Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vintage Dragon Magazine Adverts: The Return!

It's been awhile since we've done one of these, but one of my favorite things to do is to look through old Dragon Magazines (#102, October '85) and check out some of the ads. You know, having Dragon in print isn't really what I miss--there's Kobold Quarterly and Fight On! and the like--it's having a magazine like this be a medium for relaying new product outside of just a single RPG. There's a charm about it that just isn't there anymore.

(Note: This is the Dragon Magazine featuring Gary Gygax's "Pushing the Pendulum the Other Way" article, which is an interesting article on the relationship between "role-playing" and "game" elements in the D&D of the time, and likely deserves an entry all its own).

If you ever wondered how the horror RPG Chill may have differed from White Wolf's RPGs, consider this ad:

The end of 1985 also brought this:

8 years later, this would become the first fantasy RPG I played:

"Experienced" gamers only, please:

Well, they tried:


Welleran said...

I think the ads from the old mags make more nostalgic than many of the articles, even though I never bought any of the products!

Max said...

Anyone is familiar with those Bard Games supplements? I can remember being very curious about them but can't say I ever saw them in a shop. And I don't see them being namechecked the way Judges Guild and others are.

Restless said...

I have all of them. The Compleat series are okay, and a lot of the material is repeated in some form in the Atlantean trilogy's The Arcanum that came later. I think the only rules I ever used out of the Compleat series was for the alchemist.

I will admit that I got The Arcanum because of the cover (it's got a huge pentagram in red on the cover), but it's got a lot of interesting material, and the Atlantean setting isn't bad at all, but not as utilitarian as the Judges Guild material, say. Back when I was a teenager I mined the bejeezus out of The Arcanum for ideas and material, and occasionally rules to fill in during special situations (although I think now I'd just handle it by fiat rather than dig through books).

When I go to a game store and dig through the OOP material, if I see a copy of any of this stuff I still pick it up. Also, I am thinking if I get a game together that Andamen will be a playable race...

Zachary The First said...

@Welleran: I know what you mean!

@ Max: I was wondering the same thing. Thanks for the info, Restless!

James V said...

Available at finer hobby shops?
Ha! :D

Maybe it's because I lived in states with smaller populations, but I don't think I've ever been to a fine hobby shop. Is there a doorman invovled? Perhaps a bathroom with D20 shaped soaps and a valet handing out mints shaped like little Napoleonic-era soldiers?

Zachary The First said...

@James: In my mind, such places existed, in those mythical places where the gaming was perfect and people understood my character's perfect, tortured backstory. :) My young mind placed it near Lake Geneva.

rpgcharacters said...

I actually played in an Arcanum campaign for a while. The system is very D&D-like, but had an entire skill system that you bought your skills with XP which would in turn delay your leveling progress. I still have a beat-up copy of the rules and it is on my list for making a pair of characters for in my 200 RPGs project.

Speaking of classic D&D-like platforms, the game I really miss from those ads is the first edition of the Palladium Fantasy RPG - it was awesome and not as mangled as the second edition (which has been converted to be rifts-like, which is not where I feel the system is at it's strongest). Loved that game.

Some of the ads you didn't list from that issue are also awesome - I loved how FGU advertised Villains & Vigilantes by using a full sample character as the primary focus of the ad. Actually, I hadn't realized exactly how many ads FGU bought in each issue... there's ads for Bushido, V&V, Chivalry & Sorcery and PsiWorld in this issue.

And of course, the black box itself, the D&D Masters Set.

Restless said...
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Restless said...
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Restless said...

@rpgcharacters: I'm curious how did the campaign played out. Did you play in the default setting? Did it break up due to gamer ADD or lack of interest or...?

The system is very D&D-like, but had an entire skill system that you bought your skills with XP which would in turn delay your leveling progress.
This is how I handled skills later in my gaming back in the day, and come to think of it, it had to have been influenced from The Arcanum. I still think I lean that way, except that it encouraged players to buy skills once they reached fifth level and above since the outlay of XP was lower relative to what they earned per session. I think now I'd make it a certain percentage of the XP required to achieve next level, now.

(Sorry for the deletions... Blogger is thwarting me today.)

MJ Harnish said...

That's funny/ironic since I was just reading this issue myself and have a blog entry coming out this week about the "pushing the pendulum" article. I guess great minds think alike. ;op

Zachary The First said...

@MJ: Oh, that article's really interesting! Can't wait to see your thoughts on it!

@RPGC: Absolutely. I've covered a lot of FGU ads in past features, so I wanted to change it up. They advertised a *lot*.

John Fiala said...

I like the Elvira ad. The snake is very subtle. :)

Mmm. Keep 'em coming.

Richard Iorio II said...

Let's see. I have:

Chill: Evenings of Terror
Judge Dredd.


Because of those ads when I first saw them many years ago.

rpgcharacters said...

@Restless - I'm not sure on the setting - it ended up feeling very Thieve's World-esque but with a lot more magic (since a large number of the character classes are spellcasters). The game ran from level 3 to level 6, which was pretty much the GM's intent - a series of four linked adventures in and around a city beset by evil forces.

@Zach - yeah, courtesy of their advertising in Dragon I own a large number of FGU games - Space Opera, Villains & Vigilantes, Bushido, Land of the Rising Sun, MERC, Daredevils, and just about everything ever published for Aftermath. I distinctly remember the ads, but didn't realize until reviewing them that there were so many in each issue.

Brunomac said...

Man, I keep wishing I hadn't Ebayed my Dragon mags years ago, along with a lot of my game stuff. Now that I am back into it, I miss browsing through those...