The Collected @dailydwarf – a Thank You

If you’re a listener to The Grognard Files podcast (and if not, why not?!), you’ll know that Dirk the Dice is kind enough to read out my ramblings about the RPG heyday of White Dwarf magazine.

Well, with the recent publication of The Grognard Files ‘zine, Dirk’s generosity went one step further; he also released ‘The Collected @dailydwarf’ supplement, compiling a number of those early contributions: a Black Sun-style insert to the main ‘zine. The layout and production quality are excellent, so I’d like to offer a big thank you to Dirk and Ed.

There’s another thank you I need to make though, and that’s to Marc Laming.

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Marc produced a simply stunning cover for ‘The Collected @dailydwarf’ – every time I look at it, I’m blown away. It’s just beautifully composed – cool, clear lines, with the monochrome evoking the illustrations from White Dwarf’s past. I think the angle by which you view the composition – looking up, from one side – is particularly clever. It means that, even though he’s a dwarf, you’re still looking up to him. And because you’re viewing from the side, there’s an implication that there are more defeated monsters just out of shot. Put simply, this is one bad-ass dwarf. (Would you mess with someone who can defeat broo, beholders, clakars, homicidal vargrs – not to mention Cthulhu himself?)

It’s a privilege to have such a great cover on my meanderings – thank you Marc!

The Lew Pulsipher Index

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As you probably know, over the last few months The Grognard Files podcast has been looking at Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (go here for all that Bolton-flavoured goodness: https://armchairadventurerblog.com). In my contributions I mentioned a couple of times the influence of Dr. Lew Pulsipher’s articles for AD&D in the pages of White Dwarf. Anyway, I thought I’d list them all here, for your reading pleasure. (I should note that this list doesn’t include some smaller contributions, such as reviews in Open Box and entries in the Treasure Chest column.)

Thanks for all the great content Lew!

Issue Article Notes
1, 3-5 D&D Campaigns Lew was there at the very beginning, with a series on the philosophy and mechanics of D&D campaigns.
2 The Green Planet Trilogy (review) An extended review of three linked wargames.
5 Chivalry & Sorcery (review) A review of FGU’s early classic RPG.
6 A Place in the Wilderness Beasts from Jack Vance’s The Dragon Masters for D&D.
11 A Bar-Room Brawl The original bar-room brawl – yes, Lew started it!
12 Useful Dungeon Equipment Essential items for the adventurer’s backpack.
16 Chronicle Monsters Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, D&D style.
17 My Life as a Werebear Monster character classes.
19 Wards Magical barriers for D&D.
22 What the Numbers Mean Making sense of character statistics.
23-27 An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons Does exactly what it says on the tin – a very useful introduction.
31 Arms at the Ready Weapons-based combination combat tables (we all love a good table, don’t we?).
33 Brevet Rank for Low-Level Characters How to play all the high-level TSR modules when you only have a 2nd level fighter.
34-36 A Guide to Dungeonmastering Quality DMing advice.
35 The Necromancer A truly memorable character class; I enthuse at length here: https://armchairadventurerblog.com/2016/04/18/episode-6-part-1-add-rpg-dungeon-masters-guide/.
37 D&D Scenarios Ideas for adventures.
38 Khazad Dûm Tolkien’s Moria as an introductory AD&D scenario: https://armchairadventurerblog.com/2016/05/17/episode-6-part-2-add-rpg-the-players-handbook/.
39 A Day in the Life of a Monster Monstrous behaviour.
42 Castles in the Air Why dungeons exist.
43 Magimart Buying and selling magic items. ‘Ere, wanna buy some +2 swords mate?
44 True Sight Realism in D&D(!).
46 Lew’s Views:
The Wizard’s Library
Lew gets his very own column; the first looks at non-fiction sources for RPG ideas.
48 Lew’s Views:
By the Gods!
A look at magic and gods in battle.
50 Lew’s Views:
Going Up
Levelling-up advice.
53 Lew’s Views:
Sign Here Please…
Demons, devils and wardpacts.
57 Lew’s Views:
The Life of a Retired Wizard
The wizard himself retires from White Dwarf by looking at, err, what wizards do when they retire.

The White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam: Closing Thoughts

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Back in September last year, the White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam kept literally handfuls of voters enthralled for weeks. I always meant to write down a few closing thoughts, but for one reason or another never got round to it. Anyway, finally here are a few reflections (crafted from the finest quality electrons folks!).

Initial Choice

My initial choice was put together in half an hour, fuelled by wine and over-enthusiasm, based on my recollections of the scenarios that I most enjoyed “back in the day” (© Dirk the Dice). It quickly became apparent from Twitter that I should have opened up the choice to the twitterati. I had many tweets asking why particular scenarios weren’t in the list, so sorry if your favourite didn’t feature in the initial thirty two. Honourable mentions go to Irilian, The Watchers of Walberswick, and Rough Night at the Three Feathers (among others) – all great. While I liked the knock-out format, if I ever do another vote-type thing, I’ll open up the choice. (Hmm…)

Dungeons & Dragons

In the land of RPGs, D&D is king, sweeping all before it, rolling critical after critical, never missing a saving throw. And yet, only one scenario, Troubles at Embertrees, made it past the first round. (I’m not counting The Lone and Level Sands, since that was a RuneQuest scenario really.) Some real gems, like The Lichway, The Halls of Tizun Thane (the finest scenario title of all time?) and Operation Counterstrike, fell at the first hurdle. Why?

My own theory, for what it’s worth, is that while the crusty ol’ grognards among us have stuck loyally with the early editions of many games (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller), that hasn’t happened with D&D. From what I read on Twitter, it appears to me that as new editions of D&D are released, gamers move with the times, and switch to the newer version. There’s a lot of love for 5th edition out there – a testament to the great job that Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford and crew have done on the latest version. So, scenarios for AD&D 1st edition (or Original D&D), aren’t so relevant, or loved, by current players. Shame, but so it goes.

(Is anyone still playing AD&D 1st edition? Answers on a postcard, or alternatively in the comments.)

Some Disappointments

A few other disappointments: the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay scenarios disappeared faster than the D&D ones, as did those for the Judge Dredd RPG. My favourite Traveller scenario, Amber to Red (go here for some more thoughts: The GROGNARD Files: Episode 3 (Part 1) Traveller RPG), was knocked out soon after, and the great Ghost Jackal Kill, for Call of Cthulhu, only made it to the quarter finals. It lost on penalties to The Black Broo of Dyskund. Now I like some pestilential, chaotic goatkin as much as the next High Priest of Malia, but Ghost Jackal Kill has it all. Oh well, that’s cup footie I suppose.

The MLR Experience

Perhaps the least surprising thing about the whole #ScenarioSlam was that it was won by a scenario from the pen of Marcus L Rowland. Of the original 32, no less than seven were written by him; he seemed to be able to turn his skills to all genres – fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, horror, the mean streets of Mega-City One – every scenario had a compelling plot, great scope for the GM and players to improvise around the theme, and a quirky style that told you: this is a Marcus L Rowland scenario. I think Call of Cthulhu in particular suited his talents, and brought out the best in him. Ultimately, Curse of the Bone was a worthy winner.

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The White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam: Final Result!

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The final result:

The Black Broo of Dyskund 1 5 Curse of the Bone

So, as Marcus L Rowland and his pack of slavering ghouls parade the trophy in front of the crowd of cheering grognards, we join the Hinge and Bracket of RPG scenario commentary, Brian L Rowland and ‘Big’ Ron Livingstone, one last time.

“A great final there Ron, worthy of the competition.”

“Absolutely Brian. Curse of the Bone got that all-important early lead, and just played an absolute blinder. The Broo have looked strong throughout the tournament, and were worthy finalists, but those ghouls today, they were just unplayable.”

“And your thoughts on the competition as a whole?”

“Loved it! Some great battles, and a few surprises along the way. That’s the magic of the White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam, Brian – no doubt about that!”

“Well, thanks for all the clichés Ron. Same time next year?”

“I’ll be there! So Brian. Marcus L Rowland – is he a relation of yours?”

“Never mind that Ron. I’ve got this used car you might like to buy…”

The White Dwarf #ScenarioSlam: Semi-Final Results!

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Here is the classified check:

An Alien Werewolf in London 2 4 Curse of the Bone
The Mad Dwarf 0 5 The Black Broo of Dyskund

To review the semi-finals: who else but the Statler and Waldorf of scenario punditry – Brian L Rowland and ‘Big’ Ron Livingstone.

“So Ron, after some very close battles in the previous rounds, both semi-finals were pretty clear cut.”

“The Bone crew played an absolute blinder. The Vargr boy, on his day he’s unplayable, but all that time-travelling homicidal mayhem must have taken its toll. He just couldn’t last the pace.”

“And the other semi?”

“Listen, the Mad Dwarf has been the star of this tournament. He’s taken on all-comers, he’s proved he can hack it on a wet night in Glorantha, he looked unstoppable. But ultimately, playing solo is tough, and those Broo, well… *chuckles* oh those Broo!”

“And so, here we are at the final. The Curse of the Bone takes on The Black Broo of Dyskund.”

“Yeah, it’s Cthulhu Now against Exploding Broo! Ken Rolston versus Marcus L Rowland. Hang on Brian, any relation?”

“Umm. Same time next week then Ron.”