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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Part 23: "Shy and Beautiful Female Tree Sprites"

Part 23 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 24* of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...   (* page 23 if you have a 2nd or 3rd edition).

Today we cover the 'D' monsters in the Monster List: 


Following the trend, another 'man-type' (along with Buccaneers and Cavemen) that was cut from the manuscript. The material is sourced from OD&D, Vol 2, pages 6 and 22-23. The original notes that "they fight as Berserkers, never checking morale, with +1 on hit dice, and otherwise as Nomads". The original's "+1 on hit dice" may just mean that they have 1+1 HD as Berserkers, but Holmes interprets it as a +1 to hit. 

Displacer Beast: A Greyhawk Monster, described on pages 6 (alignment), 19 (attacks/damage), 33 (other stats), 38 (description) of that supplement, and referring back to the Displacer Cloak in OD&D, Vol 2, pg 36. In the manuscript, Holmes faithfully transcribes the stats but leaves out the alignment (which as noted earlier implies "obviously chaotic and evil") and leaves out attacks/damages as usual. In the description, Holmes omits a nice bit of description from the original that they have black fur and eyes that "glow a hellish green", and their 'enmity' with Blink Dogs (perhaps because he already mentioned this in that entry.
Holmes also replaces the reference to the Displacer Cloak with its actual effect (-2 to be hit and +2 to saving throws). The original also stated that they have high magic resistance, "equalling that of a 12th level fighter". It's a bit unclear what this means, but presumably that they save as a 12th level fighter versus spells. This would be +4 over what an ordinary 6 HD monster would receive, or +2 more than their regular bonus. Holmes just states twice that they get a +2 on their saving throws, when it probably should be a +2 on most saves, +4 on magic. The published manuscript keeps Holmes text exactly as written, including the double mention of +2 on saving throws. The later Monster Manual and Moldvay Basic also just give them a +2 on all saves, without mention of high magic resistance, so it seems the "12th level" save dropped out with Holmes and was never brought back.

Djinni: This is the first monster found in the published rulebook that is not found in the manuscript. Djinn originally appeared in OD&D, Vol 2, but the text in the published Holmes rulebook appears to be a intermediate between that source and what would later in the Monster Manual. The material is generally the same, but with more detail added as Gygax  did generally for all of the monsters in the MM. Perhaps the entry here was drawn from a draft of the Monster Manual. It's unclear why Gygax added this higher HD (7+1), fairly complicated monster to the Basic rules. Later in B/X Djinni were relegated to the Expert set.

Dopplegangers: Other than the title this entry is on a page missing from the manuscript. As I reported back in Part 1, page 67 is missing from all copies of the final manuscript including the one that I have a scan of (I've requested a copy of the same material from an earlier draft but haven't received it). So there's not much to comment on here other than that Holmes included Dopplegangers (a Greyhawk monster) in the manuscript and they made it into the published rulebook.

Dragons: Unfortunately, the first half of the entry on Dragons is also on page 67. The remainder is on page 68. I'll hold off on commenting on this in hopes I can later see the whole entry from an earlier draft.


Another 'wilderness' creature that, like Centaurs, was included in manuscript but then cut by TSR. The material is sourced from OD&D, Vol 1, page 3 (Neutral alignment) and Vol 2, page 3 (other stats) and page 16 (description). Holmes gives a -1 to the saving throw versus the Charm, but the original had a "+10% chance of succeeding", which would actually be a -2 on a d20. The statement that "If their tree is cut down they die" is an addition by Holmes.

Dwarves: The material is sourced from in OD&D, Vol 1, page 17 (alignment) and Vol 2, pages 3 (most stats) and 16 (description). Holmes keeps the stats the same, except for alignment. The original table had Dwarves listed under Law and Neutrality, but Holmes represents this as "Lawful 25%, Neutral 75%". The published version keeps this but changes "Lawful" to "Lawful Good". 

For the description, Holmes reduces the original from six sentences to two. His first sentence just refers to the section on Characters, and this is retained as published. His second sentence says "For every 40 Dwarves there will be one high order Dwarf, the leader, who may have magic arms or armor". This is a simplification of the second and third sentences of the original. As noted by Desert Scribe, Holmes uses 'order' here again in place of 'level' (see also Parts 5, 7 and 8 of this series), and in this one case this terminology survived into the published manuscript. The published rulebook also put "(or possibly fewer)" after "40 Dwarves", and adds "...and be of level 2-7" at the end. In the original rules Dwarves could only work up to level 6 in Fighter; Greyhawk allows for levels 7 or 8 with high strength (as well as thieves of unlimited level).

Holmes leaves out a few concepts from the original. First, that Dwarves take 1/2 damage from Ogres and Giants. This concept would later reappear in AD&D as a -4 to be hit, but did not re-appear in the subsequent D&D line (Moldvay etc). Perhaps Holmes wasn't sure if this applied to Players or not so left it out. Second, Holmes leaves out that Dwarves may have intelligent beasts such as bear or wolves.

Continue on to
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the comment "If their tree is cut down they die" in the description for the dryad was inspired by a scene from "The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis, one of the Chronicles of Narnia.

    (I've previously mused whether the thaumaturgist's wand of petrification in the Sample Dungeon was inspired by the White Witch's wand...)