The Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game began as a set of three Little Brown Books in a small format box (1974-9), written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

From there the very popular RPG would be revised repeatedly into different iterations. (In 1978-9, three different D&D rules sets were in print! TSR Hobbies had OD&D, Holmes Basic D&D, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, all available for sale)

If you’re curious about the other editions, visit my RPG reference site, specifically the D&D and AD&D pages.

But back to the original set (OD&D). What I have today in photos is a 5th print White Box.

(The first three printings had faux woodgrain graphics. See photo left. They sell to collectors for thousands of dollars these days.)

Visit The Acaeum’s OD&D page to identify printings. Very detailed.

OD&D referred the player to the Chainmail book for full combat rules.

Supplements would follow, expanding OD&D with more classes, campaign rules, magic, monsters, and more miniatures rules.

Chainmail, Swords & Spells, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, and Gods Demi-gods & Heroes.

Again, see my D&D page for more info. Today’s post will focus on the White Box.


Dungeons & Dragons (Original White Box)

1975 – 1979 … Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson … TSR 2002

OD&D in the shop

OD&D in PDF (cheap!) at DriveThruRPG

Browse sets on eBay

I filmed a video with my son, unboxing the 2013 WotC reprint of the White Box, plus some discussion of the evolution of D&D.

THE (NOT-SO) SECRET ORIGIN OF D&D. Shannon Appelcline’s essay is a fascinating history behind the classic game.

S&W White Box (and variations) discussed at the Fen Orc blog. The Old School Renaissance (OSR) provides several options to play OD&D, bypassing the need for an expensive collector’s set for gameplay.


Men & Magic (Volume 1)

Players were encouraged to use the Outdoor Survival game maps from competitor Avalon Hill.
Only 3 classes in the original game! Fighting Men, Magic-Users, and Clerics.
References to Hobbits, Ents, and Balrogs identify this to be an earlier printing. They were later removed, due to infringement of Tolkien’s Middle Earth books.
The TSR products list in the back is a snapshot in time.

Monsters & Treasure (Volume 2)

Robots, Golems, and Androids! I love this.
From the very beginning, intelligent swords were present.

Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Volume 3)

Delving deeper into the dungeon presented increasingly dangerous monsters.
Want to play on John Carter’s Mars?

Reference Sheets

Relevant tables gathered from the booklets. Unstapled sheets.

Links to Amazon, DriveThru, eBay are affiliate links of course. I get a few coins and its costs you nothing. Thanks!


See also: Holmes D&D: The First Basic Set (1977-80)

Dave Arneson’s Personal Woodgrain D&D set

John Carter: Warlord of Mars adventure game (SPI, 1979)

Empire of the Petal Throne: The First RPG with a Campaign World… TEKUMEL (1975)

1ST PRINTS: Player’s Handbook & Dungeon Master’s Guide (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1978-9)