IIRC someone released information publicly online in the last year or two enabling someone to publish an RPG product with the same look as standard late 1st / early 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure products (you know, before e.g. Planescape's weird graphic design, Ravenloft and the Middle Eastern setting).

This info went beyond just specifying the fonts TSR used back then (info available many places online), to covering column layout and width, heading font sizes, etc. IIRC all this was shared in 1 or more files linked to on at least 1 website.

I cannot find this stuff now using various search strategies. Where is it now available?

PLEASE DO NOTE: I am only interested in resources which are legal for use when NOT publishing community content for (A)D&D (e.g. under Wizard's OGL).


2 Answers 2


You can’t legally

There is no way to publish anything that looks like official adventures without violating TSR/WotC copyrights and trademarks. Doing so would result in WotC lawyers coming after you.

Whether you’re publishing Community Content or not doesn’t make a difference: both international IP law and the OGL protect trade dress, so neither way of publishing lets you publish an adventure that looks similar to an official AD&D adventure.

Publishing an adventure that looks similar to an official AD&D adventure was tried by Die Cast Games in 2010. DCG published this:

The cover of “TSR1: Insidious” by Die Cast Ganes, showing TSR trade dress

They were quickly sent a Cease & Desist letter by WotC Legal and were forced to destroy any unsold stock of Insidious. They re-released it using a different cover design that didn’t use TSR trade dress.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ While certainly the trade dress is a thing, using as the module's product code TSR1 probably didn't do Die Cast Games any favors, either. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2018 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It really didn’t help! \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2018 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope - that is hilarious. \$\endgroup\$
    – cre8vnova
    Jun 15, 2018 at 9:56

This Product Has Usable Examples

By Kevin Crawford, author of Stars Without Number and other games, The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu offers a sort of TSR-esque style kit for publishing.

As the product says:

All users are encouraged to take the module apart and use its pieces for their own projects. While a perfect replication of TSR trade dress is generally a bad idea in your own work, you can use the objects, paragraph styles, and page layouts for your own products. The commentary layer provides hints as to why the choices were made for each, and you can carry this information into your own creations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's interesting to see how powerful are the emotive connotations I associate with the range of (A)D&D fonts / graphic design / logos I am most familiar with, experienced growing up. \$\endgroup\$
    – cre8vnova
    Jun 15, 2018 at 9:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the interesting reference, but the product you mentioned replicates a quite early (A)D&D style, not the "late 1st / early 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" I'm looking for. \$\endgroup\$
    – cre8vnova
    Jun 17, 2018 at 3:32

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