Category Archives: D&D

And It Doesn’t Look A Day Over 39…

So I hear today is the 40th anniversary of the first release of Dungeons & Dragons. Or as close to it as anyone can identify (and boy did they put in the effort on identifying!). Actually, I’ve known about this pretty much since Mr. Peterson made that post back in December. And I even meant to acknowledge the anniversary with something more meaningful than the ramblings you’re reading right now.

I really, really wanted to play some kind of anniversary celebration game, but a bunch of real life junk messing with my schedule (and psyche) pretty well ruined that ideal. Also, Sundays are historically bad for gaming in my little clan, since most of us have families and such that need to be tended to before heading back to work on Monday. So it really wasn’t in the cards to begin with. But still, I meant well. So maybe I’ll give ol’ D&D a belated birthday party a little further down the line.

In the meantime, here are links to D&D-related posts I’ve made over the course of this blog’s run. Consider them my way of saying “Who loves ya, babe?” to Pappy D&D…

There’s all kinds of other stuff floating around here, too, but it’s all “officially” for Labyrinth Lord or some other retroclone or another. So I’m not linking to it directly, because I don’t wanna. ‘Cos Sherlock is starting and I’m done writing.

Happy Birthday, D&D!

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Personalities of the Winter Marches I

Wherein your humble scribe presents a handful of NPCs of assorted levels for OD&D (&c.). These folks might eventually appear in a sandbox hexcrawl thang he might or might not undertake in the near or distant future. Maybe. They were all created with 3d6 for stats, more often than not in order. Oh, and with some help from the d30 Sandbox Companion, which is pretty neat.

Beguiling Inarr

Beguiling Inarr is an incredibly charming young man who resides in the village of Mirington-upon-Wyestoke. He’s so charming that even most of the people whom he’s been stealing from for the majority of his 17 years are willing to put up with him. He’s indolent and a wastrel, but clever and handsome. And he’s just sickly enough that pity takes over when his charm runs out. He stole his Elven Boots off of an adventurer who passed through town last season and is careful not to be seen with them if at all possible, since the town united in his defense against the former owner of the footwear, running her company out of town on a rail when they tried to hold Inarr responsible.

Beguiling Inarr / Human Thief 2 C
STR 10 INT 13 WIS 12 DEX 14 CON 6 CHR 17
HP 6 AC 7 Gold 100
Short Sword, 3 Darts, Leather Armor, Thieves’ Tools, Elven Boots

Father Oldahl of Hohn

Oldahl Braeskin spent three years serving as a footman in the Pale Heir’s Glorious Army of Northern Reclamation before joining the Order of St. Basil. During his final campaign he watched helplessly while most of his regiment was slaughtered by the ghouls of the Kraen Moors, himself a victim of the foul creatures’ paralyzing touch. A passing cleric chanced upon the battle and channeled the Saints’ divine light to destroy the fell undead things, saving Oldahl and a scant handful of other soldiers. In the confusion and desolation that followed the battle, Oldahl deserted the army and sought out the Parast Monastery, where he dedicated his life to the service of St. Basil and his followers. Father Oldahl now stands as both mayor and vicar of the town of Hohn, not far from the very moors where his own religious conversion occurred. Clad in mail blessed by the High Priest himself, Father Oldahl stands ready to protect his flock from any foul things that might creep in from the darkness.

Father Oldahl of Hohn / Human Cleric 4 L
STR 13 INT 10 WIS 15 DEX 9 CON 13 CHR 12
HP 15 AC 4 Gold 80
Mace, Chain Mail +1, Shield, Holy Symbol
Cleric Spells: (1) Cure Light Wounds, Protection from Evil; (2) Bless

Kaelor Ves

The Thaumaturgist known as Kaelor Ves is, as are most wizards, quite secretive about his background. The scholars at the Great University note that the only significant mention of Kaelor Ves is found in the Tomes of Binding in the year 641, when he was noted to have been a member of the Company of the Iron Shadow, a band of adventurers famous for having defeated the white wyrm that had terrorized the areas east of Halcaen Drast. The empire’s expansion was facilitated by the destruction of the dragon, and Kaelor Ves was invited to dine with the First Minister to discuss the possibility of serving as a member of the Emperor’s personal Council Arcane. The dinner never occurred, though, due to the assassination of Emperor Hadrin VI by General Tsoras in the spring of 642 and the subsequent disbanding of the Council.

Kaelor Ves / Human Magic-User 5 C
STR 9 INT 14 WIS 13 DEX 16 CON 11 CHR 14
HP 8 AC 9 Gold 130
Dagger, Darts, Spell Book, Ring of Feather Fall, Wand of Magic Missiles
Magic-User Spells: (1) Detect Magic, Protection from Evil, Light, Charm Person; (2) Invisibility, Locate Object; (3) Wizard Eye

Angskelda Longtooth

Known to have served alongside General Tsoras in their youth, the warrior Angskelda Longtooth is reputed to have broken ties with the Steel Emperor sometime before the coup that installed him in the Lion Throne. She has been known to wander the Winter Marches in the company of various unsavory characters who are considered a threat to the stability of the Empire. Unlike those assorted individuals, she does not carry a death mark upon her head. Indeed, it is common knowledge that the Steel Emperor wishes her to be captured alive if she is to be captured at all. The latest rumors regarding Angskelda Longtooth suggest that she is now in possession of one of the five fire blades.

Angskelda Longtooth / Human Fighter 6 L
STR 15 INT 8 WIS 12 DEX 10 CON 7 CHR 10
HP 40 AC 6 Gold 100
Sword +2 (Flaming), Long Bow, Leather Armor, Shield, Potion of Invisibility

Hroth Rhoenthaal

Hailing from neighboring Akania, the name Hroth Rhoenthaal is well-known to the people of the Empire. His deeds are the stuff of legend, and many are the bards who sing epic stories of his exploits in service of Emperors old and new. In each tale, the hearty warrior declines whatever great reward might be due him in favor of returning to the battle, war, or wilds, whichever is most appropriate to the tale at hand. Those who have fought alongside the famous hero note that his lustrous black beard now shows streaks of grey, but his handling of the Axe and Shield of Daelmath remains undiminished by time. While those who have fought against him tell no tales at all.

Hroth Rhoenthaal / Human Fighter 7 N
STR 16 INT 12 WIS 5 DEX 12 CON 15 CHR 7
HP 47 AC 4 Gold 100
Battle Axe +1, Crossbow, Chain Mail, Shield +1, Ring of Fire Resistance

Veysa Orn, The Weeping Queen

Believed to be the only survivor of the Steel Emperor’s purge of the Council Arcane, Veysa Orn has not been seen in nearly 10 years. Little is known of her life since the purge, but those who have seen her say that she wears the signet ring of Emperor Hadrin VI, whose consort she was before his assassination.

Veysa Orn, The Weeping Queen / Human Magic-User 8 N
STR 12 INT 17 WIS 8 DEX 15 CON 10 CHR 15
HP 18 AC 9 Gold 80
Staff +1, Dagger, Spellbook, Ring of Protection +1, Ring of Telekinesis, Potion of Control Person
Magic-User Spells: (1) Shield, Magic Missile, Sleep, Read Magic; (2) Detect Evil, Continual Light, Mirror Image; (3) Dispel Magic, Explosive Runes, Rope Trick; (4) Monster Summoning II, Wall of Ice

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OD&Disappointment: Resolved

OD&D Premium Reprint Shipping BoxMy replacement OD&D Premium Reprint box set arrived this morning. It’s a brand new copy of the box set, still in its original shipping box.

I can say that there are no torn pages in any of the books in this copy of the set. I do feel like the overall quality of the books is a little lower, though. They don’t seem as well stapled and there are a couple of pages where the printing isn’t quite straight (like the page was just a tad off when it when through the press) – nothing dire, thankfully, but just not quite right, either.

Of course, after all of the delays and difficulties with this return I’m bound to be hypercritical and prone to being irritated by the tiniest thing, so take my assessment with a grain of salt. At least there’s nothing so wrong with this copy I can’t accept it. I definitely couldn’t take going through the replacement process again.

Speaking of the replacement process, for those who are curious about the “little something extra” to be included to offset the shipping costs, it turned out to be copies of the Urban Underdark dungeon tiles, the Haunted Temples map pack, and the Shattered Keeps map pack. They add up to pretty close to what I paid for shipping, so if you paid more or less I’d expect you’ll get more or less accordingly. I can’t say I’m thrilled with these, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye.

My final assessment of this whole mess still leaves me with a negative opinion of WotC’s customer support (web and direct phone, at least) and I can’t say I’d recommend spending the money on this set if anyone asked me. It’s nice to have, sure, but I don’t think WotC has really put in the effort and quality control to justify the $150 they’re charging for it. A product with this kind of price tag really ought to be produced with more care and attention than has been applied here. And if a problem does turn up with such a product, it really shouldn’t take 25 days, four phone calls (two of them answered with outright rudeness), multiple emails, tweets, and other electronic junk, and three distinct support cases to get resolved.

In the end I’m glad I have the set, but if you’d told me up front how unhappy I was going to be along the way, I’d have saved my money. And now, all these days later, I’m no longer excited by this product or looking forward to enjoying it. Instead, I’m pretty much just going to stick it on my shelf where it will sit gathering dust. And that’s the biggest shame of all.

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The “customer service” mooks at WotC haven’t even processed my damned return of the defective OD&D boxed set. Never mind the fact that I sent it back priority mail and they’ve had it since last Monday (12/2). The goon I spoke to this morning mumbled something about them only processing mail once a week and that if my package got there after processing time on 12/2 then they wouldn’t even have seen it until yesterday (12/9). And then he brushed me off the phone without so much as a “have a nice day.”

To say I’m more than a bit pissed off would be an understatement, I’m afraid. A huge chunk of my enthusiasm for this reprint has eroded and I’m also pretty damned sure I won’t be inclined to give WotC another dime anytime soon.

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OD&D Premium Box Set

The item referenced above has been acquired by yours truly. In general, I’m pretty impressed with the overall quality, and hopefully the pix below communicate some of that.

The only real downside to this purchase is that there’s a ripped page in the Greyhawk book and to get it replaced I have to send the whole damned box set back to WotC. Which I will obviously do, since this wasn’t exactly a cheap purchase. I’m just glad I decided to take pictures right after getting this, since I might have missed that for a long time.

Anyway, enjoy the pix and may they guide you to the right choice if you’re still trying to decide about picking this thing up. And yes, any new readers, those are original books I’m showing in the comparison photos. They’re not from 1974 or anything, but they are from the Original Collector’s Edition I picked up at Origins ’84*.

Oh, and while they did indeed put new cover art on all of the books (which some folks seem to be very up in arms about, but doesn’t bother me at all), they left all of the original internal art alone as near as I can tell. I’ve tried to reflect that in the pix, hence the gratuitous focus on the topless pieces 🙂

*But Venomous Pao, why would you buy this reprint when you already had an OCE?

Because the OCE doesn’t have any of the supplements, of course. Those things fetch some pretty absurd prices if you want ’em. And while I do have those in PDF from way back when they were legally available, having print copies is a lovely thing indeed.

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Heists For Fantasy Thieves

Wherein your humble scribe, drawing on the “All The Dice” random generator concept (tip of the hat to Grim), presents a random table for your nerdly needs.

My latest obsession/idea is an old school urban crime mini-campaign, something along the lines of the old Gamelords Thieves’ Guild RPG.

My first thought was to use Labyrinth Lord/AEC and break down the thieving skills a bit to turn that subsystem into something that players could customize to reflect their own individual thief’s specialties (sort like AD&D 2e did – but I don’t have those books handy to steal from reference). But when I started doing the math I quickly realized I’d be better off using a different system (one that was already skill-based).

So in rode BRP and the fabulous Classic Fantasy monograph (to be used if I feel the need to retain a degree of D&D style). If I ever make this get off the ground (and given my current levels of gamer ADD and the general scheduling issues with the folks I play with, that’s a dubious proposition) I’m going to need an idea generator for some thiefly adventures & heists. Hence, the tables below. Please feel free to make use of these in any way you see fit. Sharing makes the world go ’round!

Let’s Roll

Grab yourself a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 and roll ’em. Check against the charts below and let your creativity fill things out as needed.

Location of item(s) to be liberated, 1d4

  1. Temple or other religious/ceremonial building
  2. Private residence (1d4: 1 lower class, 2 middle class, 3 upper class, 4 nobility)
  3. Mercantile building (guildhall, apothecary, etc.)
  4. Governmental building (military hq, prison, town hall, etc.)

Complications of the job, 1d6

  1. No complications, job as described by the rest of the dice
  2. Minor complications, roll for a second guardian for the item (now under double guard)
  3. Major complications, roll for a second location (the item has been moved)
  4. No complications, job as described by the rest of the dice
  5. Serious complications, roll for two more guardians and a second location – the item(s) has been moved to a new location and is under a different kind of protection
  6. It’s a setup! A double-cross! A trap! Everything proceeds normally, but something bad happens if the job is successful (not paid, guard alerted, the job is completely fake, etc.)

Method of payment for liberating the item(s), 1d8

  1. No payment
  2. Keep anything else you can take
  3. Coin: ((2d4-1) X 10)% of item’s value
  4. Coin: ((1d10+10) X 10)% of item’s value
  5. A minor, limited-use magic item (potion of healing, etc.)
  6. Information (a treasure map, the name of a spy, etc.)
  7. Coins: (3d8 X 10) total gp value
  8. Gems: (4d6 X 10) total gp value

Nature of the item(s) to be liberated, 1d10

  1. Plain ol’ coin money
  2. Magic item (weapon/armor/shield)
  3. Religious relic
  4. Gems or jewelry
  5. Paperwork of significance
  6. Object d’Art (statue/painting/etc.)
  7. Symbolic item
  8. Magic item (non-weapon)
  9. Roll again twice using d8s
  10. Roll again three times using d8s

Guardian of the item(s) to be liberated, 1d12

  1. None
  2. Locked chest/safe
  3. Trapped & locked chest/safe
  4. Magical wards
  5. Generic human/demihuman guards
  6. Tougher-than-generic human/demihuman guards
  7. Natural animal(s)
  8. Monster(s)
  9. Undead
  10. Demon/devil
  11. Roll again twice using d10s
  12. Roll again three times using d10s

Source of the job, 1d20

  1. Professional connection (guild, crime family, etc.)
  2. Freelance theft-for-hire (merchant, sailor, etc.)
  3. Rumor/Innuendo/Legend
  4. Personal Reasons (revenge, matter of honor, thrill seeking, etc.)
  5. Religious connection (prelate with a problem, a favor for the god of thieves, etc.)
  6. Professional connection (guild, crime family, etc.)
  7. Freelance theft-for-hire (merchant, sailor, etc.)
  8. Romantic connection (spouse, mistress, etc.)
  9. Family connection (no-good brother-in-law, dying aunt, etc.)
  10. Political connection (local political faction, foreign government, etc.)
  11. Professional connection (guild, crime family, etc.)
  12. Freelance theft-for-hire (merchant, sailor, etc.)
  13. Rumor/Innuendo/Legend
  14. Personal Reasons (revenge, matter of honor, thrill seeking, etc.)
  15. Professional connection (guild, crime family, etc.)
  16. Freelance theft-for-hire (merchant, sailor, etc.)
  17. Military/Police connection (the corrupt sheriff, a questionable general, etc.)
  18. Rumor/Innuendo/Legend
  19. Professional connection (guild, crime family, etc.)
  20. Freelance theft-for-hire (merchant, sailor, etc.)

Some Sample Heists

  • Your older brother offers to pay you a lot of money to break into the town armory and steal the enchanted Shield of the Sentinels. Of course, the armory is guarded by a pair of basilisks, but that’s not a problem for someone like you. You know he can afford what he’s offering; you just don’t know what he’s up to, which is planning on double-crossing you by turning you and the shield in for the reward to pay off his gambling debts.
  • Old Garril the Stonemason offers you a number of small diamonds he once found in a wall he was repairing to steal the sixteen large sapphires Korath the Bold recently donated to the Temple of Naali. These are locked in a chest stored within the high priest’s chambers.
  • You’ve heard a rumor that there’s a woman in Amberton who will pay a nice sum of money for a set of enchanted combs that are currently available in the shop of Forlburt the silversmith. The smith is a paranoid sort, who employs a small number of human guards and trained hounds to stand watch over his shop even as he locks all of his merchandise within a heavy (and trapped!) safe every evening.
  • Your guild or crime family needs you to break into the manor house of the Harbormaster and steal the ledgers for the last season’s shipping taxes. Your reward for pulling off this heist is the name and location of the man who killed your family when you were young. Everyone knows that the house is protected by magical wards. Not even your contact knows about the wraith that has been bound to guard the grounds.
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OD&D Whitebox Nostalgia Photography

In honor of the game that inspired the game that inspired yesterday’s big OSR blogosphere thingy, here’s a passel of heavily-filtered photos of bits and pieces from my cherished Original Collector’s Edition of the OD&D box:

I wish I’d taken better care of the box itself, but the books are all in pretty solid shape. You’re seeing shadows far more than any damage to the books themselves.

I never owned print copies of any of the supplements, which is why, despite owning one of these, I’m all but certain to give in and purchased WotC’s reprint edition when it comes out in November.

Oh, and for the record, I never referred to these as the LBBs (little brown books). That acronym means something entirely different to me. Tune in tomorrow to find out what.

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B/X Nostalgia Photography

I thought I’d kill a little time today by taking some heavily-filtered shots of my classic B/X gaming stuff. The boxes for my old Basic & Expert Dungeons & Dragons sets are long gone, as are the dice (alas!), but the rulebooks and the modules that came with ’em are still in pretty good shape.

The books still live in the blue Trapper Keeper I bought for them back in ’82 or so. The modules live in a plastic storage box with my other assorted modules.

The presence of B2 (emphasis on the 2) in my Basic Set caused me to go out and find B1, because even as an eleven-year-old-kid I couldn’t stomach the idea of having the second issue of something but not the first. Obsessive-Compulsive disorder shows up early, I guess 🙂

Last note: I think that B/X is hands-down the most photogenic of the Dungeons & Dragons line. The bright colors, the engaging-yet-cartoony art (especially the Otus covers), the paper covers of the books and modules. These things just beg to be snapped casually.

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OD&D Reprint, Other Stuff

OD&D Reprint BoxSo we’ve all heard by now that Wizards of the Coast is planning on reprinting the OD&D rules in what looks to be a pretty sweet boxed set. Some folks are uninterested. Some folks are concerned about the price. Some folks seem angry. Still others are rather chuffed. In other words, unique individuals are having their own unique reactions.

You can count me in the last group, though. For even though I own a copy of the Original Collectors Edition of the white box (as seen previously), I don’t own any of the Supplements in print form (I did get everything in PDF back when they were available through RPGNow) and I am an absolute sucker for a nice boxed set. And when that box is actual wood, well, sign me up! If nothing else, it’ll be fun to have this alongside the wooden box I sprung extra for in the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Kickstarter.

Go ahead and call me a consumer whore if you want to. But I will happily (and luckily for me) note that the release date on this is just after my birthday. So I get to call it my precious as a birthday present and not feel quite so bad about dropping the cash on it.

In Other News

The awesome G-Man slid me a new BoL adventure a little while back and, though I’ve been remiss in reviewing it for him (and posting it for y’all) my schedule has cleared up at last and, with a little bit of luck, it should see the light of day by the weekend. Feel free to yell at me if it doesn’t 🙂

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The Company Of St. Moldvay

Wherein your humble scribe presents a randomly rolled party for the freshly released PDF of Moldvay Basic D&D. They were all created with 3d6 for stats, more often than not in order. And, just because I’m loathe to give it up, they all have some snappy headgear. Will any of these brave adventurers survive their expedition In Search of the Unknown?

Brother Valdoric / Cleric 1 L
Headgear: Bishop’s Mitre
STR 14 INT 9 WIS 16 DEX 15 CON 12 CHR 10
HP 6 AC 3 Gold 20
Chain Mail, Shield, Mace, Holy Symbol
Cleric Spells: None

Skarl Stoneaxe / Dwarf 1 L
Headgear: Forest Green Bedouin Wrap
STR 18 INT 9 WIS 10 DEX 6 CON 10 CHR 7
HP 8 AC 5 Gold 16
Chain Mail, Shield, Hand Axe

Ikaria The Brash/ Elf 1 N
Headgear: Open-faced Plain Helm
STR 16 INT 13 WIS 7 DEX 16 CON 14 CHR 3
HP 7 AC 2 Gold 12
Chain Mail, Shield, Sword, Dagger, Long Bow, 20 Arrows
Elf Spells: Charm Person

Rolf Orlsson / Fighter 1 C
Headgear: Classic Viking-Style Helm
STR 15 INT 6 WIS 13 DEX 10 CON 13 CHR 14
HP 9 AC 2 Gold 17
Plate Mail, Shield, Sword, Dagger, Crossbow, 30 Quarrels

Dinty Dalgimmins / Halfling 1 N
Headgear: Bare, Showing His Mohawk
STR 11 INT 14 WIS 12 DEX 16 CON 11 CHR 12
HP 6 AC 5 Gold 10
Leather Armor, Short Sword, Dagger, Short Bow, 20 Arrows

Sareetha The Medium / Magic-User 1 N
Headgear: Bare, Showing Her Short, Stylish Haircut
STR 8 INT 16 WIS 9 DEX 9 CON 5 CHR 13
HP 2 AC 9 Gold 30
2 Silver Daggers
Magic-User Spells: Floating Disk

Gentleman Pete / Thief 1 C
Headgear: Fancy Top Hat
STR 8 INT 12 WIS 8 DEX 17 CON 14 CHR 12
HP 5 AC 5 Gold 29
Leather Armor, Sword, 2 Daggers, Silver Dagger, Short Bow, 20 Arrows, 2 Silver Arrows, Thieves’ Tools

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