Friday, July 20, 2012

Pre-FLAILSNAILS cross-campaign logisitics

"When last winter'’s tedium was broken by the fun and games at WINTER FANTASY, I was scheduled for DMing continual adventures in Greyhawk Castle, and that is exactly what they turned out to be — continual. Not having the heart to cut them short, I ended up eating meals while play went on, and the games lasted from morning into the late hours of Saturday night, from early Sunday morning straight through until evening, and fatigue made me a bit silly. When the last party, which included several regulars in the campaign (Mark Ratner and Jim Ward each playing one of their player character henchmen, and Ernie Gygax playing the character another participant had abandoned when he or she had to leave for home), beat up a body of gnolls and slew their master, there was a scroll amidst the heap of booty. It was, of course, a curse scroll, and it was a curse which whisked all creatures off to another world. Jokingly, I said that there was a I in 10 chance that the curse would teleport them all to Jim’s starship, and when the die was tossed out what should come up but the stark single line of a 1! imagine the surprise which struck my weary countenance with a look of wonder. . . imagine the groans from the regulars! They didn'’t want to be stuck aboard Warden, not with precious henchmen aboard that deathtrap. But all six characters, along with three gnoll prisoners, were, in fact, exactly that. The whole party was gone from the ken of D&D-kind and off amongst the horrors of METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA.

"That took place in January, and the affair was not resolved until Jim Ward’s next visit to Lake Geneva in late March. Frantic letters and telephone calls from Mark Ratner were to no avail; determination of the fate of the nine intrepid creatures from Greyhawk could be resolved no sooner. Mark, being headquartered in New Jersey, was unavailable for play, so we had Brian Blume fill in for him. And instead of refereeing, yours truly was now a player, a pawn of the remorseless ShipMaster, James M. Ward."
That's the introduction to "Faceless Men & Clockwork Monsters" written by Uncle Gary and appearing in The Dragon #17, August 1978.  Dig this neato title/illo:

The rest of the article is a blow-by-blow of D&D types stuck on the Starship Warden.  Today I mostly wanted to point to out that Gary halted play the moment the party arrive in Jim Ward's campaign and the players had to wait two friggin' months to continue play with those characters.  Also note Mark Ratner's efforts to get something going before then.  A lot of successful D&D play comes from being motivated.  Bad die rolls and crappy rules are largely surmountable obstacles, so long as the players are dogged.

One other thing I thought would be neat to share is the roster and magical items of this crew:

Thurible of Roaky, Cleric 9 (Gary Gygax, who is demoted to player in Ward's game)
Dorag, Fighter 9 (Luke Gygax)
Hodkin Ap-A Wrd, Half-Elf F6/MU5
Neb Rentar, MU8 (Brian Blume)
Scrag Flatchet, Assassin 8 (party character)
Nivell, Fighter 8 (party character)
3 gnolls captured in a previous encounter

I'm guessing that by "party character" that means a pregen Gary whipped up for the con.  Here's the gear these guys had with them:
"In addition to a good selection of the usual gear typical of members of a dungeon expedition, there were the following noteworthy items: 
  • 1 gem of seeing
  • 1 fireball wand (97 charges)
  • 1 strange gem with 2 wishes contained within
  • 1 snake staff
  • 3 magic swords ( +3, +2 teleporting — with some other minor abilities, +1)
  • +2 hammer
  • +2 dagger
  • 2 suits of magic plate mail (+2, +l)
  • 2 magic shields ( +2, +1)
  • scroll of 6 sixth level magic-user spells (none too useful!)
  • scroll of 4 fourth level cleric spell 
  • 3 potions of healing. 
There was also an assortment of normal armor and arms, including 2 bows — one carried by a fighter, one being amongst the arms taken from the gnoll prisoners. Fortunately, there were also pack- ages of iron rations and skins of water, for the group spent much time in areas where there was no game, but I am getting ahead of the story."

Note that Ward rules that the wishing stone and teleporting sword would not get their owners out of this scrape.


  1. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I love everything about this. Heck, it's the reason I bought the Met Alpha reprint off lulu.

  2. Very cool stuff.
    I believe this is part of the genesis of the name of my blog.

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  4. Looks like you've encountered a 'bot, Jeff. Roll for initiative.

  5. Anonymous1:10 PM

    I read a fragment of this before, probably on someone else's blog, possibly in that huge file of Gygax posts someone put together.

    I think the teleport sword wouldn't have helped except to teleport you around the ship (of course, the strange alloys of the bulkheads and sinuous conduits therein could have foiled attempts to TP through major walls). The wishing gem is a funky little matter since there are so many ways to handle wishes. I think Jim Ward probably said it wouldn't work simply because everyone waited two months to play and using a wish to get back to Greyhawk would have been silly. If they wanted to do that, they should have done it right away and had Gygax make the call on whether it worked. Or perhaps Jim because once the scroll took effect it was in his game.

    There was additional info, such as how happy everyone was that the inhabitants of M-A didn't get saves against their spells. But unhappy that the mutations, psionics, and radiation affected them pretty harshly because they likewise lacked resistance to these alien powers!