The original Dungeons & Dragons (White Box / Little Brown Books) was a hit in the mid-70s. But the scattershot game rules spread across 3 books and 4+ supplements could present a barrier for entry for new players.
Gary Gygax decided to remedy the problem.
“Organizational work was in progress when correspondence with J. Eric Holmes, professor, author and incidentally a respected neurologist, disclosed that the Good Doctor was interested in undertaking the first stage of the project — the rewriting and editing necessary to extract a beginner’s set of D&D from the basic set and its supplements. The result of his labors is the “Basic Set” of D&D”.
Gary Gygax, Dragon #14, May 1978, Sorcerer’s Scroll
I admire the resulting D&D Basic Set. The Holmes edition is complete in one box, accessible to even the uninitiated. Holmes Basic also serves as an introduction to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, as they are – broadly speaking – compatible.
I got in a nice-looking set in the shop, and took photos.
For those looking for more (much more!) about Holmes Basic, I’d suggest Zenopus Archives. It’s all about the D&D Blue Book: History, Trivia, Printings, Artists, Expansions, Variants, and more.
D&D Basic Set (Blue Book)
1977-1979 … Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson & Eric Holmes (editor) … TSR 1001
Holmes Basic includes a 48-page rulebook, Module B1 (or B2), and dice (or randomizer chits)
One thing that I am curious about is the colors of the dice. In the sets my friends had in the early 80s, all the dice were a uniform light blue color. The older books that we got as hand-me-downs, sometimes had chit bags with them, but no one passed any of the ‘low-impact’ dice of other colors down to us. (We were lucky to get any dice, I think, and blessed to get the books, but that is another story).
So, I am curious about these multicolored sets of dice and when they were a part of the Basic Set, and also if each type of die was always the same color or if all the dice were in all the colors, just distributed as mixed color sets. I can imagine a ‘collect them all’ sort of mentality springing up if a group noticed that Bill has a yellow D4 and Roger has an orange D4….
The colors were *somewhat* consistent. The D6 orange/red. The D12 blue. The D10 (D20) pink or white. D4 in yellow or green. D8 red or green.
Check out the dice in the Holmes set on my reference site page:
And the Boot Hill set:
The dice sets that were in the BECMI sets I bought in the 1980s were all one color. I believe the first Basic set (red boxed set) was green and from the Expert (blue boxed set) on they were all pale blue. I never saw multi-colored dice in any of them and they were purchased new back then. As for the Holmes or Moldvay sets, I only got the books second hand without dice. I would guess the pale blue dice set you had were out of one of the BECMI boxed sets.
Reblogged this on DDOCentral.
Hi – I recently bought some dice on eBay that were supposedly ‘sealed’, but it appears that a felt-tip pen was used to “re-ink” the D4 – some of the numbers are definitely a human written number than a die-imprinted number. I want to give the seller the benefit of a doubt – the 4-sided die in the picture almost looks like it too may have been manually inked. Do you know if TSR did in fact send out dice with ‘human corrected’ ink?
Don’t have anything concrete for you. It’s worth noting the very low production standards of the first TSR dice. Low-ink day at the factory…? I could see a line worker making a quickie fix and sending them on their way.
I remember my first set, Christmas 1978. y dice were pale blue and there was a white crayon in the box to fill the numbers in. the embossing had no ink, the instructions were to rub the crayon on the face of the die to fill the numbers in. I diligently rubbed the face of every die to fill it in in, and wiped the extra off, then repeated till it was perfect. I was 8 years old. Today I still play and I have written a new game system.
Started on this edition. Still own the book signed by Gary Gygax in person at Gen-Con.
I’ve still got my Holmes edition with B1 module; it’s really battered and taped up but the books are in relatively good shape. All the art and maps are burned into my brain as a core childhood memory. I’m not sure where the dice have gotten to but they’re around here somewhere… that photo you have of the dice doesn’t look familiar to me, so I’m wondering if I got a different set (I didn’t have the chits, it definitely came with dice) or if mine are just all beat the hell. I’ll have to have a look in the garage and see if I can dig them out and reunite them with the box. Thanks for this blog post; this is the epitome of classic D&D to me.