Illustrating the Act of Fantasy Role-Playing, 1981 – 1985

D&D Basic Set 1981

D&D GW 1981

D&D Basic 1982 French

Dicing with Dragons Book Club Poyser 1982

Dragon Warriors Bob Harvey 1985

The illustrations are from (top to bottom) the 1981 D&D Basic Set (Moldvay edition; art by David S. LaForce), a 1981 Games Workshop ad (artist unknown), and the 1982 French edition of the D&D Basic Set (Moldvay edition; art by Jim Holloway). I find it fascinating that the concept of role-playing was once so alien that it had to be explained with thought balloons. And I still can’t get over how awesomely bloody the GW sketch is.

If anybody knows of similar illustrations, please let me know.

UPDATE (2/11/2016): Thanks to Kai S. and Steve Wall, I’ve added two more illustrations. The first one (fourth image down) is the book club edition cover of Dicing with Dragons (1982), with art by Victoria Poyser. The second is from Dragon Warriors: Book One (1985), and the artist is Bob Harvey (see here and here). Brilliant stuff.

7 Responses to “Illustrating the Act of Fantasy Role-Playing, 1981 – 1985”


  1. 1 Kai S. February 10, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    If you’re looking for more images like these, check out this thread at RPG Geek:

    https://www.rpggeek.com/geeklist/160271/depictions-tabletop-role-playing

  2. 3 mikemonaco February 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Can’t for the life of me remember exactly where, but an OSR blog had a spoof of the first image, the joke being that the genders of the imagined PCs where swapped.

    • 4 2W2N February 11, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I guess we’re lucky that a girl is even represented here at the time, although it seems her PC is wearing more clothes than the male PC. That’s something. (Says the guy with two very young daughters, both of whom are currently watching Thundarr the Barbarian.)

  3. 5 Seth C. Polansky February 12, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Good stuff here. We’re actually working on a documentary that tells the story of DnD art: https://www.facebook.com/eyeofthebeholdermovie


  1. 1 Erol Otus Illustration for the Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Adventure Log (TSR, 1980) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on April 28, 2016 at 6:28 pm

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