Original Dungeons & Dragons Rule Notes/Manuscript (Resea
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1

Sage Collector

Posts: 2639
Joined: Jan 23, 2003
Last Visit: Jan 11, 2006

Post Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:38 pm 

Just a quick run-past of these two items in the research section ( Page Not Found ), if I may.

# Original Dungeons & Dragons Manuscript.  This is the second draft of the rules notes described below, and was directly formed into the Original D&D Set.  According to Gygax, this manuscript numbered 150 pages, and was distributed to roughly thirty playtesters in the Lake Geneva area, circa 1972.  A copy of this manuscript sold at the 1995 GenCon, but it was gone before I got a chance to look at it.

# Original Dungeons & Dragons Rule Notes.  This is a 50-page manuscript detailing a "Supplement to Chainmail", by Gary Gygax, circa 1972.  Roughly twelve of these manuscripts were passed around to Lake Geneva-area wargamers for critique.  The feedback from that critique, as well as subsequent gaming sessions, led Gygax to develop the Original D&D Manuscript noted above.

Is there a reference for these; or from ongoing personal researches?

Anyhow; was having a re-read through Gary Gygax's 4 1/4 page interview in Gryphon magazine #1 (Summer 1980, although the interview appears to date October 1979).
"Dungeons and Dragons was published as quickly as it was because I sent out a dozen or two manuscripts to various people around the United States to test the systems [ed: not "roughly 12 in Lake Geneva area"]. The feedback was tremendous and so was the number of phone calls I started to receive at strange hours... Finally we said, 'Jesus, we've got to get some money together and publish these in a hurry... The rules were slammed together, virtually non-edited...'" [ed: how does that "rush-job" tally with the >1 year gap between "circa 1972" (posited above as the actual date... but presumably after 2nd edition of Chainmail(?)), and January 1974 (1st edition D&D)...?? although "This print was originally available at the 1973 EasterCon" confuses the matter yet more-- to me, at least. Why the further delay until January 1974 given the stated demand and GG's statement re. "rush release", above?].
(No mention of the later manuscript, either; but then, this was simply the response to one question in a general interview).

Any thoughts, or "inside line" on this?

aside: One other intriguing comment regarding the first (stated) "Rule Notes", from that interview:
"People who were playing in these playtest games (the "dozen or two manuscripts to various people around the United States") were then attempting to set up games themselves, but they didn't have any rules at all so they would call me to ask what was going on" (emphasis mine).
-- i.e. "Rule Notes" without rules??


Grandstanding Collector

Posts: 5839
Joined: Nov 16, 2002
Last Visit: May 29, 2024
Location: Wichita, KS, USA

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 12:54 am 

harami2000 wrote:Any thoughts, or "inside line" on this?

I asked RJK to comment, perhaps he can shed some light on this :D

Allan Grohe ([email protected])
Greyhawk, grodog Style

Editor and Project Manager, Black Blade Publishing


User avatar

Grandstanding Collector

Posts: 5786
Joined: Jun 30, 2003
Last Visit: May 03, 2024
Location: Cow Hampshire, US

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:25 am 

Son of a bitch.
Was it basically the pages to Men and Magic stapled together in one corner?

If you hit a Rowsdower, you get to keep it.


User avatar

Site Admin

Posts: 2258
Joined: Oct 19, 2002
Last Visit: May 29, 2024
Location: Honolulu, HI

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:12 pm 

All good observations.  The info found on the Research page is derived almost wholly from Gygax's statements at one time or another.  Gygax's memory, unfortunately, is famously faulty -- you can find many contradictions in his interviews over the years.

If I had to guess, the manuscript was passed around to members of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association, of which Gygax was a member.  Probably one or two of these guys had moved to California, and since Gygax probably vaguely remembers mailing off something to another state, this translates into "across the United States".

For a certainty, we will never know the exact numbers of the various scripts, or even their original distribution.  At best, one of these will eventually surface -- I did see one at GenCon, but as I was not a collector at the time (and was also in a hurry, for some silly reason), I only paused briefly enough to notice the several-hundred-dollar pricetag. I made a mental note to return later in the day to take a more detailed look at it.  When I returned, it had been sold.



User avatar

Prolific Collector

Posts: 353
Joined: Feb 19, 2003
Last Visit: Oct 04, 2023
Location: CA

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:15 pm 

Well.. one would hope that someone who paid several hundred bucks for an item in the 90s would recognize it as important and hang on to it so it may turn up someday.

In fact, I can't imagine such a person not belong to this forum! :)

Interesting stuff!  The experience of collecting and researching D&D documents has been fascinating (and pricey) and has had an impact on other areas of study re: Religion and early religious writings (I'm not religious myself, but I am fascinated by its orgins and history).

Here we are, 30 years (at best) from the origin of a game millions of people have loved over the years and there is debate about 'what really came first' and 'what's official' etc...

Now... when you consider that the Bible (at least the New Testament) wasn't even assembled into a cohesive document until like 321AD (and around that time) after much debate and compromise..

Imagine what this forum will be like in 2274 AD, debating the authenticity of First prints of D&D... and back in 321 they didn't have backups or copy machines!  

Off Topic, I know, but it just goes to show you... don't believe everything you read....


DISCLAIMER!  I am in no way hoping or wanting to start a religious discussion here.  I have great respect for people's beliefs, even though I don't personally share them.  My last comment is just tongue in cheek and not meant to disparage anyone's beliefs. (in other words |flames>dev(null) ) :D



Prolific Collector
Valuation Board

Posts: 681
Joined: Oct 13, 2003
Last Visit: Aug 16, 2023
Location: Denver, CO

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:03 pm 

I believe the Acaeum's info on the subject was derived from the "ultimate" Gygax interview:
http://www.enworld.org/modules.php?op=m ... e&artid=32

Late 1972:  Gygax writes a 50-page manuscript he calls The Fantasy Game.  Content derived from Chainmail.

1972 / 1973?:  Manuscript sent to a dozen or so wargamers; response is overwhelming.

Spring 1973:  Material revised into a 150-page manuscript.  Practically identical to what was released later as D&D.

Mid-1973?:  Updated manuscript sent out to ~30 people.

January 1974:  D&D first printed, 1,000 copies.

February 1974:  D&D ships and begins selling.

September 1974:  First print run is depleted.

October 1974:  Second printing of 2,000.

November 1974:  Second printing ships.

See also, apparently, "Adventure Games are on a Roll," Gygax, Toy Book #13, Sep 1989.  Which is an interview I've never seen.  :)


User avatar

Grandstanding Collector

Posts: 5786
Joined: Jun 30, 2003
Last Visit: May 03, 2024
Location: Cow Hampshire, US

Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:05 pm 

I remember about six months ago or so, a Men and Magic was for sale with a staple in the upper left corner, no cover. I believe the first page was different than that of the boxed set book. Was that one of them?

If you hit a Rowsdower, you get to keep it.

Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1