Sunday, January 3, 2016

Retro Review For Ready Ref Sheets (1978) From Judges Guild For Advanced Dungeons and Dungeons & Your Old School Campaigns

Back in 1978 when I was but a very young dungeon master learning my craft at the knee of my dad's buddy who was retired RAF. I was in awe of the Judge's Guild Ready Refer Sheets. These were the only thing he would have at the table with him when he was world building along with his AD&D first edition Dungeon Master's Guide. The process was pretty simple and its one that I continue to follow today. Read Arduin, Delos,etc your inspirational material then take the Ready Refer Sheets plus the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide and begin writing.

Now that I'm far older and look at this book of awesomeness there is a ton of sexism and
Pages 5-6 of this supplement are some of the worst. A section  with the simple heading "WOMEN," is possibly the most sexist thing I've read in a gaming supplement ever. It goes into guidelines for keeping woman happy all kinds of amusing things that had the other half reading this book aloud and laughing her head off. This is from another time period and wasn't meant to be taken serious and I'm a feminist so there we are. That being said there are some incredibly useful items in the sheets that even today I continue to use.

  Here's a listing of the contents thanks to Wayne's Books  and as you can see there is a ton of awesome here to cherry pick for world building;"
Table of Contents

Page 2   Social Level/City Encounter 
3     Lists of Heirarchies
4     Social Level explanation, Slavery, Quarters 
5     Women 
6     Women, Oaths & Promises
7     Proclamations, High Treason, Boons & Duties, Wills
8     Crime, Trial & Punishment
9     Verdicts & Punishments
10     Punishments, Advertising
11     Advertising
12     Exchange Rates, Metals & Gem Types
13     Beggars, Characteristics, Shock Recovery
14     Guards & Garrison Troops, Offensive Locution- Repartee & Witicisms
15     Poison Types
16     Attack Reasons, Companions, Special Encounters
17     Surprise in Encounters, Phantasmal Forces, Time Required, Weapon Priority
18     Construction Costs & Time Required
19     Wizards Guide to Weapon Enchantment, Wands, Rings & Potions
20     Rudimentary Resurection Results, Startling Statues
21     Wayward Waters, Sink or Swim
22     Sharks & Sea Monsters, Precious Pearls
23     Monster Compendium (continued on 24 & repeated again on 33 & 34)
25     Character Checklist (4 copies)
27     Men Attacking (repeated again on 29 & 52)
28     Chainmail's Man-to-Man Melee table (repeated on 30)
35     Underwater Encounter Tables
36     Wishes & Limited Wishes, Quests & Geas
37     Hirelings, NPC Cutups, Negotiation, Morale
38     Income, Civilization & Technological Levels, Population Density, Baronies
39     Trade Guide, Caves & Lairs
42     Searching
43     Ravaged Ruins
45     Keen Sighting, Hydrographic Terrain
46     Prosperous Prospecting, Triumphant Grand Tactical
47     Movement Obstacles
48     Weeds, Flowers, Vegetables, Herbs & Molds
49     Trees
50     Fauna
51     Monsters Attacking
52     Men Attacking
53     Index
54     Listing of Judges Guild Products

  I know what your thinking that this is simply wall to wall charts and I'm from the dawn of time during the Seventies so only I would find this book useful. Well this book allows one to have guidelines for constructing a castle or elven tree fortress, rules for using beggars as an information network, a "Buffoon" sub-class of fighter that actually works, a ton of weird magical statue tables and more.
  For sword and sorcery Arduin style world building this is one of my go too pieces of full on old school fun and games. This piece of Judge's Guild material I find incredibly useful and a great companion to many of the retroclone systems on the market especially OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord Advanced Companion play.
 This material plus some of the stuff from the Pegasus magazine coupled with the AD&D Dungeon Master Guide allowed me to build numerous campaigns over the years. Th alignment system is a relic from another time as well but its optionally like many of the pieces in here.
  There is a ton here to mine and the material can easily be used with OD&D as well including retroclone OD&D systems  or Basic D&D (Holmes or Moldvay)with little to no problem. This also means that the material can be used to supplement Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Dark Albion with no one being the wiser. I've done this mid stream at least twice when the PC's were on the border of the Middle East and in Spain for certain adventure circumstances. The book saved my bacon twice for those games.
  You get everything you need for encounter charts in different environments and monster placement. A complete list and stats for all of the monsters from the Seventies in one easy to use place which if your play Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea has been very handy when the PC's are crossing worlds and dimension hopping.
  The castles and construction costs plus charts within the structure work well with many of the various editions and there's plenty to recommend how things are put together and seeing the meshing of the various JG systems.
 This material comes from a time when the hobby was still forming itself and it shows in table after table of random material that both services a DM on two levels. One it gives solid on the fly guidelines for decisions and two it gives a DM a bench mark for creating their own tables. I can see this book being used at convention sets of play where things have to decided right now!
 Is this book perfect? Hell no not at all it was never meant to be but its not something to be sneered at. This book gives some weird bits its true but its an old favorite because its still relevant to the hobby even today.
 Part of the fun of using random tables when running a game is seeing what crazy logic you have to use to tie it all together.  The Ready Ref Sheets even has ruins tables making it perfect for Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition, Mutant Future and Dungeon Crawl Classics. In fact I've used this book twice with DCC during play and the play continued quite nicely. Just goes to show you that just because something is old doesn't make it any less useful. 

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