Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Odin & The Forces of Law - Thoughts on Kuntz & Ward's Original Dungeons & Dragons's Gods, Demi Gods, & Heroes

 When it comes to original Dungeons & Dragons then I've still got a soft spot for Kuntz & Ward's "Supplement IV" Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes. And there's minor things that have jumped out after reading it last night. 

Looking over the Norse deities reveals something very interesting & that is that Odin seems absolutely resigned to war. All of his artifacts are geared towards absolutely geared to war including his stats. Everything divine is dived towards war because of the wargaming aspect of original Dungeons & Dragons. Back to Odin for a moment whose loins are girt for war; "Odin: Armor Class: 2 Magic Spell Ability: (See below) Move: 12* Fighter Ability: 18th Level Hit Points: 300 Psionic Ability: Class 1 Odin is supreme among this class of Gods and has many special abilities or innate powers because of his standing. Among them are: 1. The ability to shape change into any animal (normal sized) or to become dragon or humanoid in appearance. 2. Being also the God of full understanding and knowledge. Odin knows of all intentions for or against him and can weed out truths by use of natural E.S.P. and telepathy powers. Range of both powers is 240". 3. He may use any or all spells of magical and clerical nature. Clerical spells, though, conform mainly to Law, and Odin may not use any Raise Dead spells. 4. Odin inspires berserker rage in all of those whom he desires near him. Persons within a 20' radius gain 4 levels fighting capability for as many full turns as their level, (i.e., A second level fighter would become a sixth level for two turns) The Odin Eye: Those persons of the 9th level or below that view an enraged Odin squarely in his one remaining eye are automatically paralyzed. Those of the 12th level or below are confused for 18 full turns and those from 13th level to 25th level, including 1st - 6th level Demons are merely transfixed physically for 9 full turns. Count 1-4 possibilities of someone viewing Odin when confronted by him. Odin needs not hold his gaze to effect a person."
"Odin's Weaponry 
Gungnir is Odin's spear (+5). This spear, when used in battle, always points to the strongest member of the opposition. Furthermore, all adversaries within a 20' radius of it when Odin holds it aloft are stricken with fear (as a fear symbol). Those that Odin allows to touch Gungnir (usually before a battle) will be blessed with a double effect bless spell for the duration of the battle or adventure. All enemies that dare touch Gungnir fare much for the worst since this spear is treated as an artifact as outlined in D & D, volume # 2. Odin's Bow: Treat as a +3 composite recurve as far as range and additional accuracy is considered. This weapon fires a total of 10! +3 arrows each turn that never miss their mark! Odin's Rune Wand: This wand is golden with etched Nordic Runes of Power upon and around its surface. Every time this wand is used the particular Rune that represents the power being used will shine. The wand's many powers are: 1. Acts as a Rod of Rulership (see "Greyhawk") 2. Summons the Elements. (1-4 Elementals of the All Fathers' choice) 3. Conjure or Dispel Demon. (See "Eldritch Wizardry" for listed Demons- He may summon or dispel a demon once a month. 4. Emanates a continual Anti-Magic Spell. Odins' magic can work through this 'shell.' 5. Stores 12 spells of Odin's choice. 6. Drains 6 energy levels or 100 points for every melee round it is held by any other God than Odin. 7. Causes instantaneous death to any mortal or non-god that handles it. 8. It is an artifact and as such it can not be detected by detect magic spells etc. Corselet of Mail: +5 Helm: +5 " 

"Ring, Draupnir: Although not a weapon this artifact produces a similar ring (golden) of 10,000- 60,000 gold piece value every night. Odin often gives these away to his faithful servants, the Einheriar, or those others that please him. Odin also keeps in his possession two ravens (names — Hugin & Munin), two wolves (Freke & Gere) and a horse (Sleipner). Hugin and Munin (thought and memory) are constantly bringing the All-Father news of the outside world. Treat these Ravens as normal birds for attack though they are very intelligent and are rarely forced to do any fighting due to their cleverness. Treat Freke and Gere as Werebears for attack/defensive abilities adding the capability of the Hell-hounds sensing. Sleipner is Odin's personal eight-legged steed. This horse is truly the most marvelous "item" in that it flies (24" a turn), may cross water at a full gallop and perform in all other respects as a Paladins horse. Also, it may teleport itself and its "burden" once per day at the rider's command. Only Odin may mount Sleipner though there is a very good chance that the horse (which is very intelligent) would save some Lawful or deserving person or creature in need of help by transporting them. Those actually gaining the favor of the All-Father may be advanced a level, gain monetary or magical rewards, strength, wisdom points etc., or get the ultimate reward and pleasure of battling at Odin's side at Ragnarok! A treasure unparalleled! Lastly, Odin's halls and lodgings are numerous, among them Valhalla; Odin's council hall — (as it is all of the other God's hall) is Gladsheim and finally Odin's palace Valaskialf where is located Hlidskialf, his magical "All Seeing" throne. (Treat as an unlimited duration crystal ball with clairvoyance.)" 

So what can we learn looking at Odin, his armor, weaponry, & regalia? Quite a bit, it seems likely to me that Odin & his fellow gods have been fighting a guerilla war with the forces of Chaos. The warm ups & brush fire wars  leading up to Ragnarök. And leading the charge is the Jotunn the age old agents of evil & chaos. The  the jötnar are literally one or two steps above the usual humanoid armies  of regular D&D. 

Giant Skrymir and Thor
by Louis Huard.

 Over the years there are number of magic items that have shown up in our various D&D games from Jötunheimr. And is it any wonder that Odin has girt himself & his gods for war because of the forces of Jötunheimr? This brings up the fact that Jötunheimr is a land far closer to Chaos & the very forces of the creation of the multiverse. And this is made clear by Gods, Demigods, & Heroes's take on the giants of  Jötunheimr; "The Giants: As a general rule, giants are among the most magically gifted beings in all Norse mythology. Fire and Frost giants have the ability to change shape, polymorph objects, control weather to a certain extent, use illusions (count 10% as solely illusionists) and use fire and cold respectively. Another interesting characteristic is that these giants are not stupid as legend often informs us that they are. Also, some of them equal the gods for beauty. Listed among the other giants that reside in Jotunheim (Giantland) are Storm giants. Rock giants and Stone giants, though these groups are not as banded together as the Fire or Frost giants are. Giants have class H treasures. If not detailed, giants take 100 Points of Damage and their armor class is 3."
And from 'The OSR Grimoire' Blog comes this little tid bit; "Paul Karlsson Johnstone discusses berserkers in his excellent article "Origins of the Norse Pantheon" in The Dragon #29 (September, 1979)" 

How does this relate to Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg and the forces of Chaos?! Well its a bit of a game changer really. Because giant warlords crossing from Jötunheimr into Midgard is a real possibility with vast armies of humanoids & smaller giant kind such as ogres & the like. And its this possibility that would put Odin on the side of Law for the moment. 

Odin's alliance with Law is going to be a shaky one at best & at worst an antagonistic affair with betrayal & double dealing within such a compact. OD&D's Odin is more then likely to seek out mortals aka adventurers to gain a hand over the forces of Law. This means in Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg terms that's kingdoms & lands might be in the offering. But it also means murder & conquest Odin is after all a god of war & magic. 

This has crossover potential with both Conan's Hyboria supplemental material & Elric's supplemental material within Gods, Demigods, & Heroes. Odin & his gods are the new gods within Conan's sphere representing the newer gods crawling out of Crom's shadow. There is much adventure potential between the old guard of the gods & the newer upstarts in the form of the Norse pantheon. Not to mention the giant  survivors of the sinking of Atlantis. 
Odin & his Norse gods represent the essence of the 'other gods' of legend flicking just out of the candle fire of the Celtic mythologies featured in Corum & Elric's tales by Michael Moorcock. Odin's pact with Law is likely to cause strife & problems between theses forces. Something that the adventurers are likely to get caught in the middle of. 

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