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Monday, November 28, 2011

Silver Anniversary Holmes Set

Front cover of the SA reprint of the Blue Book; scan from the Acaeum

      
     A fellow player in my group recently lent me copies of the Blue Book and B2 from the Silver Anniversary set put out by WOTC in 1999 (Thanks, Matt!). I'd never seen these in person before. Including both means the SA set essentially includes a "Holmes Basic Set",  (excepting a fatal flaw in the B2, which I describe below), which is why I placed it in my chronology of D&D Basic Sets a few weeks ago. In a sense this also is the last paper version of "Basic D&D" published by TSR/WOTC - a line that started with the Holmes set.

     As I'd gathered previously from discussion with machfront on Dragonsfoot, the Silver Anniversary Blue Book is a fascimile reprint of a 2nd edition Blue Book, specifically a printing without prices included in the product list on the back cover (which I've placed as the sixth overall printing of the rulebook). The SA reprint is identical except for the SA logo on the front cover and title page, and is currently the tenth known printing of the rulebook:

1st edition, 1st print: code F116-R, Lizard Logo
1st edition, 2nd print: code 2001, Lizard Logo, January 1978
1st edition, 3rd print: code 2001, Lizard Logo, May 1978 

2nd edition, 1st print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, November 1978, back cover B1 price $4.49
2nd edition, 2nd print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, November 1978, back cover B1 price $5.49
2nd edition, 3rd print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, November 1978, back cover no prices
 
3rd edition, 1st print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, December 1979, no ISBN pg 1
3rd edition, 2nd print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, December 1979, ISBN pg 1, "USING THE DICE OR CHITS" pg 46
3rd edition, 3rd print: code 2001, Wizard Logo, December 1979, ISBN pg 1, "USING THE DICE" pg 46
 
Silver Anniversary reprint, identical to 2nd edition, 3rd print except for SA logo on front cover

     Note this scheme refers solely to the rulebook, not the entire set itself (The Acaeum only tracks the entire set, but different boxes can have the same rulebook, or vice versa). I don't know why TSR/WOTC chose to reprint a 2nd edition version in the SA set instead of a later printing such as the last 3rd edition version. There's not many differences between the two; the most significant being on page 19, which (1) deletes a paragraph about d20s that are numbered 0-9 twice, and (2) has some corrections in the Monster Attack table. Technically, this version is the most "revised" and might have made more sense for the reprint. However, I don't think they put a lot of thought into the printings based on the B2 that was included:


Front cover of the SA reprint of the Blue Book; scan from the Acaeum

     
     At first glance the SA copy of B2 appears to be a reprint of the 1st print (Holmes-compatible) because the front cover has a Wizard Logo and a sentence about using the module with AD&D. However, as ken-do-im reported on Dragonsfoot, the interior of the module, except for the title page and reference sheet, is a reprint of the Moldvay-compatible revision of the module! The back cover is also an exact copy of the Moldvay version back cover (down to the ISBN number) rather than a Holmes back cover. It's not the end of the world since all of the D&D line is essentially compatible, but why did TSR/WOTC create such a Frankenstein? The weirdest part is the Holmes reference sheet inserted in the middle of the otherwise Moldvay-module. A half-hearted attempt to make the module compatible with the Blue Book in the SA set?

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