Wednesday, January 11, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 2

Welcome back to White Dwarf Wednesday.  Today I will talk about Issue #2 from Aug/Sep 1977.

This is an interesting issue if for one reason alone (though there are more), the editorial.  Ian Livingstone talks about the superior attitude being taken by the old guard war gamers against this "New" hobby of RPGs, though called throughout the editorial as SF/F gamers.
It is interesting reading this piece where D&D is the new kid on the block and defending itself against, well, the Grognards.
It is also interesting since none of the arguments have changed in 35 years. Substitute the names of the games and you have the same post you will see on any blog or message board.

Following that we have more details on Competitive D&D. A review on Asgard Miniatures by Ian Livingstone. Lewis Pulsipher gives us a three page review/article on The Green Planet Trilogy game by Richard Jordison. He doesn't particularly like the games and invites the author to write White Dwarf to clarify some rules.

An interesting tid bit is an article by Hartley Patterson called "Before the Flood" where he describes a game called "Midgard" that according to him, had many resemblances to D&D. He contends that there was no way that Gygax and Co. could have seen these rule beforehand.  The original manuscript had been written in 1972 by Will Haven and then rewritten by himself. I have never heard of it.

The regular Open Box feature gives us reviews of new games such as "OGRE", a new craze called a "micro-game", TSR's "Lankhmar", and a game called "War of the Star Slavers".  OGRE got an 8 total, Lankhmar got a 6 and Star Slavers a 3 due to the poor rules and counters.  There is also a review for a D&D enspired or rip-off game called Tunnels & Trolls (eek!), but no numerical rank is given.
We continue with the Monstermark system with a look at dragons, other fire breathing monsters and other "nasties". From what I can tell nearly every monster  from OD&D is listed here.

The Treasure Box feature gives us new crunch. We get a new magic item, a needle that can be anything it needs to be, and a new class the Scientist.  The Scientist is just plain weird. It is actually two classes, the Scientist (with level titles like Ph.D. and Polymath) and the Anti-Scientist (with level titles like Luddite, Jehovah's Witness and Football Supporter).  I can't tell if they are trying to be funny with it or not.

Finally we get to some crunch we can actually use, five new monsters: the frog-like Spinescale, a constructed bottle creature, The Ning, a Giant Caterpillars, the Blood Hawk, and the Dune Stalker which survived nearly unchanged save updated to AD&D from the OD&D here in the Fiend Folio.  None of the new monsters have a Monstermark score themselves just yet.

The issue ends with part two of "How to Improve D&D" and a letters section with people already writing in and telling them how do things different.  Gamers have never changed.


scottsz said...

Nice review. The more I read about old wargaming, the more I'm struck by home things haven't changed.

Wargaming puts the movement towards 'crunch' (AD&D onward) in a different light.

Woodclaw said...

"The only constant of every fandom are complains." (Sabrina On-Line)

I'm loving these new reviews, but I'm not very surprised that things haven't changed. Why?
Well, I've been an avid gamer for 15 years by now and I noticed that every time something new appears on the scene the public tend to split in two: those who hate the new stuff even before looking at it and those who love it no matter what.
Given that this cehaviour is typical of every fandom the rest was easy to figure.

Tim Knight said...

I'm pretty sure The Scientist (like The Pervert) were meant as jokes (to fill space).

Wasn't Midgard like some Scandinavian LARP-type type game of collective world-building? Or am I totally misremembering what I read once...?

Zenopus Archives said...

Good idea for a series. I was just looking at these early issues last month when I was working on a list of all of original sources for the Fiend Folio.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Awesome! Glad this series is being enjoyed.