The ancestor of D&D Chainmail now sold in PDF, softcover print-on-demand


Chainmail, the 1971 fantasy miniatures wargame system which introduced many elements that would make up Dungeons & Dragons a few years later, is now available as a PDF download and printable on demand softcover book of Dungeon Masters Guild digital showcase.


“Get the fantastic miniatures game that started it all!”

Chainmail is a fully fleshed out fantasy miniatures game that puts YOU in charge of your own army. Whether you want to fight historical battles based in the reality trenches or fantasy battles full of magic and fantastic beasts, Chainmail gives you the rules for fighting the wars you want to fight!

The Chainmail Medieval Miniatures section features rules for terrain, movement, formations, fatigue, and more. The Fantasy Supplement provides information for dwarves, goblins, elves, magic, fantasy monsters, and other rules needed for combat in a magical setting.

Note: This is a classic product and should not be used with the D&D Chainmail Miniatures skirmish game released in October 2001.

According to product historian Shannon Appelcline’s notes on the product page:

Many proto-D&D ideas appear in this fantastic supplement:

  • Races like dwarves, elves and hobbits (halflings).
  • Proto-combatants: heroes and their superiors, superheroes.
  • Proto-magic users: wizards, including seers, wizards, wizards, and wizards.
  • Different levels for their different character types, which Gygax says has been the basis for D&D character advancement.
    Spells like Cloudkill, Fireball, Haste, Lightning, Phantasmal Strength, and Transfiguration.
    Monsters like basilisks, dragons, ents (treants), trolls, ghosts and specters.
  • A division of monsters into the categories of law, neutral and chaos.

Future story. The “chain mail” would be crucial to the development of D&D, even acting as the default combat system for ODD (1975). It would later be replaced by a new man-to-man combat system in “Supplement I: Greyhawk” (1975) and a new mass combat system in “Swords & Spells” (1976).

Many years later, Wizards of the Coast would reuse the name of their Chain mail miniature set (2001), a skirmish combat system based on the d20.

A ‘lost’ D&D adventure returns (again)

In other classic D&D news, a classic “lost” adventure storyline for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is available as a printable softcover book on demand and as a PDF download. Dwarf excavation of the depths, a mod described by the DMs Guild as the last official adventure of AD & D’s 1st edition, has a rather twisted publishing history. Appelcline explains:

Dwarf Excavation of the Deep

L3: “Deep Dwarven Delve” (1999) is the third adventure in Len Lakofka’s Lendore Isle trilogy. It was also the last official adventure of the first edition of AD & D, released a decade after the end of the range. It was released in August 1999 as part of the Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition set.

The Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition box set. The Silver Anniversary set celebrated the 25th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons (1974). It was printed in 5,000 copies and sold for $ 59.95 (about $ 80 in contemporary dollars). Most of the content was reprints, including the J. Eric Holmes Basic Rulebook (1977); B2: “Guard the borders” (1979); the three “modules of the G series”, G1: “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief” (1978); G2: “Giant Frost Jarl Glacial Fault” (1978); G3: “Hall of the King of the Fire Giant” (1978); 16: “Ravenloft” (1983); and S2: “White Plume Mountain” (1979).

The box set also contained two new books: a TSR story and a “lost” adventure: “Deep Dwarven Delve”.

The lost adventure. L3 was originally commissioned by TSR around 1979 as part of a Three Adventures Trilogy. It was submitted by Lakofka to TSR alongside L1: “The Secret of Bone Hill” (1981) and L2: “The Assassin’s Knot” (1983), circa 1980. And then it stayed there for 19 years.

The problem would have been the changing political tides at TSR. After Gary Gygax left in 1985, Lorraine Williams is said to have deliberately eliminated Gygax friends and supporters. So Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor Adventures came to an end, and Lendore Isle’s third adventure was never released by TSR.

Adventure rediscovered. Although the book itself reports that the adventure had “remained unseen and forgotten in TSR’s design vault,” by July 1999, Sean K. Reynolds told a different story. He said all copies of the TSR Adventure had been “lost or destroyed” over the years. The adventure (apparently) only resurfaced when Lakofka found a copy around his house and sent it to Roger E. Moore in 1997 – possibly due to the changing political tides at TSR, as Wizards of the Coast was at the time involved in the buyout of Lorraine. Williams. Moore then passed the adventure on to Reynolds in 1998.

Wizards of the Coast decided to release “Delve”, but the editors felt it needed “depth and clarification” to bring it up to modern AD&D standards. Lakofka was happy to help and produced a new version of his adventure… which Wizards once again lost. Lakofka says he only heard about the loss after the release of “Delve,” when a number of Wizards developers stepped in to make the expansion required for the adventure.

In the end, Lakofka says that “Delve” is about 80% made up of material that he had shot two decades earlier. Although L3 was released as part of the Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition, Wizards had also considered releasing it as a free PDF or publishing it in Dragon magazine.

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