Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Red Box

The Red Box as it’s so lovingly called by those of us old enough to remember it is the ultimate throwback. No other TSR product in my mind symbolizes D&D like the bright red box emblazoned with Larry Elmore’s art. The caveat being the AD&D Player’s Handbook complete with Dave Trampier’s demon idol. The former incidentally is my favorite old school piece but you would never know that by the background image on this blog!

Perhaps the red box resonates with me so much because that was what I learned on. Previously I told the story of how I spent a good portion of my 10 year old summer engrossed in it. Everything from the atmospheric art, the writing style and the presentation was perfect. Frank Mentzer had really created a gem which is probably why it still remains the bestselling D&D product of all time.

Everything from inking your own dice to running the awesome solo adventure was such a rite of passage. I honestly was hoping that Wizards would have followed this model and still to this date they have fallen short. I recall when the 4E red box was first announced and how excited this made me. In fact when it became available I had a copy that very day. I ended up being disappointed in the product as it was not a good enough homage to the original.

When the 5E Green Box was announced I really hoped it would include non-inked dice and a crayon just for nostalgia. But more importantly the lack of a solo adventure was a missed opportunity. I believe choose your own path scenarios help inspire new DMs and players alike. I can speak of this first hand since that was exactly my experience in 1983. Including an adventure with some new scheme by the wizard Bargle would have really brought the green box full circle. Yes, I’m still mad decades later that poor Aleena fell to him!

Now that my own kids have voraciously started reading I plan to leave my red box laying out in the Game Tavern. Although we have played D&D several times already together I think they will have fun with the 1983 solo adventure. I even have plenty of 30 year old Gamescience dice that still need to be inked and no shortage of crayons! What are your memories of the red box and most importantly do you still have yours?

Great vintage add