Earlier in the week I was flipping through the pages of some old copies of Dragon magazine. I found that I really enjoyed reminiscing and perusing all of the old advertisements. At any rate, I thought some of you might enjoy taking a peek at these as well.
This batch is from Dragon #55 (November 1981). Perhaps these were before your time or perhaps you remember them better than I do. Either way, I hope you enjoy.
St. Regis Dungeons & Dragons Notebooks & Binders
These were entirely lost from my memory until I saw the ad. St. Regis must have acquired the D&D license from TSR (probably not terribly costly in 1981) and produced a line of notebooks, binders, and folders. I’m getting old but it feels like notebooks, binders, & folders were a bigger deal in the 1980s than they currently are.
I’m not sure how wide of a release these had but I suspect it was fairly minimal. I remember finding them at the bookstore in my Jr. High School and wishing I could buy the lot. As I recall, I ended up buying a folder and calling it a day. You do what you can when you’re 11.
I remember the artwork on all of these as being quite striking and I do not believe I ever saw the artist work on any official TSR products. Apparently these were done by a fellow named Alex Nuckols. If you’re curious to see more, a quick Google search will yield some results. In particular, I’d suggest checking out this post from Scrum in Miniature.
One final note on this one is to notice the mention of “Free 28 sheet pack of gamers graph paper!” Graph paper wasn’t that easy to find in 1981. I’m sure adults managed to track it down. However, to kids my age it was a prized commodity.
Full Page Iron Crown Enterprises Ad
Most products from Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) were out of my reach as a kid. Nobody stocked their line close to me and my meager allowance wouldn’t have been sufficient to delve into their products even if they did.
Since I’d love to hear from someone who knows better than I do, I’m not going to go into a great deal of research here. Instead I’ll stick with my recollection.
Spell Law is the main product advertised here. It was a generic magic system, built to plug into the RPG of your choice. The was preceded by Arms Law (Martial combat) and followed by Claw Law, which I believe dealt with beasts and such.
As I recall, much of this line was eventually rolled together to become Rolemaster, a percentile based fantasy ttrpg. Rolemaster was one of those games that was always around but never end up directly crossing my path. Looks like later iterations of the game are still available on DriveThruRPG.
Their product that I did spend some time with was Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP). At least loosely built on the Rolemaster system, I believe this was the first officially licensed ttrpg based on Tolkien’s works.
Another item in the “blink and you would miss it” category was Dragonbone. This electronic dice roller was a plastic wand that allowed you to select your desired range (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, or d%). Once you made your selection you would be provided a randomized “roll” via a little red LED.
I will say that when I was 11, I may very well have had some Dragonbone envy. That said, I think they missed the fact that people really dig rolling dice.
I believe I saw them in real life at the Gen Con exhibitor hall, back when the convention was held at the University of Wisconsin Parkside. However, I never saw one at the gaming table.
That’s all for now. Drop me a comment if I’ve left anything out of if you have a favorite product that’s largely lost to time.
I remember the adds for that Dragonbone gizmo, but I never saw one in use. It seemed like a nifty idea, but I agree with you that it missed the mark as far as what gamers enjoy. They enjoy having dice, and usually it’s more dice than they could possibly ever use (I know I’m guilty of that).
Thank you so much for taking the time to write! It’s nice to actually interact with someone.
Yeah, while I saw them for sale, I never encountered one in use. I did see a fellow with a similar item (this one was square and not as “fancy” looking) at a convention once but that was the only time.
I agree about the dice. While not so much these days, when I was younger you could be sure that if I had a couple extra dollars at a convention, I’d be buying more dice.
Have a great week!
Hey nice site Talaraska, right up my alley! Rolemaster was my first system in the early 90s, I didn’t know they did a reprint, I’ve lost the core rule books decades ago… Hmm, I am really much tempted to get them back! Anyway, I’ll be following what you do, cheers!
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Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I guess there’s still a Rolemaster community out there. I stumbled across some guys playing it at Gen Con this year. I never played it directly but remember all of the crit tables from MERP and that was always great fun. Have a good weekend!
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