Exploring the Underworld of Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons


In 1977, TSR published the first introductory set for Dungeons & Dragons. This Basic Set included a monochrome blue rulebook (the Blue Book) edited by Dr. J. Eric Holmes from the original D&D booklets (the Little Brown Books) by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and the first supplements. Holmes also created a Sample Dungeon for the rulebook in which novice adventurers from Portown explore the dungeon beneath the ruined tower of the wizard Zenopus. This set served its role ably until 1981 when it was replaced by a revised Basic Set. Some still find Holmes Basic, as the rules are popularly known, to be a concise 48-page introduction to OD&D or AD&D, and others have been inspired to use it as the basis for expansion to an entire game of its own. Many gamers involved in the current "Old School Renaissance" (OSR) started with the Holmes Set.
12/15 - Revised the Foreign Editions page
8/15 - Magic Items Reference Sheet added to Reference Sheets page
7/16 - Links on Rules Expansions page updated
4/14 - New print variant of the Basic Rulebook discovered
3/17 - Holmes + OD&D Reference Sheet v1.0
3/2 - One Hit Point Monsters single sheet added to Reference Sheets page
2/24 - One Hit Point Monsters for Holmes Basic
2/18 - Holmes Basic - Cook Expert Bridge Reference Sheet v1.0
2/16 - Steve Winter reports the original Basic Set artwork is found
1/29 - Added a gallery of DIY maps, Draw Your Own Floor Plan (see above).
1/24 - Revised B1 page, added page listing differences between the monochrome & color versions.


Previous Updates
         Art by the late David C. Sutherland III from the Holmes Basic rulebook
                                            Note the eyes in the skull!

Links of Interest:

Follow the Zenopus Archives blog for the latest discussion

Join the Holmes Basic G+ community (
New as of 2013)

Blog Roundup (index of Holmes-related posts on other blogs)

Forums for discussion of Holmes Basic

Holmes Basic Testimonials (updated Feb 16, 2013)

Maze of Peril by J. Eric Holmes for purchase from Space & Time books
(original publisher, requires a check)

Grodog's Greyhawk - Greyhawk Online (one inspiration for this site)

Contact