Tag: Delving Deeper

Early Hint of V5 Cleric

Because #DelvingDeeperReliquary will be the first time I’ll need to ask “real” money for #DelvingDeeper (true, the Lulu softcover was a “real” $4.95, at/just below cost price), I want it to genuinely be a step up from where DD is at today. There are dozens of retro-clones out there, so why would anyone bother themselves with another revision of Delving Deeper?

Sure, there will be beautiful illustrations. Sure, there will be a beautiful hardcover edition. But what about the content ?

I’m not ready to let the genie completely out of the bottle just yet, but I can say the content will be beautiful too. I’m eager to share the joy of what’s shaping up so, without giving too much away, perhaps a little preview is in order so you can get an impresion of the obsessive detail that’s going into Reliquary?

Here’s the annotated first half of the cleric entry for your reading pleasure (Reliquary itself will not include annotations in its main text):

Clerics must only be Men [1] of law or chaos [2]; they cannot remain neutral [3] in the eternal struggle [4].

Clerics are fanatically religious [5] missionaries [6] or templars, hospitallers [7], or other brothers [8] of a monastery or Order [9] guided by the Powers “above” [10]. They desire to establish temples [11] and to tithe money and jewels for their Order [12]. In performing their duty clerics have some of the advantages of both fighters and magic-users [13]; they are allowed shields and armor and non-edged weapons (excluding arrows) [14] and need never check morale [15]. Moreover, a lawful cleric can turn the undead [16] and has a repertoire of clerical spells [17].

(And of course it continues on in this fashion…)



[1] M&M p6: “Clerics are limited to men only.”

[2] M&M p7: “Clerics are either Law or Chaos” (1st-4th prints). From December 1975 (5th+ prints) this restriction was delayed to the 7th level.

[3] M&M p9: Patriarchs and Evil High Priests are listed under law and chaos, respectively. No cleric is list under neutrality. Note especially that a cleric cannot remain neutral.

[4] CM p28: The “epic struggles” of fantasy literature are cited.

[5] CM p19-20 describes “Religious Orders of Knighthood” which appear to be represented as Dervishes in D&D, who “will always be led by an 8th-10th level cleric”. M&T p6: “Dervishes are fanatically religious nomads” and (of nomads): “These raiders…” so dervishes are effectively “fanatically religious raiders” whose leader-types are always clerics. I.e., those clerics associated with dervishes are themselves among the “fanatically religious”. Since all DD-clerics will ultimately attract (and be leader-types of) dervishes, it seems reasonable to apply their fanaticism to the clerical class.

[6] The word “missionaries” is an introduction, surmising the 1973 draft Vol2 p3 which has (of Clerics): “The object of a Cleric’s life is to be accepted in and work through a monestary or an Order” and: “Their adventures are more on the order of quests”. Moreover, U&WA p15 also has: “the Cleric will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task, under Quest”. DD characterises these quests as religious missions.

[7] CM p20 (Saracens): “They will take no prisoners from religious orders of knighthood (Templars and Hospitallers)”.

[8] The word “brother” is an introduction. “Knight” would better reflect CM’s “Religious Orders of Knighthood” (cf note [5]), however “knight” also carries broader secular implications. Arneson described the “Brothers of the Swamp” (BM p28-) as a “religious order” (albeit, an evil one) and has a cleric “Brother Richard, the Flying Monk” in his Adventures in Blackmoor. Moreover, “brother” is a term easily associated with monasteries and orders (cf note [9]), and which features in DD’s clerical level titles (cf the Brother, Brother Sergeant, and the Brother Knight).

[9] CM p19-20 discusses “Religious Orders of Knighthood”. Also, 1973 draft Vol2 p3 has the term “Monastery or Order” four times in the one paragraph defining clerics.

[10] M&M p7 “Clerics … receive help from ‘above'” and M&M p33 (Communue): “A spell which puts the Cleric in touch with the powers ‘above'” and also (not seminal to DD, but FWIW) GH p8 “All cleric spells are considered as ‘divinely’ given”.

[11] M&M p12 (re NPCs): “Clerics want some assurance of having a place of worship in which to house themselves.”

[12] U&WA p15 (castles): “Clerics will require passersby to give a tithe (10%) of all their money and jewels” and 1973 draft, Vol2 p3 (Clerics): “The object of a Cleric’s life is to be accepted in and work through a monestary or an Order, and therefore gold pieces are only as important as a tribute or tithe.”

[13] M&M p7: “Clerics gain some of the advantages from both of the other two classes (Fighting-Men and Magic-Users)”

[14] 1973 draft, Vol2 p3 (Clerics): “They may not use edged weapons.” and M&M p7: “they have the use of magic armor and all non-edged magic weapons (no arrows!)”.

[15] Clerics can occur as players or non-players, and as normal or heroic types. DD presumes clerics have the same fanaticism ascribed to dervishes (cf note [5]) who “fight… never checking morale” M&T p6.

[16] M&M p22: “Clerics versus Undead Monsters”.

[17] M&M p7: “they have numbers of their own spells”.


Well folks, that’s where this boat is headed. There’ll be hardly an idle phrase or casual word to be found. Long live OD&D!

Thanks especially to +Daniel Boggs for his keen-eyed review, and who remarked to me “by far the best, most accurate rendering of the 3lbb + CHAINMAIL Cleric class”.  I’ll admit that made me feel a wee bit proud of what’s coming.


Planning What’s in the Hardback

Planning What’s in the Hardback

With the #DelvingDeeper hardback in the pipe at last, I’ve had to re-think where the line should lie between Reliquary and the Ref Rules.

It isn’t easy. Going waaay back the plan was the Ref Rules were to be a minimal, no-frills framework; Reliquary (and other products) were to be the embodiment of richer games built on that framework. Well, it hasn’t really turned out that way, but perhaps the auld plan still has merit?

Three Years On

A lot has happened in the three years since #DelvingDeeper first appeared. Ha!, a lot has happened in the last nine months since V4 appeared as the #ReferenceRulesCompendium on Lulu. The Old School circuit is now bursting at the seams with games that have collectively pushed the envelope, and DD’s place in it all seems less clear to me today than it did three years ago.​ I want to fix that.​

To Improve is to Change (W. Churchill)

“Fixing” stuff of course means changes, but don’t panic. Reliquary will be the best DD ever!

The hardback edition will include a bunch of changes over V4 which means, eventually (after Reliquary has well and truly settled in), I will get around to updating the Ref Rules too. At that point Reliquary and the Ref Rules will be in sync but, in the meanwhile, it feels “right” to me that Reliquary should be “out in front”.

How will Reliquary Differ from V4?

1. Illustrations, examples, indexes, layout, structure.
2. A bunch of “optional interpretations” that appear in V4 will be moved to appendices.
3. Changes and additions to the remaining core.

“Changes and Additions”?
Reliquary will be more closely aligned with the source material than is V4. Some changes will be micro-details you’ll need eagle eyes to spot. Other changes will be more obvious, including:
. Inclusion of level titles for player-types,
. Inclusion of the Fighting Capability stat for player-types,
. Elves will be more dangerous with magic weapons,
. Update to attack/saving throw matrices in line with FC,
. Inclusion of “melee rounds”,
. Etc.

What will appear in the Appendices?
This isn’t set in stone yet, but some candidate appendices include:
. V4 “House Rules” capturing all the “V4-isms” that get bumped from the core text; so Reliquary will continue to “support” V4 this way,
. EGG’s House Rules,
. Arneson’s game,
. The Thief; a recreation of Wagner’s original pre-Gygax thief, and the DD V4 thief,
. Additional adventuring equipment list,
. DD V4’s “additional” spells (and possibly a couple more?),
.​ DD V4’s “additional” monsters,
. Discussion of “Normal” and “Rounds and Turns”,
. Etc.

So, that’s the thinking to date. I’m revising it continuously as I begin to work through the layout, so I wouldn’t say the above is final but it should give you a pretty good notion of what to expect.

What’s With Perfect Binding?

Why would anyone go to all the bother of doing a section-sewn hardback when POD services all over the planet will do you a “perfect bound” book at a fraction of the cost?

POD is ultimately about economy and convenience; it’s fantastically cheap and that’s a great thing. But POD books are typically “perfect bound”, which means the individual leaves are glued to the spine. This is fine for many books but repeated use will cause the glue to crack and split, and eventually the pages will separate from the spine. For this reason perfect binding is less suitable for reference books.

My latest copy of Delving Deeper (a perfect bound POD booklet from Lulu.com) is no exception:

Perfect Bound Spine Splitting.
Perfect Bound Spine Beginning to Split.

In all I own own four copies of the Delving Deeper Ref Rules Compendium. One of them is sitting on my shelf in virtually untouched condition. The other three copies are work-horses in various states of disrepair due to regular, but hardly unreasonable, use.  

My original copy is about nine months old and is just about ready to be binned: 

Ref Rules Compendium V4 in a Sorry State.
Ref Rules Compendium V4 in a Sorry State.

On the other hand, I have a shelf load of AD&D hardbacks printed throughout the 1980s that are still going strong.  Of course these more durable books have sewn binding techniques, not perfect binding! 


Shipped by UPS

How would we fare with UPS shipping?

The news is good. Your book comes packed in a rigid cardboard box 12″ x 9″ x 3.5″ which would be a spacious ride for a digest-sized hardback if it were not for the copious quantity of bubble wrap surrounding your plastic wrapped book:

Shipping box compared to OCE boxed set.
Shipping box compared to OCE boxed set.

The box is packed tight with padding; there’s no way the content is going to move even a quarter-inch during transit, and–short of someone dropping a refrigerator on it from 20ft–it is unlikely to be damaged :

Box packed with bubble wrap.
Packed tight with bubblewrap.

Buried deep down inside all that bubble wrap you’ll find a water-tight plastic bag containing the main event:

Hardback in a plastic bag.
Hardback in a plastic bag.

Finally, you’ll come face to face with your book; and have enough plastic lying about to gift wrap a giraffe.

The book in hand, at last.
The book in hand, at last.

In all, UPS shipping looks to be a very sound option in terms of protection.

A Tale of Two Prototypes

Today, a man in a UPS shirt knocked on my door and handed me a box.

Inside, cocooned in a copious quantity of bubblewrap, were the two DD hardback prototypes. I had already seen photos and had a verbal report from +Cameron DuBeers (thanks Cameron!). However, holding the books in my hands is a whole different ball game!

I have to say, the first prototype is a great piece of work. It’s leaf-sewn into a block spine with a glossy, laminated cover, double thick end papers and tight and bright interior leaves. It’s a serious step up from POD (well, POD isn’t even in the same league); a beautiful, durable, work-horse reference book. It’s on par with most of the small press hardbacks I have, and is exactly what you might “expect” to get when a micro-publisher says he’s gonna do a hardback. I reckon 99% of us here would be stoked with it, and rightly so.

Thing is… I am that 1% freak. Which is why there was a second prototype in the box.

Cameron wrote to me last week:

“A superior product in every way.  I liked the other one, I love this one!”

I am going to go further: It’s friggin’ aaawesome!  It oozes quality. The matte cover is gorgeous to look at and has a smooth, velvety touch. The paper quality is a whole grade above; it’s heavier and warm-white rather than bleached-white, and has taken more ink so the type looks stronger and is easier to read. It’s section sewn into a square spine, so it opens flat. Damn, it even smells good!

To me this book is of an outstanding build quality. I may well be punch drunk on it, but my initial impression is that it holds its own against any RPG hardcover on my shelf. There are a couple very minor nits for me to pick with the binder, but either way this is the kind of book I want Reliquary to be, that I want to own, and that I want to share with you fine folks.

Having seen this, I’m absolutely decided: There will be a DD hardcover edition.  And it will be like this.

More words and pictures are coming…