Sunday, July 23, 2017

Holmes Basic D&D At 40

Dr. J. Eric Holmes was the first of us into the OSR.  In the mid-70s, he offered to revise the original OD&D game for a mass market audience, combining elements from CHAINMAIL, OD&D and his home game to make a streamlined game that stands on its own - and still stands on its own today.  Gary and the rest were smart enough to hire him and make this a TSR project.  That is a very good thing.




On July 22nd 1977, Dr. Holmes premiered his version of the D at Origins III, a convention in Staten Island, New York.  It was well received and consumed voraciously.  Although the game was revised again in 1981 (Marsh) and 1983 (Mentzer), the Holmes version was still for sale at the time the latter revision was published.


I never owned Holmes.  I did own the Marsh Basic set and the Menzter Basic and Expert sets, and learned to play with the Mentzer set.  I have subsequently been able to play Holmes with the help of the great BLUEHOLME retroclone from Dreamscape Designs.

The Holmes game is very special because it serves as a nexus or touchstone for OD&D, Basic D&D and Advanced D&D. And it also touches CHAINMAIL because Dr. Holmes used that game to fill in details like order of combat and simplifying encumbrance. 

For a great overview of the history and importance of Holmes D&D, visit Wayne Rossi's Semper Initiavitus Unum blog.

For more information about Holmes D&D and for great modern documents meant to round it out, you can visit the Zenopus Archives blog, which deals almost exclusively with Holmes Basic.

For more information about the history of the hobby and about the origins of D&D, visit Jon Peterson's Playing At the World blog.


Dr. Holmes DMing in the great early days

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