who Edited the Editor?"
Or Go Back to Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Interlude: Who Edited the Editor?

In part 6 of the manuscript series, I noted that the section "Encumbrance" was not found in the manuscript, and thus was added by TSR to the published rulebook:

"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."

At the time I was thinking of Gygax's column in Dragon #35, March 1980, where he wrote:

"...By the time the final manuscript from Eric was in our hands, the rough of the Monster Manual was also finished, rough outlines of Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide were typed up, and several portions of both works were likewise in manuscript form..."

"...Pieces and parts of the various components of AD&D were grafted into the Basic Set rules manuscript so that D&D would be more compatible with the Advanced game. Readers were directed to AD&D throughout the Basic Set, with muttered prayers accompanying these directions, I am sure, as our production people had no idea then just how well it would all work out in the end, because much of the AD&D system was still on rough notes or in my head at the time..."

(these are from a longer excerpt that I posted here).

With the phrase "our production people" in mind, I was contemplating someone under Gygax working on editing the set.

However, re-reading Gygax on Holmes yesterday, I was reminded of other statements:

"...As it happened, I reviewed Eric's ms. and put in the material I was creating for the new AD&D system..."

"...I was in charge of the ms. when it was turned over. That is how it came to have new material quite similar to the AD&D game--I was writing the PHB at the time, and I wanted D&D to have some of the new features of the AD&D game..."

" the time he turned over the ms. I was completing my own for the AD&D PHB. I included material from the latter into the D&D game to update it."

"...In the Holmes Basic Set I inserted all of the new character information found there that was not in OD&D."  

"...When the ms, was turned over to me for approval, I inserted a goodly number of the new AD&D game rules so as to upgrade the D&D system as well."

(From posts on Dragonsfoot in 2005-2007. Original sources are linked on the page).

These statements are long after the source, and don't exclude additional hands, but it does suggest Gygax wrote and added the extra material such as Encumbrance and the additional spells as part of a secondary editing process. There are few more sections like this we will see as we continue examining the manuscript.

Specifically with regard to the Encumbrance, there are brief sections in the Player's Handbook (pg 101-102) and Dungeon Masters' Guide (pg 225). The PHB section has the same title, "Encumbrance" as the section in the Basic rulebook, and although it doesn't share any specific wording, it does somewhat similarly describe what weights result in a heavy load.  The section in the DMG, "Appendix O: Encumbrance of Standard Items" includes a description of how two characters carry their gear, similar to the example of Malchor in the Basic rulebook. Perhaps an early draft of this material is what made it in to Basic rulebook.

Continue on to Part 12: "Clerical Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"

Part 11 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 15 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


The list of second level spells from the start of the section on spells in the manuscript:

As mentioned previously, this list is the same as in Greyhawk, and thus Audible Glamor and Ray of Enfeeblement are not present.

Continual Light: The manuscript text is almost identical to the second and third sentences of the original in OD&D Vol 1, pg 23, except that 24" is changed to "24 inches in diameter". The published version follows the manuscript except that "24 inches" is changed to 6". Swords & Spells also had 24" for the diameter, but the AD&D Player's Handbook has 6", so this is probably a change for AD&D that TSR added to Holmes Basic.

Darkness: A spell added in Greyhawk, where it is called "Darkness, 5' radius". Holmes drops the area of effect from the title and moves it to the spell description. He also adds an aside that, "(Dispel magic is a third level spell)" because the Basic rulebook does not describe this spell. The published rulebook changes "5 inch radius" to "50 feet radius" but is otherwise the same.

Detect Evil: The manuscript and published rulebook follow the original in OD&D Vol 1.

Detect Invisibility: The manuscript follows the first two sentences of the original in OD&D Vol 1. Holmes writes the range as "10 x level of the spell caster"; TSR adds "feet" to this, but otherwise is the same.

ESP: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, but adds "The undead do not think". No changes from this in the published rulebook.

Invisibility: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, but omits the reference to CHAINMAIL, and adds the clarification that "he becomes visible again before he strikes a blow". The published version further clarifies "...and the spell is broken".

Knock: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1. TSR makes two additions: "secret doors" becomes "known secret doors", clarifying that the spell can't be used to find secret doors, and "locked chests" is added to the list of items that can be opened with the spell, providing another use.

Levitate: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 very closely, even keeping the the duration in the spell description despite also having it in the standard header. Holmes clarifies the original's "Range (of levitation): 2"/level of Magic-user" as "If cast on another person, range 20 feet for each level of magic-user". The published version follows the manuscript, changing "Range 20 x level of spell caster" to "Range: 20 feet x level of spell caster in 10's of feet" and adding "in turns" to the durations. The change in range is a mistake because it makes the range 10 times as long. This was corrected in later printings of the rulebook by removing "in 10's of feet".  

Locate Object: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1, with the addition of a duration of 2 turns from Swords & Spells. The only change in published version is changing the Range from "60 + level of spell caster" to "60 feet + level of spell caster in 10's of feet", in line with the original.

Magic Mouth: A Greyhawk spell; the manuscript follows the description there but condenses the examples of triggering conditions from "i.e., if anyone comes within 10' of it, if a neutral person comes within 10', if Flubbit the Wizard comes within 10' and so on" to "such as when anyone comes within 10 feet, or when a specific person comes within ten feet, etc". So Holmes doesn't include the name Flubbit here, but he did use this name in the section on Magic Spells (see Part 9 of this series).

Mirror Image: Another Greyhawk spell used in the manuscript without change. The published version adds one clarifying sentence at the end: "Roll a 4-sided die to determine the number of images created by the spell". Without this statement it could be assumed that the spell caster can choose the number of duplicates. 

Phantasmal Forces: The manuscript follows the original in OD&D Vol 1 very closely. The TSR version adds a clarifying sentence at the end: "Note the illusion is visual and not auditory", which complements the addition of Audible Glamor as a new 2nd level spell. 

In Dragon #52, Holmes commented on the changes to this spell in Moldvay Basic:

"Phantasmal force has been appropriately weakened in the new rules, however; even if the victim fails a saving throw, he or she is not permanently harmed by the phantasm. If determined to be killed, the character actually only passes out, and recovers in 1d4 turns. Presumably, hit points lost in this manner are also restored after 1-4 turns. This makes the phantasmal force a much fairer attack. With the old spell, the M-U could summon a dragon or demon and, if the poor victim failed his saving throw trying to disbelieve it, he was as good as dead. A phantom, it seems to me, should indeed be terrifying, but basically harmless."

Pyrotechnics: From Greyhawk; Holmes follows it closely, just changing "bonfire" to "campfire", perhaps to emphasize something that characters could use it on. The published rulebook adds "for example" following the descriptions of the fireworks display or smoke that the spell can create, suggesting other creations are possible.

Strength: The manuscript follows the description of this spell from Greyhawk, but appears to make a mistake by inverting the points added for thieves (1-6) and clerics (1-4). Holmes drops the last sentence relating to exceptional strength which is not covered in the rulebook. Since there are no specific strength bonuses in the Holmes Basic rulebook, there's no real mechanical effect for this spell (other than perhaps an XP bonus for fighters). Holmes also changes the duration of the spell from "8 game hours" to "48 turns", in line with a 10 minute turn. No changes to this spell in the published rulebook; I guess TSR missed Holmes' swap.

Web: The original version of this spell in Greyhawk has a strange description, because it is brief and simply references, OD&D Vol 2, page 35. There we find "Webs" as a power of the "Staff of Power". Holmes' manuscript follows the description in Vol 2, but changes "A flaming sword will slash through a web in one turn" to "one melee round". He makes this change but does not change the part about Giants requiring "two turns" to break free. OD&D does not always appear to clearly distinguish rounds/turn, and Holmes must have felt this was one location. The published rulebook leaves the flaming sword as Holmes had it, but further changes giants to "two melee rounds" and adds, "i.e. a normal man would require 2-8 turns to get through them".

OD&D gives two different ranges/durations for this spell: Greyhawk has a range of 3" and a duration of "8 game hours" but Swords & Spells has a range of 1" and a duration of "until destroyed". Holmes goes with the latter in the manuscript, writing "Range: 10 feet, Duration: infinite". The published rulebook leaves the range as per the manuscript but changes the duration back to that of Greyhawk, listing "48 turns".

Wizard Lock: The manuscript follows the OD&D Vol 1 original very closely, but Holmes adds a range of 10 feet from Swords & Spells. The published rulebook uses the manuscript version without change.

Here is the list of third level spells from the start of the section on spells in the manuscript, including the same eighteen spells as in Greyhawk:

The brief section on third level spells is the same in the manuscript as published:

This suggests that it was Holmes' decision to list but not describe these spells. Personally I wish he had included the descriptions in the same manner that he included second level cleric spells that are beyond the casting ability levels 1-3, because it would make it easier to expand the game just using the rulebook. In the next version of Basic, Moldvay dropped the list of 3rd level spells but instead included full descriptions for three of them (Dispel Magic, Fire Ball and Fly).

Overall we can infer that an expansion of the Holmes spell lists to cover higher level spells would gather together the relevant information for each spell from OD&D Vol 1, Greyhawk and Swords & Spells. 

Continue on to Interlude: "Who Edited the Editor?"
Or Continue on to Part 12: "Clerical Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 10: "Book of First Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Part 10: "Book of First Level Spells"

Part 10 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 14 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


As in the published version, this section in the manuscript begins with three lists of spells, labeled "Book of First Level Spells", etc. As you might have guessed, Holmes' spell lists are identical to those in Greyhawk, having 11 first level spells, 16 second levels spells and 18 third level spells. Holmes has rearranged them in alphabetical order. Thus, his lists are missing those spells which debuted in the Basic rulebook: Dancing Lights, Enlargement, Tenser's Floating Disc (1st level), Audible Glamer and Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd level). 

In the "Spells Table" in OD&D and Greyhawk the lists are simply referred to as "1st Level" etc, rather than "Book of First Level Spells" etc, so this is a flavor edit by Holmes. He probably drew on OD&D Vol 1, pg 34: "Characters who employ spells are assumed to acquire books containing spells they can use, one book for each level", and is in accord with the "Magic Spells" section of the Basic rulebook (covered in "Part 9" of this series), which often refers to "magic books" (plural). Also, the 4th level magic-user in the Sample Dungeon has "two giant volumes of magic spells", presumably his Books of First Level Spells and Second Level Spells. 


Charm Person: The manuscript text combines the spell description from OD&D Vol 1, pg 23 plus the clarifications from Greyhawk, pg 21, with only minor editing. No changes in the published version.

Detect Magic: The manuscript text is identical to the original in OD&D Vol 1, but with the addition of a range (60 ft) and duration (2 turns) found in Greyhawk. No changes in the published version.

Hold Portal: The manuscript text is identical to the original in OD&D Vol 1, including the reference to Balrogs found in the early printings of OD&D. This reference was excised from OD&D in the fall of 1977 but was never changed in the Holmes rulebook. 

The manuscript adds of a range (10 ft). However, unlike the first two spells, this spell was not given clarified in Greyhawk. Instead, this info is found in a spell list on pg 12 of the Swords & Spells miniatures rules for OD&D. This is an oft-overlooked source of additional information for OD&D spells, and the presence of such info in the manuscript suggests that Holmes was consulting it while editing. No changes in the published version.

Light: The first two sentences are identical to the original in OD&D Vol 1, including the use of 3" for the area of effect. Holmes usually changes the original inches (a scale for use on a tabletop) to dungeon scale (10 feet per inch), but not here. Following that is an example with the level of the spell caster changed from 7th level to 1st level. Holmes adds a range (120 feet) from Swords & Spells.


Magic Missile: The first of three new first level spells added in Greyhawk. The first sentence in the manuscript follows the source with minor editing, but Holmes adds a new second: "Roll the missile fire like a short bow arrow (Missile Fire Table)". This is significant because it clarifies that the spell requires a "to-hit" roll, rather than being "auto-hit" as in AD&D. Because the original Greyhawk description does not clarify that a "to-hit" roll is required, it is often assumed to be auto-hit as in later editions. And thus the "to-hit" version is considered a quirk of Holmes Basic. However, Tim Kask has stated that in fact the original Magic Missile was intended to require a "to-hit" roll, and was consciously changed by he and Gary for the Player's Handbook. See here for more discussion of this. Thus, it makes sense that Holmes' second sentence was not removed by TSR, although it was slightly altered to change the range from "short bow" to "long bow". Holmes probably picked short bow because it has a maximum range of 150 feet, the same for the spell in Greyhawk. With long bow, TSR moderately increases the short (+1 to hit) and medium ranges for the magic missile.

Holmes' third sentence is "Higher level magic-users fire more than one missile". This is a reference to the additional missiles that are gained every five levels, per the third sentence in Greyhawk. Holmes presumably glossed over this because it is outside the scope of Basic, but without further information it could possibly be read as one magic missile per caster level.

Protection From Evil: The manuscript follows the first two sentences of the original in OD&D Vol 1, but omits a third sentence indicating that the bonuses are not cumulative with magic rings and armor. The manuscript adds a range of "0 feet" as a way of expressing "caster only" in line with the description of "hedging the conjurer round" (this is also used  for the next three spells).

The published version has two additions. First, it clarifies that "enchanted monsters" are "such as elementals, invisible stalkers, demons, etc..." TSR probably felt the need to explain "enchanted monster", although none of the listed creatures are in the Basic Set. The published version also adds a sentence not found in the manuscript: "These effects are cumulative with such magical protections as magic armor and rings of protection". Interestingly, this is exactly the opposite of what the original in OD&D stated. Why did Holmes leave the original sentence out? Was this rule changed elsewhere in OD&D that I'm overlooking, so he left it out of the spell description? Or did he specifically know they would be changing it?

Read Languages: The first two sentences of the manuscript follow the original in OD&D Vol 1. Holmes adds a third sentence, "The zero range merely means that the magic-user casts the spell on himself or on something he touches". The original description of this spell does not provide a range, and this spell does not appear in Sword & Spells (which omits some spells not likely used in combat), so this appears to be an interpretation on the part of Holmes. The original only describes it as similar to Read Magic (see below).

Read Magic: The manuscript has two sentences, which follow the first two of the original in OD&D Vol 1, including the somewhat mysterious references to (1) items other than scrolls requiring a "read magic" spell (perhaps command words for items such as Broom of Flying?) and (2) a "similar device" that duplicates the effect of this spell, which I don't think is actually described in OD&D. Holmes interprets the duration as two turns based on the third sentence of the original: "is of short duration (one or two readings being the usual limit)", and gives this same duration to Read Languages.

The published version adds a third sentence: "(Note once a scroll is look at under a Read Magic spell, the magic-user can read it again without such aid.)". I can't find this clarification in OD&D, so this may another case of TSR adding a clarification not found in OD&D.

Shield: Another Greyhawk spell, and the manuscript follows the description there, but changes "class 2 armor" to "plate armor and shield" and "class 4 armor" to "chain mail and shield". The published version follows this but adds "(armor class 2)" and ("armor class 4)" after the relevant armors.

Sleep: The manuscript gathers together the descriptions from OD&D Vol 1 and Greyhawk, and a duration of 4-16 turns from Swords & Spells. The first sentence of the manuscript is an extrapolation from the original: "Puts all kinds of creatures to sleep". The published version adds "for 2-8 turns" to the end of this sentence but leaves the duration as 4-16 turns directly above it. So these two different durations were an error created by TSR, and never corrected in the published rulebook. The remainder of the entry is unchanged between the manuscript and the published version. Holmes does omit two lines of clarifications from the original OD&D entry: "The spell always affects up to the number of creatures determined by the dice. If more than the number rolled could be affected, determine which "sleep" by random selection", perhaps because the entry was already one of the longest spell descriptions.

Ventriloquism: The third first level spell added in Greyhawk, which the manuscript follows, including duration and range. The published version adds "behind a door" to the short list of uses, perhaps in a vain attempt to have a player actually select this spell. ☺ 

Continue on to Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 9: "Zombies are Poisoned by Salt"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Part 9: "Zombies Are Poisoned By Salt"

Part 9 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 13 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...


1st paragraph: In the manuscript, the first sentence in this section is missing the parenthetical level titles. The "substance" for a sleep spell in the manuscript was a "handful" rather than a "pinch" of sand.

2nd paragraph: At the end, "noted" changes to "carefully noted" in the published version.

3rd paragraph: No changes, which means that the famous rule for scroll creation was in the manuscript, and were not changed by TSR: 

This rule originates in OD&D Vol 1, pg 6-7, but is limited to "wizards and above". It's not clear whether Holmes intentionally changed the original rule or just missed the "wizard" limitation (perhaps reading "wizard" as generic for any magic-user?). I would not be surprised if TSR simply didn't notice the change either. This rule is popular in the OSR these days because it gives low level magic-users some extra fire-power.

4th and 6th paragraphs: No changes.

5th paragraph: In the 2nd sentence, "one week" changes to "one week of time" in the published version.
  Table: This table has no title in the text of the manuscript, but the Table of Contents refers to it as "TABLE Magic-user's Intelligence and Chance to Know a Given Spell". This entry was dropped from the published Table of Contents. This table was taken directly from Greyhawk, pg 8, and there are no changes from Greyhawk in the manuscript or published version. 

7th paragraph: The only change here relates to Holmes' name for the magic-user in the example: it's not "Malchor", it's "Flubbit"! I'd always thought Malchor was a Holmes name since he appears in three examples in the published rulebook, but the manuscript shows otherwise. "Flubbit the Wizard" appeared earlier in the description of "Magic Mouth" in Greyhawk, pg 22.


1st paragraph: No changes.

Saving Throw Table:

The table of Contents calls this table "TABLE Character Saving Throws". This entry was also dropped from the published Table of Contents.


Of note, Holmes' table has Thieves on the same line as Fighting Man, a change from Greyhawk, pg 13, where Thieves save as Magic-Users. This note is hard to find, being hidden in the "Alternative Combat" section, so Holmes may have missed it. And TSR may have missed Holmes' change.

Holmes' saving throw categories are the same as in OD&D, Vol 1, except that he simplifies "All Wands - Including Polymorph or Paralization" to just "Magic Wands".

Holmes also changes the order of the categories for reasons unknown. The original nicely had the saves in order of increasing difficulty; i.e., 12-13-14-15-16 for a Fighter Level 1-3.

Holmes also adds a row for Dwarves & Hobbits. Per OD&D Vol 1, Dwarves/Hobbits add four levels for saving throws due to their magic resistance (it is unclear whether this applies to all saving throws or just magic). Holmes instead has them equivalent to a F4-6 (a +2 to each compared to F1-3), for all saves except Dragon Breath, which mysteriously only gets a +1.


In the published table, all information from Holmes' version is retained in the published version, but with the addition of a note to use a d20, and more significantly, the addition of a line for "Normal Man, Kobold, Goblin, etc." The concept of "Normal Man" being different from 1st level characters was not present in OD&D, which states that "Normal Men equal 1st level fighters" (Vol 1, pg 19).  

2nd paragraph (after table): At the end of this paragraph, the manuscript's reference to the higher level saving throws in "Dungeons & Dragons" is simply changed to "ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS". 

3rd paragraph: The published version drops two sentences from the manuscript:

The dropped sentences are:
"Now the die can be rolled to give any number from 1 to 20."

"Red and black suit playing cards, from Ace to 10 in each color, could be used instead with a card drawn each time a number is generated."

This is at least the third instance so far where Holmes suggests using cards if dice are not available. We take the availability of dice for granted these days, but it wasn't always so!

MONSTER SAVING THROWS: The only change in these two paragraphs is that published rulebook drops Holmes' underlining in "magic-user or fighter column". 

Of note: The material in the first paragraph about a monster using a magic-user or fighter saves, and that monsters use their hit dice for saves, seems to come from the OD&D FAQ, Strategic Review #2, 1975. I believe this is the only material Holmes included from the FAQ.

In the second paragraph, Holmes' manuscript has the aside that "(except zombies who are poisoned by salt)". This survived into the first print of the rulebook but was later excised. Holmes' entry for zombies in the manuscript Monster List does not mention this. Perhaps it is a relic of an earlier draft by Holmes? For more discussion of the effect of salt on zombies in Haitian folklore, see this thread on OD&D Discussion

Continue on to Part 10: "Book of First Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 8: "Successively Deeper Strata
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Part 8: "Successively Deeper Strata"

Part 8 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 11 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

EXPERIENCE POINTS AND EXPERIENCE LEVELS: In the first paragraph, two sentences of the manuscript were replaced by an aside by TSR (bolding added for emphasis):

"Covert jewelry, gems etc. into gold piece value. Jewelry and gems are worth 50 to 500 gold pieces each. Ten silver pieces are equal to one gold piece. Treasure is usually...

"Convert jewelry, gems etc. into gold piece value. (For more information regarding treasure, see TREASURE AND BASE TREASURE VALUES). Treasure is usually..."

In the manuscript, this the only place where coin exchange rates and gem values are noted.
The 50 to 500 value is a simplified version of the Gem Table in OD&D Vol 2, pg 40, where 80% of gems have a value of 50 to 500 gp. The exchange rate for silver comes from OD&D Vol 2, pg 39. In the published version, TSR restored the full range of coins and the gem table, and had this information in the section on TREASURE, hence the change here.

The rest of the first paragraph, and the single sentence second paragraph are unchanged.

Experience Points for Monster Overcome: This table has some changes. Here is Holmes' original, spread across two pages in the manuscript:

This information is drawn from the table in Greyhawk, pg 12-13, but Holmes simplifies it by leaving out the values for 1+1, 2+1, etc, and the values over 10 HD. The Monster List contains only a handful of creatures over 10 HD, so this is a practical cut-off point.

In the published rulebook, TSR restores the values for the in-between HD (missing 2+1), but keeps the table the same length by instead truncating it at 5+1. The secondary editor(s) may have thought that the lower level HD were more appropriate for Levels 1-3, but the Monster List actually contains more than twenty creatures with 6 or more HD. Some of these might be defeated by a party of level 2 or 3 characters, such as Displacer Beasts, Minotaurs and Trolls, so this is a less practical cutting-off point.

Following the table, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth, ninth and tenth paragraphs of this section, which follow the table, are unchanged.

In the eight paragraph, however, there is a change:

".... levels a character may progress (20th level fighting man, 20th level wizard, etc.),"

"....levels a character may progress (15th level fighting man, 14th level wizard, etc.)." 

Here, the manuscript text is straight from OD&D, Vol 1, page 18, section "Levels", so here again we see Gygax/TSR editing the original OD&D rules. Perhaps they decided to scale back the expectations for high-level play a bit. TSR also introduced a minor typo, putting a period after the aside where Holmes had a comma, which was never corrected in any edition of the published rulebook.

Experience Levels for Characters: No changes to this table. Only three levels are covered, just as in the published version. This table has no title in the manuscript text or the published version, but in the manuscript Table of Contents it is referred to as "TABLE Experience Levels for Characters".

I was surprised that the manuscript version of this table has a 3rd level Magic-User having 2 first level, and 1 second level spells, which is a change from OD&D, Vol 1, where as 3rd level M-U has 3 first level spells. The 2/1 spells is found in the Player's Handbook, so I had assumed that Gygax changed this to make it like AD&D. But now we see that Holmes had it in the manuscript. The presence of the change in the manuscript could be based on earlier communication with Gygax, or just a simple mistake. Of note, The Warlock Supplement that Holmes used prior to editing the Basic Set also gives 2/1 spells at third level.
Holmes' level titles all match OD&D, Vol 1 or Greyhawk (for the thief), except Holmes has changed the 3rd level title, "Village Priest" to just "Priest", which the published version kept.

DWARVES, HOBBITS AND ELVES: No changes to this section. There's no more information here about the "alternating elf' to clarify when they get their hit points. Gygax stated in a post in Dragonsfoot in 2005 that the original elf was supposed to get 1/2 of a HD for each Fighter or Magic-user level (thanks to machfront for pointing this out recently), though this statement seems to be in reference to the original HD progression rather than the alternate one found in Greyhawk that Holmes followed.

EXPLANATION OF THIEF'S ABILITIES: No changes to the table. The manuscript version of the table is missing Climb Walls, just as in the 1st print rulebook. TSR added this to a later printing as it is mentioned as an ability earlier in the section on characters.

The four paragraphs of text are identical, except the name of Holmes' thief in the examples is "Bingo" instead of "Drego". "Bingo" is a bit like "Boinger", and is also the name of a Hobbit in Lord of the Rings (Bilbo's uncle, brother of his father Bungo). Perhaps TSR changed this because they thought the name too silly or too Tolkien-ish. Drego, however, is close to another Tolkien Hobbit, Drogo, Frodo's father.

CLERICAL ABILITIES: Just minor changes here. In the first sentence, the draft version does not have "undead" in quotes, and uses "higher order clerics" instead of "higher level clerics". And in the second Second paragraph the "T" is not in quotes in the manuscript.


USE OF THE WORD LEVEL: In the manuscript, this section is called "USE OF TERMS", although strangely the Table of Contents has it as "Use of Term "Level". The published version has "USE OF THE WORD LEVEL" in both locations. 

The only change to this section is in the last sentence:

"The reader should be aware, however, that usage of terms and rules varies across the country from Dungeon Master to Dungeon Master."

"The multiple usage of the term "level" will become quite familiar and not at all confusing once players have participated in a few session of the game."

Here, I can imagine that TSR wanted to emphasize the use of standard terminology in the game, and thus did not want to indicate that terms were used differently by some players.

Continue on to
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript