The issue begins with a "historical background" piece called "The Dark Tower of Loki Hellsson: A History of the Citadel of Blood" by Nick Karp. The article provides some details on the structure that forms the settings for issue #5's integral wargame. Following it is "Dark Stars and Dim Hopes," the aforementioned John Boardman piece about space travel and "why you're still not going to the stars!" Boardman continues to do what he does best: poking holes in hallowed science fiction ideas about how mankind might reach other worlds. In "Miniature Spaceships," Michael Willner offers a brief look at recent miniature releases for use with SF RPGs and wargames. Greg Costikyan reviews several books, most notably Glen Cook's pre-Black Company series, which Costikyan hails as "bright and original." There's also a very short piece of science fiction called "Bypass" by Edward Michaels, continuing the trend toward lessening the amount of original fiction appearing the magazine's pages.
Citadel of Blood takes up close to a third of the magazine. It's a wargame version of a dungeoncrawl by Nick Smith and Redmond Simonsen -- or, rather, a series of raids by "a mixed force of Free People," seeking to enter the eponymous fortress and lay claim to its treasures. Citadel of Blood is set in the same world as SPI's earlier fantasy game, Sword and Sorcery, about which I know little, so I can provide no comment on how well it fits into that context. I'll note only that, by the looks of it, the setting is a pretty standard vanilla fantasy, with humans, dwarves, elves, and orcs, but with occasional oddities, such as the "demi-cronk" race, whatever that is (an in-joke, I presume). The game looks very intriguing, I must admit, reminding me of either a much more complex version of games like Dungeon or of D&D itself boiled down to a tactical simulation.
Susan Schwartz provides more "Facts for Fantasy," tidbits from history, myth, and legend to inspire fantasy gaming. John Boardman reappears again with "Science for Science Fiction," which does something similar, only with an emphasis on real world science. A large ad announces an open call for submissions for a monster book to support the recently-released DragonQuest. So far as I know, such a book was never released, but my knowledge of DQ is admittedly sparse. "Film & Television" offers up reviews of movies and TV shows, including an inexplicably glowing one of the Roger Corman space oepra Battle Beyond the Stars. In "Games," Eric Goldberg reviews both Traveller and Space Opera. Though not without his criticisms (particularly of its science), Goldberg nevertheless calls Traveller "the finest commercially available role-playing game." I am hard pressed to disagree. Space Opera he also praises for the "serious attention" it pays to science, though he ultimately deems the game "unworkable." He concludes with the comment,
If only the attention paid to science fiction in Space Opera could be combined with the smoothness of the Traveller game, sf role-players would need not look any further.Perhaps it's cynical of me to think so, but I suspect that comment is meant to lay the groundwork for the announcement of SPI's own science fiction RPG, Universe, in a future issue.