The GROGNARD Files

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

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Apparently at random, Pookie has rolled a 19 and conjured up this issue from 1980. I say ‘apparently’ at random as it is a remarkable coincidence that he as rolled an issue featuring a RuneQuest scenario that he has revived for the Jonstown Compendium. Mmmm. Let me see those rolls.

This is from the early period when the magazine was produced every two months, available on subscription or for specialist game shops.

I always find the adverts in each issue striking. Due to the lack of colour, the advertisers relied on words to make their pitch. Look at full page ad for Foes; the words create fabulous characterful imagery for a book with computer stat-blocks for NPCs. Don Turnbull writes a letter setting out the mission for TSR UK. He writes … a letter!

The Les Edwards’ cover would reappear later as a colour plate within Call of Cthulhu Third edition by Games Workshop. It’s an image of great intensity and a nostalgic resonance.

Look forward to your views.

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

6 thoughts on “White Dwarf Book Club Issue 19

  1. I love the cover – I have fond memories of the colour plates in early GW books, and Call of Cthulhu 3rd edition was one of my favourites! You’re right about the adverts, they bring back absolute floods of nostalgia.

    It’s interesting that they include a box on the Runequest scenario that allows for the GM to run the same adventure twice with the same group of people. That’s a nice touch – something that not many modern publications think about. Likewise, the fact that under character conjuring they acknowledged that it was a sensible move on TSR’s part to limit the amount of classes in D&D is almost the polar opposite of today’s RPG scene where it seems that there are about a trillion class / race combinations in D&D alone!

    In Open Box it made me chuckle that Starfire was described as being for “short engagement lasting no more than two hours…” In this day and age where there seems to be more and more games aimed at at play times of ten minutes or less this definition of “short” was defintely a product of its time! Also, “High Fantasy”‘s claim to be “the ultimate adventure game”….

  2. Anonymous says:

    This era of WD is pretty much unknown to me. That logo still looks weird. And it’s a games AND miniatures magazine!

    I read that Ogre Hunt scenario and noticed that every name in it is a reference to a Genesis song – Henry and Cynthia (The Musical Box), One Eye (White Mountain), Istacon (sic) (Supper’s Ready), John Pebble (Get ’em Out By Friday). The titular ogre is called Moribund, after Peter Gabriel’s Moribund The Burgomeister. This is exactly the sort of nonsense I do in my games purely for my own amusement and I wholeheartedly approve. Now, which issue had a Squonk in Fiend Factory?

    I like the practice of doing an individual hand drawn logotype for each creature in the Fiend Factory here. Very zine-y. I guess they went with the Japanese werefox as an excuse to draw a sexy lady, but it’s interesting they don’t mention the European version of the rakish Reynardine type.

    A collection of NPCs in Treasure Chest seems a little obvious these days but I suspect it opened a few people’s eyes as to running games that weren’t just monster fights. I dunno about the guy called Domestus though.

    In the news section, The Empire Strikes Back is mentioned as just having been released and I suddenly realise this issue is from 1980! They also make reference to the fact that Star Wars is now a 9 part, three trilogy deal, with the first two movies being parts 4 and 5. This is around the first time this became common knowledge. Prior to the release of Empire, it was known as “Star Wars 2”, and there were vague plans to make 12 of them. Then it was 9, then 3, then 6. I am here to give you this thrilling information. On a not unrelated note, the space cruiser miniature on the same page looks familiar.

  3. Paul M says:

    Issue 18 was my first WD, and I didn’t have enough pocket money to buy this one. I was only 11 and 75p was a lot of money in those days! I remember first priority for pocket money in those days was a 10p double ice-cream more often than not!

    I loved the typeface of the White Dwarf masthead,. I liked the hippy 70’s vibe somehow. I remember designing the remaining letters of the alphabet to match as how I imagined they should be. Did I say I was a weird kid?

    Loved the cover, but somewhat of a light issue for me at the time. However I loved reading about all the stuff that seemed so exotic and bewildering to me at the time. So far out of my reach as a kid but real fuel for the imagination. Russ Nicholson’s “not” Aragorn in the NPC article is one of my favourite period pieces.

  4. RogerBW says:

    Before my time too – I wouldn’t discover RPGs until a year or two later. The Keep on the Borderlands is new! So’s Queen of the Demonweb Pits! Ares hasn’t yet been taken over by TSR and folded into Dragon!

    I think everyone assumed that Traveller’s “Other” career were basically going to be criminals anyway, but it’s nice to see that given a richer treatment (at least by the standards of the day). Sloppy editing though, really not sure how that business with GEN is meant to work!

    A lot of the fun of these early Fiend Factories for me is the new font for each monster.

    Jorthan’s Rescue: yeah, but… I mean, you go in, you hit things, you go out again. Is that really all there is?

    New classes: the rot starts here. (Though at the time I’m sure I’d have enjoyed it.) Every new class has to have a thing that makes it worth playing, and that means it needs to be better than existing classes, even if it’s only in a way that doesn’t often come up.

    Ogre Hunt: again, not much to it apart from the fighting.

    Open Box: Starfire in its relatively simple days. And there are people still enthusiastic about Magic Realm.

    Wards: now that’s really interesting, a different approach to defensive magic. I’d have been all over this when I was playing D&D.

    Treasure Chest: yay, NPCs you can do something other than fight!

  5. Paul Le Long says:

    Felt more like a fanzine this one…

    1. Dirk says:

      I know – great isn’t it!

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