Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chainmail Dragons

If anyone out there has access to first edition (1971) of Chainmail, published by Guidon Games, I have a question for you: is the information on the various colors of dragons and their powers included in the Fantasy Supplement? The third edition copy I have (1975) includes those details, but, since it postdates the release of OD&D, it's clearly not reliable evidence that Chainmail is in fact the source for D&D's dragon types.


  1. James---

    I have a vintage photocopy of the 1st or 2nd edition of Chainmail (don't know which, unfortunately; my assumption is that it's a copy from a 2nd edition original, since the pagination off, but not drastically off, from later editions).  In this copy, the Fantasy Supplement begins on page 25 (not as in 3rd editions, where it begins on page 28), and lacks this paragraph of additional dragon text (I'm comparing here to a TSR 3rd edition, 2nd printing:  the only silver cover version with staples instead of spirals for binding): 

    There can be other types of Dragons -- Blue which breathe lightning (same Wizard's lightning missile except that it extends from teh Dragon's mouth for 9") and White which breathe [sic: "a" should be present] cloud of icy cold (same shape as Dragon Fire but only 4" long) are two examples.

    The dragon paragraph that  begins "Other kinds of dragons can be introduced into games..." is present in the vintage photocopy.  However, there's an additional sentence that appears at the end of that paragraph (after the purple worm sentence) that's dropped from my 3rd edition 2nd printing copy:  "The Basilisk and Cockatrice are probably best included as Dragons."

    Hopefully that helps some.


  2. Gygax came up with the dragon types:

    "... All well and good, but the thrill was waning. Some 'historical' references spoke of dragons as 'serpents' with
    poisonous breath. There were mentions of dragons of green colour. Thus,
    it was a simple matter to add the green dragon that exhaled a cloud of
    poisonous gas, chlorine gas having a green colour. Oriental mythology
    included many colours of their particular form of dragons, and the mahjongg
    game has three sets of different tiles named dragons—green, red and
    white. Having played that game since I was a boy, how could I ignore the
    white dragon? So what form of breath weapon went with that colour? Snow
    and cold, of course. So another breed of dragonkind was created. After
    some contemplation, I added the blue colour, as that could well
    represent lightning, and there was a spell in the rules covering just
    such an electrical bolt. Acid breath seemed another reasonable form of
    attack, black represented that well, and thus the fifth kind of malign
    race of dragons was born. That ended the near-complacency of would-be dragon slayers. No longer
    could a single set of defences and attacks apply when a dragon was known
    to be on the loose. Better still, one only glimpsed was still likely an
    enigma, for its colour, weapon and vulnerabilities could be anyone of
    five different sorts." -EGG

    Written in "Slayer's Guide to Dragons".

  3. ... Although, since Gygax also helped design Chainmail I guess that doesn't answer your question.

  4. So the vintage photocopy *does* include references to frost-breathing white dragons, acid-breathing black dragons, electricity-breathing blue dragons, and chlorine-breathing green dragons?

  5. The text in grodog's photocopy matches my second edition  from 1972.  Never seen a copy of 1st.

  6. You might also ask your question over at Acaeum.


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