The Arduin Adventure

by Dave Hargrave
The original Arduin trilogy (1977-1978) of booklets ("Grimoires") were supplements to the original D&D game. The Arduin Adventure, published in 1980 by Grimoire Games, first presented Arduin as a stand-alone game, in an introductory format seemingly inspired by the Holmes Basic Set. According to Gygax, the Holmes Basic Set was selling 12,000 copies a month by mid-1980, so it was natural that other game designers would follow suit. Thus, The Arduin Adventure box set ($9.95) included a 64-page rulebook with all of the necessary rules, three character sheets, two sheets of magic item cards, and two 20-sided dice. The rulebook was also available separately ($7.95).

Much like Basic D&D distilled the original D&D rules, the Arduin Adventure simplifies the Arduin trilogy to six races (elf, dwarf, hobbitt, human, amazon and half orc), five classes (warrior, thief, priest, mage and forester), twelve statistics (dexterity, agility, strength, intelligence, ego, wisdom, charisma, hit points, armor class, mana and experience level), combat rules, four levels of spells for priests and mages, a short list of magic items, and about 30 monsters.

The rulebook also contains a nine-page introductory scenario, The Forgotten Tower, set in a lost wizard's tower (rather than beneath a destroyed one as in the Holmes Sample Dungeon). It has 45 rooms including eight in the dungeon that are to be keyed by the DM (ala B1 In Search of the Unknown).

The Arduin combat rules use of Dexterity scores for initiative. This goes back to the first Arduin Grimoire and predates the use in the Holmes Basic Set. In the Arduin Adventure, the "Monster" section gives typical Dex scores for each creature, and a few monsters in The Forgotten Tower also have Dex scores listed.

One "Basic" level dungeon module was also published for Arduin:
The Howling Tower (Arduin Dungeon #2, 1979), for character levels 1-4. All of the monsters in The Howling Tower are provided with Dex scores. Erol Otus (also a Holmes Basic artist for B2) provided the interior artwork for The Howling Tower (two quarter page illustrations).

See also:
Detailed review at RPGnet

Discussion thread at Original D&D Discussion

Logo from the cover of The Arduin Adventure rulebook

The Forgotten Tower as depicted on the back cover of The Arduin Adventure.
Artwork by Brad Schenck (Morno).

Skorpadillo by Erol Otus, from The Howling Tower.
Scan by Jeff's Gameblog.