In my day job, I catalog materials for a large public research library. Among the the materials I’ve worked on are a fairly vast number of high school year books. I don’t really have time to page through them, beyond the basic information gathering I need to do my job, but occasionally I’ll leaf through a volume or two to gawk at embarrassing senior photos and what not. The last few runs of year books I looked at had sections on the clubs and activities, and I’ve looked in a few to see if there is any evidence of D&D clubs or similar in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the game was at it’s height of popularity. So far no dice.
I don’t remember there being anything like that when I was in high school in the late 1980s, although I did find an excellent gaming club in college. I’ve read pretty frequently about wargame/gaming clubs in the golden age though and I’ve been curious about whether they left any evidence behind.
Anyway I just stumbled across this high-school newsletter from October 1976, which mentions a club that played D&D and Empire of the Petal Throne. One of the members even claims to be a D&D “champion” in another wargames club. Check it out, and don’t miss the survey on the last page about what the paper’s next comic strip should be, and which has illustrations that could be straight out of the LBBs… or Arduin. The article on the club was in OCR so I cut & paste here:
Fantasy Club Formed
By John Christian
Every day from 1 :25 to 4:00, a unique group gathers in one of the A-hall rooms. If you were to listen, you would hear some strange speech and the rattle of dice .
This group i s Fantasy Unlimited. They gather to play fantasy war games such as Dungeonsand Dragons and Empire of the Petal Throne. These games are taken from the novels of Tolkien, Lieber, Burroughs and others. The fourteen or so people who play al l seem to love the games.
The club was started by Peter Lord, Roy Linthicum and Adam Arffa to promote fantasy war games. The group is looking for new members and has beginner games as well as the 4 games for the experienced player.
Peter Lord and Roy Linthicum have been playing for 2 years. Linthicum is the Dungeons and Dragons Champion for the Council of 5 Nations, a wargame club.
Anyone know these guys?