Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Daniel Griego

Yes, the title of today's post says “interview,” but it's pretty much just a plug for a Kickstarter project.  No, it was never intended for this blog to be a Kickstarter shill, but – for the record – your humble host has not compromised his journalistic integrity by accepting free product.  No, Shadowfist is neither old school nor a role-playing game, but it has the same setting as Feng Shui.  (Created by Robin D. Laws)  Regardless, Shadowfist is a game your humble host happens to like and it does not receive the attention it deserves.  Anyway, Shadowfist is dropping the 'collectible card game format' and, with Combat in Kowloon, it is reinventing itself as a 'dynamic card game.'

I met Daniel Griego of Inner Kingdom Games at Gen Con earlier this month and offered to interview him so as to provide additional (scant) exposure for the project.  Although is is quite busy (as one might well expect), he has humored me by supplying answers to a small number of questions.  The good news is that the project is more than 200% funded.  The bad news is that, by the time I post this interview, the funding window will close in less than a day.  So, without further ado...

Thoul's Paradise: Perhaps you could start by telling us how you came to be associated with Shadowfist and the origin of Inner Kingdom Games?

Daniel Griego: I first learned Shadowfist back in the 90s when it was still being printed by Daedalus Games. At the time, I was a Magic player, so it was a big deal for me that there was a game out there with such a great niche premise that also featured such balanced game play. I was hooked. After Daedalus went out of business, the game went on hiatus for a while, as did many of its players. I didn't come back into the fold until several years into Z-Man Games' ownership, totally unaware that someone had picked up the game and started printing new cards. So from 2003 onward, I was an avid player again, up to and including my deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006. There's actually a very large population of gamers within the military community, and I wanted to capitalize on that by bringing my cards with me to the sandbox. It took off and I recruited more than a dozen new players during my time there. This is also relevant, in that during my deployment, I strategically scheduled my two weeks of leave time to coincide with Gen Con 2006 in Indianapolis. It was my first Gen Con and my first opportunity to meet the key figures in the game, including Zev, Paul, Allen, Josh and Gavin. They were impressed with my passion for the game, and my devotion in taking it with me to a combat zone. So when the time came for Zev Shlasinger to move on past Shadowfist and sell the game, my name kept coming up as a natural successor to carry on the legacy. So in 2009, I partnered up with Braz King and he and I formed Inner Kingdom Games in order to take over Shadowfist from Z-Man Games. Recently, Braz has had to refocus his time and energy, so I've assumed solitary ownership of the game and its properties.
           With that, I'm now working to release the first starter deck set for Shadowfist in almost a decade, while transitioning the game from a CCG model to a non-randomized, standard-release format very much like Fantasy Flight's Living Card Games. I'm calling the new release model a “Dynamic Card Game,” and Combat in Kowloon is the first set for the new game environment.
           Future expansions will feature standardized 50-card expansion packs with no duplicates, no randomization and no rarity schemes. Each expansion pack will be the same, per release.
           It's an exciting time to start the game if you've never played and a great time to get back into it if you've been on a break for a while. The new cards are well-tested and powerful, the reprints are highly-desirable staples and there's something for everyone in each deck, old and new players alike.

TP: You mention the transition from 'trading card game' to 'dynamic card game,' but would you care to explain the rationale?

DG: The rationale in shifting to a non-randomized, non-booster pack model is the awareness that CCGs are on the decline and near impossible to recruit new players, if you're not Magic or Yu Gi Oh. Players looking for a new game want an easy buy-in and an easy new entry point. That was my big motivator in shifting to the dynamic card game model.

TP: Are the Architects [of the Flesh] gone for good?

DG: The architects and their friends lost in time (syndicate, purists, seven masters) are not dead and not completely obliterated from the game. They're simply not being featured for the time being. I'm not 100% ruling out bringing them back one day, if the game takes off and there's support to reintegrate them.

TP: Finally, what's your favorite faction?

DG: My favorite faction has always been the monarchs, with a secondary partiality for the dragons.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dungeon Sociology

This interesting essay was included in Costikyan and Simonsen's DeathMaze (©1979 Simulations Publications, Inc).  The essay has no direct bearing on that game except as 'color.' However, as color it relates generally to the 'old school' concept of a dungeon as a game setting.  Your humble host presents the essay in its entirety.

Goldberg is, of course, one of the designers (if not the primary designer) of DragonQuest, SPI's fantasy role-playing game.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Complete Character in High Fantasy

Your humble host previously wrote about the absolutely essential abilities used in High Fantasy.  This post shall be a discourse upon the other abilities that can be used to define a High Fantasy character.

Step five of creating a character instructs the player to determine strength and coordination by rolling percentile dice for each. A low roll (16 or less) for strength confers a negative modifier to offense, while a low roll for coordination imposes negative modifiers for both offense and defense. A high roll (86 or above) for strength grants a bonus to offense and a high roll for coordination provides bonuses to offense and defense. However, only Warrior class characters are eligible for the positive modifiers derived from high strength and coordination.

Strength and coordination are two of the ten abilities called 'the basics.' The score for each basic ability is determined by rolling percentile dice. The score indicates a percentile chance of success for matters regarding that ability. A score of 01-05 indicates an impaired ability while a score of 95-100 indicates a gifted ability. The description of each basic ability specifies the drawbacks of impairment and the benefits of being gifted in that ability. For example, among other drawbacks, an impaired coordination means that whenever the character attempts to draw a weapon, there is a 10% chance that he or she will drop it. Among other benefits, a gifted strength means that the character is “extremely resistant to disease or bad health.” The other 'basics' include appearance, charisma, intelligence, and the five senses: hearing, sight, feeling, taste, and smell. It seems odd to your humble host that taste and smell should be treated separately.

Aside from the 'basics,' there are ten optional 'talents' designed to help provide background for characters. The value for each talent is determined by rolling percentile dice; each range of 20% indicating a different level of proficiency. Generally, the different 'levels' can be described as follows.

In play, the talent values are not used by themselves; instead, they are averaged with an associated 'basic' ability to determine a chance of success.  The ten talents (and their associated 'basic' abilities) are as follows:
  • Acrobatics (Coordination)
  • Business Sense (Intelligence)
  • Climbing (Strength)
  • Diplomacy (Charisma)
  • Language (Intelligence)
  • Musical (Hearing)
  • Nautical (Intelligence/Coordination)
  • Riding or Driving (Coordination)
  • Running (Strength)
  • Swimming (Strength)

Characters “can temporarily add up to 10 points” for as many as three talents via training.  The player rolls one ten-sided die to determine the number of points that may be added.  (Your humble host presumes that the points are divided among the talents as the player sees fit.)  Switching to other talents “takes at least two weeks.”  Throughout this time the points are slowly transferred from the old talent(s) to the newly studied talent(s).  At the discretion of the judge, permanent increases to talent values are possible provided a character “studies long enough” or if a character “uses a specific talent over and over again” during a given adventure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The D&D Next Playtest at Gen Con

I was optimistic.  Really.  Sadly, it turns out that the glass is less than half-full and, regardless, the Kool-Aid doesn't taste right.

At Gen Con, Wizards of the Coast offered a suite of activities under the rubric of the ‘D&D Experience.  Two of these activities, ‘Sorcere’ and ‘The Clawrift,’ pertained to the D&D Next playtest and were coupled into a single 1.5 hour event.  I attended this event and was subject to conveyor belt regimentation that dampened my optimism somewhat.  A host of D&D drudges maintained a playtest bureaucracy, strictly enforcing time limits on activities as well as grouping and ungrouping participants as necessary. For the most part, these drudges were merely performing their responsibilities and I appreciate that Wizards was attempting to engage with as many of its (ostensible) consumers as possible.  Such a situation does not lend itself well to individual interaction and were that my single vexation, I would have little cause for complaint.  Alas, my experience at Gen Con with D&D Next is discouraging.

‘Sorcere’ is listed as “D&D Next Introduction/Character Creation.”  I sat at a long table with eight or ten other participants supervised by a drudge.  (To be fair, this particular drudge was personable and enthusiastic given the circumstances.)  We were given character sheets and encouraged to create characters using the playtest materials.  Copies of the relevant portions of the materials were provided (except for the 'How to Play' document, containing the rather important ability score modifiers).  In addition to the playtest materials released on Monday the 13th, two additional character classes were provided – sorcerer and warlock.  This caused some consternation among the drudges since – evidently – the decision to introduce these classes to the playtest was made at the last minute and the drudges (understandably) felt ill-prepared to discuss these late-comers.  I mean, what's the rush?  The playtest is supposedly going to last another two years.  Anyway, the drudge was available to answer questions but, for the most part, we were left to our own devices.  Of course, in order to get the 'drow-themed' d12, we had to present a complete character to the drudge.  'Sorcere' lasted half-an-hour; that was the extent of the 'introduction' and 'character creation.'

Let's take a look at character generation.  Suppose someone wants to create a thief.  Well, the appropriate class would be 'rogue.'  When creating a rogue, a player chooses a rogue scheme; two such schemes are listed in the playtest materials – thief and thug.  It would seem that, to be a thief, a character should be a rogue with a thief scheme.  Easy, right?  Oh, wait, did you want the thief to be able to do things traditionally associated with thieves?  Like, you know, open locks and disarm traps?  Well, those are skills and characters obtain skills via a background.  Although backgrounds are supposed to be optional, there does not seem to be any other means for a beginning character to obtain skills.  By the way, there is a thief background and a thug background.  These backgrounds are distinct from schemes, so it's possible to have a thief scheme with a thug background or vice versa.  That shouldn't be confusing to new players at all!  You can also choose a specialty (previously known as a theme), but that's optional too.

Here's how your humble host would handle things.  First, get rid of 'fighting styles' and 'rogue schemes'; those should be subsumed into specialties.  Then, each class should have a built-in background and specialty by default.  The possibility of switching to a different background and/or specialty would be optional.  This would make character generation more streamlined and less burdensome for inexperienced players.

'The Clawrift' is listed as D&D Next Adventure.  I and five other participants, with our freshly made characters, were assigned to a drudge DM.  I wasn't expecting a masterpiece of storytelling; just a simple scenario showcasing fundamental game mechanics (via railroad if necessary).  Our drudge DM didn't like the sudden addition of the sorcerer and warlock classes to the playtest.  Our drudge DM didn't like that, during the course of our character creation activity, we had not been taught the finer points of turning undead.  In the brief hour we were alloted for the adventure, we did not accomplish much (according to our drudge DM at least).  The really sad part was when our drudge DM employed (human) racial caricature when providing the voice of an orc.  Someone more principled than myself would have left the table at that point, but I stayed around to get the 'drow-themed' d20 (for a pal – not for me).  I don't think that the drudge DM acted out of malice; he was just oblivious.  Regardless, Wizards should make certain that anyone representing them has undergone rudimentary sensitivity training; after all, we're in the twenty-first century.

In closing, I think that 'Sorcere' and 'The Clawrift' should have been two distinct events.  'Sorcere' should have included an actual introduction to D&D Next and an overview of the character creation process.  After signing up on-line (computers were available for this) participants could have received a cheap booklet of the latest playtest materials (at least those materials pertaining to character generation).  Would a solitaire adventure have broken the budget?  'The Clawrift' should have used pre-generated characters with the DM allowing original characters at his discretion.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Escape from Queztec'l

A Xermoc!

On our road trip to Gen Con, your humble host and his doughty companions decided to kill some time by going through the High Fantasy solitaire adventure Escape from Queztec'l. Since your humble host had been through the adventure once before, he did not participate in making decisions; he limited himself to bookkeeping and reading the 'scenes' aloud. In truth, the adventure is relatively extensive, allowing for many distinct experiences. The adventure itself (360 scenes) takes up 59 of the rule book's 196 pages and an additional 17 contain the adventure's instructions, stat blocks, background etc. Because High Fantasy uses percentile dice exclusively, we did not need to roll actual dice but were able to use the 'random' function of the scientific calculator app on your humble host's tablet. 

Warning – Beyond this point be spoilers!

In Escape from Queztec'l, the player portrays – or in this case, players portray – Xenon Swif'sord, a Swordsman/Healer. Given Xenon's depiction, it seems that a player could have Xenon be of either gender; however, Xenon is described as a swordsman and – in certain parts of the adventure – is referenced with masculine pronouns.

Xenon is a noble whose lands are not part of the Queztec'l empire but who, nonetheless, is connected with Queztec'l by virtue of “a common language, religion, and customs.” (Queztec'lan religion was described in this post.) Visiting the city of Queztec'l for a Holy Day ceremony, Xenon is staying at the Imperial Palace when the adventure begins. A military coup ensues and Xenon's life is in danger. While Z'lan* search the palace for nobles to slay, a chambermaid loyal to the nobility shows Xenon a secret staircase which leads to the catacombs beneath the palace. The only chance Xenon has of escaping Queztec'l is to travel through the catacombs to a seaside exit. The chambermaid says, “You may follow the red hands of Djacarta through the crypt and down to the sea, but that path may be dangerous. There are other routes...” While descending the stairs, Xenon thinks about Dazia, the cousin with whom Xenon traveled to Queztec'l. “You wonder if she can survive the usurpation, and you find that you really don't care. She always knew how to win favor.”

The doughty companions elect to have Xenon run down the southern hall which “is significantly wider than the other two and relatively well lit.” (Being pursued by soldiers, this is not the choice your humble host would have made.) Anyway, Xenon reaches an intersection and goes east to another intersection and a large bronze door “adorned with a left and right palm painted in an eerie shade of red.” Instead of taking the north or south corridors, the companions have Xenon open the door. (Your humble host approves, believing the palms to be “the red hands of Djacarta” about which the chambermaid spoke.)

Beyond the door is “a large well-lit circular room” with another bronze door opposite and six iron doors besides. (A diagram is provided below.)  “The six iron doors apparently lead to tombs, for the names of the emperors are still visible to them.”  Rather than go through the other bronze door, which also has the “two red palms set in relief,” the companions decide that Xenon enters the tomb of Hac Djacarta.

Inside the tomb is “a man-sized statue of Djacarta” which turns out to be “the sarcophagus of Hac Djacarta.” Xenon examines the statue and a gem it holds.  While doing so, the room seems to spin and the stone dissolves beneath Xenon's feet.  A random roll offers seven results and the result determined by the scientific calculator has Xenon wind up in a large room with a Xermoc.**  Xenon rushes for the nearest exit but is psychically assaulted by the Xermoc.  Instead of leaving, the companions opt to have Xenon attack the Xermoc.  As Xenon approaches, the Xermoc goes behind a statue of Djacarta and the statue “steps off its pedestal and moves toward” our hero.  Pursuant to the will of the companions, Xenon attacks the statue.  Alas, the statue proves to be quite formidable and when, after three rounds of combat, Xenon has the option to break away from the battle, the companions have him do so.  As Xenon exits the chamber, the Xermoc hits him with another psychic blast.  Xenon slams the door and finds himself in a north-south hall.  Before proceeding, Xenon uses his talents as a healer to recover completely from his wounds.  Still, Xenon's armor has been damaged extensively.

The companions have Xenon walk south and, after several turnings, Xenon is in a hall with two doors opposite one another.  Xenon opens the east door (which has two red palm prints) and enters the dark room beyond.  Within the room is none other than Xenon's cousin, Dazia the 5th level alchemist.  Dazia has made an agreement with the leader of the successful coup:  Dazia's life for Xenon's.  Dazia claims, “My only hope is handing you over...”  Dazia puts aside her wheel-lock pistol in order to “make the contest fair.”  In contradiction to her claim of a fair contest, Dazia drinks a Potion of Strength.

Cousin Dazia
In the ensuing fight, Xenon manages to get in some good hits against Dazia but, ultimately, Dazia prevails.  When Xenon regains consciousness, he finds that his hands have been bound.  A Z'la prods Xenon down a hall and Dazia says,“Take him to the room...”  When Xenon and the Z'la eventually stop to rest, a random roll offers three possible results.  By virtue of the scientific calculator, Xenon falls asleep.  Upon awakening, Xenon finds two Z'lan standing over him.  A Death Dealer approaches and laughs.  “Together the Z'lan and the Death Dealer carry [Xenon] back to the palace, there to await [his] fate.”  The fate is not a good one; this scene concludes the adventure.

*  A Z'la is a common Queztec'lan soldier. Z'lan would seem to be the plural.
**  A Xermoc is a “[t]elepathic lizard with a type of vague intelligence. Used by the army for tracking.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Steam Tunnels

James Dallas Egbert III
(1962 - 1980)

Thursday the 16th marks the thirty-second anniversary of the passing of James Dallas Egbert III. Dallas (as he evidently preferred to be called) was the kid that purportedly died as a result of playing Dungeons & Dragons. The media played up this story and so entered the public consciousness the thought of D&D as some mysterious, overpowering influence that causes people to engage in dangerous behavior. The truth is that Dallas went into the steam tunnels beneath the campus of Michigan State University, but he didn't do so to play D&D and he didn't die (or even get lost) there. Even now, popular perception is not impeded by the truth.

So, what happened?

Dallas was a prodigy with a purported 180 IQ.  If you can believe it, he was asked to repair U.S. Air Force computers when he was 12.  Dallas was a troubled young man: he was under pressure from his parents to succeed academically, he felt alienated from his fellow students at MSU, he suffered from severe depression, he was gay, and he abused drugs (which, apparently, he was capable of manufacturing).  Dallas went missing in August, 1979, and his family retained the services of “Internationally Acclaimed” and “Renowned” private investigator William Dear.  (Readers may – or may not – recall Dear's association with the infamous “Alien Autopsy” or his astonishing revelations earlier this year about the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman).

Dear promulgated his 'D&D in the steam tunnels' theory (even stating that the game could cause players to lose their minds) and the media sensationalized it. Actually, Dallas went into the steam tunnels to commit suicide by overdosing on methaqualone. When his attempt was not successful, he went off-campus to a friend's house to recover.  Seemingly, Dallas was not aware of the news coverage about his disappearance and he left town.  The following month, Dallas contacted Dear and was reunited with his family.  Unfortunately, Dallas still had problems.  On August 11, 1980, he shot himself and he died five days later.

D&D was not a factor either in the disappearance or the eventual suicide of James Dallas Egbert III.  So why did this misconception gain so much traction?  First, Dallas specifically asked Dear not to publicize the true facts of the case, primarily on account of Dallas' younger brother.  Dear didn't correct the media accounts and the media didn't make much of an effort to follow-up on the resolution of the case.  Dear wrote The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III (“one of the greatest statements of humanity every [sic] made”) which was published in 1984, after Dallas had died and his brother was out of school.  Alas, this was too late to set the record straight.

Inspired by the erroneous media accounts of Egbert's disappearance, Rona Jaffe wrote Mazes and Monsters, which was published in 1981.  The TV movie was broadcast the following year, reinforcing the notion of role-playing games as a pernicious influence capable of corrupting wholesome youths into depraved psychotics.  The myth of D&D being responsible for Egbert's disappearance seems indelible.  Even Dear's book is inaccurately described on Google Books.

In the decades since Egbert's demise, society has developed a greater sympathy for the plights and stigmas he faced:  mental illness, sexual orientation, the burden of unrealistic expectations, etc.  A greater sympathy, yes – but perhaps not sympathetic enough.  Prejudices still obstruct our paths as we make our way through the steam tunnels of our collective psyche.

To end on a lighter note:  It's a shame that Dear didn't hire Egbert to work for his detective agency.  Imagine the situation – a flamboyant, self-promoting private investigator teamed-up with a genius teen-ager.  As a TV show, it would have been an excellent addition to the 1980 season.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Non-Human Characters and Monsters in High Fantasy

The optional rules (for “advanced players only”) regarding non-human player characters barely encompasses half of page 110 in Jeffrey Dillow's High Fantasy role playing game.  These rules provide a handful of game mechanic details only; the 'color' which otherwise abounds in the book is absent.  Options are presented for Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits*, and Giants.

Elves can see further in the dark than humans and, by virtue of their keen hearing, they can “detect invisible persons.”  Elves also have magic resistance which is cumulative with magic resistance gained as a wizard.  As a balancing factor:  “Due to their highly magical nature no elf may touch or remain in contact with any type of metal.  This means elves may not wear any type of metal armor.”

Dwarf player characters are limited to Jeweler or Armorer for subclass options, but they gain +10% on those abilities.  Dwarves also “gain + 5 percent when using hammers and axes.”

Hobbits cannot use two-handed weapons and suffer a penalty of ten to their offense in melee.  However, they receive “a plus 10 when using missiles.”

Player character giants are not allowed to have a subclass, but they “may use two-handed weapons in one hand” and “may add 10% to their encumbrance.”  Giants range in size from seven to ten feet.

The Creature Descriptions, according to Dillow, “includes many of the common creatures from mythology and fantasy novels.”  Dillow presents a 'Creature Table' consisting of approximately two-and-a-half pages which provides essential statistics for a variety of creatures both real and fantastic.  Dillow also supplies “brief descriptions” for just over thirteen pages.  The reader is left with the impression that Dillow intends his 'Creature Table' to be used in conjunction with the AD&D Monster Manual.

High Fantasy has the familiar Gygaxian variety of dragons differentiated by color/metal (including Chromatic and Platinum).  The nature of their breath weapons is not disclosed (hence the need for the Monster Manual).  Dillow provides the following advice in the description for dragons:  “Use dragons sparingly and take the time to build up folklore and habitats for them...”

There are also five types of demon – numbered one through five.  (With 'Balro' listed separately, 'Type VI' would have been redundant.)  Without details about the different types, one is obliged to consult the Monster Manual.  There are also all of the different Monster Manual giant beetle types (except 'water' – perhaps the most under-utilized of the giant beetles).

It seems that Dillow first presented the 'Carrion Creeper' as the 'Carrion Crawler,' given that the word “Creeper” appears slightly off-set after “Carrion” in the Creature Table.

Dillow defines 'Gnoll' as “a cross between a Gnome and a Troll. It does not regenerate.”  Trolls come in hill, stone, woods, river, and tunnel varieties which “can possess other abilities but it is up to the judge to assign them.”  Gnomes “fight with stone spears and axes” and give dwarves a bad name because the gnomes “are the ones who truly lust for gold and gems...”

I have no idea how Dillow decided to assign statistics to various creatures.  A giant rat, while still smaller than a lion, has Offense and Defense scores that are slightly higher than a lion's and puts a dire wolf to shame.  (However, a dire wolf has 5% magic resistance.)  A giant slug is tougher than a tyrannosaurus rex and has a 25% magic resistance besides; a saber tooth tiger is tougher than them both (but lacks magic resistance).  Also, in High Fantasy, if a kobold and an orc get into a fight, smart money is on the kobold.

*  Why spell out hobbit but leave the 'g' off of Balrog? Perhaps by the time Dillow wrote High Fantasy, 'hobbit' had encroached sufficiently into the language to become “genericized.” In my Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (© 1978), 'hobbit' is defined as “[a]n imaginary being having a very small human form with some rabbitlike qualities and characterized by sociability, domesticity, and a peace-loving nature.”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Magic Items in High Fantasy

Illustration from an early edition of High Fantasy
(image appropriated from Tome of Treasures website)

What happens when magic items are used against one another? How is it determined which magic item shall prevail?  Page 27 of Jeffrey C. Dillow's High Fantasy posits the following example:
[A] magic spear is thrown at a shield of missile protection. One way to decide which will win is for the Judge* to assign a magic rating (between 1 and 100) to all magic items. Then when the above example occurs the first player to make his magic rating roll, or to roll below it, wins. If both players make their roll at the same time the higher roll wins.
This method is presented as “one way,” but no other methods are suggested. One assumes that items of greater power would have higher magic ratings. It would have been simple enough to provide recommended ranges of magic ratings for each of the “fifty magical items that the judge should use to spice up his own adventures and make-believe world” presented in the rules; however, this was not done.

Dillow doesn't supply a table à la Gygax with which to determine one of his fifty listed magic items randomly.  Rather he provides them as examples to “help prospective judges in stimulating their own imaginations to dream up many more magical items for their players and monsters to use.”  Dillow's example items are divided into five groups:  armor (8), jewelry (9), potions (8), weapons (13), and 'odds and ends' (12).  Without further ado, your humble host supplies some selections; however, some of the truly imaginative items – such as “The Jason Tree” and “The Black Raintree” – are too awesome to depict here.
Gauntlets of the Panther – These are black gloves covered in a coat of fur with ivory claws protruding from each finger tip. For every turn a player wears these gloves he can add 10% to his offense. Each turn the player's coordination improves, his killer instincts become keener and his hearing improves. But woe to the player who wears these gloves too long. Each turn, along with the plus 10% to offense, the player will begin to take on the aspects of a panther. Hair will start to cover his body, whiskers will grow, etc. until by the tenth turn the player is walking on all fours and has become a – supercharged panther! If the player takes the gloves off before the tenth turn he will revert back to his normal self. When he puts them back on, he will resume where he left off. Once the player has reached the tenth turn and has become a panther the gloves will have become attached and cannot be removed! The player will then lose control of his character and will start attacking anything in sight. Use the players offense and defense statistics assuming that all armor and magical items have fallen off. The only thing a party can do for the player is try to find a high level wizard to remove the curse or let an animal master try to train it.

Necklace of Greed – A very beautiful necklace mounted with diamonds, rubies, and other gems. If placed around the neck it will strangle the victim into a stunned status** in 6 turns. Only a negate spell will get it off. The necklace is magical and cannot be broken apart to sell for its apparent gem worth. The necklace has often been given by kings to unwanted queens and tiresome mistresses.

Prism Sleds – These are teardrop-shaped prisms that are flat on one side. They are six feet long with a hole at the point where a golden rope is threaded through. The black priests of the east use these flying sleds to travel their territories to force “charitable” donations from the countryside. The prisms are guided by the rope and can travel up to 40” (200 feet) per turn. As the sleds travel they leave a 200 foot black trail behind them. Anything touching the trail will take damage...The priests often maneuver their sleds so that the sun casts a rainbow effect in the area they are about to land. [sic] This ads splendor to their arrival and intimidates a lot of the country folk into cooperating.

The Drink of Delusion – A potion that will cause someone to believe anything that they want about themselves. When the player drinks this potion the judge should ask, “What do you think is happening to you?” The player will then retort something about “not having the slightest idea.” The judge should then repeat the question until the player answers. Once he answers tell him, “that is exactly what is happening!” For example, if the player says he feels that he can fly then tell him he is flying. Actually he won't fly but will really be running across the ground flapping his arms. Hopefully he won't try jumping off of cliffs or flying over pits. If he does he will take normal damage.

The Sword of Life Draining – This sword feeds upon the life of the person who uses it. When a player first picks up the sword it feels extremely comfortable and becomes as easy to use as their own hand. Actually, the sword has taken on the same life force. The sword adds +40 to the users [sic] offense! This will at first seem like an incredible weapon. But the sword draws its power from the life force of the person using it. Every other time the person using it scores a critical hit against an opponent he loses one skill level. Once the player drops below first level consider the sword as having drained the life from the player. When the player's life is drained out all that is left is a husk of a body and a magic sword that is now intelligent and can talk.

Same deal as above

The term judge” is usually not capitalized in High Fantasy; this instance is an exception.
**  Upon reaching stunned status, a character “will expire in 5 minutes if not treated.”