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Friday, January 31, 2020

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Handling Artifiacts, Relics and More - Day Thirty

Today's Topic is "Handling Artifiacts, Relics and More" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! What I will discuss is how I handle Artifacts, Relics and near/future Artifacts and Minor Artifacts.

As I said, I suggest that you create items that are specific to your own home brew game world and come up with your own colorful names. Assign the powers, abilities and features to each item in a way that fits the flavor and character of your world and your campaign. There is no one size fits all when it comes to Creating Artifacts, Relics and so on.

If you go to this post (30 Day D&D Challenge - Describe a Magic Item You Created - Day Seven) that I made early in the month, I talk about creating Magic Swords.  

In this post I spoke of three types of Magic Swords. The third type being a sword that is or is on the verge of reaching Legendary Status (Artifact). Those that are not there yet are Minor Artifacts on the verge of becoming a full fledged Artifact. When I say on the verge of becoming that is a relative term, it might take hundreds of years to complete the transition from minor to major.
These major swords are True Blood Swords or Holy Swords. These swords become independent of family ties and instead each will seek the MOST worthy person to wield it. If no worthy wielder can be found, it may disappear from the fabric of reality and stay hidden until a worthy wielder is found.
NOTE: This does not mean that these swords will automatically have +5 H and/or D bonuses. There powers and what makes them special may take other forms. They can also have a range of powers more extensive than that original presented in OD&D. 
So I created a Holy Sword named The Golden Bell, so named for the bell tones it sings forth when in use. It is a Lawful Sword with a Triple Special Purpose. It is purposed to Defeat Chaos, Destroy Evil and to Vanquish Undead. It has a INT of 16 and an Ego of 12. It is +1 H and +1 D against all Creatures; +3 H and +3 D against Chaotic Creatures and Evil Creatures; and +5 H and +5 D and Double Damage versus all Undead. When wielding this sword a Paladin dispels Evil/Undead/Spells and such as though he were four levels higher. When wielding the sword in battle he receives for the duration of combat a bonus of 5d10 HPs and the sword will always fight until all Evil and/or Undead are Destroyed/Vanquished, the sword will also never retreat when battling Evil or Undead and will always seek to confront the most powerful foe. If the Paladin is killed, the sword immediately disappears. All other standard Paladin Holy Sword powers apply. 
If a Paladin commits a Chaotic Act it will not function for him until he has completed an appropriate quest (if allowed depending on the act), if he commits an Evil Act, it will immediately attempt to slay him, after which it will disappear as it looks for someone worthy.
Here is what I said about Magic Swords in this post (OD&D and Magic Sword House Rules) five years ago in February of 2015. 
Magic Swords, unlike other magic items, are intimately tied to their master on every plane of existence. A magic sword once claimed and used by its master, then becomes the ultimate symbol of its master’s power. An unused, unclaimed magic sword starts out as a semi-sentient entity with the potential for relating to its master as a good dog relates to its dearly loved master. Magic Swords start as a blank slate and align themselves over time with the alignment of their master. A magic sword has its own life-force that it bonds with its master’s life-force when it is treated with the proper respect and care and they become intertwined over time so that they cannot be separated willingly. 
A mistreated magic sword will turn on its master seeking to cause him harm in battle and slowly drinking his life force. A stolen sword is deadly to the thief and will seek to return to its rightful master. 
When the master of a sword dies, if he so chooses, his soul will combine with the sword increasing the power of the sword, its Intelligence and its Ego. In this way it is sometimes possible for a great Artifact to be created. 
When its master dies there are usually only two things that can normally be done with a magic sword, one is to pass it on to a blood relative who must be like minded with the original master and must seek vengeance for the original master’s death if the killer still lives and if they choose to take up the sword. These inherited swords are the only ones that do not start as a blank slate. If the blood relative is not like minded or does not choose to seek vengeance assuming the killer lives, then they should not take up the sword or it will turn on them. 
Inherited swords can be passed down through several generations until a suitable master is found. The other option is to bury the sword with its master where it will guard its master and is deadly to grave robbers. 
When the conditions are right for an Artifact to be created, these Magic Swords have a definite purpose and as such it is possible for someone other than a blood relative to wield the sword. This type of sword will seek out the person best suited to fulfill its purpose. Usually this person will have to undergo a series of tests in order to be found worthy.
A newly gained magic sword starts with the ability to glow in the presence of its new master’s enemies and the ability to wound anything that requires magic or silver to wound. As the master grows in power and skill, so grows the sword and they will grow from semi-sentient to fully sentient over time. Swords will as their master grows discover talents unique to that master. No two swords are ever the same. Swords used by those who also wield magic will discover talents unique to that master. Swords forged with unique and special metals will also discover unique talents. The more powerful the master, the more powerful the sword will become.
As I said, design these items in a way that makes sense in your campaign.

An Artifact that I created was my version of Ioun Stones. I allowed the player characters action to be woven into the mythology of the items. Here is what happened:
The players entered a room and as they investigated it they came across a box of black heavy cubes that were cold to the touch. All of the players ignored them except for the 9 year old girl who was playing a Cleric. IIRC she was up to 3rd level at the time. I also had at that point implemented the possibility for both fighters and clerics to become Paladins at fourth level if they were "chosen."  So she picked up three of them and as she held them they warmed up, became lighter in weight, turned white and began to glow. I also told the player character that she was getting a friendly feeling from the cubes. The other players were in a big hurry to move on, completely ignored everything that I told the 9 year old and rushed her away or she may have taken more of the cubes at the time. There were a few hundred present. 
Now I had planned that they would only respond to the first player that handled them, but not to anyone else. So I made it a trait of these cubes that only the chosen would show interest in them. These cubes come in sets of nine stones. There are multiple sets and each one is completely unique. This particular set is known as "The Colorful Cubes of Ceruveaux the Good" a Legendary Cleric-Paladin. These sets are specific for the race, class, and alignment of the PC. You don't find them, they find you and if you fail to gain all of them they will follow you until they are a united complete set. When they are complete then all of the benefits become apparent, until then only partial or random effects occur. If the PC "chosen" by these cubes dies both the PC and the cubes disappear instantly.
Had they went back to the room again, the cubes would have been gone. But the six cubes she did not take, gradually sought her out. Unlike Ioun Stones, these cannot be grabbed and taken because they take evasive action and will defend themselves. The other thing is that when the set is fully assembled they become sentient and can communicate telepathically with their "chosen." When the set is together each cube assumes its own color, up till then they remain white.

That is enough for today, I will likely return to this subject at another time.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Thirty-One

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

Today as we celebrate the end of the first month of The Year of Blackmoor, I want to ask you all some questions.

Do you game like Dave Arneson? As a referee, do you create your own Homebrewed Game World? Or as a player do you play in a Homebrewed Game World? Do you tweak the rules to suit your Game World or do you tweak your Game World to suit the rules? 

Do you create your own magic items? Do you create your own monsters? Do you create your own unique take on the monsters and magic items found in the "rules" or do you play it by the book? Do you change the ways spells work? Do you create new spells just for your game?

Do you constantly tinker with the "rules" and try new things, keeping what you like and discarding was does not work?

Is your game a wild and wooly rollercoaster? Does it change pace from a slow cautious exploration to a fast paced edge of the seat nail biter and back again? Is your game improvisational? Do you create on the fly when the characters go outside your prepared space? Do your NPCs have personalities, goals, agendas and do they become real people to your players?

Does your game have history and continuity from one session to the next? Do things happen outside the purview of the PCs? Is your world living and breathing? Is it dynamic?

What is your world, your game like?

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Thirty

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

"Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” what do you think? Let us look a little further into the essay titled "Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works":
Adventures in Fantasy, meanwhile, is a complete RPG, which Arneson co-wrote with Richard Snider, one of the original players in the Blackmoor campaign ... ... Though intended as something wholly new, Adventures in Fantasy reads more like someone’s heavily house-ruled version of D&D, which “fixes” or emphasizes certain elements according to its creators’ interests – magic, for example, which is quite different than it is in Dungeons & Dragons. ... ...I suspect that many of the game’s differences from D&D don’t so much fix D&D as precede them... ...they’re reflective of the idiosyncrasies of Arneson’s own approach, much of which either didn’t make it into OD&D or were instead filtered through Gygax’s own ideas.
I would have to agree that Adventures in Fantasy contains a lot of things that would have made it into D&D, but were replaced by Gygax's ideas, some of it did make it into D&D at least partially, dragons and magic swords come immediately to mind.
Previously, I had taken issue with the presence of science fiction elements in a fantasy setting, seeing this as an inappropriate “intrusion” rather than simply being reflective of a more expansive notion of what constitutes the fantasy genre. I began to wonder if this was one of the reasons why Dave Arneson was not as well known to me as he ought to have been: his approach both to gaming and to fantasy more generally ran counter to prevailing tastes, tastes that were, to a great degree, formed as a result of D&D‘s success.
Prior to the publishing of D&D Fantasy and Science Fiction occupied the same area on the book shelf or the book racks of the day; however, in the early 70's the number of books being published increased and with the success of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, the two were separated into now two separate genres and authors started being labeled as being one or the other. So the publishing world started sending the message that fantasy and science fiction were different things not to be mixed. It is not that tastes changed first, changes in taste followed the change in marketing.
I think there is some truth to this. Prior to the success of Dungeons & Dragons, fantasy was a very broad genre, encompassing everything from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to A Princess of Mars to Howard’s Conan stories and more. The earliest players and designers of fantasy roleplaying games understood and accepted this, but, as these games gained popularity and moved beyond their original audience, they became much more self-referential and self-contained – a genre unto themselves – rather than drawing on the anarchic literature that inspired them. Based on the books he wrote or to which he contributed, it seems to me that Dave Arneson never fully adopted this new paradigm, preferring to stick to the older, broader “anything goes” conception of fantasy that no longer held as much sway in the market for RPGs.
By the mid seventies, the reading habits of youth changed as a mix of less influence and involvement by parents in storytelling and reading to children, marketing, social movements and the reading of older classic fiction in our American culture begin a decline that continues. People like Arneson and Gygax, people like me almost a generation younger than Gygax and older brother/younger brother younger than Arneson were omnivorous readers.When I was in my late 20's I started meeting people 7-10 years younger that had never heard fairy tales. It boggled my mind that you could grow up here in this country in a cultural desert, deprived of your birthright.

No fairy tales, no uncles with the tall tales, no storytelling by your parents, no fantasy reading, especially older fantasy, that created the market for endless modules and the need for modules.Once D&D spread beyond the older better read wargamers to younger less experienced, less well read folks without the board based knowledge that lead to world building, things changed rapidly away from Arnesonian Style Gaming(see below). Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying other styles are wrong and I am not saying that anyone is having bad wrong fun. Let us put that to rest, it is not the case and it is not the point I am trying to make, this is just history, no more and no less.

I haunted the library and once I was in the work force, I haunted the used book stories which used to be plentiful. When I lived in Cleveland and later when I lived in Indianapolis I had between 20-30 used bookstores that I visited usually all of them within every six month period. By the mid 90's used bookstores were dying and the larger new book chains were starting to go under. 

Now book sales are mostly online and you cannot go browse and read a page or two to see if you want to buy it. This funny, I do not remember ever buying a book with Frazetta art on the front that I did not love the story. I always wondered if Frazetta read it before he approved his art to go on the outside.
The early days of Blackmoor, a campaign that began play in 1971, was wild and improvisational, as Arneson drew on many different sources to create the core of what would later be disseminated to the world as Dungeons & Dragons. 
The great homebrew campaign that are still being run, are run the same way, wild and improvisational. That is Arnesonian Style Gaming. I would say old school gaming, but that term has been misused for so many things that are not remotely old school anymore that it has lost its meaning. So do not tell me you are old school, tell me you are Arnesonian and I will know that your game is the original wild and improvisational game with a broad expansive range of influences and inspiration.
In the end, Dave Arneson succeeded more wildly than I suspect he ever imagined. The fact that, more than forty years later, we continue to play roleplaying games is proof of that.
I would say yes and no to this, the yes has already been said, the no is because the original Arnesonian style has few adherents, we are a tiny minority of those who call themselves old school and all we can do is keep talking about it, keep running our games and hope that what Arneson did survives through our efforts to make it known. Sadly, every year there are more gatekeepers that oppose Arnesonian Style Gaming and those of us who proclaim it. 

That is why the SECRETS of BLACKMOOR: The True History of Dungeons & Dragons DVD interview documentary series is so important. 
Now, though, there is no excuse not to celebrate Dave Arneson as the foundational figure in the history of roleplaying games that he truly was. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his imagination and creativity. May he be long remembered!
To which I say he gets it, the writer I have been referencing gets it. Huzzah!! Huzzah!! Huzzah!!

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Twenty-Nine

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

As we talk about, "Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” let us jump back into the essay titled "Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works":


After 2008 and the passing of Gygax, the writer started to look into the history of D&D again and the hobby itself. He started reading as much early RPG stuff as he could and ran across The First Fantasy Campaign, published by Judges Guild in 1980 and the Adventures in Fantasy, an edition of which was published in 1979 by Adventures Unlimited.

Of the two, The First Fantasy Campaign is the more interesting, though also the less polished. In his forward [sic], Bob Bledsaw states: 
Dave has attempted to show the development and growth of his campaign as it was originally conceived. I’m sure that he was tempted to update the work to match pace with new trends but he presented the unpolished gem while preserving the feel and wonder of its unveiling much to our benefit as Fantasy Game Judges.”

He goes on to say: 
Essentially, The First Fantasy Campaign is a collection of notes on the Blackmoor campaign but without any clear organizing principle – much like Supplement II. 

  • army lists
  • NPC descriptions
  • castle construction costs
  • snippets of history
  • Gypsy sayings
  • wilderness encounter tables
  • an alternate magic system
  • a very rough outline of the dungeons beneath Castle Blackmoor

to name but some of its contents.
He says, "without any clear organizing principle" making the same common mistake most people make with The First Fantasy Campaign. They want to evaluate it as and compare it to a highly polished splatbook, but that is not what it is nor was it ever intended to be. As Bob Bledsaw rightly observed "he [Arneson] presented the unpolished gem while preserving the feel and wonder of its unveiling much to our benefit as Fantasy Game Judges." This was Arneson's campaign journal not a splatbook. I only wish it were a few hundred pages thicker. If only Arneson had kept a daily journal, but if you read about how stretched he was with the number of games he was running you know that was not possible.

We can only give Bob Bledsaw and Judges Guild the greatest thanks for not editing The First Fantasy Campaign. If you had polished it you would have destroyed it.

The writer goes on,
Reading it, I was immediately struck by the scope of the Blackmoor campaign, as well as Arneson’s wild, even chaotic, inventiveness. 
Even though he expected polish and wanted polish, this unpolished gem was working its magic.
He was clearly a referee with a lot of ideas and he wanted to try them all, which is only fitting given how new the very idea of roleplaying games was at the time. 
The light dawns!
Bob Bledsaw was right to use the phrase “unpolished gem” in describing the contents of this book, as it was a seemingly random jumble of descriptions and rules with no central theme.
Well partially dawns, I am not yet sure that he really gets it.

Next time we look at Adventures in Fantasy.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Twenty-Eight

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

I took a couple of days off (those who read my 1/28 post know why) and now I will continue on the topic of "Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” In my last post on this topic I closed saying this:
Ponder these things for I will come back to them as I talk about the Blackmoor Supplement and the writing and editing of it, and as time permits I will also talk about The First Fantasy Campaign as it was published.  I want to look deeper into this question of "Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” I also will address as part of that, the common mistake that is made when people talk about Arneson's notes and the incorrect assumptions that lead to that mistake.
These are things that I will be going into during the month of February, right now back to the essay that I was jumping off from.

In the second of the two essays titled "Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works" we read concerning the Blackmoor Supplement:
Supplement II is a bit of a mess, in my opinion: a mishmash of topics without much cohesion, especially when compared to Gygax’s own Supplement I. When I first read it, however, there was one portion of the book that nevertheless caught my attention. Located about halfway through the supplement was a 20-page section entitled “The Temple of the Frog.” Here is presented one of the earliest published adventure scenarios for Dungeons & Dragons, including five maps. In addition, the scenario provides several paragraphs of background information about the temple, its founding and purpose, and its current state of affairs.
There are a lot of reasons that the Blackmoor Supplement was "a bit of a mess", which by the way being a "bit of a mess" is not a bad thing, and if it had been the proper mess it would have been a great thing, but more on that at a later date. The main thing here is the “The Temple of the Frog.” This was an example of how it is done, it was never meant to imply that you should let others provide you with scripted adventures as standard practice, it was meant to inspire you to create your own stuff.

Then the writer goes on to talk about being familiar with Gary Gygax’s Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and with the guidelines for mixing science fiction and fantasy present in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, but Supplement II was published in 1975, before any of this, which suggested to me that perhaps Arneson was perhaps the originator of this kind of “mixed genre” gaming.

And he was correct Arneson did invent "mixed genre" i.e. gonzo gaming. This is the correct defintiion of gonzo gaming - "mixed genre" typically fantasy and science fiction, but not slapstick. (We will talk more about this later on)  Dave Hargrave and Arduin are the best example of someone inspired by Arneson and “The Temple of the Frog.” [IMO] Then the writer sees Adventures in Blackmoor and the expanded version of The Temple of the Frog and City of the Gods. After which he says:
Unfortunately, what I’d seen in both versions of the Temple of the Frog, never mind City of the Gods, didn’t sit well with me. I was still very much of the opinion that the peanut butter of science fiction should rarely be allowed near the chocolate of fantasy. That Arneson seemed to gleefully blend the two struck me, in those days, as somehow wrong, or at least something I didn’t much care for.
While I did not see those modules myself until after 2010, I would have loved to have seen them shortly after the Blackmoor Supplement, but I did see the Arduin Grimoire which filled in the gap for me. But for the writer back in the pre-internet days he left things there, but still felt something was missing.

In my next essay we will talk some about that.

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics (Part Three) - Day Twenty-Nine

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics - Part Three" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month!

Eldritch Wizardry goes further saying this about Artifacts and Relics:
All artifacts and relics are one-of-a-kind. It is usually very difficult to destroy them (after all most of them have been around for thousands of years), and anyone who attempts to take apart an artifact for any reasons usually dies as a result. The owners of artifacts eventually become greedy, possessive and secretive, first solely in respect to the treasured item, then with regard to all possessions.
The one-of-a-kind part I am about 98% on board with and I will talk about the other 2% tomorrow as I address my view of Artifacts & Relics. Making it very difficult to destroy Artifacts and Relics is in my view exactly the way to go, in fact IMC all magic items are harder to destroy than the way most versions of D&D view the subject. For instance a legendary Artifact level Holy Sword is virtually impossible to destroy.

The closing part of the owner/wielder of artifacts becoming
greedy, possessive and secretive, first solely in respect to the treasured item, then with regard to all possessions.
Is something that I look at on a case by case basis. For an evil or chaotic item or even for a neutral item that makes perfect sense to me. But for Lawful or Good items, in many cases it would not make sense to me. For instance for a legendary Artifact level Holy Sword to make a Paladin greedy, possessive, and secretive would be a contradiction to the whole purpose.

Tomorrow in my last post in this series, I will talk about how I run Artifacts, Relics and near/future Artifacts.

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics (Part Two) - Day Twenty-Eight

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics - Part Two" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month!

Eldritch Wizardry also has this to say about Artifacts and Relics:
The abilities of all artifacts and relics must be determined by trial and error, by the players, and usually their effects are permanent and irreversible (due to the extreme strength of the magic used to create them). It is both unlawful and evil to give a relic to a non-player character because there may be danger involved. Non-player characters who are given artifacts to try out will, upon learning how to use them, attempt to dominate or destroy their masters/employers.
Many of the noted Artifacts and Relics are cursed items, but not just any curse because for some of the worst items, such as "The Hand of Vecna" it says:
NONE OF THE EFFECTS OF THE HAND MAY BE ALTERED IN ANY WAY, EVEN WISHES OR ACTS OF THE GODS ARE USELESS IN THIS REGARD.
Some of the items are EVIL, some are CHAOTIC, and some are both. Some will change the characters alignment and some will attempt to dominate the new owner, some will have a certain or an almost certain chance of succeeding. Compounding the situation is that detect Evil and similar spells will not work on these items due to their great power. Even some of the items that are not cursed per se may have some real downsides to their use.

The fact that wishes or acts of the gods are powerless to change the effects of the items on the user should make any player character think thrice before setting hand to one of these items. Attempting to wield an Artifact or Relic can be a thing of "be very careful what you wish for" type of situation.

This is another area that I suggest you may want to tweak how these items work in your campaign. For instance, IMO some/most Holy Swords should be Artifacts (or future Artifacts in the making) with downsides that are in keeping with being a Paladin, so from the Paladins perspective it is not cursed, but everyone else thinks that it is. So I tweak things based on what they are you their in game context.

For example it may not always be unlawful and evil to give a relic to a non-player character, there may be excellent reasons to do so that further the ends of Law and of Good. In those cases the NPCs attempting to dominate or destroy their masters/employers would not apply IMC. These items are so rare, the situation will likely never come up. 

In the next post I will look at some more of the dark side of Artifacts and Relics.

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics (Part One) - Day Twenty-Seven

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry - Artifacts & Relics (Part One)" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! Today we will look at Artifacts and Relics.

Eldritch Wizardry introduces the subject of Artifacts and Relics under the heading of "The Treasures" saying:
This section is devoted to a number of Artifacts and Relics of tremendous power. It is set up so that only the Dungeon Master will know what these items can actually do; the players will only have “rumors” to go on. Each item is described and a list of “suggested” powers is given, but in the back of this section is a series of tables which the referee can use to change the powers that are “suggested” under each artifact. The Dungeon Master should feel free to add new items to the tables or to change them, but he should be careful to make sure that new or changed items are placed on the appropriate table.
There are five tables and each Artifact or Relic refers to one or more of the tables with suggested powers from each of the referenced tables and then a spot of the referee to write in the items actual powers. 

The Items listed are:

  • The Invulnerable Coat of Arn
  • The Mace of Cuthbert
  • The Sword of Kas
  • The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords
  • The Wand of Orcus
  • The Rod of Seven Parts
  • The Codex of the Infinite Planes
  • The Hand of Vecna
  • The Eye of Vecna
  • Baba Yaga's Hut
  • Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless
  • Queen Ehlissa's Marvelous Nightingale
  • The Machine of Lum the Mad
  • The Mighty Servant of Leuk-o
  • The Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty
  • The Crystal of the Ebon Flame
  • Heward's Mystical Organ
  • Horn of Change
  • The Ring of Gax
  • The Crowns, Orbs, and Scepters
  • The Throne of the Gods
  • The Orbs of Dragonkind

My suggestion is that you use these as examples and then create Artifacts and Relics that are specific to your own world and name them appropriately. Then decide on what powers and features each item should have that fits the flavor and character of your world and your campaign. There is no one size fits all when it comes to these powerful items and you should feel free to depart considerably from these examples. Many of the above should be considered cursed items. This is something I will talk a bit more about in the next essay.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Year Ago Today My Wife Passed Away!

A year ago today my wife passed away, so no rpg posts today. Instead here is what I posted at Facebook.


Today is has been a year since God took Janet to be with Him. It was an end to her suffering and the beginning of eternity with Him. No more pain and struggles, the assurance that God will wipe away every tear from her eye and the gift of eternal life. For Janet I can only be happy for her and grateful for the time that she was part of my life on a daily basis in person. For me it has also been a very lonely time without her, everyday I am reminded of her and miss her deeply.

There are things everyday that I want to share with her, things she would have enjoyed or laughed at. I really miss her laugh, her smile, her good humor. Opportunities to serve that I know she would have been first in line to sign up for. All the new babies among both family and friends that she would have been excited for each couple and their blessings, though sad because she(we) could not have our own. Though she(we) made peace with that.

We were married a little less than 23 years and we knew each other a little less than 26 years. I got a LD call that said (short version) I know someone you should meet, if I give you her number, will you ask her out? I said sure, "Here's her name and number." click. I talked to her on 3/7/93 and on 3/24/93 we went on our first date, 3 years less one day later we were married. Knowing everything I do now, I would still have made that call. And yes, blind dates can be a beautiful thing.

Toward the end when I was lifting her up and down a lot each day Janet worried that she was a burden, I told her that if things were reversed she would be there every step of the way and she was "of course", I told her it is not a burden to care for someone you love and even better who loves you. When I was ill, when I had cancer she was always there, when I had my kidney stones and could not move or think, she was there. I was only trying my best to do what she had done.

Our 20th Anniversary Alaska trip was such a blessing and we were so glad we did not wait, because seven months later she was very sick. Don't put things off saying we have tomorrow, we are not promised tomorrow. We are supposed to live life to the full today.

It has been so difficult navigating new health challenges without Janet here with me, without her daily encouragement. Without hearing and saying "I love you," throughout the day, every day.

This past year has been a daily struggle, fortunately I have God in my life, my family, my church family and my friends. I cannot imagine how it would be if I had none of those. I am not alone, other people I know lost spouses this past year, some like me knowing that day was approaching, but for others it came suddenly with no warning and no time to prepare, although truly there is no preparing.

Janet, I love you and I know you love me and better Jesus loves both of us immeasurably more than we know how to love. It is great comfort to know that Jesus lives, and that you, while absent from here, live and someday we will meet again on that farther shore. After salvation, you are the greatest gift I ever received and the greatest blessing. My life was and is enriched in uncountable ways for you being part of it. Even things as simple as all the things I eat, that I never considered trying before I met you.

I just found this today in the news feed from this link posted by a friend who lost her husband to a highway accident this past year. REFUGE IN GRIEF
Watch the video then go read John 11:1-44.
How Do You Help A Grieving Friend?(Video)

Monday, January 27, 2020

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry Monsters (Part Four) - Day Twenty-Six

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry Monsters - Part Four" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! Today we will look at Mind Flayers, Cerebral Parasites, and Thought Eaters.

Eldritch Wizardry presents Mind Flayers this way:
MIND FLAYERS: These are super-intelligent, man-shaped creatures of great (and lawful) evil. Their heads most resemble a small octopus, with four tentacles which are used to strike their prey. If a tentacle hits it penetrates to the brain where it quickly curls around it and draws it forth for food. It requires from one to four turns for the tentacle to reach the brain, and as soon as it reaches the brain the victim is dead. The mind flayer will immediately retreat if an encounter is going against it. Although non-magical, these monsters are 90% magic resistant. They are psionically endowed, however, having from 5-8 abilities. Their only attack form psionically is the mind blast, with a 6" directional range and a 5' radius; all within this radius are affected by the attack. Mind flayers have several defense modes (1-4), and a total psionic strength of 241-340. They speak only their own arcane language and several other strange tongues purportedly those of terrible races which inhabit regions far beneath the ground.
This is an iconic monster that most have heard of and one of the rare psionic monsters I allow into my campaign. I do not run it as psionic though, I treat it more like a type of vampire. It is 8+3 HD, but it has the innate dual ability Charm Person/Monster and its victims are at a -4 disadvantage on their saving throw. I also gave the tentacles a +4 to Hit bonus that increases to +8 to Hit if the Charm is successful. And yes I do run it as one to four turns (10-40 melee rounds to reach the brain. If the tentacles are attached it will carry the victim with it as it retreats. Its move is 12 inches so it can not just completely outrun the party. One to four appear at a time and I changed that to 1d4+2 (3-6). Note that if you are wearing a full helm and you make the save against charm, it adds a full turn to your defense against the tentacles reaching the brain.

Eldritch Wizardry presents Cerebral Parasites this way:
CEREBRAL PARASITES: These creatures are not visible to the human eye and can only be detected psionically by means of careful examination of a person's aura. They can be removed similarly as a disease. If a psionically endowed creature comes within 1" of cerebral parasites they will attack him, but the attack will be completely unnoted. These creatures can become ethereal or astral. Thereafter, whenever psionic abilities, including attacks/defenses, are used, the parasites will drain additional psionic energy to feed upon. Each parasite will drain one energy point. Furthermore, after one has fed upon six psionic energy points it will reproduce another parasite, and thereafter continue to drain energy, as will its offspring. They cannot be psionically attacked.
This is a monster that I do not use; however, if I did I would just change the draining of energy points to level drain. It would take 6 melee rounds to drain one level and on the 7th round it spawns another parasite and starting on the 8th rounds they both are each draining the next level from the victim and on melee round 14 the victim would lose two levels and two parasites would be spawned the following round and so on. To attack it you would need to use a magic weapon made ethereal. They appear 3-12 at a time and AC, HPs, move and treasure do not apply.

Eldritch Wizardry presents Thought Eaters this way:
THOUGHT EATERS: These monsters are basically unintelligent dwellers in the ether. Their senses, however, extend into the physical plane, and any psionic or psionic-related energy use in either area will attract their attention (range of ability or magic equals attraction range). The thought eater appears to be something like a sickly grey, skeletal-bodied, enormous headed platypus to those who are able to observe it. Its webbed paws allow it to swim through the ether. It can be attacked only by ethereal creatures. Its only desire is to feed on the mental energy of prey it is attracted to, and if it comes within 6" of any creature in the ethereal or physical planes it will be able to absorb any psionic or spell energy they attempt to use; at a range of 1" the thought eater is able to begin feeding on the actual thoughts of even non-psionic creatures. Each thought eater is able to consume from 101-200 psionic energy points before becoming sated. Convert magical energy to psionic points on a basis of 5 points per spell level, and actual thought consumption converts to 1 intelligence point equalling 10 psionic energy points. Note that if it feeds on thoughts the creature loses intelligence permanently. At intelligence 0 the creature is dead. 1 equals mindlessness. 2 idiocy. 3 imbecility, and an intelligence of 4 is equivalent to a low grade moron. Mental defenses, including "mind blank" spell, and magical devices against psionic and psionic-related powers thwart attacks of these horrid things.
This is another psionic monster that I do use, they feed on magical energy and if close enough feed on your thoughts themselves. I use this because I view intelligence as presented here. I do not run it as psionic per se, but there are magic items that provide protection against this and the Mind Flayer. Again you need a magical weapon make ethereal to attack this monster.

Tomorrow I will look at Artifacts in a general way as they are presented and as how I use Artifacts.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Twenty-Seven

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

In the essay I linked to two days ago (see my post) the writer says:
The white box, I soon discovered, was the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons (or, rather, a later printing of it) and the tiny books were its first supplements. I dimly knew of the existence of this white box, but little of its actual contents. The forward [sic] to Volume 1, written by Gary Gygax, on November 1, 1973, however, offered up some useful historical tidbits:
Gygax writes: “Once upon a time, long, long ago there was a little group known as the Castle and Crusade Society. Their fantasy rules were published, and to this writer’s knowledge, brought about much of the current interest in fantasy wargaming. For a time the group grew and prospered, and Dave Arneson decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign for his active Twin Cities club. From the map of the “land” of the “Great Kingdom” and environs – the territory of the C&C Society – Dave located a nice bog wherein to nest the weird enclave of “Blackmoor,” a spot between the “Great Kingdom” and the fearsome “Egg of Coot.” From the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules he drew ideas for a far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a campaign which still thrives as of this writing! In due course the news reached my ears, and the result is what you have in your hands at this moment.”
The writer then says:
What a revelation! Here, in just a few sentences. Gary Gygax had given not just a capsule summary of the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, but, perhaps more importantly to me, he had made clear that it was Dave Arneson, not himself, who had pioneered the concept of a roleplaying game and laid the groundwork for the rules of D&D.
Then from the foreword to the Blackmoor Supplement for the Original D&D which Gary Gygax wrote dated September 1, 1975 Gygax says:
“Dave Arneson … Is there really such a creature? Yes, Gentle Readers, there is, and shudder when the name is spoken. Although he is a man of many talents who has authored many historic rules sets and games (which TSR will be publishing periodically), Dave is also the innovator of the “dungeon adventure” concept, creator of ghastly monsters, and inscrutable dungeon master par excellence.”
The essay author then states:
Gygax later states outright that he “co-authored the original work with Dave” and that he “would rather play in his campaign than any other.” This is high praise indeed and once again confirms that Dave Arneson was once an important person in the history of RPGs.
Ponder these things for I will come back to them as I talk about the Blackmoor Supplement and the writing and editing of it, and as time permits I will also talk about The First Fantasy Campaign as it was published.  I want to look deeper into this question of "Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” I also will address as part of that, the common mistake that is made when people talk about Arneson's notes and the incorrect assumptions that lead to that mistake.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry Monsters (Part Three) - Day Twenty-Five

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry Monsters - Part Three" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! Today we will look at Intellect Devourers, Su-Monsters and Brain Moles.

Eldritch Wizardry presents Intellect Devourers this way:
INTELLECT DEVOURERS: These chaotic and evil monsters are fairly intelligent and highly malign with regard to sentient life. Their awareness extends to the astral and ethereal planes. The appearance of an intellect devourer is frightening in itself, for they have no apparent head, being merely a ball-like body of sooty black poised upon four legs. They are able to hide in shadow as well as a 10th level thief and their preferred abode is deep beneath the ground or in a dark and dismal place outdoors. Although they are able to attack with their great claws, their primary offensive means is psionic, for they subsist on the psychic energy of their prey — whether gained from the dying shriek or by more subtle means. If psionic energy (from abilities or magical means) is in use nearby (6") they will stalk the user, seeking a time to attack him alone and by surprise. The monster then leaps upon his victim, tearing with his claws and psionically attacking with ego flail or id insinuation. If psionically successful the 'devourer will then house itself within the mindless body, seeking to deceive others by assuming the character of the person it has slain. The intellect devourer will then seek opportunities to attack and devour others. Normal weapons and most spells have no effect upon these monsters. Magical weapons +3 or more cause 1 point of damage upon them when they hit. Bright light will drive them off. and a protection from evil will keep them at a distance. Fire balls serve only as a bright light, but lightning bolts will cause them pain and some small damage (1 point per die of lightning bolt strength). A death spell has a 25% chance of success, and a power word-kill will slay them. Of course, they can be psionically attacked, and their psionic strength of 200 total makes this not too difficult. However, if seriously threatened they will seek to flee and save themselves. Intellect devourers often roan the astral and ethereal planes. They are able to speak any human language.
They appear in 1 or 2 at a time and are 6 HD, I did not use these since I do not run psionics; however, if you are into psionics they are an iconic monsters and as they can occupy a mindless both and deceive others, it is a terror for player characters.

Eldritch Wizardry presents Su-Monsters this way:
SU-MONSTERS: These evil and chaotic things are found both underground and outdoors. Their bodies somewhat resemble a wasp-waisted, great chested hound. Their heads appear much like gorillas'. All four feet are prehensile and armed with long and extremely sharp nails as well. Su-monsters are at home upright or hanging upside down — the latter being one of their favorite methods of lurking for prey. If more than four are encountered it is likely that the group will be a male, female, and young (determine growth state by rolling a 20-sided die for maturity, using 10% increment, and treating 10% as 20% and 100% as 30%). The female will fight at double value for six turns if the young are attacked, and the male will fight at double value for four turns if the female is attacked. Su-monsters have a latent psionic ability which enables them to deliver some form of psionic attack once (per day) if psionic activity is being used near (within 12" of them). Determine attack form by rolling a 6-sided die: 1-2 = psychic crush, 2-4 = psionic blast, 5-6 = mind thrust. Psionic defense is not necessary as the Su-monster is not itself subject to psionic attack.
They appear from 1 to as many as 12 at a time and are 4+2 HD,  if you are into psionics they are an iconic monsters. Since they are a significant threat without the psionics I did use these. They are AC 6, move at 12 inches and get 5 attacks each per round 4 claws/1 bite. They do 1-3/claw and 1-8/bite. The thing that really makes them a vicious encounter I placed in bold above. I changed the number appearing from 1-12 to 5-12(1d8+4) so that the part in bold always applies. 

Eldritch Wizardry presents Brain Moles this way:
BRAIN MOLES: These small, rodent-like creatures inhabit most places above and below ground. They are attracted by psionic activity (including that of a magical sort). If they come within 3" of a person exercising such activity they will seek to feed upon this energy by psionically burrowing; this has the effect of a mind thrust of 121 point strength upon psionics, and it has a 20% chance per turn of burrowing of causing insanity in non-psionics using psionic related spells or items of magical nature. The only way to escape the attack is to kill the brain mole or to escape from its range.
They appear in 1-3 at a time and are 1 HD and have no AC, I did not use these since I do not run psionics. If you do use them, note that they have no treasure and you might want to consider increasing the number appearing. If I were to use them I would make their habitat a bit more limited.

Tomorrow I will look at Mind Flayers, Cerebral Parasites, and Thought Eaters.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Twenty-Six

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

Yesterday I linked to a two part essay that asks the question “Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” Now the writer started with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set edited by Dr. J. Eric Holmes and his essay is from that perspective.

Mine is a bit different as I started with just the (original) three books of Dungeons & Dragons in did not see the Monster Manual/AD&D or the First Fantasy Campaign until the 1990's. I spent nearly 30 years with no knowledge beyond what was in OD&D itself, the supplements, The Strategic Review and the first few issues of The Dragon.

Here is what shaped my view of Dave Arneson: Excerpt from the Forward(sic) of Men & Magic Volume One of OD&D.
For a time the group grew and prospered, and Dave Arneson decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign game for his active Twin Cities club. From the map of the "land" of the "Great Kingdom" and environs — the territory of the C & C Society — Dave located a nice bog wherein to nest the weird enclave of "Blackmoor", a spot between the "Great Kingdom" and the fearsome "Egg of Coot". From the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules he drew ideas for a far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a campaign which still thrives as of this writing! In due course the news reached my ears, and the result is what you have in your hands at this moment.
First let us quickly dispense with the widely promulgated untruth that the "Egg of Coot" was a slam at E. Gary Gygax(EGG). Note that not only did the "Egg of Coot" predate D&D, it also pre-dated any falling out between Arneson and Gygax.

I had Chainmail and I had OD&D and a few things I certain of, one D&D was not in anyway a Chainmail campaign, IMO you can not play OD&D and be familiar with Chainmail and honestly be able to hold that opinion.`The second thing I was certain of was that Dave Arneson created what became D&D, Gygax himself says that Arneson created a "far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a campaign" and that the "news reached my ears" (that is Gygax) and "the result is what you have in your hands at this moment."

So based on the words of Gygax himself I have always known that Arneson was the prime creative force behind OD&D and that Gygax was the writer down of things and  the prime moving force behind publication. Did Gygax add ideas of his own and did he work more Chainmail back into the game and use a lot of his own mechanics, yes to all of that. But never doubt that Arneson showed Gygax a working game system.

The other main thing that I knew about Arneson was that he was the creator of the example adventure in the Blackmoor Supplement titled "The Temple of the Frog."  
Background:
Deep in the primaeval swamps of Lake Gloomey, shrouded in perpetual mist, lies the city of The Brothers of the Swamp. For years past this "religious" order has delved into the forbidden areas of study and determined that animals have more potential to populate the world than man, who was, after all, a biological abomination which would ultimately threaten the existence of all life. Therefore the good Brothers began developing a strain of amphibian that would combine the worst ferocity and killer instincts of larger mammals with the ability to move through swamps with great swiftness to strike and avoid retaliation. Combining the natural animals available with each other — through the use of biological mutations and methods discovered in old manuscripts — the Brothers began developing the giant killer frogs of the swamp.
This was the stuff of genius that sprung from the mind of Arneson and from that time on I aspired to constantly raise the level of my own game. Not to copy Arneson, but to make to be inspired by him and create something unique. I think he would have been happy about that.

46th Anniversary - International Original Dungeons & Dragons Day (January 26th)

Today we celebrate the 46th Anniversary of the publication of Original Dungeons & Dragons. Created by Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, this was the first published Fantasy Adventure Role Playing Game. It was and is a game of adventure, exploration and risk as players explore a OD&D world, a unique creation of the referee.

The game world created by the referee can cover the range of human imagination. It might be inspired by the world of the Hyborian Age (the world of Conan), it might be inspired by the world of Nehwon (the world of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) or any of the hundreds of great fictional worlds. It might be a inspired mashup of two or more of the great fictional worlds. Or it might strike off for new territory altogether inspired by, but very much its own thing.

It might be a gonzo world in the vein of Blackmoor or Arduin with a mixing of genres. Or it may stick to one genre without the gonzo element. Whatever it is, it is a unique creation reflecting the vision and imagination of the referee, a true sandbox living world, that is not static, but dynamic. 

By dynamic I mean that things happen all the time whether the player characters are their or not. The world is full of  cities, towns, village, hamlets and thorps, some areas of human habitation are isolated and some are closer to civilization. There are always those brave souls out on the frontier. There can vast wilderness areas, areas held solely by monsters, ruined cities, enormous dungeons, treasures and great wealth to be found with magic and mystery to those brave or foolish enough to venture forth and seize the day.

The village square abounds with rumors and stories of things from the outside world as do the town squares, and the great  markets in the cities. The characters may hear of various things and they pursue one, later on they may hear stories of what happened regarding the roads they did not take. But new rumors and new opportunities for adventure abound.

This is a game where the referee (called a dungeon master in later versions of the game) were not only free to create new monsters, new treasures, new magic as part of this new world, it was expected by Arneson and Gygax that the referee would do so. As they looked at it as of January 26th of 1974, that was a major part of the fun for the referee was the creation of everything in your world from the pebbles on a beach to mighty magical artifacts and everything in between.

In fact they were so sure that everyone would follow their example that the first adventure modules did not come from TSR, but from a third party. As Gygax wrote at the close of Volume 3 - The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures:
AFTERWARD:
There are unquestionably areas which have been glossed over. While we deeply regret the necessity, space requires that we put in the essentials only, and the trimming will ofttimes have to be added by the referee and his players. We have attempted to furnish an ample framework, and building should be both easy and fun. In this light, we urge you to refrain from writing for rule interpretations or the like unless you are absolutely at a loss, for everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it just that way! On the other hand, we are not loath to answer your questions, but why have us do any more of your imagining for you? Write to us and tell about your additions, ideas, and what have you. We could always do with a bit of improvement in our refereeing.
I have often heard the claim that OD&D is incomplete and unplayable without help. I and those I played with did not find that to true, we never did write to TSR with questions, not once in those four years at college. Not that there would have been anything wrong with writing with questions, but being college kids we liked the challenge of figuring it out for ourselves and unlike working adults with families we had more time available to do that.

IMO they did indeed furnish the essentials and an ample framework and the building was both easy and fun. I would like to emphasize something here that is IMO often overlooked: "the trimming will ofttimes have to be added by the referee and his players." I was a referee with initially 12 players, later to have 20 and more. I had English Literature majors, History majors, Science Majors, a Latin major and others and I drew liberally from their knowledge bases and we all read fantasy and science fiction. There was no shortage of ideas. I have always paid a lot of attention to the continuous talk between players and many ideas found and do find their seeds there.

So for me, I did not need nor desire to have TSR do my imagining for me. I started when I had the time and the desire to do it myself and I have never departed from that mold. 

For me the road I chose, "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." By which I mean that for me, I made the far better choice between the roads and have never looked back.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry Monsters (Part Two) - Day Twenty-Four

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry Monsters - Part Two" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! Today we will look at Couatl, Ki-Rin, and Shedu.

If you are fans of psionics, then these creatures are mainstays. Eldritch Wizardry has this to say:
COUATL These winged, feathered serpents are rarely found anywhere except in warm, junglelike regions or flying through the ether. Due to their exceptional intelligence and powers they are regarded with awe by the inhabitants of their homelands. and they are regarded as divine. Couatl rarely interfere in human affairs. Magic resistance of these creatures is standard. They are able to polymorph themselves and they use magic - as a 5th Level magic-user and/or 7th level cleric. They are psionically aware and have from 9 to 16 clerical abilities with commensurate attack and defense modes. Psychic potential is 60 to 110. Couatl speak several human languages and most serpent and avian languages as well. They are lawful by alignment, with neutral behavior tendencies.
Oddly they are very slow on the ground (6") and fly at (18"), they have simple one bite/constriction attack modes. Of course as I indicated in the previous post I struck the psionic abilities. One to four appear at a time. I do not remember ever using this monster.
KI-RIN The hooves of the Ki-Rin rarely touch the surface of the earth, for this aerial creature prefers to dwell amongst the clouds, and it is there that he makes his solitary lair. At times they travel astrally or ethereally. Ki-Rin are of the highest intelligence and completely lawful (and good). A Ki-Rin somewhat resembles a cloudy horse. Although they are aloof from human affairs, they will sometimes intervene if properly abjured. They are resistant to all magic under the 12th level, and 90% resistant to magic above that level. Ki-Rin are able to use magic as an 18th level magic-user and all psionic abilities of the magic-user kind. In addition they have powers equal to a double strength djinn, and all magic involving air and things of the sky is of twice normal strength. Their psychic potential ranges from 110 to 180. The Ki-Rin are able to converse with almost any other creature.
They are very fast moving at 24" on the ground and 48" through the air. They have two hoof attacks and AC of -5 which makes them extremely difficult to attack. They are the only non-demon up to this point in OD&D that is given a negative AC. (7 steps better than AC 2) They only appear one at a time, which is odd for a horse type creature. We struck the psionic abilities. I did not use them either, although if I had used demons I would have used this as their mortal enemies and have tweaked it a little for that purpose. As noted they are the universal translators of the monster kingdom.
SHEDU: Shedu are somewhat similar in appearance to lammasu, being human-headed winged creatures with bull-like bodies. They are quite intelligent, and like their cousins are basically lawful (and good). Also like their cousins the lammasu, shedu watch over and protect those of mankind who serve law. Although they are not magical, shedu are highly psionic and are able to the psionic abilities of clerical nature, with attack and defense modes. Psychic potential varies from 55 to 90. They speak all human tongues but prefer to communicate telepathically. They can travel ethereally or astrally.
They appear in groups of two to eight and move at 12" on the ground and 24" when flying. They have two hoof attacks and again we struck the psionic abilities. I did not use these either, although if I had I would have made the "watch over and protect those of mankind who serve law" a focus on watching over primarily Paladins and secondarily Clerics. The other thing I would have done is make them users of Clerical Magic.

Looking these over again, makes me want to use them in a campaign, so that may happen in the future. 

Tomorrow I will look at Intellect Devourers, Su-Monsters and Brain Moles.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day Twenty-Five

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary!

Today I link to a two-part must read (IMO) essay. Read it or read it again if you have seen it before. In later days I will discuss parts of it.

“Who in the World is Dave Arneson?” A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 1 of 2 by James Maliszewski

Learning from Dave Arneson’s Published Works A Dave Arneson Homage, Part 2 of 2 by James Maliszewski

Friday, January 24, 2020

30 Day OD&D Challenge - Eldritch Wizardry Monsters (Part One) - Day Twenty-Three

Today's Topic is "Eldritch Wizardry Monsters - Part One" as we continue our celebration of International Original Dungeons and Dragons Month! Today we take a look into the monsters in Supplement III for OD&D titled Eldritch Wizardry.

In the Foreword, Tim Kask writes:
D & D was meant to be a free-wheeling game, only loosely bound by the parameters of the rules. We feel that ELDRITCH WIZARDRY goes a long way toward fulfilling the original premise of danger, excitement, and uncertainty. May you always make your saving throw.
A few things of note about this supplement. This is where the much maligned psionics was introduced and a few notes are made about monsters in that regard that you could use if you wanted to use psionics. Just for the record, we never used this, that whole graduating from college and getting a job thing, guaranteed that we just never got around to it. The other referee and I, talked about re-writing those rules, but as no one was asking about it we never did.

Tritons are presented as having the psionic abilities of magic-user types. Titans have some psionic abilities and are immune to psionic attacks. Liches may have psionic abilities. 

The cockatrice, the basilisk, the medusae, the catoblepas, the invisible stalker and the gorgon all extend into the ethereal and astral planes and can effect creatures on those planes.

Then a little adjustment to the clean up crew: grey ooze and yellow mold both have a form of intelligence handled differently for each and may have psionic ability. We did not use the psionics, but giving them intelligence was pretty cool. From that I gave the gelatinous cube the ability to become more intelligent as it grows beyond the normal size if it escapes from a dungeon.

For the most part we did not use any of the demons, that really did not interest us. The only exceptions that we made were these:
Succubi: These female demons are usually not found in numbers, for they prefer to act alone. A Succubus in its natural form appears very much like a tall and very beautiful human female-although the bat-like wings immediately give the observer its true character. Magic resistance is 70% and intelligence is medial for demon kind. Succubi cannot be harmed by any sort of normal weaponry. A Succubi can cause darkness in a 5' radius. The kiss of the Succubus drains the victim of one energy level and all Succubi are able to perform any one of the following feats at will: Become ethereal (as if using the oil of that name), charm person, ESP, clairaudience, suggestion (as the spell), shape change (to any humanoid form of approximately their own height and weight only), or gate in a Type IV (70% chance), Type VI (25%). or one of the Princes (5% chance) - there is only a 40% chance of such a gate opening. however.
We used these as a type of vampire instead of a demon and for powers we used everything except the gate powers at the end. I struck through those to indicate what we did.

Type V: Another of the female demons with a multi armed female torso atop the body of a great snake, they are taller than a large man and far more terrible. Their six arms are all able to use weapons. These demons are 80% magic resistant, cannot be hit by "on-magical weaponry, and their intelligence is high. When desiring to do so, they cause darkness in a 5' radius. Other extraordinary abilities, any one of which can be performed as desired are: Charm person, levitate (as an 11th level magic-user), read languages, detect invisible objects, cause pyrotechnics, polymorph self. project image, and gate in a Type I(300/0 chance), Type II (25% chance), Type 111 (15% chance), Type IV (15% chance), Type VI (10% chance), or one of the Princes (5%): but the chance of successfully opening such a gate is a mere 50%.

We used these as Nāga a highly magical semi-immortal creature instead of a demon and again for powers we used everything except the gate powers at the end. I struck through those to indicate what we did.

We never converted balrogs over to Type VI demons, but kept them as we originally treated them which was as highly magical semi-immortal creatures.

Tomorrow we will look at Couatl, Ki-Rin, and Shedu.