The Lonely Coast
So, what is Classic D&D?
“OD&D: Also referred to as “the three books”, “the white box”, “the brown box”, this is the first version of the game (at least, the first after the typewritten rules used in Gary Gygax’ basement). It came in either a white box or a brown, woodgrain box. The box contains three booklets: Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. There were also five supplements: Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes, and Swords & Spells. If your rules talk about hobbits and ents, you’re dealing with OD&D.
“Holmes Basic: At the time AD&D was released, this set was produced as a starter/introduction. It’s probably closest to AD&D. It was one booklet, blue (or full-color), with a large dragon on the cover fighting a male wizard zapping a wand and a fighter shooting a bow, and came in a box along with B2 Keep on the Borderlands. First published in 1977 according to ”http://www.acaeum.com">The Acaeum.
“B/X D&D: Also known as Moldvay, or Moldvay/Cook, named after the authors. It is a red book, with a picture of a dragon fighting a female magic user and a fighter on the cover. It was sold separately, and also in a pink box with the same picture on the cover, B2 Keep on the Borderlands, and of course plain dice and a crayon. It was supposedly a revision of Holmes basic, but made several unique changes and in other ways looks more like OD&D than Holmes (for instance, there are only three alignments- Law, Neutrality, Chaos). It was popular in Europe according to Gygax because the European players did not embrace AD&D and wanted a compatible system. In the US it was perceived as a kids’ game. It was first published in 1981. THIS IS THE VERSION PLAYED IN THE LONELY COAST CAMPAIGN.
“BECM: Also known as Mentzer or BECMI, this is a revision of B/X D&D. It is largely compatible with B/X, but expands greatly on the material in the CM portion (Companion and Master rules). The basic set was a red box with TWO booklets, one for players and one for dungeon masters. Its cover was drawn by Larry Elmore and showed a dragon fighting an armored human with long hair. It was first published in 1991.
“RC: Stands for “Rules Cyclopedia”, a SINGLE hardback volume that is a slight revision of BECM. It is the only version of D&D available that provides a complete game to levels above 3 all in one volume. It makes slight omissions of information from the BECM rulebooks but is compatible with them and material for them.
“There were other subsequent revisions of the basic ruleset, one known as the “Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game” and one known as the “New, Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons Game”, and the “Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game”. All these sets were intended to channel players into 2E AD&D, signalling the end of the product line."
Thanks to the members of the Dragonsfoot Forums, http://www.dragonsfoot.org, for the above.