May 1983 may very have been the beginning of the end of the so called "Golden Era" of RPGs, but it was also part of the era that would see a dramatic rise in the popularity in the public consciousness of RPGs. It could be retrospect, rose-colored glasses or even bad memory, but Issue #41 seems to reflect this.
The stylistic changes that began that the end of 82 have hit their peak now. Issue 41 is like picking up an old Judas Priest tape. Not album. Not CD. Not any freaking 8-Track. Those were the artifacts of different eras. Judas Priest on Cassette and White Dwarf #41.
The editorial is an interesting one. Ian Livingstone can only be describing the beginning of the end! Or at least as it might have looked back then. He talks about some companies going out of business and the first great RPG boom is over. Now I have read some reports that this boom was bigger than the d20 one nearly 17 years later, but I don't remember this time as being anything else but a boom time, but not one that was all consuming. The warning though is clear. No more mediocre games.
First up is Battleplan for Dungeon Master General. This covers non-human armies such as dwarves, elves, kobolds and orcs. It is an interesting read. The Dwarves and Elves are pretty much what you would expect. The kobolds are more aggressive and war like here, using numbers to make up for their size. While in this post Tucker's Kobolds age we tend to see Kolbods more a little skirmishers that hit fast and run for cover. The picture of the orcs tends to be more bleaker, that the orcs are basically cowardly, lazy bullies. Since then we have had Orkworld and the Lord of the Rrngs movies where orcs look more like an organized, fearless military.
Critical Mass covers the British SF Association awards for 1982 and the Nebula Awards for the US for 82. Next month they will announce the winners. If you can wait you can go here to see the winners and nominees of the SF award and the Nebula.
Open Box has an interesting mix in Traveller Supplement 10: The Solomani Rim by GDW. Andy Slack, Traveller savant in residence, gives it a rather mixed review saying it is great for novices but terrible for experts (9/10 and 2/10 respectively). He does mention that this is how Spinward Marches should have been done. I have not read either supplement in over 20 years, but I tend to agree.
One game I was always curious about, but never got my hands on was Man, Myth & Magic by Yaquinto. Three products are reviewed here, Man, Myth & Magic RPG, Adventure 1, Episode 5 - Death to Setanta and Adventure 1, Episode 6 - The Kingdom of the Sidhe. Marcus Rowland did not care for how the game was set up feeling it was too hard to find the material you needed thanks to the design of the game. You read the rule book and adventure as you learn. This game was never popular around my area and I didn't even know about it really till I was researching the old Man, Myth and Magic encyclopedia. I am not sure if they are related or not. Anyway Rowland gives the RPG and adventures 5/10, 4/10 and 6/10 respectively.
Finally Star Explorer boardgame by FGU was reviewed by Alan E. Paull. He gives it 9/10.
"A Tasty Morsel" is a bit of RuneQuest fiction featuring Griselda. I am no judge of gaming fiction really. So I have no idea if this is a good RuneQuest tale or not.
Phil Hine has a bit on Sorcerous Symbols, or how to use sigils in AD&D. Interesting little article that I don't recall reading in the past.
Don Turnbull is back in the Letters section defending his point of view in the whole Necromancer affair. Oddly enough he is being coy about knowing about the Anti-Paladin. Maybe I am giving him too much credit or overstating the effect of Dragon Mag, but I thought for sure that everyone had seen the Anti-Paladin article by 83.
Andy Slack is back with a Traveller short Scenario, the Snowbird Mystery. I do remember this one. In fact I think it might even was the last Traveller Adventure that I was ever going to go through. I didn't, part of my odd relationship with Traveller, but I knew that this was the one that was going to be used. We played AD&D instead.
RuneRites has Unarmed combat for RuneQuest. Or rather part II to the article that appeared all the way back in WD 30.
Up next is something very interesting, a mini-Scenario for Car Wars! It looks fun, but I never played Car Wars to be a good judge of this.
Fiend Factory has more Inhuman Gods, Deities for Non-Human Races: Part III. Kraada (Frostmen), Zrunta Mountainheart (Mountain Giants), Carratriatuh (Greenmen from WD 27), Klagg (Grimlocks) and for the Lava Children, two gods Halnass (Fire-Father) and Quorggg (Stone-Mother). They are all in Deities and Demigods format. Of the lot, I think I would like to use Klagg, and given my association of Grimlocks with Charmed, I would make him a demon.
Starbase is back for it's bi-monthly publication of readers' ideas for Traveller. This time it is Andy Slack (his name might be familiar) covering the same Covert Survey Bureau that was featured in the Snowbird adventure.
Treasure Chest has all sorts of discs as weapons. Hmmm. When was Tron out again? They include the Vorpal Disc, Disc of Shock, Torus, Crystal Disc, Disc of Eyes, Disc of Dismissal, Anti-Magic Disc and the Sonic Disc. Between this and the Man, Myth and Magic RPG you could do Xena! I will admit I had a character that used the Vorpal Disc. I remember it well too, he had to get it from a greater Air Elemental. Played it one day in Jr. High.
We end with some ads.
All in all I think this was a great issue. Nothing jumps out at me and screams "use me" but everything was quality and I enjoyed reading it again.