This is the first of many features to come in the 3d6, Traps and Thieves blog. Spotlight on... will focus on one selected aspect of the OD&D game - be it PC classes/races, magic, a specific monster or item, or whatever captures my interest at the time. Or - whatever you might care to request for future installments.
This Spotlight on... will look at the Moldvay Basic Rulebook. Yes - that is a scan of my very own book, colored pencil and all. I chose that graphic for this entry to highlight my own view of the game. That view was full-color and vibrant. Though I loved all those line-art drawings in the early books, I sometimes took it upon myself to provide the color. Some of you will probably pick up on this as a metaphor for the entire game, as I saw it. And it is.
I picked up the Basic Set at Kay Bee Toy & Hobby at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I was probably 12 years old and had about 80 bucks a month from my paper route. Life was great and D&D quickly took over my Lego and HO scale army money.
Inside the box I found the Basic Rulebook, Dungeon Module B2 - The Keep on the Borderlands, and some truly crappy brownish dice with a crayon to color in the numbers so they could be seen better. Those dice crumbled to practically nothing in no time and I have lost all but the most useful of the set - the d12. *wink*
A review of B2 will have to wait for another time, but I will say that the B2 designation made me crazy to find out where B1 was. Also, another story.
Every part of this book captivated me. Remember - this was my very first D&D acquisition. I devoured it. I read every word of every page. I flipped through and gazed upon the illustrations. I was already writing and drawing my own projects by then and I compared everything I saw to what I had idealized in my head. The book and my imagination were so close as to be nearly seamless in most cases. This was the game I had been creating on my own for a few years before.
Even the cover delighted me. Erol Otus is an artist I find most people either love or hate. I love his work. Delightfully outrageous and defiant of most artistic conventions - at least, in this genre. You never look at a piece of his art and wonder who it is. Distinctive and evocative - it makes you want to look more closely to see if the picture is what you thought it was at first glance. Genius. And this image has it all. It tells you exactly what you're in for. The setting is a dungeon. But, not just a room or passage - we have a yawning arch above a flight of stairs leading down to a pool where you can see the lid of an open treasure chest. Rising from the pool is a dragon - jaws opening as if preparing to breathe or to bite. Facing the monster is a doughty fighter, standing fearlessly in front of the magic-user preparing to cast a spell. That is the essence of it all, my friends. Right there - in that one piece of art. Bravo, Mr. Otus.
In the next installment, I will delve into the contents of the book - starting with Part 1: Introduction. Hope to see you there.