Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975)

This is Greyhawk, the first supplement for Dungeons & Dragons (originally published in 1975, though this is the 1979 12th printing). The name is a bit of a misnomer, though; despite Greyhawk being Gary Gygax’s homebrew campaign world, I see only three mentions of Greyhawk inside. Rather, this is a rulebook.

Greyhawk does a lot to fill out the original D&D box with material we know and love from later editions of the game. Carrion crawlers, umber hulks, owlbears, gelatinous cubes, lizard men, beholders, bugbears and more make their first appearance, as do thieves and paladins (as a playable class) and the druid (as a monster?). Vorpal blades and a whole host of classic magic items are introduced.

Organizationally, the book is a mess. It is hard to quickly differentiate between new material, revisions of previous rules (of which there are many) and the alternate combat system. Rather than a reference book, it reads like the latest installment in an ongoing D&D lecture series. It makes me appreciate the ultra-streamlining of the Black Hack all the more.

Greg Bell does most of the art. The cover, with its delightfully doofy Beholder features a warrior lifted from an old Eerie comic (Dax the Damned). Bell was coming along as an artist, though – his Lizard Man is great (and would serve as the TSR logo for a while) as is his Japanese Ogre. Special mention of the Bugbear, which in folklore is a bear-like boogeyman. Here it, uh, it has a pumpkin head. Apparently, Gygax said this was the result of Bell taking a metaphorical description (pumpkin-like) entirely literally. D&D bugbears would later ditch the pumpkin head but now I know where RuneQuest’s Jack O’Bear came from!

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