Again, another really cool cover. Maybe artistically not as good as last issue, but I have always liked this one.
Ian Livingstone celebrates WD fifth year with an editorial of basically saying we are going to keep doing the stuff you like and stop with the stuff you don't. he mentions another survey on page 27.
Again in "Must Read Again" articles we have Lew Pulsipher's Part III of an Introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. This time it is on the magic using classes. Frankly
I'd love it if these were sent off to the D&D Next team as critical essays on what the game was.
Page 10 is a fun little item.
Called the Creature Quiz, it is a quiz on various elements of "S/F and Fantasy Gaming".
An aside: Was it purely a British thing to call this S/F & F games rather than RPGs? Anyway the quiz is fun. Answers are not given but you need to send your completed quiz to WD no later than July 1, 1981.
Probably good I missed the date, I am sure I did poorly on this one.
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After that we are back in Traveller land with Optional Skill Acquisition.
Open Box only has three reviews for us. For Traveller we have "Double Adventure 2: Across the Bright Face/Mission on Mithiril" It gets are (although less so these days) 10/10 from Trevor Graver. He liked Across the Bright Face a little more of the two but thought both were great. "Plunder" and "Runemaster" both from Chaosium are play aids for RuneQuest. Oliver Macdonald gives Runemaster 9/10 saying it contains a lot of useful material and is well worth the cost. Plunder though only gets a 5/10 stating it's limited usability and redundancy. Finally we get the classic "Space Opera" from Fantasy Games Unlimited reviewed by Andy Slack. This is the first real competition we see for Traveler and it is Science Fantasy (more or less) and not Science Fiction. It gets an 8/10, partially for it's complications and a long time to properly set up, but otherwise a fantastic game.
We get a new series called The Dungeon Architect. Part 1 is about designing an interesting dungeon. To begin with we start out with the typical "lather, rinse repeat" style dungeon. The one where you open door 1, kill monster A, open door 2, kill monster B. And so on. The author deconstructs the entire dungeon raiding experience into why and how and for what reason. Very interesting take on it really. While we in 2012 have had this discussion before in 1981 it is an interesting new point of view and the start of the growth of D&D in the minds of gamers as something more than just killing monsters underground. Looking forward to the next two parts.
The Letters page covers various AD&D rule questions.
The Lower Canon Court is an AD&D "Skirmish for a large number of players." The idea here is a cleric was found guilty in a court and wants revenge. The characters are all members of the court when the pandemonium breaks loose. There are a lot of NPCs and a map of the court room. It's different idea and I like the attempt but I can also see it only appealing to a small crowd of gamers.
Treasure Chest has some new magic items like the Bowl of Everlasting Porridge and Bell of Watchfulness. Some are still a little silly, but all can be played straight.
Andy Slack has Traveller rules on Vacc Suits.
Fiend Factory continues its run of themed monsters. This time a mini-scenario (more of a plot really) called the Black Manse. We get Dream Demons, the Incubus, Brain Suckers and a Guardian. The monsters all designed to challenge a party of levels 5-6.
Starbase is back and celebrating their first year with some suggestions for reading. Interesting really.
In Character Conjuring Lew Pulsipher talks about what makes a good AD&D character class. He makes the case that classes should be internally balanced. That is weaknesses to set off strengths. A wizard can't use armor or swords for example. He is also talkas about between class balance and that not all characters of say 3rd level should be the same power. Another issue he brings up are the serious use of joke classes (like the Jester and Idiot from Dragon a few years back, but oddly not any of the WD joke classes are mentioned).
The new questionnaire follows on the other half of the page. Results are promised in a future issue.
Again, get yours in by July 1st, 1981.
This is followed by the Classifieds/Small ads, and a few more pages of ads.
In the end we get an ad for the AD&D lead figure line. Back when they were lead and you had to pain them yourself. I loved those as a kid. AND I might add I just acquired a bunch of these in fantastic shape. Pictures soon.
WD ended up being 4 pages less this time around. Not really sure why.
After a period of growth WD seems to be content to keep on with what works, though the gaming world is now showing unprecedented growth. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months.