Monday, November 27, 2017

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 13, 1982.

The year: 1982. The product: Dungeons & Dragons. The advertising medium: comic books. TSR began illustrating the accounts of one party's campaign, then abruptly cut it off and began recounting a second. Not satisfied with their work, they also pulled the plug on the second and here we see them set the scene for a third and final comic book advertising campaign:
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
ADVENTURES
"Quest Through The Savage Country"

SCENE: DEAD JACKAL INN

BEAUTIFUL SORCERESS: ARE YOU SURE THE ONE WE SEEK WILL BE HERE?

SHADRAK: TRUST ME.

S: "THERE HE IS! RORY GALLAN."

S: "HE'S THE BEST PATHFINDER THAT YOUR MONEY CAN BUY!"

RORY: THERE YOU ARE YOU THIEVING GNOME!!

R: SO SHADRAK MY LITTLE FRIEND. I TRUST YOU ARE HERE TO PAY ME BACK THE COINS YOU ... BORROWED?!

S: WELL.. UM... NOT EXACTLY RANGER GALLAN. BUT EVEN BETTER THAN THAT I'VE LOCATED A JOB FOR YOU! THIS LADY HERE IS THE APPRENTICE OF THE FAMED WIZARD KHELLEK. SHE WANTS TO HIRE YOU TO TAKE HER ACROSS THE SAVAGE COUNTRY! I TOLD HER THAT NO ONE LIVING KNOWS THOSE LANDS LIKE YOU DO... OLD FRIEND.

B: IT IS TRUE THAT I WISH TO HIRE THE RANGER GALLAN. BUT I SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TWO SWORDS. HAVE YOU ANOTHER IN MIND, LITTLE ONE?

S: I SURE DO M'LADY... ME!

R: YOU!?

S: QUIET GALLAN! HERE FINISH YOUR DRINK.

S: M'LADY, I COULD NEVER HAVE BECOME THE COUNTRY'S GREATEST THIEF IF I COULDN'T HANDLE WEAPONS AS WELL AS ANY FIGHTER!

MSSR. GALLAN, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. MY MASTER'S OTHER PUPIL HAS TURNED EVIL AND ESCAPED WITH MYSTIC OBJECTS OF GREAT POWER! IF HE IS TO BE STOPPED, IT MUST BE SOON! YOU ARE WELL KNOWN BY YOUR HEROIC DEEDS. IF YOU AGREE, THEN THE GNOME WILL BE MY SECOND SWORD. YOUR TASK IS TO GUIDE ME SAFELY ACROSS THE SAVAGE COUNTRY WHERE WICKED MORGAN HAS FLED!!

S: WHAT DO YOU SAY RORY? MY SHARE OF THE PAY WILL NICELY COVER WHAT I OWE YOU.

NEXT: FEAR OF FLYING!

Mostly I am just posting these for completeness' sakes, to see the story through, such as it is, and be the only one to provide search-engine-findable transcripts of the inane word bubbles. What do we learn here? Not much of interest: this is the first of the three stories to begin in the heart of that fantasy cliche, assembling the party at a tavern. When the name Khellek comes up, our ears perk up, as he was the wizard in the previous advertisement's party -- building a narrative bridge between otherwise seemingly unrelated ads. Most of the previous advertisement comics have focused on fearsome monsters and amazing magic, while this one is primarily concerned with a thief's bluff. (Equal time for the different player classes? Conspicuously, not only have none of the comic-ads focused on clerics, none of the parties have even contained one! Adventure strategy: plan to never be injured or encounter undead.) This ad ends explicitly on a to-be-continued, so stay tuned, long-tail readers: there's only one more installment in this series, then this blog will most likely enter a period of long, yea indefinite, silence!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 12, 1982.

Through comic book pages of 1982, sometimes the main attraction was interrupted by alternate comic strips, selling the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game by telling the kind of stories, briefly, that such gameplay sessions were concerned by. This is the last in a set of four, to be succeeded by one final micro story arc. Transcript follows:
THE WIZARD KHELLEK'S MAGICAL POWERS HAVE DISINTEGRATED THE MONSTROUS PURPLE WORM! THE TREASURE ROOM OF ROAKIRE IS REVEALED TO THEM. AURIC LEADS OUR ADVENTURERS IN THEIR TREACHEROUS CLIMB TO THE SURFACE!

AURIC: "DAYLIGHT! WE'VE MADE IT!!"

KHELLEK EXAMINES THE ANCIENT SCROLLS TAKEN FROM THE ROAKIRE TREASURE ROOM.

KHELLEK: "THE SEARCH IS OVER MY FRIENDS! BUT MY WORK IS JUST BEGINNING. THESE SPELLS WILL AID IN DEFEATING THE EVIL THAT LAYS SIEGE TO MY LORD'S CASTLE!"

K: "THE SUCCESS IS NOT AS SWEET WITH OUR PARTING."

TIRRA: "PARTING KHELLEK? YOU'LL BE NEEDING TWO GOOD SWORDS..."

A: "... WITH YOUR HOMELAND UNDER SIEGE!"

THE END

Odyssey aside, it is extraordinary to present the emergency from the dungeon -- the voyage home -- as a perilous and arduous undertaking. You have cleared out the mobs, there's nothing interfering with your return! But it looks like they're taking some species of short cut. Pity we never get to see the disintegrate spell in action, but I guess that's how they guarantee the most dazzling presentation of magic: the reader's brain provides the VFX.

Auric? Would some player really name their avaricious character after gold? Every chapter of these comics needs to present some nasties for lurid appeal, only here they merely represent what lies ahead for the party, not anything they actually encountering. Really this is much ado about an irrelevant plot twist (the party break up? why, are they not a regular party? no canon has been brought up to suggest otherwise...) turning the first "The End" of the ad series into a "To Be Continued?" (SPOILER WARNING: it is not continued. The castle of Khellek's Lord never is relieved from its evil siege.)

That is all. Enjoy, only a couple of these remain -- and then, perhaps, this blog can enjoy its final, well-earned rest 8)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 11, 1982.

Another month, another D&D comic book ad in the sequence whose meagre contents I transcribe for the benefit of posterity. (Huh, turns out I wasn't the only person blogging this series, but I am the only to provide transcripts. Incidentally, three episodes in, I've figured out what the difference is between this party and the previous, the answer staring me plainly in the face: this party is playing ADVANCED Dungeons & Dragons!) Last time, the sequence was monsters, then treasure, this time inverted. Now, here we go:
A DUNGEONS & DRAGONS(r) ADVENTURE

THE THREE ADVENTURERS ARE IN THE TREASURE VAULTS OF THE DUNGEON ROAKIRE. AURIC THE FIGHTER HAS FOUND A SUIT OF ENCHANTED ARMOR, TIRRA A MAGIC CLOAK WHILE THE WIZARD KHELLEK INVESTIGATES SEVERAL SCROLLS AND ARCANE ITEMS.

A: (... FITS LIKE IT WAS MADE FOR ME!)
T: THAT'S ODD... ... THERE IS A LOW RUMBLING NOISE COMING THROUGH THE WALLS AND THE FLOOR!
K: THE WHOLE ROOM IS SHAKING!

T: THERE'S SOMETHING COMING RIGHT UP THROUGH THE FLOOR!
ARRAUUUGGHH!
A: A PURPLE WORM! IT'S ENORMOUS!
K: STAND BACK! ONLY MY MAGIC CAN STOP IT!

EXPLORE EXCITING WORLDS OF FUN FANTASY & ADVENTURE WITH DUNGEONS & DRAGONS AND ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ADVENTURE GAMES. SEND IN YOUR COUPON TODAY FOR YOUR FREE CATALOG OF GAMES & ACCESSORIES. SEND TO: TSR HOBBIES, INC, POB 756 DEPT. 170-77E, LAKE GENEVA, WI 53147.

IN THE UK SEND TO: TSR HOBBIES (UK) LTD, THE MILL, RATHMORE RD., CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND CB1 4AD.

From a Beholder last time to a Purple Worm here, there's really not much room for progression remaining. What's next, a tarrasque?

Monday, October 30, 2017

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 10, 1982.

Oh, wow, looks like it's been over a year since I last touched this sunset project! And yet... I still have several D&D comic book ads yet to post! I blame the slowdown of the CRPG Addict, who I was once trying to keep pace with. (It's not his fault, his task is just a bit of an Achilles and the Tortoise unwinnable race.) Well here, let's proceed at least one step onwards with this transcription of the 10th Dungeons & Dragons Adventure advertisement:
SYNOPSIS: AURIC, TIRRA AND THE WIZARD KHELLEK ENTERED THE DUNGEONS OF RAKIRE ONLY TO FIND THE ENTRANCE GUARDED BY AN EVIL JACKALWERE! THE SPELLS OF KHELLEK AND THE COLD IRON OF THE TWO SWORDS JOIN TO DEFEAT THE SHAPESHIFTER...

EVER DEEPER INTO THE SUBTERRANEAN PASSAGES THEY GO...

FIGHTING THEIR WAY THROUGH EVIL HOARDS [sic...?] OF DUNGEON DWELLING HUMANOIDS...

...ENCOUNTERING BIZARRE CREATURES THAT SHOULDN'T EXIST OUTSIDE OF NIGHTMARES...

... AND BYPASSING NAMELESS, INHUMAN, ABOMINATIONS...

AURIC THE FIGHTER: THE JACKALWERE IS FINALLY SLAIN!

TIRRA THE ELF: SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

THE WIZARD, KHELLEK: NOW? NOW WE DELVE DEEPER INTO THE DUNGEON!

... TO THE DEEPEST DUNGEON VAULTS WHERE LIE THE TREASURES OF ROAKIRE: GOLD, SILVER, PRICELESS GEMS AND ITEMS OF ARCANE MAGIC!

Not much plot advancement or character development here! I don't recognize the humanoids, but the beholder proved irresistible for the artist, who could not pass it up. What I'm wondering is what is the nameless, inhuman abomination that follows a beholder? Jubilex? Well, huh, perhaps further ads will paint that picture.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 9, 1982.

Another day, another instalment of the D&D comic book advertisement series:
FORBIDDEN BY THE PEOPLE OF THE LOWLANDS, AURIC, TIRRA AND THE WIZARD, KHELLEK...

TIRRA: THERE'S MAGIC BREWING DOWN HERE... I CAN ALMOST TASTE IT!

ENTER THE RUINED DUNGEONS OF ROAKIRE ABANDONED CENTURIES AGO BY A MYSTERIOUS RACE. AURIC ADVANCES AHEAD WHEN SUDDENLY FROM OUT OF THE DARKNESS...

AURIC: SOMETHING BEHIND ME! A JACKALWERE!

THE HUNGRY LYCANTHROP MONSTER LUNGES FOR KELLEK [sp] WITH SHARP FANGS AND CLAWS!

JACKALWERE: RRRRAARRGGHH!

A: DON'T LOOK AT ITS EYES OR YOU'LL SLEEP FOREVER!

I've got to say, the Dimension Door the party travelled through at the end of part 8 seems to have wrought some profound changes on their composition, altering their number, appearance and even their names. Or perhaps, for big picture reasons we are never to fully know, upstairs at TSR dictated that the action at this time was to shift to a secondary party, perhaps to someday reunite with the initial party for a grand finale. Go figure.

PS -- I love the way the heroes are holding the official TSR rulebooks! What does it mean, the semantic mise en abyme that even characters in a D&D game play D&D?

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Pools of Darkness", 1991.

Here we are: The CRPG Addict is coming out of his long moving-induced torpor, and has plunged into the final title in SSI's Increasingly Inaccurately Named Tyranthraxus Trilogy, 1991's Pools of Darkness. It picks up where 1990's Secret of the Silver Blades left off. I wrote about that title some two and a half years ago, while Pools of Darkness came out one year later than SSB did... meaning that it has taken me longer to get around to writing about the sequel... than it took SSI to make it! Here follows the ad blurb text:
POOLS OF DARKNESS

The Final Chapter in the greatest AD&D computer fantasy role-playing series ever! First there was POOL OF RADIANCE. Next came CURSE OF THE AZURE BONDS. Then followed SECRET OF THE SILVER BLADES. Together these incredible games have sold more than 600,000 copies so far!

Now, the epic comes full circle -- Pools of Darkness takes you back to the Moonsea area to fight the final battle against the ultimate enemy.

Prepare yourself for the biggest adventure yet! Pools of Darkness propels you into alternate dimensions on an enormous quest. And it boasts a fully evolved version of the award-winning game system used throughout this series.

Transfer your characters from SECRET OF THE SILVER BLADES intact, or create new ones! Either way, you're in for some high-level action! Battle monsters never before encountered. Cast powerful new spells. Achieve character levels well above the 25TH level!

As if this weren't enough, state-of-the-art graphics and crisp digitized sound make this a true masterpiece of the fantasy role-playing art!

The hook, in summary: a) This is the end of the series. b) You may recall the names of the previous games in this series. You know that we sold a pile of them. Here, look at their boxes to refresh your memory. c) The well has run dry, we are revisiting locations. d) This is a larger game than its predecessors. e) "Alternate dimensions"? What we said about revisiting locations -- scratch that. f) "Fully evolved version of the award-winning game system" -- I'm guessing what they mean is that they've removed the crippleware limitations on character levels and high-level abilities that go with them. Certainly they're not implying that the previous games in the series are vestigial and only half-baked... are they? g) Like all previous games in the series, you can import characters. Or create new ones, only a feature to Wizardry players. h) Did we mention that this game is for high-level characters? i) We have removed familiar monsters, boosted their stats and reskinned them. j) We're not skimping on the high-level play. We probably had to write new code for some spell efffects. k) As it is now 1991, we're no longer trying to impress you with the sound and visual quality present at the beginning of this series in 1988, three years prior. Everything has been improved incrementally!

Also: l) There are most likely drow babes in this game. The screenshots suggest that there is also at least one Dragon (Dungeon and Dragon just doesn't sound as impressive... just a gloss for the ZX Spectrum's 3D Monster Maze) and what looks like the body of defeated god of decay Moander. Their copy writers seem a little out of gas -- if all you're allowed to do is compare it to earlier entries, it naturally follows that new products will be a bit better (if not, you're in trouble) ... but to make the comparison without ever being able to acknowledge the predecessors as lacking leaves the breathless prose without a normalized calibration. This game... it's good! It has a sequel now... it's great! The sequel got a sequel now -- it's amazing! And so forth.

I never played this game, though I did read hints for it in the letters section of The Lessers' computer game column in Dragon Magazine. By the time we organized access to this high-level tactical-combat CRPG, we no longer had enough free time at our disposal in which to play it. There's something to be said for adventure games that can be whipped through in a single afternoon if you know what you're doing!

Sorry for the disjointed remarks; I have well fallen out of practice where writing here is concerned. (But you can still find me at Pixel Pompeii often enough, describing textmode art renditions of various topics, more often than not!) Cheers and crawl on! (Dungeon crawl, that is.)

"A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure" part 8, 1982.

The brief window of circumstances needed for my updating this blog with a couple of posts has opened, so I will further the Dungeons & Dragons comic book advertisement adventure story a couple of episodes while keeping pace with The CRPG Addict's renewed progress through gaming history. This here is part 8 of the advertisement series from 1982 -- when last we saw our heroic party, they were ambushed by werewolves. The calamities continue in today's instalment:
OUR STORY: ATTEMPTING TO RESCUE THEIR MENTOR, OUR HEROES ARE CAUGHT BY A SUDDEN AVALANCHE!
GRIMSLADE: EVIL FORCES ARE AT WORK HERE!

VALERIUS: SAREN HAS BEEN HURT! WE MUST ACT QUICKLY!

G: THIS MAGIC SCROLL MAY PROVIDE US WITH AN ESCAPE!
G: DIMENSION DOOR!!
WOOOSH!
THE SPELL CARRIES OUR HEROES

... TO AN ANCIENT CASTLE!
COULD THE END OF THE QUEST LIE HERE?

The panels really speak for themselves. All I can say is: evil forces? Well, if not... probably there wouldn't be much of an adventure. (Is snow and avalanche always motivated by evil forces? Can heroes not be imperilled by normal weather patterns?) No surprise Saren is hurt: by being underdressed in a winter climate! Reading random scrolls in hopes of salvation? What is this, NetHack?