Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Gateway to Adventure

A reader pointed me toward this advertisement for the J. Eric Holmes-edited Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set and I share it with you. I think I've mentioned before that I don't recall seeing very many ads for D&D (or indeed any RPG) outside of he pages of Dragon, White Dwarf, and other periodicals of the hobby. Consequently, I missed out on ones like this, which were geared more toward a more "mainstream" audience. 

There are several things to comment upon in this piece, starting with the fact that it employs the "gateway to adventure" tagline I strongly associate with TSR's catalogs from 1979–1981 or thereabouts. Others more knowledgeable than myself can probably situate it more specifically, given that the photo shows both module B1 and "a set of randomizer chits" – the very printing of the Basic Set I inherited from my father in December 1979. It's frankly astounding to me that the ad even mentions the chits, let alone shows them, since they're not an integral part of D&D and were, in fact, the result of TSR's inability to source a sufficiently large number of polyhedral dice for inclusion with the set. I suppose it's possible that someone felt showing the chits added to the mystique of the game, since, at the time, RPGs were still poorly understood by most people. Regardless, the advertisement is an intriguing document from the period before Dungeons & Dragons fully entered public consciousness.

(As an aside, I was shocked to realize that, after all these years, I can still recite TSR's mailing address by heart. Seeing it so many times must have caused it to be imprinted on my memory in a very permanent way. I can do the same thing for Game Designers' Workshop as well, which tells you a great deal about the games I played the most as a young man.)

1 comment:

  1. James Ward recently revealed Kevin Blume's role in the dice shortage fiasco in an interview on Grogtalk (episode 52). It starts at about 01:10:30 and is worth a listen!