Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games, 1972-2017

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Collection is open for research. However, drop-in game play is not possible with this collection. Please contact Special Collections with questions about the appropriate use of this material....
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Murray, Edwin, and Terry Murray (collectors)
Edwin L. and Terry A. Murray, brothers residing in Durham, North Carolina, have been collectors of comic books and other pulp culture for forty years. Collection includes role-playing game boxed sets, miniatures, card sets, role-play game magazines and literature, campaign guides, modules, and rule books.
270 Linear Feet
Approx. 13,000 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection includes thousands of game books, boxed sets, figurines, cards, magazines and serials. It also includes a small amount of manuscript material from the Murrays' own campaign notes and records. The materials have been divided into series based on format: Boxed Games (BG); Modules, Manuals, and Campaign Volumes (M); Miniatures and Pieces (P); Cards (C); Serials (S); and Manuscripts (MS). Within each series, materials have been sorted into their various game worlds and settings as best as possible. Along with Box and Volume numbers, barcodes for each item are included to ease research requests from Duke's offsite storage facility. Due to the vast number of games and the wide variety of research interests for this collection, a downloadable spreadsheet is available for researchers interested in browsing and sorting the games in different ways, such as by year or by box.

Download RPG spreadsheet

Please note: The collection contains loose parts such as dice, tokens, figurines, cards, etc. Some materials may be sealed in original packaging. Packaged materials in Miniatures series are intended to remain in sealed packaging. Please consult Research Services staff for assistance with removal of other materials from sealed packaging. Please return materials to original packaging whenever possible. Consult Research Services staff for assistance if materials cannot be returned to original packaging.

The Boxed Games (BG) series includes games from a range of worlds, as well as a large number of general games that date from the early 1970s to the mid-2000s. Large sub-series within the Boxed Games series include game settings and worlds like Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms, James Bond, DragonLance, RuneQuest, Star Trek, and Supremacy; but, there are many more from a large number of different systems. Boxed Games typically include campaign books and characterization sheets, grids or maps for game play, die, and rule books.

The Modules, Manuals, and Campaign Volumes (M) series is the largest series in the collection, with over 2300 distinct volumes from numerous game worlds and settings. The series includes a variety of publications, ranging from traditional modules with a plot and characters included, to manuals with lists of creatures or characters, to reference guides for various game worlds. Many companies published only volumes, with no accompanying boxed game, and so there are a large number of titles that have no correlation to the Boxed Games series. The largest game worlds or settings represented in this series are Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk, Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms, Middle-Earth, and Traveller; but, there are many, many more from different game worlds as well as independent, one-time games.

The Miniatures and Pieces (P) series includes packaged and loose miniatures collected by the Murrays from a number of different companies. Most are generic and not attached to a particular game or game brand, although there are hundreds that were intended for playing with games like Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, DC or Marvel Superheroes, or Lord of the Rings. Along with metal miniatures, the series also includes other various types of gameplay aids, including settings guides, grids, and miscellany. A portion of this series consists of unpackaged, handpainted miniatures that have been specially housed for preservation.

The Serials (S) series contains fanzines and magazines collected by the Murrays relating to RPGs and RPG culture. Most magazine runs are incomplete and date from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s; the boxlist includes details about which issues are present in the collection.

The Cards (C) series includes cards from several years of Magic: The Gathering, as well as smaller amounts of cards of other games such as Legend of the Five Rings, New Aeon, Sim City, Spellfire, On the Edge, and Jyhad.

Biographical / historical:

Table-top role-playing games (RPGs) are a type of game where players create or assume the role of various characters and collaborate to imagine and build a story or quest. Each players' characterization offers guidelines and expectations for the abilities and tendencies of their character, and their proposed actions succeed or fail based on the game's established rules and statistics. One player may serve as a gamemaster to guide fellow players through the game and introduce new challenges or twists to the story.

Modern role-playing games emerged in the 1970s, with the first commercially available game, Dungeons & Dragons, published in 1974. It quickly became very popular, leading to copycats and competitors as well as enabling the development of RPG supporting material, such as campaign sets, miniatures and playing pieces, new literature, and fan magazines. Other popular games quickly followed, such as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in 1977, Traveller in 1977, RuneQuest in 1978, Call of Cthulhu in 1981, and James Bond in 1983.

RPGs continued to grow and evolved through the late 1980s and 1990s. General game systems emerged, allowing for a single set of rules that worked with any setting. Another notable milestone was the release of Magic: The Gathering in 1993, which proved very popular and resulted in more spin-offs and competition in the field of collectible card games. Early computer games frequently adopted or mimicked RPG rules, eliminating the need for a gamemaster and increasing the game's speed. Many contemporary video games share their terminology, settings, and game mechanics with pen-and-paper RPGs.

Acquisition information:
The Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games was received by the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library as a gift in 2002, 2010, and 2012.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, December 2011, September 2019

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, December 2011 and April 2012; September 2019

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research. However, drop-in game play is not possible with this collection. Please contact Special Collections with questions about the appropriate use of this material.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.