Saturday, August 22, 2009

The ORIGINAL "Adult Fantasy" RPG

Note to Self: No posting after cocktails. Beer: okay. Wine: okay. Absinthe and champagne: big no.

However, that's fine...I may have written some fairly random comments on other folks' blogs (sorry!), but my own post, while silly, doesn't appear to embarrassing.  Now...onto the news of today.

Walked down to the local game store this morning (I LOVE Greenwood!), and picked up two copies of the Holmes Basic set ($8 a pop) on the way to the coffee shop. In 25+ years of buying games and game supplements, I have never owned or had the chance to purchase this edition. 

Now, I've got the original boxes, no less!

Normally, I'm not someone who "stocks up" or doubles up on games.  Yes, I collect 'em, but generally as long as I own one useable copy, I'm content.  Heck, there are several copies of the original cover PHB, some in better condition than my own...but mine works fine...and so I leave them on the shelf for some other curious soul or collector to find and purchase.

But here I acquired BOTH Holmes boxes, leaving nothing for anyone else.  Man, am I a jerk or what?

Okay it WAS a bit selfish of me, but I had good reason. Although neither came with dice, both included their "introductory module"...and each box contained a different adventure! One has a copy of B1: In Search of the Unknown, the other has B2: The Keep on the Borderlands.

The B2 is in pristine condition, the pages stiff as if never thumbed through or played...the cover shows no sign of wear or tear and no markings of any type. Quite the contrast to my own.  Also, now that I have it, I see that it IS somewhat different from my own copy. The artwork is different! Certain images with which I've been familiar for decades have been replaced by similar but different images, Willingham drawings with Otis illustrations.

Fascinating...I'll have to compare the two side-by-side for writing and lay-out differences.

B1 is not in pristine condition having pen-marked notes on the maps and a definite used look about it. Still, I am thrilled to have it. Any pre-1985 module I can get my hands on is terrific (these I rarely the game shop). But B1 is one I've never owned, held, or even seen in the flesh. It always confused me in the past why the pre-packaged B module with my Basic set was B2 and not B1.  B1 would have come first, right?

Well, B1 DID come first...but with a different Basic set than the one with which I grew up. 

Anyway, I'll be anxious to read it. But first, of course, I've got to read Holmes himself. I've been doing that all morning (hey, what do you know: purple worm in this edition, too! And it's bite attack is more fearsome than any other edition).  I find this a fantastic piece of gaming history, and more...I see why so many people have kept this as their "true" version of the game.  From what I've read/skimmed so far I think it's well written and quite a complete/polished game.

Well, with the caveat that one needs to bring their own imagination to it...but that's written into the rules, too!

I will  "blarg" more later this weekend, but I just want to say this: I love the fact that it says "The original ADULT fantasy role-playing game" on the cover. This was NOT a game for children originally...well, not ones under the age of 12 (kids became "adults" a lot earlier in the 70s...).
: )

Oh...that and this passage:

"...Also a female with high charisma will not be eated by a dragon but kept captive. A charismatic male defeated by a witch will not be turned in a frog but kept enchanted as her lover, and so forth."

And so forth...

Who knew Charisma had such incredible practical benefits? These "rules" are totally going to be part of all my future D&D games (in fact, I should put them into my Companion set!)!


  1. Having recently received a second Holmes box set (with B1), as well as being given a copy of the UK Holmes (which makes a total of 4 different versions of this ruleset in my collection), I fully appreciate your excitement. The first thing I did was lay them all out on the table and compare them page by page. I must be a geek because I find this to be fascinating stuff.

  2. It is a cruel thing to do, but I would have snapped them both up too!

  3. I have two versions of B1, which happens to be my favourite module of all time.

    The Holmes version (with the pale cover) has Race & Class separate, where the 1981 brown cover edition follows the rules from the B/X set and has race as class for the characters in the back of the module. Otherwise I believe they are essentially identical.

    Here's a post where I rave about this module:

  4. Certain images with which I've been familiar for decades have been replaced by similar but different images, Willingham drawings with Otis illustrations.

    I had similar fortune with Moldvay boxed sets a few years ago... it was a cool surprise to discover the variant illustrations in B2.