any house rules that alter the technical aspects of the way an AD&D™ game is played mean that the game being played is no longer the AD&D game.It's worth noting that, while TSR -- and Gygax especially -- became much more strident in pressing this point over time, it was not a new point. Going back at least as far as the Dungeon Masters Guide's release in 1979, Gary argued that, if you're not playing AD&D by the book, you're not playing AD&D but something else instead.
Jim Bambra and Paul Ruiz return for a second installment of "The Beginner's Guide to Role-Playing Games," as well as "The Adventures of Nic Novice" comic strip. The latter focuses on generating a character's ability scores and presents 3d6 in order as the method. The example character is a fighter with the following rolls: 18, 8, 10, 11, 15, 9. That's very close to the fighter stereotype I inherited as a young man, in which nearly every felt a character needed 18 Strength and felt that a good Constitution was valuable, but all the other abilities didn't much matter, so long as they weren't too low.
Roger Musson's "Stirge Corner" column discusses "winning" in the context of RPGs, another topic clearly geared toward neophytes. Meanwhile, Gary Gygax's "The Big, Bad Barbarian" is a reprint of an article that appeared in issue #63 of Dragon. Graeme Morris provides an adventure, "For the Honour of the Tribe," that is designed for a party consisting solely of barbarians. It's actually a rather interesting little adventure, though it does little to make me appreciate the Gygaxian barbarian class, which I've long disliked.
There's a report on Games Fair '83 that's worth noting, since Gygax was a guest of honor at the convention. According to the report, attendees were "surprised at how approachable Gary [was], after the negative press he received in the hobby." It's also reported that Gygax "horrified a few of the purists with one remark," namely that "a good referee only rolls the dice for the sound they make. He just decides what happens!" While that comment might have been surprising in 1983, it's pretty well known nowadays that Gary had a lot more of the "storytelling" style as a referee than many old schoolers would themselves countenance in their own games.
"Horror Scope" by Chris Baylis is basically a horoscope column, using the months of the World of Greyhawk setting in place of zodiac signs. It's pure fluff without any game mechanics attached to it. Graeme Morris reappears to offer news of upcoming changes to AD&D, including new character classes, weapons, and spells. "Dispel Confusion" offers up official answers to questions about AD&D, Star Frontiers, and Top Secret. Editor-in-Chief Don Turnbull has a short but well-done column in which discusses the ways in which RPGs are odd kinds of games. He concludes with this:
The game [i.e. D&D and, by extension, all RPGs] thrives on its lack of rules, its lack of equipment, the lack of any necessity to learn more than a few simple facts, its lack of competition, its indeterminate length, its free-for-all no-holds-barred style.The comic "Rubic of Moggedon" re-appears and is just as baffling to me as in its first appearance. Pete Tamlyn's "Tavern Talk" continues to report on fanzines and local events. It's worth mentioning that Imagine continues to feel more plugged into the local hobby scene than Dragon did at the time. I like that. There are multiple game reviews, including one of The Morrow Project, which is surprisingly favorable. "Illusionary Script" returns with more mind-benders, as does Mike Brunton's "Figure Painting." Nick Pratt presents a review of the 1973 film The Island at the Top of the World, with an eye toward its utility as inspiration for referees. Concluding the issue is more of "The Sword of Alabron" comic by Ian Williamson.
Reading Imagine almost 30 years after it was published is an enlightening experience, both because it sheds light on UK gaming culture at the time, but also because it's a house organ gaming magazine that doesn't seem aloof from the hobby out of which it grew. There's a "groundedness" to Imagine I find intensely appealing, even if it sometimes comes at the cost of being a lot less polished and "professional" when compared to Dragon.