Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Imagine Magazine: Issue #18

The cover to issue #18 of Imagine (September 1984) depicts a group of Star Frontiers adventurers, painted by Jim Burns. This is the science fiction issue announced in the previous one. As a long time fan of the genre, I was curious to see what the editors might have cooked up and was generally not disappointed. Nevertheless, the kick-off article is Derrick Norton's "Malevolent Engineering," which examines the creation of monsters for AD&D. At four pages, it's quite extensive and is a good mix of practical and theoretical topics. I found it surprisingly good, despite the fact that I haven't played AD&D in some time. This month's Pellinore installment presents "The Wynd," a section of the City League that's home to the Magic-Users' School. There are a number of small maps of the area and its buildings, as well as descriptions of important NPCs. There is a short story by Colin Greenland, "A House of Straw and Paper," which features characters from Greenland's then-new novel, Daybreak on a Different Mountain. 

Marcus L. Rowland's "The Highest Wisdom" provides a version of the scientist career for Traveller that differs from the one in Citizens of the Imperium. There are also three related scenarios and brief conversion notes for use with other SF RPGs. "On the Rocks" is a Star Frontiers adventure by Mike Brunton. The adventure is a salvage mission, which offers a good excuse to include deck plans and stats for an entirely new class of starship – something of which I greatly approve, being a huge fan of starship deck plans. Graeme Davis's article, "Games Without Frontiers," looks at ways of comparing the game statistics of different games, with an eye toward converting between them. I found it a peculiar article in some respects, but Imagine seems to have had a strange fascination with providing conversion notes for their articles and adventures. It's possible, I suppose, that it was seen as a necessary means to attracting a large audience.

Nearly the entirety of the game reviews in this issue are science fiction related, including my beloved The Traveller Adventure. The reviewer, Stephen Nutt, raves – correctly – "I rate The Traveller Adventure in the top five best role-playing products that have ever been placed on the market. In the context of Traveller, it is the best thing GDW have ever produced, simply a must for anybody running a Traveller campaign." Also reviewed other Traveller products, including three by Gamelords, and Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes for use with Star Frontiers, which Nutt does not rate nearly as highly (though he acknowledges that it could be a terrific adventure, if all goes well). The preview of the Companion Rules begun in issue #17 concludes here and does a good job, I think, of selling the boxed set, for which I still have positive feelings, despite not generally being a fan of BECMI version of D&D.

Colin Greenland's "Fantasy Media" reviews Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and The Last Unicorn, both positively, along with the video release of the Tom Baker Doctor Who episode, The Brain of Morbius. There are also reviews of a pair of books: Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint and Hilbert Schenck's A Rose for Armageddon. Roger Musson's "Stirge Corner" delves into the differences between D&D's three-point alignment system versus AD&D's nine-point one. Given its brief length, it's quite good and raises several points worth considering. "'Zine & the Art of Editing" continues to discuss the finer points of producing fan publications, while "Chainmail" looks at commercial PBM games (like Tribes of Crane, which I saw advertised endlessly in the pages of Dragon). Rounding out the issue are new installments of "Rubic of Moggedon" and "The Phalanx" comics.

All in all, this is a solid issue, though not quite as science fiction-oriented as I had hoped it would be. Nevertheless, there's some excellent material here and it's becoming increasingly clear that the editors of Imagine have a good handle on things now. I very much look forward to next issue.

1 comment:

  1. I remember my first DM thought Immagine a better magazine than Dragon. I'm inclined to agree, generally speaking.