Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Remembering White Dwarf

Over on his blog The Silver Key, Brian Murphy is reminiscing about the White Dwarf magazine of yesteryear:

Pre-issue 100, White Dwarf was a fantastic magazine. Whereas Dragon very quickly evolved into a house organ for TSR and later Wizards of the Coast, and eventually covered strictly D&D, White Dwarf was a rarity in that it covered all role-playing games. Within its pages you could find articles on Dungeons and Dragons sandwiched in between Runequest columns, Call of Cthulhu adventures, Champions role-playing advice, and Traveler comics.

I also have fond memories of Dragon before it became the marketing mouthpiece of TSR. Those magazines seem to be something lost to the past, though Kobold Quarterly seems to be trying to resurrect at least some of their appeal. Still, that was a different time, when Katherine Kerr could write an article on the care and upkeep of medieval European castles and nobody would question its inclusion in a magazine about pen-and-paper RPGs.

Yeah, I'm an old fart. Now get the hell off my lawn! ;D


Brian Murphy said...

From one old fart to another,thanks for the plug.

Did you ever subscribe to White Dwarf "back in the day"? It was a great all-purpose RPG mag with a unique vibe to it that you had to read to experience. Dragon had that going for a while too. It may be nostalgia talking, but I think its perhaps because RPGs were newer then, and the ideas generated back in the early 80s (when I was reading) seemed more fresh and experimental. The Dragon of today is much more ... utilitarian, I guess is the word for it. Nuts and bolts feats and templates and classes, but not a lot of inspiration or ideas.

trollsmyth said...

My pleasure! You've got an interesting blog there, and too many of us labor in obscurity.

I never did subscribe to any of the magazines back then, but I did pick up copies of Dragon and White Dwarf, especially in the mid-'80s, especially in the run-up to Dragon's 100th issue. I have to agree, the magazines were much more random, but I thought that was a good thing. I loved reading reviews of board games and fantasy novels in Dragon, and the many articles that were "crunch free" were some of the best. I especially enjoyed Kerr's numerous historical articles, including a multi-page treatise on pre-industrial logistics that I still to this day reference when armies march across my campaign worlds.

Even through Paizo's Renaissance of both Dungeon and Dragon, I had little interest in the magazines. This was due, in large part, to my lack of interest in 3.x D&D. If you were not playing that game, there was little in Dragon to tempt you. Back in the early days of Dragon, however, there was something for the gamer, the reader, and even the arm-chair historian. It was a mess, but it was a very fun mess to read.

Brian Murphy said...

Consider yourself an official "friend" of The Silver Key (for what it's worth--don't expect wealth and women to follow) :).