White Dwarf Book Club Issue 52

Apologies for the gratuitous bum-cheek; don’t blame me, blame the d100 rolled by GROGSQUADer Dave Paterson to pick a random issue.

Interesting one this issue as it appears to be another one of those ‘on-boarding’ issues that seems to be reaching out to new readers who are new to the hobby. Was it a new distribution deal with newsagents? Was it at a point where there was a marketing campaign reaching out to new players?

The content is pitched at new readers too with an introduction to the hobby from Marcus L Rowland, with a great colour illustration from Iain McCaig (I tried copying it with my coloured pencils, but reader, it was rubbish).

There’s also a solo adventure from David Morris, a beginning adventure for ‘the Big One’ Dungeons and Dragons, and a new column about miniatures (I can’t see that catching on).

Do you remember this one? Did you use any of the material? Share your memories and thoughts with the Book Club.

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.

10 thoughts on “White Dwarf Book Club Issue 52”

  1. I think I remember playing the solo adventure, but agree this was one of those middle of the road issues with not a great amount to shout about. Apart from the bum cheeks 🙂

  2. This is the first issue of White Dwarf that I ever bought myself — I was an avid collector of home computer listings magazines – Computer & Video Games, Personal Computer World, Practical Computing, etc. and this was on the shelf alongside them one day (I’d never seen it before!) — as was Imagine issue #12… I picked them both up on a whim, and they had a lot of introductory articles in there like solo adventures and so on and so forth, and I hadn’t long discovered Warlock of Firetop Mountain, either, so these were a real eye-opener. I had previously stumbled upon Tunnels & Trolls solo adventures in the darkest deepest corners of Forbidden Planet and never really understood what they were at the time. As I gorged myself on all the contents and looked at the adverts, it was like a whole world of solo adventures had suddenly opened up all at once — further visits to Forbidden Planet ensued, and I discovered that as well as T&T adventures, there were loads of other very strange, funny-looking A5 booklets called fanzines, and thereafter I pretty much became hooked: knee-deep in RPG lore and quirkiness. I went on to get quite involved in zinedom shortly thereafter, convinced by the unwavering confidence (as only a brash and arrogant young schoolkid of about 14-15 could be) that I could do a better job… I did have a good go at it, a few times, and quite frankly loved the colossal amount of post I used to get in the mail — it became addictive quite quickly, and shortly thereafter PBM games followed, because that was an easy way of making sure I got even more post! Twilight days, they were… and seemingly a whole lifetime away… >sniff<
    (Alex Bardy)

    1. Hello Alex! I used to submit illustrations to Cerebretron. I seem to recall being brash and arrogant as well, holding a firm belief I could draw better than I could 😀
      Glad to see you’re still knocking about.

  3. That’s Alan Craddock’s 1980 cover for the Orbit paperback reprint of Harry Harrison’s (The) Technicolor Time Machine.

    April 1984. The miners’ strike started in March. Yvonne Fletcher and the Libyan Embassy siege.

    I think this may have been about the time Dwarf started appearing in WHSmith, kicking off another wave of “what do we need these kids for, we know how role-playing works”.

    Open Box: you can still buy Talisman now. It’s still a luckfest. Battlecars wasn’t popular among my Car Wars-playing friends. Dragonriders of Pern is quite valuable now, though nobody says it’s a great game. And I still have a bunch of the Lost Worlds books – very popular at school! (Skeleton ftw.)

    Langford is nicer to Asimov and Anthony than they deserve. Must read more McIntyre; I enjoy it whenever I do.

    More bum cheeks for Thrud, not that he’d appreciate them.

    Fiend Factory: yup, no credit to Lewis for the Marsh-Wiggles.

    To Live Forever: seemed much higher-powered than my first forays into Traveller were being. (I didn’t get munchkinny till a year or two later.)

    The Travellers: every ship in every game I’ve run since this strip came out has, somewhere on its hull, “glue along dotted line and press together”.

    Fighting Fantasy books 6 and 7, already – and the stand-alone rules too.

  4. We’ve had 51, 52 & 53 on the book club now. I enjoyed 51 very much but the other two were a bit meh. I would have loved them at the time I suspect. It’s hard for us to appreciate the getting started in RPGs type content now when most of us have been playing for three decades plus.

    Maybe it’s the scenarios that make the difference – I just prefer the ones in 51 – though I suspect at the age of 13, as I was when this came out, I would have loved the solo gamebook style ones.

  5. Issue 52 was just before my time I think, having discovered D&D via the March edition of Imagine the month before. I certainly recognise it, though so it’s possible a mate had it as a back issue.

    Apparently the first issue to go on sale in high street newsagents and boy, that’s a LOT of adverts. Front and back.

    It also explains why there’s an intro to the hobby in issue 52! Fairly straight forward stuff but that illustration by Ian McCaig is beutiful. It made me think that I should go through my copies of WD (and imagine and my RPGs) and make copies of all the artwork I really like as there have been a few over the decades and I can never find them when I want to refer to them. It might make a nice thread, actually.

    I like the idea in ‘Out of the Blue’ of spell parcels for various deities. That makes a lot of sense for Clerics and gives them some real flavour.

    Open Box (I can’t say it without a comedy Bolton accent now) has Talisman. I’ve never played Talisman but I know folk who rave about it. To my ignorant eye it always looked like the sort of game that had the potential of a really good game in it but the rules as written were not that game. Certainly it looked beutiful at the time. It doesn’t look terrible now.
    Battlecars gets an 8 Overall but it was no Car Wars. It’s a shame the Pern game is apparently so poor. It sounds great.
    I’ve never tried any of those PvP fighting game books either, despite them being available for Star Wars and Battletech amongst others. They sound intriguing. I’d love to give them a go.

    On to Critical Mass and didn’t Vonda McIntyre write the hippy-dippy first draught of Empire Strikes Back that got binned? Or did she write an episode of Blake’s Seven? I know her name from somewhere other than novels.

    Thrud and the label ‘One drop per herd’ made us laugh and laugh and laugh. We were 14.

    I was never interested in the Fiend Factory. As someone in the letters page whines, there were plenty in the Monster Manual. Why do we need more? Especially as so many of them were really goofy. Whippersnapper?

    Microview has a computer program for helping play Starfleet Battles because if a game’s not so complicated you need a computer to help you, it’s not worth playing, right? :/

    Now then. We get to Starbase and this is an interesting thing. So often in WD and Imagine, the articles about the games I liked were about subjects that didn’t interest me. This one is about how to live forever, or more specifically, how to prolong life unnaturally in Traveller. Some interesting concepts reading it as an adult but 14-year old me was not interested. Where are the spaceships and laser guns? This resulted in a lot of flicking through issues disinterestedly and throwing them in the corner, never to look at them again. Now, as an adult, listening to Dirk read out Daily Dwarf’s essays, I find myself going back to previously dismissed articles and scenarios to find real gems. It’s a shame but I only have myself to blame.
    That said, three pages on immortality in Traveller is still sadly lacking in the spaceship and raygun department.

    I promised myself I would play Castle of Lost Souls one day. That was about 30 years ago. It’s possible, if I didn’t have this issue that I was waiting until I did have it. Maybe I still will.

    The Serpent’s Venom is a fun little beginner scenario. I like the fact that it’s a long con on the part of the patron. Nice twist and I can’t help feeling I played in this at some point. Then again, the traitorous patron is a pretty standard trope in your average 14-year old dungeon.

    Runerites and Treasure Chest have some magical artefacts that might have been cool at the time but feel pretty standard now.
    And then there’s Travellers. Always the highlight of any issue of White Dwarf for me, despite what certain Smart Party members think! Even if you can’t see what the hell is going on half the time, it had myself and my mates doubled up with laughter in registration time after time. Did I mention we were 14?

    An article on minis with some lovely pictures and then another sea of adverts and that’s it.

    So, not a classic issue by any stroke and a little bland, really considering it was the first to go ‘mainstream’. I would have expected more introductory and entry level articles that explain and sell the different games available and a lot more colour and pizazz!

  6. Easter 1984 and 16 year-old me was really panicking about O-levels by now.
    I liked the bum cheeks. Cheesecake and 16 year-old boys was an inevitable partnership.
    Tabletop Heroes was my favourite article series and how I learned to paint toy soldiers. Thereby condemning my wallet to emptiness forever onward.
    By this time I detected a slight tarnishing on the gold of the golden age of White Dwarf. Production qualities were excellent but I was getting jaded with what felt like increasingly repetitive content. FF, RR and TT for instance, while popular with readers never really seemed to provide much we wanted to use for our games. The D&D scenarios still seemed enticing enough though.
    Ah, the nostalgia – my first stirrings of jaded ennui!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: