Monday 10 May 2010

Blue Book Brief Encounter

To join in the reminiscences over the work of Dr. J. Eric Holmes: I learned AD&D as my first system and ran a campaign from the DMG "as written" in high school, taking very seriously everything about the holy standard rules, drawing dungeons that filled up a whole sheet of graph paper, packed with a dazzling variety of monsters, and meticulously detailed with randomly rolled dungeon dressing.

Between that and my strict application of the punitive advancement rules, my campaign did not go down well with my players and I was deposed. Sometime after that, I found that the local library had acquired a copy of the Holmes rules, and I picked it up, curious about this "primitive" form of D&D.

What really opened my mind was the improvisational advice to DMs and the Tower of Zenopus adventure. It was spacious, not packed. It was stocked with focal puzzles, tricks, and features, not useless atmosphere. Its encounters put well-known critters in interesting situations, showing that a good adventure could be had without digging into the Fiend Folio (maybe another reason for the overthrow of my campaign). Most of all, it was described concisely so a large variety of possible situations could be shown.

Just that one example improved my DM craft, and indirectly led to my favoring more improvised scenarios and systems in college - and of course, my fascination with the spirit of original D&D now. So that's my toast to the good Professor.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice post. That's the first I've heard of the Blue Book in a library. Not too surprising though, as I encountered various AD&D hardbacks in the local libraries, including the infamous D&DG with Cthulhu mythos.

    I've added this post to my Blog Roundup of Holmes Basic posts, and am following your blog now.

    (Sorry, the link was broken in my first attempt at posting).