Friday, September 28, 2012

Pre-Publication Blue Book

      No, I don't  have a copy. But Judges Guild did in the spring of 1977. This is another tidbit I was clued into by Playing at the World, which on page 580 quotes the following from Installment M (June/July 1977) of The Judges Guild Journal:

      "We've just gotten word from TSR that they're revising the D&D system for both a beginner's edition and an advanced version. We've only seen the draft of the beginner's edition and will let you know about the other as soon as it is available (by GenCon in August is the projection)."

     (The "advanced version" actually didn't appear in any form until the Monster Manual was published in late Dec 1977).

     I don't have a copy of Installment M, but there is a pdf available on RPGnow. I looked at the preview and noticed that the first page begins with a different yet similar mention of the pre-publication Basic rulebook:

     "Shades of Robert E. Howard! The fantasy scene is expanding in an ever-expanding line of products and publications. Soon to be released is Gregarious Gary Gygax's latest fireball - a great supplement for novice Dungeonmasters. This long anticipated tome was gratefully forwarded to the Guild Hall for pre-publication perusal. We can endorse it whole-heartedly to our subscribers. It is written primarily to fill the need of DM's not desiring a complex advanced game but a solid, easy to follow set of rules to begin his games."
(from Jocular Judgements, page 1 of Installment M).

    Edit: Per Bill Owen (see link in comments below), the above was written by Bill Bledsaw, co-founder of Judges Guild.
    Hopefully a pre-publication copy still exists and will turn up someday! Of course, if it was a final draft it may not be any different than the published version.

    I also noticed, via the scan on the Acaeum, that first page of the next issue (Installment N, Aug/Sep 1977) provides a enthusiastic capsule review of the new set:

     "Now that the great new Basic Dungeons and Dragons has been published ... we are chomping at the bit to see the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. For the few who have not perused the new rewrite and expansion of Basic Dungeons & Dragons, we heartily recommend that you immediately "book out" to your own hobby shop and ask for it ... or better yet order it directly from your own Guild. Although experience points are listed for first through level fighters, magic users, clerics, and thieves, the finely detailed information contained therein has much to recommend it to all judges ... regardless of the levels of his average players. Magic spells are given especially good treatment and the sprinkling of new spells is welcome also. Poisoned weapons, fire (flasks of oil), holy water, cover, parrying, and abundant examples help the novice and enlighten the veteran D & D fan".  
(from Jocular Judgements, page 1 of Installment N)

     Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) also told me that the Booty List for Installment N includes the Basic Set, listed as "new". So this issue has further evidence that the Basic Set was available for purchase in the summer of '77, as I wrote about yesterday.


  1. It has been years since I've read through my copies of the JGJ. I will have to sit down and look through them.

    You can get issue M of the journal for $4 + shipping on ebay.

  2. I responded on The Acaeum but as I went to close this page, it occurs to me that perhaps some memory will surface and I will pass it on at that point.

    1. Thanks, Bill!

      For those who don't know, Bill was the editor of The Judges Guild Journal at the time of Installments M and N. He has a Q&A thread in the Judges Guild subforum of the Acaeum, where I asked him about his memories of the Basic Set. You can read his thoughtful response here.