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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

"The Making of Original D&D: 1970-1977"

Everything we know about this upcoming WOTC book

"The Making of OD&D 1970-1977" promotional book image,
showing four ribbon bookmarks!

Last December, at a panel at PAX Unplugged called "50 Years of D&D Adventures", Wizards of the Coast announced their new books for 2024, which included a surprising release tied to the 50th anniversary of D&D: The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons: 1970-1976  (The panel was recorded & is available here; see the 57:20 mark).

"Sneak Peak" image shown during the panel presentation

The panel members indicated that the book will be over 500 pages (!), will "a replica of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, page for page", "never-before seen correspondence" between Gygax and Arneson, and historical context by Jon Peterson (of Playing at the World). The "Sneak Peek" image appearing on the screen during the presentation shows two page spreads from the book, the one to the left showing the first page of the Fantasy Supplement of Chainmail, and the one to the right showing the title page of OD&D Volume 3, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. And the background shows a version of the Great Kingdom map, suggesting this may appear in the book as well.

Just after this I saw Jason Tondro, a WOTC Senior Designer who started playing with Holmes Basic, and previously worked on the Deck of Many Things (which looks interesting), post on FB that he had spent "most of the last six months on it and y’all are in for some surprises". 

Then, a few days ago, WOTC provided an updated release schedule that says that the book will come out on June 18th. Interestingly, the title has now been updated to "1970-1977" in this press release and also the mock-up promotional image shown at the top of this page. Does this change mean that it will discuss Holmes Basic, released in 1977, and edited by J. Eric Holmes from the OD&D booklets?

The full description from the press release reads:

"The ultimate book showcasing D&D's inception, including Gary Gygax's never-before-seen first draft of D&D written in 1973, a curated collection of published fanzine and magazine articles contribute to D&D's origin story. Each document is introduced, described, and woven into the story by one of the game's foremost historians, Jon Peterson."

The "new news" here is that the book will also include a "draft of D&D", which is most likely the draft termed "Guidon D&D" by Peterson, and also contemporary articles. The inclusion of the draft is particularly noteworthy and exciting as this is a document that has never before been shared with the public in its entirety.

The promo image of the cover shows four ribbon bookmarks in different colors that appear to correspond to sections of the book, which are colored along the bottom of the page in the "Sneak Peek" images, with red corresponding to Chainmail and yellow corresponding to the original D&D volumes.

I saw a post on Twitter that unlike the other forthcoming WOTC books, which will be released in both physical and digital formats, this one will only have a physical release. So unfortunately no pdf option. 

So, in summary, we now know the 500 pages of this tome will cover the years 1970-1977, and include at least:
  • "Gary Gygax's never-before-seen first draft of D&D written in 1973"
  • "a replica of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, page for page"
  • "never-before seen correspondence" between Gygax and Arneson
  • "a curated collection of published fanzine and magazine articles"
  • historical context by Jon Peterson

The book is already available for pre-order at Amazon for $99, but also with a price-drop guarantee:

The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons: 1970-1977

I've already pre-ordered it myself!

Note that while The Art & Arcana Deluxe, which is the previous WOTC publication most similar in nature to this one, still has a list price of $125 on Amazon, it is currently for sale for $66. Looking at my records, the price when I pre-ordered it was $100, but with the pre-order price guarantee I got it for $63.50.


Just out today (2/15/24) is a fascinating interview with Jason Tondro, who I quoted above, further detailing the contents of this book. From this it's clear it will include the entirety of 2nd Edition Chainmail, the "Guidon D&D" draft, the first printing of the LBBs (complete with the Tolkien references) and the first three supplements, among much other correspondence and magazine articles. It's a long interview (38+ minutes) but well worth the time spent watching it.

See also:

OD&D Discussion thread

Dragonsfoot discussion thread

EnWorld discussion thread

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