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.

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