Monday, November 30, 2020

ACKS: Countering Sleep

There's been some discussion lately about how low-level MUs are extraordinarily dangerous to low-level parties; just as sleep wipes a beastman gang, so too does sleep wipe a group of first or second level PCs.  Even adding a save doesn't help that much, because low level characters have terrible saves.  So the discussion has mostly turned to initiative and disrupting casters.

There was another discussion about how magic missile is really useful for this, to the point that there exists a spell designed primarily to counter it (shield), with accompanying magic items (brooches of shielding).

If sleep is dangerous enough that high-level wizards keep losing their best apprentices to other schools who cast sleep, maybe they'd solve this problem with magic, in the same way.

So kicking around the Player's Companion's rules for protection spells, here is a spell that might be useful for low-level characters expecting to go up against wizards:

Igmund's Insomniator
Arcane 1
Range: self
Duration: 12 turns
Creatures within a 7.5' radius of the caster are immune to the spell sleep for the duration.

(Points: immunity to sleep 5, range self x0.75, 7.5' radius x1.5, duration 12 turns x1.75 = 9.8)

There's a little room here to fiddle with the duration/radius tradeoff.  7.5' radius won't cover the whole party, but a good chunk will still be standing.  The other edge of the sword, though, is that enemies who are up in your face are also immune to sleep (which is very consistent with my feeling that arcane magic should over-solve problems).

Another fun avenue, of course, is potions.

Potion of Wakefulness
This dark brown, bitter potion prevents the drinker from falling asleep by any means, mundane or magical, for six hours.  For the first hour after drinking it, the imbiber gains a +1 bonus to surprise rolls due to hypervigilance, but takes a -2 penalty to attack throws due to jitters.  Characters who use Potions of Wakefulness more than once in any given week halve the duration for each potion after the first (second potion lasts 3 turns and 3 hours, third potion lasts 1.5 turns and 1.5 hours, etc).

A final option for dealing with sleep in NPC hands might be the friendly fireball approach.  OD&D's text for sleep is predictably ambiguous about targeting, but "The spell always affects up to the number of creatures determined by the dice" could certainly be read to mean that once it has put the monsters to sleep, if it has any HD left over, it tries to put the party to sleep.  Changing ACKS' sleep to operate in this way moves it from "a spell to solve almost any non-undead combat encounter on the first two dungeon levels" to something you have to be a little careful with, because if you use it on too small a group and you roll high you could put your entire party to sleep, and then you're probably toast.  And if you want to have multiple henchwizards all casting sleep in the same round, so that any one disruption doesn't stop it from going off, then you have to worry about what happens if none of them get disrupted.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Everybody is Thieves

One natural extension proposed by Koewn to Everybody is Cultists is Everybody is Clerics.  I think this is a good idea, but I would be tempted to overcomplicate it with custom spell lists and lots of deities to choose from, or making spellcasting use something like a reaction roll, or something like that.  So I'm going to think about that a bit more and maybe come back to it later.

But another potential extension is Everybody is Thieves.  It's a meme I've heard floating around the OSRosphere every now and then - what do you need a thief class for, all OSR characters are thieves.  Well and good, but the abilities of the class are (occasionally) useful.

So what if we let every character also be a thief, with a separate thief XP progression?  Turn both of the classes that level weirdly fast (thief and cleric) into side progressions, and then you choose a Real Class (Fighter, Magic User, Elf, or Dwarf) as your main class and can take one of the two side progressions if you like.  In keeping with Rolesrules' analysis of the thief and the cleric sitting opposite each other philosophically (and in the interest of simplicity), make it an exclusive choice.

So what would a thief side-progression look like?

Any character who has Dex 9+ and has not yet reached 6th level can become a thief in addition to their primary class; low-level adventurers spend enough time in seedy taverns to learn the tricks of the trade from their environment.  Thieves gain a second XP progression independent of their main class.  When they gain XP from treasure found while adventuring, they may spend up to half of that XP into the thief progression.  A thief cannot gain two levels in the thief progression from any single adventure.  Thieves gain a bonus to XP earned on the thief progression for having high Dexterity scores:

Dex 9-12: +0%
Dex 13-15: +5%
Dex 16-18: +10%

Unfortunately all that time spent drinking with shady characters limits the thief's ability to advance to the heights of power in his main class.  A thief's maximum level in his main class is reduced by 2, and his maximum thief level is the same as his (reduced) maximum level in his main class.

A thief gains the ability to open locks, hide in shadows, move silently, detect or remove traps, and hear noises as a member of the old thief class of his thief level.  These abilities are only usable while wearing leather or lighter armor; rattling metal and restrictive helms interfere with his hearing and peripheral vision, and heavy gauntlets interfere with his ability to manipulate fine mechanisms.
 
Thieves add Acrobatics, Alertness, Bribery, Contortionism, Gambling, Lip Reading, Lockpicking, Running, Skirmishing, Skulking, Swashbuckling, Trap Finding, and Weapon Finesse to their class proficiency list.
 
Thieves of 5th level or higher may perform hijinks personally, while thieves of 9th level or higher may run crime syndicates.

XPLevelOpen LocksTrapsMove SilentlyHide in ShadowsHear Noise
0118+18+17+19+14+
400217+17+16+18+13+
800316+16+15+17+12+
1600415+15+14+16+11+
3200514+14+13+15+10+
6400612+13+12+14+9+
12500710+11+10+12+8+
2500088+9+8+10+7+
5000096+7+6+8+6+
100000104+5+4+6+5+
150000113+3+2+4+4+
200000122+2+2+3+3+

Notes:

I cut the skill list down to fit it into Thievery 2 under ACKS' classbuilding rules.  I picked the skills that fit best into the typical dungoneering gameplay loop without having to go out of your way in dungeon design.

I'm on the fence about Finding/Removing Traps, since making it a roll removes interactive gameplay, but I do like the idea of it as basically a saving throw where you're about to set off a trap and you get to roll it to realize at the last second and avoid triggering it.  Maybe the right thing here is to keep Finding Traps but remove Removing Traps; dealing with detected traps descriptively is a lot easier than dealing with finding them descriptively.  So I left it as just "Traps" here.  Climbing Walls I'm sort of ambivalent about; you can design dungeons around it but otherwise it doesn't seem to come up much.  I hate Picking Pockets - the only things my players have ever seemed to use it for were stealing from random low-value townie NPCs, and for stealing from each other.  It has no place in the dungeon gameplay loop except maybe stealing from rival adventuring parties but no sensible rival adventuring party is going to let you get within arm's reach unless the situation is quite desperate.  Reading Languages and Using Scrolls I'm OK with dropping because if you want to do those things, play a MU/Thief.

Backstab is the real sticking point.  It's great on fighters, elves, and dwarves, and pretty worthless on MUs (although because nobody expects an MU to attack in melee, it would make a good sucker-punch).  Backstab was sort of the only thing thieves had going for them in combat; if you already have a combat-capable class and the thief side-progression is supposed to be supplementary, do you really need the help?

Maybe I should have an assassin side-progression too, with backstab, hide, move silently, climb walls, and one of poison use, tracking, or disguise.  It would level at the same rate as a 5-skill thief side progression.  I like that a lot.  It would be especially terrible if you could only spend XP from killing things into it.
 
Bard should fit perfectly too, since it's already a Thief 2 class - Inspire Courage, Performance, Loremastery, Arcane Dabbling...  huh I guess they should really get Read Languages at 1st, unless there's something I'm missing here.  The trick is that the stuff the side-class gets has to get better as it levels, or there's not much reason to continue investing XP in it instead of dipping (until you hit max level in your main class).  Fortunately bard's stuff does mostly improve with level (inspire courage uses per day, target numbers for Loremaster and Arcane Dabbling), and that might be a good reason to keep deferring Read Languages to 4th.

(This requirement to improve with level poses a challenge for side-loading Paladin, since most of the stuff they usually get is front-loaded and boolean except for Lay on Hands)
 
6th level was chosen as the cutoff for starting on the thief progression because it's sort of a natural breakpoint between hard-scrabble low-level dungoneering and mid-level wilderness play (where the thief isn't as useful anyway) and as a simple way to prevent the situation where you wait to become a thief until you're already within two levels of your class' max (without needing complicated wording).

Fighter/thief is pretty close to MU in terms of XP progression.  Sort of neat.  And if you have thief skills on a better class, then you can lean on that class to get you through the low levels to a point where your thief skills are usable (and if you invest your XP heavily into thief, it should blow past your main class too).

The "up to half of XP from treasure" bit is a nice thought but probably not really worth the complexity.
 
The proficiency bit is a hack; ACKS RAW would have you add like two thief class profs to your class' proficiency list.  Ambushing might also be a reasonable pick for that list in lieu of backstab.  I'm torn about Swashbuckling; it's nice for dwarf thieves to be able to take it, but if it were on the list MUs might dip thief to get it (but MUs get so few class profs anyway, and losing two levels off the top of MU hurts, so it's probably fine).  Precise Shooting should also maybe be on this list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

OD&D Notes, Supplement 1: Greyhawk

Or, half-jokingly, "where everything went wrong".
 
Initially I expected to make this post part of the series on reading OD&D, but after reading Greyhawk, I think there's a clear line between it and the LBBs, tonally.  I think this is also where I would draw the line between OD&D and AD&D.

Characters:

Paladins added as a subclass available to lawful fighters.

Thieves added.  They must be Neutral or Chaotic, and Lawful characters can't hire them on a permanent basis.
Greyhawk seems to care a lot about alignment.  I get the feeling that somebody had had too many rat bastard players and was trying to get them to behave.
Open Locks works on magical closures.
Remove Traps is explicitly "small trap devices (such as poisoned needles)"

Demihumans can be thieves, and have no level limits in Thief.

"Thieves of the 3rd level and above are able to read most (80%) languages, so
treasure maps can be read and understood by them without recourse to a spell."
Notably, this doesn't say "thieves have an 80% chance of reading treasure maps" - it says that they can read 80% of languages, and can read treasure maps without casting a spell.

Backstab scales up with level, to x3 at 5th, x4 at 9th, and so forth.  I think this is Right And Proper and I'm extra confused why Basic (as represented by OSE) got rid of this.

Ugh percentile skills.

Demihuman level limits are increased for demihumans with 17-18 in the class' prime req.

Dwarves and elves have definitively acquired infravision.

Oh boy racial bonuses to thief skills.

Half-elves have arrived.  They're a lot like elves but without infravision, higher fighter level limit, lower MU level limit.  Who asked for this?
 
"There are no half-elf clerics, for in this regard their human side prevails.  However, half-elves with a basic wisdom score of 13 or more may also become clerics."
No half-elf clerics, or only half-elf clerics with high Wis?  Why choose when you can say both?

Updated monsters-by-alignment table for new creatures added.  I'm surprised lizardmen and beholders are exclusively Neutral.

Here's more harping on Chaotic players.  "While there is no rule to apply to groups of chaotic players operating in concert, referees are urged to formulate some rules against continuing cooperation as fits their particular situation, but consideration for concerted actions against chaotic players by lawful ones should be given."

Fighters get to add Str to attack and damage, and low Str penalizes everyone melee to-hit and damage.  18/%% strength has arrived.  Str now modifies encumbrance.  A character with 3 Str only loses 100 coins of carrying capacity (they can still carry 650 at full speed).

Int now modifies maximum spell level, number of spells known, probability of knowing a given spell.  11 Int is still good enough to learn and cast 6th level spells though (versus, say, 3e, where you'd need 16 Int for that).

Fighters with 15+ Dex can basically add Dex-14 to their AC.  Only fighters though, not anybody else (even thieves).

"Charisma scores of 17 or greater by fighters indicate the possibility of paladin
status IF THEY ARE LAWFUL from the commencement of play for that character."
Lay on Hands can also cure disease, which is neat.
Paladins are immune to disease, but not to fear.  They get +10% on saving throws, can detect evil to 6" / 60', and if 8th level or higher can "dispel evil (spells, undead, evil enchanted monsters, and the like) simply by ordering it hence".
They can summon a warhorse but it can't be replaced for 10 years.
They have to give away treasure and magic items, except for their personal armor, shield, up to four weapons, a stronghold of up to 200kgp in value, and up to 200 retainers, which is not much of a vow of poverty.

"Gifts must be to the poor or to charitable or religious institutions, i.e. not to some other character played in the game."
lol.  But also this kind of lawyery is a big part of what makes it feel like AD&D instead of the LBBs or Basic.

High Con scores now get more HP per HD (it capped out at +1 per die in Book 1, up to +3 at 18 here).
Con is now a hard cap on number of resurrections, I guess the percent probability of surviving resurrection wasn't doing its job hard enough: "your constitution score is also the number of times you may be resurrected; this, of course, excludes wishing and other means to revitalize your body without recourse to a resurrection spell"
 
Chaotic retainers, and retainers serving chaotic characters, take loyalty penalties.

Thief XP table.

Different HD sizes by class.
Wow thieves are squishier in the limit than MUs.  Thieves cap out at 10d4 and gain +1/2 HP per level thereafter, while MUs cap out at 11d4 and gain +1 HP per level thereafter.

Use of d8 HD for monsters recommended, but then provides kobolds as an example with 1d4.  Perplexing.

Tables for spells known and per day for wizards up to 22nd level and clerics up to 20th.  7th-9th level arcane spells and 6th-7th level divine spells added.

Thief skills table.  They don't actually get finding traps.  I say again: thieves don't get anything for finding traps, only removing them.

XP rewards from defeating monsters revised - looks much lower for weak monsters and similar for strong monsters.  Eg, per Book 1 killing an orc would be worth 100 XP.  Here (and hereafter, in OSE and ACKS) an orc is only worth 10 XP.

Henchmen now earn half XP.  "It is absolutely mandatory that experience for non-player characters be computed, bonuses added, and then the whole reduced by 50%"

Equipment:

Weapon vs armor to-hit table adapted from Chainmail.

Arquebus is on the table, curiously enough, as is "horse bow" (in addition to short, long, and composite bows).

Weapon damage now varies by weapon and by size of the target (man-sized vs larger than man-sized).

Polearms are noted as "not usable in dungeons as a general rule"
2H swords kick ass, 1d10 points against men and 3d6 against big creatures.
Longswords aren't shabby either, with 1d8 vs men and 1d12 against big creatures.
I really don't understand the logic (gameplay reason) behind making damage different against big creatures.  Were people only using light weapons?

Oh man this table for weird stackings of magic armor and magic shields up to +5.

This rule about when magic shields apply looks an awful lot like facing.

Monsters now also deal different amounts of damage and have different numbers of attacks each.

Spells:
 
Spell lists much expanded - Magic Missile, Shield, Web, Strength, Darkness, Explosive Runes, Summon Monster, Suggestion, Ice Storm, Fear, Legend Lore, Snake Charm, Silence 15' Radius, Prayer, Speak with Dead, plus all the high-level spells.
Extension is a new one to me - extend the duration of a lower-level spell.  First stab at metamagic.

Charm Person duration nerfed.
Sleep clarified to offer no saving throw and not affect undead.
Magic Missile doesn't actually say it automatically hits.
Web has a range of 30' and a duration of 8 hours.  Stronk.
High-level MUs can attempt to detect and remove Explosive Runes.
Summon Monster basically suggests rolling on the random encounter table for a particular dungeon level.
Charm Monster duration nerfed.
Ugh they're specifying between "turns" and "melee turns" in these durations.  Super error-prone.
Limited Wish cannot create treasure.
Spells Simulacrum and Clone are both present, basically just weird limited resurrections.
The Power Words have arrived.
Time Stop stops time in an area, except for the caster - creatures from outside the area can still enter it, but will be frozen.  Also the duration is random and rolled secretly by the DM.
Gate lets you summon "an ultra-powerful being (such as Odin, Crom, Set, Cthulhu, the Shining One, a demi-god, or whatever)".
Summon Monster 7 can summon a lich, who is a 20th level MU, which means he could cast Summon Monster 7, and summon another lich, who casts Summon Monster 7, ...

It seems like the original intent of Silence wasn't to use on enemy casters - "This spell allows the user to either cast Silence upon himself and his party so as to move with no sound or to cast the spell upon some object or thing to silence it. Duration: 12 turns. Range: 18”"
Prayer is weird, it just inflicts a saving throw penalty to targets in the area.  At least the penalty scales up (very slowly) with caster level.
Speak With Dead - answers are recommended to be riddles.
Animate Objects, Blade Barrier, Word of Recall, Speak With Monsters, Conjure Animals.
Aerial Servant is new to me, send a double-strength flying invisible stalker to abduct someone.  Very "jerk-ass DM abducted my PC to put a geas on him".
Holy Word's effects aren't alignment-specific, they only care about the HD of the targets.
Restoration, recover a level drained by undead, is a 7th level cleric spell, up there with True Resurrection, and incapacitates the caster for 2d10 days.

Monsters:

Vampires "from the Middle East" are invisible but can't charm.  OK then.

Elementals are now immune to +1 weapons and attacks from monsters of less than 4HD (unless those creatures have magical abilities).

Druids appear as a monster but not a class.  They are combination MU/clerics.

Tritons are upgraded mermen.

Bugbears appear!  They are "of the "giant class", being great hairy goblin-giants."  They get +1 to surprise.

Ogre Magi "are properly Japanese Ogres" and regenerate 1HP per melee round, plus a bunch of spell-like abilities.

Storm giants can cause storms.

Liches are typically 18th level MUs.

Harpies can charm with a touch.

The rest of the metallic dragons are added.
The "Platinum King of Lawful (and Neutral) Dragons" has 21 HD, AC -3, and a disintegrating breath weapon, while the "Chromatic Queen of the Chaotic Dragons" only has 16 HD and AC 0 (but the action economy of five heads and the tail of a wyvern).

Lizardmen are fond of human flesh.  But again, they're neutral.  I guess bears and lions are neutral too.

Doppelgangers don't have Spell Resistance (it hasn't been invented yet), they just save against spells as 10th level fighters.

Beholders' main body is AC0, the eye-stalks AC2, and the eyes themselves AC7.  So for once it's actually easier to hit the sub-parts.
Beholders are also avaricious.

Displacer beasts save as a man wearing a displacer cloak, which is pretty funny.  Or a 12th-level fighter, against spells.

Rust monsters aren't immune to nonmagical wooden weapons here like they are in OSE.  Another perplexing design decision for Basic.

Giant ticks will pursue and drop on their prey.

Owlbears (pardon me, "Owl bears") are almost entirely bears, with the heads of owls.

"CARRION CRAWLERS: These scavengers will usually attack in order to insure
that there will continue to be a supply of corpses to scavenge".  What.  No.  That's called predation.  Stop.
Nothing about laying eggs in the things they paralyze, so I guess they really don't kill you, you're just stuck until something else makes you a corpse.  That's so dumb.

Gelatinous Cuuuube.  Doesn't actually paralyze you, just anesthetizes flesh that comes into contact with it unless you save vs paralysis.  Nothing about them being perfectly translucent or otherwise unusually sneaky yet.

Giant slugs have super weird mechanics for shooting acid at people, where they just have a % hit chance that I guess is independent of AC?

As golems get heavier (flesh < clay < iron), they also get slower.  Interesting.

Magic items:

Magic swords up to +5 (only Holy Swords are +5 though).  Vorpal, Dancing, and Sharpness appear.

Only fighters can use potions of fire resistance.

Multiple cursed items in pretty much every category.

Rods have arrived, and they're like wands and staves except they have a lot fewer charges.  It's almost like 100-200 was too many?

The Nine Lives Draining sword implementation is actually kind of neat, where it ramps up but then runs out of charges.

Holy Swords make paladins immune to magic, in addition to being +5.

Dragon Slaying Sword +2 does 4d10 bonus damage against dragons of the correct color.  That's actually a pretty OK implementation of "of slaying".

Dancing sword will only start dancing after you've been using it to fight for three rounds, then dances for three rounds, then needs another three rounds in your hands.  It's a partner dance, apparently.

Sword of Sharpness only works for paladins and also provides anti-magic.

Vorpal sword only works for lawful fighters, and also does anti-magic for paladins.  ok_hand.jpg
 
Armor +4 is made of mithral; armor +5 is made of adamantium.
 
Shield of missile attraction only kicks in when "missiles from true enemies are shot at its user in anger."
Why do you hate your players?  What did they ever do to you?

Arrows of slaying, on the other hand, don't do bonus damage or give a save or anything.

Crossbow of Speed lets you shoot in the surprise round, and then +3 init after that.  ...  but isn't initiative still by-side?  How does that work?
Wait but the section on ability scores said "Dexterity affects both the ability of characters to act/react and fire missiles".  That sounds like an initiative bonus!  But there was no table or clarification on it?

Potions of Extra-Healing first appear, healing 3d6.

Oil of Slipperiness is for moving through webs and strands, escaping knots and hugs (owlbear hugs?).  It can be removed by pouring wine on yourself, lol.

Ring of Shooting Stars only works at night under open sky.

Ring of Contrariness makes the user "act in the opposite fashion of normal/requested."  So a typical day with player characters, cats, or small children.

Staves of Striking no longer use charges when striking (nor do staves of power or wizardry).

Rod of Cancellation lets you cancel any one magic item if you can hit it with it.  This kinda feels like a "I'm sick of that player with the +5 armor, I'mma send drow with Rods of Cancellation" Bad DM item.

The first reference to the glaive-guisarme!  In the Rod of Lordly Might description.  It doesn't appear on the weapons tables, there it's still just "polearm".

Rod of Rulership lets you command 1d4+1  x 100 hit dice of humanoids for 10 rounds.  But only in a radius of 10 feet.  That can't be right.  It's a pity it doesn't last for longer, that would be a neat way to acquire an army.

So so so many cursed miscellaneous items.

Luckstone affects rolls for generating treasure.  That's amazing.  How would you even run that with a big campaign of 20 players?  Do you have to roll two treasures when you're prepping, one in case the guy with the luckstone comes to tonight's session and one for if he doesn't?  Was treasure usually rolled at runtime?

Horn of Bubbles is funny at least, rather than "lol the cursed magic carpet wraps you up and smothers you, you die unless you have like a 10th level cleric with Animate Object outside the carpet ready to save you".
 
Talisman of Lawfulness is the first appearance of the effect that became Imprisonment, and does a bunch of damage to people other than lawful clerics who touch it.
Saw of Mighty Cutting: A magical saw which will cut through a normal-sized tree in but 6 turns. Consider a normal tree to be approximately eighteen inches in diameter.
Mattock of the Titans: A great mallet which drives great piles into the ground with but a single blow. It will sunder a standard portal (8’ high, 4’ wide, 2” thick) with one swing. It is too massive to be used in combat by any except Giants, Titans, and the like.
Spade of Colossal Excavation: This shovel will excavate a hole one cubic yard in size in but one turn.
I like these, especially the Mattock.  That's a great example of an item that interacts with exploration gameplay.  I wish we had more like that.

The manuals of skill at arms and gainful exercise and all that arrive.  If you read the wrong class' book, you lose XP and may take damage.  You may even take damage from handling the book.  If you read the wrong alignment's book as a cleric you lose two levels.  
Their covers are blank and impenetrable by either Commune or Contact Higher Plane spells, although a wish will reveal its general contents, and a second Wish would reveal its exact nature. After being read by one individual the work vanishes completely, unless the reader gained no benefit from the contents. In the latter case he cannot rid himself of the item and must hide it away and guard it against use by someone who could gain from it.
And this is a good example of the other thing that makes it feel like AD&D - the "being out to fuck over your players and prevent them from using reasonable tools within the game-world," like Commune.  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons?  More like Adversarial Dungeons and Dragons.

The Deck of Many Things appears!  Interesting that you don't have to take all of your draws at once - the deck only disappears once you've taken a total of four, or you have stated intention to never draw from the deck again.

Underworld and Wilderness:

Some of these dungeon tricks are super-dumb.

They do make the good point that checking the guts of monsters for treasure should take time.

The monster combination suggestions are pretty alright.  "A Cloud Giant riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex."  Yeah sign me up, I want that in my campaign.

The rust monster appears on the 4th, 5th, and 6th level dungeon monster tables.  I do believe it is the only creature with that distinction.

Conclusions:
 
Boy I really didn't enjoy this one.  Maybe I'll read Blackmoor but after that I think I'm done with '70s era OD&D/AD&D books.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Rival Adventuring Parties and Dungeon Maps as Treasure

Been thinking about mapping more.  Once upon a time, my players encountered a rival adventuring party in the dungeon, fought them, and took their stuff.  At the time it didn't occur to either them or me that that rival party probably ought to have had a map of parts of the dungeon that they had explored.

On the one hand, having rival adventuring parties be a source of intel in addition to magic items makes them a great target.  Stealing their maps might even qualify as a good use for my least favorite thief skill, Picking Pockets, and maps could be a good target for skullduggery in town too rather than just in the dungeon.  I also like that this would allow a DM to provide information to the party about the layout of the dungeon, but there's a good reason for that information to be unreliable - just as the party may make mapping mistakes, so too their rivals.  This casts the players' map into doubt and requires them to resolve inconsistencies.  Some of my favorite mapping moments in previous campaigns have been when multiple players had their own maps and have had to build a consensus map out of their fragments, and having NPC maps as an additional source seems likely to lead to similar moments.

But on the other hand, figuring out what parts of the dungeon each rival party has explored and building unreliable map-fragments sounds like a pain in the ass.  It's the sort of thing that I would probably want to do after the session in which the party captured the map (ie, random encounter result of Rival Party, PCs capture the map, session ends, I figure out where exactly they had been and what they knew).  Maybe this is a good reason for OD&D's Read Languages to specify that it can be used to read maps - "Oh you didn't prepare Read Languages today?  I guess you can't read the map and will have to do it after the session."  Maybe it's normal for adventurers to keep their maps encoded, so that when captured you need to bring it back to town and spend some time deciphering it.  I dunno.

I wonder if the intent for treasure maps in OD&D was for them to be maps of parts of the dungeon, rather than maps pointing to wilderness lairs like I have used them in ACKS.  Looking at the text again it really doesn't say.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Reading OD&D, Closing Thoughts on the LBBs

As with reading Classic Traveller, this was a very interesting exercise.
 
A lot of things were just not covered at all.  The turn structure in combat comes entirely from Chainmail; man-to-man combat gets a single paragraph which is just a reference.  Which leads to another (terrible?) idea for D&D - secret, written orders for your character in D&D combat. Using Chainmail for combat does explain the origin of initiative by side rather than individual initiative, with movement, then shooting, then melee, then spellcasting, as seen in Basic - that's about what a Chainmail turn would look like under the non-written-orders option.

Recovering spells is also never really covered.  It's perfectly possible given the text here that you might only need your spellbook to prepare / choose spells at the beginning of the adventure, and then you get them back every day, but to swap them out you need the book again.  And that would also free wizards to go on naval adventures, or swimming, or out in the rain, without worrying about their precious tomes.
 
I like the idea that counter-spelling is an action that MUs can attempt at any level.  I guess the flow for this under something like ACKS' initiative system might be "declare spells, declare counterspells, if spell-caster beats counter-speller's initiative then it goes off, otherwise counterspeller gets a roll adjusted by level to stop the spell from going off."  This would provide low-level parties with another way to stop sleep by an NPC caster from being a TPK.  Apply modifiers for relative power of the two casters, whether the counter-speller knows the spell being countered, maybe even make high-level spells easier to counter (they are higher "complexity", which sounds like they'd be easier to throw wrenches into).

I like Chainmail's roll-to-cast with the possibility that the spell goes off on the next round, too.  That would also offer a bigger window to counterspell or get stabbed.  I'm not sure whether counterspelling should cause you to lose the spell for the day / the slot, or just to prevent you from casting it that round (or for the rest of that fight / 10 minutes).

It's weird that the "alternate" combat system won out so completely.  I guess if you didn't have Chainmail, then the alternate was the only option available to you.  I'm really surprised that fighters gain THAC0 so infrequently given that they do gain capability every level under the Chainmail combat system.

I almost want to see a TSR D&D variant where THAC0 doesn't improve as you level - you just get more attacks at a rate that approximates the fighter's ability to fight massed troops in Chainmail (and clerics and MUs get more attacks at a slower rate).  It isn't even crazy for a 10th level fighter to make 10 attacks in a 1-minute combat round.  The problem would be building an initiative system where fights between equally-matched opponents didn't just come down to "whoever won init" (although I guess wizard-fights are already like that).  Speed in play would also suffer.
 
It's odd to think that Codex Martialis for 3e was sort of on this track back to Chainmail.

I guess the fact that non-Chainmail combat won out might also explain the disappearance of counterspelling.  And morale only being in mass combat part of the Chainmail book, not in the LBBs, might have been the beginning of morale's status as "that rule everyone forgets".

As others have noted, the implied setting here is suuuper low population density.  Securing a fortress is sufficient to control a 20-mile radius around it - about 540 square miles.  In that 540 square miles you get 2d4 villages, each of 1d4x100 villagers, so a total population of 1250 on average.  Spread across 540 square miles, that's a population density of about 2.3 people per square mile, which is too dense for hunter-gatherer populations for also about 5% of the density of medieval England.  Having that population per 5-mile hex would bring population density up to 60 people per square mile, which is in line with ancient Mediterranean population densities but still well short of the population density of medieval France or the Holy Roman Empire.  I almost wonder if the conventional wisdom, that population density in OD&D is really low, is the result of the textual ambiguity around "territory", which could refer to either the entire barony containing 5 villages, or to each hex containing 5 villages.  Another possibility for making the numbers more reasonable would be to rule that the village population is "urban" and supported by a larger rural population; with 9 rural per urban, you'd end up at 23 people per square mile which is still thin but not crazy thin.
 
I found a lot to like in these rules.  I love the naval combat; I have no desire to own a big wargaming table but this seems like something a VTT could do very well.  I love the up-front emphasis on hiring leveled characters / henchmen.  The dungeon-building advice is way better than I expected it to be at this stage of the game's development.  This whole thing was a lot less opaque than I expected.  There was almost no purple Gygaxian prose and the organization isn't terrible; emphasis is placed on several important topics (henchmen and dungeons, respectively).

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

OD&D Notes, Book 3: The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures

Part 4 of a series where I read OD&D for the first time and take notes on things that surprised me (parts 1, 2, and 3).
 
Dungeons are supposed to be constructed as a set of linked levels.  Multiple paths between levels / non-linearity implied; it's present in the example, and "numerous levels that sprawl in all directions, not necessarily stacked neatly above each other in a straight line" in the text.

I'm not sure if this bit about "having levels [of the dungeon] under construction" refers to in-world or out-of-world.  It could be a pretty funny encounter for PCs to meet the fiendish construction crew.

The sample level is fairly small, only 8 keyed entries and a total of maybe 40-50 rooms across 5ish clusters of rooms.  There are slides to lower levels, corridors at non-right-angles, a basilisk, and a two-way teleporter to wherever (the moon is suggested as a destination).  It's very funhouse.

The internal structure of the level is not very jayquayed - it's more tree-ish, except for the mess of tiny connected rooms in one of the five clusters.

The fear of 'death', its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game.  It therefore behooves the campaign referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance of survival (remembering that the monster population already threatens this survival).
The various tricks and traps that immediately follow seem to be more about messing with players than killing their characters - false stairs, teleporters, illusions, dead ends, one-way doors, things that are hard to map.  Which is rather funny.

"As a general rule there will be far more uninhabited space on a level than there will be space occupied by monsters, human or otherwise".  Not just 20-30% of rooms empty - far more space.

Recommends a hybrid approach to stocking between planned and random - place several important treasures and their guardians intentionally, then randomly generate the rest.

50% of rooms with monsters have treasure.  Does this indicate that 50% of monster rooms are lairs?  Looking back at the monster table, the % in lair on most of these is higher than I'm used to; 50% is not uncommon.  I don't think these dungeon monsters are lairs, though - there's a separate treasure table here from the treasure table in Men and Monsters which specified that it was only for lairs.  Maybe there's no conception of dungeon lairs yet, and lairs are strictly a wilderness thing.  Maybe stocked monsters are present in the same numbers as in the wilderness, and then only random encounters are supposed to be small (scaled to party size), so every room keyed with monsters is effectively a lair.  That would square with the advice to have lots and lots of empty space.
 
Curiously, no copper pieces in dungeon treasure.

There's a section on "maintaining freshness" of a dungeon level that has been mostly cleared - suggestions include blocking passages and making new ones, extending the boundaries of the map, replacing/restocking monsters, "reversing directions" ?, and adding a sublevel.  It's interesting that of these I only really ever do restocking.  I also love that this was an established, normal things in the ref guidance and got a full half a page.

Aha, here's the ground scale of one inch to 10 feet.

Ten minutes lets you make two moves, 120 feet for a fully-armored character.  So that's twice as fast as in B/X.  And four moves per turn in flight/pursuit, which forbids mapping.  I could see why this rule might have been dropped though - you would need really big dungeons, as players could cover a lot of ground.  On the other hand, if really big dungeons were the norm, it might make a lot of sense, so that players could cover all that ground.

Rest turns are here, along with two turns' rest after a flight/pursuit.  No penalties are listed for skipping it though.

Exploration actions may take fractional turns! (Using ESP takes a quarter turn, searching 10' of wall for secret passages takes a full turn, ...).

Ten rounds of combat per turn, so one-minute combat rounds.  Huh.

Elf secret-door-finding lets them know that something is there, but not necessarily how to open it.

Evil doors are already here.  Iron spikes may slip out and allow them to close again.

Traps fire 1/3 of the time when passed through, rather than 1/6 in Basic.
 
Hearing noises is on d6.  Humans have bad ears.  Silent undead, haunted rooms and corridors that make disembodied noises.

Light - no surprising monsters except through doors.  Monsters lose infravision when characters hire them, lol.

Fireballs and lightning bolts used indoors bounce back, reiterated from book 1.

Dungeon encounter distance is shorter (2d4x10 feet vs 2d6x10 feet in ACKS/OSE).  Surprise shortens that distance to 1d3x10 feet.  I like that, adjudicating random encounters with surprise using B/X's default encounter distance of 2d6x10 feet was always awkward.

1 in 6 chance of wandering monster per turn, not every other turn.  Direction it's coming from is explicitly random as well.

Number of monsters encountered is a function of the size of the party.  Huh!

Three hobgoblins can fight abreast in a 10' corridor.

Characters surprised by monsters have a 25% chance to drop an item they're holding.  Ouch.

Burning oil will deter many monsters from pursuit, but no rules for throwing it at individual targets.  Treasure and food are also mentioned as distracting pursuers.

Reaction roll is very crude, 2d6 with ranges for negative, neutral, and positive reaction, but only those three outcomes, not five.

The Caller is mentioned in an example of play.  The description of the passages is very terse!  Loading coins into backpacks took four turns.  While a combat took place, it is not described play-by-play as the exploration was.

Wilderness prep - have a map of the surface area around the dungeon and of the nearest town.  Towns are not exactly safe - "Venture into the Thieves' Quarter only at your own risk!"

"The terrain beyond the immediate surroundings of the dungeon area should be unknown to all but the referee."  The old masters already knew: don't show them the map!

Inhabitants of castles aren't very friendly.  They collect tolls, challenge you to jousting matches, put geases on you to go get treasure for them, and all kinds of stuff.  Although considering the average D&D player, if a castle held by a PC had a random encounter with a lower-level adventuring party, those all sound like plausible outcomes.

Wilderness movement speed is listed in hexes, and then terrain can make a particular hex cost 2x-3x more.  Large parties take a penalty to their hexes/day.  This is nice.
 
You can sail boats through swamp hexes, up to and including war galleys.

Dragons need to sleep a lot after traveling overland.  That's amazing.

"Assume the greatest distance across a hex is about 5 miles."  The day is the unit of time in the wilderness.

Getting lost is...  hard to parse.  You move in the direction indicated by a d6 roll, "and may make only one direction change from that direction.  When exploring the referee should indicate which direction the party is lost in."  What does that mean?  You roll a d6 and move in a random direction, but the ref tells you which direction you moved in, and you get to make up to a one-hex-side change from it?

Wandering monster check per day, twice a day if traveling by air or by water.  So that's a lot less work than checking per hex.  I like this.

You get lost a lot in swamp and desert, a fair bit in mountains and woods, and only occasionally in clear terrain or on a river.  Random encounters frequent in swamp and mountains, less frequent in woods, river, and desert, and infrequent in clear and city.

All kinds of weird stuff on this encounter table.  I'm a little surprised that none of the John Carter of Mars monsters made it into later editions, except that the references to them here are totally unintelligible to someone unfamiliar with the source (eg, me) so I could see why people would ignore them and they wouldn't be propagated.

Pursuit and evasion - I think probability of escape might be intended to be based on the fraction of the max possible size of the random encounter?  So like if orcs are 1d10 * 30, and you're being pursued by 180 orcs, that's 60% of their max number encountered and that would give a party of (say) 4-9 characters a 50% chance to evade.  So that's definitely different from the Basic branch, where chance to evade depends on relation between the sizes of the evader and the pursuer.
 
Two random encounter rolls on rest days.

I like the drawings in the castle construction section.

Hirelings - armorers are not profitable, unlike OSE.  Only fighters can hire sages?  Spies and assassins charge per mission rather than per month, which is neat.

Men-at-arms are cheaper per month than ACKS, but hiring them is more expensive.  Sort of splitting the difference on cost up front, maybe?

Lifestyle costs - "Player/Characters must pay Gold Pieces equal to 1% of their experience points for support and upkeep, until such time as they build a stronghold."  ...  per what unit time?

Clear a hex, and then a 20-mile radius around it is considered clear due to habitation.  You get 2d4 villages, each of 1d4*100 inhabitants, each of whom yields 10 gp/year, so drumroll 12500 gp/year average domain income for a PC baron.  Not terrible, really.  Investing into your territory is very vague.

Land combat: use Chainmail.  Aerial combat: gets two and a half pages of a 40-page book, uses written/secret orders.  Naval combat follows, 1:1200 scale, again written orders, fatigue tracking for rowers in galleys, sailing vessel speed is based on wind direction and points of sail.  This is as wargamey as Classic Traveller starship combat.  Ships have speeds up to 32 inches per turn - you'd need a big table.

Commanders can only issue orders in a range based on Cha score in naval combat, and lieutenants extend that range.

Drowning doesn't pull any punches: "Plate: 100%.  Chain: 80%."  And if you survive, it's because you got the chainmail off and it sank but you didn't.

Ramming mentions damage to the ship ("The rammed ship suffers from 10% to 60% damage"), but I can't find anything about how much damage ships can take?  Is it a percentage reduction in speed, like a galley that has taken on water?

There's a rule about it taking a certain number of sailors to take in sail or unstep masts, but it's not clear what the effects of that are?  If you can't take in sail and you change your heading, does your speed suffer?

Here's the dragon turtle, under "Monsters in Naval Adventures".

I really enjoyed the naval rules.  I sort of skipped over the aerial rules because I wasn't interested but I imagine that there are people whose eyes would light up reading those too.

Abrupt transition to natural healing.  1HP per day of rest after the first.  Slow by design.

Timekeeping in big campaigns with 20 players - "It is suggested that a record of each player be kept, the referee checking off each week as it is spent."  A dungeon expedition takes a week, a wilderness expedition takes a day per turn, and a week of real life takes a week of game time if you're not on a wilderness expedition.  It does mention that it can if you're in the underworld (dungeon), though - is that why iron rations, explicitly for dungeons, exist?  You go into a dungeon and can't get out by end of session, so a week of both real life and game-time passes and you eat your rations, then pick up where you left off?  Is this part of the mythic underworld dungeon thing, that it messes with time?

Both the slow healing and having people out on wilderness adventures be out of play for long periods of campaign-time seem like they would encourage people to have multiple characters.

And that's all she wrote.  Huh.

Monday, November 16, 2020

OD&D Notes, Book 2: Monsters and Treasure

Part 3 of a series on reading OD&D (parts 1 and 2).
 
Wow Book 2 opens with a big table of stats for all the creatures, and then has individual descriptions after.

1d4 dragons per encounter

This table is ordered very strangely; it's not alphabetical, it's not by alignment, it seems to be by creature type (humanoids, then undead, then fantastical beasts, then extraplanar / elementals, then oozes, then pack animals and mounts).

The "5% chance per level" on bandit magic items is more explicit about what types of magic items count as usable by which classes - notably fighters only get rolls for sword, shield, and armor, not misc. magic items (which makes sense, since most misc magic items here are only usable by MUs, but there are some misc magic items that are usable by anyone, and apparently bandit fighters can't have them).  Rather different from the ambiguity about it in OSE and ACKS and my hypothesis that killing bandit leaders is the best way to get misc magic.

Berserkers are neutral and as with Bless, "+2 to their dice score when rolling" might refer to Chainmail dice rather than d20s.  In which case they're much scarier.

Brigands are chaotic bandits with +1 morale.

Nomad lairs get an additional 20-40 medium foot with composite bows.

Buccaneers / pirates seem to suck less than in Basic.

Mermen only take -1 to fighting on land (but again, Chainmail or d20?), and they fight as Berserkers.

Kobolds and goblins have separated.

Whoa orc villages get catapults!  And they can have a dragon, 7th-9th level fighter, or 11th-level MU (in addition to the typical chance for ogres and trolls).  When encountered in the wilderness, sometimes they're moving wagons full of treasure, and these wilderness encounters can also have high-level NPCs.  I wish more humanoid monster entries had siege weapons.

Aha, trolls have begun to regenerate.  But it's 3HP per turn, not per round?

Giants have differentiated into the usual hill, stone, frost, fire, and cloud types, and do 2d6 to 3d6 damage per hit.  Cloud giants have a keen sense of smell, in a nod to Jack and the Beanstalk, presumably.

Zombies have lost paralysis and act only under the instructions of an MU or evil cleric.  I guess evil clerics don't have to roll to control them, since there's no turning-equivalent; maybe it's just automatic.

Ghouls have assumed their typical form; don't paralyze elves, subject to attacks by normal weapons and missiles, and men killed by them rise as ghouls.

Likewise wights have energy drain.  I wish I understood the intent of energy drain better; how it came about and how players were meant to respond to it.  Just be really cautious around undead?  I was hoping it would be in some sort of transitional form here that would give some insight but nope, it's fully-formed already.
 
Wraiths are noted as being "high-class" wights.  Fancy.
 
How I imagine OD&D wraiths

Mummy rot doesn't totally prevent healing, just makes it take 10x as long.  Cure Disease doesn't remove it, just reduces to 2x as long and has to be administered within an hour (of being hit, presumably?).

Spectres, distinct from wraiths, are incorporeal.

Vampires are called out as undead rather than lycanthropes (vampires and werewolves were often sort of the same thing in Eastern European mythology, iirc, so this is understandable).

Gaze attacks can absolutely be reflected.

Effects of wyvern poison not stated in monster entry.

Dragon breath weapon is now 3x/day.  All the chromatic dragons are present, plus golden dragons with more HD than red dragons.  They are already lawful.  Age category determines HP per HD; so all red dragons are 9-11 HD, but a very young red dragon might have 10 HP while a very old one might have 60 HP.  Breath weapon damage works the same way; it's fixed by age rather than being rolled, I think.  There are only six age categories which is nice and simple.

Gargoyles are hostile even to other chaotic creatures (implication - most chaotic creatures aren't hostile to other chaotic creatures?) and already immune to nonmagic weapons (underlined in the text).

Wereboar and weretiger have been added to lycanthropes; they're both neutral to chaotic.  Catching lycanthropy requires being "seriously wounded... (assume about 50% of total possible damage)".  No save (but Cure Disease).
 
Purple worms never check morale and their swallow whole talks about attacks as if they were on a d%?  Again, no mention of the particular effects of their poison.

Huh, Nixie charm takes you out of the game for a year, after which you are freed.  So there's a good use for the inheritance rule.

Pixie invisibility - "certain monsters such as Dragons and high-level fighters will be aware of their presence."  Giving high-level fighters superior senses is actually a pretty great idea.

Dryad charm does not expire in a year ("Anyone charmed by a Dryad will never return from the forest.").  RIP.

Gnomes and dwarves have split.  The main difference is that gnomes have longer beards (not even joking).  Dwarves take half damage from the attacks of giants, ogres, etc, which is rad.  Leveled dwarf fighters in lairs have a 10% chance per level for magic items instead of 5% - I like that, they hoard and make stuff (but it might also be 10% chance for a single item drawn from one of those three categories, in which case they would actually have fewer magic items than bandits in expectation).  They also domesticate bears and wolves to defend their strongholds, which I like.

Elves are no longer magically invisible - they "have the ability of moving silently and are nearly invisible in their gray-green cloaks."  Elves get magic weapon bonus to damage but it's a much smaller bonus than extra attack dice against orcs and goblins in Chainmail I think.

Pegasi, hippogrifs, and rocs have been split.  Hippogrifs and pegasi don't get along.  There's a note about mythological rocs that prey on elephants and a clarification that these ones are smaller.  Griffons are fond of horse-flesh and can't be brought near horses or will attack them.  As with knights charging uncontrollably and orcs fighting each other, that's a very Chainmail rule.

Invisible stalkers have pocket dimensions and can put you in suspended animation if you ask them to keep you safe.

The 8/12/16 HD split among elementals originates here, with the means of their summoning - staves summon 8HD, "devices" (like the brazier of fire elemental summoning I guess) summon 12HD, and Conjure Elemental summons 16HD.  The rule about only one elemental of each type being summonable each day, including by your opponents, is bizarre - is that at world-scale?  If you want to summon an elemental do you have to wake up at 4AM to make sure some other wizard across the continent hasn't beaten you to it?  The good news I guess is that it opens up the possibility of "only prepare one copy of a given spell per day" again, since the elemental limit which spoke against it might be intended for both devices and opponents rather than for preparing Conjure Elemental multiple times.

"The clean-up crew includes Ochre Jelly and similar weird monsters".  Black pudding is a "nuisance monster".  Yellow mold spores are save-or-die.

"Only mules are agile enough to be taken in dungeons."  I thought it was temperament, rather than agility.

Large insects and animals - "If the referee is not personally familiar with the various monsters included in this category, the participants of the campaign can be polled to decide all characteristics."  Notably not just the people participating in a particular adventure - this is the full 20 to 50 players in your pool that you're talking about polling.

A number of classic monsters like gelatinous cubes, golems, and cyclops are "postulated" but not given stats.
 
I didn't see anything in here with an XP value per creature.  The example of XP in book 1 had 700 XP for defeating a troll, on the basis that it was a 7th-level monster.

Type A treasure is divided into subcategories based on terrain!?  Which is really standing in for bandits vs pirates vs nomads.  So treasure types at this point are basically specific to individual monster types.
No electrum or platinum pieces yet.
Max gem and jewelry value is only 100gp?
Maps aren't part of scrolls, they're their own thing.  Some maps are magic though?  Oh they point to magic items.

A full 25% of magic item rolls are treasure maps, right off the top.  That's... a lot.

"Sword +1, +3 vs. Trolls (Clerics)" what.
Wow wishblade is 2d4 wishes.
Cursed scrolls apply the effect in a 3" radius, and may include "transportation to another planet".  I'm curious how identification is intended to be handled.
Potions of Dragon Control control a particular type of dragon (eg, Red Dragon Control).
Most misc. magic items are usable by any class, but brooms of flying, crystal balls, the elemental-summoning items, and the mirror of life-trapping are MU-only.
 
All magic swords have an alignment?  Half don't have the ability to communicate or have special powers but they can still zap you if you pick them up and you're the wrong alignment.  That's kinda neat.  The damage though...  2d6 will in expectation kill a 2nd-level fighter, since all HD are 1d6.  So picking up magic swords is really risky if you're low-level!  Magic items are Not To Be Trifled With.  I could kind of get behind that, provided that the expectation is established beforehand.  It helps justify cursed items too, though I think having swords burn people of the wrong alignment is better than that - a cursed item exists pretty much purely to screw you over, while a sword is still useful to somebody; there's a good reason in the world for someone to have made it.
 
Bonus: "If a non-player character is directed to take up a sword the damage will be only one-half that stated above, for the party is not acting as a free agent."
 
The other half of swords are intelligent with communication and special powers (and an alignment and will still zap you if you pick them up).
 
Again for emphasis: half of magic swords are sentient enough to communicate empathically.  Slightly more than half, actually.  A full sixth can speak or communicate telepathically.  So this is like, an order of magnitude more than in ACKS, and 1.5x as often as in OSE.

Sentient swords do help solve the item-identification problem; they tell you about their powers.

I think "Detect Meal" is a typo of "Detect Metal" but it's such a perfect typo - sounds like a splendid sword for a halfling.  Or an orc, for that matter.

Chaotic swords with purpose can disintegrate lawful targets of that purpose instead of just draining levels like they do in OSE and ACKS.  No saving throw mentioned.  Lawful swords of purpose paralyze; neutral swords of purpose still just give +1 to saves.

"The swords all receive bonuses as far as the probability of hitting an opponent is concerned, but some also gain a damage bonus when they do hit. These swords are those with a +2 or +3 against specific creatures, but not those with a general bonus of +2 or +3."  So a sword +3 doesn't add to damage, only to-hit?  Huh.

Magic armor and magic shields stack weirdly: "If the shield’s bonus is greater than that of the armor there is a one-third chance that the blow will be caught by the shield, thus giving the additional subtraction [from the attacker's roll to hit]."  So that's one way to keep magic shields in check...

Misc magic weapons do give their bonus to damage.  Well, some of them.

Growth potion makes you grow to 30 feet tall.
Speed potion just boosts movement.
Dragon control lets you control 1d3 dragons, which sort of makes up for being color-specific.  That's still not a full encounter of 1d4 dragons, in expectation.
Multiple potions of invulnerability per week are bad for you.

Protection scrolls affect a certain number of HD of the specified type rather than being an impenetrable barrier.  Mostly.
Protection from Magic moves with the user.

Ring of Weakness reduces "attack and defense capabilities" by 50% but is rather vague along what axis.  As a character of half your level?  Half your strength?  Half your Chainmail dice?
Ring of Wishes - Guidelines are already out to mess with players.  "Wishes that unfortunate adventures had never happened should be granted."  Oh man, I do not relish the prospect of retconning via wish.
Ring of Regeneration is 1 point per turn, like troll regeneration.
Ring of Spell Turning reflects a fraction of each effect back at the caster, except for Finger of Death which just punches through.  But it doesn't run out like later versionf of Spell Turning.

Wands have 100 charges and staves have 200.  Some wands are infinite use (Secret Doors and Trap Detection).
Wand of Negation works weirdly - only nullifies effects of other staves and wands.

Using a crystal ball more than three times per day drives you mad.
Medallions of ESP are unreliable.
Bag of Holding holds 10k coins "as if they were 300".  So that's still a fair bit of encumbrance.  I rather like that, bags of holding that are always heavy enough to slow you down but let you make it possible to move things that would otherwise be too much to move at all.
Huh, I guess the Displacer Cloak came before the Displacer Beast.  Mystery solved.
Boots of Speed require a rest day after use.
Broom of Flying can be summoned via command-word!
Magic helmets can be broken if the wearer is hit in combat.  Wizardy helmets like Helm of Teleportation or Helm of Comprehending and Reading Languages, anyway.
Mirror of Life Trapping can be used on undead, and MUs can converse with creatures trapped within it.  And it's the size of a buckler, so you could carry it around with you; I tend to think of magic mirrors as full-length.

Only some magic items get saving throws against destruction if their user is killed by a lightning bolt or fireball.

Suggested artifacts include "Teleportation Machine; Fighter’s Crown, Orb and Scepter; Magic-User’s Crown, Orb and Scepter; Cleric’s Crown, Orb and Scepter; Stone Crystallization Projector, etc".  Having a three-part artifact set for each class actually sounds rad, but maybe I've been playing too much Grim Dawn lately.

Oh here's electrum and platinum!  1sp = 5cp.

Wait there's another table here with gem values up to 1000gp.  What was the entry on the treasure table supposed to mean?  100 gems?  The "Roll a six-sided die for every gem (or every 5 or 10 gems where large numbers are involved)" makes me think that maybe it is number of gems.
I also do not understand the "higher category" gems list.

Fireball damages jewelry but not gems; lightning bolt damages jewelry and destroys gems.  Both melt coins into solid lumps.