White Dwarf Book Club Issue 42

By some strange quirk of fate, this issue precedes the issue that was selected last week! Don’t blame me, blame the cursed dice of Hattifattener who rolled it on their d100 over on our Discord channel (if you’d like to join, then please let me know).

In this month a toilet caught fire on Air Canada’s DC-9 killing 23 people, Mrs Thatch was elected with a landslide and Octopussy was released. We needed something to cheer us up.

Fortunately this was the hey day of the hey day of White Dwarf and the covers don’t get much better than this John Blanche classic. As Daily Dwarf once pointed out, there’s about three scenarios at once playing out in that city. Inspirational stuff.

The internal content is just as classic. Part 1 of Irillian, ‘To catch a Thief’ one of the best ever Traveller articles (to my mind), Cthulhu Now! and a great Griselda story to boot.

I’d be really interested in how many of products and services that you used from the ads in this issue too.

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

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.

13 thoughts on “White Dwarf Book Club Issue 42”

  1. Proper classic issue, nice to see the Critical Mass review of “Nifft the Lean” which prompted me to buy it. I then lost it over 25 years ago and have only now been able to find myself a replacement. What goes around…

  2. First White Dwarf I ever bought, from a shop in Porthcawl. Recall being put off, as a 14 year old, by the complexity of Irilian.

  3. I realise that Citadel’s reason for showing drawings rather than photos in their ads was that photos can be somewhat undefined (that didn’t stop other miniatures manufacturers evidently) but they’re seriously half assing it here.

    1. I remember the early catalogues used to have photos, but they were always unpainted so looked very flat. You’re right, the images in this one lack any detail, later they tended to illustrate them in action sequences. The Citadel Compendium was filled with the drawings, not sure how they would encourage you to buy particular models.

  4. Those Blanche sun and moon faces are one of the signature images of early-80s Games Workshop for me. This was an issue I missed out on for a long time – I was buying up older issues when I found them, but 42 was hard to obtain for some reason.

    Cthulhu Now – great stuff, and if the details of programming languages were perhaps a bit unnecessary it certainly wasn’t the only game to include them. And of course the obligatory nuclear weapons.

    To Catch a Thief – interesting, very much in the “learn the system to do well” style of RPGing. These days I’d expect to have a contest of skills with bonuses for narrated detail.

    Open Box – whatever happened to SoloQuest? Fighting Fantasy: better than the alternative. Grav-Ball: never seen this. The Morrow Project: I played in a very variant campaign of this for a while. Really more a tactical wargame than an RPG.

    Critical Mass – I also bought Nifft the Lean on the basis of this review, and enjoyed it, but it’s been a while.

    Castles in the Air – oh, yeah, the Great Dungeon Debate. The world has castles in it because Mediaevalworld™ has castles in it. If you really want a world influenced by magic, it’s not going to be anything like this recognisable.

    Careers in Traveller – I seem to remember reverse-engineering this for the VIC-20.

    Inhuman Gods – what’s that, monsters with their own culture? Hand me my great big sword of slicy dicey.

    Note the top 30 Games Workshop sales (p. 38) – the home-grown products are starting to be obvious.

  5. 1983 is the peak of cold war tensions between the US and USSR, interesting how the threat of nuclear war leaks into this issue. There’s the review of the Morrow Project, obviously, but the Cthulhu Now! article also has very specific calculations for the effects of nuclear weapons.

    1. The early 80s were also the time of the record unemployment levels of the Thatcher government, hence the Job Centre illustration for Cthulhu Now!
      (“Cthulhu cultists wanted. Must supply own robes. All the fish you can eat.”)

  6. Reading the ‘Cthulhu Now!’ article by Marcus L Rowland. There’s a list of new skills to equip the ‘modern day’ Investigator with; these include ‘Parachute’ (if skills rolls are over 95 then test luck to avoid a ‘chute malfunction for an additional 6d6 damage)
    A few new careers including: Rock Muscician, which is only available for characters with CHR above 11 (ever heard of Morrisey, Rowland?).
    Ahh bugger it’s a 2 part article.

  7. Ohh wow – I’d completely forgotten the ZX81 listing that you could type in to create a Traveller character! That kind of thing was a staple of computer mags back then though – quite amazing to look back on.

  8. This was the first White Dwarf magazine I ever bought. I was about 12 or 13 and had an occasional paper round at the local paper shop (I was sort of a Stunt Paper Boy covering illness or holidays). I hadn’t played RPGs at this point, and had only recently discovered Fighting Fantasy game books (I think there were only two or three out at this time).

    I didn’t even buy this issue when it came out. It must have been nearer Christmas that year, as I remember I already had The Forest of Doom when I got this, bought for me by my dad on a snowy trip into town with him. Mrs Elborn who owned the shop would sometimes stick old comics and magazines in a box near the counter. Old stock she knew kids might buy with pocket money. I was looking for cheap comics when I discovered this. I think I bought it because the cover reminded me of Fighting Fantasy and of The Hobbit. Didn’t understand a lot of it, but it was SO full of stuff. All of it really intriguing. I remember Irillian looked amazing, but I had missed all the following issues by this point so would have to wait until it turned up in a Best of Scenarios compilation. Fiend Factory and Treasure Chest were great. I started buying White Dwarf regularly at issue 50, and continued buying it up until it stopped being full of such diverse content.

  9. The cover art on this one was great, suggestions of things to come with WFRP. The Cthulhu Now article was interesting, it preceded the source-book by a couple of years. Selecting computer languages for the programming skill seemed a bit indepth though. I never used Irillian I often think of going back and converting it.

  10. Wasn’t the Cthulhu Now article a kind of fore-runner of a later Games Workshop expansion for CoC? I think there was also a scenario in later issues called ‘Draw The Blinds On Yesterday’ that was set in the modern day (well modern for the 1980’s)!! 🙂

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