Excerpts Archive | 11/5/2013
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OD&D Excerpts
Book VII: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

T he original Dungeons & Dragons game, published in 1974 and aimed at wargamers and medieval fantasy enthusiasts, created an entire industry of roleplaying games, as well as legions of D&D fans worldwide. It included three small rules booklets in a white box.

On November 19th, the deluxe reprint version of Original Dungeons & Dragons releases, which includes seven booklets (the first three rules booklets and four supplements) and dice within an engraved and illustrated wooden storage case.


The Supplements

Following the publication of OD&D's first three booklets, a number of supplements were to follow. The fourth of which, Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, began with the following:

"Well, here it is: the last D&D supplement. It is with a strange mixture of sadness and relief that I tell you this. My first assignment, fresh out of college, was Blackmoor. I came to regard it with a mixture of love and loathing, that has gradually seen the love win out. The loathing grew out of the educational trip that it was for me. They don’t teach you in college what to do when the press breaks down, or your manuscript gets mysteriously misplaced; you just have to wing it."

In today's preview, we consider just a few of the details that stood out within Book VII: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, as well as preview the new cover art. However, let's first look at the foreword to the book, as written by Timothy Kask.

Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes Foreword (20 Kbs PDF)

Book VII: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

As expected, the book presents figures from various cultures: Chinese, Celtic, Norse… These figures allowed for mythological and supernatural material into campaigns. By providing them actual gameplay stats, as Tim further states in his foreword, was also meant to provide a logical "ceiling" to character power:

This volume is something else, also: our last attempt to reach the “Monty Hall” DM’s. Perhaps now some of the ‘giveaway’ campaigns will look as foolish as they truly are. This is our last attempt to delineate the absurdity of 40+ level characters. When Odin, the All-Father has only(?) 300 hit points, who can take a 44th-level Lord seriously?

That said (and what players really wanted to know), just how powerful was Odin in game terms? Or Thor's hammer? And could you possibly take him down?

As a preview, here are two weapons from Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes:

Odin’s Rune Wand:

This wand is golden with etched Nordic Runes of Power upon and around its surface. Every time this wand is used the particular Rune that represents the power being used will shine. The wand’s many powers are:

  1. Acts as a Rod of Rulership (see Book IV: GREYHAWK)
  2. Summons the Elements. (1–4 Elementals of the All-Father’s choice)
  3. Conjure or Dispel Demon. (See “Eldritch Wizardry” for listed Demons.) He may summon or dispel a demon once a month.
  4. Emanates a continual Anti-Magic Spell. Odin’s magic can work through this ‘shell.’
  5. Stores 12 spells of Odin’s choice.
  6. Drains 6 energy levels or 100 points for every melee round it is held by any other god than Odin.
  7. Causes instantaneous death to any mortal or non-god that handles it.
  8. It is an artifact and as such it can not be detected by detect magic spells etc.

Thor’s Weaponry:

Mjolnir: The magical Hammer of Thor. This hammer, when wielded by the Thunder God, will slay any giant it hits, and it never misses! Commonly the hammer is thrown and returns to Thor. Its range is not restricted as is the dwarves’ +3 hammer and as long as there is a target in sight the hammer will hit. When used in any other capacity besides the slaying of giants, the hammer will cause 10–100 points of damage. Another property of Mjolnir is that of throwing, up to sighting distance, a bolt of lightning with a varying strength from 2–24 eight-sided dice of damage. The intensity of the bolt is controlled by Thor himself. Lastly, the hammer shines a light blue color, thus warning Thor of imminent danger within 10–60 yards of himself.

Only beings with a strength equal to a Frost giant may pick up and carry this item of power, (And that at –50% speed) and only Thor himself may use Mjolnir.

For today, let's end with a look at the original cover art for the booklet, and how it's been translated for the reprint.

Click below for a larger view of the new cover:

Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.

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