Friday, January 20, 2017

Monster lists and Megarry's Maps

Let's take a closer look at that last section of Dave Megarry's maps - the one for the SE section of Level 7.



What's particularly awesome about these notes on Level 7 is that we can compare them to one of Arneson's original stocking lists.  Although the first 6 levels of Blackmoor dungeon published in the FFC are Arneson's Gen con convention restocking list generated randomly using the OD&D booklets, levels 7-10 are original lists, dating to the first year or so of Blackmoor, prior even to the great Invasion that led to King Funk III taking over the 10th Level with his hoards of minions.

It would not be too surprising for the notes on Megarry's maps to be quite different from the FFC lists.  Arneson may have restocked more than once - though perhaps some levels saw more such changes than others.

Here's Megarry's notes:
Room#
Monster
Treasure
17
10 Ogres
"Gold Dinning"
19
168 Goblins

22
33 Trolls
"riches"

Here's the same rooms in the FFC list, with the information in exact order:
Room#
Gold Pieces
Protection Points
Monster
Magic Treasure
17
3000 GP
150
10 Ogres
-
19
-
300
200 Ghouls (catacombs)
2 Arrows, 2 Gloves
22
-
500
33 Trolls
1/10 (prolly a weakened spell)

As can be readily seen, rooms 17 and 22 are identical, and that in itself is really quite remarkable. but what about those 200 (yikes!) ghouls in room 19? 

Certainly that could be a restocking change, but upon consideration, I think it is more likely to be a mistake.  As most of you will know, the FFC was a lightly edited assemblage of a fairly hodge-podge collection of Arneson's campaign notes and essays.  The original material was both hand written and (poorly) typed, and it is not unusual to spot errors in the FFC print - have a look at this post on the Loch Gloomin material for some examples: Stocking Blackmoor Wilds in 1972  

I think it possible that the editors/typist preparing the stocking list may have misread Goblins as Ghouls.

To explain why I think so,  I need to refer back to Arneson's "Protection Point" method.  In brief, Arneson assigned protection points to a room and then used those points to "buy" the monsters (For a full explanation, please see this post Point Buy Method ).

  The costs of the monsters were those given in the CHAINMAILTM  booklet.  Ogres, for example, cost 15 points.  That's why room 17, with 150 protection points, has 10 Ogres in it.  (BTW "points" also functioned as HP and XP, see here On Points )

Arneson's goblins are a little more complicated.  He actually had two types: one that costs 1.5 points, just as in CHAINMAILTM, and a tougher version that costs 5 points, perhaps a hobgoblin.  Ghouls however in the FFC lists always cost 10 points, just at they do in CHAINMAILTM.  


Notice that the FFC stocking list assigns 300 Protection Points for room 19.  To stock the room with 200 Ghouls would require 2000 Protection Points.  Three hundred points would give you 30 Ghouls.  On the other hand, 300 points would give you 200 standard Goblins.  So the number is right if is really Goblins and not Ghouls.  Further, Megarry's map has 168 Goblins in this room, and it is easily conceivable that any number of things could have led to those 32Goblins being "missing".

So, I think Megarry's map notes have actually helped us find and correct a mistake in the FFC.

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