Sunday, December 3, 2017

Maze of Peril Ch 1, Scene 3: "Murray the Mage, It Is"

This post is part of the Tales of Peril Book Club, indexed here.

After the description of the Underworld, the story returns to the table in the Green Dragon where Boinger, Bardan and Zereth discuss their "proposition" concerning the Underworld.

Boinger and Bardan reveal that their partner Murray the Mage has found a secret entrance to the Underworld by studying the "old legends" (one of the "Entrances" referred to by the title of the chapter). 

This is the first mention of Murray, another major character in the story. Like the others, Murray is based on a PC in Holmes' original campaign - in this case played by Chris' friend Eric Frasier, who wrote an essay for Tales of Peril called "My Time as Murray" (page 299).

Boinger explains that Murray will go with them on the expedition, since he doesn't completely trust his partners. They all laugh at this, which we learn is uncommon for Zereth - "he rarely allowed himself more than two" smiles per evening.

They launch into a very D&D-esque "discussion of magical detection schemes, march distances, horse power, mercenary men-at-arms, supply dumps and rations". No further details are given here, but some are revealed during the start of the adventure proper.

A note from the bar is delivered, which turns out to be from Murray himself, who was surreptitiously watching them before departing. Boinger exclaims "Mother of Mithra" - the first of several references in the novel to real world religions.

The note indicates that Murray finds Zereth acceptable and that he will get a "regular share". In his early D&D games Holmes used a rule where hirelings got a half-share of treasure, unless exceptional, as explained in the 1976 Alarums & Excursions article Warrior-For-Hire, also reprinted in Tales of Peril.

This is the last scene in the Green Dragon in the first chapter. The next scene jumps ahead to the start of the party's delve into the Underworld.

The scene ends with Zereth joking that he has no choice but to join the party as he has "but five silver pieces left" in his purse. All of the prices in Men & Magic, O&D Vol 1, are in gold pieces, making it the standard purchasing unit. Silver and copper only appear as part of treasure hoards in Monsters & Treasure, OD&D Vol 2, with a standard exchange rate of 1 GP = 10 SP = 50 CP noted on page 39. So Zereth's 5 SP here is equal to 1/2 of a gold piece.


Murray: Tall, white hair, hooked nose, high-pitched voice, an "old fud" per Boinger. Except for the voice, these are reminiscent of many Gandalf-esque wizards in the days of OD&D. Known as miserly - per Boinger, it is typical that Murray did not tip the barmaid for delivering the note (Boinger gives her a copper piece). Murray as lived in Caladan "for some time now, studying the old legends".


  1. I used to think Mithras was a REH god but found out many years later his Persian-Romance origins. He's still fairly mysterious, especially his extinct Romance cult. If you ever get to Rome find the Mithras temple beneath a baroque cathedral.

  2. I thought the reference to the Green Dragon was an indication that this is Oeth, but after skimming through the book again today, I can't really say that. It's either a proto-Oerth that doesn't really resemble the published version in a meaningful way or it's Holmes own world that may be a mishmash of everything without regard to much logic behind it. Like all the OD&D references are in effect. Theres the Green Dragon and orcs. There's Mithras, Crom, Sir so-and-so of the Cross, the cleric and magic-user casting spells in Latin. The reincarnation spell that calls on the power if several devil's by name that real world names. Maybe that's how loose Oerth was as a setting back then... before the world even had that name attributed to it. Trying to think of how to represent the setting as Holmes describes it may call for ignoring all the Oerth lore I've been leaning about for the past several years. The BLUEHOLMES setting seems a logical extension for those trying to recreate the Holmes version of D&D. I do like the idea of taking the Outdoor Survival map and placing the Holmes encounters on it. It does seem like Amazonia is on the wrong side of the map though granted the ocean was placed on the east side of the map and with that decision there's not another place to show it. If you haven't heard of the Blueholmes setting and map, you may want to check it out. You've read this far so it should be right up your alley. :)

  3. Raymond, I am afraid that Mish mash is the answer to your question. Remember Lovecraft is the third major influence in this world.