Monday, March 9, 2009

Proto BECMI?

I’ve just recently become aware of the fact that in both of the B/X books under the notes for “Energy Drain” there are references to the D&D Companion supplement. This supplement obviously came into being under the Mentzer BECMI editions but this is the first time I’ve seen any indication that a third book under a possible Moldvay/Cook/Marsh editorial flag was planned. I’m surprised that I never noticed this mention before or, if I did, had forgotten about it.

I realize now that a) I don’t know a lot of what was occurring behind the scenes at TSR that required the reboot of the Basic series under Mentzer and b) I would have loved to have seen a third boxed set published in 1981 or 1982 done in the style of B/X and crammed with Otus, LaForce, Dee, Roslof, and Willingham artwork.

Other than for the obvious monetary reasons, anyone know why the reboot under Mentzer occurred and care to enlighten me?


James Maliszewski said...

I wrote a brief blog post about the never-written D&D Companion that would have followed the Moldvay/Marsh/Cook rule books:

As for why it never happened, I've never seen a satisfactory explanation, although I do know Gygax never liked the B/X books and specifically tasked Frank Mentzer with doing a "better" version of same, during the brief time after he wrested creative control of the company from the Blumes but before Lorraine Williams launched her own coup.

Michael Curtis said...

Ah, thank you, James. Somehow I figured if anyone had at least part of the story, it'd be you.

I know I read that post on Grognardia but, since I hadn't started delving back into Moldvay/Cook at that point, it probably passed under my radar.

KenHR said...

I think on Dragsonsfoot, Frank Mentzer said that TSR needed to put out product with higher art values to stay on big store shelves (Toys'r'Us, etc.). While I think Otus is the pinnacle of D&D art, I understand where the merchants were coming from. That was part of the motivation.

In his Q&A thread, Dave Cook said the original Companion was planned, but never got beyond that stage. What you find in the Expert book is pretty much all they had at that point. He also said he doesn't remember who came up with the idea of the 36th level cap, or why.

Anonymous said...

Worth noting as well is that (unsurprisingly) someone over at Dragonsfoot have decided to compiling notes for such a Companion volume. I have no idea how far they have come, though.

Michael Curtis said...

Thanks for the Dragonsfoot info. I'll have to mosey over there and take a gander at it myself.