Excerpts Archive | 10/24/2013
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OD&D Excerpts
Book IV: Greyhawk

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.

The Supplements

Following the publication of OD&D's first three booklets, a number of supplements were to follow. The first of which, Greyhawk, followed in 1975 began with the following:

"Fantasy being what it is, it appears that there will never be an end to the development of fresh ideas, and this booklet is what we hope will be but the first of a long series of periodic supplements to add to your enjoyment of Dungeons & Dragons."

Indeed, there would be four supplements for OD&D: Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry and Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes. In today's preview, we consider just a few of the details that stood out within Book IV: Greyhawk, as well as preview the new cover art. However, let's first look at the foreword to the book, as written by Gary Gygax.

Greyhawk Foreword (30 Kbs PDF)

Book IV: Greyhawk

As the book hints, "find out what the devious minds behind "Greyhawk Castle" have been dreaming up for the amusement of the participants of that campaigning..."

What had been dreamt up included no less than the paladin and thief, a great deal more information on spells and treasure, as well as the introduction of certain creatures specific to the game: beholders, rust monsters, and owlbears.

DM advice also mentioned new tricks and traps for dungeons; for example:

  • Statues with a small piece missing; if the missing portion is found and replaced, the statue turns back to its original form and serves the person. A Cyclops with a missing eye, for example, which is a very large diamond held by a nearby monster. If the eye is found and replaced the Cyclops will serve for a limited period of time. Of course, some such statues are Stone Golems which will attack when made whole.

  • Treasures protected by force fields. The force fields will give damage if touched, but levers and buttons nearby will have a chance of lowering the field. Naturally, most of these switches will cause bad things to happen.

  • Dissimilar monsters who still act in combination.

A personal favorite mentioned in this last trick would be a Cloud Giant riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex! For today though, let's end with a look at the original cover art for the booklet, and how it's been reimagined.

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.