Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Different Worlds: Issue #16

Issue #16 of Different Worlds (November 1981) begins with an editorial by Tadashi Ehara regarding the identity of Gigi D'Arn. Ehara excerpts a few letters he received on this topic – "Gary Gygax in drag!," "John Sapienza on drugs." – before he assures readers that Gigi is, in fact, a "real person." He then offers snippets of information about her, such as the fact that she lives in southern California and writes articles for her local newspaper (e.g. "Save the Fruit Fly Movement!"). I'm honestly not sure how to take this, but it seems quite likely that the whole thing is a big joke. So far as I know Gigi's true identity has never been revealed, which is why I suspect she's not, despite Ehara's claims, a real person.

The issue proper begins with "Different Views," the letters column, which, in past issues, had been located toward the back. Immediately afterward is Robert Plamondon's "Hand-Held Thermonuclear Devices," a strange, short article about thermonuclear hand grenades. There are no game stats and it's quite clear that whole thing is not meant to be taken seriously. Ken Rolston follows up last issue's treatment of "Tournament Role-Playing" with a second part focused on the practicalities of refereeing scenarios at conventions – preparation, sequence of play, game aids, etc. It's a solid article filled with helpful advice, though its appeal is limited only to those who run (or plan to) tournament-style adventures.

"Mythological Monsters for The Fantasy Trip" by Ronald Mark Pehr provides write-ups for six monsters for use with TFT derived from Greek mythology. "The Cult of Indlas Somer" by Angus MacDonald is a 9-page long parody article, offering up a new cult for use with RuneQuest. As its name suggests, the cult is filled with references to beach bums and surfers. It's well done and amusing, though I have to wonder about the wisdom of publishing such a lengthy spoof article. "Illusion Magic" by David F. Nalle is a seemingly system-neutral article that delves into quantifying various aspects of illusions, like sensory impact, volume, and duration, though to what end I'm not entirely sure. 

"Training the Novice GM" by Howard Mahler is a short article offering advice to neophyte referees on handling NPCs during combat. John T. Sapienza reviews the "Dungeon Adventurers" and "Space Marines" miniatures produced by Asgard Miniatures, complete with photographs. I really like these articles, if only from the nostalgia point of view: seeing all these old figures really brings back memories. Several AD&D modules modules are also reviewed, including Secret of the Slavers Stockade, The Secret of Bone Hill, and Dwellers of the Forbidden City. They're all reviewed mostly positively, albeit with caveats in all cases. Gamescience's Star Patrol, on the other hand, does not get off so lightly, which is described as "flawed" and "incomplete." Gigi's column this month contains little of lasting interest, alas.

I continue to find reading Different Worlds frustrating. The quality and consistency from issue to issue is all over the map. Many are truly excellent, surpassing what I saw in the pages of Dragon or White Dwarf, while others are either mediocre or bafflingly opaque in their focus. Compared to other RPG magazines with which I have greater familiarity, DW seems much more "experimental," for good and for ill. Being a man of rather staid tastes, this doesn't always sit well with me. Still, I do feel like I'm acquiring greater insights into the history of the hobby outside the East Coast and Midwest, which is useful, even if I don't always like – or understand – the products of the West Coast.


  1. This one's got a November cover date, but did that correspond in any way to when it actually came out? Mags and comics back then were often months off from the actual calendar and the number of parody/joke articles here make me wonder if it saw shelves closer to April than November. IIIRC there was at least one actual April Fool issue, though.

    The Star Patrol RPG can certainly be called "flawed" but "incomplete" strikes me as inaccurate, or at least overly demanding. That game threw in everything including the kitchen sink, and then jammed in more on top.

    1. Re: the date

      So far as I know, it was released in November 1981. I was surprised by the presence of not one but two joke articles but I don't believe it had anything to do with the issue's release date.

  2. Have people seen this:


    1. Hmmm. And this: