May 1979 – the author of this post was 7 and about 5 years away from discovering Dungeons & Dragon. Let’s see what I was missing …
First and foremost – awesome cover. Well done!
A Part of Gamma World Revisited by James M. Ward
Not exactly a title one can conjure with, but the article itself is probably useful to most Gamma Worlders. It covers the history behind the Cryptic Alliances, and might be helpful for campaign play. What I found interesting was the geography of the alliances:
Brotherhood of Thought – started at the University of California, but spread up and down the west coast and into the Rockies.
Seekers – The Seekers are Texans
The Knights of Genetic Purity – don’t say
Friends of Entropy – headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska
The Iron Society – they’re found in all bombed out areas – seems like Pittsburgh would have been a great headquarters
The Zoopremists – started in the mountain range near Torreon, Mexico
The Healers – Duluth, Minnesota
Restorationists – Boston and Providence
Followers of the Voice – their most successful group is in an underground base in the Appalachians south of Charleston and west of Raleigh – they’re led by a bunny-girl (i.e. female hoop)
Ranks of the Fit – began near Memphis, Tennessee by a circus bear who had its mental faculties increased a thousand fold; their civilization has spread as far north as Cincinnati and as far south as Baton Rouge, presumably along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
The Archivists – mountains between Butte, MT and Billings, SD and Idaho Falls, MT
Radioactivists – based below Atlanta in the flattened peninsula that was Florida
The Created – have surrounded St. Louis with warbots
Judging and You! by James M. Ward
This is a collection of tricks of the game judging trade, especially for Gamma World and Dungeons & Dragons.
The Tug of the Machine by Allen Evans
A bit of fiction. One column’s worth. And I can’t copy paste it. Sorry.
The Armada Disasters
This is a nice history of naval operations and the clash of nations in the 16th century, and most particularly about the Spanish Armada and its disastrous clash with the English.
From the Sorcerer’s Scroll: The Proper Place of Character Social Class in D&D by Gary Gygax
This covers the introduction of social classes to characters in D&D. It mentions that the initial idea came from MAR Barker’s Empire of the Petal Throne. Gygax points out that Tekumel has a well-thought out culture and social structure, and the lack (or possible lack) of such a structure in D&D makes using social class problematic. He suggests a very simple table for determining social class:
01-75 – Common background
76-95 – Aristocratic background
96-00 – Upper class background
He then goes on to question the use of birth tables and social class, and I have to agree. I suppose if a campaign focuses on social class and the interaction within classes and between classes – something like you’d get in Flashing Blades – it makes sense. If you’re doing the whole Conan thing – plundering tombs and such – I don’t see much point to it.
Armies of the Renaissance by Nick Nascati
Part III of this series, this one covers the Condotierre and The Papacy. Great introduction:
“If Woody Allen would ever decide to turn his comedic talents to writing history, the result would very probably read like a history of Italy in the Age of the Condotierre. Few periods in history could possibly be as full of petty squabbles and pointless maneuvering, as this age when greedy, mercenary captains controlled the destiny of the Italian City-States. Warfare was formalized to the point where it almost became a life-size chess match, with few fatalities. However, their military system does assume a certain importance in our study of the period.”
Well worth the read for wargamers doing this period.
Would the Real Orc Please Step Forward? by Lance Harrop
Here’s an interesting article subtitled “Dealing with the Proliferation of Orcish Miniatures”. Interesting for two reasons.
One is that it covers “orc genealogy and taxonomy” – always fun to see somebody dissect make-believe like that. Lance draws a family tree of evil humanoids, putting orcs, ogres, kobolds, hobgoblins and goblins all on branches of that tree, with hobgoblins and goblins forking off from the same branch. Pretty standard idea these days, maybe kinda new in those days. He then lays out some ideas on how to take this system and use it when selecting miniatures, since back in the day miniatures were a bit more generic – i.e. an ugly humanoid miniature could just as easily be used as a kobold as it could for a goblin.
The other interesting thing about this article is that there was a need to deal with the proliferation of orcish miniatures. I’m guessing that nerds in the Middle Ages were worried about similarly silly things – it runs deep in our breed.
He also provides a picture of several of the miniatures of the day …
Finally, he provides this guide to wargaming with orcs:
1. All goblin races dislike the sunlight, so lower their morale in the daytime.
2. Kobolds and Gnomes will almost instantly attack each other, so have them make obedience checks when they are in charging distance. The same with goblins and dwarves and lesser orcs and elves. Great orcs, man orcs, ogres and hobgoblins will not generally disobey.
3. Orcs of different tribes will also attack each other, as will all goblin races, but powerful leaders can keep them in check, so adjust the die roll against the level of the leader.
4. Usually only great orcs and man orcs will fight in formations, the others will fight en masse.
The Traveller Navy Wants to Join You by R. D. Stuart
An article that covers new career opportunities in Traveller. I don’t play Traveller, so I don’t know that I can comment on how well these are written, but I bet it would come in handy if you were doing a Star Trek-esque Traveller campaign.
Gamma World Artifact Use Chart by Gay Jaquet
This article swaps out the artifact use charts in Gamma World for a more complex and abstract system. Personally – I’ll stick with the charts. I think they’re fun.
An Alien in a Strange Land by James M. Ward
Ward wrote quite a bit for this issue, huh?
This is a bit of Gamma World fiction that seems to be taken from actual play:
“Blern had left those mutated fools of Entropy with an organization that should last until the time it decided to return and take over again. Riding off, on a very reluctant Brutorz, had carried with the act a certain satisfaction in a finished job that was well done. The miles were quickly eaten up under the hooves of the Brutorz and soon Blern was in territory that it had never visited or heard about before. Days passed into a sort of boredom that was unusual for the mutant. It got so that it was wishing for an attack by anything, just to break the monotony, and almost with that thought, Blern spotted the group.”
Excerpt from an Interview with an Iron Golem by Michael McCrery
Interview with a Vampire was written in 1976 – I’m wondering if this article was a play on that. Either way, this one reminds me of the skits that appear in the last 15 minutes of Saturday Night Live. Essentially, another piece of fiction drawn (I’m guessing) from actual play.
War of Flowers by William B. Fawcett
Another nice wargaming article, this one on the Aztecs. I like this bit …
“The Aztec “empire” was in fact a conglomeration of city states that formed rather fluid coalitions which were normally centered on the most powerful cities found in the area of present day Mexico City. In these coalitions there were normally one or two major powers who, by their size and military strength, were able to compel the lesser cities to join in their efforts. When a city was ‘conquered’ the result was the imposition of tribute and economic sanctions rather than social or political absorption, as occurred in Europe or China. This tribute was reluctantly paid to the victorious city only until some way to avoid it was found (such as an alliance to an even more powerful city). Any political or military alliance was then ruled entirely by expedience, and quickly and easily dissolved.”
This is pretty much how I envision all the city-states in NOD. Why? Better for game play in my opinion.
Xochiyaoyotl by Neal M. Dorst
This is a concise set of rules for Pre-Hispanic Mexican wargaming.
Varieties of Vampires by R. P. Smith
This article tackles all the various vampire legends from around the world. It suggests using the same basic game stats for all vampires, but then adds different move rates and environments for the different vampire legends, along with descriptions:
Asanbosam (Africa): Men (9 hit dice), women (8 hit dice), or children (7 hit dice) who look normal except for a pair of books instead of feet. They can charm at minus 3, (except against clerics, whom they avoid) and can throw a single sleep spell per night. They can call 3-18 leopards or 2-12 tigers. Only a cleric can kill the asanbosam.
Burcolakas (Greece): It has a swollen, tense, hard skin. It can scream once per night which deafens all in hearing range for 24 hours, no saving throw. It can also kill, not only by draining life levels, but by naming its victim by name and commanding the victim into a fatal action. It can imitate any voice it hears, with as much of a chance of being detected as an assassin has of being discovered in disguise. It controls 10-100 rats, but no wolves. To defeat: cut off and burn its head.
Great idea – wish I’d thought of it. My favorite bit from the article … “Hence, any body left unguarded without a Bless spell from a cleric will become a vampire within seven days.” Use that rule, and I promise the cleric will hold onto those bless spells. Nobody needs that stupid henchmen you used for cannon fodder coming back to haunt you as a vampire.
To Select a Mythos by Bob Bledsaw
This article covers creating a mythos for one’s campaign. I like that he pushes a “screw reality” concept and chooses fun over strict realism.
Arms and Armor of the Conquistadores by Michael H. Kluever
Another article about fighting on Old Mexico. This one gives a history of the Spanish conquest and then describes the weapons and armor of the different troops.
Not a bad issue. Like the vampire article quite a bit, could have done without so much fiction. The “helpful tips” stuff is helpful for folks new to gaming – not so much for an old fart like myself. If I was doing some Aztec vs. Spanish wargaming, this issue would have really been a boon.
Okay folks – see you tomorrow when I have a new goofy character class you might enjoy.