Dungeons & Dragons Ad, 1980

D&D Ad 1980-1

D&D Ad 1980-2

D&D Ad 1980-3

D&D Ad 1980-4

The ad is from the Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1980. The D&D books appear with the high-ticket electronic handhelds and consoles, including the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision.

Take a closer look at the pictures in the ad, which are actually an artist’s illustrations of the original Basic Set (David Sutherland) and Players Handbook (David Trampier) covers. The Basic Set is pretty straightforward, the only noticeable difference being the lack of gold. But for the Players Handbook, we see dark, hooded figures seemingly worshiping a demon idol, as opposed to a party of post-battle dungeon raiders, two of whom are attempting to chip the jewels out of the demon idol’s eyes (see below).

The “Satanic Panic” wouldn’t blow up until 1982-1983, but already the game had touched a nerve, and, consciously or not, people saw things in it that weren’t there. Fantasy role-playing was almost impossible for adults of a certain religious temperament to accept. In Trampier’s cover, probably the most distinctive and resonant image in all of D&D, all they could see was their greatest fear: not the reality of the devil, but the reality that their children might not believe what they believed.

D&D PH 1978

4 Responses to “<em>Dungeons & Dragons</em> Ad, 1980”


  1. 1 welshpiper August 25, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Reading the ad copy doesn’t exactly help, either. The PHB contains “everything necessary for the player to … develop his or her personal fantasy,” and the “Advanced Dragon Master Guide” is essential to “running a successful fantasy.”

    Is this D&D or Greenleaf Publishing?

  2. 2 narvo August 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Great observation. All you D&D posts are on hit! Keep ’em comin’!

  3. 3 Zenopus Archives August 27, 2015 at 4:07 am

    Nice find! The hand-drawn covers are great. DIY advertising art. : )


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