Dungeons & Dragons Expert Rules (1983)

The blue box Expert Rules followed the Basic Rules in short order in 1983, taking characters from level four through 14. Where the red box was interested in dungeons, the blue box tackles the dangerous wilderness. In addition to the rules, the box includes the excellent module X1: The Isle of Dread to introduce players to the great outdoors in spectacular fashion (I covered X1 in a separate entry back in May).

The world the Expert Rules explores is the Known World, originally created by Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay for their own ongoing campaign that ran from ‘74 to ’76 and used by Moldvay in the Expert Set revision in 1981. The Known World would eventually come to be known as Mystara, which included the later Red Steel boxes, Hollow World and more.

This box’s art is all Larry Elmore and he’s still in great form, delivering for my money the best depiction of a scummy D&D thief I have encountered. There’s also a badass lady with a pet tiger (not a ranger, sadly, since there are no rangers). Towards the back of the book is an illustration of a party gathering their loot – perhaps the essence of D&D in a single image.

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