"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Friday, February 24, 2012

All the World's Monsters, Anarchy

The early days of roleplaying were a time where everything was new and so  expectations were perhaps a little lower than what they are today. That may in  and of itself be a more than slight understatement. Many of the products there  were released in the early days of the hobby leave a little bit to be desired.  This is true of today's item maybe more so than most.

All the World's Monsters which was released by Chaosium in 1977 is something  that most of us would not even give the time of day to if it were a new product.  The premise is a solid one as who dies not want more monsters to throw at their  players. It is the delivery and in some cases the product where it would fall  apart in today's market but in 1977 it was most likely the bee's knees.

The idea behind the product was that Chaosium had players and DMs send in  monsters they had created and then they would be compiled into published books.  Later printings suggest that there were over 50,000 submissions. The first volume  has 265 entices in it. These range from monsters that have appeared elsewhere, to  one I would use to ones you just wonder how they were conceived and under what  conditions. The monsters and the product are intended to be generic but would  work with D&D and the statistics offered seem to support that.

A concern for me with the books has always been the presentation method. Entries  may not be broken up as one per column and if not then they are separated with  just *****. This makes it hard to determine where one entry ends and the new one  begins. This is further aggravated by the fact that the font used is the same  for everything and that it is all done in uppercase. I am sure that this is a  result of the era and not in poor layout skills but it is still a distraction.

The art used in the book varies as well from things that were common for  products of companies other than TSR at the time. I have always felt that one of  the strengths of TSR and what may have helped boost D&D to become the dominant  game in the genre was the art they used in their products. The first edition  Monster Manual was so far ahead of most anything else published in its day it is  amazing. Much of the art in this product is similar in feel to that for some  early Judges Guild products. Some is better but more than that is on the lower  end of the scale.

The creatures themselves run the gambit as well as I mentioned earlier. One of  the things that caught my attention is that the submissions come from some names  that are now in the pantheon of early gamers. Names you see in here include of  course Perrin but also Bigglestone, Marsh and Hargrave. Oddly enough even giants  in the industry apparently came up with some ill conceived creatures.

The book is indexed which is nice. It breaks the included creatures down by the  level of the creature. The book then also includes a random table to roll  against for creature placement in a dungeon level up to a tenth level dungeon.  Since not all of the creatures in the book are dungeon based this does not  always work but it is the thought that counts. The book also includes the  "Henderson Monster Creation Table" which allows for random monster creation.  This much like the random tables in the back of the DM guide will allow for some  bizarre beasts.

All the World's Monsters is one of those pieces of early gaming material that  are worth having regardless of how useful it may be in today's gaming  environment. There have been up to three printings of this volume and you can  still find it today as PDF files. I would suggest buying a copy if you can ever  find one and if you want to check one out on the less expensive side the PDF  route is worth taking.

Published: 1977
Pages: 112

From the back of the book:

"This book is an encyclopedia of the strange, the bizarre, and the deadly. It  contains complete statistics for 265 monstrous and dangerous creatures, created  by dungeon masters across the United States and Canada. Each monster is rated  for hit dice, armor class, movement, whether and how well it swims and flies,  its intelligence range, dexterity, alignment, normal habitat, the probability of  it being present in its lair, by a die roll for number present, the probability  of the presence of treasure and its type, how it attacks, and a description of  general appearance and special characteristics."



Level: Fifth
Range: 12"
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: 6" Radius Sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 5 Segments
Saving Throw: Negates

When this spell is cast the magic user causes all in the area of effect to become susceptible to a field of chaotic energy that fills the area of effect. Those  who fail their save lose all control as well as become hostile.

Those who fail their saving throw will begin attacking the next closest creature  regardless of who or what it is. They will continue to do this until either that  target is dead or if the target flees as they pursue it another one becomes  closer. This will continue on until there are no available targets.

The effect of the field will persist even outside the field and can be  transferred to those not in the field initially. When attacked a creature has a  chance to become affected. All creatures are entitled to a saving throw and if  made once they will not need to roll again. The saving throw will be adjusted by  the alignment of the caster. Creatures of a Chaotic alignment will save at -4  while those of a Lawful alignment will save at +4.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

1 comment:

JasonZavoda said...

I've always loved that cover, though the black print on dark red is a little obscuring. I have found that sometimes the absolute worst monsters can be a source of inspiration, but I love monster manuals in general and collect them from any genre or rule system.

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