Sunday, 7 September 2008

So I broke down and downloaded Original D&D...

It's the three original volumes from 1974, and it only cost me $5.99 (which is about 600 yen, or I guess about 3 quid in real money). I haven't had a chance to read through it yet, but I think once I have I'll do a little review here in the blog. (I don't normally do reviews, but for OD&D I'll make an exception.) I'm looking forward to finding out exactly what Sham, James Maliszewski, Philotomy, Scott and the rest see in it.


  1. I bought OD&D at a car boot sale once, complete with plastic dice whose faces you filled in with a white wax crayon that came with it.

    (I say it was OD&D - I have no idea if it was the first iteration, but compared to people's AD&D that I remember from school it sas incredibly basic... Some big red dragon on the cover, came in a red box...)

    A thought: can one review a game without having played it? What I mean is, you're going to read the source books, but is that enough to found your opinion of the game? Is knowing the rules of a game enough to form judgement of it?

    (I'm sure you have played it in the past, I guess I'm not asking about you in particular, just about games and gamers in general)

  2. Funnily enough what you're talking about is Red Box Basic D&D. An apt name, seeing as how it was basic and came in a red box.

    A potted history of D&D:

    Original D&D, 1974. Eventually seeds two developments - AD&D 1st edition and Basic/Expert D&D. The former is for 'adults' and the latter for kids and teenagers. Eventually AD&D 1st edition morphs into AD&D 2nd edition. Meanwhile B/X morphs into 'BECMI' (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, Immortal - also known by their colours; Basic was the red box). That was the state of play when we used to play in seccondary school. So you had the first part of BECMI, probably.

    (After that a different company, Wizards of the Coast, bought D&D off TSR, scrapped the BECMI line, and released a D&D 3rd edition, which was basically AD&D except 'refined'. Then there was a '3.5' and now there's a 4th.)

  3. I think my favourite iteration of D&D is Red Box, and Original intimidates me just a little bit, because it's so raw and unrefined.

    My perfect version of the game would be something of the complexity of Red Box, but with the unified "roll high" mechanic of 3.X. I think that's the only thing holding me back from running Labyrinth Lord.

  4. Yeah, just flicking through the pdf it takes some getting used to.

    I love BECMI. The Rules Cyclopedia is probably my favourite every role playing book. (Maybe after the 2nd edition AD&D DMG...) Red Box is a little bit TOO basic for me. It needs the expansion of all the Expert rules at the very least.

    Of course, TSR were good enough to make games that were broadly backwards compatible.

  5. Kelvin,

    You're basically describing Basic Fantasy Roleplaying.

  6. Interesting. Despite the naff title, I shall look into it. Thanks for the pointer!

  7. I'd love to get my hands on these older books again someday. maybe I'll employ paizo's service once I have a little money.

  8. It took me about four years to piece together that history that noisms just rattled off. It's only been in the last year or so that I've found sites where people actually sit down and explain that stuff -- this whole old school gaming movement has been good for my history.

    Very curious to see what you think about OD&D. I'm busy with Trav right now, but it's on my list.

  9. I love OD&D primarily for its rawness. I find it hard not to be forced to think about the game and how it all fits together when I read it, because the game doesn't always explain itself very well.

    (That said, I prefer OD&D + supplements to straight three little brown book OD&D, because it feels a bit like a looser version of AD&D)