Issue 23 puts us into 1981 proper. February and March to be exact. We have an interesting cover by someone only listed as Emmanuel.
We start off with a few pages of ads and then an interesting editorial from Ian Livingstone. The editorial talks about the future of games, RPGs, as computer games. Could you imagine being in 1981 and seeing the games we have today? Skyrim or World of Warcraft or any of them? I know exactly what I was doing then, trying to get a Radio Shack TRS-80 to do simple graphics in BASIC and saving them to a cassette tape. It would have blown my mind. But interestingly enough this editorial, unlike the others, is not as timeless even if the debate is still going on.
First up we have a milestone article from Lew Pulsipher, his grand "An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons". Frankly this one still works right now and I am considering making copies of it when I give my "What is D&D" speech when I bring in new players. There will more parts of this article in future issues. While the numbers of players might be off, the "feel" of the article is right.
Next up we have the White Dwarf interview with Traveller's Marc Miller. While this could be debated, I think Marc Miller has contributed just as much to the RPG hobby as did Gygax and Arneson. Oh note they use the term "FRP" where we would use "RPG" today. The article is an interesting read into the genesis of one of the "old guard" games.
Fiend Factory is back, this time with a theme of Flymen (no Flygirls in sight) as previewed in Issue #20. These monsters are all connected to the adventure later on. The Flymen are insectoid-humanoid creatures. Or more to the point, humans with fly heads. They are only 1/2" tall/long but have magics that can alter their or other's sizes. The associated adventure, "The Hive of the Hrrr'l, is an interesting one and I give them credit for really trying something new. The over effect is great. New monsters and a good hook. I am not sure they would make for a great recurring enemy.
Open Box has reviews for us. Up first is Warlock, a game I owned at one time. Charles Vassey gives it an 8/10 and that roughly meets my memory of it. Cults of Prax from Chaosium is next. I never played this one, but it gets a rare 10/10. Might have to find that one. We are also treated to TSR's Deities and Demigods, the first AD&D Hardcover I owned. This one of course does feature the much sought after Elic and Cthulhu mythos. The book gets a 8/10 from Andy Slack, mostly due to the fact that he likes his own gods and this is a "DM's only" book. We wrap up with Adventure 4 for Traveller, Leviathan. It gets a respectable 9/10.
In Character Conjuring Stephen Bland gives us the Elementalist. As you can imagine it is an elemental based Wizard. This is the first one of this type I recall seeing, but there were many more after it.
This one seems pretty good to be honest. Spells up to level 9, but only 5 per level at max.
Starbase and Roger E. Moore present the Khazad-Class Seeker ship for Traveller. I remember this article as another one from a collection I had from 81-82 or so. I loved the idea of creating my ship.
Bill Milne writes "A Spellcaster's Guide to Arcane Power", one of the first Mana/Spell-point systems I can recall seeing. It is a reasonable effort and shares traits with a number of other like systems, costs for spells, differeing rates of power recharge.
In Treasure Chest we get a number of "non-magical" items such as a knuckle dagger, a garrotte and a sword with a dagger in the hilt.
We wrap up the issue with Classifieds and a few more ads.
All in all a solid issue, what I'd call a utility issue. I remember back when I first read this of using the Elementalists and only allowing him to use the Spellpoint system. I thought it would be the best way to bring them both into a game. It struck me later, after I had made a character, that these two systems really don't play well with each other. So I dropped that idea.