Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Warlock influenced Chivalry & Sorcery

The "Forward" to CHEVALIER (1976)

A new thread on Dragonsfoot asking about Chevalier led to a reply linking a 2013 post on the Castelli & Chimere blog that I vaguely remember. Chevalier is the original, unpublished version of Chivalry & Sorcery that is an original D&D variant rather than a stand-alone game. The story goes that Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus brought this manuscript to Gen Con with the idea of selling it to TSR, but ended up instead selling it to FGU, where it was published with further revision as Chivalry & Sorcery in 1977. A very limited reprint of the Chevalier manuscript was made by the authors in 1999, from which a few scans are shown on the C&C blog, including the "Forward" shown above, the title of which reproduces the font and mispelling found in Men & Magic (Vol 1 of OD&D).

What I didn't notice previously was the role of Warlock - the 1975 OD&D variant from Caltech - in the development of Chevalier. I've written previously about Warlock and its influence on Holmes Basic; for a general overview see the post "WARLOCK or how to play D&D without playing D&D?" and for other articles mentioning it click the Warlock label at the bottom of this post.

Ed Simbalist writes not only that "Warlock gave further ideas. And Petal Throne presented the concept of an integrated world" but also that "CHEVALIER is not intended to be a replacement for Dungeons and Dragons. Indeed, to play CHEVALIER, one requries at least the three D&D volumes and the Greyhawk Supplement. The other supplements make playing even more complete. If one throws in Warlock for good measure, the picture becomes complete. However, CHEVALIER changed a good many of the rules and, and the prospective player is forewarned to read very, very carefully."

The Introduction to the original Warlock made a similar statement that it is "not intended to replace D&D, nor is it intended in any way to interfere with it". Both games went on to develop their own complete systems, with C&S in 1977 and the Complete Warlock books in 1978-1980.

Furthermore, I can see some specific influences of Warlock in the scans posted on the posted scans in that blog article.

The Elf advancement table is formatted similarly to the one in Warlock and the Fatigue dice are pretty close to the Hit Dice for Elves in the original 1975 Warlock rules.

The M-U spell list includes not just spells from OD&D but also ones original to Warlock.
From the portion shown:
1st level: Match, Silence (as a 1st level spell), Sound Amplification, Telescope
2nd level: Awaken (one of the Holmes A&E stories has this on a scroll), Create Sound, Detect Experience [Group], Detect Evil/Good (as separate 2nd level spells), Freeze Water, Hallucination, Measure Distance, Measure Volume

3rd level: Ball Lightning, Cone Cold, Continual Darkness, Dark Cone, Detect Clairvoyance, Detect Clairaudience, Detect Teleport, Heat Cone, Illusion I, Light Beam

I don't have the 1st edition of Chivalry & Sorcery for further comparison, but I imagine much of this was changed by the time it saw print in 1977. Even so, it's clear that Warlock provided a template for Simbalist and Backhaus in assembling their own D&D variant, an important step in developing the game that eventually led to C&S.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Holmes Basic at DunDraCon 2018




This weekend is the 42nd DunDraCon, the long running convention in the San Francisco area. For the second year in a row, a DM is running Beyond the Door to Monster Mountain, a Holmes Basic mini-scenario available on the Zenopus Archives site. The scenario is being run twice, once at 10 AM and once at 2 PM, and is family/kid-friendly. See the convention listings here

The DM also started a thread about the game on ODD74, where he wrote:

"I will be running this great module with a few added encounters back to back Sunday Feb 18th at DunDraCon here on the left coast. The module by Zach is loads of fun for kids and adults alike and I run it in the room (along with my [wife's] help) with a horde of kids and young at heart in the children's room at the convention. Last year I had just as many adults as kids but it was a hoot. I hope to see some of you there as we celebrate 40 years of Holmes!

Based on attendance this time, if there are slots open, I will allow players to participate in both sessions. Maybe even leveling up!"

For those interested in the history of Dundracon, their website has a great pdf archive of past Dundracon programs going back to Dundracon III, President's Day weekend, 1978.
Here's the cover from the program for DunDraCon IV, 1979 (the cover has a typo which was hand-corrected):



Friday, February 16, 2018

Holmes Basic Testimonials



2018 update: This year we celebrate Holmes' birthday in the middle of the 40th anniversary year of Holmes Basic (July 2017-July 2018). As a tribute, I'll be running two session of Return to the Tower of Zenopus at Gary Con in a few weeks.

There will also be a "Ruined Tower of Zenopus - 40 years later" event, by a different author, at the North Texas RPGCon this year in June!

And Beyond the Door to Monster Mountain - a Holmes Basic mini-scenario available here - will be run for the second year in a row at Dundracon this coming Sunday.

If you missed it, last July Chris Holmes was on the 3rd season of the short podcast Tell Me About Your Character, talking about his third favorite D&D character (after Boinger and Zereth) in the games he played with his father in the '70s.

And since Holmes' birthday last year we've seen a lot of great releases:

Tales of Peril, a gorgeous hardcover compilation of Holmes' stories of the adventures of Boinger the Halfling and Zereth the Elf, debuted at North Texas last June and shortly thereafter was available for direct order from Black Blade Publishing. I've been slowly blogging my way through the book in a series called the Tales of Peril Book Club, although at the moment it is on hiatus while I prep my con scenario.

The Blueholme Journeymanne rulebook was released by Dreamscape Design, and expands the Blueholme Prentice rules up to 20 levels. It is chock-full of evocative art thanks to all of the Holmes fans out there who funded the Kickstarter for the art.

Jon of Appendix M released two issues of his zine Fantastic! Exciting! Imaginative!, which is inspired by the art found in the Holmes Basic rulebook. The content is by various members of the Holmes Basic groups on G+ and Facebook, including one article in each by myself. Join up if you want to contribute to the next one! These can be found at DTRPG: Vol 1 (free pdf) and Vol 2 ($4 pdf).

On Free RPG day I released Holmes Ref 2.0 an expanded compilation of my reference sheets for Holmes Basic referees. I hope to release a further expansion this year.

Each year I bring this post forward and invite you to add new testimonials. I've moved my posts from previous years to an archive page on the Holmes Basic site, but everyone else's comments from previous years remain below. Feel free to comment again if you've commented before.

See also:
Testimonal Thread at OD&D Discussion
Testimonial Thread at Knights & Knaves Alehouse  
Testimonial Thread at Dragonsfoot
Testimonial Thread at the Acaeum

(DTRPG links include this blog's affiliate # which gives us a 5% credit for each purchase)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rules Cyclopedia now available in print

Rules Cyclopedia options at DriveThruRPG

The Rules Cyclopedia is now available in print-on-demand!

RPGnow link: Rules Cyclopedia 
DriveThruRPG link: Rules Cyclopedia 

The links include this blog's affiliate #, which gives a store credit of 5% of the price.

Published in 1991 by TSR, the Rules Cyclopedia was the culmination of the Basic/Classic line developed from J. Eric Holmes' work in 1977. Holmes is thanked in the Acknowledgements, along with the many other editors and authors who worked on the line, as the "Cyclopedia has also been drawn from the works and benefitted from the input of the following people". 

The Cyclopedia incorporates the entire 36 character levels developed in the BECMI (Basic-Expert-Companion-Masters-Immortals) line by Frank Mentzer as well as some rules from the Gazetteer series into a single hardcover rulebook of approximately 300 pages. The price of original copies has steadily risen to near $100 in recent years, so the print-on-demand option is welcome for those that wish affordable copies for actual use in play.

The rules remain highly compatible with the Original D&D line, so this book could easily be used as an expansion to Holmes Basic if you wish to have 36 character levels. The major difference is the ability scores, which use the bell-curve of bonuses developed by Tom Moldvay in the 1981 Basic rulebook revision. The "Full-Size Preview" link (shown above) on the page shows off a few of the early pages, including the Table of Contents if you want to see the scope of the material in the book.

While this is great news from a legacy point-of-view, I'll use this moment to point out that they still don't have a Holmes Basic pdf or print-on-demand available. It's a gaping maw in their catalog!