Fantasy Paths (1981)

By 1981, the RPG scene was in the midst of a boom. Lots of folks were making generic, D&D adjacent products to capitalize on the money players were spending. That means there are tons of weird and cool things from the period to find if you dig around. Fantasy Paths is one of them.

This is a set of 28 modular tiles, printed front and back, depicting aerial views of 56 dungeon rooms. Along with those, there’re some tiles for adventurers and monsters (spot the jack-o’-bear and scorpion man from RuneQuest!), a sheet of dice replacement chits, a short adventure and an abridged version of Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying to give you a system to fiddle with.

They tiles are essentially more detailed, larger versions of TSR’s Dungeon Geomorphs, (I feel like there has to be a vintage TSR equivalent to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeon Tiles, but if there is, I can neither think of it nor find it) allowing you to plot miniature friendly dungeons on the fly.

Well, sort of miniature friendly. Because of the way the walls are drawn, they take up significant visual space. That makes them look cooler in my book, but probably makes the awkward to use in a game.

I don’t really care. I love these things so much. There’s something a little bit mysterious about them. They’re mostly black and white, with blotches of out-of-register color ink. The cheap printing sort of remind me of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, which certainly contributes to the air of intrigue. However, these mostly remind me of other artistic depictions of spaces for explorations – Christopher Manson’s MAZE (a future entry, perhaps), certain Edward Gorey books, the initial areas of Zork. They seem a bit melancholy, certainly forgotten. They are empty rooms, filled with signs of life but nothing living. They’re an invitation, and maybe a warning.

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