Why not

Author: DHBoggs /

This survey took a lot longer than I thought it would http://www.easydamus.com/character.html

Neutral Good Human Ranger/Sorcerer (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 15
Constitution- 14
Intelligence- 17
Wisdom- 18
Charisma- 14

Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers- Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

The Chance of Discovery

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

In the original rules, travel through the wilderness calls for a check for wandering monsters once “at the end of each day”, with the odd caveat that seaborne encounters will occur in the middle of the day.   
So you roll the dice.  If you get a monster you check the % in Lair to see if our intrepid adventurers have stumbled on a lair or encountered some non lair or out of lair troublemakers.
That’s a workable method.  The trouble is that it lacks any granularity with regards to the map.  What I mean is that characters may be traveling 3, 4 or more hexes in a day.  So where does this encounter take place?
If it is truly at the end of the day, presumably as characters prepare to camp or lodge for the night, then it will obviously be in the last hex traveled in.  If on the other hand the encounter occurs at midday, then one of the other hexes must be picked and travel halted at that point.
Referee’s can do this.  They can pick a hex, either randomly or deliberately for the encounter, and again this is a workable method; But it is not a very sharp method.
When I first started to work on the “evasion” table, it was less than clear to me what exactly it was intended to do.  One description of it – I think it was in AiF – said it was “the chance to avoid an encounter”.  This set me to thinking, as they say.  While I think the major intent of the evasion table was originally for hexcrawl chases in the Wilderness, there was a flexibility there (as with almost everything in OD&D) to apply it to other “surprise” situations.
Now if the chance of party A to avoid party B is 70%, then conversely, the chance of Party B to find party A is 30%.
Viola! The Chance of Discovery.  Rather than rolling once a day regardless of how far a group has traveled and backtracking to figure out where an encounter may be, Champions of ZED gives the Referee the option of checking each hex as the PC’s pass through.  For each new hex entered, a roll is first made to check for lair encounters using % in Lair, followed by roll(s) on the Chance of Discovery column made for all “wandering” groups in the area.  If an encounter is indicated, the Referee then check surprise.
Using the method is optional, of course, but it is an example of how the original rules can be stretched a bit when needed to cover more than the obvious situation and give a little more granularity to hex travel.   

Designers and Dragons - only $49.95!

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

Note: Since I take the subject very seriously, I've decided to replace my original post with a fuller and expanded review.  The contenets are much the same however and the original can be viewed as my post on enworld.

Earlier today on the OD&D forum, and then again on Enworld here http://www.enworld.org/forum/press-releases-announcements/312556-mongoose-designers-dragons-history-rpg-industry.html

was posted an exciting announcement from Mongoose.  A new history of the RPG industry has been published.  Immediately I wondered if Dr. Rob Macdougall had finally published.  Of course, that wasn't a very logical thought given the publisher in question.  But honestly I've always thought pretty well of Mongoose; at least they seem to be an aggressive success story in the industry and while I only have two of thier Conan books (Betrayer of Asgard and the Stygia sourcebook) I think they are pretty cool.  Unfortunetly it's dead obvious they are out of their depth with this attemp at history.

The book, Designers and Dragons, has available a 7 page preview. I am actually only discussing the prieview here, it was enough for me to see the character of the book.

A history book, in the modern sense, will contain the fruits of carefull scholarship. It will have many references and footnotes in an appendix discussing sources and details. In other words the author will "show the work", behind it. It will also be fact checked. This is when a publisher sends the book to credible readers who will double check, to the extent that they can, the assertions of the book.

Mr. Appelcline and Mongoose Publishing have very obviously done none of these things.

The preview contains several pages discussing the Origin of the Dungeons & Dragons game. As it happens, I'm an archaeologist with an avid interest in that subject and have researched it extensively, including talking with a number of the people involved. So I'm pretty well versed.

There's no question that RPG history owes a great deal to a man named David Wesely, and Appelcline does indeed mention him, or I think it must be him, but Wesely's name is repeatedly misspelled (something a fact checker would have noticead right off)

Imagine a History of the United States starting with Georg Washingtown.

Wesely ran - and still runs from time to time - a game set in a fictional town of Braunstein. Appelcline labels Braunstein as Napoleonic, but then says Dave Arneson - Co Creator of D&D - started running Braunstein and changed it to many types of settings. While Dave did run a Braunstien - he called it Blackmoor - it was Wesely himself who started changing the setting to different locals and set most of his games in a fictional, modern day Banana Republic, not the Napoleonic period.

This may seem like a minor fauxpaux but since nothing is referenced, the reader is left to assume that Appelcline is relaying accurate information.

It gets worse, much worse.

"Various sources describe Arneson visiting Gygax, Gygax visiting Arneson, or the two meeting at GenCon IV (1971)."

This is pure non-sense. All the people directly involved who have said anything about it have told exactly the same story - including, Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz, and Megarry. Megarry and Arneson went to Lake Geneva in late fall of 1972. (November, according to Mr. Kuntz). Megarry went to showcase his Dungeon boardgame and Mr. Arneson went to help him and run "a Blackmoor" for Mr. Gygax. "Other sources", meaning fan speculation and half forgotten comments from third parties, have no credibility in the matter.

This is really basic reasearch 101 stuff. The correct information can be gotten directly by asking the surviving participants or can be found without much trouble using a search engine.

Next we have this lovely sttement:

"Whatever the case, in that 1971 meeting Gygax and Arneson decided to jointly design a game that incorporated their ideas of fantasy realms and individual player characters. They called it ... `The Fantasy Game'."

There is exactly nothing true in any of the above. Gygax asked Arneson for his rules so they could "jointly design" Dungeons and Dragons in the tail end of 1972 after experiencing a delve into Blackmoor Dungeon as a player. They did not put their head together and decide to jointly design a fantasy game in 1971. Far from it, Arneson had been running his RPG for nearly two years before Gygax got involved with the game.

Further - in an interview on the very website that Mr. Appelcline founded and manages
http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/lynch01may01.html - Gygax emphatically denied that "The Fantasy Game" was ever an actual name for the game. Here's the quote "As an aside, I must laugh at some comment I saw about the name for the game being "The Fantasy Game" until someone "wised me up". Having been employed as an Editor-in-Chief, selecting what game rules and games would be published by Guidon Games since the beginning of 1971, I was well aware of the need to use a working title, the need for some caution in regards using the actual name for a a projected game release. So that's the reason for that bland one on the draft works."

Appelcline seems to cavalierly ignore the information on his own website! "They" never called it "The Fantasy Game" Gygax merely put that on an early draft as a placeholder. Arneson, as it happens, had an entirely different title in mind, but that is another story.

Here's yet another unchecked and unsited "fact": We all know - at least those who have seen the circa 90 page reformatted versions of the 3 LBB's - that Gygax's figure of 150 typewritten pages (or 300 !! as claimed in his Dragon #7 article) for the final playtest manuscript of D&D is an um... overestimate - yet Appelcline states it as simple fact without citing any source or giving any hint it might be otherwise.

That nearly ends the preview and its enough for me to shake my head in wonder at what can be published as history with a straight face and a less than inexpensive pricetag. This book doesn't even meet the most basic standards of journalism, let alone historical inquiry.

I imagine there might be a lot of good information in the book, particularly as it gets closer to the present, but with such sloppy scholarship and lack of decent references, who's to know what parts can be trusted?

Baskets of Notes

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

Was just looking at some old post and thinking about how far we've come in getting a better handle on those early days of D&D. 

For a very long time, just about everyone, myself included, bought into the message to varying degrees that Arneson was a hack who got more than he deserved.   Twas said he couldn’t write, didn’t write and was just some sloppy idea guy guilty of sour grapes.

Of course, old Dave really was a decent and kind gentleman and actually a pretty good writer, and his writings, if somewhat obscure, are clear and cogent.  Check out Trapman, DNA/DOA or Longtooth Lounge, for examples.

A lot of hay has been made over Tim Kask talking about the difficult task he faced when handed a “basketful of notes” that contained an apparently haphazard collection of materials for Supplement II.

Dave likely was a bit haphazard with his notes but the whole thing with Supplement II "basket of notes" is misleading.

Baskets holding project materials were standard operating proceedure at TSR in the early days, so the Supplement II notes were no different from any other project in that regard.  Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the basket in question had been collected and futzed over for some time by Brian Blume as the original editor on the project.  Indeed, it was Blume who tossed in the monk character.  Its likely that the material Arneson had mailed in contained a manuscript and table of monsters (the Giant creatures), the Hit location section, the TotF, The disease section, and a character class manuscript with Assasin and Sage, and a few things Kask cut out.  Among the cut material was probably the "Special Interests" and "Investments" sections Arneson included in The First Fantasy Campaign.  The rest of the material likely was a jumble of notes from Brian Blum and disparate materials written by Steve Marsh.  Its not fair to blame Arneson for that.  Tim Kask has made no secret of his feelings towards Arneson, so it is not surprising that his readers infer the basket of notes to be a defect peculiar to DA.  In any case it is to Tims credit that he pulled it all together into a fascinating little book.

For anyone interested in exploring the make -up of SII further, I have a post on the authorship of various sections HERE. 

Secrets of Monster Manual

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

The AD&D Monster Manual occupies an interesting space in D&D history.  Interesting because it was published years before the rules for the “Advanced” game itself.  Mike Carr’s 1977 introduction – only 3 years after D&D was published and roughly contemporary with Arnesons publication of the FFC – mentions D&D 13 times to AD&D’s 4 times.
Its been observed that the MM falls somewhere between OD&D and AD&D in conformity to the rules, and many regard it as an OD&D supplement with a few extras and indeed, for several years until the publication of the AD&D players handbook, it effectively was.
Mostly, that’s just an artifact of curiosity, but there exists on page five and the top of page 6 a mostly forgotten and rarely sited section called “Explanatory Notes” by Gary Gygax.  This little section has information not found in other OD&D or AD&D books (excepting Dieties and Demigods, where it is largely repeated verbatim), that goes a long way to clarifying the intentions behind a number of the OD&D monster stats that directly relate to in game play choices.  In Particular:
FREQUENCY:  Now this is an interesting stat.  For example, we are told a rare creature has an 11% chance of appearing in an “area or region”.   This seems to be unused information.  I suppose you could look at the tables of all the creatures that might be in a given kind of area – mountains lets say – roll percentiles repeatedly until you had narrowed the creatures to one “frequency” type - Rare lets say - and then roll against the list of rare creatures to find the one encountered.  I don’t think anybody really did this nor do I get the sense that the random encounter tables in the DMG are really keyed with this stat in mind (although they could be, I dunno).
NUMBER APPEARING:  Not explained.  We are told it is an “average” “guideline””to be altered … as the need arises”.  We are also told “It is not generally recommended for use in establishing the population of Dungeon Levels.”
So, what does it represent?  Well, looking back to Frequency, we could safely assume the number appearing is the population in “a region or area where it might be an inhabitant”.  This could mean a “region” of a dungeon level, presumably but not usually an entire level.
The alternative meaning is that Number Appearing is how many monsters would be randomly encountered if PCs stumbled onto them as wandering monsters.  This is how many have understood it.
Hmm, lets look a little further and see if there are more clues.
% IN LAIR:  We’ve looked at this one back in August, but here is something else interesting “…where it domiciles and stores its Treasure.  If a monster encountered is not in its lair it will not have any treasure unless it carries “individual” treasure…”
Which ties in to:
TREASURE:  these are the types listed on a table which can appear with a monster listing.  About these types Gygax writes that they “… are only found in lairs of monsters as found above.”; and “The use of treasure type to determine the treasure guarded by a creature in a dungeon is not generally recommended.”
Frequency covers “an area or region”
Treasure Types are meant for the domicile (Lair) in an area or region, not an individual creature and not as an isolated dungeon treasure of the sort used when placing a monster in a room.
Number Appearing should represent the creatures who will have the assigned treasure type in an area or region.  Otherwise, there is a guide given for region, a lair, and treasure to be found, but none for how many inhabitants may be found there.  If somehow the Number Appearing was not meant to function in harmony with the other stats but referred to wandering, out of lair encounters it would make more sense to list individual treasures for the wanderers, not lair treasures for the unknown number of the “domicile” population.

The Book of Elder Magic

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

is now available here http://sites.fastspring.com/apriorcrs/product/thebookofeldermagic

and in print on Lulu.

So, what's this thing Boggs?  Well, it started as a fairly obvious idea: convert all the spells from Dragons at Dawn and Supplement into use for OD&D and then collect them (the non redundant ones anyway) together with all the OD&D spells prepared for Champions of ZED.  Create a nice little booklet for use at the table.  This was something I wanted for my games.  So that's what I started to do.  Then I thought, "Hey, the Dave Arneson Blackmoor books have OGL spells and some of them are kinda cool, why not convert them to OD&D so they get some use in the OSR?"  So I went through the Blackmoor books and started picking cherries.

Then I thought "Hmm, what about Dave's players creations - Fred Funks Freds World, Richard Sniders Powers and Perils, and Dave Megarry's Pentantastar?  And there's still a bit left to mine out of Adventures in Fantasy too...."  For Freds World I got permission to use a few spells; the others, being very different systems and being non OGL material could not be direct sources, but could serve as sources of inspiration in a few instances.

I ended up with a whoping lot of spells.  There's some 57 pages worth.

For good measure, I also threw in some of D@D supplement I magic notes, adapted to OD&D play; the reworked and expanded section on Spell Books from Holmes to Level 12, and the Dragons at Dawn spell magic redone as an Alchemist class, matching Arneson's brief notes on the class.

It's good stuff, and directly portable into any of the Classic or OD&D retroclones.  I'll be getting a lot of use out of this one, and maybe some of you will too.

I's in standard (US) 8.5 * 11 paper size, because that seemed the most practical.  I'll be converting my pdf to booklet when I print, so I left the font big enough (11 point) so as to still be legible, for those who may wish to do the same.

Rescue Lotsa!

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

I hope everyone had as great a holiday weekend as I did.  This weekend was the annual Council of Five Nations – the worlds second oldest gaming convention after Gencon, so they say – held by the Schenectady Wargamers Association, and it was a blast.  I ran two events and participated in another – a playtest of Adventurer, Conqueror, King run by Tavis Allison.
I’m not much for after action reports for game sessions.  My eyes tend to glaze over when I try to read them and I write them even less often.  But such a great weekend deserves a little tale telling.
The First game I ran was a Dragons at Dawn event recreating one of the earliest Blackmoor adventures.  In 1971 Dave Wesely was home on leave from the army and joined Dave Arneson and the Boys on an expedition into the dungeons of Blackmoor.  Orcs had recently driven out Baron Fant and taken over the place.  Somehow they had also managed to kidnap Lotsa, daughter of the Elven king.  The elves promptly surrounded the place with an army and offered 10,000 GP and marriage to Lotsa (temporarily) to any rescuer.
For players I had only one of my usual D@D crowd, but once we had all our characters rolled up and the stragglers all setteled we got off to a great start.  SWA’s resident grognard (played D&D since 74) led the gang as Atroz the hedge knight and wasted little time with all the obvious passages and quickly discovered the elevators in the basement pillars.
I won’t do a step by step, but its fascinating to watch an experienced group of players make all the right moves and use the right tools to get the job done.  I guessed finding Lotsa in a 20 level dungeon might be a bit challenging, but the wizard used a location spell to discover an object known to have been in Lotsa’s possession when she disappeared.  A captured orc in the general area and use of a ward on a passageway to block the chasing hordes, and a tranqulize spell on a unruly Lotsa are some of the highlights.  In short, mission accomplished and a great time had by all.  Oh, and twas the lady wizard who won the bride….
Mention should also be made of the next game I ran.  Dave Arneson’s Haunted Lighthouse using OD&D, CoZ rules.  That was interesting in that I had 11 players at the table, 4 of whom were youngsters with their parents.  Again, efficient play ruled the day with the group sussing out and destroying the baddie (Atroz pushed him off a ledge into the nethervoid) with only one fatality.
And to round out the Blackmoor goodness of the con, Travis, unbeknownst to me, set his ACKS playtest in Blackmoor dungeon.  I might be proud to say that the humble Mage I played was one of only two characters to survive, escaping unscathed, except that was mostly due to hiding in the back and running like heck.  At least I wasn’t the player who managed to get killed twice by the same monster…..    Good Times.

Zac's combat challenge

Author: DHBoggs / Labels:

So I tried posting this as a comment on Zacs blog for this post http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/09/does-system-matterto-rancor.html

But for reasons unknown to me it just won't post.  What the heck, I'll just put it here.

Fun Challenge

Dragons at Dawn (Dave Arneson tribute game)
Luke is a Hero level Priest , Monk subclass, Order of the Jedi
Level 4, HD 2+1, HPV 8.  He is unarmored, therefore AC1,  Scores: Appearance 6; Brains 8; Cunning 8; Dexterity 9; Health 8; Strength 7; 

Rancor is apparently a non regenerative variety of true troll or something like it with the ability to swallow victims, so well give him (her?) an AC 6, HD12, HPV 46, Dexterity 5.

Gammoriean – why bother. 1 HD AC4 (leather).
Note: because the Rancor is a stupid beast, the Referee does not apply any level adjustment benefits that might otherwise be due to a 12 HD combatant facing a 4 HD combatant.

Round 1

The gammorrean falls into the pit.  The Referee decides to begin the Gamorrean at “disrupted” morale state – Rolls a failure and the Gamorean is now “routed” for 18 rounds.

Luke falls into the pit.  He is not hurt but is surprised for one round and the Referee applies a penalty to his Morale roll.  He fails, and drops one step to “shaken” for 2 rounds (minutes). (at Luke’s level, Morale rolls are optional for players, but we will assume the Ref likes to use them.)

The Rancor easily passes his morale roll and attacks the Gamorean.  Size is the only modifier that applies (12/10 = 1.2 rounded to +1) in the Gammorean’s favor, but being routed, receives only ¼ of Fighting Strength (1HD +1)/(4)  - Resulting in “Less than 1 FS” or  12 FS vs  >1 on the matrix.  This means the Rancor only needs an 11 or less on 2d6 to hit.  The roll is good; the Gammorean is hit.  Being generous, the Ref allows an Armor Class Saving throw for the Gamorean (AC4), but rolls a 5.  The Gammorean is knocked down, scooped up  and quickly eaten.

Meanwhile, The Priest (Luke), picks up a bone , retreats,  and surveys the room for details.

Round 2

Rancor: The Rancor, still possessing the Morale advantage, attempts to grab Luke.  The Referee, considers the situation and asks the Priests player to make a 2d6 dex roll at -4.  Despite Luke’s excellent dexterity (9), the roll fails and the Rancor has him and gives a good squeeze (lets say 1d6 damage – about 3 HPV) to soften him up before devouring.

Luke:  the Priest/Monk however, decides  not to attack with the bone, realizing the most he could possibly do – assuming a successful hit and 6’s on all damage die – would be 14 points of damage.  Instead he decides to jam it in the Rancor’s mouth to prevent being eaten.  The Referee considers the action and requests a Dex roll at -1.  A 6 is rolled and the move is declared successful.

Luke is dropped. The Referee allows a saving throw vs. Health (just to mix it up), but Luke’s player rolls high (a 10) and fails the roll.  Since the drop isn’t very far, the Referee rolls 1d4 for damage and gets 2 -  bringing Luke’s total down to 3 HPV.

Round 3

Luke’s Moral has now returned to normal.  The Referee decides a new Morale Throw should be made.  Both the Rancor and the Priest pass, but Luke’s roll is much higher.  The Referee decides a momentum shift has occurred and grants Luke the initiative.

Luke: Luke throws a rock at the Rancor, an activity at which he is quite skilled (+4),  requiring a combat roll.  Luke gains a +1 for size modifier, +4 for Dexterity (9-5 = 4), giving a total adjustment of +5 to FS.  Added to his 2 + 1  HD, Luke gets an FS of 7 vs. the Rancor’s FS of 12.  On the matrix, 7 vs. 12 requires a 3 or better to hit.  Adding Luke’s skill bonus, that become a 7 or better.  Lukes’ player rolls a 6, hitting the Rancor. Using the split move allowed to shooters, Luke now backs away from the Rancor, opening a door and moving into the next room.

Rancor: as Luke backs away, the beast attempts another grab.  Luke’s player makes a successful save vs. dexterity.

Round  4

Luke:  the Priest attempts to open a barred doorway – the Referee looks at the Priest’s strength score and declares an automatic failure.   Instead the player opts to use a projectile “split move” again (move and shoot), and declares Luke will pick up a rock throw it at the Portcullis controls as the Rancor passes under.  Throwing against a nearby stationary object would normally require a Dexterity Throw, but given Luke’s throwing skill and his high dexterity, he cannot miss.

Rancor:   The Rancor is slowed by the confined space but begins to enter the second room just as Luke throws the rock.  The Referee does not bother to calculate the damage as portcullis through the brain is fatal even to Rancor kind.

Dragon Economics

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

I’m very interested by the French and Indian war period in North American history.  I’ve made it a point to visit, repeatedly if possible, any sites from the period I can.  One that’s on my list of yet to do’s is Fort Frederick in Maryland.
Not much happened there during the war, but the place itself is of unique interest because of the fort.  Unlike most of the British and colonial log forts, fort Frederick is made of stone.  Otherwise, it is much the same in design and situation.  It was a wilderness fort, built to guard the frontier, but built with permanence in mind.  It has four large corner bastions, three large interior building and four 180’l x 17h curtain walls.

Recent discussions on the Adventurer, Conqueror, King system, got me thinking about fort Frederick.  The parallels to building a D&D “borderlands” stronghold really struck me.   True, its not medieval, but for all intents and construction purposes, fort Frederick might as well be, but unlike your typical medieval scenario, we have an actual record of what it cost to build.  Further, we know the general range of wages being paid to craftsmen, so it provides one opportunity to convert real money into gaming gold. 
The actual historic cost to build Fort Frederick was 6000 pounds
Carpenter’s wages around 1760 when the fort was completed were circa 45 - 50 pounds a year (about  1/125th the cost of the fort) , and wages for other types of craftsmen are in the same ballpark. 
If we turn to the 3LBB’s and the equivalents in the FFC we can look at how much it would cost for an OD&D gaming character to build a stronghold identical to Ft Frederick; they would need to pay for the following:
Four  180’ curtain walls (7000 gp each)    28,000 GP
Four bastions (3000 + 20% for added height)  14400 GP
Three stone buildings  (2500 each)  7500 GP
Total  GP 49,900
Now, since we know that a mid 18th century carpenters yearly wage was about 125th the cost of building Ft Frederick and that it would cost 49,900 GP to build in D&D land, we can calculate the carpenters wage for D&D.   The Carpenters yearly wage should be 400 GP (33 GP per month).
Now here is where it gets interesting.  It is no secret that original D&D’s economics come almost straight from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign.  Indeed the original drawing showing castle construction and prices in the first through 3rd print of the 3LBB’s is one of Daves little sketches.  I’ve always wondered at the costs and wages given in OD&D, whether there really was any logic behind them or if they were just pulled out of the proverbial arse.  It turns out that a wage of 33 gp a month is entirely consistent with the wages for OD&D craftsmen.  A smith for example makes 20 gp a month (25 in the D&D draft), an armorer 100 GP (75 FFC, 80 per the draft).  So, as far as non military wages go, the wage to expense ratios seem about right in OD&D.  The equipment lists may have some issues, (armor for one) but most things are reasonably priced in regards to the wages being earned.
Oddly, this changes dramatically in AD&D.  AD&D is much more nuanced and varies a bit between 1e and 2e; the yearly income of the average craftsperson varies between about 20 - 40 GP a year.  A tailor earns 30GP a year, a carpenter 40 calculated as 300 work days at 3sp a day and 20 sp = 1 gp.  That’s only 3.3 GP a month – one tenth.  The construction costs are indeed much less too, but not nearly enough to balance out.  Building fort Frederick using the AD&D structure cost yields a fortress cost of around 11,000 GP.  Instead of a ratio of 1 to 125, wages to expense – that’s a ratio of 1 to 275.  In other words, using the AD&D carpenters wage and the fort Frederick historic rates for wage to cost, the AD&D fortress should cost 5000 GP,  instead of more than twice that.  What is further odd about AD&D is that some of the wages given for specialists do not change from OD&D, creating a wildly swinging economic picture – Armorers are still 100 gp/month, smiths, 30.
Interestingly, 2e restores construction cost to something more in line with OD&D, but the poor carpenter gets only a slight bumpt to 5 gps a month, making his lot in life even worse!
The upshot of all of this is that Arnesons rates – particularly if you use the adjusted ranges given in the FFC, seem to work well together in terms of historic norms.  I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was using Napoleonic era data as a base of some sort, but whatever it may be, the numbers weren’t just pulled out of a hat or an arse.
Except, for mercenaries.  Here the OD&D prices are screwy.  Soldiers are dead cheap (20 GP a year for Heavy Horse!)  It may be that concessions were being made for wargaming purposes, but the root of the trouble with troop costs is that the started off as nothing more than the CHAINMAIL “point” costs.  Observe:




Light Foot

Heavy Foot

Armored foot
2 ½





Light Horseman

Medium Horseman

Heavy Horseman

I didn’t give the FFC prices here because there are two different lists and it’s not straightforward  how they work.   Some calculation is required.  Perhaps this is exactly why Gygax used his own Chainmail figures for the mercenaries lists, while using figures derived from Arneson for the other Hirelings.  The Horse rates in the 3 lBBS are just the Chainmail rates times 4 (rounded), the others look as if the wrong column was being read, just a point off.  Clearly, the mercenary GP costs were only a slight variation on the CHAINMAIL point costs rules, with little relation to the rest of the economy.    
Looking closer at the FFC, one list is prices for the 2nd Coot Invasion (1973).  The income was calculated by season, but what’s not clear is if the expenses were by season also, meaning multiply cost times 4, maybe.  The earl of Vestfold and the King of the Great Kingdom must pay 550 gp for a heavy horse, but if that’s per season then the yearly cost is a pricey 2200.   
A couple page later Arneson gives another list that seems to be the basis of the Hirelings list found in OD&D, which it basically matches, thus revising the earlier Coot Invasion figures.  Here the rate for an unequipped Horseman is a mere 10 GP a year, but add Horse armor (320), chainmail, (24), a horse (l25,m100,h400), helmet (2), saddle (6) spear (5), etc., and we are already looking at close to 800 GP a year for a heavy horseman.
So, in both cases Arneson had a much more economically consistent wages to expenses economic mileau in place, which became somewhat muddied in OD&D and utterly trounced in AD&D.

critiquing the comfort zone of gaming habit

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

Some well received and inspiring lessons;  
The process of learning to DM/story-telling is best discovered in the trenches by  creating our own dungeons/locales.  This personalizes the experience 100% and builds in layers of confidence, objectivity and other enhancements of a greater type not found in running  pre-made adventures. The difference between creating your own story and reading it aloud rather than reading aloud another's.
For the most part many of us were weaned  in "Fun House" climes; but whatever the "adventure"  environment, one learns rudiments and essentials and these thereafter take root and grow according to the prevailing creative force in every individual as expressed through personal understanding and application, and in differing degrees.
Robert J. Kuntz, Aug 2011 http://lordofthegreendragons.blogspot.com/ (Rob has a lot more to say on the subject - have a look)

I distinctly remember Dave and Gary in early 1974 reacting with astonishment to the relative avalanche of letters asking for settings, backgrounds, and "how do I do this in the game." For them, coming up with those things WAS the fun part. They couldn't understand why people wanted to pay somebody else to have the fun for them.
Michael Mornard
ODD74 Forum: Re: More thoughts on how D&D has changed, « Reply #8 on Jul 23, 2011, 1:14pm »   http://odd74.proboards.com/index.cgi

When Dragonlance DL1 is held up as the module that heralded beginning of the end by OD&Ders there is something they are not making clear enough. If you are producing adventures like that yourself, terrific, but to use such a well-knit published module is a dead end because there is no room for personal touches and what do you do when you've finished it? Try to mimic the designer's style from then on? Bad idea. These modules influence how you think as a DM, as did the classics from the old days (if you used them) even if they allowed each DM more autonomy.
I say 'why use published modules at all?' At intermediate level as a DM your sources should be fiction, literary as well as straight fantasy, so READ widely…  At beginning levels use your imagination and look for artwork, ruined abbey by a river, witch's house in a small wood, stone circle on a barren coast, and use the monster manual. It takes so long to play a game, have confidence (if you have talent) that plenty of ideas will come to you so you can grow from the simplest start. Think of the cliche and discard it. Now think of something that needs explaining or investigation; a handsome young knight is seen leaving the witch's hovel; on a stormy night a tentacle reaches up over the clifftop, rights a toppled stone from the ring and touches each other stone in turn before disappearing; a terrified but determined painter is discovered near the ruined abbey spending many hours trying to capture the evening light...
Kent, January 2009.

...there are only three OD&D bonuses, when not using Greyhawk: missile bonus, hp bonus, reaction bonus.  And the first two are pretty limited.  And I'm struggling to think of non-ability bonuses in the LBBs.  There are some percentile bonuses for the evasion rules, and bonuses from magic, but I don't remember seeing any codified bonuses or penalties for combat situations (attack from behind, darkness penalties, etc.) Bonuses seem to be impromptu for the most part, and few and far between. … I think impromptu bonuses versus codified bonuses is just another example of the DIY vs. official support split in the way the game changed.  Just as in the past you played in the DM's world, you played in the DM's ideas about who had the advantage in a situation, so you got a +/- 1 or 2 as the DM saw fit, and really not much else.  But that changed to playing in an official setting, with official rules, and thus the DM becomes not someone with a good idea, but someone willing to be tricked into mastering all the minutiae of both the setting and the rules.

 Referring to using the AD&D monster manual with it’s added statistics and monster details in an OD&D game Dave Arneson wrote, “As I have said many times before. Work with what works for you. But be very aware that this adds complications and draws you and your players away from the real treasure, THE STORY.”

% in Lair

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

The first book of gaming goodness that I ever owned, months before I ever played in a roleplaying game or really even knew what RPG meant, was the AD&D monster manual , 4th edition, which I have sitting on my lap now.
Many of the stats listed for the beasties seemed cryptic to my 11 year old brain, but perhaps none more so than % in Lair.
I think I, along with a great deal of other gamers  thought this little stat meant “How often the monster(s) is home”, and that seemed pretty useless considering the game was supposed (I thought) to revolve around detailed adventure modules in which the designer choose what room or other a particular monster was in.
% in Lair was thus safely ignored for 30 years.
And then I read this little bit in the FFC.For each encounter, consult the Encounter Matrix for the type of creature that lives at each spot…   The normal chances of the creature being in it's lair are worked out as they normally are. So if Encounter Six has a 30% chance of being found in it's lair, then that percentage is used and the number of creatures encountered will then be any number up to the total number present in the hex.  Again to avoid confusion, you may wish to take the maximum number of creatures that are listed on the Monster Matrix as representative of the population in the hex for each encounter, given a plus or minus 10% to keep the players on their toes.   For each time that the creatures are found in their lairs, there will be a chance that a portion of them are out in the countryside.  To determine this number, assume that 40% of the population is always in the camp and that up to 60% (10 - 6O%) are always outside of the camp.”

Wait, what?  Here Arneson is saying percent in lair is not a statistic telling us how often the monsters hang out in their lairs.  Arneson tells us that where several monsters exist in a lair, 40 – 90% of them will be found “in lair”.  hmmm.  Next I turned to my trusted MM in the hope of clarification and read:

“% in Lair indicates the chance of encountering the monster where it domiciles…..”


So % in lair, whatever else it might be, it indicates the chance that players have actually found a lair in a given hex, be it a dungeon, a castle, a thieves den, whatever.  It turns out to be a vital statistic for hexcrawling.

Gygax, in the MM goes on to indicate that it will also mean encountering the monster.   But he seems to be missing something here, the fact that not all monsters are singular and multiple type monster populations – bandits lets say, aren’t always all in the same place at the same time.  It would seem that % in Lair was one of Arnesons stats for hexcrawling that Gary may not have fully used or understood in the same way, leaving out the % not home part.  So when we turn to the FFC and read 40 – 90% of a given population may be out of lair when the lair is encountered – it becomes clear that the "in Lair" stats most important function, one very useful to the hexcrawl Referee, is telling what the likelihood of randomly finding a lair is, regardless of how many or who may be home.

For single creatures, it gets interesting. Dragons especially so.  The FFC, gives different chances of a dragon being in its lair depending on type and gender and it does so in two different and conflicting entries – one co authored with Richard Snider, the other, older d6/CHAINMAIL based material.  Arneson and Snider’s AiF  also gives a % chance a dragon is home that differs yet again.  None of these are anything like OD&D’s % in Lair stat for dragons.  So in the case of dragons, it’s easy enough to use one of Arneson’s stats for determining when various types of dragons are in their lair, and OD&D’s % in Lair for when the lair is found itself.

In summary, a % lair roll should be made after a positive encounter roll occurs when adventurers enter an area to see if they have stumbled on the lair or some wandering group outside their lair.  if it is a wandering group, it will be some portion of 10 – 60% (1-6 on a d6, split in half for each roll of 6) of the lair population.  

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