Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #40

Around Issue 40 is where I really began to get into White Dwarf.  At this point, I was the only one in my gaming circle reading it regularly and I felt it gave me an edge on those "just reading Dragon".  Of course I had not experienced Imagine yet (though this issue had a big ad for Issue #1)  and it would still be a couple more years before I got my hands on Dungeoneer mag.

Let's get into Issue 40, April 1983. First off I consider this one of the more iconic covers of WD.  These odd aliens screamed SciFi/Fantasy Book Club to me, but I was 100% cool with that.  Still am.  I have no idea who these guys are, but my next SciFi game will have them as a race.  The cover artist is listed as "Emmanuel".

Ian Livingstone's Editorial discusses a very good question.  Why are Fantasy and Sci-Fi lumped together?  This is a question that a younger, 12-year-old, Otherworlds Card-carrying self would have asked. Ian mentions he prefers SciFi films over fantasy, but fantasy games over Sci-fi ones.  That fitted me to a tee. I loved Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who (83 was a HUGE year for me and the good Doctor) and I played AD&D far more than Traveller or Star Frontiers.

Dave Morris is up first with Zen and the Art of Gaming for RuneQuest.  It is some setting material for a feudal Japan-like country for RuneQuest.  Anything Japanese was all the rage in time period 82  to 85 or so. I recall reading this and thinking how cool it would be to try this out in AD&D, but never got around to it.

Alan E. Paul has an article on large scale massive battles for D&D, "Dungeon Master General".   It is three pages long and I never read it back in the day.  I never did massive battles till about 1987 and even then we used the "BattleSystem" rules.  These rules seem easy to use, but still more complicated than I like.  I would be a terrible Wargamer.

Critical Mass reviews some interesting books.  First we have everyone knows about, White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson. I am one of those people that put down the Thomas Covenant book after the rape scene.  I saw no point to reading the rest.  Only occasionally I regret that, but reading this review sets me more at easy.  I am a fan of Lovecraft and of Moorcock so I like dark fantasy.  That rape scene frankly left a bad taste in my mouth for the entire series.   There is another book, Chekhov's Journey which is sci-fi but not about the Star Trek character.  No this book is really best described as an early cyberpunk book.  I will check it out based on that alone.  They also cover Robert Lynn Asprin's Myth Directions, which I loved and they didn't.

Open Box is up with some more classics from TSR.  Jim Bambra reviews C1, C2, S2, and I1.  Giving them 8/10, 8/10. 8/10 and 5/10 respectively.  He says that I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City is rather mundane, though his own scores on the module should really put it more in the 6/10 or 7/10 region.  Phil Masters reviews Steve Jackson Game's classic Illuminati.  He praises the skill needed and the tone of the game. He says in the same breathe that the game "lacks elegance" and "Should do well in America".  I will try not to take that personally. ;)  It gets 7/10.  We also get reviews for Starstone: A Mediaeval FRP Campaign by Northern Sages (9/10) and Soloquest 2: Scorpion Hall for RuneQuest by Chaosium (8/10).   I am completely unfamiliar with those two.

Letters covers some Traveller, D&D and RuneQuest issues.  No fighting this time.  Some light critism on the Moria article a few issues back.

Marcus Rowland is back with an AD&D adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters, The Eagle Hunt. At 6-pages it is one of the larger of the adventures that WD has published to date.

RuneRites deals with Trading as a skill in RuneQuest.

Andy Slack has a new Explorer class scout ship for Traveller.

Fiend Factory is up and Phil Masters has more Inhuman Gods.  We get the gods of the Firenewts, Flymen, Flinds (sorta) and Frogfolk. Also mentioned are Dire Raiders and Dire Corbies.

In what was always pure gold for me back then was Microview.  This time we have a BASIC program for RuneQuest. Despite the fact I never played RuneQuest I typed this up.  I made some tweaks to it and then would later write my own AD&D program for characters.

Treasure Chest is looking more and more "professional"  The layout is sharp and clean and the magic items are also really good.  The items are, Arrow of the Inner Planes, Druid's Flask, Cloth of the Wind Horse, Shaft of the Spider, Wand of Locking, and Wizard's Wand.  I never used any of these to my knowledge.

We end with the Classifieds and some ads.

While there is nothing in this issue that stands out as stellar to me, the whole issue has the feel of more professionalism than previous issues.  For me this is when White Dwarf came into it's own.  The next 50-60 issues were great times.


Unknown said...

The cover for this one reminds me of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, particularly the first story. Not sure why, I think the copy I had featured similar looking aliens on the cover, albeit smaller.

Emmanuel has done some of the more evocative of the WD covers, particularly 21, 34 and 37.

Although I love the Thomas Covenant books I'm not going to bother defending them because Donaldson's writing style is very much a matter of personal taste. However, I've seen this complaint before, about the rape scene. Considering how much it informs the rest of the books, all the way through, and the terrible consequences it leads to, it seems a little odd to me that many people give up there. It's a bit like putting down Crime and Punishment when Raskolnikov commits murder.

Finally, Starstone - if you recall the scenario Trouble at Embertrees, and the articles on creating a believable medieaval society from earlier issues - same author (Paul Vernon). Embertrees has the same setting, and Starstone has the same level of remorseless detail about every last villager. Apparently good, though.

Captain Blag said...

Totally agree with the above comments re Starstone. Very much designed for AD&D (though not allowed to say so) it put into practise many of the ideas from Vernon's WD articles. An excellent example of the kind of product being written in england at the time which probably never made it over to the states.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

This issue of White Dwarf was the first to really catch my attention, because of that cover, because it looked like something off of Heavy Metal (that I was an avid reader of).

I'm not sure if I bought this issue or just looked through it in the store... but this about the time I started seeking out White Dwarf.