[Les Todd]
[Les Todd]

Dungeons & Dragons

August 8, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons

[Les Todd]

The 1974 debut of Dungeons & Dragons opened a whole new world for gamers and set off a cultural craze that persists today. But unlike the mostly online roleplaying games of today, D&D served up fantasy with a certain dose of reality. Game sets included small alloy figures representing D&D’s mythical creatures and heroic warriors, which were often hand-painted by passionate fans. While the need for the miniatures waned as the game evolved, they remained popular as collector’s items.

Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns a small army of these role-playing miniatures, thanks to Edwin ’72 and Terry Murray. Avid collectors of pulp culture, the brothers began adding memorabilia from D&D and other role-playing games in the 1970s and soon had amassed hundreds of game sets and figures. In 2002, they donated them all as part of a massive pulp-culture collection. The gift, which included some 55,000 comic books and 1,150 fanzines, filled up 918 archival boxes. Thirty-one of those boxes house unopened packages of miniatures, and another four contain pieces that were handpainted, some by the Murray brothers themselves.