Saturday, December 28, 2019

Greyhawk: Monsters & Treasure

The Greyhawk supplement greatly expanded the D&D monster list, adding several creatures to the alignment chart (originally presented in OD&D vol. 1 Men & Magic):

Alignment Table, from Supplement I: Greyhawk

Note that non-intelligent creatures, such as carrion crawlers and gelatinous cubes, are not included.

Attacks and variable damage were provided for the monsters described in OD&D vol. 2 "Monsters & Treasure" as well as new monsters described in the Greyhawk supplement, in addition to creatures mentioned in OD&D without entries:

Crocodile, Giant Beetle, Giant Crab, Giant Lizard, Giant (Sumatran) Rat, Giant Scorpion, Giant Snake, Giant Spider, Giant Toad, Giant Weasel, Horse (Light, Medium, Heavy), Lion, Mastodon, Sabre-tooth Tiger, Sea Monster, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wolf (Normal, Dire)

An alphabetic listing of the new monsters in the Greyhawk supplement, and their probable or confirmed origins, is given, below:


Beholders: Originally conceived by Terry Kuntz, according to the preface in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual by Gary Gygax, and as discussed in this thread on OD&D Discussion.

Blink Dogs: Lawful creatures, the natural enemies of Displacer Beasts.

Bugbears: Described as monsters "of the 'giant class,' being great, hairy goblin-giants".  The illustration by Greg Bell in the Greyhawk supplement depicting bugbears with pumpkin-heads was based on a misunderstanding, as Gygax reported in this thread on Dragonsfoot:
The pumpkin-headed bugbear was an artist taking literally my description of the monster as having a head like a pumpkin, i.e large, round flat oval.
Gary Gygax on Dragonsfoot, (Jun 2006)

Carrion Crawlers: Envisioned as competitors of "ochre jellies, black (or gray) puddings, and the like", one of Gary's contributions to "the clean-up crew".

Illustration of a carrion crawler, from the Greyhawk supplement, attributed to Dave Arneson

Displacer Beasts: Inspired by the coeurl, a feline-like creature from the 1939 science fiction story "Black Destroyer" by A. E. van Vogt, later incorporated into the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950).

Dopplegangers: Based on the Doppelganger of folklore (possibly inspired by an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, involving a doppelganger?)

Dragons: The metallic/"Oriental" types are introduced, including Brass, Copper, Bronze, Silver; Platinum/Dragon King (named as Bahamut in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual); Chromatic/Dragon Queen (named as Tiamat in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual).

Druids: "Priests of a neutral-type religion" who "are combination cleric/magic-users" although the druid character class in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry would supersede this version.

Elementals: Additional details are given for elementals, first described in OD&D vol. 2.

Gelatinous Cubes: Originally mentioned in OD&D vol. 2 Monsters & Treasure but only given statistics in the Greyhawk supplement.

Giant Slugs: Conan battles a giant slug in "The Hall of the Dead" by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp, 1967

Giant Tick

Golems (Flesh, Stone, Iron): The flesh golem is based on Frankenstein's monster.

Harpies: From the Harpy of Greek mythology.

Illustration from Monster & Treasure Assortment (1980), reprinted from Monster & Treasure Assortment: Set Three (1978), probably by Dave Trampier

Hell Hounds: Featured in the short story "In the Bag" by J. Eric Holmes, published in Dragon #58 (Feb 1982)

Homunculus: Created through a special formula involving both an Alchemist and a Magic-User, becoming the servant and counterpart of the latter.

Lammasu: From the Lamassu of Sumerian mythology.

Liches: Modeled after the lich Afgorkon in the short story "The Sword of the Sorcerer" by Gardner Fox, in "Kothar: Barbarian Swordsman" (1969)

Lizard Men: Possibly inspired by the Horibs of Pellucidar (in "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929)

Lycanthrope: Wererat/Rat Man (possibly inspired by the rats in "The Swords of Lankhmar" by Fritz Leiber, 1968), discussed here.

Ogre Magi: Oni, or "Japanese Ogres", inspired by General Raiko and the Ogres of O-E-Yama, a beautifully illustrated children's book translated into English from Japanese, according to Gygax.

Illustration from Monster & Treasure Assortment (1980), reprinted from Monster & Treasure Assortment: Set Two (1977), by David Sutherland

Owl Bears: Inspired by one of the plastic toy "prehistoric animals" manufactured in Hong Kong.

Phase Spiders: Creatures able to phase into and back from etherealness.

Rust Monsters: Another creature inspired by one of the plastic toy "prehistoric animals" manufactured in Hong Kong.

Salamanders: Originally described as a type of free-willed, fire elemental.

Shadows: These incorporeal creatures feature in "The Sorcerer's Jewel", a short story by J. Eric Holmes, published in Dragon #46 (Feb 1981)

Stirges: Possibly inspired by the Strix of Greek mythology.

Attack of the Stirges, from The Strategic Review, vol I, no 5 (Dec 1975), illustration by David Sutherland

Storm Giants

Titans: Based on the Titans of Greek mythology.

Tritons: "Similar to mermen" although tougher and able to use magic-user spells.

Umber Hulks: Able to burrow through solid rock.

Illustration of an umber hulk, from the Blackmoor supplement (1975), by David Sutherland

Will O' Wisps: Based on the will o' the wisp of folklore.

Vampires: Additional details are given for vampires, including the mention of a variant.  "Vampires from the region of the Middle East are invisible, but they are not able to Charm."


The Greyhawk supplement also expanded the magic item tables, including five subtables of miscellaneous magic.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

OD&D Demi-Humans

The three main demi-human races described in the original D&D rules have their origins in Chainmail, and were treated in greater detail in the Greyhawk supplement.  Racial combat bonuses diverged between AD&D 1e and the Basic Set rulebook, edited by J. Eric Holmes.


The Greyhawk supplement states that dwarves "are of various types (hill, mountain, or burrowers) (such as gnomes)".  Mention is made of dwarven clerics (restricted to NPCs), and rules are given for dwarven fighter/thieves and dwarven thieves.

Illustration from Supplement II: Blackmoor, by David Sutherland.

In OD&D vol. 2 Monsters & Treasure under the entry for Dwarves, it is stated "Because of their relatively small size, clumsy monsters like Ogres, Giants and the like will have a difficult time hitting Dwarves, so score only one-half the usual hit points when a hit is scored." a holdover from Chainmail, where "Trolls, Ogres, and Giants find them hard to catch because of their small size, so count only one-half normal kills when Dwarves and Gnomes fight with them"

On the errata/corrections page for the 3rd and later printings of Greyhawk, it is stated that "all dwarves add +1 to hit probabilities, and subtract -1 from chances to be hit, when fighting the "Giant Class" (possibly in reference to the "Giant Types" subtable from the Wilderness Wandering Monsters table in OD&D vol 3 The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Ogres, Trolls, Giants, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves, Ents) although likely meaning Ogres, Trolls, and Giants.

These combat bonuses were not included by Holmes in the D&D Basic Set rulebook (1977), and so were not carried over into either B/X or BECMI.

Interestingly, the AD&D 1e Monster Manual (1977) states:
Due to their great hatred of goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins, all dwarves gain a bonus of +1 on their dice rolls to hit these opponents.  When dwarves are in melee with ogres, trolls and giants, these monsters must deduct 4 from their dice rolls to hit their dwarven opponents due to the size and skill of the latter in combating these huge creatures.
The AD&D 1e Monster Manual identifies the standard type of dwarf as a hill dwarf, and provides details for mountain dwarves (slightly tougher versions of their hill-dwelling cousins).

The D&D dwarf was at least partly inspired by the character of Hugi from Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions", who speaks in a Scottish brogue and is able to detect sloping passages:
     The passage debouched in a slightly larger cavern.  Three other holes opened on the far side.  Hugi waved his companions back and stumped around.  The torchlight threw his face into craggy prominences but painted his shadow behind, like a black grotesque thing about to eat him.
     He studied the flame, which had turned yellow and smoky; he wet his thumb and held it this way and that; he stooped to smell the ground.  Finally he looked at the left-hand exit.  "This ane," he grunted.
     "No," Holger said.  "Can't you see the floor slants down in that direction?"
     "Nay, it doesna.  Mak' no such muckle noise."
     "You're nuts, I tell you!" Holger protested.  "Any fool -"
     Hugi stared through his brows at the man.  "Any fool can follow his ain fancy," the dwarf said.  "Mayhap ye're right.  I canna say for certain.  But 'tis ma opinion that yon tunnel's wha' we want, and I ken a bit more to burrowing than ye do.  So, are ye man eneugh to heed?"
     Holger swallowed.  "Okay," he said.  "I'm sorry.  Lead on."
     A ghost of a smile lifted Hugi's whiskers.  "Guid lad."  He trotted into the passage he had chosen.  The rest followed.
from "Three Hearts and Three Lions" by Poul Anderson

"A New View of Dwarves" by Larry Smith (The Dragon #3, Oct 1976) adopts a more Tolkienesque view, providing rules for advancement to 9th level (dwarf kings) among the 7 "families" of dwarves (including the tribe of Durin), dwarven cleric PCs and thieves, the special abilities of dwarves, reactions to other races, etc.


The Greyhawk supplement describes various types of elves (wood, high elves, meadow elves) (fairies).  Mention is made of elven clerics (fighter/magic-user/clerics) restricted to NPCs, and rules are given for elven fighter/magic-user/thieves and elven thieves.

Illustration from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, by David Sutherland.

In OD&D vol. 2 Monsters & Treasure under the entry for Elves, it is stated "Elves armed with magical weapons will add one pip to dice rolled to determine damage" a holdover from Chainmail, where "Those Elves (and Faeries) armed with magical weapons add an extra die in normal combat"

Under the entry for Ghouls, it is stated "Ghouls paralyze any normal figure they touch, excluding elves" which may have emerged as a house rule in Chainmail.

On the errata/corrections page for the 3rd and later printings of Greyhawk, it is stated "all elves add +1 to their hit probabilities when using sword or bow).  This rule was carried over into AD&D 1e, but not included in Holmes, B/X, or BECMI.

The AD&D 1e Monster Manual provides descriptions for the standard type of elf, as well as aquatic elves (introduced in the Blackmoor supplement), a teaser on the Drow, gray elves (faeries, who live in isolated meadowlands), half-elves, and wood (sylvan) elves.

"The Three Kindreds of the Eldar" by Larry Smith* (The Dragon #1, Jun 1976) draws its inspiration from Tolkien, and provides additional rules for Silvan or wood elves, Sindar or grey elves, and Noldor or Exiles:
A Silvan elf is more of a fighter than a magic user, and so may advance in levels as a fighter without limit, but may only use up to 2nd level spells as a magic user, and cannot use items restricted to magic users (such as wands or staves).
A Sindar elf is described as the standard type of elf.
A Nolder elf may advance in levels without limit, and both ranges and areas of effect when spell casting are increased by 50%.
In addition, chances are given for going across the sea "to the land of the Valar" for each of the three kindreds (10% per game year for Silvan elves, 25% per game year for Sindar elves, and variable for Noldor elves) which might be taken as an interesting rationale for level limits.

*This article prompted a letter by Lewis Pulsipher, to which Larry Smith was given the opportunity to respond, in the letters column ("Out On A Limb") in The Dragon #3, Oct 1976.


Hobbits were renamed "halflings" in the 6th printing (1977) of the original D&D rules, as well as in the 3rd edition (1979) of the Basic Set rulebook, following a lawsuit by Saul Zaentz/Tolkien Enterprises.

Illustration from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, by David Sutherland.

The Greyhawk supplement states that hobbits can be either fighters or thieves, and as thieves they have better chances for doing most things and are not limited to how high in level they can progress.

On the errata/corrections page for the 3rd and later printings, it is stated "all halflings add +3 to hit probabilities when using the sling".  This rule applies to bow or sling in the stat block for halflings in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, although was not mentioned in the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

Halflings gain a +1 to hit using any missile weapon in Holmes, a rule which carried over into B/X and BECMI.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Greyhawk: Men & Magic

OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk represented the first major expansion of the OD&D rules, adding new character classes, variable weapon damage, expanded magic user and clerical spell tables, new monsters and magic items, and expanded wandering monster tables.

D&D Supplement I: Greyhawk (Mar, 1975) by Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz.  Cover illustration "Sphere of Doom" by Greg Bell.

Drawn from the original Greyhawk campaign, refereed by Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz, these new additions expanded the scope of the game presented in the three first rulebooks. The title page thanks Alan Lucien, Mike Mornard, and Jeff Key for their suggestions.

The booklet is divided into 3 sections, one for each of the 3 volumes in the original D&D rules, beginning with Men & Magic:

The rules open with a description of the thief class, joining the fighter, magic user, and cleric as one of the four archetypal character classes, with Dexterity as its prime requisite.

Jon Peterson discussed the origin of the thief class, back in 2012.  A year later, Daniel Wagner, author of "The Manual of Aurania" (1977) elaborated on the backstory, in this thread: 
It came about like this, one group had a dwarf who wanted to try picking locks with his dagger, so I had the idea for a Burglar class, which we drew up like a Magic user but with skills (like Lock picking) instead of spells. The consensus was to call the class “Thief”. Gary Switzer called Gygax long distance (a kinda big deal in those days) from his shop Aero hobbies and Gygax ran with the idea.
Later, when I met Gygax at a con, he got a little threatening said he could sue us. I brought up the Thief class, and he glowered, then laughed and said “One good steal deserves another, OK, we’re good then, I won’t sic the law dogs on you!”.

Years later, Gygax gave the literary inspirations for the thief:
Of the other portions of the A/D&D game stemming from the writing of Jack Vance, the next most important one is the thief-class character.  Using a blend of “Cugel the Clever” and Roger Zelazny’s “Shadowjack” for a benchmark, this archetype character class became what it was in original AD&D.
from "Jack Vance & the D&D Game" by Gary Gygax (2001)

"Cugel the Clever" was introduced in "The Eyes of the Overworld" (1966) by Jack Vance, a novel comprised of five earlier stories (1965-66).  "Shadowjack" was introduced in "Jack of Shadows" (1971) by Roger Zelazny.  Both are listed in my "Appendix O".

Cover of the 1962 mass market paperback of "Three Hearts and Three Lions" by Poul Anderson.

The paladin subclass is also introduced (modeled after the character of Holger Carlsen in Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions"), with rules for its special abilities, holy sword, and warhorse as a champion of Law.

Greyhawk also introduced rules for percentile Strength bonuses for fighters, and percentile "Chance to Know any Given Spell" for magic-users (the latter table suggests that any character can become a magic-user, regardless of their Intelligence score).  A table giving the probability of resurrection survival or surviving spells based on Constitution is also provided.

An alternative combat system, with bonuses and penalties for the attacker's weapon type, based on the defender's armor class, was floated (although I have never seen it used).  This appears to have been intended for man-to-man combat, based on armor type (not against monsters):

Alternative combat system, based on armor types as reflected by armor class, (derived from table in Chainmail, appendix B).  Note the inclusion of the arquebus, an early form of long gun (thanks to Zenopus, for pointing this out).

More importantly, variable weapon damage (with columns for both man-sized as well as larger opponents) was introduced, together with variable damage by monster type, stating "in no event is it recommended for use without the aforementioned".  For this reason, I always use variable weapon damage when running a Holmes game.

Finally, new spells were added, including tables for 7th to 9th level magic-user spells, and 6th to 7th level cleric spells.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Barsoomian Races & Animals

The Wilderness Wandering Monsters tables in OD&D vol 3 The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures list a number of Barsoomian Races & Animals.  For instance, in the "Men" subtable, under the Desert (Mars) column:

These various Barsoomian races are described in Warriors of Mars, (pgs 41, 44):

Red Martians:
The red race is the most numerous upon Barsoom, and its members run the gamut from the most superb fighters to the most abject cowards.  It is this race which maintains most of the inhabited cities upon the planet, and, excluding the Green Martians, they account for perhaps 75% of the population.
Red Martians appear human, but are oviparous.  Their eggs incubate for 5 Martian years (almost 10 Earth years) after which their offspring hatch as fully-formed youngsters.

Green Martians (Tharks, Warhoons, et al):
These strange creatures are all nomadic, roaming about the dead sea bottoms of Barsoom.  There are many tribes of Green men, the largest being the Tharks, the fiercest the Warhoons.  Smaller tribes are not noted on the map.  They typically take their tribal name from the abandoned city which they have chosen to house their Jed or Jeddak.  Of all their warlike abilities, their marksmanship with the Radium Rifle is by far the most outstanding.  They are not prone to use their 40' lances against humans, except in large battles against many times their own number of Red men for example.  They do, however, employ them extensively against other Green peoples.  The sword is undoubtedly their favorite weapon!  There are perhaps two million Green tribesmen on Barsoom, with a total population of perhaps five million when females and children are considered.
Green Martians are 15' tall, with six limbs (4 arms and 2 legs, although the lower set of arms can also be used as legs).  They are likewise oviparous.

Note:  The "Sand Folk" described in Blackmoor module DA3: City of the Gods (1987) appear to be modeled after Green Martians, although with some differences.

White Martians (Orovarians, Therns):
This category includes the almost extinct Orovarians who have blond or auburn hair and the bald Therns who wear yellow wigs.  Although the latter are somewhat ignoble, both types are among the staunchest of fighters.  They regard all races as beneath them, although they are somewhat in awe of the First Born.  All Therns are not of equal ability, the best of the type being awarded the title of Holy Therns.  These latter constitute perhaps a third of the type.  The white race comprises perhaps 10% of the Barsoomian population, with the Orovarians having only about 3%.  Orovars are found only in lost cities; Therns inhabit the Valley Dor at the South Pole and some colonies within Red Martian cities.
The Holy Therns are the major villains of the first Mars trilogy.  In an OD&D campaign, I would give them psionic abilities.

Black Martians:
The black race is perhaps the single finest type upon all Barsoom, for its members are above average in both height and musculature.  They are handsome in appearance and brave beyond compare.  Furthermore, their bravery is matched by their fighting ability.  They claim to be the "First Born" of all Barsoomian humans, and this is what they call themselves.  Others, however, know them as the Black Pirates because of their propensity for raiding and plundering.  They comprise about 5% of the population.  The Black Martians inhabit the underground world of Omean and the "Rift" in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere.
Introduced in the second Mars novel "The Gods of Mars" as the enemies of the Therns, the Black Pirates of Barsoom are portrayed as a valiant race.

Yellow Martians (Okarians):
These sturdy, black-bearded men are known as Okarians.  They live in domed cities scattered about the northern polar region.  As a race they are exceptionally capable fighters.  Their chief weapons are the javelin, the long sword, the "cup shield", and hook sword.  Any fighter engaging an Okarian with sword, hook sword, and cup shield would not violate the Barsoomian Code if he were to counter with long sword and short sword.  The Yellow men comprise about 10% of the total population.
Introduced in the third Mars novel "The Warlord of Mars" as a legendary, polar-dwelling race.

In the "Optional Arid Plains" subtable, we find 8 Barsoomian creatures listed:

Descriptions for many of these creatures are lacking in "Warriors of Mars", but may be found in the excellent "A Guide to Barsoom" by John Flint Roy, published in 1976 (and referred to continuously throughout the making of the film "John Carter" (2012).

A white-furred beast of the northern polar regions.  Its head is like that of a hippopotamus - large, and with a tremendous mouth, but with a pair of horns growing downward from the lower jaw.  The eyes are large, reaching from the top of the head down to the lower jaw, and are made up of several thousand ocelli each.  Each ocellus has its own lid, and the apt has independent control of as many as he wishes - a few for use in bright sunlight and snow, or many for the dark caves which are its home.  It has a pair of arms extending forward from the shoulders.  These terminate in hands with which it seizes its prey.  The apt stands six to eight feet at the shoulder, and its fur is highly prized for garments and throws.  At one time, the Okarians considered the apts sacred and forbade hunting and killing them.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)
A six-limbed arctic creature, apts only sleep 1 day a month.

The lion of Barsoom.  A savage beast of prey roams the dead sea bottoms.  It is almost entirely hairless, having only a tawny mane about its neck.  Its hide is yellow and it has a powerful tail.  Its long, lithe body is supported by ten powerful legs; its enormous jaws are equipped with several rows of long, needle-like fangs; its mouth reaches to a point far back of its tiny ears; and its enormous protruding eyes of green add the last touch of terror to its awful aspect.  Banths roam singly or in packs.  They have a low, moaning cry when hunting, and a terrifying roar for paralyzing their victims.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)

The Barsoomian dog.  About the size of a Shetland pony, with a head somewhat like a frog's, and ten short legs.  Its jaws are equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks.  Faster than an Earthly greyhound, it is the fleetest animal on Barsoom.  Highly intelligent, it is loyal to its master, a ferocious fighter, and has tremendous endurance.  It is omnivorous, although mainly a meat-eater.  Domesticated by the green men, it is used as an individual watchdog or in packs to guard the herds and camps.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)

A chameleon-like reptile, inasmuch as it can change color at will.  No further information is available concerning this creature.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)
Gygax added some details in "Warriors of Mars", stating:
This is a generic name for Martian reptiles.  There are small darseen, little chameleon-like lizards, and great reptiles capable of severing the head from a man in one bite.  It is these latter sort which are considered in the rules.  The largest mentioned is the monstrous albino lizard beneath Kadabra.  The tables consider darseen to be about half again as big as a monitor lizard, and if larger ones are encountered it should be adjusted accordingly.

A fur-bearing animal of the polar regions, and one highly prized for its magnificent  black-and-yellow-striped coat.  We are given little information about this creature, except that it is an "elephantine beast of prey".
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)
Another arctic creature, Gygax states:
We are taking a few liberties with this monster, for ERB never really described the Orluk, other thans to say it was a black and yellow striped arctic-dwelling carnivore.  It is weasel-like in appearance, being about the size of a jaguar.  The orluk has four legs, great fangs and a lust for blood like the little Jasoomian animal it resembles in form.  Although it has a keen sense of smell, it has rather weak eyes or else it would be far more deadly than it is.

An almost-extinct giant insect found in the Kaolian Forest.  It resembles a bald-faced hornet about the size of an ox.  It has powerful jaws, a mighty, poison-laden stinger, myriad-facet eyes covering three-quarters of its face, and it can move with lightning-like speed in any direction.  Its venom has certain commercial uses and is the best weapon against the sith itself.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)

The Barsoomian steed.  The giant thoat used by the green men "towered ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad flat tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held straight out behind while running; a gaping mouth, which split its head from its snout to its long, massive was entirely devoid of hair, but was of a dark slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy.  Its belly was white, and its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders and hips to a vivid yellow at the feet.  The feet themselves were heavily padded and nailless".  The thoat can live almost indefinitely without water, getting sufficient moisture from the moss that covers so much of the surface of Barsoom - and is also its main source of food.  The rider guides his mount by telepathic means, using neither bridle nor reins.  A form of saddle is employed, sometimes with elaborate trappings and blankets.
excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)

White Ape:
A colossal, ape-like creature, white and hairless except for an enormous shock of bristly fur upon its head.  It stands from ten to fifteen feet in height, has an intermediary set of limbs (arms) midway between its upper and lower limbs.  The eyes are close together and non-protruding; the snout and teeth are much like that of an African gorilla.  The white apes are tribal by nature; they have a spoken language; they carry clubs; and some even wear strips of hide in imitation of the harness of the green men.  Their homes are the deserted cities scattered across the planet.
 excerpt from "A Guide to Barsoom" (1976)

In terms of developing statistics for Barsoomian creatures, Nathan Mahney used movement rates from "Warriors of Mars" and extrapolated Hit Dice in this post on his blog.

"Monster File Number One" (Dragon Tree Press, 1981), provided stats for Plant Men, Calot, Banth, Thark, Ulsio (the Martian Giant Rat), Apt, Orluk, and Martian Ape, (according to Finarvyn in this post on the OD&D Discussion boards).

There is a fan-made OD&D supplement, "Warriors of Mars" inspired by Gygax & Blume's rules, as well as an addendum "Adventures on Mars" (reviewed on Swords & Stitchery in 2012, here).

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Warriors of Mars

The Mars novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs were a major influence on the early D&D game.  Martian races and creatures even appeared in the Wilderness Wandering Monsters tables in OD&D vol 3 The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.

The "Warriors of Mars" rules for miniature wargames, published by TSR in July, 1974 (six months after the original D&D rules), are a standalone set of rules for adventures on Barsoom.  While not compatible with OD&D, they are useful as a sourcebook.

Warriors of Mars: The Warfare of Barsoom in Miniature (July, 1974) by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume.  Illustrated by Greg Bell.  Downloadable at

The forward by Gary Gygax states "this project was done at the request of the firm which originated the miniature figures for this singular aspect of wargaming".  The firm is identified as Hinchliffe Models (later Heritage Models) in Jon Peterson's Playing at the World (2012).

For a look at the Hinchliffe and Heritage miniatures, see articles by Laurence Dunn at erbzine, reprinted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association (ERB-APA) fanzine, issue #100, issue #101, issue #102, and also this website.

The book is divided into 3 parts (Land Warfare, Aerial Warfare, and Notes on Personality Figures, Barsoomian Races & Animals) followed by a series of combat tables.  There is also a map of Barsoom (depicted below) and 24 interior illustrations.

Map of Barsoom, from Warriors of Mars (TSR, 1974)

Part I: Land Warfare

This section provides rules for mass combat (tables for missile fire, melee, and morale are in the back of the rulebook), a paragraph on seiges, and rules for individual combat (tables for animals vs. animals and/or men, and men vs. men are also in the back).

The rules for individual combat involve rolling 3d6, with its bell-shaped probability curve, so that advancement in fighting skill with increasing experience is not linear.  The maximum level attainable is 12th, (John Carter is 13th).

There is only one character "class" (that of a "fighting man").  An "experience" points table is included for defeating Martian animals or warriors, capturing enemy warriors or items such as fliers or treasure, and freeing prisoners.

There are also guidelines provided for individual adventures, from mapping the wilderness (with encounter tables based on the terrain), to exploring deserted cities (see also "Deserted Cities of Mars" by Jim Ward in SR #3), or plunging the labyrinthine pits beneath (using D&D).

Part II: Aerial Warfare

Illustration by Greg Bell, from Warriors of Mars.  Fliers modeled after cover illustration for the 1973 Ballantine edition of "Swords of Mars", by Gino D'Achille.

The next section covers aerial combat, with rules for movement, fliers, fire, elevation & depression of guns, damage, ramming & collision, grappling, boarding, bombing, air-to-ground combat, and ground-to-air combat (with tables for boarding, bombing, and aerial combat).

Part III: Notes on Personality Figures, Barsoomian Races & Animals

The final section is fairly brief, containing short, descriptive paragraphs on various "NPCs", including John Carter, Ulysses Paxton, Carthoris, Tars Tarkas, Solon of Okar, and others, such as Mors Kajak, Tardos Mors, Kantos Kan, et al.

There are also short descriptions of the various Barsoomian races (red, white, black, yellow, green) and animals (white apes, darseen, malagor, orluks).  Other animals are not covered, since they are already described in sufficient detail in the novels.

In summary, "Warriors of Mars" is a standalone game, unrelated to D&D, but could serve as the backbone for creating a series of adventures on Burroughs' Barsoom.

Incidentally, Ernie Gygax's character "Erac's Cousin" was transported to Barsoom in Gary's original Greyhawk campaign.  Some of the details are posted in this thread at the Piazza.*

*Gygax recounts the tale in "Dual to the Death: The First Dual Classed Character" published in Dragon #319 (May 2004).

On a final note, J. Eric Holmes, editor of the 1977 D&D Basic Rulebook, as well as a noted Burroughs enthusiast, ran "Dungeons and Dragons on Barsoom" at Gen Con in 1978-1980.

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.