Tuesday, January 15, 2013

35 years ago this month (Jan 78)

Text from the Title Page of the 2nd printing of the Holmes Basic rulebook

The Holmes Basic set was first available in July 1977, according to the latest research. About 6 months later the first revised version of the rulebook appeared, with a title page now dated January 1978.

Some of the more prominent changes to the 2nd printing include:

-Less hobbits, more halflings. As I wrote elsewhere, "The 1st print ... uses "hobbits" throughout. The 2nd print ... changes most to "halflings" but still uses "hobbits" in five locations. In the 2nd edition (Wizard Logo, Nov 78) and later printings a sole reference to "hobbits" remains, in the description of the spell "Cure Light Wounds". Around the same time the references to hobbits were also changed in the LBBs. All other Tolkien references in the Blue Book were retained (except see below regarding the product list).

-Revised Wandering Monster Table. Holmes later wrote in Dragon #52, "The first Basic Set rulebook contained some irritating typographical errors. Someone at TSR rewrote the wandering monster table and put in a number of creatures that were not in my list of monster descriptions. But most of the errors were corrected for the second printing". The monster table would be revised yet again in the third printing. I plan to make another post where I compare these wandering monster tables. 

-Editor Bio. The first printing does not contain the biographical blurb about the editor, Dr. Holmes. This was added on page 45, after the section on "Using the Dice", and remained in all subsequent printings, unchanged as far as I've noted. I'm guessing that someone at TSR decided he deserved more acknowledgement for his effort, which was essentially donated  (i.e., Holmes volunteered and Gygax said it cost TSR "nary a red cent").

-Price List revisions. In the 2nd printing, the price list is mostly the same as in the 1st, with the following exceptions. It now includes the Basic Set itself ($9.95) as well as the rulebook alone ($5). A note indicating the Monster Manual is "Tentatively available in October 1977"; has been removed, because while delayed until late Dec 1977, it was now available. The price of War of Wizards (a boardgame based on Empire of the Petal Throne) is increased from $7.50 to $9.95. The entry for the Battle of the Five Armies game by TSR has been deleted - another casualty of the Tolkien Estate. The entry for the Warlocks & Warriors boardgame by Gardner Fox has been updated from "Future Release" to $6.95, indicating it was now available. TSR unfortunately misses out on a bit of cross-promotion, however: Holmes mentions Fox's name on page 40 of the rulebook in a list of fantasy authors but the game entry fails to mention his name. Finally, there's a new note that a complete TSR list of products is available for $2.