Oh my, psionics…
I never understood them.
And I still don’t after reading this.
I play a lot of board games and there’s an art to laying out the rules of a game. Often I find a game that seems difficult but turns out to be quite easy and comparable to other board games – it’s just that the rules were written badly. I feel this is the case with psionics.
I remember trying to read about them when I was much younger and being confused. Now I’m much older and a software designer – I’m constantly creating systems and interpreting code. And I still don’t feel I understand psionics. I think there’s a good reason they were relegated to an appendix in 1st edition.
On with the rest…
New class – Druid – a subclass of clerics (they were previously a monster in Greyhawk!) along with all their new spells.
There’s a new more complex system to determine when actions take place during the segments of a combat round.
Then we get a list of psionic abilities which are really just a second spell system. (And another reason to ditch them.)
In the monster section we now get demons including Orcus and Demogorgon (including those classic pictures of them) and a bunch of psionic-using monsters.
The last major part is a whole lot of treasures like Baba Yaga’s hut and the hand and eye of Vecna. This is probably the most interesting part of the book because we’re getting a glimpse into what I assume is the lore of the existing Greyhawk and Blackmoor campaigns. (And apparently most of the names are based on people’s names – ie friends/relations of Gygax and TSR staff etc.)
Finally there are some updated and consolidated encounter tables taking into account all the new supplementary material.
Growing up as a kid in the 70’s and 80’s in Australia, I played D&D with my brother and also with various friends.
As a Christian and growing up in a Christian family, this was never a concern and the subject of whether it was a problem or not never came up. It wasn’t until much later that I heard about the D&D scare in the US. We started with the blue basic set and then later AD&D. I suspect that if we had started earlier and gotten this book, more questions would have been raised. A naked woman on an alter on the cover (even though it has nothing to do with the content of the book)! And references to demons! Not exactly Christian friendly stuff. I can see why perhaps there was a bit of a scare if this is what people saw as D&D.
The foreword was written April 23rd. The ad in SR2.2 says it would be available May 1st. It may have been available a few days earlier in April. Acaeum says April. Enworld says April. DriveThruRPG says May. Of Dice and Men says May. And lastly The Strategic Preview #3, published in May, says it was available. So I’m going with May.
Further – Issue 16 of Owl & Weasel May 1976 has a review of it.