As per usual I'm a bit clueless as to most modern releases in tabletop RPG gaming but will always zero in on familiar and celebratory.
So, keeping with red boxes with Elmore dragons ... back to Basic D&D … we can now download PDFs of the 1983 D&D ruleset!
D&D Basic Player’s Manual and D&D Basic DM’s Rulebook. Currently $5 each on DTRPG.
Since they were originally sold in a box together, why the rulebooks are being sold separately I’m not sure - unless Wizards plan to cut the Mentzer’s Expert rulebook in half? I never understood why the BECMI sets were inconsistent in this way (it was just Expert that did that, and we did get Isle of Dread - which was pretty cool) Of course, there are advantages for the DM to encourage his/her players to download the the player's manual only, but still ...
With naturalistic but dramatic illustrations by Easley and Elmore, and clean sharp text layout, this set tried to move away from the friendly seventies look of it’s predecessor - and yet now it’s considered definitely “Heavy Metal". This was the set I bought, whilst friends still had the ‘81 edition. Until, of course, many of us defected to the big boy books of Advanced D&D.
Although I like Elmore and Easley, they were very humanoid-centric - these rules really needed more illustrations of the truly strange monsters. The odd illustration of a whole dungeoneering party would have been good too - like in the earlier sets and AD&D, but still I love what's there.
Incidentally, the reproduction in PDF format is good. It's a facsimile of the original text (scanned, not a replacement font) - but the text is still selectable. The images suffer a little in terms of grey-black contrast, but this is sometimes the compromise with scans of older rules, when as customers we're demanding clean white pages on our high definition screens. ;)
My boxed set are still a treasured possessions. I adore the Mentzer Basic Set, and both books are great to learn roleplaying by (you might want to add in a few house rules, like extra spells and bonuses on thieves skills if you want your players to at least feel a little like heroes and not just vermin prey). If you’re completely new to the old style of D&D, these rules would work very well with the up-to 20-level B/X clone Basic Fantasy RPG (free download here).
D&D (red box, BECMI) Basic is charming and rewarding - and yes you can roleplay without minis. Imagine that. “Where’s the board?" we used to joke. RPGs were too vast to have boards! You want a board? Go play Dungeon! Okay, there were sprawling maps on graph paper - it was just very different.
Ideal for tabletop gamers, collectors, archivists and the downright curious.
Thank Mentzer it’s back!
Product pages on DriveThruRPG:
(Dice and wax crayon not included)