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The Grey Book: OD&D Compiled

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I've just discovered another collected compiled version of early D&D available for free on the web. Steven J. Ege's The Gray Book is a collected, re-organized and slightly edited version of the OD&D rules and supplements (with some additions from The Strategic Review, The Dragon #1, Holmes D&D, Basic/Expert D&D, and even AD&D).

In spite of the additional material, The Gray Book has a house-ruled OD&D and supplements feel. The only major feature I noticed missing from OD&D and its three rules supplements is psionics. I could have easily used The Gray Book back in the late 1970s to run my OD&D games instead of OD&D, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry.

Like the AD&D "3rd Edition" Books, The Grey Book is probably one big copyright violation. Grab your copy while you can. It's a free 4.2 meg pdf download and provides 146 pages of old school RPG goodness. If you would like to try OD&D with all the supplements, They Grey Book is a great way to do so without having to track down and buy the out of print original booklets.

18 comments:
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Dr. Awkward said...
September 18, 2009 at 9:35 PM  

"...bandwidth for today has been exceeded. Try again tomorrow."

CURSES!

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Adam Thornton said...
September 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

Yeah, this might be a little crass, but if he's got an email address in it, could someone who DID download it please contact him and ask him to put a copy someplace with more bandwidth?

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JB said...
September 19, 2009 at 4:17 PM  

Wish it DID have the old (supplemental) version of psionics.

And what? No monk?

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Randall said...
September 19, 2009 at 5:32 PM  

Another download location. Different filename, but appears to be the same book.

http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?v1nizj02zom

And yes, JB, no monk. :( I didn't notice that the first time through as I don't believe I've ever had anyone play a monk.

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David said...
September 21, 2009 at 7:34 AM  

Thank you for posting this! I'm looking forward to reading it!

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Rich (aka: Francisca) said...
October 1, 2009 at 10:16 AM  

Yes, thanks for posting this. I went through a process a few months ago to build up a ruleset for my big dungeon. I started with the 3 little books, then started pulling in material from the supplements. The gray book is very similar to what I would have ended up with. However, I what I ended up with ended up look so close to AD&D, circa 1979, I just went with AD&D, dropping the following: Psionics, the monk and bard, casting times (actually anything 7+ segments = full round), spell components under 100gp, weapon vs. AC, and weapon speeds.

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Traveller said...
January 26, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

I know I'm late to the party, but I need to chime in since it is my name on the edit byline in the book.

The original idea behind "The Gray Book" was a "what if" question. What would the Holmes Basic Rulebook have looked like had it not been severely edited into the 48 pages that exist today? Holmes mentioned in his preface to that book that he used things from Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry in that book. However, with the exception of Greyhawk, I never found anything from either Blackmoor or Eldritch Wizardry in the book. As I note in the introduction though, as I worked on it it evolved from this idea into an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Light. This I don't feel is a bad thing, since with supplement I (Greyhawk) you get many of the tropes that made up Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition in the first place.

In the end, it's a lot easier to add to a set of rules than it is to take away from them, and that's what I did. This is the set of rules I would want to use, but I made it available for anyone to use if they wished.

Regarding psionics, they're coming in the optional rules supplement I'm in the process of editing. The reason why they don't appear in the main book is that psionics really destroys the feeling of being in a pseudo-medieval setting.

Monks and Bards also are to appear in the supplement. The reason these two classes do not appear in the main book is their narrowness of focus. The monk is an oriental character, and can sour the flavor of that pseudo-medieval setting. The bard I have never seen as a player character, but as a NPC class.

Artifacts don't have a place in the main book because of their power level and the simple belief that these should be found, not randomly rolled.

A few final things, and then I put down my pen for a while. Initiative is Holmes' based because I simply happen to like it better than d6 rolls. Plus, contrary to what many people think, Holmes' initiative is an individual initiative system. This means if units a and b get within ten feet of you, it's broken down into two separate attacks: you vs. a and you vs. b. So you get to attack twice, one attack at a, and one attack at b. I knew in putting it in how much extra paperwork is involved, but I believed the paperwork to be an acceptable trade-off for having a little more reality in combat.

I know this is a major copyright violation, and that is why it is on Mediafire. I will never upload this to my website because of the copyright violations and because of certain elements in the retro-clone groups that seem to believe their game is better than Ezra. If for some reason the link is no longer available on Mediafire, I can be found at the Troll Lord Games forums, under the moniker of Traveller, or you can reach me at my email address: strephon.alkhalikoi@yahoo.com . Put your request in the subject line and I'll send you the current copy.

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Randall said...
January 26, 2010 at 9:15 PM  

There are people in the retroclone community who think their version is better? Weird. The only way I can see the clones as "better" is no real copyright issues because of the OGL. That makes them better for publisher wanting to publish for-profit adventures and supplements.

For players, I can't see any real difference. In my OD&D game, I use my original books, a couple of players use S&W they printed out, a couple use copies of The Grey Book the printed. The three other players didn't even bother to print out a book, they just borrow someone's in they need it. There are zero issues.

I think The Grey Book is a great idea, very well executed. It eventually may get take down orders from WOTC lawyers, but that doesn't really take anything away from it, IMHO.

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Traveller said...
January 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM  

There is at least one particular fanbase for one particular clone that seems to think their game is the "salvation of AD&D". So they do think their game is better than the competition, which at the time was limited to Castles & Crusades. The issue though does happen to be the OGL. Castles & Crusades was as close to AD&D as the lawyers would allow, but some could not accept that and made their own clone that wanted to get closer. The problem is that the legality of such a move is debatable. The established publishers refuse to get near the clones, especially Clark Peterson, who in addition to being head of Necromancer Games, is also a lawyer.

I'm glad your guys like it. I don't know when they downloaded their copies, but they might need to make a change to Platinum Dragon AC. It should be -3 and up until the most recent revision, it was listed as 5, which is wrong.

They can download a new copy from MediaFire and print the replacement pages, or they can simply scratch out the old AC and replace it with the new one.

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Randall said...
January 27, 2010 at 9:17 PM  

Ahh, the C&C debate. Fortunately, I wasn't involved in the online gaming community at that time. I don't really understand the reasons for the feuding. Different lawyers will take different positions on intellectual property stuff and each person/company has to pick one and go with it. Nothing is settled or known until it gets fought out in court.

I don't care much for C&C NOT because it isn't "close enough" to AD&D1e, but because the SIEGE Engine system just does not work well for me. Given how much AD&D1e was house-ruled back in the early 1980s, I don't think C&C is "too far" from AD&D, it just has "house rules" I don't personally care for. Others obviously feel differently.

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skulmar said...
June 2, 2010 at 7:52 PM  

There is a doubt in my head related to Elves... In rules state they have advantage against goblins, orcs, some undead and lycanthropes, ogres, and giants. What the bonus in terms of game??

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Randall said...
June 2, 2010 at 8:13 PM  

Skulmar: Most of the special advantages are listed under individual monsters in the monster section. For example, elves are immune to the paralysis effect of ghouls. Unfortunately, the list in the elf racial description is not very helpful as some of the monsters listed really don't have a special disadvantages vs elves and the list isn't very complete with respect to those that do.

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skulmar said...
June 3, 2010 at 9:39 AM  

Dear Randall: How do you handle this situation??

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skulmar said...
June 7, 2010 at 9:08 AM  

???

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Randall said...
June 7, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

Skulmar: Sorry, I've been busy the last few days. I've never really though about it, to be honest. I just pieced together special abilities from monster descriptions, CHAINMAIL, etc. and went with that. The missing pieces in OD&D are just more noticeable with The Grey Book because it is far better organized than OD&D was.

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skulmar said...
June 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM  

I observed some questions about the Elves. One of them it´s aspect about magical weapons. In the Chainmail state one extra die WITH MAGICAL WEAPONS for the Elves against goblins, orcs, some undead and lycanthropes, ogres, and giants.
The ability of moving silently I think It is the use magical advice (in this case elfin boots).
What you think my dear Randy?
Sorry for ANY errors,because I am brazilian guy!@ XD XD XD

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skulmar said...
August 2, 2010 at 3:35 PM  

??

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Randall said...
August 2, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

Chainmail is more about minis battles. One extra die with magical weapons would apply to a unit of elves in combat. If you want to translate this to OD&D, you could give elves a +1 to hit (or to damage) goblins, orcs, low level undead and lycanthropes, ogres, and giants. Moving quietly in natural surroundings could require elven boots if you want it to.

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