Vintage Ads From Dragon Magazine #55

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.

Dragonbone

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.

Closing

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.

A Classical Xanti Tomb Complex

In ancient Xanti, there is a common belief in reincarnation. Among the worshippers of the cult of Kaa, tradition dictates that wealthy nobles be buried along with their belongings, in elaborate tombs.

The tenets of their faith claims they will be reunited with their possessions in their next life. Whether this be truth or folly, only the gods know. However, woe to the dessert thief who tries to claim these riches for herself.

-Bhagiro Hatti, Gowandian Scholar

1.    Entrance

The entrances to Xanti tombs are often built into the side of canyon walls. Purposely left open, as a welcome to the gods, they are occasionally sealed off with sand from blowing desert winds. It is believed that when a tomb is sealed off in such a manner that the inhabitants will be forsaken by their deities and lose their opportunity for everlasting life.

A Kosantian adventurer faces off with reanimated tomb guardians. Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

While not sealed, Xanti tombs are not without their protections. Necromancers place tomb guardians in the form of skeletal warriors at the entrance of the complex. This particular tomb holds 6 such guardians in niches to the left and right of the entrance.

Each armed with a khopesh, these skeletal figures will remain lifeless unless someone intrudes on the tomb. Once disturbed they will animate and seek to eliminate the threat.

2.    Dead End / Pit

This corridor halts at a dead end, with a 10’ deep pit. To the inexperienced, this may at first seem to be a very obvious trap. However, this is actually a very purposeful key to the tomb, placed by the architect.

Any who have studied ancient Xanti burial rights will know what this portends. This signals to any future caretakers that the safe pace through the tomb is to take the leftmost choice at any intersection.

3.    Offering Room

This room contains 4 ceremonial offering niches, where well-wishers could visit, prior to the tomb being sanctified. They would fill these niches with all manner of offerings for the departed, in a belief that this would curry favor for them in the next life.

In the center of the room a pool of water gives off an eldritch blue glow. The pool with radiate as magical if any with the ability to check for such things happens to do so. Exactly what its properties are is a secret lost to time. However, legends tell that supplicants leaving offerings would drink from the well to receive a boon from the gods.

The pictured tomb is that of a mid-level noblewoman. Of the present offerings, most are fairly mundane sundry items. There are sacks of old grain, olive oil, bottles of wine that have long since turned to vinegar, and bolts of linen. A close search will turn up a gold scarab pendant and a garnet ring that are both finely crafted.

4.    Shrine

This room is the shrine where priests of Kaa would give their final prayers for the departed. During these ceremonies, 4 earthen-ware vessels bearing cobras would be placed within the room as part of the invocation ritual. The reptiles are long since dead and likely nothing remains of them.

5.    Beetle Pit

Tomb beetle. Art by: gary@gdupuis.com
http://www.gdupuis.com/

This floor of this room is littered with a number of old bones. The opposite end of the room is dominated by a well that is 10’ in diameter. After crossing the threshold to this room, PCs will hear a skittering noise coming from the well. Within 2 rounds of this, 4 giant beetles will emerge from the hole and attack until slain.

If explored, the pit will be found to descend 30’, though there are numerous tunnels branching off in other directions. These other tunnels have been created by the beetles. They are not large enough to stand up in, susceptible to collapse, and parties unwise enough to venture into them should meet more beetles promptly.

6.    The Burial Chamber

This ornately decorated room is the burial chamber itself. The noblewoman’s sarcophagus dominates the center of this pillared room, while those of her 8 attendants line the northern, western, and southern walls.

These three walls are adorned with detailed paintings depicting scenes from the life of the departed. The eastern wall is reserved for images of what she hopes for in her new life.

7.    Fire Trap

Those foolish enough to cross the threshold from the burial chamber into this L-shaped hall will immediately hear an audible click. However, nothing else will happen at this time.

If anyone walks forward to the right-angle and then follows until the dead end, they will be in for a surprise. As soon more than 5 lbs. of weight is placed on the 5’ section of tile at the dead end, 7 gouts of flame with shoot out from holes on the right side of the wall.

The flames will persist until there is less than 5 lbs. of weight being applied to any of the 3 east-west floor tiles marked with flames on the map. However, after 4 rounds the mechanism will run out of fuel.

If specifically searching, perceptive characters may notice the small holes in the wall.

8.    Treasure Room

This room would contain the worldly treasures of the departed. While there would certainly be some coins and gemstones, other items dear to the individual would be here as well. Bolts of fine silk, oils, and incense would be common among such items. In addition, books of arcane knowledge might be stored here for safekeeping until the afterlife.

Final Notes

That wraps up another week. Again, this isn’t intended to be a full-on adventure but I thought perhaps that this might get the creative juices flowing for some of you. Please let me know if any of this sets your mind to wandering. Hopefully, instead of dreading the new work week that is quickly approaching, you’ll be able to let your thoughts drift a bit to future sessions around the gaming table. Good gaming and have a great week!

Cross Tree – Starting Town

Every adventure needs a place to start. The maps in this post feature the town of Cross Tree, from a fantasy setting. Moving forward I plan to flesh the place out a bit. I will post a about what can be found within the town, its citizens, and the area at large.

For the time being I think I will try to keep much of what I post as system agnostic as possible. These days, I am most likely to be playing 5e Dungeons & Dragons but I’d like to put content out there that would be useful to just about everyone. I’d be curious to hear what fantasy system you’re playing.

Where possible, I’ll try to post stuff that would be equally useful for D&D, Pathfinder, WFRP, Savage Worlds, or whatever you may be into. Whether you put your players through their paces in the Forgotten Realms, Golarion, or some other campaign setting, I hope to make it easy enough to file off the numbers and make things as useful as I can.

In case anyone is curious, I created these using the Cities of Schley Symbol Set from Campaign Cartographer. I have included a version with just the title, one with labels, and also one with labels & a grid. Feel free to use these as you like for your own games or simply as inspiration for something more grand.

As of this writing, I have not had the time to explore the world of virtual table-top gaming. I know that it has become quite popular and that the pandemic has only increased its popularity. The thought occurred to me to do some investigating and include maps that would easily import into the popular VTT platforms. However, since part of my purpose in undertaking this endeavor was to interact with people, I decided against it.

If you are a VTT game master and you stumble onto something of mine that would be useful to you, if only it were scaled differently, had a different grid, or certain tweaks, please leave a comment. I can’t swear to it but I would certainly do my best to make an edit and get you what you need.