Wednesday, November 6, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #86

February 1987 gives us White Dwarf #86.  The cover looks like it is an older style than the others.  Closer look shows it is from 1978.  Mike Brunton gives us a long editorial on how WD is made.

Open Box hits us up with The Price of Freedom from West End Games.  In my mind this was the golden age of WEG, or just when they get the Star Wars game.  The Price of Freedom is one their big games, though I never cared for it.  For starters it has the same problem that the movie "Red Dawn" had, that the idea of Soviets invading America was crazy at best.  Ashley Shepherd likes the game, but hopes it is tongue-in-cheek.  Other items include Paranoia HIL SECTOR Blues and Hawkmoon.  I have talked about Paranoia before.  Hawkmoon the game suffers the same problems that Hawkmoon the novels has. Namely, the problem is "it is not Elric".   Hawkmoon is played as a game, but it can be played as a supplement to Stormbringer. Hawkmoon, like the books, deals with more tech than magic.
For D&D we have Adventures in Blackmoor adventure DA1 and for AD&D The Book of Lairs, the revised Player Character Record Sheets and Night of the Seven Swords for Oriental Adventures.   I can honestly say I still have a number of my original sheets left over.  I never owned DA1, but I have always wanted run it.  I picked it up just recently, but have not read through it all.

Critical Mass has an interesting book among all the others.  The Vampire Lestat is reviewed and enjoyed.  About this time I also read The Vampire Lestat and I thought it was brilliant. Right here folks is the start of the Vampire the Masquerade.  Some where around this time Mark Rein·Hagen would form his first company and the RPG market would soon change forever.  Interestingly I read "Lestat" before I knew about "Interview with a Vampire" so I always had a better opinion of Lestat than my friends that had read it.
People have complained that this was the start of the "pretty boy" vampire craze.
Well. They would be wrong.
Lestat is still a monster, he kills and he relishes in being a hunter.  Eight years prior we had Frank Langella on stage and in the movies as uber-sexed Dracula, so the evolution of vampire as monster to sex object had been going on a while. Arguably since Stoker and even Carmilla.  Saying otherwise is ignoring the facts.
Now Twilight...yeah that is garbage.  But that's not Anne Rice's fault.

Curse of the Bone is a modern Call of Cthulhu adventure for 2-5 investigators. It looks fun and I like the modern twist to it.  For some reason the "used car dealer/cultist" made me laugh.  But it is also a good adventure in showing that relatively "minor" monsters can make for a great story.  "Lovecraftian" does not always mean elder gods and tentacles.

Open Box is back for some more, this time talking about all 14 of the D&D Dragonlance Modules. Dragonlance gets a bad rap among the Grognards out there. Some of it earned, but most of it is typical "get off my lawn" crap.  Yes they were rail-roady, but the were, as this article points out, epic.  Gordan Taylor does mention that classical role-playing is limited in these modules and no character development outside of what the modules dictate.  But I don't recall Grognards being that interested in character developemnt in the first place.   The modules can be played as "Strict AD&D" as the author mentions, but they are deadly and don't expect things to end well.  Maybe that is what we need (and it must be due to my 6.5 hours of meetings yesterday and my migraine today that I am even suggesting this) is a Grimmdark Dragonlance.  Instead of the Heroes of the Lance, run your typical Murder Hobos through it.  Go all out and use Dungeon Crawl Classics.   I never played these modules back in the day, but my younger brother's group did and they had a great time.  Maybe that is the selling point of these to my generation (and the generation before me) "Dragonlance, it is great for your little brother".

Illuminations is a new feature. It features the art of a particular artist.  This month is Ian Miller.  I would have loved to have seen this in earlier issues to be honest.  But with my impression of WD's art budget I am not sure they could have done this before now.

In what seems like a contradiction on the order of "Grimdark Dragonlance" Phil Gallagher gives us Warhammer Fantasy player character stats for Gnomes in Out of the Garden.

There is a new team for Blood Bowl, the Skaven Scramblers. They are the mutant by-blows of giant rats. The background information on the Skaven is actually kind of cool.  Think of a society of giant rats, like Splinter from TMNT, only warped by religion and placed into strict castes. And plenty of random mutations. So more like the twisted child of Splinter and the Rat King from The Nutcracker.  They would be fun for AD&D/OSR.

It's a Kind of Magic tries to bring magic and tech closer together in your FRPGs. Interesting the article advises against bring magic into technological games and gives a number reasons why it is a bad idea.  It is as if the designers of ShadowRun read the article, laughed and then broke all the rules.  Though this article really concerns itself with tech in a magic world.

'Eavy Metal has a number of great looking minis.  I took a look at a much newer WD recently. I am not sure if the painting of minis has gotten better or the photography is better.  I am not saying that the ones here in issue 86 are bad; far from it.  But they don't look as polished as the ones from newer issues.  I am guessing there is some Photoshop involved too.

Dogs of War covers mercenaries for AD&D (or any FRPG). The article is an interesting one because it not only instructs how to use them, but how they were used. For example you won't see mercenaries randomly killing people; that's bad for business.  I think the trouble is that what most players think of as mercenaries is more defined by fantasy novels and comic books than history.   The authors suggested reading Fredderick Forsyth's "Dogs of War" for more insight.

We get an article on time travel in Judge Dredd.  The article is mostly fluff.

Letters. Followed by Gobbledigook and then ads.

Not an inspiring issue, but set off for me with the CoC adventure and the extended product review of the Dragonlance modules.   While I expected my interest in these later magazines to drop off after issue 80, I am still finding tidbits I like and can use.

4 comments:

S'mon said...

I discarded my WDs after issue 89, so you're nearing the end of the line! :D Though really there are a still a few decent things in the 90s which I should probably have kept.

I like looking at the minis painting in VERY old White Dwarfs - makes me think "Hey, I can do that!" Whereas 'modern' standards are just depressing to an untalented painter like me.

Simon Giles said...

The cover's part of a larger Rodney Matthews painting.

There are still a few gems in the upcoming issues - the Dogs of War and Kind of Magic articles are indicative of the kind of thing to expect, more discursive and system-neutral, before Warhammer takes over entirely.

Funny you should mention "Grimdark Dragonlance" as I've been toying with a way of "Game-of-Thronesing" the Dragonlance campaign to make it less about heroics and more about power play.

Ashley Southcott said...

Rather unfortunately Gnomes were very little seen in WFRP after the Out of the Garden article, which I thought a shame - different in cultural outlook to all the other races so why didn't the designers make more of them in later years? But space constraints etc. were undoubtedly a factor.

It would only have required a further 3-4 pages in a future issue covering a Gnome settlement in the World's Edge Mountains, or the Empire, to have made them stand out.

Ashley Southcott said...

Rather unfortunately Gnomes were very little seen in WFRP after the Out of the Garden article, which I thought a shame - different in cultural outlook to all the other races so why didn't the designers make more of them in later years? But space constraints etc. were undoubtedly a factor.

It would only have required a further 3-4 pages in a future issue covering a Gnome settlement in the World's Edge Mountains, or the Empire, to have made them stand out.

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