15 July 2018

II-36: Misc. Magic, Annotated

Page 36

 

Miscellaneous Magic: introduces some classic magic items from literature and lore into the game. These include crystal balls and flying carpets, again serving as the seed for referees to use their favorite books and movies as inspiration for magic in their games. 
 
Bag of Holding: a good workaround for encumbrance issues. We always harbored the secret belief EGG stole this idea not from luggage from Pratchett’s Discworld series but instead from the Disney’s Mary Poppins movie. We have no evidence to cite in support of this theory, just a gut feeling based upon us being raised in the same era and liking the same sorts of books and movies. 
 
Displacer Cloak: which came first, one may wonder, this cloak or the displacer beast in EGG’s Greyhawk campaign?

13 July 2018

II-35: Still More Staves, Annotated

Page 35

 

The first five staves listed (i.e. healing, commanding, snake, striking, withering) appear to be drawn straight from the Old Testament of the Bible. This parallel is made stronger by the fact two of them are usable by Clerics only and the other three are also usable both by Clerics and Magic-Users. 

Staves of Power and Wizardry: these two are not usable by Clerics and, as mentioned above, introduce web as a spell effect into the game (though it would not be a part of the official MU spell list until Greyhawk is published a year later).

12 July 2018

II-34: Bringing On More Staff, Annotated

Page 34

 

Spell Turning: we used the rules for this ring as a basis for spell duels. 

Wands And Staves: these were used various ways in fantasy literature. D&D chose to depict them as spell storage devices, a perfectly reasonable interpretation. Much was left in these and miscellaneous magic items with regard to charges. For example: what happens when the charges run out? Can these items be recharged? If so, how and by whom? Lots of room for customization to one’s home campaign are to be had. 

We once read a module by an independent publisher likening a wand of fireballs with a single charge to a single-use disposable grenade launcher. That author used several magic items to recreate the special weapons of a SEAL strike team. We admired this approach and have used it several times, that is, providing magic items that will give adventurers a tactical edge for that adventure … should they be recognized as such and used properly.

11 July 2018

II-33: This Should Ring A Bell, Annotations

Page 33

 

Rings: the only one ring may be worn on each hand note tells us power gamers were in the system early enough to deserve mention in the very first rules set. 

Three Wishes: a potential campaign buster if the referee is not very careful. Wise players hoard wishes for undoing disasters such as high level character death, careless players can run amok. 

Delusion: this ring is a bummer. An interesting description. 

Telekinesis: this word is consistently misspelled telekenesis in all but the eighth printing.

10 July 2018

II-32: Exactly How Heroic Is It? Annotated

Page 32

 

Potion of Heroism: is the level increase permanent? When potions are introduced on page 31 it states those with limited effect the time will be six turns plus the number of pips rolled on a six-sided die. But the rules do not say if this particular potion is one of limited effect. 

Scrolls: not only for extra spells, but apparently a favored mechanism for protective spells.

09 July 2018

Brother Can You Spear An Arrow? II-31 Annotated

Page 31

 

Miscellaneous Weapons: unlike swords most types grant a bonus both “to hit” and damage. Exceptions follow this rule, mostly applying to missile weapons or magic melee weapons used as missile weapons. 

For example: while a magic arrow bestows its bonus both “to hit” and damage, a magic bow only grants its bonus “to hit.” 

Hidden Rule: Set Weapon versus Charge

Under the entry for (magical) Spears we read [a]dditionally, if something impales itself upon the spear, damage will be double or even treble if the force is sufficient. This was often used as “set against charge” rule for spears and polearms in many campaigns. 
 
Potions
 
Gaseous Form seems like a great potion until you realize the PC arrives at his destination naked (or at least not armor clad) and unarmed.

06 July 2018

II-27-30: Magic Swords & Armor

Page 27

 

Magic Swords: these are basically NPCs and have an alignment, intelligence, ego, and possibly even both an origin and purpose. 

Alignment: two-thirds will be Lawful, the remainder are of either Chaotic (~25%) or Neutral (~10%) alignments. Picking up a sword of differing alignment inflicts damage on the wielder. 

Page 28

 

Intelligence: fully half of all magic swords have the innate ability to communicate with empathy, speech, or even telepathy. Intelligence will also grants, in a separate roll, powers and languages.

Page 29

 

Extraordinary Ability Table: looking at the Primary Ability Table on the preceding page and this, one is brought to an interesting question, to wit: how often can you use them? Casting aside how magic swords were handled in AD&D (which may or may not be how EGG ran them in OD&D), do powers work at will or once per day? The text does not state. Our own interpretation was at will but the weapon must be drawn and the user can attempt no other action, but we have played in games in which powers considered usable once per day. 
 
Egoism: and here is the payoff. Gygax and Arneson both had a habit of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. A sword granting a combat bonus and special powers sounds like a real boon, but then the “sword as NPC” comes into play. We typically run most NPCs as helpful but ultimately most interested in their own goals. So are intelligent swords. The more useful they are the more apt they are to argue and perhaps even override the player’s will. 
 

Page 30

 

Swords, Damage Bonuses: as written, a +1 sword only adds the bonus “to hit” and not to damage rolled. Only swords with specific target creatures, +2 versus goblins for example, will also add their bonus to rolled damage and only against those creatures.

Armor: instead of adding its bonus to the wearer’s armor class, magic armor instead subtracts its bonus from the attacker’s “to hit” roll. A magic shield will only work if its bonus is greater than any magic armor worn, and then only one-third of the time. Magic armor and magic shield bonuses do not stack.