Tuesday, June 2, 2020

BECMI: Other Versions and Homages

I don't think it is a stretch of the imagination to say that the BECMI Basic box is the Red Box that most people remember. Indeed, when you say "Red Box" this is the set that most people think of.

A large part of this is due to the number of units sold. It has been claimed that this was the best selling version of D&D at least up to the modern age of 5e.   It was certainly one of the most widely distributed versions of D&D up to that date.


While I have seen French, German, Japanese, and more versions of this set, it was the one printed in England I wanted the most.

Reading this one is a neat little exercise in "what if."

What would this set have been like if it was a single volume?

The Japanese versions also looked great.

The French version seems closest to the American one.

Norway had a single volume version too, but their's appears to have been a hardcover.

Although I must admit I have always wanted the German version.  If I had known it had existed back then I would have grabbed it.  Sadly my German is terrible these days. Don't use it you lose it.

And some great pictures of Javier Murillo's Spanish editions.

In fact, Javier Murillo appears to be the leading expert on these foreign language editions.

There is an entire listing of the printed foreign editions at the Acaeum.

That is quite a legacy of print.
It should be no surprise then that the cover was often imitated.


Maybe more so than the AD&D Player's Handbook (or very close) no other version of D&D has inspired the look of other sets.  In fact, it has become its own shorthand to nostalgia.  Want to tap into those nostalgia dollars?  Make your box red.

Of course, nothing irritates the old-school crowd more than when this is used for a game they don't like.

and of course the D&D Cartoon,

a puzzle, again from Javier Murillo,

and the early "skin" for DnDClassics.com, which now points to DMsGuild.com,

Not to mention a bunch of t-shirts.

That's an awful lot of red.

Now certainly someone in the old-school gaming community will say something stupid like "sacrilege!" or some other nonsense, allow me to remind you what TSR was doing themselves back in the day.


Seji said...

Speaking about international versions. In 1986 a solo adventure from the Red Box was published (illegally of course) in a Polish fanzine "Sfera" (literally "Sphere" but in Polish the title could be interpreted as "SF era" or a pun on a "sphere" with a SF twist). The adventure was a bit stripped down (no intro) but otherwise it was complete and playable along with enclosed rules.
Here's a comparison the Red Box adventure vs Sfera: http://www.blekitnyswit.pl/wp-content/media//2017/09/sfera_vs_basic_dnd.jpg

I have all three pages scanned if you'd like to see them. :)

Reese Laundry said...

More than anything, it's that UK digest that I'd love to see someday. I'll never get my hands on one, but maybe someday we'll see a scanned pdf appear. A guy can wish...

Cross Planes said...

Why couldn't I have had a Braveheart pencil sharpener?!