Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Way Back Machine - Blackmoor (Supplement II) - Part 2

My last installment of the Way Back Machine took a look at Men & Magic section of Blackmoor - Supplement II.  I will now take a look at Monsters & Treasure, as well as Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.

Section 2 - Monsters & Treasure

Like Greyhawk, Blackmoor introduces us to a fair number (43 to be exact) of new monsters.  And there is definitely an aquatic theme, as a number of these beasties are waterborne.  This goes nicely with the new water rules later in the book.

New Monster Descriptions: Following are some of my favorites from Blackmoor.
  • Giant Leech: the original Level Draining Undead!  :)  Seriously, when they bite you and attach, they drain one live level every round! 
  • Giant Beaver: they can be persuaded to build shit for you if you give them gold & jewels. 
  • Giant Wasp: love the stinger description: "a deadly sting, similar to a cast spear dipped in poison."  And their poison is so debilitating that any victim who dies from it is 30% likely to be so fucked up he can't be raised.  Oh crap.
  • Fire Beetle: This 1-1 hd creature bites for 3-24 hp of damage!  Nice way to introduce your new 1st level players to OD&D.  :)
  • Boring Beetles: they cultivate Yellow Mold, vile jellies, slimes, and other dungeon denizens.  Weird.
  • Minotaur Lizards: these 40' long lizards do a claw/claw/bite for a wicked 8-72 hp of damage per round.  And we're told they mature at 10 years old and live to 40.  Gee.  Thanks for letting us know.
  • Plesiosaurus: we're told they are an "endangered species."  I though they were extinct.  :)
  • Sharks: more likely to attack "bite-sized" creatures like Hobbits.  Poor Hobbits. Stay out of the water!
  • Dolphins: they will come to the aid of any humans being attacked by "denizens of the deep."  Cool.
  • Sahuagin: digging the MASSIVE writeup of two full pages!  I think these were meant to be a very serious and critical foe for seabound humans.  Yet I've rarely used them in a game.
  • Ixitxachitl: these are described as "Chaotic Clerical Philosophers."
And then there's a cool little section describing how to take ordinary land creatures and convert them to sea creatures!  I kind of like it.  You can use Kobolds that live in air-enclosed cave complexes connected via tunnel to surface caves.  And we learn about Lacedons (underwater ghouls), whose leader will always be a Wraith.  Gelatinous cubes are the same underwater as they are in a dungeon.  Nice to know!

New Magic Items & Treasure: Staying with the aquatic theme, all the new treasure items in Blackmoor are water-based.  Some examples include items that ALLOW PC's TO ADVENTURE UNDERWATER!  Cool.  Like the Ring of Freedom and the Ring of Movement.  Also the Manta Ray Cloak and Necklace of Water Breathing.  This is cool, because you can't very well have underwater adventures if nobody can breathe.  We are also introduced to non-magical Pearls, which are treated as gems.  But you'd be one lucky adventurer if you found a Silver Pearl.  These are worth 10,000 to 100,000 gold pieces!

Section 3 - Underworld & Wilderness Adventures

This section in Blackmoor is dominated by the Temple of the Frog adventure, which takes up 20 out of 27 pages.  I will tackle that in a seperate writeup shortly.  For today's post, I will cover the other aspects of this section - including rules for underwater adventures, sages, and disease.

Underwater Adventures: This 2-page section covers some very rudimentary suggestions, rules and encounter charts for setting up underwater adventures.  There's an opening paragraph that gives some suggestions for how PCs can breathe underwater - including spells, magic seaweed, helms of water breathing, etc (many such items are included in the new magic items of this Blackmoor supplement).  There's a nice note that the undersea is not exempt from "Tricks & Traps."  Things such as "false sea floors" and "phantasmal images of sunken ships" are encouraged.  :)

This is followed up by combat and movement rules underwater.  A PC can only swim wearing up to leather armor, and may only carry 25% of his normal weight allowance.  The only usable missile weapons are "specially prepared crossbows (at three to five times the normal price)."  Tridents are highly valuable melee weapons because they are the only ones that don't have their damage cut by 50%.  We're also warned that a Magic User casting a lighting bolt will electrocute anything in range! 

The underwater and sailing encounter charts are chock full of many of the new aquatic monsters introduced in Blackmoor.

Remaining Information: The book concludes with a 2-page writeup on Sages, followed with a 3-pager on Diseases.  These sections have some rather weird rules and unnecessary charts.  The disease section is probably more detailed than necessary and is reminiscent of AD&D.  However, there is a cool paragraph on what happens if you attack or slay a Sage.  Any PC so doing will have his alignment changed to Chaotic and will be subject to the Sage "Dying Curse."  A curse from a low level sage might cause all the PC's teeth to fall out (thus reducing CHA!), while a more powerful sage might cast a dying curse which causes a PC to fail every saving throw he ever attempts in the future.  Grim stuff. 
The next (and last) writeup on Blackmoor will cover Temple of the Frog!

22 comments:

  1. Good stuff! Looking forward to reading the rest of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Glad to know some people are enjoying this series. I'm doing these writeups to increase my D&D "education," but it's nice that others gain something from it as well.

      Delete
    2. You're welcome. I understand completely; I'm reading through AiF to increase my FRPG "education" as well. It's been delayed for a little while but I am about to finish it up soon.

      Delete
    3. Ooops! AiF is Adventures in Fantasy by Dave Arneson and Richard Snider. I think you may know of this Arneson fellow from the Blackmoor supplement to OD&D ;-) and Snider is the author of Powers & Perils.

      Delete
    4. Oh Great! One more thing I have to go check out. :)

      Delete
    5. Exactly! It's worth a look just to see the deviations from D&D.

      Delete
    6. I am going to have to check out the giant beaver in Blackmoor... I did a post mentioning it recently. To be brutally honest, I didn't know that as a monster it was first given stats in this supplement.

      Sages are a fave "NPC" class of mine... and they are even better in a game where you can play them as PCs and they are actually useful to the party!

      Delete
    7. I really liked that post! Don't forget to let the Beavers in your campaign enter into "will build for gold" arrangements with PCs. :)

      Delete
    8. hah! that is not a bad idea. These breakdowns of the supplements are interesting... please do more!

      Delete
  2. That stuff on sages always made me think the players must have been cheating/stiffing them or killing them in the original campaigns. Sort of like how later editions of the game would always stick some retired high-level adventurers in town to keep players from robbing the Innkeeper. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sage was a character class in the original Blackmoor campaign. Tim Kask, the editor, rewrote it as an NPC, but some of Arneson's class features remain, and I believe the curse ability to be one of them. Anyway, that's how I presented Sages in Dragons at Dawn.

      Delete
    2. DHB - that is really cool knowledge. Thanks for sharing that! I haven't done more than skim your book yet (due to time constraints), but I hope to do so shortly.

      Delete
  3. These are really interesting posts, thanks for writing!

    I do wonder where all the underwater stuff came from... was Blackmoor primarily an oceanic campaign or something?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, not oceanic. Although occaisional seafaring was involved. The section on underwater adventures, the magic items, and the marine monsters (including sahuagin) were primarily the work of Steve Marsh, added to increase page count. For a complete breakdown on authorship see my post on ODD74.

      Delete
    2. DHB - Interesting. I didn't realize Steve Marsh wrote most of these sections.

      Delete
  4. I really wanted to play a sage as a player character when I read Blackmoor.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good write up. Looking forward to more!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice. I really like the artwork you picked. Where is that second pic from?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dienekes - thanks! The second pic is the Sahuagin, by David Sutherland III from Blackmoor. This pic is also used two years later in the Monster Manual.

      Delete
  7. I think the descriptor "chaotic clerical philosophers" is awesome.

    ReplyDelete