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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 1

Welcome to my first White Dwarf Wednesday!
Today we are going to look into Issue 1 published in June of 1977.
But first lets talk about what White Dwarf meant to me and why it later captured my attention in the OSR days.

Back in the early days of my gaming I was well aware of Dragon Magazine.  My first issue was Dragon #80 and it was awesome to see that this new game I enjoyed so much was enjoyed by others.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that there was not just one, but TWO magazines dedicated to this hobby.
Back in the 80s I was in love with all thing British.  My favorite shows were "Doctor Who", "Monty Python" and "Benny Hill". My favorite bands were "The Who", "Led Zeppelin" and "The Police".   To my teenaged mind there was nothing better than something from the UK.  White Dwarf did not prove that wrong to me.
The writing style was different than what I saw in Dragon.  It was grittier, it was more dangerous.  I reminded me a lot of Heavy Metal magazine to be honest.  Plus the ads in White Dwarf were not "edited" or dare I say, "censored" as they were in Dragon. And really who could forget those early Gamma World ads?
My first issue of White Dwarf was issue 44.  I picked up some here and there over the years, and about 4-5 years ago I was able to buy issues 1 through 89.  I worked on getting all the way 100, but only have a few between 89 and 96.

I used White Dwarf in the Great D&D Article Purge on Wikipedia a few years back.  Since WD was a 3rd party publication it could support many of the D&D articles that needed extra references.  In the process I got to read through all of them many times over and it was a great blast from the past.  I am now in my 3rd wave of White Dwarf affection thanks to the OSR.  You can't get much more Old School than this.

So without further ado, lets jump right on in.

White Dwarf #1
June/July 1977

The magazine contains the sub-title of "The Science Fiction and Fantasy Games Magazine", certainly that was true enough.  Counting covers we have a mere 24 pages worth of content.
The editorial from Ian Livingstone discussed the emergence of just 2 short years of a new kind of wargaming brought over by two Americans, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.   He mentions how there are now over 50 games in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and over 10 companies providing these games and how White Dwarf hopes to cater to them.
We have a two and a half page review/pre-view of the newest Sci-Fi game, Metamorphisis Alpha.
We are treated to a few ads about a local game store and the British Fantasy Society.
Next up is something very unique and very interesting for a number of reasons.  It is Don Turnbull's Monstermark System.  The Monstermark system was used by White Dwarf to assign a "level of malignity" to every monster.  An early attempt at what would be the Challenge Rating.  The Monstermark is based on the number of rounds it would take to defeat a monster and the aggressiveness of a monster.
The explanation is full of wonderful equations; enough to make your high school math teacher happy and there are tables with examples.  What else could be more old school really?  I am bit suprised no one has tried to revive this and republish it for the OSR (or something like it).  What struck me as interesting too was that this was based on something the author had published previously in Owl & Weasel. How often did you see something like that?  The Monstermark system would be used in White Dwarf for many issues to rate the various monsters they created including some of the future Fiend Folio ones.
The Open Box feature column reviewed games.  Games were ranked 1-10 on Complexity, Skill, Atmosphere, Originality, Presentation and an Overall score. This issue SPI's Sorcerer (overall score 7) and Avaon Hill's Starship Troopers (Overall, 9).
A piece on competitive D&D. Part 1 of Lewis Pulsipher's D&D Campaign breakdown. IS D&D a war game or something else? An article on the wargame "The Warlord" by Steve Jackson (the English one)
Near the end we are introduced to a section called "Treasure Chest", which is basically a way for readers to send their contributions to the D&D rules.  We have a magic item, the Helm of Vision, and a bit talking about how D&D combat and magic is all wrong and a proposed fix (and it's only Issue #1!).  We have a new class (The Pervert) and some information about Poison.
We end up with some classified ads, and a "caption this" style cartoon.

All in a good start. It does not compete with Dragon from the same time yet, but it will get there soon.

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, January 25, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 3

Welcome back to White Dwarf Wednesday.

Issue 3 takes us into Oct/Nov 1977.
The editorial opens up with a bit on whether or not the British SF/F game market was large enough to support a magazine like this.  They decide that it is and begin looking for opinions on how they should cover items, namely D&D.
The Editorial ends, amusingly enough, with a "May the Force Be With You".  It was 1977 after all.

Digging in we have an article on how to play D&D and Empire of the Petal throne as Solo games.  Not a bad read really, I might try it out sometime to see if it works.
More on Fred Hemmings Competitive D&D. The interesting thing about this article that it really shows the roots of D&D in war-gaming and tournament play.  It is not something I would try on my own, and I am not sure it would work so well with modern games.  But a cool read all the same.

The News section talks about the smash new movie "Star Wars" and how Gen Con had attendance over 2,000 every day, out selling Origins. There is a new movie in the works with Marlon Brando named "Superman".

We delve deeper into the Monstermark system.  By this point in my original readings I was loosing interest in it.  It was such a convoluted system, but I appreciated it determination to keep on going.  Though no new monsters in this issue.

In Open Box we get an overview of a number of D&D aids from Judges Guild including D&D Reference Sheets, a Judge's Screen and Dave Arneson's First Campaign book. They also cover what I believe is the first product to support the "City State of the Invisible Overlord", a place that was near legend when I would be playing a mere 2-3 years later.
Reviews of Citadel from FGU, Fourth Dimesion from J.A. Ball and Co. and The Battle of Five Armies (yeah that one) from TSR.  The new reveiws list good points as well as bad ones and the overall score.  I can't recall if this was something they kept, so I'll wait till I re-read issue 4.

The next installment of Lewis Pulsipher's "D&D Campaigns" is next. The main issue here is realism of the game and how PCs, NPCs and monsters should behave. There is also a bit about how rules should be handled.  Interesting to read in a near-Pre DMG day.

Some details on painting minis comes up after that. A write up on the Assassin character class (with halflings still being referred to as Hobbits). A couple of magic rooms as "Treasure".

The letters section opens with a letter from Paul Jaquays, Editor of the Dungeoneer about the Monstermark system and a gripe about Competitive D&D. More letters follow on the Monstermark system.

The back cover is a cool looking faerie woman.

An interesting, but not landmark, issue.  The layout seems a bit cleaner and they certainly know what they are doing now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 5

Here we are again for our mid-week delve into the past with White Dwarf.   Today I want to discuss issue #5 which came out Feb/March 1978.

Our editorial is another feature ripped from today's blogs, if that is Ian Livingstone had figured out how to read the blogs 30 years before they were published.  The editorial deals with the issues of copyrights and how one can play a game in someone else's worlds.  He mention Star Wars specifically (ok so he didn't see the future where you can play "D&D Star Wars" thanks to the d20 System), but also the Tolkien estate and TSR's short lived "Battle of the Five Armies" game.  Granted the point of view at this time is "hopefully one day we can play in those worlds" which we ended up being able to do.  Today the cry is more "this should be in the public domain".  An argument for a later post I think.

Lew Pulsipher gives us a nice review of FGU's new game "Chivalry & Sorcery".  Actually it is part review, part play report and part advertising to be honest.  I am not faulting him on this, on the contrary, I am rather enjoying the open fondness everyone had for the games back then.  He likes this game and wants you to try it.
We are treated to a 2-page review/overview of Der Kriegspielers ("The War Gamers") new line 25mm minis.  These mins have a strong Middle-Earth feel for them (they had not read the Editorial yet it seems).

More monsters from Don Turnbull in Monsters Mild and Malign. The presentation of the information has not improved any here.  The monsters are detailed in the article with their stats inserted where needed.  Among the monsters we get this time are the Fuzzy and Steely which actually come from an article from The Dungeoneer about Beholder-like creatures.  We have modern monsters like the Gremlin and Cyborg.  The Bogy is an interesting beast (and pictured) as something like a three-armed satyr that might be related to the Type III Demon.  That one deserves to be worked up a bit more I think.  A bunch of other creatures are also mentioned including Imps of various sizes (and Monstermark ratings) and a crawling hand.  Of note though is the final entry which mentions that a new feature will be coming with the next issue, The Fiend Factory.

Don Turnbull returns with more on D&D Campaigns where he discusses Alignment, Magic, Treasure and whether or not Players should play more than one Character.  Each one of these is interesting in their own right and most of all how none of these have stopped being a point of conversation among D&D players.  I think it would be good for the playtesters and authors of D&D.Next to re-read some of these old articles.

Open Box gives us new reviews.  Three book from a company named "Little Soldier" are reviewed; Book of Monsters, Book of Demons and Book of Sorcery.   Book of Monsters has 100 new monsters, mostly from myth and legend with some "near D&D" like stats. Book of Demons is similar, but also includes the magic and magicians used to deal with these creatures.  The Book of Sorcery includes spell fumble rules and more magic items.  While the reviewer (Pulsipher) does not care for them (no rating is given) I can't help now but to want them and try to find them! (ETA: I found them!).  We also have a review of War of the Ring from FGU which only gets 5/10.  Chaosium's (still called "The Chaosium" at this point) "All The World's Monsters" is reviewed. Described as a 110+ page book of 265 monsters for D&D and fantasy RPGs. It was printed on thick stock and featured 3-ring punching long before this was a common feature for some games.  There are a lot of good features to this book, but the reviewer (Again Don Turnbull) found it a little lacking, giving it 5 out of 10 and saying that quality was sacrificed for quantity.

A review of Games Day III (Dec 17, 1978) follows.   An article on how to get food and water on the Starship Warden for MA.
The news section informs us of the release of the D&D Basic box and that the AD&D Monster Manual is next.  Followed soon by the AD&D Player's Handbook and the "AD&D Referee's Guide".

The first comic for White Dwarf is featured.  A full page comic called Kalgar.
Treasure Chest gives us some neat magic items.  The Rainbow Sword for charming (based on an item in the Led Zeppelin movie The Song Remains the Same) and two waters, the Waters of Beguilement and the Waters of Enchantment.
The "Asbury System" of awarding experience points based on PC level is presented by Brian Asbury.  It reminds me of the charts in the 3.x DMG of awarding experience to characters based on CR.  The only thing this is missing is a way to tie it in to Monstermark.

Letters continues with more Monstermark clarifications and how to separate player interaction from character interaction.

One gets the feel here that White Dwarf is becoming something more now.  Gone are the silly classes and weapons.  The art is taking a notch up and the regular features are in getting into place.  It comapres well to others of it's kind at the time, but I feel the writing is getting better, the analysis is more in-depth.  At one year old WD is getting ready to be the fantastic RPG magazine I knew it to be.

Want to read more of this issue? Get it from Noble Knight Games. White Dwarf #5.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #14

We continue our trek through time and space back to England of the late 1970s with White Dwarf #14 from Aug/Sept 1979.

How do you know you are reading White Dwarf and not The Dragon?  The ads have topless women in them. This was not the first time I noticed this, but 6 pages into the issue and already I have seen 4 topless females.  Mind you I am not complaining, but I am pointing out how different the attitudes were between the American game circles and the overseas ones.  This is the same theme (differences between the two groups, not nudity) of the editorial.  Ian Livingstone discusses the differences between British conventions and American ones.  Ian mentions his recent trip to America and we get more of that later.

Andy Slack is back with more expansions to the Traveller Universe. White Dwarf was the reason I picked up Traveller in the first place.  I never quite wrapped my head around it to be honest.   I would love to try it again someday.

Don Turnbull is also back with the fiends of the Fiend Factory.  This seems to be the also-rans of the bunch since non of these made it to the Fiend Folio.  We get a demonic elphant (the Gurgotch), the group entity Mindweb,  an Energy Cyclone, the Gazer (a weird beholder-like creature made of 1000s of eyes) and a frozen naked girl, the Ice Maiden.  But there is something else to note here.  Along with last issue alignments are now presented in AD&D format, so Chaotic Evil, Neutral Good.  But this issue the Monstermark scores are gone.  We knew it was coming, but they are now gone.   Another interesting bit, a note added later (but before publication) mentions "The Folio" for the first time.

Open Box we have reviews of Traveller book 4 (Mercenary) and 1001 Characters.  They get a 9 and 6 respectively from Don Turnbull.    Some Judges Guild books, The Dragon Crown and Of Skulls and Scrapfaggot Green. Both of these were used as Convention adventures but they were not particularly well liked by Don Turnbull giving them only a 5 and 7 respectively.  Mostly due to spelling and print errors but alos for some odd rule interpretations.

We are treated to a Runequest adventure "Lair of the White Wyrm" by John Bethell which would work for D&D with some tweaks.  But I want to try it with CoC to be honest.

Treasure Chest gives us a one-page dungeon (see, there is nothing new under the sun), The Bath-House of the Pharaoh. Well it's one page, front and back.
The letters page concerns itself with various attacks and defenses of the Monstermark and Fiend Factory.

The big feature of the issue is an interview with Gary Gygax.
A lot of this is stuff we now know and take for granted.  Highlights:  At the time of the interview TSR had 20-25 employees and expected that to grow to over 30 or 40 by August of 1980.  He does credit Dave Arneson's campaign and Dave Megarry's Dungeon board game as influences.  At the time WD estimates there are 30,000 D&D players in the UK and GG estimates that there are 250,000 to 300,000 in the US and Canada.  When asked what extent have other games (RPGs) have had on D&D Gary says "None to speak of."   The World of Greyhawk is planned for the summer of 1980.

We end the magazine with the few pages of ads.

Certainly more ads this time around, but not as strong of issue as the last one was.

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.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #101

Dragon Magazine 101
It has been far too long since I did This Old Dragon.  I'll grab the next one of the pile and see what we have.  Looks like we are headed back to September 1985 for This Old Dragon #101.

This one is another with no cover.  That is interesting because I will admit it is among one of my least favorite covers.  I am not sure why really, it is Dave Martin and did the (in)famous Dragon #114 cover, but I never cared for this one.

One of the good things about taking so long to this is these now seem to smell less moldy and mildewy. That's a plus.

Kim Mohan's Editorial repeats a sentiment I have shared here; Aren't We All In This Together? Essentially they refused to run an ad that disparaged another companies product. I have often felt the same.  Other gamers, games, game designers are not my competition, they are my colleagues. Like Mohan maybe I am naïve. 

Some ads for Call of Cthulhu and ElfQuest.  The ElfQuest, one covers Sea Elves.  I have been re-reading Dragonlance, Dragons of Spring Dawning that introduced the Sea Elves. Been wanting to do more with them myself.  Maybe I should check on eBay for this.

The first article, Update from the Chief, comes to us from Gary Gygax himself.  This might be the last article written by Gary as a member of TSR.  He will be out in October of 1985.  The article covers many topics.  Unearthed Arcana sold over 90k copies in its first month and his Gord book did well.  Gary announces two upcoming publications, Oriental Adventures and T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil for AD&D and more "family-type" games including All My Children. Gary also briefly discusses the critics of D&D and RPGs in general. 

In a fortuitous (turn for me) Roger E. Moore's article on Kender in All About the Kender is up. I just posted stats for what I think is the very first Kender character I have ever made. Lots of people hate Kender. I will admit I never liked them much, but hate was too strong.  My dislike comes more from my enjoyment of halflings.  Moore's article, rereading it all these years later AND while also rereading the first Dragonlance Chronicle my opinion has softened.  Now I think I find Kender in the light they were always intended. What I disliked about them then is what endears them to me now.  I have to admit that some of what I did with gnomes in the 3e days were likely based on 1st ed Kenders.  I am perfectly happy to keep them on Krynn in my own games, but here they get to be as Kendery as they can.   Since I am going to be running DL15 Mists of Krynn, this is a great article to reread.

Plan it by The Numbers is up from Frank Mentzer.  This is a system he had planned on using in the D&D Master Set. It is similar in many respects to the Monstermark system from White Dwarf or the Challenge Rating systems from D&D 3-5.  The system was not used because it was "too heavily mathematic" but it seems rather simple to be honest.  Almost too simple. In any case I think I will give it a try for my Basic-era War of the Witch Queens game. 

Paul Suttie is next with For King and Country. I have say, I find nothing more tedious and dull than discussions about alignment. For something that is only one aspect of the game I find the multitudes of discussions on it largely pointless.  For example, this article covers five pages.  Why?  Do we really need that?  In then he just wants to dump the whole thing.  

The article is at least broken up by a cool black ad for the D&D Master Set.  Makes it look like a limited edition sort of deal. There is also an ad for Unearthed Aracana.

D&D Master SetAD&D Unearthed Arcana

The Role of Books covers the then-new offerings from SF/Fantasy.   I will admit I don't know most of these, but 1985 was around my turning point of leaving science fiction and fantasy reading and moving more into dark fantasy and horror.  Of the titles, I do recognize the novelization of "Ladyhawke" by Joan D. Vinge.  I enjoyed her "Snow Queen" and "Cat" series quite a bit as well as her novelization of "Return to Oz." 

Peter Johnson is next with Charging isn't Cheap on how to recharge magic items.  The nice feature of this article are the examples of how various wondrous magic items are/were created.  This is a nice change from the very formula-driven approach seen in 3e.  Other than the level restrictions on who can create or enchant these items, this could easily be added to any version of the D&D game. The levels might need to be altered is all. 

Jeff Grub, of Marvel Super Heroes fame, sets out to review a game that could be considered a conflict of interest; but he is very clear about where he is coming from on it. So instead of a conflict or a competitor, he comes off as "Expert."  This is good because the game he is reviewing is the DC Heroes RPG.  It's a good review and Jeff obviously loves the game as it is and loves it as a competition to his own MSH game. 

We get to the centerpiece, literally and figuratively, of this issue.  The Creature Catalog III.  I loved new monsters in Dragon Magazine, and the Creature Catalogs were among my favorite features.  This one has 24 new monsters for your AD&D game and includes submissions from the likes of Ed Greenwood, Roger E. Moore, and Stephen Inniss. With art from Marsha Kauth, Dave LaForce, and Roger Raupp.   There are a few very interesting monsters here too.  The avari are cool-looking bat-like humanoids. The bogeyman is another take on the bogey, bogle, boggart of myth and legend.  The creeping pit is a magical mishap gone wrong. Another hamadryad and lhiannan shee.  The mantimera is a crossbreed of a manticore and chimera (not sure I want to know how that happens). And the yale from mythological lore.   

Consequently, Owen Kermit Edwards is now doing posts on the monsters of Dragon magazine.  His first one is up today on his blog Haughty Fantasy Adventures

TSR Comming Attractions lets us know that T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil is on the way, as well as Book 3 of the Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragons of Spring Dawning.  I have been rereading that and am just about done.

Fiction from Brenda Gate Speilman.

We get to the Ares section now.  

One day I need to back through all of the Ares and see what I can use for my BlackStar and Star Trek: Mercy games. 

Roger E. Moore (our MVP of this issue) has his article on Starships and Star Soldiers on the use of minis in science fiction games.  Timely for me since I just started getting into some 3D printing of some of the FASA Star Trek ships. 

Sorry, Wrong Dimension from Mike Manolakes covers dimensional or parallel universal travel in superhero games.  As a big fan of both the comic and TV event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and someone that uses different universes in my fantasy games as well.  The 6-dimension coordinate system he has here is EXACTLY something we would have used back then.  This uses a 2d6 for determining dimensions. I like that.  But the d12 is my go-to sci-fi die, so I used that instead. 

More from Jeff Grub on The Marvel-Phile. This time back to Asgard with Beta Ray Bill and Sif.  

Out of the Sun covers man machines for Gamma World from James Ward and Roger Raupp.  And Michael Brown gives us The Stellar Diocese of cleric for Traveller.   That is something I should adopt for BlackStar, but only cultists.

Convention Calendar covers the hottest conventions for Fall 1985 and Winter 1986. Some small ads, notably for a couple play by mail games and art for your D&D characters. Something that I still enjoy getting. 

Wormy gets two pages. I think I need to reread that one from the beginning. I know how it ends, but hitting these in piece-meal, out of order fashion, I forgot what the hell was happening. 

Dragonsmirth gives us TWO different picnic scenes. SnarfQuest gets three pages, mostly about the Gaggleleech. 

I remember this one when it first came out. There is a lot of great material here and the Creature Catalog will certainly see some new use in the future.

Dragon Magazines

Still plenty more to go!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #38

Sorry about missing last weeks WDW.  The end of October is crazy for me.

One note before I move on.  James at Grognardia is covering Imagine Magazine on Tuesdays.  Imagine is the sister magazine to Dragon that had a limited run in the UK starting in 1983.  So roughly the same span I am doing with White Dwarf now.  I had also planned on doing Imagine as well, but James is already doing it, so I'll just comment on his site.
You can read his first three entries here:
The nice thing about this is I noticed I had some holes in my collection so it would not have been as complete as my White Dwarf run.

On with the show!

White Dwarf #38 opens up February of 1983.
I think we see here a bit about what James might have been talking about in Imagine from June of the same year in regards to censorship.   The cover for WD#38 features a bloody sword, a severed head, and a topless woman.
We follow with seven pages of ads till we get to the first page proper. The editorial is brief one of idyll remarks on the growing popularity of RPGs and what the next year will bring.  D&D is now referred to as a "brand".

Andy Slack is back with Part 3 of An Introduction to Traveller. This time covering Scenarios.  I always thought it was interesting that most games had "Adventures" and Traveller had "Scenarios".  D&D/RuneQuest/T&T characters sought out their adventures, but Traveller characters (to me) always had something happen to to them.  I think this was my weakest point in Traveller.  I was still thinking of Traveller in terms of D&D.  Reading this article (and the next one) again made think back to all the great SciFi shows I loved at this time; Doctor Who, Blakes 7, Sapphire and Steele. They all could have been Traveller Scenarios (with some tweaks I guess).  It also made me think of another show that was popular at the time that really was, in my retrospect, the perfect model for a Traveller game; The A Team.  Think about it.  Instead of 4 guys from the Army, they are now Space Marines and instead of a van it's a small, but tricked out, space ship.  It really would have worked.

Next up is Open Box.  Phil Masters hits us up with a review of "The Traveller Book"  I have very fond memories of this book.  It was my last ditch effort to finally understand and play Traveller.  In retrospect again I actually made a good choice.  It was designed as a new game to introduce new players to Traveller.  Masters gives it 9/10.  It remains to date my favorite version of the rules.
M.L.Rowland gives us Dicing with Dragons, one of the first books about RPGs I can recall.  RPGs were finally getting big enough that there could be books talking about them.  We were on the verge of the big "Satanic Panic" of the 80s and D&D was going to get pulled into that, but we were also just fresh from seeing "E.T." where the kids played D&D (or something like it).  It was a good time for this book.  Rowland praises it for covering it's subject but downgrades it slightly for the sample game included for a total of 9/10.
Oliver Dickson also gives us some FASA books for Thieve's World. Traitor and The Spirit Stones. They get 7/10 collectively.

Fiend Factory is an interesting one this issue with Faerie Folk.  All sorts of interesting fae creatures that look like they were taken out Brian Froud's 1978 book "Faeries".  I say this with some level of conviction since I have gone to that book many, many times for my own books (notably Ghosts of Albion) and I recognize all of these creatures.  Frankly I would use any of these as is in an AD&D game now. It also seems that White Dwarf's on-again, off-again love affair with Monstermark is finally off for good.

Oliver Dickson and Bob McWilliams introduce us to Questworld for RuneQuest.

Lew Pulsipher takes on the herculean task of presenting the Mines of Moria/Khazad-dûm in AD&D terms.  Some interesting choices are made (Gandalf is a Cleric, Aragorn is a Ranger/Paladin) but what strikes me most is that outside of the trappings I am not sure "how" this is Moria vs. some other dungeon.  The sense of size I got from the books (and later the movies) is not here.

Microview is back and Noel Williams talks about some the tasks that computers can do in an RPG game.  Many of which we can take for granted these days, this was the wild west back then.  I even think back to the programs I wrote for the Tandy Color Computer back in the day that did a number of these "donkey" task Williams talks about (dice roller, rulebook, record keeper) as well as number no mentioned (monster database, combat simulator).

Oliver McDonald gives us "Monsters Have Feelings Too" which basically gives us tips on how to have monsters act intelligently.  These ideas have creeped into various games over the years till now it is sometime difficult to tell the monster stats and PC stats apart.  These are not exactly "Tucker's Kobolds" but calling "McDonald's Orcs" is not too far off.

Letters includes a couple of backlash's against Don Turnbull's letter on his distaste of the Necromancer, one of which is Lew Pulsipher. A letter asking for more adventures for other games. And a fairly detailed one on his dislike for AC equaling a chance to be hit.  Stepping outside of all of this for a bit I think we have all established that AC is an abstraction on damaged causing hits, not hits in general.

RuneRites has Lords of the Spirit worlds.  Something between mortal and man.  I think I used this for AD&D back in the day.  Demigods were humans that had been born with god-like power, "Saints" were ascended humans and spirit lords were still something else. Despite it being a "Runequest" article there is not much in the way of crunch.

Treasure Chest has some new spells. Most seem useful.  Maybe for the Necromancer.

We follow that with the Classifieds.  Nothing as interesting as last months. The final 9 or so pages are ads.
The difference in the ads between White Dwarf and Dragon is the same as I remember of UK and US television.  In the US the ads (commercials) are through out the show, in the UK they are at the beginning and end of shows.

I see what are the beginnings of the White Dwarf I remember so fondly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #33

Our next monthly White Dwarf is issue #33 which brings us to September 1982, so 30 years ago.

We have another great looking cover that is evocative of some alien landscape. Works for Sci-fi and Fantasy.

The editorial is interesting. First on the perspective of 1982 it is a portent of change of things to come.  And it is. Reading it today it is reads almost like an obituary of the Golden Age of Roleplaying games.  !982 is the transition year between the Golden Age and the Silver Age.  The 70's era of RPGs was over with 1982.  1983 was going to be very different.  A tip of the hat then to Ian Livingstone for pointing this out.

The rest of the issue feels this out.  You see it in the art and layout, White Dwarf is changing again.  The Silver Age is nigh.

Bob McWilliams gives us some more weapons for Traveller. Actually the weapons are a from a number of people.

Open Box reviews Striker from GDW. It's another Traveller tie-in table-top minis game.  By this point I had thrown my hands into the air and gave up on Traveller.  I would not come back to it for another 25 years almost.  This is no fault of the game or GDW mind you.  I just felt overwhelmed.  I had purchased the The Traveler Book that year but I never got very far with that. Oh, and Andy Slack gave it 6/10.
We also get the A-Series modules from TSR.  Jim Bambra gave the lot a 7/10.  There is also a review for the Elric boardgame and the first Gimetooth traps, which my then DM bought because of this review.  To make things worse he added the traps to the A-series modules and turned it into a death machine.  Elric and Traps both get 7/10.

Paul Vernon is back with Part III of the medieval town. This time it is running a town and city.  He covers government  customs, laws and order.  Something a band of "murder hobos" will likely run afoul of.  I have seen a lot of people talking about this series now.  Most times it is in older blog or board posts, but now I am seeing them.  The consensus seems mutual, these are quite good and still work today.  Perfect for the time when we all were striving for more realism in a game dominated by elves, magic and dragons.

Steve Cook and Starbase pick up (almost) where McWilliams left off and covers guns for Traveller.  Again there is a lot of guns here are that "futuristic" versions of modern day weapons and some SciFi staples.

Rumble at the Tin Inn is a mini scenario/bar-room brawl for Runequest.  I remember pulling this one for a brief OD&D session we played back in 87 or so.  It was fun then, and it still looks fun now. It's the map that  sold me on it.

We have more combined AD&D weapon charts.  Something only useful for this version of AD&D. And only if you did the weapon type vs. specific armor class.

RuneRites has a collection of Invisibility and Magic points of view from Jim Sizer and Greg Stafford.

Lew Pulsipher is up next with a article that rocked my world back in the day.  Brevet Rank for Low Level Characters.  This days I only rarely run into someone with more gaming experience than my self, and when I do it is a case of wonderment and the exchange of stories.  But in 82 a year or two difference was HUGE and it meant my characters (typically) were much lower levels than everyone else's.  So this idea of Brevet Rank was a watershed moment for me. Now my characters could play with the big boys.  I never understood what "brevet rank" meant till I worked for the Navy years later though.   I notice that in some online games, Pokemon in particular, my sons' Pokemon would gain or loose levels in much of the same fashion when they battled others online.

Fiend Factory has a group of psionic monsters. All with old-school AD&D1 Psionic Ability attack and defense modes.  We loved that stuff back in the day.  The Monsters themselves though are somewhat forgettable.  The Psitan, the Psi-mule, the Giant Mole and the Grimp.  There is also Zytra, lord of the Mind Flayers who is described as being like a demon prince.  Interestingly enough this creature was created by Charles Stross.  There is enough here to make something of this creature; Demon Prince or not.
Also forgotten are the Monstermark ratings.

Treasure Chest is a mixed bag called "Witch's Brew".  It includes a magical Rubik's cube like item, a spell, armor vs. disintegrate and a word search.

We wrap with a few pages of ads.

Again a good issue of a magazine in the middle of change.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #29

February/March 1982. England sends over Iron Maiden as Number of the Beast is released in the US and White Dwarf #29 hits the stands.

For this issue's cover we are treated to two dragons fighting.  It's a very nice cover and shows how the production values are going up for WD.

Ian Livingstone gives us a little background on why White Dwarf is called White Dwarf.  Simply because the White Dwarf has special meanings in both SciFi and Fantasy gaming.  A small dense star and a small dense humanoid (I am kidding).  The last issue he asked people to send in their most wanted themes for future role-playing games. It generated an all time low of responses, which he took as maybe people have what they want.  The largest number of requests they did get was Private Eyes.

Paul Vemon is up first with some guidelines with Designing a Quasi-Medieval Society for D&D.  Part 1, the Economy - Workers and Craftsmen.  This was part of the new wave of gamers who wanted to add more realism to their games.  In Dragon we get long articles on the physics of falling damage.  This is at least easier to read (though for the record I loved those physics and falling damage articles).  There is a lot here and all of it can still be used today.

Next up is the start of a series from Oliver Dickinson.  "Lucky Eddi" details the adventures of the titular character in a Runequest universe.  For years I never read the stories (I am not much for reading gaming fiction in WD or Dragon) so I thought Lucky Eddi referred to the woman in the art.  Not so much.

We have reviews from Open Box.  The Fifth Frontier War a game from the Traveller Universe.  It gets an 8/10 but it also got something from me; loss of my joy of Traveller.  Not this game in particular, but all these near-universe games for Traveller.  I felt it was too much and there was no way I was going to collect or learn about all of it.  So I ended up not playing Traveller.  Adding to this is SORAG, a supplement for Traveller.  It gets 9/10 and almost gets a 10/10 but falls down due to what amount to editorial issues.  Barbarian Prince is a new mini-game that gets an 8/10.  Though what get my attention is what got it back then.  There is a game to play Elric in the form of Chasosium's Stormbringer. It only gets a 7/10, but I thought it was much better than that.

Starbase gives us the Mudskipper a multi-terrain vehicle for Traveller.  I often used articles like this for Star Frontiers. I am sure I had this one too.  It looks too familiar.

I have a basic rule in my games.  Unless I am playing Doctor Who, no time travel.  There is no time-hopping magic in D&D in my games and none in my sci-fi ones.   So what do we have here from Marcus Rowland? "This Is, Of Course, Impossible: Time Travel in AD&D".  Shit.
Well the article is long, but good and has some great ideas.  I might not ever allow time travel, but I use alternate time lines and parallel worlds all the time.

Going back to Traveller, we have a scenario for 2-8 players called Weed War.  I looks interesting enough, but I am so far removed from my Traveller days that I have little else I can say about it.

Character Conjuring has Grey and Sylvan elves as character races from Roger E. Morre years before they appear in Unearthed Aracna. Bob Lock also has stats for Brownie characters.

Fiend Folio has some desert monsters this issue including the Giant SAndcrab, Anubi, Kail, Shim-shari and the Argorian Wormkin.  They seem fine and would be a nice change up for a desert based adventure.  Of note we still have Monstermark scores.

Lew Pulsipher is back and as usual his article is something that interests me right away. Amulets & Talismans are discussed including how they are made.  I have gone over similar ground, but I made talismans the weaker of the two.  He has them much stronger.  In any case there is still a lot of good stuff here.

The rest is ads, but there is a cool Judges Guild ad in back.

A solid, but not spectacular issue.  I suppose if you were playing Traveller back then there would have been a lot of gold here.  Stylistically the magazine still looks like it did at the beginning of the 80s.  Though that is all going to change soon enough.

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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #18

It's April/May 1980.  Bon Scott has been replaced with Brian Johnson in AC/DC, Ronnie James Dio is in for Ozzy in Black Sabbath and a photo of the USS Enterprise has replaced fantasy art on the cover of White Dwarf #18.

This is issue is full of big news.  First off, though in the form of an ad, we see that TSR Hobbies has arrived and is open for business in the UK.  They open their doors on March 31, 1980.  Don Turnbull will be in charge.

The next full page ad is one for Tunnels & Trolls.  Like so much else in this OSR world this ad could run right now and still work.

Ian Livingstone asks "Why do people like playing role-playing games?"  It is interesting because now we are getting more "RPGs" and less "SF/F Games".  American influence I am thinking.

Next up we get a fairly detailed minatures game for Star Trek the Motion Picture. No idea if they got the permission to do this or not, but it is a pretty detailed game (4 pages).  You do need the minis to play, but those were new from Citadel Miniatures,  so easy to get.  The game assumes you are using these, but they also state others can be used.

We have some reviews in Open Box.  A psychic battle game based on the Darkover novels (9/10).  Swordquest from the new Task Force Games gets a 6/10. Dra'k'ne Station from Judges Guild for Traveller gets 8/10.

Albie Foire gives us a very detailed (6 pages, 3 new monsters) mini-adventure for D&D, The Halls of Tizun Thane.  Oddly enough this lists 3-6 players with 6-12 characters.  This is the only adventure I have seen where the assumption is people will be playing more than one character.

Treasure chest gives us some very useful tables on weather conditions by season.  As well as some random NPC generators.

Fiend Factory gives us four also-ran monsters; Mandrake People, Hounds of Kerenos, Phung, and the Couerl.  All have Monstermark ratings and all come from various Sf/F novels.
We also get the top 10 and bottom 5 FF monsters as chosen by the readers.

Top 10
1. Necrophidius
2. Russian Doll Monster
3. Svart
4. Needleman
5. Hook Horror
6. Githyanki
7. Imps
8. Volt
9. Urchin
10. Dahdi

Bottom 5
1. Nas Nas (the worst)
2. Dahdi (both lists)
3. Withra
4. Stinwicodech
5. Pebble Gnome

The Magic Brush is back with mini painting tips.

Finally 6 pages of classifieds and ads.  Ending with a new ad for TSR's Top Secret game.

The type seems denser and the quality of the work seems better than the last couple of issues and I think we are entering another growth period for WD.  Looking forward to the rest of 1980.

BTW here is that T&T ad.  Still works today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #12

April 1979 I was buried in one of the worst snow/ice storms that the midwest had ever seen. So much so that even after the Snowpocylspe of 2011 people still talk about it.
At the same time White Dwarf jumps from 28 pages to 32.

In addition to that, Issue 12 ups the quality of the cover art too.

This issue's editorial lambasts the people that photocopy games to give (or worse sell) to others.  I know my first character sheet was a bad photocopy as was my first copy of White Dwarf.  Sorry. I was kid.  Again this could run today, just replace "photocopiers" with "scanners".

We start the issue with and expanded Fiend Factory.  Future Fiend Folio alumni include, the Assassin Bug, Grell, Hook Horror, Giant Worm, and the Githyanki.  We also get an Iron Pig and Desert Raider which seems to be a combination of Sand People and Freeman from Dune.  Easier to see why these were not included.  The stats still include the Monstermark numbers.

Lew Pulsipher gives us an article on Dungeon Equipment.  Many of these should be included in any standard equipment lists to be honest.  Love the idea of silver smiths silvering weapons as part of the economy and I never thought about nose plugs.

Open box gives us two classics, the Arduin Grimorie and Pellic Quest.  In the big surprise of the day the Arduin Grimorie only gets a 4 out of 10 from Don Turnbull. But looking back at these I think the OSR tends look at anything from the time with rose colored glasses. I think Turnbull was more likely correct.

Bill Howard gives us a mid-level adventure for D&D in the form of "The Pool of Standing Stones".  I liked the White Dwarf adventures, they seemed to be different enough from the ones in Dragon that I could ascribe a quality to them, a "White Dwarfiness" if you will.

We get some new magic items like the Sword of Thieves and Earnings of Control.  We also get some corrections to the Barbarian class.

Don Turnbull looks into the new Player's Handbook for AD&D. Interestingly enough he can't find "Hobbits" in the book and never mentions Halflings.

The rest of the magazine is ads with the Gamma World ad in the back again.

White Dwarf is certainly maturing.  It is more on par with the early Dragon magazines, maybe not Dragon of 1979, but certainly 1977 or 78.   The amount of ads have increased to about 12-13 pages per issue.  I do not know how that compares to Dragon from the time.

Reminder, A to Z post will be later today.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 7

Sorry for the interruption.  Here we are back to Issue 7 with the start of the new full color covers.

White  Dwarf covers always had a "Heavy Metal" feel to them for me.  The magazine not the musical style, though both are accurate.  This cover was no exception.
Plus this cover, half naked girl with sword and space helmet riding a dinosaur just screams OD&D to me.  I love the little lizard dude pointing the way.

This issue is larger than the past ones by 4 pages.  Growth it good, even if it looks like most of those new pages are ads.  But ads are good too, since to me the ads of WD and Dragon were just as good of an indication as to what was popular or at least had the money to buy the space.  There were many games I looked at the ads and later HAD to have.

We have bit on feudal economics in Chivalry and Sorcery (by one of the authors of the game), but certainly fine for any FRPG.

Next up is a huge update to the Fiend Factory.  This feature is about to hit it's apex and there a plenty of new but familiar creatures to be found here.  We have the Necrophidius, the Rover (a large round creature that, um, rolls), a Living Wall (which later became the Stun Jelly) , Volt, the Gluey (which thankfully later became the Adherer), Squonk, Eye Killer, Witherweed, and the Withra.  All are complete with Monstermark ratings too.  What I find interesting here are not the ones that made it in to the Fiend Folio, but the ones that didn't. They don't seem any worse or better than the others.

Ripped from the blog posts of last week are carrying capacities in Treasure Chest.  They are split out by male and female.  Oddly enough they are listed in terms of kg (kilograms) instead of pounds or even "coins".  Though they do state at 1kg = 100 gp.

Yet more on the Asbury system of experience rewards.

Open Box reveiws "The Warlord Game", "The Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor", "Bifrost, Vol. 1", "Lords and Wizards" (Overall 6), "The Sorcerer's Cave", and "Cosmic Encounter" (Overall 8).

WD gives us a section of the Greenlands Dungeon called Lair of the Demon Queen.  Which is a just a quick encounter really with a couple rooms.  Perfect to add into a game or "collect them all!"  Though I can't recall if there ever were more articles on this.

A special guest in the form of Gary Gygax writes about the Proliferation of Magic Items in D&D.  If you didn't know already, old school games are typically low-magic affairs.  None was more low magic than Gary himself it seems.  While his advice is good, and certainly germane to any old school blog, it's not my tastes since I tend to run a magic rich game.

The issue ends with some ads.

All in all the future is looking good for WD.  It has found a nice stride here in's toddlerhood.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 6

April/May 1978 gives us the topic of today's White Dwarf Wednesday, White Dwarf #6.

So we at one year of WD and we see some changes.  The first, most notable change is the right justification of the the text.  I does make the magazine a bit easier to read and looks cleaner.  The second is the introduction of a new feature called The Fiend Factory.  Something that in time will be a major feature of WD and spawn the AD&D Fiend Folio.

First up though is an article ripped from today's Internet postings on various types of Armor Class vs. various weapons.  Very old school yes, but the solution reminds me of the various armor classes we see in 3.x.

Next up is the Fiend Factory. The monsters presented here are from various authors but edited by Don Turnbull.  The format is near-AD&D/Basic D&D (no longer in OD&D format).  Each includes a picture (most times) and a Monstermark rating right there with all the other stats.
Out of the gate we have some monsters that would later live on in the Fiend Folio and some even in infamy.  We have in this issue, The Needleman, The Throat Leech, The Mite, Bonesnapper (no "The"), The Fiend (which later became something of the mascot of later articles), Disenchanter, and the first appearance anywhere of The Nilbog.  The article is longer than most WD articles have been to date (which were about 2 pages max).  This is a significant jump in the evolution of WD.

An article on minis follows then an article on how to adapt Jack Vance's The Dragon Masters to a D&D game.
Open Box reviews two new games, "Knights of the Round Table" by Little Soldier (no ranking is given) and "Elric" by The Chaosium which they loved, but still graded it down in terms of the price (7 out of 10).  Also reviewed are various D&D playing aids from Judges Guild.

The letters section has someone complaining about last issue's comic and another giving reasons why players should be allowed to roll your own attack dice.  See none of you are really old school at all if you let your player roll their own dice!  What's next? 4d6 and drop the lowest die? Anarchy!

Don Turnbull treats us to a lengthy overview/review of Traveller. He does spend a lot of time comparing it to D&D, which at the time I think made it read unfavorablly even if the article is positive.  Today of course it reads differently where our assumption is it should not be like D&D at all.  While he likes the game he feels there are some serious drawbacks to it.  Namely what to do with it once you have it.  While we can wink at that now, I do see where he was coming from.
Another full page of Kalgar.
Some new magic items in Treasure Chest.
Part 2 of the Asbury System of rewarding experience points by level and class.
A hit location system for Melee combat.
And finally an expanded Classified section.

Issue 6 now sees all the early vestiges shed from the pages.  No joke classes, no silly treasure.  White  Dwarf has stepped up.  Issue 6 can stand side by side with Dragon issues of the day and content wise I feel they are comparable.  The art is not there yet and the content is still only around two dozen pages (but the pages are longer and the font smaller).

Next month, cover art takes a big leap forward.

Monday, March 7, 2011

They Don't Write 'em Like that Anymore

Back when I was in college I got a call from my mom, she was at a yard sale and someone was selling all their old Dragon magazines.  It was a box just full of stuff from like issue #35 on to #140 or so. Most were there, but a couple were missing, all in all about 100 issues.  Asking price, 10 bucks.
A while later I was able to get my hands on some old White Dwarf magazines, issues #1 through #50.  Most of them were there as well but not all of them were in great shape.
But beyond the quality of the magazines and how much (or rather how little) I paid for them, reading them was pure joy.  Even if I was not actually playing the versions of the games they were talking about (this was during the 2nd Ed era and into the 3rd Ed one) they were still fantastic.  Some stuff was good, some was bad, but all of it was earnest and just plain fun to read.

I get that same feeling while reading Oubliette.

I just picked up Issue #5 and I have others, but this issue really gave me the same feeling as reading a newly discovered fan magazine from the late 70s. There is nothing that stands out as special to me in this issue, it is just the whole package that I enjoy.  It was interesting to see the Monstermark system again, having seen it in my collected issues of White Dwarf and still not getting it. I liked the "advanced" vampires too.

The art is very evocative of the old school style seen in Dragon, White Dwarf and The Dungeoneer magazines.

I hope we can see more from The Oubliette!