D&D Basic Set                                             Home Up
click thumbnails to enlarge

The first half of the "D&D Dichotomy", and successor to the Original D&D Set.  Developed chiefly because of disagreements with Gary Gygax over the direction D&D should take; Gygax favored a far more structured and complicated system (AD&D).

D&D Basic Set (blue box) edited by J. Eric Holmes
D&D Basic Set (magenta box) edited by Tom Moldvay
D&D Basic Rules Set 1 (red box) edited by Frank Mentzer
D&D Game (black box)

Basic D&D retained the simplicity and flexibility which made Original D&D a bestseller.  Note that Original D&D Sets and Supplements would continue to be produced (the Sets as "Original Collectorís Editions") for three more years, mainly because TSR couldnít bear to let their main cash cow die if people were still buying it.

Over the years, TSR and Dragon Magazine have referred to Basic Set "editions"; Original D&D was referred to as "First Edition", the 1977-79 Basic Sets as "Second Edition", 1981 Basic Sets as either "Second Edition, Revised" or "Third Edition", 1983 Basic Sets as "Third Edition" or "Fourth Edition", etc.  Our suggestion: use the "printing" or "Revision" references below, and avoid lots of confusion.   Using the word "Edition" typically implies editions of AD&D (1st, 2nd, or 3rd Edition).

Exp Descrp


Printing Information  Foreign Logos

In all printings up to and including the Thirteenth, the Basic Set rulebooks were also sold separately from the Sets, and have the same artwork as their respective Box Sets (though rulebook prints First through Seventh were monochrome blue; Eighth+ had color covers, and came shrinkwrapped).

Forum user Zenopus has provided us an exhaustive list of the differences between the first and the final versions of the Holmes (blue cover) Basic Set Rulebook.

Thanks to David Austin, Andreas Beger, Dan Collins, Adam Griffin, Dan Hinson, Rene Hurka, David Jawor, John Justice, Taylor Keating, Urpo Lankinen, Sean Masterson, Adrian Newman, David Papay, Richard Patrick, Neville Ridley-Smith, Lawrence Schick, James Sinks, Scott Spyrison, David Stine, Bill Sweetapple, Paul Tremiti, Sue Waldbiesser, Bill Willet, Morey Winnett, Alex Wu, Dan Yankowsky, and forum user Zenopus for help in compiling this sequence, to Michael Deaton for the scan of the Second print rulebook, to Taylor Keating for the scan of the Fifteenth print set, to Adrian Newman for the scan of the Seventeenth print set, to David Stine for the scan of the Eighteenth print set, to Wayne Webb for the scan of the Ninth print rulebook, to Alex Wu for the scan of the Twelfth print set, and to Dan Yankowsky for the scan of the Seventeenth print rulebook.

In the below listings, I've removed the hyperlinks (all of which were rather superfluous, internal links anyway), and added green highlighting to elements that changed from the previous print.  This should hopefully make it easier to identify which print you have.

  • True First (July 1977)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Lizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "F115-R"
      • "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says simply "Basic Set"
      • Bottom is blank white
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Lizard logo, with "F116-R" in upper right and "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo; contains references to Hobbits (see bottom of page 11)
      • Interestingly, the Wandering Monster table on pg 10 has several monsters that are not described elsewhere in the rulebook!  A scan of that table is here.
      • Dungeon Geomorphs Set One (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Monster & Treasure Assortment Set One (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • No dice
    • The copyright registration identifies the Basic Set as published on July 10th, 1977.  The set was first available to the public at Origins III on July 22nd, 1977
    • From then-TSR-staffer Tim Kask: "It could well be that the blank-bottomed boxes were an initial sample run that was defective (incomplete).  We probably made up quite a few for GenCon if we had the components; incomplete boxes would not have fazed us in achieving that end."
    • The possibility exists that these were First print copies that had run out of printed bottoms (so these would be the last First prints, not the first), but Tim's theory above, coupled with the recent sale of Brian Blume's shrinkwrapped blank-bottom First (why would he have kept one of the last copies?), lends credence to the True First designation

  • First (late 1977)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Lizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "F115-R"
      • "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says simply "Basic Set"
      • Bottom shows all contents, and has a Lizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Lizard logo, with "F116-R" in upper right and "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo; contains references to Hobbits (see bottom of page 11)
      • Wandering Monster table on pg 10 has several monsters that are not described elsewhere in the rulebook
      • Dungeon Geomorphs Set One (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Monster & Treasure Assortment Set One (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon)

  • Second (Jan 1978)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Lizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says simply "Basic Set"
      • Bottom shows all contents, and has a Lizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Lizard logo, with "2001" in upper right and "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under the D&D logo, inside states "Second Print, Jan 1978"; references to Hobbits have now been changed to Halflings (see bottom of page 11), with the exception of a single reference on pg 17 that remained at least up through the Seventh print
      • Wandering Monster table on pg 10 has been corrected
      • Dungeon Geomorphs Set One (Second print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Monster & Treasure Assortment Set One (Second print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon)

  • Third (May 1978)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Lizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • "*TM Reg. App. For" has been removed; replaced with a circled red "R" next to the "Dungeons & Dragons" title
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says simply "Basic Set"
      • Bottom shows all contents, and has a Lizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Lizard logo, with "2001" in upper right; "*T.M. Reg. App. For" under logo has been removed.  Inside states "Third Print, May 1978"
      • Wandering Monster table on pg 10 has been corrected
      • Dungeon Geomorphs Set One (Second print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Monster & Treasure Assortment Set One (Second print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon)
       
  • Fourth (Nov 1978)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Lizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says "Basic Set With Introductory Module"
      • Bottom shows rulebook, module B1 (pre-production print), five dice, and has a Wizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Second Edition, Nov 1978".  Wandering Monster table on pg 10 has been corrected, and several new monster descriptions have been added.  Price of module B1, on the price list on back, is $4.49
      • B1 In Search of the Unknown (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon) (some sets have six uncolored dice and a dice crayon, for whatever reason)
       
  • Fourth+ (1979?)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Wizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says "Basic Set With Introductory Module"
      • Bottom shows rulebook, module B1 (pre-production print), five dice, and has a Wizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Second Edition, Nov 1978".  Price of module B1, on the price list on back, is now $5.49
      • B1 In Search of the Unknown (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon) (some sets have six uncolored dice and a dice crayon, for whatever reason)
       
  • Fifth (1979?)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Wizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says "Basic Set With Introductory Module"
      • Bottom shows rulebook, neither dice nor chits, module B1 (pre-production print), and has a Wizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Second Edition, Nov 1978"
      • B1 In Search of the Unknown (First print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Cardboard chit sheet attached to the rulebook, featuring dice chits, a "how-to-use" description, and a dice coupon.  Around this time TSR experienced a dice shortage, and began including the dice chits instead of the dice and crayon
         
  • Sixth (Nov-Dec 1979)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Wizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says "Basic Set With Introductory Module"
      • Bottom shows rulebook, neither dice nor chits, module B1 (even though some sets include B2), and has a Wizard logo
    • Contents:
      • One of the following three combinations (and no, it makes no earthly sense):
        • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Second Edition, Nov 1978".  B2 Keep on the Borderlands (First print, no shrinkwrap).  Cardboard chit sheet attached to the rulebook, featuring dice chits, a "how-to-use" description, and a dice coupon
          OR
        • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Third Edition, Dec 1979".  B1 In Search of the Unknown (First print, no shrinkwrap).  Cardboard chit sheet attached to the rulebook, featuring dice chits, a "how-to-use" description, and a dice coupon
          OR
        • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Third Edition, Dec 1979".  B1 In Search of the Unknown (Second print, no shrinkwrap).  No chit sheet; has a dice bag with six-preinked dice, no crayon
    • It is apparent that in this "transition" set (when TSR was switching between Second and Third Edition rulebooks, and between B1 and B2), that they played mix-and-match with remaining stock of rulebooks and modules... and it looks like with their last iteration, they finally got in a (temporary) supply of dice, too
  • Seventh (Dec 1979)
    • Box:
      • Blue with a picture of a red dragon (artwork by Sutherland)
      • Wizard logo
      • Code in the upper right is "1001"
      • Angled yellow banner in upper left says "Basic Set With Introductory Module"
      • Bottom shows rulebook, module B2 (pre-production print), and dice chits, and has a Wizard logo
    • Contents:
      • 48-page rulebook:  Wizard logo, with "2001" in upper right.  Inside says "Third Edition, Dec 1979".  Two versions have been reported: one with an ISBN on the copyright page, and one without it
      • B2 Keep on the Borderlands (First or Second print (both have been reported), no shrinkwrap)
      • One of the following variations (listed in order of their appearance, but we didn't deem it significant enough to assign separate printings):
        • Dice chits with a "how-to-use" description and a dice coupon, all on one sheet and attached to the rulebook
        • Dice chits with a "how-to-use" description and a dice coupon, all on one sheet and unattached
        • Dice chits with a "how-to-use" description on one sheet, unattached
        • Dice chits and a "how-to-use" description on separate sheets, unattached
        • Five pre-colored dice in a small poly bag (no D10 or dice crayon)
    • A bit strange in that we're back to the dice chits, after apparently receiving some supply for the last Sixth print variation.  Either it was a small supply and they ran out again, or all these variation pieces (Sixth and Seventh) were mixed-and-matched at random to clear the inventory
       
  • Eighth (1981)
    • Second Revision of the Basic Set rules, coinciding with the first release of the D&D Expert Set
    • Box:
      • Magenta with a green dragon fighting two adventurers; box artwork by Erol Otus.  No Product Number on back cover bottom right
      • Bottom: copyright dates stop at "1980" and do not have the phrase "all rights reserved"
    • Contents:
      • 64-page rulebook:  No white circle around the "1" in the upper left, ISBN on back cover bottom center, and the index page is in black ink
      • B2 Keep on the Borderlands (Third print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Six uncolored dice in a small poly bag and a dice crayon
         
  • Ninth
    • Box:
      • Magenta with a green dragon fighting two adventurers; box artwork by Erol Otus.  No Product Number on back cover bottom right
      • Bottom:  copyright dates stop at "1981" and has the phrase "all rights reserved"
    • Contents:
      • 64-page rulebook:  White circle around the "1" in the upper left, ISBN on back cover bottom center, and the index page is in black ink
      • B2 Keep on the Borderlands (Fourth print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Six uncolored dice in a small poly bag and a dice crayon
    •  
  • Tenth
    • Box:
      • Magenta with a green dragon fighting two adventurers; box artwork by Erol Otus.  No Product Number on back cover bottom right
      • Bottom:  copyright dates stop at "1981" and has the phrase "all rights reserved"
    • Contents:
      • 64-page rulebook:  White circle around the "1" in the upper left, ISBN on back cover bottom center, and the index page is in blue ink
      • B2 Keep on the Borderlands (Fifth print, no shrinkwrap)
      • Six uncolored dice in a small poly bag and a dice crayon
         
  • Eleventh  
    • Box:
      • Magenta with a green dragon fighting two adventurers; box artwork by Erol Otus.  Product Number is now on back cover bottom right
      • When compared to earlier printings, is slightly taller and narrower
    • Contents:
      • 64-page rulebook:  White circle around the "1" in the upper left, ISBN and Product Number on back cover bottom center, and the index page is in blue or black ink (both have been reported)
      • B2 Keep on the Borderlands (Fifth or Sixth print (both have been reported), no shrinkwrap)
      • Six uncolored dice in a small poly bag and a dice crayon
         
  • Twelfth (1983)
    • Third Revision of the Basic Set rules, coinciding with the release of Set 3: Companion Rules (the D&D Expert Set was also updated at this time)
    • Box:
      • Entitled Basic Rules Set 1
      • Solid red box depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior; box artwork by Larry Elmore
      • Angled TSR logo on back reads "TSR Hobbies, Inc.", and Product Number is in lower right
    • Contents:
      • 64-page Playerís Manual and a 48-page Dungeon Masterís Rulebook (both have identical artwork to the box cover)
      • Six uncolored (or pre-colored) dice in a small poly bag, and may or may not include a dice crayon
      • Cleverly, no module is included (though there are two scenarios in the rulebooks).  The Seventh print of B2 Keep on the Borderlands (with the cardboard header attached) is available separately
         
  • Thirteenth
    • Box:
      • Renamed Set 1: Basic Rules to bring it in line with the other boxed sets
      • Solid red box depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior; box artwork by Larry Elmore
      • Angled TSR logo on back cover now reads "TSR, Inc.", and either the ISBN or the Product Number is in lower right (both versions have been reported)
    • Contents:
      • 64-page Playerís Manual and a 48-page Dungeon Masterís Rulebook (both have identical artwork to the box cover)
      • Six uncolored dice in a small poly bag and a dice crayon
         
  • Fourteenth (1989)
    • Identical contents to the Thirteenth print, but now has six pre-colored dice and no dice crayon; the picture of the box contents on the back cover does not show the crayon
    • Thanks to Richard van Tol for this info
       
  • Fifteenth (1991)
    • Fourth Revision of the Basic Set rules, now entitled the New, Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons Game
    • Box:
      • Full color (but predominantly black), depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior, and bears the Gold Angled TSR logo
      • "Landscape" style box, as opposed to the "portrait" style of all previous prints
      • Rear cover has a 12-digit barcode
    • Contents:
      • Rulebook (Angled TSR logo)
      • DMs Screen
      • 51 cardboard "Dragon cards" (that serve as a sort of tutorial on D&D)
      • 48 cardboard counters (creatures)
      • A large full-color map sheet (to be used with the counters)
      • A poster of the cover art
      • Six precolored dice
    • Covering levels 1-5, it is meant to be a primer for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (which replaces the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master Sets), and the Wrath of the Immortals Set
     
  • Sixteenth
    • Box:
      • Cover art is identical to Fifteenth, but is described as "brighter, more in focus, and altogether nicer to look at"
      • "Landscape" style box, as opposed to the "portrait" style of all previous prints
      • Rear cover has a 12-digit barcode
    • Contents:
      • Rulebook (Gold Angled TSR logo)
      • DMs Screen
      • 51 cardboard "Dragon cards" (that serve as a sort of tutorial on D&D)
      • 48 cardboard counters (creatures)
      • A large full-color map sheet (to be used with the counters)
      • A poster of the cover art
      • Six precolored dice

  • Sixteenth+
    • Identical to Sixteenth, but rear cover of box now has an 18-digit barcode

  • Seventeenth (1994)
    • Renamed the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game
    • Box is full color, depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior (different artist / scene than the Fifteenth print), and is back to a "portrait" style
    • Still covers levels 1-5, and is intended as a primer for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia
    • 128-pg Rules & Adventures rulebook (with cover art matching the box cover), 6 plastic miniatures, 24 counters, poster map, DMs Screen (with cover art matching the box cover, although one contributor states that his copy matches the box artwork of the Sixteenth print below), and six dice
       
  • Eighteenth (1996)
    • Still entitled the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game
    • Box is full color (but predominantly black), depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior (same artwork from the Fifteenth print)
    • 128-pg Rules & Adventures rulebook (with cover art matching the box cover of the Sixteenth print), 6 plastic miniatures, 24 counters, poster map, DMs Screen (with cover art matching the box cover), and six dice
    • Aside from artwork changes on the box cover and DMs screen, further differences are unknown
    • The last version of the Basic Set, before all product lines (to include 2nd Edition AD&D) were merged into the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons system.  One additional product, the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game, was released in 1999, but this was simply a fast-play version of 2nd Edition AD&D, and not a Basic D&D product.  Thanks to Rich Trickey for this clarification
        
  • Anniversary (1999):  Rulebook print only.  Has the TSR Silver logo in the bottom left corner.  Identical in all other respects to the Fifth print.  This print was available only within the limited-edition Silver Anniversary Collector's Set released by TSR in 1999.  It did not come shrinkwrapped.  (Thanks to Adrian Newman for the scan).

Auction Commentary

The first few printings, in SW, are quite rare and will command a high price.  Later prints -- in any condition -- were printed in such enormous volume that they're easy to find.


Current eBay Auctions

Basic Set (1st prt)


Basic Rulebook (2nd prt)


Basic Set (4th prt)


Basic Set (4th+-7th prt)


Basic Set (8th-11th prt)


Basic Rulebook
(9th-11th prt)


Basic Rules Set 1
(12th prt)


Set 1: Basic Rules
(13th/14th prt)


D&D Game (15th/16th prt)


D&D Game (17th prt)


D&D Rulebook
(17th/18th print)


D&D Game (18th prt)


Basic Rulebook
(Anniversary)