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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.                    ...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Part 7: "Something Has Come Strolling Along"

Part 7 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 10 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

In the manuscript, the title of this section has "CLOSED DOORS" and "HIDDEN DOORS" for the second and third items. This was changed in the rulebook, but Holmes' original title survived into the Table of Contents of the first printing.

Traps: The only change to this paragraph in the published version was to append the final sentence with "...taking one or more 6-sided dice of damage". 

Doors: The first sentence was revised from "often locked" to "often stuck or locked".

Listen: No changes.

Secret Door: The published version of this paragraph adds a new sentence at the end, "Of course, the Dungeon Master will lessen these possibilities in lower levels of the dungeon".

Spiking Doors: No changes.

Surprise: No changes.

Wandering Monster: The first paragraph has no changes. The published version of the second paragraph adds a new sentence at the end, "Where a slash (/) appears between two monsters, roll again to see which of the two appears". This clarifies how to use of the Wandering Monster Table.

The published version has a long third paragraph that discusses adjusting the number of monsters encountered, but this is not present in this location in the manuscript. Instead, Holmes has some of this information later in two brief sentences following the Reaction Table:

Holmes got this information from pages 11-12 of Vol 3 of OD&D:

Number of Wandering Monsters Appearing: If the level beneath the surface roughIy corresponds with the level of the monster then the number of monsters will be based on a single creature, modified by type (that is Orcs and the like will be in groups) and the number of adventurers in the party. A party of from 1-3 wouId draw the basic number of monsters, 4-6 wouId bring about twice as many, and so on.

Holmes altered "basic number" to "one", presumably based on the first sentence that says "single creature". In the published paragraph, TSR changes this advice to suggest a number of monsters "roughly equal" to the strength of the party.

Level Beneath the Surface Table: This table, which is a revised version of the table on page 10 of Vol 3 of OD&D, is not present in the draft. Perhaps Holmes wasn't sure how to revise this, since the original table allowed for monsters of level 4 and above to be encountered on levels 1-3.

As a side note, the table (found in the published rulebook) has a nice mirror symmetry. 
The monsters that will be encountered on each level have the following ratios:
Level 1 --- 8:3:1 (i.e., 8 1st level monsters to 3 2nd level monsters to 1 3rd level monster)  
Level 2 --- 3:6:3
Level 3 --- 1:3:8

Wandering Monster Table: We've known for a long time that the WMT in the first print of the Basic rulebook was not Holmes' original. In Dragon #52, when reviewing the new Moldvay Basic Set, he wrote:

"The first Basic Set rulebook contained some irritating typographical errors. Someone at TSR rewrote the wandering monster table and put in a number of creatures that were not in my list of monster descriptions. But most of the errors were corrected for the second printing."

Holmes' original WMT is found in the manuscript, and tracks very closely to the tables from the Greyhawk Supplement, pg 64.

The only change that Holmes made to the Greyhawk Tables, which can be seen here, was to write out the level of the NPCs, rather than using level titles. He may have done this since the level titles above 3 do not appear in the Basic rules (of course, neither do stats for any of these higher levels). Here again we see Holmes using "order" instead of "level" for character level.

The secondary editor(s) at TSR seems to have revised the Greyhawk tables by drawing heavily on the Monster & Treasure Assortments, which included numbers of monsters for each type - something not found in the Greyhawk tables. However, this lead to monsters from the M&TA that are not in the Holmes rulebook being included in the 1st printing of the published rulebook. This table was revised again in the second and third printings as discussed in the post linked above showing the Greyhawk Tables.

Hostile-Friendly Reaction Table: This table is identical in the manuscript and published version, including introductory paragraph, and first sentence following it. As mentioned above, the second and third sentences following were moved to before the table and expanded. 

Holmes adapted this table from two places: OD&D, Vol 3, page 12 and the one in OD&D, Vol 1, page 12. The first source has the general format and content of the preceding and subsequent sentences, plus a smaller 3-entry table, and the second source has the more familiar 5-entry table.

Following this table, there is another paragraph covering pursuit. The only change here is to change the first instance of "(roll 1-3)" to "(roll 1-3 on a 6-sided die)". Holmes adapted this material from OD&D, Vol 3, page 12, although he simplified the material, including changing percentages to d6 rolls. 

Continue on to Part 8: "Successively Deeper Strata"
Or Go Back to
Part 6: "Fully Armored and Heavily Loaded"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript 


  1. Interesting, so a straight adaption of the Greyhawk tables - that makes it easy to expand the wandering monster tables to 6 levels underground, using the same original source.

    For the monster reaction tables, I use the one from Vol 3, page 12 if the monsters have surprised the party, and the party haven't had a chance to do anything yet. The table in Vol 1, page 12 is more for when the party has attempted to lure a "monster" (including those NPCs that appear on the table) into service - it's the reaction to an offer of employment, rather than a straight up reaction roll.

    1. Greyhawk Tables: Yes, and actually those six Greyhawk Tables are meant for all dungeon levels, if you look back at Vol 3, pg 10. The 6th level monsters are the hardest in the game: Liches, Purple Worms, Titans etc.

      Monster Reactions: That's a practical distinction for using those two different tables. I think I'll use that in Holmes Ref. Thanks!