The GROGNARD Files

Table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.

By popular demand, it’s the return of the White Dwarf Book Club!

Every week, for as long as people comment, I will roll on a d100 and select an issue of the 1980s, UK-Role-Playing magazine, White Dwarf for us to read together.

This week issue 43 has been rolled apparently at random. It was dated July 1983 at a time when some role-playing companies were closing, or “turning their attention to making computer software games” according to Ian Livingstone.

Thankfully, the role-playing industry has since revived so that we can continue outsmart and pour verbal abuse on our friends.

Please comment below.

P.S. If you look at the comments under the link to Issue 33 you’ll find a link to a copy – shhhh!

9 thoughts on “White Dwarf Book Club Issue – 43

  1. @mangozoid says:

    These are quite brilliant. I have an extensive (and expensive!) collection of PDFs for most of these 80s and 90s titles, and alongside Imagine Magazine, Different Worlds, Dragon, Heroes, Ares, Warlock, The Space Gamer, Traveller’s Journal, etc. these were definitely the heyday of magazines for RPG fans!

  2. Andrew Smith says:

    Open Box is brilliant here with Joe Dever giving Citadel Miniatures new fantasy wargame Warhammer a solid 8 suggesting it would give something elsevto do with your growing fantasy figure collection. Questworld for Runequest is reviewed by Oliver Dickinson with his usual Panache but while he rate its overall playability its a little too outre and only rates a 6.
    Oliver also appears as the author of one of his wonderful Griselda stories (Hanufa’s Little Sister). Which comes with a note that this is the last of the present series of stories with more Griselda to be found in the Pavis box set from Chaosium (yours for £14.99).

  3. RogerBW says:

    Summer of 1983. Return of the Jedi comes out. Thatcher is re-elected post-Falklands. Sally Ride flies on STS-7. Dragon’s Lair hits arcades. Woodentop is broadcast, later to become The Bill. Benigno Aquino is assassinated.

    Advertisement – Starter Traveller. That was the box that got me into the game, though there was always a sense of things going unstated (the editing wasn’t bad, though).

    Cthulhu Now! – the excellent Marcus Rowland does his thing. Everything is better with nuclear weapons (a principle I use in nearly every game set later than 1945).

    Open Box – original Warhammer! (Don’t call it a wargame, RPGs are the thing now.) Quest World! (Whatever happened to…) Tribes of Crane! (But very expensive compared with buying RPG rules and running your own game.) Interesting that two of the three things here are clearly not RPGs by modern standards…

    Critical Mass – there’s always a new faker to come along and take over the old faker’s followers. (And some people still believe in Uri Geller, even now.)

    Magimart – Lewis Pulsipher always seemed so reasonable. But You Shouldn’t Allow the Purchase of Magic Items.

    Hanufa’s Little Sister – Damon Runyon is hard to parody well, but Dickinson has the knack.

    Vehicle Combat – at this point I had vaguely heard of Striker, but never seen a copy. This was dead handy. One of the weirdnesses in Traveller was the way you had a gun on your ATV (“a laser or other weapon”) but no rules for what happened if you shot it.

    Irilian part 2 – I think we talked about this before. Never played it, but it looked good.

    Letters – Pulsipher defends himself. Dickinson and Rowland correct printing errors. The great Dave Morris talks about Japanese archery.

    Happy Landings – I used this a lot, and it’s still part of my mental reference for “what a starport looks like”. But just how often does Price think starships blow up, that the hangarage system is designed around it? Though I still put my Startowns outside the fence.

    RuneRites – I was never enough into RQ to make much use of this.

    Fiend Factory – giant bugs fair enough, but what’s the point of a bunch of Lawful Good super-elves?

    Treasure Chest – ah yes, exotic foreign weapons must be sexier than the ones we know or why would foreigners insist on using them?

    Back cover – oh yes, TSR had bought the dying Amazing Stories. They made a go of it until 1995, but I don’t believe it was ever profitable.

  4. rumleech says:

    Aah! This was the edition I was clutching in my hot little hand when I tried for a job at Sellafield (I didn’t get it – a whole story in itself). I do remember all the letters that the Happy Landings article brought in , almost Pulsiferian.

  5. Dirk says:

    I have many great memories of this issue, not least for the RuneRites column. The Arms Talk was the ONLY talk we had when playing the game. In this article Oliver Dickinson tries to clarify the ‘critical impale’ paradox, but for us, it merely made things more complicated as we fluctuated from his ruling to the actual rules. There’s lots of controversial ideas packed into that short column, and to think, Lewis Pulispher drew all the heat (the first letter is from a man at the end of his tether!).

  6. Ian Stead says:

    Certainly a great issue. Maybe my first or second. It’s a good all round interesting issue for me. Oodles of useful stuff.

    Of big interest to me and still is ‘Happy Landings’ Being an artist I have an eye for art and I do like a good spaceport map.
    Tom wrote a great article, I have since gotten to know him and we are working on stuff together. He’s very much into draw deck plans and maps.
    He tells me he wrote that article as a young man stationed in Germany at the height of the cold war. In fact he is still in the army and is a ‘Professional Wargamer’ and runs Traveller like RPG sessions at his home and now online. I know looking back on it he has said it has issues that article and map, but I have a big soft spot for it and so do a lot of Traveller players. (I have promised myself to do a 3d model of it one day!)

    I believe the maps themselves are by Nic Weeks, I have also managed to get hold of him too. He is famous for the Hunter Bounty Ship maps in a later issue – I have done a 3d model of that too.

  7. These issues really are fascinating little time capsules. Of particular interest to me, was the article on magic items, just for the view it gave on some of the behaviour from the times. Clearly there had been enough cases of players horse-trading magic items amongst themselves for XP to warrant a mention in the article!

    The letters pages in old WDs are always a good read. In this day and age of tweets and badly spelled Facebook comments, it’s quite refreshing to read well-composed letters about the hobby (even if the comment about some players getting a “great kick” from a “gruesome murder” is slightly disturbing…).

    The guide to Irilian was interesting – I forgot how exciting it was to see fully realised campaign settings on the pages of WD! I used to steal frantically from these as a kid…

    Open Box was (obviously) a treat with its review of a brand new wargame masquerading as an RPG. To be honest, I’d forgotten about all the bolted on RPG bits that 1st and 2nd ed Warhammer had. It’s also nice to see the honesty in the reviews. Compare these to what WD became in later years…

  8. Paul Le Long says:

    For some reason I never read WD BITD – for reasons that escape me entirely I just wasn’t aware of it – which makes this book club all the more brilliant.

    The Cthulhu Now article is so dated! The Dial H for Horror scenario especially with it’s dial up tech! Having said that it could be easily updated and is actually a pretty strong scenario.

    Magimart is hilarious – a little time-capsule reminder of how some people used to play.

    The Traveller starports piece was surprisingly interesting.

    The super God-Elves in Fiend Factory are also interesting, if decidedly odd.

    Nice issue

  9. Rog says:

    Yay! It’s back. On holiday at min with no WiFi, but I remember copying the cover for an art project at school, and happy landings was the shape of starports in my traveller campaign 20 years ago, gliding or no gliding, I think that argument kicks off in later issues, ‘I think you’ll find….’

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