Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Interlude: Who Edited the Editor?

In part 6 of the manuscript series, I noted that the section "Encumbrance" was not found in the manuscript, and thus was added by TSR to the published rulebook:

"This section does a good job of explaining in simple terms what is meant by "heavily loaded" in the Movement Table. I wonder who at TSR wrote this: Gygax, Mike Carr (who edited the AD&D rulebooks and wrote the first module for Basic), Tim Kask (who edited the last three OD&D supplements), or someone else? I might be imagining things, but looking at this with fresh eyes it seems to share some of the clear writing of Mike Carr's introductory material in B1 - which is almost an extension of the Basic rulebook."

At the time I was thinking of Gygax's column in Dragon #35, March 1980, where he wrote:

"...By the time the final manuscript from Eric was in our hands, the rough of the Monster Manual was also finished, rough outlines of Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide were typed up, and several portions of both works were likewise in manuscript form..."

"...Pieces and parts of the various components of AD&D were grafted into the Basic Set rules manuscript so that D&D would be more compatible with the Advanced game. Readers were directed to AD&D throughout the Basic Set, with muttered prayers accompanying these directions, I am sure, as our production people had no idea then just how well it would all work out in the end, because much of the AD&D system was still on rough notes or in my head at the time..."

(these are from a longer excerpt that I posted here).

With the phrase "our production people" in mind, I was contemplating someone under Gygax working on editing the set.

However, re-reading Gygax on Holmes yesterday, I was reminded of other statements:

"...As it happened, I reviewed Eric's ms. and put in the material I was creating for the new AD&D system..."

"...I was in charge of the ms. when it was turned over. That is how it came to have new material quite similar to the AD&D game--I was writing the PHB at the time, and I wanted D&D to have some of the new features of the AD&D game..."

"...at the time he turned over the ms. I was completing my own for the AD&D PHB. I included material from the latter into the D&D game to update it."

"...In the Holmes Basic Set I inserted all of the new character information found there that was not in OD&D."  

"...When the ms, was turned over to me for approval, I inserted a goodly number of the new AD&D game rules so as to upgrade the D&D system as well."

(From posts on Dragonsfoot in 2005-2007. Original sources are linked on the page).

These statements are long after the source, and don't exclude additional hands, but it does suggest Gygax wrote and added the extra material such as Encumbrance and the additional spells as part of a secondary editing process. There are few more sections like this we will see as we continue examining the manuscript.

Specifically with regard to the Encumbrance, there are brief sections in the Player's Handbook (pg 101-102) and Dungeon Masters' Guide (pg 225). The PHB section has the same title, "Encumbrance" as the section in the Basic rulebook, and although it doesn't share any specific wording, it does somewhat similarly describe what weights result in a heavy load.  The section in the DMG, "Appendix O: Encumbrance of Standard Items" includes a description of how two characters carry their gear, similar to the example of Malchor in the Basic rulebook. Perhaps an early draft of this material is what made it in to Basic rulebook.

Continue on to Part 12: "Clerical Spells"
Or Go Back to Part 11: "Book of Second Level Spells"
Or Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript


  1. Really enjoying your play-by-play. Thanks for doing it.

    There's some cool stuff on auction at the collectors trove (the Darlene collection), if you haven't seen it. Here's Arneson's business card from 1976:


    I have no affiliation with the store or seller. I just thought you would find it interesting.

  2. I did see those, but thanks for the reminder to grab some screenshots for my "TSR Business Card" folder. : )