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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hand-Drawn Basic Box Cover (1980)



This charming image is a small part of an advertisement in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1980, which was recently featured over at 2 Warps to Neptune. See the entire page below. The Chronicle was a daily afternoon newspaper (absorbed by another still-existing daily in 1984), and the ad is by The Crescent, a Spokane, Washington-area department store chain that lasted until 1988 (thank you Wikipedia). For the holiday season the store ad is labeled "The Christmas Crescent". D&D is advertised together with a number of electronic handheld games and video game systems ("Giftable Fun For The Family"). But for some reason the advertiser has used small hand-drawn images of the D&D Basic Set and the Players Handbook instead of photos. As 2 Warps points out, the picture is pretty faithful, except for missing all of the treasure! I note the wizard is also missing his belt & shoulder bag, and the TSR logo is missing. The PHB cover is also altered, which you can read more about over on 2 Warps.

The advertising copy to the left starts "The original adult fantasy role-playing game everyone is talking about. The basic set enables a new player to get into fantasy adventure gaming smoothly and quickly." This was to be the last big holiday season for the Holmes set as the new B/X sets would be released in early 1981.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Holmes at Gen Con XII (1979)


Thanks to Tony at The Cryptic Archivist for providing a high res scan of the above photo from The Dragon #31, November 1979, which shows John Eric Holmes with his wife and son Chris talking to Tim Kask, the editor of the magazine. The photo was taken at fifth Strategists Club Banquet at Gen Con XII, August 16-19. This issue also has the distinction of including Trollshead, the first Boinger and Zereth story published in The Dragon. For more on issue #31, see this recent review on The Land of Nod blog.



Above is an advertisement for Gen Con XII from the Dragon #25, May 1979, with fantastic artwork by Kenneth Rahman aka Elladan Elrohir aka Eymoth. His tag is not to be mistaken for the EO used by Erol Otus, and can also be seen on the covers of other TSR games including Boot Hill and Divine Right (which Rahman co-designed with his brother Glenn). The same artwork, but printed in red and black was also used for cover of the convention program. A thumbnail of this can be seen on a page over at Tome of Treasures, which also gives an overview of the contents.

According to the info listed there, Holmes ran two games at Gen Con XII, "D&D For Beginners" and "D&D on Barsoom". Holmes had earlier used the title "D&D For Beginners" on his original draft of the rulebook for the Basic Set. In running the "D&D For Beginners" game, the Holmes employed an impressive game aid. Per Chris, we used "my rather large model dungeon 3'X6' ... Dad did the basic carpentry on it and together we ran "Beginners D&D" at our 2nd Gen Con".