- Monsters only need one line of text to set out all their stats and abilities. This was a tradition that was maintained through 1st and 2nd edition AD&D (all you really need to know, even with 2nd edition, is the number of hit dice, the armour class and the morale rating) and it's a shame it's fallen by the wayside.
- There's no attempt at locating the monsters in a fully-realised gameworld. Dervishers are just "fanatically religious nomads"; Mermen are "similar to berzerkers in most respects but they fight at -1 on land"; kobolds should be "treated as if they are goblins". That phrase, why let us do your imagining for you, echoes through the pages. It has its advantages and disadvantages; the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual provided sheets and sheets of information on each monster, but it was chock full of good ideas to spur your imagination and creativity. There's none of that in OD&D. On the other hand, you have a blank slate on which to work, more or less.
- It's a book written by wargamers: "Buccaneers are water-going Bandits in every respect except composition of their force: Light Foot = 60%; Light Crossbow = 30%; and Heavy Crossbow (Chainmail) = 10%." Giants "act as light catapults".
- The gnoll is patently not a hyena-thing. It is a "cross between a gnome and a troll." (See picture below.)
- No fantasy puritanism here: robots and androids are given a big stamp of approval. That's started me off thinking about a Viriconium game again...
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
White Box Volume II: Monsters & Treasure - First Impressions
Another list of first impressions: