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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Western gunslingers, Boot Hill style, circa 1983

That's minis that is...
On a lark I ran across a "VultureBay" auction for some vintage minis, vintage as in 1983 Boot Hill miniatures. For $3.50 I figured what the Hell and I ponied up and snagged them. A few days later they arrive.

Minis in Boot Hill makes perfect sense when one considers that Boot Hill 1st and 2nd edition are what I call "a miniatures battle game with a skeletal RPG system attached".  That's no knock against Boot Hill, I like it immensely as a system. So much so in fact Boot Hill lead me to create my own western RPG, Hurled into Eternity. Of course the fact that it is a skeletal RPG is the reason I created my own from whole cloth, rather then retrofit to Boot Hill.

I can't really recall seeing these guys on the shelf back in the day in gaming stores, but then again I wasn't really looking for them either, I was looking for Warhammer minis by the time I really became interested in the miniature aspect of the hobby.

I figured it was finally time to let the boys out..
Anyways, here is what I got in the haul: all in all very nice and in the blister too. Think about it, much like Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2 these guys have been in the box for quite some time, in their case for 31 years... So what did I do when I got them? Cut them out of the blister of course. An interesting thing about these minis is the fact that they came out in 1983. By this time (although we didn't know it) Boot Hill was in or near its near hibernation phase. Sure BH4 and BH5 would come out, and later 3rd edition Boot Hill, but it was closer to its run then the beginning.

In terms of scale they seem to be about 22mm. They are not as small as 20mm, but certainly not 28mm "heroic scale". The 28mm "heroic scale" Note: Warhammer minis will look absolutely huge next to these guys. They are inline with the scale of Ral Partha minis which were the big player back in the early 80s (most of our early D&D games when we used minis utilized Ral Partha minis unpainted or "somewhat" painted".)

Adventure squares?
The pack has three gun fighters; one is a clearly a gunslinger getting ready to draw, the second wields a rifle up level firing and the last is what looks to be a cowhand firing; also looks like he's wearing a sombrero. It also looks like he has a confederate style shirt with buttons down either side rather then the middle.

A few period appropriate minis for scale.
Another look at scale: the three gunslingers, a 2nd edition samurai warrior from Games Workshop and a 3rd edition samurai, likewise from GW. The gunslingers are close to their contemporary the 2nd edition samurai but a bit smaller then the 3rd edition one.

Lastly, as noted by the graphic to the right the back had "adventure squares"? They are the right scale so cut it out and bamm indoor dueling range!

In any event, I like them and will probably be painting them up to use for testing for Hurled into Eternity.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

UK4- When a Star Falls

The seminal UK series has many great modules, but without a doubt the best is UK4 When a Star Falls by Graeme Morris. As I alluded to here concerning the derro, UK4 is a match made in heaven. Derro and this module= awesome.

Given the module code, as one would surmise it was created by the UK division of TSR. It was released in 1984 and is the standard 32 pages with full color art for most of the maps that are excellent. The cover notes: for 6-10 players of levels 3-5, although I can't imagine playing with that many. The graphical layout includes the orange border at the top that was common for modules late in TSR's run of first edition. It also sports the Union Jack, why? Just because they can. The layout, the borders, the interior illustrations, the font for the titles, everything about it is great. The cover? Can't say enough about it, it fits the module perfectly. Also having one artist doing all of the artwork really pays off. Rather then a clash of different styles say as in, module A1- Slave Pits of the Undercity.

A flood of memories from the memory web...
I wanted to buy this based on the cover alone back in the day when I was a poor, cash strapped pre-teen and saw it in Dragon. And when I finally got it? I think I read it ten times in the span of a few days. When the argument breaks out on the web or which AD&D module was the best? I'm there backing UK4.

Everything about this module is perfect or near perfect. The stat blocks read easily, the text blocks for the PCs are crisp and concise and the art fits from stem to stern. And one of the best aspects of the module it has derro in it! When I first got it I had no idea, but considering that they are my favorite monster and this is my favorite module? Bonus! As I noted here, yeah, I'm a big fan of derro.

The premise of the module is that the PCs need to investigate a fallen star. The notes to the adventure has the party spotting the fall of the star fairly close to them, 3-4 nights prior to the start of the adventure proper. In the immediate area thereafter the party encounters a memory web, a monster that absorbs the memories. It is wounded as the elder sage's monks presumably had injured it prior to the PCs encountering it. A flood of memories are imparted to the PCs once the memory web is slain. A few of these memories are vital important and the PCs automatically know their way to the Tower of Heavens. While it might seem a bit ham-fisted with the utilization of the memory web  does get the adventure moving quickly. That is of the players put two and two together. Comets are harbingers of doom and in a quasi-medieval society like most AD&D campaigns portray the people would react roughly the same which should lend them to be curious if nothing else. Plus it beats "a stranger in a cloak walks up to you in a tavern."

There is a fly in the ointment of the elder sage sending out his monks to retrieve the fallen star, the second sage, his first pupil named Piyarz is trying to usurp Shalfey's position. With the elder sage's monks gone Piyarz attempted a coup. The coupe was only partially successful as the elder sage was able to barricade himself in the uppermost portions of the Tower of Heavens. Additionally Piyarz sent his primary minion the shade Sion to track the elder sage's monks and then ultimately the PCs, He attempts to track engage the PCs, having no other clues after the death of the monks. Given his abilities as a shade its unlikely he will allow himself to be killed. The best bet is to let him slip away as needed, then reappear to harass the PCs in hit and run raids.

From the memories the PCs should be able to glean the fact that a druid/sage named Derwyth has the knowledge they need in regards to the location of the star. If the party was smart enough to grab the bestiary that Shalfey's monks were toting he will trade the book for calculations for of the fallen star. As an aside, if this were a 2nd edition game or even a 1st with proficiencies and a character had astronomy or astrology as a non-weapon proficiency should have  shot at determining this. f they don't have it and NWPs are not in play, its 1500 gps to find out...

Once they are armed with the knowledge of where the star has fallen the party will be on a course for location of the star's impact. The location of the fallen star just so happens to be the outpost of Derro who have been raiding the surrounding countryside.For the derro it was case of wrong place/wrong time. The star crashed into the top of the pass flattening their abode, trees akimbo and slaying a good chunk of their companions. Their ruined lair is very cool, it depicts recent events very well: the derro and their slaves are digging out, there is massive damage to the lair and some of the inhabitants do not rest easy. Like many portions of this adventure there is the potential to build off of this lair after the modules completion. Once (if) the party makes their way through the derro they will recover the eponymous star, its not magical, but very valuable.

Therno Pass is the next locale after vacating the derro lair. There are some pre-set encounters that can be developed further or the DM can use the excellent and flavorful random chart, a strength almost all of the UK series.

One of the coolest segments of the adventure is next with the Tower of Heavens and the sages that dwell within. Situated in a river it is accessible via ferry and has a ton of great maps. The tower is guarded by gnomes? (Ugh) Reaching the tower is no small order and the ferryman Hadley will try to get the players to engage in Shalfey's password. If they are smart and paying attention he is a good source of information as to the current state of the tower, such as he knows it.

The sages that reside in the tower in particular the elder sage is dependent on the recovery of the fallen star, but this is unknown to the players at first. Piyarz's rebellion was a result if his impatience for taking the role of elder sage.  Once he receives them and then blows them off the PCs (while trying to pocket 3,000 gps in the process) they are left to try and make their way through the tower without presumably causing too much damage and find the elder sage.

The elder sage, Shalfey
The color coded sages signifying rank from pupil up to the elder sage Shalfey wearing white robes down to the lowest ranking being Cipolla. Each has a retinue of monks wearing the same color robes. The interaction of the PCs with eh tower inhabitants should be noted, Shalfey will be grateful for his rescue, he will not be happy if major damage and loss of life is inflicted on the tower and its inhabitants. I've used the elder sage and his surviving pupils as a reoccurring NPCs in my games before and some were decidedly less then cordial to the PCs and suffering at their hands. A side note here I love the spectator at area  T17, anytime a spectator appears its time for great role-playing!

The path to Shalfey is not easy through the tower with a few defenses that can cause a great deal of grief. Area T18 and the Bridge of Faith and the Labyrinth at area T20 with its permanent maze spell can cause problems.

When they finally meet the Elder Sage he is just finishing up burning the previous set of the Books of Prophecy. They are now blank and no longer any use to him. The PCs must now take the fallen star to the a group of reclusive deep gnomes who will trade the next set of books for the star. Shalfey agrees to pay the adventurers one magical item apiece that will be randomly determined when drawn from a prismatic sphere.

The location of the wizened deep gnomes is not too far away and the trip there can be uneventful or full of peril at the DM's choice.

The ancient deep gnomes are known as Kagu-svirfnebi. They are a small band that splintered from their main clan some time ago and have been waiting for the arrival of the PCs. They were alerted via scroll that said the contents of the dome (actually a prismatic sphere) would be exchanged for a black rock that they would cut into one of the greatest gems ever known. It would take them a lifetime to cut it but lust and greed overcame them and they cut off all contact to their kin and waited. Now the PCs come with the stone and their long wait is nearly over. Their long waiting has turned them slightly evil and with a penchant for avarice.

Deep Gnomes and their whacky machinery
Kagu-svirfnebil have a small, but well kept lair and have made some interesting monsters, the Maschin-I-Bozorgs which are basically Da Vinci style tanks set in fantasy world. In all I like them, I'm just not crazy about the name. They can be quite effective given the levels of the PCs in this adventure and with their number and the gnomes milling around it should be obvious to the PCs that a parley is in their best interest.

Assuming the PCs agree the gnomes will honor their word the gnomes and will take the PCs to the "shimmering dome", the star-rock is required to collapse the dome. Despite their alignment they will without fail hand over the star. They cannot be fooled and will know the true rock should the PCs try any subterfuge. Once they rock the PCs will be escorted to the same area where negotiations began. Once they are their the gnomes retreat closing a thick door behind them and setting off tehir machines to bar the PCs from coming after them. They PCs might think the whole edifice is collapsing and the DM should not dissuaded them as only the areas past K6 are damaged as the deep gnomes make good their escape.

But all is not done in order to get the books back to Shalfey the PCs must get past a pair of sub-adult red dragons. This encounter could be very deadly as the two youngish red dragons  show up once the kagu-svirfnebil's workshop self destructs; alerted to the rumblings in teh mountain they wing out to investigate. Granted they are small, but the party might be exiting the rumbling workshop in a hurry with the deep gnomes sabotaging their equipment. They might be at less then full hit points which means multiple breath weapons is going to easily slay the PCs. If run in 2nd edition AD&D these two dragons could be a TPK if the PCs fight rather then parley. A young adult (closest in size to fiest edition in my opinion) does 10d10+5 for ist breath weapon, and one breating every other round? I doubt any group of 6-10 adventurers levels 3-5 can withstand that.

Once the dragons are cleared its off to Shalfey and their rewards for hauling back the books and the adventurer concludes. But a crafty DM can apply many of the hooks left in the module: what are the derro doing in teh area? What happens when the gnomes carve the gem? Perhaps the derro want it for one of their crazy machines as in one of Richard Shaver's stories. What about Sion the Shade? If he wasn't slain he can appear and reappear to annoy and harass the PCs later on. There is also the potential for using Derwyth and Shalfey as reoccurring NPCs. Shalfey is old and is likely to have many contacts in the kingdom/land where the tower is situated. The place is a repository of lore and prophecy, adventure hooks via the tower can be easily planted. Suffice of to say there is plenty of ways to utilize the material given later on.

Some final thoughts

  • There are only two real quibbles and they are minor: the minimals! ugh, I'm not a fan of these guys. Each of the two times I've run the adventure I've skipped the minimals. To me this is no great loss and I didn't even have to think twice about it. If I were to run it again I'd perhaps use the gibberlings as an ambush force, but that's about it.
  • The second quibble is I've never liked the names of the sages other then Shalfey. This is probably more personal preference then anything else.  Maschin-I-Bozorg? Huh, what the hell is that???
  • Throughout, the random encounters really fit the feel of the module.  It very much feels as if one were in an enchanted land with the right balance of animals and monsters. As I noted up post the vast majority of the UK series reflects this.
  • A good tie in adventure for this module is Cloudkill in Dungeon #79. It can be used after this module for another link to derro activity in the surrounding lands. Perhaps they are from the same city as the derro in the module, perhaps from a rival savant?
  • If the PCs search area K8 there is the potential for staggering amount of money, to the tune of 10,000 gps. This coupled with the large for low levels horde in the red dragons lair represents a staggering amount of treasure. It maybe more then some DMs want in their game at this level so be warned.
  • The use of red dragons at the end as the PCs are hauling...books. The breath weapons of the red dragons could pose a serious risk to the adventurers cargo... something to consider if they don't.

Any way you slice it, this module is hands down great. No matter which scale one uses it gets 5 out of 5 stars or 10 out of 10, yep its that good. 

(Ironically, as I write this about my favorite AD&D module ever, one of my most treasured... I cant find my copy at all. So it looks like its off to VultureBay to find another. If it holds true to form prices will spike just as I go to buy one).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Yee-haw those Doggies are elusive!"

Not what this blog post is about...
"Get this Wagon Train a moving!" Hah, you thought this was going to be a western post, didn't you?

How about that? Combining a western phrase "Get on little doggies!" like an Old West cowboy when actually referring to the Temple Dog minis from 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle, I've had them on my radar for a number of years and back when we played 3rd edition I used a GW manticore sans wings to simulate one for my Dark Elf army. Game-wise they were fluffy, but as a war beast they were decidedly mediocre. The problem is the same with almost any other war beast or large models like giants: they attract an inordinate amount of artillery and magic. With a Toughness of 5 Temple Dogs usually dumped their ride very quickly. The problem I've always had is they are stone, they are divine powered and they fall over in a stiff breeze.

"I look fierce but crumble like blue cheese!"
As Cianty over at his blog noted, here is the flavor text from Warhammer Armies:
"Temple Dogs are stone statues found guarding temple entrances in the lands of Nippon and Cathay. They resemble nothing so much as a cross between a giant pekinese and a lion. In times of war, the power of the temple gods is channeled into these statues to animate them. It is a great honour to mount this divine animal, indicating that the rider has found great favour with the gods."

(Warhammer Armies, page 26, 1991)

Sounds like they should be made of sterner stuff.

As I move along in fits and starts on my Nippon army I've come around to the conclusion I'm highly unlikely if ever going to play my Nippon Army as anything other then a third edition one. That ;eaves me with the open endedness of being able to model the army however I want.

The temple dog was pretty much the same in each iteration (as near as I can tell as I've never actually seen one) and came with one of three different riders. The part I really like? I like the temple dog's tongue is hanging out just like a real dog. My previous golden retriever Teddy who passed away always did that... Each had a plastic spear/lance that was fairly common with models back then and the hand was molded to the spear. From the look of it they are on 40x40mm bases.

The three riders are as follows:
  • A samurai rider- the one I'm most interested in, three in particular would be good...
  • A hobgoblin rider- could be useful to me particularly since I have two full units of 2nd and 3rd edition hobgoblin infantry.
  • A Dark Elf Rider, least interest. As I pointed out this would of been useful back in the day.
As a side tangent: I've been searching eBay and they pop up now and again, but remains elusive. The maxim of eBay is playing out here: "be patient and don't overpay." I've been known to rail against insane eBay price gouging, another good indication of relative worth as it relates to inflation. If we use the sale price listed and convert it to US dollars it was about $3.28 in 1991. In today's dollars its $5.74, a 75% increase when one counts for inflation. Often I've seen these in the neighborhood of $40-50 O_O that's insane. Sure any item on eBay is what the market will bear, but that sure is some markup!

An noted above, a great example of this excellent model is here from Cianty over one of the luminaries of Bordertown Burning. We interview him for Issue #1 of the Word of Hashut waaaaay back in 2008. Its more Kung-Fu inspired where I'm working more for a Nippon inspired theme. Either way its pretty cool.

In the end this has been one of the more challenging models to find. Its not super rare but I don't really ever recall seeing it here in the US shops I frequented.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, August 1, 2014

Poker, Chess and Breaking the game with Monty Haul

While the later editions suffer from "builds" when players think about characters, the earlier editions are not immune to their share of munchkinism. In fact, if one looks at just the Player's Handbook in 1st edition its easy to break the game, using the Unearthed Arcana it gets even easier. It bears repeating, although its tougher to do with just the PHB in 1st it can be done. Enter the Monty Haul aspects of the game. I don't beleive that Gary intentionally did this, after all I truly believe the game grew organically and fast.  I also think how he played was much more high powered then those that consider themselves "Gygaxian".

2nd edition avoids this to a degree in my opinion as one of the prime areas for abuse in 1st, weapon specialization is toned way, way down. This is not to say combat can't be broken, fighting with two weapons anyone, and then specialized?  (Of which there are ways to tone this down too). Point being   that 1st is open to more abuse in my opinion. So in a round about sort of way what I'm saying is that the cat was really let out of the bag even with 1st edition. The later editions *cough* 3rd *cough* really drove it home.

So without further delay here is breaking the game 1st edition style lifted from my response at dragonsfoot. The point of this exercise is that with some "creative thinking" the power curve is already bent/broken at the mid levels of the game.  

"Now swap that sword for a warhammer????"
Rules: 100,000 Xps for each character. 6 characters and no race or class can repeat (the original OP on Dragonsfoot said five characters, but in true munchkin fashion I ignored that limitation). Here was my stab at it, not meant to be the best, but certainly in consideration for munchkinism. Dual classed and multi-classed are ok when the limitation of no class repeated is considered.

Half Ogre, 7th level Fighter (Dragon #29/73)
Only single class in the lineup. Forget the duelist; of any of the NPC races/classes from Dragon that people think are uber-munch, this is it hands down. High possibility of an 18/00 strength (check the rules) double specialized in bastard sword (which he can use one handed) and attacks 2/1. He is attacking at +5/+9 with that sword before factoring in any magical items. Read that again, that's 4d4+9/4d8+9 before any magical items... This brute also starts at 2d10 for hit dice at 1st level, so just like the ranger, but better. This is of course coupled with his natural con of 18. He skips missile weapons for the most part, but when needed throws spears, but due to his high elf buddy below doesn't really need to. Damage reduction of the full plate is a nice boon and iff magical even better.

Even without magic he is encased in full plate armor and can wield a shield, of course by this level he has several magical options. Ring of fire resistance is standard as it allows him to confront a red dragon, head on... or tool him up with a girdle of giant strength, of course its the storm giant variety. Probably has the best magical shield in the group too, say +2/ or +5. Boots and cloak of elvenkind (which are fairly common magical items) negate the full plate penalties.

For added fun consider: if this were not enough, half ogres can also be clerics. Rather then "waste" nearly 30,000 XPs towards fighter (in this scenario) that would still leave him a7th level fighter; re-purpose them to a multi-class. Half Ogres  can be clerics but their spell casting is only average even with a 12 wisdom, but he's likely the last resort cleric or healing himself only. He can still use edged weapons as multi-class clerics are allowed to or use the above mentioned hammer/girdle/gauntlets combo. It will impact his hit points some, but it might not be worth the consideration.

Gray Elf 6th level Druid/ 5th level Ranger/ 5th level Magic User
(per Gary's errata in Dragon #96)
Ranger is included for no other reason then to be specialized in longbow in
order gun down enemies with a frightening rapidity (1). 19 dex + elven
bonus for bows + abilities for specialization and oh, fires 3/1 and each
arrow in point blank that does 6-16 points of damage before factoring
magical arrows and weapons he's sure to have. If anything is caught in
it's "reaper zone" (trademark- pending) that's 18-48 points of damage
per round. Further he wields a bow that allows him to gain his natural
strength bonus up to 18/90 range; and if still not enough he gets to fire one more arrows prior to initiative making that 4 arrows in a single round. Hit points are pumped up due to his ranger class adding 2d8 hit dice to the mix at 1st. Throw in a bow built for his 18/90 strength and skip the
magical bows? Between him and the half ogre they might kill a red dragon in a single round by themselves.

Because his hit points are pretty good can be the 3rd or 4th line fighter. Could go toe-to-toe with bigger baddies when needed by fighting long sword and hand axe (short sword makes more sense) and with his dex he can pull it off. Pile in his animal helpers who are subject to the senior druid's animal growth spells.

Wears magical leather armor  or bracers to preserve his stealth abilities as an elf. Sits back and takes out targets of opportunity. Can also cast as needed. He is the junior druid to the dual classed one below and his animal followers bulk out the party. Later levels will start granting additional magic user and druid spells. That leaves him with the potential for unlimited druid, 18th level magic user and 14th level ranger.

For other magical equipment the poorly worded quiver of Elhonna (2) is a must. If you really want to make it "worse" make him a Archer-Ranger from Dragon #45 (shudder). Oh and he can cast druid and magic user spells...

(1) and (2), yes I know there is errata for both, but we can skip that little bit.

Dual classed Human, 1st level Fighter/9th level Druid

That's not a typo, the druid drop kicks everything's ass in 1st edition. Read "Underestimating druids (is a bad practice) in Dragon #119 until it sinks in. A revelation happened in this thread when
people realized that animal growth is one of the most bad ass spells a druid can cast. Couple this with the fact that he double specialized in scimitar at first level when he was a fighter. When really in trouble, dual wields with a flame blade spell in the off hand. I see no issue with this in munch-land as its not actually a weapon, its magical flame! Probably has the group's bracers of defense.

He is the 2nd line fighter and with animal growth on his furry companions of his traveling zoo complements the ogre in the melee and possibly outshines him in hand-to-hand, which is no small feat. Also as a dual classed fighter he gets access to % strength. Spell casting outpaces both cleric and magic user at this XP level as he has access to 5th level spells.

Half Orc 6th level Cleric / 6th level Assassin
Arrrrgh, 1 XP away from 7th level assassin! In true munchkin fashion I'd bump him one more XP and behold, 7th level assassin! 18 strength is a natural here as is a 19 con. He gets included due to being not being able to duplicate races per the rules, still he is a viable character for the roster. Hit points might be impacted here due to the multi classing but with the half orc and the druid and his pets he doesnt have to go toe to toe with foes often.

Backstab from this guy would cut most things in half as its not explicitly stated that a fighter/thief is limited to weapons on a backstab... Since he doesn't have access to weapon specialization he uses a two-handed sword and runs around in magical studded leather armor. Don't like the cleric combo? Add fighter instead and he does gain access to specialization! Backstab with a magical, poisoned,
two handed sword of night lives stealing (or sharpness); if figther, double specialized? Yes please! For the math a two-handed sword is: 1d10 +4 to hit/+5 to damage (with an 18 strength). Back-stab would then be 1d10x2+9, plus poison, plus any magical bonuses... at mid levels that's nothing to sneeze at. One more assassin level means bakstab at x3.

If people are going to be really "sticky" on this then go with long sword instead or some such or convert to fighter/thief, plus ring of invisibility and boots of elven kind. He also has assassination abilities and can provide the party with thief skills.

The limitation of 14 wisdom means that one of the wishes off of the party's ring of wishes might be allocated to raising it to 16... In any event his cleric spell casting is the last resort with the druid and the drow's casting being better. If the half ogre is dual classed these two equal one whole caster in my opinion.

Dark elf female 6th level Cleric/5th level Cavalier/ 5th level Magic User
Packed with innate magical abilities, superior infravision and the ability to fight with two weapons at no penalty, this is a fearsome combo. Here horseman’s maces (magical of course) will work well, but consider magical long swords abound in the game and Dungeon Masters Guide so have at it. She wears full plate armor for protection (remember the damage reduction) and still casts magic user spells and can wield a shield as needed.

Has  a wide variety of weapon abilities and immunities to spells, mind
effecting spells, bonuses to weapons like longsword, lance (a few death lances from the vault?) and horseman's mace, etc. Oh and can increase her strength, dex and con.

Her steed at 4th level is some sort of gigantic spider of course (no namby-pamby unicorn riders here). Then add in clerical and magic user spell casting to good effect. She probably has a retinue of undead fodder following her around via animate dead.

Of course if the party gets girdle of giant strength of some sort or gauntlets (unless the went to the half ogre above); she gets them as the other PCs all have very high strength scores; barring that gloves of missile snaring. Poisoned weapons go without saying here.

Deep Gnome 6th level Illusionist/ 6th level Assassin
Double AARRRRGGGH 1 Xp away again for 7th level assassin! However I'd say apply the "fix" outlined for the half orc above and he has 1 more XP, boom 7th level assassin. The deep gnome
special abilities really push this over the top even at mid levels: camouflage, bonuses to saves, spell abilities, etc.

Assassination abilities and poison are another benefit here along with minor thief skills to back up the half orc and hopefully catch anything that was missed. He can scout with the ranger/druid/mu listed above with spells at his disposal, especially bending the curve with the vague phantasmal force... In a way he is the "utility infielder" of the group: jack of all trades, master of none.

Has access to weapons such as dagger+2, Longtooth and bracers of archery to provide a secondary archer for the group; shortbow+3 and a few choice arrows of slaying. Since he  is not part fighter and can't have specialization he fights withshort sword and dagger both of which are envenomed as mentioned above. 

  • Spellcasting- In short this setup has overall spell casting down pat: Magic User class on two of
    the characters, illusionist on one, clerical on two (potentially three), druidic spell casting
    on two. That's a tremendous amount of raw magical power at mid levels. Consider, two characters hurling 5d6 fireballs... the 9th level druid has access to spells like animal growth, insect plague, wall of fire, transmute rock to mud... The magic users probably have multiple scrolls with dispel magic. Magic User spells might be a bit weak, but at this XP level druids are far batter anyway. An  overlooked part is with the druids rapid rise their spell casting which is superior to the clerics so their healing is just as good as the drow  female.
  • Melee- Both of the main fighters are extreme examples and complement the other, one melee, one missile and if the half ogre goes the hammer route, both. The druid/ranger/magic user fires his bow while the half ogre closes to melee. The druid gets specialization too since he is dual classed and overall three of the characters are specialized; the dark elf getting weapons of choice due to her cavalier class. Between the characters two of them have assassination abilities, two with back-stab and three of the characters are using poison regularly; I could see the case made for all of them, the half ogre hurling poisoned spears? Three or possibly four are attacking with two weapons when it comes down to melee. When it gets rough the dual classed druids animal growth spells on his and the druid/ranger/mu animal companions can get nasty.
  • Stealth- This group will be tough to surprise (the druid/ranger/mu) and has a good stealth capability. Notice I didn't go too overboard with some of the items. Boots and cloaks of elven kind aren't artifacts after-all and in this party coupled with the natural stealth nature of
    the members? When needed they can sneak around just fine and the gnome
    thief/illusionist is there to help further. The druid/ranger/mu, thief/illusionist or the half orc cleric/assassin can all play the role of scouts. The half orc in particular can mow down opposition with a well placed back-stab or assassination, he is rarely if ever in the front line fighting it out but waiting for the right time then BAM!!!
  • Mundane- when considering munchkinism don't neglect the mundane: the longbow is the best missile weapon in the game doing 1d6 points of damage per arrow, but its RoF of 2/1 makes it even better. Looking at this group there are four characters that have potential access to this weapon with one specialized in it. That means the half ogre, dual classed druid/fighter and half orc can fire six shots a round. Damage is 6-36 or the equivalent of a wand of fireballs. Now add in 3 or 4 shots from the specialized archer? That's ten arrows in a round. For further fun this might actually be a use for flame arrow which might be one of the worst spells in 1st edition, but in this context? Gives the drow something to do while polishing her nails. If that doesn't work, all of them firing poison arrows instead? Oh and the gnome can use a short bow boosting this to 12 arrows in a single round. While not quite as bad as 3rd edition build malarkey for archers this is nothing to scoff at.
Another advantage that might not be readily noticeable is that this group is redundant in almost every area. There is at least one other character that can back up the other. This also means that in a lot of cases there is a good degree of success should say one of the assassins fail to unlock a chest, find a trap, etc.

The only alignment issue is the druid/ranger/magic user, but make him CG with CN tendencies and everything works out.  I know Dragon #100 says theyhave to be Neutral Good, but we will fudge that a bit too.

An interesting bit is no dwarfs or halflings need apply for this group; nor do thief-acrobat, paladin,
single class thief, barbarian or monk. Bard is the odd man out as he would be next off the bench in IMHO. If anyone gets replaced its probably the half orc with the bard. The lack of a single class thief
really points out there is no real need for them as the assassins and the clerics can take care of  this role.

Magic items are modest and nothing that a band of 6-7th level PCs wouldn't have access to... well with a bit of stretching here or there.  ;)

So there you have it, pretty easy to get a munckin build in 1st edition AD&D, its simply easier in 3rd and 3.5.

How about your munchkin party(ies), lets hear them.