Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The first ad in Dragon magazine for Holmes Basic
It was 35 years ago this month that an advertisement for the new Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set ran first ran in Dragon magazine #9 (Sep 1977, pg 2), inside the front cover. This ad, above, shows only a small black and white reproduction of Sutherland's original art rather than the game itself, so it may have been made while the box was still in production. The ad also refers to the game as a "Swords & Sorcery Role Playing Game" rather than an "Adult Fantasy Role Playing Game" as on the cover of the box.
The advertised contents match those of the first printing and include "Everything You Need to Begin Playing D&D", an accurate description. There is the rulebook, which is described as a "revised D&D rules book", showing its origins as an edit of the original D&D books. There's also a "full set of dungeon geomorphs" (Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1: Basic Dungeon), "monster & treasure assortments" (Monster & Treasure Assortment Set 1: Levels 1-3) and a "set of five polyhedra dice" (the infamous low impact rainbow-colored dice).
The ad even includes an order form so you can immediately send away for it for $9.95 plus $1 postage and handling. However, I doubt too many Dragon magazine readers rushed out to order a game "to begin playing D&D" "for levels 1-3". My impression is that most existing D&D players ignored the new Basic Set as being "for kids" and instead switched over to AD&D as the volumes were released. The Basic Set instead made its lasting impact on a new generation of kids for whom it served as their introduction to D&D.
Update 12/2018: Revised in view of an earlier ad in the Gen Con X Souvenir Program.