Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DnD Red Box Mini-Review

Here is my mini-review for the Dungeons and Dragons "Red Box".  Oh did I not mention this is for the 1983 Dungeon and Dragons "Red Box"? Hehe.  Well if you'd like to take a look back at what the original "Red Box" consisted of, not much actually, then read on after the jump!  If you would like to read a review about the 2010 Red Box for 4th Edition, Stargazer's World has a nice little write up!  I don't have the 2010 Red Box so can't give you a review first hand.  I would happly review it if I received a copy from Wizards of course!

Sutherland Artwork
Erol Otus

As many of you know by now Wizards of the Coast has released a new "D&D Essentials Line" which the 2010 "Red Box" for 4th edition, shares the same artwork with TSR's 1983 "Red Box".  I'm not sure if Wizards of the Coast is going for the nostalgia factor and trying to pull in any of us "old timers" into picking up the "red box" or if they're just being lazy like TSR was near their end, and decided adopt TSR's artwork reuse policy.  Anyone remember the horrible debacle that was the crop'fest of Spellfire Cards? Egad!  I'm a little puzzled why they chose this version and not the original Sutherland artwork which was "ok" or the next version of artwork from when the game really took off and is ingrained into many D&D players memories, which was from the legendary artist Erol Otus. Erol Otus artwork is very iconic and synonymous with DnD as many of the early Module covers have his artwork on the cover and throughout.  A few years ago when the resurgence of the "old school dungeon crawl" was emerging Goodman Games even got Erol Otus to do some artwork for their Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Check out the cover art for "The Mystery Tower!" here that he did for them!  That artwork brings me right back!  Regardless Wizards went with the 12th printing Artwork from 1983.  They even had a large mock display at Gen Con this year that individuals could take a picture of themselves in the classic warrior pose (or not).

1983 Red Box Contents 
Well regardless I did feel nostaligic and decided to pull out my copy of the "Red Box" from 1983. (If you click on the box cover above you'll see a larger pic along with any of the pics I've provided).  While this wasn't my first DnD box it was a bit different in its presentation of the game and included a mini-adventure.  I remember I bought this box set as teen  in the summer as all my spare cash went toward the DnD.  My cousin was visiting and I suckered him into playing with myself and my brother, who neither had any interest in the game up till that point.  I quickly read through the booklets and was ready to DM the mini adventure in the DM's Book.  They quickly made up characters and I familiarized them with the game and its mechanics.  One thing I noticed was that there was some hand draw dice explaing which die was which and they had left out the poor d10 or percentile.  Sad.

Overall once was started playing it was a nice little dungeon crawl so to speak as you were searching the ruins of an old castle or abby.  All the rooms were keyed and you would typically go from room to room to "clear" out the area. There were about 30 rooms. My brother and cousin made a few jaunts into the ruins and made it out safely, running away if needed, and then depositing any of their booty back in their rooms at the inn.  When they had enough treasure they would cash in for better weapons, armor and potions, then head back to the ruins.  They were hooked!  So when the last room was cleared my cousin hurriedly told me to get working on filling out the rest of the dungeon so we could continue to play.  You see the box set gave you the map for Level 2 and some ideas but more or less told you to fill in the blanks empty rooms.  Level three was entirely left up to your own imagination for both its layout and its content. Seeing that they were both enthralled, it was an opertune time to further their interest into the game and even a bit more complexity.  B2 Keep On The Boarderlands from my original box set was put back into service!  I had played it as a player with my friend down the street so DMing it wasn't a problem.  The entire time my cousin was visiting we played DnD, swam in the pool, and ate blue moon ice cream! It was a great summer!

Original Dice w/white wax crayon for filling in the numbers

The two rulebooks, one was the players manual
the other was the DM's Guide/Monster Manual
 and mini adventure.
The only thing else in the box was an
advertisement for the RPGA!
Wow check out those low rates! ;)
Level 1 and Level 2

Level Two was up to you to fill in.
Level Three was completely left up to you
including the layout to fill in!

Back of the players manual was the character sheet.
See how simple things were back then?  THACO!

The back of the 83 Red Box.  As you can tell
completely different than the 2010 version!

The 2010 Version of the "Red Box".
I've seen that picture somewhere...

Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by!

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