D&D forebear Chainmail now a print on demand softcover

Chainmail, the 1971 fantasy miniatures wargame system that introduced many elements that would comprise Dungeons & Dragons a few years later, is now available as a print-on-demand softcover book in addition to a PDF download from the Dungeon Masters Guild digital storefront.

Chainmail

“Get the fantasy miniatures game that started it all!

Chainmail is a fully fleshed out fantasy miniatures game that puts YOU in charge of your very own army. Whether you want to fight historical battles based in the trenches of reality or fantasy battles rife with magic and fantastic beasts, Chainmail gives you the rules to fight the wars you want to fight!

The Chainmail Medieval Miniatures section features rules for terrain, movement, formations, fatigue, and more. The Fantasy Supplement provides information for Dwarves, Goblins, Elves, magic, fantastic monsters, and other rules necessary for combat in a magical setting.

Note: This is a classic product, and not for use with the D&D Chainmail Miniatures skirmish game released October, 2001.”

According to product historian Shannon Appelcline’s notes on the product page:

Many proto-D&D ideas show up in this fantasy supplement:

  • Races like dwarves, elves, and hobbits (halflings).
  • Proto-fighters: heroes and their betters, super-heroes.
  • Proto-magic-users: wizards, including seers, magicians, warlocks, and sorcerers.
  • Different levels for their different sorts of characters, which Gygax says was the basis for D&D’s character advancement.
    Spells like cloudkill, fire ball, haste, lightning bolt, phantasmal force, and polymorph.
    Monsters like basilisks, dragons, ents (treants), trolls, wights, and wraiths.
  • A division of monsters into the categories of law, neutral, and chaos.

Future History. “Chainmail” would be crucial to the development of D&D, even acting as the default combat system for OD&D (1975). It would later be replaced by a new man-to-man combat system in “Supplement I: Greyhawk” (1975) and a new mass-combat system in “Swords & Spells” (1976).

Many years later, Wizards of the Coast would reuse the name for their Chainmail Miniatures Game (2001), a d20-based skirmish combat system.


A ‘lost’ D&D adventure returns (again)

In other classic D&D news, a “lost” classic adventure scenario for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is available as a print-on-demand softcover book and PDF download. Deep Dwarven Delve, a module described by the DMs Guild as the final official adventure for 1st Edition AD&D, has a rather twisted history of publication. Appelcline explains:

Deep Dwarven Delve

L3: “Deep Dwarven Delve” (1999) is the third adventure in Len Lakofka’s Lendore Isle trilogy. It was also the final official adventure for first edition AD&D, released a decade after the line ended. It was published in August 1999 as part of the Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition Boxed Set.

The Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition Boxed Set. The Silver Anniversary set celebrated the 25th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons (1974). It was printed in 5000 copies and sold for $59.95 (about $80 in contemporary dollars). Most of the contents were reprints, including the J. Eric Holmes Basic Rulebook (1977); B2: “Keep on the Borderlands” (1979); the three “G-series modules,” G1: “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief” (1978); G2: “Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl” (1978); G3: “Hall of the Fire Giant King” (1978); I6: “Ravenloft” (1983); and S2: “White Plume Mountain” (1979).

The boxed set also contained two new books: a history of TSR and a “lost” adventure: “Deep Dwarven Delve.”

The Lost Adventure. L3 was originally commissioned by TSR around 1979 as part of a three-adventure trilogy. It was submitted by Lakofka to TSR alongside L1: “The Secret of Bone Hill” (1981) and L2: “The Assassin’s Knot” (1983), around 1980. And then it sat around for 19 years.

The problem was reportedly the changing political tides at TSR. Following the 1985 departure of Gary Gygax, Lorraine Williams is said to have purposefully cut out Gygax’s friends and supporters. Thus Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor adventures came to an end, and the third Lendore Isle adventure was never published by TSR.

The Found Adventure. Though the book itself reports that the adventure had “lain unseen and forgotten in the TSR design vault,” in July 1999 Sean K. Reynolds reported a different story. He said that all of TSR’s copies of the adventure had been “lost or destroyed” over the years. The adventure (apparently) resurfaced only when Lakofka found a copy around his house and sent it to Roger E. Moore in 1997 – possibly due to the changing political tides at TSR, for Wizards of the Coast was at that time involved in buying out Lorraine Williams. Moore then passed the adventure on to Reynolds in 1998.

Wizards of the Coast decided to publish “Delve,” but the editors thought it needed “depth and clarification” to bring it up to modern AD&D standards. Lakofka was happy to oblige and produced a new version of his adventure… which Wizards again lost. Lakofka says that that he didn’t hear about the loss until after “Delve” was published, by which time a number of Wizards developers had stepped in to do the required expansion for the adventure.

In the end, Lakofka says that “Delve” is about 80% comprised of material he’d turned in two decades earlier. Though L3 was published as part of the Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition, Wizards had also considered releasing it as a free PDF or publishing it in Dragon magazine.

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