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I'm trying to find a book which a friend had back in the 80s. I held it and browsed it, but I haven't seen it in over 20 years.

It was a hardcover with binding and cover like the original AD&D books, no dust jacket, and a slight canvas texture. However, the dimensions were more like a Stephen King hardcover, smaller and slightly thicker than what TSR printed at the time. The title may have contained fantasy and role-playing. It was a brownish color with a fantasy scene that I think had a dragon and some kind of ogre or giant. The cover art might've been wraparound, reminiscent of the AD&D Monster Manual.

It was definitely made to cash in on the late-70s and early-80s D&D craze. My friend bought the book at a grocery store that had a large selection of trendy books. The only clear memory of the book I have is that my friend's mom read it and objected to a passage detailing how a maiden was used to entice and trap a unicorn. The book drew a lot from folktales and mythology—much more than TSR products typically did.

I'm pretty sure the interior was black and white with some pen and ink illustrations. Also, I think it contained a complete but very rudimentary role-playing system.

The book's been in the back of my mind for years, but since starting playing 5e it's been driving me crazy that I can't recall the book or find a copy. I've searched Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris and Powells.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Narrative or nonfiction? That is, was it, like, a tale of Gord the rogue, or was it a collection of advice to DMs? (It's okay not to remember; just trying to narrow further.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 31 '16 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did it have interior artwork? What sort of typesetting did it have? Typewriter-like text, or "proper" typesetting? Again, these are things that might give someone a clue. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dallman Aug 31 '16 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I added a bit about the contents. It was definitely non-fiction in that it wasn't a story but it read more like a book than a manual. \$\endgroup\$ – Marlond Aug 31 '16 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnDallman I added a bit about the layout. It seemed to be typeset so that it looked like a mass market novel. The paper was 'toothy' so that it wouldn't have taken color. \$\endgroup\$ – Marlond Aug 31 '16 at 17:43
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Thanks to all who answered. The questions and suggestions jogged my memory enough to finally dredge up this artifact from my memory.

The book was called Fantasy Wargaming (not role-playing) it was brown(-ish) and smallish and hardback and had a textured cover. I missed with the cover art no ogre or dragon. Here's the cover

enter image description here

It was published in 1982. The editor was a historian from Cambridge. He was tragically killed in an accident two years after the book was published. And according to Amazon reviews the offending passage on unicorns is in there as well.

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Are you thinking of High Fantasy or Adventures in High Fantasy? It sounds very much like what you're describing. They are two different books: a ruleset and a supplement.

enter image description here enter image description here
(Photos from Tenkar's Tavern.)

I have one of them kicking around somewhere.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've uploaded those two images to our hosting for posterity (i.e. answer not going broken and useless in a year because someone did some spring cleaning on their web hosting). In circumstances like this I usually like to link back to the source -- apparently something on blogspot? -- but I can't identify the source here. Are you able to provide that link? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 31 '16 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The link is the blog: Tenkar's Tavern. I wasn't sure what was the preferred procedure for linking. If you wouldn't mind editing the link into the post and I'll use that as a guide for future link formatting and attributing. tenkarstavern.com/2012/11/… \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Aug 31 '16 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @keithcurtis Although those look like great reads they look to be for lack of a better word too high fantasy to be what I remember. The size and page count seem pretty close but the book definitely had a printed color hardcover. I did a web search on these titles and the illustration style is also close but it had an extensive beastiary with lengthy profiles on classic mythological beasts. \$\endgroup\$ – Marlond Aug 31 '16 at 19:55
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Aside from the size, this sounds like Dragon Warriors which was published as a series of standard paperbacks.

It was an RPG system which started off with the basics in book 1 (along with at least one adventure) and then was expanded (e.g. with the introduction of a magic system) as the series went on.

It had a lot of traditional English folklore in it and my memory of the interior art matches your description.

Dragon Warriors The Elven Crystals

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Was DW ever published in canvas-style hardcover? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 31 '16 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @quentin thanks you were on the right track the authors were British. \$\endgroup\$ – Marlond Sep 1 '16 at 1:20

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