White Dwarf Book Club – issue 33

A new feature recommended by the GROGSQUAD. A weekly White Dwarf Book Club, so we can read the same issue together and talk about some of the features, scenarios, reviews, adverts, letters and other aspects of the magazine.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. If this is popular, I’ll roll on a d100 every Tuesday and post it here. This week, let’s begin when I begun, issue 33.


Author: Dirk

Host of The GROGNARD RPG Files podcast. Talking bobbins about Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, T&T, AD&D and others from back in the day and today.

51 thoughts on “White Dwarf Book Club – issue 33”

  1. Dirk, there may be some people whose copy of WD33 is temporarily unavailable – I would be happy to post a google doc link to a pdf so that everyone can join in if it would help? Or would that cause complexities?

  2. Lovely idea, is there a certain day when we all put down our thoughts book club style, or do we do it during the week as we read?

    1. Just put your thoughts up here as you read. Sorry I didn’t get much chance to speak last week. It was good to see you in the ‘crowd’

  3. First up, the cover is absolutely gorgeous (as usual with White Dwarf) – mysterious, imaginative and fodder for a great little scenario

  4. £2.95 for a TSR scenario (A1 Slave Pits) – good god I don’t remember them being that cheap

  5. On page 6 there is an ad for the D&D Players Association offering, amongst other membership benefits, an official lapel badge. I found one of those badges in a drawer the other day.

  6. Weapons in Traveller get a significant amount of space in this issue…

    QUESTION: you can have one of the weapons from the Traveller article – what would it be and what are you going to do with it?

      1. They’re very precise aren’t they. Why would the ‘on’ light be significant?

    1. If you read the description of a Wiper he might as well be describing a smartphone. It even scrambles the brain and turns people into vegetables.

      1. I vaguely remember looking at that entry at the time – if I recall correctly, it’s based on an Isaac Asimov short story (although I also see that the Tonite Pistol *is* credited to Asimov).

  7. It’s funny looking at Open Box – all those titles that get the grog nostalgia gland working overtime and the top score they manage is 7. By heck, we were tough back in the day.

      1. We set it up and started playing a couple of times – obviously ridiculous, but teenagers have plenty of time..
        Also nicked the stat blocks for NPCs, obvs.

  8. In this period, Traveller was so prominent in the magazine, I think it was because it was a game that was hungry for ideas and consumed them quickly.

    I remember Blythy running one game of Striker using all of his 15mm minis and spending the evening doing maths.

    1. I think Striker is my favourite game that I’ve never played. I spent so long designing vehicles, guns, missiles etc.

      1. I always loved the command system in it: you give orders to units on the battlefield, and it takes a while for the orders to get though. It always seemed incredibly unwieldy, but I bet it could be nicely automated (one of my many unfinished programming projects…)

      2. The gun combat seemed a better system than Classic Traveller, but deadly, with weapon penetrations against armour after you hit, instead of having armour bundled into your to-hit roll. Although the wargamey outcomes, light/heavy wound and death were quite drastic. It would be a good system to bolt onto Classic Traveller combat with a few tinkers to the outcomes. I think Mega Traveller might have incorporated this but i’m not sure.

      3. @Rog I think the gun combat system from Striker was used in some of the GDW/Traveller board games: Azhanti High Lightning and Snapshot

  9. Lovely cover, like something from a dream.
    Then a Dark Tower advert with one of the shonkiest dragons i’ve ever seen, ridiculous considering the game itself had some incredible illustration on it. Only for the rich kids that though, not sure i ever saw one in the flesh.
    Jim Bambra railing against typos in Open Box ” a mistake of the worst kind”, you can imagine him years later scrutinising the proofs of all his scenarios just in case, “i’ll never hear the end of this”.
    Traveller and guns, haha, “see Guns & Ammo June 1977 for the original”, cheers Dave.
    Rumble At The Tin Inn, here was the attraction of that mysterious land that was Runequest, all those skills and stats and the interesting backgrounds and motivations, compared to the D&D AC and HPs, done and dusted. It always sounded so good.
    Hats off to Graham Cobley in the letters, there was one dedicated Runequest GM, oh to have that much time again.
    The Psi-Mule, well that’s all you need to say.
    Now, the letters page, next to the ‘female dungeon victim’ (It was certainly a different time…) is the barbarian figure whose sword my dad melted with a match to prove there was lead in them, and they were dangerous and poisonous etc etc, cheers dad, leaving me with a not so impressive figure for my character next game.
    Also news of the dodgy sounding Alma Mater game and real anger over a Vietnam RPG, protests and the war on tv i suppose being a recent memory.
    I wonder if anyone did telephone Dave from Basingstoke to join him in ‘the current middle ages’: DM or cult leader ?

    1. Finished the Town Planner last night, ace brain food, being a history geek, just goes to show how much rpg mileage you can get out of people trying to shaft their social rivals before you even see a goblin. You can see why Embertrees and Starstone were so detailed.
      This issue seems to be from the period where White Dwarf is coming more into its own, it’s not there quite yet (the late 30s for me), but it’s getting more meat on the bones, compared to those older ‘thinner’ issues. It was a good read, and still had relevance in a lot of places, which is amazing considering it’s 37 years on, i wonder how many other hobby magazines you could say the same of after that time. Cheers.

  10. Rumble at the Tin In. Was my first ever RQ game, played in the English classroom at school during a lunchtime. All those richly described characters, and we just immediately set to brawling!
    I was Shifter. I distinctly remember stabbing somebody in the back, it may have been Ceribeteles or Marops, and realising that my dagger was useless against their armour!

    Arms at the ready is interesting for trying to incorporate all the ‘weapon vs AC’ bonuses. Did anybody actually use those?

    1. Yup. We photocopied them and put them on a special Combat Screen, along with various other house rules to make D&D More Realistic.

    2. Yes. I used to copy one out for every weapon for my character, and stick it on the back of my character sheet. Before the days of cheap photocopying!

  11. Random thoughts on Issue 33.

    I have the Town Planner series in my worldbuilding folder still and Rumble at the Tin Inn was repurposed for use in my RQ campaign, minus the braw, which I can’t imagine actually working with a large group. Still impressed with the Russ Nicholson illustration!

    I didn’t get and still don’t the point of the Brevet Rank article and I seem to remember Lew Pulsipher railing in Imagine magazine against the way WD presented ‘Arms at the Ready’. Perhaps he was miffed about the second article being uncredited?

    The Letters page is an oddity, 2/3 taken up by a RuneQuest Q&A, interesting perhaps to aficionados but mystifying otherwise. I did like trying to find out what the stamps etc., were on the header of the page – remember no Internet kids! – and was suitably smug when I knew one off the bat.

    Lots of Traveller weapons stuff – I wasn’t running a Traveller campaign, but was a player and we had plenty of existing toys to play with, so don’t remember actually encountering any of these as we found that a VRF Gauss gun solved most problems. Our GM did have a Striker set and often deployed it when our Mercs got into small unit combat. It comes as no surprise that said GM later joined the Army and had a chance to do it for real.

    The Fiend Factory was one of those ‘all or nothing’ editions and as we banned Psionics from the off, wasn’t of interest. However, re-reading it, I will probably nick Charles Stross’ Lord of the Mind Flayers to drop into my 5e Dragon Heist game, so worth the 75p asking price just for that.

    Finally, the ads. Oh, be still my beating heart. The RQ box set £8.95! Borderlands £12.95! Miniatures for literally pennies! The sheer number of games shops, including the Games Gallery in Newcastle, which I must have visited, but can’t remember a thing about.

    Looking forward to the next d100 roll!

  12. Loved the Town Planner series. The “ale standard” of 1sp=50p=1 pint of ale is something that stuck with me for ages until inflation made the modern coin equivalent irrelevant and 1sp=1pint only remained. I guess 1sp must be worth around £3 nowadays, or maybe a tenner in London!!

  13. I love the idea of a White Dwarf Book Club. Let’s keep it going.

    The Charles Stross monster entry is interesting in how overpowered it is. I love it. I also love how unapologetic they are about Psionics. a small but vocal number of people seem to hate it.

    I read somewhere that Storss wrote and entire module about githyanki for WD or Dragon or TSR… it got shoved in a drawer somewhere and never saw the light of day. tsk, tsk. From what I understand Stross created the Githyanki. He also stated in an interview that his RPG days are long behind him.

  14. What do you think about Greg Stafford’s comments about invisibility? We used to have long debates about it. This intervention was seen as a final ruling and it was crossed out of the rules *with a pen* and the scurrilous lie about the Pixie was also changed in the book.

  15. A fine issue with which to kick off the White Dwarf book club. In addition to the features others have pointed out, the letters page also contains another charming missive on those new-fangled “microcomputers”, and what they can offer RPGs. And of course, the news page has early word on the classic Judge Dredd board game, plus a blurry photo of that year’s Dragonmeet – 800 attendees!

    The highlight of the issue for me though is undoubtedly Rumble at the Tin Inn. It encapsulated much of what attracted me to RuneQuest all those years ago: combat, intrigue and humour, without laying on the Gloranthan background too thickly. How can you not like a scenario that features the dark troll brothers Big Arggh and Little Arggh? When it came to playing the scenario though, I was reluctant to cut up my beloved copy of White Dwarf, so I persuaded a friend to buy this issue too. We cut his copy up. Good times.

  16. Man – Rumble At The Tin Inn bought back great memories.

    Money was really tight when I started gaming and we struggled to find RQ stuff. We had *no* idea what Glorantha was about so we had to piece the world together by cross-references stuff we had read (scenarios/reviews). One of the magics of Glorantha is that the words are so evocative – I am pretty sure 40% of what we thought RQ / Glorantha was about was just us making it up.

    Now I have a bit more money and I am playing Glorantha catch-up. I reckon that would be a boss-scenario for a one-nighter with my buddies. I might even break Theatre of The Mind and use the play-maps. I’m minded now to write a one-room brawl scenario and see what you can do with it,

    Great idea Dirk!

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