Holmes Basic Set (for Original D&D)

Holmes Basic Set for Original Dungeons and Dragons

Publisher: Tactical Studies Rules (aka TSR)
Item Code: #1001
Title: Holmes Basic Set
Editor: Eric Holmes

Published: 1978
Format: box, 48 page rules book, and (depending on the printing) adventure module (either B1-In Search of the Unknown or B2-The Keep on the Borderlands), either dice or chits

Comments: This boxed set was designed as an introduction to D&D. It only took the players and GM through third level, but it explained things in much greater detail than the original three booklets did. It went through a number of printings and different printings included different introductory materials. Early printings included dungeon geomorphs and the first monsters and treasures assortments. Later printings included either the B1 or B2 adventure module. The rule book was also available separately (the PDF version linked below is only the rule book). While the rules were heavily based on Original D&D there were some changes designed to make it easier for players starting with this set to move to either the full Original D&D or the then new first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

From the back of the box:

You are holding a fantastic world of Swords & Sorcery adventures in your hands! In Dungeons & Dragons you become a mighty wizard, a fearless hero, a stout dwarf, a clever halfling or any one of a dozen other adventurers ready to explore the mazes and labyrinths of a vast and deep dungeon – or perhaps trek through uncharted wilderness – in search of the fabulous treasures and magic which are hidden there. But this wealth is not easily gained, for terrible guardians lurk nearby; and such monsters as orcs, ogres, trolls, giants, dragons, and even worse must be defeated in order to gain their hoarded treasure.

Dungeons & Dragons is the original game of fantasy role playing. It is a truly unique experience, for each participant assumes a game persona who goes from adventure to adventure, growing more powerful and capable with each successful expedition. Unlike any other game you have ever played before, Dungeons & Dragons will allow you to completely unleash your imagination and creativity, while still posing interesting game situations and endless challenges. Come and visit out world!

From the introduction to the rules book:

This book is based upon the original work published in 1974 and three supplementary booklets published in the two year period after the initial release of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. It is aimed solely at introducing the reader to the concepts of fantasy role playing and the basic play of this game. To this end it limits itself to basics. The rules contained herein allow only for the first three levels of player progression, and instructions for the game referee, the “Dungeon Master,” are kept to the minimum necessary to allow him to conduct basic games.

Notes: Some people who like playing OD&D at only lower levels, only use this book. The Holmes Companion (a free four page PDF file) adds levels 4 to 6 to the game without the need for any other books. With this Holmes Basic Set rules and the Holmes Companion, one has all the rules needed for a low level OD&D campaign. As level advancement is much slower in pre-D20 versions of D&D, a campaign could easily run weekly sessions with the original characters for over a year at these levels. Even if you eventually want to use higher levels, this is a great (and inexpensive) way to try OD&D. Total cost: About US$5.00 for a PDF copy of the Holmes basic rules. Five dollars or so more for a PDF copy of either the B1 (In Search of the Unknown) or B2 (The Keep on the Borderland) module — if you want a nice setting and starter adventure that works well with OD&D.


Get a Copy!

Buy Used Hardcopy:
Check Amazon
Check eBay
Check RPGMarketPlace