Eldritch Wizardry Capsule Review by Mortdred on 02/05/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
From the depths of RPG history, it's one of the books that started it all.
Product: Eldritch Wizardry
Author: Gygax & Blume
Company/Publisher: TSR Rules
Line: Dungeons & Dragons
Page count: 58
Year published: 1976
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Mortdred on 02/05/01
Genre tags: Fantasy
Eldritch Wizardry... the sixth book (and third supplement) in the original D&D game before they tacked that "A" on the front. Digest size like the rest, one wonders what the folks on the mid to late 1970s thought of a book with a naked woman on the cover. That she's lying on an altar to be sacrificed probably didn't help D&D's image too image, especially as this was the book that first introduced demons into the game.
What else first rose into view in these musty pages? Well, it brought psionics, druids, and artifacts into gaming.
The psionic abilities were divided into six sets, two for each of magic-users, clerics, and fighting men/thieves, one basic and one advanced for each group. For some reason, psionics were for humans only, and neither monks (at the time a cleric sub-type) nor druids were permitted the potential for them. Another balancing factor that these early psionics had - but which was removed by the time AD&D appeared - was that psychic characters sacrificed some ability in their regular class in exchange. Fighters lost followers and stat points, spellcasters lost spell slots, and clerics additionally lost a level for undead-turning purposes for each psychic power they attained.
Druids weren't all that different from the later versions, though the origin of the "Chariot of Sustare" spell is revealed if you read the front page of the book.
Demons... you know, this may have been the only D&D book in history in which every power each demon is described as having actually exists elsewhere in the game system under the same name? In both AD&D and D&D3e, there are mistakes in demon entries that list powers from earlier editions. No... my error, the Immortals Set also had accurate demons, come to think of it.
Plenty of surprises about the artifacts are in store for folks used to the more recent versions. The Sword of Kas was only 3 in its' original form, though 5 against undead, demons, and godlings. Hmm... could this be why gods got hit points? The Ring of Gax only had 8 facets, and there were just five of the dragon orbs, much, much weaker than the later versions.
While not especially useful to a modern gamer, unlike Greyhawk (supplement 1 for the original D&D books), Eldritch Wizardry is still of interest for its' historical place and to see how various elements of the D&D line evolved.
I rate it Style 4 and Substance 4, _for the time when it was published_. By modern standards, I might say Style 2 Substance 4, perhaps Substance 3.