02 November 2016

Elementary, my dear Watson!

Well, it has been a while, but I'm ready to jump back into writing in my blog. It's been a long summer, but we're ready to go!

Now, as for this entry, I've recently made a decision that when I start any new Dungeon & Dragons campaigns in the future, I will use either Swords & Wizardry Complete (SW&C) or a Holmesian clone I found a few tears ago titled Dungeons & Dragons Holmes Reformatted (more on that later).  The reason is simplicity itself. The older I get, the less time I want to spend working on minutiae; even Fifth Edition, which is a breeze to run, has many fiddly bits. For instance, monster have huge stat blocks with detailed powers and attacks. I am left with one of two alternatives: first, I can just use monsters found in published modules or the Monster Manual (boring) or, second, I can detail out all the monsters myself and make them unique to the adventure I'm designing (time-consuming). I do not have to do that with earlier editions and especially not in anything close to OD&D like S&WC or Holmes Reformatted (hereafter HR).

If I do need more monsters, I can easily use the AD&D Monster Manual. As is regularly pointed out by the cast of the Save Or Die! Podcast, the Monster Manual was published around the same time as the Holmes edition (1977) and was the first of the AD&D Core Rules to see the light of day. As the system was not quite set in stone, there are many Holmes and OD&Disms in its text. For instance, base AC is 9, there still appears to be a 3- or 5-point alignment system in use, and a couple of others. It's definitely easily compatible with Holmes as it stands. I can also lean on Rafael Chandler's Teratic Tome (which has some truly terrifying creations in its pages) and New Big Dragon's CC1 Creature Compendium. that's really all I need; and creature creation is simple enough in the early games; a quick and easy stat block and I'm done.

"Why Swords & Wizardry Complete, then?" I hear you ask. That's another simple one. For years I have dreamed about getting Isungr Games off the ground and publishing through RPGNow my on line of PDF and POD adventures. I can contribute to the mass of stuff out there in a good way. The ultimate goal is to publish my campaign world, the one that I've been working on since 1986 when I started scribbling out the political and continental map in Mr. Stemper's World History class. I want it to be a 128-page hardcover with map similar to the AD&D Dragonlance book; that is my dream anyway. 

"Ok, so what about this Holmes clone you mentioned? How does that fit in?" I have recently fallen in love with Holmesian D&D. I never had the chance to play when I was younger, but I do remember perusing the open boxed set at my local Kroger's grocery tore when I was 8 or 9 and being entranced. I like the simplicity of the system--there's much in the way of "What if?" floating around in my head about what if there had been no Moldvay and Holmes had continued.

Enter 2010 or -11 when I came across D&D Holmes Revised. Written anonymously by "The Reviser," this project extrapolates what might have been using Holmes's notes and postings on the Zenopus Archives. This fits the bill nicely and might well be the ruleset that I use in the future. The one thing that would keep me from using it exclusively is the fact that I do want to become a S&WC author. Also, while S&WC is actually an OD&D emulator that consists of the LBBs + Supplements, it plays like how I and my friends played AD&D back in middle school in the early 1980s; we ignored the complex AD&D initiative, speed factors, weapon length, bonuses/penalties to hit due to AC, etc. So, there is that nostalgia factor working overtime as well.

Some might question why I don't use Mazes & Perils. Well, the authors themselves admit that there is much from AD&D blended in as well. Whenever I want that fictional Holmes Expanded version, well, I have to agree with the Reviser:

"The various Holmes expansions borrow from a variety of sources, from the original game through to 1st Edition AD&D, and in one case even 3rd Edition D&D, but none have attempted to faithfully follow the path that Holmes himself trod by using only the same source material, without the "taint" of house rules....Having said that, this document is more than just a reformat of the original rulebook, and more than just an expansion of the rules, it is also a revision of those rules. Quite a few changes were made by TSR to the Holmes rulebook between its first print in 1977 and its third edition in December 1979. Thanks to the wonderful detective work of "Zenopus76" in his article List of Changes Made to the Holmes Rulebook (1st/3rd)*, we have a detailed list of these changes. Working from that article I have revised this document to include various weapons, monsters and magic items mentioned in the rulebook but lacking detail, as well as text missing from one print to the next."

And there it is. Such are my thoughts. Now, if I can only keep writing....

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