Original D&D — The Game That Started It All

Original Dungeons and Dragons White Box Set

When original D&D was first published in a (now very rare) wood grained box (later prints were in a white box) with three little booklets (Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, and Underworld & Wilderness Adventures) and some reference sheets inside, it ushered in a new form of gaming: Roleplaying. These Original D&D rules were simple and not very well written. In fact, they were so poorly written that the best way to learn the game was to have someone who already new how teach you how to play. Fortunately, the game was easy to learn. Most new players could create a character with a bit of help and be ready to play in 15 or 20 minutes. Once you started playing, however, you were hooked. The game sold rapidly, went through a number of printings, and spawned supplemental rule books. TSR had a hit on their hands — and a new hobby was born.

Original Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set by J. Eric Holmes

Because the rules were so loose, almost every campaign was played under a somewhat different interpretation of the rules. The Dungeon Master (the gamemaster) was encouraged to create whatever additional rules might be needed for his or her campaign as they were needed. This was easy to do and everyone did it. TSR published several supplemental rules books that were basically the extra rules used by specific games. Greyhawk (Gary Gygax’s campaign), Blackmoor (David Arneson’s campaign), Eldritch Wizardry (various Lake Geneva area campaigns). TSR also published Gods, Demigods, and Heroes which had deities from real world and fictional mythologys. The final Original D&D rules item TSR published was the Holmes Basic Set — a introduction to D&D designed for new players that covered levels one to three only but explained how to play in some detail.

The Chainmail medieval mass combat miniatures rules were used for the original combat system in D&D. If you want to use the very simple original combat system, you’ll also need a copy of the old Chainmail rules. Most campaigned used a version of the alternate combat rules, however. To further confuse things, TSR later published Swords & Spells, a set of D&D based fantasy miniatures rules. The Sword & Spells rules are not needed to play Original D&D.

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