Saturday, February 14, 2015

Part 47: "The Occupants Are Goblins"

Part 47 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 41 of your 'Blue Book' (page 40 for the 1st edition) and follow along... 

The next page of the manuscript is filled with Holmes' hand-drawn map of the Sample Dungeon, which I previewed in the first post of this series. This page was inserted after the other pages were typed, with a handwritten "119-A" in the upper right corner. Here is the original map side-by-side with the published map:

Sample Dungeon - original map (left) vs published map (right). Click for a larger view

The published map is simply a more professional rendering of the original, with all of Holmes' essential features preserved. There are a few changes, which I will mention below. TSR's cartographer for the published map is unknown, possibly David C Sutherland III. 
The original has no clear grid, although there are some repeating horizontal lines faintly visible. Holmes supplies sizes in some room descriptions, which the cartographer accurately followed in the published version.

The original is more compact. The published map has a few extra 'E' (Empty) rooms, and more small (10') corridors between rooms (possibly for clarity and/or to avoid paper-thin walls). The rat corridors interact with the northern corridors differently as published. Some of these changes may have occurred when fitting the stated sizes for the rooms onto the map.

The compass point is missing from the published map, although the second edition of the rulebook adds a small "North" arrow at the bottom of the map.

Holmes' Map is titled "Dungeon Master's Map", whereas the published version is "Illustration of Sample Floor Plan". Despite this change, the map is still referred to as the "Dungeon Master's Map" in two locations in the text (at the start and in the description of Room E).

On to the room descriptions! For each room, I'll end with a list of the supplementary DM guidance provided by Holmes.

Room A: This room is currently home to a band of goblins, which may be the first encounter if the adventurers travel straight ahead from the entrance. The manuscript describes this room as "120 ft x 100 ft" (fairly gigantic for old school dungeons) and this is accurately portrayed in the published map. This large room has a fairly central location, but Holmes doesn't supply any clues as to what Zenopus (or earlier inhabitants) used it for. The introduction to the Sample Dungeon mentioned "goblin figures" dancing on the roof in the moonlight before the tower was destroyed, which could possibly be these goblins.

The description of the room is the same in the manuscript and the published versions, except for changes related to the goblins' numbers, hit dice and treasure.

Here is the end of the first paragraph, with annotations to indicate changes to goblins #s:
"There are at least 2 [ three] goblins. The Dungeon Master should increase the number of goblins if the party of adventurers is a large one - i.e., if more than three are in the party, have three [→ five] goblins, more than five, 4 [→ seven or eight] goblins etc."

So Holmes thought that 1-3 PCs should encounter two goblins, 4-5 should encounter three, 6 or more should encounter four goblins, whereas Gygax/TSR thought these numbers were too low and upped them.

In the second paragraph, Holmes indicates that the goblins "wear leather armor and carry swords and daggers", which would give them AC7, but in the Monster List goblins have AC6 (although its unclear whether this is natural AC or due to leather+shield). This is unchanged as published.

Next, Holmes indicates that
"they can each take one six-sided die of hits, minus one point, i.e., roll a regular hit die, subtract one..." As expected, the published version changes  "six-sided" to "8-sided" reflecting the change from Holmes' original intention (d6 hit dice) to the published version (d8 hit dice).

In the third paragraph, Holmes originally had much more treasure for the goblins - 500 gold pieces in each of two sacks, and 2000 gold pieces in a treasure chest. The published version changes this to 500 silver pieces per sack, and 2000 copper pieces in the chest. Holmes probably stuck with gold pieces for simplicity (he mentions silver only once in manuscript, and copper not at all) but this is a drastic change: a 3000 gold piece treasure reduce to 140 gold piece value as published. Gygax clearly had different ideas about appropriate encounter strength and rewards.

DM guidance
-Monster strength can be adjusted to the strength of the adventuring party. This idea was originally put forth in OD&D, Vol 3, page 11: "A party of 1-3 would drawn the basic number of monsters, 4-6 would bring twice as many, and so on."
-How to roll a monster's hit points.
-Guidance on monster actions in combat (e.g. goblins will flee/surrender). This is as close as Holmes gets to covering morale in Basic.
-Example of a trap that inconveniences rather than kills (sleeping gas), as mentioned earlier in "Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art".
-Stealth Ability Score Bonus. On a failed save, the sleeping gas puts a character to sleep for d6 turns, "subtracting 1 if the character has a high constitution". The section on Constitution mentioned that it would "influence how a character can withstand being paralyzed or killed and raised from the dead, etc.", a statement that goes back to OD&D Vol 1, but no other specifics were given. So here we see one implementation of this by Holmes. D&D typically make ability score bonuses evident to the players; having bonuses that are only known to the DM is an interesting area for further discussion.

Room B:

Sample Dungeon Room B - original map (left) vs published map (right)

This room has four hidden skeletons and is very dusty, so it hasn't been disturbed in a while. Were these guards placed by Zenopus? This is another room that is potentially the first encounter of a party.

The original map shows doors at the north (closed) and south (open) ends, and this is mentioned in the text, but the published map is missing the northern door, and moves the southern door to the end of a 10' corridor. The original also has both sets of niches across from each other but the published version moves one niche 10' further south for unknown reasons, and has the north passage enter slightly to the west rather than the center.

The text describes the room as 50 ft x 50 ft, and again this is accurately mapped.

The only change here was to correct the score for a cleric to turn; the original said "must roll a 6 or more", but 7 is correct.

DM guidance
-Example of hidden monsters attacking.
-Reminder of how to determine success in turning.
-How to handle skeleton behavior when turned.

Room C - Holmes uses "C" to mean "Corridor". On the original map the "C" is near the steps marked "START", described in the introduction as leading 25-feet down from the surface. The published map follows this convention.

The original text for this read, "Room C is always an empty corridor. All corridors in this dungeon are 10 feet wide and 10 feet high. The magic user's secret corridor is 5 feet by 5 feet. Remember that at the end of 3 turns a wandering monster might appear - corridors are likely places for this to happen." The published version removes the word "always" from the first sentence, places the third sentence in parenthesis and adds that it is "(S to F)".

DM guidance
Reminder of Wandering Monster checks. The difficulty and XP/treasure for this dungeon are be significantly increased if this adhered to.

Room D - Most of this room is given over to a description of the elaborate statue/door-locking mechanism. Holmes doesn't give the dimensions of this room in the text, so the published map interprets it as a 50 ft by 70 ft room. No changes as published.

DM guidance:
Another "trap" that inconveniences rather than damages.

Room E - Holmes uses this code for all of the "Empty" rooms on the map. This is a handy shortcut for labeling all of these rooms, and is easy to remember. Most of these rooms have doors, which will slow the party down, forcing more wandering monster checks.

Holmes' original map has five empty rooms.The published version has eight. Two small rooms were added in the corridor east of Room D, and a new room was added south of Room J, where the south door led nowhere.

DM Guidance:
Earlier in "Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art", Holmes stated that "Many rooms should be empty", and in the Sample Dungeon he shows this. This echoes OD&D, Vol 3, page 6: "As a general rule there will be far more uninhabited space on a level than there will be space occupied by monsters, human or otherwise".

Go Back to Part 46: "Zenopus Built A Tower"
or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript 

1 comment:

  1. So, no big surprises - I like how there is a different way into the rat tunnels in the original...

    In your DM guidance, I think it's worth reminding people that most light sources won't illuminate the full size of room A. My son loves using "dancing lights" to scope out the dimensions of large, cavernous chambers while dungeoneering. It's also worth remembering that the goblins might be hiding in the shadows at the other end of the room.

    Another tip is that if using the original wandering monster tables in Holmes, it's a good idea to have several NPCs pre-rolled for the human-types that might be encountered.