Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hyperbarbaria: Rangers of the Skallic Lodge

Yesterday, I finished off banging out the print run of Metal Gods #1 for GaryCon as well as a super-secret surprise from Mr. +Wayne Snyder that I'm printing for the event (and maybe more stuff, later), which means that today, I'm left with just the few around-the-house chores I have to get done before the lovely wife and I head off to Lake Geneva, which means that I'll gladly procrastinate to bring you some new craziness from my brain. Today, I finally get around to presenting the version of the ranger that +Shane Jones plays in my Delving Deeper game, Hyperbarbaria. In short, the Rangers of the Skallic Lodge are an ancient fraternity that haunts the fringes of Hyperbarbaria to hunt not men or orcs (hard to hunt orcs when there aren't any in settings I run), but to exterminate Things That Should Not Be. 

In the old days, when Ur-Hadad was firmly in the grasp of the Elder Races and Man little better than a favored pet, the touch of the Elder Races was largely unknown in the reaches of Hyperbarbaria. Raiding parties of elves or serpent men would occasionally hunt for slaves here, and gave the human tribes of the region good reason to band together. Just as the first fiefdoms and nations began to coalesce in the wild steppe, the Skalls struck.

The tall, raven-haired, muscular Skallic people descended upon Hyperbarbaria from the east, scaling the faces of the mountains there and catching the nascent Hyperbarbarians off guard. The leaders of the Skalls had promised their warriors and raiders new lands to plunder and blood to spill and so the Skalls had gladly come to this unknown land. The feast for their blades and appetites intoxicated a people bent on destruction, and soon little was left of the peoples who had been there before the Skalls.

Never before had the Skalls found so much to slaughter and so much to take as they had in Hyperbarbaria, and, as such, the land began to enter their religious consciousness as a sort of holy promised land, shown them by their grim mountain gods that they may take from it as they saw fit. Though the Skalls moved on from this holy land in search of new places to raid, Hyperbarbaria would remain entrenched in the people's psyche as a paradise on Ore, an earthly reward for following the gods' edicts where one might slaughter and raid with impunity.

Ages past, and Man came back to Hyperbarbaria, often to escape the Elder Races, often to escape the Skalls, but most often because so few competitors existed in the now-bleak landscape left in the Skalls' wake. Again, tribes burgeoned, grew into fiefdoms and those fiefdoms became small nations. Though the high plains' resources were much diminished, the peoples of Hyperbarbaria built anew and managed to thrive. The lessons of Skall had been learned and learned well. When the Elder Races came to raid for slaves, they found rough going here, and thus Hyperbarbaric slaves became highly prized as warriors or household guards, leading to a new series of wars against Elder Race slavers.

It was then that The Mountain came. Thrust up from the bowels of Ore, The Mountain jutted out of the earth like a broken bone through skin. Announced by weeks worth of earthquakes, The Mountain's coming on the northern border of the territory was little surprise but no small mystery. The men who approached her returned with villainous, sorcerous powers and so each chieftan and noble sent men from his court to bring such power back, the better to fight the Elder Races with. A black cancer ate at the souls of these men, filling them with power, yes, but at the price of corrupting them entirely. When the Elder Races took up raiding the Hyperbarbarians again, it was against a people fractured by warring sorcerer-kings who had usurped their previous rulers and claimed dominion; the Elders' Mountain had done its job.

When word reached the Skalls that their holy land had been corrupted by sorcery and overrun by Elder slavers, the shamans of the Stag-Headed God, the priests of the God of Black Skies and dirge-singers of the God Under the Mountain all called for righteous holy war. This, they claimed, was the task that the gods had set before them: that they should earn their right to their paradise by cleansing it of the foulness that tainted it. Clan after clan of Skalls joined the crusade and soon the steppe was awash in blood. As the crusade wore on, both sides committed atrocities: the Skalls of violence and holocaust, The Mountain's sorcerers of the spirit and soul.

In the end, The Mountain's sorcerers were slain to a man, but so too were the Skalls decimated. Too few Skalls remained to enforce their claim to the holy land, and so they were driven off, but before the Skalls departed, they left behind a small host. The shamans of the Stag-Headed God charged the host to hunt down The Mountain's corruption, should it rise again, and sacrifice their own lives to protect the world from it, should such be needed. The God Under the Mountain's dirge-singers taught them the songs of stoicism and epics of endurance. The priests of the God of Black Skies entrusted them with the task of immolating any corruption, that it might cauterize the wound wrought upon the world. Thus was the Skallic Lodge built, a fraternity of men and women devoted to keeping Hyperbarbaria free from the bleak influences of The Mountain.

The Rangers of the Skallic Lodge

Rangers of the Skallic Lodge are trackers, wardens of the wild places of Hyperbarbaria and remorseless hunters of the vile abominations of The Mountain. These rangers spend the vast bulk of their time in the wilderness, scouting for signs of corruption before they may take root in more civilized lands; thus, they are trained in a wide array of survival techniques, fighting styles and wilderness skills that would support prolonged activity outside of Man's normal dominion. Though they may use any weapon, these rangers are limited to leather or chain mail armor to preserve mobility and stealth. In order to become a ranger, a character must be Lawful in alignment and posses a minimum of 10 Strength, 10 Intelligence, 10 Dexterity, 10 Wisdom and 13 Constitution. Rangers may use any fighting style and save as a fighter of the same level. At higher levels, rangers gain the ability to cast a limited number of spells (see below).

Rangers gain more experience for defeating creatures than normal; increase such awards by 25%. By the same token, rangers gain less experience for accumulating treasure; reduce such awards by 25%. Further, rangers may not gain additional experience from a high prime requisite and carousing yields 50% the normal experience gain. A ranger may not own any treasure that he cannot carry with him until he is of 9th level (name level) and establishes his own Lodge.

Each ranger of the Skallic Lodge learns the Skallic tongue in addition to any other language he or she may know. The brothers and sisters of the Lodge use this tongue as a secret form of communication due to its current rarity in Hyperbarbaria.

In the wilderness, rangers are very difficult to surprise and are thus only surprised on a roll of "1." Similarly, they are quite stealthy and may ambush foes in a natural setting, improving the chance to surprise them by 1 (to 3-in-6). A ranger may move silently and hide in natural settings like a thief. The ranger cannot use any of these abilities in settlements or dungeon settings. Rangers always have the ability to follow tracks and does so on a roll of 3 or better on a d6.

Rangers of the Skallic Lodge are skilled in fighting the horrors wrought by The Mountain and, as such, gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage against beastmen and all monsters whose origin can be traced to The Mountain. These rangers may also unerringly identify all breeds of beast men and most horrors.

Casting their nets as wide as possible, so as not to miss any signs of The Mountain's corruption, a ranger of the Skallic Lodge may not work with more than one of his brothers or sisters. Nor may rangers hire any henchmen or mercenaries, lest they impede his sacred duty to the holy land of Hyperbarbaria. At 8th level, these restrictions are lifted and the ranger begins to attract followers for his own Lodge.

Also at 8th level, the ranger gains the ability to cast a small number of spells. The ranger will gain druidic (or clerical if your game does not have druids) and magic-user spells according to the chart below.

At 9th level, the ranger may found his own Lodge (really a branch of the existing Skallic Lodge), protecting a wilderness area as its warden.

                                                                                         Druid       Magic-User                                  
Level                 Experience                     HD               1st 2nd 3rd  | 1st 2nd 3rd
1                                0                             2
2                             2500                          3
3                             5000                          4
4                           12,000                         5
5                           25,000                         6
6                           50,000                         7
7                          100,000                        8
8                          175,000                        9                  1
9                          275,000                       10                 1                   1
10                        550,000                       10+2             2     1            1
11                        825,000                       10+4             2     1            2     1
12                      1,100,000                      10+6             3     2    1      2     1
13                      1,375,000                      10+8             3     2    1      3     2    1

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Different Kind of 1e

Howdy folks. Despite my self-imposed half-exile from the blogosphere for a few weeks while I sort out the next issue of Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, I thought I'd drop in to give you a bit of a progress update. Things are coming along nicely and if I didn't know better, I'd say I was nearly ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, I know better, so I'm not about to make pronouncements that my ass can't cash. Now there's a finely-blended metaphor for you.

However, I can't let well enough alone, so here's an idea that I've been thinking about since I heard it. I'm pretty sure it was +Jerry Durante who first suggested this, but here's a thought that makes an awful lot of sense to me:

Any adventurer should be able to do anything that a Boy Scout can.

That makes sense. All adventurers are expected to tromp across various wildernesses and spend ridiculous amounts of time with limited supplies in cramped and dangerous underground crazy places. One might begin to expect a certain degree of competence at general sorts of useful things just to survive such experiences. You just might. I know I do.

So, I started to think about exactly what it is that Boy Scouts get trained to do. I myself never got past Webelos (which is kind of a shame; I dig all the stuff the Boy Scouts do, just not some of the core tenets or failures in leadership that the organization has experienced), and it's on its way to three decades since those days for me, so it's time to hit the books for some research.

And for our research, I decided that it's best to go for the original. Yes, just as we old-schoolers love to consult 1e or OD&D (or some iteration of Basic) as the ursprung of all knowledge, I've decided that it's best to head back to 1911 for the Boy Scout Handbook's own 1e. Really, the reason I went back this far is I wasn't really sure where I should stop. Is there a definitive edition? Is there a preferred one? Rather than start a completely different set of edition wars, I figure it's safe to just crack the pages of the first edition.

According to the 1e Handbook, there are three ranks of Boy Scout: Life Scout, Star Scout and Eagle Scout. Attaining a new rank is a function of earning enough qualifying Merit Badges, which are a sort of certification (expressed in the form of a patch given to the person who earns it that is worn on his uniform) expressing a degree of competence or proficiency in a particular field. I'm not sure if this overall Life/Star/Eagle Scout structure is still in effect (I presume there are still Eagle Scouts, what with that idea still being firmly within the public consciousness).

To attain the rank of Life Scout, a scout is expected to earn the following five Merit Badges: first aid, athletics, life-saving, personal health and public health. The Star Scout  rank is gained by accomplishing an additional five Merit Badges, and the reason that we as lay people recognize the Eagle Scout as a thing is that the Eagle Scout earns at least 21 Merit Badges in order to be called that. Some of the skills that you can earn Merit Badges for -- even in 1911 -- aren't exactly applicable to your typical D&D setting, but let's take a look at the rest of the badges and what sort of proficiency they imply. (I'll list all the badges, but put the ones that I don't think would apply in most settings in [brackets].)
  1. Agriculture - You know how to plant and cultivate crops and have done so.
  2. Angling - You have caught at least ten different species of fish and can make your own tackle if needed.
  3. Archery - You know how to make your own bow & arrows, meet certain accuracy benchmarks and can "shoot so far and fast as to have six arrows in the air at once." 
  4. Architecture - You can design unique plans for a building, have done so, and understand the history of architecture.
  5. Art - You have demonstrated your ability to create original artistic works and re-create classic ones
  6. Astronomy - You have demonstrable knowledge of the heavenly bodies and their movements
  7. Athletics - Not merely physical competence, but also the ability to enact and articulate methods of training for such
  8. [Automobiling - I love that this is called "automobiling."]
  9. [Aviation]
  10. Bee Farming - You have practical knowledge of apiculture and probably know more than I thought there was to know about honey
  11. Blacksmithing - You know how to use a forge, shoe a horse with shoes you made and can temper iron & steel.
  12. Bugling - Yup. You can bugle the generally accepted traditional bugle calls. 
  13. Business - You know the principles of buying and selling, can do bookkeeping and even understand a thing or two about finance.
  14. Camping - You've spent at least 50 nights outdoors, can set up a campsite with adequate latrines and even build your own raft.
  15. Carpentry - You know how to use a variety of wood working tools correctly and have made your own furniture.
  16. [Chemistry - You might able to shift this one to alchemy in some regards.]
  17. Civics - You know how your government works, which is a bigger deal than it sounds. Interestingly enough, the original version of the badge prominently features a fasces, which, about twenty years later, would become infamous due to its association with Moussolini's Fascist party. The more you know, am I right?
  18. Conservation - This badge represents knowledge of the natural resources in your environment and best practices to ensure their long-term sustainability.
  19. Cooking - You have proven your ability to build a fire and fireplace (!) and to cook beyond basic proficiency in the open.
  20. Craftsmanship - You have planned and built an article of furniture
  21. [Cycling]
  22. Dairying - You can manage cattle, milk them and have managed at least five cows for ten days each.
  23. [Electricity]
  24. Firemanship - All that cool stuff that firemen get to do.
  25. First Aid - How to treat basic injuries and illnesses, and even some basic poison identification and rudimentary resuscitation techniques.
  26. First Aid To Animals: You can identify and treat common illnesses and injuries to animals.
  27. Forestry - You can identify different trees and shrubs and know what they can be used for.
  28. Gardening - You can identify, care for and have practical experience with growing vegetables and flowers.
  29. Handicraft - You can repair and make various household features and items. 
  30. Horsemanship - More than just riding a horse, you can also care for them and determine health and value.
  31. Interpreting - You can conversationally read and write another language and have done some translation work.
  32. [Invention - You might be able to make this one make sense, but it's not very likely.]
  33. Leatherworking - You can tan & cure leather as well as repair and make basic leather goods.
  34. Life Saving - You can swim and have basic knowledge on how to save drowning people.
  35. [Machinery] 
  36. [Marksmanship - Applies to rifles.]
  37. Masonry - You know how to use stoneworking tools and have done so to make a stone oven and at least one wall. 
  38. Mining - You have an understanding of geology and methods used in mining.
  39. Music - You can read and play music on at least on instrument.
  40. Ornithology - You can identify birds and their nesting and other behaviors.
  41. Painting - You can make your own paints and use them as well as other basic finishing skills.
  42. Pathfinding - You know your surroundings and can map them.
  43. Personal Health - Yep. You know how to eat healthily and take care of yourself. 
  44. [Photography]
  45. Pioneering - You can tie knots, fell trees and build basic structures. 
  46. [Plumbing]
  47. Poultry Farming - Chickens! You have raised, cared for killed and dressed them.
  48. [Printing]
  49. Public Health - You understand how diseases are spread and effective methods for containing them and promoting the public health. 
  50. Sculpture - You have demonstrated your ability to create models from nature and re-create other designs.
  51. Seamanship - You can work rope, navigate and work a boat. 
  52. Signalling - Semaphore, Morse code and other methods of transferring information. Smoke signals? That'd be cool.
  53. Stalking - Not as creepy as it sounds, more like basic hunting but without actually killing anything. Think Marty Stouffer. 
  54. Surveying - You can measure topography and geographical features and make accurate maps. 
  55. Swimming - You're pretty darn good at swimming.
  56. Taxidermy - Preferably not the creepy kind. Is there a not creepy kind?
So there you have it. That's the list of Merit Badges from the very first edition of the Boy Scout Handbook. Obviously not every adventurer is going to know how to do everything on this list, nor should every PC have a list of the Merit Badges he or she has. Rather, it should illustrate that adventurers should have an awful lot of knowledge about a lot of different stuff. You and I aren't adventurers (as far as I know), and while we might not have the specific sorts of knowledge mentioned here, our characters will need all sorts of crazy and off-the-wall knowledge (as well as some practical stuff, too) just to get by. The list of Merit Badges above is all stuff kids can master, so why would it be hard to believe that your PC can as well?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Probably A Slow Month In Kickassistan

Well, folks, I'm not going to beat around the bush: March is probably going to be a pretty slow month here in Kickassistan. There are a few good reasons for this:

First, March is the month where I spend all of my free time getting Issue #2 of the Metal Gods zine together. For this one, I'll be writing the adventure tool kit, "Secrets of the Serpent Moon," which some folks at the Goodman Games meetup at last year's GenCon got a preview of. +Edgar Johnson just got his writing assignment from me yesterday; he'll be providing some context to the Metal Gods setting by giving an overview of the Elder Races who once held man in slavery. As always, +Wayne Snyder will be rocking out amazing art and another "Dungeon Insert." All in all, it's shaping up to be just as great as issue one.

Second, I'm changing jobs. I don't talk much my real life here, but I'm ending an eight-year tenure with a fairly large company to take up arms with a small business where I feel I can do some serious good. It's looking to be a good fit for me, but it's a bit scary to walk away from eight years of a job I know. So, I'm sure there will be some adjustment. Don't hold it against me.

Third, I'll be putting together a new adventure for GenCon this year. I've never actually run any official, on-the-grid sessions at GenCon, but I'm biting the bullet this year. I plan on running one session of my "To Catch A Fallen Star" funnel adventure, but I plan on trotting out something new this year, too, which should show up first at MichiCon for playtesting (watch out +R.J. Thompson!).

So, I'll be kind of busy this month, without as much time for the blog as I'd like to have. With all the work I've got on my plate, I am of course coming up with tons of projects that feel that they just *HAVE* to get worked on. Today, in a conversation with +Jason Hobbs+Ray Case & +Donn Stroud, I made up a mash-up game that I spent way too much of the evening thinking about and now feel like I've got to write something about. This is how all the intentions to get work done will go awry...

One last thing before I go. I don't do a lot of pimping for crowdfunding campaigns, but I thought it couldn't possibly do any harm to mention that my lovely wife +Kathryn Muszkiewicz has launched an IndieGoGo campaign for her side business where she makes and sells strange and funky buttons. If you're interested in acquiring some distinct and unusual buttons (they call them the "Wearable Weird"), check out her campaign here:

I'm sure by planning to not post much, I'll end up posting more than I think I will.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Warlock Week, Day Seven: Dungeons & Beavers And Uncle Gary

Before I go any further, I'd like to recognize the efforts of both +Zach H (Zenopus himself) & Mr. +Jason Zavoda, without both of whom, this post would not have been possible. Zach helped me parse out exactly which issue of The Strategic Review Gygax talks about Warlock in and Jason reproduced Gary's long letters Alarums & Excursions from 1975 where Uncle Gary expresses two completely different opinions about games like Warlock. Further, I'd like to thank +Tony Rowe for pointing out Gygax's Roleplaying Mastery as another source of the varied opinions of Mr. E. Gary Gygax, many of which are incompatible with each other.

[As an editorial aside, this post has been difficult to write, for a few reasons. (A) Uncle Gary had a tendency to contradict himself, so it can be difficult to create a cohesive picture from the things he wrote. (B) We as gamers tend to think incredibly well of Uncle Gary -- which is his due -- and have a hard time admitting that he was anything short of infallible, and intimating otherwise especially during the week of March 4th is kind of tacky. Also (C), his views might have changed over time, but I make a few suppositions as to why this was that I don't have much evidence for and what evidence I have is largely circumstantial.]

Exhibit One: Gary Wants You To Have Fun Your Way

Uncle Gary wrote the following in Alarums & Excursions #2 back in July, 1975.
I desire variance in interpretation and, as long as I am editor of the TSR line and its magazine, I will do my utmost to see that there is as little trend towards standardization as possible. Each campaign should be a "variant", and there is no "official interpretation" from me or anyone else. If a game of "Dungeons and Beavers" suits a group, all I say is more power to them, for every fine referee runs his own variant of D&D anyway.
 This seems pretty clear-cut, doesn't it? But wait, there's more.
We allow magic-users to employ the number of spells shown on the table, so a 1st level m-u gets exactly one 1st level spell to use once before he must go back to his books and prepare to use the spell once again -- or a spell once again. To allow unlimited use of the spell is to make the m-u's too powerful. There is a better solution, of course; one I have been aware of since the first. That is to utilize a point system based on the m-u's basic abilities and his or her level. Spell cost is then taken as a function of the spell and the circumstances in which it is cast and possibly how much force is put into the spell. All that would have required a great deal of space and been far more complex to handle, so I opted for the simple solution.
So, in an ideal world, where page count wasn't an issue and the basics of rpgs had already been tread and additional complexity could be borne out, Uncle Gary himself would have considered using a spell point system.

Every campaign should vary in rules from every other campaign and Gary had positive thoughts about spell point systems. Check. This sounds like the OD&D I know from the way it's played today. After all, how can we ever forget Uncle Gary's parting words from the Afterword in Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures:
There are unquestionably areas which have been glossed over. While we deeply regret the necessity, space requires that we put in the essentials only, and the trimming will oftimes have to be added by the referee and his players. We have attempted to furnish an ample framework, and building should be both easy and fun. In this light, we urge you to refrain from writing for rule interpretations or the like unless you are absolutely at a loss, for everything herein is fantastic, and the best way to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it just that way! On the other hand, we are not loath to answer your questions, but why have us do any more of your imagining for you? Write to us and tell about your additions, ideas, and what have you. We could always do with a bit of improvement in our refereeing. 
Customizing the rules to your game is in the goddamn rules.

Exhibit Two: Gary Wants You To Have Fun The Gary Way

Somewhere after A&E 2, Uncle Gary seems to have slipped in his estimation of homebrewing rules. Here he is in The Strategic Review, Volume 2, Issue 2 (also sometimes called Issue 7).
It requires no careful study to determine that D & D is aimed at progression which is geared to the approach noted above. There are no monsters to challenge the capabilities of 30th level lords, 40th level patriarchs, and so on. Now I know of the games played at CalTech where the rules have been expanded and changed to reflect incredibly high levels, comic book characters and spells, and so on. Okay. Different strokes for different folks, but that is not D & D. While D & D is pretty flexible, that sort of thing stretches it too far, and the boys out there are playing something entirely different — perhaps their own name “Dungeons & Beavers,” tells it best. It is reasonable to calculate that if a fair player takes part in 50 to 75 games in the course of a year he should acquire sufficient experience points to make him about 9th to 11th level, assuming that he manages to survive all that play. The acquisition of successively higher levels will be proportionate to enhanced power and the number of experience points necessary to attain them, so another year of play will by no means mean a doubling of levels but rather the addition of perhaps two or three levels. Using this gauge, it should take four or five years to see 20th level. As BLACKMOOR is the only campaign with a life of five years, and GREYHAWK with a life of four is the second longest running campaign, the most able adventurers should not yet have attained 20th level except in the two named campaigns. To my certain knowledge no player in either BLACKMOOR or GREYHAWK has risen above 14th level.
 I feel like it's really telling that Gary specifically says "the boys out there are playing something entirely different... [from D&D]." At this point, it's already only April of '76, meaning that D&D had been out for all of two years and three months, but in that time, there had been a flurry of D&D fan activity. Some of it was even legal. Actually, most of it was legal, but Uncle Gary didn't necessarily see it that way. In Alarums & Excursions #8, Gary mentions that "it is illegal to copy works held under copyright, of course..." but not that the rules of games are not eligible for protection under copyright, but that's a topic for another time.

A little further along in A&E #15 (October '76), Gary comes back with more barbs for the Warlock crew, continuing a similar line of attack from his tSR #7 article, this time using the then-recent release of Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes to support his argument.
It seems that Dungeons & Beavers players are getting paranoid. We did not design GODS' simply to shame them or whatever. The supplement was written to conform to the major type of play going on in the country. If the beings therein do not fit into their particular manner of play, it is easy enough to ignore the whole work -- or add a zero to the hit points each can take. Yes, fellows, I find 20th level to be absolutely incredible, for you won't get it in the games hereabouts -- or in most other places which I hear in talking with DMs. It makes good players angry to hear about umpteenth level characters when they have had to play two actual years, carefully and intelligently, to rise to tenth level or so.

Gary isn't outright condemning the Warlock guys, but he does seem to take on an air of superiority here. Now, I can't come remotely close to having even second-hand knowledge about the games, characters and DMing-style prevalent at CalTech back in the day, so I can't debunk Gary's accounts of high level characters in the Warlock games, BUT I'll bet that second-hand knowledge was the best he ever got. Sure, Warlock makes a point of having advancement tables that go up to 20, but each only goes up to 20 and not any higher (except for the Fighter table, which goes up to 22), but that doesn't mean that, at the point in time in question, they were used that high or even higher. There's nothing explicitly in the Warlock rules that encourages Monty Haul-style gaming.

That having been said, campaigns are far more than the sum of their rules. Obviously. As Gary will later point out, there are some features of the Warlock rule set that are, indeed, slightly exploitable.

Exhibit Three: Objects In The Mirror May Be Larger Than They Appear

As Mr. +Tony Rowe pointed out in a comment on an earlier post in this topic, in his 1987 book Role Playing Mastery, Uncle Gary wrote the following (p. 51-52):
There arose a line of thinking that asserted that magic in a fantasy game was best expressed in terms of spell points... The D&D and AD&D games were criticized harshly by advocates of this approach for being behind the times. The fad lasted for a time, with spell-casters spewing forth streams of sorcerous stuff as if they were magical Gatling guns... How much fun is a game in which any challenge or problem can be overcome by calling up yet another spell from a seemingly limitless storehouse of energy? Good-bye, spell-point magic system.
Sure, Gary doesn't call out Warlock by name, or even by the sobriquet "Dungeons & Beavers," but it's pretty obvious where his guns are aimed. Lest the mud of revisiting his prior bias get any less murky, before leaving the issue altogether, Gary goes on to say:
This is not a condemnation of the idea of using a point system, but the point system as advocated did not fit the D&D or AD&D game system spells, rules, assumptions or spirit. The idea is workable still, but needs its own body of surrounding material to operate effectively.
To me, this passage says "sure, someone can do a spell point system and it might not suck," which at first seems like a good direction for Gary to move in, but the tacking on of how it doesn't fit D&D's "...rules, assumptions or spirits" seems pretty targeted, a direct dig at Warlock's continued claim of being a D&D variant (even a "major variant" as TCW claims). 

Verdicts and Wild Conclusions

Let's look at Uncle Gary's arguments against the Warlock and TCW. At first, he's all for differing rule sets for different campaigns. He even writes it into Vol. III. He talks about it in A&E. This is the wild and open spirit of OD&D that gives us awesome stuff like All The Worlds' Monsters, Booty & The Beasts and the entire Wilderlands series. We get The Dungeoneer and White Dwarf. This is the OD&D that blew the lid off of wargaming and created fantasy gaming and made a place at the table for everyone. And then...

Gary's first argument against TCW seems to be all about level inflation. It seems to be about characters stretching beyond the 14th or so level that was the common "achievement cap" (not an actual cap, but a soft cap imposed by play rather than rules). But by the time 1978 rolls around and the 1e PHB is published (along with TCW), Gary seems to have packed in his objections that 20th-level characters are "absolutely incredible," what with levels usually going straight on to 20th level on the advancement tables and occasionally even above. 

So why does Gary feel, in 1987, a need to decry the spell point system in TCW, even if he doesn't do so by name? 

I don't want to be cynical about this, but I'm going to add another piece to this puzzle. 

By 1987 when Role Playing Mastery was released, Gary had already been ousted from TSR. He had either just published or was about to publish Cyborg Commando, which means that he was probably just getting started on a system called Dangerous Dimensions, a project that would come to be called Dangerous Journeys after a Cease-And-Desist order from TSR (for creating a game whose name, if abbreviated, would look an awful lot like the initials of another game Gary wrote). Guess how magic worked in Dangerous Journeys

Yep, it was a spell point system. Ostensibly with the "body of surrounding material to [make it] operate effectively." 

 I don't mean to intimate that Uncle Gary stole things from TCW. The concepts that TCW introduces are actually pretty easy to come up with. Once you have the basics of OD&D (classes, levels, spells, etc.), you can pretty well extrapolate higher levels and spell points. Rather, I suggest that Gary had an unreasonable bias against TCW, and he continues to bash it despite his willingness to adopt some of TCW's concepts. 

I mean no disrespect to the man's memory, but even a cursory examination of early OD&D and AD&D sources including the books themselves and articles written in first tSR and later the Dragon, demonstrates a gradually calcifying attitude toward non-TSR D&D products. From the first, Gary is open to rules deviations. By the time AD&D rolls around, however, the message is clear: no variation from the strict RAW can possibly be called D&D and no house rules should ever be tolerated. Why this change?

Allow me to play the cynic one more time with my suggested answer: money. 

By the time Gary's first arguments against TCW pop up, he's already a minority partner in TSR. By throwing the D&D brand's name around, Gary does everything he can to hedge out competitors (not always successfully) and make sure that only TSR (or the licensees of TSR like Judges Guild) is making money off of the D&D brand and game. It seems that TCW's continued insistence that it's only a D&D variant rather than a game in and of itself wrankles Uncle Gary; if TSR holds the copyright to D&D, why should anyone unauthorized make money off of it? (Again, the concept that one cannot copyright game rules seems to have evaded him.) I feel that this is the source of the bias, one that Gary continues to enforce even after his connection with TSR (and thereby D&D) had ended. "Sure," he says, "you can do spell points in an rpg, just not in D&D. If you want to do spell points, it has to be some other system." Which is more than a little self-serving of him to say, what with him working on a system reliant on spell points. 

And so yes, Uncle Gary didn't like Warlock. And yes, he had his reasons. 

But were they justified? 

I can't say they were.