Historical Dungeons and Dragons artifacts and an unreleased pilot for an 80s D and D radio show

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/12/historical-dungeons-and-dragon.html


Playing at the World is great, but it’s dense! I’m plowing through it in sort of 50-page chunks between other books. The level of detail – just a simple example: tracking down folks who wrote letters to Avalon Hill’s The General in the 1970s in order to interview them – is both awesome and insane.


While it is easy to find electronic copies of the 6th and last printing of the 3 booklet version of D&D, finding a copy in any form of the earlier printings (which feature, eg, “hobbits” and “ents” instead of “halflings” and “treants”) is either impossible (the pirate community has really failed us here) or extremely expensive (a set of the rulebooks in so-so condition runs well over $100 on ebay). Wanting a set of those booklets is one of the more irrational entries on my “if I had the money” wishlist.


Agreed. I’m always attracted to that level of analality but also intimidated by it. Kind of like all of those Avalon Hill WWII bookcase games that were so exhaustively detailed that you couldn’t play them (or find other suckers to play with you). I was really attracted to the Europa series (where you get to play nearly every engagement of the European theater in WWII). But I knew that, if I couldn’t find anyone to play Squad Leader or Panzer Blitz, I sure as hell wasn’t going to find anyone to play Drang Nach Osten!


Agreed. I have a copy of 3rd Edition Chainmail (which I got back in like 1979). That’s as close as I will likely ever get. Makes for a fun holy grail game though that I think about every time I go to an estate or yard sale. One day… Maybe.

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How about a little Campaign for North Africa? Check your Pasta Points!


Oh yeah, notorious. I wonder how long it took to play the entire Europa series? Rumor has it that XTC’s Andy Partridge, after he stopped touring, took off a bunch to time to play the entire series. If true, wonder how long it took?

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There’s a nice GDW Wargaming FB page you might want to check out. A lot of fans of Europa over there.



I’m about 1/2 way through Playing the World, and regularly read Peterson’s blog. I didn’t know he had a YouTube channel!

I have been scooping up Avalon Hill games at Goodwill. Have a set of non-Advanced Squad Leader boxes, and a variety of WWII and SF games.

Still have some SF&F wargame gems from my active period from the mid 70s to late 80s. A few cherished SPI games.

Got an early White Box edition, purchased with paper route money in very late 1977. Hobbits & Ents! Also ERB Martian monsters, mentioned in the reference sheets only. (One of the real TSR collectables is a quickly-withdrawn Warriors of Mars miniatures rules.)

Some bastard scrawled his name on the title pages though.


I assure you, Glaurung, you can find eCopies of 1st edition 3 booklet D&D if you look hard enough.



The Yahoo Period? Was that between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas?

@stefanjones, my only, rather less rare collectible, is a copy of White Dwarf #1. It does contain an early version of the Monster Mark System to produce balanced encounters in D&D.


I had those books in their box, until the box fell apart beyond the hope of tape. No idea what edition, but I clearly remember thinking, “wtf treants? We call 'em ents back home.” Even in my tender years, I remember thinking it was really two games that had been badly mashed together - one for marching armies “12 inches” across the tabletop, and one that was played on graph paper.

I threw out the set when I left for college. I’m grateful to see @Glaurung that $100 price tag. I’ve long worried they might have been worth a million by now.


720 pages! You weren’t kidding about doorstop of a tome!

Speaking of too big, I scored a deal on Ogre DE (shipping cost more than the game). This book will go nice next to that massive beast.


For those of you who remember old paper & dice RPGs, did anyone else kind of enjoy The Fantasy Trip games more than AD&D for pure playability?

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I never tried The Fantasy Trip, but Tunnels & Trolls was a laugh.

Bunnies & Burroughs too

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Well that was the genesis of the game - it started out as rules for medieval wargaming with a fantasy supplement for those who wanted to game the Battle of Five Armes from the hobbit (Chainmail rules). And then the fantasy supplement grew and grew until it became far larger than the original tabletop miniature wargame rules that once gave it birth, but it still retained endless references to those rules long after doing so ceased to make sense. For the first five years of D&D’s existence, you needed Chainmail to play because D&D had no combat rules of its own.

This reliance on prior editions did not end when AD&D came out - the original Dungeon Master’s guide contained rules for naval adventures that were missing a lot of basic rules for naval combat that had originally appeared in the 3 booklet edition. It’s like Gygax was constantly assuming that his readers had access to his brain and his library.

I said well over $100. Tossing them out was unwise. Every time I look on ebay, the price has gone up. Just now, an ebay search for “D&D white box” turns up sold listings ranging from $80 (mediocre condition 6th printing manuals only, no box), to $999 for a 4th printing (with elves and hobbits) complete set. Several sets have sold for around $250-300, which seems the going rate right now.

BTW, a tl;dr guide to the printings of OD&D: Printings 1-4 are all mostly the same - amateurishly typeset, rather hard to read, with a bunch of Tolkien references. The ealiest printings came in a faux woodgrain box, the 4th and later in a white box. Printings 5 and later were professionally typeset and much easier on the eyes. Printings 6 and 7 expunged the Tolkien references. So if you want hobbits and ents and balrogs and nagazul, but value your eyes, get the 5th printing.

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Steve Jackson recently got the rights to The Fantasy Trip back. He’ll probably Kickstarter up a new printing next year.

Tunnels & Trolls is still in print. I wrote one of the old solitaire adventures, and have three more on the way!

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Lo & behold! https://twitter.com/sjgames/status/973681844553043968