17 August 2018

The Supplements, Annotated?

What's New With Phil & Dixie ... errr ... What's Next For Annotations? 

The response to my modest little effort to annotate OD&D's TLBB has been gratifying, to say the least. My current plans are to (1) finish whipping my manuscript into a nice PDF and POD format, and (2) being annotating the supplements. I'm considering all sources at this time, though it's possible I'll narrow the field a bit once work begins.

The syllabus starts getting a bit fuzzy after one gets "outside the box" but at the least I'll include the digest-sized booklets; with the possible exception of Swords & Spells.

What I might do is an "off-the-menu" annotation of the auxilliary works: Chainmail, Swords & Spells, AH's Outdoor Survival, and the periodicals Strategic Review and Dragon.

I'm currently projecting no more than 2 weeks to polish the current OD&D annotations ms, I've been working steadily on it the past few days, then I'll begin with Supplement I: Greyhawk. 

Thank you for reading! 

14 August 2018

The Egg of Coot, Annotated

The Egg of Coot, A Historical Note: The Blackmoor Campaign’s “Egg of Coot” was not a jab, subtle or otherwise, at Gary Gygax. The rumor refuses to die Arneson’s Egg of Coot was Gygax, whose initials of EGG make this an easy leap for some. The truth of the matter is this: the Egg of Coot was an insult against a real person but it was was not Gygax. The evil “Coot” immortalized in Arneson’s campaign was a gamer in Arneson’s Napoleonic Wargame named Gregg Scott (grEGG sCOTt). Scott was unhappy as Arneson shifted his gaming group from Napoleonic warfare simulations to fantasy gaming. Scott took his frustration out upon Arneson by playing a rather nasty joke on Arneson which cost Arneson both time and money to correct. Arneson got revenge by immortalizing Scott as the evil Egg of Coot. Both Arneson and Gygax, as well as gamers in Arneson’s group, told this story over the years when asked, there is no doubt at all Gygax was not the Coot.

08 August 2018

IMC: Druids, PC & NPC

Yes, there is a difference between the PC and NPC versions.

Player-Character Druids


Your typical player-character druids from the rulebooks. They're dedicated to Neutrality and tend to err on the side of Law in wider conflicts. Wood elves, in particular, gravitate to this class.

Non-Player Character Wild Druids


These are the not-so-Neutral ones, the militant tree-huggers with bad attitudes and a toothache. Wild Druids lean toward Chaos rather than Law. They basically hate humanity and its allies for their tendency to gather in large, ecology disrupting communities. These have access to all spells: magic, cleric, and druid. The tactics they use are specifically chosen to create fear and ruin morale such as those employed by guerilla fighters since time immemorial. Animal forms taken tend to be apex predators or raptors, subtlety is not the forté of this class. Woe to any PC wishing to establish a stronghold in what Wild Druids consider their territory.

In addition to a wide selection of spells, Wild  Druids are able to link together to cast higher level spells. This is additive, so three first level druids linking to a third level druid allows the latter to cast spells as a sixth level caster. Fortunately, Wild Druids rarely work together and even then only in small groups of two or three. 


07 August 2018

III: 31 through 36, Wrapping It All Up; Annotated

Page 31

 

More Naval Combat rules: shearing oars, grappling, and boarding. 

Boarding invokes the Chainmail rules again, and introduces newcomers to gaming to the concept of Command Control (C&C). C&C is explained more fully on the next page, the remainder of this page is taken up with melee rules, presumably for those who do not possess Chainmail

Page 32

 

Command Control: we learn here C&C is the ability of the command figure to have his troops follow his orders and remain under his control. It is based upon Charisma, a fine choice given how CHA works in D&D. Basically, one must keep the leader visible to his troops and free from melee. 

Page 33

 

Swimming: good guidelines for swimming, drowning, and armor removal here. One might well suppose anyone wearing plate who finds themselves in the water should spend it making peace with their deity or deities. 

Rules for ship capturing and typical crew by ship types, and their respective tasks, follows. 

Pages 34-36

 

These last few pages kick off with some detailed advice on running certain monsters in an aquatic setting. The man-type aquatic species are quite fond of grappling passing ships. There is also good information for the attentive reader for establishing movement speeds and armor classes. 

Healing Wounds: in light of Gygax’s explanations regarding the nature of hit points, one may question the glacial rate of recovery. The rules themselves even dryly point out [t]his can take a long time. Basically, Gygax claimed approximately d6 of a PC’s hit points were actually representative of physical damage. The remainder a combination of luck, stamina, divine favor, etc. 

Time: easy to follow, basic guidelines for timekeeping in a campaign. Gygax felt this was an important component to conducting a game. Careful timekeeping records would certainly aid a referee with multiple groups running in the same campaign, rather less common nowadays then it was in the halcyon days of the hobby. 

Afterward

 

A final pat on the back from the author, exhorting us to go forth and make new rulings in accordance with how we felt the game should run. The afterword asks an important question, one which every referee considering running an OD&D should ask themselves: why have us do any more of your imagining for you?

Page Bottom Illustration: though they are part of an illustration, we have always regarded them as the last words of the rules … 

FIGHT ON!

04 August 2018

III-30: Rams ... No, Not That Kind, Annotated

Page 30 

 

Ramming: In every printing save the eighth, bullet point #1 has an asterisk with no accompanying footnote. Neither co-author recalls what the footnote should have said. 

We have always felt it was similar to the rules for stepping/unstepping masts at the bottom of page 33: This is done only on Galleys and Longships. Ten crew accomplish the task in three turns. Dave Arneson told me once that seemed a good fit for that bit of text, but he simply did not remember for certain.

03 August 2018

IMC: Scouts

I've never liked the name thief, nor the implied mandate to steal and implied Chaotic alignment. As a referee, I don't dig running an Evil Campaign filled with various unsavory PCs. It's a personal preference and not a value judgment on my part, so please no hate mail. Anyway, I decided to make it my own and redo the class a bit. They're better at fighting and archery, while retaining the GH Thief abilities. Basically, these guys are skirmishers (light foot). They move light and fast, hit hard, then fade away.

Armor: as Thief, but small shields allowed (though they will interfere with some Thief functions)

Weapons: any one-handed melee, shortbow (they prefer recurved bows for max. power), sling

Rolls HD, advances in combat, and saves as a Cleric.

Prime Requisite: DEX, besides BtB bonus to missile fire "to hit" for DEX > 13, if their DEX is 15 or higher they add +1 to AC, and +1 to rolled damage with missile fire.

I allow Scouts to parry.

I fretted for a while about the Scout's improved ability taken in toto with the Thief abilities but, in play-testing, it has worked out pretty well.

Tracking is basically calculated like climb walls but with penalties applied for conditions such as solid rock, crossing water, weather, whether the prey is aware of pursuit, etc.

III-28: Belly Button Battles, Annotated

Page 28

Naval Combat: no, not dueling belly buttons; this section covers surface water battles. We would like to highlight a concept running throughout these rules in general; and the massed land, aerial, and naval combat sections specifically. There is enough here to get a referee through a scenario or an unexpected outcome of an adventure session. If these are going to be a large part of a campaign? One may wish to expand upon them, or find a simulationist wargame to their taste and adapt those rules to give more nuance and detail to the game. Such as the use use of Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival for wilderness explorations rules, survival, and getting lost.