Monday, June 10, 2024

The Adventure is Yours

Throughout 1982 and into 1983, I regularly saw this full-page advertisement for the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Dungeons & Dragons boxed sets in the pages of Dragon.


The ad is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First, the image at the bottom left, showing five people sitting at a table playing D&D (with the cover of Keep on the Borderlands clearly standing up in front of the DM) seems to depict the same group of people who appear in a TV commercial from around the same time. That suggests that this print ad was part of a larger, multi-prong effort to introduce "the world's most talked about role-playing adventure" to a wider potential audience. 

Second, the ad features artwork in a style quite distinct from that of any artist I associate with D&D of that era. Since there's no obvious artist's signature, identifying its origin is difficult. It's possible that this question has already been resolved. If so, I'd love to know the identity of the artist. Beyond that, it's also noteworthy, I think, that the illustration depicts three characters (who appear to be a thief, a magic-user, and perhaps an elf) walking/riding at night through the streets of a fantasy setting rather than something more obvious, like a party fighting a dragon or some other monster. Perhaps the marketing people felt this was redundant in light of the inset pictures of the two boxed sets, one of which shows that very scene.

I have no idea how effective this advertisement was in its intended purpose, but I've always liked it.

18 comments:

  1. I don't remember this in The Dragon, but I'm sure it's just my faulty old brain.

    I do remember seeing it in other magazines though, and comic books.

    I also like it. It gives off a "Dark Tower" game or even a FF/UK vibe

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    1. Definitely saw it in some comics from this era, and I think a couple of computer gaming magazines.

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    2. Yes. I'm guessing that's where I saw it too, on the magazine front.

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  2. Almost looks like Bob Pepper's style (Dark Tower, Dragonmaster).

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  3. Pepper is great! I’d like to think he’d do better by a horse, because this artist’s rendition is what I’d expect from someone who had never actually seen a horse, but was trying to draw one from a vague description he once heard….

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    1. To be fair, a lot of artists really struggle with horses...but you're right, I'd expect better out of Pepper if that was him.

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  4. Hearkening back to the name of the game, note that it's called a Fantasy Adventure Game in this ad (aimed towards people who wouldn't understand what a Role-Playing Game is)

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  5. It's an odd look but I really like it.

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  6. I always thought it was a elf, cleric, and a thief.

    Something about the middle dude, maybe the shield symbol on his chest and I thought the blue stuff on his head was a chain mail coif.

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  7. Dragon seems like the last place that you'd need to advertise D&D, but maybe they were a page short and just inserted an ad they had already created for more general publications.

    That horse is indeed pretty bizarre.

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  8. I appreciate that the marketing team took the intentional step of including a near even mix of men and women playing the game.

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    1. TSR really pushed hard to try to recruit more girls and women into the hobby. One can argue about whether their chosen methods were (or could be) effective, but they were sincere in that effort. After all, more girls and women meant more sales.

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    2. .... ducks, and gets prepared for all the comments about how being 'more inclusive' is just plain wrong, and even outright evil, and 'woke', and although considered a 'modern' phenomenon, needs to be stopped retroactively all the way back to 80's.

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  9. In the green sweater green we seen actor Alan Ruck who would go on to play Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Jami Gertz who played Star in Lost Boys.

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  10. saw this advert is many comics back in the day

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  11. That *is* a very odd picture they've used. I don't like it at all.

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  12. I love this illustration. It's my favorite D&D ad of all time. There's so much mystery in it. The three figures are looking directly out at the viewer almost as a challenge. It feels like they are just creeping into town after a long adventure. Or perhaps they're sneaking out in the dead of night to avoid being followed. I'd love to know who drew it.

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  13. "THE ADVENTURE IS YOURS" is bad ass

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