Friday, May 27, 2016

Part 55: Summary of Changes

Now that I've finished my series going through the Holmes Manuscript, I've put together a summary of the major changes from the manuscript to the published Holmes Basic rulebook. Use this list if you want to play Holmes Basic as Holmes originally wrote it. I call this the "Zeroeth Edition" or "Holmes Zero". I haven't listed every change here, just the more notable ones. I'll update the list if I've missed anything of note.

Title: "D&D for Beginners" rather than Basic D&D. 

References to Higher Levels: All references are to the original Dungeons & Dragons booklets or the Greyhawk Supplement, rather than AD&D.

Dice: If dice are unavailable Holmes suggest using playing cards (4 locations in the manuscript), chits (twice) or even "certain pocket-sized calculators".

Elves are the "Alternating Elf" from OD&D. Per Holmes: "Elves must decide before an adventure begins, however, whether they are going to act as fighting men, in which case they can wear armor but can not throw spells, or assume the role of magic-user, gaining the use of spells but forfeiting weapons other than the dagger. For each adventure the elf can change his role but once the adventure stars he must not change". This is an interpretation of the original elf from OD&D.

Dwarves get a special powerful magic item; "the only ones who can wield the +3 Magic War Hammer (described later)". This sentence remained in the 1st print rulebook even though the magic item was removed from the lists. This sentence was edited out of the 2nd edition.

Hobbits rather than halflings. This remained in the 1st printing, but most instances were changed for the 2nd printing.

Additional Character Classes: No Witch class, and more examples of player-chosen classes: "Thus, an expedition might include, in addition to the seven basic classes, an African witch doctor/magic-user, a centaur, an Amerindian medicine man/cleric, a lawful werebear, a Japanese Samurai fighting man and a half-human, half-serpent Naga".
Number of Characters: Holmes says most DMs allow one to three characters per player. 

Alignment is the three-point system from OD&D: "Characters may be lawful, neutral or chaotic". 

Languages: Only humans (not demi-humans) are noted as knowing Common.

Movement: Only use the first column of the table, as standard movement.

Encumbrance: Remove this section and only use the categories from the Movement table.

Wandering Monster Tables are the 1st to 3rd level tables from the Greyhawk Supplement, which can be seen here. Do not use the Level Beneath the Surface Table.

Numbers of Wandering Monsters: Adjust to party size, with 1 monster for a party of 1-3; 2 for a party of 4-6 and so forth, but "Orcs and similar creatures tend to travel in groups".

Experience Points for Monsters: Use the numbers from Greyhawk up to 9 HD, but ignore the lines for partial hit dices (1+1, 2+1 etc).

Level Limits: None, example refers to 20th level characters rather than 14/15th.

Saving Throws: Delete line for Normal Man from Table. In the section on Monsters, include note that "(except zombies who are poisoned by salt)". This aside made it into the 1st printing but was later deleted.

Magic-User Spells:
Remove Dancing Lights, Enlargement, Tenser's Floating Disc (1st level), Audible Glamer and Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd level). Change Continual Light to 24 inch (240') diameter.

Clerical Spells:
Remove Remove Fear, Resist Cold (1st level), Know Alignment and Resist Fire (2nd level). 
Also remove the list of Evil Cleric Spells; Holmes has a vague reference to these in the section on Clerics, but did not include the list itself.

To Hit Table: Remove the line for "Normal Man".

Fire: In first paragraph, change the 5 feet pool of flaming oil to 20 feet, and the damage should be 2d6. Remove the all remaining paragraphs relating to burning oil.

Missile Weapons: Some changes to ranges in Table (follow link for details). Modifiers for range are 0 for long distance, +1 for medium, +2 for short range.

Combat: One-handed weapons get two attacks per round, two-handed weapons get one attack per round, heavy crossbows can only be used once every other round.
 
Monster List

Hit Dice: Use d6
Attacks/Damage: In general, monsters get a single attack for d6 damage.

Add the following entries from OD&D: Buccaneer, Cave Men, Centaur, Dervishes, Dragon - Blue, Dragon - Gold, Dryad, Ents, Giant Animals and Insects, Mermen, Nomads, Pirate. Also Nixies if you have a 2nd or 3rd edition rulebook.

Remove the following:
Djinni, Dragon - Black, Dragon - Brass, Lycanthrope - Were-Boar, Lycanthrope - Were-Tiger (if using the 1st edition rulebook), plus Fire Beetle, Giant Ant, Giant Centipede, Giant Rat, Gnoll, Shrieker, Spiders, Troglodyte (if using the 2nd or 3rd edition).

Adjust the following:
Berserkers get their +2 to hit only when fighting normal men.
Carrion Crawlers get a single attack for 1d6 damage plus chance of paralysis
Dragons include a Chance of Sleeping and a Chance of Talking for each type.
Giants use only the damage listed under Special Characteristics.
Hell Hounds do damage in hit points equal to their hit dice (i.e., a 3 hp damage for 3 HD).
Ochre Jellies do 1 die (1d6) per round to exposed skin.
Ogres do 1d6 + 2 points of damage per hit.
Orcs: if 100 are found, 10% chance of a dragon being with them.
Zombies have 1/2 HD and attack every round rather than every other round.

Coins are only Gold and Silver Pieces, with 10 SP to 1 GP. Omit Copper, Electrum and Platinum Pieces.

Gems & Jewelry are simply worth 50-500 GP; omit the Value of Gems table.

Treasure Table is the one from OD&D Vol 2, but omit the column for Copper Pieces. Thus no Treasure Types J-T.

Magic Items
Swords: Flaming Sword change to only +2 against Undead
Sword +1, +3 against Dragons change to Sword +2 against Dragons
Sword +1, +2 against M-Us change to Sword +1, Charm Person Ability
Sword +3 change to Sword of Cold +1, +2 against Fire Creatures
Sword -2 Cursed change to Vorpal Blade +2 
 
Armor and Weapons
Dagger +1 against Man-Sized change to add +2 against Orcs
Dagger +2 against Man-Sized change to War Hammer +3, and add that it "is a potent weapon in the hands of dwarf, for then it does 2 die of damage per hit, can be thrown 60 feet and will return to the dwarf's hand after each throw. In the hands of any other character it has normal range and damage and no return capability, merely conferring +3 on the ability to hit".

Potions: For Giant Strength, change the damage from 3-18 to "2 dice of damage" (2d6). 

Rings: Replace Weakness with Human Control.
Change Protection +1 to be equivalent to "plate armor +1" (AC 2) and a +1 on saves.

Wands and Staves: Replace Rod of Cancellation with Staff of Power (Limited).

Miscellaneous Magic Items:
Replace Helm of Good/Evil, Rope of Climbing, Gauntlets of Ogre Power with Girdle of Giant Strength, Horn of Blasting and Mirror of Life Trapping.

Sample Cross-Section of Levels: Replace Skull Mountain with Holmes' three-level dungeon cross-section.

Sample Floor Plan, Part of First Level: Add Holmes' sample partial map.

Dungeon Mastering As a Fine Art: Add back advice that "the Dungeon Master provides [the Mapper] with a piece of graph paper already North, East, South, West with the entrance to the dungeon drawn in".

Influences: Replace Gardner Fox with Michael Moorcock.

Sample Dungeon: In general, reduce monster numbers/difficulty, and increase the value of treasure.

Evil Magic-User: Change his level title from thaumaturgist to theurgist.

Pirates: Change from normal men (1d6 hp) to 1st level (1 hit die, still 1d6).

Go Back to Part 54: "An Ape in an Iron Cage" 
Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Appendix B: Chris Holmes Manuscript Artwork

As a further bonus to the Holmes Manuscript series, here are pics of some of Chris Holmes' artwork from the earlier (2nd) draft of the manuscript.

Each of these images, except for the Dragon, was previously posted publicly on the grizzlebanged tumblr by someone who works with Billy Galaxy. I've cropped a few so they will show off the artwork better in the blog format. The Dragon picture was sent to me directly by Billy as part of the missing page of the final version of the manuscript. I believe they are all cell phone pics; if I ever get good scans of these I'll make an updated post.

I've ordered them based on their appearance in the published rulebook, and added some of the descriptive text from the published rulebook. Chris sticks closely to the given details.
As noted previously, Chris drew these illustrations directly on the manuscript document.

Carrion Crawler
"This scavenger is worm shaped, 9' long, 3 feet high at the head and moves quickly on multiple legs ... The mouth parts are surrounded by eight tentacles, two feet long, which produce paralysis on touch..."


Displacer Beast
The beast "resembles a puma with six legs and a pair of tentacles which grow from its shoulders. It attacks with the tentacles which have sharp horny edges", which Chris captures perfectly.  I'm not sure a Displacer Beast had been illustrated previously in D&D. Gygax's original inspiration for the creature was the Coeurl in the Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. Van Vogt.



Dragon


Gargoyle
"As depicted in medieval architecture, gargoyles are reptilian, horned, taloned, fanged, winged beasts of hideous aspect."


Manticore
"A huge lion-bodied monstrosity with human face, dragon wings, and a tail full of iron spikes. There are 24 spikes ... and they can be fired, 6 at a time..."


Ochre Jelly
The text of the entry refers to it as a "giant amoeba", and Chris has given it a large central nucleus like their real-world microbial kin.

You can see more of Chris' illustrations on his website, HolmesWest.

Go Back to Appendix A: Manuscript Copy Order Form
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Friday, May 20, 2016

M-U Spells Level 1-3 Ref Sheet

Screenshot of the Magic-User Spell Reference Sheet Levels 1-3

Above is a picture of my latest one-page pdf reference sheet for Holmes Ref, now ready for download and/or printing for your DIY DM screen. This one compiles brief summaries of all of the first to third level magic-user spells. The direct link is below, or you can find it on the Holmes Ref page. If you need the complete Third Level Spell descriptions (since Holmes only provides a list), the Holmes Ref page also has a link to that sheet; see also the original post about it.

Another use for these sheets is for PC or NPC spellbooks. Simply use one sheet per character and mark (circle, check etc) the spells of each level which are known.

Click here to download the M-U Spell Reference Sheet Levels 1-3

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Appendix A: Manuscript Copy Order Form

Now that we've finished our journey through the Holmes Manuscript, here's a look at what Holmes did after he finished writing & editing it. Here's a picture of a related artifact that Billy Galaxy sent me:


This is the form that Holmes filled out to order ten photocopies of the final version of the Manuscript at his work place, the University of Southern California School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of neurology. Presumably either the original and/or at least one of these ten copies was sent on to Gygax at TSR.

The 138 pages of "originals" listed here exactly matches the length of the Manuscript, which includes a duplicate page (37) and a missing page (67), as I noted here. It's unclear whether the duplication/missing page occurred before or during copying, although Billy noted that all copies of the final version he has seen have the missing page.

Importantly, this form tells us that the final version of the Manuscript was completed prior to February 4, 1977, when the request was made. The copying work was finished & paid for on February 7th. The Basic Set first appeared in July 1977, so it took about five months for TSR to receive, review and edit the rulebook into form for publication.

As Chris mentioned in his recent Save or Die interview that after his father wrote to TSR proposing the beginner's rulebook, TSR told him "they didn't have any money, so if he didn't mind doing it for free, he could go right ahead". In 2007 Gygax wrote on DF, "The Basic Set sold very well, and it was to TSR's benefit that Holmes' did that version, and it cost the company nary a red cent."

When I sent this picture to Chris he wrote, "I think we have a good case here that TSR owes Dad $55 for printing."

Go Back to Part 54: "An Ape in an Iron Cage"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript

Monday, May 16, 2016

Part 23.5: "There Are Many Kinds of Dragons"

In this post I cover material I didn't have the first time through:

Part 23.5 of a comparison of Holmes' manuscript with the published Basic Set rulebook. Turn to page 24 of your 'Blue Book' and follow along...

The Material from the Missing Page

As mentioned here and here, numbered page 67 is missing from all copies of the 138-page final version of the Holmes Manuscript. Which meant that I skipped the material as I went through the manuscript. Later, Billy Galaxy sent me photos of pages 62 and 63 of an earlier draft of the manuscript, which cover the missing material. The earlier draft has art by Chris Holmes drawn directly on the pages, so here we get to see his illustration of a dragon as a bonus. Chris writes, "Notice how I put the dragons’ leg behind the text. That would be clever except I didn’t think that they would reset the text in type. If we hadn’t done the drawings right on the manuscript they probably would have been lost."

Page 62 of an earlier draft of the Holmes Manuscript; art by Chris Holmes

Page 63 of an earlier draft of the Holmes Manuscript


After looking over Holmes' material from this earlier draft and comparing it to the published ruleboook, I think this page was missing from the copy(s) of the manuscript that Holmes sent to TSR. The published rulebook entries in the Monster List differ from Holmes' originals more than most other entries. Generally Gygax edited the manuscript simply by placing a new sentence or two at the end if additions or clarification were needed, but here the entries have been completely re-written.

Dopplegangers

Page 66 of the final version of the Holmes Manuscript has the title "Dopplegangers" at the bottom of the page; the rest of the entry was on missing page 67. But I presume this let TSR to know that Holmes intended to include Dopplegangers in Basic.
  
As you can see above, Holmes' write-up is two simple sentences, drawn from the original in the Greyhawk Supplement. Holmes omits the immunity to Sleep/Charm, and gives them a +2 save versus magic rather than a save as a 10th level Fighter. Looking at the Men & Magic Saving Throw Matrix, a 10th level figher should get a +4 over that of a 4th level fighter (which is what a 4 HD monster should save as).
 
In contrast, the published description for the Doppelganger is seven sentences over two paragraphs, much longer than what Holmes wrote. Some of the sentences are very close to the Greyhawk description, so it looks like the author went back and re-wrote/expanded the original entry. The later Monster Manual entry is of similar length although the specific text has been rewritten again. The published rulebook paragraph gives the correct saving throw values for spells and wands for 10th level fighter.

Dragons

The beginning of Holmes' manuscript entry follows the format established in OD&D:

OD&D, Vol 2: "There are six varieties of Dragons, each with separate characteristics
in particular and other things in common. The varieties will be dealt with first"


Greyhawk: "These additional varities of Dragons conform to the typical characteristics
of their species except where noted..."


Holmes manuscript: "There are many kinds of dragons described in Dungeons & Dragons and Greyhawk. Only four are covered here."

Published rulebook: Four additional introductory sentences, followed by "Of the dozen different kinds found in ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS only four will be covered here."

The wording here in the published Basic rulebook does echo that of the manuscript, so perhaps TSR/Gygax did read & edit this material, just to a greater degree than in other parts of the Monster List. It's hard to tell for sure.

In each case, these sentences are followed by a short table describing the different types of dragons. OD&D Vol 2 has six types, Greyhawk adds six more (including two unique), and the Holmes Manuscript and published rulebook each cover only four of these, a different set in each. Holmes drops Black and Green Dragons, and moves Red Dragons to the first line, resulting in Red, White, Blue and Gold. He otherwise keeps each of the columns of the Dragon table on page 11 of Vol 2. 

The published rulebook includes Black and Brass instead of Blue and Gold; the Brass dragon being from the Greyhawk Supplement. It also replaces the Chance of Talking and Chance of Sleeping columns with an Alignment column. For three of the dragons, it uses the interesting dual alignment format that appears in some entries in the Holmes rulebook (e.g. "neutral/chaotic good" for the Brass Dragon).

In the manuscript Holmes follows the table with two paragraphs on Breath Weapons which very closely follow the material in OD&D, Vol 2. He then make clear that the breath weapon damage is equal to the dragon's hit points, which was not made so clear in the original material. He condenses the "Age" category table to a simple d6 roll that gives a HD multiplier to determine HP; none of the age categories are named. He ends with a clarification that saving throws reduce damage by half. He omits the material on pages 12 and 13 of OD&D that covers Special Characteristics, Attacking Dragons and Subdual.

The published version also includes the descriptions of Breath Weapons. Some changes are made to the source material. OD&D & the Holmes Manuscript use a 2d6 roll to determine how the dragon attacks (breath on a 7+), whereas the published rulebook replaces this with a 1d6 roll (breath on a 4+). OD&D & the Holmes Manuscript have cone-shaped breath weapons originate with a 5' diameter, whereas the published rulebook uses a 2' diameter.

OD&D mentioned that 20% of dragons were "small" and 20% "very large", which presumably referred to the HD distribution for each dragon type; for example, a Red Dragon has HD 9-11. In the manuscript, Holmes includes the variable HD but leaves out the percentages. The published rulebook alters the chances to 25%, using a d8 roll, and explains that it relates to the sex of the dragon, with a 1-2 small (female), 3-6 medium (equal male or female) and 7-8 large (male). The published rulebook further expands the OD&D age chart from 6 ages to 8 ages, adding new "Young Adult" and "Ancient" categories. This allows the eight ages to track the eight pips on the d8 now used for Hit Dice.

The published rulebook goes on to include several more paragraphs of material that Holmes left out of the manuscript, covering subdual, dragon intelligence, treasure, the special breath weapons of the brass dragon (sleep & fear).

The Monster Manual would later include all twelve dragons from OD&D & Greyhawk, while Moldvay Basic would stick to the original six from OD&D, Vol 2.

Continue on to Part 24: "Winged Beasts of Hideous Aspect"
Or Go Back to Part 23: "Shy and Beautiful Female Tree Sprites"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript