Wednesday, June 6, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #19

The summer of 1980 I turned 11, and White Dwarf published issue #19 for June/July.

Let's take a moment and look at this Les Edwards cover.  Some sort of ghoul or demon coming up out of a pit (a ghoul according to his website).  He is not here to welcome us to the dungeon or give us candy.  I love the detail of this image.  But it is not the only detail we should look at.  Note how the magazine is up 15p from last issue (and 50 cents in the US, Canada and Australia).
We are treated to some more full-page ads.  Again, I enjoy these and they are a different insight to the time and too what was popular.  Up front, Chaosium is no longer "The Chaosium".    An ad as a letter from TSR detailing what is coming to the UK this summer from TSR.  The new Deities and Demigods book as well as the  Modules GW1, S3, B2 and Q1.  Interestingly enough B2 is listed as both for D&D and AD&D.

An aside.  We are really getting into the time when I was hardcore into D&D (as opposed to the last 30+ years I guess).  I can't help but reflect on when this was all so new to me and new to everyone else.  Popping in my MP3s from Stevie Nicks "Bella Donna" (ok that was 81, but hey).

An ad for the the new Ares magazine and the new game John Carter, Warlord of Mars. (Aside #2: Must pick up John Carter on Blu-Ray today!)

The editorial this issue is about the lack of back issues (tell me about it!!) and how they will publish the White Dwarf compendiums, one "The Best of White Dwarf Articles"  and the other "The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios".  I remember wanting those both so bad back in the day.  It was not till post college, a steady paycheck and the magic of eBay that I was able to fill in my gaps.

On to the articles!

Trevor Graver gives us a criminal background for Traveller characters.  Again, I love these old mags because they were so system agnostic.  Everything was thrown in together.  Traveller, D&D/AD&D, Runequest, it was all here.

The Fiend Factory is back with some low level monsters.  The Empopath, which is like a low-level psychic frog.  The Stormbiter, a sort of air-elemental of the desert, similar to a Dust Devil.  Undead Horses (what it says on the tin), the Werefox which I think is the same the would later appear in Monster Manual II. And the Darkhawk which is an evil looking, but not evilly aligned, undead hawk.  Monsters still have Monstermark ratings.

A Runequest mini-scenario, Jorthan's Rescue, by Stephen R. Marsh & John T. Sapienza Jr. is up next.  It looks pretty solid to be honest.

Next up is a page on how there has been an interest of late of new character classes and some ideas behind the new Beserker class that follows.   Roger E. Moore then presents the Berserker as a complete class.  This is an order of magnitude above other classes in terms presentation, use and how it was written.  The class is complete on one page.

ANOTHER mini-scenario by Tom Keenes is next.  Ogre Hunt is presented as suitable for 4-7 moderate to low-level characters for C&S.  At only a page and 3/4s it is smaller, but does what it sets out to do.

Open Box is up with new games.  Starfire from Task Force Games is a tactical naval space battles game for 2-3 players.  It gets a solid 8/10.  Magic Realm from Avalon Hill has been a constant search for me at game auctions. It is described as a fantasy-adventure role-playing game with a board.  While reviewer Colin Reynolds likes the magic battles, he downgrades it for it boardgame like set up.  I get the feeling that this game was in his mind neither RPG or board-game.   It gets a 7/10.   We also have two books from Fantasy Productions Inc. The first is High Fantasy, which reminds the reviewer of D&D. It has some interesting design ideas, including a to hit vs dodge mechanic, but the rest seems uninspired. Don Turnbull gives it a 4/10.  Fortress of Ellendar is an adventure module to be used with High Fantasy, but it fares better with a 7/10.  Finally the first official adventure for Traveller, Adventure 1 The Kinunir gets 9/10 from Bob McWilliams.

Lew Pulsipher gives us an article on magical wards for AD&D. Very interesting, not just in terms of content, but as an extension of D&D scholarship; articles designed to expand some minor bit of game esoterica. This sort of thing will fill magazines for years to come and websites and blogs long after that.

The Letters section has the typical comments on Fiend Factory, but also some letters on the differences between the 1st and 2nd printings of the new MM and DMG, with one complaining that the different "editions" came too soon on the heels of the previous one.  Somethings never, ever change.

Treasure Chest gives us some pre-gen NPCs instead of magic items.

The next article is something of an archaeological find really. It discusses the future of CM gaming, that is Computer Moderated.  The Archaeopteryx of today's MMORPGs.  The game is called Starweb from Flying Buffalo Inc. The turns are still sent and returned by mail, but all the moderation is done by computer.  What is most interesting I think is not that this was the first entry into what would today become a business either adored or reviled (or both) by traditional Table Top RPG fans, but that Starweb is still going on!  This is what I love about these retrospectives, the archaic knowledge of a bygone time AND how it is related to today.
I suppose it should be noted that the reviewer sited a number of problems with Starweb, I don't think he foresaw it would still be running 32 years after publication.

We end with news of some new character sheet books coming from TSR and the C1 module.  The Empire Strikes Back is mentioned with the often quoted "three trilogies" idea.
We have ads. A lot of them in fact, with finally a full page ad for Top Secret again.

White Dwarf grows also to 36 pages (including covers).

This was a great issue to be honest.  Lots of great finds here.  Again, the issues and debates we today were going on then.  In one issue we get Edition Wars! Computer vs. Table Top play!  Power Creep!  Gamers of game X vs. Gamers of game Y! Fun stuff.

What else was going on in RPG history?  Well You can read about White Dwarf here.
James at Grognardia is doing a retrospective of Ares every Tuesday.
Matt over at Land of Nod is doing Dragon by Dragon every Sunday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dear Google Visitors...

I am sorry.  But despite your efforts over the last week you can not find "Supergirl Porn" here.

As a consolation, here is this image.

May you have better luck on other sites.

Victorian games. Almost there...

My Victorian games collection.
I am still missing a good copy of Castle Falkenstein; I sold mine at an auction years ago, long before I worked on Ghosts.

I am missing some others too, but have a lot on PDF.
But these are the big ones. If I ever need to run a Victorian era game, I think I have things covered.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eldritch Witchery update

Jason has an update on Eldritch Witchery (and more!) over at the Elf Lair Games blog.

In addition to what Jason mentions, I am going over the edits and tweaking a few of the spells.

Not sure when the publication date is, but hopefully soon!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I just got back the edits for both Eldritch Witchery and The Witch within hours of each other.

I have not looked at either yet, but I am expecting there to be some pretty extensive changes and edits to be made.

This will certainly cut into my blogging time here.  Just wanted you to know.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Zatannurday: More Cosplay

Here are some more Zatanna cosplayers.

A photo by Brian Carter

by Duderama (I believe this is Cosplayer "Gillian", but not for sure).

One by Yumstein featuring both Zee and WW

A recent one posted to Toyriffic, Zee and Harley!

Comicpalooza Zatanna by Nadya Anton
(from Justice League Detroit)

And a couple from a favorite here at the Other Side, Jettie Monday

and few from Deviant Art.

Poker Face by *Leonie-Heartilly on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara, Revisted by ~velvetillusions on deviantART

Party time, tnellecxe! by ~strikes-twice on deviantART

Young Justice Zatanna by ~BlackRein on deviantART

FCD: ZATANNA AND PLASTIC MAN, THE HORROR by ~strikes-twice on deviantART

EVITAERC ELTIT! by ~strikes-twice on deviantART

I think I'll need to run some features on a few of these terrific cosplayers!  I admire their dedication to their hobby/obsessions. Cause I can totally relate.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mary Pickford Blogathon

Today I am participating in the Mary Pickford blogathon hosted over at Classic Movies.
Please stop by all the bloggers participating and see what they have to say about this Hollywood Legend.

Today I want to talk about the ONLY Mary Pickford movie I have ever seen.  This movie though has had such a profound impact on my gaming and later writing that I would be remiss if I didn't talk about it at least once here.

Sparrows (1926)
I saw this movie back when I was in Junior High School.  One of the great things about growing in my family is we are all movie buffs and we (dad, mom and my brothers and sisters) all have different tastes.  Sparrows is one from my Dad's collection (though I am sure my brother Daniel has seen it too). Now I don't recall if I saw it on tape or on one of those Classic Movie channels back in the early days of cable TV.  But I have very distinct memories of this movie.

First, and this might run me afoul of my blogging cohorts today, I don't like Mary Pickford.  OR rather, I should say I didn't like her in this. What I think was supposed to be a quiet reserve of faith and strength to me became a weak and ineffectual character.   But I am getting ahead of myself.

Sparrows was to me a horror movie.  That is how I was introduced to it, and those were the eyes I viewed it.  It was not though horror as I was expecting.  You can read up on the plot on Wikipedia, I want to talk about what I saw and the effect it had on me.

I guess I like and hate this movie for all the wrong reasons.  Molly (Pickford) was to me weak and spent too much time looking to God to solve her problems when I felt she should have been trying to solve them on her own.  In fact the only time she and the children in the movie are safe is when she gets up and moves them on her own.   I have (maybe because I am an atheist) always been fascinated by the "strong, silent faithful" type. I like it when they succeed, but most often I expect them to fail.   I wanted the kids to escape, but Molly seemed like a poor candidate to help them.

Then there is Mr. Grimes.  Not since the Baron and Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had I seen a character more evil in his disregard of children (my mom ran a Day Care, in my mind the most evil thing was to hate or harm a child).  He left a lasting impression to be sure.  So lasting that to this day I have an evil necromancer character who lives in a swap (like Grimes) who hates children.

In my mind the dichotomous battle was set. Old, evil, Grimes versus the young, pure Molly.  And so help me if I didn't like Grimes better.  I really wanted the kids to rise up and just beat the living shit out that guy and his wife.  But they never did, worse, Molly keeps looking up to the sky like she is getting some private communique. Like that is going to help.

I think about this movie fairly often to be honest.  Many things I wrote after I watched it will bubble back up in things I write today.  I still used swamps as my ultimate hideout of evil (but that could also be in part to the Legion of Doom).

Reflecting back now I would like to see this again, if for no other reason than to give this film it's due with more mature eyes and sensibilities.

Though the metaphorical descendants of  Grimes (his own children if you will) will live on in my games for some more years.

Of course in the movie good triumphs over evil, but not because good was smarter/better but because evil was dumb.  I can't help but think how this movie would have been handled by Jonathan Demme and if Grimes had been more like Hannibal Lector.  Grimes was "Jr. High evil" not "world evil" to paraphrase Kim Possible (who also makes Molly look bad).  There is a movie for you.  "Sparrows 2000", the bad guy is a Lecter/Buffalo Bill like evil and the hero is a fiery red-head Kim Possible type.   Nah.  It looses a lot in the translation.  As much as Sparrows fails to measure up by my jaded standards today,  it was quite effective when it came out and when I first saw it.

So to the movie I remember I do owe a creative debt.
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