During March, elements of my Dungeons and Dragons collection were on display in the main room of the headquarters branch of our local library.
My wife, the Motorcycle-Riding Librarian, who is a clerk in the Putnam County Library system, had suggested I do the display. The display was up in advance of my running an introduction to the game in April.
Knowing many of the Stew’s readers are unlikely to visit Hennepin, Illinois, I thought I would share the parts of the exhibit here and the process that went into selecting various pieces.
Theme of the Display
Being a library exhibit, I wanted to emphasize the link between literature and the game. I had four shelves to work with, so I devoted the top one to fiction.
The left side of the cabinet includes the quote by co-creator Gary Gygax that appears in the Player’s Handbook about how stories of the fantastic influenced the creation of the game. Along with that I displayed books by influential authors mentioned in Gygax’s “Apprendix N,” including Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard and C.L. Moore.
The right side was devoted to fiction created for the game, including Andre Norton’s Quag Keep, a Dragonlance omnibus, comic books, Elaine Cunningham fiction from Dragon magazine, Choose Your Own Adventure booklets and two hardback novels of recent vintage by best-seller’s R.A. Salvatore and Erin Evans.
I selected adventure modules that were reflective of the game’s history. I went with The Keep on the Borderlands, the B2 adventure that was included in the Basic game box sets and was instrumental in popularizing the game – not to mention instruct GMs in the craft of dressing dungeons and designing their own chambers and rooms. From the current game, I picked Hoard of the Dragon Queen, first of the 5E releases. The other two adventures were Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and Mauer Castle, which I thought were representative of the Third Edition era and were also both set in the Greyhawk setting.
The right side shelf was an assortment of gaming accessories, dice (including some that you had to use crayon to fill in the figures), character sheets, a DM Combat Shield, tokens, dungeon geomorphs, a Deck of Many Things, monster stat cards, cardstock Dungeon Tiles, and, last but not least, miniatures (some personally painted, others pre-painted) in a Hirst Arts diorama. I even found room for a black dragon. You can’t have a dungeon without the dragon, after all.
Where do we set adventures? In fantastic worlds. On the left we have two items from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and a monster book from the 4E era of Dark Sun. Obscured by the other items I included my much beloved A Mighty Fortress Campaign Sourcebook designed by Steve Winter.
On the right, the Ruins of Greyhawk adventure and a color map showing the main continent of Oerth, the Flanaess; there is a player’s guide to Eberron and one of the most familiar maps in D&D, the hex map showing the Known World.
This shelf displayed rule books through the years. I included my favorite rules set, the paperback Basic and Expert rules, a player’s handbook from first edition AD&D that featured the iconic art of thieves on the idol, and a second edition (revised) AD&D dungeon master’s guide.
On the right side were books of more recent vintage. The fifth edition Starter Set box, from third edition the player’s handbook, from 3.5 the Beginner’s Box and from fourth edition, the Monster Manual, which I believe still has the most evocative illustrations of monsters the game has ever done.
What did I leave out?
Oh plenty. But for a general interest display, I think I hit many of the highlights.
So, if you were tasked with making a display for your library, what would be your essential elements? I’d love to hear what you’d include.