King Arthur Pendragon

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Collector's Item

I'm a book kind of guy. I mean, I enjoy the new technologies as much as the next person. PDFs are convenient for transportation and storage of large quantities of books. But... there's something exciting and different about having a book in your hands, turning its pages and reading it instead of staring at a screen which I could do for long periods of time.

Today, I received a copy of the AD&D 1st edition Player Handbook. It's not mint but it's very close and I bought it at a very reasonable price on eBay. And the first thing I noticed was how colorful and "alive" the cover is. Sure, the cover image on the computer is bright and nice, but the real thing is shiny and the colors almost leap out of the book, particularly the orange and reds of the demon statue. Perhaps it's me that became accustomed to the faded colors on my computer screen, or perhaps it's the first time looking at the real thing, but it felt really good. There are details that I didn't notice ever before. Others have said it's the greatest roleplaying game cover. It certainly is the best cover of all the D&D editions. It perfectly captures the spirit of the game.

I'm won't put the book away on a shelf, never to be used in game. The main reason why I bought it was to play AD&D in the first place. And I can't shake the feeling that I'm touching a piece of history, something that reached out of the past and speaks of a different era when gaming expectations were different. Now, I have truly gone back to "old school".


Unknown said...

While I love these rules, sometimes I (heresy imminent) disagree with Gygax. Players shouldn't play monsters because that is abnormal and it would take a supra-genius to play one. Later-the DM plays the monsters and should do so accordingly. While I would like to think it, Gygax was probably not assuming that all DMs were supra-geniuses.

Hedgehobbit said...

I will never understand why TSR replaced these awesome covers for the uninspired ones in 1983. They just kept the originals in print for 4-5 years. That's a short time for as much impact as they had. Can anyone even remember the '83 covers?

Ok, the original MM cover was kinda lame.

Dwarin said...

I have grown to love Erol Otus and David Trampier. I believe the PHB perfectly captures the spirit of the game, something that none of the latter editions, even though more polished, managed to do. There's something rough about the 1st edition illustrations that perfectly blends the grit and pulp mood. And there was no chainmail bikini to be seen.