Sunday, February 27, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: Intelligent Swords

The section in the D&D Expert Rulebook on intelligent swords was derived from a similar section in OD&D vol. 2 "Monsters & Treasure", based upon Dave Arneson's treatment of magic swords in the original Blackmoor campaign.*

Illustration by Bill Willingham, from the AD&D 1e Fiend Folio.

Magical swords, including Excalibur and other "Super Swords" were mentioned in Chainmail (1971) and figure prominently in real world myth and legend.

*for more on intelligent swords as described in the First Fantasy Campaign, see earlier blog posts Magic Swords & Matrix and Matrix.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: Monsters

The Cook/Marsh Expert rulebook included monsters from the Holmes Basic rulebook, with some additions/changes, adapted creatures from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, and introduced new monsters (underlined, below).*

*some of the new creatures appeared in the newly updated, combined Monster & Treasure Assortment (1980), Sets One-Three: Levels One-Nine, for which a working draft of the new list of monsters may have been available

Antelope (Herd Animals) -  similar to Herd Animals in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Basilisk - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes, a "rather small reptilian monster" in Holmes; a 10' long, sinuous lizard in Cook/Marsh.  Includes rules for handling combat in the context of a basilisk's petrifying gaze

Black Pudding - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Blink Dog - from Greyhawk/Holmes, "resemble African wild dogs" in Holmes, and "Australian wild dogs" in Cook/Marsh

Caecilia - new monster, inspired by legless, blind, amphibious caecilians.  Appears in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Camel - similar to Wild Camels in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Centaur - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes manuscript

Chimera - from OD&D vol.2/Holmes

Cockatrice - from OD&D vol.2/Holmes

Crab, Giant - from OD&D vol. 3/Greyhawk/Blackmoor

Crocodile (Normal, Large, Giant) - from OD&D vol. 3/Greyhawk/Blackmoor (Giant Crocodiles are normally found only in "lost worlds" where prehistoric creatures thrive)

Cyclops, illustration by Jeff Dee.  From the AD&D 1e Fiend Folio (used as filler art, possibly intended for the D&D Expert rulebook).

Cyclops - new monster.  Some cyclops (5%) are able to cast a curse once a week (reference to the Curse of Polyphemus)

Devil Swine - new monster:

A: Well, the werepigs came from a Lovecraft era writer who had a series of short stories. Every other one was just a mystery story (the fantastic elements were all fake) and the alternate ones were all hideous magical things.

The werepigs were monstrous entities from beyond the asteroid belt, trying to root around for a little food, as I recall. The Expert Set (D&D) werepigs came from those.

Sandy responded: If you're talking about House on the Borderlands, the swine-thing weren't really werepigs. They were just monstrous half-human entities.

Steve responded: Well, the best we could do in slipping them into D&D was the devil swine. I know, we made compromises ...

Steve Marsh, posted on Yog-Sothoth forums (archived here)

Displacer Beast - from Greyhawk/Holmes (inspired by the coeurl, a feline-like creature from the 1939 science fiction story "Black Destroyer" by A. E. van Vogt, and in The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950)

Djinni (Lesser) - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Dragon Turtle - from OD&D vol. 3/AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Dryad - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes manuscript

Efreeti (Lesser) - from OD&D vol. 2

Elemental - from OD&D vol. 2

Elephant - similar to Elephants in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Fish, Giant (Piranha, Spiny Rockfish, Catfish, Sturgeon) - similar to Giant Fish (Barracuda, Gar, Pike) in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Giant (Hill, Stone, Frost, Fire, Cloud, Storm) - from OD&D vol. 2/Greyhawk/Holmes

Golem (Wood, Bone, Amber, Bronze) - similar to Golems (Flesh, Stone, Iron) in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, although the Cook/Marsh types are different

Gorgon - from OD&D vol. 2

Griffon - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Hawk (Normal, Giant) - new monster (both types of hawks may be trained as pets or guards by an animal trainer (pg. X21)

Hellhound - from Greyhawk/Holmes (the ability to detect invisible, mentioned in Greyhawk but not Holmes, appears in Cook/Marsh)

Hippogriff - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Horse (Riding, War, Draft) - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Hydra (Normal, Sea) - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes (special version of hydra, including poisonous and Pyrohydras, as described in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, are mentioned in Cook/Marsh)

Invisible Stalker - from OD&D vol. 2

Leech, Giant - from OD&D vol. 3/Blackmoor

Manticore - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes (will regrow 2 tail spikes per day)

Mastodon - from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual (live in cold, icy tundras or "lost worlds")

Men (Brigand, Buccaneer/Pirate, Dervish, Merchant, Nomad)

Mermen - from OD&D vol. 2/Blackmoor/Holmes manuscript

Mummy - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Nixies - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes 1st printing (1977); includes stats for Giant Bass

NPC Parties

Octopus, Giant - from OD&D vol. 3/Blackmoor

Pegasus - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Pterodactyl (Pterodactyl, Pteranodon) - similar to Pteranodons in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Purple Worm - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Rhinoceros (Normal, Wooly) - similar to Rhinoceroses in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Erol Otus mocked my idea of having the Wooly Rhinos be intelligent, so that got canned (I liked the idea of a potential psionic group of Rhinos in the far north, coordinating the defence of the herd against predators).

Steve Marsh, posted on Dragonsfoot (April 11, 2005)

Rhagodessa - new monster, inspired by the rhagodessa, a solifuge (type of arachnid)

Roc (Small, Large, Giant) - from OD&D vol. 2 (if hatched or captured as chicks, young rocs can be trained (pg. X21)

Dueling salamanders, illustration by Erol Otus.

Salamander (Flame, Frost) - from Greyhawk (although Flame Salamanders are described as lizards in Cook/Marsh, as opposed to humanoids with snake-like tails in Greyhawk)

Scorpion, Giant - from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Sea Dragons - new monster

Sea Serpent (Lesser) - new monster (may attack a sea craft its own size or smaller by looping around the boat and squeezing, as in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" by C. S. Lewis)

Shark (Bull, Mako, Great White) - similar to Sharks in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Spectre - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Squid, Giant - from OD&D vol. 3/Blackmoor

Stegosaurus - similar to Stegosaurus the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Termite, Water (Swamp, Fresh Water, Salt Water) - new monster

Titanothere - similar to Titanotheres in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Toad, Giant - from Greyhawk/Blackmoor

Treant - from OD&D vol.2/Holmes manuscript (Ent) "they speak a slow and difficult tongue and distrust those who use fire" as in Tolkien

Triceratops - similar to Triceratops in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Troll - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes "even severed limbs will crawl back to the body and rejoin" as in "Three Hearts and Three Lions" by Poul Anderson

Tyrannosaurus Rex - from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Unicorn - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Vampire, illustration by Bill Willingham.

Vampire - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

I also wanted to do a step reduction for Vampires. Stake them - 10hd. Cut off the head -6 hd. Stuff head with garlic -4 hd. Bury at cross roads, double hit dice reduction. That way, to kill a vampire really dead (so it would stay dead) would require various parts of the classic treatment depending on how powerful it was.

Steve Marsh, posted on Dragonsfoot (April 11, 2005)

Weasel, Giant - from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Whale (Killer, Narwhal, Sperm) - similar to Whales in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Wraith - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Wyvern - from OD&D vol. 2

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: The Encounter

"Part 5: The Encounter" incorporated additional material from OD&D vol. 3 "The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures" but also introduced new rules.


The evasion table on page X23 in the Expert rulebook is based upon a similar table in OD&D vol. 3, likely adapted from Dave Arneson's "Blackmoor" campaign material (see "The First Fantasy Campaign: Into the Great Outdoors").

Saving Throws:

It's mentioned that a character's normal equipment is spared if the character survives an attack requiring a saving throw, but fails if the character dies.

A simplified system for magic item saving throws is introduced (chances equivalent to the character's saving throw, plus a bonus equal to the object's bonus in combat).

Variable Weapon Damage:

Values for the javelin, staff, and lance are given (new weapons, introduced on page X9), as well as rules for lance combat (double damage with a successful hit, charging on horseback).*

*in "Part 6: Monsters" it's stated that "hits on charging creatures by spears or pole arms braced against the ground will do double damage"

Illustration by Bill Willingham.

Unarmed Combat:

A simple system for unarmed combat is introduced (1-2 points of damage per successful hit, plus any strength modifiers).*

*used in module X2 "Castle Amber", where it's further stated there's a 5% chance of a knockout, lasting 1-10 rounds, whenever maximum damage is rolled (ie. 50% of the time)

Mass Land Combat:

"Chainmail" is recommended for large-scale battles in OD&D, whereas "Swords & Spells" is mentioned in the D&D Expert rulebook.

Naval Combat:

Covered in "Part 9: Special Adventures".*

*underwater combat is not covered in the D&D Expert rulebook

Aerial Combat:

Rules for aerial combat are based upon a similar section in OD&D vol. 3, likely adapted from Dave Arneson's "Blackmoor" campaign material (aka "Battle in the Skies")*

*it's stated that casting spells requires a stable means of support, and that "a mount that flies by flapping its wings is definitely not stable!"


Reproduced from Moldvay Basic, possibly for those using the Expert rulebook together with Holmes Basic.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: The Adventure

Whereas Holmes and Moldvay Basic concentrated on dungeon/Underworld adventures, Cook/Marsh Expert focused on Wilderness adventures, the counterpart to the Underworld in OD&D vol. 3 "The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures".

Much of "Part 4: The Adventure" is drawn from OD&D vol. 3.  It's interesting to compare the two, to determine what was included, and what was left out.

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

Base Towns:

Base towns are defined as "a place where the party can buy equipment and hire men and retainers, where treasure can be sold (and perhaps magic items identified), and where clerical healing is available for a suitable "contribution" or service."

"Blackmoor" and "Grayhawk" are specifically mentioned as examples of base towns in OD&D vol. 3.

Organizing a Party:

Steps for journeying into the wilderness are given:

1. Deciding where to go.
2. Deciding what supplies are needed.
3. Equipping and outfitting the party.
4. Establishing a marching order.

The example describes preparations for a journey to the city of Specularum (further detailed in the Sample Wilderness section).


"Hexagonal-grid maps are the best because there are six spaces to go to that are an equal distance from the space started from; with a square grid there are only four (diagonals distort the distance)."

Time, Scale and Movement:

Conversion of movement rates in the dungeon (in feet) to movement rates in the wilderness (in miles) is accomplished by dividing the number by five.  Pursuit speed is also covered.

Penalties for moving through different types of terrain (ultimately derived from those in "Outdoor Survival"), as well as rules for forced marches are given.*

*OD&D vol. 3 also specifies a 1 hex penalty/day for parties numbering over 100, including pack or draft animals, and a 2 hex penalty/day for parties numbering over 1000

Castle encounters:

OD&D vol. 3 provides information on the type of guards/retainers by character type, together with additional information regarding each character type:

Fighting Men: will demand a jousting match, or else a 100-600 gp toll, (rules for jousting from "Chainmail" are recommended; see also "Chainmail Revisited: Jousting in D&D" by Jon Pickens (The Dragon #17, Aug 1978)

Magic-Users: will send passerby after treasure, using "geas" (with magic-user claiming at least half of all treasure so gained, as well as the first choice of magical items), or else demand a magic-item or 1000-4000 gp as toll

Clerics: will require passerby to give a tithe (10%) of all money and jewels, or send on a Lawful or Chaotic task, using "quest" (evil high priests may simply attempt to slay any Lawful or Neutral passerby, who don't pay a tithe)

Castle encounters are not included in "Part 4: The Adventure", although are covered briefly in "Part 8: Dungeon Master Information" (pg. X59).

Waterborne Travel:

Covered in "Part 9: Special Adventures".

Traveling by Air:

Guidelines for the size of creatures that can be carried by an aerial monster are given.

Obstacles to Movement:

Rules for rest are also covered.

Becoming Lost:

Likewise based on chances and mechanics from "Outdoor Survival" (additional information given in "Part 8: Dungeon Master Information" (pg. X56)

Specialists and Mercenaries:

Specialists mentioned in OD&D vol. 3, not included in the Expert rulebook:

Assassin (2000 gp/mission): The role of this hireling is self-evident.  The referee will decide what chance there is of his mission being accomplished by noting the precautions taken by the intended victim.  Assassins are not plentiful, and some limit on the number employable during any game year must be enforced.

Smith (25 gp/month): As already mentioned, a Smith is able to assist an Armorer.  For every 50 horses or mules in a player character's force there must be one Smith to maintain them.

The table for hiring mercenaries in OD&D vol. 3 is reproduced and expanded in the Expert rulebook.*

*the cost for posting notices is given as 100-600 gp/week in OD&D vol. 3

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: Magic-User and Elf Spells

The D&D Expert rulebook states that magic-users and elves are assumed to be members of the local Magic-Users Guild or apprenticed to a higher level NPC* (at least 11th level, see Cook/Marsh Expert: Character Classes)

*when magic-users and elves gain a level, they return to their masters for one "game-week" in order to learn new spells

Spell Books:

"Magic-users and elves are limited to the number of spells they may know, and their books will contain spells equal to the number and level of spells the caster can use in a single day", representing a simplification of the system, in relation to Holmes.

It's further stated that magic-users and elves must be well-rested and have about an hour of uninterrupted "game time" to study to regain their spells, which also requires the use of their spell books.

Finally, it takes 1000 gp and one week of study per spell level to replace each spell contained in a lost or stolen spell book, during which time a magic-user or elf character is unable to adventure.

Reversed Spells:

The D&D Expert rulebook introduces reversible spells for magic-users and elves.*  These are described as special spells that can be memorized "backwards" from the caster's spell book.

*in OD&D/Holmes/AD&D 1e, magic-user spells are not reversible

Magic-User and Elf Spells:

Third Level Spells

Twelve 3rd level spells are listed, drawn from the fourteen 3rd level spells in OD&D vol. 1 (omitting "Clairaudience" and "Slow Spell").  None of the four additional 3rd level spells from Greyhawk were included ("Explosive Runes", "Monster Summoning I", "Rope Trick", and "Suggestion").  Differences from OD&D are specified, below.

1. Clairvoyance - clarifies that the spell caster may see an area through the eyes of any single creature within it, although as with ESP, the caster must concentrate for one full turn (implying that the target creature must be stationary)

2. Dispel Magic - specifies a 20' x 20' x 20' area of effect

3. Fire Ball

4. Fly - 360'/turn (120'/round), compared to 120'/turn in OD&D

5. Haste Spell - area of effect is 60' diameter, compared to 60' x 120' in OD&D

6. Hold Person - similar to the 2nd level clerical spell, except for range and duration

7. Infravision - standard range of 60'

8. Invisibility, 10' radius - reduced range (120') compared to OD&D (240').  Specifies that creatures in the area of effect who move more than 10' away from the creature the spell is cast on will become visible

A magic-user casts "Lightning Bolt".  Illustration by Erol Otus, from the Dungeon! fantasy boardgame (1980)

9. Lightning Bolt - clarifies that if the lightning bolt strikes a solid surface before reaching its 60' length, it will extend back toward the caster.  The question of what happens to creatures struck twice was addressed in "Polyhedron" magazine:

Q: If a magic-user casts a Lightning Bolt that rebounds and hits a creature twice, what happens?

A: The creature must make one saving throw each time it is hit. If either saving throw is missed, the creature takes full damage. A Lightning Bolt will not do more than its rolled damage to a creature.

From Polyhedron #11 (April, 1983)

10. Protection/Evil, 10' radius - identical to the 4th level clerical spell

11. Protection/Normal Missiles

12. Water Breathing

Fourth Level Spells

The twelve 4th level spells from OD&D vol. 1 are listed.  None of the four additional 4th level spells from Greyhawk were included ("Extension I", "Fear", "Ice Storm", "Monster Summoning II").  Differences from OD&D are specified, below.

1. Charm Monster - chances for new saving throws according to intelligence are implied, as per the 1st level spell "Charm Person" in Moldvay Basic

2. Confusion - eliminates formula to determine when spell takes effect for creatures greater than 2 but less than 4 hit dice

3. Dimension Door

4. Growth of Plants - expands the area of effect from up to 300 square feet to 3000 square feet

5. Hallucinatory Terrain

6. Massmorph - specifies a 240' diameter area of effect

7. Polymorph Others - states that the polymorphed form must have no more than twice as many hit dice as the original form, or else the spell fails.  The spell lasts until it is dispelled, or the creature dies (in which case they would presumably revert to their original form)

8. Polymorph Self - states that the polymorphed form must have the same or fewer hit dice as the original form, and that spell casters cannot use spells.  The spell lasts for the given duration, until it is dispelled, or the creature dies (reverting to their original form)

9. Remove Curse* - identical to the 3rd level clerical spell

*the reverse is "Curse"

10. Wall of Fire - both undead and cold-using creatures take double damage attempting to break through, and the caster must concentrate and remain stationary

11. Wall of Ice - a duration of 12 turns is specified

12. Wizard Eye

Fifth Level Spells

Twelve 5rd level spells are listed, drawn from the fourteen 5th level spells in OD&D vol. 1 (omitting "Growth of Animal" and "Wall of Iron").  Neither of the two additional 5th level spells from Greyhawk were included ("Extension II", Monster Summoning III").  Differences from OD&D are specified, below.

1. Animate Dead - range is increased from 10' to 60', as well as number of undead created

2. Cloudkill - slightly more powerful than the OD&D version, in that creatures with more than 5 hit dice take 1 point of damage each round

3. Conjure Elemental - specifies that the caster may move up to half speed while concentrating

4. Contact Higher Plane - "Veracity" is revised to "Chance of Lying", and rules for going insane are modified (base % chance decreased, minus another 5% per caster's level above 11th, and the duration of insanity is linked to the higher plane in number of weeks)

5. Feeblemind

6. Hold Monster

7. Magic Jar - specifies that only one chance/turn is permitted to possess another's body, and that the caster may be forced out of the possessed body by a "Dispel Evil" spell

8. Pass-Wall - specifies a 5' diameter hole

9. Telekinesis - specifies a movement rate of 20'/round

10. Teleport - chances for success are revised

11. Transmute Rock to Mud* - expands area of effect from 300 square feet to 3000 square feet

*the reverse is "Transmute Mud to Rock"

12. Wall of Stone

Sixth Level Spells

The twelve 6th level spells from OD&D vol. 1 are listed.  None of the four additional 6th level spells from Greyhawk were included ("Extension III", "Legend Lore", "Monster Summoning IV", "Repulsion").  Differences from OD&D are specified, below.

1. Anti-Magic Shell

2. Control Weather - specifies a 240' radius and effects for various types of weather (rain, snow, fog, clear, intense heat, high winds, tornado)

3. Death Spell - revises 2-16 creatures with fewer than 7 hit dice to 4-32 levels of creatures with fewer than 8 hit dice, and permits saving throw

4. Disintegrate

5. Geas* - specifies that the geas must be possible and not directly fatal, or else it will return and affect the caster, instead

*reverse in "Remove Geas"

6. Invisible Stalker

7. Lower Water - specifies a limit of up to 10,000 square feet

8. Move Earth

9. Part Water - removes limit of 10' depth

10. Projected Image - specifies that the caster must still be able to see the target of any spells, and that if touched or struck by a melee weapon, the image will disappear

11. Reincarnation - a table is provided, as well as limits regarding levels or hit dice

12. Stone to Flesh*

*reverse is "Flesh to Stone"

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: Clerical Spells

The D&D Expert rulebook provided additional spells for clerics, magic-users and elves, with more details on casting restrictions and new information on reversed spells.

Casting Restrictions:

A spell caster must be able to talk and make proper hand motions in order to cast spells, and is unable to do anything else during the round the spell is cast (such as walking or fighting).*

*as mentioned in Moldvay Basic: Spells, the question arises as to whether spell casters are able to cast spells from a seated position or while on horseback.  I have ruled that they are able to do so, since the somatic component is defined as hand gestures.  (A spell caster on horseback would need to drop the reigns, but would be able to cast spells unless their mount is traveling or engaged in melee)

The Expert rulebook goes on to state that a player must inform the DM that their character is casting a spell and which spell is being cast before the initiative dice are rolled.  If the caster loses initiative and takes damage or fails a saving throw, the spell is interrupted and lost.*

*it's not clear what happens when the caster loses initiative, but doesn't take damage or fail a saving throw.  I'd likely permit a spell to be successfully cast if the attack misses AC 9 (not permitting Dexterity adjustments, unless the player states their character is dodging the blow), or with constitution-based saving throws (not a save vs. wands, for example)

Finally, the Expert rulebook states that a caster must be able to see the creature or area the spell is to be cast upon (preventing spell casters from casting spells "around the corner").

Reversed Clerical Spells:

The Expert rulebook states "Clerics can reverse a spell simply by reversing the required words and hand gestures."*  It goes on to state that lawful clerics only use the reversed form in life-or-death situations, while chaotic clerics typically use the reversed form, and will only use the normal form to benefit those of the same alignment, or those directly serving the same power.  Finally, neutral clerics have either the normal or the reversed form available, depending on "the nature of the power they serve".

*note that in AD&D 1e, clerics must pray for the reversed form of the spell, beforehand

Clerical Spells:

Second Level Clerical Spells

Eight 2nd level clerical spells are listed (the same eight 2nd level clerical spells in Holmes).  Differences from Holmes Basic are specified, below:

1. Bless* - from OD&D vol. 1/Holmes - the Expert Rulebook specifies a 20' x 20' area of effect, with a +1 bonus for both "to hit" and damage rolls

*the reverse is "Blight" instead of "Curse" from Holmes, to distinguish the reverse from "Curse", below

2. Find Traps - from OD&D vol. 1/Holmes - as with "Detect Evil" and "Detect Magic" in Moldvay Basic, the Expert version of this spell causes traps to actually glow (a dull blue light is specified)

3. Know Alignment - from Holmes - the duration is decreased from 2 turns to a single round, although the spell may be used to reveal the alignment of enchanted items (such as magic swords) or areas, in addition to creatures

4. Hold Person - from OD&D vol. 1/Holmes - as with "Charm Person" in the Moldvay Basic rulebook, expands the types of creatures affected, to include both mammalian and reptilian (ie. lizard men) humanoids, up to the size of an ogre (including bugbears)

5. Resist Fire - from Holmes - as with "Resist Cold" in Moldvay Basic, further specifies that magical fire will still inflict at least 1 point of damage per die (or hit die) rolled, although reduces duration from 6 turns to 2 turns

6. Silence, 15’ radius - from Greyhawk/Holmes - interestingly, the description states that a person within the area of effect is not prevented from hearing noises made outside the area (which is not how I've adjudicated the spell in my Holmes-based games)

7. Snake Charm - from Greyhawk/Holmes - similar to Holmes, although the duration for snakes that are attacking is reduced from 7-12 rounds to 2-5 rounds

8. Speak with Animals - from OD&D vol. 1/Holmes - specifies that both normal and giant forms of animals are affected, but not "intelligent" animal races or fantastic creatures (which presumably have their own languages)

Third Level Clerical Spells

Six 3rd level clerical spells are listed - the four 3rd level spells from OD&D vol. 1, plus two, new 3rd level clerical spells ("Growth of Animals" and "Striking") replacing the two 3rd level clerical spells from Greyhawk ("Prayer" and "Speak with Dead").

1. Continual Light* - from OD&D vol. 1 - as with OD&D, the clerical version of this spell is equivalent to full daylight.  It's furthermore stated that creatures with penalties when fighting in bright light (goblins, undead, etc.) will suffer these penalties with a clerical "Continual Light" (among undead, vampires suffer a penalty when fighting in bright light, resulting in a -4 penalty "to hit")

*the reverse is "Continual Darkness"

Saren the Cleric casting "Cure Disease" on her unlucky companion, Indel the Elf, from a D&D comic book advertisement (see D&D comics history, posted at Kuronon's blog (May 19, 2010, updated August 22, 2021).  Illustration by Jeff Dee.

2. Cure Disease* - from OD&D vol. 1 - will kill green slime (as per the monster description).  Will also cure afflictions such as lycanthropy and mummy rot, which led to this question in "Polyhedron" magazine:

Q. In the Cure Disease spell (Expert rulebook), it says that it will cure lycanthropy. Therefore, nobody should ever become a were-creature as long as there’s a 6th level Cleric around! So what's the big deal?

A. It’s an error. The spell will only cure lycanthropy if cast by a cleric of 11th level or greater.

From Polyhedron #11 (April, 1983)

(In AD&D 1e, "Cure Disease" must be cast by a cleric of 12th level or greater in order to cure lycanthropy.)

*the reverse "Cause Disease" specifies a hideous wasting disease, resulting in a -2 on all "to hit" rolls, doubling the length of time for natural healing, preventing any magical healing, and culminating in death within 2-24 days

3. Growth of Animals (new) - based on the 5th level magic-user spell "Growth of Animals" from OD&D vol. 1, (also appearing as the 5th level druid spell "Animal Growth" in Eldritch Wizardry) but only affecting a single animal.  Useful in conjunction with the 2nd level clerical spell "Speak with Animals"

4. Locate Object - from OD&D vol. 1 - similar to the 2nd level magic-user/elf spell, but with a different range (120' rather than 60' + 10'/level of the caster) and greater duration (6 turns instead of 2 turns as in Holmes and for magic-users and elves)

5. Remove Curse* - from OD&D vol. 1 - identical to the 4th level magic-user/elf spell.  Specifically states will free a character from a cursed magical item.

*the reverse is "Curse".  Some examples are provided (-4 "to hit", -2 on saves, reducing prime requisite by half) with no limit to the number of times a character may be cursed, provided each curse affects the character in a different way!  A proviso is that a DM may turn a curse that is too powerful back upon the caster.

6. Striking (new) - developed by Steve Marsh

I came up with the striking spell for clerics to cast on staves to fill out the numbers for the spell charts.

Steve Marsh, posted on Dragonsfoot (April 11, 2005)

Fourth Level Clerical Spells

Six 4th level clerical spells are listed - the six 4th level spells from OD&D vol. 1.  Differences from OD&D are specified, below:

1. Create Water - from OD&D vol. 1 - specifies volume (about 50 gallons) and that an enchanted spring from the ground or a wall is actually created

2. Cure Serious Wounds* - from OD&D vol. 1

*the reverse is "Cause Serious Wounds"

3. Neutralize Poison - from OD&D vol. 1 - slightly more powerful than the OD&D version, in that a poisoned character may actually be revived if cast within 10 rounds

4. Protection/Evil, 10' radius - from OD&D vol. 1 - no longer reversible, although "evil" is defined as attacks by monsters of an alignment other than the caster's

5. Speak with Plants - from OD&D vol. 1

6. Sticks to Snakes - from OD&D vol. 1 - statistics for the snakes are given (AC 6, HD 1, MV 90' (30'), #AT 1, D 1-4, Save F1, ML 7, AL N)

Fifth Level Clerical Spells

Six 5th level clerical spells are listed - the six 5th level spells from OD&D vol. 1.  Differences from OD&D are specified, below:

1. Commune - from OD&D vol. 1 - only yes/no answers to questions are provided

2. Create Food - from OD&D vol. 1

3. Dispel Evil - from OD&D vol. 1 (was reversible) - will banish or destroy any enchanted or undead monster within range, should it fail its saving throw.  Will flee affected area if successful.  May be cast at a single creature for a penalty of -2 on its saving throw.  Also frees creatures within range of cursed items.

4. Insect Plague - from OD&D vol. 1 - a 60' diameter swarm is specified, with a movement of 20'/round

5. Quest* - from OD&D vol. 1 (newly reversible)

*the reverse is "Remove Quest"

6. Raise Dead* - from OD&D vol. 1 - includes halflings (not included in OD&D).  Specifies that a raised character has 1 hp.  May also be used to slay undead, if their save is failed.

*the reverse is "Finger of Death"

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert: Character Classes

The D&D Expert rulebook provided rules for advancement in the seven character classes from the Moldvay Basic rulebook.  The concept of 9th level as "name level" was introduced, and previously established caps for demi-humans were expanded.

A magic-user, a (proto-tiefling?) fighter, and a dwarf, prepare to pass through a gateway.  From the Expert rulebook (1981).  Illustration by Bill Willingham.


Can advance up to 36th level.

At name level, clerics may construct a castle at half-normal cost (due to assistance from their deity), attracting 50-300 soldiers of 1st-2nd level.


Can advance up to 12th level (dwarves could only advance up to 6th-8th level as fighters in OD&D, and 7th-9th level in AD&D, depending on their strength).

At name level, dwarven lords may construct an underground stronghold and establish a clan.


Can advance up to 10th level (elves could only advance up to 4th-6th level as fighters in OD&D/5th-7th level in AD&D, depending on their strength, and/or 8th-9th level as magic-users in OD&D/9th-11th level in AD&D, depending on their intelligence).

At name level, elven wizard-lords may construct a forest stronghold, establishing friendship with normal animals within 5 miles.


Can advance up to 36th level.

Fighters can build a castle whenever they have enough money, and at name level, may become a Baron or Baroness.

It is suggested that fighters gain multiple attacks beyond 14th level (2 attacks/round at 20th level, 3 attacks/round at 25th level, and 4 attacks/round at 30th level).


Can advance up to 8th level (halflings could only advance up to 4th level as fighters in OD&D, and 4th-6th level in AD&D, depending on their sub-race).

Halflings can build a stronghold whenever they have enough money, and establish a Shire.


Can advance up to 36th level.

At name level, magic-users may create magic items.

At 11th level, magic-users may build a tower, attracting 1-6 apprentices of 1st-3rd level*

*this implies that magic-users are instructed by a master of at least 11th level.


Can advance up to 36th level.

At 4th level, thieves may read languages with an 80% chance of success.  At 10th level, thieves may cast spells from magic-user and elf scrolls with a 90% chance of success (10% chance the spell will backfire).

At name level, thieves may construct a hideout, attracting 2-12 1st level thieves, and possibly form a Thieves' Guild.*

*this implies that thieves are instructed by a master of at least 9th level.

Suggested abilities beyond 14th level include the ability to climb overhangs, upside down, ventriloquism, powers of distraction, and the ability to mimic voices.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Cook/Marsh Expert

The first edition of the D&D Expert Set (for character levels 4-14) was released in 1981, alongside the revised D&D Basic Set.  Higher level play was to be covered in the D&D Companion Set (for character levels 15-36).

D&D Expert Set (1981).  Cover illustration by Erol Otus, from a design concept by Jeff Dee.  (For earlier cover art proposals by Jim Roslof, see here and here).

The set included a 64-page rulebook, dungeon module X1 "The Isle of Dread", a set of polyhedral dice (together with a crayon to fill in the numbers), and the "Gateway to Adventure" TSR catalog.

The rulebook was edited by David Cook with Steve Marsh.*  Cook was hired by TSR in 1979, and also co-wrote module X1 with Tom Moldvay (see Grogtalk Episode 59, June 10, 2020 and Shane Plays Episode 243, July 1, 2021 for recent interviews).

*Marsh prepared the initial typewritten manuscript of the D&D Expert rulebook during his 1980 summer break from law school (see Grogtalk Episode 80, April 13, 2021 for a recent interview)

D&D Expert Rulebook (1981).  First printing (no white circle around the 2 in the upper left hand corner).

The title page credits both Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.  Copyright is listed as 1974 (OD&D), 1977 (Holmes), 1978 (revised Holmes with material from the 1e Monster Manual), and 1981.*

*early printings only credit Dave Cook, and copyright was listed as 1980 (see here)

Illustrations were by Jeff Dee, Wade Hampton, David S. LaForce (Diesel), Erol Otus, James Roslof, and Bill Willingham.

The expanded scope of the rules involves adventures in the wilderness and establishing domains:

Adventures will take place outside the dungeon.  A "wilderness" area will be an even greater challenge to players, with stronger monsters and greater wealth to be won.  In expanding the campaign, the DM will create whole nations and cultures, giving the characters a history and background.  Adventurers can even shape the history of their world as they become more powerful.

As player characters grow in wealth and power, they may build castles or strongholds to keep themselves and their retainers safe.  They may encourage settlements around their fortresses in order to support them, eventually becoming rulers of their own territories.  From their wilderness bases, they can settle and rule larger areas, bringing civilization to the wilderness.

D&D Expert rulebook (1981), pg X3

Advice is also given for using the D&D Expert rules with Holmes Basic, for a Holmes/Cook/Marsh or Holmes/X campaign, summarizing the changes introduced by Moldvay Basic.