Wednesday, December 26, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #45

Have a good Christmas/Yule/Festivist?  Good.  While we are all sleeping off the day and recovering from presents and Doctor Who and how ever much food we all ate let's sit back and cast our minds back to a simpler time.  The date is September 1983 and the Magazine is White Dwarf #45.

The cover is interesting.  I am sure she is supposed to be a demon of some sort, given the contents of the issue.  I don't really like it to be honest.  Something about it rubs me the wrong way.

Normally I don't comment on the ads very much and that is shame really.  The ads are always a good way to pulse of the gaming trends.  I should mention though that on page 6 is the first time we see the Mentzer edited D&D Basic Set, AKA the Red Box in pages of the White Dwarf.  To some this is the signal flare of the end of the Golden Age, to many others this was their start with D&D.  For me it was the first D&D product that I made a choice not to buy.  I felt I didn't need it.  I have the Holmes and Moldvay Basic sets, why did I need this?  Plus I was heavy into AD&D at this point.  Moving on.

Ian's editorial mentions this issue is the last phase of the changes that had begun a while back with the addition of two new comics to the pages of WD.  He reminds that there is a read survey.

Open Box gives us yet more classics.  The Avalon Hill classic Wizards is reviewed.  To me this game was what I really liked about gaming in this era.  All sorts really cool games that I could mine for ideas.  I loved the idea of Wizards and shameless mined it for ideas for my own Wizard Schools and Druid Groves.  I really should find a copy of this again someday.  Alan E. Paul gives is 7/10 total.   We have a collection of the new I Series from TSR.  I2, I3, and I4 plus M1, TSR's first solo module.  The "M" stood for the "Magic" of revealing the hidden text.  Or so I always have thought.  I always thought T&T did better with the solo modules, so I never cared for this one.  Jim Babbra gives them 9/10, 10/10, 10/10 and 6/10 respectively.   Oliver Dickson reviews Pavis: Threshold to Danger for RuneQuest.  I have never heard of this one before, but it sounds interesting (I am sure one you knows about this one).  It gets a 9/10.

Critical Mass reviews some more current Sci-Fi and Fantasy books and some outside of that.  I'll ignore the SStephen R. Dondalson poetry and move right to the 1982 Hugo award winning Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh.  He struggles to like the book, but somehow it just does quite get there.

Dave Morris has Part 2 of Dealing With Demons.  This time the Lesser Demons. Like a lot of articles written for other games I ported them over to to D&D, with the Porphyrs becoming Astral Vampires in my games.

Starbase has an Introduction to Traveller Scenarios.  I had finally thrown in the towel on Traveller at this point, but I still enjoyed reading the articles.

Marcus Rowland has an article on Thieves tools.  Interesting read, but not something we ever used.

We come to our first new comic Thurd the Barbarian.  Amusing liitle tale.
Next page is out next new comic, the Travellers.  I enjoyed what they were trying to do here, but never got into it.

Part 4 of Irilian is next. 6 more pages of urban goodness. I still think TSR missed the boat on doing an Urban Survival Guide.  I wish I still had all my notes for mine.

More letters. More people disappointed in Lew Pulsipher.

RuneRites has some clarifications on Divinations.

Thistlewood is a first, and certainly not the last, Warhammer Adventure in the pages of WD.  I hate to sounds all maudlin but this here is the signal of the beginning of the end.  I stopped reading WD regularly around issue 50.  It was harder to get by me by then and any extra money I had for magazine went to Dragon and the new Dungeon later on.

Fiend Factory, our constant companion here, has some monsters from the elemental planes, with focus on the "new" para-elemental planes.  Very interesting ones too.   To follow up on this there is the next article on various items from the elemental planes.

Ok this next article is an odd one.  Under the title of Super Mole it is an RPG industry gossip column.
I have no memory of this and I am not sure if it survived much after this.  There is a con report and then on to the gossip.  It is reported that 100 of TSR's 300 staff were laid-off (they don't use those words) and Kevin Blume is now President of TSR while Gary is out looking for that D&D movie.  Wow. I guess I have a right to be maudlin.  This issue reads more and more like an obit for the Grognards of the Golden Age of D&D.  Reports that 3 companies want the Marvel Super Hero license, TSR, Games Workshop and Mayfair. I wonder who is going to get it?  Games Workshop will publish their Golden Heroes with out the Marvel Content anyway it is claimed.   We get an overview of the Red Box D&D and promises of an Expert Set.  The HeartQuest books are mentioned as a means to get more girls into the fold.   And some rumors of Marc Miller's Traveller hardback not seeing the light of day anytime soon.

The page concludes with Gobbledigook.

The next page has the new reader survey. They are still offering a prize draw if you can get it back to them by October 1, 1983.

We end with more ads.

I don't want to say this is the beginning of the end for WD. It isn't. Nor did I feel so then.  But retrospect is a funny thing.  Know what I know now and knowing when things began to happen it is hard not to look at this issue as a transitional one.  At this time in 83 I was in my own personal Golden Age of gaming.  Things were great and they were going to get better. I had a job and I could buy the things I wanted, for the most part, or save for the things I really wanted.  The next five or so issues will be very interesting to revisit.  Some I have not reread since I picked up this box of White Dwarfs at a Garage sale so many years ago.   Some I will wager will be like reading them for the first time.  Once we get into the 60s and 70s I know there will be more like that.


Timmy Crabcakes said...

Yep, Pavis was a good bit of Runequest setting... a city on the edge of The Big Rubble, a huge ruined city. Maybe the first boxed sets for RQ?
Recently in our Earthdawn campaign we visited Haven and the ruins of Parlainth beyond, which certainly must be an 'homage' to that earlier pair of burgs.

Originalhammerrpg said...

Really? You regard the Thistlewood scenario as the beginning of the end of WD? That's quite harsh, during the first 2 editions of Warhammer, the game got surprisingly little coverage in WD compared to other games. Not every issue had a Warhammer article (by far). WD support for the first two editions of the game is very sparse even if you count the ads(1983-1986) so any beginning of any end (from an RPGer's POV) would be near the end of that period (release of WFB 3d ed. and/or Brian Ansell's editorship).

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Originalhammerrpg, I said I might be a little maudlin. ;)

It is the beginning of MY end with White Dwarf. I was not interested in Warhammer, so I stopped getting White Dwarf.

Hope that makes sense.

Originalhammerrpg said...

I can see, and understand your point, though I wonder if it is what you thought so at the time ;)
If in hindsight, you feel that your WD golden age ended at this issue, that's of course fine. I am just curious about that, because it seems WD post-45 still catered mostly to the games you like with little to foreshadow more (frequent) Warhammer coverage to come, judged by how little attention it got from WD in the first half of the 80's.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

For me it is not that difficult to see why. My interest was wanning at this point for a number of reasons. For starters WD was getting harder for me to find. Also I was getting Dragon more regularly and my gaming dollar did not stretch that far.
And, this may be the big one, I was in High School at this point and had other things going on.

It was not till much later (well into college) that picked up all of these again.