Original D&D — Finding the Rules

TSR kept the Original D&D in print for the last six years of the 1970s. While they are now out of print, copies of the later printings are easy to get (and often very affordable) on eBay — click here for more information on buying Original D&D items on eBay. Copies in PDF format are also available. Click on each rules item in the right column to go to a page with more information on the item and how to obtain it.

Fan Rules Restatements

Fan “restatements” of older editions of D&D using the Open Gaming License and D&D SRD from Wizards of the Coast have become fairly popular in recent years. Such a retroclone of Original D&D is now available. It’s called Swords & Wizardry and you can find out more about it here:

Also, one fan has put a hypertext version of the combined Original D&D Boxed Set and Greyhawk rules on the web. Unfortunately, this set leaves a number of important details out — like how much damage a monster can take before it is dead — which means it is really only useful for those who already have a copy of the rules.

What Rules Do I Really Need?

The original edition of D&D has a number of rulebooks, however, most are not necessary to play the game. All you really need is a copy of the White Box set of rules. The Greyhawk supplement adds quite a bit to the game and many OD&D players and Dungeon Masters use these additional rules. You will need a copy of Chainmail if you want to use the original combat system instead of the optional system. Everything else for OD&D is optional.

That said, I personally recommend starting with the Holmes Basic Set rules. They are a great introduction to Original D&D. As they are only about 50 pages, you can buy the PDF and print it out at very little cost. While the Holmes Basic Set rules only take you to third level, with the free four page pdf fan “Holmes Companion” you can go to sixth level with no additional purchases. You can then get copies of the White Box rules if you find you like playing OD&D. Pick up a pdf copy of either the B1 or B2 module (which work almost as well with Original D&D as classical D&D) and you are ready to play. Total cost, about US$10.