Sunday, December 8, 2019

Into the Great Outdoors

Greg Svenson, a player in the original Blackmoor campaign, in a post on the Zeitgeist Games MMRPG Forum in 2007 (archived here), reminisced:
At some point (probably in 1975 give or take a year) Uther granted many of his loyal servants their own fiefs.  Since the original Blackmoor area was already occupied, the new fiefs were created in the south.  An area we called "province one".  Dave simply placed the map from Avalon Hill's "Outdoor Survival" game next to the Blackmoor map and showed us which hex had our new fief in it.  The area was roughly where the Eastern Hak is located on "modern" maps of Blackmoor.  This would probably have been an area that had been secured from the Thonian Empire by the Kingdom of Blackmoor in the War for Blackmoor's Independence (that's speculation on my part as I don't really remember anymore).  We then spent many gaming sessions exploring and securing our new Baronies and their surrounding areas.  Newgate was originally located there.  It was the first fief you came to as you traveled into the area from Blackmoor, so it was referred to as the gateway to the new region and its name became Newgate.  Svenny was very active and systematic in searching the area surrounding Newgate to destroy all of the evil or dangerous creatures in the vicinity.  Trying to make it a safe place...
Svenson provided additional details, in this discussion thread, from 2014:
When Dave expanded the outdoors part of the campaign, he added the Outdoor Survival map to the south side of the main Blackmoor area map. That was originally where Newgate was along with the fiefs of the Snider brothers and Bob Meyer and somebody else.

A map of "The Northern Marches" (the original map used for Blackmoor, from the Secrets of Blackmoor Facebook page, (Dec 30, 2016) in relation to the Outdoor Survival map, where "the exiles from Blackmoor set up shop after the bad scene at Lake Gloomy"

Dave Arneson summarizes the events which took place on the Outdoor Survival map in "The First Fantasy Campaign" (FFC, 1977):
On the Outdoor Survival board, borders appeared half way between the various players' Castles, and roads were built also.  Major border changes occurred when Monson was wiped out and the entire area where John Snider held sway was covered in a deadly yellow mist (no one knows what happened inside John's area and no one has come out!).  Significant events included a Nomad attack from the Duchy of Ten that was wiped out by Svenson and the Sniders.  A great Peasant revolt that wiped out Monson, badly hurt Nelson and was then wiped out by all the other players.  An expedition to the City of the Gods (located in the Desert south of Monson's old place) which cost several players' lives (Nelson and Gaylord) plus their holdings going evil.  Then the expedition to the home of Father Dragon that took out both Sniders, although an offspring took over Richard's holding.
from "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977)

I'm uncertain whether any Blackmoor scholars have taken a stab at locating the various players' castles, which desert represents the Valley of the Ancients* (where the City of the Gods is located), or the home of Father Dragon (its location on the map is implied).

*update - see this thread at The Comeback Inn for discussion regarding the possibilities

In his blog post "The Howling Wilderness" from 2014, Daniel Boggs demonstrates how the Wilderness Wandering Monsters tables in OD&D vol 3 The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures were probably derived from the wilderness "Encounter" Matrix I, reproduced in the FFC.

In addition, rules for "evading" based on party size and movement rates (at 5 miles/hex) appear to have their basis in Arneson's Blackmoor.  In fact, "Outdoors in Blackmoor" (FCC, 1977) could serve as a precursor to "The Wilderness" section in OD&D vol 3.

Some rules in OD&D are taken directly from "Outdoor Survival", namely terrain penalties for movement, and rules for becoming lost.  These would reappear in the D&D Expert Set (Cook/Marsh, 1981; Mentzer, 1983), which became associated with wilderness adventures.

Finally, there are rules in "Outdoor Survival" for wilderness encounters (occurring on a roll of 5 or 6).  Arneson based the likelihood of an encounter on the size of the party, whereas Gygax modified the chances of an encounter based on the terrain type.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Wilderness

The board game "Outdoor Survival" (Avalon Hill, 1972) by Jim Dunnigan is listed, along with "Chainmail" in OD&D vol 1 Men & Magic, as necessary for playing Dungeons & Dragons.


The mapboard for Outdoor Survival (1972), representing 13,200 square miles of wilderness (3 miles/hex).

The game contains a three panel, 22" x 24" mapboard (depicted above), a cardboard set of die-cut Person Counters, Life Level Index cards, five Scenario cards, a "Rules of Play" booklet, a 24-page primer of outdoor survival techniques, and 1 six-sided die.

Dave Arneson used the map from Outdoor Survival in his "Blackmoor" campaign, prior to the publication of OD&D:
After the first year, the guys traveled around more and we began to use the Outdoor Survival Board (it was not until the third year that we actually moved into it). 
from "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977)

In describing "Old Greyhawk Castle" in "How to Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign (Part II of a Series), published in the fanzine Europa 6-8 (April, 1975), Gygax wrote:
The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took players 'clear through to China', from whence they had to return via 'Outdoor Adventure'.
from Europa 6-8 (Apr, 1975)

"The Wilderness" section in OD&D vol 3 The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures actually describes two types of wilderness adventure, the first using the "Outdoor Survival" board:
OUTDOOR SURVIVAL has a playing board perfect for general adventures.  Catch basins are castles, buildings are towns, and the balance of the terrain is as indicated.
from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, pg 15

Wayne Rossi took an in-depth look at the setting implications of the OD&D wilderness rules in a series of posts on his blog "Semper Initiativus Unum" in 2013.  These were later combined into a single document, entitled The Original D&D Setting.

Michael Mornard, a player in the original Greyhawk campaign (interviewed here), provided additional insights in this discussion thread, stating "One thing to make clear, though, is that we were in no way limited to the area of ONE Outdoor Survival map; you could keep going in any direction.  The OS map was simply the "generic terrain map" for any section of outdoors." and, more intriguingly, "Gary absolutely used the Outdoor Survival map for wilderness adventures.  Greyhawk was near the center of the left edge."

Rob Kuntz, co-DM in Greyhawk campaign, confirms Gary's use of the "Outdoor Survival" board, in this post on his blog "Lake Geneva Original RPG Campaign" in 2013.

The second type of wilderness adventure is the exploratory hex-crawl:
Exploratory journeys, such as expeditions to find land suitable for a castle or in search of some legendary treasure are handled in an entirely different manner.
from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, pg 15


Cover illustration for the Hexagonal Mapping Booklet (1980/1), by Bill Willingham

The DM is expected to create their own "referee's" map, unknown to the players, for the territory surrounding their dungeon:
When the players venture into this area, they should have a blank hexagon map, and as they move over each hex the referee will inform them as to what kind of terrain is in that hex.  This form of exploring will eventually enable the players to know the lay of the land in their immediate area and thus be able to select a site upon which to build their castles.
from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, pg 16

Arneson provides advice on "Drawing Your Own Map" in "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977), using hex-by-hex random determination of terrain, with additional rules for human habitation and area pattern in hexes.

Gygax describes a more freestyle approach, in Europa 6-8:
Step 2 requires sitting down with a large piece of hex ruled paper and drawing a large scale map.  A map with a scale of 1 hex = 1 mile (or 2 kilometers for those of you who go in for recent faddish modes of measure) (yes, I often use rods, chains, furlongs, and leagues too!) will allow you to use your imagination to devise some interesting terrain and places, and it will be about right for your player operations such as exploring, camping, adventuring, and eventually building their strongholds.  Even such small things as a witch's hut and side entrances to the dungeon can be shown on the map.  The central features of the map must be the major town and the dungeon entrance.
from Europa 6-8 (Apr, 1975)

I'm not sure whether any of Gary's original maps of the territory around Greyhawk Castle exist.  Darlene's gorgeous maps from the "World of Greyhawk" folio (1980) were created specifically for that project, although differed from Gary's original maps.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

OD&D v3: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures

The third volume of the original D&D rules is divided into three main sections.  The Underworld (covering dungeons), the Wilderness (including rules for establishing a domain), and rules for mass combat (land, aerial, and naval).


D&D volume 3: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Jan 1974)

"The Underworld" provides rules for dungeon exploration.  There is a sample cross section of levels, a sample map of a level, a section on dungeon design, movement and exploration, wandering monster tables, and an example of play.

Much of "The Underworld" section was incorporated into the Basic Rulebook edited by J. Eric Holmes (1977), and again in revisions edited by Tom Moldvay (1981), and Frank Mentzer (1983), creating an association between "Basic" D&D and the dungeon adventure.

"The Wilderness" section involves overland exploration, castles/jousting, wandering monster tables, construction of castles/strongholds, specialists, men-at-arms, player/character support and upkeep, and baronies/domain management.


Jousting Matrix, from Chainmail

Rules for wilderness adventures, construction of castles/strongholds, and specialists/men-at-arms were included in the "Expert" Set (Cook/Marsh, 1981), while tournaments/jousting and "dominion administration" became part of the "Companion" Set (Mentzer, 1984).

The final section of The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures provides rules for mass combat (Chainmail), aerial combat ("Battle in the Skies" or BITS, based on Mike Carr's "Fight in the Skies"), and naval combat (including special suggestions for monsters in naval adventures).

Mass combat was revisited in the later OD&D supplement "Swords & Spells" (1976).  The "Companion" Set introduced the "War Machine" rules for resolving mass combat without miniatures, while the later "Battlesystem" boxed set (1985) provided new rules for miniatures.


Illustration from Dave Arneson's "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977)

Rules for aerial combat were derived from Arneson's "Battle in the Skies", demonstrated at Gary Con XI, this past March.  The "Secrets of Blackmoor" blog recently discussed the complexities of the "relative movement system" chart, here.

Waterborne adventures, including combat at sea, were described in the "Expert" Set (Cook/Marsh, 1981).  Many of the Expert modules involved seafaring (notably X1 "The Isle of Dread", in addition to X6, X7, X8, X9), although focused mainly on seaborne exploration.

Additional campaign rules include rumors, information, and legends; the "angry villager" rule; other worlds; healing wounds; and the passage of time.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

OD&D Dragons: On the Origin of Species

OD&D vol 2: Monsters & Treasure contains a lot of information regarding the different types of dragons, including rules for subdual.  I was always intrigued by the taxonomy of dragons in D&D, although was unaware of the origin of the different colored species.

The red dragon, (Draco Conflagratio, or Draco Horribilis), is clearly modeled after the dragon Smaug from Tolkien's "The Hobbit", and was previously described in Chainmail, while the other colors were only briefly mentioned (white, black, blue, green, and purple/mottled).

In Jon Peterson's Playing at the World, we learn that Gary Gygax wrote a number of articles entitled "Grayte Wourmes" on the different types of colored dragons, for a variant postal "Diplomacy" fanzine Thangorodrim, published by the International Federation of Wargamers.


Cover of Thangorodrim, vol 1, no 2 (June, 1969).  The source of the dragon is immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) by C.S. Lewis

Thangorodrim #3 describes Draco Articus, the "Arctic Dragon" a white dragon with a "chilling breath" weapon Subsequent installments covering the black, green, blue, and purple (mottled) dragon followed.  (Jon Peterson, Playing at the World, 2.5.2 Draco Horribilis).

Copies of Thangorodrim are obtainable on Internet Archive and make for some fascinating reading.  I've reproduced the sections describing the "Grayte Wourmes", below:


Thangorodrim vol 1, no 5 (Nov, 1969)

Thangorodrim vol 1, no 6 (Mar, 1970)

Thangorodrim vol 1, no 8 (July, 1970)

Thangorodrim vol 1, no 9 (Aug, 1970)

In Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign, Richard Snider described three types of dragon (gold, brown (similar to red) and green (no breath weapon).  Snider's "Golden" dragons can breathe fire, and are very intelligent, as described in Monsters & Treasure.

The feared Purple Worm (or "Wyrm") became more of a giant earthworm than a dragon.  The entry for sea monsters follows that for purple worms in Monsters & Treasure, which are said to be "equal in size to a Purple Worm" but twice or three times the size are possible.


Illustration from OD&D vol 2, Monsters & Treasure

Last, but certainly not least, the Dragon Turtle is depicted in Monsters & Treasure, but only described in the "Special Suggestions for Monsters in Naval Adventures" section, on page 34 of OD&D vol 3, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

OD&D v2: Monsters & Treasure

Much of the Chainmail fantasy supplement was incorporated into the OD&D rules.  Some of the material is verbatim, while other parts were expanded upon.  Additional sections were derived from Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.


D&D volume 2: Monsters & Treasure (Jan 1974)

The second volume covers monster descriptions (with a reference table), treasure types, explanations of magic items (including "super swords"), saving throws, a short description of artifacts, and treasure (precious metals, gems, and jewelry).

Most of the monsters appeared previously in Chainmail.  Some categories were expanded - such as men (bandits, berserkers, brigands, dervishes, nomads; buccaneers, pirates; cavemen; mermen), giants (hill, stone, frost, fire, cloud), and sprites (nixies, pixies, dryads).

In 2014, Jon Peterson postulated that some of the additional monsters in Monsters & Treasure, such as the gorgon, might have originated from Ernst and Johanna Lehner's "A Fantastic Bestiary: Beasts and Monsters in Myth and Folklore" (1969).

"A Fantastic Bestiary" also includes entries for the "manticora" (note the spelling), and a section on "benign" monsters, including the centaur, the pegasus, and the unicorn (the monster reference table in Monsters & Treasure is subtitled "hostile and benign creatures").

Two additional creatures from Greek mythology were included, classified as a type of monster in D&D thereafter, namely Medusa and the Minotaur.


Jason fighting the Hydra, movie still from wikimedia commons

The dinosaur-like hydra was likely inspired by Ray Harryhausen's version from Jason and the Argonauts (1963), which also included skeletons.

Additional undead not appearing in Chainmail were the mummy and the vampire, likely based on Hammer Film Productions The Mummy (1959) and Dracula (1958) respectively, although vampires were already present in Blackmoor, inspired by the Dark Shadows TV show.

The gargoyle from French legend, as depicted in medieval architecture, is a creature not appearing in the Lehners' "A Fantastic Bestiary".

Finally, the so-called "Dungeon Clean-Up Crew" (ochre jelly, black (or gray) pudding, green slime, gray ooze, yellow mold, and the gelatinous cube) are unique to D&D.


Excerpt from Chainmail (1971), including mention of Excalibur and other "Super Swords"

In the treasure section, there are extensive rules for magic swords.  King Arthur's "Excalibur" and Elric's "Stormbringer" are clear inspirations.

Daniel Boggs explains the source of these rules, from Arneson's Blackmoor campaign, in his 2016 post The First Magic Swords.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

OD&D Magic-Users: The Game Wizards

Magic-Users in Chainmail have five levels of proficiency (Seers, Magicians, Warlocks, Sorcerers, and Wizards) corresponding to the 2nd, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 11th levels of experience in OD&D.  The greater their proficiency, the more spells they can use (1 for Seers, 6-7 for Wizards).

Spells in Chainmail have six levels of complexity, similar to Men & Magic.  Magic-users in Chainmail can attempt to cast spells of any complexity, regardless of their level, but with mixed chances of success (determined by a roll of 2d6).

It is also possible for magic-users to cast counter-spells, in order to negate each others magic.  Chainmail further states that "In order to cast and maintain any spell, a Wizard must be both stationary and undisturbed by attack upon his person".


"Wizards Fighting", from Men & Magic (1974)

In The Battle of Brown Hills (1971), the Lawful Magician of the Cairn could use lightning bolts, wizard light, and circle of protection, while the Chaotic Warlock Huldor ap Skree could use fire balls, phantasmal forces, spell of darkness, and conjuration of elementals.

In Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign, Pete Gaylord played the first magic-user, "The Wizard of the Wood", as documented in The Worlds First Wizard (2016).  Arneson used an alchemical-based magic system, as described in The First Fantasy Campaign (1977).

The sample character "Xylarthen" (Str 8, Int 11, Wis 13, Con 12, Dex 9, Cha 8) in Men & Magic was the first "published" OD&D magic-user.  Gary Gygax favored a Vancian magic system, in which spells were "memorized" daily, and forgotten once cast.

It's interesting to note which spells from Men & Magic derive from Chainmail (representing spells useful in large scale combat):
1st Level Spells:
1. Detect Magic - from "Detection" (II), Chainmail 1e
2. Hold Portal
3. Read Magic
4. Read Languages
5. Protection/Evil - from "Protection from Evil" (III), Chainmail 2e
6. Light - from "Wizard Light" (I), Chainmail 1e
7. Charm Person
8. Sleep

2nd Level Spells:
1. Detect Invisible - from "Detection" (II), Chainmail 1e
2. Levitate - from "Levitate" (II), Chainmail 3e
3. Phantasmal Forces - from "Phantasmal Forces" (II), Chainmail 1e
4. Locate Object
5. Invisibility - a special ability of Wizards, from Chainmail
6. Wizard Lock
7. Detect Evil - from "Detection" (II), Chainmail 1e
8. ESP
9. Continual Light - from "Wizard Light" (I), Chainmail 1e
10. Knock

3rd Level Spells:
1. Fly
2. Hold Portal
3. Dispell Magic - from the ability to cast a counter-spell, in Chainmail
4. Clairvoyance
5. Clairaudience
6. Fire Ball - missile equivalent to a large catapult, from Chainmail 1e
7. Lightning Bolt - missile equivalent to a heavy field gun, from Chainmail 1e
8. Protection/Evil, 10' r. - from "Protection from Evil" (III), Chainmail 2e
9. Invisibility, 10' r.
10. Infravision - a special ability of Wizards, from Chainmail
11. Slow Spell - from "Slowness" (III), Chainmail 3e
12. Haste Spell - from "Haste" (III), Chainmail 3e
13. Protection/Normal Missiles - a special ability of Wizards, from Chainmail
14. Water Breathing

4th Level Spells:
1. Polymorph Self - from "Polymorph" (IV), Chainmail 3e
2. Polymorph Others
3. Remove Curse
4. Wall of Fire
5. Wall of Ice
6. Confusion - from "Confusion" (IV), Chainmail 3e
7. Charm Monster
8. Growth/Plant
9. Dimension Door
10. Wizard Eye
11. Massmorph - from "Concealment" (III), Chainmail 1e
12. Hallucinatory Terrain - from "Hallucinatory Terrain" (IV), Chainmail 3e

5th Level Spells:
1. Teleport - possibly inspired by the "Transference" spell, from Dungeon!
2. Hold Monster
3. Conjure Elemental - from "Conjuration of an Elemental" (V), Chainmail 1e
4. Telekinesis
5. Transmute Rock-Mud
6. Wall of Stone
7. Wall of Iron
8. Animate Dead
9. Magic Jar
10. Contact Higher Plane
11. Pass-Wall
12. Cloudkill - from "Cloudkill" (V), Chainmail 3e
13. Feeblemind
14. Growth/Animal

6th Level Spells:
1. Stone-Flesh
2. Reincarnation
3. Invisible Stalker
4. Lower Water
5. Part Water
6. Projected Image
7. Anti-Magic Shell - from "Anti-Magic Shell" (VI), Chainmail 3e
8. Death Spell
9. Geas
10. Disintegrate
11. Move Earth - from "Moving Terrain" (VI), Chainmail 2e
12. Control Weather
*Chainmail 1e (Guidon Games, 1971), 2e (Guidon Games, 1972), 3e (TSR, 1975 - after the publication of OD&D)

The final section in Men & Magic is "Books of Spells":
Characters who employ spells are assumed to acquire books containing the spells they can use, one book for each level.
The Holmes rulebook actually lists spells under "Book of First Level Spells", etc.  OD&D magic-users therefore possess a set of magical encyclopedias, which they use to study their spells, not a single customized spell book.

I prefer this system, starting PC magic-users with a single Book of First Level Spells.  Higher level Books of Spells can be found while adventuring, such as those used by enemy magic-users.  In fact, the thaumaturgist from the sample adventure in Holmes possesses two such books.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

OD&D v1: Men & Magic

I got hooked on the Holmes Basic Set as my re-entry to the hobby, back in 2009.  From there, I worked backwards to discover the OD&D rulebooks, using them as a natural extension to the Holmes Basic rules, when I started playing D&D with my son.


D&D volume 1: Men & Magic (Jan 1974)

The first volume broadly covers preparations for starting a campaign, including the various character classes/races, basic equipment, encumbrance, "alternative" (to Chainmail) combat system, saving throws, spell tables, magical research, and spell books.

Men & Magic also contains a section on "Character Alignment, Including Various Monsters and Creatures".  Each player character must choose between Law, Chaos, or Neutrality.  A table on page 9 lists creatures in three separate columns, one for each alignment:


Alignment Table, from Men & Magic.

A similar table appeared previously in the Chainmail rules:


"Alignment Table" from Chainmail.

Note the equating of "Good" with "Law" and "Evil" with "Chaos".  Neutral creatures are "non-aligned", rather than representing a "third" side of their own.  They can join forces with "Law" or "Chaos", or neither, although have a pre-disposition for "Law".

In a later section, Men & Magic states "Law, Chaos and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each respectively."  In their earliest form, therefore, alignment languages were actual spoken languages, used among creatures of the same alignment.

If one regards the conflict depicted in The Battle of Brown Hills as a part of the prehistory of the OD&D setting, then "Law" and "Chaos" might be considered to represent ancient languages, now mostly forgotten, eventually becoming:
the special set of signs, signals, gestures, and words which intelligent creatures use to inform other intelligent creatures of the same alignment of their fellowship and common ethos
1e DMG, pg 24
As the cosmic conflict between Law and Chaos faded in subsequent editions of D&D, so too might the conflict have represented a primordial one in the PCs game world.  Perhaps, like the two sides of "the Force" in Lucas' Star Wars, discounted by some as mere legend.