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Thoughts About the Different Red Steels

by Tim Beach

Well, yes and no. It's a point of view thing. In the original version, you very clearly took a drug to get more powerful. In the AD&D version, getting the power was both bad and good, so it was still like drug use -- but the source was different. You couldn't help it; it was a powerful curse, and it happened to everybody, no choice, like a disease. And you wore a cinnabryl amulet to get you through it; the cinnabryl wasn't a drug, it was medicine, to help you survive this disease to which you had been subjected.

You still had the potion taken by Inheritors, but that was downplayed, and an Inheritor is either a hero (who might take a medicine to become more powerful, to do good; there are precedents in comics, but only Hourman comes to mind right now) or a villain (and it's not surprising that they would take drugs to gain power to do evil; Dr. Jekyll, anyone?).
Are people addicted to cinnabryl? Possibly, but again, it's not a drug, it's a cure (at least of the symptoms). Are they physically dependent on it? Well, sort of, but that aspect isn't really presented at all, and if it were, it would be presented in a good light. People take aspirin to help their heart. I take decongestants almost every day because my sinuses are messed up. Am I addicted? No -- I can choose to stop. Does it make me feel better to take it? Yes, absolutely. Will I choose to stop? No. Does anybody think I'm addicted to decongestants, or care? No -- they don't make me high, they help me breathe better.

So, yes, a lot of the elements are still there, but there turned around to make them less controversial. This was back before D&D had anywhere near a mainstream status (we've made huge strides in the last decade -- I mean, TV commercials for WoW?) and there were enough people attacking D&D for no good reason -- why give them an actual reason by promoting something that looked like drug use? The important things were that a) at a glance, it didn't look like drug use; and b) with a deeper look, you still couldn't say "look, they're encouraging people to take drugs and get high." Are the elements there? Yes, some of them. Does the big picture say "drug use"? No. Could it be construed as drug use? Yes -- but that's when you point out the curse, and the medicinal aspect.


As for animals and monsters with Legacies, there were a couple of things to consider.

First, if they didn't get Legacies, I would have to explain why the Legacies affected only certain types of beings. (Admittedly, this isn't too hard -- just make it part of the curse, with the bonus that it actually provides a clue to the nature of the curse.) I'd also have to have defined exactly what counted as a person, or alternately, set some sort of arbitrary limit that determined which creatures got a Legacy. Again, not so hard -- anyone with an intelligence over 6 (or whatever) gets a Legacy. Maybe except for goblins, because of the nature of the curse (another clue). And maybe a small handful of monsters -- again, another clue. But I didn't wan to do these things, because ...

Second, the cool factor. I thought, and still think, that having a winged bulette, or an owlbear that can throw fireballs, is a pretty awesome. Do I want every snake and rabbit levitating or shooting lightning? Well, no, not so much ... but it would be cool if some of them did. If you think differently, come up with the arbitrary restriction. Maybe it's an intelligence limit. Maybe it's size -- you must be this tall to get a Legacy. I would suggest that, to limit it, a creature doesn't get a Legacy unless at least one of the following is true:
1) The creature is at least medium/man sized.
2) The creature has an intelligence of at least ... whatever an ogre has in your system.
3) The creature is unnatural (this one is a little looser -- you have to define "unnatural"; I'd include at least owlbears and bulettes as unnatural, but maybe something small, like a cockatrice could get a Legacy this way).

Those are my thoughts.

Thanks again for reading.

Tim Beach