Real Dungeons & Dragons


I have read many of the posts on this forum and finally decided to register and share my own comments about Dungeons & Dragons. First my background: I started playing and refereeing (DMing for the ignorant) in 1975, not the beginning but near the beginning. Our campaign consisted of 10 men and 10 women. We used Chainmail 3rd Ed, The Three Volumes In The Box (Dungeons & Dragons) and then we used Greyhawk – Supplement I, Blackmoor – Supplement II and Eldritch Wizardry, bits and pieces from The Strategic Review and then from The Dragon and of course bits and pieces of The Arduin Grimoire (later the whole Arduin Trilogy). That is what constitutes real D&D. Yes, I got the Basic through Immortal rule books, The Rules Cyclopedia, 1st Ed AD&D, 2nd Ed AD&D and 3rd Ed AD&D renamed D&D 3.0 and then D&D 3.5. I consider it criminal that WOTC has the nerve to call 3.0 & 3.5 D&D. Yes I know that they have the copyright but that does not make it D&D; however, much they want it to be.

Real D&D is the only thing that will ever be D&D, everything else is only a pale imitation and the latest attempt has been tried and found to be a piece of crap. On top of that, WOTC removed the original 3 books from sale as PDF files so that no one could buy it anymore. From the Basic book onward, everything that has ever been published has only been useful as source material for the occasional good idea buried in the crap. The only game worth playing is the original rules lite game. The only people that play any of the later versions of the game are people who do not have access to the real game (pity that) and the people who do not have enough imagination to play a game where everything is not already spelled out for them.

It really does not matter what WOTC does, they cannot kill Real D&D anymore than Loraine Williams could. The only real tragedy is that back in the day Dave Arneson did not have the money to start TSR as a 50 – 50 partner with Gary Gygax. It would be great to have had D&D grow as two versions – the Gygax vision and the Arneson vision. Unfortunately, the Arneson vision, which was published as the First Fantasy Campaign and Adventures in Fantasy, is unavailable except to collectors with deep pockets. Maybe someone will create and post a PDF of both of these games for sale someday.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is this, people with imagination CAN play real D&D and people with little imagination are RESTRICTED to playing its rules heavy imitators because they CAN NOT play real D&D.

If anything in this post offends someone, tough. You are too wimpy to play real D&D if you are that easily offended. In fact, you are probably a munchkin, since they are the real lovers of rules heavy games. So if you are offended, thanks for the compliment.

PS: Now I can take my tongue out of my cheek. Cheers!!

Chill :) I've only played 2nd ed and 3.0 but I would like to try to original game and the other versions too. But you are right it is tough to get your hands on it. I was following a box set of the original the other day on ebay and it went for $330.00. Thats too rich for me. You said that it can no longer be bought as a pdf, so where would those of us with a acceptable imagination get our hands on the game? mmmmmm

Eh - okay. You sound like you know how to show yourself a good time, and that's the point of gaming. Cheers!

I started playing D&D in 1979. I was 8. It was the basic set; not the 3-alignment system that came along later, but the basic set to AD&D. I've played a lot of D&D since that time, though I avoided 2nd Ed for the most part -- I only played 2 campaigns of that.

I've run 3 campaigns of 3.0/3.5, and played in 3 more. It is my personal opinion that d20 D&D is far, far superior to any previous iteration of the game -- but that it still remains broken, suffering from many of the woes of the earliest version I ever played.

I'm not going to argue this point. I've already done so on a forum thread of my own. If you don't like 3d Ed, ok. I'm not an evangelist. Play what you like.

For my personal taste, classes and levels are not so great. Skill-based systems, such as GURPS and the admittedly flawed BRP of Call of Cthulhu, will always appeal to me more than any class- or level-based system does.

Happy gaming - and since I can't recall seeing you here before, welcome to Gamegrene!

I agree with ODnD. The new D&D(tm) 3.5 is not Dungeons and Dragons no matter how much money they spent purchasing the name. It is telling that they don't allow people to purchase PDFs of the original 1974 rules, we wouldn't want people to think for themselves would we?, otherwise the shareholders of megacorp wouldn't get the $$$$

Excuse me for being thick, but does ODnD_DM mean that his whole post is a joke and meaningless by that "tongue in cheek" line at the end?

I would like the Pessimist to stop being a pain and EXPLAIN as to how it is better. There are some of us who haven't had the chance to play the older versions... And I have PLENTY of imagination.

For those who are curious about "real" D&D, here are some thoughts.

First, I started playing DnD in '75 (Gygax was running a dungeon at a gaming con and I was hooked), and was very active from 77-82. We held our own convention (PrinceCon) each year, published some add-on books, etc.

But AD&D always left us cold and our systems were extensions of the original. Why?

Because the original was really clean & simple. Simple character traits without pages of skills & feats. Simple spell lists without tons of rules about them. Even a simple combat system. That left lots of time and energy for strategy, combat and inter-player interactions, plus imagination on the part of the DM to come up with stuff. As a simple example (from memory, so I'm sure I'm not quite right), we assumed fighters wore Plate & were AC2, Clerics wore chain and were AC4, Thieves wore Leather and were AC6, MUs wore robes and were AC8. That sentence now warrants pages in the "A"D&D current rules with zillions of combinations of armor pieces & shields. Sure we added on some of that, but only as the dungeon progressed and for "specials". And of course we had magic items which modified the above, but those were "specials" also.

Is original D&D "better"? Far be it for me to judge, but it was sure cleaner & simpler and didn't "get in the way" as much. However for those who really want a more complete simulation with more true accuracy, no question AD&D is much more comprehensive.

The one thing I do think was really smart in the new D&D is making the AC = base Hit Roll, instead of the old way where you always needed a table. So at least one thing is simpler--but there are many more modifiers now so it isn't actually simpler in practice.

What I _would_ like to know is if there is any life left in the original. My daughter is old enough to play now and I'd love to resurrect the original but it seems like everything out there is geared to the new version. I have my original boxed set someplace, but not much else to go on to recreate an "OD&D" world.--David

Hey, thanks for posting this, David. It is a clean, simple, informative post.

Everything you say about the "new" (by which I take it you mean d20) D&D is true -- but it can be played clean & simple. It is we, the gamers, who tend to make it complex -- in many cases, because we like it that way.

I don't know how hard you've looked on eBay and similar resources, but a fair amount of 1st-ed material is out there if you're intent on finding it. Post again if you can't find anything; surely I or someone else can point you in the right direction, but a cursory Google search for the string AD&D module sale turns up a number of likely hits. And I believe some of the folks posting here still use 1st ed -- OldTimer, are you a 2nd-editioner or earlier? Anyway, the short answer to your question is "yes" -- there is life left in the original, and it's not all that hard to find thanks to the good old Internet.

Cocytus, I don't think he's talking about 1st ed. AD&D, but the precursor D&D.

Point taken, though the difference in my mind is pretty narrow. Regardless, items from the very early books (the Chainmail miniature-combat game and its expansions such as Blackmoor) through the original D&D box sets can be found on eBay and elsewhere. The main problem with getting hold of the original D&D (pre-AD&D) products is that they are now collector's items and sell for a great deal of money -- a review of confirmed auction prices turns up many in the hundreds of dollars.

Further research indicates not all the original set products sold for outrageous prices. Some of the very earliest adventure modules can even be downloaded from the Wizards site (note: the Wizards site sees a lot of traffic and was generating server errors while I browsed it; judicious use of the 'refresh' button brought the relevant pages up, however).

Another site full of useful information is (the downloads section, much of which points back to Wizards, is linked here).

However, I'm a little confused -- David mentioned wanting to find materials to build an OD&D setting/game, and to the best of my knowledge, not that many were ever released. To add to my confusion, a lot of the early expansion materials were rewritten and/or repackaged for AD&D and even later editions.

All the same, my first point stands -- David, if you're having problems finding things for OD&D, post again and let us know. Surely one of us can point you in the right direction!

To answer Cocytus, I harken back to the Basic Set D&D. However, I have long since lost the coveted box set.

I do, still, have a small stack of 2nd Ed modules, and I know that once upon a time the AD&D and 2nd Ed AD&D rule books were available somewhere on pdf-- just Google for 'em.

Arneson had a book out many years ago called the "First Fantasy Campaign" or some other thing. Anyone remember it? I used to have it but don't remember much about it.

Heh. I still think of AD&D as "new" and i too, am annoyed that AD&D 3 is being called D&D.

I started playing in late 74, with the UCLA computer club and later
with members of LASFS.

The 3 box set plus Greyhawk (which introduced neutrality, paladins, and most importantly, thieves), was the foundation. Anything else was reference material. Anything else could be adapted and thrown in.
We had dorsai, kzins, klingons, moties, hokas, munchkins (the word hadn't yet acquired its current meaning), Lankhmar ghouls, cyborgs,
tribbles (my chars wore their fur), gods of every pantheon,
werewolves, pernese dragons, ninjas, and sandworms-- to name just what i can remember off the top of my head.

D&D had its flaws, inconsistancies, holes, and limitations. We filled them with house rules.

So when AD&D came along, most of us treated as just another source to ransack for material for our campaigns. We called it The Joke Book, because of the comics in it. It was the players who started after us who started with it. Gygax originally said their would continue to be two systems: D&D would continue to be wide open, while AD&D would be a tighter, more structured environment. Too bad that didn't continue.

I've since moved on to more elaborate gaming, though i still try to avoid two dimensional alignments and cast and forget spell systems.

But hey, if someone ever digs out the old books and offers to run a game, i can dig out some old characters.

Does it really matter?
D&D is what you make of it. Nobody tells you to use the AD&D campaigns just for that purpose.

Gaming is what you make of it.
I can take an old campaign book and put it in New York 5 000 years from now.

Get it?!

I have to agree with Flandal. I once used three different rules systems (AD&D, then WFRP, then D&D 3.0) during one really long campaign, and it hardly made a noticeable difference at all. As they say...the plays the thing.

First, a little background: I played in one session of Star Wars d20 and have played Neverwinter Nights and scan read a d20 modern book; that is the extent of my knowledge of 3rd ed. I am now playing in my second 1st ed D&D campaign with a DM who's been running since the game first came out.

If i had to choose between 1st and 3rd ed I'd go with 1st mainly because of its elegant simplicity. I find the d20 system to be too restrictive. 1st ed, while simpler, somehow allows more freedom 'though i can't explain why that is.

The "D&D" i prefer most is Hackmaster which takes the best parts of 1st and 2nd ed D&D, refines them, and adds some additional rules. The system is really complicated initially (especially since it was the system we learned to RP with) but once you've played it for a while it all makes a lot of sense and grants a great deal of freedom within a fast-playing system.

Like others here i prefer classless/leveless/alignmentless roleplaying but it's much quicker to make characters for my wife's HackMaster games than it is for my GURPS campaign. While it's nice to have all of the options that GURPS, etc give sometimes i just want quick and simple.

To sum up: while i agree that 3rd ed shouldn't be called D&D i don't agree that D&D is the "best" system. "Best" is a purely subjective term.

What's best for you and your group is whatever you enjoy. In my GURPS games i pull from World of Darkness/Exalted and give my players bonuses to their dice rolls for extra details in the descriptions of what they want to do. My next campaign is going to be a Supers game and i'm thinking of multiplying everyone's HP by 10 and using HackMaster's dice penetration rules.

It boils down to this: They're called "Roleplaying GAMES"; "games" implies fun. If a system's not fun for you then either change it to suit your tastes or don't use it. With games all that matters in the end is fun. If everyone's having fun then the Gamemaster is doing his job and all is right with world.

Maybe instead of just calling some players munchkins and others not, you could, in addition, also use Timmy/Johnny/Spike/Vorthos/Melvin as well, like they use in Magic: The Gathering cards.

Real D&D, thats funny. I've been playing for almost 30 years and if theres one thing I know. D&D is not whats in between the two covers of any of the rule book. No matter which set there from. D&D comes from the players and the DM nothing els. I've played with all the sets from the plain white box to 3.5, there not what made the game. The people and there imagination's are what made the game work and that will always be the way of it. And the box sets weren't all that grate, they had a mass amount of holes in there rules that made it hard for players and DM's alike to work with; why do you think AD&D came to be. I dont like all the rules in any of the sets but I do like the fact the in the front of these rule books it states they are guide books and not set in stone. I have always run my game that way and my players love it no matter which set I use, which is to say the game is what you make it. Not what someone els thinks it should be.


So long time D&D player, not a fan of ODnD DM. Yea Old DND was awsome but 3.0 came with the d20 which makes 3.0 and up way more VERSATILE! Versatility allows for more IMAGINATION! It aleviates restriction on the imagination. That is all...

2E is the best of them all

I need no introduction nor a list of credentials. Many of the old gamers have been cast to the four winds the ancient texts thrown away sold on ebay or at yard sales. In case you haven't noticed, our game we love is a dying art. I feel it is our responsibility to pass on what we know to the new generation of gamers. We should teach them whatever editions we enjoy playing and look at the new with an open mind. There are still many adventures to be had and so much to share.
Speaking from personal experience these "munchkins" enjoy playing basic 1st and second edition rules once properly enlightened. We are all playing a frpg and considering them subhuman and incapable of learning is a mistake. We need all the players we can get and having an interest in this type of game regardless of which version is a step in the right direction. WOTC can do what they will but they cant take away what we know,what we have, or where we have come from.