Card Game Database Wiki
Dungeons & Dragons  
D&d Box1st.jpg
Author(s) Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Publisher TSR, Inc.
Publication date 1974
Media type Boxed set

The original Dungeons & Dragons (commonly abbreviated D&D) boxed set by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson was published by TSR, Inc. in 1974. It initially included the original edition of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its product designation was TSR 2002.


The original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set was the first role-playing game, a fantasy system with a medieval European flavor.[1] This set introduced concepts which would become standard, including abilities (such as strength, intelligence, and dexterity); character classes (fighter, magic-user, cleric) and levels; races (human, dwarf, elf, halfling); armor class; monsters and treasure; subterranean dungeons of halls, rooms, and doors replete with tricks and traps; and magic items, such as intelligent swords.[1] The set also includes rules for wilderness travel by land and sea, hiring specialists and men-at-arms, building fortifications and setting up baronies.[1] Movement rates and areas are given in inches, like that of the miniatures rules from which the system descended.[1]

The set also included brief guidelines on using monsters as player characters.[2]

This small box set contains three 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" booklets:[3] Volume 1: Men & Magic, Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure, and Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.[4] Under the "Dungeons & Dragons" heading on the cover reads, Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures.

This set features only a handful of the elements for which the game is known today: just three character classes (fighting-man, magic-user, and cleric); four races (human, dwarf, elf, hobbit); and only three alignments (lawful, neutral, and chaotic). The rules assume that players have owned and have played the miniatures wargame Chainmail and that they have used its measurement and combat systems. An optional combat system is included within the rules that later developed into the sole combat system of later versions of the game. In addition, the rules presumed ownership of Outdoor Survival, an Avalon Hill board game for outdoor exploration and adventure.

The Men & Magic booklet recommends using miniatures only "if the players have them available and so desire", although they were not required and cardboard counters were given as an alternative.[4]

The "Monsters & Treasure" booklet contains some of the first depictions of the game's most iconic monsters, many of which were adapted from mythology and various literary works.

The set initially referred to some of the creatures in the game as "hobbits" and "ents" after J. R. R. Tolkien-universe creatures, although after legal hassles they were changed to "halflings" and "treants", respectively.[1]

Publication history[]

The original Dungeons & Dragons set was written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and was published by TSR in 1974 as a digest-sized boxed set in a brown wood-grain box.[1] The set included three digest-sized books: the 36-page "Men & Magic", the 40-page "Monsters & Treasure", and the 36-page "The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures". The set also included six reference sheets of tables and charts.[1] Later, a 1976 edition was released that came in an all-white box.[1] An "Original Collector's Edition" (aka the 6th printing) was published from 1977 to 1979.

Illustrations were provided by Arneson himself, as well as by Keenan Powell, Greg Bell, C. Corey, T. Keogh, and David C. Sutherland III.[5] The initial printing of the "Men & Magic" booklet had a drawing of a mounted warrior on the cover, while the 1976 printing featured a fighter with a sword on "Men and Magic".[1]

This first set went through many printings[6] and was supplemented with several official additions, including Greyhawk and Blackmoor in 1975, and Eldritch Wizardry, Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes, and Swords & Spells in 1976.

The original Dungeons & Dragons set was reproduced on November 19, 2013, as part of a deluxe, premium reprint of the original "White Box" which features new packaging in an oaken box. Each booklet features new cover art but is otherwise a faithful reproduction of the original, including original interior art.[7]


Gary Gygax won the Strategists Club's "Outstanding Designer & Writer" for the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.[8] The set is also an H.G. Wells award-winner.[1]


  • Origins Awards (All-Time Best Role-Playing Rules, 1977)
  • Origins Awards (Greatest Contribution to the Hobby 1967-77, 1977)
  • Origins Awards (Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame, 1977)
  • Strategists' Club Award (Best New Game, 1974)
  • Pen & Paper (RPG Hall of Fame, 2002)
  • Scrye Player's Choice (All-Time Favorite Role-Playing Game, 2006)
  • Games Magazine (Hall of Fame, 1984).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 130. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  2. Bambra, Jim (August 1989). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR) (#148): 63–65. 
  3. "D&D White Box Review". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 078645895X<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Dungeons & Dragons (1974)". Pen & Paper RPG Database. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  6. "Original D&D Set". The Acaeum. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  7. "Original Dungeons & Dragons RPG". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  8. "Dungeons & Dragons 3-volume set". RPGnet. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 

External links[]