Laid out like the Original D&D booklets into 3 sections.
First up we get two new subclasses – the monk and assassin.
Oddly, the monk is a subclass of cleric but has no spells – it seems more a subclass of thief.
Oh my. There’s a very extensive section on hit location – assigning various percentages of hit points to different parts of the body (depending on creature type) and ways of dealing with crippling and movement restrictions. I imagine this would make combat slow to a crawl if you used all these rules.
Regarding monsters we get a bunch of giant things like Giant Frog and a bunch of aquatic creatures including the Sahuagin, which gets 2 pages of extensive ecological description. And for some reason we get pictures of Umber Hulks and Hell Hounds, even though they aren’t in the list but were instead introduced in the previous supplement, Greyhawk. Even odder are pictures of the Mind Flayer and Roper which are only described in the strategic review 1.1 and 1.2! We also get a short half page of watery treasures.
And so we come to the main attraction – Blackmoor – the first fantasy campaign! Or rather the Temple of the Frog. It’s fascinating to see such an early adventure.
Regarding similarities to modern adventures – there’s quite extensive background information, maps on grid paper with keyed locations, and lots of stuff to kill and loot.
What’s different? For starters the maps. They hadn’t standardised on labels – doors are angled lines and secret doors are really odd – kind of filled-in walls. Many of the wall lines don’t line up with the grid lines and the dungeon levels go in for a lot of 45 degree angled corridors and weird protrusions – just because? – a mapping nightmare!
Then there are the monsters – oh my – many barracks rooms with, I kid you not, in one case up to 250 men. What??
And treasure – we’ve got you covered – several thousand gp for you over here and how about a thousand platinum in this room for you! Talk about Monty Haul.
What’s missing of course is any sort of hand holding. It’s up to the DM to figure out where the main high priest is or what he might be doing. Oh and there’s something about him being an alien and special rings and an interstellar communications device…
It is not an adventure I would want to run.
Last up in the booklet are some rules for underwater adventures, info about sages, and some extensive info about diseases.
All in all, a fascinating read.
Hm, well… The Foreword has a date of September 1, so that’s the earliest possible date. Enworld mentions September, which is probably just using the Foreword info. DriveThruRPG says November. The Acaeum reckons December. The winter issue of SR mentions it’s coming. The December issue says it should be published (it’s with the printers at time of writing). Of Dice and Men (p111) implies December when it says “in January, just weeks after it was finally published”. I think December is the most likely date.
Further information – January 1976 issue 12 of Own & Weasel says it’s out and available.