Showing posts with label 2nd ed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2nd ed. Show all posts

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Nida for Wasted Lands

 I want to get some more Forgotten Realms this month, and this has me thinking about my *other* native Forgotten Realms character, Lady Nida. But maybe before she was a "Lady."

When I did stats for Nida a while back for AD&D 2nd Ed, I wanted her to be a combination of the witches that I didn't play back then: a Witch of Hala and a Witch of Rashemen. To be a witch of Hala, though, you have to start out in a non-spell-casting class. Fine! I wanted her to start out as a rogue/thief beforehand anyway, so that works. I also knew that Nida, along with Sinéad, were going to be part of a party of characters.  Playing Sinéad, though, in Baldur's Gate 3 changed some of my ideas about her.  So now some of these ideas that don't work as well for Sinéad are going over to Nida. 

Nida Sheets

I want to focus on her Rogue/Thief/Renegade side for this build in Wasted Lands. She has some magic already, which might be the reason Sinéad joins up with her band of adventurers, and also why Sinéad has part of her hair shaved off and wears a lot of black leather; she is emulating the friend she met when she first left home.  Maybe I'll even use a "Quantum Cat" version of Johan as the party's cleric. It would be a different version of course, but maybe the same as my Baldur's Gate 3 run.  Note: I DO have a Baldur's Gate 3 version of Nida as well, but I want to try out something different for her in another run, maybe.

But for now, her job is to be a bad influence on Sinéad. 

Nida
Nida

Class: Renegade
Level: 4
Species: Human
Alignment: Twilight
Background: Sorcerous (Grew up in Rashemen)

Abilities
Strength: 11 (+0) 
Agility: 16 (+2) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 13 (+1) 
Persona: 18 (+3) N

Fate Points: 1d6
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+0
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +2
Spell Attack: +0
Saves: +3 vs Death effects (Renegade), +2 to Persona saves (Sorcerous background)

Renegade Abilities
Improved Defence, Ranged Combat, Stealth Skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Perception, Vital Strike x3, Read Languages, Stealth Skills

Stealth Skills
Open Locks: 30%
Bypass Traps: 25%
Sleight of Hand: 35%
Sneak: 30%

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: Arcane Power: Detect Thoughts
2nd Level: Luck Benefit 1d6

Sorcerous Background
Bonus Arcane Power: Precognition

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Dagger, Leather Armor, thieves tools

Wasted Lands Renegades as AD&D Thieves

Nida here is not "Lady Nida" yet, but she is a good thief. In fact, the Wasted Lands Renegade stacks up well to the AD&D thief. Now, if I were in a min/maxing mood, I could have given her Sage and used the divine touchstones to improve her thief's skills. But that didn't ring true to who I think this character is. While she grew up in Rashemen, she is not a sage. She doesn't have spells just yet, but she will stop being a thief soon and switch over to being a Sorceress or Witch.

I'll come back to both Nida and Sinéad and whatever other characters I come up with for my Forgotten Realms exploration.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Thursday, January 11, 2024

This Old Dragon: Issue #147

Dragon Magazine #147
I thought I should be getting back to these "This Old Dragons" to celebrate 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons. Since this year is all about D&D and various themes, I am pulling out my Dragons to review, but when I post them will be timed to coincide with other events. I am saving my various Sci-fi issues for May and so on. This month though is pure randomness.  Reaching into the box under my desk I pull out a particularly musty smelling artifact from the summer of 1989. AD&D 2nd Edition is on the market. I am working two jobs (Pizza Hut during the day and QMHP at a Mental Health facility at night) to pay for school. "Satisfied" by Richard Marx is the Number #1 song. Tim Burton's Batman still dominates our screens. And on the shelves for July, 1989 is issue #147 of This Old Dragon.

Our cover is from none other than Clyde Caldwell, wanting to do a good sorceress for a change. I really liked this cover. I wish the copy ow reviewing still had it.

Inside we are treated to an ad for "The New" Dungeon game. Looks like the old one with newer art. I have this one (I have all of them) and it is a nice big board and one of the larger boxes for Dungeon.  This one advertises the new classes of Dwarf and Cleric. 

A couple of ads for the WEG Star Wars game. 

This issue's theme is magic, so that will be fun. 

Letters cover the issues of the day including details on the revised Druid from a couple of issues back. Nice, but all moot now that AD&D 2nd Ed is out. 

In a similar vein Forum covers some rulings on Clerics. Things are actually made clearer in 2nd Ed.

Skip Williams is up in Sage Advice with advice on various magic items like rings, potions, rods, staves and wands.

Sorcerous Secrets is our theme this month. 

Getting Familiar


Patricia Nead Elrod is first with Getting Familiar, a guide on familiars.  It is a 2nd Ed focused article (good) and covers what has long been a very neglected part of any wizard's (or witch's) life; their familiar. While the focus is AD&D 2nd ed the material on the types of familiars (Cats, Crows, Hawks, Owls, Weasels, Ferrets, and Toads) can be, and should be, used in any edition. Very solid article and a good kick-off.

An old friend of the Other Side, Vince Garcia, is up next with Variety, the Spice of Magic. Ok Vince knows his magic lore, so lets see what he has for us. This one is a 1st Ed article, not surprising given the time period. This covers substituting spell components for wizards casting spells. A great article if you are like me and track spell components. Lots of alternates are given with various chances of spell change or failure. Worth reading for ideas alone on spell components. 

Gaze Into my Crystal Ball... covers, obviously enough, crystal balls from Krys Stromsted. Again this is an AD&D 1st ed article. I'll point these out as needed for this time of the Summer of 1989. A cleaner break was made between 2nd ed and 3rd ed ten years later.  This one covers durations, distances, and how spells work through a crystal ball. 

Spelling is Out by Douglas J. Behringer details writing out spells. Again AD&D 1st Ed focused. This includes the type of paper used to how the character writes the spell. 

Richard Hunt gives us not just one, but four different Wands of Wonder in WOW Your Players. Four different wands with random tables of effects. Likely could be used with any edition with some tweaking. 

And that is it for the special feature. Hmm. Kinda expected more. 

Miniatures are featured in the Through the Looking Glass regular feature from Robert Bigalow.  Some chariots pulled by lions, some V&V heroes and some impressive dragons.

Nice ad for AD&D 2nd Edition. Still the mock-up of the Monstrous Compendium, though it should be out in stores at the same time as this issue. 

Our "centerfold" is the Magus game by Robert J. Kuntz. The rules are here but the game board and pieces are missing. Too bad, it might have been fun to try.

The Gamers Guide of small ads is after that and not in the end. Ads for dice, computerized FRPG maps, and a couple of ads for getting your character drawn.

TSR Previews reads like a collector's wish list.  AD&D 2nd Ed books, the new Dungeon, the 1990 Forgotten Realms calendar. The Shadowdale novel. Dragonlance modules. Really fun stuff.

Ken Rolston reviews a bunch of magic-themed games in Role-Playing Reviews. This includes GURPS Magic, Ars Magica (the first one!), Talislanta, and magical offerings from the Forgotten Realms and Fantasy Hero.  This long review goes into each book into detail. Generally speaking Rolston likes each of these books and what they offer.

Brenda K. Ward gives us Lord of the Keep our short story for this issue. 

The Leser clan of Hartley, Patricia and Kirk offer up this month's The Role of Computers. They cover a lot of games for various computer systems. Commodores get the most of them with Amigas, and Commodore 64k and 128k machines. I always liked the Commodore 128k, I had a girlfriend at the time who had one and it was a fun little computer. These reviews are paired up with the Clue Corner feature to give out hints on various games. 

Nice ad for the SSI AD&D PC games. 

ad for the SSI AD&D PC games.

John C. Bunnell is up with the book reviews in The Role of Books. None titles jump out at me, but most of the authors do. There is a Vonda N. McIntyre one, Starfarers, that looks interesting.  A Mercedes Lackey horror novel, Burning Water that looks like a lot of fun, and one from an author I don't know, Tom Holt, called Who's Afraid of Beowulf? that also might a fun read. 

Convention Calendar gives us some of the cons that are happening the Summer of 1989. Surprising not listed is Gen Con.

Dragonmirth wraps up our issue. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, the ones from the early 80s seemed funnier. 

So an interesting issue with a lot of great material if you are into magic and wizard types. 



Character Creation Challenge: Sinéad Moonshadow for Wasted Lands

Moving out of my continuity to do something newer, but related today.  Sinéad Moonshadow is a D&D character. She began life as an AD&D 2nd Ed character from a previous Character Creation Challenge. I thought she might be some sort of witch/bard or wizard/bard mix from The Complete Wizard's Handbook.  In fact, I imagined situations where she might later run into such characters as Celene, Heather, or Raven. As the last couple of years moved on, I changed my mind about what I would do with her. Now, she is very much my eyes and voice to visit the Forgotten Realms, which I will do more of later this year. 

Sinéad's Character Sheets

And then Baldur's Gate 3 happened. Sinéad was my second full run-through (my fourth starting character or something). I really wanted to see how the Wild Magic Sorcerer worked in the game, and since I was using Sinéad, I also gave her levels of Bard. Honestly it was so great I have dropped the idea of her being a witch at all and instead going full wild Magic Sorcerer and Bard.  

Honestly, the distinction between a "wild magic Sorcerer" and "Natural witch" is largely an academic one. But I am the academic that gets to make those distinctions, and I am cool with it.

So, in my updated backstory, she is a half-elf girl growing up in the Moonshae Isles. She has bursts of magic that she can't control. Even in the magic-rich Realms, this is an oddity. When she accidentally burns down a barn during a bit of uncontrolled magic, she leaves her home.  That much I always had, but where did she go? Well, now I know. Baldur's Gate on the Sword Coast. I only know a little more than that because my Realms lore could be better. 

In many ways, Sinéad is the spiritual god-daughter to Heather, both half-elves, both bards. I might need to try out a Ranger/Bard under 5e or Baldur's Gate sometime in the future.

Sinéad Moonshadow
Sinéad Moonshadow

Class: Sorceress / Sage
Level: 12/8
Species: Half-elf
Alignment: Light 
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 18 (+3) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 16 (+2) N
Wits: 15 (+1) 
Persona: 17 (+2) N

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 3
Vitality: 87
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +8/+6/+4
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Spell Attack: +6
Saves: +6 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer & Elf)

Sorcerers Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (4): Beguile, Detect Thoughts, Enhanced Senses, Shadow Walk

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Beast Speech, Prestidigitation, Sleep
Second Level: Eternal Flame, Invisibility, See Invisible, Unlock
Third Level: Concussive Blast, Dark Lightning, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse
Fourth Level: Control Temperature, Dimensional Travel, Renewal
Fifth Level: Passageway, Restore Life, Telekinesis
Sixth Level: Dispel Evil, Instant Death

Elf Abilities
Night Shifted

Sage Abilities
Languages (18), Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Read Languages, Renegade skills at level 4

Sage Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts (yes, twice), Chill Ray, Gout of Flame
Second Level: Conjure Flame, Invoke Fear, Magic Locks
Third: Fly

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: 
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Longbow, shortsword, leather armor, Dog ("Scratch")

Wasted Lands as D&D 5th Ed / Baldur's Gate 3

Again I am impressed with the levels of customization here. I think this Sinéad fares well against her 5e and BG3 counterparts. I did not pick out any Heroic Touchstones for her, but I would do this to cover any Sorceress or Bard powers she is missing like her meta-magic and Bardic inspiration, though I might be able to get this with Beguile.

This is a really good version of her and really one I could see playing. I am going to obviously spend a lot more time with this character and even try her out in various other versions of D&D. But this one right now is my favorite.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Friday, January 5, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Celene Werper for Wasted Lands

 You have followed the exploits of the Werper family, so you might be asking who this is. Celene Werper was/is a very interesting character for me. During play, Johan III got trapped in Ravenloft. Celene was his little sister. She was adopted by the group to come along in their search for Johann III (they did not know he was in Ravenloft). Celene was my first AD&D 2nd Edition character. She was also a test character for a number of things I was trying out.  She was one of my tests for a Healer Class, this time as a Priest of specific mythoi. She was also a pacifist, so I also tried to have her do non-lethal damage whenever I could. She was a healer, an exorcist of sorts later on, and to top everything off, I made her afraid of the dark. So she always had a light source on her, and yes, my DM rolled for extra wandering monsters.  But it was part of who she was.

From very, very humble beginnings game-wise, she would become a very important character. So important that the line of the Wepers now goes through her and not her brother. 

Celene Werper Character Sheets

Celene Werper

Class: Necromancer (Light)
Level: 10
Species: Human
Alignment: Light
Background: Scholar

Abilities
Strength: 16 (+1)
Agility: 12 (0) 
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 14 (+2) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 3
Vitality: 76 
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+2
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) +1
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Saves: +5 to Persona, +2 to Intelligence (Scholar background).

Necromancer Abilities
Channel the Dead, See Dead people, Turn Undead, Protection from Dead x4, Summon the Dead, Vampiric Augmentation*, Suggestion x3, Command, Vampiric Touch*, Beguile Spirit, Call the Reaper.

Heroic Touchstones

1st Level: Cure Light Wounds
2nd Level: Light
3rd Level: Eternal Flame
4th Level: Conjure Flame 
5th Level: Cure Disease

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Occult Scholar, Hunter of the Undead

Gear
Full plate armor, Holy symbol

Wasted Lands as AD&D 2nd Ed

AD&D Second Edition introduced some power creep in terms of some of the classes and kits. For that reason I am adding more DivineHeroic Touchstones. Also, I wanted to replicate her healer abilities a bit more. This also begs the question, Why isn't she a Theosophist?  In truth I wanted to try her out as a Light Necromancer. Some one who naturally sees dead people and spirits and wants to help move them on. Her "vampiric" powers work in reverse; she saps her own life strength to heal others. Much like the Star Trek Original Series episode, The Empath.

In AD&D, we did this with our Spell Points system. But in truth it was way overpowered. I would not come up with a good "spell point" system until Ghosts of Albion came along. Wasted Lands already does a much better job of this, but these powers give her a neat set of role-playing hooks as well. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Baldur's Gate: A Barbarian in Hell

 My son and I have been enjoying the new game, Baldur's Gate 3. He is much further along than I am and so is his D&D 5e group. One of his favorite characters is Karlach, the tiefling barbarian. I admit, she is great. Karlach is this 6ft+ tall tiefling warrior goddess who is also one of the funniest, most optimistic characters in the game. My son calls her a "cinnamon roll" because of how sweet and fluffy she is.

When your character is idle she will be humming to herself and dancing in place. She says things like "fuck! It is great to be alive!" and when she runs into combat she laughs. She calls everyone "soldier" and loves it when you stick up for the underdog, kids or find ways to keep the innocents alive. She has every right to be angry and bitter; instead, she is cheerful and optimistic. 

And sadly...she is also dying.

Spoilers ahead for the Baldur's Gate 3 video game.

A Barbarian in Hell

Karlach has an "infernal engine" for a heart. It works great in Hell, where she was fighting in the blood war, but on the Prime Material, it is burning her up from the inside. One of your quests is to find a way to keep her from burning up. You can, for a while (and it is worth the effort!) but in the end...well the Devil has their due. 

There are a lot of different endings for all the "origin" characters, but Karlach's was particularly bleak. Her happy ending was to be able to say she loved everyone before burning up, leaving only ash.

What did Larian Studios do about this when players started complaining about it? Simple they did what any good studio would do.  They pulled back in the voice actress, reshot Karlach's ending with all new material, and patched it to the game in a matter of DAYS.

You can see her new "happy" ending here.

Personally, I love the idea that she and Wyll go off together since their backstories are so intertwined. If I do another run-through of this game, I want to do it as Wyll with the purpose of seeing what I can do to save Karlach. Karlach would never do it for herself; that is not who she is.

BUT. Even with the "they lived happily ever-after in Hell" ending my son and his group are less than happy with it. So we were talking about it one night while playing BG3.

He wants an adventure for his party where they go to Hell to rescue both Karlach and Wyll.  He wanted to know if I had anything.  

I told him that was a silly question.

A Paladin in Hell

I mentioned the adventure A Paladin in Hell does this, and it has somewhat the same premise as the newer D&D 5 adventure (and Baldur's Gate 3 prequel) Descent into Avernus.

I told him to use the basic outline of APiH, use details from BG:DiA, and make it a mission to rescue Karlach and call it "A Barbarian in Hell." However, in my current run-through, Wyll has rejected his warlock powers to become a Paladin. So I guess it still works.  I half-jokingly have called this "No Sleep Till Avernus" with my son.

In this adventure, Karlach and Wyll are defending a piece of Elturel that has remained in Avernus (let's say it was the temple in A Paladin in Hell).  The characters in Baldur's Gate 3 are limited to 12th level. "Descent into Avernus" takes the characters from level 1 to 13. The AD&D 2nd Ed "A Paladin in Hell" is for characters 15-20 level. So then A Barbarian in Hell is for characters 13th level and above. 

Paladins in Hell

The motivation for most D&D adventures is glory and gold. The motivation for A Paladin in Hell is "the greater good."  For A Barbarian in Hell, the motivation is "Save our friends."  And that is a good motivation, really. 

Besides, if the roles were reversed, you know Karlach would have saved your ass a long time ago.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #261

Dragon #261
I have a few of my original Dragons left from my big box of old musty Dragons I acquired a few years back. I recently picked up a couple more collections in my desire to explore more of the 1990s and AD&D 2nd Edition.  The 90s were an interesting time for me. I began the 90s living in the dorms at my University working on my undergrad degrees and I ended the 90s married, a new baby, and working my first Ph.D. Quite a lot of difference. I also in that time "gave up on" D&D and moved to other games; something I can relate to again now.  But for right now let's focus on this issue #261 from July of 1999 of This Old Dragon.

Our cover is an amazing one from Fred Fields and his nod to Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."  For this one, "The Birth of Night" Fields had his then-girlfriend (now wife) Sandy do the modeling.  I remember this from back then and I really liked then, still do. 

Dragons from this time period are very different than the ones I have done in the past. This Dragon (and many from the 3rd edition era when I picked it back up) was published by Wizards of the Coast, has a bunch of names I don't normally associate with Dragon (but with other RPG products), and the format has all sorts of changes. All in all, this is going to be just as much as an adventure as ones from the 1970s or early 1980s.

One new thing. Lots and lots of websites! Sadly many are no longer active. 

We get a big ad for the Planescape Torment video game. 

The Wyrm's Turn is the Editorial section that discusses this issue's theme, The Dark. Dave Gross is the editor at this time. 

Fun ad for the 25th Anniversary tour. We are reminded throughout that this is the 25th Anniversary of D&D. We are nearly at 50 now. 

Sage Advice is still here and Skip Williams offers a lot of advice about various AD&D 2nd Ed rule questions.  I half expected to see this one phased out, but there was still a need for it and not everyone was on the Internet just yet (but close). I do have to point out that Sage Advice is still by postal mail. No email address yet. I am sure this will change sometime in the next few months.

The letters section is now D-Mail. They DO have an email address you can use along with the standard postal one. It might even still be active. Just to be 100% clear, I am not sure when a lot of these changes happened, I had what we called "Grad School Guilt." That is where if you read anything not directly related to your subject matter caused a lot of guilt. So I was not reading Dragon all that much from like 1992 on until the 2000s. Oh. The letters. Right. So in something else of a red letter day for me, I recognize one the names of someone that sent in a letter! So Joe Kushner, I hope you got your answer! Later on in the same feature, I see another name I recognize from online interaction.  D-Mail is long, longer than the letters section used to be.

The general consensus in D-Mail is that Dragon Magazine has improved with Wizard's purchase of TSR. While of course they are going to publish that, and yes there is plenty of evidence to support this claim, I would personally pick the magazine back up in subscription about a year or so from this issue.

Nodwick appears as a comic strip on page 13. An order form for back issues of Dragon with issue #70 as the earliest one you can still get. $8.00 and it can be yours. This is about to get less attractive as we will see later in this issue.

Ray Winninger is up with the Dungeoncraft column. This covers building something for your game. This one starts with the notion of building up the PC's base of operations. He covers some rumors and other background building of the area and ends with a map of the tree base. Rather interesting really and set up to be easily added to anyone campaign or game. In fact I am not seeing anything here that could not be used in an OSR game or a 5e game. 

Dungeoncraft Dragon #261

George Vrbanic is next with the PC Portraits feature. This time 14 pictures of Dwarves. An ad for Baldur's Gate follows.

We get to our themed featured articles now.  Up first, Wizards of Dusk & Gloom by Tony Nixon. This covers some options for the AD&D Player's Options books. I actively disliked the Skills & Powers books. That being said these options and kits are pretty cool and add a lot of flavor to the wizard class. There are three options here, the Shadow Caller, the Shadow Seeker, and the Shadow Hunter. There might some 3e equivalent prestige classes out there or some 5e subclasses. There are also three "Books of Shadows" which gives us 17 new shadow-based spells. From what I can tell these spells did make it to the giant Spell Compendiums released by Wizards.

Dragon #261 Ads
An interesting set of ads. A single page with a bunch of companies and their web addresses. Among them are Guardians of Order (with a Sailor Moon book), Eden Studios (featuring the Abduction Card game), and RPGnet.  

By Any Other Name covers Dwarven Names from Owen K.C. Stephens. A fun little set of tables to build a new dwarf name. 

Objet d' Art is from Dawn Ibach and details the types of treasure you can find in a hoard. Very detailed and quite extensive really. Also can be used in any edition of the game.

Our fiction section is from J. Gregory Keyes, The Fallen God

Me and My Shadow continues our Shadow and Dark feature.  This article is by Spike Y. Jones. This covers a number of shadow-centric magic items.  This flows into the next article Conjuring in the Dark. This covers 13 new shadow-based spells. 

Johnathan M. Richards is next with an Ecology of... article, this time Ecology of the Dark Naga. The article seems longer that the previous Ecology articles. While it seems more detailed than the previous ones from the Golden Age, but lacking some of the charm of the old Ed Greenwood ones. Though this one is good, just not sure if the fiction elements live up to the rest of the article. Call me weird, but my preferred Ecology of articles always treated their subject as some sort of scholarly discussion. 

Ecology of the Dark Naga

Peter Whitley gives us something that will be something more and more common; AD&D monsters from a computer game. This time some monster from Myth: The Fallen Lords. There are four new monsters in AD&D Monstrous Compendium format.

John Kovalic is up with Dork Tower

A Little Bit of Magic from Lloyd Brown III covers how to measure out magic items in a campaign to keep it from going too Monty Haul.  Examples include magic items with Noncombat Effects, Intermittent Effects, Self-Destructive, Limited Time periods, and items with charges. Advice is given to avoid armor and weapons with pluses to all things.  So a sword +1 is great but it means you will need bigger and better (and more magical) ones later. A sword that just +1 vs say undead keeps the players excited for any magical sword. Or armor that is magically light, but doesn't provide any better protection than normal armor of the same sort. While it was far to late in the game for me at this point, this would have been good advice for me to revisit later on in the 3e and 5e days.

In something that seems really familiar, some Marvel characters. Though this time the Marvel SAGA system (if I am remembering correctly). This time we get Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey) and Phoenix (Rachel Summers) writeups from Jeff "Zippy" Quick and Steve Miller.

Role Models gives us some Alternity alien minis. 

The Convention Calendar gives us the best conventions for the Summer of 1999. A couple of things to note for me. There is a Capitol Con XV at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield, IL. That not only was not very far from where I grew up, it was new when I still lived there! I don't think I ever knew about it. Despite it being listed in Dragons before. I can't find any more details on it. Interestingly enough there are listings for August, but Gen Con is not one of them. 

The Ares section is back, this time with Alternity branding. Stephen Kenson (of Green Ronin fame) is up with The Twilight Jungle. This not only continues the magazine's main theme, but the aliens here look very much like something you could find on Pandora from Avatar, only 10 years before the movie came out. The article is fun but highlights the fact that I always wanted to try out Alternity. Something about it just always grabbed me and I just never got the chance to play it or even read it much.  Maybe one day I'll get back to it. 

Dragon Mirth has our comics of the month, plus a sort of find a word puzzle that looks fun. There is a Love Canal joke that I am not sure many would get these days. 

Knights of the Dinner Table has a two-page spread. 

TSR Previews (yes it is still called that) gives us new products for the next couple of months. A few books listed still have their concept covers. Of note are the Forgotten Realms interactive atlas (which I never owned) and the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM which I grabbed the moment I could from my FLGS, which was now for me actually local (and the same one I still use today). A few novels including two I would later read; Ru Emerson's "Against the Giants" (which I only sorta liked) and Ed Greenwood's "Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters" (which I enjoyed more than I thought I would).

TSR News lets us know that the 25th Anniversary Edition boxed set will be released in August. Better grab one of these while you can, the after-market prices are going to crazy! In other news, Gary Gygax will be at Gen Con in August, running games, holding seminars and signing copies of the 25th Anniversary boxed set. 

Finally in Profiles, Steve Kenson gives us some background on cover artist Fred Fields.

So really a good issue. I had a lot of apprehension about approaching this era of Dragon/TSR. I can recall sitting on my couch reading one of the first WotC-produced TSR Ravenloft books and thinking maybe the company and game I had enjoyed for so long but was feeling quite apathetic too was turning around. This issue of Dragon redoubles that. There is a sense of optimism for the future of the game that I had not personally experienced in the late 90s and did really feel until the 3rd Edition Era.  Wizard of the Coast did save D&D and the proof is in these pages.

While many will debate the various "ages" of the game; when was the Golden Age, when did the "Silver Age" begin and what was the time post-Gygax and pre-WotC? One thing for certain for me is that the time between say 1994 and 1999 is a big mystery to me that I did not get to investigate in any detail until I got my Dragon Magazine CD-ROM. Even that only took me to Issue #250.

Dragons in print and pdf

For this new exploration of Dragons, I am setting my "end date" as Issue #275. It's a nice number, it takes us just inside the changes for 3e and it was just before I resumed my subscription.  I guess by that logic I am setting my "starting" Issue at #151 or so. I have already done some past that. 

Personally, I think these "newer" Dragons will be every bit as interesting to me as the ones from the late 70s and early 80s.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Deities & Demigods II: Part 1, Hecate

Let's kick off this inaugural Deities & Demigods II post by trying to figure out what should be in the standard stat block for these gods. Let me begin with some assumptions.

The Triple Hecate, 1795. William Blake
The Triple Hecate, 1795. William Blake

  1. I will favor AD&D 1st Edition. This is the system I have used the most. This is also the system that was the genesis of my original One Man's God feature. So I would like as much overlap as I can.
  2. I will pull in material from any other edition or variation of D&D as I see fit. In particular, some of the Avatar details from AD&D2 and D&D3 as well as any other material that might fit the bill.
  3. I am working under the assumption that these stat blocks ARE NOT designed as super-powerful monsters to kill. In already borrowing from AD&D2, and a house rule we used in the 80s, these stat blocks represent their avatars or mortal manifestations on/in the Prime Material. Their true forms on their own plane are at least 10x more powerful. Likely more.

Now these assumptions are working under a much larger assumption of how my Deities & Demigods II posts will be like moving forward.

Today I want to focus on the stat block. I am not detailing anything about this god, yet nor am I even defining things like standard divine abilities or power levels. Let's go with AD&D 1st Ed standard until I have reason to do otherwise and see where this goes.

I am going to start with the example of Hecate from Greek Mythology. After this, I will use her and this example to develop a new pantheon of gods. I spent a lot of time with her yesterday in preparation for this post. 

Let's look at how Hecate is presented in the various D&D books.

Hecate across the Editions

Deities & Demigods: AD&D 1st Edition

For this I want to break down the AD&D 1st Ed Deities stat block.

Roslof Hecate sketch
HECATE (goddess of magic)
Lesser goddess

ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE: 12"
HIT POINTS: 289
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 89%

SIZE: M (51⁄4')
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: Any being working with magic
SYMBOL: Setting moon
PLANE: Nine Hells

CLERIC/DRUID: 14th level druid
FIGHTER: Nil
MAGIC-USER/ILLUSIONIST: Special
THIEF/ASSASSIN: Nil
MONK/BARD: Nil
PSIONIC ABILITY: I
S: 12 1:25 W: 9 D: 20 C: 22 CH:25

I separated the sections with hard returns. I would use color, but that gives some screen readers for the visually impaired issues. So instead, I will go with the sections.

The first section starting with AC is very combat-focused. The number of attacks, damage per attack, special attacks, and more.

The second section starting with size is personal information and worshiper's information. This one is great for expansion.

The last section starting with classes is somewhat combat-focused and somewhat personal. For Hecate here, we expect she has some spellcasting ability but maybe not a lot of fighting.  Though as a personal note, I disagree with her Wisdom being so low.

After this follows her description. 

Ok. One of the most common complaints about the presentation in the D&DG is that this is too much like a monster. I high-level monster, but a monster all the same. It has AC and HP, so it must be able to be attacked and killed.  This is not what we want or need. We have nothing here about her Clerics (save for those that use magic), holy days, or anything a worshiper might need/want.

There is a table in back that is actually much more useful than anything in the stat-block above.

Deities & Demigods Tables

This includes their name, Sphere of Control, Clerics [M,F,N-H], Rainment [head, body], Colors, Holy Days, Sacrifice [Frequency, Form], and Place of Worship.

For Hecate, these are: Magic, Hell Hound, yes, yes, no, bare head, tunic, blue-white, fall equinox, monthly on the full moon, ox, and mountain glen. 

This is good material. 

Legends & Lore: AD&D 2nd Edition

I don't need to go into as much detail here since the entries for all gods are typically shorter. But let's have a look at what we have anyway.

Here we get into the concept that the stats are not the God, but their avatars on the Mortal plane.

Hecate's Avatar

Ok, so you can't fight the god, but their avatar instead. A little better I guess.

There is mention here of the duties of the priesthood, what spell domains they gain, what Weapon and Non-Weapon prophecies they have access to, and so on. Though nothing about holy days, animals, colors or the like. Each pantheon/mythos does have some new spells and artifacts listed so that is also nice. 

So the avatar and details on the priest characters are a good takeaways from this one.

Deities & Demigods: D&D 3rd Edition

Lastly, let's look at 3rd Edition, even if it is very different than the first two.

Ok I did pick this for a reason. There is a lot of information here for the players of the Clerics of these gods, which also gives us a Rosetta Stone of how to talk about the gods of other editions. That Rosetta Stone is the D&D Patheon, which at this time was primarily the Greyhawk one. Other editions use a similar set of gods and talk about what their priests can, can't, and could do.  BUT that is all for another time. Let's get back to Hecate.

Hecate 3e

We get Domains, Divine Rank, her Alignment, favored weapons (which can be used by her priests) and Portfolio.  All good information.

Unfortunately, 3.x goes on to embrace the worse parts of the 1st and 2nd Ed's books and then makes a bunch of their own. 

Hecate 3e

I mean yeah, there is lot of information here, but is any of it needed by her clergy? Ok the sections on Dogma and Clergy and Temples is good. But do I *really* need to know or care how many Feats she has. No. Not unless she is going into combat. Which she shouldn't do.

There is an "Avatar of Hecate" on the next page that is reminiscent of the AD&D 2nd Ed one, but still, not exactly something we need.

What, if anything, can I get from all of this?

Well. Sadly the default presentation for the first 25 years of D&D appears to be "God as High-level Monster," which is not at all helpful.

I broke down these stat-blocks WAY back in 2010 when I was detailing a new cult, the Church of Lolth Ascendant, for the Drow Goddess Araushnee. There I captured the stats that seemed most valuable to the clerics (and players of the clerics) of that particular Goddess.

This has me wondering.

What should the format of a "Deities & Demigods II" be? What is the purpose of a book of gods for a D&D-like game?

Given what I have worked through here and in previous posts, I can see two different but related projects.

First, I can see a need/desire/want for a continuation of the format of the 1st Ed AD&D Deities & Demigods, monster-like stats, and all. 

Secondly, I also see a need for a book of gods, demi-gods, and heroes, along with all the above-identified positive things like duties of the priesthood, holy days, and more. I would add new divine spells that are only available to those priesthoods. That's a much larger and more exciting project to be sure.

Deities & Demigods II is something I can do here, with some work.  The other project, the so far unnamed one, that will be something that will take longer. 

I think for the next post, I should first figure out what would be needed for a D&D-game god write-up.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: What's Next for This Old Dragon (and more BB updates)

Combining two posts into one today. Mostly because I don't have a monster to share.

A few years back, I bought two large collections of Dragon Magazines. They were in terrible shape, most missing their covers, many had water damage, and a few were in great shape. So I started on a plan to do "This Old Dragon." I'd pull one out at random and review the contents. Not review-review, but talk about what was inside and reminisce about what was going on for me then and how I could or still do the material inside.

It has been a fun trip.  One of my personal goals was to reread the ones I had in the past AND to find new material from Dragons Issue #50 and below.  I had one other goal that developed in my readings too. More on that.

But I am now running out of Dragons. I grabbed one the other day, Issue 95, only to remember I had already done it

So how does this all relate to monsters?

The goal I developed while reading these was how much I enjoyed the old Ecology Of articles.  Since so many of these were in terrible shape to begin with, I was fine with cutting out these sections and putting them into my AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium binders. I am growing the definitive collection of AD&D monsters over here. 

So for the next phase of my This Old Dragon, I want to go in the other direction. I want to find Dragons that cover the 2e era. 

My personal start of the AD&D 2nd Era would be sometime after Dragon #150. I know for a while Dragon was doing both 1st Ed and 2nd Ed stats for monsters, and some of those I still have here. I might re-sort what I have left and clear out all my ones from below #150. I think my cut-off Dragon for AD&D 2nd then needs to be #274 when Paizo took over.

Now I need to find a good collection that covers the 90s issues of Dragon.

Do not tell me I can get issues online. I don't condone piracy of any sort. Besides, I have the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM that goes all the way to issue #250. 

The goal here is to have physical magazines in hand to review.

I don't need collector's copies; I don't even need table copies. I need readable copies, and if they are missing a page here or there, no big deal.  Nor am I looking for handout copies. I will buy what I need. 

I will wrap up my "Classic" This Old Dragon copies and then move on to the ones I have that are after issue #150.  After that...well, it depends on what I can find out there.

If you see any for sale online, let me know!

Basic Bestiary Updates

Did not get as far as I wanted to get last week. I made some more updates to BB1 and BB3. What can I say? Demons are fun to write about. I am not happy with my stat-blocks for dragons yet. Glad that is for BB4, and there are no plans to get that out until 2024. All four may come out then unless I get busy.

I do need new cover art for all four, and I would like them all to be from the same artist.

I *DID* however, come up with the plan to include the various Witch Queens in my game world in an Appendix. Obviously, I will not include ones based on others' intellectual property. But I have enough mytho-historical ones and my own for it not to matter.  I like this idea a lot and it fills a gap I had in the various power structures of the book. These witches will be part of BB1. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)
This week is all about D&D. Since I have been doing spooky things in general and witchy things in particular, this one *might* stretch this notion a bit. But this book does give us our first-ever official Witch class, er... kit for AD&D. So for that reason alone I should consider it.  But there are other reasons for me to consider this.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

PDF and softcover editions. Black & White interior art. 128 Pages.

For this review, I am considering the PDF on DriveThruRPG and my softcover book from 1990.

So a bit of background first. AD&D 2nd Edition came out in later 1989 and introduced the concept of Kits. These were roles that could be taken by a class. They are similar in many respects to the sub-classes or archetypes of D&D 5. You took a kit at the first level and that gave some powers, abilities, and restrictions. They quickly got bloated and dare I say, game-breaking (looking at you The Complete Bard's Handbook) but the early ones like this gave the game some great flavor, and others, like The Complete Psionics Handbook, extended the rules in interesting ways.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook is all about wizards, magic-users, and magic.

Ok class what spell is this?
Chapter 1: Schools of Magic

This is not a classroom-like school (though it can be) it discusses the 8 schools of magic codified by AD&D (that is still around today). In AD&D 2e you could have a "Specialist Mage" or someone dedicated to a particular school, they excel in casting spells from that school but can't cast spells from an opposing school.  The example in the Players Handbook is the Illusionist, a holdover from AD&D 1st Ed. Arguably the most popular would become the Necromancer. (more on that later).

Each school is detailed and the requirements for each are also given on top of the requirements for a Generalist Wizard. For example, a Conjurer must have some human blood (seems random) and Enchanters need a Charisma score of 16 or above (that makes sense).

Chapter 2: Creating New Schools

This covers the creation of new schools of magic that either augment or abandon the schools above. It is a great primer on how magic might work and how it could be learned. While the standard schools are not dropped here, they are reorganized. This chapter is also helpful for anyone wanting to rethink their wizards can do. If Original D&D gave us a magic-user that can do anything, this gives us multiple types of wizards that collectively can do it all and not always the same way.

Chapter 3: Wizard Kits

At only 20 some-odd pages this section feels larger. And it is also the focus of my attention today. There are 10 kits detailed here, each with requirements, preferred schools, barred schools and what they do. The kits are the Academician (scholar of magic), Amazon Sorcerers (what it says on the tin, but all the The Complete Class book had an Amazon kit), Anagakok (Wizards from primitive cultures), Militant Wizard (also what it sounds like), Mystic (in this case a sort of pacifist wizard), Patrician (a wizard of noble birth), Peasant Wizard (just the opposite), Savage Wizard (wizard from very remote areas), Witch (why we are here), and the Wu-Jen updated from the 1st Ed AD&D Oriental Adventures

I mentioned this was the first official witch in AD&D, this is true, but it is not the first official witch of D&D. That honor goes to the witch school for Magic-users in GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri which predates this by 3 years.  The witch here is easily the most detailed of the all the kits along with the Wu-Jen.

The kit creation section was a well-used and abused feature of this book for me when working on other kits and subclasses.

Chapter 4: Role-Playing

This chapter covers all sort of role-playing advice and tips for wizard characters. Various personality types are covered here; the Altruist, the Brooder, the Mystery Man, the Showman., and more. There are also adventure ideas and plot hooks for wizard characters. 

Not the Scarlet Witch
Not the Scarlet Witch

Chapter 5: Combat and the Wizard

AD&D wizards at low levels are easy to kill, so combat tips are most welcome. This covers Defensive spells and Offensive spells and how to best use them. There is also a bit about the restricted weapons list of the wizard.

Chapter 6: Casting Spells in Unusual Conditions

Details what spells are effective where and more importantly which ones are not effective. This includes the mundane underwater and the more fantastic environments like the planes. Also various conditions on the spell caster like blindness, impaired hearing, and speech.

Chapter 7: Advanced Procedures

Covers level and spell advancement to 32nd level. Details on various spells and a bunch of materials on how illusions work in the game. Details on spell components, spell research, and magic item research and creation.

Chapter 8: New Spells

Pretty much what it says. 40 new spells for AD&D.

Chapter 9: Wizardly Lists

Various lists from 25 helpful familiars, to five unusual places for spell components, nine magic items that have not been invented yet, and more. There are maps, locations, and even 12 new magic items.

The utility of this book for AD&D 2nd can't be undersold. There is more here than just class information there is also information on the very lifeblood of most fantasy games; magic.  While the book is solid AD&D 2nd ed there is enough information here for players of any edition of D&D. 

I have mentioned in the past that the magic school and wizard training information makes a great complement to the magic school found in GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri.  In fact most of my late 90s AD&D 2nd ed games revolved around this idea.  I even brought many of those ideas back to my short-lived D&D 4th Edition game.  And most recently have gone back to this book for my newest AD&D 2nd ed character Sinéad.

I am surprised about how much I can still get from this book.

And obviously, it was the model I followed when I did my very first witch book 23 years ago this week!

Wizards and Witches



The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Thursday, June 16, 2022

One Man's God: Legends & Lore, 2nd Edition

AD&D 2nd Ed Legends & Lore
For this post, I am moving further outside of my original purpose of One Man's God but certainly still within the spirit of why I was doing it.  In truth one of the seeds of what would lead me to do One Man's God to start with was planted while flipping through the AD&D 2nd Edition Legends & Lore and my complaints about it. 

A brief recap. My series, One Man's God, dealt with going through the original Deities & Demigods book and working out how various gods, monsters and/or heroes would work in the cosmology of AD&D 1st Edition demons.  I took each myth/pantheon and looked at them through the lens of AD&D demons. Not Christian demons, though that can inform my view, and not Ars Goetia demons, or any other sort. Just AD&D ones.  I went through the book and took on some ancillary topics as well like Syncretism and how to build my own myths

AD&D 2nd Edition though is a different sort of creature.  For starters, we didn't even have demons or devils at the start. Secondly, the cosmology of the Outer Planes or the "Great Wheel" became something of its own setting in Planescape later on. So a lot of assumptions going into One Man's God are called into question in this new cosmological viewpoint. 

Though I think I could make the argument that I can take the Legends & Lore book and look at it independently of later developments and certainly Planescape and still apply the rules I was using for OMG.  I am going to cover a lot of ground in this one, but it is very familiar ground.  Sometimes very, very familiar.  But before I do that maybe an overview/review of Legends & Lore is in order.

Legends & Lore, AD&D 2nd Edition

For this review, I am considering the hardcover book published in 1990 and the files from DriveThruRPG. 192 pages. Color cover and inserts, black & white and blue interior art. 

My history with Legends & Lore is a complicated one. Deities & Demigods was my very first AD&D hardcover purchase.  I was playing a Cleric in D&D B/X at the time and wanted to expand his role in the game. I thought a book of gods would be a great in. Plus it was mythology that got me into D&D to begin with, so it was a natural choice for me. 

Like many at the time I also, rather immaturely, chaffed under the name change of "Deities & Demigods" to "Legends & Lore" feeling that TSR was bowing to the smallest, but loudest, contingent of people criticizing the game. But I would later buy a copy so my collection of AD&D hardbacks would be complete.  Fast forward a couple of years and now AD&D 2nd Ed is the new game on the block and there is a new Legends & Lore out.  This time I did not mind the name, maybe because I was now in college and saw that it fit the content better. I recall sitting in the apartment of my old High School DM and his cousin was there (he lived in the apartment below) and we were discussing the new L&L book. I can't say the discussion was very favorable towards the new book.

Gods, circa 1990

Before I delve into that, let's look at the book and I'll bring up that discussion as it pertains.

Legends & Lore was written by James M. Ward (who gave us Gods, Demi-gods, and Heroes and Deities & Demigods) and Troy Denning. This book has the advantage of being the one that is most in common with three different versions of the D&D game.  The book is called revised and updated, and it is certainly that, but there are plenty of similarities between this book and the 1st Edition one.

This book contains 11 different mythologies, down from the 17/15 of the previous edition.  This was one of my first points of contention with the book back in 1990.  Where were the Babylonia and Summerian? The Finnish or the Non-humans? One could have easily combined (and made a good argument for it) the Babylonian and Sumerian myths.  Combined they still were not as long as the Egyptian myths cover. 

My second point of contention, and even then I knew this was a very weak leg to stand on, is that the stats were gone.  Oh sure there were brand new stat blocks for worshipers and what the gods can do and there were the stats for their "Earthly" avatars, but the long, and let me just say it, Monster Manual-like stats were gone. Yes. These are not supposed to beings you can, or even should, hunt down to kill.  

My last complaint, and again this one is weak, is that so much of the art was reused for this edition.

Granted sometimes the older art was used to great effect.

Otus art

Other times, less so.

That's not Cú Chulainn

Thelb K'aarna art for Cú Chulainn? Nope. Not buying it. They would have been better using Moonglum.

The book does though do a very good job to laying out the powers of Greater, Intermediate (new to this edition), Lesser,  and Demi- Gods. Power common to all gods are discussed and powers they grant to their clerics, in general, are discussed, with the details of each god.  Ok. So this means each god takes up more space. That explains some of the loss.  

There is a solid human focus here and that is by the design of the book since they are drawing more from history. 

Each of the pantheon/myths is presented in more or less of the same format. We get a covering of the myths and an explanation on where they come from.  There are some new spells listed and some new magic items.  We follow with the Gods, usually the most powerful first working our way down to demi-gods and ascended heroes.  Where appropriate there are also monsters and sometimes maps/plans of centers of worship. Pyramids for the Aztecs and Egyptians, temples, and so on.

Also included with each god are the duties of the priesthood and what their requirements are. These will include alignment, ability score minimums, Weapons the priests are allowed to use, armor restrictions, what spheres of clerical magic they will have access, what other powers might be granted, and whether or not they can turn or command undead or even have no effect on them at all. This is the forerunner of 3rd Edition's Channel Divinity power for Clerics. 

The myths include American Indian, Arthurian Legends, Aztec, Celtic, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Newhwon, and Norse.

One Man's God

Now I want to look at each of these and see how they would fare using the lens of One Man's God. Or, to put it easier. Are there any demons here?

American Indian

Covers some similar ground (as all the myths do) as the original Deities & Demigods. No monsters here, but a lot of heroes.

Arthurian Legends

No gods at all here, despite how important Christian mythology, especially around the Holy Grail, is to these tales.  Only a note that "Authur's deity remains distant and unapproachable."  The Grail is mentioned as a magical relic, but not much more about it. There are only two monsters here, The White Hart and The Questing Beast.

Aztec

Aztec myths are full of demons and demon-like creatures. What does 2ne ed give us?  A paragraph about how the mythology is lacking in fantastic creatures. Sorry, not buying that one. 

Celtic

Now Celtic myths have monsters, and I have talked about many of them before, but only a very few could be considered demons in the AD&D sense of the term. Here we get a lot of gods and only one hero, Cú Chulainn.

Chinese

Again China has tons of creatures that could be called demons in the AD&D sense. The Neglected Ancestral Spirit could be considered demonic. But are they AD&D demons? I am going with no. 

Egyptian

Not sure I am liking that blonde-haired, green-eyed version of Isis here. It is likely that our first concept of demons came from Egyptians. Well.,, I would argue they came from the Sumerians who would then influence the Egyptians. Also, Egyptians have a ton of gods, so no monsters at all in this section. Not even Apep and Ammit. 

Greek

Many of the primordial titans of Greek myth would get new life in Roman myths and then get ported over to Christian mythology. Geryon is one notable example. As far as Greek myths go this one has the gods a bit better organized.  The Furies or Erinyes are now "Lesser Gods" which tracks with some myths and here their alignment is Neutral. Among the monsters are Cerberus (NE) and the Gigantes (CE) which are bit like the primordial versions of the giants. These work great for my Hüne which are bit like demons. 

Indian

One of Kali's great powers is her ability to scare away demons. It's why she is put at the head of armies. Does this book give us any?  Sadly no monsters are mentioned here.

Japanese

This one feels a bit more research than the original D&DG. While no demons, the god Amatsu-Mikaboshi would make for a reasonable devil or some other type of fiend; a unique, Prince level one. He is a rebel god and would not submit to the other gods, so there is a bit of Lucifer in him. That and the fact he is called the "Dread Star of Heaven."

Nehwon

Our odd one out since it is not a world myth but rather the creation of Fritz Leiber.  Again Tyaa could pass for a demonic queen in many settings along with the Birds of Tyaa. 

Norse

The Norse gave us fire and frost giants and many of those primordial giants are quite demon-like. Lots of heroes here, as to be expected, and some monsters. Garm and Fenris Wolf could both be considered to be like demons as well.

In the end this book represented a paradigm shift that was not just part of AD&D 2nd Edition but happened along with it. Even future books that dealt with gods handled them a little different than this, but along the same paths of evolution. 

What was the outcome of my story about talking with my friends about this book?  Well if you see the image of the cover I used, well that is my own book. I didn't buy it right away, in fact it was many years later before I picked up a copy of Legends & Lore.  Strange that a book that was really one of my first purchases for AD&D would in the very next edition become one of my last.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: The AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendiums, Part 7

Monstrous Compendium Annual - Volume 1
The Monstrous Compendiums would eventually move over to an annual format of perfect-bound soft-cover books.  These followed on the footsteps of the combined, hardcover Monstrous Manual, which people liked much better.  The idea was to publish a collection of all the published monsters from other products in a Monstrous Compendium style format.  But the days of perforated and loose-leaf pages was over and the Annuals and the other books that followed were all bound collections.

To my knowledge, there were four of these in total.  I never owned the print copies, at this time I was getting married and moving into a new house, though I have been able to get the PDFs from DriveThruRPG.  Curiously, Annual Vol. 2 has not made it to PDF yet.

Monstrous Compendium Annual - Volume 1

PDF 128 pages, Color cover art, color interior art, $9.99.  129 monsters, Aballin to Xaver.

This first book took on the trade-dress and style of the early AD&D 2nd Ed line and was a companion piece to the hardcover Monstrous Manual. 

There are a lot of monsters here I have seen in later editions of the game and some are completely new to me.  There are a surprising amount of dragons for example. There are few I recognize from 1st Ed that I guess had not made it over to 2nd ed yet (Gibbering Mouther as one example). There are a also a few I recognize from Ravenloft, given a more "generic" or general approach.

It is a good collection of monsters, to be honest.  While the page are formatted to fit a book and not really a Monsterous Compendium (the left or right justification of the text on titles) you can still take this PDF and print your own page to fit into your Monstrous Compendiums.  I am going to do this with the dragons for example.

Monstrous Compendium Annual - Volume III
Monstrous Compendium Annual - Volume III

PDF 130 pages, Color cover art, color interior art, $4.95.  131 monsters, Alaghi to Zhentarim Spirit.

This third annual takes on the trade dress of the later printing AD&D 2nd material when the "2nd Edition" subtitle was removed.  The formatting looks transitional. That is I see here the original Monstrous Compendiums eventually morphed into the style I associate with the last years of 2nd ed (and TSR for that matter).

The volume includes a lot of monsters I had seen in various Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms publications at the time and a few that I assume got their origins in the Dark Sun and Planescape product lines.  There are some that also first appeared in the Creature Catalog from Dragon Magazine (Lillend for example).

There are few more dragons here too and, in a surprise, two demons / Tanar'ri.  So something here for everyone.

This book also includes the Ondonti, the Lawful Good Orcs. So don't try to tell me that "Good" orcs are a new thing.

good orcs from 1996


Monstrous Compendium Annual - Volume 4

PDF 98 pages, Color cover art, color interior art, $4.95.  104 monsters,  Ammonite to Zombie, Mud.

This fourth and last Monstrous Compendium Annual was published in 1998 by Wizards of the Coast, though the TSR brand is still on the books.  Additionally, this book also indicated where each monster came from whether Forgotten Realms or the pages of Dragon Magazine. There are some that I think are original to this volume. There is even a monster from Alternity here, which is a big surprise!

I would also like to point out that this is the first of these Annuals that acknowledges that it is based on the original D&D rules created by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

There are quite a few new-to-me monsters here and few I have seen in other places before.  It is nice to get them all into one place.  

These annuals certainly represent the widest variety in monsters I have sen in any of the other compendiums.  If I were to play AD&D 2nd Ed again, I think I would start with these as my sources for new and different sorts of creatures.  I am sure that people that were still playing at this time (I had gone on an AD&D sabbatical from 1996/7 to 2000) might be more familiar with these books and these monsters, but it is a joy to open a book, even one 20-25 years old, and see something new.

I am now at the point if I print these out I am going to need a third 3-Ring binder.