Mixing It Up

The whole concept of making a dungeon, adventure, town, or wilderness interesting requires that the DM know the audience, i.e. the players.

Players who have never played D&D don’t know what to expect from the standard monsters from the Monster Manual. I DM AD&D and my sons and oldest son’s girlfriend were entertaining to me to see their reactions to standard creatures. First their were zombies, they were freaking out because their experience was that if you get bit by zombies you become one. Next they encountered a troll and it wouldn’t drop. Those and so many other things tell me that standard monsters are OK for new players.

However, if they are seasoned players or get tired of all the standard monsters change them. For example, instead of a room full of orc guarding piles of copper pieces, you have multiple options.

  • Keep it as is. Potentially boring unless you add some other twist to the room, such as an illusion or them being under a spell to compel them to stay in that room.
  • Swap the monster and the treasure for something totally different. Simple. Just pick any other creature and swap out. Or pick two other creatures and have them in the middle of a battle over a pile of gold, or whatever they both value.
  • Give them the appearance of orcs, but they are really something else, like a shape shifter, or polymorphed dwarves. The piles of copper are really gold coins that have a spell on them that makes them look like copper.
  • Be bold and randomize it all. Use Appendix D for Random Creatures From the Lower Planes for the appearance of a creature with the same stats as the original creatures.
  • Or pick a tough monster with a puny treasure, or a massive treasure with a puny monster.
  • Re-skin the monster. It might be a puny goblin, but change it’s appearance and abilities to make a new monster. Your world may not have goblins, but they have whozeewhatsis.

Treasure can be varied based on the few mentions above, or as follows:

  • Treasure is easy to roll up something else. Throw in something from a different genre’s treasure table.
  • Have a mundane looking item actually be magical. Perhaps it appears as a broken pitcher to hide its true nature.
  • Have the monsters be the treasure and the treasure be the monsters. The 5 orcs are actually fine art statues of orcs or any other creature. They are guarded by an army of copper disk automatons.
  • Hide the treasure in interesting ways. Make it invisible, or hidden in a secret room and it is invisible. Hide it by an illusion that reacts to the party. Hide it under a statue or in a hollow pedestal.
  • Have a lever that when pulled releases the treasure:
    • Into a viper filled pit, or better a mound of vipers on top of the treasure.
    • Into a sewer guarded by an otyugh or other refuse loving creature.
    • Onto the party requiring saves to avoid it or take damage.
    • After multiple rooms of treasure being released by the lever, have a room that actually delivers it into fresh large sacks and ties them off.
      • Decide how easy it will be for the characters to get homewith it.
        • Antigravity on the tied off sacks
        • Roll bend bars lift gates check to lift the sacks. If they set them down, roll again.
        • Cursed sacks that polymorphs those who touch the sacks.

Ask some questions. What is the motivation of the monsters? What about the motivation of the treasure? Is their an intelligent sword the orcs have managed to avoid picking up? Or has the sword waited for the right moment to get out of this dungeon to fulfill its purpose?

One can do any number of things to mix up a published module, or to make one’s own adventures more interesting.

Be creative not just in the treasure, but in the rooms/locations and their appearance and furnishings. There are tables in the appendix of the AD&D DMG that can give ideas, but put a twist on them. Various retroclones have similar tables to assist.

A dungeon can be a simple as a one room tomb to a complex megadungeon. Every room doesn’t need an elaborate description. Every dungeon need not have such a specialized list of descriptions. A “vanilla” dungeon with “vanilla” monsters is OK too. Maybe throw in a jalapeño, totally unexpected in the context. Such a thing would cause the players to wonder why the odd twist, so be prepared with a backstory to explain it.

This is why reading a lot gives good ideas. It doesn’t have to be fantasy. It can be non-fiction or even technical. Put on your DM’s RPG frame of mind hat and mine those things for ideas. Take notes on any off the wall ideas that come to mind.

If you feel your well run dry, read RPG related blogs, G+ pages and communities, FB pages, Reddit, or RPG related forums. Some blogs put out regular tables of ideas for encounters, treasure, new monsters, etc.  Take a break if you need it, whether you need to play for a while, or just need a session off.

Re-frame the pressure of game prep. It is supposed to be fun. If you have young children or grandchildren, take the funny things they say and work it into your game. There is a product called yogurt bites that when my granddaughter says it, sound like “ogre bites”. I decided that is a good name for a dish served at inns and taverns.

It doesn’t take much to add an interesting twist, however small that will engage your players. Given enough variety your players will be on their toes and not know what to expect at every turn.

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40 Years of Playing D&D!

For some reason, for the past many years, I had it in my head that my brother and I started with Holmes Blue Box in 8th grade. [To me the cover of the box and manual is what I see in my mind’s eye when I think of D&D.]

However, a couple weeks ago, someone mentioned that the AD&D Monster Manual came out in 1978, and I know that we had to wait for all of the AD&D books to come out.

I called my brother tonight and confirmed that it was actually 7th grade that we started.

So in March/April of this year, I will have played D&D for 40 years!

I’ve changed the header to indicate this here on the blog, and on my G+, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’m working on a reorganization of the blog. I wish I had this on my radar then. When I thought I had another year to go, I was not in a hurry. At this point it will just be a note on the header art like I did with the existing header. Thankfully, most of what I am doing is cosmetic and doesn’t require too much technical fiddling.

Now I have to think about some meaningful articles to use throughout this milestone year….

My youngest son turns 20 on Wednesday, so now it will be easy to remember – just add 20 to his age and I’ll have the right count. I’m usually really good with dates. But not keeping a diary from back in the day, or recalling the right starting point made it impossible.

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What is an Adventure?

Yesterday, I wrote about the term campaign. While I was writing that article, it occurred to me that the term adventure has some shading to its meaning.

For example, some use the term adventure to indicate a single session. Others mean it to indicate a set of a contained story, plot, or location. Sometimes the adventure can be played in a single game session, other times, it might drag on for weeks, if it is the looting of a large replenishing dungeon.

I think commercial modules had a big impact on the use of the word adventure. The module is a self-contained whole, and the DM does not have to do anything beyond become familiar with it. Of course, customization is always an option. A series of adventures, like the Drow series could each be considered a single adventure, or the completion of the entire story arch within could be classed as an adventure.

A series of adventures, whether interrelated or not serve to make up a campaign, whatever one means by campaign.

Like so much of language, a lot of it is dictated by convention, experience, and preference. All of the above uses are correct. I supposed there are those that like to argue the fine points of any use of a word. However, that is an academic exercise that does not interest everyone. The point is to get together and play!

All terms with multiple meanings can confuse new players, so one should work to minimize the jargon, or define it on the go. The key to growing the hobby is helping new players want to play again.

How else have you used or encountered other uses in the RPG context of the term adventure?

Of course, no matter how you use the term adventure, an adventurer is one who has or goes on adventures.

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What is a Campaign?

I saw a question on Twitter today asking how long a campaign lasts. That got me to thinking and depending one your RPG experience and preferences, the term campaign has multiple meanings.

Campaign comes to RPGs from tabletop miniature wargaming, which in turn gets the term from military parlance. The military use of the term  derives from the plain of Campania, a place of annual wartime operations by the armies of the Roman Republic. [1] Generally, a campaign is a specific portion of a war, such as a series of battles or specific strategy. It can also be a region/terrain, such as the desert campaign in WWII.

Wikipedia has a handy page with all the ways campaign is used, including gaming! There are two handy articles, one on campaign in the context of RPGs, and the other is the campaign setting.

The various shades of meaning in relation to RPG’s that come to mind are: (This is in the context of D&D in my mind, substitute your primary RPG of choice.)

  • The entire game world/multiverse and all activity happening under a DM. That is, the campaign setting.
  • A specific connected set of adventures/game sessions with a clear end point.  Often this means the end of that game “world”, and after a break a new world emerges.
    • An example from published modules would be the Drow series.
  • A campaign in a DM’s ongoing world might mean a major event in the world is resolved, or it might mean players have reached a level where retirement is in order and a new batch of characters enter the realm.
  • A specific group of players and their characters. It may be that circumstances prevent that group from playing again, and the end of the campaign is the end of regular play among that group of people.
  • A DM with a single campaign setting can encompass multiple groups of players and each could be their own campaign, or they could be somehow interconnected. There are lots of examples of DMs running the same setting for decades.

When campaign is used to refer to the setting, it can be a single genre, multiple genres, homebrew, or published.

In a multi-genre campaign setting, one could have D&D set in the past, then western/steampunk, then modern, then apocalyptic, then future. The order could be different, such as in Jack Vance’s far future world where there is magic.

Other GMs have a separate setting for each genre. They could even mix and match home brew for one setting and a published setting for another.

A DM can even have a campaign to get the word out that they are looking for new players.

There can even be a campaign of war within the RPG itself.

So a DM can campaign for new players for their campaign setting that features military campaigns in the game.

What does the term campaign in the context of table top RPGs bring to mind for you?

[Tomorrow’s article explores the term adventure.]

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The Great Kingdom Mess

Earlier today, I posted an update about the Great Kingdom D&D Documentary Kickstarter, along with an update on all my outstanding Kickstarters.

The first documentary to fund on Kickstarter was Dungeons & Dragons A Documantary. They also have a Facebook page, but it hasn’t been updated since June.

I missed backing this one, and their KS page is still active. However, their last backer update is from January. They do have some active comments. A comment from November 9, 2016 said, “I think it was said early that, at least with The Great Kingdom, the money is in escrow and if they lose all the backers get that money back, since the money wasn’t transferred from KS to the defendants.”

That is good news, and if true, makes me wonder why the only response to my inquiries didn’t get that answer.

My only concern, is that the credit card I used is expired, and the account number changed. How will KS get the money to me?

MY DESIRE

I don’t care what conflicts these people had amongst themselves. Grow up and make a movie so we get it.

I plan to get my money back somehow. When I do, I will add it to the RPG History Project by Pat Kilbane. Here’s the article I wrote on Multiverse.  I’ve also written about it on this blog here, and here. Fair warning, I like what Pat has done, and will be the biggest cheerleader I can for his efforts. If he gets enough support to speed the process, he could deliver his documentary before the courts settle the dispute between the others.

There is also the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons. I did not find a Kicstarter for this. I assume they have all the financial backing they need, as I have not seen any mention of crowdfunding for them. I don’t see any mention of a release date.

And the Secrets of Blackmoor movie project. Also on Facebook.  I assume they also have all the financial backing they need, as I have not seen any mention of crowdfunding for them. I don’t see any mention of a release date.

THE EMAIL CHAIN

On October 1st, I sent the following email to the Great Kingdom people. It took a while to find a way to contact them. When Kickstarter pulls things down, the only way to contact the creator is through the KS messaging system. I did try sending messages via Kickstarter, but never got an answer.

I don’t remember what google searches I had to use to find the movie’s website. It was there that I found their email address. Since it is so hard to find a way to contact them, I don’t feel that I need to obscure their email address. This will avoid me fielding all the emails asking how to contact them.

To
To Whom It May Concern,
I sent a message via Kickstarter asking about a refund on October 1, 2017 and have had no response.
I found this email via the internet archive in an attempt to contact you.
I pledged $50.00 and would like my money back ASAP.
Please either refund my money or deliver my pledged reward as indicated in the email below that I received when the project funded and I was charged.
The original ruling by the court, https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=8P/vidy_PLUS_U4yq5ACBctSZVw==, does not mention anything preventing you from issuing refunds or communicating to your backers.
If you have been barred by the court from issuing refunds, then please communicate this fact, with a link to the court ruling.
If you have been barred by the court from communicating with your backers, then please communicate this fact, with a link to the court ruling.
[My Signature Text.]
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Kickstarter <no-reply@kickstarter.com>
To: Me
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2014 11:30 PM
Subject: Thanks to you, The Great Kingdom by The Great Kingdom has been successfully funded!
Congratulations!
Thanks to you and 890 other backers, The Great Kingdom has been successfully funded. We will now charge your credit card.
Pledge Summary
Amount pledged: $50.00 USD
Reward: DVD/BluRay + Pre-Release HD Download – You get the Digital Download before everyone else does, plus you get something you can treasure and keep. Think of it as an heirloom to give to your descendants. That is unless DVD/Blu-Ray become obsolete…which will probably never happen. And to sweeten the deal, your name will be listed on our website under the heading “Even More Awesomer People That Helped Get This Movie Made”. $15 extra for International Shipping. (Sorry, International People…we wish it was less expensive).
Estimated delivery: Jul 2015
Shipping:
When your reward is ready, The Great Kingdom will send you a survey via email to request any info needed to deliver your reward (mailing address, T-shirt size, etc).
If you’d like to visit the project page, click here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720223857/the-great-kingdom?ref=email

I had to send another email before I got a response:

This is he response I got back from Andrew Pascal:

FROM: TheMostEpicGame <themostepicgame@gmail.com>

hi larry –

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AD&D at Gamehole Con with Luke Gygax

Luke is just a regular guy, nice and we had a lot of fun with the module he ran.

He didn’t have his pre-generated characters for the adventure. While we were rolling up characters, I mentioned to him an idea that I had read about, and written about here and here, for spell casters to write down the page numbers of their spells next to the name of the spell. He had never heard of that simple idea and liked it. Cool! Even those from back in the day can still learn something new.

A bad roll for placement of a fireball by a different player left a few other players rolling up new characters so we could finish the adventure.

The one bad experience in the whole thing was that DURING PLAY people kept coming up to Luke and asking for pictures and autographs. I wish that he had asked them to wait until we had a break or were done.

I missed out on autographs because I didn’t realize there was an organized autograph table that different guests had a scheduled time for autographs. That’s on me for not paying attention. I kept seeing so many of the old guard that I wanted autographs, but it was always when they were in the middle of a game, or I had grown tired of lugging my items to be signed. My parents taught me good manners, and if it means my paltry collection doesn’t get signatures, then so be it. I can live with it. The memory of visiting with them means more to me than a signature. I know to pay attention next time and read the big sign with the schedule that was up the first day….

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Outstanding Kickstarters Update

I haven’t posted an update on my Outstanding Kickstarters in a while. I built a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to keep track of them all. I even have a column to remind me which ones I need to review here on the blog. [I’m way behind on reviews….]

I added a bunch of new ones in 2016. I massively failed my save vs. cool things. I am excluding two non-RPG related items.

The Great Kingdom is the one I am most disappointed about. I sent a message a long while ago, and no response. I sent one in the fall asking for a refund, and got a response that they were focused on the litigation.

While the City State of the Invincible Overlord re-print is my oldest outstanding Kickstarter, I am not worried about it. They recently switched to weekly updates about the number of pages added to the layout. They made a lot of mistakes in not having the work done first, and adding minis. However, I think that was a hard learned lesson, and they are moving forward to completion.

I read the Schlock Mercenary web comic. I backed for the book THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES. There are a couple variations on the book, and the one I want is now supposed to ship in February.

Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City last updated that they have printer proofs, so there will be delivery at some point in the nearish future.

The Marmoreal Tomb had some delays due to health of both creators, and some other unexpected delays. There are updates, but it is not as clear what is outstanding, nor how soon to completion.

My final four outstanding Kickstarters are all slated for delivery in 2017, so none of them are late. Unless something unexpected occurs, I expect them to all be on time. They are either experienced users of Kickstarter, or a newbie who asked all the right questions from the start.

PROJECT DATE FUNDED PROMISED DELIVERY DATE LAST COMMUNICATION DELIVERED REVIEWED ON BLOG? NOTE
Lairs & Encounters 12/28/2016 Mar 2016 12/19/2016 Last update about shipping. One person online posted a picture of theirs.
Dungeon Grappling RPG Supplement 12/06/2016 Apr 2017 12/22/2016 Backerkit Survey
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2E 11/20/2016 Aug 2017 12/19/2016
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook 3rd Printing 11/07/2016 Jan 2017 12/14/2016
Worldographer: Hexographer 2 – Easy Map/World Creator 09/14/2016 Feb 2017 12/01/2016
Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.’s Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter 09/02/2015 Mar 2016 12/06/2106 Last update about maps.
Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City 09/02/2015 Mar 2016 12/23/2016 Last update about printer proofs.
The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game 05/18/2015 May 2016 12/20/2016 I only backed the 70 Maxims Book.
The Great Kingdom 07/20/2014 Jul 2015 Unknown     In Litigation with the other D&D Documentary.
City State of the Invincible Overlord 04/23/2014 Nov 2014 12/22/2016 Weekly Updates last few weeks. Layout page count updates, etc.
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Magical Protections in AD&D

This is the third part in a three part series of articles spawned by my research into undead in AD&D. [Part 1] [Part 2]

One or another of the various forms of magic circle are mentioned by name among various spells, scrolls, and decorations in the various AD&D manuals. These are all based on real world symbols used in various magic practices. Some claim to be from antiquity, some seem to be more recent inventions.

I began looking into these circles in the context of AD&D and undead, but wondered a bit why certain ones seem to be efficacious against demons, and others devils. I will touch on just enough of what Wikipedia says about these things to give context.

Pentacle does not refer to five, but is any object used as protection. It can even be a hexagram, six pointed star, or other shape. Often a talisman. Modern practitioners distinguish a pentacle as a star inside a circle, where a pentagram is a five pointed star.

Pentagram – 1 point up = good, 2 points up = bad.

Magic Circle – In mathematics: , and magic:  (using salt or chalk)

Thaumaturgic Triangle – Thaumaturgy = magic or miracles. . Here’s more on the thaumaturgic triangle/circle.

Circle of Protection – see magic circle

It seems that nearly all of these symbols can be worn as amulets as jewelry or designs on clothing, or even temporary/henna tattoos, or tattoos on the skin. For the purposes of RPG’s they don’t need to be detailed, just know that they can be drawn or carved on the ground/floor.

DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE

p. 42 – Magic Circle, Pentagram, Thaumaturgic Triangle used with the spell Aerial Servant.

p. 65 – Circles of Protection interrupt, but do not dispel charm person/monster, etc.

“Magic circles of protection (spells or specially drawn) will break the communication link and seemingly cause the charm to be broken, but unless magically dispelled, or until the power of the magic wears off, the effect is again evident when the charmee is outside such protection.”

p. 117 – Magic Circle is needed to create magic user scrolls.

“Clerics must have prayed and specially sacrificed to their deity, while magic-users [and illusionists?] must have drawn a magic circle and remain uninterrupted.”

pp. 128-129 – Protection scrolls generate a magic circle (not globe) around user. The below quotes are under scrolls of protection from demons, but the next section says that scrolls of protection from devils work the same way.

“The circle of protection generated springs out-wards from the scroll reader in a 10’ radius. No demon protected against can penetrate the circle physically or magically or in any way, but the person(s) within can launch attacks, if otherwise possible, upon demons. The protection moves with the reader of the scroll.”

“Note that the protection radius is not an actual physical globe, and if the user forces a demon into a place from which further retreat is impossible (e.g., a corner), and then continues forward until the demon would be within the radius of the circle, the demon is not harmed, and the protection is considered
voluntarily broken and disappears. There is no way in which this can be used as an offensive weapon.”

p. 218 – Appendix I – Magic User Furnishings lists magic circle, pentacle, and pentagram.

p. 41 – Glyph of Warding – This goes more in depth to various types of glyphs, which can be used to guard, repel, or damage. While this is a third level cleric spell, I don’t see why other spell casters couldn’t use similar spells.

PLAYERS HANDBOOK

p. 47 – Third Level Cleric spell Glyph of Warding. Not a lot of specifics, have to turn to the DMG p. 41.

p. 50 6th level cleric spell Aerial Servant requires one of a Magic Circle, Pentagram, or Thaumaturgic Triangle. The cleric’s holy symbol or a religious artifact can also be used.

pp. 61 & 62 6th level druid spell, Conjure Fire Elemental. Neither concentration nor a magic circle are needed for protection/control.

p. 67 1st level MU spell Protection from Evil – “requirement of powdered iron and silver as the material components for tracing the magic circle”

p. 79 5th level MU Conjure Elemental spell. “N.B. Special protection from uncontrolled elementals is available by means of a pentacle, pentagram, thaumaturgic triangle, magic circle, or protection from evil spell.” This adds pentacle to the list of round inscriptions that provide protection.

pp. 86 & 87 7th level MU spell Cacodemon. “The spell caster must be within a circle of protection (or a thaumaturgic triangle with protection from evil) and the demon confined within a pentagram (circled pentacle) if he or she is to avoid being slain or carried off by the summoned cacodemon.”

UNEARTHED ARCANA

The Description of the Ensnarement spell on p. 60 goes into detail about what the various round magical protections are used for:

  • Magic Circle – (for creatures from the upper planes or the Astral Plane)
  • Pentagram – (for creatures from the lower and infernal planes).
  • Thaumaturgic Triangle – (for creatures from the Ethereal, Elemental, or Concordant Opposition planes)

There is also the difference between drawn and inscribed protective symbols on page 60 in the description of the magic user spell Ensnarement. A drawn circle could be smudged/distrubed. An inscribed or carved circle would need to be prepared in advance and would require a skilled craftsman to do it correctly. The benefit being that they cannot be disturbed so easily.

p. 62 – 7th level MU spell Torment has another mention of these devices.

The term glyph does not occur in it as per a search of the PDF, other than in the list of third level cleric spells.

This manual does not list any monsters.

The term pentacle does not occur in it as per a search of the PDF.

ORIENTAL ADVENTURES

This manual does not contain the term pentacle. Nor magic circle, Nor pentagram. Nor pentacle. Nor thaumaturgic triangle. Nor glyph. Holy water is only mentioned as a spell component. No mention of Circle of Protection.

Oriental Adventure’s list of monsters does not contain the word undead, and turn is not used in relation to undead.

MONSTER MANUAL

No mention of glyph, pentagram, or thaumaturgic triangles.
p. 16 – pentacle vs. demons.
p. 20 – magic circles vs. devils.
pp. 43 & 44 – Only ghasts & ghouls are mentioned as being kept out by circles of protection. The ghast requiring powdered cold iron.

NOTE: Cold iron is terrestrial iron, and hot iron is meteoric iron. From the Wikipedia article, it seems that steel made from cold iron counts as cold iron.

MONSTER MANUAL II

Does not contain the terms: glyph.

A pentacle is mentioned on p. 35 for conjuring greater demons.

A pentagram is mentioned on p. 27 for protection from demonkind. & p. 28 for blocking entry of demons into the material plane.

pp. 128-129 – Xag-Ya & Xag-Yi “A circle of protection (spell, magic circle, thaumaturgic triangle, or pentagram) will repulse attacks of either kind of creature.”

Magic circle – p. 44 provides protection from devils.

Holy & unholy water are mentioned as affecting some creatures from other planes, or undead.

Turn Undead is only mentioned as the ability of some creatures.

FIEND FOLIO

Magic Circles vs devils.
Pentacle vs. demons

Holy Water is mentioned by how it affects undead and other evil creatures, like demons.

No glyph.
No Rune.
Pentagram none mentioned.
Thaumaturgic Triangle none mentioned.
Circle of Protection none mentioned.

Manual of the planes – glyph on p. 12 or in spell lists. No magic circle. No circle of protection. No pentacle. No pentagram. No thaumaturgic triangle.

DEITIES & DEMIGODS

I only have a legal PDF without the Cthulhu & Melnibone mythos, and I don’t want to get out a hard copy and read right now.

Glyphs only mentioned on p. 44 as part of the word hieroglyphs in the Egyptian mythos section. pp. 50 & 51 have some hieroglyphs.

Runes mentions on p. 99 in the Norse Mythos section.

No pentacle. No magic circle. No thaumaturgic triangle. No circle of protection.

Holy/Unholy water is mentioned for creatures that are susceptible to it or for imersion of some sacrifices in it.

Pentagram is only mentioned on p. 69 as the symbol of Tyche.

OSRIC

Holy Water is only mentioned as a spell component and as as doing damage to undead.
Pentacle is mentioned in the cacodemon spell and as decoration in a mage’s room/tower.

Pentagram is mentioned as decoration in a mage’s room/tower.
magic circle is mentioned for the same spells in AD&D and in decoration in a mage’s room/tower.

Thaumaturgic triangle is mentioned vs. demons.
Circle of protection is mentioned as a generic term vs. demons & devils.

CONCLUSIONS

There is a disparate and scattered use of various terms across the many manuals I searched in PDF form.

All of the protective designs are basically circular/surrounding. They can also be used to contain things within them. So to simplify, I will simply use the term “magic circle” to include all of them.

If magic circles work for ghouls and ghasts and demons and devils, I would rule that they would work for other undead. Similar to the effect of a holy/unholy symbol. I would rule such circles would need to be enchanted/blessed/prayed over by a cleric of sufficient level to turn such a creature. Using an existing mechanic is always easiest.

The use of salt, powdered chalk, and cold iron filings in such circles describes the effort and care needed to draw/pour a circle.

I’m a theater of the mind player, so I don’t need all the drawing and elaborate symbols in detail. I would rule that spell casters of all classes would have to refer to books, scrolls, and communal knowledge to learn symbols, but unless the player(s) involved were feeling particularly creative/inspired, there is no need to draw anything.

Other types of creatures, such as Lycanthropes are kept somewhat at bay by wolvesbane and belladonna, such items mixed in with other ingredients and runes & glyphs could make a magic circle to protect one from Lycanthropes or keep a Lycanthrope contained to protect the person and others. Page 128 of the DMG mentions a scroll of protection from Lycanthropes. Included in the possible list of creatures such a scoll is good for is shape changers in general, such as doppelgangers, and druids of sufficient level.

Another type of creature for which there are protection scrolls are elementals. Using the existing rule metric, I would rule that magic circles would protect against elementals, but require items of that element. For example, fire for fire elementals. Another DM might rule opposite elements to contain them, so water/earth, air/fire, or whatever the DM views as opposite. I guess corn starch would be good vs. water elementals, if corn (maize) exists in your world.

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Blog Reorganization

I’m working on cleaning up the layout and presentation on the blog.

I’m moving and consolidating information from the right sidebar into pages. See links for pages at the top.

It’s a bit chaotic at the moment, and the information on the pages is in rough form. Trust me, I know it needs work.

I didn’t want to take the blog down while making these changes, so I didn’t have to deal with messages about it being down.

I’m debating whether or not to change the theme. However, organizing/cleaning up come first.

I plan to have a couple professional artists do up a new blog image for a rotation. One will be available soon, and the other will be sometime after the first of the year. SO COOL!

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Undead in AD&D Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about Undead in AD&D, with a focus on the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide.  [Part 1]  [Part 3]

I got a lot of likes and comments on it, some wanting to see what I had to say about the Fiend Folio.

So today, I will touch on undead as mentioned in the other books in my collection. As someone with a BA in history, and learning to do research via card catalog and actually handling and reading books, the search features of PDFs and other electronic media is so handy. I will ignore the AD&D books I have in physical form, but have not gotten the PDF form.

To be thorough, the Unearthed Arcana does not have any monsters, so no undead there.

Oriental Adventures’ list of monsters does not contain the word undead, and turn is not used in relation to undead.

Fiend Folio
Different searches gave different results.
“turned as” only brought up the Apparition
p. 12 Apparition turned as spectre.

“undead table”
p. 19 Coffer Corpse as wraith
p. 83 Son of Kyuss as mummy

“undead” finds the three above, plus the following:
p. 26 Death Knight – can’t be turned. (I would argue against that.)
p. 51 Huecuva turned as wight
p. Necrophidius (death worm) not an undead so can’t be turned.
p. 71-72 Penanggalan – one form can’t be turned. true form turned as wraith.
p. 73 Poltergeist – wandering poltergeist turned as skeleton, in its “home” turned as ghoul.
pp. 75-76 – Revenant – cannot be turned motivated by sheer force of will. (Magical protections and turning would have a chance and might require a high level cleric for turning in my opinion. Liches combine their force of will with magic, so why not be able to turn a revenant? )
p. 78 – Shadow Demon turned as Special.
p. 78 – Sheet Ghoul turned as spectre
p. 78 – Sheet Phantom turned as wraith
p. 79 – Skeleton Warrior – no chance to turn (they are lich-like, why not turn as a lich or special?)
p. 97 – Yellow Musk Zombie – not a true undead, so can’t be turned. (I’m ok with that. In a sense they are like golems, automata, or animated statues. A druid might be able to turn a plant/fungi type creature.)
p. 115 Undead Subtable that includes MM1 & FF undead on one encounter by terrain table. (There is no such table in MM2.)

There is no revised Turning Undead Table in the Field Folio. I think this would be really handy if you are going to use the undead from this book.

p. 21 Crypt Thing – It does not say it is undead, but its name gives one that initial idea.

Monster Manual 2:

After trying to find one term for searching ended up being “undead” for the Fiend Folio, I stuck with it in other PDFs.

p. 100 Phantoms “Phantoms are often mistaken for ghosts, haunts, or groaning spirits, but they may not be turned as undead. The clerical spell exorcism will dispel a phantom.”  (I would argue that such a thing can be turned. Perhaps as a higher order undead or special.)
p. 109 Skeletal Animals turned as normal skeletons.
p. 32 Demilich – ghost form and wraith form, only ghost form can be turned. (I argue that all “true” undead can be turned.)
p. 131 – Juju Zombie – turned as a spectre
p. 131 Zombie, Monster – turned as a ghast

There is no combined undead sub table with all the undead by terrain type, as we found in the Fiend Folio. Neither is there a revised turn undead table.

I built my own updated turn undead table. It is crude, but illustrates the information one may wish to include.

The groaning spirit (banshee) falls between the mummy and spectre in hit dice, so as I suggested in yesterday’s article, use that to help decide how a cleric can affect it.

TYPE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9-13 14      
Skeleton 10 7 4 T T D D D* D* D* Poltergeist, Wandering (FF p. 73) Skeletal Animals (MM2 p. 109)  
Zombie 13 10 7 T T D D D D* D*      
Ghoul 16 13 10 4 T T D D D D* Poltergeist, “At Home” (FF p. 73)    
Shadow 19 16 13 7 4 T T D D D*      
Wight 20 19 16 10 7 4 T T D D Huecuva (FF p. 51)    
Ghast 20 19 13 10 7 4 T T D Zombie, Monster (MM2 p. 131)    
Wraith 20 16 13 10 7 4 T D Coffer Corpse (FF p. 19) Penanggalan (True Form) (FF p. 71-72) Sheet Phantom (FF p. 79)
Mummya 20 16 13 10 7 4 T Son of Kyuss (FF p. 83)    
Groaning Spirit                          
Spectreb 20 16 13 10 7 T Apparition (FF p. 12) Sheet Ghoul (FF p. 78) Juju Zombie (MM2 p. 131)
Vampirec 20 16 13 10 4      
Ghostd 20 16 13 7 Demilich, ghost form (MM2 p. 32)    
Liche 19 16 10      
Special**f 20 19 13 Shadow Demon (FF p. 78)  

Of course, if I missed an undead creature, please let me know.

I also searched my OSRIC PDF and found the following information:

Turning Undead table on pp. 129 & 130 lists the same creatures as on the table on page 75 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Monsters are organized by type, so Undead are all in one place on pp. 245-252, each undead has a type number to know how easily it is turned, from 1 to 13 for fiends (term used for demons & devils.). NOTE: Some undead from the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual 2 are included, and others not. I don’t know why this might be other than author preference or copywrite issues.

Banshee (Groaning Spirit) (turned as type 13) This is the same as Special! Wow! That makes a banshee seem even more powerful.

Coffer Corpse (turned as type 7)

Ghast (turned as type 6)

Ghost (turned as type 11)

Ghoul (turned as type 3)

Lich (turned as type 12)

Mummy (Turned as type 8)

Poltergeist (Turned as type 1 or 3)

Shadow (turned as type 4)

Skeleton (turned as type 1)

Spectre (turned as type 9)

Vampire (turned as type 10)

Wight (turned as type 5)

Wraith (turned as type 7)

Wraith (turned as type 7)

Zombie
Normal (turned as type 2)
Monster (turned as type 6)

Zombie, Juju (turned as type 9)

So one ends up with quite a lot of varied undead, 27 by my count. I am sure there are many new undead ideas in all of the OSR and perhaps other editions of D&D that I am not familiar with. I won’t continue this exercise with other versions of D&D, or OSR products at this time. If I did, it would only be those resources I already own in PDF. It still takes an hour a book to do all the searches I do.

To keep the size of this article under control, I will have a separate article on holy water and magical protections in AD&D. If all goes well, I will post it tomorrow.

NOTE: All the links for the AD&D books are Affiliate Links that help me support my RPG/Blogging habit.

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Ramblings of an Old Gamer