Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Subscriber Bonuses

Though GDW's Traveller was one my favorite roleplaying games as a young person – and remains so to this day – I wasn't a regular reader of its companion periodical, The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society. In fact, I don't think I even saw copies of it until the late '80s or early '90s, shortly before its contents were incorporated into Challenge magazine (to which I did subscribe and where I got my start as a writer). 

Consequently, I marvel at advertisements, like the one above, for JTAS. Take note of the second bullet point, "The Wrapper." I'm familiar with mailing envelopes sporting unique bits of art, such as these examples from the Dungeon Hobby Shop, but, until I came across this ad, I can't recall ever seeing a wrapper promoted as a game aid. I'd love to see an example of one of these wrappers from the time period, but such things are notoriously fragile and rarely survive the years.


  1. I suppose in the dim past before home printers or even ready access to photocopiers (my local library didn't have one to the mid-1980s) having a game form or character sheet on your mailer might be an actual bonus. Seems quaint today.

    The only thing I can remember having "interesting" mailers was The Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer magazine(s), which teased (but never actually provided, AFAIK) subscribers about next month having art of "Naked Elf Women" by artist Denis Loubet, a subject which was a running gag for for years and years. In fact, I note that he's still doing it on his own - his patreon page mentions them as well. Reminds me of how Foglio's What's New strip in Dragon kept trying to run a Sex In D&D cartoon.

  2. I still have one JTAS wrapper, a blank world map form. I know the character sheet was also put on a wrapper. Also subsector grid (actually I think I have one of these). I suspect many or most of the forms in Supplement 12 Forms and Charts were originally published as JTAS wrappers.

    1. That's correct. I picked up a near-complete run of JTAS second hand back in the 80s, about half of which still had their mailing wrappers. Most of the forms that were later included in Supplement 12 also appeared on JTAS wrappers. [Alas, I no longer have these so I can't verify it, but I'm pretty sure.]

  3. This was pretty common with magazine and zine sof the day. They often featured an outer mailing cover to protect the glossy cover.

    I have several issues of the Autoduel Quarterly for Car Wars that have little cartoons or supplemental gear on them. One even has a prototype of their combat calculator wheel that was later released as a refined product.

    I have lots of old magazine that were mailed with no cover or wrap and they are in very nice condition even today. You have to remember that the postal service actually used to care about NOT damaging items and lots of stuff was not machined.