Original D&D Set                                         Home Up  

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Yes, the "granddaddy of them all".  Published by Tactical Studies Rules, a fledgling company (at the time) of Gary Gygax, Don Kaye, and Brian Blume.  The game is based on the fantasy portion of the earlier Chainmail rules, and also requires the Outdoor Survival war game (by Avalon Hill) to play.

Original D&D Set (woodgrain box) by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Original D&D Set (white box) by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Original D&D Set (white box, OCE) by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson

Contains three booklets (Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures) plus a Reference Sheets booklet.  In addition, the Second and Third prints were bundled with a Correction Sheet.

The Reference Sheets booklet (actually, just loose pages stapled together), was exclusively available in the Original D&D Set.  Nearly every set we've heard about has a booklet with varying pages, from 6 to 12; as far as we know, each printing has the same info, only differing in format and number of pages.

The rule set was further expanded upon with the five Original D&D Supplements.  It was superseded in 1977 with the release of the D&D Basic Set (and to some extent, the Advanced D&D system).

Contrary to rumors, the Original D&D Set was *not* available at the 1973 Eastercon, nor were any "pre-publication" sets released.  The set was first printed in late January 1974, and very likely was not publically available until the second quarter of 1974.


Printing Information  Logos
  • First Alpha (Jan 1974)
    • Wood-colored box, showing a mounted warrior on a rearing horse (the artwork is an adhesive sheet affixed to the box cover) and the price ($10.00).  Incidentally, the image was "inspired by" (*cough*) artwork by Dan Adkins, originally found in Doc Strange comic #167, Apr 1968, on page 11.  That artwork is viewable here (thanks to Jason Williams for the find, and to the Doc Strange discussion forum for the scan!)
    • Woodgrain striations on the box run horizontally
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a mounted warrior (same as box)
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have a price ($3.50)
    • Inside covers are white, and do not indicate any printing number
    • Inside rear covers of booklets 2 and 3 show the printer's imprint -- Graphic Printing of Lake Geneva; booklet 1 doesn't have it
    • References to Hobbits and Ents are present (copyrighted names of the Tolkien estate; easy check: page 9 of Men & Magic)
    • Internal typeface is rather rough and difficult to read
    • Allegedly, 1000 copies of this set were printed by Graphic Printing (and hand-assembled by Gygax and friends in his home).  Reportedly took eleven months to sell out.  As evidenced by the additional prints below, there is strong indication that the box, the cover stickers, and the booklets themselves were printed in differing amounts, which led to later "frankensteining" of the various parts
    • Thanks to Jon Peterson, Bruce Robertson, Paul Stormberg, and Steve Vogel for help with this info
       
  • First Beta (mid 1974)
    • Identical in all respects to the First Print Alpha, except on two points:
      • contains an errata sheet
      • contains a different print of Volume 3, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.  In contrast to the booklet in the Alpha print, this booklet has a cream-colored inside cover, and has slightly lighter (brighter?) cover printing.  Does not state any printing number inside
    • Our guess here is that for whatever reason, Volume 3 either had a lower production run, or more likely, a portion of the batch was damaged and discarded.  A new run was commissioned and placed in these (and possibly some of Gamma's) boxes.  The same run was also used in the Second Print, though with "Second Printing -- January 1975" added to the inside
    • Thanks to Bruce Robertson, Paul Stormberg, and David Witts for help with this info
       
  • First Gamma (sold / distributed Dec 1975)
    • Wood-colored box, usually found without any sticker on the box.  A contributor who received his in Lake Geneva at the time remembers that the cover sticker was loose inside the box, and had to be manually affixed.  Others who received this set do not remember any sticker at all
    • Woodgrain striations on the box now run vertically, i.e. this is a "1975" box also used in the Second print, below
    • Booklets 1 and 2 are identical to the First Print Alpha
    • Most (all?) of these sets completely lacked a Volume 3 booklet; we'd be interested to hear from those who have this set, to see if a Volume 3 is present and which printing it matches
    • This print was clearly leftover stock of booklets 1 & 2 after the boxes, stickers, and booklet 3 had run out.  It was primarily given away to TSR employees at the time; David Sutherland, Rob Kuntz, and Tim Kask all had copies.  It may also have been advertised as a "Christmas Special" in the Strategic Review Volume 5 (Dec 1975) for $2 or $4, even though the Fifth Print was well underway by then!
    • Formerly referred to as the "Pre-Publication Print", which we now believe to be false
    • Thanks to William Meinhardt, Bruce Robertson, Paul Stormberg, and Mike Willegal for help with this info, and to William Meinhardt for the scan
       
  • Second (Jan 1975)
    • Wood-colored box, showing a mounted warrior on a rearing horse (the artwork is an adhesive sheet affixed to the box cover) and the price ($10.00)
    • Woodgrain striations on the box run vertically
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a mounted warrior (same as box)
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have a price ($3.50)
    • Inside covers are white, and state "Second Printing – January 1975"
    • Inside rear covers of all three booklets show the printer's imprint -- Graphic Printing of Lake Geneva
    • References to Hobbits and Ents are present (easy check: page 9 of Men & Magic)
    • Internal typeface is rather rough and difficult to read
    • Contains an errata sheet
    • Sources disagree: either 1000 or 2000 copies of this set were printed, and hand-assembled by Gygax and friends.  Reportedly sold in five to six months
    • Thanks to Bruce Robertson and Tyson Vickers for help with this info
       
  • Third (Apr 1975)
    • Wood-colored box, showing a mounted warrior on a rearing horse (the artwork is an adhesive sheet affixed to the box cover) and the price ($10.00)
    • Woodgrain striations on the box can run either direction (horizontally or vertically); both versions spotted
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a mounted warrior (same as box)
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have a price ($3.50)
    • Inside covers are white, and state "Third Printing – April 1975"
    • Inside rear covers of all three booklets show a new printer imprint -- Heritage Models of Dallas, Texas
    • References to Hobbits and Ents are present (easy check: page 9 of Men & Magic)
    • Internal typeface is rather rough and difficult to read
    • Booklets are actually slightly smaller when compared to First and Second print booklets, but the difference is minor
    • Contains an errata sheet
    • Again, sources disagree: one source says 2000 copies of this set were printed, another claims 3300 copies (3000 were ordered, with 300 in an overprint).  Regardless, this set was hand-assembled by Gygax and friends, as were the previous sets.  Reportedly sold out in five months
    • Thanks to Bruce Robertson and Tyson Vickers for help with this info
       
  • Third+ (Nov 1975)
    • Wood-colored box, showing a mounted warrior on a rearing horse (the artwork is an adhesive sheet affixed to the box cover) and the price ($10.00)
    • Woodgrain striations on the box run horizontally (confirmation on this point needed)
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a warrior standing with a sword and shield
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have a price ($3.50)
    • Inside covers of all three booklets are white, and state "Fourth Printing -- November 1975"
    • References to Hobbits and Ents (see page 9 of Men & Magic) are still present
    • Internal typeface is still rather rough and difficult to read
    • Rear inside cover identifies the printer: Patch Press of Beloit, Wisconsin.  Also, a "TSR Hobbies" sticker covers the printed "Tactical Studies Rules"
    • This print is a hybrid print, with a wood-colored box matched with Fourth print booklets.  Obviously, TSR tossed the first Fourth-print booklets into leftover/overprint Third-print boxes, and called it a day.  Two sets matching this description have so far been spotted, leading us to believe that it was more than a unique occurrence
    • Thanks to Girard Chandler for help with this info, and for the scan of Booklet 1
       
  • Fourth
    • White box, showing a wizard and some orcs (artwork is now actually printed on the box) and the price ($10.00)
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a warrior standing with a sword and shield
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have a price ($3.50)
    • Inside covers of all three booklets are white, and state "Fourth Printing -- November 1975"
    • References to Hobbits and Ents (see page 9 of Men & Magic) are still present
    • Internal typeface is still rather rough and difficult to read
    • Rear inside cover identifies the printer: Patch Press of Beloit, Wisconsin.  Also, a "TSR Hobbies, Inc" sticker covers the printed "Tactical Studies Rules"
    • 25,000 copies of this set were printed
    • Unknown whether this print originally came shrinkwrapped (very likely, it did)
    • Thanks to Scott Gregg, John Huckerby, and David Wiley for this info
       
  • Fifth (Dec 1975 - Apr 1976)
    • White box, showing a wizard and some orcs (artwork is printed on the box) and the price ($10.00)
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a warrior standing with a sword and shield
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have no price
    • Inside covers of all three booklets are white, but do not state any printing number (the booklets still have the "copyright 1974" line, however).  Note that at least two sets have been spotted that have interior covers the same color as the exterior
    • References to Hobbits and Ents (see page 9 of Men & Magic) are still present
    • Internal typeface has been changed to an easy-to-read font
    • This print originally came shrinkwrapped
    • A set has been reported that has a Fifth print box (no starburst), but has Sixth print booklets -- possibly a case of the last batch of Fifth print boxes bundled with the first run of Sixth booklets (thanks to Sean Cruz for this info)
    • Thanks to Matt Farrell, John Huckerby, Luca Lettieri, and Morey Winnett for help with this info, and to John Sohl for the scan
       
  • Sixth (1977)
    • White box, showing a wizard and some orcs (like Fourth and Fifth), but now has a starburst stating "Original Collector’s Edition" (this was done to differentiate it from the D&D Basic Set, which had just been released), and the price has been removed
    • Outside cover of Men & Magic shows a warrior standing with a sword and shield
    • Outside covers of all three booklets have no price
    • Inside covers of all three booklets are now the same color (parchment) as the exteriors, and do not state any printing number (though they still have the "copyright 1974" line)
    • References to Hobbits and Ents have been changed to Halflings and Treants (see page 9 of Men & Magic), due to copyright conflicts with the Tolkien estate (with the exception of a single leftover reference on pg 6 to Hobbits!).  Furthermore, many other infringements on Tolkien's literary license were excised or changed; notably, references to Balrogs, Nazgul, and even several mentions of Tolkien himself
    • Men & Magic catalog in the back has no prices
    • Internal typeface is in an easy-to-read font
    • This print originally came shrinkwrapped
    • Often referred to as the "OCE" set
    • Thanks to Matthew Foster and Neville Ridley-Smith for help with this info
       
  • Seventh (1978-1979)
    • Identical to the Sixth printing, but Men & Magic now has prices listed on the catalog in the back
    • This print originally came shrinkwrapped
    • Often referred to as the "OCE" set
    • The Seventh printing continued to be printed through the end of 1979
    • Thanks to Michael Deaton for this info

Auction Commentary

The first three (including the Third+) printings of the Original D&D Set are extremely rare.  Prices for a First print continue to increase. 

In September of 2009, a First print Original D&D Set sold for $5,600 -- the highest (confirmed) sale price of any single non-unique D&D item that was originally offered for retail sale.  The highest price for a D&D module is currently B3 Palace of the Silver Princess; the current record holder for highest price of any D&D item is issue #2 of the Domesday Book.


Current eBay Auctions


Box cover
(1st prt Alpha & Beta)


Box cover (1st prt Gamma)


Book 1 (1st-3rd print)


Book 1 (3rd+/4th print)


Book 1 (5th-7th print)


Book 2 (5th-7th prt)


Book 3 (5th-7th prt)


Box cover (4th-5th prt)


Box cover (6th-7th print)


Reference Sheets