Dungeons & Dragons Companion Set
The Dungeons & Dragons Companion Set is an expansion boxed set for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. It was first published in 1984 as an expansion to the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set.
The D&D Basic Set was last revised in 1983 by Frank Mentzer, this time as Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules. Between 1983 and 1985 this system was revised and expanded by Mentzer as a series of five boxed sets, including the Basic Rules, Expert Rules (supporting character levels 4 through 14), Companion Rules (supporting levels 15 through 25), Master Rules (supporting levels 26 through 36), and Immortal Rules (supporting Immortals - characters who had transcended levels). The Companion Rules set was written by Mentzer, with art by Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley, and was published by TSR in 1984 as a boxed set containing a 64-page book and a 32-page book. The set contains two booklets: Player's Companion: Book One and Dungeon Master's Companion: Book Two, which were edited by Anne Gray.
The 10th Anniversary Dungeons & Dragons Collector's Set boxed set, published by TSR in 1984, included the rulebooks from the Basic, Expert, and Companion sets; modules AC2, AC3, B1, B2, and M1, Blizzard Pass; Player Character Record Sheets; and dice. This set was limited to 1,000 copies, and was sold by mail and at GenCon 17.:147
The Player's Companion covers information on character levels 15-25. The book begins with commentary on the changes since a character began as an adventurer at first level. The book introduces new weapons, armor types, and unarmed combat rules. The book provides details on running a stronghold and its recurrent costs, such as wages of the castle staff. The Player's Companion details the new abilities and increases in skills, spells, and other abilities that accrue to members of each character class as they rise in level. This section concentrates wholly on human characters, treating dwarves, elves, and halflings separately. The concept of "attack rank" is introduced for the three demi-human classes: although, per the Expert Set rules, they are capped at a specified maximum level, further accumulation of experience points increases their combat abilities.
The Dungeon Master's Companion begins with general guidelines on running a campaign and planning adventures for characters of level 15 and higher. The introduction also constructs a feudal system to provide a basis for the dominions which will be granted to or conquered by the player characters. This section ends with notes on the organization and running of tournaments. The next section is "The War Machine", a method for coping with large scale battles, especially those in the campaign's background. This book covers running high-level campaigns, including mass combat, other worlds and planes, and new monsters and treasure, and contains three mini-scenarios.
The Companion Set was reviewed by Megan C. Robertson in issue 61 of White Dwarf magazine (January 1985), rating it a 7 out of 10 overall. Robertson notes that most characters that reach 15th level in the Basic D&D game should be thinking of settling down and retiring, and felt that the D&D Companion Set provides "some ideas for this to be a little more interesting than simple retirement". Robertson felt that the set provides enough detail on running a stronghold "for the owner to determine whether he needs to go and raid a dragon lair or two to meet his next bill", although she felt that the section is "rather scanty for something that should loom large in the characters's mind; and also is strongly orientated towards castles, rather than other types of stronghold that different character classes are expected to build and maintain".
Robertson noted that the section on advancing characters deals with non-human player characters differently because of their artificial level limits, and the assumption that they have little interest in the human world and will eventually retreat to their own people, but "if in your world dwarven smiths ply their trade in the towns and elven lords sit in council with human kings, you will have to make some modifications". Robertson felt that the information in the Dungeon Master's Companion about constructing a feudal system with dominions available would be of most use for the Dungeon Master (DM) while setting up the campaign world, because characters should already be familiar with their world's social structure by the time they reach these levels. Robertson calls the mechanics of this system "quite good", however, as they give "the flavour of feudal times without getting too bogged down in detail, although more work will have to be done by the DM if the players wish to get involved in the day to day affairs of their domains, rather than just use them as bases for further acts of daring." Robertson calls "The War Machine" section "good if mechanistic", but notes that "when characters of the levels considered here take a personal interest in a battle, they are likely to have a far greater effect on the course of events than is allowed for here".
Although Robertson felt that player characters of these levels should be at least semi-retired, and that players should spend their time playing lower level characters (who might see the retired characters as patrons, bosses, or even enemies), she felt that the set has a lot of useful information and rules to continue a campaign. She concluded the review by opining, "And finally, is Basic D&D being swamped by too many rules? A competent DM should have worked out his social structure long before his players reach 15th level... if you really want more than the original D&D rules maybe you should play [Advanced Dungeons & Dragons]."
- Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson , edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 2: Expert Rules (TSR, 1983)
- Mentzer, Frank. Dungeons & Dragons Set 3: Companion Rules (TSR, 1984)
- Gygax, Gary, Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 4: Master Rules (TSR, 1985)
- Mentzer, Frank. Dungeons & Dragons Set 5: Immortal Rules (TSR, 1986)
- Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 133. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
- Robertson, Megan C (January 1985). "Open Box: Dungeons & Dragons Companion Set". White Dwarf (review) (Games Workshop) (61): 8.