Dungeons & Dragons Rules

These are all the rules for all the Dungeons & Dragons games:

Original Dungeons & Dragons [original]
Supplement 1 - Greyhawk
Supplement 2 - Blackmoor
Supplement 3 - Eldritch Wizardry
Supplement 4 - Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes
Basic Game Dungeons & Dragons (Basic Dungeons & Dragons, Basic Game Book)
Basic Game 2nd Ed. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook
Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rulebook
Basic Game 3rd Ed. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules:
Player's Manual
Dungeon Master's Rulebook
Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rulebook
Dungeons & Dragons Companion Rules:
Players Companion: Book One
Dungeon Masters Companion: Book Two
Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules:
Master Players' Book
Master DM's Book
Dungeons & Dragons Immortals Rules:
Players' Guide to the Immortals
DM's Guide to the Immortals
Basic Game, 4th Ed. Dungeons & Dragons Rule Book
Dungeons & Dragons Cyclopedia

Dungeons & Dragons
Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures

a.k.a. Collectors Edition
a.k.a. "The White Box"

Summary
Stock Code2002
Released1974
AuthorGary Gygax, Dave Arneson
Interior ArtistsKeenan Powell
Greg Bell
C. Corey
D. Arneson
T. Keogh
David Sutherland
Cover ArtistKeenan Powell: Box Book 1 Book 2 Book 3
Pages
  • Volume 1: Men & Magic - 36
  • Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure - 40
  • Volume 3: The Underworld &
    Wilderness Adventures - 36
Campaign World None
Rating**

A stroke of luck in finding the Classic D&D Site (sadly now disappeared to the land of 404) meant that I have been able to download the first three books as zipped up PDFs. What a cumbrous title. And what a fascinating read! There are only three classes "Fighting-Men", "Clerics", and "Magic-Users", and it seems that the Race/Class split was there from the start because it seems that Elves can act as both magic-users or fighting-men, but they can only gain experience in one of the classes at a time.

It has rules that I had not expected - such as rules for building castles and strongholds. It seems that the ultimate end of the game involves a lot of construction, and then playing mass combat with the Chainmail rules. The fact that all distances are given in inches (which persists in first edition AD&D) shows its miniature game roots. In fact, it seems that Chainmail is meant to be the primary combat system, and the familiar Armour Class/To Hit system we all know and love is an optional system if you don't have the former game. Not that there is any combat sequence, or even an example of using this combat system anywhere in the three books (although naval and aerial combat is covered!). The nearest clue is on pg. 11 of Men & Magic, where Dexterity "will indicate the character's [...] speed with actions such as firing first, getting off a spell". By this, I assume that all actions were meant to be done in Dexterity order. This is clarified as being the case in the Holmes Dungeon & Dragons Rulebook, on pg. 5. Or maybe Gygax & Arneson also assumed that the Turn Sequence from pg. 9 of Chainmail would be used, which seems very close to the Moldvay Basic Rulebook combat sequence which I originally learnt. According to Dave Arneson's web site, the combat system was based on a naval combat game, where I assume AC 1 meant a first class ship. One thing I can't work out is why you would want to use any other weapon than a dagger, since all weapons do the same damage. Indeed, it says that light weapons, such as daggers, get two blows per round, whilst heavy weapons such as pikes get only one blow per two rounds. This would only make sense if you were using the Man-to-Man charts from Chainmail.
Interestingly enough (for me!) it looks as if first level fighters are slightly disadvantaged in the "alternative" system, compared to Chainmail, since when using Chainmail, a first level fighter fights as Man+1, whilst both the Magic-User and Cleric fight as Man.

What is amazing is how much that I recognise from later rulebooks is in this game. All the classic and dearly loved monsters are there: Kobolds, Green Mold, Grey Ooze, Black Puddings, Trolls, Gnolls, Bugbears etc., although to be fair, a lot of them were in Chainmail first. The classic magic items; Gauntlets of Ogre Power, Horn of Blasting, Drums of Panic, Bag of Holding. And all of the classic spells that would become part of the Dungeons and Dragons game are covered here: Charm Person, Knock, Massmorph, etc. There are up to 14 spells specified for each level, which is a lot more than I thought had originally been invented. The Magic-User is supposed to have a spellbook per spell level, although there are only six levels in this game. Since the game allows you to progress in levels indefinitely, the spells go all the way up to 6th level for Magic-Users and 5th level for Clerics. Incidentally, it seems that the idea of only giving spells to Clerics at 2nd level starts here! I always thought that this was sensible, the idea being that Clerics need to prove their faith before they get spells.

One notable difference in the rules between this and the versions I was familiar with: few ability scores have an effect in the game. The most obvious is that Strength gives you no bonus to "To Hit", damage, or opening doors, although supposedly it helps you to open doors (not that the rules tell you how)! Likewise, a 13+ Dexterity only gives you a bonus on missile weapons of +1, and no armour class adjustment. Wisdom gives you no bonuses on magical saving throws. Constitution never gives you a bonus or penalty to hit points of more than one. As for Intelligence, it seems that you get one extra language for each point of Intelligence over 10.
The reason why you would want a high prime requisite is that 15 or more gives you a 10% bonus, and 13-14 gives you a 5% bonus to the experience points obtained in a game session. Bizarrely, the value on the other side of the average (9-12) gives you 10% and 20% penalties. Presumably the logic behind this is that more able characters get more out of their experiences, although many people might argue that it is unfair that a character would always receive a bonus or penalty to experience points purely due to a dice roll at the beginning of that character's career. Maybe to give the characters a better chance of getting an experience bonus, there are bonuses to the prime requisite modified by a fraction of the other two scores (out of Strength, Intelligence and Wisdom) for just experience purposes (although this is just my interpretations of the rules: some have said that you are able to adjust scores instead).

The experience rules seem quite different to other versions of D&D. For a start, experience points for slaying monsters is 100 per level. Even the Greyhawk Supplement calls this ridiculous. It becomes apparent why dungeon level is given such importance in early D&D, because this has a direct involvement in the rules: only a fraction of experience (character level / dungeon level) is gained if the encounter was on a dungeon level lower than the character's level! This explains Gygax's obsession with enormous dungeon levels. It is quite telling that TSR itself has rarely created dungeons with more than 3 levels at a time, and rarely do their levels correspond directly to specific dungeon levels as described in the rulebooks.

I love these rules because they seem so fresh and vital. But ... and this is a big but ... they are terribly organised. I can imagine that searching these books for the relevant rule became so frustrating that people would simply make up the own rules on the spot. You can almost forgive the editor of the blue book for his lack of chutzpah. The other big problem is that too many game mechanics are actually absent from this book; instead, references are made to Chainmail - even in the Monsters and Treasures book!

Historical Oddities

Notable Quotes


Dungeons & Dragons
ADDITIONAL Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures
Supplement 1 - Greyhawk

Summary
Stock Code2003
ReleasedFebruary 1975
AuthorGary Gygax, Rob Kuntz
Interior ArtistsGreg Bell
Cover ArtistGreg Bell
Pages 68
Campaign World None
Rating**

After the success of Dungeons and Dragons, the inevitable supplements started arriving. The first was written by Gygax, named Greyhawk for the campaign which he had been running since "invented" the game. Surprisingly, whilst Greyhawk is more commonly known as one of TSR's many campaign worlds (and now is Wizards of the Coast's premier setting), there is virtually nothing about the setting, other than a humorous mention of "Castle Greyhawk" and a sketch of the "Great Stone Face Enigma of Greyhawk".

Instead, Greyhawk is a disparate mixture of a number of elements. Most of all, it is a "patch" to the original D&D rules: whilst there is some new material, some rules replace what has gone before. After reading for a few minutes, I immediately started thinking: this is "Advanced D&D"! Many of the rules introduced here never made it to the Basic D&D rules branch, e.g. extraordinary Strength for fighters, the Paladin class, weapon vs. armour type.

Ability scores suddenly become more useful in this game. Strength now affects To Hit, Damage, and Open Doors. Constitution scores higher than 16 now give you better hit point bonuses.

Rules for a Magic-User knowing a spell are used here, and are similar to the concepts in AD&D, although the percentage values and number of spells known are very different

Hit Dice are rationalised: Upon attaining a new level, instead of throwing a certain number of d6 and applying a modifier depending on level, the familiar idea is introduced where you throw a particular die, depending on class, and add it to the running maximum total. Similarly, the concept of variable amounts of damage done per weapon type makes its appearance here, as does the concept of different amounts of damage being done depending on the size of the monster being attacked. Interestingly, the author suggests that if these rules are to be used, then the weapon type versus armour type chart (derived from the Man-to-Man combat table from Chainmail pg. 41) should be used as well.

The Thief class is introduced here, and finally completes the four archetypal character classes which persist throughout D&D. The percentage values for the thief abilities given in the game remain the same up to the 1981 Basic and Expert rulebooks. It could be argued that this is yet another grafting onto the D&D system, since they don't really have any connection with any other mechanic in what is a strictly class and level based game. Whilst AD&D 2nd edition allowed the player to vary these values, it wasn't until "3E" came along did the thieves' skills merge into a more general system.

Not surprisingly, a great amount of the book is devoted to the inevitable compendium of new Monsters and Treasures, which became the staple of magazines everywhere. However, the section I enjoyed most was the "Tricks and Traps" section, which consists of three pages of fiendish ideas described in a single line. The picture following the encounter tables of a Bugbear is very different from what it is normally portrayed: it looks more like a pumpkin-headed furry monster, and nothing like a Goblin!


Dungeons & Dragons
ADDITIONAL Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures
Supplement 2 - Blackmoor

Summary
Stock Code2004
Released1975
AuthorDave Arneson
Interior ArtistsKeenan Powell
Greg Bell
C. Corey
D. Arneson
T. Keogh
David Sutherland
Cover ArtistKeenan Powell
Pages 60
Campaign World Blackmoor
Rating**

Despite Gygax's preface to Greyhawk saying that "Dave Arneson, ..., is currently in the catacombs beneath his tower preparing the second supplement.", Arneson insists that he had finished the Blackmoor supplement before Gygax's Greyhawk, and had deliberately postponed Blackmoor until he had finished his. I suspect that Gygax may well have had some hand in editing the finished manuscript, because it has a preface written by him, and the layout of the text is identical to that of Greyhawk, with sections following the three volumes of Dungeons and Dragons.

Two new character classes are introduced here: Monk and Assassin. Interestingly, the new Monk class is defined as being a sub-class of Cleric; in AD&D, the Monk class stands on its own. Also, Assassins are described as always being Neutral!

There are rules for hit locations, including crippling, hacking off limbs and mortal wounds. This surprised me because I've not seen official D&D rules for this until the late 2nd edition optional rules manuals. I'm guessing that they never made it into AD&D because it was essentially not very heroic for our heroes to suffer these type of indignities! Also it may have been due to the extra level of complexity: as well as keeping track of hit points on different parts of the body, you must also look up and interpret the result of reading a matrix of weapon size vs. monster size!

After an inevitable new monsters section, which contains the likes of Sahuaghin and Giant Otters, you get to the first officially released adventure for D&D. This is the famous Temple of the Frog, which is the basis for the (much) later Dungeons and Dragons Module.

The rest of the book is taken up with Underwater adventures, Sages, and (depressingly) diseases.


Dungeons & Dragons
ADDITIONAL Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures
Supplement 3 - Eldritch Wizardry

Summary
Stock Code2005
Released1975
AuthorGary Gygax
Interior ArtistsKeenan Powell
Greg Bell
C. Corey
D. Arneson
T. Keogh
David Sutherland
Cover ArtistKeenan Powell
Pages
Campaign World None
Rating**

Dungeons & Dragons
ADDITIONAL Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures
Supplement 4 - Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

Summary
Stock Code2006
Released1975
AuthorGary Gygax
Interior ArtistsKeenan Powell
Greg Bell
C. Corey
D. Arneson
T. Keogh
David Sutherland
Cover ArtistKeenan Powell
Pages
Campaign World None
Rating**

Dungeons & Dragons
a.k.a. Basic Dungeons & Dragons, Basic Game Book

Summary
Stock Code2001
Released1st Ed. 1977, 2nd Ed. Nov 1978
AuthorGary Gygax & Dave Arneson,
EditorEric Holmes (Ed.)
Interior ArtistsDave Sutherland III (and others?)
Cover ArtistDave Sutherland III
Pages48
Campaign World None
Rating*

The stupid thing is - I could have bought this for £2 in 1981! At the time, I lived in Cambridge, which is where TSR UK used to have their headquarters. I once visited the house of a friend called Christopher Jones, and the Jones family had loads of games, which they used to frequently sell off to other people. I once saw a copy of the "blue box" Dungeons and Dragons Basic set, of which many had apparently been sold off by the head of TSR UK, Don Turnbull. This was offered this for sale at the time, but I thought it would be silly to buy an older rulebook. I could have sold now it on Ebay for squillions of pounds! Damn!

But ... to the rules. I got this as part of the fantastic TSR 25th Anniversary box set, where they reproduce a whole load of "classic" products - including the often dodgy artwork that was par of the course in the late 70s/early 80s. So presumably, the rules aren't any different - well, it seems to have the old fashioned typeface which was popular in TSR, so I assume it is a facsimile. And it isn't that bad really. For all intents and purposes, it is an edited version of the original D&D rules, a touch of Chainmail, plus bits of Greyhawk, guillotined so that it only covers characters of levels 1 to 3. The only additional class from "Greyhawk" is the Thief class; none of the more esoteric classes such as the Paladin are included. There were two editions of this book: apparently, the first edition (1977) had a wandering monster table featuring monsters not described in the game, but I am unable to determine any other differences. I also suspect the references to AD&D were added in the second edition, since the Player's Handbook would have come out by then. Then again, I have read an article by Holmes in which he says that his manuscript was further edited before release, so maybe the references to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons were added by TSR staff. This was suggest a Basic -> Advanced transition'
Although it is described as being the Basic rules in the product list on the back of the book, the name "Basic Rules" does not appear anywhere in the body of the text. However, in an early issue of Dragon, Gygax describes it as being "Basic D&D", and that it is designed to lead onto both AD&D and [Original] D&D.

To my mind, this rule book doesn't exactly succeed, since it doesn't have the detail of the previous books (48 A4 pages vs 100 A5 pages), and most annoying of all, there seem to be completely arbitrary choices made as to which rules the author have taken from original D&D as opposed to the enhanced Greyhawk version. More importantly it doesn't have the original's sheer exuberance - the Gygax touch, if you like. As a beginner's book it doesn't rate much higher - this is nothing like the easy to learn style that we have come to expect from TSR these days. For some reason, it has simplified the race/class rules so that Demihumans are counted as a class (which carried on until the end of the D&D line). But it does have the dual alignment system from "Advanced" e.g. Lawful Neutral;Chaotic Evil.

I immediately noted that the rules for adjusting ability scores first appear here. It seems that these are a modification of the OD&D concept of non-prime requisite scores affecting the experience bonus. Instead of giving you a bonus automatically, you must literally choose to reduce scores to raise the prime requisite. The fact that you can't reduce Dexterity, Constitution & Charisma obviously are descended from these rules.

A borrowing from the Greyhawk supplement - finally classes get different hit dice! These are rolled up when you create a character, and a new dice is added every level. Now, "Elves progress in two areas - fighting and magic". Since they have d6 hit dice, I interpret this as meaning that they progress simultaneously in the two areas, but won't go up levels until all the XP for both is earned i.e. lvl 2 - XP 4500, lvl 3 - XP 9000. But note that Halflings and Dwarves still are treated as Fighting Men for the purposes of advancement, even if Halflings only get d6 hit dice, for no other reason than that they are "small" (which makes a mockery of the abstract Hit Point system). Since this only covers levels 1 to 3, there are no comments about maximum limits.

I have to disagree with many people who say that this version is different from original D&D in that Race/Class is replaced by simply Class. Pages 6-8 in Men & Magic are almost the same as pages 6-7 in this book, with the exception that Thieves now exist (for Humans only) and Elves are forced to be Fighting Men/Magic Users simultaneously rather than sequentially.
I think this confusion comes from the Saving Throw Table on page 13, where "Dwarves & Halflings" are under "Class". But note that "Elves" is not in this chart. Holmes has decided to simplify matters by subsuming the +4 level bonus to saving throws noted under pages 7-8 of Men & Magic into the saving throw tables, i.e. giving them saving throws of Fighting Men of levels 5 to 7, which of course aren't covered in this version.
There are a few problems with this:

  1. In original D&D, this only applied to saving throws versus magic, not all of them.
  2. At third level, the Dwarves and Halflings should be saving as Fighting Level 7, which pushes them into the next category.
  3. Even at level 1 and 2, the save versus Dragon Breath should be at 13, not 14.
Talking of Saving Throws, they are in a completely different order from the preceding and following versions of D&D

There is now an NPC class called "Normal Men", which whilst not described anywhere in the text (not even hit points!), they have their own saving throws and "To Hit" rolls, which are essentially one point worse than a (1st level Fighting Man). It could be argued that this is an attempt to rebalance the combat rating of "Man" from Chainamil to the "Man+1" rating of a 1st level Fighting Man, but this has meant that the Cleric, Thief and Magic User are all better than "Man" at combat, for no real good reason. Presumably "Normal Men" was meant to be the equivalent of "zero level characters" from AD&D.

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that at last, the combat system is described, although there still isn't a combat turn chart like in the Moldvay Basic Rulebook. However, it does specify how you work out the order in which blows are made. You match up monsters and characters, and the one with the highest Dexterity score acts first. If you don't know a monster's Dexterity, you roll for it there and then. With Dexterities within 2 points of each other, you roll d6 for first blow. The surprising thing is that I have not seen this system used in either OD&D and AD&D, so I have to guess that this was Eric Holmes' own house rules, especially as it is essentially a compromise between a hint on pg. 9 of Men & Magic, and the Chainmail rules. Another retro Chainmail borrowing is the rules for parrying (pg. 21), which resemble those from pg.25-26 of the Chainmail rules: -2 for to the attackers To Hit roll, and if the attacker rolls the number required to hit the defender exactly, the defender's weapon breaks. This rule is pretty specialised, and so it is a surprise that the combat still doesn't have the variable weapon damage rules from Greyhawk.

Spells are slightly different. There are fourteen 1st , eighteen 2nd , and eighteen 3rd level Magic-User spells per level, the latter presumably for NPC spell-casters. This is more than in the original rulebook and than in the next basic rulebook, and some of the names are subtly different e.g. "Floating Disk" is "Tenser's Floating Disk" la AD&D. Rules for "knowing" a spell from Chainmail are used. Also like Original D&D and AD&D, there are rules for inventing spells and writing spells onto scrolls.

The monster section has been heavily edited, and follow the standard set by the AD&D Monster Manual, with statistics first, then a description - but no % in Lair. Strangely, there are a large number of monsters in this book, but most of them are far too powerful for even a party of 3rd level characters? If the characters were meant to be migrated to AD&D, the Monster Manual would have covered these creatures in greater detail, so their inclusion really makes no sense.

Movement is roughly double that of later versions, so an unarmored man can walk at 240' per turn whilst mapping and exploring, and he can walk at 480' per turn if he is simply walking. Personally, I think that these values are far more realistic than later version. And at least by now, distances are given in feet rather than inches.

The actual presentation of the rules is not that great. There are no clearly definable sections. Each heading follows on from the next, and tables are not easily found in the body of the text. There are few examples - in particular, there is no example of creating and equipping a character. The strange thing is that this is obviously meant to be an introduction to the AD&D game - there are only three levels detailed, and numerous points in the text where it is said that for higher level whatever consult the AD&D rules. However, it is obvious from comparing this with the rules in the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, that these rules aren't really that compatible with AD&D. This is explained by Gary Gygax in the Sorcerer's Scroll column in Dragon #35 (Pg. 13), where he admits that elements of AD&D were deliberately grafted into these rules, because at the time they had decided against doing a revision of the entire Dungeons & Dragons rules in the manner of the Basic set. However, it looks as if the high sale figures for the Basic Set (and maybe a court case from Arneson?) made TSR change their minds, and so they decided to do a "proper" sequel called the "Expert Set", whose rules would go up at least the 14th level of ability.

Historical Oddities

Notable Quotes


Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook

Summary
Stock Code2014
ReleasedJan 1981
AuthorsGary Gygax & Dave Arneson
EditorTom Moldvay
Production/LayoutHarold Johnson
Frank Mentzer
Editing/ContinuityLawrence Schick
Allen Hammack
David Cook
Kevin Hendryx
John Pickens
Patrick Price
Paul Reiche III
Evan Robinson
Ed Sollers
Don Snow
Steve Sullivan
Interior ArtistsJeff Dee
James Roslof
David S. LaForce
Bill Willingham
Erol Otus
Cover ArtistErol Otus
Pages64
Campaign World None
Rating***

This rulebook was my introduction to D&D, and it has nostalgia value for me. But for the purposes of this review, I have gone back to it, and have tried to be objective. Happily, I can report that this is still a pretty good set of rules. Certainly, compared to the previous Basic Rulebook, this is a marked improvement. It is organised into eight sections: Introduction, Player Characters, Spells, The Adventure, Encounters, Monsters, Treasure, and Dungeon Master Information. It has a very nice step by step character creation process, which tells you to do things whilst telling you what they mean. In general, all charts are twice as readable than the previous set of rules.

Like the previous rules, this only covers levels 1 to 3, but sensibly it cuts down the number of spells described (only twelve 1st and 2nd level, and three 3rd level Magic-User spells are covered) probably because at that point, the designers already knew that the higher level spells and monsters were to be covered by the Expert Rulebook, released simultaneously. It is notable that now, a Magic-User has a single spellbook containing all levels of spells. In terms of layout, the Spells and Monsters sections are vastly improved, the latter by consolidating rules for special attacks as a prelude to the monster descriptions. The monsters also average lower levels than the ones in the previous rules, which is just as well since the idea of 1st to 3rd level characters going after vampires was always rather unfair.

Also like the previous rules, it makes a virtue of the fact that the rulebook contains "guidelines", and not hard and fast rules. It is suggested that if you don't like something you are welcome to change it (unlike the first edition AD&D books, where Gary Gygax laid down the law for "game balance"). At this point TSR have decided to keep "D&D" as a separate line, and so there are numerous references to the Expert rules and even a few to the Companion supplement.

From these rules onwards, all ability scores have some sort of effect on the game, probably an influence from the AD&D game. However, the rules concerning ability scores have been streamlined, so most of them follow the idea of seven bands giving modifiers from -3 to +3. The class/race rules have also been streamlined: Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are given separate charts for the purposes of Experience and Saving Throws. Elves do slightly better now, only requiring experience of 4000 and 8000 to get to levels 2 and 3. However, Dwarves now require 10% more experience to go up a level (presumably to compensate for their new maximum level in the Expert Rules. Halflings still progress as Fighters, but still with their pathetic d6 hit dice, which I strongly disagree with.

The combat system is neatened up. Dexterity is dropped to determine who moves first. Instead, the concept of initiative rolls is added, for both party and individual (which is modified by Dexterity). The idea of surprise rolls comes back from original D&D, after being missed in the previous rulebook. Variable weapon damage and monster Morale make their entrance at this point (although these had been used in the Greyhawk supplement). For the first time, the concept of automatic hits (20) and misses (1) appears, which is an idea I always liked i.e. even under the best or worst circumstances, luck can influence matters. A Morale system is introduced here, but it is simpler than AD&D's system, which depends on a creature's HD, and must be calculated during or in advance of combat.

The sample dungeon is quite good - the Haunted Keep of the Rodemus family. The author shows how he created the dungeon, following the suggested rules in about a page, shows the end product, and then shows an example of play in this dungeon, which is all very neat. Following the author's suggestion, I expanded this dungeon, and created quite a fun adventure, if I remember.

Historical Oddities

References

New Monsters

There are tons more monsters for Basic D&D than in the previous rules, if you exclude those which appear in the Expert Rules.

Dropped Monster


Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rulebook

Summary
Stock Code2015
ReleasedJan 1981
AuthorsGary Gygax & Dave Arneson
EditorsDavid Cook with Steve Marsh
Production/LayoutHarold Johnson
Jon Pickens
Lawrence Schick
Editing/ContinuityAllen Hammack
Kevin Hendryx
Tom Moldvay
Brian Pitzer
Michael Price
Patrick Price
Paul Reiche III
Evan Robinson
Ed Sollers
Don Snow
Stephan D. Sullivan
Jean Wells
Interior ArtistsJeff Dee
Wade Hampton
David S. LaForce
Erol Otus
James Roslof
Bill Willingham
Cover ArtistErol Otus
Pages64
Campaign World None ... exactly (but see below)
Rating***

This is the companion volume to the simultaneously released Basic Rulebook by Tom Moldvay. It has a number of tasks to do. The most obvious is to provide rules for progressing characters beyond the 3rd level which was covered by the Basic rules. So back come all the spells and magic weapons from the previous Basic Rules. But probably just as important, it also adds some rules regarding the wilderness, which have not been mentioned since the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons, although it should be noted that these were completely different. It is notable that the speed of movement in the wilderness is twice that of AD&D (Player's Handbook pg. 102 says it is 1" = 1 mile i.e. 10' = 1 mile; this rulebook pg. X20 says it is 10' / 5 = 2 mile). Personally, I consider this to be not overly unrealistic, and it certainly makes travel less boring.

The sections follow the same order as the Basic Rulebook, which make it a simple matter to combine the rules together in a ring binder, not that I have ever tried. Presumably, the intention was to have the "Companion Supplement" (or Master set, as Gary Gygax calls it in one Dragon article) to follow the same sequence so that all the rules could be placed in a single binder. Now there are the first new rules for character progression since original D&D (if you don't count AD&D, which is very different after 4th level of most classes). Elves were originally restricted to MU4/FM8; they now max out at a combined level 10. Likewise, Dwarves' maximum level is doubled from 6 to 12, and Halflings' from 4 to 8. The experience charts look similar to original D&D, but they come up with the concept of "Name Level", which is the level after which no more level titles are given, which is 9th level (too late for Halflings). Also, this is the maximum number of hit dice thrown; instead a fixed number of hit points are added per level afterwards. The charts for Human character levels end at 14, however it suggests that human character can progress up to 36th level, and the Companion Supplement will cover this in the future.

Due to the Name Level changes, the 3rd and 4th level titles "Theurgist" and "Thaumaturgist" have been removed, and all titles that were previously 5th level and above have been moved down two levels. The Magic-User spell allocation is completely different after level 3, and there are only 12 spells per level.
Similarly, there is a new Cleric title at 6th level, "Elder", and all titles from 6 upwards have been moved up by one level. The spell allocations from Cleric levels 1 to 6 are identical to OD&D, and are slightly different from there onwards. All the eight 2nd level spells from the blue Basic Rulebook have been taken, and two spells are added at 3rd level.

To bring D&D towards AD&D standards, there is more equipment, more spells (and a few new casting rules), wilderness exploring and advanced retainers, a few new rules on encounters, more monsters, and more treasure. It seems that there is quite an overlap between the Encounter sections of the Basic and Expert rules. This may be due to the necessity of compatibility with the earlier blue Basic rules.

Finally, there is a "sample wilderness area". This is the first mention of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, and it is likely that this map is actually based on the one found in X1 - The Isle of Dread, released in the same year. There is one map at 6 miles per hex (which namechecks the Haunted Keep sample dungeon from the red Basic Rulebook), and a single page which describes three human settlements, and a Gnome lair (map on next page). This is the start of the entire campaign world; the Grand Duchy will be revisited many times: (see B10, B1-9. GAZ1). Personally, I don't like campaign world material being mixed up with generic rules (this sort of stuff should be in sourcebooks), but considering that this is being presented as a sample, it isn't a big deal.

References

Historical Oddities

New Monsters

Those which are apparently unique to the D&D line:

Those which have "skipped" a generation i.e. weren't in the Blue basic rules:

Those which are just slightly different from the blue book:

Interestingly, Djini is called "Djini, Lesser" in this book, and the Efreeti is called "Efreeti, Lesser".


Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules:
Players Manual
Dungeon Masters Rulebook

Summary
Stock Code1011
ReleasedMay 1983
AuthorsGary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Revised byFrank Mentzer
Interior ArtistsLarry Elmore
Jeff Easley
Cover ArtistsLarry Elmore
Pages64 / 48
Campaign World None (but see below)
Rating***

Two years later, and another edition of the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rules! But this time, it consists of two books with a total of 112 pages. How could be have expanded by 48 pages? The answer is that an another attempt has been made to make it easier get beginning players into the game. And I admire how Frank Mentzer does it. By the first page, you are given three character attributes and a character class. The next page, you start a weird mixture of rules, story, and fighting fantasy adventure. In the story, each time you need to know about a rule, it summarises it. It goes in this way until Pg 22, at which point we go back to proper rulebook mode. It seems that at the time, there was yet another drive to make the D&D game easier to get into for players. As well as understanding how to play the game, the other big problem for novices was that there were no other people to play the game with. Released simultaneously with these rules were the solo modules M1 - Blizzard Pass and M2 - Maze of the Riddling Minotaur to allow players to play with the rules without needing other people. Unfortunately, there weren't to be many other solo releases for D&D, despite the popularity of solo Tunnels & Trolls, and the inevitable Fighting Fantasy book.

Maybe following the principle of AD&D, there are separate books for Players and DMs. This makes it easier to determine which stuff the players shouldn't read. This concept is followed by the Companion, Masters, and Immortals rules, but annoyingly not the Expert rules. The DM's book in this set follows the previous Basic Rulebook; in some places, the text is exactly the same. The layout is improved yet another level from the previous edition of the Basic Rules. Since Jeff Easley does all the internal illustrations, there is a nice unified look and feel. The typography is also a lot better - the print is crisp and pleasing to the eye,

One interesting change from the previous version is that TSR make a massive cop-out as regards Clerics. In all previous version of D&D, the Cleric was supposed to get his spells from a deity. But now it wishy-washily talks about gaining powers from "their beliefs", and immediately says that this is not to imply any specific belief. Obviously, at this point, "Basic D&D" was targeted at younger players, and after all the controversy over D&D in the 80s with various religious organisations, they didn't want to be seen to tell their players to worship a real god. This approach is generally ignored by subsequent module writers.

Magic-User spellbook use is slightly different. All Magic-Users will start with 2 spells, one of which is Read Magic. As well as getting a new spell per level, you can copy new spells from scrolls into your spell book.

At this point, the D&D line is ruled by Frank Mentzer, despite the return of the Gygax and Arneson credits. His intention is not to rewrite the Basic and Expert rules, but to repackage them for beginning players, and then extend them.

It is to be noted that the Magic-User, "Bargle" is first met here as a recurring enemy in the solo adventure, although there is no reference to his background. This is retrospectively given in GAZ1 - The Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

New Monsters

Removed Monsters

Renamed Monsters

References


Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rulebook

Summary
Stock Code1012
Released1st Ed. July 1983, 2nd Ed. ??
AuthorGary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Revised byFrank Mentzer
EditorAnne C. Gray
Interior ArtistLarry Elmore
Cover ArtistLarry Elmore
Pages64
Rating***

This is very much an incremental update of the previous Expert Rulebook. Most of the changes in character classes are due to the fact that the Companion Set and Masters Set were being worked on at the same time. Since it was known that the maximum level was 36, it was found that certain characters were progressing too fast in ability, which means that there is a bit of inconsistency between these and the previous rules.

Clerics are changed quite a bit. The spell allocations are reduced slightly at the middle levels (they no longer get a 3rd and 4th level spell at fifth level, for instance). There are now two extra spells at 3rd and 4th levels, and now four 6th level spells appear, which can be gained at Cleric level 12.
The Turning table is slightly different after Cleric level 9, so as to allow for greater progression via the Companion and Master rules. Compensating for that is the D+ result, which allows 3d6 rather than 2d6 Hit Dice worth of Undead to be destroyed.

Magic-Users have only been changed slightly: at level 12-14, the numbers of higher level spells are slightly reduced. In the spell listings, four each of the 5th and 6th level spells have been removed.

There appears to be a mismatch between this book and the later Companion rules - the Thieves ability table in my 1st printing version of this rulebook appears to be identical to the previous Expert Rulebook. The first printing of the Master Players' Book says that there is an edition labelled "New Edition!". Presumably a later edition of this rulebook has the revised scores. Certainly, AC2 - Combat Shield and Mini-Adventure from 1984 shows the revised table.

It is at this point that Frank Mentzer, the author of the product line featuring the Basic, Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortals sets starts expanding the Campaign world ideas. The sections on designing the wilderness has been expanded to give a lot more detail on what a typical home town or city would have in it. The sample wilderness is about four times the size of the original section. Compared to the previous version of this map, there are two new towns: Kelven, north of Specularum at the fork of three rivers, and Threshold, in a fork of western branch of the river from Kelven. There are trails to Kelven and Threshold from Specularum, a trail from Kelven to Selenica, and a trail leading east from Specularum.

There is a brand new map showing the sample home town, Threshold, located in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos; it is described in roughly one page. There is also one and a half pages of adventure ideas based around the town. However, Kelven is not described, and the Gnome Lair and description has been omitted from this book.

The northern half of the small scale map from X1 is reprinted in the centre of book as "The Lands and Environs of the D&D wilderness". The map shows trade routes, and now fixes the "official" locations of modules B1, B2, B3, B4, X1, X2, X3, X4, and X5. However, there is no text describing this map in this Rulebook; this is actually described in X1. Kelven and Threshold are also marked on this map, although the former is spelt "Kelvin" (also see GAZ1 - The Grand Duchy of Karameikos).

General Changes (see Dragonsfoot Classic D&D forum)

New Monsters

Removed Monsters

Renamed Monsters

Cleric Spell Changes

Old Expert New Expert
Level Spells
 12345
1-----
21----
32----
421---
522---
62211-
722211
833221
933322
1044332
1144433
1255443
1355544
1465554
Level Spells
 123456
1------
21-----
32-----
421----
522----
6221---
7322---
83321--
93332--
1044321-
1144332-
12444321
13554322
14555332

Dungeons & Dragons Companion Rules:
Player's Companion: Book One
Dungeon Master's Companion: Book Two

Summary
Stock Code1013
ReleasedApril 1984
D&D CreditGary Gygax and Dave Arneson
AuthorFrank Mentzer
EditorAnne C. Gray
Graphic DesignerRuth Hoyer
Interior ArtistsLarry Elmore
Jeff Easley
Cover ArtistLarry Elmore
Pages32, 64
Rating***

This is the first expansion to Dungeons & Dragons since AD&D, and the nice thing is that it has plenty of original material. Naturally, a lot of the spells are based on those found in AD&D . But it seems at this point, the designers had thought about where the game was progressing, and tried to make it more distinct from the AD&D game. Even the first edition Expert rules had already given a maximum level of 36, which meant that by level 14, you still had 22 levels to go: you were just over a third of the way there. It would be interesting to know whether the intentions of the designers at the point had intended the "Companion Supplement", that would cover levels 15 to 36, to be anything more than a "catch up" to make the game more like AD&D. However, the "Player's Companion" introduction says that it would cover settling down and starting kingdoms, the Master Set would cover characters' rise to become "Great Powers", and finally achieve immortality (although there is no mention of an Immortals Set

Player's Companion

Not all the material here is specific to just characters of 15th level and above. Apart from some 7th level spells for Clerics, gained at level 17, and 7th, 8th and 9th level spells for Magic-Users, a lot of the material can be used for characters of "name level". There are some new 5th and 6th level spells for both Magic-Users and Clerics. However, the unexpected ones are the obviously retrospective new classes. If you are a neutral Cleric at "name level", you can instantly become a Druid. This is not the same as the AD&D druid. Essentially, the Druid cannot wear any metal items, but gets some new spells, all of which are taken from the Eldritch Wizardry supplement. But there are no other special abilities, and the Druid is a Cleric for purposes of Hit Dice and Experience.

There is an interesting divergence with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with regards to Clerics and their turning ability. In OD&D, the highest level Undead creature was the Vampire. AD&D follows Vampire with Ghost, Lich and "Special". The AD&D table runs out after Cleric level 14. However, the "Basic" branch was designed for characters to reach the heady heights of 36th level, so it is understandable that four new categories are added after Vampire: Phantom, Haunt, Spirit and Nightshade - followed by Lich and "Special".

Fighters of name level, who haven't settled, can opt to become a subclass: "Paladin", "Knight", or "Avenger", depending on whether the character is Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic. The Knight is rather dull, since there are no special abilities gained, and in any case, I see no reason why a Fighter character who has proved himself could not be a knight at lower levels.

The Paladin is similar to the Greyhawk/AD&D class: Detect Evil, cleric spells, and Turn Undead. However, there appear to be no wealth restrictions. Hooray! Personally, I would allow Fighters to become Paladins at any lower level, assuming that they were shown to have proved themselves to be religious and to show their worth.

The Avenger is the Anti-Paladin by any other name. The only real difference in power is that they can opt to control undead rather than turn or destroy them.

All fighters can gain extra combat options, such as multiple attacks, smash, parry, and disarm. Note that these too are retrospective from 9th level if you want (except for multiple attacks, which start at 12th level).

Thieves seem to have gained a raw deal from the Companion Set. Rather than gaining new abilities, as suggested by the original Expert Rules, it appears that their abilities have been toned down just so they can continue to improve. Essentially, you have to get to level 22 so that you can attain roughly the same ability as a 14th level as described in the original Expert Rules.

The designers must have cursed themselves for keeping the Demi-Humans' level limits. Since the humans can progress up to 36th level, this means that the Demihumans are essentially coasting, with no hope of progression. So, to allow progression without contradicting themselves, the designers come up with the concept of Fighting Rank, which roughly follows the Fighter's ability to fight on the combat chart. At certain experience point totals, a new rank is gained, as are special resistances to certain types of attacks, depending on the class. Since no more hit points or spells can be gained after the maximum level, I suppose this is a sop to the players who have to see their human brethren becoming far more powerful. There is also a whole load of hokey stuff regarding Demi-Human clans, which are centred around a special artifact, which can be used to create magical items. It is telling that the Gazetteers series, particularly the ones covering the Demi-Human nations, provide mechanisms around the level limitations.

A new map is included at the end of the Player's Companion which distinctly shows a smaller scale map than the one in the Expert Rulebook, which shows a greater area, and also has shaded sections which correspond to the maps found in the modules X1, X4, X5, X6, and CM1.

Dungeon Master's Companion

This has two major completely new sections. The first comprises the rules needed to simulate a character's dominion. These seem to be interesting, but there is a little problem in that the PCs could just use this to gain levels whilst effectively sleeping. Lots of dominion style quests must be used to combat this possible abuse.
The second comprises the rules to fight battles behind enormous armies, without having to play them using miniatures, the War Machine. These are truly awesome, since they allow you to pit virtually any opponent against the characters' armies.

Next comes the first explanation of what is called the "Inner Planes". This is comprised of the "Prime Plane", the Ethereal and Elemental planes. Whilst the Astral plane is mentioned as surrounding all of the Inner Planes, you are directed to the forthcoming Master Set. Some of this stuff is borrowed from AD&D, but there are some nice original details. These include "Vortices" and "Wormholes", which connect the elemental planes to the prime plane via the Ethereal plane. However, it is possible that this was borrowed back into later AD&D books, such as the "Manual of the Planes".

The obvious stuff is new monsters and treasure. Not much different there, although I like the idea of certain monsters having different forms on the elemental planes (Medusae actually look like Beholders on the plane of earth!). The new undead fill in the gaps quite well, once Vampires have become too easy.

Like the new Expert Rules, the book ends with a none too subtle plug for the first module in the series, in this case CM1 - Clash of the Warlords, although in this case you actually have to buy it.

New Monsters

Monsters from previous versions


Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules:
Master Players' Book
Master DM's Book

Master Players' Book Summary
Stock Code1021
ReleasedJune 1985
D&D CreditGary Gygax
Compiled byFrank Mentzer
EditorBarbara Green Deer
DevelopmentHarold Johnson
Graphic DesignRuth Hoyer
TypesettingBetty Elmore
ArtistsJeff Easley, Roger Raupp
Cover ArtistLarry Elmore
Pages32
Rating**
Master DM's Book Summary
Stock Code1021
ReleasedJune 1985
D&D CreditGary Gygax
Compiled byFrank Mentzer
EditorAnne C. Gray, Mike Breault, Barbara Deer
DevelopmentHarold Johnson
Graphic DesignRuth Hoyer
TypesettingBetty Elmore
ArtistsJeff Easley
Cover ArtistLarry Elmore
Pages64
Rating**

The Master Players' book has the obvious character progression stuff, which is mostly about the extra Magic-User and Cleric spells, and more powerful monsters. Most of the rest involves a whole load of retroactive rules.

There is also a section about Suit Armour. However, the big retroactive rule change is the Weapon Mastery system, which is one way to create hyper-powerful characters, if you are not too careful. There are some good suggestions at a Rules Cyclopedia errata site that may be useful to tone them down. Incidentally, this is nothing like the Weapon proficiency and specialisation system used by AD&D. It is complicated in its own exciting way. To add more mass combat options, there is a whole section on siege equipment, and an extension of the War Machine (from the Companion Rules) covering sieges.

The Master DM's book, on the other hand, seems to have a whole lot of stuff that replicates AD&D. Anti-Magic and Artifacts are the obvious ones. Other monsters and classes added included: Lichs, Headsman/Thug (=Assassin), Mystics (=Monks), and the Undead Beholder. There are at last reasonable rules for monster spell casters, giving them the rather inappropriate terms "shaman" and "wokani".

At last the whole planet which encompasses the Known World is shown, although this is not referred to anywhere in the book. Unfortunately, this is printed on the inner cover of the book, requiring you to detach the cover to see it properly. It also has some strange ideas about the Empire of Thyatis' bounds. There is also a useful stat summary of all creatures published in the Basic to Companion sets, and many of the modules and accessories.


Dungeons & Dragons Immortals Rules:
Players' Guide to the Immortals
DM's Guide to the Immortals

Summary
Stock Code1017
ReleasedJune 1986
AuthorFrank Mentzer
EditorAnne C. Gray McReady
DevelopmentHarold Johnson
TypesettingLinda Bakk, Kim Lindau
Interior ArtistJeff Easley
Cover ArtistLarry Elmore
Pages32, 64
Rating**

A weird one, this. It is almost a completely different game, with not a lot that can be transferred to a standard game of D&D. I've never played this, although some of the ideas could be used for normal level D&D games.

Immortals, not surprisingly, hold a staggering amount of power. Even as an effectively first level Immortal, the PCs cannot be fully killed, except by other immortals. At this level, the adventures are often of not just world-shattering, but universe-shattering proportions. It appears that there are four spheres of influence that the players can join, which are effectively classes. The adventures seem to involve politics between the sphere, and the eternal fight against the (wait for it) Sphere of Entropy.

There is an eventual "final" end to the game, but it is so way over the top, I challenge anyone who has ever got to that point without dying of boredom.


Dungeons and Dragons Rule Book

Summary
Stock Code1070
Released1991
AuthorTimothy B. Brown
Developmental EditingJoshua Capian
TypesettingGaye O'Keefe
Interior ArtistTerry Dykstra
Cover ArtistJeff Easley
Pages64
Rating***

This is the companion rulebook to the Dragon Cards which come with the rest of the Dungeons and Dragons "Ready to Play" box set. Since the Dragon Cards do the work of introducing the game, this rulebook is just a reference book, with no examples. This means that they can fit in character levels 1 to 5, Cleric spells 1 and 2, and Magic User spells 1 to 3. The monster selection is essentially that of the previous Basic Rules, with a couple of Expert monsters added.


Dungeons and Dragons Cyclopedia

Summary
Stock Code1071
Released1991
Rules Compilation and DevelopmentAaron Allston
Editorial CoordinatorSteven E. Schend
EditingSteven E. Schend
with John Pickens
Dori "The Barbarian" Watty
Project CoordinatorBruce Heard
Art DirectorPeggy Cooper
Front Cover ArtistJeff Easley
Back Cover ArtistRobin Raab
Interior ArtTerry Dykstra
CartographyDennis Kauth
Frey Graphics
Graphic DesignStephanie Tabat and Robin Raab
TypographyAngelika Lokotz
Tracey Zamagne
ProductionSarah Feggestad
Pages304
Rating****

This book is a monster sized hardback, and is essentially a compilation of the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Masters rules. There is also the General Skills rules first mentioned in the Gazetteers, and the maps of the outer world and the hollow world from the Hollow World Campaign Set.

As far the rules go, the book is essentially a reference book, with no introductory sequences such as those found in Basic Rules; I imagine that this is left for the "Easy to Master D&D game". Neither do you have to look through seven different books for a particular rule. Also, there is no duplication of contents between rules, making it an essential reference work. The downside to this is that it appears that the TSR staff didn't 100% check the source material before compiling it, leaving in many of the errors that had cropped up in the boxed rules. A list of errata has been compiled about this.

However, it should be noted that there is material which was published in the boxed sets that don't make their way into this book. These include:

At the back of the book, there is a section on how to convert between these rules and the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. Quite pointless, in my personal opinion.

Note that there are no rules regarding Immortals, other than the ones that were in the original Masters Rules. Supposedly, the Wrath of the Immortals set was supposed to be the replacement for the Immortals Rules.