Today is November 5th. It’s Tom Moldvay‘s birthday. He’d have turned 70. Sadly we lost him when he was only 58.
Note the moustache.
I’m celebrating mister Moldvay’s birthday today by adding a pair to his roster of Giants In The Earth.
“In the name of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World, …”
… I give you Garth Nix’s Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz:
This duo is best suited to — and I’ve statted them for — Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The foes they fight, and the weapons they wield, are a perfect fit with Lamentations. But be advised my intention here is to reveal as little as possible about their shenanigans. Read the stories; they’re fun.
Wonder & Wickedness really is the way to go with Mister Fitz. Marrying the idea of sigils to that of sorcerous needles is a pretty simple thing and it delivers in a big way. After all, while this sorcerous puppet isn’t quite “a nuclear weapon that grants wishes,” it does come pretty close.
And speaking of the foes they fight, you really do owe it to yourself to get a copy of Petty Gods. It contains a campaign’s-worth of godlets and godlings; never again will you cast about, in need of a “listed entity under the Treaty” for your heroes to bind, break and banish.
Oh, and if you’re in the mood for urban adventure, I recommend you explore the City of Dolmvay. I like to place it near Dwimmermount. (I’m a bit of an autist when it comes to alliteration.)
So again, Happy Birthday Mister Moldvay!
[P.S.: I was going to write up Gardner Fox’s Niall of the Far Travels, to address the et al. in his Appendix N listing. That didn’t go as well as I’d like so he’ll have to wait. Maybe til next year?]
For those of you who like your Giants in the Earth a bit leaner, here’s a younger Sindbad the Seaman. This version’s timed to possibly his second, but probably his third, voyage.
If you really want to jazz him up you can give him a flying carpet or dancing scimitar or something. Those aren’t in the stories, but — to paraphrase Papa Lazarou — they’re your stories now.
or, Happy Birthday Mister Moldvay!
I’d like to see the interwebs celebrate the life of Tom Moldvay for his birthday upcoming on Monday, 5 November 2018.
Let’s raise up a host of heroic Giants in the Earth!
Tom Moldvay’s (and Lawrence Schick’s) Giants in the Earth is one of my favourite article series from the early days of Dragon magazine.
Dragon 30 printed this (excerpt from a) letter in “Out on a Limb” (top) and this comment by Gary Gygax in “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll” (bottom):
Below is the reply Schick and Moldvay wrote – in Dragon 37 – about their process for writing up heroes for Giants in the Earth:
Here is their hero level guide from that article. I cleaned it up, filled it in and added DCC. Experience point- and level-wise most of the OSR simulacra fall somewhere between the O- and AD&D values. I built my hero (see below) using Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which hews pretty close to the AD&D numbers. Lion & Dragon is more like DCC. You get the idea:
And here’s the list of characters they knocked together as possible future contenders. I’ve struck through the characters that were covered in later articles. Still leaves a bunch. And it looks like only six of the remainder are denizens of Appendix N:
As a matter of fact, only a few of the Giants hailed from Appendix N sources. The majority are from other stories and myths, books I like to call Appendix Non. I’d like to see more Ns appear so I’m going to stat up Niall of the Far Travels to fill the “Fox, Gardner. … et al” slot. I’ll be posting him on Mr. Moldvay’s birthday. In case you want to add another N to the list:
After Dragon 42 Roger Moore wrote more and more of the Giants. And the series stopped running altogether after Dragon 64. Then in Dragon 70 (pg 14) Moore wrote the article “Giants can be Awful or Awe-ful.” It presents some thoughts on what to do with these heroes in your campaign. It also includes a list of all the Giants that were published plus some other Giants-like articles that followed. Moore’s piece is the last word on Giants in the Earth.
Other than – and after they wrapped – Giants in the Earth, Dragon made two more attempts at something similar. Larger Than Life was a column that appeared only twice and Lords & Legends took all of three kicks at the can.
Posted below is a pdf list of all the characters published by Moldvay and others in Giants in the Earth as well as all the heroes done in Giants-like articles. I didn’t include any heroes statted after 1st edition AD&D (round about Dragon 143). Likewise, I didn’t include any characters that were game-derived; so no Elminster, for example.
I also compiled a list of all the heroes in the original version of Deities & Demigods. Hero Fight, GO!
If you do post a Giant (and ping me) I’ll copy/paste it into a group pdf and put it on the site, probably a week or two after the 5th; that’ll give me time to gather them all.
In the meantime, here’s a hero from Appendix Non, by way of Lamentations:
Oh, and if I haven’t already mentioned it, The Dragondex is an absolutely amazing resource. Go, seek, find, enjoy.
[Edit: There have been comments (both recently and over the years) about the high levels of Giants in the Earth characters. Schick and Moldvay do address that in their article in Dragon 37; indeed, comments like those are why they included the level breakdown chart above.
To help illustrate that things did in fact temper over the course of issues, below is the list of heroes and their levels Roger Moore included in his piece from Dragon 70. There is a general trend of levels dropping out of the 20s into the teens (and even single-digits) as time goes on.
I think 10 to 15 levels is a reasonable range for heroes with a number of trials and ordeals under their belts. After all, they are supposed to be outstanding.]
The second part. You can find the first part here.
Magic Vaj, Eldritch Cock
I decided to take the original idea (at the end of the Author’s Notes in Vaginas Are Magic) at its word, mostly.
This is a coed school that only accepts female/male fraternal twins. The sisters and brothers are taught by Witches and Wizards, also twins themselves.
Have the player roll up two characters, the sister and the brother. They can then be played alternately, sister today, brother tomorrow, or brother day, sister night. Or they can be played together as a character-and-henchman duo, making one of them the dominant sibling. I’m sure there are other ways to play twins I’ve not thought of.
Some good magic-like examples of fraternal sibling characters from comics are Fenris and the Beau_bier and Maxi_moff twins. Hell, the spells in these two books will even get you pretty close to some of their power sets.
The knowledge in this book hails not from the deep past but from some alternate far future or antagonistic parallel plane. From somewhen between Mythos and Grim-Dark. If your game involves monsters, villains and beings–between like Chemo and Despotellis, or the Ogdru Jahad and the Many-Angled Ones (or even just Shrooms and Vandroids) then Space-Age Sorcery is the school for you!
I’ve made one addition to the spells, as you’ll see in the pdf. So now there’s an even 80.
[Oh, and if you haven’t played WARBAND! using Space-Age Sorcery as your spell list, you’re doing fun wrong.]
And here’s a quick link to the Dungeon Funk Table. Because laughter is infectious.
Better Than Any Man
I gather this is the book that got the whole level-less spells thing rolling in Lamentations. There are some crazy-powerful “First Level” spells in here.
Goto Better Than Any Man to get your copy. Everything about it is excellent.
Bat’s been knockin’ it outta the dungeon for a decade.
I think I found all his Wizard spells; there are a lot of them. I haven’t included any from this year ’cause it ain’t over; I might come January. I might not.
Here then are all the Eldritch Secrets from the Ancient Vaults, listed by Cycle (or, you know, year). It should be noted that a disturbance which began in the School’s 13th Cycle developed into the Calamity of Lost Knowledge of the 14th. Because of this, those two Cycles are presented as a single list.
Once you’ve determined your Wizard’s Cycle and three starting spells just goto Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets and use the search field (down a bit on the right) to find them.
Roll a d9:
- 9th Cycle
- 10th Cyle
- 11th Cycle
- 12th Cycle
- 13th & 14th Cycles
- 15th Cycle
- 16th Cycle
- 17th Cycle
- 18th Cycle
I should mention too, there is much to be gained by leafing through the other pages in the Vaults, for they contain many cleric, druid and illusionist Secrets as well as scores of magic items.
[Edit (04/19): In honour of Bat’s TENTH year crafting Secrets in the Vaults, I’ve added his 18th Cycle to the list.]
And finally …
Elves Are Fairies
This isn’t so much a spell list for a school of magic as it is a part of playing an Elf character, whether PC or N-, in my campaign.
It looks like the version of Theorems & Thaumaturgy I have — that includes Elves as Fey — is no longer available (that link jumps to the new revised ed.). Well, I can’t find it anyway. But I did find this DnlD for the Fey Class on The City of Iron.
Another really cool Fey embellishment from The City of Iron is the Many Fey, Some Fey pair of tables. Highly recommended.
Since The City of Iron links above don’t include all the Fey-specific spells in the pdf list I’ve posted, I included the rest of them here as an image:
P.S.: 🎶 Happy Birthday 🎶 to the E.G.G. and I.