Wednesday, April 10, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #60

The beginning of the 60s takes us to the end of 1984 which may have been one of the best years in gaming.  Issue #60 comes to us from Dec. 1984.  Let's talk about the cover for a bit.  Two warriors on horseback, one with a woman behind, either fighting or raising their weapons in salute to each other.  Majestic castle in the background.  I think I like to think these are not enemies; their stances do not scream combat to me though that is what the artist had in mind I think.  Doesn't matter. The cover is 30 years old and I get to see what I like now.  Again, we have Chris Achilleos to thank for this one.

Ian Livingstone kicks things off with an editorial about the price of metal minis and how they have tripled in price.  I never bought many metal minis myself, price being one of the factors, but mostly I can't paint worth a damn.  It seems odd to me that the idea of doing plastic minis didn't catch on then.  I think that the metal ones were very detailed (still are) and preferred by the people that do the painting (still are).  Hard for me to say really, not at all my area of expertise.

Up first is First Issues or how to start a supers game.  Really, if you are looking to start up, re start up or even just reboot a supers game then this is a must read.  They suggest minis, which I like and is not really as needed as they say, but you can also use good old fashioned action figures.

Open Box has a few classics on hand.  The Elfquest RPG from Chaosium is up.  I dismissed this game as a "kiddie" game back in the day.  Yeah, yeah I know how wrong I was now.  Murray Writtle rubs salt in that old wound by giving it a 9/10.  Three modules from TSR are up.  In case there was any doubt that this is the Silver Age of Gaming, included in this group is DL1 Dragons of Despair, the first Dragonlance module.  Now at the time I liked this and thought the concept was cool, new and exciting.  Graham Staplehurst agress and gives it an 8/10.  I have to admit I hated (and still do to far lesser degree) the Kender.  Also up are the next two UK modules in the new trade dress. UK2 and UK3 get 8/10 and 7/10 respectively also from Graham Staplehurst.

Graeke Davis has part 2 of the magical item manufacture rules.  This time covering rods and potions; ie things all characters can use.  Again, these have been superceded by similar rules in 3.x, but the flavor is great and it is much more than a list of spells and XP expenditures.  When dealing with magic in games, flavor text is often everything.

Steve Williams and Jon Sutherland are up with The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah (god choice for I day!) this scenario for Call of Cthulhu featuring one of my favorite races, the Yithians or Great Race.  CoC works best when it works in small doses like this. A mystery, some investigation, 1 (and not much more) monster or race and really nothing from the Great Old Ones.  If Cthulhu shows up in your game then play D&D.  This adventure is nearly perfect for me.  I'd love to try it either as a Cthulhu by Gaslight one or a Ghosts of Albion one.

Marcus Rowland has some tips for Scifi gaming.  If I was smart I should scan these in or copy them and put them in a folder for the next time I try Traveller.

Stuart Hunter as an AD&D adventure "The Fear of Leefield" for 4-6 characters of 3-5 level. The adventure is longish. It uses a new race from a whle back (Mandrake people) and has a new spell and magic item.  The scenario involves slavers and drugs, so it could be used just about anywhere.

Microview is back with some computer games.  Games Workshop was in the Sinclair Spectrum games biz for a bit and gives us Tower of Despair (also known as Argent Warrior). This game lives up to it's claim of "State of the Art" graphics and gets a 9/10 from Kevin Westbury. D-Day is also reviewed and gets a 9/10 from Andrew Miller. Lindsay Paton gives Lords of Midnight 9/10 as well.
Now here is an interesting thing going on here.  The Atari for all intents and purposes is seeing a decline in the home game market at this point while computer games are getting better and better.  Is the silver Age of RPGs related to the rise of computer games?  Or visa versa?  There were certainly some interesting things going on in 1984/85 on both fronts.

Ars Arcana details the uses of various new 8th and 9th level spells from AD&D.  I have read lots of articles like this over the years, a DIY in D&D (not DIYD&D) if you will.  Doing more with the tools you already have. Always a good idea or two.

Fiend Folio is up with some new AD&D monsters.  Felines, Fungi and Phantoms is the subtitle. We get a Bush Cat that changes stats as it ages. Also there is the Helghost, or an undead magic-user that was particularly vile in life.

Letters tackles such topics as Thrud and why won't WD cater to every type of gamer everywhere.

RuneRites has some monsters. I think. Hard to say really. There are pictures of monsters, there are stats, but I am not sure if I am supposed to take the Furballs, Wereballs, and Dragonballs seriously or not.  They look like Pokemon to be honest.

Table top heroes details brushing techniques.

News is up. First note is the Mayfair / TSR dust up is over. some rumors of Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers getting into the RPG market. Major new British RPG is on the way Dragonroar is set to take the world by storm.

Ads, and finally that last nail in the coffin of the Golden Age, an ad for software graces the back cover. Not only that but for Adventure Writer, a program that allows you to create the adventure in English on your computer.

If there was ever a doubt that we are in a new age, look no further than issue 60.  1984 was a big year in gaming. Lots of changes. Even the covers of the now classic AD&D are changing.  Next time it's 1985.

If you are looking for my A to Z post, just scroll down.


Anonymous said...

The reason plastic figures didn't take off at that time is the steel injection molds needed are incredibly expensive. The cost needs to be spread across LOTS of models sold. RPG figures were too small a market-it has only been in the last few years (I assume technological advances) that plastic figures have become viable for the wargaming and RPG markets.

The rubber molds that white metal figures are cast from are comparatively cheap, so small batches of figures are eminently viable.

Unknown said...

I was surprised that this was an Achilleos cover, for years I'd always assumed it was Larry Elmore - it has a lot of his trademarks (castle on a hill, woman in tight buckskin trousers etc.).

Fear of Leefield is a nice little scenario - I said in my reviews on ENWorld that I thought that this should have been the introductory one back in issue 52, not the rather dull dungeon crawl that is Serpent's Venom. And I always loved that The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah used real photos.

UK2 and UK3 are good adventures - worth checking out (despite something of a level hike between them). I think the PDFs are available again on

thekelvingreen said...

The Call of Cthulhu adventures in White Dwarf were often very good, and I remember The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah being one of the best.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@SAROE. See! I knew someone would know. Thanks!

@Simon: Yes it is very Elmore-like and not the "Heavy Metal magazine" style I normally associate with CA.
I have UK1 in dead tree format. Gotta see if I have UK2 and UK3 in PDF.

@Kelvin, yeah the adventures in WD were actually quite good. It was rare when something came up that I didn't like.