Now that I've finished my series going through the Holmes Manuscript, I've put together a summary of the major changes from the manuscript to the published Holmes Basic rulebook. Use this list if you want to play Holmes Basic as Holmes originally wrote it. I call this the "Zeroeth Edition" or "Holmes Zero". I haven't listed every change here, just the more notable ones. I'll update the list if I've missed anything of note.
Title: "D&D for Beginners" rather than Basic D&D.
References to Higher Levels: All references are to the original Dungeons & Dragons booklets or the Greyhawk Supplement, rather than AD&D.
Dice: If dice are unavailable Holmes suggest using playing cards (4 locations in the manuscript), chits (twice) or even "certain pocket-sized calculators".
Elves are the "Alternating Elf" from OD&D. Per Holmes: "Elves must
decide before an adventure begins, however, whether they are going to
act as fighting men, in which case they can wear armor but can not throw
spells, or assume the role of magic-user, gaining the use of spells but
forfeiting weapons other than the dagger. For each adventure the elf
can change his role but once the adventure stars he must not change". This is an interpretation of the original elf from OD&D.
Dwarves get a special powerful magic item; "the only ones who can wield the +3 Magic War Hammer (described later)". This sentence remained in the 1st print rulebook even though the magic item was removed from the lists. This sentence was edited out of the 2nd edition.
Hobbits rather than halflings. This remained in the 1st printing, but most instances were changed for the 2nd printing.
Additional Character Classes: No Witch class, and more examples of player-chosen classes: "Thus,
an expedition might include, in addition to the seven basic classes, an
African witch doctor/magic-user, a centaur, an Amerindian medicine
man/cleric, a lawful werebear, a Japanese Samurai fighting man and a
half-human, half-serpent Naga".
Number of Characters: Holmes says most DMs allow one to three characters per player.
Alignment is the three-point system from OD&D: "Characters may be lawful, neutral or chaotic".
Languages: Only humans (not demi-humans) are noted as knowing Common.
Movement: Only use the first column of the table, as standard movement.
Encumbrance: Remove this section and only use the categories from the Movement table.
Wandering Monster Tables are the 1st to 3rd level tables from the Greyhawk Supplement, which can be seen here. Do not use the Level Beneath the Surface Table.
Numbers of Wandering Monsters: Adjust to party size, with 1 monster for a party of 1-3; 2 for a party of 4-6 and so forth, but "Orcs and similar creatures tend to travel in groups".
Experience Points for Monsters: Use the numbers from Greyhawk up to 9 HD, but ignore the lines for partial hit dices (1+1, 2+1 etc).
Level Limits: None, example refers to 20th level characters rather than 14/15th.
Saving Throws: Delete line for Normal Man from Table. In the section on Monsters, include note that "(except zombies who are poisoned by salt)". This aside made it into the 1st printing but was later deleted.
Remove Dancing Lights, Enlargement, Tenser's Floating Disc (1st level), Audible Glamer and Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd level). Change Continual Light to 24 inch (240') diameter.
Remove Remove Fear, Resist Cold (1st level), Know Alignment and Resist Fire (2nd level).
Also remove the list of Evil Cleric Spells; Holmes has a vague reference to these in the section on Clerics, but did not include the list itself.
To Hit Table: Remove the line for "Normal Man".
Fire: In first paragraph, change the 5 feet pool of flaming oil to 20 feet, and the damage should be 2d6. Remove the all remaining paragraphs relating to burning oil.
Missile Weapons: Some changes to ranges in Table (follow link for details). Modifiers for range are 0 for long distance, +1 for medium, +2 for short range.
Combat: One-handed weapons get two attacks per round, two-handed weapons get one attack per round, heavy crossbows can only be used once every other round.
Hit Dice: Use d6
Attacks/Damage: In general, monsters get a single attack for d6 damage.
Add the following entries from OD&D: Buccaneer, Cave Men, Centaur, Dervishes, Dragon - Blue, Dragon - Gold, Dryad, Ents, Giant Animals and Insects, Mermen, Nomads, Pirate. Also Nixies if you have a 2nd or 3rd edition rulebook.
Remove the following:
Djinni, Dragon - Black, Dragon - Brass, Lycanthrope - Were-Boar, Lycanthrope - Were-Tiger (if using the 1st edition rulebook), plus Fire Beetle, Giant Ant, Giant Centipede, Giant Rat, Gnoll, Shrieker, Spiders, Troglodyte (if using the 2nd or 3rd edition).
Adjust the following:
Berserkers get their +2 to hit only when fighting normal men.
Carrion Crawlers get a single attack for 1d6 damage plus chance of paralysis
Dragons include a Chance of Sleeping and a Chance of Talking for each type.
Giants use only the damage listed under Special Characteristics.
Hell Hounds do damage in hit points equal to their hit dice (i.e., a 3 hp damage for 3 HD).
Ochre Jellies do 1 die (1d6) per round to exposed skin.
Ogres do 1d6 + 2 points of damage per hit.
Orcs: if 100 are found, 10% chance of a dragon being with them.
Zombies have 1/2 HD and attack every round rather than every other round.
Coins are only Gold and Silver Pieces, with 10 SP to 1 GP. Omit Copper, Electrum and Platinum Pieces.
Gems & Jewelry are simply worth 50-500 GP; omit the Value of Gems table.
Treasure Table is the one from OD&D Vol 2, but omit the column for Copper Pieces. Thus no Treasure Types J-T.
Swords: Flaming Sword change to only +2 against Undead
Sword +1, +3 against Dragons change to Sword +2 against Dragons
Sword +1, +2 against M-Us change to Sword +1, Charm Person Ability
Sword +3 change to Sword of Cold +1, +2 against Fire Creatures
Sword -2 Cursed change to Vorpal Blade +2
Armor and Weapons:
Dagger +1 against Man-Sized change to add +2 against Orcs
Dagger +2 against Man-Sized change to War Hammer +3, and add that it "is
a potent weapon in the hands of dwarf, for then it does 2 die of damage per
hit, can be thrown 60 feet and will return to the dwarf's hand after each
throw. In the hands of any other character it has normal range and damage and
no return capability, merely conferring +3 on the ability to hit".
Potions: For Giant Strength, change the damage from 3-18 to "2 dice of damage" (2d6).
Rings: Replace Weakness with Human Control.
Change Protection +1 to be equivalent to "plate armor +1" (AC 2) and a +1 on saves.
Wands and Staves: Replace Rod of Cancellation with Staff of Power (Limited).
Miscellaneous Magic Items:
Replace Helm of Good/Evil, Rope of Climbing, Gauntlets of Ogre Power with Girdle of Giant Strength, Horn of Blasting and Mirror of Life Trapping.
Sample Cross-Section of Levels: Replace Skull Mountain with Holmes' three-level dungeon cross-section.
Sample Floor Plan, Part of First Level: Add Holmes' sample partial map.
Dungeon Mastering As a Fine Art: Add back advice that "the Dungeon Master provides [the Mapper]
with a piece of graph paper already North, East, South, West with the
entrance to the dungeon drawn in".
Influences: Replace Gardner Fox with Michael Moorcock.
Sample Dungeon: In general, reduce monster numbers/difficulty, and increase the value of treasure.
Evil Magic-User: Change his level title from thaumaturgist to theurgist.
Pirates: Change from normal men (1d6 hp) to 1st level (1 hit die, still 1d6).
Go Back to Part 54: "An Ape in an Iron Cage"
Go Back to Start: The Holmes Manuscript