Archive for the 'D&D Clubs' Category

A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D, Circa 1983



The Hesperia Junior High D&D Club is playing The Keep on the Borderlands in the school library. Love that camo boonie hat. The photos are from the Hesperia Junior High Yearbook from 1982-1983 via Keith Sloane, who posted them in the comments at Joseph Bloch’s Greyhawk Grognard. I posted Bloch’s D&D Club photo here.


The Order of Excalibur Club, 1980

Order 1980

The Star Trek Club and the Middle Earth Club of Mira Loma High School merged in 1979 to form the Science Fiction Club, and the Order of Excalibur Club was added in 1980 “to congress around Dungeon and Dragons and other board games revolving around wizards and magic.”

The graphic on the D&D shirt appears to be the same one the kid in this D&D Club is wearing. The letters are iron-on affairs, so my guess is there was a generic dragon shirt on the market at the time, and the kids had mom press on the letters. Another homegrown D&D shirt here. Lots more D&D Clubs here.

(Image and background via Mira Loma Alumni and Friends)

Gamemasters Club, 1982/1983

Gamemasters Club 1982-1983

From the ’82-’83 Quartz Hill High School yearbook. Quartz Hill is in California’s Antelope Valley, northeast of Los Angeles.

I do believe the gent in the middle is wearing a head armor piece and holding a wooden weapon of some kind. The gent to his left is holding the original AD&D Players Handbook. Is that a gorilla on his ringer tee?

The girl-guy ratio is damn near 50-50!

(Photo via QHHS Alumni)

Dungeons & Dragons Club, Circa 1980

D&D Club 1980

The sign is cut off (and `Dungeons’ is misspelled!), but we’re looking at an AD&D club, hence all the core books and Tramp’s Dungeon Master’s Screen on proud display.

That’s got to be a homemade shirt in the middle, right? It’s not any TSR dragon that I’ve seen.

Our teacher rep, the only woman involved in the proceedings, seems quite happy to be there. I wonder what she thought at the time.

(Photo via Story Games forums)

Dungeons & Dragons Club, 1984

D&D Club 1984

You can’t hide from me, Greyhawk Grognard! Every time a portrait of old school D&D geeks appears on the internets, a little alarm goes off on my aging laptop and I spring into action (i.e. I click on my Google homepage and type in a couple of keywords).

All hail the Pingry School Dungeons and Dragons Club of 1984! They can’t beat you on the football field, but they will, if you cross them, destroy you and your cheerleading lapdogs with various applications of black magic, telekinesis, and Lankhmarian-made rapiers.

How many polo animal mascots can you spot?

Dungeons & Dragons Club, Circa 1982/1983

D&D Club 82-83

D&D Club 82-83-2

Two successive years of the D&D Club at Downey High School in California. A Mr. Kruzan was the faculty rep for both years.

One of the kids in the first photo is wearing a Van Halen shirt. Not much else I can make out, except that the turnaround between years one and two is extensive.

More D&D Clubs (and more Van Halen t-shirts) here. There was also a D&D summer camp, if you haven’t seen it yet.

(Photos via Michael Poulin/Flickr)

Dungeons & Dragons Club, 1980

D&D Club 1980

I found this one at the Judges Guild Game Company’s Facebook page. The note reads:

In the 70’s and 80’s, JG founded and supplied Dungeons and Dragons clubs in Decatur, Illinois high schools. This is the 1980 MacArthur D&D Club, as pictured in the yearbook.

I would pay real money for an autographed 8×10, especially if Van Halen guy signs with a silver metallic Sharpie. My crush on Kathy Kirby is immediate and all-consuming. As soon as I get my hands on a functioning flux capacitor, I’m going back in time to ask her to the prom.

Judges Guild, by the way, is a fantasy game publisher founded in 1975 by Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen. In 1976, Bledsaw and Owen got approval from Dave Arneson to create game supplements for D&D, which were successfully introduced at Gen Con IX in August of the same year.

Over the next several years, Judges Guild released some 250 products—for use with D&D as well as RuneQuest, Traveller, and other notable games—and played an influential role in the formative years of tabletop RPGs. The Judges Guild website is here.


On a separate but related note, I want to thank Al at Beyond the Black Gate for saying some nice things about 2 Warps to Neptune. Al is an old school gamer and game developer who has written extensively about the genre, Judges Guild included.

Anyone interested in the hobby and its history—hell, anyone who digs fantasy art and literature—should check out his blog. Start with his two-part cliffhanger, “Evolution of an Old-School Gamer.”

A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D (1980)

D&D portrait 1980

D&D portrait 1980-2

D&D portrait 1980-3

These are from the 1980 Libertyville (a northern suburb of Chicago) High School Yearbook, courtesy of edenpictures/Flickr. John Olson’s explanation of the game on the first page may be the best one I’ve ever heard.

Interesting how they’re referred to as the Dungeons and Dragons people. Why not players? Or fans? Maybe because no one really understood them. They were those people. They were Goonies.

And what about the crux of the blurb: “The game provides its participants with the action, battle, and adventure they may never find in real life”? Isn’t the act of pretending a real life event? If I imagine that I’m swinging a sword at a red dragon while rolling a d20, am I not finding adventure in real life? It’s a less physical experience than running between the tackles on a football field, but it’s no less real.

Look closely at these kids. They were themselves, and they probably took a lot of shit for it. They were geeks before geeks were cool.

Dungeons & Dragons Club, 1983

1983 Dungeons and Dragons club

Presumably this shot comes from the Menlo School Yearbook of 1983. Menlo is a middle and high school in Atherton, California. I love the dragon, but shouldn’t he be holding a polyhedral die?

What do we think is playing on that boombox (top left)? Thriller?

(Photo via Menlo Photo Bank/Flickr)




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