Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #22 January 1977

There is no page 13
1977 was a big year. It started out really cold but it also gave us two of the biggest genre movies and two of the biggest directors to ever be tangentially associated with RPG and D&D in particular.  Steven Spielberg with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and George Lucas with Star Wars.

Owl & Weasel though starts off 1977 with what must have been the two favorite topics of conversation around the GW editorial room; topless women and baseball.  Now to be fair it was the late 70s. Look at other magazine covers at the time and this is hardly risque.

This issue though is solidly a "D&D" issue.

The editorial mentions this new focus. There are fewer total articles, but the ones they do have are long.

Don Turnbull is up first.  A name that will be very associated with White Dwarf soon presents the first version of what will become the Monstermark rating system of D&D monsters.
The math is very interesting and very representative of what was popular at the time; lots of calculations to arrive at an esoteric number.  Granted, this is not much different than how we use CR today.  In fact CR is pretty much the spiritual successor to the "Monster Level" as presented here. Though I do suppose that the Monster Level/Monstermark tells you how many 1st level fighters a monster can kill before being killed himself.  Other metrics can be used, but this one was one of the first and it deserves attention for that alone.  Heck this article was one of the reason I sought out Owl & Weasel in the first place after hearing about it in the early pages of White Dwarf.
The article gets a respectable 3 pages of print.

On page 6 there is some coverage of Computer Games.  While these are basic in nature (and maybe even BASIC in coding) they are a few of the classics from the time. Moon Landing (spent hours on this one myself), Wumpus ("I smell a wumpus!") and Hammurabi.  Also, interestingly enough, I was introduced to all of these games by people I was playing D&D with at the time.  Only one page for these.

Page seven covers a review of North Sea Oil, an oil baron simulation game played in 8 turns. Professionally I remember putting together something similar for a macro-economics course some years back. It was fun and I why games like this are popular.

The D&D Society gets two and half pages of text. The other half is dedicated to overflow articles.
The D&D Society is still less "organized play" and more "hey I am a DM, come join my game!".  But it is growing and growing to the point where soon it will be too big for Ian and Steve to handle on their own.

The highlight of this issue is the introduction of the Monstermark/Monster Level system.  It would be worthy to look into this deeper and develop something that would have more present day utility, but we have that now in CR.  Anything outside of that would be a purely academic exercise. While I am happy to do that, it isn't quite enough to make want to take that extra half-step to do it.

3 comments:

M. J. Joachim said...

No page 13 - guess the publishers were a bit superstitious... It's interesting to look back in time to 1977. Things sure have changed a lot.

faoladh said...

One of the things I've never had a chance to see is the actual method of determining a Monstermark. I kinda wish that it had been collected into one article somewhere, as getting three (four? five?) very early issues of WD is not exactly easy, and was even more difficult twenty-thirty years ago.

Timothy Brannan said...

maybe I should do a retrospective on it next year.

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