Friday, January 29, 2016

OD&D is Back at D&D Classics

Great news! The Original D&D little brown books (LBBs) are once again officially available in PDF form on RPGNow's D&D Classics site. Nicely timed to celebrate the 42nd birthday of their release (link).

It's been a frustrating number of years since OD&D was available for legal purchase. I got my digital copy on RPGNow back in 2007 -- shortly before I fell in love with it as my favorite, purest and most playable edition, and starting this blog dedicated to it. (To my amazement the RPGNow system still remembers that purchase and provides me with re-download access for the current work, bravo.) Hopefully it will remain available for the foreseeable future, so that we can refer fellow players back to the classic if that's the ruleset we're using for our games -- and I recommend that we do.

Of course, a number of OSR publications in the intervening years had as their raison d'ĂȘtre the need to fill in for the original game being out-of-print in any form. Notably, my own Book of Spells was partly motivated by this fact -- I could run everything in the game as DM, with players basically responding with real-world intuition, except for players of wizard characters who at a minimum did need rules text for the magic spells. Of course, that's fine, and I think the "missing rules" generated a lot of creativity -- in particular, I really do think that having spells removed to their own book is a better organizing principle, and the Original D&D spells were very sketchy indeed, so it pays to have the necessary interpretations written down in an official form. (As D&D Classics Product Historian Shannon Appelcline writes: "Clerics and magic-users cast spells, but the rules for doing so are quite terse, which caused some confusion about how the rules worked in the early days...".)

Bonus content: Check out Zenopus Archives' blog for a handout re-presenting the top-level Balrog monster, which was in the 1st printing of OD&D, but struck out from later editions (such as the version available at D&D Classics). Fight on!


  1. I used your Book of Spells at my table when I ran my OD&D game, but I had to write my own version for the Cleric. I included reference rules and the spell level/number per day by level table on the first page.

    I know you don't use Clerics in your game, but have you considered making a Cleric's Prayer Book for those of us who still do?

    1. Well, the problem that my experience is rusty in tuning or adjudicating those clerical spells, unfortunately. I'd highly support anyone else doing the same thing, however.

      Heck, if someone wanted me to publish it under my indie imprint I could see doing that?