Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pirate PDFs and Numerology

In looking for a copy of the original psionic rules from Eldritch Wizardry on-line, a reader pointed me towards a web site that had many, many books uploaded in .pdf format (I presume without permission)...including all four of the original OD&D supplements (i.e. Greyhawk, Blackmoor, EW, and GDH). Having never owned or read ANY of these, I of course spent yesterday evening perusing all of 'em. After all, they are a part of the history of the game, and I have my normal burning curiosity to "know everything" (don't's an astrology thang). And after reading them, I came to two conclusions:

A) Nothing present is anything new to me...these supplements were indeed the basis for AD&D. Hell, even the psionic rules, despite their imposed limitations (which I had already read about at Grognardia), are pretty much the same thing presented in the 1st edition PHB and DMG...which means they're fairly worthless to me, being too complicated to easily convert to B/X usage.

B) I'm fairly sick to death of Dungeons & Dragons.

Well, at least the Advanced version of the game. I'm not sure about B/X...I'm still fired up and excited (nervous?) to be running a game down at the hobby shop tomorrow for complete strangers. That's NOT my normal M.O. (usually I only game with people I know, unless I'm gaming on-line or unless I've been introduced through a mutual gamer-friend), and the adventure I'll be using is new, so that's pretty cool.

But in general, I'm pretty tired of Gary's version of the game. I know I told the Doc that I'd set up an AD&D game with him (on-line since we live in different states these days), but I've been dragging my feet and I think now that I just really don't want to play. There's definitely something charming about OD&D (the Little Brown Books)...but when you add in Supplements I through IV it becomes a frigging mess. And AD&D is simply a compilation of that mess.

Is B/X too simple? Too predictable? After all, that's part of the raison d'etre presented in the introduction to Supplement III (Eldritch Wizardry)...that characters have already reached the limits of the game up to that point and the inclusion of psionics (and psionic monsters) will help spice things a marriage that's gone stale or something. And B/X is just a re-tread and re-vamp of the LBBs. Does B/X need some "spice" as well?

I don't know. I mean, I'm posing a rhetorical question. Or rather, I'm just "thinking out loud." Right now it's not something I want to even try to definitively answer. I can safely say this: my B/X Companion adds to the original B/X rules without shutting the door on additional creativity. At least, that's what I was striving to do. Personally, I feel that Mentzer's BECMI/RC version of D&D did NOT leave open the door for much of anything...but whatever, that's just my opinion. I'm not here to debate that.

Instead, I'm here to just push all this review and research aside for a moment...just take a deeeep breath, exhale, and relax.

AFTER reading through all the supplements last night, AND deciding I was sick of it all, I decided to do a little numerology exercise. Why? 'Cause I'm weird like that and believe in a bunch of weird-ass hocus pocus that has nothing to do with D&D, thank you very much.

So what I wanted to ask is "did anything in the astrological significance of the name "Dungeons & Dragons" ensure that it would enjoy the success it did? Because when looking at numerology, one can look at a birth date OR the numbers of the name. OR both...but what do you use as the "birth date" of a publication? The day the idea was conceived? The date the writing was completed? The date it was first printed and shipped for sale? Honestly, I have no idea...the art of astrology (and numerology) as it relates to the publishing industry is NOT my strongest area of the subject.

Anyway, in Chaldean numerology, the name Dungeons And Dragons works out to the number 19...which is about as fortuitous a number as you can possibly have. The symbol attached to it is "The Prince of the Universe" and it is connected to The Sun in the major arcana of the tarot deck. Basically, having this number practically guaranteed D&D becoming a household name...something it's continued to do to this day. Interesting that the game enjoyed a resurgence when WotC knocked "Advanced" from the title and re-issued the game simply as Dungeons and Dragons, once again making it king within the RPG industry.

After that, I ran the numerology for many, many RPGs I own and with one exception, all of them had "skinnier" (i.e. not as fortuitous) numbers. Anyone want to guess what other game had the same "19," "Prince of the Universe" number?

Vampire the Masquerade

And did it too take the game world by storm? You bet it did, launching an entire White Wolf line, similar to D&D launching TSR. Oh, yeah, and they too had a huge and lasting impact on the industry.

Interesting, no? Well, I think it is.

I should probably note that my own B/X Companion does NOT have the magical 19's title only adds up to 12, vibrating to The Hanged Man card in the tarot deck symbolizing sacrifice for knowledge gained...and boy has this ever been a sacrifice and learning process for me! Hopefully, I'll be able to capitalize on that knowledge for my next publication, but regardless it was a valuable experience.

Heck, I wrote a book! Who knew I could actually pull my shit together enough to do that?

Now I just want the chance to play it.
: )


  1. "But in general, I'm pretty tired of Gary's version of the game."


    Don't get me wrong, Gary and Dave created, made, and defined much that we all enjoy, but his vision of the game is a TACTICAL vision. AD&D and CHAINMAIL are tactical games; B/X is an ADVENTURE game. Gary himself knew this and wanted that flexibility available by having his baby, AD&D, but still supporting "Basic" D&D as a rules-lite version that could be adapted to individual campaigns.

    There're many Gary worshipers that embrace his "fiddly bits" (Greyhawk Grognard's words) vision of the game, and there's nothing wrong with that. It certainly has it's place and its adherants. But it's not the game I knew and came to love.

    "Rulings, not rules" said one of us (Bat in the Attic? Akratic Wizardry? Someone re-enlighten me...) and AD&D is the anti-thesis of this idea. You either play this way, or you don't. Even BECMI had a very "AD&D" feel to it, and, I agree, it shut the door on way too much of the flexibility of the game.

    Unearthed Arcana gave me a headache. If you loved it, you're welcome to it. You're definitely in Gary's camp and may the gods bless you.

    For the rest of us, the mountain of house rules, new classes, and other customization material here in the blogosphere are testament to the elegence and flexibility of the B/X system.

    And JB, yes, I'm looking forward to your Companion as much as anyone, specifically BECAUSE your attitude on this blog reflects mine about the B/X game. I'll use what I want and discared the rest, BECAUSE I CAN.

    But, about the numerology... well, I guess we all have our rituals, don't we? I got a chuckle that your title brings up the Hanged Man; "this project is yours to hang yourself with." I like that. I'm not sure anyone could sum up the openness of B/X better than that.

    B/X, your free to hang yourself with it.


  2. Great. Now I keep hearing a certain Queen track associated with Highlander. Thanks. :)

  3. @ Moist Oinka: thanks for the kind words.

    @ Satyre: Sorry about that...but do you think ol' Gary used to roam the halls of TSR, humming the same tune?
    : )

  4. I am afraid you have discovered the dark truth of the little brown book edition. Although the Greyhawk supplement actually completes the game and moves from the 2d6 chainmail firmly into the d20 system. The supplemental rules in Blackmoor and Eldrich Wizardry were considered a mess by me and my friends back in the day and not used much.