Sunday, December 14, 2008

D&D Cover to Cover, part 29

Being a series of articles in which the author reads the indelible words of Gygax and Arneson as presented the Original Collector's Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, published by Tactical Studies Rules. Beginning with Men & Magic, and concluding with The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, the author will consider those earliest passages, adding elucidations and interpretations along the way for your consideration.

Monsters & Treasure
TREASURE TYPES, MAGIC/MAPS DETERMINATION, MAGIC ITEM TABLES

The second half of this volume details Treasure. The section is launched with a table and guide on randomly determining the types and amount of treasure typically found in a monster’s lair. Nothing profound, but the footnotes concerning number of prisoners held by Men in their lair breaks down the areas in which those earlier monster entries are holed-up.

Land - Brigands, Bandits, Berserkers, Cavemen.
Desert - Nomads, Dervishes.
Water - Pirates, Buccaneers, Mermen.

The section continues with tables for determining the types of items discovered in treasure caches. Of note is that one-quarter of all items found, those listed as ‘any’ in the TREASURE TYPES table, are in fact maps. The nine tables that follow help determine the individual items within the various categories of treasure. Many of the items on these nine tables are not described or mentioned again in the subsequent EXPLANATIONS OF MAGIC ITEMS section which follows, leaving the referee to simply use the entry on these tables and go from there.

Of the 75% of magic items found, those which are not maps, fully 20% are Swords, thus, 15% of all items are Swords. This observation of course discounts the many specific entries denoted as Potion or Scroll, which indeed make those two consumable magic items more common when using these guides. Armor and Weapons are possible results, but clearly Swords hold an important place in the hierarchy of Magic Items in this original version of D&D, as I shall explore further in the upcoming explanation of Swords.

While 15% of such items are Swords, the categories of Rings, Wands/Staves and Miscellaneous Magic combined only account for a mere 11.25% of all items, or 3.75% each. Swords, Armor and Miscellaneous Weapons account for 30% of all items, and we already know that one-half of those are Swords. OK, moving on to the individual tables.

SWORD:

01-35: Sword, +1
84-00: Sword -2 (Cursed Sword)”
Did you know that 7% of all items found are a Sword, +1, or that 3.4% are a Sword -2? Neither did I, but I do now.

None of the Swords found upon this table are individually described in the later section of explanations. The referee is left to his own devices when judging exactly how some of these unique Swords work. For example, Locating Objects Ability, Charm Person Ability, and Life Energy Draining Ability are not defined. The implementation of these powers is left to the discretion of the referee.

ARMOR:”
Armor entries are simply that, not defined as either Leather, Chain or Plate. Shields may be found singly, or paired with Armor.

MISCELLANEOUS WEAPONS:”
All magic Daggers are enchanted in such a way that their bonuses only apply to specific targets, there is, for example, no good old Dagger, +1. There is also no Mace, +1. All magical Maces are +2. Magic Arrows and Magic Bows are described thusly, without the plusses they posses. I like this fact, and wish there were more such examples, the Axe +1 and the Mace +2 could also simply be Magic Axe or Magic Mace, for example. Lastly, we find the Dwarf-only War Hammer +3, 6” Throwing Range with Return. This item is of nearly epic, artifact proportions in the original D&D, with but a 1% chance on this table, based on the previously established numbers, that equates to but a .0375% chance of this item resulting from a roll on the magic items table. 1 in 2,667 rolls, in other words. This chance is shared by 15 other items in this volume, so in fact these 15 entries are the rarest of rare.

The Rarest of Rare in Monsters & Treasure:

War Hammer +3, 6” Throwing Range with Return
Spear +3
Ring of Spell Storing
Ring of Many Wishes
Staff of Wizardry
Crystal Ball with ESP
Censor Controlling Air Elementals
Stone Controlling Earth Elementals
Brazier Commanding Fire Elementals
Bowl Commanding Water Elementals
Helm of Teleportation
Flying Carpet
Drums of Panic
Horn of Blasting
Mirror of Life Trapping


The above could form a decent collection of unique, singular artifacts for a D&D campaign.

POTIONS:”
There are nine entries upon the Potions table not defined in the subsequent descriptions which follow. Most are self-explanatory, but the omitted Poison Potion is of interest to me. A footnote tells the referee that he should mislead or disguise when this item is discovered, but its effects are not detailed. I rule that this deadly item is a Save vs. Poison or die effect, but one could just as easily assign it dice of damage instead, with a Save vs. Poison for one-half damage result. Sipping a Poison Potion might further mislead a character, as Potions must be consumed wholly to take effect.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

4 comments:

Snorri said...

"The above could form a decent collection of unique, singular artifacts for a D&D campaign."

I like the idea!

taichara said...

None of the Swords found upon this table are individually described in the later section of explanations. The referee is left to his own devices when judging exactly how some of these unique Swords work. For example, Locating Objects Ability, Charm Person Ability, and Life Energy Draining Ability are not defined. The implementation of these powers is left to the discretion of the referee.

I like this and dislike this at the same time (not terribly helpful, but there you go).

On the one hand, it allows a DM almost-boundless leeway to customize the power -- and power level, as it were -- of these unique swords to best suit the campaign. This is a good thing.

On the other hand the vagueness seems a sure way to create conflict, especially in a case of multiple or rotating DMs with differing preferred interpretations. This is a bad thing.

Mostly, though, I kind of like it ;)


All magic Daggers are enchanted in such a way that their bonuses only apply to specific targets, there is, for example, no good old Dagger, +1.

Which is to say that, instead, one would find specifically a Dagger +1 vs. Humanoids or a Dagger +2 vs. Dragons?

I like that as an option, if not necessarily a rule. I think I'll have to use it -- and not just for daggers, either.

Sham aka Dave said...

Taichara: It's one of the features of OD&D that you either like, dislike or deal with; those grey areas that keep nearly every OD&D campaign unique. Cover to Cover attempts to sift through a lot of it, but in the end each referee will run it a bit differently.

As to the Daggers, yes...there are only two in Volume 2:

Dagger, +1 vs Man-Sized Opponents, +2 vs. Goblins and Kobolds.

Dagger, +2 vs. Man-Sized Opponents, +3 vs. Orcs, Goblins and Kobolds.

The daggers are interesting enough to mention due to being unique in this volume.

hcg said...

Oh wow, this got every one going - fascinating input mixed with a good read.