Sunday, September 26, 2010

Second Look at Holmes

This is going to be a piecemeal series, as I'm just posting crap as it occurs to me. Kinda like GADD blogging ;)

I can almost understand why Dragons are included in the monster section, as everyone loves to beat up on a "young" dragon and taking it's stuff. Besides, the name of the game is Dungeons & Dragons. But why the hell are Giants included? From Hill at 8 HD thru Storm at 15 HD, I can't see how a party could hope to defeat them. Besides, this is "Basic" D&D - killer DMs should be in the Expert Set, or the Advanced rules ;)

If they knew you were to "graduate" to AD&D after third level, might it have been easier to keep the class' HD in line with the new game? Oh, and perhaps stat bonuses too?

There are 4 references to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the first 7 pages... perhaps they could have lined the systems up a bit closer for compatibility? I mean, this was meant to lead one to AD&D.

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  1. One thing that has always disappointed me is the lack of new monster designs in the RPG industry as a whole.

    I just don't see a lot of innovation on this front. Seems like people just want to reskin Orcs and Gnolls and so on, instead of really make an awesome new moonster. Maybe they aren't creative enough I guess.

    I have some pretty cool new monster ideas in my head that I plan on unleashing one day. My advice to anyone who wants to think up monster designs is to spend more time watching nature documentaries. They are really good material for thinking up new ideas.

    I have been watching a lot more than I ever did before because my little girl is old enough now to stay focused on a nature documentary for like 15 minutes or so and learn all about a platypus or koala or something cute. So I have been trying to keep them on the tube instead of some drivel like SpongeBob.

  2. The references to AD&D are ex post facto additions by someone at TSR, not Holmes. As written, the Basic Set is an intro to OD&D, with which it is very much in line. Holmes intended his book to be an edit of the LBBs, not a lead-in to AD&D, which is how TSR tried to market the game and how a lot of people, including my younger self, took it, but it's not.

  3. A Giant may be able to crush the party, but like Dragons, they are great for talking to and negotiating with.

    Something like a Black Pudding in the monster list, I would have more trouble with.

  4. I thank everyone for the great responses, and James for the info.

    James, if the Witch was a Holmes invention, and is only mentioned in reference to AD$D, he must have had some idea this was going to be used aced a vehicle to AD&D

  5. Giants are a favorite of fairy tales and fiction they provide a great example of how bad monsters can get. Some monsters are useful to teach players to sneak, run away or talk.
    10 or so 1st to 3rd level pcs can also take on a giant if they are careful and have found a few choice magic items like the fireball wand.

    Purple worms are an unholy nightmare and they are in the holmes edited basic. One of my longest running PCs at 1st level (fighter) leaped onto the back of one with a two handed sword and finished the beast after a wild ride.

    Heroes are heroes, most get to die a few don't. The tough monsters make the winners more impressive and the losers a bit more encouraged for a heroic death.

  6. James, if the Witch was a Holmes invention, and is only mentioned in reference to AD&D, he must have had some idea this was going to be used aced a vehicle to AD&D

    You're correct that if, as is usually surmised, the witch was a Holmes invention (based in part on the popularity of such a sub-class in fandom, as evidenced in early issues of The Dragon), he had to have known there'd be some connection between the Basic Rules and AD&D. The impression I get is that, at that stage -- remember the Blue Book came out before the PHB was published and probably even written -- "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" was likely imagined as a book of advanced options, a kind of add-on to OD&D that brought greater complexity to the table for those who wanted it. The idea that it would be a separate game in its own right was probably not yet widely known or accepted.


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