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Role Aids

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Role Aids is a line of role-playing game supplements published by Mayfair Games starting in 1982 intended for use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Publication history


As a veteran role-playing gamer, Bill Fawcett decided to get Mayfair Games into the RPG field, and the company began its Role Aids game line by publishing Beastmaker Mountain (1982).[1]: 166  Darwin Bromley was involved with the Chicago Wargaming Association and its CWAcon convention, where the first Role Aids fantasy adventures by Mayfair were run: Beastmaker Mountain, Nanorien Stones (1982) and Fez I (1982).[1]: 166  Bromley used his legal expertise to determine that Mayfair could legally use the trademarks of TSR if done carefully, so beginning with their Dwarves (1982) supplement Mayfair stated clearly that they did not hold the trademark by adding a notification on the cover: "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of TSR Hobbies, Inc. Use of the trademark NOT sanctioned by the holder."[1]: 166 

Gary Gygax had advocated for TSR to make a licensing agreement with Mayfair Games regarding the Role Aids line of game supplements, but he was outvoted during the board meeting held to consider the license.[2]

Ray Winninger brought back the Role Aids line in the early 1990s, intending to start it again using Advanced Dungeons & Dragons material which was more sophisticated than material that TSR was publishing at the time.[1]: 168 

In 1993, Mayfair was sued by TSR, who argued that Role Aids—advertised as compatible with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons—violated their 1984 trademark agreement.[clarification needed] While the court found that some of the line violated their trademark, the line as a whole did not violate the agreement,[3] and Mayfair continued publishing the line until the rights were bought by TSR.





Kelly Grimes and Aaron Allston reviewed the first four products in the Role Aids line, Beastmaker Mountain, Nanorien Stones, Fez I, and Dwarves, and the Role Aids line as a whole in The Space Gamer #58. They commented that "most of the titles are characterized by a great deal of thought, attention to detail, and usefulness, and can indeed provide relief to the harried gamemaster."[4] They noted that "all four are characterized by good printing quality and typesetting, adequate-to-good layout and formatting, average maps, and mediocre art; the folders for the adventures seem sturdy enough and are an innovative touch."[4] They concluded the review by saying: "For the most part, the RoleAids are worth the asking price. Most of the modules share some minor problems. It seems as though each designer decided at some point, 'This is where my contract says I ought to get silly.' Silliness is not inherently wrong for FRPGs – but here it occasionally serves to break a mood that the designers (and DM) might had worked too hard to set."[4]

Rick Swan wrote two reviews of Role Aids:

  • In Issue 72 of The Space Gamer, Swan commented, "Gamers new to Dungeons & Dragons are often surprised to discover that TSR isn't the only company producing suitable roleplaying material. Mayfair is among the best of them, and their RoleAids series is certainly worth checking out by any Dungeons & Dragons fan. Unlike so many so-called 'universal' roleplaying modules, which can require extensive reworking before they're in a playable format, RoleAids modules have been designed with D&D specifically in mind."[5]
  • In his 1990 book The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games, Swan noted that "Though many companies have published generic [role-playing] supplements, none have matched the consistent quality of Mayfair's Role Aids series ... All of the books are excellent." Swan concluded by giving the series of supplements a solid rating of 3 out of 4.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  2. ^ Sacco, Ciro Alessandro. "The Ultimate Interview with Gary Gygax". thekyngdoms.com. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  3. ^ TSR, Inc. v. Mayfair Games, Inc., 1993 WL 79272 (N.D. Ill.)
  4. ^ a b c Grimes, Kelly; Allston, Aaron (December 1982). "Role Aids: Featured Review". The Space Gamer (58). Steve Jackson Games: 8–10.[1]
  5. ^ Swan, Rick (January–February 1985). "Capsule Reviews". The Space Gamer. No. 72. p. 36.
  6. ^ Swan, Rick (1990). The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 172–173.