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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Summary of Tolkien References in the Blue Book

And so we come to the end of this year's Tolkien week.

Here's a summary of Tolkien references in the Blue Book.

Tolkien references carried over from the text of the OD&D booklets:
- The 1st print (Lizard Logo, Fall 1977) uses "hobbits" throughout. The 2nd print (Lizard Logo, Jan 78) 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". 

-Two references to Balrogs on page 14; discussed previously

-A reference to the "Nazgul of Tolkien" in the Monster List entry for Spectre (pg 32), and to
"Barrow Wights (as per Tolkien)" in the entry for Wight (pg 33). These are straight from the original entries for Spectre and Wight in OD&D, Vol 2 (Monsters & Treasure), pg 9.

It's clear from the above that Holmes edited the Blue Book from one of the earlier printings of the OD&D rulebooks (i.e., prior to the removal of the Tolkien references). While all of these references were removed from the OD&D booklets, only "hobbits" was removed from the Blue Book.

Tolkien references added by Dr. Holmes:
-"lawful werebear" (pg 7); most likely a reference to Beorn in The Hobbit; discussed previously.
Update: this may also reference the Beorning class from the 1976 Manual of Aurania

-"Drego the thief" (pg 12). The name "Drego" is a very hobbit-sounding name; it is particularly close to Drogo, the name of Frodo's father in The Lord of the Rings.

-"The imaginary universe of Dungeons & Dragons obviously lies not too far from the Middle Earth of J.R.R. Tolkien's great Lord of the Rings trilogy" (pg 40); discussed previously.

-"Green Dragon Inn" (pg 41); discussed previously.

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Update: The first printing also includes TSR's Battle of the Five Armies game in the price list at the back of the rulebook; this was deleted in the 2nd printing as I noted here.


  1. Interesting post. Must've taken an observant eye. And it made me think. I'd like to throw some Nazgul at my players.

  2. Thanks, HF. I'm sure your players will be much more terrified if you refer to it as a Nazgul rather than a Spectre, even if it just has normal Spectre stats.