In case you haven't heard, J. Eric Holmes would have been 82 years old today. Thanks to Zenopus Archives for the birthday alert; and in response for his request for anecdotes, I prepared this little top 10 list of my favorite Holmes-isms:
10. The Original Adult Fantasy Role Playing Game--Yes, this was the tagline from the cover of the book.
9. Wisdom--"is the prime requisite for clerics." That's the extent of it. No mumbo jumbo about judgement or senses or guile or connection to a deity. If you're not a cleric you can lower your wisdom score to raise your other abilities. Nice.
7. Dagger (in boot)--From the Encumbrance section on page 9 you will learn that the primary function of boots was to carry your dagger. Secondarily they offered some protection for your feet.
6. Harpy Breasts--Before the days of the internet, pre-pubescent kids didn't have a lot of options when it came to getting illicit glimpses of naked boobs. For that, DCS's Harpy illustration was a thing of wonder. Plus, the fighters are all wearing backpacks; a nice bit of realism for your adult fantasy game.
5. Stone Mountain--This bad-ass dungeon cross section is one of the iconic images of D&D. Though uncredited, it's stylistically closest, I think, to the work of Tom Wham who, for comparison, also drew the Gnolls on page 27 and had a few entries in the Monster Manual.
4. "They may have other powers, do additional damage, etc."--The tone of the whole affair is "here are some cool rules, but they're not set in stone; you're allowed to monkey with stuff." Once you moved on to AD&D, there was a definite sense that these were the Rules that Moses brought down from the mountain; diverge from them at your own peril.
3. The Parry--Parrying was such an important element of swashbuckling sword fights that it always struck me as unfortunate that parrying got the brush off in AD&D.
2. G--Gloomy--Letter-coded dungeon rooms have their limitations--like, say,
if you have more than 26 encounter areas in your dungeon--but I like
that the letters could also carry meaning that numbers are not as well
equipped to handle. E meant empty, C was for corridor, RT was Rat
1. Undisputed Sample Dungeon Champion of the Universe--It's got a magic sundial, a trick statue, loads of sarcophagi, 3 goblins holed up in a room the size of a high school gymnasium, rat tunnels, catacombs, an underground river, a sea cave full of pirates, a damsel in distress who's probably tougher than your party, and, to top it all off, an evil Thaumaturge with a mutinous pet gorilla. How awesome is that?!