Wednesday, February 27, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #54

White Dwarf #54 comes to us from the far off time of June 1984. This was a time when I probably played more AD&D than any other time in my life, before or since.  Let's talk about that cover for a bit. Wow. Could it be more 80s?  Mystical wizard with a glowing eye and a huge, almost to damn big to be useful Sword-Axe!  It's the mighty Sword-Axe! The only weapon that can kill the dark lord holding the hero's love.  Stick in a metal guitar riff and that is all you need.  Of course I love this cover.  The wizard is actually kind of cool looking and that sword is EXACTLY the sort of ridiculousness that I would loved to have stated up back in the day.

Ian Livinstone brings up the Satanic Panic issue. I guess he was abroad in Australia and New Zealand and the subject of "black magic" was brought up to him.  I like his response, one of dismissive confusion.

Not content on bring logic to the real world, the next article tries to bring logic to the fantasy world as well.  Christopher Hunt gives us Laws of Nature; or how to create a logically consistent game world.  There was a lot of this around this time and I think a hallmark of the Silver Age.  While older adventures were content with the dungeon crawl and room after room of monster and treasure; the mid 80s was a time when people began to ask why are these rats here? and why do they have a sack of 2,000 coins?  This is reflected in the modules and the articles we read.  I took a lot of this to heart then and as a consequence my games are still not full of gold or even magic items.

There is a Barbarian writeup for RuneQuest next. I know I never read it then because it was too new to me. I never got into playing barbarians at all.  I never read Conan growing up and I preferred the magic using types. But the article is quite good.

Marcus Rowland is back with Name of the Game.  This entry is on Sci-Fi games, with Traveller dominating the article.  Others are mentioned, Space Opera, Star Frontiers, Star Trek (FASA) and Laser Burn.

Microview reviews two computer games Apocalypse and Battle 1917, both are for the 48k Spectrum computer, which of course means most people could run an emulator and put these on their phones.  While reading about their tape loading woes was nostalgic, I never heard of either of these games.  There is a BASIC game aid included in the article as well, a random name generator.

Table Top Heroes is reserved for the color page again (as it should be) to show off the miniatures.

Open Box reviews Traveller Adventure 11 (7/10 by Andy Slack), Book 2 of Steve Jackson's Sorcery, Kharé -  Cityport of Traps (Marcus Rowland gives 8/10 as a book 2, 6/10 as a stand alone).  Espionage  and an adventure Border Crossing by Hero Games.  For Hero's entry into Spy Games Marcus Rowland gives them a   8/10 and 9/10 respectively.  Nic Grecas reviews Theatre of the Mind Enterprises' Pursuit to Kadath, a third part of a Call of Cthulhu adventure. He gives it 8/10.

Critical Mass has a review of Battlefield Earth.  I thought the book (when I tried reading it in the late 80 say 4 years from this review) was abysmal dreck.  I am happy say that all the reasons I hated it are brought up here. Well, not all, my reasons are a long and varied, but they hit on the big ones.

The solo "adventure" The Castle of Lost Souls is back for Part 3. This time it is longer than Part 2. A few of the entries are fun, but it's still a programmed adventure.

RuneRites has some undead.  As always, some great ideas for the the AD&D gamer here too.
Thurd is back.

Temple of the Doomed Prince is up. An adventure for 5 to 8 AD&D characters of 4th to 6th level  or RuneQuest characters of 45% to 65% weapons skills.  It also mentions Empire of the Petal Throne.  The adventure is simple and the monsters are dual stated.

Letters from Hobbits grace the Letters page.
What follows is a first, a mid magazine full color ad for Battlecars.

Fiend Folio has two related ghostly creatures; Surrogates and Shapelings.  Related in the fact that have one set of stats.

After that the parallel color page for I.C.E.'s Fellowship of the Ring boardgame.
Travellers is next.

Some more ads with color (but not full color) are next.  This is a change form all the ads being at the end of the magazine.

Treasure Chest cover Goals for Role-Playing. Or basically, what drives your character.

News this time looks like a posting board of newspaper clips.

Small ads, Gobbledigook and the ads close out the issue.

Like last issue this is a solid, serviceable issue but nothing that sticks out. It seems that despite all the physical growth of the magazine the creative and critical growth is off.  I see more of the same ahead at least for the rest of 84.  We will see.


Unknown said...

That cover picture is used as the cover for the copy of The Incompleat Enchanter, by Fletcher Pratt and L Sprague De Camp that I own (part of the Harold Shea series mentioned in Appendix N of the DMG, worth checking out). Apart from the wierd sword it fits exactly with the description of Odin as first encountered in the book - guess the artist felt that it needed something 80s fantasy added to it.

(Interesting note for old D&Ders, in that the first Harold Shea story is quite evidently the inspiration for the G1-3 Against the Giants series. Later adventures mention verbal, somatic and material components to magic...)

I really like The Temple of the Doomed Prince - it's a simple enough adventure but the EPT background makes it quite evocative, with the mysterious Ten Keys of the Blue Room and the Goddess of the Pale Bone. It uses the device of a log book/journal that tells of the last days of the temple - watch out for this device coming up in adventures in the next few issues as well.

Anonymous said...

Tim this is Yvonne Lewis, I have changed my blog(again) I have joined your followers as Poetrygal, I signed up for the A to Z last night but it refuses my new blogspot address. I have emailed Alex and Lee but have not heard anything. My new blogspot address is:
could you do anything?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Simon, I think I do recognize it now that you mention it.

Temple of the Doomed Prince was cool. I should run it sometime.

Yvonne, I'll see what I can do!

Simon said...

Temple of the Doomed Prince is my favourite ever White Dwarf adventure! I've loved Ksarul ever since.

My second favourite is "The Lone & Level Sands" with all the weird White Dwarf demons.

Unknown said...

S'mon, yeah, Lone and Level Sands is good too. I was working on using both these adventures, along with The Lichway and Halls of Tizun Thane, in a PbP Iron Heroes game but, being PbP, it faded before I got the chance. Maybe one day.

Also, I think it's probably the last truly good D&D adventure in White Dwarf. I like Plague from the Past, issue erm... 62 or something... but from now on the better adventures belong to other systems, IMO.

thekelvingreen said...

"Plague From the Past" was in White Dwarf #69, the one with the dark elf on the cover. It's a good adventure.