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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

B3 originally written for Holmes Basic

     Earlier this year, I speculated that B3 may have been originally written for Holmes Basic, based on the date of publication and that the author Jean Wells ran a Basic tournament at Gen Con in 1980, before the Moldvay set came out in 1981.

     Today I came across a post by Frank Mentzer from 2008 in his Q&A thread on Dragonsfoot that actually verifies this:

     "Mike wrote B1 pretty much based on OD&D but modified it a bit when Holmes was finalized. Gary wrote B2 as a replacement for B1; he decided that the starter module shouldn't be stocked by novice DMs. When Jean wrote B3, she was working off Holmes but transitioned to Moldvay. (I was involved with B3 somewhat.)"

     Interestingly, the green cover B3 revised by Tom Moldvay contains a short paragraph on using the module with Holmes Basic; it basically just assures the DM that the module can be used as-is with the earlier set.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Judges Guild Journal on the new Holmes Basic Set

No, I don't  have a copy. But Judges Guild did in the spring of 1977. This is another tidbit I was clued into by Playing at the World, which on page 580 quotes the following from Installment M (June/July 1977) of The Judges Guild Journal:

"We've just gotten word from TSR that they're revising the D&D system for both a beginner's edition and an advanced version. We've only seen the draft of the beginner's edition and will let you know about the other as soon as it is available (by GenCon in August is the projection)."

The "advanced version" actually didn't appear in any form until the Monster Manual was published in late Dec 1977.

I don't have a copy of Installment M, but there is a pdf available on RPGnow. I looked at the preview and noticed that the first page begins with a different yet similar mention of the pre-publication Basic rulebook:

"Shades of Robert E. Howard! The fantasy scene is expanding in an ever-expanding line of products and publications. Soon to be released is Gregarious Gary Gygax's latest fireball - a great supplement for novice Dungeonmasters. This long anticipated tome was gratefully forwarded to the Guild Hall for pre-publication perusal. We can endorse it whole-heartedly to our subscribers. It is written primarily to fill the need of DM's not desiring a complex advanced game but a solid, easy to follow set of rules to begin his games." (from Jocular Judgements, page 1 of Installment M).

Update: Per Bill Owen (see link in comments below), the above was written by Bob Bledsaw, co-founder of Judges Guild.
Hopefully a pre-publication copy still exists and will turn up someday! Of course, if it was a final draft it may not be any different than the published version.

I also noticed, via the scan on the Acaeum, that first page of the next issue (Installment N, Aug/Sep 1977) provides a enthusiastic capsule review of the new set:

"Now that the great new Basic Dungeons and Dragons has been published ... we are chomping at the bit to see the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. For the few who have not perused the new rewrite and expansion of Basic Dungeons & Dragons, we heartily recommend that you immediately "book out" to your own hobby shop and ask for it ... or better yet order it directly from your own Guild. Although experience points are listed for first through third level fighters, magic users, clerics, and thieves, the finely detailed information contained therein has much to recommend it to all judges .... regardless of the levels of his average players. Magic spells are given especially good treatment and the sprinkling of new spells is welcome also. Poisoned weapons, fire (flasks of oil), holy water, cover, parrying, and abundant examples help the novice and enlighten the veteran D & D fan".  (from Jocular Judgements, page 1 of Installment N)
Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) also told me that the Booty List for Installment N includes the Basic Set, listed as "new". So this issue has further evidence that the Basic Set was available for purchase in the summer of '77, as I wrote about yesterday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When was the Basic Set first available?

Lot of early Wild Hunt APAzines, one of which is issue #19, from an Ebay auction

Yesterday I wrote about the first advertisement for the Basic Set, which ran in Dragon magazine in September 1977. Until recently this was the earliest recorded date that I knew of for the set being available for purchase. The copyright record for the set at the U.S. Copyright Office lists a publication date of July 10th, 1977, but as this record was filed in 1978 it was hard to judge the accuracy of this date. I'd speculated that the Basic Set was available at Gen Con X in August, which Holmes attended, but there was a lack of evidence. However, in the new book Playing at the World, author Jon Peterson notes that the set was available at conventions in the summer 1977:

"In time for the third incarnation of the Origins convention - this time beginning July 22 in Staten Island, New York, under the stewardship of SPI - TSR produced the Basic Set of Dungeons & Dragons" (pg 579-580) and "TSR promoted the Basic Set heavily at all of the 1977 summer conventions, beginning with Origins III" (pg 581).

There's no clear source for these particular statements in his book, but Jon kindly sent me some quotes from Bill Seligman's report on Origins III in The Wild Hunt #19 (Aug 1977):

"The new D&D is out, or at least, the first book of it. It's called 'Basic D&D' and it contains enough information to set up three Gygaxian D&D levels. The book itself costs five dollars, and contains new spells, better writing. (it was re-written by John Eric Holmes, who wrote some sequels to ERBs Pellucidar series) and more examples. There are still several errors - or are there? Some errors may be deliberate holes left for the advanced D&D rules to fill." 

Jon comments that "Especially from this last sentence, it seems clear that he had seen a copy and had time to read it, not just heard that it was out ... Seligman was also aware of the boxed set."

The Wild Hunt was, like Lee Gold's Alarums & Excursions, an Amateur Press Association fanzine (APAzine). It was started in 1975 by editor Mark Swanson, based in Massachusetts, and lasted until the early '90s. In their time the APAzines served much the same role as blogs do today, allowing amateur writers to share their thoughts. The editor would bundle the contributions of each writer, which could be anything from new character classes for D&D to movie reviews, and send out a copy to each contributor. 

Bill Seligman was also a frequent contributor to A&E and The Dungeoneer, and wrote the famous Dragon magazine article "Gandalf Was Only a Fifth Level Magic-User" (The Dragon #5, pg 27).

Thanks to Jon and Mr. Seligman we now have strong evidence that the Basic Set was available as early as July 22nd, 1977, which is actually pretty close to the July 10th date of the copyright record.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The first ad in Dragon magazine for Holmes Basic

It was 35 years ago this month that an advertisement for the new Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set ran first ran in Dragon magazine #9 (Sep 1977, pg 2), inside the front cover. This ad, above, shows only a small black and white reproduction of Sutherland's original art rather than the game itself, so it may have been made while the box was still in production. The ad also refers to the game as a "Swords & Sorcery Role Playing Game" rather than an "Adult Fantasy Role Playing Game" as on the cover of the box. 

The advertised contents match those of the first printing and include "Everything You Need to Begin Playing D&D", an accurate description. There is the rulebook, which is described as a "revised D&D rules book", showing its origins as an edit of the original D&D books. There's also a "full set of dungeon geomorphs" (Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1: Basic Dungeon), "monster & treasure assortments" (Monster & Treasure Assortment Set 1: Levels 1-3) and a "set of five polyhedra dice" (the infamous low impact rainbow-colored dice).

The ad even includes an order form so you can immediately send away for it for $9.95 plus $1 postage and handling. However, I doubt too many Dragon magazine readers rushed out to order a game "to begin playing D&D" "for levels 1-3". My impression is that most existing D&D players ignored the new Basic Set as being "for kids" and instead switched over to AD&D as the volumes were released. The Basic Set instead made its lasting impact on a new generation of kids for whom it served as their introduction to D&D.

Update 12/2018: Revised in view of an earlier ad in the Gen Con X Souvenir Program.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hobbit Day 2012

Yesterday was Hobbit Day - that day in a past age when both Bilbo and Frodo were born. 

When I was little I asked my father about a name for his sailboat, and he said "The Hobbit". 
I wondered what kind of creature that could be. Later I learned when I watched the Rankin-Bass cartoon on TV. This was first shown in the fall of 1977, not long after the Holmes Basic Set was released.

Below are links to posts I wrote last year regarding Tolkien & the Holmes Basic Set.

These were written for Tolkien Week/Hobbit Day, which was shortly after I started this blog, so you may have missed them:

And a few more recent ones:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morno Calendar

     Bradley W. Schenck, the artist "Formerly Known As Morno" (his Acaeum handle), has put together a calendar of art from the 1970s including his covers for the first three D&D "Dungeon Masters Kits" (modules) published by Wee Warriors: Palace of the Vampire Queen, Dwarven Glory and Misty Isles. It's called Morno's Dice of Fate and can be previewed and ordered here (his website). You can pick the month you want it to start with.

     He's written a blog post about it on his website (Webomator); here's an excerpt:

     "From right around 1975 to sometime in 1978 I drew illustrations for some of the earliest D&D supplements, modules and fanzines, and even had one cover and two illustrated stories in TSR’s own The Dragon magazine. I also did some of the covers and illustrations for Dave Hargrave’s Arduin rules sets and for a great many products, some peculiar in retrospect, for Wee Warriors; that included the first commercial D&D character sheets and the very first module for the game (Palace of the Vampire Queen). There’s a huge, long and complex history of those products that I frankly don’t remember very well after all this time. But in this age of eBay and the Web it’s not too hard to ferret that history out."

     Some of his work for the Arduin Adventure (1980) can be seen in my 2011 post here.

     And on the Acaeum he writes:

     "So recently I fired up my scanner and Photoshop and worked through the pages of my 1978 "Dice of Fate" portfolio and some other bits and pieces from the seventies, and eventually I ended up with this calendar of old (or, I guess, distinguished) Morno art from 1975-1978.

     I can guarantee that there are some things in here that none of you will have seen; a couple made their only appearance in that portfolio, and a couple are Tolkien illustrations that only ever existed as greeting cards back in the day."

     As a bonus, here's his first ever cover for the APAzine Alarums & Excursions, edited by Lee Gold. This is from issue #11 (May 1976, scan courtesy Hall of the Mountain King), and is not in the calendar, although two other A&E covers are according to the artist (only one has the A&E logo). Issue #11 also happens to contain the very first published D&D article by J. Eric Holmes, Warrior-for-Hire.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sleep spell as originally written

     As a postscript to yesterday's post about hostile M-Us in the Dungeon, I'll point out that the Sleep spell in the LBBs, Greyhawk and Holmes Basic is nowhere indicated as being any different than ordinary sleep. This was pointed out in an OD&D Discussion thread by aldarron (Dan B.), and waysoftheearth suggested that any loud noise, like continued combat with unaffected foes, could wake all affected parties in one or more rounds. Later editions, including AD&D and Moldvay, specify that the sleeper(s) must be awoken by another person, not just noise. This rule is now often ported back when playing earlier editions, but it's not in the rules as originally written. However, the comments of Mike Mornard (Gronan) in the same thread make me think that it was always played in Gygax/Arneson games as being a magical sleep. So I don't think there was an intentional change to Sleep to make it more powerful like there was with Magic Missile (changing it from requiring a to-hit roll to an autohit), just a clarification of what was assumed. So it doesn't appear a change in the Sleep spell was the reason for the lesser chance of hostile M-Us in the dungeon in AD&D and B/X.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Where did all the NPC MUs go?

     Today James mentioned the decline in rival adventuring parties as foes in D&D. The earliest random tables (OD&D, Greyhawk, Monster & Treasure Assortments, Holmes Basic) included many NPCs in the random encounter tables for dungeons, though these were groups of magic-users, fighters, etc, all of the same level (e.g. Thaumaturgists). They may have been listed this way because it makes for a simpler table and an easier random encounter for the DM to stat, since they are all the same class/level. But my impression was always that these NPCs represented evil groups (cults?) operating in the dungeon rather than adventuring parties. However, either way it is interesting to note the decline in these encounters as D&D evolved in the 1970s. One theory I have with regard to magic-users is that this was due to Sleep spells being too difficult for low level parties to handle. 

     In the OD&D, Vol 3 (1974) Wandering Monster Tables, a 1st level dungeon should have encounters with Conjurers (Lvl 3 MU), Theurgists (Lvl 4), Thaumaturguists (Lvl 5), Magicians (Lvl 6) and Enchanters (Lvl 7) at frequencies of 3.2%, 3.2%, 1.6%, 1.6% and 1.6%, respectively. That's more than 11% of wandering monster encounters on a 1st level dungeon. Note these are encounters with a group of multiple spell casters. Given the usefulness of Sleep against the other wandering monsters found on that level, one would reasonably expect that at least one MU per group would have it memorized. Sleep should affect 2-16 1st level characters. All it takes is surprise or an initiative win by the MUs, plus a good roll on 2d8, to put most or all of a 1st level party to sleep instantly without save.

     In Greyhawk (1975) the chance of encountering wandering MUs on a level 1 dungeon drops slightly from almost 12% to just under 10%.

     In Set 1 of the Monster & Treasure Assortment (1976) the number drops severely - there's only a 3% chance of encountering a wandering MU on level 1.

     In the early printings of Holmes Basic (1977) the chance was higher, back up to about 6%. But by the 2nd edition of Holmes (1978), all NPCs were removed from the Wandering Monster tables (presumably because many of the higher level types listed were not described in the rulebook), bringing the chance to 0%.

    In the AD&D DMG (1979) there is a small chance of encountering MUs (max # is 3) on the 1st level of a dungeon - just over 2% using the Tables in Appendix C.

In Moldvay Basic (1981) there's also a 0% chance of wandering MUs on level 1 (pg 53).

     You can see the calculations for these numbers here.

     So there's a big drop in the chance of encountering wandering MUs in the dungeon as the rules evolved during the '70s. This makes it much less likely that low level PCs will get hit by a Sleep spell in the big games of the early 80s (AD&D, B/X). PCs still get their Sleep spell to use against the goblins, etc but no longer have to deal with the same spell being used against them.
One could argue that the Wandering Monster tables were nerfed!

     So if you really want to go old school, 1st level PCs should be encountering groups of rival magic-users on the 1st level dungeon more than 10% of the time. In OD&D, not all of these are immediately hostile given the Monster Reaction table, but on average 1/3 will be. Thus 3-4% of the random encounters will be with hostile higher level spellcasters, most of which should have at least one Sleep spell. Some may have Fireball as well...

(Portions of this post appeared previously in this OD&D Discussion thread).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

UK Basic rulebook cover original art

Original art by John Blanche for the cover of the UK Holmes Basic rulebook, from Tome of Treasures

     While working on yesterday's post I was reminded that the original cover art by John Blanche for the UK Holmes Basic rulebook still exists and is owned by the burntwire brothers, two longtime Acaeum members and top collectors with a you've-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it game room. They've done a nice job of sharing their art collection via photos  available in the Acaeum Artwork Museum, Tome of Treasures Gallery of Original Paintings and Drawings (where I grabbed the above screenshot) and their photo gallery on the Illustration Exchange. Most of their collection is of more recent art; it's actually amazing that D&D art this old (1977) has been preserved. TSR disposed of a lot of early original art, but the UK version of the rulebook was published by Games Workshop under license from TSR. The burntwire brothers wrote in 2006 that they acquired the art from "a well known game designer in England" and that "when we heard it was available we had to have it. It is kind of cool owning the cover art to the first non-US Dungeons & Dragons product".

     The ToT entry describes the art as being 7.5 by 9.5 inches, ink on heavy art board. The composition echoes the original Sutherland artwork, containing similar elements of dragon, treasure hoard, wizard with wand, warrior and archway, though from a different perspective. In this regard it is similar to the interior artwork, much of which is even more straight-forward re-drawings of the original art by Fangorn (Christopher Baker).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Heroes (1979) revised

Left: Holmes Basic UK version (Dec 1977); Right: Heroes RPG (1979). Cover art for each by John Blanche.
     There's a new version of the long out-of-print 1979 non-fantasy medieval RPG Heroes available here (be warned, it's print only and expensive, particularly if you are outside the UK). It's been partially revised by the original author, Dave Millward. I don't really know much about the game except that the cover art was by the UK artist John Blanche, just a few years after he did the cover for the UK version of the Holmes Basic rulebook (above, left). He's gone on to do all sorts of art for Games Workshop products. The new version is absent his art on the cover, unfortunately. I don't know whether they wanted something fancier (i.e., color), couldn't afford to use his art now, or just wanted to distinguish the two versions. I've also learned that similar to the UK Basic rulebook, Blanche only did the art on the cover. The original Heroes had interior artwork "by an art student called Aiden which David explains, cost him a couple of pints" and this "is reproduced in the new version, alongside art by J.C.B.Knight. All very atmospheric" (geordie, OD&D Discussion forum).

     The first post in the OD&D thread is a capsule review by geordie from 2010, which Millward now has quoted in on the website:

"The bleak landscape of late-70's Britain (strikes, powercuts, social disorder, bombing and the cold war) wasn't ever going to birth a shiny happy RPG.

Before Warhammer, Dragon Warriors and Maelstrom, there was the ironically-titled Heroes, written by Dave Millward (with 18 months playtesting), with art by John Blanche (artist responsible for the UK Holmes D&D cover).

A roleplaying game set in the Dark Ages, 80 pages cover character creation and background, professions, equipment, combat, social interaction and advancement, scenario creation, religion, gambling, crime and punishment, political wrangling, land holdings, piracy, naval campaigns, commerce, raiding, medicine and healing. There is also a European-style setting, the Ouesterlands, included.

...No fantasy, no magic, just blood 'n' snot brawling with percentile dice."

This was followed up by an interesting post by one yoda, who explained its origins:

"Dave was my History teacher back in the late 70's, and the school wargames club which Dave ran were, together with the Birmingham Wargames club, the playtesters for Heroes. Most of the dedications at the front of the rules were for our personas.

We had 00's of hours of fun with this game, remember there was little or nothing in the market at the time and Heroes also made a good background for some skirmish wargames. It helped that Dave, with his Birmingham cohorts had access to beautifully painted wargames figures by the ton.

I managed to take my Character, a Polish mercenary type, through all the playtesting, and was the Captain of the City Guard in waiting. I was just waiting for deadmans shoes, which I was trying to arrange by raising finance to facilitate the incumbents 'retirement'. In the pursuit of which i got killed in a raid on a monastery - I suppose that was gods wrath, but the monks definitely needed to be relieved of a shipment of the emperors gold that was en route.

Wow, memories. I think I'll get Dave to go for a reprint. The basic rules set allowed you to make use of, or develop, your love of history, no spells or monsters as you say, just good old fashioned bar room brawls and swordplay. sometimes simple is best."

(As a fan of simple rules, I found the bolded bit interesting - it makes me ponder a simplified D&D Basic with no spells or monsters)

 And then earlier this year, a post by Millward himself:

"Hi… first, please allow me to introduce myself… I am Dave Millward, author of the original Heroes RPG.

I am currently engaged in reviewing the original rules for Heroes, with a view to initially publishing Edition 1.1, together with a set of Combat rules. If this is a success, I am thinking about a 2nd Edition and various expansion sets.

If you are interested, please drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think…"

Version 1.1 eventually morphed into version 1.2, as explained on the website.

There's more discussion of the original game here on Dragonsfoot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zenopus Archives: Year One

     One year ago today I made the first real post to this blog (before that there was just a placeholder). As you can see, I originally meant to post updates to the website, but I quickly found I enjoyed writing posts for the blog (the website has naturally suffered from less updating). I'm working on a few projects right now that will take up some time over the next few months, but I will continue the occasional post.

     This fall will also mark the 2nd anniversary of the local AD&D campaign that I play in. Horq the One-handed Half-Orc Fighter/Cleric (who lost his hand to the giant crayfish in T1) & company have been exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil and environs for almost two years. We meet almost every other week, and have just started exploring the second level...

Here are some of the "brainstorm" titles I came up with in April '11 when trying to pick a name for the website which shares its name with this blog:

Successively Deeper Strata: Exploring the Cellars of Zenopus
Shadow of the Gnomon
Cellars of Zenopus
Excavating in the Cellars
Built on Ruins
Brazen Head of Zenopus (later used for a blog post title)
Zenopus 77 (this is my Dragonsfoot handle)
The Zenopus Archives
Tome of Zenopus
Holmes Basic Archives

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Record Price for Holmes Basic Set

Worth its weight in gold...
     I just saw this posted on the Acaeum - an auction ended tonight at $588 (!) for a shrinkwrapped 1st print Holmes Basic Set (F115-R code, Lizard Logo), pictured above. This displaces the previous record holder. For more info see my post on this topic from March. For the current auction, there was a bit of a bidding war at the end between two bidders with low-ish feedback (newbies?). For the winner's sake, let's hope it's original shrink.....

     Here's the revised list of top sellers that I have noted. All are in shrinkwrap. All were auctioned on Ebay, except #2 which was auctioned at GenCon.

1) $588 - 1st print (F115-R code, Lizard Logo) - Sep 2012 - standard box bottom
2) ~$500 - 1st print (F115-R code, Lizard Logo) - owned by Brian Blume - GenCon 2009 - blank box bottom (could be a "true 1st").
3) $331 - 3rd print (Lizard Logo) - owned by Gygax - Jun 2011
4) $315 - 7th? print (Wizard Logo) - Collector's Trove personal auction - Mar 2012
5) $308 - 4th+ print (Wizard Logo) - owned by Gygax - - Mar 2011 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Monster Manual 1E artwork trivia

Chimeras - 1st print MM (left) vs 2nd print MM (right)

Over on the Acaeum, misterspock has documented several artwork changes that were made to the Monster Manual. The first is the Chimera; the original drawing by David C. Sutherland III (aka DCS III or just DCS) from the first print MM (Dec '77) is missing its wings, despite having an 18"/round flying move. The later drawing, also by DCS, from the 2nd print MM (May '78) has the wings added as well as other changes. Also altered were the Type III Demon and Nightmare.

An older post on Dragonsfoot by Paul Stormberg of the Collector's Trove provides some context for these changes:
"Dave (DCSIII) told me he didn't like some of the creatures he drew (Type III Demon, Chimera, Dinosaurs, and some others) as they had to be hastily done. DCS was a fast artist but it made his quality suffer. The Monster Manual was supposed to be done by Dave Trampier but he worked slowly and often quit and went home or to the local bar to blow off steam regardless of deadlines. Not so for DCS. He labored long into the night to get things done and sacrificed quality for speed when ordered to do so. Tramp was different, he was the golden boy for Gary and Gary did not push him on deadlines. Instead Dave was asked to pick up the slack.

When Dave got the Monster Manual blue lines from the printer he saw "this huge hole" in the document. There were no dinosaur illustrations, at all, just many blank pages. So that night Dave did all of the dinosaur drawings. He was supposed to be working on other things but crammed and speed drew things to pick up the slack. So a few pictures that had been hastily drawn by DCS, and that always bugged Dave were redrawn by him for later editions of the MM. It is the only book where he does this because it was never meant to be his project and the hastily drawn stuff bugged him so he just had to fix some things.

In the end, DCS was selected to be the Art Director for his work ethic and he slowly moved away from having time to create art. Ultimately he directed cartography at the company which you begin to see in fantastic maps like those in I6 Ravenloft."

Tom Wham is also listed in the credits, and contributed both classic "bestiary" drawings that blend well with the others (Beholder, Blink Dog, Herd Animal, Gynosphinx) as well as his signature cartoons (Giant Lynx, Mind Flayer, Giant Pike).

In addition to the altered artwork, later MM prints also added new art. Buried on the Acaeum's Monster Manual errata page is a list of the missing artwork in earlier printings:
First:  Ape (Gorilla), Centaur, Doppleganger, Dryad, Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Gar, Ghost, Hobgoblin, Intellect Devourer, Kobold, Men (Berserker), Merman, Mummy, Otyugh, Pegasus, Pixie, Purple Worm, Rat (Giant, Sumatran), Skeleton, Slug, Sprite
Second:  Ape (Gorilla), Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Otyugh, Rat (Giant, Sumatran)
Third:  Eye of the Deep, Fungi, Otyugh, Rat (Giant, Sumatran)
Fourth:  All pictures present.  Note that some monsters still do not have an accompanying illustration, but the Fourth print is as good as it gets.
[Note: the Ape (Gorilla) here should actually read Ape (Carnivorous)]

Most of these added illustrations are by DCS or Trampier, but the ones added to the fourth print are by Jean Wells (by herself or with DCS), whose name was also added to the credits on the title page.

Unpublished drawings also exist for several monsters that never received an illustration in the Monster Manual, including a Slithering Tracker and Giant Skunk by Bill Willingham, a Masher by Erol Otus, and an unattributed Shadow.

Update: Here's a screenshot of the DCS Chimera in the Blackmoor Supplement (Sep '75) that paleologos pointed out below:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Maze of Peril at Noble Knight

I noticed yesterday that Noble Knight Games now has Holmes' novel The Maze of Peril in stock (11 8 3 1 0 15 9 copies as of 11/26/12) for $9.95 plus shipping. NK presumably ordered these from the publisher, Space and Time in NY, who still sells copies of the original 1986 printing. S & T charges only $6.95 + $1.50 shipping, but requires a check or money order, so you may find it more convenient to order from NK, who take PayPal, credit cards, etc.

If you are not familiar with the novel, it's a 150-page OD&D-ish adventure featuring the duo Boinger the Halfling and Zereth the Elf, who had earlier appeared in Holmes' three short stories for Dragon Magazine - though Maze of Peril is set earlier, as the pair meet for the  first time in the beginning.

A few reviews of the book:
Dragonsfoot review (2006) - by myself, points out the many similarities with Holmes Basic

And here's the NK blurb:

"To those with the courage and ability to survive, the maze pays equal tribute in its fabulous mysteries and treasures from countless civilizations. Now the Dagonites plot to keep these riches for themselves. Boinger the halfling and his companions must discover the Dagonite stronghold, challenge their warriors and wizards, rescue a friend, preserve the waterways of Amazonia, and maybe even save the world. [this portion is taken from the back cover of the book]

Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons and written by Dr. John Eric Holmes who was the editor of the basic set blue book which is generally referred to as the "Holmes Basic" and is widely considered to be the best set of rules for introducing a new player to the original D&D rules. By his own words, Mr. Holmes stated that he was rather upset after reading the original small books from the first box set and he still had no idea how to play the game. Because of this he spoke with Gary Gygax and offered to rewrite the rules into a form that would be good for beginners and Gary readily agreed."