Sunday, February 16, 2014

Finding the Gems: Monstrous Compendiums I & II [Part 2]

From Dragon Magazine #155.

This is sort of a follow up to Finding the Gems review on Feb. 13.

While combing through Dragon #155, looking for reviews on WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins, I came up on a "Sage Advice" column where Skip Williams answer questions about the Monstrous Compendiums. I found some of these questions and answers amusing. They also give us some insight how the Monstrous Compendiums were edited what monsters were chosen for 2e.

If you have Dragon #155--open it an read it. There's a number of other gems you can find it besides this column. This is back when Dragon was a hobby magazine, covering other games besides D&D. 

From Dragon #155, Page 8
Williams lays the smack down with his first response to the first question: why hasn't devils and demons made an appearance in 2e? 

Williams chides the questioner for his ignorance about society and then point out that the "Satanic Panic" toward D&D was caused by handful of people "well known for their questionable religious dogmas long before the D&D and AD&D games came on the scene."

You can read both parts of the complete answer on the right.

Still, the "vituperation" made TSR decide to keep them out of the new edition. In my mind, this was a mistake, just as renaming them "Baatezu" and "Tanar'ri."

In my experience, those of "questionable religious dogmas" still hated the game and burned books anyway.

Now on to the more amusing questions: 

"How come dragons are allowed armor classes better than -10 when the DMG limits characters to -10?" 
Answer: "Dragons aren't characters."

Yeah! That's right. None of this stuff where every freaking monster gets a stat block like in later editions!

"How can a fire giant be totally immune to red dragon breath.... and still be vulnerable to fireballs...?
Answer: "This was the subject of heated discussion during the game's production." First, dragon breath isn't magical. Second, since there's so many fire spells in the game, making fire giants immune might unbalance things. 

Aren't one leader and three assistants for every three orcs simply too many leaders and assistants?
Answer: "Yes. The correct number is one leader and three assistants for every 30 orcs."

This is my favorite, because I was just reading about this in the Let's Read the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual pdf downloaded at Monsters and Manuals.

I remember looking at that and scratching my head back in the day. 

The odd thing: despite this being pointed out in "Sage Advice," the entry never got corrected in any of the printings of the Monstrous Manual as far as I know. I have both the 1993 and 1995 versions.

It also still amazes how much Dragon changed over the years. Issue #155 came out in 1990. Back in those days you could find reviews on fiction, games besides D&D, and even computer games. It used to cover wargaming and miniatures as well. 

Even in that Sage Advice article, Williams answered a question about AD&D 1e. 

Next gem to dig for...

WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins. 

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