Dragon by Dragon – April 1982 (60)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but things have sure been stressful lately. I’ve been working hard and praying for peace, and trying to relax with old TV shows, old movies and some podcasts about fun things. I will readily admit that my interests tend towards the old – movies from the 30’s and 40’s, TV from the 60’s through 80’s, “bronze age” comics, old games, etc. There’s something about the design and awkward charm that really get me, not to mention nostalgia for places and people I’ll never see again.

To that end, before I present the wonders of Dragon Magazine #60, I must say goodbye to an old family friend. When I went over to my dad’s house to help work on his patio this week, he let me know that the old Panasonic microwave had finally radiated its last cup of tea.

We bought the microwave back in 1980 (two years before this particular Dragon magazine was published), and I still remember where the shop was, though it’s long since been replaced. It was my parents’ first and only microwave oven. I don’t have any deep emotional attachment to the item, really, but I was rooting for it to stay operational forever. Still, 40 years is pretty damn good for an appliance.

So, farewell Panasonic – I learned to cook hot dogs in you, enjoyed chocolate candy my mother made in you, consumed waaay to many Tony’s microwave pizzas heated by you in my formative years (as in “forming a husky body”) and found about 20,000 cups of water placed in you for heating and subsequently forgotten by my dad. Salute!

Now – to Dragon Magazine. This baby was published in 1982 – so it is still prior to me discovering D&D, which would have been 1984. I don’t remember ever checking this one out from the library, so the contents are new to me – and as always, this is less a review than a “here’s what I dug about this issue”.

We start with an ad for a video game called Temple of Apshai. No memory of this one, but I do agree with their sentiment about slaying monsters. It came with a 56-page “book of lore”, which reminds me of the old Ultima and Might & Magic games that I had. Ultima had a cool cloth map (a tapestry, you know), and M&M had a book with all the spells and stuff in it. A little perusal of the interwebs reveals it was part of a trilogy, and that there are many places to download/play it, including the good old Internet Archive.

Nerd alert:

Dear editor:

There are a couple of problems with Robert Barrow’s article, “Aiming for Realism in Archery,” in issue #58 of DRAGON™ Magazine. From my standpoint, it seems that the good author spends too much time with modern archery and has read nothing of medieval history dealing with the subject.

I mean, the writer of that missive is probably correct … but jeez – can’t I just roll 1d20, maybe do some damage, and move on with my life. I’m not sure there’s any real value to re-creating an historical battle, but I’m positive that re-enacting a fictional fight with some orcs is positively goofy, to quote Jan Brady.

The first big piece in this issue is “All About Elves”. You get Roger E. Moore’s “The Elven Point of View”, with super cool Erol Otus art – the ultimate elven fighter/mage. I really dig the idea that only elves can be fighter/mages. There are, of course, lots of cool ideas in the article – Roger E. Moore is one of my favorites. Roger and Georgia Moore then present the Elven Gods – these are the additions to the pantheon beyond Corellon Larethian in Deities & Demigods. These days, I’m more apt to make up my own, but as a kid, articles like this were eye-openers to me. Notions I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

Speaking of elves – here’s a question from Sage Advice:

Why are elven thieves always children?

Anyone who has a relatively recent edition of the Dungeon Masters Guide will probably think this question doesn’t make sense. The latest edition of the DMG lists 100+5d6 as the starting age for player-character elven thieves (page 12). This puts them into the “young adult” range according to the Age Categories chart (page 13) for high elves — the only kind of elves who can be player characters. However, it wasn’t always so. Earlier editions of the DMG gave 50+5d6 as the starting age, which would indeed mean that all elven thieves would start their adventuring lives as “adolescents” of 55 to 80 years old. Fortunately, this inaccuracy was spotted and corrected in later editions; anyone with an old book can simply make the appropriate change in the text.

Who else likes the idea that only elven teenagers become professional thieves? Sometimes, the “mistakes” are more fun and more inspirational than the corrections.

We also get the “Half-Elven Point of View” by Roger E. Moore to round things out.

Gygax’s “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll” is a big load of cantrips. AD&D cantrips were 0-level spells before later editions pumped them up and made them more useful. I think it would be cool to make these available to non-magic-users on scrolls. Most of these cantrips require the player to really use their imagination and creativity to make them useful in a dungeon adventure – so naturally, I love them.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I absolutely love the illustrations some companies used to illustrate the miniatures they produced. They always look cooler than the actual miniatures, and I just think they’re little works of art.

Ed Greenwood has an article on firearms for D&D which is aptly named “Firearms”. A semi-controversial subject, since Gygax went the direction of “gunpowder doesn’t work in a fantasy world” and many adopted that idea. As with so many articles in these days, it’s pretty thorough, and looks to me like it would blend nicely into the game. Handguns, for example, do 2d3 damage, firing every other round, with a max range of 50 – so they aren’t going to dominate the game. It might be a cool idea to use orcs in the way Tolkien did, as harbingers of the soulless machine age, and arm them with gunpowder weapons, while the heroes use the “elegant weapons of a more civilized age.”

I often include the first paragraph of short stories in Dragon, so here’s a sample of “Wear Wolf” by an unknown author:

The head of the Cheetah seemed to smile mockingly at me. You’ve forgotten something, I could almost hear it say. I resisted the urge to answer back, But I always forget something when I’m late. There are enough aFnimate objects to talk to; talking to inanimate ones is a waste of time.

Dragon #60 includes a complete game – Flight of the Boodles – by Chuck Stoll of Louisville, KY. It recreates the epic journey of the boodles through the “Grumjug-infested passes of the Snagrock Mountains”. The art makes it look like a fun game to me. The map and counters are included – with a little work you could probably recreate them in a cleaner format and print them out to play the game. Each player takes the side of the Boodles or Grumjugs, purchases the pieces they are going to use in their force, and then goes at it, the Boodles trying to break through the mountains and the Grumjugs trying to stop them. Basically – a fun little wargame.

This is an April issue, so April Fools Day jokes was a requirement. In this issue we get one pseudo-joke – the Jester NPC class by Roger E. Moore – who had some thief abilities – climb walls, pick pockets, catch objects – and some jester spells (levels 1 to 8). The spell list is not extensive, but the spells are pretty darn good. I think you could do a great campaign where a hidden evil threatens a kingdom, and the evil in question is a high level jester who wants to sieze the throne for his own, or maybe who is trying to spread chaos for the chaos gods.

Roger Moore also does “Midgets in the Earth” – a comical version of the usual “Giants in the Earth” articles presenting D&D stats for literary characters. This one gives you the likes of Eubeen Hadd, 20th level halfling thief, and Morc the Orc, 12th level snaga orc idiot. The Dragon’s Bestiary follows up with monster stats for Donald Duck by Tom Moldvay (which could work well in RuneQuest-inspired games) or any game where you’d like your PC’s to get whooped by an angry duck, the Tasmanian Devil by Steven Sullivan, the Jolly Green Giant by Michael Nystul (name sounds familiar), Marvin the Martian by David Cook (which one could use as the basis for a whole planet of martians in a cosmic adventure), Baseball Bugbears by Karl Kesel and Tom Richmond (probably a reference to the Bad News Bears) and the Werebeaver by Jeff Goetz (which looks suspiciously like Jerry Mathers). They’re all joke monsters, but all usable as well.

To follow up on the April levity, you get an in-depth article on the Pooka by Michael Fountain. I’ve seen many takes on this monster, which would take some real skill to make work in a game, as there’s such a big emphasis on illusion.

You also get some background stuff for agents in Top Secret, some variant scenarios for Trojan War and a big article on Alignment (since it’s the 80’s and there were many articles on alignment).

“Wormy” by Dave Trampier presents the secret handshake of trolls … which, of course, I cannot show in all good conscience.

“What’s New with Phil and Dixie” by Phil Foglio looks at minigames, including one called “Escape from Cthulhu” that just includes a short incantation …

And a tall order!

Fare well, lads and lasses, and find some love and happiness amid all the troubles of the world. Better yet – be the love and happiness in a troubled world!

Elemental Racial Variations

I’ve always enjoyed coming with variations on a theme, or variations on existing things in games. Of late, I’ve thought about doing themed variations on some of the existing races in Blood & Treasure – themes like the elements, or insects or animals.

For my first theme, I choose elemental earth. These races could work well in a specialty campaign, especially one set underground or on the elemental plane of earth, or can be used in an exotic section of an existing campaign world.

I’m not sure how well balanced these races would be, but you know – sometimes it just doesn’t matter. If they look like fun, use them!

Coal gnomes look generally like normal gnomes, save their flesh is composed of a substance not unlike coal. They have pitch black skin and beady eyes that glow like embers. These eyes give them darkvision to a range of 120 feet. Coal gnomes are not immune to fire, but they do have a strange resistance to it.

When a coal gnome is struck by fire, it ignites and smolders. The coal gnome suffers one point of fire damage per round, and no more. While they smolder, they can score +1 point of fire damage with each successful melee attack.

Coal gnomes have the same alterations to their ability scores as normal gnomes, the same knacks and the same ability to multi-class. They do not have any Spellcasting ability.

Granite dwarves are stoic and seemingly emotionless; at least, they do not often show emotion. Logical and resolute, they look like dwarves carved from granite.

Granite dwarves have the same ability score modifications as normal dwarves, and the same knacks. Their skin gives them a natural AC of 12, and they have the ability to freeze as do gargoyles, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Granite dwarves have darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Granite dwarves cannot multi-class, for their minds are too focused.

Crystal elves are as graceful and lithe as normal elves. Their bodies are seemingly composed of living crystal, in various colors and hues. They rarely wear clothing, but do adorn themselves with jewelry and sometimes capes or cloaks.

A crystal elf’s skin reflects and refracts light, depending on the angle at which it is struck. When fighting in moderate illumination, all opponents engaged in melee combat with the crystal elf must pass a Reflex saving throw when they miss the elf in combat by more than 3 points, or be blinded for one round. In strong illumination, creatures locked in melee combat must pass this save each round, and creatures within 20 feet must do so when they miss the elf in ranged combat as above.

The crystal elf’s body gives them a +2 bonus to save vs. rays. They suffer double damage from sonic attacks.

Crystal elves have the normal ability score modifications and knacks, darkvision to a range of 30 feet, and they cannot multi-class.

Sandlings look like normal halflings composed of sand. They are quick and curious and have more abrasive personalities than normal halflings.

Sandlings ignore one point of damage per hit from physical damage, but water and wind deals +1 point of damage per dice (or 1 point of damage if the attack doesn’t normally deal damage) to them. They have the same ability score modifications as normal halflings, the same knacks, and they gain a knack at escape attempts.

When a sandling is struck for full damage by a physical blow (minimum 5 points of damage), they split into two tiny versions of themselves, splitting the damage as well. They must also split their equipment when they split, and their hit point total, but each of these twins retains its normal level, ability scores and special abilities. The personalities of each twin can vary, based on the original’s alignment:

Lawful = Lawful and Neutral
Chaotic = Chaotic and Neutral
Neutral = Chaotic and Lawful

Lawful Good = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Good
Lawful Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Neutral
Lawful Evil = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Evil

Neutral Good = Neutral Good and Neutral
Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral
Neutral Evil = Neutral Evil and Neutral

Chaotic Good = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Good
Chaotic Neutral = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral
Chaotic Evil = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Evil

The twins cannot re-merge until they get a full night’s sleep. If that sleep is interrupted, they split apart and must remain apart until they get another chance at 8 hours of rest.

History of NOD Part IV

Wow – so I let myself get lax on updating the blog again. In my defense, I’ve been super busy at work (real work, that one that plays for my mansion and gold-plated yacht) and super busy at home (NOD Companion just needs a little editing and layout work, NOD 22 is coming along nicely, Mystery Men! got a small revision and ACTION X has been reborn as GRIT & VIGOR and is also coming along nicely). So, there’s my excuse. Here’s my post …


With the power of the elves and dwarves broken, the world was left to the humans and their ilk. We now reach a time a scant five thousand years ago.

As the dragons of Mu-Pan slowly retired into secret places, they left their scions in charge of their warring kingdoms. In time, they would be united in an empire that would have to tolerate numerous dynastic changes and revolutions and stand up to the machinations of the weird lords of Tsanjan.

Thule harbored a rogue elven land called Pohiola. This nightmare kingdom would slowly give way to the invasions of the horsemen of the steppe, as they laid the foundations for such kingdoms as Mab, Luhan and Azsor.

Antilia and Hybresail would remain largely wild places, home as they were to the shattered homeland of elves and dwarves, its human and demi-human populations reduced to barbarism.

In the Motherlands and Lemuria, the human populations learned well from their former elven masters, and founded sorcerous empires founded on demon worship. In time, such empires as Irem, Nabu and Kolos would fall in spectacular eldritch fashion. In their ashes, a new empire was born that would rule much of the Motherlands – Nomo. Nomo was founded when a band of elven adventurers led by Prince Partholon left the shores of Antilia in a dozen longships and make their way to the Motherlands. Finding themselves among a tribe of human barbarians, they soon asserted themselves as their masters, founding the city-state of Nomo and eventually extending their control over much of the sub-continent. Under Nomo’s emperors and empresses a 2,000 year empire was begun which would end only with the disappearance of the Emperor during adventures in the mysterious West.

With the emperor’s disappearance, Nomo fell into factional fighting, with each faction supporting its own candidate for emperor. The former tributary kings and queens in the empire also staked their claims on the throne.

Thus it is in today’s land of NOD. City-states built on the ruins of kingdoms built on the ruins of empires, all threatened by encroaching chaos.

In Blood & Treasure, I introduced the notion of variant classes. These were meant to illustrate the way one might create new classes using old classes as a base, with fairly minor changes.


Half-orcs often grow up on the mean streets, learning to excel not as trained fighters but as street brawlers. These half-orc thugs advance as barbarians, save for as follows: They may only use padded or leather armor and bucklers, they have the following skills: Bend Bars, Break Down Doors, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Gather Rumors, Hide in Shadows, Jump, Move Silently and Pick Pockets.


Gallants are elven paladins as dedicated to romance and wooing women as they are to righting wrongs and protecting the weak. While most paladins can be a bit stodgy, elven gallants are rather dashing and devil-may-care.

In a three-fold alignment system, gallants must be Lawful. In a nine-fold system, though, they need only be Good. Gallants cast spells from the bard spell list rather than the paladin spell list.


As adventurous as dwarves can be, their first loves are always gold, gems and silver. Many, if not most, get their first taste of adventure as prospectors, heading into the hills or depths in search of metals or stones to mine.

Dwarf prospectors have the following skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces, Find Traps, Hide in Shadows, Listen at Doors, Move Silently, Notice Unusual Stonework, Open Locks, Remove Traps and Spelunking. In addition, they can wield picks and hammers.


Gnomes are innately magical folk, and some learn from a young age to tailor their magical abilities to the profession of thievery. These gnome thieves are noted for their enjoyment of taunting their victims with pranks and riddles, leaving calling cards and boasting of their thefts before they happen.

In place of a gnome’s normal innate spells, a prankster can cast the following spells: Mage hand, open/closer and ventriloquism.


Many of the halflings that people meet are of a breed known as the pikey – wanderers from the east who live a semi-nomadic life among the larger races, making a living telling fortunes, picking pockets, stealing pies (they love pies) and bilking the naive.

Gypsies have the abilities of thieves, save they replace the backstab ability with the bard’s ability to fascinate. Their skills are as follows: Balance, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Escape Bonds, Gather Rumors, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pick Pockets, Train Animals and Trickery.

History of Nod, Part II – Elves and Gnomes

Another chunk of Nodian history …


The gnomes and elves are offshoots of the fey, the elves being descended from the fey and dragons and the gnomes descending from the brownies, pixies and sprites, probably from congress with more mundane humanoids.

Though the elves are actually a younger race than human beings, they are longer lived, and they fancy themselves the senior partners in the firm – wiser, more beautiful, more graceful, etc. The ancient elves, being only a few generations removed from the Kabir, were virtual demi-gods and terribly powerful. In no time, they spread their influence and their kingdoms across the face of the world, and their general lack of morality and compassion for lesser creatures drove them to enslave other folk. True, their influence did not spread to Mu-Pan, where their dragon sires held sway, but the rest of NOD was theirs to do with as they pleased.

The elves demanded tribute from the dwarves (more on them later) and drove them to construct a network of towering standing stones that formed the natural flow of magic on NOD into a network they could tap to work wonders. This network also denied magical access to most other folks. With this magical power, the elves constructed impossible cities and walked the planes of reality. They were the greatest explorers of their age, mapping the cosmos and making enemies far and wide.

The power of the ancient elves was staggering, but not without limits. Their magic flowed from the Kabir via elven druids, and the dictates of the Kabir irritated the arrogant elves. They raged against their ancestor gods, and in time they were heard by the demons, that still haunted NOD, and the fallen angels who now inhabited Hell at the center of NOD. These agents of Chaos and Evil reached out to the ancient elves with promises of power unlimited, asking nothing in return, for they knew the elves, unhampered by compassion or morality, would do exactly what their new tutors would like to be done to the world.

Tune in next time for the dwarves and the destruction of everything the elves held dear (i.e. their power)

What’s In Santa’s Sack? – Elf Edition

Of course, Santa Claus isn’t going to forget about those Chaotic Good demi-humans, close kin to his helpers at the North Pole. Grab a d30 and roll up some loot for your favorite fairy.

1. Bejewelled ear-wax cleaner
2. Pointy hat in glorious velvet
3. New silver bells for one’s formal pointy shoes
4. Magical easy bake oven in the shape of a tree
5. Autographed tapestry of Santa Claus
6. Stereoscope cards of Freyr in all her divine glory
7. A shiny new sword with silver engraving in the shape of acanthus leaves
8. Magical coat of leaves – they match the woodland environment and season and act as camouflage
9. Licorice drops – elves can’t get enough of licorice drops, and each is embossed with an elf-cross
10. Nymphs and Dryads I Have Known, a memoir by Högni Half-Elven
11. Drizz’t plushie and a collection of silver pins (worth 5 gp)
12. A box of flower petals crystalized in sugar
13. A trick flask with two sides to allow one to hide potions or trick enemies into drinking poison!
14. New woolen tights
15. Harp engraved with prancing unicorns
16. False mustache and beard
17. “Brownie-whistle” – a silver whistle only the fey can hear
18. A silver comb
19. An Italian greyhound puppy, since they’re effectively the elves of the dog world
20. 1001 Things to Say to Piss Off a Dwarf – popular old joke book
21. Magical chemise – one can pull an endless number of red roses from the sleeves
22. Silver dagger
23. A sword cane – come on, you know elves would love those things
24. Kerchief of Elvenkind – admittedly, not as useful as the cloak or boots, but a dapper touch nonetheless
25. Quiver of handmade elfshot
26. Wooden sculpture of a feminine leg with a continual light spell cast on it’
27. New longbow
28. Set of three bowstrings woven from the tail hairs of a unicorn (+1 damage, worth 10 gp each, each lasts for 1d20 shots)
29. Flagon of sweet, clear wine
30. Shirt of elven mail

Dragon by Dragon – June 1976 (1)

Who drew it? Couldn’t find it in the issue.

Yeah, everyone else does the whole “review every issue” or “review every page” thing, so why the heck can’t I?

Other than Great Britain and Iceland finally ending their codfish war (such a terrible waste), the first issue of The Dragon (formerly The Strategic Review) was probably the big highlight of June, 1976. So what does this little gem contain?

We have an article by Fritz Leiber, the man himself, talking about his wargame Lankhmar and giving a brief tour of Nehwon. Leiber closes this article with a bit on houris. Here’s an adaptation for Blood & Treasure (you know, the game I haven’t actually released yet).

Every hero (4th level fighter) attracts a houri as one of his followers provided he has a charisma of at least 15. The houri requires upkeep to the tune of 100 gp per month. As Leiber explains, a houri is so “slimly beautiful” that she “make all men their helpless slaves and intoxicate even a Hero to madness”. In play, this works as follows:

– Houris have 1d4 hit points (i.e. they can be killed by a dagger). They wear no armor, and may only wield a dagger themselves.

– All 0 or 1 HD male humans, demi-humans and humanoids within 10 feet of a houri must pass a Will saving throw or move directly toward the houri, rapt with fascination and unable to attack her (unless they are attacked by someone else, in which case the spell is broken).

– All higher level male characters within 10 feet of a houri must pass a Will saving throw or have their effective level cut in half.

Sounds like a useful follower to have, but heed the Mouser’s warning – “Women are ever treacherous and complicate any game to the point of sheerest insanity.”

Larry Smith provides a guide to running the Battle of Five Armies using the Chainmail rules.

Wesley D. Ives provides a task resolution system, as he informs us that a “more standardized system is needed” than DM’s just making it up as they go along. New School and Old School were clashing even back in 1976.

The system works by determining randomly a type of dice (by rolling d% and adding the attribute to be tested), from d4 to d12, rolling it and multiplying it by the attribute to be tested to find the percentage chance of success.

So, let’s say I want to jump across a chasm. This involves strength, and my dude has a strength of 13. I roll d% and get a 35. I add 13 to 35 and get 48, which tells me I need to roll a d8. I roll it, get a 5 and multiply that by 13, giving me a 65% chance of success. See – much easier than saying “roll under your strength” or “roll a save vs. paralyzation” or “roll 1d6 – you succeed on a 1 or 2”. Thank goodness for systems.

James M. Ward asks whether Magic and Science are compatible in D&D. Of course, he thinks it is (else it would be a pretty boring article). He introduces a race of people called the Artificers who use a trio of interesting high-tech items.

Lee Gold delves into languages. She notes that humanoids have a 20% chance of speaking Common, which makes much more sense than 3rd edition allowing dang near every sentient creature in the multiverse speaking Common (and thus negating the point of even having languages).

Jake Jaquet tells the tale of “The Search for the Forbidden Chamber”. Check it out for a picture of the infamous “Greyhawk Construction Co. LTD” and a Recyclesaurus.

Len Lakofka presents some miniature rules that were apparently going to be used in a 64-man elimination tournament at GenCon.

The creature feature presents the ever-loving Bulette (pronounced boo-lay, except not really), with an illustration that is really quite good. The reproduction isn’t perfect, but it’s a nice action shot featuring three armored warriors (God, do I prefer realistic armor to some of the fantasy nonsense that seems to predominate these days). The stats note that its mouth has 4-48 pts and its feet 3-18 points – i.e. 4d12 and 3d6. It took me a minute, but I finally realized this was the damage they dealt.

The description notes that it is a hybrid of armadillo and snapping turtle, and that, when full grown, they can dwarf a Percheron (a draft horse that originated in the Perche Valley of northern France of course – man, don’t you guys know anything?)

Mapping the Dungeons is a neat little feature, presenting the names of active DM’s. The FLAILSNAILs of its day, I suppose.

Joe Fischer gives tips on mapping a wilderness. He uses colors for the terrains and simple symbols for features – triangles for hamlets, squares for towns, circles for cities and crosses for fortresses. Circle any of these for ports. Article has a nice Conanesque barbarian illustration as well.

Peter Aronson adds four more levels onto the illusionist, as well as a few extra spells (1st – ventriloquism, mirror image, detect illusion*, color spray*; 2nd – magic mouth, rope trick, dispel illusion*, blur*; 3rd – suggestion, phantasmal killer*, illusionary script*, dispel exhaustion*; 6th – mass suggestion*, permanent/illusion* (no – the slash doesn’t make sense to me either), shadow/monsters III*, programmed/illusion*, conjure animals, true sight*; 7th – astral spell, prismatic wall, maze, vision*, alter reality*, prismatic spray).

The spells marked with an asterisk are detailed in the article, in case you wondered who invented phantasmal killer. Lots of classic spells here. Alter reality apparently works like a limited wish, but you first create an illusion of what you want to happen, and then the … spell description cuts off.

Lin Carter and Scott Bizar present “Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age”, which reminds you of how important wargaming still was to the hobby then. I think wargaming is pretty basic to the experience, really, which is why I threw some basic rules into Blood & Treasure for mass combat. I’m hoping to test them out this weekend with the daughter. She doesn’t know this yet – so keep it under your hat.

Gary Gygax (you might have heard of him) gives rules for hobbits and thieves in DUNGEON!, a game I so completely regret getting rid of I’d like to punch myself in the face.

“Garrison Ernst” (pseudonyms are as much a part of the history of this hobby as dice and beards) presents a chapter of “The Gnome Cache”, in which he gives an introduction to Oerth and its place in the cosmos. Oerth is a parallel Earth with the same basic geography as Earth, it claims, save Asia is a bit smaller and Europe and North America a trifle larger. It is peopled by folks similar to ours, with similar migrations, but it separates from Earth about 2,500 years ago. He also explains the difference in scientific laws (i.e. magic vs. technology) and that nobody knows what lies in the Terra Incognita of Africa and across the Western Ocean.

It might be fun to draw the nations of Oerth on a map of Europe. We’ve all heard that Gygax’s campaign was originally set in a fantasy North America, but here he says Europe, so perhaps Europe it should be.

Larry Smith now chimes in with the three kindreds of the Eldar – the Silvan (or Wood Elves), the Sindar (or Grey Elves) and the Noldor (or Exiles, the greatest of the elves). Apparently they all have a chance each game year of crossing the sea to the land of Valar – that would be a fun house rule to spring on players of elf characters.

“Say Bob, roll d% please”

“Okay … got a 9”

“Sorry Bob, your 6th level wood elf just went to the land of Valar. Roll up a new character.”

The wood elves can advance as fighters as far as they want, but are limited to 2nd level magic-user spells and may not use wands or staffs and have a 10% chance of going to Valar each year. Sindars are the regular D&D elves (and have a 25% chance of going to Valar each year). Noldor are uber elves with no level restrictions and with a 150% bonus to ranges and effects of spells. They have a 5% chance of going to Valar after performing a great deed.

Which begs the question, why would you ever play a non-Noldor elf?

Note: Totally digging the art in this issue.

Not a bad issue. Lots of goodies. I like the houri bit for fighters, the elves going across the sea is fun, and you get some neat hints about Lankhmar and Oerth from the guys who invented them. Worth the read.