Wednesday, October 3, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #34

White Dwarf #33 takes us to the state of gaming of October 1982.   Unless I did my math wrong this is the last time I will write about a month in the same month I am writing in till issue 49 (Jan 1984).  Give or take.

So let's talk about this October some 30 years ago.  What do we know?  Well the cover always reminds me of the Hawkmoon RPG cover.   Ian Livingstone talks about Game Day '82.

Andy Slack is up first with Droids for Traveller.  It is easy to poke holes in Traveller tech; computers that only run one type of program and the like, but for some reason I never liked Droids in Traveller.  Maybe it was because they seemed to be too "Star Wars" and Traveller was more "Dune" and "Star Trek" to me.  There are lot of different types of functional droids, robots and even an android here.  Though there are some obvious ones that are missing; and I don't just  mean Galaxina (1980) or Cherry 2000 (1987).
The article takes a lot from Asimov's ideas on robots too.  So ingrained are these "Laws" that I never thought to question them, despite the inclusion of a Warbot in the article.  Assassin droids were something we all knew about from Star Wars, at least in concept, so there seemed to be a mismatch here to me.

Mike Costello is next with a new feature, Microview, to cover computers.
This first installment, Space Invader, is about how "microcomputers" (we will be using this term for sometime to come) can have an affect on your gaming.  Mostly in this brief first issue it is about what he calls GAP or Game Assistance Program.  I am sure will hear more on this exciting new world!

In the "Clip and Save" file Lew Pulsipher is back with a Guide to Dungeonmastering, Part 1 Setting up Adventures. There is some great advice here that can be applied to any game, but D&D is assumed.  Again, unlike the previous two articles that have dubious quality in today's age (again, no fault of the original authors), this article is just as useful today as it was 30 years ago.

Open Box is next with out independent reviews.  First up is Cults of Terror for RuneQuest by Chaosium. Oliver Dickson calls it "essential reading" though he has some issues with some of the content.  Mostly due to it not fitting together in the way he likes. It gets a 6/10.  Aftermath! from FGU is next.  We have been seeing the ads in WD now for a little bit and now we get to learn about this Post-Apoc game.  Andy Slack loves it and gives it a solid 10/10.  Worlds of Wonder is next and it is a very interesting one.  WoW was Chaosium's first entry into the Generic RPG market, or one system for multiple games. We would see this many times over and over.  GURPS became the undisputed king of "Generic" systems, but WoW was one of the firsts.  Based on the Basic RPG system that powered RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu you got various "Worlds" to play in.  Trevor Graver gives it a 7.10 and marks it down for being only the bare bones.  These days that same criticism would be touted as a feature in a Sandbox game.

RuneRites for RuneQuest is next with some monsters.  I always liked the monsters for RuneQuest, they seemed so much more strange to me.  I worked out conversions based on Call of Cthulhu so I could use them in my D&D games.

After that are some letters and then on to an AD&D adventure from Paul Vernon, Troubles at Embertrees.  Designed for 5-8 1st to 2nd level characters. It is a densely packed 4 pages.  The adventure itself seems fine. The inclusion of the new monster sets it up above a simple wilderness adventure.

Starbase introduces us to Morality in Traveller (oh nos! Alignment! not quite...)  and new race, the Mahwrs, a large, bi-pedial bat like creature.

Fiend Factory gives us our 200th monster since WD #6.  These monsters are all undead or something like that; appropriate for October.  Morbe are neither undead or alive. They feed on Con points and once they get to 18 they are human again. The Unborn are souls that died in childbirth.  The Rusalka is an evil, dead female magic-user, the Wraith Warrior and the Goldfinger, which are like an undead battery.

Treasure Chest has some magic weapons.  Of note is the Houri's Dagger, though it does not mention the Houri from issue 13 specifically. We get some Hellfire arrows, demon's knifes and the Druid's Cudgel.

We end the issue with some ads, including an ad for Gangbusters.

A lot of interesting bits in this issue.  First it is nice to see that WD can transition ot monthly format without too many hiccups.  I did not feel any part of this issue was filler. This issue continues the trends of the previous ones, but doesn't start any, save for the feature on computers. Traveller, D&D and RuneQuest still reign supreme as they have from the early days.

I will note that WD has not raised their price from 75p in a while.

Also the ENTIRE time I was re-reading this and writing this post I was humming "Winds of Change" by Jefferson Starship.  I went back and checked, Winds of Change was released October 4, 1982.  I must have been listening to that the first time I read this magazine.


Guy Fullerton said...

You should go into more depth on the letters in each issue. They contain bits of historical gold.

In this issue, for example, Don Turnbull dryly suggests that there might have been a typo in Ken St. Andre's article in issue #32. But actually Don is taking a stab at what he apparently feels is Ken's intellectual theft of D&D.

Unknown said...

Yes, that's quite entertaining. Don gets snippy again a few issues later about Lew Pulsipher's necromancer class. Guess he was having a bad year!

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Guy and Simon, good point. I should give them more of an indepth reread.

Unknown said...

To be honest they're mostly the same old complaints about alignment, armour class and hit points that still get dragged up, but occasionally there are some juicy fights that go on!