Tuesday, December 6, 2022

White Dwarf: Issue #60

Issue #60 of White Dwarf (December 1984) is another issue I remember well, largely because of its Call of Cthulhu scenario, which I rather liked at the time. I also remember finding its installment of "Thrud the Barbarian" – "Thrud Gets Sophisticated" – enjoyable as well, though, in my defense, I was only fifteen at the time and I was easily amused. Ian Livingstone's editorial focuses on the rising price of metal miniatures, which he fears will lead to figures becoming a luxury. He suggests that plastic miniatures might be a solution to this problem – which did, in fact, happen a few years later, the first plastic Citadel minis appearing in 1987 or thereabouts.

"First Issues" by Simon Burley is the first part of a series about superhero roleplaying. As its title suggests, the article deals with what makes a good kick-off adventure for a superhero campaign. For its length (two pages), it offers solid advice and suggestions, along with some examples to illustrate its points. As these kinds of articles go, it's pretty good.

Dave Langford's latest "Critical Mass" column makes a few suggestions of books appropriate as Christmas gifts, some of which are high-priced, hardcover reprints of classic science fiction and fantasy books, often illustrated. Even more than usual, the column is mostly of interest historically rather than being of enduring interest. "Open Box," on the other, held my attention more fully. First up, we're treated to a review of Chaosium's ElfQuest, which its reviewer praises (9 out of 10) as "really the nicest RPG I have seen to give someone as a present." Dungeon Planner 2: Nightmare in Blackmarsh gets a solid 7 out of 10, while the first two Lone Wolf books – Flight from the Dark and Fire on the Water – score the same. Finally, there are reviews of three AD&D modules: The Sentinel (8 out of 10), The Gauntlet (7 out of 10), and Dragons of Despair (8 out of 10). The review of Dragons of Despair is notable for its belief that Tracy Hickman is a woman and its dislike for Clyde Caldwell's cover. 

Part 2 of Graeme Davis's rules for magic item creation, "Eye of Newt and Wing of Bat," appears in this issue, with rods and potions being its subject this time. As I mentioned previously, I love the idea elaborate item creation rules, but most of them, this one included, are simply too fastidious ("The leg muscles of one axebeak. Simmer for 24 hours and stir in one powdered platinum arrow, minimum value 500gp.") to be workable in almost any campaign in which I have played. I don't know; perhaps others' experiences are very different from mine.

"The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah" by Steve Williams with Jon Sutherland is an excellent Call of Cthulhu scenario set in Jerusalem. Professor Foster is an archeologist being mentally manipulated by the Great Race of Yith, who seek to use him to open a gate that would enable them to escape destruction in the ancient past – but at the cost of mankind's survival in the 20th century. Fortunately, Foster is sufficiently strong willed that he is sometimes able, often with the aid of opium, to break free of the Great Race's control, thereby aiding the Investigators in thwarting their plans. Originally a convention adventure, it's short and focused, both of which are blessing in my opinion. I had fun with this in my gaming group of old and still think fondly of it.

"Boarding Actions" by Marcus L. Rowland is a look at the hazards of attempting to seize a starship in a science fiction RPG. Very well done, it's an extended examination of the tactics behind such an endeavor, from the perspective of both the would-be boarder and those who wish to repel them. The issue also includes new episodes of "Gobbledigook," "The Travellers," and "Thrud the Barbarian." Earlier, I alluded to "Thrud Gets Sophisticated," in which writer/artist Carl Critchlow attempts to (unsuccessfully) interject some elegance and urbanity into the adventures of the mighty-threwed barbarian – with predictable results.

Stuart Hunter's "The Fear of Leefield" is an AD&D adventure for characters of levels 3–5. In some ways, it's a fairly typical "rural village" in trouble, as the PCs must contend with mysterious events that are threatening the townsfolk. However, the scenario has an interesting twist in the form of its primary antagonist, a troublemaker who'd been exiled from Leefield in his youth and nursed a grudge against the place of his birth. Now a cleric in service to an evil deity (Bane the Black Lord), he is engineering a situation that will not only enable him to avenge himself upon the village but make him rich as well. 

"Microview" reviews five computer games, three of them produced by Games Workshop. I had completely forgotten that GW was at one time involved in this part of the hobby. "Ars Arcana" by Kiel Stephens continues to provide commentary on AD&D spells, including clever uses for some of them. This series continues to be unexpectedly good and I'm amazed I hadn't recognized it before. "Felines, Fungi and Phantoms" presents four new monsters for Dungeons & Dragons, while "Bits of Fluff" does something similar for RuneQuest. Of the two, "Bits of Fluff" is better – and sillier – in that its monsters play with expectations in a way that a referee might find useful. Take a look and see what I mean:
Concluding the issue is "A Wash and Bush-up" by Gary Chalk and Joe Dever, an article about techniques for color washing miniature figures. As ever, I found the piece fascinating, probably because I was never a very good painter of figures (or indeed of anything else).

All in all, this is a solid issue, though not quite as good as I remember its being. 


  1. The Sentinal and the Gauntlet, great modules. I loved the UK series. And while many love the Dragonlance saga and merchandise, the dragonlance modules seemed too linear to me; so after reading a few at the library i decided they wouldnt be fun for our small neighborhood group

  2. Ha! Dragons of despair bears on its cover the only Caldwell art I really like.

  3. In fairness, Tracy is much more commonly a female name in the UK. I made the same assumption about Hickman for many years.

  4. Oooh, that CoC scenario sounds interesting. Jerusalem and time shenanigans!