No longer will you the Dungeon Master need to spend precious time laboring over the task of generating non-player characters.
This valuable booklet contains hundreds of pre-rolled non-player characters of all classes and types, complete with alignments, sex, personalities and much more.
The Rogues Gallery is specially designed to be compatible with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It will save you time in creating your non-player characters, thus allowing you to pursue the other interesting aspects of your campaign.
"The Rogues Gallery" (1980), by Brian Blume with David Cook and Jean Wells, was the first in a series of new GMing supplements for AD&D. It was published in January 1980.
About the Name. "The Rogues Gallery" lacks an apostrophe, keeping with the style of AD&D 1e.
Origins: GM Aids. Judges Guild began publishing gamemaster aids for D&D in 1976, so TSR followed shortly thereafter. Geomorphic maps and random listings of treasures and monsters came first (1977-1978), followed by adventure modules (1978) and a variety of character sheets (1979).
In 1980, TSR rebooted their line of GM aids with "The Rogues Gallery". This was the first of a trio of saddle-stitched GM books that TSR produced that year, each with a white cardstock cover that featured a single color of art inset at the cover's center. "The Rogues Gallery" was light blue. It's be followed by the dark blue "Monster & Treasure Assortment Sets One-Three: Levels One-Nine" (1980) in May, then the red "Dungeon Masters Adventure Log" (1980) in December.
A History of NPC Books. "The Rogues Gallery" is primarily a book of pregenerated characters, featuring line after line of characteristics for a variety of classes. Today it might feel a bit unnecessary, because AD&D 1e (1977-1979) characters were so simple compared to D&D 3e (2000) and later editions. However one thing should be kept in mind: in 1980 there were almost no personal computers. Though it might have been easy to generate a single character, generating scores of them could be rather tedious, which is where "The Rogues Gallery" offered help. It wasn't the only book of its sort. Around the same time, RuneQuest produced a trilogy of sourcebooks that consisted of page after page of stats: Trolls and Trollkin (1978), Scorpion Men and Broos (1978), and Militia & Mercenaries (1979). Meanwhile GDW published their own Traveller Supplement 1: 1001 Characters (1978).
Supporting the GM. "The Rogues Gallery" goes a step further than some of its competitors by also helping GMs to determine the composition of caravans, city watches, border patrols, pilgrims, and dungeon parties. It also fills out details for sages and for four psionic- or magic-using monsters: the couatl, ki-rin, lich, and shedu. It's an interesting look at what was important to old-school GMs — though a modern GM might ask what in the world a sage or shedu was!
However, it's the final section of "The Rogues Gallery" that interests most GMs today: it contains a list of fully-detailed characters that were played by TSR staff and friends.
NPCs of Note. "The Rogues Gallery" includes characters run by Ernie Gygax, Gary Gygax, Tim Jiardini, and Rob Kuntz that originated in the Lake Geneva campaign — some in Rob Kuntz's world of Kalibruhn and some in Gary Gygax's world of Greyhawk. This provides some of the earliest insight into the world of Greyhawk. These characters include Bigby, Mordenkainen, Riggby, Robilar, and Tenser, who would become increasingly important to the Greyhawk setting over the years — though Bigby, Mordenkainen, and Riggby were all Gary Gygax characters that he originally ran in Kalibruhn.
These NPCs also give some insight into how characters were run in the early D&D game. The most shocking revelation is how many of them were evil, including Ernie Gygax's Erac's Cousin, Lawrence Schick's Lanolin, Al Hammack's Lassiviren the Dark, and Rob Kuntz's Robilar.
Though almost all of the characters were human, a few were instead rather unusual races. Jeff Leason's Phoebus was a lizard man, while David Cook's Talbot was a centaur — both as the results of reincarnation. The dearth of dwarves, elves, and halflings among the characters is another reflection of early play styles.
Of course, these character write-ups aren't entirely trustworthy. Gary Gygax later said that at least his character stats were "quite fallacious" because he wasn't willing to give information on characters that he was still playing to Brian Blume. It's one last insight into how different things were in those early days of roleplaying, when characters might actually be secret.
Future History. This was the first of several books of NPCs for D&D. Basic D&D would publish their own, AC1: "The Shady Dragon Inn" (1983), a few years later. Much later, TSR would publish a Rogues' Gallery (1992) for AD&D 2e.
About the Creators. "The Rogues Gallery" is a rarity: a publication largely by Brian Blume, one of the early co-owners of TSR.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.