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 Chevalier is the original, unpublished version of Chivalry & Sorcery that is an original D&D variant rather than a stand-alone game.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.


  1. By the publication of C&S first edition very little was left of the OD&D magic system, except for some of the spell names. I remember entire schools of elemental magic with create, detach, accelerate, etc spells for fire, darkness, water and so forth. There was an elaborate system for enchanting materials for magick items (itemz?) that was also used for learning new spells. One attuned to the spell or material by reducing it's Magic Resistance over a period of many days.

    1. Thanks, Robert. Long ago I had the 2nd edition Sourcebooks but I've never seen the 1st edition.

    2. I had a copy, but it fell apart decades ago. The loose sheets were lost in a move. I remember 2ed edition was much more playable.

    3. First had notoriously small print -- I doubt I could read it today.

    4. C&S 1st ed. and 2nd ed. are close, except for the point buy version of character creation. The biggest change is the new layout and three-book format.

  2. I am intrigued by the fatigue dice, something not used by us when we played Warlock. So measure volume is a spell for engineers?

    1. I'm guessing it's a system where they attempt to make Hit Points more realistic by splitting them up to Body (real damage) and Fatigue (the rest). There's no description for Measure Volume in Warlock other than saying it's within 5%. Might be useful before you cast a Fire Ball!

    2. I effectively use hit points as fatigue in my D&D games because I find it the best explanation for a character gaining hit points with experience. Basically it is the amount of effort required to block, dodge, or parry a blow that would have otherwise hit and injured you. As you gain in level/skill, it takes less effort for you to block a successful attack, so you can effectively continue to do so for longer.

      [And it has useful side effects that people can use hit points for other things (like running faster or wearing armour in hot environments).]

      And the ability to magically measure stuff has profound implications on trade for example. You could even get to a stage where the mages guild becomes responsible for ensuring accurate weights and measures, for example (although not with the 5% error margin).

      However I suspect the standard use was in dungeons where it meant the mage could accurate measure the size of a room for mapping purposes. Especially if the room/cavern was larger than the light source could readily illuminate.

  3. I've had the 1st edition for years, but was never aware of its roots as a 0E supplement until now. How could one find a copy of that original Chevalier manuscript?

    1. As far as I can tell, the reprint is currently only available on the secondary market. There are a few threads on the Acaeum about it. Chevalier thread #1

      Chevalier thread #2

  4. I have a copy of 1st edition C&S (1977) in excellent condition. Mechanically, it bears almost no resemblance to OD&D. It sets out to be a very complete game/system for a feudal/medieval European setting, and does (I think) an admiral job...it appears Mr. Siambalist decided to do the research "about life in the feudal period" himself, and incorporated it into the rules.

    Magic is divided into multiple brands (astrology, cabalism, witch-equivalents, alchemy, etc.) each with their own systems, all based on medieval paradigms. There are a few spell lists available to be learned that resemble OD&D spell lists ("ancient lore") but they are fewer in number, more specific to the setting, and only a small part of the overall magic system. Quite a bit of it looks like a precursor to Bruce Galloway's 1982 RPG "Fantasy Wargaming;" the magician workshop section can be seen as the direct ancestor of Ars Magica's "laboratory" systems. Fatigue points are a separate form of damage pool (separate from "body points"), similar to Palladium system's SDC points or Deadlands "wind/fatigue."

    Chivalry & Sorcery may have been initially inspired by OD&D, but it is a completely evolved game, innovative in many ways, and (appears to be) the inspiration for many later published RPGs. If the print hadn't been so small (per the authors: to keep the page count small...it rounds out at 130), the game might have had greater traction with the segment of gamers wanting a more "authentic" experience of the fantastic medieval. A forgotten gem of game design.