Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Ads of Dragon: Fantasy Games Unlimited

I've highlighted ads for Fantasy Games Unlimited RPGs before, but this one, from issue #82 (February 1984) is particularly memorable in my opinion:
I've long felt that FGU had a knack for creating compelling advertisements and this one, for their five biggest RPGs, was definitely attention-grabbing. I played several of these games at various times and, with the exception of Aftermath, still own versions of them all, but none of them ever won my heart the way that other companies' products did. Still, I can't deny that ads like this one make wish I were playing one of them right now.

14 comments:

  1. I have played all of these games and run three of them - Space Opera, V&V and Bushido.

    I used to love me some FGU.

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  2. I never had a chance to play Bushido, sadly. And while we tried to play Space Opera, we found the rules mostly incomprehensible (although we did do sci-fi miniatures skirmishes using the Space Marines rules.
    I still have my copies of C&S, V&V and Aftermath! Loved playing C&S mages, particularly the part where the player of a C&S mage was supposed to be an expert on the rules of magic, and so wasn't allowed to consult the books when casting a spell. Led to the odd miscalculation when a fire ball fell a little short of the target...

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  3. Ummm...not to disagree with your assessment of the wares on offer but the ad itself is...well...a bit of a mess. There are too many logos, too many fonts and no clear way to respond- no 'call to action'. That said, it stuck in your mind, so what do I know?

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  4. Typical mini-print ad from back then... but I loved their games anyway (reminds me of picking up C&S again for some additional materiel for my current campaign). However, they left out "Privateers & Gentlemen"! Shame! It was quite a solitaire in the whole genre and I positively loved it (and played it mostly in combination with Avalon Hill's "Wooden Ships & Iron Men").

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  5. I only picked up C&S in it's 3rd and 4th editions, Makes me wish I had gotten into it earlier and run it as an alternative to D&D "way back when." I love their wizards.

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  6. massive FGU fan checking in, when i was a kid i couldn't get enough of the FGU games. with Bushido solidly at the top of my list :)

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  7. @The Wordmonger: Nah, this ad is great exactly because it is a brilliant "mess"! Everybody has their own opinion, naturally, but your response suggests an adherence to a kind of placid and stultifying rules of advertising aesthetics that claim everybody responds to an image in the same way and as a result, everything tends to look like everything else.

    Myself, this ad really got to me as a kid. In Tacoma, Washington around 1981 there was not a lot of RPG selection beyond what TSR offered in the stores. I was extremely intrigued by Villains and Vigilantes, both because it was a supers game and it was created by Jeff Dee, my favorite AD&D artist of the time. Somehow, though, I couldn't get over the mental hump of just ordering it directly from FGU... I was locked into thinking I had to buy games from retail stores. I don't know why. Anyway, a few years later we finally got it and our group had a ball!

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  8. Fairly sure I played in somebodies Aftermath game once or twice as a kid, but Bushido and V&V were introduced to me during my early days at Aero Hobbies, and loved them both. Had nice campaigns with my non-store friends too in Jr. Hight, with everybody doing themselves as characters for V&V and operating out of a beachside Venice HQ. Fun as hell, but by high school Champions took over as my supers game of choice. Bushido went by the wayside as well, as gaming in ancient Asian settings was an off and on thing for me.

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  9. Aftermath was the only one that I never owned as well. Never played any of them (with a small Space Opera exception) but they seemed well designed and compelling.

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  10. Space Opera! yup, played that one, wish I still had my copies. Never owned Bushido, but played it once or twice. That ad brings back memories.

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  11. Fair point, Duglas. Fair point. Not everybody responds the same way - all you can do is play the averages.

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  12. Now that I know about FGU's unethical business practices, my nostalgia for them is lessened.

    However, I have to say that their practice of including a PC writeup in all of their V&V ads was a stroke of brilliance. That and Dee's art hooked me like nobody's business.

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  13. I was just thinking about those ads - the V&V portion especially. My Dragon collection began when I picked up issue 60. I just really liked the series of V&V ads with the different characters to use as pregens or villains.

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  14. My subscription to Dragon began at 79. I remember this ad well, probably what led me to purchase all these games. I think I played Aftermath and Bushido the most, though I remember spending a lot of one summer putting together a Lady Hawke campaign with C&S.

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