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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dragonsfoot Thread: How many AD&D players knew of OD&D?



A recent thread over on Dragonsfoot asks: How many AD&D players who started in the 80s knew about OD&D?

Here is my answer, which I posted there, and have expanded a bit here:

My first D&D set, from 1982, was (obviously) Holmes Basic, and the rulebook includes a Preface stating that it is "based upon the original work published in 1974 and three supplementary books published in the two year period after the initial release of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS", and then reprints the "Foreword from the Original Edition", which starts with a brief yet evocative history lesson on the origins of D&D from Gygax that begins, "ONCE UPON A TIME, long, long ago..." And my copy, a 3rd edition printing, had a product listing on the back cover of "OTHER ITEMS FROM TSR" available for mail order, which included "Original Dungeons & Dragons Collector's Editions".

So I was aware of the original D&D rules basically as soon as I had my first rule set. I quickly moved onto AD&D from Holmes Basic, owning all of the hardcover rulebooks by mid-1983, but there again I encountered OD&D: my copies of the Monster Manual and the Players Handbook also have product listings that include OD&D. 

I learned more about the early history once I started reading Dragon. In particular, the Best of Dragon #1 and #2 (which I found on the rack at B. Dalton in the local mall) reprint a number of articles from the early, OD&D years, including "Gary Gygax on D&D: Origins of the Game" (in BoD #1).



 

At some point I found a copy of Moldvay Basic at a Goodwill thrift store. This set included a copy of one version of TSR's Gateway to Adventure catalog, which had a page for the "Collectors Edition" which showed the OD&D set and supplements. This was the first place that I actually saw what the OD&D booklets looked like, other than Eldritch Wizardry, which I had once spotted at B. Dalton. 

Still later in the '80s, I came across a still new-on-the-shelf copy of the Original Collector's Edition (OCE) of Whitebox OD&D at a game shop and bought it, which I still have. I was actually somewhat surprised that the rules were so similar to what I was familiar with - I was expecting more differences. In the next year or two after that I ordered Chainmail and the Blackmoor supplement directly from TSR's Mail Order Hobby Shop, which was still selling copies through '89 or so, although the copy of Blackmoor I received from them was essentially a high grade photocopy.

11 comments:

  1. I started with AD&D in 1982 when I was 12, and I heard about OD&D via my DM (a teacher at my school). IIRC, she'd been playing D&D since that version and also Chainmail.

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  2. I too started with AD&D in about 1980 - 81 (when I was 9 or 10). I was dimly aware that there was an older, pre AD&D game, but no copies of OD&D were available where I was growing up in Canada. There are a few references to "Greyhawk" in the Dungeon Masters Guide which were obviously not references to the world of Oerth.

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    1. Good point on the DMG. "Time in the Campaign" references "the original game of D&D" (pg 37); the section on combat references Swords & Spells; and Appendix H: Tricks of the DMG sends the reader to OD&D Vol 3 and the Greyhawk Supplement for more ideas.

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  3. I also was first exposed to D&D via the Holmes boxed set, and although I was aware of the LBBs, I never got a copy until they were reprinted by WotC. I moved from Holmes to AD&D pretty quickly, although a friend had the Moldvay/Cook B/X sets and I also played that as well.

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    1. I hear you on the last part; for a time I played both AD&D and B/X. I had trouble finding regular players where I lived, so I mostly played with one friend. We would take turns DMing for the other, who ran an entire party. Mostly AD&D, but he had the B/X sets so at one point I created a B/X party and he DM'd me using those.

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  4. I started with Moldvay Basic Set, but played Holmes and AD&D immediately. AD&D even before I played my own Basic Set. That was 1981. I got Eldritch Wizardry and Blackmoor from a hobby store because they were cheap, and then the white box reprint from the Mail Order Hobby Shop. I still have it. So yeah, I knew about OD&D. Didn't play it, but knew it.

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  5. My first game of D&D was AD&D 1st edition, but my first group played Mentzer BECM. I knew there was a precursor edition to both of them (and I don't mean the Holmes/Moldavy Basic books, which we also had), but I didn't much care, AD&D and BECM were perfectly fine (until I left D&D in '89 and never looked back as a GM). It wasn't until much later in life (the early 00s) that I started to want to see how it "all began" and I started hunting for original editions of some of my favorite games (GURPS Man to Man and Orcslayer first), and despite my dislike of D&D, OD&D was one of the sets I hunted down.

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  6. I may have played one game of OD&D with my dad's friend in 1978 - I was 9 years old and don't remember the rules set. I received the Holmes set from my parents in 1979 for Christmas, and by 1980 I was playing AD&D - as the Holmes set told me to. I did not even learn of B/X until the early 2000s, and never studied the OD&D rules until a few years ago. I was blown away on how near-identical the rules of OD&D and B/X were!!!

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  7. My best friend received Holmes basic 8th grade Christmas break Dec. 1977. The first book I bought in early 1978 was the AD&D Monster Manual and sometime by summer several of us had bought AD&D Players Handbook. Of course the DM's wasn't out yet, so we supplemented with Supplements I-IV, especially Blackmoor and Deities & Demi-Gods, and used the Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets Second Edition booklet and Judges Guild DM's Screen which were both based on OD&D. Regretfully I never thought to pickup up the "Collector's Edition" of OD&D, but certainly was aware of it. Also by fall 1978 we had introduced Arduin Grimoires into our game, which were more directly tied to OD&D than AD&D. When the DM's Guide finally came out in 1979 our group already had a hodgepodge of home rules on speed factor, binding wounds, THACO (although I don't believe it was called that early on, but the process was used to speed up to-hit calculations). Fast forward to today and we run a house-ruled version of Advanced Labyrinth Lord and tend to look from 1st ed. AD&D then backward to OD&D and its relatives for clarity on the rules, and only if those sources aren't sufficient then look forward through B/X, BECMI, 2nd ed., and on if necessary.

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  8. I had the same “Gateway to Adventure” brochure as you (think it came in the Cook Expert set), but paid almost no attention to the listing…after all, I already owned the “Basic” and “Expert” sets, what more did I need? I was far more smitten with ads for Gamma World, Top Secret, etc.: fantastic NEW games that I didn’t yet own!

    That was (roughly) 1982. It would be a couple more years till I discovered that AD&D was a wholly different game from B/X. And it was (probably) 1986 or so before I laid eyes (and hands!) on copies of the original LBBs (belonging to a non-gamer friend’s older brother). I was able to acquire my own copies in a used bookstore circa 1988(?) and found them both fascinating and delightful…though they didn’t hold a candle to the REAL game (AD&D).

    I didn’t figure out the whole supplement thing, Strategic Review, Holmes Basic, etc until DECADES later…maybe not even till after I first started blogging. I’ve learned more about the history of the game (and it’s design) in the last 10 years then I learned in my first 30 in the hobby.

    Crazy.

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