Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Imagine Magazine: Issue #8

November 1983 saw the release of issue #8 of Imagine, with a cover by Peter Goodfellow. The illustration was originally the cover to a UK edition of the Jack Vance novel Trullion: Alastor 2262 – and a reminder of the fact that gaming magazines often re-used art from other sources. It's a rather striking image, but then Imagine frequently had some truly remarkable covers that strayed beyond the usual fantasy and science fiction fare.

"The Adventures of Nic the Novice" continue, this time providing Dungeons & Dragons game statistics for Nic's character, Norva Ironarms, as well as those of his friends. The remainder of the article details the start of a new campaign, as the party sets off toward the village of Abone only to discover that it has been attacked by orcs. I remain of two minds about this series: on the one hand, it's genuinely admirable to attempt to explain the hobby of roleplaying in simple terms for newcomers; on the other, I wonder if it's ever been useful to anyone. 

Roger Musson's "Stirge Corner" asks that perennial question, "How big is a gold piece?" and then proceeds to devote a lot of thought (and verbiage) to the question. Such questions strike me as strange, but they – and many others, like the physics of falling damage – were commonplace during the latter days of the Silver Age. Cantrips for magic-users are described by Gary Gygax in an article that is essentially a reprint from a 1982 issue tof Dragon. Steve Foster discusses the idea of a Magic Guild in "The Sorceror's [sic] Apprentice." Meanwhile, "Green Shadows" is a short story by Alan Burt Akers, part of his extensive Dray Prescot series.  

There's an amusing installment of "Illuminations," a regular column discussing upcoming RPG products. All of the entries include dry sarcasm of the sort I always associated with British publications. For example: "The Chaosium have announced a superhero RPG, Superworld, which they claim will 'set new standards' for this genre. It also sets new standards for price, being £18.95 in the UK." Another: "GDW have some new supplements for the Traveller game. Supplement 12: Forms and Charts certainly makes a change from the more typical 'Blood Beast of the Slave Planet' type of title. Would-be role-playing bureaucrats will need to pay £2.95 for this." The issue also includes film reviews, most notably of Superman III and Wargames.

John Williams is the author of an AD&D adventure for character levels 3–6 entitled "The Guardian of the Key of Time." The adventure deals with a magic experiment involving time, which has gone awry and trapped a wizard's sanctum in a single moment. We get updates from the D&D Players Association, "Dispel Confusion" answers to questions about D&D and DragonQuest, and the comics "Rubic of Moggedon" and "The Sword of Alabron." Brian Creese talks about variants of Diplomacy, which caught my eye, being a long-time fan of the classic game.

Rounding out issue #8 were a series of reviews. The first is for a new fantasy mass combat system called Warhammer. Overall, the review is very positive and its criticisms are restricted to its limited utility as a stand-alone RPG. Until I read this review, I had forgotten – if I ever knew – that the first edition of Warhammer had ever purported to be a roleplaying game. There is also a review of the Avalon Hill game Wizards, which is similarly positive. Most interesting of all the reviews was the review of Traveller. This does not appear to be a review of a single version of the game but of all of them, in light of GDW's then-recent publication of The Traveller Book and Basic Traveller. The review is largely an overview of the entire game and its scope but is positive, almost to the point of effusiveness at times. It's a reminder of just how popular and influential Traveller was once upon a time – the Dungeons & Dragons of science fiction roleplaying games.

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