Of Arduin And Green Slime Golems
To my mind, the pinnacle of gaming is/was the Arduin trilogy by David Hargrave. The later books were alright, but nothing matched those original three volumes, with their “Percent Liar”, their incoherent layout, and their random, contextless, rules snippets. Please, please, please do not misunderstand me — none of the preceding was sarcasm or irony. I would probably grab my well-worn and well-read Arduin books first if I were rushing to save my collection from a fire (after I’d taken care of the cats, natch.) They embodied, and still embody, the essence of all that was wonderful about those first early years of roleplaying. Pure imagination, unfettered and untrammeled, not bound by ideas of either graphical sophistication or internal consistency. And the writing! This wasn’t some holier-than-thou game designer pontificating on the right way to play, or the product of marketing and legal departments producing puerile pap carefully calculated to appeal to key demographics and focus on core gameplay values while enforcing brand identity and building corporate synergy. This was a guy just like you (well, since I was 15 at the time, a guy just like I wanted to grow up to be…. and I did), talking to you. The prose was chatty and informal, but not lowbrow — like Gygax, Hargrave had a vocabulary and wasn’t afraid to use it, and he figured if you were smart enough to be playing RPGs, you could figure out the words, or look them up. He is, really, the greatest influence on my game writing, and when I am free to write to my own standards and not my editors, it’s how I write. Like, you know, this piece.
What’s this got to do with Green Slime Golems, you ask?
Well, among the many, many, many, oh, gods, too many to list Truly Nifty Things about Arduin was the page of various golem types and their costs. Please note there were no stat blocks for said golems. There was just a price list, with costs for various features such as speaking or magical defenses. You were left to decide for yourself exactly what a Green Slime Golem could do. Dave basically published random fragments of what I imagine were truly voluminous binders of notes and house rules, all under constant revision, and all deeply, profoundly, personal. Dave died far too young. He should have made it to now, should have been remembered the way Gygax and Arneson were. Great, now I’m depressed.
Oh, right, Green Slime Golems.
One of my goals for this site has always been to combine the feeling of those old-school days with modern rules design. Let there be kobbits (kobold/hobbit crossbreeds, duh!), but let them be balanced and playable. Let there be ninjas adventuring with star-powered mages (the latter another of Dave’s brilliantly iconoclastic creations, or maybe he adapted it from a book, in those days, no one told and no one cared (cough) displacer beast (cough)), but let them both be designed well. Let there be freedom of concept and imagination without missing, incomplete, broken, or contradictory rules — or at least not so many. Let rogu thieves climb walls with ease, but let the fighting-man and the magic-user at least try as well, relying on more than the DMs whim to determine if they succeed. And let there be green slime golems, fully statted up and ready to unleash on the players!
(Note: Most of the “Breakfast Crunch” is contained in the same article as the introductory rant. Since I have a monster section on this site, I’m posting the actual golem there, so that casual browsers looking for monsters don’t need to go all over the site — same as I’m doing with creatures from the Abyss Project, except when I forget, like last night. Bugger. Got to edit that. Anyway, any Joomla experts know how to post one article in multiple categories? Is there an ‘aliasing’ system?)