D&D Basic Rules (TSR, 1981)
Regular readers know that I started with these rules and that I simply cannot stop telling people how awesome they are. Tom Moldvay took the great start J. Eric Holmes had made with the original D&D Basic rules and distilled down to the awesome and then re-fleshed it out. I prefer Moldavy's edit not just for nostalgia reasons. The earlier Holmes version is still pretty crude while Mentzer's '83 edition kinda talks down to the reader. Moldvay's version is a sleek ass-kicking machine. Also, Morgan Ironwolf rules.
I've written about this game before. If you like wild and wooly multi-genre dimension-hopping madness, then this game is right up your alley. The rules are easy and clean. The various magical, technological, and psychic powers look like a hell of a lot of fun to play. And the skill system is one of the best I've ever seen. Folks looking for gritty resolution mechanics would do well to keep on looking, but if you interest is more along the lines of enabling whacky adventures, then look no further. This is the only skill system I've seriously considered adapting to Classic Traveller play. And the three modules that came out for this game are non-stop freak-outs.
The next two items are Moldvay works I do not own, so the info I'm passing on to you is second hand. Both are collector's items. And despite having a room in my house devoted to games, I don't consider myself a collector. I don't buy games based upon collectibility or rareness or resale value or crap like that. Up until now I've been too cheap to pay collector's prices for these babies. But I thought I would pass on what I know.
Holy crap, that cover is awesome! What adventurer worth his salt wouldn't want to visit that place? Seren Ironhand was meant to be part 2 of a trilogy of Moldvay written 3rd party modules, but neither the first nor last installment were published. Weird. Copies come up regularly on eBay, usually going in the high thirty or low forty dollar range. The same dude is always selling, so I assume he has a case of them he's trickling out. According to the non-TSR xD&D item list hardcore D&D collector James Sinks (he wrote the list of TSR products most collectors work off of nowadays) considers Seren Ironhand to be the best module he has ever seen.
The cover pic is my sole source of info. I can't even tell you if this is a game or a module or what. But with Bruce Lee, Doc Holliday, Nostradamus, and Cyrano DeBergerac on the cover, how can this not be the coolest thing ever written? I really need to plonk down the money to get myself a copy of this thing. The prices at the one or two places I've seen it for sale make it a better prospect than getting Seren Ironhand. UPDATE: Found an old review!