Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review - Gygax Magazine #1 (Part 1 of 2)

Alright, I've had my copies of Gygax Magazine Issue #1 for 24 hours now and have given it a decent read through. Have I read every word? No. Some articles are about games I know little or less about, and some just lost my interest. It's a mixed bag of sorts.

First, let me say this - it looks, feels, tastes and smells like Dragon Magazine from the 80's in presentation, layout, font, paper type, etc. It is very nearly a trip back in time from that alone. I like that aspect. I like that a lot.

As for the articles... there are some gems, there some games I don't play and there is a shitload of reminiscing and proving old School cred. Lets get down to the specifics:

The Cosmology of Role-playing Games by James Carpio - it's kinda like a history of RPGs grouped by arbitrary associations that the author used placed on the backdrop of a "cosmos" type star map. Interesting, but he lists "Thieves' World" as an RPG system, when it was a multi-system setting. Yep, a nitpick, but as it's part of the "Alpha Prime" listing (the first list he presents) it makes me a bit wary of the rest of the article. Not an awesome start to the magazine. Lets move on.

Still Playing After All of these Years by Tim Kask - the first of an assortment of "here's my old school cred" articles, it's interesting from a history standpoint. From a gaming standpoint? Eh.

Leomund's Secure Shelter by Lenard Lakofka - Len handles the "here's my old school cred" and some personal background on himself AND does some AD&D math showing that + 1 Damage is better than + 1 to hit. Includes a chart and everything. It's an actual article that deals with actual gaming and game theory. Not bad at all.

The Ecology of the Banshee by Ronald Corn - I never read the ecology articles back in the days of Dragon and God knows I don't plan to start now. That being said, the Banshee's abilities and their variant's are described in a systemless manner, which is good, especially if you want to present the magazine as something applicable to gamers of all systems. Well done article, even if I don't like "ecology" articles in general.

Bridging Generations by Luke Gygax - Yet another "here's my old school cred" article, this time by one of the Gygax's. Moving on.

Gaming With a Virtual Tabletop by Nevin P. Jones - An article about running games using Roll20. I use TableTop Forge for my online gaming, but with the current dungeon crawl campaign in Rappan Athuk, I may need to check out Roll20 if it allows for maps to be saved in progress between sessions. So, if the article is making me consider checking out a different gaming app, it's a decent article.

Keeping Magic Magical by Dennis Sustare - Dennis doesn't need to bore us with a history of his "old school gaming cred", he shows us why he has such cred with an article talking about possible ideas to houserule magic to make it more special. I'm not saying I'd run with any of the ideas he presented, but they are interesting and inspirational. Nice.

Playing it the Science Fiction Way by James M. Ward - yes, yet another "here's my old school cred" article. Back, meet hand. A bit of history here too, once you get past the "One of my claims to fame is the creation of the first science-fiction role-playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha." I guess another claim would be destroying The Crusader magazine.

Alright, end of the first part of the two part review.

More later


  1. . . . "One of my claims to fame is the creation of the first science-fiction role-playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha."

    And then taking a great idea and making it progressively less interesting with each iteration.

    The original remains a classic. The rest, not so much.

  2. I imagine issues will get stronger as the magazine develops and opens up to submissions.

  3. Metamorphosis Alpha just needed some frigging geomorphs!

  4. Mr. Sustare was co-creator of one of the most evocative magic systems in gaming with Swordbearer, so I am particularly looking forward to reading that one. Mr. Lakofka is also always a good read (even though I already know the math regarding the matter in question). The rest, I hope, will at least be interesting.

  5. I just looked to order a copy... $8.95 for the magazine, $28.95 shipping.

    Fuck. That.

    They're looking for 'cheaper shipping options', but they just lost me there. I might look into PDFs if they make those available.

    1. But looking at the articles, why would people want a PDF?

      As a physical item, it's at least collectible. But I don't see anything in the article list that's worth $10. Maybe the adventure (presumably mentioned in part 2), but I'm not sure what system that is for

    2. how the hell are you paying 20 for shipping? shipping is free in the states, 28 if you use express, even international it shouldn't be anywhere near 20.00

  6. PDFs will be available at the beginning of Feb, as I've heard.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition