Was Original Blackmoor a Greyhawk Campaign?

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

When Arneson drew his original map of the Northern Marches and sent it off in a letter to Rob Kuntz in March of 1971, it is unclear what he intended.


Yes, he drew it as a setting for fantasy war games and his "medieval Braunsteins", but it isn't clear if this map was purely an independent creation, or was drawn with the intent to fit within the Castle & Crusades societies' Great Kingdom campaign.

Mention was made in the C&C broadside Domesday Book #6  (August 1970) that a campaign world for medieval battles was being created along with a map.  However, this now famous Great Kingdom map didn't appear until Domesday #9 published sometime prior to June 1971, when Rob Kuntz' position as King was temporarily usurped by Gary Gygax.  This issue also announces the forthcoming CHAINMAIL booklet, however, the GK map doesn't actually claim to be intended for the Perren and Gygax LGTSA/CHAINMAIL rules.  Instead, the map is provided for "A(vallon) H(ill)-type play as well as aspects of Diplomacy."

  Accompanying the map is 3/4 of a page of text in which the organizational structure of the Great Kingdom and neighboring kingdoms is outlined.  Specifically, details on the various noble ranks of players and how many castles each rank of nobility controls along with brief comments on troop strength - 1 garrison per castle plus levees.  The Paynim Kingdom is cited as being of 150% greater strength than any other, presumably representing the great enemy of all.

Arneson's letter makes no mention of the GK map.  The players cited and their troop strengths includes no mention of ranks or castles, or garrisons, nor is the Paynim Kingdom mentioned.  In fact, the letter doesn't even reference the Great Kingdom.  Instead "The great EMPIRE OF GENEVA"  which, while today we might easily read as a euphemism for the GK, is likely nothing more than a flowery fantasy reference to the Castle & Crusades organization itself.  

It seems very likely therefore, that Arneson's "Northern Marches" map and the campaign he describes in the letter were done independently initially, and not as an attempt to flesh out a corner of the C&C map or with the intent of fore-planning for the C&C campaign.  When Arneson enclosed this map, along with a letter to Kuntz in March of 1971, he describes something he has already set up and possibly even run games in.  The tone of the letter is most consistent with an existing campaign with no particular connection to to the planned C&C campaign,

Given that this letter was written prior to the release of CHAINMAIL and it's Fantasy section, the Northern Marches as an independently conceived undertaking is also perhaps the only way to sensibly understand Arneson's comment that his "medevil project is... partially fiction" and has something called "the accursed lands of the unholy RED WIZARDS COVEN".  

Arneson appears completely unaware of both the soon-to-be-released fantasy rules in CHAIMAIL and Great Kingdom map.  His description of the lands surrounding the Northern Marches, including the Skandanarians to the north, the Picts to the SW and Eraks to the east is incompatible with the layout of the GK map.  If Arneson were in fact aware of the GK map in March of 1971, it's very clear he wasn't trying to locate his Norrthern Marches on that map.

There has been, I think, a general assumption that as Arneson created Blackmoor, his intent was for his gaming  in this locale to be tied to the Great Kingdom.  In fact we appear to be told just that  in the introduction to D&D in Men & Magic, where Gygax states:

"Dave Arneson decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign game for his active Twin Cities club. From the map of the "land" of the "Great Kingdom" and environs -- the territory of the C & C Society -- Dave located a nice bog wherein to nest the wierd enclave of "Blackmoor", a spot between the '''Great Kingdom" and the fearsome "Egg of Coot". 

Technically speaking,  the above doesn't preclude the idea that Blackmoor was first created elsewhere and moved into the GK map, but a reader would hardly be expected to intuit that.  

Nevertheless that appears to be exactly what happened, for there is no question but that all parties concerned came to think of Blackmoor and Greyhawk as connected locations on the same continent - to the point that cross over adventures took place, including The Great Svenny flying to Greyhawk and Robilar and Mordenkainen traveling to the City of the Gods.  There's many such references to point to.

So what happened?  We might guess some reasons.  Perhaps, as seems likely, Arneson received DB #9 after writing the letter to Kuntz, and decided to recast his "medevil project" onto that map instead.

In any case, what Arneson did next was particularly significant, in a way that has largely gone unrecognized.  Arneson drew a new map.
He drew a new map within the area of the GK he had claimed.  With this new map, Arneson choose not to start from scratch but instead recast the world he had already created.  This suggest fairly strongly, that Blackmoor was more than just a few scattered ideas, it was something enough time and energy had been invested into to want to preserve.

This was the new map he created, as published in the FFC:



And it was intended to fit here:




We don't know exactly when he did this, but it seems to have happened very early on.  Furthermore - and here is perhaps the surprising bit - the entire Blackmoor campaign of 1971-1976 was set in and around this Blackmoor/Greyhawk world map, not the now-more-familiar maps like this:



Observe:

"His nearest neighbor is Sir Jenkins who rules the Northern most march of the Great Kingdom which rests on the actual frontier with the Egg of Coot."  p25

"WOLF's HEAD PASS: This area lies some five miles to the North East of the Castle along the only road that leads to the Southern confines of the Egg of Coot. Beyond the pass there lies an extensive no man lands of some twenty miles before the southern reaches of that evil area are reached." p26

Both the original "Northern Marches" map and the current Blackmoor map show plenty of water separating the Egg from the rest of Blackmoor, but as these quotes show, that's not the map that was in use during the heyday of the Blackmoor campaign.  One only need observe that the Egg of Coot never had a Navy during all those invasions to confirm this.

When Arneson decided to publish the First Fantasy Campaign, he had little incentive to maintain the Greyhawk/Blackmoor connection and when Bob Bledsaw drew those excellent maps that came with the FFC, he went back to Arneson's original Northern Marches map.  The obvious differences in the bays and waterways were hand-waived as "Sinking Lands".  Blackmoor had gone back to it's roots, but in doing so the geographical context of those early games was significantly obscured.


A Character Sheet for Original Blackmoor

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

People love character sheets.  It occurred to me that it might be fun to make a blank, pre-D&D Blackmoor character sheet with nothing more on it than the sort of information seen on the original character records we have.  It's nothing fancy, but have a gander:




Some explanations:  The entries - Player, Name, Race, Class, Etc. - are all bits of information that can be found on the character sheets of either Dave Megarry or Pete Gaylord.  I didn't put on any entries that don't have at least one example in the original.  There are a number of things that did exist at some point in Arneson's game, but don't have entries on the original players sheets, so don't get mentioned here either.

The categories themselves are, of course, made up to account for the entries.  The original records don't have the word "HEIGHT" written on them, for example, but two of Megarry's characters do have a height listed for the character. 

"ARMOR" can be the type of armor or a number or both.  At some point in 1972, what we would call an "Armor Class" number was added to Megarry's sheets, written inside a little square. Next to the square, another number was written inside a circle.  David remembers the square as an AC number but doesn't remember what the circle number was.  I've come to think the most probable answer is that it was a magic resistance number.  I've simply labeled that "R" to reflect this uncertainty.  

For the "CLASS" entry, it would either be Fighter or Wizard.  

Fighter levels would be named: Mortal or Flunky, Hero, Superhero, or Lord, while Wizards would have numeric levels 1 through 12 (at least).  

PROFESSION is what the character does in life, and most of the professions listed on Megarry's sheets are identical with the D&D specialist hirelings list - hunter, sailor, administrator and so on.  

I've also divided the personality, weapons, and skill lists into separate boxes simply for organizational purposes.

Some things found in Megarry's notebook and in some cases elsewhere, could optionally be added.  These would be a "cash account" listing starting funds, acquisitions, taxes and expenses, an "investments" list, and a  "kill record".

And for your entertainment, I've filled out a sheet using the historic statistics for Pete Gaylord's Wizard, like so:



Character Growth and Dungeon Stocking

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

How do you stock your dungeon?  The current and long-standing understanding of dungeon stocking in Dungeons & Dragons is that the design intent of the game is for the Dungeon Master in their wisdom to create most if not all treasures and monsters out of their own imagination.  

This essay argues that's bunk.  Instead I will show  that the initial design of Dungeons & Dragons by Arneson and Gygax was built around a deliberate stocking method using controlled randomized rolls giving a particular range of results tied deliberately and directly to the intended progress of character growth.  

1) Reasoning from History

Both before D&D was written, and long afterward, Dave Arneson stocked his dungeons randomly and he devised different methods and  applied different ways to do this.  Monsters, for example, he stocked through a random "Protection Point: system.  Gold he rolled dice for and items he created random tables for.  The best early example is his The Loch Gloomen stocking list from 1972, reprinted in his First Fantasy Campaign booklet. 

When typeing up the first draft of D&D, Gygax created the Treasure Types tables, apparently by expanding on Arneson's dragon treasure tables (FFC81:66).  In any case, both Treasure Types tables and the corresponding Monster Reference table (as found in M&Tp3) are present in the original 1973 draft of D&D.  

As a somewhat side issue, it is important to note that at this point in the game's development, there was no hint that the Treasure Types tables should only be for wilderness "lairs" or that a lair was in anyway a wilderness related term.  This idea didn't take hold till years later.  There is no separate method in the original draft for stocking dungeon and wilderness treasure.  The Treasure Type tables given are meant for general application.  Nor is there any suggestion anywhere in the rules that you should ever just stock by making things up.  

Think about that for a moment because it is very significant.

Now, if we were to stop right there in time; if no more had ever been written about D&D, would anyone ever have argued that the Treasure Type tables were designed exclusively for wilderness play?  Would anyone argue that the rules expect you to stock treasures by just making them up on a whim?

No one could argue that.  There is no hint of any such thing.  In the draft, the Treasure Type tables used in conjunction with the Monster Reference table appear to be for generating ALL treasure ALL the time.

We also have to ask if it even makes any sense to think "Wilderness Treasure" in the first place.  The treasure types are fairly complex, so why would Gygax - in his very first (complete) game draft - have thought it necessary to create the Treasure Type Tables unique to the relatively rare wilderness play, but not have any tables of any kind for the much more common dungeon delving?  

That's nonesensical.  There is really no question at all that the Treasure Type tables were intended for general application, following Arneson's practice of randomly generating his treasures.

Deductively, the history settles the argument as to the intended purpose of the Treasure Types.  Case closed on that.  But knowing the purpose of the treasure tables doesn't settle the question of how often to use them, which is really the crux of the matter, so let's go on.

2) Reasoning From Game Design

As noted above, every instance we have of Dungeon stocking in Blackmoor, both before and after D&D shows that Arneson stocked rooms with monsters and treasures randomly.  In some cases he decided what kind of monster he wanted, but he still generated numbers of monsters and the content of their treasures randomly.  Do we have any reason to think Gygax rejected this approach in their co-written rules, or did he embrace it in the rules?

Consider first, that there is no need to make any kind of treasure tables at all.  D&D plays perfectly well without them, a fact amply demonstrated by the overwhelming creation of treasure through DM fiat in countless published modules.

So clearly, Gygax was following Arneson's lead when he included random treasure generation in the game and he must have felt it was important.  Why did he do so?

Consider this passage from the Dungeon Masters Guide:
"…the MAGIC ITEMS table is weighted towards results which balance the game. Potions, scrolls, arms and armor are plentiful....this is done in order to keep magic-users from totally dominating play...what they gain from the table will typically be used up and discarded [while items for fighters are permanent]....This random determination table needs no adjustment, because of its weighting, and weighting of the MAGIC ITEMS table....this is carefully planned so as to prevent imbalance in the game." (1979: 120, 121)

Now, the Magic Items table in question is a subtable in the treasure generation process.  If this portion of treasure generation is carefully weighted, it follows that the rest of treasure generation process was also designed with character growth and balance in mind, and that's precisely what Gygax tells us in a paragraph he added to the Holmes rulebook:

"The tables are designed to maintain some sort of balance between the value of the dungeon's treasures and the risks involved in obtaining it. It is highly recommended, for this reason, that neophyte Dungeon Masters use the tables."  (p33)

When Gygax is speaking of risk/reward balance, he is harkening back to David Megarry's design principles for the Dungeon Boardgame, in which the amount of treasure and type of monster was carefully gauged on each level.  That is, monsters are weakestand treasures of least value on level one and strongest/most valueble on level six.   Megarry's design pre-dates D&D and had a significant influence on the rules Gygax designed.  

In D&D, treasure and monster values determine Experience Point values.  Since Experience Level in D&D is tied closely with treasure acquired, it follows deductively that Gygax is telling us the treasure tables determine not just the quantity and type of magic and gold in the game, but also how many Experience Points a group of characters are meant to acquire in a level by level, risk/reward fashion.

I'll say it again for clarity.  Contrary to common belief, D&D was designed from the initial 1973 draft to have a central mechanism regulating how quickly characters advance via the amounts of treasure they can acquire in relation to the risk they take.  There is not much point to having an Experience Point system based on point totals if there is not a correspondingly controlled method of how points are earned.  The treasure tables were designed from the start to be the regulating mechanism for how experienced points are earned.  

Replacing the treasure tables with DM fiat effectively kicks a leg out from under the system.

With the publication of the Holmes rulebook we see the end of the OD&D era and Gygax is already rethinking his approach to the game.  By the time AD&D is published, he has clearly abandoned the "follow the tables" approach for stocking treasures in favor of DM fiat.  Likely he did so for a number of questionable reasons such as wanting to slow down character growth in the game and an irrational fear that " the hoard of a dragon could destroy a campaign if the treasure of Smaug, in THE HOBBIT, were to be used as an example of what such a trove should contain." (DMG p92).   I'd say the last is irrational because it reflects a difference from Arneson's approach, who was perfectly happy to let a character of any level (such as Fredigar Cripps who builds the famous Comeback Inn) achieve instant wealth through a lucky score.  For Gygax, the game consists of a uniform controlled ascent to wealth and power, and somewhere along the line he decided the treasures he had previously devised were too generous.  Much as he also decided the original rule of 100 XP per monster HD was also too generous ("ridiculous" in his words.) and reduced it to only 10 XP per HD.   So we see an extensive Essay in the DMG on pages 91-92 on the placement of treasure - an essay that is next to useless in practical terms in my opinion as it boils down to "use your judgement and be stingy".  Nevertheless it is interesting to see him reiterate some of the same points echoed in the Holmes statement:

" First, we must consider the logic of the game. By adventuring, slaying monsters or outwitting opponents, and by gaining treasure the characters operating within the milieu advance in ability and gain levels of experience. While AD&D is not quite so simplistic as other such games are regarding such advancement, it nonetheless relies upon the principle of adventuring and success thereat to bestow such rewards upon player characters and henchmen alike. It is therefore incumbent upon the creator of the milieu and the arbiter of the campaign, the Dungeon Master, to follow certain guidelines and charges placed upon him or her by these rules and to apply them with intelligence in the spirit of the whole as befits the campaign milieu to which they are being applied.

A brief perusal of the character experience point totals necessary to advance in levels makes it abundantly clear that an underlying precept of the game is that the amount of treasure obtainable by characters is graduated from small to large as experience level increases ..." (p91)

So while he has abandoned the table approach here, he nevertheless acknowledges that there was an intended "logic to the game", which the tables must surely have been meant to reflect when they were created.

3) Reasoning From Example

Despite the fact that D&D has two authors, Arneson gaming is frequently not given due consideration, or is simply not of interest to some.  That's fair.  People can't be made to take an interest in something they aren't.  So while I, or anybody inclined to take the time, can demonstrate that Arneson used the D&D tables to randomly generated the treasures in both the first 6 levels of Blackmoor dungeon and the 2 dungeon levels of the Temple of the Frog, seemingly many gamers couldn't care less.  They only want to know what Gygax did.  Unfortunately we have less published OD&D era dungeon material from Gygax than we do Arneson, oddly enough. 

I'm stressing published here because it is material prepared for public consumption that is most likely to conform to the rules as intended.  The earliest dungeon published by Gygax was just prior to the AD&D advent: the tournament version of the Caverns of Tsojconth (1976).  For this adventure he used many monsters which would be appearing in the Monster Manual and so I've checked the data here against that volume.


Rooms
Monster
Treasure Type
Treasure
Conforms?
A
Blink Dog
C
N
Y
B
Stirges
D
N
Y
C
Displacer Beast
D
360 PP 1,100 GP
N
D
Flesh Golem
Nil

Y
E
Lurker Above
C Y
100 sp 50 pp 1300 gp 4 gems
N
F
Green Slime
Nil
1200 Jewelry, 3 gems
N
G
Cockatrice
D
Scroll
N
H
Giant Turtle
Nil


I




J
Fire Lizards
BQST
100 cp, 2000SP, 3000GP, 700 1GP Gems, 6 5000GP gems, 2 potions
N
K
Copper Dragon

Too Large to list here.
Probably?
L
Sahuagin
N
NT
Y
M
Rust Monster
Q
2 Gems
Y
N
Water Weird
IOPY

Y
O
Giants
E
3 tusks, 2 cloaks, Magic Boots,
N



I've only done level 1 here but level 2 will give similar results.  We can see that in 1976 Gygax pretty clearly is not strictly following the Treasure Types tables, nor is he following the treasure by dungeon level table found in U&WA.  And yet, the treasure he does list are "close" in values and quantity to those the Treasure Types tables generate, as if he is winging it with those tables in mind.  It's certainly not the sort of "gimped" treasures found in his later published works.  It suggests that Gygax was willing to be guided at this point by the tables, even if he didn't always stick to them.

4) Reasoning From Practice
Let's simply look at what it take to employ our two competing methods.

To stock a single room by DM Fiat:

Imagine a monster and pick their numbers.
Make up their treasure.

To stock a single room by the book:

Roll 1d6 for occupancy
roll d6 for monster determination level
roll d10 on monster level table
roll dice as required on for #appearing in room
roll on Treasure Types table as follows
Roll % for copper then roll d# for amount
roll % for silver then roll d# for amount
roll % for gold then roll d# for amount
roll % for gems 
If gems are present roll % dice first then roll a d6 to determine value
If jewels are present roll % first then roll a d6 or a d10 to determine value
roll % for the chance to roll on the Maps or magic table
For each positive, roll on the table described
For "any", roll % on maps or magic table.
If maps, roll % on maps table, then roll either magic or treasure as prescribed
If treasure map roll d8, then roll dice for prescribed treasure

For any step above that results in magic, roll % for type  
then roll on the tables prescribed to determine magic item, often requiring multiple rolls.  Magic swords may require more than a dozen separate rolls.   

Repeat this 30 or 40 times for one level.  

I stocked a 10 level dungeon using this method.  A single room can take dozens and sometimes scores of rolls and chart lookups.  It was exhausting and took me about 8 months off and on.  No kidding.

Now let's consider the quote advised by Gygax:
""The determination of just where monsters should be placed, and whether or not they will be guarding treasure, and how much of the latter if they are guarding something, can become burdensome when faced with several levels to do at one time." U&WA p6

Given the difference in effort between ease DM fiat and the chore of rolling BTB as detailed above, I can't see any basis in the slightest for those who would claim that Gygax meant to refer to dungeon stocking by DM fiat as the more "Burdonsome" of the two approaches.  It's frankly absurd, and yet typically that is exactly what people have argued it is supposed to mean.

We can definitively clear up the matter simply by careful reading of the rest of the passage, "It is a good idea to thoughtfully place several of the most important treasures, with or without monsterous guardians, and then switch to random determination for the balance of the level. Naturally, the more important treasures will consist of various magical items and large amounts of wealth in the form of gems and jewelry. Once these have been secreted in out-of-the-way locations, a random distribution using a six-sided die can be made as follows:.." U&WA p6

Note in particular the phrase "several of the most important".  That clearly does not say "most of the treasures."  For there to be "several" "most important treasures" there must conversely be even more treasures not as important.  There is really no way to read that except for it to mean that the "carefully placed" treasures are a minority of the treasures on a level, with the majority of the treasure " for the balance of the level" being generated with dice.

Thus the very passage many cite to "prove" DM fiat is the intended method for dungeon stocking, actually established the exact opposite for all but a few exceptional rooms on a level.

Let's look at one other aspect of that passage, the use of the word "Determination".  As author, Gygax is certainly aware that he uses this very word in the title of the stocking tables, such as the "Monster Determination &. Level of Monster Matrix" the table "To determine the kind of treasure" (p7), the "Magic/Maps Determination Table" (U&WA 23), and so on.   I don't find this to be coincidental.  The determination of monsters in the text is harkening back to the determination tables.

Surely by now you are convinced.  No?  

Objection 1: - M&T says the Treasure Type is for lairs, and lairs are only in the wilderness.

Even if true, and mind you I'm arguing it's not, it still makes no difference.  Page 7 of U&WA gives a dungeon level treasure table increasing in wealth and magic as the dungeon deepens.  I think this table may be intended for unguarded treasures, but anyone who would argue against using Treasure Type tables in the dungeon would still have this table as their alternative, with the understanding they may end up with even bigger treasure totals by using it instead of Treasure Types.

Having said that, there are a number of things I could point to illustrating that "lairs" are not restricted to the wilderness, but that's a whole other discussion.

Objection 2: Gygax didn't use the treasure tables in his dungeons!

I honestly think this is the weakest of all objections.  Let me ask a simple true false question.  Which sentence is true:

a) Gygax is well known for being a stickler for the rules he wrote, insisting that he follows them to the letter and you should follow his example.
b) Gygax is notorious for writing rules he himself ignored, never using them in his own games, often preferring to lean on DM fiat as a one of chief architects of the game.

If b is correct, then what Gygax did in his dungeons is not a guide to what he intended in the rules.  I think it is really interesting to know what Gygax did in practice and how his handling of the rules changed over time.  Trying to suss out and copycat his methods where they differ from the rules could be fun and maybe an argument can be made that in some cases he made improvements that we should emulate.  However I think we have to admit that what he's doing with treasure in practice is a separate thing from what he designed the tables to do.

Objection 3: The Random Treasure tables are Broken
I think this all depends on how games are run.  Original D&D expected Referees to take logistic and encumbrance more seriously (how are you going to carry 10,000 sp?).  There was also an expectation that more treasure would be siphoned off through taxes and expenses and that a greater number of players would be sitting around the average table, so that treasure shares would be smaller.  In any case, it's apparent that within a year or so of D&D's publication, Gygax wanted to slow down the speed of his players progress.  So, Gygax, who may never have actually followed the treasure rules he designed for publication, came to downplay the role of the treasure tables, and implied they were too generous in wealth for common use.   This, I think, led to the current confusion and lack of use among Referees.  

Objection 4: Okay, maybe that was the way it was back in 1974, but Gygax changed his mind, and like him, I don't like that old system.  I prefer DM fiat.

<shrug> It's your fun dude, have it however you like.  Just be aware and transparent so everybody who encounters your game knows what you have done.

RSV Character Creation: The Hero

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

 I think going through the rules of the Richard Snider Variant individually may be less instructive than working through them functionally, so we are going to start with making characters and consider how the rules were intended to be employed.
As mentioned in the previous post there are but two character classes in the RSV, following the convention in Blackmoor, CHAINMAIL and MIDGUARD.  

We'll start with the "Hero" class, and discuss the more complex Wizard class in another post.

On page 5 of the RSV under "Things to Roll for in Making a Hero or Super-Hero:

Strength, Health, Intelligence, Leadership, Horsemanship, Sailing, Flying, normal (melee) combat skill, archery skill. Roll two dice for each.

So these are what we would now call "Ability Scores".  Persons familiar with Arneson & Snider's Adventures in Fantasy, and Megarry's character sheets will immediately note the similarities.  In fact, we can say the RSV is intermediate between these two.  Below is a table showing our various early examples in chronological order:


Spanish Royalty
Gaylord sheet
Megarry sheet
R. Snider
D&D
Adventures in Fantasy






Brains
Brains
Brains
Intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence
Looks
Looks
Looks

Charisma
Charisma

Credibility




Sex
Sex
Sex



Health
Health
Health
Health
Constitution
Health
Stamina

Strength
Strength
Strength
Strength
Strength
Guts
Courage
Courage




Cunning


Wisdom





Dexterity
Dexterity

Horesmanship
Riding/
Horsemanship
Horsemanship

Horsemanship

Woodsmanship
Woodcraft


Forester/Hunter

Leadership
Leadership
Leadership



Flying
Flying
Flying



Seamanship
Sailing
Sailing

Sailor


Throwing





Loyalty



Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous





So we can see here that Snider is pairing down Arneson's list (and is ignorant of Gygax's version).  In particular Richard drops the personal characteristics of Looks, Sex, and Courage.

He also "appears" (air quotes) to have added a new stat: Normal Combat ability.  I'm hedging on that, because all Richard may be doing is adding something to the character matrix that Arneson used for some time but kept himself, away from his players.

My reason for thinking so is because we've seen "combat" as an ability score before.  It is one of three repeatedly mentioned in the FFC Magic Swords section -  STRENGTH, COMBAT, INTELLIGENCE. (FFC 77:64)  The swords from Arneson's magic sword cards, retyped in the FFC as a list, have these three characteristics listed together as shown, with an increase bonus to each stat provided by the particular sword.
   
These magic sword cards are one of the earliest developments in the game and must date to sometime not far removed from the earliest character sheets like Pete Gaylords'.  Arneson tells us he created them "Prior to setting up Blackmoor" (FFC 77:64)by which we presume he means Blackmoor dungeon.

In any case, we see that the "Normal Combat" statistic in the RSV seemed to function identically to the other ability scores, just as "combat" in the FFC swords, seemed to function in the same manner as Intelligence and Strength.

Next comes:

Weapon Specialization (Hero 3 die, Superhero 4 die).

That brief statement brings up a lot of questions.  That could mean:

1) The hero gets 3d6 weapons to specialize in, the Superhero 4d6
2) The H/S gets a single "Specialization" score of 3d6 or 4d6
3) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to determine hits every time they use a weapon they have specialized in.
4) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to generate an ability score for each weapon they have specialized in.
5) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to determine damage for hits with a weapon they have specialized in.

In a moment, we will see a step that will help us determine which of these 5 is most likely intended, but for now, next on our list is to roll for:

Life energy level: hero rolls one die. On a roll of 1-3, has the option to either keep his first roll or reroll with two dice. Super-hero rolls two dice, on a roll of 1-2 (on either die) has the option of either keeping the first roll or rolling over with three dice. Any time the option is taken, the first roll is thrown out (whether the second roll is higher or not).         

That's a shocker for long time D&Ders.  It's not clear what source, if any, has inspired this Life Energy Level stat.  Quiet possibly, Richard may be riffing off of Outdoor Survival, although there the term "Life Level" is never coupled with the word "energy".  

What is clear, is that unlike the use of the term Life Energy Level in D&D, Richard is not using it as a synonym for Experience Level, but as a separate statistic.  It is also worth noting that this is new terminology as far as Blackmoor material goes.

Next we roll for: 

Magic resistance ability: hero rolls one die and on roll of one has option to keep first roll or roll over with two die.  Superhero rolls three die.
                                                                       
That's the last stat we roll for and this completes the paragraph on making Heroes and Superheroes on page 5.  Interestingly however, some crucial information is placed on other pages.  

On page 4, we are told:

How to Figure How Many Hits a Hero Or Super-Hero Can Take:
(Strength + Health + Intelligence + Combat Skill + Life Energy Level + Magic Resistance Ability + Highest Weapon Specialization) divided by five.

Note "Highest Weapon Specialization", that means the WS is not a single score or a list of weapons, or a hit or damage roll.  Choice 4, then - the H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to generate an ability score for each weapon they have specialized in - is the likely one.

Lastly, we need to generate a Saving Throw number:

"A die roll of 1 indicates the following saving throws:

Wizard 7
Super-hero 8

A die roll of 2 or 3, indicates the following saving throws:

Wizard 5  
Super-hero 7  
Hero 9

All other creatures of appropriate type

To make a Saving Throw roll 2 dice; equal or above succeeds."

So, using the above information, lets make a sheet and create a Hero character for the RSV:


Example Hero

Name    Rico                         Type  Hero

Life Energy Level              6                                             Experience Point Total   0

Hit Points             12                                                           Magic Resistance     5

Saving Throw     9                                                              Shekels
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
Trait
Score


Strength
11
Health
12
Intelligence
5
Leadership
6
Horsemanship
10
Sailing
8
Flying
3


Normal Combat
7
Archery
8
Weapon Specialization - Short Sword
12
Weapon Specialization - mace
10
Weapon Specialization - lance
14
Weapon Specialization







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