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Friday, 29 January 2010

Fleamarket Friday: Booty And The Beasts...

My current revisiting of my early days of gaming dredged up memories of a fantastic, little tan book I must have picked up from The Dark Tower one time (Tunbridge Wells first dedicated roleplaying store).

The booklet - similar in design to the first Arduin booklets (and just as 'out there') - was an official supplement for Dungeons & Dragons.

I remembered it vividly for its stylish Erol Otus artwork and the fact that it had no qualms about mixing heavy doses of science-fiction in with its fantasy - the 'booty' section, for example, included laser guns, while the 'beasts' section had the 'Neila' (xenomorphs from the film Alien, thinly disguised... by reversing the letters!).

But I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was called - because now, of course, it seems a perfect fit for the ideas I have for my Tekralh III pseudo-planetary romance, old school campaign - or even what had happened to my copy (no doubt foolishly sold off for pennies during one of my many gaming purges over the decades).

I was even going to write an article a few weeks back appealing for help in recalling the name of this lost treasure.

Until I came across Surprise Delivery: Brown Box Original D&D on Randall's RetroRoleplaying: The Blog, in which he talks about a recent generous donation to his cancer charity fundraising drive that included this very same little booklet among a slew of other incredible gifts.

Armed with the name, I set out to investigate further and very quickly discovered, according to Wayne's Books And Old School Games RPG Reference site that it was published by Fantasy Art Enterprises in 1979 (I'm thinking I must have picked it up the year it came out then) and is now considered "extremely rare".

Not only that, but the market price seems to be about $250 at the moment... so I'd better start saving!

Wayne's Books has this blurb from Booty And The Beasts (which just makes me want to own a copy again even more):

"Contained in this volume are new monsters, including demons, robots, and parasites, and new magical and technological treasures.

"Many of these monsters and treasures are of a more powerful nature than will be found in most fantasy role-playing campaigns.

"This is intentional, for we feel that this will provide a greater challenge and incentive to those more experienced players who, since fantasy role-playing has been around now for a number of years, must be acquiring higher and higher level characters.

"We also include less powerful monsters such as Fungus Men, Termite People, Goons, etc., and low power items such as the Doorknob of Unrestrained Entry, Vibroblade, Breathing Device, etc.

"In addition, we provide several charts and lists in the back of this book to aid in the playing of these monsters and treasures.

"Finally, these monsters and treasures are not intended to stand by themselves but rather to add to the hundreds of monsters and treasures already available".

There's a quite snooty review on RPG.net, from 2007, that seems to miss the point of this booklet (although perhaps I'm remembering it through rose-tinted geek glasses) that games 'in those days' were meant to be fun (he even has a bit of a dig at Arduin). However it is useful for getting a flavour of some of the many gonzo ideas contained within the pages of Booty And The Beasts.

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