Tuesday, September 21, 2021

White Dwarf: Issue #10

Issue #10 of White Dwarf (December 1978/January 1979) features a striking cover by Eddie Jones. It's the kind of funky blend of science fiction and fantasy I so strongly associate with the 1970s and that remains a fascination of mine. Ian Livingstone's editorial focuses only fairly mundane matters, such as the attendance figures of the Games Day IV convention and the release of the AD&D Players Handbook. The magazine will return to both these topics later.

The first article is "Talismans of Tekumel" by Jack McArdle. You'll notice that the cover calls the article "Talismen of Tekumel" and I won't comment further on that. Despite its title, it's more a collection eight new magic items for use with Empire of the Petal Throne than a discussion of talismans as such. Articles like this interest me greatly, since I'm curious about how EPT was received and interpreted in the wider world outside of M.A.R. Barker's circle. If this article is any indication, such people saw it as an exotic form of Dungeons & Dragons. None of the magic items described strike me as being particularly Tekumeláni; most aren't even that great as vanilla D&D magic items. A shame!

The "Fiend Factory" offers up nine new monsters for D&D, only a couple of which I recognize from the Fiend Folio. Meanwhile, "Treasure Chest" presents eight submissions to the magazine's tricks and traps competition. These entries range in length from a couple of sentences to several paragraphs accompanied by Grimtooth's Traps-style illustrations. The letters page is filled with discussion of "realism" in RPGs in response to various discussions of it in previous issues. Reading these letters, I am reminded of the perennial nature of the topic, which still bedevils the hobby to this day. "Games Day" is a report by Ian Livingstone on the UK convention of the same name. Most interesting is the fact that its attendance topped 2500, making it the second largest games convention at the time. That's a remarkable fact on multiple levels, not least of which being that 2500 attendees was considered a significant number. Those were the days!

"Light Sword" by Wilf Backhaus is a strange little "simulation" game of combat with laser swords. It's short and simple and is not directly associated with any RPG. "Open Box" reviews four projects, two of which it receive high marks and two of which do not. The highly rated ones were Gamma World (rated 9) and the AD&D Players Handbook (rated 10). The two low-rated ones are The Realm of Yolmi (rated 2), of which I've never heard, and The Manual of Aurania (rated 4), with which I am somewhat familiar. All the reviews were written by Don Turnbull, who'd eventually go on to be head of TSR UK. Mike Ferguson's "The Experienced Traveller" continues in this issue. Here, he presents the possibility of a Traveller character attending university to learn new skills. The system presented is workable enough, though not one I'd personally use. On the other hand, I did find it amusing, since it includes a random table for determining a character's attitude toward his studies. "Only here for the social life" and "Only here for the beer" are two (bad) results. The issue ends with part three of Rowland Flynn's "Valley of the Four Winds."


  1. Used to own a copy of the first edition Realm of Yolmi, aka the one where they were smart enough to leave the art off the cover. It's one of those legendarily dreadful games that combine creative incoherence with mechanical ineptitude while also having a setting so bizarre it sticks in your memory forever. World of Synnibarr is maybe a better known example of the general type. Imagine a more incompetent version of Rifts with grade school level art and "humor" and you've pretty much got it. I can see why it got the rating it did, given that Gamma World was also being reviewed and comparing the two (they're post gonzo post-apoc games) would not help Yolmi one bit.

    Pity the EPT article wasn't more interesting, there's so little material for Tekumel in magazines over the years.

    I feel like I've seen the cover art on this issue on a novel, but which one is eluding me. Possibly my imagination.

  2. BTW, just saw a review for Knock #2, looks quite good. Congrats on getting that batch of demon writeups in the book.

  3. This series is very fascinating. It seems that so far you are NOT enjoying White Dwarf that much, it seems that most of the contents up to this point are sparse, shallow or tedious. For me 80s White Dwarf means RuneQuest, Stormbringer, and later WFRP content. I had no idea of what the magazine was like at that early stage...

  4. WD never really seemed to get EPT; there were a number of articles and scenarios over the years (particularly the early years), but as you said, they were never really *that* different from a d&d mindset. WD introduced me to EPT, but since it didn't really seem that much different to d&d, I didn't pick it up for ages. While I applaud WD for mentioning EPT and putting out stuff for it on a fairly regular basis, what they did offer really didn't show just how different EPT was compared to other games.

  5. The only reason I know of Realm of Yolmi is because its monster list rated inclusion in an installment of Murphy's Rules. Granted, the entry is probably cherry-picked for the most humorous entries, but . . . weird doesn't begin to cover it!

    1. I remember that strip. The comic barely touches on the insanity of the critters in that game. Those are some of the more comprehensible critters on offer.