Episode 29 (Part 1) White Dwarf the RPG years

It’s taken us 50 podcasts to dedicate an episode to White Dwarf. It was the centre of our RPG lives when we were teenagers.

In this episode Mike Brunton tells us how he got into RPGs and worked with TSR UK and Imagine magazine. Next time he will be relating his experiences as editor of White Dwarf and working for Games Workshop.

Neil Hopkins provides his First, Last and Everything. He created solo adventures for Quasits and Quasars

Eddy tells the story of the fateful night when he answered a small ad.

We are encouraging everyone to sign up to become a King of Dungeons (because it is awesome).

Blythy joins me for a run through some White Dwarf bag issues and to talk crisps.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Episode 29 (Part 1) White Dwarf the RPG years”

  1. For me I was introduced to NEXUS magazine after picking up a copy of Star Fleet Battles, the Commander’s Edition in 1984. I want to say it came with a coupon for free copies. So I got my two free copies and signed up for a subscription. What I remember is seeing so many scenarios for war games and board games that I had no idea what the were, but from those scenarios I would try and figure out the rules of the game so I could play it. Later on when I picked up an old White Dwarf or a Dragon magazine I would try and do the same thing because I did not have access to some of the various RPG systems.

  2. Couldn’t hold off until later. I had to listen to it tonight. Once again, a great episode gentlemen. I’m loving the deep dive into White Dwarf, which were scarce in my neck of the Great White North.

    I have to agree with Blythy: blue is salt & vinegar, green is (here in the colonies) sour cream and onion. Always has been, always will be.

  3. Very enjoyable pod, really good to hear Mike’s experiences, looking forward to hearing how he went on in the video games industry.
    I remember it was Golden Wonder who were big round our way (Notts), i had a very heavy Ringos habit in the late 70s, enough to send off for the little activity book about the two cavemen who used to be on the pack.

  4. Fantastic podcast as always guys, takes me back a long way.
    In my head WD40 was my first issue bought on release though thinking hard it might have been a slightly earlier issue. I know a got a load of back issues in a store in Reading but I’m definitely gonna have to dredge through the memory banks.

    Snowbird Mystery was excellent, really did take traveller out of the dry rulebooks. (hope I don’t have to mention Halfway Station for loads more Andy Slack goodness.)

    Loads of callbacks in the episode, too many to mention but I’ll just leave Starstone and Lewis Pulsipher right here – your opinions are your own but you could also be dead wrong (And Monstermark wtf)

    So that’s it I will now just write a load of random words in order to bring to mind some of my greatest hits—-

    Eagle Hunt.
    A Day in the Life (and A Night in the Death).
    Zen and the Art of Runequest Gaming.
    An Alien Werewolf in London.
    Irilian .
    Green Horizon.
    The Travellers.
    And finally, a personal one, Not Just Stamps.

    Keep up the great work

  5. The bobbins contingent of this episode was well above par as the banter touched the very foundations of my heart, like the patriotic colour of a passport, the great crisp packet debate puts me firmly inside Blythy’s camp, where grand campaigns are planned further afield on Marathon and Starburst, and bigger Wagon Wheels, perhaps even a foray into Jif.

    The remarks on character drug addiction reminded me of a great actual roleplay podcast called Close The Airlock, a Traveller game in which the party explored a planet where all life had evolved some form of anti-gravity and floated around, they butchered a hippo like creature and ate it unbeknownst the meat was horribly addictive, forced to stockpile the “hover hippo” and then set about replicating it provided an background adventure theme of great hilarity.

    Sticking with Traveller, some criminal careers were available in Supplement 4 Citizens of the Imperium published before the article in White Dwarf #19, but I believe the White Dwarf version used the expanded character generation method (as in Book 4 Mercenary), it was a bit tongue in cheek, like the assignments included “laying low”, a very memorable article for me.

    I had a few laugh out loud moments listening to this one, keeping up the quality, the contrived design of each episode is a nice change from a lot of gaming podcasts that are just some guys sitting down and talking about sh*t and stuff, and the interviews are excellent and always interesting.

  6. Ah! GM magazine! (also GM International). What ever happened to Wayne. My namesake with the massive, back-combed bleach-blonde hair? Is he still about and playing? Has anyone checked in on him since Wintertide?

  7. That’s the best episode since the Robin of Sherwood one, possibly since Storm Giant’s Kingdom. The perfect mix of nostalgia and serious ruminations with excellent contributions all round.

    I do agree with Blythy that a more general bobbins podcast would go down a storm–as you keep saying, you’re running out of your old school original games to talk about. There are plenty of 80s music nostalgia pods, but none dedicated to crisps as far as I can see. I’ve always been convinced that blue was salt and vinegar because even further back, salted crisps weren’t ‘ready’ salted, they came with a little blue bag of salt for preparation at the table (which basically meant shaking the bag over the crisps so that only the top layer really got salted at all)–so salt was always blue. But that doesn’t account for the influence of vinegar. Green is obviously cheese and onion,

    The ruminations on attempts to make DND more complex/realistic really took me back. My memory (perhaps due to bias, not being a DnD player) was that DnDers were often a little defensive in the face of more simulationist games like RQ and (or course) the excellent Chivalry and Sorcery. Not least because those of us playing those other games teased them mercilessly about the lack of ‘reality’, and teenage boys took such things to heart. So, rather than simply admitting they were wrong and moving to a better game like CnS, they tried to retrofit these complications.

    Of course, the whole tradition of DnD was of a smorgasbord of plug in rules and additions, despite (or because of) GG’s one true wayism. The tradition of taking those original confusing books, throwing things in the air and re-writing was really strong and, as you’ve covered before, everyone felt they had the right to do it. I still have my copy somewhere of the Asgard System, written by Dave Nalle (now a libertarian politician in the US) in about 1985, born out of countless A&E articles and discussions, but essentially another update on 1st ed DnD.

  8. I used to love White Dwarf (and Imagine) as a li’l kid – and looking back through my own extensive PDF archives, one issue of White Dwarf that always stands out is the infamous “Sod Off BA” issue (#77!) — That said, even though I didn’t really play D&D at all, TSR’s Imagine magazine was always my preferred RPG rag, mainly because I used to love all the different topics they covered, especially when they started doing all their themed issues — I haven’t got issues 10 & 11 or 30 (the last one), but looking at the others, they covered stuff like Egypt (#16), The Celts (#17), Vikings, Traveller (and Star Frontiers o’course), Superheroes, Michael Moorcock, Thieves, and also had lots of ‘specials’ like “Far Eastern Special” (#26), Magic Users Special, Lycanthropes, etc. – it was just more interesting for me at the time. I wrote stuff for The Adventurer magazine myself (the fanzine review column with Ben Goodale as well as the odd article/scenario), but that magazine was always propping up the rear in terms of overall quality imho.

    That said, magazines like The Space Gamer, Warlock, Ares, Different Worlds, HEROES and The Traveller’s Digest all used to do great stuff, and I was totally fanatical in my collecting habits both with these type of mags and computer magazines like Computer & Video Games, etc. I didn’t collect The Dragon because I was never a major D&D fan and it was really expensive compared to other US mags that only appeared every few months or so (or so it seemed), which made them barely affordable.

    Amazing memories. Thank you.

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