Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977)

Unlike Tom Moldvay’s 1981 Basic Set, which was its own self-contained system, this box of rules was born out of the White Box rules and, though not 100% compatible, was intended as a gateway to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, which saw its first release, the Monster Manual, the same year. Aside of the charmingly crude cover art by David C. Sutherland III, it is short on memorable illustrations, though there is a side view cutaway of a dungeons that looks like something out of a science text book from the period that I absolutely love.

My copy is from 1979, which you can tell because instead of dice, it has an insert of numbered cardboard chits. Cut ‘em up, put ‘em in a container and draw your number at random. There’s a coupon included to purchase actual dice – apparently, there was a shortage going on at the time.

The best thing in the box (aside of the included B2 module, Keep on the Borderlands, which I will cover separately) is TSR’s Gateway to Adventure catalog. I love these old catalogs, partly as a crystal ball into history, to see what was available when, partly to see the prices (some are
cheap, some aren’t!), mostly to wonder what would happen if I submitted an order by mail. Maybe time travel works via parcel post?

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