AD&D Reprints First Impressions

The reprints for the AD&D 1st edition rulebooks arrived at my house on Friday from Noble Knight Games.

If my memory serves, this is not actually the first time the original AD&D books have been reprinted - I seem to recall an Italian publisher got permission to reprint the books in an extremely tiny format back in the late 90s - I remember seeing them at Cambridge's Pandemonium Books & Games. They were more a curiosity, with each page being condensed to something around the size of a playing card. I didn't pick them up and to be honest it's not something I regret not getting.

These newest reprints are designed to be more useful, being back to the original size. I've read on Wizards of the Coast's website that a lot of work went into the reprints - there were no digital files beyond basic scans so apparently each page had to be redone. The effort seems to have been successful - comparing them with my original AD&D books you really can't see any difference in the way each page looks.

Regretfully the paper seems to have changed. The original AD&D books were products of amazing durability. My original books, despite being used for years of gaming, moves to college and back, soda spills, moves to apartments and houses, are still in reasonably good shape - better shape than books I bought twenty years later. (I'm feeling old now - though truth be told I actually didn't get the books when they first came out but rather a few years before they were redone with new covers.) These new books are printed on what I would characterize as a semi-glossy paper - not super shiny, but definitely of a glossy type. The white background looks very white - obviously I don't have new copies of my original AD&D books to compare it to but I'm pretty sure they were never that white. So I'd definitely have to give a preference to the original formats.

That said, Wizards of the Coast has done a first-rate job with the reprints. They clearly took a lot of work to do, visually they look fantastic, and they appear to be well bound. Probably not as well bound as the originals but I'm pretty sure those books could survive a zombie apocalypse.

I'll probably get around to reviewing the AD&D core books at some point so right now I'm only giving first thoughts. The Dungeon Masters Guide has a ton of information in it though looking at it now it seems like could have done with a little better organizing. Though intended to be a complete game I have a hard time imagining what it would be like picking up the Players Handbook without some familiarity with D&D. In my own circles, the older players tended to start with the original D&D while the younger ones like me tended to start with the D&D Basic and Expert rules and then graduate to AD&D. I'm not certain what to make of the "Gygaxian Prose" - it certainly is part of the charm of the game while at the same time it makes the author sound a bit full of himself from time to time. "Again, a word of warning. Many products might purport to be satisfactory for use with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but only those noted as OFFICIAL or Authorized AD&D items should be accepted. Do not settle for substitutes or second-rate material in your campaign; ask only for approved AD&D products only!" I've missed prose such as that. At the very least, Mr. Gygax expanded my middle school vocabulary amazingly well.

Overall, I'm overjoyed to see the original AD&D books reprinted (and that at least some of the funds are going to a memorial for Gary Gygax) and pleased to see a first-rate job was done. In the fall Wizards of the Coast will be reprinting the core 3.5 books. I think this is a good move on their parts - they are again making available what were probably the two most popular versions of D&D. I hope at some point they will make these books available in some digital form - I'm primarily a digital consumer now, with my eBooks, Audible audiobooks, streaming video and audio, etc.

I do find myself wanting to get some dice out and do a 1st edition AD&D game...

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