Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gaming Kane

After writing yesterday's post, I remembered that Karl Edward Wagner's Kane had a history in gaming.  In the early days, Dragon Magazine featured a column called "Giants in the Earth" wherein writers statted up characters from fiction.

In Dragon #26 (June 1979), in what may have been the debut of "Giants in the Earth,"  D&D translations of Jack Vance's Cugel the Clever, Talbot Mundy's Tros of Samothrace, and Wagner's Kane appeared.  Here's Kane's stat-block excerpt:


The article goes on to give a brief rundown of Kane's appearance and history.  It also notes that Kane may be in disguise when encountered, and that he be on an assassination job.  In fact: 
"There is an 05% chance that when Kane encounteres a party, he is out to assassinate one party member (at random)."
but:
"Kane's long life has made him whimsical.  He may unaccountably befriend a player character (regardless of that character's alignment).  Roll Kane's reaction to each party member.  A 12, on two 6-sided dice, shows he has befriended a character for 1-100 turns.  Kane will not assassinate a friend."
The writer also goes through some contortions to try to fit Kane's behavior to D&D's alignment system.  He notes Kane's the "eternal rebel" and that (horrors!) "he's not even true to his alignment" and at any particular time "there is a 10% chance he's acting out of character." The author suggests in these cases that a d8 should be used to determine Kane's alignment at present.

The presentation of Kane is this article caused a bit of controversy.  In Dragon Magazine #30, Gary Gygax warned in his "From the Sorcerer's Scroll" column that Kane as presented was too powerful.  He suggested that 20th level fighter/16th level magic-user/12th level assassin, was more reasonable for his class abilities, though still on the high side.  He promised a closer eye would be kept on future "Giants in the Earth" installments.

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