Tuesday, September 28, 2021

White Dwarf: Issue #11

Issue #11 of White Dwarf (February/March 1979) features a very odd cover painting by John Blanche. I'm not quite sure what it's supposed to depict, but, like so many of Blanche's work, it's undeniably compelling. Coincidentally, Ian Livingstone's editorial asks readers their opinions about the cover illustrations of the first ten issue of the magazine. I am very curious to see if a future editorial includes an acknowledgement of the results of this survey.

"Fire-Arms: 3000 A.D." by Brian Asbury is a catalog of ten new weapons for use with GDW's Traveller RPG. Unsurprisingly, the weapons include a blaster pistol and a plasma blade, two commonly referenced "omissions" in the game's equipment lists. The "Fiend Factory" presents eight more monsters for use with Dungeons & Dragons. Eight seems to be the default number of new monsters in each issues. I wonder if there's any significance to it beyond, say, the space allocated to the column. 

Lewis Pulsipher's "A Bar-Room Brawl – D&D Style" is a mini-game of sorts, based on an event at UK Games Day III event that Pulsipher than used as inspiration for his own event at Dragonmeet 1. The premise is, as its title suggests, a brawl in your typical fantasy inn, filled with a variety of characters and monsters (23 of them, in fact). Complementing the article is a hex map and cut-out counters to adjudicate location of combatants and objects in the barroom. Also accompanying the article are Pulsipher's recollections of having run this scenario at the convention. I appreciate details like this and wish more articles included them.

"Humanoid Variations for Starships & Spacemen" by Charles Elsden is a very short article describing a few new aliens for use with FGU's Starships & Spacemen. These descriptions are completely devoid of any game statistics, though, which surprises me. "Open Box" reviews three games. Four – Dimension Six and SPI's Middle Earth – are given fairly mediocre reviews (5 out of 10). The third, of Chaosium's RuneQuest, is given a score of 9 and much praise. I find the review fascinating, because, by the time I started reading White Dwarf, the magazine had a reputation for being a source of much quality RQ material. The final review, of AD&D modules D1, D2, and D3, is even more glowing. Reviewer Don Turnbull gives the modules a score of perfect 10. I like those modules a great deal myself, but perfect

"Treasure Chest" presents three more monsters (which were originally submitted to "Fiend Factory," according to the column's introduction), a magic item, and a humorous class called the Weakling. Here's its advancement table:

Humorous character classes are a staple of old school gaming magazines, so this is very much in keeping with that tradition. The issue ends with part four of Rowland Flynn's "Valley of the Four Winds." Also of note is this advertisement on the back cover, about which I'd written long ago.


  1. Interesting if vaguely baffling bit of early Blanche artwork there, never saw that one before.

    Kind of strange that they ran reviews for both Dimension Six and Middle Earth, both of which had been out for a good two years at this point - and ME was a compilation set of three earlier LotR games SPI had done, so even more out of date. 5 out of 10 is probably about right for both as I recall - not great, but not dreadful either.

    The War of the Ring part of ME (which was the bulk of it) was interesting as a sort of prototype for both Freedom In the Galaxy and Swords & Socery (which came out two years after WotR originally did). All three games shared an unusual design that had you simultaneously playing a strategic wargame and a personal-scale "quest" game, with events in one sub-game affecting the other to varying degrees.

    "The final review, of AD&D modules D1, D2, and D3, is even more glowing. Reviewer Don Turnbull gives the modules a score of perfect 10. I like those modules a great deal myself, but perfect? "

    Well, D2 was the Shrine of the Kuo-Toa after all. Anything that featured Blibdoolpoolp so prominently is beyond criticism by mere mortals. Presumably the other two get a bump just due to basking in the reflected glory of the Sea Mother. :)

  2. I was surprised that the “Fire-Arms: 3000 A.D.” article covered the weapons of Star Wars and was accompanied with illustrations of a rebel soldier and a stormtrooper with no credit given. This was even more notable due to the credit that was given to Harry Harrison for the remaining items inspired by Harrison’s “Deathworld,” “Stainless Steel Rat,” and “Bill the Galactic Hero” novels. This isn’t the only connection between Games Workshop and Harrison. The illustrator, Jim Burns, provided artwork for both Games Workshop and Harrison. Harrison’s “Planet Story” is entirely illustrated by Burns and Burns also provided a White Dwarf cover or two as well as his amazing illustrations from Dark Future.

    I was excited to read the Bar-Room Brawl article in Issue 11 but the fact it requires knowledge and use of D&D rules makes it a little harder to just sit down and play. I preferred the Bar-Room Brawl game provided in White Dwarf issue 223 because it was stand-alone with quick easy rules. I still play that version with my grown boys when we pull out the board games during their holiday visits.

    I appreciate the nostalgic trip into the past. Thank You!

    1. Man, I loved Planet Story. Peak Harrison satire for me and the art is fantastic, of course. Harrison also had ties to SPI, with a Stainless Steel Rat game published in one issue of Ares.

  3. The bat room brawl was my 1st ever game of D&D in 1979

  4. This was the first issue of WD I discovered and the RQ review got me to try RQ, and I didn’t go back to D&D again until 3rd Ed. Of note in this issue is Charles Stross’s Githyanki in their first appearance.