Saturday, May 30, 2020

Eldritch Wizardry: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures

The third part of the Eldritch Wizardry supplement included wandering monster tables for the astral and ethereal planes, in addition to psionic encounters, as well as updated and greatly expanded wilderness wandering monster tables (including several new creatures).

Astral and Ethereal Encounters:

These are divided between the underworld (20), outdoor (20), and space (12, astral only), mostly involving creatures described in Eldritch Wizardry, in addition to the blink dog* and the phase spider (both from the Greyhawk supplement).

*this implies that blink dogs use planar travel, as they can be encountered on the astral or ethereal plane in the underworld

Psionic Encounters:

These are divided between the underworld (16) and outdoor (16), involving psionic creatures described in Eldritch Wizardry.

Wilderness Wandering Monsters:

Wilderness wandering monster tables were originally presented in OD&D vol. 3.  The table to determine the type of wandering monster encountered based on terrain is expanded from 8 to 12 rows, and a new category of terrain ("Ruins") is added.

This basic framework was retained for the wilderness wandering monster tables in B/X and BECMI.  A much more complex set of tables, presented in Appendix C: Random Monster Encounters of the Dungeon Masters Guide, was developed for AD&D 1e.

The perils of the wilderness.  Illustration by David Sutherland.

Men: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and two new categories of terrain ("Woods" and "City/Ruins") are added.  Lizard men from Greyhawk and new character types are included (paladins, rangers, assassins, druids, and half-elves), in addition to merchants and pilgrims (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977), with a chance of encountering a caravan in the desert.

Flyers: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (gargoyles from OD&D vol. 2; harpies, lammasu, and stirges from Greyhawk; couatl, ki-rin, shedu, and demons from Eldritch Wizardry).

Undead: The table is expanded from 8 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (dopplegangers, shadows, liches, and will o' wisps from Greyhawk; ghosts from The Strategic Review #3).

Giant-Types (aka humanoids): The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (bugbears and ogre-magi from Greyhawk; leprechauns and yeti from The Strategic Review #3).

True Giants (new category): This table includes the five types of giants from OD&D vol. 2, in addition to storm giants and titans from Greyhawk.

Lycanthropes: The table is expanded from 4 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (wererats from Greyhawk).

Dragon Class: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (brass, bronze, copper, and silver dragons, as well as the dragon king/queen from Greyhawk).

Swimmers: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (giant lizards, giant slugs, lizard men, sea monsters, and tritons from Greyhawk; giant frogs from Blackmoor).
The swimmers listed in OD&D vol. 3 (mermen, nixies, dragon turtle, giant leeches**, crocodiles*, giant (sea) snakes, giant octopi**, giant squid**, giant crabs*/**, and giant fish) were described in the section on naval adventures.

*given statistics in Greyhawk
**given statistics in Blackmoor
Demon Class (new category): This table includes wind walkers from The Strategic Review #3, rakshasas from The Strategic Review #5, and the various demons from Eldritch Wizardry.

Miscellaneous Monsters (new category): This table includes beholders, blink dogs, displacer beasts, hell hounds, phase spiders, rust monsters, and umber hulks from Greyhawk, ropers from The Strategic Review #2, shambling mounds from The Strategic Review #3, and su-monsters from Eldritch Wizardry.

Enchanted-Type Monsters (new category): This table includes djinn, efreet, and elementals from OD&D vol. 2, salamanders, invisible stalkers, aerial servants, and golems (flesh, stone, iron) from Greyhawk, and clay golems from The Strategic Review #4.

Animals: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and six categories of terrain ("Clear", "Woods", "Mountains", "Desert", "Jungle-Like", and "Swamps/Marsh") are added.
Clear (new subtable): 12 rows, including giant beetles, giant snakes, giant weasels, and wolves from Greyhawk; giant ants, wild cattle, wild dogs, wild horses (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977), and wild pigs.

Woods (new subtable): 20 rows, including giant lizards, giant snakes, giant spiders, giant ticks, giant toads, giant weasels, owl bears, and wolves from Greyhawk; bears, boars, giant centipedes, giant lynx, giant owls, giant porcupines, giant skunks, stags, wolverines (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977).

Mountains (new subtable): 12 rows, including owl bears and wolves from Greyhawk; bears, boars, giant goats, giant rams, mountain lions, stags (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977).

Desert (new subtable): 20 rows, including giant beetles, giant lizards, giant scorpions, giant snakes, and lions from Greyhawk; baboons, flightless birds, giant ants, leopards, wild camels, wild dogs, wild horses (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977), and wild asses.

Jungle-Like (new subtable): 20 rows, including giant lizards, giant snakes, giant spiders, giant ticks, and lions from Greyhawk; apes, buffalo, elephants, giant ants, giant centipedes, herd animals, hyenas, jaguars, leopards, rhinos, tigers, wart hogs, wild dogs (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977).

Optional Woods: The table is expanded from 8 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (basilisks, cockatrices, elves, ents, and pixies from OD&D vol. 2; nymphs, satyrs (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977), and faeries).

Swamps/Marsh (new subtable): 10 rows, including crocodiles, giant snakes, giant slugs, lizard men, and will o'wisps from Greyhawk; giant frogs and giant leeches from Blackmoor; catoblepas from The Strategic Review #7; and giant crayfish, giant turtles, hippos (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977).

Optional Swamp: The table is expanded from 8 to 10 rows, and giant crocodiles from Blackmoor are added.

Optional Mountains: The table is expanded from 12 to 20 rows, and new monsters are included (Irish deer (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977) and giant sloths, giant tortoises, great armadillos, Neanderthalers).

The prehistoric animals listed in OD&D vol. 3 were cave bears, dire wolves*, sabre-tooth tigers*, spotted lions, mammoths, mastodons*, titanotheres, wooly rhinos (described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published in 1977).

*given statistics in Greyhawk
It's interesting to note that almost all of the new animals included in the wilderness wandering monster tables in Eldritch Wizardry were described in greater detail in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, published over a year later.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Eldritch Wizardry: Monsters & Treasure

Eldritch Wizardry was notable for introducing both demons and psionic creatures, as well as a number of artifacts and relics.  The artifacts had suggested powers, although the DM was advised to determine their actual powers.  Many of these entered Greyhawk lore.


Additions and Corrections:
Psionic abilities for tritons (magic-user type), titans (cleric type), and liches (magic-user type) are described.

Creatures with petrification abilities (cockatrices, basilisks, medusae, gorgons, catoblepas) can affect beings on the astral and ethereal planes.

Invisible stalkers can travel on the astral and ethereal planes.

Gray oozes are described to possess a dim intelligence, exceptionally large specimens can employ psychic crush.

Yellow mold can form into great colonies, which can become mentally aware and employ id insinuation.

Demons: The origins of Type I-IV demons remain obscure, although might have been inspired by medieval bestiaries.  Succubi were drawn from medieval folklore.

A fighter and a magic-user confront a Type V demon (left) as a Type IV demon (right) prepares to attack.  Illustration by David Sutherland.

The Type V demon appears to be a combination between the snake maiden from "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958) and the idol of Kali from "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" (1974).

Type VI demons were referred to as balrogs in the 1st-4th printings of Eldritch Wizardry, before references to Tolkien were removed.

Demon Princes: Two of the most powerful are described
Orcus, the Roman god of the underworld, possibly inspired by his appearance in "Changeling Earth" (1973) by Fred Saberhagen.

Demogorgon, whose origins are more obscure, made famous by the Netflix series "Stranger Things" (2016).

Update (August 12, 2020): I recently became aware of an additional writeup for "Yeenoghu, Demon Lord of Orcs" from the in-house newsletter, the Strategic Preview #5 (Summer, 1976) as reported by Frank Mentzer in this thread 

Demons' amulets may likewise be derived from the "Changeling Earth", the third volume in the "Empire of the East" series by Fred Saberhagen.

Couatl: Based on the Mesoamerican feathered serpent.  The couatl and at least 3 other psionic creatures from Eldritch Wizardry appear in Ernst and Johanna Lehner's A Fantastic Bestiary (1969), as discussed in this post by Jon Peterson.

Ki-Rin: Based on the Japanese creature, described as a "cloudy horse", also from Ernst and Johanna Lehner's A Fantastic Bestiary (1969).

Shedu: Based on the Sumerian human-headed, winged, bull-like creature, also from Ernst and Johanna Lehner's A Fantastic Bestiary (1969).

Intellect Devourers: Possibly based on "the shadow" or "the gebbeth" from "A Wizard of Earthsea" (1968) by Ursula K. LeGuin, as suggested in this comment in an article on Intellect Devourers.

Mind Flayers: A reworking of the creature featured in The Strategic Review #1.

Su-Monsters: Wasp-waisted, great chested hounds, with heads much like a gorilla's, also from Ernst and Johanna Lehner's A Fantastic Bestiary (1969).

Brain Moles: Small, rodent-like creatures that feed on psionic energy.

Cerebral Parasites: Rob Kuntz wrote, here:
These are alien creatures of the sort that appeared in different forms in SF, Horror or mixed. Greatest influence was the "Mind Parasites" by Colin Wilson.
Thought Eater: Sickly grey, skeletal-bodied, enormous headed platypi whose webbed paws allow them to swim through the ether.  Also the name of an excellent blog and podcast.

Artifacts (22):

The Invulnerable Coat of Arn: In reference to a paladin in Gary's campaign
That played by Don Arndt was the most cautious one I have ever experienced or heard of. His behavior was so remarkable that the Artifact, "Invulnerable coat of Arn" was created to jape at such play.
The Mace of Cuthbert: A holy relic from the time of St. Cuthbert, named after a real world, Anglo-Saxon saint.

The Sword of Kas: Named after the lich Vecna's onetime bodyguard, in reference to Tim Kask
It was often our habit to use character names on items; they threw in the Sword of Kas just for a lark, and never told me until I found it.
The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords: Forged in the heart of a volcano, a weapon of dwarvish kings, until it disappeared in battle, over a thousand years ago.

The Wand of Orcus: A rod of obsidian, used by the demon prince of the undead, with its own wikipedia entry.

The Rod of Seven Parts: Another artifact with its own wikipedia entry.

The Codex of the Infinite Plains: A magical tome belonging to the wizard-cleric, Tzoonk, who ruled the Isles of Woe, before they sunk in the Lake of Unknown Depths.

The 1st printing is missing the "Tzoonk Fragment":
...and thereupon the voice belled forth in tones of hollow iron and spoke of the Coming of the City of the Gods.  Such future events interested me not, no I gave the command: 'Answer in th...' (here the fragment becomes entirely illegible)... so knowing both the secret and the spell which would unlock the Way to this horde of the Demon Prince Nql... (another break in the writing unfortunately occurs here)... gathered the nine as required and proceeded forth.  With me in addition were the dyoph servants necessary to transport the Code [sic], for I would not leave it behind on even so perilous a journey as this." (Here the entire fragment ends.)
The Hand of Vecna: A relic of the powerful lich, Vecna, whose name is an anagram of Vance, created by Brian Blume.

The Eye of Vecna: Another relic of the lich, Vecna.

Baba Yaga's Hut: Baba Yaga, drawn from Slavic folklore, was featured in a recent article in Vice.

Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless: A heavy metal urn, imprisoning "the Groaning Spirit".  Created by Gary, in reference to Ernie Gygax's character "Erac's cousin".

Queen Ehlissa, protected by her Marvelous Nightingale, confronts Orcus, wielding his Wand.  Illustration by David Sutherland.

Queen Ehlissa's Marvelous Nightingale: A bejeweled songbird, in a golden birdcage.  Created in reference to Gary's daughter, Elise Gygax.

The Machine of Lum the Mad: A gigantic piece of machinery with 70 levers and 30 dials.  The Machine was featured in a Chainmail scenario.

The Might Servant of Leuk-O: A towering automaton, left by a visiting race of space travelers.  Created in reference to Gary's son, Luke Gygax.

The Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty: An indescribably lovely gem, once the property of the fabled Shah Cham' Ponee.

The Crystal of the Ebon Flame: A crystal-like substance with a small, ebon flame in its center.

Heward's Mystical Organ: In reference to Gary Gygax's cousin, Hugh E. Burdick, who died in 1993.  Gygax wrote a eulogy, reproduced here.

Horn of Change: Three blasts will cause a variety of things, at random.

The Ring of Gax: A ring of platinum set with a stone with eight facets.  Created by Blume, in reference to Gary Gygax.

The Crowns, Orbs, and Scepters: There are sets for each alignment, possibly derived from the Fighter's, Magic-User's, and Cleric's Crowns, Orbs, and Scepters mentioned in OD&D vol. 2, recently linked to the Lost Level of Greg Svenson's Tonisborg dungeon.

The Throne of the Gods: A massive, gold-inlaid throne, carved into the heart of a mountain by an ancient race in honor of their gods.

The Orb of Dragonkind: Five crystalline orbs with the imprisoned essence of a dragon (the Orb of the Hatchling, the Orb of the Dragonette, the Orb of the Dragon, the Great Firedrake's Orb, and the Orb of the Eldest Worm).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lost Classes: Reconstructing the Divine

Psionics as presented in Eldritch Wizardry represented the synthesis of Steve Marsh's Mystic and Gary Gygax's unfinished Divine class, the latter heavily influenced by the protagonist in Sterling Lanier's 1973 novel "Hiero's Journey".

Cover to the 1st edition of "Hiero's Journey" (1973) by Sterling Lanier.

Lanier's novel is a profoundly influential work.  It's been reviewed on several OSR blogs, and covered on the always excellent "Appendix N Book Club" as well as yet another great podcast, "Sanctum Secorum".  Both are recommended listening.

The idea for the divine predates Origins I (July, 1975) where, among the various ways to destroy the Lich's skull in the Tomb of Horrors, we are told "The highest Divine destroys it by touch" (which seems more in keeping with a Mystic's abilities).

Since we know that psionic combat formed the basis of Gygax's divine class, we can get a good idea of what might have been involved by focusing on the psionic combat abilities in Eldritch Wizardry:

Psionic Combat chart, from Eldritch Wizardry (1976)

As in "Hiero's Journey", psionic creatures in OD&D are more vulnerable to psionic attacks than are non-psionic creatures.  Psionic combat can be mentally draining, although Hiero gains additional proficiency with each subsequent encounter.

I think that Per Hiero Desteen can serve as the prototype for a divine character, much as Holger Carlsen represents the prototype for the paladin, or Kwai Chang Caine represents the prototype for the Blackmoor monk.  Would be fun to write it up.*

*a B/X take on the Divine (or, "the Devine"), based on Steve Marsh's reworking of the class for The Cupric Text zine, was posted by Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr, author of PX1 Basic Psionics Handbook, on his blog in October, 2015.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Lost Classes: Reconstructing the OD&D Mystic

When I learned that psionics in Eldritch Wizardry were partly based upon the abilities of a new character class, devised by Steve Marsh, I needed to know more:

The Mystic
I can answer questions about the "real" mystic. The real mystic had all the psionic powers, but no psionic attacks (the attacks and defenses were to go with another class). They gained powers or abilities as they went up levels (much like magic users gain spells) and they started out with a bare handed attack that emulated different weapons for "to hit" modifiers and damage and then was like a sword, with plusses. When eldritch wizardry came up short of material, I'm told that "they" decided to just chop up the character class and make it into another set of powers characters could have instead of a separate class. But, you can easily read between the lines to see the entire character class based on vedic yogis. Sat Gurus, etc. (a complete name table that was authentic, even).  The character had plane traveling skills and abilities intended to mesh with the plane concepts I had.
Steve Marsh, here

The new class predated Origins I (July, 1975) where, among the various ways to destroy the Lich's skull in the Tomb of Horrors, we are told "A Mystic can destroy by mind battle (Mental power rating of the skull is 18)." (although this sounds more like the Divine).

We get a fairly good idea of the kinds of powers Marsh's mystic class possessed, taking a look at the psionic abilities tables in Eldritch Wizardry:


Fighting Men (Including Paladins and Rangers) & Thieves (Including Assassins)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Reduction (none) - similar to the effects of a potion of diminution
  2. Expansion (special) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell "enlargement"
  3. Levitation (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Domination (special)
  5. Mind over Body (none)
  6. Invisibility (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  7. Precognition (special)
  8. Suspend Animation (none)
  9. Body Equilibrium (1/turn)
  10. Clairaudience (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  11. Clairvoyance (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  12. Body Weaponry (none) - referenced by Marsh in the passage quoted, above
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Energy Control (special)
  2. Telekinesis (3/turn) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell
  3. Dimension Walking (special) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell "teleport"
  4. Astral Projection (special) - similar to the 9th level magic-user "astral" spell
  5. Molecular Rearrangement (special)
  6. Molecular Manipulation (50)
  7. Body Control (5/turn)
  8. Mind Bar (none)

Magic-Users (Including Illusionists)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Detection of Evil/Good (none) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  2. Detection of Magic (1/turn) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell
  3. ESP (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Hypnosis (special) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell "suggestion"
  5. Levitation (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  6. Clairaudience (1/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  7. Clairvoyance (l/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  8. Reduction (none) - similar to the effects of a potion of diminution
  9. Expansion (special) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell "enlargement"
  10. Molecular Agitation (2/turn)
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Telepathic Projection (3/turn) - similar to the effects of a helm of telepathy
  2. Precognition (special)
  3. Dimension Door (10) - identical to the 4th level magic-user spell
  4. Telekinesis (3/turn) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell
  5. Teleportation (20) - identical to the 5th level magic-user spell
  6. Astral Projection (special) - similar to the 9th level magic-user "astral" spell
  7. Etherealness (5/turn) - identical to the effects of a potion of etherealness
  8. Shape Alteration (special) - similar to the 4th level magic-user spell "polymorph self"

Clerics (Excluding Monks and Druids)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Detection of Evil/Good (none) - similar to the 1st level cleric spell
  2. Empathy (none)
  3. Levitation (l/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Hypnosis (1/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell "suggestion"
  5. Domination (special)
  6. ESP (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  7. Cell Adjustment (special) - similar to the 3rd level cleric spell "cure disease"
  8. Mind over Body (none)
  9. Body Equilibrium (1/turn)
  10. Animal Telepathy (2/turn) - similar to "speak with animals (2nd level)/plants (4th level)"
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Molecular Rearrangement (5/turn)
  2. Aura Alteration (special) - similar to the 3rd level cleric spell "remove curse"
  3. Precognition (special)
  4. Telempathic Projection (3/turn)
  5. Dimension Walking (special)
  6. Astral Projection (special)
  7. Mass Domination (special)
  8. Probability Travel (special)

In retrospect, I think that a new character class, based on vedic yogis, would have been interesting to see, so I took a stab at reconstructing the class.

Illustration from OD&D vol. 1, Men & Magic

The OD&D Mystic:

Player-characters with unmodified scores of 15 or more in their intelligence, wisdom, or charisma may elect to check their psionic ability (become mystics).

Fighting-men (Mystics) with psionic ability are basically attuned to the powers commonly known here as Yoga.  There are 20 possible "devotions" they may be able to perform (the 18 Siddhis and the 2 Sciences) if they follow the course of developing their mental prowess.

(I'm not sure what Marsh means by "devotions" or "the 2 Sciences", but regarding the 18 Siddhis, I found this document helpful):

Eight Primary Siddhis:
  1. Anima-siddhi "becoming smaller than the smallest" (Reduction)
  2. Mahima-siddhi "becoming greater than the greatest" (Expansion)
  3. Laghima-siddhi "becoming lighter than the lightest" (Levitation)
  4. Prapti-siddhi "one can acquire anything from anywhere and can even touch the moon with one's finger - one can also enter into the senses of any other living entity" (Empathy, Telempathic Projection)
  5. Prakamya-siddhi "obtaining or performing whatever one desires" (Detection of Magic, Invisibility, Aura Alteration, Telekinesis, Body Weaponry)
  6. Isita-siddhi "one can manipulate the subpotencies of maya, which are material" (Molecular Agitation, Molecular Rearrangement, Molecular Manipulation)
  7. Vasita-siddhi "the power to bring others under control" (Domination, Mass Domination)
  8. Garima-siddhi "the ability to become heavy" (Body Equilibrium)
Ten Secondary Siddhis:
  1. Anurmi-mattvam "being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, etc." (Mind over Body, Suspend Animation)
  2. Dura-sravanam "hearing things far away" (Clairaudience)
  3. Dura-darsanam "seeing things far away" (Clairvoyance)
  4. Mano-javah "moving the body at the speed of the mind" (Dimension Door, Dimension Walking, Teleportation, Etherealness, Astral Projection, Probability Travel)
  5. Kama-rupam "assuming any body that one desires" (Shape Alteration)
  6. Para-kaya-pravesanam "entering the bodies of others"
  7. Svacchanda-mrtyuh "dying when one desires" (Cell Adjustment)
  8. Devanam saha-kridanudarsanam "witnessing the pastimes between the demigods..."
  9. Yatha-sankalpa-samsiddhih "completely executing one's determination"
  10. Ajnapratihata gatih "giving orders whose fulfillment is unimpeded" (Hypnosis)
Five Lesser Siddhis:
  1. Tri-kala-jnatvam "the perfection of knowing past, present and future" (Precognition)
  2. Advandvam "being unaffected by dualities such as heat and cold" (Body Control)
  3. Para-cittady-abhijnata "knowing the minds of others" (Detection of Evil/Good, ESP, Animal Telepathy)
  4. Agny-arkambu-visadinam pratistambhah "checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on" (Energy Control)
  5. Aparajaya "not being conquered by others" (Mind Bar)

It would probably make sense to use the monk from the Blackmoor supplement as the basis for an OD&D mystic.  Now all that's needed is to just get some feedback, and write it up.*

*I'm aware of PX1 Basic Psionics Handbook by Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr. (New Big Dragon Games Unlimited, 2015) for B/X and Labyrinth Lord, and the 5e mystic (March, 2017) reworked by Wizards of the Coast.  I'm aiming for OD&D/Holmes.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Eldritch Wizardry: Men & Magic

OD&D Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry represented the final major expansion of the OD&D rules, adding psionics, the druid as a sub-class, initiative based on adjusted dexterity, astral and ethereal monsters, artifacts and relics, and updated wilderness wandering monster tables.

D&D Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (May 1976) by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume.  Cover illustration by Deborah Larson*

Tim Kask played a major role in shaping Eldritch Wizardry, although Brian Blume's contributions were minimal.  Blume shared credit as co-author with Gary Gygax, largely owing to his position in the company, a troubling sign of things to come.

*Deborah Larson was a young, Minneapolis-based artist, according to Art & Arcana: A Visual History (2018).  Her pulp-inspired cover illustration was probably modeled after the dust jacket from the first edition of Dwellers in the Mirage (1932) by Abraham Merritt.

The title page includes a special thanks to "Elder" Steve Marsh, Dennis Sustare (the "Great Druid"), Jim Ward, and Tim Kask for suggestions and contributions.  The booklet is divided into 3 sections, one for each of the 3 volumes in the original D&D rules, beginning with Men & Magic:


Eldritch Wizardry is mostly remembered for the introduction of psionics into the D&D game.  Kask's role in devising the system, based on Steve Marsh's "Mystic" and Gary Gygax's "Divine" character classes, was discussed in this post by DM David in August, 2017.

The psionics rules were intended to "enliven games grown stagnant" where the possibilities of the original rules were exhausted.  For a comprehensive explanation of OD&D psionics, as presented in Eldritch Wizardry, see this post on The Wasted Lands blog from January, 2019 .

Psionic combat on the astral plane, illustration by Dave Trampier, from the AD&D 1e Players Handbook

I've experimented with psionics in the past, giving players a chance to see if their characters have psychic potential.  My son, in particular, was really excited to try, after learning about psionics.  Fortunately or unfortunately, he never made the rolls.

In an attempt to balance the attainment of psionic abilities and psionic attack/defense modes, psionic characters lose abilities related to their primary class as they advance, which was necessary to prohibit high level characters from becoming too powerful.

The Druid:

The druid was introduced as a neutral sub-class of the cleric:
When the thief class was released in the Greyhawk supplement, as an addition to the original fighter, cleric and magic-user, we became interested in other possible classes beyond these four. I wrote up and mimeographed a set of rules for a new druid class, for our internal play. After some playtesting in our game, I revised it with a new mimeograph rule set, still just for our own use. But when we went to early GenCons, a copy got into Gary's hands, and thanks to some advocacy by Tim Kask, they revised the rules once more and published them in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement. Tim added the Chariot spell at the time (it was not one of my original spells, and the misspelling of my name was deliberate). I consider this my first published game design, although Bunnies & Burrows was released the same year (1976).
Dennis Sustare, from an interview on Grognardia (June 22, 2009)

A review of the historical druids was published in The Dragon #12 in an article by James Bruner, who would later write a historical article on the Order of Assassins, in The Dragon #22.  In "The Druids", many of the historical sources for Sustare's druid class were discussed.

The Druids, from The Dragon #12 (Feb, 1978).  Illustration by David C. Sutherland III.

As with the monk in the Blackmoor supplement, druids of higher levels must vie against one another in (spell) combat in order to gain additional levels, a requirement possibly based on a historical belief, recounted in this passage from The War Against Gaul by Julius Caesar:
Over all these Druids one presides, who possesses supreme authority among them. Upon his death, if any individual among the rest is pre-eminent in dignity, he succeeds; but, if there are many equal, the election is made by the suffrages of the Druids; sometimes they even contend for the presidency with arms.
Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico

In terms of mistletoe, this was based on "historical facts connected with mistletoe" in Natural History by Pliny the Elder.  Many of the druid spells were based on the magical abilities of druids in Irish legends.  Spells from levels 1 to 7 are described.

Alternate Combat System:

According to Shannon Applecline, Kask worked with Gygax to develop a system for initiative, dividing the melee round into segments, based on adjusted dexterity.

A system for determining when a character's actions take place, based upon their adjusted dexterity score.

The system prefigures the use of dexterity to determine initiative, as used in Metamorphosis Alpha (July, 1976) and Holmes Basic (1977), as well as the AD&D combat round, which was likewise divided into segments.

While somewhat involved, I find this system intriguing.  I've never used it, but would like to experiment with it, some day.  At the very least, the table listing bonuses and penalties for adjustments to dexterity could be incorporated into a Holmes game.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Hints for D&D Judges

"Hints for D&D Judges" was a series of articles published in The Strategic Review and The Dragon, contributed by Joe Fischer, a player in the original Greyhawk campaign, and the creator of the ranger class (from The Strategic Review #2).

Update (Sept 23, 2020) - Joe Fischer was also president of the gaming club at Badger High School in Lake Geneva, as recounted by Skip Williams, in an interview by Dan and James on Grogtalk, episode 63.  Skip was also a classmate of Ernie Gygax.

Part 1: Towns (published in The Strategic Review #7)

In the first instalment, Fischer describes the necessity for a base of operations, where equipment can be bought, and players can stay, in between dungeon expeditions.  These functions were met by The City of Greyhawk, in the original Greyhawk campaign.

For town adventures, basic details are needed (population, location, government) as well as a few prominent NPCs.

A map is also required, divided into quarters, using standard graph paper (a scale of 1 square = 20 feet is suggested), and possibly color-coded (as both The Town of Blackmoor and City of Greyhawk were).  EPT's "Jakala" is given as a notable example.

Much else mentioned in this article is drawn from OD&D vol. 3 "The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures".

Part 2:  Wilderness (published in The Dragon #1)

The second instalment provides a step-by-step guide on how to draw a wilderness map, what colors and symbols to use, etc.

Part 3: The Dungeons (published in the Dragon #2)

The third instalment is the most interesting, partly because of a glimpse into the original Greyhawk campaign:
True, the famous game of Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz is built around and under Greyhawk Castle, but this is far from being the only entrance. Besides the castle, I have discovered an entrance through an old dry cistern and another entrance that is under a pool of quicksand, and even an entrance in a simple hole in the ground.
There is a table for randomly determined traps (some fairly nasty) and suggestions for inspiration from fiction (such as "The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan" by Clark Ashton Smith).

Concerning Pipe-Weed.  Illustration by Terry Dykstra, from the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991).

A list of new magic items is given, including Hobbits' Pipe, Pipeweed of Tranquility, Pipeweed of Stoning, Pipeweed of Illusion, and the (tongue-in-cheek) Pipeweed of Acapulco; Ring of Magic Missiles; Bag of Infinite Wealth; Helm of Forgetfulness; Ring of Infravision.

Fischer goes on to describe a few genre-mixing ideas for special adventures:
One of the most interesting adventures I’ve ever had dealt mainly with the idea of what would happen if a knight in shining was suddenly transported aboard the “Santa Maria” on its way to discover America.  To carry this idea further, you can create all sorts of strange areas; have a wizard suddenly find himself on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, a Patriarch who finds himself as a stowaway on the nuclear powered U.S.S. Nautilus on its shakedown cruise, or even a Lord who finds himself on the banks of the Little Big Horn and sees a column of blueclad cavalry figures riding towards him.
There is mention of additional works of fiction as inspiration:
The favourite books of the judge can be turned into parts of the castle, or worlds that adventurers can be transported to, like Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Tolkien’s Moria, Clark Aston Smith’s Hyperborea, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World, or Fritz Leiber’s Newhon.
As well as for creating special monsters:
When it comes to ordinary monsters for guarding normal treasures, D & D, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and the Creature Features in The Dragon have everything you need.  But when it comes to those special treasures, then look to the fantasy writers like H.P. Lovecraft and his gods and demi-gods to help you.  Or the terrible sand worms of Frank Herbert’s Dune.  And if you can’t find enough in the field of fantasy, then check out the science-fiction writers of today.  Like Larry Niven’s “Puppeteers,” Dickson’s “Dorsai,” H.G. Wells’ Martians, or the creatures and peoples of the Star Trek Series.  (How would you like to be walking down a corridor in the dungeons and be transported to another strange looking corridor, on the “Starship Enterprise”?  With a tall humanoid with pointed ears saying “Highly illogical”?)  Or even worse is not using fiction at all, but fact.  In other words your players could find the Bermuda Triangle and what causes it!

Part 4: The Campaign

A fourth instalment, with ideas for developing a campaign, was mentioned in Part 2, but never published.  I suspect that much of part 4 was incorporated into part 3.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Strategic Review #7

"The Strategic Review" served as "the newsletter of Tactical Studies Rules" and covered topics in military miniatures, games, and swords & sorcery.  Vol 2, No 2 (April, 1976) was released in March, 1976 (24 pages).

The Strategic Review #7 (April, 1976).  Cover illustration by David Sutherland, from the back cover to "Classic Warfare".

In The Cauldron:

We learn of the formation of TSR Periodicals, and the splitting of "The Strategic Review" into "The Dragon" devoted to S&S, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and RPG, and "Little Wars" (which only lasted 12 issues) devoted to the established types and periods of wargaming.

There are also announcements regarding the hiring of David Megarry, designer of Dungeon!, Mike Carr, designer of Fight in the Skies (FITS), and David Sutherland, whose black and white illustrations helped to define the look of early D&D.

Some recommendations are given for music to play by:
Music is capable of setting the mood for any endeavor, and playing D&D is no exception.  If the music is good enough, it can add immeasurably to the expedition/adventure, and sometimes helps keep rowdy parties quieter and more manageable.  Rick Wakeman has two albums that are particularly noteworthy in that respect; they also treat the listener to some good fantasy in their own right.  The two I refer to are "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Myths and Legends Surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table."  Another of his that is suitable is "The Six Wives of Henry VIII."  Another artist is also worth mention, in that his music is very apropos to dungeoneering.  I refer to Bo Hansson, and his two works: "Music Inspired by the Lord of the Rings" and "Magicians Hat".
We also have the endorsement of a new comic book:
There is an excellent "underground" comic that has made a significant contribution to S&S out now.  It purports to be 24 issues in length, in its entirety, and may set a new trend in story telling.  I refer to FIRST KINGDOM, by Jack Katz.  The first three volumes are now available, and well worth looking for on your stands.
I remember seeing advertisements for "The First Kingdom" in Bud Plant's comics catalogue.  The post-apocalyptic fantasy setting might have influenced the conception of Greyhawk.  Katz is credited with promoting the early "graphic novel" format.

The Dungeons & Dragons Magic System:

Article by Gary Gygax, establishing the Vancian underpinnings to D&D magic.

Four basic parts to spell casting are described: verbal/uttered, somatic/physical, psychic/mental, and material adjuncts.  These would be codified as the verbal, somatic, and material components necessary for spell casting in AD&D.

Six types of spells are defined: the alteration of existing substance; the creation of new substance; the changing of normal functions of mind and/or body; the addition of new functions to mind and/or body; summoning and/or commanding existing entities; and creating new entities.

These categories informed the development of the types of spells in AD&D, namely alteration (the alteration of existing substance), evocation (the creation of new substance), enchantment/charm, necromantic (the changing of normal functions of mind and/or body), divination, abjuration (the addition of new functions to mind and/or body) conjuration/summoning (summoning and/or commanding existing entities), and illusion/phantasm (creating new entities).

For a comprehensive discussion on the types of spells in AD&D (there are several different combinations of the above categories, with two additional "unique" categories), see this thread on "Magic Taxonomic System Analysis" on Dragonsfoot.

Mapping the Dungeons:

A description of "The Character Archaic", by Wee Warriors:
There is a new playing aid available that has to be one of the finest accessories on the market.  The craftsmanship, design, printing and graphics are superior to a lot of GAMES on the market.  It was designed by Pete and Judy Kerestan, and illustrated by Brad Schenck.  We are now the exclusive dealers for it, and find it hard to convey objectively, that it’s darn good, and we’d say the same if we didn’t carry it!  We’re referring to the CHARACTER ARCHAIC.  It contains character sheets for six mages, three clerics and sixteen fighter-types.  While the first sample didn’t have any, we have been assured that there will be character sheets for ladies in each.  In the fighter-types, there are specimens of all the races.  It also contains the WIZARD’S TOMB, a map for solitaire exploitation, a combat reference sheet, for transcribing all the data pertinent to fighting, a sheet for noting creature encounters, and a non-player character roll call.  In short, this nicely packaged bit of goods is the answer to the hassles of correlating all your data, characters, etc.  The best thing is that it is equally useful for BOTH EPT and D & D!!  For the paltry price, it is a steal . . .

What Price Gold & Glory?

A well-written piece of D&D-inspired short fiction, by Jim Hayes.  There is a good description of the workings of a reincarnation spell.  A party of adventurers are attacked by giant scorpions, in an attempt to retrieve a cache of treasure, including an enchanted sword.

Mighty Magic Miscellany:

Three new magic items, contributed by Neal Healey.  The Cup and Talisman of Akbar (a potion-generating chalice), the Staff of the Priest Kings (the clerical equivalent of a Staff of Wizardry), and the Brazen Bottle (a flask to imprison enchanted creatures).

Creature Features:

A tongue-in-cheek write up for "The Denebian Slime Devil", no doubt inspired by this toss-away reference from an old Star Trek episode.

An adventuring party is put to flight by a catoblepas.  Illustration by Dave Trampier, from the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

The "Catoblepas" is described, attributed to Steve Marsh in this interview (confirmed, here).  The creature was renamed the "Nekrozon" in the BECMI Master Rules (1985).

The Missile Weapon in Classic Warfare:

Article by Gary Gygax, written for "Classic Warfare" although interesting from a D&D point of view.  The various types of bows are described, as well as the utility of the sling, which only makes its first appearance as a weapon in the AD&D 1e Players Handbook (1978).

Thief Bonuses For Dexterity:

A table submitted by David Klempa which ascribes bonuses to thieves' skills, based on their dexterity score, with increased chances for extraordinary dexterity (subdivided into additional categories, as determined by an percentile roll).

I've never seen this used, but it would certainly make a low-level thief more useful.  I've similarly toyed with giving a bonus to a thief's chances, based on their experience points bonus for high dexterity (5-10%) but never actually tried it.

D&D Is Only As Good As The DM:

An article by Gygax, presented as advice to early DMs.  This would not have been out of place in one of the early modules or rulebooks.

Mention is made of "Dungeons & Beavers" at CalTech, in reference to the Warlock system "where the rules have been expanded and changed to reflect incredibly high levels, comic book characters and spells, and so on."  (The beaver is the CalTech school mascot).

Gygax provides a guide, namely 50-75 games (in the course of a year!) to obtain 9th to 11th level, and states that "no player in either BLACKMOOR or GREYHAWK has risen above 14th level."

Saturday, May 2, 2020

OD&D Clerics

D&D clerics have their roots in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.  The character type was originally conceived as a vampire hunter, inspired by Doctor Van Helsing, as portrayed by Peter Cushing in Dracula (1958), and recounted by Mike Mornard, here.

Mike Carr, author of B1 "In Search of the Unknown" played a village priest in Blackmoor, as recounted in an interview on the Comeback Inn in 2010, here, as well as Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News, more recently, here.

Cleric level titles were changed between the 1973 draft and the published version of the OD&D rules, as mentioned by Jon Peterson on his blog in February 2018, here.  When the OD&D rules were released in 1974, there were also level titles for "anti-clerics":

The level titles in the 1973 draft were all drawn from the Medieval Catholic Church.  A vicar was a type of "archpriest" while the use of the French term for "abbot" suggests that clerical strongholds might have been envisioned as monasteries.

In the published version, the 2nd level "friar" was replaced with "adept" (possibly in homage to  "Hiero's Journey"), the 4th level "priest" was dropped, shifting "vicar" and "curate" to include "bishop", and "abbot" was replaced with "lama" the Tibetan equivalent to an "abbot".

The blending of Medieval Catholic and Tibetan Buddhist terminology resulted in a lot of head-scratching, but is in keeping with the free-wheeling, mix and match style of the original game.  The term "lama" also denotes a "spiritual master" and may have had added significance:
Note that Clerics of 7th level and greater are either “Law” or “Chaos,” and there is a sharp distinction between them.  If a Patriarch receiving the above benefits changes sides, all the benefits will immediately be removed! 
OD&D vol. 1 "Men & Magic"

It is important to recall that losing a level of experience for changing alignment was only first described in the AD&D DMs Guide (1979), although the Holmes Basic Rulebook (1977) did state that a DM could "penalize the character with a loss of experience points".

In OD&D, characters could therefore change alignment, even between "Law" and "Chaos", without losing a level of experience, including clerics below 7th level.  This is particularly interesting, given that "anti-clerics" could almost be considered a sub-class of clerics.
Note that underlined Clerical spells are reversed by evil Clerics.  Also, note the Clerics versus Undead Monsters table, indicating the strong effect of the various clerical levels upon the undead; however, evil Clerics do not have this effect, the entire effect being lost.
OD&D vol. 1 "Men & Magic"

Anti-clerics, described as "shamans" at 3rd level (which implies a connection with barbarians or humanoid monsters) have access to different spells (only the reversed forms of certain spells are available), and are unable to turn undead.

Gary Gygax refined the distinction between "Law" and "Chaos" in relation to "Good" and Evil" pertaining to OD&D clerics in his article "The Meaning of Law and Chaos in Dungeons and Dragons and Their Relationships to Good and Evil" in SR #6:

Clerics of either good or evil predisposition must likewise remain completely good or totally evil, although lateral movement might be allowed by the dungeonmaster, with or without divine retribution.  Those top-level clerics who fail to maintain their goodness or evilness must make some form of immediate atonement.  If they fail to do so they simply drop back to seventh level.

Here we again see possibilities for alignment change, with movement along the axis between "Law" and "Chaos", without risking an experience level, but loss of up to several levels (dropping to 7th level) for transgressions along the axis between "Good" and "Evil".

In terms of a belief system or pantheon for OD&D, this was intentionally kept vague, except for some tongue-in-cheek references:
I recall that I told Bob Sacks that in Greyhawk we do not have existing religions included, for this is a touchy area.  We have such groups as "The Church of the Latter Day Great Old Ones," Church of Crom, Scientist", "Brethren of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgle", and so on.  Gods sometimes intervene.  There are some artifacts and the like which aid clerics.  In general, however, clerics are powerful enough without much aid, for they have quite a few advantages and work up very quickly.
Gary Gygax, Alarums & Excursions #2 (July, 1975)

The publication of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" (1976) provided plenty of material to expand the OD&D setting, with descriptions of mythological gods that clerics could worship, as well as sections based on the writings of Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock.