Showing posts with label white dwarf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label white dwarf. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #25 April 1977

Here we are, at the end of all things.  Err. Not really. It is April, 1977 and this is the last issue of Owl & Weasel.  I missed noting last issue's price increase to 20p.  It could have just been for the double sized issue, but the increase remains here.  Maybe it is the special Silver Jubilee price.

Our editorial details the end of Owl & Weasel and the start of White Dwarf.  Well at least overtly. It is loaded with a bunch faked melodrama that frankly I would have been happier not reading.  I am going to chalk it up to actual emotion and the separation of an entire ocean and nearly 38 years.

The index for the Article Competition is up and on page 3.  Ian Livingstone spends some time talking about them and mentioning that they will be looking for more material like this for White Dwarf.

Page 5 covers various news items. One item mentions the Dungoneer magazine.  That is one I would like to cover sometime too, but I am missing some issues and the ones I am missing tend to be quite expensive on eBay when they show up.

Page 6 is the "Big Reveal" of the White Dwarf contents and cover.  Of course at they only have an artist mock up and it doesn't look like how the magazine will later look. But that is ok.  They talk about what they will be doing; D&D articles, society news, letters and "The Other World" a section on non-SF/F gaming.  That never really happened. They also talk about what they are looking for in terms of contributions.

Pages 7 and 8 cover D&D Society news including more names and addresses.

Next up we actually have some content. There is a review of FGU's Gladiators game. It is a board game, with no board or pieces. Seems a bit odd to me.

Next up is a reader contribution on what makes an interesting dungeon.  The advice is solid, if a bit dated.  Make sure it is interesting, has some traps, some new monsters...that sort of thing.  It is 1977, benefit of the doubt here.  The next page is another reader contribution. This time about how to store counters for games.  No Container Stores or Ikea's yet in England of 1977 I am guessing.

We end the issue with the Games Workshop price lists.

Wow. What a run.  I have a few more things in mind for White Dwarf Wednesday; mostly book keeping sort of things.  But I Really hope you have enjoyed all of this.  125 issues of both White Dwarf and Owl & Weasel.  It's been a great deal of fun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #24 March 1977

Issue 24 of Owl & Weasel is fresh off of their packed Games Days and moving right on in their D&D Day.  To celebrate this issue is an all D&D issue.  My favorite bit in the editorial is where they mention the hall only holds 250 people and that unless you get there early you could be turned away.  "Sorry, you can't play D&D today, it is just too popular right now!"
The issue is pretty solid really. Very, very much like what we will expect to see in White Dwarf.
Though they do start off with some pretty bad game fiction. Yes it is supposed to be humorous. but I got bored with it really fast.

Page 5 gives some advice on dungeon mapping. Not bad really, but very much an "early days" sort of article.  You don't see stuff like this outside of blogs anymore.
In typical O&W fashion there is a naked angel at the bottom of the page telling us "the end is nigh! See page 11 for details."

Pages 6 and 7 are dedicated to the D&D Day hall and schedule. It runs 10 hours and there competitions for best mini, best room and best magic item. I do admit a certain level of curiosity to know what won.

Pages 8 and 9 give us some meat to chew on.  We have two new character classes.  The Samurai and the Psionist.  The Samurai is what you would expect; it is a take on the fighter with more attacks per round and an unarmed attack.  Not a lot in terms of flavor, but that was supposed to be what the player brought to the table and what the DM gave a background for.
On the other side of the coin we have the Psionist. Using the psionics rules from Eldritch Wizardry this class excels in psionic attacks, defenses and effects, but not much else.  They get a d4 for hp and then after level 10 they get .5 hp per level!  Their powers are determined by level and they have a 15% cum chance per level to develop another random talent.  There are Standard and Special abilities.  Despite it's lack of detail the class looks pretty solid and playable.   I could have used this class back in 1989 when I was playing an OD&D campaign with psychic (not exactly psionic) characters.  It is also something my youngest would like.
There are also some new weapons, interestingly enough nothing particularly related to either class.

Pages 10 and most of 11 are dedicated to the 80 names of people in the D&D society. This is the full list to date. Bottom of page 11 is the announcement that next issue is the last issue of Owl & Weasel. Ian and Steve tell us that they want to shift focus to more SF/F games with an occasional dip into other games.  The new magazine will be called White Dwarf and have higher production values.  Subscriptions will transfer over to White Dwarf from Owl & Weasel unless of course you don't want to.

Finally Page 12 covers all the games that Games Workshop has to offer in their store.  Far more than a year ago.

This is the most "White Dwarf-y" feeling issue to date. In fact, other than the size and layout it feels more like White Dwarf #1 than Owl & Weasel #1.

Next week, The End.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #23 February 1977

February 1977 gives us Issue number 23 of Owl & Weasel and at 20 pages it is the largest O&W to date (and ever in fact!).  Though a lot of those new pages are dedicated to the 1977 Games Day, as the cover so proudly tells us.

The editorial has an introduction to Games Day and gives new comers an idea of what to expect.
Moving on Page 4 (and some of 6) cover an introduction to Table Top games, which at this point still refers mostly to war games.  So far the content leads me to believe that they expect most people at Games Day and/or reading this zine not to be familiar with the types of games that will be there.  This strikes me as a bit odd to be honest.

Page 5 (and 6) Ian covers the British 1977 Toy Fair with an eye towards the game manufacturers represented there.  There seems to me to be more American game companies listed here than they discussed last year. To be fair they were pretty down on the Toy Fair last year so it could just be that they didn't mention it.

Page 6 contains the overflow of the previous articles, but of interest to me is the 1977 Scrabble championship.  My brother is a big Scrabble fan (we all have our things) so I found this kind of interesting.  Wonder how he would have fared? Well, terrible really, it was another year till he was born.

Page 7, 8 and 9 have ads. Lots of them in fact.  These are all companies at the Games Day, stand numbers are included, but it is still interesting to see as this represents a shift closer to White Dwarf in terms of content.  Games Workshop is hosting the D&D booth and a "Totally NEW concept in game design".  Again the joy here is not simply nostalgia at looking at something I have already seen, but that feel of when everything was still new and untested. I guess this is also one of the reasons I have always worked at start-up companies and moved on when they get older and established.

Pages 10 and 11 have the map of the hall and the time table of events.  Still not Gen Con, either then or now, but it looks like a lot of fun was had. Matchday, Diplomacy, Monopoly, and of course Dungeons & Dragons games are featured many times.  The whole thing runs 10:00am to 6:00pm that day.

We get another 3 pages of ads, and then a page on "What Do I Do After Games Day?" It is actually a nice little bit of advice and something that Gen Con could even add to their programs. Though many of us know this stuff instinctively.  They do explicitly state that many people that come to Games Day are new to all these games, so the split them up into "Family Games", "Board Games", "Table Top Games" (we call these Wargames now or miniatures games) and "Fantasy Games" or RPGs in the current nadsat.  The continue on with "Postal Games" (play by mail), and "Abstract Games".  They list some of the big name game shops in the area, along with publications and clubs.

Pages 18 and 19 are dedicated to the D&D society, including interestingly enough, an org chart of how the society is run on the national and local levels.  Nice, but I wonder if it happened this way in practice. I will be honest, I don't recall reading much about the D&D society in White Dwarf.

Finally we get to the last page with the items Games Workshop is selling.

So a much larger issue, but only this one time. The overall impression is the hobby is growing steadily but as we know the big boom is yet to come.  O&W makes more of it's evolution towards White Dwarf, but the next issues will be more telling.

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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #21 December 1976

Lets got back 38 years to see what was hot in gaming!
Ok let's look at issue 21 of Owl & Weasel.  First off the zine is looking more and more like the White Dwarf it will become.
The Editorial covers both Games Day (February) and also now a D&D Day (March). A couple of typos are dealt with.

Page 3 covers two new games from "The Little Soldier" in Maryland.  The first is Ringbearer. This is the same company that gave us the Book of Monsters, Book of Demons, and the Book of Sorcery that were later re-released by Gamescience (which you can still find at Gen Con).  OF course there is no record of this particular game any more thanks to lawyers at United Artists (who had the Tolkien rights at the time). Basically this little game was a re-enactment of the plot of LotR.  The game sounds a bit like many of the mini-games of the time; one player (The Dark Lord) vs a group of other players.  The next is "Der Fuhrer" a little "political" war game set in World War II.  It sounds interesting in the sense that the battles are more propaganda and street teams than bullets and bombs.

Page 4 covers some news including a bit about GW being featured in the Times.
The growing D&D Society gets a full page treatment later on.  Well, most of a full page. One thing is obvious from the letters is that D&D is growing, rules are being questioned and O&W is more than happy to oblige.

The last page covers all what GW has to sell (as usual).

The articles tend to be much longer in this issue but the downside to that is the zine is still at 12 pages, so fewer articles.

Given this is the last Christmas issue and Christmas is on the way here too, here is Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody. The song is from '74, but this looks like it is later 70s, maybe 76 or 77.
I am sure they got really tired of having to lip-synch to this every year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #20 November 1976

Headed back to November 1976 for today's Owl & Weasel.  Again we are seeing another step up in terms of improvements to layout.  This is looking more and more like a magazine rather than a zine rolled out on mimeograph by a couple of guys.  It still is exactly that; a zine by a couple of guys, but it is getting better looking.  Also there is a jump in price from 15p to 20p.  Inflation is blamed, but honestly it doesn't seem like that much of a jump.

The editorial talks about the price change and teases that TSR is working on a new SciFi game called Metamorphosis Alpha.

The Letters page deals with more D&D Society postings. An interesting letter from a reader who "just bought a calculator" converts 3-18 Int scores to IQ.  I can remember sitting in stats class one day doing something similar; converting 3d6 probabilities to z-scores. Course these days anyone can do that with even the cheapest of spreadsheets or even for free in Google Sheets. His numbers look solid if you forget that that Int is discrete varible and IQ is on a ratio scale.  Another letter on the next page is also a sign of the change.  The late asks O&W to get back to Orthodox Wargames and drop this "fantasy nonsense", blaming the editor's recent trip to America.  Ian replies stating that fantasy games are where all the new action is.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for your approval the first Edition War.  Or maybe the first case of Grogardism.

Later we get our cover story and a two page review of "White Bear & Red Moon" complete with nude female angel. Maybe she is supposed to be one of sylphs. Either way something that was common then that you no longer see. The game blends war games and fantasy to an interesting degree.  It takes place on the world of Glorantha, which in time would give us RuneQuest. This is the game that was used to launch Chaosium.  The longer review is notable given the amount of future ink White Dwarf would devote to RuneQuest.

Another section people write in and talk about their D&D games.
Next page has a section of Zine reviews.  Of note is The Dungeoneer, one of my old favorites.  Still looking to complete my collection of those.   Next page over has an index of all the old Strategic Review articles.  Very interesting that a zine (O&W) would devote so much ink to their competitors, SW/The Dragon and The Dungeoneer.  But then again this was a very different time and sharing knowledge was more important.  You see this fall apart later in the 80s when White Dwarf will mention Dragon, but hardly acknowledge Imagine save for when it premiers and ends.  It mirrors the software industry at the time really.  Back then sharing code was important, but became more problematic when people (aka Bill Gates) started making money off of it.  This is not the first parallel between the RPG hobby and the Computer hobby and it is no where near the last.

finally we end with the Games Workshop items for sale section.

In retrospect this is a full RPG issue.  Even the board game White Bear & Red Moon will morph into one of the biggest RPG since D&D.  We have five more issues left before the change is made over to fully RPG content and new magazine format.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #19 October 1976

Issue 19 represents a shift in Owl & Weasel.  This issue has more D&D related content than any other issue so far.  The front cover also takes on a more magazine like feel. Lets see what is inside.
The editorial is noticeably longer this issue, a precursor to the long White Dwarf editorials to come.  But a fully half of it is devoted to a long and odd joke about mouse having sex with an elephant.  It was a different time.

Page 3 covers the D&D Society news.  More names but also some house rules on which race you can choose.  Basically there are new minimums for some scores to be demi-humans.  Strength for Dwarves, Dexterity, Wisdom and Intelligence for Elves and Dex for hobbits. Hobbits are still used in place of halflings at this point. Rules similar to these show up when OD&D converts over to Basic.

The new D&D supplements "Gods, Demi-gods and Heroes" and "Swords & Spells" are mentioned, but only get about a paragraph each.  I am not sure if longer reviews will appear, but that was the impression I got from the last issue.  Also paragraph on how the new issue (#3) of The Dragon is the best yet.

Page 5 revisits Ian's and Steve's fascination with American Baseball and they discuss the Avalon Hill baseball simulation game where they pit their fantasy Mets (Steven) and fantasy Red Sox (Ian).  While I have not played this game, I might check it out. I have been a life long St. Louis Cardinals fan and this sounds fun.  Plus having some of my favorite historical players like Smith, McGuire, McGee and Stan the Man on the same team with some of the better newer players would be a lot of fun.

Later on we get an overview and discussion on 3 player games.  Interesting, but not my thing.

 Maybe there is a bit of professional jealousy or just natural progression of how these things work, but O&W has some new D&D house rules on keeping time in D&D and another on magical uses in D&D.

Page 9 to 10 covers alignment in D&D.  The first of several thousand never ending discussions.  Though to be fair this is one of the first.

The "News" page is a cross between actual news and classified ads.
Back page covers items for sale at Games Workshop's store.

Owl & Weasel is not just yet a pure RPG zine, or even a pure-ish D&D one, but it's wargame and even board game roots are more in it's past than it's future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #18 September 1976

We take  big jump to September now. No I am not missing July and August, with Ian and Steve havig their wild adventure in the States this is the first issue we get since then.

Steve takes over the editorial in this issue to talk about their US trip. They visited TSR at Gen Con (more on that later) and generally took in the sites of the American side of the gaming hobby.  I found it interesting that they thought the America hobby stores were similar enough to London's.   I guess the differences were not as great as I expected either.  They loved Baseball and Frisbee (it was the 70s remember) and brought some home with them.

Reviewed this issue is the Lankhmr boxed game from TSR.   The whole Lankhmar stories and games are really something of a mystery to me.  I have not read the books nor played any of the games. This one sounds like an interesting game, but I wonder if it is more due to my romanticizing the time and subject matter.

Ia posts his take on their American trip They got to meet Gary, Fritz Leiber and the young Miss Wisconsin.   Tim Kask gets name dropped here as well.  Interestingly enough the report is very much like any Gen Con report you have ever read.  Coming from two such notables in the hobby though at their first Gen Con does make you smile.  Everyone has their first con sometime.

The first of the article competition is up from Andy Evans.  His article is about Reality in Fantasy.  It is the first in what will become many articles, Usenet posts, forum posts and blogs about how to build and deal with reality into your D&D game.  Andy here just happens to be one of the first.  Among the things he gets right is future of RPGs (namely they have one) and the flexibility. You can do anything in them and with them.  So he has quite a lot of good insight there.  

A brief article on the next two and last D&D supplements.  "Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes" and "Swords and Spells".   There will be more on these in future issues, but "Swords & Spells" is really something of a semi-supplement.  Soon we will be entering my generation of D&D.

There is something else the guys picked up in the States.  Skateboarding. They devote and entire page to it in fact.  No need for commentary here from me.

Zine review is  very interesting for one thing in particular.  It discusses the last issue of The Strategic Reveiw (Vol. II No. 2) and the first issue of The Dragon. "Little Wars" is also discussed as the wargame alternate to The Dragon and the successor to SR.   Full price is £1 which makes it "expensive".  Subscribers to SR can convert their subscriptions over to The Dragon.

In this issue I can see why White Dwarf was every other month vs. monthly at first.  Things were still moving kind of slow back then.  Granted we see the same amount (or more) content in blogs and message boards in a day, but we have Internet speed and nearly 40 years of game development to talk about.  That all being said this issue benefited from the short break.  Ian & Steve seemed energized and ready to go and new games were being talked about.  To day this is the most "RPG"-centric OWl & Weasel to date.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #17 June 1976

O&W #17 comes to us from June 1976.  The editorial staff are head out for "Ian's & Steve's Crazy US Adventure" so this is the last issue till September.
The editorial tries to be funny, but just isn't.  Nothing against Ian Livingstone, but seriously stick to what you know and off-beat humor isn't it.  They are hosting a Subscriber Article Competition though to get more fresh blood in.  Winners will get their entry published  and goods from the staff  equal to £5.00.  Not a bad deal really for 1976 and a zine.

We start out with a review of "Lose Your Shirt" from Waddingtons.  It is a racing games with pieces, cards and various props.  Ian praises it for it fun and guesswork in not knowing who is backing what till the end.  I want to take a  moment here and reflect one what must have felt like a boardgame Golden Age then.  Looking back we might even call it the end of the golden age, but I am not sufficiently knowledgeable enough to be able to say.  Often I thought that having someone from this time to chat with might help.  To get more of a context into this side of our hobby.

If anyone knows more about this time and wishes to share insights then please feel free to comment below.

More book reviews on board games. They are very brief really.
What I find more interesting on this page is the ad for NOVA Enterprises, a game store (or mail order) in Brooklyn.  What is great about it (other than it is a Game Store ad) is that they boast about having over 30 F&SF games! We are at best 2.5 years out from the earliest D&D could have been published and there are 30 some odd games in the same general genre.  While that is a low number by today's standards it strikes me as being huge for then!  Also all the prices are in $ not £.
Were some O&Ws sold in the States?  Though the ad does ask for $0.25 or 2 IRCs (international reply coupons) so they must be expecting some orders from O&W regular subscribers.

 Ian Waugh has an article on the growth of Fantasy games, though it includes Sci-Fi games as well. Again this makes it feel like it was a boom time for RPGs.  While it predates my personal experiences it was in the experience of people I gamed with.  It did seem (from them) to be a time of endless possibility. Maybe not endless choice as compared to now.  I can see how the DIY spirit infused the game at this time too.  It was the same as the early computer days to me.

Moving on to Letters later in the issue we have yet another "Ripped from the Blog Posts of Today" submission.  This one is an interesting method of reducing the HD, and thus the attack ability, of monsters in combat.  The premise is simple, weaker monsters have weaker attacks. Therefore a weakened monster should also have weaker attacks.   The attacks are refigured based on the monster's current HP with the following formula.  Monster Fighting Level = (Monster HP)/4.  The author, Ian Moseley, also offers a table.  To simple it up every loss of 4 hp results in a -1 to hit.
It is an interesting idea and even one that was flirted with in D&D 4 and something I had used in Unisystem years ago.  But it is easy to see why it never caught on even if it makes a certain level of common sense.   Still though. Nothing new under sun right?

We end with some more alt-rulings on Diplomacy and the ads.

While there is a lot of talk about other games, I have not seen them yet in the pages.  This is still a general games magazine with a board game focus and the occasional RPG, nee F&SF Games, element.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #16 May 1976

It's Spring of 1976.  I remember my parents putting up this red, white and blue wallpaper in my room around this time.  It had all sorts of colonial pictures with it including one of the declaration of Independence.  Why is this important? It isn't!  But it was what I remember from the time.
The time is May 1976 and the magazine is Owl & Weasel #16.

Well the BIG news of this issue is of course the overview/review of Supplement III Eldritch Wizardry.  EW is, without a doubt one of the most influential books introduced to me back in the days of my early game playing.   Depsite the fact that all this material later became part of AD&D, the fact that at one time additional material was a revelation to me.  Druids, Demons, Psionics, Artifacts.  Really. It was everything I loved about AD&D in a "Basic" D&D package.  It is no wonder then that I own 4 copies today.   My favorite part of this?  The last paragraph where Ian Livingstone mentions that there is so much in this book that Gygax and Blume can't possibly dream up more material for the game!

The Page 2 Editorial talks about how Ian and Steve will be going to America the first week of July till September. They plan to visit the TSR headquarters.  There is also talk of the UK's first D&D Con when they get back.  I find this interesting because I wrote a Chill adventure that begins on a TransAtlantic Flight from London to New York in July 1976.   I think for my own amusement I might place Steve and Ian on that same flight and they can interact briefly with the characters!

Page 3 has more on EW and the D&D Society news.

Page 4 to 5 has some book reviews on game books.   They are written though as if all the readers are already familiar with the books.   Was this an artifact of the time, the place or the hobby?  Not sure.

Letters.  Hmmm.  One looks sincere and legit, the others all look like fakes/bad attempts at humor.  We occasionally saw these in White Dwarf as well.

Pages 6 and 7 have a true oddity for me.  "Friday in Dundee" is a basic sort of RPG where players can take on the persona of nearly any sort of character; though only a couple of characters are provided.  You are given some basic information and you are supposed to collect Benefit Points.  I failed to mention that this game was made in Japan by a company that usually makes surgery equipment.  I did some looking and I can't find anything on it.   Anyone know anything more?

Moving on there are articles of "Competitive" D&D, which has some interesting ideas, but I see why it never caught on.

In other news, Avon Hill buys the American game company 3M gaining the rights to Speed Circuit, Feudal, Stocks & Bonds among others.

So this issue goes to show that once again the past is not really as far back as I sometimes thought it was.  A lot of what passes for RPG history or lore is often shrouded in some mysterious "bygone age".  It wasn't, not really.  Once D&D was brand new and people felt three supplements were enough.   Actually, I have run into people like that this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #15 April 1976

Welcome back to the Owl & Weasel! Let's set the controls for April 1976 and see what we can learn about the hobby's history.

In something of a first O&W features a number of new "SF/F" games.  Page 1 (and 7) is an overview of GDW's En Garde game. I don't recall this game very well to be honest and had to go look it up.

SPI's Sorcerer is also covered, briefly, and a new miniatures game "Wizards & Warefare".  All of which shoe some common descent from D&D.

In another first O&W also reviews a couple of "pub" Video Games.  These are the cabinet style video games, not the home versions that became more popular after the introduction of the Atari 2600 some 18-20 months later.

Pages 10 and half of 11 deal with the new D&D society.  I am beginning to see, or rather have more evidence of, the reasons why Gygax felt the need to codify the D&D rules into AD&D.   Everyone was off doing their own thing how they liked.  Not to different than today to be honest.

In this issue there are more "RPG" elements and less board game material than previous editions.  I expect this trend to continue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #14 March 1976

Today we head back to March of 1976.

In what is a first for me, and for O&W, a variant set of rules are presented for Diplomacy.  It covers the entire first page.  (Click over there for larger).

The Editorial deals with the falling value of the Pound vs. the American Dollar and the effect it will have on buying some games from the US.  Bottom line here is that GW will try to stock more D&D so people can buy it without having to pay for the shipping.

I became very interested in American and British economies in the 80s.  There was always "perception" that the recession in Great Britain was Thatcher's fault. But this points to the seeds of that time starting right here.

Page 3 has something of a milestone of several sorts. First it is the introduction of Don Turnbull as a new fan of the D&D game. Also covered is the first set up of what would later be know as Play By Mail games.

Page 5 is the first article of the D&D Society News.   Several people send in their addresses, but no phone numbers.  Ian Livingstone plays to make this a regular feature.

Four longer reviews follow, one for "Feds 'N' Heads", "Bust", a railway game "1869" and "Fast Carriers".   It seems that the reviews are picking up some now.  I hope this is a trend that continues since it was one of my favorite parts of White Dwarf.

We end with the usual batch of games for sale from "T.S.R."

Could it be that the "D&D High" at O&W is over and they are getting back to board games?  Maybe, but history teaches us something different.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #13 February 1976

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #13 comes to us from February 1976. In a nice coming together of my hobby and that of my younger brother.  The 1976 National Scrabble Championship is mentioned with instructions of how to enter.  My brother is a huge Scrabble geek so he might find this one interesting.

Over on the Editorial page they celebrate 1 year of the Owl & Weasel.  They mention a few of the places you can now get O&W and call out one hobby store that doesn't carry them.   They also talk about NOT wanting to go bi-monthly (as White Dwarf will do in the future) asking for more letters and submissions.   "SF/F" (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) games are the big rage now.  They will continue to use this term well into their White Dwarf days till eventually being replaced by the more common RPG.

Page 3 gives us a review of Cartel the American Stock Market Game.  I remember this game and I think I have seen it at previous game auctions.  Other games discussed are Top Rat and Rail Way Rivals.

The British International Toy Fair in Brighton is covered.  I looked for games that a.) might have survived to today and b.) any indication of the coming RPG and Video game booms.  But really nothing.

Page 10 features a great little "coupon" for The D&D Society.  Send in your name, address and whether or not you have designed your own dungeons to the O&W and they will send you 10 character sheets! That's a bargain at any price.

Page 11 gives us a handy index to games covered and what issues they appeared in.  Dungeons and Dragons is covered in issues 5 through 12.

Back cover has items for sale including a Games Workshop sweatshirt.  Either Medium or Large and the the prince is only £3.25.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #12 January 1976

Sub-Titled *Special Late Edition* (a few days late according to the editorial).  The start of 1976 was an interesting time for me personally.  I am curious to see how the world looked through the eyes of a gaming zine across the ocean.

From now on when ever I am late for a schedule post I will simply relabel it "special late edition".

D&D-wise we start with a note on the front page that Blackmoor is now out. More on that on page 4.  I don't recall much in the way of fan fare when Greyhawk came out, but that could be due when D&D hit Britain's shores.

Page 3 goes into length about Games Day.

Page 4 details Blackmoor.  On one hand Steve Jackson claims it is Earth shattering, but on the other hand also says it is not quite as good as Greyhawk.  What he seems to like most about it are the revised to hit tables (thus giving characters a reason to wear a helmet) and more details on various monsters. He also claims that Temple of the Frog is a must for any Game Master.  Temple of the Frog was 10 years later republished as a new adventure.

Moving through the rest of the zine there is more on the game Organized Crime and a section of Pub Games (lest we forget this is still a more general game magazine and not yet an RPG one).

The "Orbituary" column is back to review games that have died or are no longer played (really, the idea of spend text space on something no reads or could read anymore...that's a special kind of obsessive!).  This month is Parker Brothers "Take the Brain". Which is described as a chess variant where pieces, Ninnies and Numbskulls, move about the board to capture a brain piece. Reviewer Kendall Johns decides that the game failed due to being marketed at the wrong audience. Aimed at children it really should have been dressed up more and aimed at adults.

Far less ads this issue and we are back down to our regular 12 pages, Page 1 is a page again, not a cover.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #11 December 1975

Today's look into the Owl & Weasel takes us all the way back to December 1975.  What do we have this month?  Well O&W has increased in size to 20 pages.  True the cover is now a proper cover and there are a lot more ads, oh and one page is for "notes" but still there is more content.

The biggest feature of this issue is the Game Day guide.  I love how intimate these old cons used to be.  Whether true or not it seems like everyone knew about everyone else.  The only thing I can relate it too was back in the 80s meeting up with various computer user groups; small, intimate and while not a lot to see, all of it very exciting.

Steve Jackson talks a bit on the changing nature of the British Gaming Scene and the "Adult Gaming Scene" in general.  His discussion links Monopoly to Diplomacy and to various "Com-Sim" games (Combat Simulation) and bookcase games (see Avalon Hill).  He discusses the growth of game magazines from 1974 on as well.  Of course he squarely puts the future of games on Dungeons & Dragons and Empire of the Petal Throne.  Though he also mistakenly states that games could give television a run for it's money.  Maybe not such a crazy idea in mid-70s Britain, but crazy by American standards (though TV here in the 70s was fairly dreadful).

Letters section is the first full page devoted to Empire of the Petal Throne.  A reader expresses his enjoyment of the game and Ian Livingstone gives us some more details about the game.   It's obvious that most fantasy is very Tolkien inspired at this point so EotPT must have felt like something so new and exciting.  Actually I still get that reading articles like this and only learning about the game much later in my gaming career.

There is another set of Chess variants mentioned.  Some ads. Actually, a lot of ads.
The "centerfold" covers Game Day events and a map.

The last page (ok page 18) is the Dungeons & Dragons page. It discusses hirelings and, interestingly enough, the release of the Strategic Review 4.  I guess at this point O&W and SR did not see themselves as competition to each other.  A nice change from how magazines today often work or act.  Even in the early days of White Dwarf and The Dragon there was more of a give and take between the two, at least until Imagine came on the scene.

I think what I am getting most out of these, as opposed to my overviews of White Dwarf, was the origins of the gaming culture.  Sure this is a very particular viewpoint based on a particular set of ethos.  The picture painted here is one were Wargamers and Role-Players (even if that word wasn't used just yet) got along in harmony or at the very lease stayed out of each other's way.  Given some of the posts on other gaming blogs, particularly Grognardia, that this was not always the case.
That being said there is a certain "yes we can do this!" attitude that is infectious and one I think would be good to adopt.  A time before edition wars.  I am not trying to glorify the "good old days" at all .  But the feeling of it is rather nice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #10 November 1975

Owl & Weasel #10 represents a shift in O&W.  The biggest shift is a slight change in layout and font that makes it look more like a magazine than a newsletter that a couple guys rolled off in their spare time. That's not a jab at it, that is exactly what it was/is and that is fine.  But now it is looking better doing it.

First up are some house rules for Diplomacy.  Again this is a game I have heard about forever but never played.  I think it is one of those games that really is the dividing line between the hard core board gamers and the the first RPG gamers that were solely RPGers.

Page 5 gives us something interesting and fairly unique.  An obituary column for "dead" games.   Obviously in today's market such a thing is self-defeating with so many games coming back.  But still it is kind of interesting.  The game in question is Pokol; which is described as a Scrabble-like game that uses cards instead of tiles.

A couple of chess variants are introduced such as "Random Chess" where the "Court" piece are drawn from a hat placed randomly on their row.  "The Maharajah and the Sepoys" which one side is set up as normal, but the other only has a King (the Maharajah) and he can move like any piece on the board including a knight.  Sounds interesting to be honest.

The second biggest shift is the inclusion of new D&D content.  In this case O&W republishes the Ranger class that had appeared in the pages of the Strategic Review #2 from the Summer of 75.  There is no mention of having permission to so that I can find, but I have not heard otherwise to be honest. There is a mention of "Joe Fischer © TSR" who was the author of the original.

Obviously D&D is still of interest to the guys at O&W but it is still relegated to the back of the zine.  Though keep in mind, this is still just 1975.  The Strategic Review is only 2-3 issues in and D&D is only a little more than a year old.  We are also only 2/5ths through the O&W zines.  It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #9 October 1975

October 1975 is on the dial for the wayback machine today.  O&W seems to off of their D&D high for now and getting back into other games.  One of which is a new American game call Organized Crime. It is a board game, but sounds like a prototype for a cool crime related RPG.

Ian Livingstone has a bit on the local Monopoly championships and how he won't be going to the European or World rounds.

For D&D people are submitting house rules.
First is some advice for the novice player (which at this point is most people) and an alternative to dying and healing that offers more math than game rules.  Basically your death is a function of your HP and Con.  Nothing simple like negative Con or -10.

Not really a lot in this issue that interested me to be honest.  It is a good issue to show how the game industry was evolving.  Not every uncovered treasure is as significant as a "Lucy".

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #8 September 1975

Going back 29 years today for Owl & Weasel #8.

The front page news if England's first Play By Mail D&D game.  Interestingly there is a mention of a "computerised" one in America.  D&D is barely a year old and someone put it onto a computer!
Also covered is the first Northern Go Tournament in Manchester.

Steve Jackson moves to Brighton from London, but will still be working on O&W.

As we move on there is a brief guide on Patents for people designing their own games. The guide is fairly specific to the place and time, but still an interesting read.  Maybe not for the content but for the mere fact it is here and the dedicated so much (a page and an 1/6) to it.   Yes even back then, or maybe especially back then, people wanted to do things their own way.

Speaking of which the next page (the remaining 5/6ths) covers some of the "house rules" contributor Graham Buckell has been allowing for in his D&D games.  Also some that Steve Jackson has been using in his games. Party members get two attempts at opening a door for example.  Clerics also get an extra chance per level to pray for a specific spell.  The math is typical of the time P(granting spell) = (Spells needed/spells used) x (char. level/spell level) x 0.6.  They are only granted a number of these extra spells on a per year basis.
A house rule to give Fighting Men more hits (hp) is introduced. Basically they can't have less than 3 hp at 1st level.

A lengthy review/overview of the game Kingmaker is the "centerfold".
The new Sci-Fi war game "Galactic War" is discussed by the designer.  I don't know if the game was every produced or caught on.  I'll keep an eye out in future issues.

Third part of the article on Mah Jong is up.

The most interesting bit is shoved into the corner of page 11.  A "preview" of a new game "Empire of the Petal Throne" with the promise of a review after they have played it.

Last page has some ads including the TSR one and, yup there it is, Galactic War for £1.00.

A solid issue covering the ground well established by O&W at this time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #7 August 1975

Owl & Weasel #7 comes to us from August 1975.  I guess according to the editorial they were experiencing some uncommon heat then.  That is at least a explanation for the cover art.

Topics covered are the British Monopoly Championships, a set of rules for playing Frisbee (must have been the 70s) and coverage of a couple older (older even then) board games.

There is a quite a bit on Stalingrad, a game I still see played every so often.
The interesting bit is a letter from Action Games and Toys Ltd. They took exception in a page and quarter letter about the coverage from June on the London Toy Fair.

There is a letter complaining that the D&D combat system is "broken" since there is no way a goblin could ever hit a 20th level Lord with +5 plate, even 5% of the time.

Page 11 covers some more concepts in D&D like rooms and passages.
Finally there is a price list for more T.S.R. material.

Not a landmark issue by any stretch, interesting for the questionable line art, pink paper and the continued inclusion of D&D.

ETA: D&D pages.