Original Dungeons and Dragons

I never played Original D&D–I was raised on 2nd ed. AD&D.

I always thought that in the original D&D game (just after Chainmail), “elf”, “dwarf,” and “hobbit” were treated just like classes, i.e., these were alternatives to “fighter,” “magic-user,” and so on.

So you couldn’t have an “elf fighter” but rather you were either an elf or a fighter. (Or a magic user or a thief or a cleric or a dwarf or a halfling.)

But at this page, http://members.cox.net/brucemohler/dnd/odnd.html, which claims to contain the rules to the original D&D after chainmail and before AD&D, it seems that characters have both a race and a class.

What he’s describing on this page looks more like what I thought 1st ed. AD&D was like, but he’s saying it’s OD&D, and naming the correct sourcebooks and everything, as far as I can tell.

So was my idea about races being alternatives to classes rather than in addition to classes in character generation in OD&D just pure… um… fantasy?


You’re right; basic D&D had elf and dwarf classes (and maybe a couple others too).

Hm. I have two sets (including the supplemental books) of the game in the white boxes. I’ll have to find them and look at the rules.

[sub]I wonder if they’re worth anything?[/sub]

Oh, yeah! :slight_smile:

I had the set a few years back and I think I sold it for something like $75.00. It’s probably worth even more now. This site dated 2001 shows it selling for $96-150 on Ebay back then. I doubt it’s gone down in value. :slight_smile:

According to my 1979 edition of the rules, the classes were:
Cleric: a human cleric.
Dwarf: basically a fighter-type.
Elf: a fighter/magic user, the best class in the game.
Fighting men: a human warrior.
Halfling: a halfling fighter.
Magic User: a human wizard.
Thief: a human thief.

The book refers to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and the classes listed therein, so it’s clearly written after AD&D came out; but I believe it corresponds to the rules from earlier additions as relates to classes.

My favorite bit about this rulebook is the rules for movement:

Think about that: moving cautiously, you move 120 feet per ten minutes. Broken down, that’s 120 feet per 600 seconds, or one foot per five seconds. Get up from your computer and try to move at that rate. “Cautious” ain’t hardly enough to describe that movement.

That’s not fair, though, perhaps, because you can move faster according to the table beneath:

Let’s focus on that fastest movement rate: if you’re not wearing armor, if you go sprinting down a hallway, you can move 720 feet every ten minutes. That works out to running six feet every five seconds.

Get up from your computer and try that movement rate again. Try to run six feet in five seconds.

We’ll finish off with the levitate spell:

In other words, this tremendous spell moves you upwards at a rate of 1 foot every ten seconds.

I like to imagine a horde of goblins rounding a corner and seeing a magic-user, and charging toward him as he casts levitate. “KILLLLLLLLLLLL!” they scream as they run in slo-mo, and the wizard looks at them in terror as, inch by inch, his feet slowly leave the ground. Will he be out of reach of them by the time they arrive, five minutes later?


Frylock, you are confusing D&D with AD&D. They were not the same.

I started in 1980 with the D&D red books boxed set and it is what you were thinking of. Released after Chainmail, it had Race and Class combined into one thing. You could be a Human Fighter, Mage, Cleric, or Thief or you could be an Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling.

The AD&D books (which also started coming out at the same time) was a different system, although very similar, it was not the same. It seperated the idea of Race and Class and allowed for Dwarven Thieves or Elven Fighters, etc.

Glancing at the link you provided, I think his rules are for a later version of D&D that also seperated Race and Class, but this is not the version that was released immediately after Chainmail.

So, in conclusion, No your memory is not wrong.


This is the white box.

This box contains:
[ul][li]Men & Magic (Vol. 1)[/li][li]Monsters & Treasure (Vol. 2)[/li][li]The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Vol. 3)[/li][li]Greyhawk (Supplement I)[/li][li]Blackmoor (Supplement II)[/li][li]Eldritch Wizardry (Supplement III)[/li][li]Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (Supplement IV)[/li][li]Reference Sheets[/ul][/li]The first three books, the basic rules, are ©1974.

So according to these rules, elves, hobbits, and dwarves are not classes; are restricted to a class (or two, in case of elves).

<tipping hat>

I stand corrected.

So the white books had them seperate before he created the red books where they were combined. Weird.

My books are actually tan, as if they are supposed to be leather or something. The mox I have is white. Were there books with red covers?

FWIW, I bought this set c.1980.

This is only from memory, so please excuse any slips. Plus this all had to reach the UK!

Around 1979-80 I remember a blue covered rules manual (written by Eric somebody?), which covered Basic Dungeons + Dragons up to 3rd level characters. There were 4 classes (F / MU / C / T), plus you could be an elf (=F/MU) or a dwarf (possibly a hobbit too).
There was a dungeon at the back which had the party investigating a magician’s home. The were burn marks on the walls, and an entrance to a cellar which led to a dungeon beneath the building.

Soon after this came Advanced Dungeons + Dragons … which I’m stll playing!

johnny L.A., I had that too. i think it was reissued in 1984 for the 10th anniversary or something.

I just noticed that this one has ‘Original Collector’s Edition’ on the box. Maybe I bought it later than I thought? But I was playing it earlier. Curious…

Speaking of playing, I wish I could play. People my age – at least the ones I know – have no time for such things. I haven’t played since the '80s, so I’d have to start from scratch. I doubt any kids would put up with that. (Not to mention that I’d like to play by the original rules.)

I still have my 3 booklets for D&D, and my entire Basic D&D set, except for the dice. I have a couple of them, but the others were destroyed by years of use (they were some kind of cheap hard plastic, and the corners tended to wear badly). I also have all the stuff I bought for AD&D (books, dungeons, character sheets, etc.) even tho I haven’t played in about 20 years. I also have something from Judge’s Guild called The City-State of the Overlord or something, a huge map with detailed NPCs in hundreds of bldgs. We used to use it as the capital city in one of the campaigns we did in high school.

Ahhhh, memories. :smiley:

Do your booklets match up to my descriptions earlier in the thread?
I’d love to see how accurate my memory is! (For example, I think the dungeon you mention was called ‘City State of the Invincible OverLord’…)

Johnny L.A. is dead right about the original form of D&D. Thieves didn’t exist at the outset. Basic D&D was a reverse-engineer from AD&D and designed to be easier to get to grips with from the outset. I first got into the game round about the time AD&D was getting started and I remember the excitement with which we viewed the Dungeon Masters’ Guide when that came out - prior to then we were playing a sort of bastardised D&D/AD&D with the Players’ Handbook and Monster Manual but no DMG (using the rules from D&D for that).

We also had next to no idea how to award experience or, for that matter, how to do pretty much anything else. Ah, good times. I remember the old CSotIO along with Tegel Manor, the badassest haunted house ever, the “Against the Giants” series… yanno, I owned both Tegel Manor and the City State and I threw them away :smack: * 10[sup]100[/sup].

I had the White box with the Tan Books. It was how I learned the game. I also had Chain Mail with a crappy plastic binding that fell apart in the 80’s.
I still play AD&D based on 1st edition.
The Tan books definately seperated class & race already.
The thin magazine sized bluish book (2nd edition printed 1978) was the one were race & class were combined. This was to keep things very simple. I still have the book and had to flip through it. We never used these rules. The 3 book white box was the gaming bible until AD&D started rolling out.

Heh–yep, I was in the same boat! I started playing around 1982 or 1983, and we had the blue set from which we started playing, a set I bought at a yard sale for 75 cents from a lady that tried to persuade me that I didn’t want it. I ran “In Search of the Unknown” for my little brother and my father.

My father played that one session and to this day doesn’t understand what I get out of roleplaying. My little brother? He’s the DM of our current game.

Johnny, if you’re really interested in playing, you may want to check out EN World, the biggest unofficial D&D website out there (disclaimer: I’m a moderator over there, but I’d recommend it anyway). There’s a Gamers seeking Gamers forum that’s decently active; I found one of my best players by posting a game listing there.

Also, if you’re really in LA, there’s Gencon West that happens every year out in California; it’s a humongous gaming convention. I’ve only been to Gencon East (in Indianapolis), but that con was a total and complete blast. Lots of great geekery.


Anyone remember this one? Or the color version?

I remember after D&D took off, a few stores sold the original pamplets, but at $8 a piece they were beyond my reach.

Yep, that the one I refered to. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=6446665&postcount=16
not a very useful book. We went from Boxed set to Boxed set with PHB & MM. We all saved up cash for the nearly $20 cost of DMG when it was released. I am happy to say I have a first printing. (It is in terrible shape and has notes in it and soda/beer spills) and I still use it. A very well made book.

There was a whole line of (no initial)D&D after the original books but before and coexistent with Advanced D&D.

The D&D Basic Set, some printings of which have already been linked. My personal printing (the one that began my involvement with the game) was the first “slick” one, the 12th.

The D&D Expert Set.

The D&D Companion Set.

The D&D Master Set.

The D&D Immortals Set, in which the players can become gods. No power inflation here!