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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, April 30, 2014

Part 29: "They Usually Inhabit Tunnels, Mazes and Labyrinths"

Part 29 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 29 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 


Holmes changes a few concepts from the original description in OD&D Vol 2. Originally they were a "human-type monster with the lower body of a snake, a human torso and head, with tresses which are asps", but Holmes leaves out the part about a "lower body of a snake", making them humanoid - which is how they were described later in AD&D and B/X. Holmes also adds "Usually female", which wasn't mentioned in the original. In the Monster Manual and B/X they are described as strictly female. 

Holmes adds a concept from the original myth that was missing from OD&D: "It can be looked at in a mirror without harm" - providing another use for those mirrors in the Equipment List. He leaves out one concept from the original that "It also is subject to the effects of its reflected glance", but the published rulebook adds this  back by appending "...and if it sees its own gaze in a mirror is is turned to stone". 

Greyhawk has the attacks as "1 or 2" and damage as "by weapon type and turn to stone" but the published rulebook gives them 1 attack for 1-6, without specifying exactly what form of attack this is. B/X later clarified that the 1-6 is for snakebite.


In OD&D, Mermen were one of the "categories of men". See page 3, 5 and 7 of Vol 2. Thus, Mermen represent another OD&D "man-type" that Holmes included in the manuscript but that was cut from the published version. The brief description in OD&D also does not indicate whether they have fish tails or are simply humans who live in the water. Holmes clarifies this by adding a paragraph describing them as having the familiar form of a mermaid.


The original description is brief, and Holmes follows it closely, including the joke about bull-headed men debating rules. As with Medusa, he adds a new sentence based on the original myth, specifically that minotaurs usually inhabit tunnels, mazes and labyrinths (this concept was also included as the last sentence of the entry in B/X). There are no changes in the description from the manuscript to the published version. 

Greyhawk gave them three attacks, "1 butt/1 bite/1 weapon" for 2-8, 1-3 and by weapon type, but the published rulebook changes this significantly to "2 horns + 1 bite" for 1-6 each. In the module B2, Gygax merges these by allowing the additional weapon attack when charging, but only two attack forms when not charging. The Monster Manual and B/X each have other variations on these combinations. Lots of options to choose from here!


Holmes follows the description in OD&D closely, with no conceptual changes. The two paragraphs in the manuscript are retained in the published rulebook, which adds an entirely new third paragraph describing the fear induced by a mummy.


Holmes simplifies the seven sentences of the original down to three, dropping a few concepts such as Dispel Magic possibly working against the Charm, and the Nixies not being afraid of flame. There are no changes to the description from the manuscript to published rulebook. Greyhawk allowed them an alternate attack "by weapon type" but as with most other humanoid monsters the rulebook drops this option.

The Nixie entry was included in the first edition of the rulebook (1977) but was later deleted when the monster section was reformatted for the second edition (Nov 1978). If you have a later edition and haven't seen this entry before, here it is:

Continue on to Part 30: "It is, Of Course, Ochre-Colored"
Or Go Back to Part 28: "Thus We Find Weresharks in Polynesia"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Part 28: "Thus We Find Were-Sharks in Polynesia"

Part 28 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 28 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 


I've written about Holmes' hydras before: Blue Book Hydras. The main difference from OD&D hydras, which have 5-12 heads, is a lack of an upper or lower limit on the number of heads. Holmes specifically mentions 3-headed Hydras, which are outside the original range of "5-12 heads", which he may have overlooked because it is only in the Monster Reference Table and not the full description of the monster. Whatever the reason is for the change, these weaker hydras are more useful for low-level adventures, and could even be taken as far as having a 1-headed hydra with 1 HD and 6 hp.

Holmes also follows the original source in having the number of heads equal the HD, with 6 hit points per head. This reflects the original d6 hit dice of OD&D. This is also one of the few monsters in the Holmes manuscript that gets more than the standard number of attacks per round - one per head.

The only change between Holmes manuscript and the published rulebook is to change "this beast is a dinosaur with many heads" to " dinosaur-like with many heads".

TSR doesn't change the 6 hit points per head, despite making a d8 per HD the standard for monsters. The later AD&D Monster Manual does make this change, giving each head 8 hit points. It also reveals that the OD&D range of 5-12 can be determined randomly by rolling a d8. 


Kobolds are described in OD&D, Vol 2 at pg 3 (stats) and pg 7 (description). Holmes keeps the 1/2 HD, although he writes it as "less than 1. Randomly assign 1-3 hits per Kobold". This reflects that Holmes was using a d6 for monster HD. The published rulebook changes this to "1/2 (1-4 hit points each)", in accord with d8 for HD. For treasure, Holmes follows OD&D in giving them "1-6 Gold pieces each", while the published version changes this to give them one of the new Treasure Types, J, which is 3-24 copper pieces per individual.

The original description of kobolds in OD&D Vol 2, pg 7, is minimal, simply stating that they should be treated as goblins except with a 1/2 HD. Thus, the Holmes manuscript has but a single line describing Kobolds, which is the same as the first line in the published version:  "These evil dwarf-like creatures behave much like goblins, but are less powerful". His addition of "evil dwarf-like creatures" provides some description lacking in the original, and
probably reflects their mythological origin. It wasn't until David Sutherland's drawing in the Monster Manual, published after Holmes Basic, that D&D kobolds became scaly & dog-like.

The published version adds three lines after this, describing how kobolds have chieftains and bodyguards that fight as gnolls, are resistant to magic (+3 on all saving throws except dragon breath), and have infravision.

The reference to gnolls is made despite the fact that gnolls are not included in the rulebook until the 2nd edition. In B2, the Kobold Chieftain has 2 HD, AC4 (chain & shield) and does 2-8 points of damage with a battle axe. The 2 HD and 2-8 damage are the same as a gnoll in the 2nd edition Holmes rulebook. His guards only have 1+1 HD, however. B/X follows these HD exactly for kobold chieftain/guards, but gives them damage that is "1-4 or by weapon -1". The Monster Manual has kobold leaders and guards equal only to goblins.

Later versions of D&D seem to appear to drop the magic resistance of kobolds completely. B/X has them saving as a normal man.

Lizard Man 

Lizard Men first appeared in Greyhawk. The Holmes manuscript follows the original description but adds a bit of macabre humor about their feeding habits: "...with the man served as the main course!". The original description gave them a chance of living "wholly under water or in very wet places (65%/35%)", but Holmes simplifies this to "aquatic". The Monster Manual would later describe them as "semi-aquatic".

Holmes retains their "use of weapons such as spears and clubs" from the original. Greyhawk is a bit confusing on this point because while this is mentioned in the description, under the varying dice damage, they are noted as attacking with "2 claws/1 bite" and doing "1-3/claw, 1-8/bite", with no mention of weapon type. Holmes, of course, leaves out the varying dice damage and multiple attacks in the manuscript. The published rulebook just adds in a single attack of "1-8" without noting what form of attack it is (i.e., bite or spear/clubs?). The module B2 treats them the same.

The Monster Manual and B/X go in different directions in resolving this. The MM has them with a "1-2" per claw and "1-8" bite, with the addition of hurling darts and javelins and using "clubs (treat as morning stars)" in melee, if they are of the more advanced type. B/X has them with a single attack, per Holmes, doing "2-7 or weapon +1", and noting that they use spears or large clubs (treat as maces) gaining a bonus of +1 on damage rolls due to their great strength".


Four of the five 'standard lycanthropes' go back to the original rules (werewolf, wereboar, weretiger and werebear); the other was added in Greyhawk (wererat). All were included in the published Basic rulebook, so it is surprising to see that the Holmes manuscript only includes three of them, although they are probably the three most commonly used - werewolf, werebear and wererat. So the other two were added back by Gygax/TSR.

The original entry gives little description of the various lycanthropes, so Holmes in the manuscript adds a flavorful intro, which is preserved in the published version: 

The reference to the were-shark is not surprising, as Holmes had earlier used them in his home campaign, describing them in a campaign story, "Were-shark", published in Alarums & Excursions #11 (July 1976), which later was revised to become Chapter 2, "Dark Water" of his Boinger & Zereth novel, The Maze of Peril (1986). Holmes' "Were-shark" story also mentions the Polynesian origins of the were-shark tales. Gygax later included his own version of the were-shark in The Monster Manual II (1983).

Following the list are several more paragraphs with rules for lycanthropes. This includes two rules not found in OD&D, both of which were retained in the published rulebook.

First, lycanthropes are "vulnerable to all weapons in [human] form".  Perhaps Holmes thought it would be too easy to detect a lycanthrope in human form if they were immune to normal weapons. This rule does not appear to have survived into later editions.

Update: This rule does appear in B/X, Mentzer and 2nd edition AD&D. Thanks to
C. Wesley Clough on DF for pointing this out. Unless something turns up in OD&D this seems to be a rule that Holmes added that survived through to B/X, Mentzer and 2E.

Second, lycanthropes "are repelled by wolfsbane". OD&D included "wolvesbane" in the equipment list but without further explanation. Note the two different spellings. B/X uses "wolfsbane" and elaborates on the "repelled" rule with a "to hit" roll followed by a Save Vs Poison or flee.

In the last paragraph, there are a few changes to the published rulebook. The manuscript describes Were-bears as "often lawful" and this is changed is changed to "often good".

The OD&D description of the wererat included: "They move very quiety (as a 7th level thief). They can control rats as a Vampire does" - which is a 60% chance of moving silently per Greyhawk, and 10-100 rats per OD&D, Vol 2. The Holmes manuscript includes this as "They can move more silently like a human thief and can command normal rats like a Vampire". Holmes may have dropped the reference to the 7th level thief since that level is not covered in Basic. The published Basic rulebook changes this sentence to "They can move more silently, and can summon 10 to 100 rats as a vampire", thus omitting the reference to the thief entirely. By dropping the reference to "normal rats" they make it ambiguous whether the rats are normal or giant. B/X and the Monster Manual both have them summoning giant rats, but in much smaller numbers - only 1-2 or 2-12, respectively. The Monster Manual has no reference to the silent movement, but B/X lets them surprise on a 1-4 in 6. 


Holmes' entry here follows the OD&D source very closely, including the mention of "horns" in the description. The only change to the published manuscript is to delete the reference to "horns" in the description. The second edition of the rulebook adds a picture of the Manticore by TSR artist Dave Trampier, who passed away recently.

Continue on to Part 29: "They Usually Inhabit Tunnels, Mazes and Labyrinths"
Or Go Back to Part 27: "Mules Can Often Be Taken Into Dungeons" (Griffon to Horse)
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Look Ma, no horns!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Part 27: "Mules Can Often Be Taken Into Dungeons"

Part 27 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 28 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along... 


The original entry for Griffons is on page 18 of OD&D, Vol 2, but lacks any description of what they look like, presumably because the traditional monster is a familiar form. So for the manuscript, Holmes adds a description, "The griffon is a fierce, swift, and loyal steed with the wings, heads and forelimbs of a giant eagle and the hindquarters of a lion". The next two sentences in the manuscript are concepts from the original entry. The only changes to the published rulebook are additions to the stats: a neutral alignment (Holmes didn't include one) and attacks/damage per Greyhawk.


This monster was added to D&D in the Greyhawk Supplement. The manuscript text includes all of the concepts from this source, just with Holmes' typical rephrasing. As with the Griffon, the published rulebook adds an alignment & attacks/damage. In this case, the variable attacks/damage, "1-4/attack" for "2 claws + 1 weapon", are a simplified version of those in  Greyhawk, "1-3/claw, 1-6/weapon". Strangely (or not?), the Monster Manual reverts to the OD&D numbers, and B/X combines the two: "1-4/1-4/1-6". There are two other minor changes in the published version: (1) The word Charms was underlined in the manuscript, and the published rulebook removes this formatting, and (2) the published rulebook adds an exclamation point to the end of the last sentence, adding the drama required by "...or be drawn irresistably to his doom!" 

Hell Hound 

Another Greyhawk beast. In the original source, their breath weapon damage "corresponds to the number of hit dice they have". In the manuscript, Holmes interprets this as a small amount of damage: "causing 3-7 points of damage (equal to the hounds' hit dice)". In the published rulebook, Gygax clarifies that the damage is similar to a fireball:  "causing 3-7 6-sided dice of damage (equal in number to the hounds' hit dice)". The rest of the manuscript is the same as the published rulebook, which as usual just adds an alignment and attack/damage per Greyhawk. 


The original entry in OD&D Vol 2 states "Although the name would imply a cross between the horse and the Griffon, the Hippogriff is another kind of beast entirely" and that they are fierce fighters that attack with hooves and sharp beaks, but gives no further description. As with the Griffon, Holmes adds more of a description: "The foreparts of a winged Griffon, the hindquarters of a horse, the Hippogriff is a fierce fighter, attacking with beak and hooves". The published rulebook accepts this sentence with two changes: the first part is changed to "Having the foreparts of a great eagle..."; and the end is changed to "attacking with claws and beak". The OD&D entry attack forms suggested the Hippogriff had hooves instead of claws; the revised attacks bring it in line with the tranditional conception as well as the varying attacks indicated in Greyhawk (claws + bite). Holmes also adds that they can be used as steeds, which was missing from the original description in OD&D Vol 2, but was referenced in a number of places in OD&D Vol 3. The published rulebook retains this. No other changes to the published rulebook. 


Holmes makes a mistake in the manuscript, giving them HD 1, but the published rulebook corrects this to HD 1+1 . Following the original entry, Holmes' description has two sentences, but leaves out the reference to morale as there are no morale rules in his Basic. Holmes changes the number of bodyguards from 2-4 in the original to 1-4; this is retained in the published rulebook. The published rulebook changes Holmes' second sentence from "Hobgoblins are big powerful Goblins whom they resemble" to  "Hobgoblins are big, poweful goblinoids, and their morale (such as a saving throw against fear) is always a +1". This introduces one of the few references to morale in the Holmes Basic rulebook.

Greyhawk had most of the humanoids listed with two possible damages; for example, for Goblins/Kobolds, "1-4 or by weapon type" or for Hobgoblins, "1-8 or by weapon type". Holmes of course didn't include any of the variable damage. When Gygax added this back in, he left out the "by weapon type" for the humanoids, presumably because the Basic rules don't include variable damage. B/X went back to including the "or by weapon" option for humanoids". 


Most of the info in Holmes' entry (e.g., movement, HD) comes from the table of stats on page 4 of OD&D, Vol 2. The description of Horses in OD&D, pg 21, lists the carrying capacity for all horses, but Holmes only includes the amount for mules (3500 gp) while mentioning that "Horses can usually carry more", perhaps because he thought that only the mules' carrying capacity was needed for the Basic rules, which focus on dungeon delving. For armor class, Holmes writes, "7, unless wearing barding (horse armor)". Barding is listed in the Equipment List but explained nowhere else in Holmes Basic, or OD&D for that matter. 

There are no significant changes from the manuscript to the 1st edition of the published rules. A later editor at TSR must have realized that the fighting capacity of horses was missing, so the 2nd edition of the rullebook adds an Attack/Damage stat, giving a single routine for all horses: 2 hooves for 1-6, 1 bite for 1-4. This is similar, but not identical, to the Medium Horse in Greyhawk, which has 2 hooves for 1-6, 1 bite for 1-3.
Continue on to Part 28: "Thus We Find Weresharks in Polynesia"
Or Go Back to Part 26: "Always Attack Dwarves on Sight"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript