Archive for the 'D&D Portraits' Category



A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D (1985/1986)

D&D 1986-2

Via MainlyCats, we behold the tail end of a late-night session (the red splotch on the table was a candle) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. Specifically, the lads are in the kitchen of the Waveney Terrace building, a section of the university known for its Spartan accommodations. Or, as the UEA Alumni Association put it in 2005, when Waveney was demolished:

Much loved, Waveney Terrace opened in 1972; what it lacked in aesthetic charm was compensated for by a sense of community and character.

Read an account of Waveney in the ’80s here. There’s also a Flickr pool dedicated to the place.

A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D (1986)

D&D 1986

D&D 1986

The photos are via heath_bar/Flickr. We’re in Houston, Texas. Summer of ’86. First shot: if all those maps are connected, I’m impressed. The kids on the bed are drinking Cherry Coke, which was introduced in 1985 after the New Coke disaster. Just seeing that can brings back the essence of summer when summers were free. How about one of the greatest ’80s commercials ever to jog your memory?

The kid on the left is drinking a Minute Maid Lemon-Lime Soda. I found a commercial for that too. Pay close attention to the giant can at the very end taking the water bucket challenge.

Second shot: The blue book on the right is the rulebook for the first D&D Basic Set, a.k.a. “Holmes Basic,” released in 1977. Just above that, mostly obscured by the green dresser, is a board game called All the King’s Men. Originally released as Smess: The Ninny’s Chess in 1970, Parker Brothers re-released the game with a Medieval theme in 1979. I doubt that the revision was a coincidence.

AtKM 1979

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)

Kid Playing Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game, Circa 1982

D&D Game 1982

D&D Mattel 1981

D&D Mattel 1981-2

Appearing in 1981, one year after Mattel’s Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game, the irresistible handheld actually caused fistfights during recess. I might have started one of them. Watching a demo now, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about. It’s a general indicator of how “in” the portable LCD games were, and how badly we wanted to be doing something D&D-related.

Gygax and co. understood the time constraints involved in role-playing, and they knew that getting a group together could be tough. Both of the Mattel games were quick and allowed solo play. Sometimes, clinging to the fringes of the D&D aura was the best we could do. In the first photo, as if to prove my point, you’ll see the first edition AD&D Monster Manual (1977) lurking in the closet, waiting for a game to show up. (I think the “Tempe North” on the kid’s hat refers to a Little League in Tempe, Arizona.)

See specs and details of the Computer Fantasy Game at the Handheld Games Museum. It appears on the first page of the 1982 Mattel Electronics toy fair catalog.

(Images via eBay and Handheld Games Museum)

Kid Scores Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game for Birthday, Circa 1981

D&D 1981

Mom, can I go over to Danielle’s house?

See the game stacked up in a 1980 toy store here.

(Photo via Brutal Chaos)

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?

A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D (1978)

D&D 1978-2

D&D 1978

The earliest portraits I’ve found so far, taken at a camp in Asilomar Beach, California, are courtesy of Pip R. Lagenta. I believe the guys are using the 1975 printing of the original D&D set. You can see the bottom of the white box on the left of the first photo, and I think two of the three booklets on the right. The book on the bottom looks too big to be part of the set. The white box is in the second shot as well.

Oh, and the Tab can.

Pip names the players in the group here and here. UPDATE: Pip says in the comments section below:

I took those Asilomar photos of the D&D games in 1978 with my cheap Kodak Instamatic X-15 camera. Donald Chapel, the guy with the bright colored camera strap, had a much more expensive camera, but I don’t know that he ever took photos of the D&D games. David Woolsey, the DM, put a lot of work into creating artwork for his adventures, drawing his own versions of treasure, tools, maps and monsters on cards, in addition to painting figurines. As a side note, Paul Marsters, the guy with his back to the camera in one photo, is the younger brother of James Marsters, the actor who played the character `Spike’ on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer

* * *

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing an incredible book full of homemade D&D modules from the early ’80s. The project behind the book is as incredible as the book. Please tell your friends about both!

New posts will resume on Monday.

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)

Portrait of an Older Geek Learning to Play D&D (1982)

d&d portrait 1982

Boston, Massachusetts, March 19, 1982. (Photo: Unknown)

Probably from a Boston Herald story, the caption reads:

Chris Magliaccio, who helped organize the Dungeons and Dragons tournament at Museum of Science, playing the game. For the first time, I might add.

D&D tournaments were fairly common at museums of science in the early ’80s. You’ll recall this ad for a tournament in Miami. The game appealed to the kids who liked science because both enterprises are systems of knowledge organized around testable explanations.

I was more creative than analytical, so I enjoyed the fantastic, narrative aspect: building characters, adventures, exotic weapons, inescapably deadly dungeons, etc. That’s the genius of D&D, really. It captures both sides of the brain.

Good luck learning to play in such a short time, Chris. Can you see the beads of sweat on his forehead?

A Portrait of Young Geeks Playing D&D (1980/1981)

D&D Club 1980

From David Thiel, who gives us the entertaining back story:

It should be a surprise to no one that I was one of the founding members of the Hobart High School Dungeons & Dragons Club. Each Saturday morning, about twenty of us took over the basement of the Hobart Public Library for a half day of imaginary violence.

Here, courtesy the HHS yearbook, is the sole photo I have of me In flagrante dungeon…

Note that I was both wearing a Star Wars T-shirt and using an Empire Strikes Back school folder as a Dungeon Master’s screen. Yeah, I was stylin’.

What’s truly scary is that I’ve just realized that all these years later I can still immediately identify the D&D adventure being played by the two virgins in the background: the infamous “Queen of the Demonweb Pits.”

All this is my way of pointing out that I am indeed an old-schooler when it comes to dungeoneering […]

Read the rest of the post. No mention of the luxurious lip fuzz, David?


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