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[Let's Read] The AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (1e)

Terhali

Weird and pissed off
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The Changeling Earth, currently anthologized as Empire of the East is well worth a read.
Seconded. The series became a big influence on what I expected SF and fantasy to be like, which is a great pity because there was nothing else quite like it.
 

BWP

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It is worth noting that it is set in the same world as his later Books of Swords and Books of Lost Swords series, but long before those.
It's been quite some time since I read them, but I'm reasonably sure that by the time period of the Swords books, they are very much regular fantasy works with almost no traces of "technology".

Empire of the East also gives a very good reason for not engaging in nuclear war (yeah, you needed another one, right?) -- it turns out that radiation exposure and massive death and destruction are the least bothersome consequences ....

I always felt that the Swords books were very much in Gygax's "philosophy". If the Twelve Swords had first been featured in a D&D module, it would not have been remotely surprising.
 

Dr. Jerry Hathaway

I want five megawatts by mid-May
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I have not read Philip Jose Farmer’s World of Tiers (and I am not totally sure why Gygax abbreviated his name as P.J., something I’d never seen), but River World and some of his other series would make excellent campaign settings.
In fact, there was a Riverworld campaign setting in GURPS.
 

Sleeper

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The World of Tiers is one the inspirations for Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber. Both have dimension-hopping immortals who have near godlike control over the worlds they pass through, and insanely byzantine and incestuous family dynamics.

Edit: And Hiero's Journey is post-apocalyptic. It's one of the three books that most influenced Gamma World, along with Aldiss' Hothouse and Norton's Star Man's Son / Daybreak - 2250 A.D.

It's been quite some time since I read them, but I'm reasonably sure that by the time period of the Swords books, they are very much regular fantasy works with almost no traces of "technology".
I wouldn't say almost no traces. There are a lot of references, but they're mostly minor, like lights. That remains true for almost the entire series, with the exception of the very last book in the Lost Swords series, which dives a lot deeper into the technological connection, and links it all back to Empire of the East.
 
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SuStel

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Michael Moorcock’s law vs. chaos alignment system was interesting in the Eternal Champion series because neither side actually cared for humanity, and treated it as a disposable pawn in the war with their enemy. I think the 1e alignment system, which is much more humanocentric, fixes that, but later editions strayed.
D&D alignment comes almost entirely from Three Hears and Three Lions; the Moorcock influence was mostly limited to the planar alignments, which came later. The AD&D good versus evil dichotomy comes from D&D fans and Gygax adding more complexity to the existing alignments.
 

Felix

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Definitely a blending of what we would today call science fiction and fantasy, but used to be lumped together as speculative fiction. It is worth noting that it is set in the same world as his later Books of Swords and Books of Lost Swords series, but long before those.
I read an essay by Moorcock once where he said there was a time that if you went to a bookstore which separated fantasy and science fiction, you'd only see his Eternal Champion series and Tolkien in the fantasy section. A lot of obvious fantasy was sold as sci-fi. I think the best example might be Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider series, where they are not magical dragons but telepathic flying saurian aliens (but they're really dragons. ;) )

So Gygax did not have a large pool of classic fantasy -- epic fantasy and sword and sorcery -- as direct inspirations. He has a lot of blended science fiction/fantasy stuff, and a fair amount of what I guess should be classified as urban fantasy in the sense they're contemporary stories with magic (not in the cliche sense of they're about werewolves and vampires secretly living among us).

A theory that I have zero proof for but have always believed: D&D has been tremendously influential to the fantasy genre since its release due to cross contamination. People who played D&D decided that this was what a fantasy novel should feel like, and wrote it that way. Even novelists who didn't play it were inspired by novels written by people who did play it.
 

DavetheLost

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I agree that D&D has had a tremendous impact on fantasy as a genre. Pre and post D&D fantasy are quite different. The format of fantasy also changed significantly after the Tolkien boom. Because of Allen & Unwin's decision to publish Tolkien's great novel in three volumes the standard for fantasy became multi-volume series. All because of a paper shortage.
 

SuStel

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The genres of fantasy and science-fiction haven't always been so sharply delineated. It was really a process spanning the whole of the 20th century. By the time of the DMG it was becoming clearer, but a lot of non-fans still didn't see much difference between unicorns and fairies, which are unreal, and warp drives and teleportation, which are also unreal. It doesn't help that a lot of what gets called science-fiction these days is really more like fantasy in space or horror in space or western in space.

So it's not like Gygax was lacking in "pure" fantasy. It's just that the edges of what counted as fantasy were fuzzier.
 

Nate_MI

Formerly 'Raveled'
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The genres of fantasy and science-fiction haven't always been so sharply delineated. It was really a process spanning the whole of the 20th century. By the time of the DMG it was becoming clearer, but a lot of non-fans still didn't see much difference between unicorns and fairies, which are unreal, and warp drives and teleportation, which are also unreal. It doesn't help that a lot of what gets called science-fiction these days is really more like fantasy in space or horror in space or western in space.

So it's not like Gygax was lacking in "pure" fantasy. It's just that the edges of what counted as fantasy were fuzzier.
They're not that sharply delinted now, to be perfectly frank. Take a look at something like the Broken Earth series. Any hard and sharp walls between speculative fiction genres exist entirely in the heads of the people reading the stories.
 

Felix

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APPENDIX O: ENCUMBRANCE OF STANDARD ITEMS
If you happen to own the first five printings of this book, you can no longer follow along at home with this Let’s Read, since apparently this and Appendix P were added then, Apparently there was some other errata corrections made then too, so this Let's Read has not been as old school as it could have been. :)

This section starts with a list of common items and their encumbrance in gold pieces -- I wish the game had settled on either g.p. or pounds rather than switching back and forth arbitrarily. Not that it’s hard to convert since it means adding or taking away a zero. In this case, though the GP unit makes sense given the example they use and the fact encumbrance is a little more abstracted than actual weight..

For example, the list mentions that scrolls count as 20 g.p.

DMG p225 said:
Many people looking at the table will say, “But a scroll doesn’t weigh two pounds!” The encumbrance figure should not be taken as the weight of the object — it is the combined weight and relative bulkiness of the item. These factors together will determine how much a figure can carry.
Since the object of the game is to collect gold and gain XP, then you need to ask yourself it the scroll of protection from elementals you’re lugging around is giving up thousands of XP you could get for four very large gems. And a crystal ball might be a light and delicate piece of glass, but you’ll need to wrap it up so well it effectively takes up as much space as 150 GP would.

The chart looks pretty decent to me. It says that you can extrapolate, so while there’s nothing on how much a scepter weighs I might use the Rod entry. The only entry I find not particularly useful is the one for tapestries, which can range from 50-1,000+ g.p., a rather wide range depending on size and not something I think most DMs have experience with.

Four items specifically are considered to weigh nothing:
  • Spell components,
  • Thieves' tools
  • One set of clothing
  • Any helmet besides a great help that is being worn (as they are included in the armor)

There is an example given with two characters, Dimwall the magic-user and Drudge the fighter. Drudge is the less elaborately encumbered of the two, and it’s hardly simple: But it’s a good way of showing what was expected:

DMG P225 said:
Meanwhile, his companion, Drudge, has strapped on his splint armor. He wears 2 belts around his waist; his longsword hangs from one. On the other belt he places his quiver with 40 bolts, a cocking hook, and a dagger. He slips on his backpack, already loaded with 10 spikes, one week’s iron rations, and a flask of oil. To the bottom of the pack he has strapped 50’ of rope. Hanging on the rear of the pack is his heavy crossbow. Around his neck he wears a holy symbol. Finally, he straps his large shield on his left arm, fits his helmet, and takes his lantern, ready to go with a total encumbrance of 1117 g.p.
They find 800 GP in an adventure. Dimwall takes most of it, but gets rid of a lot of stuff to do so. As for the fighter, “Drudge eats part of his iron rations and throws the rest away, along with his spikes and oil. He places the remaining bags in the bottom of his pack and then pours the loose coins on top of them. Encumbrance … is now ... 1222 gold pieces for Drudge.”

I should say the encumbrance system is something I always admired in principle but it’s awkward in practice. It’s one of those things players don’t want to keep track of. And it’s really one of the key balancing and pacing mechanisms of the game, despite the fact it is often ignored.

The big penalty of being encumbered in AD&D is to speed, which ranges from 12” for under 35 lb. to down to 3 or 4” for over 105 lbs. So getting out of a dungeon when carrying too much literally takes three or four times longer than if you’re strolling out with a handful of valuables, and that means tripling or quadrupling the number of random encounters on the way out (plus some other penalties in those encounters).

APPENDIX P: CREATING A PARTY ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT
Last appendix. :( Also, the last chance I’ll get to roll some dice during this Let’s Read.

This is how to make characters on the quick, possibly at highish levels. Let’s assume that George, Hector and Ida want to join a mid-level game.

We’ll start with George’s character:
Attributes: Use the 4d6K3 system, assign as you please. George gets 11, 12, 12, 14, 15, and 16. He decides to assign S12 I15 W11 D16 C12 Ch14.

Race & Class: George had been thinking of an Illusionist when he assigned those, but decides to go for a Gnome Illusionist/Thief, since both need Dex anyway. Gnomes don’t have any characteristic adjustments, which seems weird to me but I’ll gol with it. While not required anywhere in this process, he also decides to name the character Mr. Tricky.

Alignment: George checks if anyone is set on an evil party. Since they’re not, he goes for NG, the only good alignment thieves can take.

Level: As a medium-range level, one of the suggestions is starting at level d4+4, which the DM says to use. For multiclass characters, add one per profession (2 in George’s case) and divide by the number of classes. George rolls a 4, so he starts with an Illusionist 5/Thief 5.

Standard Equipment: Since he’s gotten this far in his adventuring career, Mr. Tricky can have any non-magical equipment he wants.

Magic Items: A bunch of tables rolled on based on character level; most will be +1; Mr. Tricky has a Ring of Protection +1, a scroll of Hallucinatory Terrain, and a dagger +1,

His two companions, produced the same way:

Hector’s PC: Expin D’Able, Level 5 TN Human Fighter S12 I8 W7 D12 C11 Ch10; Chain +1*, Longsword +1; Potion of Growth; and because the DM feels sorry for the meh rolls lets him roll on the optional Misc item table for Feather Fall ring.

*I was having horrible luck with the rolls, as you can see, and you get to pick which type of magic armor you roll for. I decided to go for chain rather than something stronger like Plate to increase the odds.

Ida’s PC: Phyxa, Level 6 NG Human Cleric, S14 I11 W14 D8 C9 Ch10; Ring of Protection +1, Scroll of 3 spells - Sticks to Snakes, Tongues and Bless; Mace +1.

It’s a quick and pretty useful section that seems to make generally usable characters. If I’d made them higher level, they’d have been more likely to get magic items with +2 or better. Also, because stats only matter if they’re really high or really low in AD&D, Expin isn’t as worthless as he looks to my later-edition adapted eyes where stats of 7 and 8 are penalties. He might even survive a couple of dungeons with some luck.

Next: The glossary.
 
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