Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Princess of Mars

Anybody know who did these illustrations for an old Oxford University Press edition of A Princess of Mars? They have sort of an Erol Otus meets Boys Adventure Stories vibe.

Update: the illustrator was Gay Galsworthy. He illustrated a number of children's books in the late 60's. I couldn't find much of his work online, except for this cover of Hero Tales from the British Isles:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ghouls in OD&D (and Chainmail)

Ambiguities in the Monsters & Treasure description of ghouls leave plenty of room for debate (1, 2, 3), but I've settled at least one point to my own satisfaction.

OD&D describes ghouls thus:

As stated in CHAINMAIL for Wights, Ghouls paralize any normal figure they touch, excluding Elves. They otherwise melee in the regular fashion and are subject to missile fire. Any man-type killed by a Ghoul becomes one.

Even if you don't usually treat OD&D's requirement of Chainmail as an absolute prescription, the explicit mention in the ghoul description is strong. The Chainmail entry for ghouls (and wights) says:

If they touch a normal figure during melee, it becomes paralyzed and remains so for one complete turn. A paralyzed figure is considered to be able to strike a blow at the Wight just prior to paralysis taking effect, so melee can occur but only one round.

Chainmail page 8 says, "one turn of play is roughly equivalent to one minute of time in battle"—the same duration as OD&D's combat round.*

It seems clear to me that the touch/hit of a ghoul leaves a character paralyzed during the following combat round, and only that one round, regardless of saving throw (if you allow one). This makes ghouls considerably less deadly than under other interpretations, even if the party doesn't include an elf.

Update: Upon further review of Chainmail turns and rounds, I realize ghoul paralysis lasts longer than one OD&D combat round. However, the ten minute "exploration" turn mentioned on page 8 of U&WA is far longer than Chainmail meant ghoul paralysis to last. The more I look at Chainmail with OD&D, the more I think combat turns should be one minute, with rounds of perhaps 6-10 seconds.

* Yes, yes. Turns and rounds are another point of contention, but regardless of specific duration the Chainmail turn round is "one exchange of attacks," as the OD&D FAQ describes combat rounds.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

OD&D treasure type observations

A (Water) 90,200 gp. Men.
All men are very lucrative, but much more so for water types. Buccaneers, pirates, and mermen are the apex monsters in terms of treasure. Interesting that the only magic item is a single treasure map, while the other A types have any three magic items. In fact, this is the only treasure type that specifies a map.

H 77,000 gp. Dragons only.
Very lucrative--the most lucrative if you only want to kill a couple of monsters rather than a couple hundred. Dragons should be the prime target of every rational party.

A (Desert) 48,800 gp. Men. Dervishes and nomads.
Pretty good for magic items.

A (Land) 42,500 gp. Men. Bandits, berserkers, brigands. Also, cavemen.
Similar to their desert neighbors, but slightly fewer gems and jewelry.

G 24,500 gp. Dwarves only.
Lucrative in total, but only about 112 gp per dwarf on average. One of the best treasure types for magic items.

I 17,300 gp. Rocs only.
Fairly lucrative, but those suckers are fast. Not great for magic items.

F 13,000 gp. Vampires, medusae, and chimeras.
Low quantities of dangerous monsters with OK treasure. Pretty good for magic items.

D 7,300 gp. A grab bag. Hordes of humanoids and handfuls of powerful monsters.
I wouldn't fight a purple worm for this kind of dough.

B 4,000 gp. Ghouls, wights, nixies, hydras.
Going after a hydras does not seem worthwhile. One of the least magical treasures.

E 3,400 gp. Fairytale and mythic creatures, except for spectres.
Mostly in small numbers, except for the 30-300 elves. Elves are dirt poor compared to Men.

C 2,500 gp. Monsters of folklore and myth.
Gnomes are too poor to bother robbing. Pixies are poorer than nixes, just as land Men are poorer than water Men. Not great for magic items.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

OD&D treasure type values

I've been following a thread on the odd75 forum about OD&D treasure types, their max/average values, and their meanings in terms of contents and associated monsters. There's a little disagreement over something as basic as the relative total values of the different treasure types.

I've done some work on OD&D treasure type values before. The average and relative values should be pretty accurate, unless I've screwed up something. Download the Python script if you want a look at how I got these figures.

ODnD Treasure Type Values (All values show in gold pieces)
Type    Copper  Silver  Gold    Gems    Jewelry   Total
A Wtr   0       0       10,477  8,863   70,948    90,289
H       67      2,575   26,119  10,392  36,520    75,675
A Dsrt  9       62      1,072   5,196   42,760    49,101
A Land  17      104     2,409   4,361   34,434    41,327
G       0       0       18,688  1,145   4,697     24,531
I       0       0       0       1,816   15,531    17,348
F       0       117     3,017   1,118   8,797     13,051
D       8       101     2,092   557     4,517     7,276
B       45      90      497     365     3,035     4,034
E       5       190     1,175   261     1,840     3,473
C       27      74      0       243     2,226     2,571
(Values averaged from 6,000 rolls.)

ODnD Treasure Type Values: Minimum > 0 / Average / Maximum
A Land  20 gp  42,445 gp  163,300 gp
A Dsrt  20 gp  47,392 gp  218,970 gp
A Wtr  4,140 gp 91,305 gp  656,230 gp
B   10 gp  3,928 gp  45,500 gp
C   10 gp  2,430 gp  28,800 gp
D   10 gp  7,383 gp  112,800 gp
E   10 gp  3,259 gp  55,200 gp
F   60 gp  12,915 gp  116,200 gp
G   220 gp  24,494 gp  80,210 gp
H   10 gp  76,515 gp  213,680 gp
I   100 gp  17,109 gp  95,310 gp
(Actual values from 6,000 rolls.)

Incidentally, the average gem is worth about 419 gp. The average piece of jewelry is worth about 3410 gp.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

OD&D damage types

Delta observes that the LBB's only present four spells that deal direct damage: Fire Ball, Lightning Bolt, Wall of Fire, and Wall of Ice. That's why you get monster descriptions filled with oddly specific sounding qualifiers like "Green Slime can be killed by fire or cold, but it is not affected by lightening."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Disguise Kit

A disguise kit costs 30 gp, and is usable by thieves of any level.

Disguise kits include items like wigs, makeup in a variety of humanoid skin tones, fake mustaches and beards, and shoe lifts.

For each turn spent in preparation, the thief has a 1 in 6 chance (up to 3 in 6) to fool others with his disguise. The thief must make this roll each turn he's in proximity to others in order to maintain his disguise.

The referee applies situational modifiers as appropriate. For example:

  • Dim lighting: +1
  • Passing at distance, or no interaction: +1
  • Merely hiding own identity by passing as anyone else: +3
  • Disguised as significantly different race or sex: -1
  • Disguised as an individual known to the others: -3