Excerpts Archive | 10/17/2013
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OD&D Excerpts
Book II: Monsters & Treasure

T he original Dungeons & Dragons game, published in 1974 and aimed at wargamers and medieval fantasy enthusiasts, created an entire industry of roleplaying games, as well as legions of D&D fans worldwide. It included three small rules booklets in a white box.

On November 19th, the deluxe reprint version of Original Dungeons & Dragons releases, which includes seven booklets (the first three rules booklets and four supplements) and dice within an engraved and illustrated wooden storage case.

First Three Booklets

Essentially, these were OD&D's precursors to the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Masters Guide. As described within Men & Magic:

Men & Magic (Book I) details what characters can be played, potentials, limitations, and various magical spells. Monsters & Treasure (Book II) describes the beasts and creatures which will be encountered, as well as the kind and amount of treasure they are likely to guard, including magical items. Finally, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Book III) tells how to set up and actually play the campaign. It is presented last in order to allow the reader to gain the perspective necessary—the understanding of the two preceding booklets.

In today's preview, we consider just a few of the details that stood out within Book II: Monsters & Treasure, as well as look at the new cover art. However, let's first look at the foreword to these books, as beautifully written by Gary Gygax. It starts, as good stories so often do, with "Once upon a time…"

OD&D Foreword (60 Kbs PDF)

Book II: Monsters & Treasure

Book II: Monsters & Treasure jumps straight into the monsters, providing their characteristics and descriptions. Many staples from myth and legend appear, including undead, oozes, and elementals; however, certain monsters unique to the game (such as beholders, rust monsters, and owlbears) would need to wait until Book IV: Greyhawk.

As some further notes of miscellany, Book II includes its share of dragons—as well as the golden dragon, singularly lawful, and more intelligent and magically powerful than the chromatics. In addition, Other Monsters alludes to juggernauts, living statues ("one of these monsters was iron, impervious to all weapons save two special ones he guarded, had a fiery breath, poison sword, and a whip of Cockatrice feathers which turned the thing struck by it to stone"), as well as "robots, golems, and androids"—sadly, an entry not further elaborated.

And with monsters, comes treasure. Book II lists Treasure Types A-I, along with explanations for magic items—including the fact that all magic swords at this point possessed "certain human (and superhuman) attributes; Swords have an alignment (Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic), an Intelligence factor, and an egoism rating (as well as an optional determination of their origin/purpose)."

Again, let's end with a look at the original cover art for the booklet, and how it's been translated for the reprint.

Click below for a larger view of the new cover:

Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.