Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where I First Saw OD&D

I mentioned this in my previous post, but I though I'd expand on this story because the memory now haunts me (but in a good way as you'll see).

I was a kid living in Crystal Lake, Illinois when I discovered D&D, and I would often make trips to our local bookstore which, despite it being an independently owned shop, was located in a mall. I can't remember the name of the store for the life of me, but it was something like "The Book Hollow", but their bookmarks, as I recall, had the image of a small gnomelike fellow with a beard standing next to an old gnarled tree.

So in around the spring of 1982 I discovered one of the later editions of OD&D in with a bunch of other D&D stuff at this store. The box set was from the last set of printings which have "Original Collector's Edition" written on the box. In addition to the box set they had individual copies of Men & Magic and the other two volumes from the boxed set. I'm also certain they had copies of Gods, Demigods, and Heroes, Chainmail, and Eldritch Wizardry.

These books confused me as I hadn't seen them in any of TSR's catalogs such as their "Gateway to Adventure" catalog which had come with my Basic Set. Maybe it was the cover to Eldritch Wizardry which said: "Okay ten year old Nick this one isn't for you. . .and besides HOW are you going to get this one past your Mom?" I don't think I even had a clear understanding that these were the original rulebooks--I probably thought they were freaky old miniatures supplements for AD&D. Only years later did I realize what those little white booklets were.

Now, I keep thinking: if only I'd bought them!

Yet I think it was this memory which was fired when I stumbled across places like the Knights & Knaves Alehouse and the OD&D Discussion Boards. Soon I bought the OD&D PDFs from RPGNow, and I was off into creating my houseruled version of OD&D.

I think in that initial flurry of the OSR it felt a bit like we were excavating the origins of so much stuff that's now central to our hobby. It was exciting. And all that made me love D&D again.


  1. Hey cool blog.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Funny, I first encountered the OD&D books in a KayBee toys at a local mall, and had the same reaction as a result of the cover of Eldritch Wizardy: it was immediately apparent that these were not suitable for my age group. (I still recall months later when my friend mentioned that his older brother and some other high school kids played the game: "You're brother plays D&D," I said in a hushed, reverent, this-subject-is-taboo tone. :P) And to this day, I still have a similar "I wish I'd bought them" regret. Although, honestly, I think the Basic set was a better match for me...

  3. Christopher,

    I agree the Basic Set was perfect in a lot of ways. I even lamented abandoning it so quickly in favor of AD&D in one of my earlier posts. If I'd had to try to figure OD&D out without any kind of real support I might have been a bit frustrated by the game (as I sort of was by AD&D).

  4. I also saw some of the OD&D books in KayBee toys when I was about 12 or so (back in 1982 or thereabouts) and passed them up... much to my regret!

    Reading this makes me want to pick up a copy on eBay and risk the wrath of my wife. ;)