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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.                    ...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Part 8: "Successively Deeper Strata"

Part 8 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 11 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

EXPERIENCE POINTS AND EXPERIENCE LEVELS: In the first paragraph, two sentences of the manuscript were replaced by an aside by TSR (bolding added for emphasis):

"Covert jewelry, gems etc. into gold piece value. Jewelry and gems are worth 50 to 500 gold pieces each. Ten silver pieces are equal to one gold piece. Treasure is usually...

"Convert jewelry, gems etc. into gold piece value. (For more information regarding treasure, see TREASURE AND BASE TREASURE VALUES). Treasure is usually..."

In the manuscript, this the only place where coin exchange rates and gem values are noted.
The 50 to 500 value is a simplified version of the Gem Table in OD&D Vol 2, pg 40, where 80% of gems have a value of 50 to 500 gp. The exchange rate for silver comes from OD&D Vol 2, pg 39. In the published version, TSR restored the full range of coins and the gem table, and had this information in the section on TREASURE, hence the change here.

The rest of the first paragraph, and the single sentence second paragraph are unchanged.

Experience Points for Monster Overcome: This table has some changes. Here is Holmes' original, spread across two pages in the manuscript:

This information is drawn from the table in Greyhawk, pg 12-13, but Holmes simplifies it by leaving out the values for 1+1, 2+1, etc, and the values over 10 HD. The Monster List contains only a handful of creatures over 10 HD, so this is a practical cut-off point.

In the published rulebook, TSR restores the values for the in-between Hit Dice - although the values for HD 2+1 are inadvertently left blank in the early printings - but keeps the table the same length by instead truncating it at HD 5+1. The secondary editor(s) may have thought that the lower level HD were more appropriate for Levels 1-3, but the Monster List actually contains more than twenty creatures with 6 or more HD. Some of these might be defeated by a party of level 2 or 3 characters, such as Displacer Beasts, Minotaurs and Trolls, so this cutting off point may actually be less practical than it appears at first glance.

Following the table, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth, ninth and tenth paragraphs of this section, which follow the table, are unchanged.

In the eight paragraph, however, there is a change:

".... levels a character may progress (20th level fighting man, 20th level wizard, etc.),"

"....levels a character may progress (15th level fighting man, 14th level wizard, etc.)." 

Here, the manuscript text is straight from OD&D, Vol 1, page 18, section "Levels", so here again we see Gygax/TSR editing the original OD&D rules. Perhaps they decided to scale back the expectations for high-level play a bit. TSR also introduced a minor typo, putting a period after the aside where Holmes had a comma, which was never corrected in any edition of the published rulebook.

Experience Levels for Characters: No changes to this table. Only three levels are covered, just as in the published version. This table has no title in the manuscript text or the published version, but in the manuscript Table of Contents it is referred to as "TABLE Experience Levels for Characters".

I was surprised that the manuscript version of this table has a 3rd level Magic-User having 2 first level, and 1 second level spells, which is a change from OD&D, Vol 1, where as 3rd level M-U has 3 first level spells. The 2/1 spells is found in the Player's Handbook, so I had assumed that Gygax changed this to make it like AD&D. But now we see that Holmes had it in the manuscript. The presence of the change in the manuscript could be based on earlier communication with Gygax, or just a simple mistake. Of note, The Warlock Supplement that Holmes used prior to editing the Basic Set also gives 2/1 spells at third level.
Holmes' level titles all match OD&D, Vol 1 or Greyhawk (for the thief), except Holmes has changed the 3rd level title, "Village Priest" to just "Priest", which the published version kept.

DWARVES, HOBBITS AND ELVES: No changes to this section. There's no more information here about the "alternating elf' to clarify when they get their hit points. Gygax stated in a post in Dragonsfoot in 2005 that the original elf was supposed to get 1/2 of a HD for each Fighter or Magic-user level (thanks to machfront for pointing this out recently), though this statement seems to be in reference to the original HD progression rather than the alternate one found in Greyhawk that Holmes followed.

EXPLANATION OF THIEF'S ABILITIES: No changes to the table. The manuscript version of the table is missing Climb Walls, just as in the 1st print rulebook. TSR added this to a later printing as it is mentioned as an ability earlier in the section on characters.

The four paragraphs of text are identical, except the name of Holmes' thief in the examples is "Bingo" instead of "Drego". "Bingo" is a bit like "Boinger", and is also the name of a Hobbit in Lord of the Rings (Bilbo's uncle, brother of his father Bungo). Perhaps TSR changed this because they thought the name too silly or too Tolkien-ish. Drego, however, is close to another Tolkien Hobbit, Drogo, Frodo's father.

CLERICAL ABILITIES: Just minor changes here. In the first sentence, the draft version does not have "undead" in quotes, and uses "higher order clerics" instead of "higher level clerics". And in the second Second paragraph the "T" is not in quotes in the manuscript.


USE OF THE WORD LEVEL: In the manuscript, this section is titled "USE OF TERMS", although the Table of Contents has it as "Use of Term "Level"". The published version has "USE OF THE WORD LEVEL" in both locations, so TSR changed the section title to match the Table of Contents.

The only change to this section is in the last sentence:

"The reader should be aware, however, that usage of terms and rules varies across the country from Dungeon Master to Dungeon Master."

"The multiple usage of the term "level" will become quite familiar and not at all confusing once players have participated in a few session of the game."

One can imagine that TSR wanted to emphasize the use of standard terminology in the game, and thus did not want to indicate that terms were used differently by some players.

Continue on to Part 9: "Zombies are Poisoned by Salt"
Or Go Back to Part 7: "Something Has Come Strolling Along"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript


  1. I had to look up the xp for a minotaur in my Holmes-based B2 campaign this past weekend - used the table from OD&D, but it's just +50. (Had to look up the saving throw vs. wands, as well - I posted the details in Campaign Journals over on DF).

    Very interesting about the magic-user spell progression...if there are some AD&D spells in the Holmes manuscript, that would confirm that he had some correspondence with Gygax prior to turning in the finished version.

    And "Bingo" is going to be the name of my next NPC thief!

    1. I need to update the Holmesian Random Name Generator to include "Bingo". "Go" is already covered, just need to work "Bin" in there.

  2. Also, very interesting about the elven hit dice - was unaware of Gary's comment. There has been furious debate over the Holmes Elf (and the OD&D elf in general) over on DF, lately!

    Just curious, is the heading for the "Experience Levels for Characters" table "Fighting Men, Elves, Halflings and Dwarves"?

    1. Yes, that's the heading, except that "Halflings" is "Hobbits" as in the 1st print rulebook.

    2. Not to stir up the pot all over again - but that does imply that elves gain their d6 hit die according to their fighting-man level...

  3. It was in the thread you're referring to that I dropped the link to Gary's '05 DF post. You might have missed it because I linked the word "HERE" in my post. I guess I should have placed the actual quote on the board. Anyway. Cheers!

    1. I'm always here! :)
      But, I see I messed up. My comment was meant to be a reply to paleologos. Ah, well.

  4. I'm enjoying this manuscript comparison very much. And I see you found my own discovery of Holmes's use of the word "order" that made it into the printed rulebook.

  5. Regarding the truncated XP table: It causes an immediate problem in conjunction with the 6-HD giant spider that Gygax inserted into the sample dungeon (room J). And then another one with the minotaur in his module B2, as noted by paleologos above.

    (I've got a few articles coming up where I hash out the statistical differences between the two versions of the sample dungeon, so I was looking at all your posts here very closely for data. Thanks again for that resource!)

  6. Good point about the enormous spider! For the spider they solved the XP problem in the 2nd edition of the rulebook where it is scaled back to the standard 4+1 HD for a giant spider.