Wednesday, March 20, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #57

Ok so last week I tried something new and focused on the articles that I remembered the best and talked about what I was doing at the time.  I am not sure that entirely worked out they way I wanted.  I felt like I had left large portions of the magazine unmentioned.  This is going to become a bigger issue as I get into the 60s and 70s since I only recall a couple from that time and almost nothing from 80-100.
Still though. There is a lot I can say. So I think in the interests of trying to find a happy medium I am going to ignore the comics for the most part (unless they figure into what I am talking about) and I might ignore the book reviews.  My tastes in books was  going more to horror and dark fantasy at this point anyway so I less likely to see books I was reading at the time.  Course I could be wrong.

On to the issue!

The cover is pretty cool.  Barbarian on a zebra fighting a guy on a giant bird.  

We get a nice big full page, full color ad for the new FASA Star Trek Game.  I loved that game, but never got a chance to play it.

Ian Livingstone asks the perennial questions about licenced games.Do gamers prefer them?  That's not an easy one to answer. While D&D was and still is to a degree king I would argue that it is it's own brand.  The games I have worked on that have gotten the most attention Buffy and Ghosts of Albion did great and were based on a license.  Another game I dearly love, WitchCraft uses almost the exact same system and Eden has a hard time giving that game away.  So yeah.  My experience is that yes, gamers like licenses.

First article is one on Psionics in AD&D and other FRPGs.  I agree that psionics in most fantasy games are treated like another form of magic. I have a real Love/Hate relationship with psionics in D&D. We used it in our AD&D games and it was fun. I even was part of an OD&D game one summer that all the characters were psionic and that was a blast too.  But generally speaking I don't like to mix my magic and psionics.  Eventually my distaste for Psionics in D&D manifested as psionic characters were hunted like witches in my magic-centric world.  Played out rather nice really.  The article by Todd E. Sundsted does a good job of giving you tips on how to use psionics in a game and even gives them a more modern point of view.
Conversely I also don't like Magic in my Sci-Fi settings, but I do like to have Psionics in them.

Open Box is back to it's regular format.  Up first we have the first four Role-Aids books from Mayfair Games.  I have had a long relationship with Mayfair and I have enjoyed the Role-Aids books quite a bit.  Robert Dale here doesn't agree. He gives Dwarves, Elves and Dark Folk all 3/10.  Wizards fares better with 6/10.  Andy Slack gives 9/10 to the Traveller Adventures book.  Powers and Perils was always one of those games I was curious about but never bought back then.  I have a copy a copy now and it is cool. Adrian Knowles gives it 8/10, I'd do 7/10 myself.   Continuing with a licensed game we have the new James Bond 007 game which comes in two versions a single book or a box set.  You can see the shift here in that the reviewer, Bob Neville, far prefers the single book option. He faults it on several points, one of which I thought was amusing that it was written by Americans.   In the end he enjoyed it enough to overcome it and gave it a 6/10.

Sky Rig is a Traveller Scenario for 3-6 characters.  We are now at a point where the books needed to play must be indicated. An issue D&D has had for a bit now, but new here. The scenario is 5 pages long and looks good, but I am not a good judge of these things.  WD does use one of their color pages for an illustration though.  Most likely it for the Dragonlance ad that appears next and this was the same page in layout/printing.

Yes. Big Dragonlance ad is next. Often seen as the herald of the Silver Age or at least the herald of the end of the Golden Age.  The end actually happened much longer than this I would say.   To paraphrase Star Trek III the Search for Spock it was "the bold Experiment".  Now lets be honest.  Those ads sucked you in just as much as me.  The bold adventurers the dragons. That evil looking Darth Vader looking dude.  I never played the Dragonlance adventures, though I read the novels.  I hated the Kinder, I thought "Steel Pieces" and no gold was stupid.  But I still was caught up in it enough to buy the books again as an adult and the 3rd edition campaign guide.

We get more Living Dead in RuneQuest.  Again, cool and certainly something I want to come back too now I have finally picked up some RuneQuest books.

More on Ninjas in AD&D, RuneQuest and Bushido.  I loved these cross system articles.  The Ninja has gotten more treatments in AD&D than Witches I think (but still less than Necromancers).  I liked reading the Ninja stuff other people did cause I saw the same single mindedness I had with the witch.  Again if you remember last week I have played only one ninja my entire gaming life.

Lew Pulsipher is back with Lew's Views. He covers the life of a retired wizard. One issue it covers is the idea of "Magic Shops".  I like magic shops, but they are rare in my world as to be unique.

Part II of the AD&D of the Island of Rammas, The Sunfire's Heart, is next.  The adventure is quite in-depth as well. It got me thinking that the quality of adventures from White Dwarf always seemed a bit better than that of Dragon and the later Dungeon.  At least at this point in time.  Later I would give teh nod to Dungeon and Dragon, but today it is White Dwarf.  This adventure has some neat idea like the Frost Vampire.

Andy Slack has a new race for Traveller, the Staurni.  It's a snake with arms and wings.  Neat, but not something I would use myself.

Fiend Factory is back with monsters from the Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg.  Quite a collection too. I have no experience with the books, but the monsters looks interesting enough.

Tabletop Heroes has a how-to-do guide on how to set up bases for your minis, including some nice full color photos.

Letters has praise for the last few issues, including the comics.

Another Reader Survey is next. I'll discuss this when the results are published.

Treasure Chest has some tips for spell usage and a crossword puzzle.  I stared at the crossword and wondered if it could double up as a dungeon.

News items deals with the rumors of of games called "Toon" and "Paranoia".  NOW the Golden Age is dead! ;)

Despite the fact there is not much more here than the last issues, I felt this was a better issue.  Maybe due to the good adventures and monsters.

1 comment:

Simon Giles said...

Interesting thought that games such as Paranoia and Toon signal a new age - games as parody of themselves, almost.

I too was inspired by that Dragonlance advert; I still like the adventure series (moreso than the books which didn't grab me), despite what people say about it being too rail-roady.

As to the issue, some good stuff in this one. The cover was also used in adverts for a play-by-mail called Tribes of Crane and is pretty evocative.

Sky Rig - I ran it, but I think its one of those adventures that reads better than it plays (not helped, perhaps, by using the awkward mechanics of Megatraveller). There's not an awful lot that PCs can do in the setting, although I have revisited the concept of an adventure location in failing orbit around a gas giant which gives a good time limit.

I recently read Lord Valentine's Castle, the first of the Majipoor books. It's okay, some nice ideas for a world built on a truly massive scale, nothing too demanding in terms of plot. The creatures here are quite well done, but ultimately there is little in the way of mechanics to really distinguish them; I reckon they could be made a bit more individual under 3.x mechanics, something I might have a go at.

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