“Fear not: Ranger, Barbarian, Magician, Thief, Cavalier, and Acrobat. That was Venger, the force of evil. I am Dungeon Master, your guide in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons!”
– “Dungeon Master”, series intro, Dungeons & Dragons cartoon program.
I found these images at the Internet Archive one sleepless night and I was instantly taken with them. I owned a View-Master when I was a little boy, and as I got older I spent plenty of time playing Dungeons & Dragons.
If you’re not familiar with the classic View-Master toy, it was essentially a binocular device for viewing stereoscopic slides arranged on small discs that were called “reels”. You advanced the slide one at a time via a spring-powered lever on the side of the device, and there was no sound beyond those made by the click and release of the lever.
These particular slides were taken from a packet titled “Castle Venger”. It feature characters from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, which ran for three seasons during the years from 1983 to 1985. As far as I’m aware, “Castle Venger” wasn’t a storyline on the program, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had recycled the images from the television show.
Many of the characters like “Strongheart Good Paladin” were also made into toys, which really says something about the popularity of the game during that time period.
I’m not an expert at iMovie, but I’ve done my best to re-create the View-Master experience with the paltry tools at my disposal. I’ve added the first tiny bit of music and sound from the D&D cartoon for that extra bit of frisson, but it fades out after the first slide so you can enjoy the reel in silence.
From the back of the packaging:
Strongheart™ Good Paladin and his worthy band of adventurers climb craggy rocks to the castle stronghold of the evil Venger™. Long has Venger held power in these mountains by terrorizing people throughout the kingdom. Monsters scurry to attack Strongheart’s crew and defend Venger’s cursed fortress.
Strongheart urges his troops over the walls of the castle. Seeing humans advance upon his legions, Venger hisses, “I will summon a special servant,” and an Earth Elemental™ ponderously rises from the courtyard. In turn, Ringlerun™ Good Wizard conjures an Air Elemental™. Defeated, the Earth Elemental falls; but the battling warriors, both good and evil, are overwhelmed by these elements. Venger casts a withering spell on a weakened Strongheart.
Elkhorn™ Dwarf Fighter and the remainder of the the keep of Venger’s castle. Fighting monsters all the way, they discover a secret treasure chest, and inside the chest, a glowing amulet – the source of Venger’s power. Meanwhile Mercion™ Good Cleric removes the spell from Strongheart. The troops reunite in the courtyard where Venger summons his most powerful monster, Tiamat™. Breathing fire, Tiamat advances. Strongheart, wearing the amulet, poises his sword for battle. Then suddenly succumbing to Ringlerun’s™ magic, the massive Tiamat falters. Venger and his monster flee the land leaving Strongheart’s crew victorious in the castle – the kingdom at last is at peace freed from the curse of “Castle Venger!”
Here are the slide descriptions.
A1. Strongheart and his crew climb to fortress.
A2. Venger sends out his scout.
A3. Monsters attack Strongheart’s crew.
A4. Venger sees Strongheart winning.
A5. Castle defense is mobilized.
A6. Strongheart’s band attacks castle walls.
A7. Venger summons Earth Elemental.
B1. Air Elemental defeats Earth Elemental.
B2. Elemental forces overwhelm soldiers.
B3. Venger casts withering spell on Strongheart.
B4. Eric tries to help Strongheart.
B5. Hank the Ranger and Elkhorn break the castle door.
B6. The fight continues inside castle.
B7. Mercion removes the spell from Strongheart.
C1. Elkhorn discovers treasure chest.
C2. The amulet wards off Umber Hulk
C3. Strongheart and Mercion rout the monsters.
C4. Strongheart will use power of amulet.
C5. Venger summons Tiamat.
C6. Ringlerun quells Tiamat with magic.
C7. Venger is foiled. Strongheart controls castle.