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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Chainmail Announcement from Domesday Book #9

Above is an early (perhaps the first) announcement for Chainmail, from the Domesday Book periodical, issue #9. While referred to simply as "Medieval Miniatures rules", they are by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren, include a Fantasy Supplement, and are sold by Lowrys Hobbies, so there's no mistaking what it is for.

This excerpted image was posted by Rob Kuntz here on EnWorld in 2019, and its existence was earlier noted in Playing at the World, both the book (page 42) and the blog ("this issue contains the first notice of the publication of Chainmail in the Domesday Book"). I'd thought I'd share it here because I don't think a lot of folks have seen it.

For search-engine posterity, here is the transcribed text:

"Announcing a completely revised set of Medieval Miniatures rules, with a large         fantasy suppliment for fighting Tolkien-type battles, by Gary Gygax and Jeff                   Perren (of course!). For this and your wargaming needs it's                                     LOWRYS HOBBIES, Box 1123, Evansville, Indiana 47713 Giant Catalog - 50¢"

Lowrys Hobbies was the previously established Evansville-based mail-order business of Don Lowry, who in 1971 founded Guidon Games to publish Chainmail and other games; in 1972 he moved both to Belfast, Maine. Here's the cover of a 1972 Lowrys catalog still showing the Evansville address:

The "(of course!)" aside presumably refers to the fact that Perren & Gygax had published their medieval rules in an earlier issue of the Domesday Book (#4, July 1970), titled "The LGTSA Miniatures Rules". You can read more about these rules, which did not yet include a Fantasy Supplement, here on the Playing at the World blog.

The Acaeum page for the Domesday Book has issue #9 as "Date Unknown" (indicated here as "undated"), but dates the next issue as "April 1971", which would place issue #9 as earlier that that. However, this April date seems to be taken from the date of the one of the articles ("Ancients Society Report, Last Issue, 4/30/71"), which since this is at the very end of April might mean that #10 was actually published later. Playing at the World indicates that issues #8-11 came out "roughly quarterly" (page 634).

Over on the mostly defunct but still useful Tome of Treasures forum, poster scribe wrote that the April 1971 issue of International Wargamer has a full-page advertisement for Guidon Games that includes Chainmail: International Wargamer April 1971 listing at ToT.

Domesday Book #9 also contained the first map of the Great Kingdom, which eventually led to the settings for both Arneson's Blackmoor and Gygax's Greyhawk campaign. An auspicious publication!

The cover of Domesday Book #9 as shown on the Acaeum

(The above material is revised from my posts on the EnWorld thread link above).


  1. Interesting! I think that the preview of the fantasy supplement as featuring "Tolkien-type battles" is especially revealing. It supports Jon Peterson's research that these rules were based on the Tolkien simulation rules of Len Patt from 1970.

  2. I grew up in Evansville, but didn't know about the Guidon Games connection until years after I had left. I wonder if any of the old-timers in the game club I was a member of in the 80s knew Don Lowry. If so, none of them ever mentioned it (or rather, none of them mentioned it to me). I feel sure the owner of the local hobby shop (ABC Hobbycraft) must have.

    1. Ah, I now recall you mentioning Evansville in various posts over the years; I didn't put that together myself because I'm not familiar with the area. Lowry apparently met Gary through the IFW so he was presumably plugged into certain older gaming circles.

  3. Issue 9 came out around before June because Rob Kuntz is still king in that issue and June is when Rob temporarily lost the position. So somewhere in the April/May timeframe is correct. #10 wasn't published until circa October IIRC.