The original Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) boxed set by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson was published by TSR, Inc. in 1974. It included the rulebooks of the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It is often known as the White Box because later printings (after 1976) came in an all-white box.
The original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set was the first modern tabletop role-playing game, a fantasy system with a medieval European flavor. This set introduced concepts which would become standard, including abilities (such as strength, intelligence, and dexterity); character classes (fighting-man, magic-user, cleric) and levels; races (human, dwarf, elf, halfling); armor class; monsters and treasure; subterranean dungeons of halls, rooms, and doors replete with tricks and traps; and magic items, such as intelligent swords. The set also includes rules for wilderness travel by land and sea, hiring specialists and men-at-arms, building fortifications and setting up baronies. Movement rates and areas are given in inches, like that of the miniatures rules of from which the system descended.
The set also included brief guidelines on using monsters as player characters.
This set features only a handful of the elements for which the game is known today: just three character classes (fighting-man, magic-user, and cleric); four races (human, dwarf, elf, hobbit); and only three alignments (lawful, neutral, and chaotic). The rules assume that players have owned and have played the miniatures wargame Chainmail and that they have used its measurement and combat systems. An optional combat system is included within the rules that later developed into the sole combat system of later versions of the game. In addition, the rules presumed ownership of Outdoor Survival, an Avalon Hill board game for outdoor exploration and adventure.
The "Monsters & Treasure" booklet contains some of the first depictions of the game's most iconic monsters, many of which were adapted from mythology and various literary works.
The set initially referred to some of the creatures in the game as "hobbits" and "ents" after J.R.R. Tolkien-universe creatures, although after legal hassles they were changed to "halflings" and "treants", respectively.
The booklet "Monsters & Treasure" from this box contained some of the first descriptions of the game's most iconic monsters.
This booklet contained an index on pages 3-4 featuring stats only for how many creatures of each type appeared per encounter, armor class, how many inches the creature could move on its turn, hit dice, % in lair, and treasure. Pages 5-20 followed with descriptions of each of the monsters, typically consisting of one or more paragraphs. Most of the monsters on this book did not feature an illustration. Also featured are descriptions of humans (bandits, brigands, berserkers, dervishes, nomads, buccaneers, cavemen, and mermen), horses, insects, and other small and large animals.
|Goblins||7||Small monsters first described in the fantasy appendix of the original Chainmail set|
|Kobold||7||Similar to goblins but weaker|
|Orcs||7-8||Tribal creatures that live in caves or villages|
|Hobgoblins||8||Large and fearless goblins|
|Gnolls||8||A cross between gnomes and trolls, otherwise similar to hobgoblins|
|Ogres||8||Large and fearsome monsters|
|Trolls||8||Thin and rubbery, loathsome creatures able to regenerate|
|Giants||8-9||Includes hill, stone, frost, fire, and cloud giants|
|Skeletons||9||Acts under the instructions of their motivator, be it Magic-User or Cleric (Chaos)|
|Zombies||9||Acts under the instructions of their motivator, be it Magic-User or Cleric (Chaos)|
|Ghouls||9||Paralyze anyone they touch|
|Wights||9||Drain away energy levels on a hit|
|Wraiths||9||High-class wights with more mobility|
|Mummies||9||Touch causes a rotting disease|
|Spectres||9||Have no corporeal body and drain life energy levels|
|Cockatrices||10||A less powerful but more mobile basilisk, turns opponents to stone by touch|
|Basilisks||10||Has the power of turning to stone by touch and glance|
|Medusae||10||Human-type monster with the lower body of a snake, turns those who look at it to stone|
|Gorgons||10||Bull-like monsters with a breath capable of turning creatures to stone|
|Manticoras||10||Huge, lion-bodied monstrosities with a tail full of spikes that can be fired|
|Hydras||10||Large dinosaurs with multiple heads|
|Chimeras||11||Can gore with goat's head, tear with lion fangs, and dragon's head can bite or breathe fire|
|Wyverns||11||Smaller relatives of dragons with poisonous sting in tail|
|Dragons||11-14||White, black, green, blue, red, and golden dragons are described (Golden dragons are Lawful in alignment)|
|Gargoyles||14||Reptilian bipedal beast, Chaotic in alignment|
|Lycanthropes||14-15||Four types described: Werewolf, wereboar, weretiger (all Neutral/Chaos), and werebear (Law/Neutral)|
|Purple Worms||15||Huge and hungry monsters lurk beneath the surface|
|Minotaurs||15||Bull-headed men, who are man-eaters|
|Centaurs||15||Can attack twice, once as a man and once as a horse|
|Unicorns||15||Can be ridden by maiden-warriors and will obey them|
|Nixies||15-16||Water sprites are Neutral in nature but will enslave humans for one year|
|Pixies||16||Air sprites originally described in the "Chainmail" set, naturally invisible to human eyes|
|Dryads||16||Beautiful tree sprites, each a part of their own respective tree|
|Gnomes||16||Slightly smaller than dwarves, with longer beards, inhabits hills and lowland burrows|
|Dwarves||16||Described in the "Chainmail" set; clumsy monsters like ogres and giants have a hard time hitting them|
|Elves||16||Elves make their homes in woodlands and remote meadowlands|
|Treants||16||Tree-like creatures able to command trees, Lawful in nature|
|Pegasi||17||Winged horses that will serve only Lawful characters|
|Hippogriffs||17||Fierce fighters that attack with both hooves and sharp beaks|
|Rocs||17||Large and fierce birds that nest in mountains; hostile to creatures of Chaos and Neutrality|
|Griffons||18||The most prized of steeds, fond of horse flesh|
|Invisible Stalkers||18||Monsters created by spells, faultless trackers|
|Elementals||18-19||Four types described: Air, earth, fire, and water|
|Djinn||19||Aerial creatures with magical powers|
|Efreet||19||Similar to djinn, but creatures of fire that tend to be Chaotic|
|Ochre Jelly||19||Giant amoeba which can be killed by fire or cold, but divides when hit by weapons|
|Black Pudding||19||Black (or Gray) puddings dissolve wood, and corrode metal|
|Green Slime||20||Non-mobile hazard that turns flesh into more green slime|
|Gray Ooze||20||Seeping horror that resembles wet stone and corrodes metal like a black pudding|
|Yellow Mold||20||Deadly underground fungus that attacks wood and flesh|
The original Dungeons & Dragons set was written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and was published by TSR in 1974 as a digest-sized boxed set in a brown wood-grain box. The set included three digest-sized books: the 36-page "Volume 1: Men & Magic", the 40-page "Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure", and the 36-page "Volume 3: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures". The set also included six reference sheets of tables and charts.
With a production budget of only $2000 to produce a thousand copies, the result was decidedly amateurish.:26 Only $100 was budgeted for artwork, and Gygax pressed into service just about anyone who could hold a pencil, including local artist Cookie Corey; Greg Bell, a member of Jeff Perren's gaming group; D&D co-creator Dave Arneson; Gygax's wife's half-sister Keenan Powell; and fellow TSR co-founder Don Kaye.:20–26 Each artist was paid $2 for a small piece or $3 for a larger piece, with an identical amount paid as a royalty every time another thousand copies were printed.:20–26
Several of Greg Bell's illustrations were based on comic book art, often from Strange Tales. The illustration of a sorceror before a blazing cauldron in the second book is based on a panel from a Doctor Strange]] story in Strange Tales No. 167.:24 The cover art showing a sword-wielding Viking warrior on a rearing horse was also copied from Strange Tales #167.:24
This first set went through many printings and was supplemented with several official additions, including Greyhawk and Blackmoor in 1975, and Eldritch Wizardry, Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, and Swords & Spells in 1976. Later printings, beginning in 1976, came in an all-white box, and added the label "Original Collector's Edition". The initial printing of the "Men & Magic" booklet had a drawing of a mounted warrior on the cover, while the 1976 printing featured a fighter with a sword.
The original Dungeons & Dragons was re-released in 2013, as part of a deluxe, premium collectors set which includes reprints of the original boxed set booklets and the four supplement booklets in a wooden box. Each booklet features new cover art but is otherwise a faithful reproduction of the original, including original interior art.
Tim Waddell reviewed the original Dungeons & Dragons in The Space Gamer #2. Waddell commented that "The most stimulating part of the game is the fact that anything can happen. Nothing is impossible." Andy Pudewa also reviewed the original Dungeons & Dragons in The Space Gamer #2. Pudewa said that "As a game, D&D is a fantastical outlet for the imagination. It has the quality of being infinitely flexible, and with it comes the reality of impossibility. [...] There are drawbacks to the game however; as there are in any game. D&D cannot even begin to get interesting in less than 20 hours playing time. Hundreds of hours of work must be done ahead of time by the referee, and it takes a fairly long time to prepare on the part of the players."
On December 9, 2016, a first printing of the boxed set was sold on an eBay auction for over $20,000.:424
- Origins Awards (All-Time Best Role-Playing Rules, 1977)
- Origins Awards (Greatest Contribution to the Hobby 1967-77, 1977)
- Origins Awards (Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame, 1977)
- Strategists' Club Award (Best New Game, 1974)
- Pen & Paper (RPG Hall of Fame, 2002)
- Scrye Player's Choice (All-Time Favorite Role-Playing Game, 2006)
- Games Magazine (Hall of Fame, 1984).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Lawrence Schick (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games, page 130. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
- ↑ Jim Bambra (August 1989). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon #148, pages 63–65. TSR.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Michael J. Tresca (2010). The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, page 62 (Google Books link). McFarland. ISBN 078645895X.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, and Sam Witwer (2018). Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 9780399580949.
- ↑ "Original D&D Set". The Acaeum. Retrieved on January 17, 2009.
- ↑ "D&D White Box Review". Retrieved on February 2, 2014.
- ↑ "Original Dungeons & Dragons RPG". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on March 30, 2015.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Waddell, Tim (1975). "Reviews of Dungeons & Dragons". The Space Gamer (2): 9. Metagaming.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Pudewa, Andy (1975). "Reviews of Dungeons & Dragons". The Space Gamer (2): 9. Metagaming.
- ↑ "Dungeons & Dragons 3-volume set". RPGnet. Retrieved on October 20, 2008.