How times have changed

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9 Responses

  1. Hammer says:

    Thank god, things improved. I’d have never gotten into gaming if formulas like that were rampant.

    Both of mu current GMs reminise about White Dwarf from the early 80s. One of them is even running a Dark Heresy campaign based on first edition WH40K, in particular White Dwarf issues covering that period.
    .-= Hammer´s last blog ..Toying With A New Idea – In-Character Game Write-Ups =-.

  2. Ah, the Monstermark – that would have been the brainchild of either Lew Pulsipher or Albe Fiore, at a guess…….?

    No, we didn’t balk at a little maths in our games back then. You only have to look at the 1e unarmed combat rules to realise that…3e grappling too complicated? Don’t make me laugh! The decline of western civilisation – it’s right there.

    To be fair though, I think most of us had pocket calculators at the time. My pride and joy was the Sinclair Cambridge Programmable – the first ever programmable calculator. A chunky white thing with a bulge at the back belying the PP3 9-volt battery that powered it.

    I used to love playing the ‘lunar landing game’ on that thing. You’d program it with equations to determine the velocity and height of the lunar lander from the surface – you started at 1km and then had to ‘coast’ or ‘burn’ for a specified number of seconds – then it would report back your new height and velocity and how much fuel you had left. If you were travelling too fast when you hit the surface – boom! Run out of fuel and you were dead meat, no way of arresting your descent. Ah, happy days….
    .-= Lurkinggherkin´s last blog ..Quest For The Hanging Glacier – Character Sketch: Sorrel =-.

  3. Steve says:

    Somethings are unforgivable, such as the destruction of the best goddam rpg magazine evarr… ok well maybe a some hyperbole but White Dwarfs corporisation (? word) was a net loss !!!!

    anyway that math is not too bad, maybe it reflected the roleplayers of the time? ahem

  4. Greywulf says:

    @Hammer That’s far from the worst (if that’s the right word) example – in fact, I’d say it’s a pretty routine example of the kind of algebra that snuck into RPGs at the time. Classic Traveller had some pretty mind-bending formulas to work out Safe Jump Distance from planets and the like. We just took it in our stride, or ignored ’em. Hairy-chested role-playing at it’s best!

    @Lurkinggherkin You have a good memory :D Monstermarks were the brainchild of the awesome (and late lamented) Don Turnbull. In this selfsame compilation Lewis Pulsipher has articles about monsters from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and one about D&D Campaign philosophy that’s as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

    There’s also a “best of” collection from the old Fiend Folio series which includes such classics as the Githyanki and Hook Horror. There’s also the quite frankly brilliant Russian Doll Monster which is long overdue for a reprise in D&D.

    And you were lucky. We had to do our calculations on graph paper, and like it! :D

    @Steve I remember when White Dwarf “sold out” and the entire UK role-playing fanbase (me included) wept enough tears to raise the sea level by four inches. Fact.

    But I’ll give ’em credit where it’s due. They’ve stuck to their guns throughout and turned the mag into arguably the longest running single publication in the rpg/fantasy wargaming hobby. That’s quite an achievement.

  5. Ah, Don Turnbull! That was the name I was grasping for. I think I have a copy of the same ‘Best of’ somewhere in my vaults.

    I used a Russian Doll Golem in a scenario a few years ago. Great for inspiring fear in the players when they have no idea how many layers there are to the thing!

    I’ve recently toyed with the idea of creating a 3e version of the Man-Beast, which was a favourite WD class of mine from the days of yore.
    .-= Lurkinggherkin´s last blog ..Quest For The Hanging Glacier – Character Sketch: Sorrel =-.

  6. by_the_sword says:

    I remember the calculations. One game I played (Villains and Vigilanties) had some pretty intense calculations just to get your character’s Hit Points. If Jeff Dee had Microsoft Excel back then, I shudder to think of the functions he would have invented.

    There was something about doing all that math that was calming to me. Let’s face it, a teenage geek’s life isn’t exactly a bed of roses what with all the rejections from females and the beatings from jocks. I still break out the RPG rules books from time to time to “write” an adventure that no one will probably ever play.

  7. ben says:

    yeah, the death of white dwarf as an RPG mag was pretty harsh at the time, but let’s not forget the ‘certain magazines’ that have no gone digital where also house magazines. It always amazed me that people drew a distinction between them. Admitted once Paizio took them back to at least commenting on other rpgs, they got really good again, but it still was only ever going to run D20 stuff, so I never really saw why people were still attacking white dwarf 20 years later.
    I really liked this post, it took me back too several a simpler times. One where the UK had two good RPG mags (for those of us who remember GM magazine as well) and then one when Wizards has a 2 brilliant RPG mags. And you’re so right about the Value fo a printed magazine. It draws people to a hobby, it was the reason I got into it. I’m pretty sure kids don’t trawl the internet looking for a hobby they’ve never heard of. They would however take amagzine they like off the rack.
    Plus, I’ve never read my laptop on the bus. I DID use to read a magazine though. And sometimes other gamers would recognise it and we’d set up games.
    Now I probably just walk past them.

  8. A couple of really excellent UK based zines from that era – the award-winning Dragonlords (published by some of my old schoolmates, including Marc Gascgoine who later got involved in Fighting Fantasy, Judge Dredd RPG and Warhammer), and Tortured Souls which was packed solid with adventure and setting materials.
    .-= Lurkinggherkin´s last blog ..Quest For The Hanging Glacier – Character Sketch: Sorrel =-.

  9. Millsy says:

    Anyone remember Valkyrie? (from a little after that White Dwarf era). It stood out for me as having an interesting selection of RPG product reviews… if I could dig out their review of the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade (only negative comment: Cover hard to notice, or even read) I’d be a happy man. For all Games Workshop’s ultimate devolution into a toy shop, it did well back in the day (later than the era you’re talking about) to support an original (and agreeably consistent) campaign setting. Damn shame they stopped supporting RPGs… they did a lot of good for, e.g., Runequest and Stormbringer in the UK.

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