Wednesday, November 7, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #38

Sorry about missing last weeks WDW.  The end of October is crazy for me.

One note before I move on.  James at Grognardia is covering Imagine Magazine on Tuesdays.  Imagine is the sister magazine to Dragon that had a limited run in the UK starting in 1983.  So roughly the same span I am doing with White Dwarf now.  I had also planned on doing Imagine as well, but James is already doing it, so I'll just comment on his site.
You can read his first three entries here:
The nice thing about this is I noticed I had some holes in my collection so it would not have been as complete as my White Dwarf run.

On with the show!

White Dwarf #38 opens up February of 1983.
I think we see here a bit about what James might have been talking about in Imagine from June of the same year in regards to censorship.   The cover for WD#38 features a bloody sword, a severed head, and a topless woman.
We follow with seven pages of ads till we get to the first page proper. The editorial is brief one of idyll remarks on the growing popularity of RPGs and what the next year will bring.  D&D is now referred to as a "brand".

Andy Slack is back with Part 3 of An Introduction to Traveller. This time covering Scenarios.  I always thought it was interesting that most games had "Adventures" and Traveller had "Scenarios".  D&D/RuneQuest/T&T characters sought out their adventures, but Traveller characters (to me) always had something happen to to them.  I think this was my weakest point in Traveller.  I was still thinking of Traveller in terms of D&D.  Reading this article (and the next one) again made think back to all the great SciFi shows I loved at this time; Doctor Who, Blakes 7, Sapphire and Steele. They all could have been Traveller Scenarios (with some tweaks I guess).  It also made me think of another show that was popular at the time that really was, in my retrospect, the perfect model for a Traveller game; The A Team.  Think about it.  Instead of 4 guys from the Army, they are now Space Marines and instead of a van it's a small, but tricked out, space ship.  It really would have worked.

Next up is Open Box.  Phil Masters hits us up with a review of "The Traveller Book"  I have very fond memories of this book.  It was my last ditch effort to finally understand and play Traveller.  In retrospect again I actually made a good choice.  It was designed as a new game to introduce new players to Traveller.  Masters gives it 9/10.  It remains to date my favorite version of the rules.
M.L.Rowland gives us Dicing with Dragons, one of the first books about RPGs I can recall.  RPGs were finally getting big enough that there could be books talking about them.  We were on the verge of the big "Satanic Panic" of the 80s and D&D was going to get pulled into that, but we were also just fresh from seeing "E.T." where the kids played D&D (or something like it).  It was a good time for this book.  Rowland praises it for covering it's subject but downgrades it slightly for the sample game included for a total of 9/10.
Oliver Dickson also gives us some FASA books for Thieve's World. Traitor and The Spirit Stones. They get 7/10 collectively.

Fiend Factory is an interesting one this issue with Faerie Folk.  All sorts of interesting fae creatures that look like they were taken out Brian Froud's 1978 book "Faeries".  I say this with some level of conviction since I have gone to that book many, many times for my own books (notably Ghosts of Albion) and I recognize all of these creatures.  Frankly I would use any of these as is in an AD&D game now. It also seems that White Dwarf's on-again, off-again love affair with Monstermark is finally off for good.

Oliver Dickson and Bob McWilliams introduce us to Questworld for RuneQuest.

Lew Pulsipher takes on the herculean task of presenting the Mines of Moria/Khazad-dûm in AD&D terms.  Some interesting choices are made (Gandalf is a Cleric, Aragorn is a Ranger/Paladin) but what strikes me most is that outside of the trappings I am not sure "how" this is Moria vs. some other dungeon.  The sense of size I got from the books (and later the movies) is not here.

Microview is back and Noel Williams talks about some the tasks that computers can do in an RPG game.  Many of which we can take for granted these days, this was the wild west back then.  I even think back to the programs I wrote for the Tandy Color Computer back in the day that did a number of these "donkey" task Williams talks about (dice roller, rulebook, record keeper) as well as number no mentioned (monster database, combat simulator).

Oliver McDonald gives us "Monsters Have Feelings Too" which basically gives us tips on how to have monsters act intelligently.  These ideas have creeped into various games over the years till now it is sometime difficult to tell the monster stats and PC stats apart.  These are not exactly "Tucker's Kobolds" but calling "McDonald's Orcs" is not too far off.

Letters includes a couple of backlash's against Don Turnbull's letter on his distaste of the Necromancer, one of which is Lew Pulsipher. A letter asking for more adventures for other games. And a fairly detailed one on his dislike for AC equaling a chance to be hit.  Stepping outside of all of this for a bit I think we have all established that AC is an abstraction on damaged causing hits, not hits in general.

RuneRites has Lords of the Spirit worlds.  Something between mortal and man.  I think I used this for AD&D back in the day.  Demigods were humans that had been born with god-like power, "Saints" were ascended humans and spirit lords were still something else. Despite it being a "Runequest" article there is not much in the way of crunch.

Treasure Chest has some new spells. Most seem useful.  Maybe for the Necromancer.

We follow that with the Classifieds.  Nothing as interesting as last months. The final 9 or so pages are ads.
The difference in the ads between White Dwarf and Dragon is the same as I remember of UK and US television.  In the US the ads (commercials) are through out the show, in the UK they are at the beginning and end of shows.

I see what are the beginnings of the White Dwarf I remember so fondly.


Unknown said...

Good point about the "A-Team" Travellers; I guess that's not far from the default scenario, except that it's usually more about raising cash to fund your spaceship than helping the down-trodden.

The "Moria" dungeon is a big disappointment - a much better stab at such a complex was the Halls of the Dwarven Kings by Endless Games, out in a few years compared to this issue. The whole dwarven halls were pretty much republished whole-cloth in the Warhammer FRP Doomstones campaign as well.

Finally, thanks for posting that link to the Imagine read through. I had a few issues (12-16 or so) and it had some good stuff in it; generally less appealing than WD for some reason, but it might seem the more mature magazine to me now.

Simon said...

I think it's a topless zombie woman who's been stabbed in the chest in a Necromantic ritual, then reanimated as a foul mockery of life!