Here’s something I didn’t even know existed. The Lazer Tag Handbook? From TSR? I just found this in an Amazing Spider-Man circa 86 or 87 and would love to know what was inside.
This ad really takes me back too my geek roots. Starting in 1982 TSR released a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books called, Endless Quest books. These books were an Ogre’s height better then your average CYOA book in that they had better character development. You just weren’t Mr. Knight or Ms. Wizard. You were Harkden of the Capaloks or some junk like that. Dozens of these books were released in the 1980s and they made for fun geeky back seat fun when your family was stuck in traffic on the way to the Jersey Shore.
If you are a fan, you can either dig through my my musty boxes of books and find a few dogeared copies or head over to ebay and pick up a couple of these gems and free them from their Mylar prisons.
In 1993 when TSR released it’s board game based on it’s Dungeons and Dragons property, entitled DragonStrike, it included a 30 minute video tutorial to help newcomers to the art of Role-Playing an adventure game. Their follow up game was going to be set in Wildspace, which is pretty much Dungeons and Dragons in space…but the game was never released. The game was advertised in one of the TSR Dragon magazines however:
“Wildspace – Sail the void between planets in your squidship in search of treasure. Evil mind flayers, draconians, and Lord Fear hunt the spaceways trying to stop you. This is the second game in the AdventureVision series. Like Dragon Strike, when Wildspace the video ends, Wildspace the game begins. Watch the half-hour video adventure featuring your heroes in awesome action, then play as a team in exciting fantasy space adventures.”
Watch the WildSpace Trailer
Besides having an awesome Illithid, or Mind Flayer as it is more commonly called in that video. It also happened to be directed by THE Flint Dille. Flint Dille was one of the writers behind almost every popular cartoon in the eighties. Which ones you ask? Transformers, G.I. Joe, Visionaries, Inhumanoids, and the Pirates of Dark Water to name just a few.
I don’t know why the game was never released, but perhaps Dragon Strike didn’t do as well as TSR had hoped?
Among the multiple-path books to come across my hex-dice-filled hands in the days of mental adventuring, TSR’s Endless Quest books were like finding platinum pieces in a bag of silver.
The pure essence of module realms could be entered on my own. And since I was a lone DM looking for a solo excursion among my human buddy PCs and the conjured NPCs that haunted me in my dreams, this was heaven.
Unlike the later Peter Jackson books which required a pen, paper and dice for battle, all that was needed was your wits and choice of actions to follow up on the exciting promise of adventure-seeking success over dungeon death.
Dungeon Of Dread takes a good dozen pages to set the mood before setting your character – Caric, a brave knight – on your choosy way. You meet Laurus, a forlorn but brave halfling who accompanies you on your explorations of a dungeon where you seek to defeat the evil wizard Kalman and bring peace to the region.
It was a blast to get the solo D&D experience over the course of the few books of this series, and this one was no exception. Facing off against kobolds, bugbears, ogres and more, it was very satisfying to find a clever way to defeat your foes using knowledge of their weaknesses.
It also prepped you for some ‘live-action’ settings with other players once all the sheets, dice and eager anticipation were laid out in front of your DM screens, as you patted the Monster Manual knowingly and smiled maliciously, thinking of what lay ahead for your unprepared assembly.
But I digress.
Dungeons Of Dread also had some surprises.
Good thing? Bad thing?
Finding out was only a page flip away.
In fact, this image of a depressed simian touched my warrior’s heart, and the resulting page flips are pretty sad, but enriches the story.
Just a part of what made these books worthy of the TSR emblem.
Finding these great books was a quest as rewarding as any D&D journey, with just me and my pop in the party.
I first glimpsed them at this great hobby store in a huge, zombieless two-story mall in the middle of nowhere, about an hour’s drive from our house.
On the way to the Big City where I grew up (and had moved away), a few miles further ahead, we’d stop at the mall’s food court for some corn-dogs and go pick some books at WSmith. Often, I’d have time to plunk some quarters in some new arrivals at their arcade.
Loved that hobby shoppe with its wood-paneled facade. They were called Games & Hobbies (Jeux et passe-temps). Their ever-increasing appreciation of Dungeons and Dragons – as revealed by their growing shelves of modules, manuals and sheets – matched my own.
Rummaging through stacks of old Dragon magazines for two dollars each (how much is that in gold pieces today?), I’d be thrilled to find additional combat rules, character skills and greatly imaginative articles by fellow DMs.
Man, I bought so much stuff there. The Endless Quest books were great for costing only 3 dollars, while the rest of a DM’s gear could add up quickly, drying up funds and requiring additional visits.
Spotting these book covers amidst my Pocket Mads instantly lit a torch on those darkened retro dungeon memories, and mapped out the aforementioned recollections.
There were 36 Endless Quest Series One books printed between 1982 and 1987.
Mirrorstone began republishing the series with new artwork in 2008.
The originals are out of print, but can be dug up on eBay searches.
In Junior High-School my group of friends were all atwitter about a new game that our friend, Nick, had picked up over the weekend. It was called BattleTech. This wasn’t our typical lunch time RPG fare of Dungeons and Dragons or possibly Marvel Super Heroes from TSR…this was a type of board game, a map sheet that was made up with hexagon terrain tiles…and we were tasked with piloting towering Mechs capable of massive destruction as we waged war during those thirty minute breaks from ‘learning’.
As the weeks passsed we found our afternoons of worrying over our character inventory and gold pieces or Karma points had vanished, they had been replaced with new ‘character’ sheets were we tracked our armor levels on our Mech’s body parts and more importantly kept an eye on the heat levels of our vehicle. Something about the Sci-Fi trappings of it all really hooked all of us and those hooks were in deep as we all did our best to collect every book that the legendary FASA Corporation were publishing. It probably helped with artwork like this:
Then in 1989 as we were heading to High-School, MechWarrior was released by Activision, a MechWarrior being the title of the individual within the Mech naturally. Instead of crowding around that map we were now all crowded around our PC monitors, well those lucky enough to have a PC. In truth I did better with the computer game than I did in the actual board game…probably because I didn’t have to keep track of all those sheets of information.
Now it has been announced through this trailer that MechWarrior is getting set to return to PC gaming with an online and Free to Play form entitled MechWarrior Online: