The Warlock Class, Part Zero

So, funny story, I was digging through boxes and boxes of books and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines at my parents’ house the other day, when I found my old copy of Player’s Option: Spells & Magic. In case you’re not familiar with the Player’s Option series, they more or less constitute a 2.5 edition of D&D. I’ve mentioned Skills & Powers several times in the course of the History of the Classes. Spells & Magic picks apart the magic system and offers variant classes, spellcasting rules, and lots of new niche-use spells. Anyway, thumbing through this tome for the first time in… uh… sixteen or seventeen years, I was flabbergasted to discover that there are rules for warlocks here, as (somewhat) distinct from wizards. Since this clearly pre-dates Complete Arcane, which I foolishly labeled “Part One,” I’m obligated by the unholy power of numbers to label this article “Part Zero.” (God help me if I should learn of a 1e or OD&D warlock as a discrete class.)

The Delightful Oddity of Al-Qadim

Not so long ago, I wrote about one of my favorite 2nd editions settings, Planescape. Besides the wacky hijinks of the planes, it was the song of the sands that captured my interests. Not Dark Sun, that fantastical post-apocalyptic adventure wasteland, but Al-Qadim, the Land of Fate. Technically a sub-setting of Forgotten Realms, Al-Qadim has precious little in common with the core setting. In fact, most of the link is through the primordials, which are central to the setting’s past, but less so to the present day setting. While it is easy to dismiss the setting as a riff on One Thousand and One Nights and voyages of Sinbad, it proves to be so much richer than a simple reskinned setting dump.

Domain Rulership, Part Four

Two weeks ago, I covered domain rulership in the AD&D 2e DMG and The Castle Guide. Not too long after the latter came out, TSR released Birthright, which ignores it completely, operates on an unrelated set of assumptions, and presents rules for domains anywhere from the size of a small business or cult all the way up to an empire of many provinces. I’ve been going on about how much I love Birthright since I started this series, so you won’t be surprised by full-throated praise – but at the same time, it works a hell of a lot better with electronic aids than it does with pencil-and-paper accounting.

Planescape, Gonzo Gaming, and Being Totally Rad

Cold eyelids that hide like a jewel
     Hard eyes that grow soft for an hour;
The heavy white limbs, and the cruel
     Red mouth like a venomous flower;
When these are gone by with their glories,
     What shall rest of thee then, what remain,
O mystic and sombre Dolores,
     Our Lady of Pain?

-Dolores (Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs), Algernon Charles Swinburne


Sometimes you want to have a serious, down-to-earth game. You want to experience a gritty world where scars are plentiful, combat is frightening, and magic is the stuff of legend and nightmares. You want to scrape by for your food, track every ounce of weight, and know the perils of dying of thirst while traversing an untamed sea. When you see a goblin, you want to stop and think, “Oh hell, she has a spiked club. This might get messy.” You want to feel the filth and smell the stink off of every inch of the environment.

Domain Rulership, Part Three

It’s been a few weeks since my last Domain Rulership article, so let’s get back to it. This week is the first of at least two articles on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition, because it had two unrelated systems. The first of these is in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, expanded in The Castle Guide and at least referenced lightly in The World Builder’s Guidebook; the second is the majestic Birthright.

The Rogue Class, Part Three

Last week in the History of the Classes, the 1e Thief, Assassin, and Thief-Acrobat came under our all-seeing eyes. This week we turn to 2e, where the Assassin and the Acrobat are kits presented in the Complete Thief’s Handbook rather than classes unto themselves. There’s also a Ninja class, presented in the Complete Ninja’s Handbook; it was one of the stranger evils visited upon 2e’s rules. I’m aware that many of you sadists would just love to see me analyze the Ninja, and to you I say for the love of God, Montresor!

Christmas Themed Adventures – 2015 Update

When I went looking for a Yule/Holiday/Christmas one-shot adventure, I was surprised to see there wasn’t a ton of content out there. Here is the list of what I was able to find, updated with some new items for 2015. I also wrote my own adventure last year for D&D 5e called the The Darkest Night.

The Pacific Mythos – Pacific Deities

This week we have a guest post from Margot Fernandez, who I asked to share her work on bringing Pacific deities into early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. This article outlines the deities and you’ll find a link to a PDF version with full classic D&D stats at the bottom.

Dungeons & Dragons players often send their characters out to sea.  Because I lived for many years in Oceania, specifically Guam in Micronesia, I learned about their gods, myths and legends during that time.  In converting deities to the D&D format, I tried to keep in mind that the same god often appears in different mythoi, and for the sake of clarity I sometimes elided a few figures into one.  Such a figure is Tangaloa, the god of evil spells, poisons and witchcraft.  He seems to lurk everywhere from Hawaii to Australia.

The Ranger Class, Part Three

In my last post, I looked back to the Ranger class of 1e AD&D. This is the history that Mearls and his illustrious cohorts have looked back to in creating 5e’s Ranger and Other Ranger, and as he has pointed out, 2e is a seismic shift in design vision for this class. Certainly 2e was my first introduction to the class. I think the design has some odd problems (thanks to hindsight), but it has permanently shaped my expectations of what a ranger is.

Dark Sun Psionics

In today’s History of the Classes article, I’m examining Dark Sun’s use of psionics in AD&D Second Edition. As far as I know, it’s the only 2e setting – out of the glorious variety of 2e settings – that deeply embraces psionics and makes it a centerpiece of the setting. My resources are the revised Dark Sun Campaign Setting (the one reworked to fit Skills and Powers), Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way. I also have a copy of the 4e Dark Sun Campaign Setting on the shelf, but I plan to fold that into my article on 4e.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)