Friday, December 18, 2009

No Love for the Blacksmith

Sometimes, it feels like I'm the only one out there that seems to notice these things.

Does no one from TSR's latter days realize B/X was a direct translation of OD&D into a coherent, well-organized format? It seems pretty obvious to me, and yet Mentzer's later BECMI seems to have ignored this in favor of simply making "Basic" its own simplistic animal. I suppose "missing it" is more excusable.

How else can I explain the exclusion of the Blacksmith from the list of specialists for hire.

All the specialists included in the Cook/Marsh Expert set are taken directly from the original Little Brown Books (Book 3, pages 22 and 23 to be exact). The same monthly costs are used for all the specialists (some of the demi-human mercs did get their prices inflated) , and their descriptions are almost word-for-word.

Only one specialist is left out of the Expert set rules (the Assassin...don't worry, I'm putting it back in...). However, while the Smith (aka "blacksmith") was listed in the Cook/Marsh book, its description somehow got dropped off the page (in the biz we call this "errata"). For all those who've ever wondered what their 25 gp per month gets 'em (besides assistants for an armorer), here's the missing text:

"As already mentioned, a Smith is able to assist an Armorer. For every 50 horses or mules in a player/character's force there must be one Smith to maintain them."

Easy, right? Armorer's maintain the men, and Smith's maintain the horses.

But Mentzer leaves them completely out of his book, as does Aaron Alston from the Rules Cyclopedia. They both leave in the smith referencing language of the Armorer specialist ("with two assistants, one of whom must be a Smith") but don't even bother to list the Smith and his 25 gp per month price tag.

Even Proctor's Labyrinth Lord only dodges the issue by simply renaming the Armorer as "Blacksmith," kind of combining the two so the problematic language ceases to be problematic...though now the blacksmith is a crafter of armor rather than horseshoes. Jeez.

I suppose I'm just being grumpy, but little oversights like this annoy me. So easy for those that came later to say, "OH...look, a little something got left out! Let's just put it back." Instead they say, "hmm, once again the old version seems incomplete/contradictory...I'll just gloss over it."

Ah, well. Gotta' run. More later (I'm sure)...

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