Category Archives: Blog

Shrink-Wrapping

A lot of people trying to sell secondhand games, think that the fact that their item is “still in shrink” means that it should be worth more.

All that shrink-wrapped means is “At some point in its life, someone shrinkwrapped this game.” It doesn’t mean that it’s never been opened.

I’ve worked for a big hobby retailer (Virgin Games Centre, Oxford in the mid-90s) and I now run The Shop on the Borderlands. (Although we mostly deal in secondhand, we do stock new games as well.)

I can tell you this: MOST NEW GAMES DO NOT ARRIVE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR SHRINK-WRAPPED. Some do, certainly – maybe about one third.

One of my jobs at Virgin was to shrink-wrap games using the shop’s shrink-wrapping machine which was down in the warehouse / loading bay. In other words, most shrink-wrapping is done by the retailer. And the better retailers (good FLGSs for example) expect that customers will want to open games to have a look, and flick through rulebooks, so they probably don’t shrink-wrap at all.

So just because an item is shrink-wrapped, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t got bashed about on the way to the retailer, doesn’t mean that it is complete, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been opened and read by enthusiastic gamers having their lunchbreak who work at the shop (ahem). And of course on a classic game, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t shrink-wrapped many years of enthusiastic play later.

Our policy at The Shop on the Borderlands is to actually remove any shrink-wrap on games we buy whether brand new or second hand. We then open the item, check that it is complete and what condition individual components are in. We even go so far as to give individual condition grades to each component. And our product photos are not generic stock images, or images taken from the manufacturer’s website, but photos of the actual item we have in stock, including contents. For shipping, we bag smaller items or use bubble-wrap (never shrink-wrap) before they get boxed.

Sorry for the rant here, but this is a subject that really annoys me. There are people out there putting their own shrink-wrap on a classic product and selling it at a premium as “still in shrink”. That’s fraud. I wouldn’t like to guess at the percentage of old games that have been newly shrink-wrapped in this way.

And you’ll see some experts say that you should expect to pay more for a mint condition shrink-wrapped game than one that is in mint condition but doesn’t have the shrink-wrapping. They’re expecting you to pay a premium AND take on the extra risk that the contents aren’t complete or are in poor condition.

Here’s what I think people should do when faced with someone trying to charge a premium for shrink-wrapping: ask the seller to remove the shrink-wrap and let you have it at a cheaper price.

Starter RPGs for Younger Roleplayers

It’s the summer holidays. Kids don’t need to go to school – yay! If you know some younger potential gamers who might be converted to the roleplaying cause, why not buy them a game to start them off with? (You may even want to run one for them, depending on how old they are.)

But which roleplaying games work best for new roleplayers? Read on…

The Obvious Choice

P1170026The new 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons has proved to be hugely popular with roleplayers young and old. And it has a Starter Set especially designed for beginning roleplayers. It’s got everything you need to get started (including dice) and is completely compatible with the other 5th edition D&D products once the group outgrows it and wants something more complicated.

 

The Nostalgic Choice

If you’re my kind of age (mid-40s), then you very well may have got your first taste of role-playing with the famous ‘red box’ Basic Dungeons & Dragons. This is still a great choice today, and of course one of the great things about shops like The Shop on the Borderlands is that we have old versions of D&D in stock.

 

The Almost As Obvious Choice

I put D&D as my ‘obvious choice’ because it’s what most people think of when you say “roleplaying game” and there’s a good chance that people will be aware of the brand. However in terms of brand awareness, D&D is insignificant compared to Star Wars. And guess what, there are no less than three different but compatible current Star Wars RPGs, each with their own Beginner Game.

Which one you choose will depend on the sort of campaign you want to play in. Fancy fighting for the Rebels against the Empire? You need ‘Age of Rebellion‘. If hanging out in cantinas with smugglers and bounty hunters is more your thing, then go for ‘Edge of the Empire‘, and if you want to be one with the Force wielding your lightsabre, choose ‘Force and Destiny’. All of these games are compatible with each other and their more complicated core rulebooks, so like the 5th edition D&D Starter Set, there is an obvious upgrade path.

 

Choices for Fans of Superheroes

Nowadays it seems that three out of every four Hollywood blockbusters are superhero films. For the young superhero fan, there are some suitable beginner RPGs.

For Batman fans, the Batman Role-Playing Game is a cut-down version of the full DC Heroes game. It comes in a single paperback book format, so it’s perfect to take on holiday.

Marvel fans can choose between two different Marvel RPGs. The more recent (and somewhat glossier) is The Marvel Universe Role-Playing Game while the older Marvel Super Heroes was produced by TSR when they were making D&D, and has rules which will be very easy to pick up for anyone who has played that game. Both are very good games for beginners, with plenty of advice on how to run adventures.

 

The Portable Choice

If you fancy some roleplaying on holiday and luggage space is tight, some of these larger boxed RPGs might not be so good. In this case, consider the classic British RPG ‘Dragon Warriors‘, which unusually was published in three volumes in the same format as regular paperback novels. Quite apart from the handy form factor, Dragon Warriors was a good fantasy RPG in its own right, and well-suited to beginners.

 

The Not-Quite-Roleplaying Choice

P1160600If you think you might have to be cunning in getting the youngsters hooked on roleplaying games, try exposing them to the Dungeons & Dragons board game first. It’s a fun family board game, but close enough to real D&D to be something of a gateway drug.

 

The Big Battles Choice

OK, so it isn’t a roleplaying game, but it is fantasy. It’s a very easy way to play out big fantasy battles, using little plastic miniatures that come with the game. I’m talking about Battlelore. We have a whole range in stock. Once your players are a little older and you’ve introduced them to Game of Thrones, they’ll love the fact that the same rules are used in the Battles of Westeros series too.

 

So go on, introduce some youngsters to roleplaying games. It might just turn out to be the best thing you ever do for them. As a special incentive, if you buy a game from us as a gift for a younger gamer, send us a photo of them playing the game and tell us a bit about it. We’ll publish the best one and send them something extra for their game as a special “Welcome to Roleplaying” prize!

www.ShopOnTheBorderlands.co.uk

Papers & Paychecks

Although RPG art has got more colourful and glossier over the years (mostly as publishers have got more professional and colour publishing, whether in print or PDF has got easier and cheaper), I’m not convinced that it’s got better.

Some of my favourite pieces of art (I use that term deliberately) from old RPG works are simple black and white line drawings.

Traveller has particularly good illustrations, my favourite of which is this ‘mercenary striker’ from Book 4: Mercenary. Dick Hentz is the artist.

'Mercenary Striker' from Classic Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, by Dick Hentz
‘Mercenary Striker’ from Classic Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, by Dick Hentz

 

Liz Danforth also illustrated for Traveller, but I think her best work was for ICE’s Middle-Earth Role-Playing, in particular the portraits she did for the ‘Lords of Middle-Earth Series’.

'The Blue Wizard Pallando', by Liz Danforth
‘The Blue Wizard Pallando’, by Liz Danforth

That’s really only the tip of the iceberg for Liz Danforth, a truly multi-talented individual. Look her up on wikipedia and you’ll be amazed by how many different things she’s good at.

 

RPG illustrations also seem to have got more uniform and perhaps more serious than they used to be, which is really the purpose for this post. Sure, the 5th edition artwork is uniformly excellent, but it’s all very coherent. 1st edition had a variety of styles, from the dramatic…

Untitled, by Darlene Pekul
Untitled, by Darlene Pekul

…to the elegant…

Unknown title, Darlene Pekul
Unknown title, Darlene Pekul

…to the downright silly…

Papers & Paychecks, by Will McLean
Papers & Paychecks, by Will McLean

 

No, there never was a Papers & Paychecks Roleplaying Game, although I think there should have been. Happy April Fool’s Day.

The PAW Wargames Show

A few weeks back I popped along to the Plymouth Association of Wargamers’s 2015 show. Never been before, so thought it would be interesting to check out.

WP_000044
Sword and Spear demo game

Really impressive show – two enormous sports halls filled with demonstration and tournament games, and a great friendly buzz. Oh, and I even found some new stock for the shop in their ‘Bring and Buy’ section – including this obscure gem.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we’ll be going next year in an official capacity – yes, The Shop on the Borderlands will be there in person as a trader. So if you’re anywhere near Plymouth on the 6th or 7th February 2016, why not come to the show (it only costs £4 to get in) and say hello!

We won’t have the space to transport all of our stock, but if there is something you want to have a look at, send us an email and we’ll try to remember to bring it. We’ll also be bringing a computer hooked up to the internet so that attendees can browse the full stock list. For those people there both days, we can easily bring something in the second day if it is requested on the first.

More about the show and the Association here.

 

Scottish RPGs (sort of…)

You may have noticed that Scotland has been in the news recently (to say the least). And that’s all the excuse I needed to produce a list of Scottish-themed RPG books…

SONY DSCThe Ghost Tower of Inverness

This 1st edition AD&D adventure doesn’t actually have anything to do with Scotland, but the author seems to have selected the site of the Ghost Tower by throwing a dart at a map of the Highlands…

 

SONY DSC

Celts Campaign Sourcebook

Not all inhabitants of Scotland were or are Celtic, and certainly not all Celts are Scottish, but including this 2nd edition AD&D historical supplement seems fair.

 

SONY DSCHowls in the Night

Can you think of another AD&D adventure with a tam’o’shanter on the cover? Well, can you?

 

 

SONY DSCVikings

Since we’ve already established that not all of the inhabitants of Scotland were Celts, we can say that some of them (especially in the north and on the islands) were Vikings. So I can include this other AD&D historical reference.

 

SONY DSCA Game of Thrones RPG / A Song of Ice and Fire RPG

George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series depicts a civilised land separated from wild red-haired barbarians in the cold north by a big wall running from west to east. England on the other hand is…well, you get the idea. (Joke…joke…)

 

SONY DSCThe Pit of Loch Durnan and The Witch of Loch Durnan

3rd edition D&D adventures with the word ‘Loch’ in the title. Oh come on, that totally counts…

 

 

SONY DSCReavers’ Deep Sector Sourcebook

Traveller supplement detailing the Reavers’ Deep Sector (reavers – like the border reavers) and its largest human government the Principality of Caledon. Caledon, Caledonia, you see?

 

SONY DSCLion of the North

Scottish sourcebook for Ars Magica.

 

 

SONY DSCJames Bond 007 RPG

Scotland’s most famous spy (yes he was Scottish – read the books), most notably played by Scotland’s most famous actor.

 

SONY DSCDoctor Who – Time Lord RPG

Published when Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor, and he’s definitely Scottish. So is Peter Capaldi for that matter.

 

SONY DSC

Star Trek RPG

You get to play a Scotsman called, wait for it…’Scotty’. ‘McCoy’ is a Scottish name too.

 

 

 

Beyond the Wall

Scottish and Pictish sourcebook for Pendragon.

 

SLA Industries

Cyberpunky RPG that was made by Scotland’s own Nightfall Games.

 

SONY DSCNight City Stories

Excellent supplement for Cyberpunk that was written by a group based in Edinburgh.

 

 

 

Cthulhu Britannica – Shadows over Scotland

Call of Cthulhu supplement about Scotland. As you’d expect from the title.

 

SONY DSCThe Works of Shakespeare

Unusual d20 sourcebook that lets you run four Shakespeare plays as adventures, including Macb…THE SCOTTISH ADVENTURE. (It’s bad luck for roleplayers to say the name before a session. You’ll roll 1s all night.)

 

 

20 D&D Adventures To Play Before You Die*

* …that you possibly haven’t heard of.

 

Back in 2004, Dungeon Magazine got together a bunch of famous D&D designers, like Ed ‘Forgotten Realms’ Greenwood, Bruce Cordell and Monte Cook, and asked them to come up with a definitive list of the ’30 Greatest Adventures of All Time’. Many of the blog posts you see online with similar titles are heavily based on this list.

Dungeons_and_Dragons_4th_Edition_Logo

There are undoubtedly plenty of good adventures on that list. However, I have a few problems with it:

  1. 29 of the 30 were published by TSR or WotC. (28 TSR, one WotC, one Judges’ Guild) Other companies have published adventures for D&D from the very early days.
  2. There’s a huge bias towards 1st Edition AD&D.
  3. There’s a huge bias towards traditional dungeon crawls. Other forms of adventure do exist.
  4. The list is now ten years old. More adventures have been published since then. Also, tastes in roleplaying change.

You can see Dungeon Magazine’s original ’30 Greatest Adventures of All Time’ list here. We have many of them in stock.

Anyway, I thought I would enhance the original article by coming up with a list of twenty somewhat less famous (but perhaps more varied) D&D adventures that I think you really should try to play before you die.

 

  1. SONY DSCN4 Treasure Hunt. A brilliant way to start a new campaign. In Treasure Hunt players start with 0th level characters who get shipwrecked. As they play through the adventure, their actions determine what class they become and what alignment they are. It’s also really helpful for DMs – the “What if they don’t do this?” section was a brilliant idea.
  2. SONY DSCDL1-12 DragonLance. OK, this is a bit of a cheat since a) it’s very famous, b) DL1 was number 25 in the original list and c) it has never been published as one module (the closest being the DragonLance Classics series which reprinted the series in three volumes). But DragonLance was only ever meant to be played as one grand campaign, and in that role, it was ground-breaking. D&D took most of its inspiration from pulp swords and sorcery, not epic high fantasy. DragonLance showed that the game was just as capable of delivering grand sweeps of awesome epicness.
  3. SONY DSCIrilian. Irilian was published in six parts in White Dwarf magazine, issues 42 to 47. It’s a very detailed large medieval town and a brilliantly-written plot-heavy adventure. Clever use of language and names makes the town seem more real while the adventure itself has a great feeling of impending doom. All six parts were included in The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume III.
  4. RA1 Feast of Goblyns. Everyone knows about the original Ravenloft module. However, after TSR decided to turn Ravenloft into an entire campaign setting, they came out with this overlooked horror of an adventure. A great introduction for players and characters new to Ravenloft (and possibly a real shock for cocky players who think they’ve seen it all). Big on atmosphere (and with plenty of tips along the way to help DMs creep out their players). My favourite ‘scary’ D&D adventure.
  5. H1 Bloodstone Pass. Part roleplaying adventure, part miniatures battle (using the just-released Battlesystem miniatures rules), Bloodstone Pass was another example of taking D&D in a slightly different direction than simple dungeon-delving. Also a little unusual at the time in being an AD&D scenario for high level characters.
  6. OA5 Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw. The fifth Oriental Adventures scenario. This one is a romp involving oriental gods, secret societies and martial arts. The plot is all over the place in some ways, but the adventure is simply a lot of fun.
  7. Reverse Dungeon. Just like the PC game Dungeon Keeper. This time, instead of being the heroes raiding the dungeon, you’re the monsters. It’s actually three mini-campaigns in which the players play in turn a goblin tribe, guardian abominations and finally ancient undead. Different, fun, clever – a great one-off change of pace adventure.
  8. Die Vecna Die! The last AD&D product (before 3rd edition), the last product to be branded ‘TSR’ and the end of an era. Oh, and one which links Greyhawk, Ravenloft and Planescape and two of D&D’s most iconic bad guys (Vecna and Iuz). High-level multiverse-shattering, apocalyptic end-of-everything stuff. And sort of an explanation of why third edition rules are different from second edition.
  9. The Last Days of Constantinople. One of the best things about the Open Gaming Licence that came in with 3rd edition was the flexibility it gave third party publishers to do something different with the game. This was an almost straight historical adventure set in Constantinople just before its fall to the Turks. It’s only 46 pages, but packs a hell of a lot in – the last Roman Emperor, Vlad the Impaler, exotic courtesans, palace intrigue, arquebuses, greek fire and 100,000 Turks! Oh, and a big crocodile.
  10. SONY DSCIn Search of New Gods. A short, but very well-written British adventure that rewards clever players as much as powerful characters.
  11. SONY DSCUK4 When A Star Falls. I think this is the best of the (generally excellent) ‘UK’ series of AD&D modules produced by the UK office of TSR. Interesting NPCs and makes plenty of use of lesser known monsters out of Monster Manual II and the Fiend Folio.
  12. SONY DSCFRC2 Curse of the Azure Bonds. The PCs wake up covered in blue tattoos – the ‘azure bonds’ of the title – and embark on a quest to find out what they are and how to remove them. One of those adventures where there’s a lot going on in the background, and where the PCs can make radically different choices regarding how they deal with the threats and who they ally with. As such, it’s not the easiest module to run, and needs a fair bit of preparation, but it’s ultimately very rewarding.
  13. SONY DSCWhen Black Roses Bloom. Takes one of DragonLance’s best villains, Lord Soth, and puts him in a Ravenloft realm created by his own nightmares. An adventure that rewards thoughtful play.
  14. SONY DSCRevenge of the Giants. A loving homage to the 1st edition G1-3 Against the Giants modules, this fourth edition hardback campaign added plenty of extra new material. A lot of people don’t like 4th edition, but if they don’t try this, they’re definitely missing out. Individual encounters are set out in detail, with plenty of advice for the DM on the tactics that the giants and other monsters use. One of the best modern dungeon crawl adventures.
  15. SONY DSCThe Lair of Maldred the Mighty. A White Dwarf adventure (issue 24) for highish level characters. A dungeon crawl, but the equal of most of those famous 1st edition dungeon crawls published by TSR, and it was included in a magazine costing 75p. The only problem? Really small print! It’s also included in The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume II.
  16. The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga’s odd hut-on-chicken-legs first appeared in D&D in the 1976 Original D&D supplement Eldritch Wizardry. It’s actually from slavic folklore, and you’ll also find it in the Call of Cthulhu campaign ‘Horror on the Orient Express‘. This is one of the weirdest of all official D&D modules. You thought the spaceship in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was odd? How about alternate reality Tokyo?
  17. X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield. An army of desert nomads (the same desert nomads as in ‘Master of the Desert Nomads‘) invades the civilised world and it’s up to the PCs to lead the defence. It’s more of a strategic war game using the Companion Set’s War Machine battle rules (or Battlesystem) than a pure adventure, but there is plenty of shuttle diplomacy included too. It came with a map of the D&D world and plenty of counters
  18. B6 The Veiled Society. Most low level D&D adventures are dungeon crawls. For no apparent reason, it seems that writers think that political intrigue and diplomacy is for higher level characters. The Veiled Society is an exception. At a time when many AD&D players would look down on Basic D&D as simplistic, Basic D&D players were playing through this complex (if all too short) scenario.
  19. SONY DSCP1 King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. There aren’t as many 4th edition adventures as you’d hope for, but this is certainly a good one. It’s a ‘paragon’ level (i.e. highish) adventure with 4th edition’s typically high production values. The villain is a self-declared king of the trolls who has acquired a powerful magic cauldron (and who reminded me of the cavewight Drool Rockworm from Thomas Covenant).
  20. Marauders of the Dune Sea. 4th edition never had enough adventures. The Dark Sun setting has never had enough adventures. Good job that this 4th edition Dark Sun adventure is so good then! Serves as a good introduction to the setting and the sort of campaign that makes it easy for the DM to add extra mini-adventures in here and there.

 

We have some of these adventures in stock here at The Shop on the Borderlands, so if you’d like to add to your collection, follow the links.

What D&D adventures do you think deserve the status of forgotten classics?

Dungeon Magazine’s ’30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time’

Non-Specific Setting AdventuresIn November 2004, Dungeon Magazine got a dozen or so D&D designers and got them to assemble a definitive list of the 30 best D&D adventures. Here’s what they came up with. We have many of these adventures in stock here at The Shop on the Borderlands, so if you’d like to learn more, or you’d like to add a copy to your collection, follow the links.

 

 

  1. GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders
  2. I6 Ravenloft
  3. S1 Tomb of Horrors
  4. T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
  5. S3 Expedition to the Barrier PeakSONY DSC
  6. I3-5 Desert of Desolation
  7. B2 The Keep on the Borderlands
  8. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
  9. S2 White Plume Mountain
  10. Return to the Tomb of HorrorsSONY DSC
  11. Gates of Firestorm Peak
  12. The Forge of Fury
  13. I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City
  14. Dead Gods
  15. X2 Castle Amber (Chateau d’Amberville)
  16. X1 The Isle of Dread
  17. The Ruins of UndermountainSONY DSC
  18. C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
  19. N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God
  20. A1-4 Scourge of the Slavelords
  21. Dark Tower
  22. S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
  23. WG4 The Forgotten Temple of TharizdunSONY DSC
  24. City of the Spider Queen
  25. DL1 Dragons of Despair
  26. WGR6 The City of Skulls
  27. U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  28. B4 The Lost City
  29. L2 The Assassin’s Knot
  30. C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness

 

Now personally, I think this list is anything but definitive, so I’ve written a follow-up article, entitled “20 D&D Adventures to Play Before You Die…that you possibly haven’t heard of“.

The Top 10 RPG Magazines of All Time

For many roleplaying games, the rules and background that comes in rulebooks, boxed sets and sourcebooks only goes so far – more of that stuff is to be found in magazines, official or otherwise.

Here’s The Shop on the Borderlands countdown of the Top 10 RPG Magazines of All Time!  

 

10. The Last Province

SONY DSCSomething of a case of what might have been. The Last Province was independent, British, quirky, professional and tried to be what White Dwarf had been years before. Editorially it succeeded; commercially it didn’t. The early 90s was something of a low point for the hobby, and The Last Province ceased publication after only five issues. You can buy copies here.

 

9. The Space Gamer

SONY DSCThe Space Gamer during its best period was Steve Jackson Games’s house magazine, but it actually started out with Steve Jackson’s previous employer Metagaming Concepts. Jackson left and took the rights to TSG with him. The magazine didn’t just cover Metagaming or SJG games, although there was a bias towards science fiction rather than fantasy or any other type of gaming, and board and miniature games were covered too. Computer gaming legend Warren Spector was the editor for several issues in the mid 80s.

The best bit of TSG was Murphy’s Rules – a comic strip illustrating absurdities in the rules of various hobby games. You can buy copies of The Space Gamer plus compilations of Murphy’s Rules here.

 

8. Challenge

SONY DSCChallenge was to GDW what The Space Gamer was to Steve Jackson Games – a house magazine that also ran articles for other companies’ games, but kept a science fiction focus. The magazine started in 1986 and took over GDW’s previous magazine ‘The Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society’ (see number 7 below) and added other games to it – notably Twilight 2000 and then Traveller 2300. Because of this, the first issue is number 25 – because the last issue of JTAS had been 24.

Look out for the annual April Fools and Halloween editions. You can buy Challenge here.

 

7. The Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society

SONY DSCThis is the first true game-specific magazine in our countdown. The game is Traveller – an RPG blessed with some really good magazines. This was the original though, and much of Traveller’s rich background first appeared in its compact pages. (Unlike most magazines, JTAS was published in a small format to fit with Traveller’s ‘little black books’ format.)

JTAS originally ran for 24 issues, after which it was merged into Challenge such that issues 25 to 36 were inserts in the middle of Challenge. However, after GDW had folded, Marc Miller’s Imperium Games published a new Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society to support Traveller 4 and rather confusingly started the numbering back at 25!

You can buy copies of JTAS here.

 

6. Other Hands / Other Minds

othermindsThe only real amateur production on this list, Other Hands was an example of what a bunch of dedicated fans could do for a game – in this case MERP and other Middle-earth RPGs. It was only ever a download, but the quality of writing makes it an essential for any Middle-earth roleplayer.

Unfortunately, after ICE lost the Tolkien licence, Tolkien Enterprises cracked down on publications like this and threatened legal action, which ultimately led the magazine to close down. Thankfully, other people picked up the Ring, and out of the ashes of Other Hands was born Other Minds. If you’ve never seen it, you’ll be astonished at just how slick and professional (and big!) the later issues of Other Minds are. The most recent issue is 322 pages!

You can download all copies of both magazines from the Other Minds website here for free!

 

5. The Excellent Prismatic Spray

SONY DSCPossibly the most obscure magazine here, for a pretty obscure game. However, that isn’t going to stop me from mentioning The Excellent Prismatic Spray, a magazine devoted to The Dying Earth RPG (one of my favourite fantasy games). TEPP is, like its setting, rather verbose and rich in detail. It’s worth checking out if you play D&D too – after all, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth stories inspired both the D&D magic system and the thief class.

We have one copy of TEPP in stock here.

 

4. Imagine

SONY DSCWhile Dragon was TSR’s house magazine in the US and around the world, at the time that TSR had a UK office, it was also putting out the thinner, but somewhat less respectful ‘Imagine Adventure Game Magazine’ in the mid eighties.

Very high quality writing (look out for several short stories and review columns by a very young Neil Gaiman). Understandably it concentrated on TSR games, especially D&D, but there are some issues with a focus on other games.

Buy Imagine here.

 

3. Dragon

SONY DSCThe big one. Dragon started in 1976, replacing TSR’s earlier ‘The Strategic Review’, moved to Paizo Publishing in 2002 (under licence) and ceased publication as a print magazine in 2007 after 359 monthly issues, but carrying on after that as online material on Wizards of the Coast’s website. Dragon is where many of the features that we now think of as essentially D&D first appeared – character classes, monsters, even the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. If you play D&D, you can find a lot of good content in its pages.

You can buy old copies of Dragon here.

 

2. White Dwarf SONY DSC

I bet you were thinking that I was going to put White Dwarf as number 1 weren’t you? Well, not quite.

However, during its golden age in the 1980s, White Dwarf was definitely the best non-game specific magazine out there. Excellent (mostly short) articles and some really good scenarios for a pretty decent range of games. And you could buy it in your local newsagents (or at least you could when they started toning down some of the cover art…) Still, by issue 100, White Dwarf had ceased to be a roleplaying games magazine and had essentially become a monthly glossy advert for Warhammer and other Games Workshop games. And I can’t quite forgive it for that, so it’s number 2, not number 1.

 

1. The Travellers’ Digest and The MegaTraveller Journal

SONY DSCSo you might not have been expecting this to be number 1. But I’m going to come out and say it – there has never been a more essential RPG magazine than The Travellers’ Digest and its successor The MegaTraveller Journal. Despite being about a game published by another company (GDW’s Traveller and MegaTraveller), these two magazines were packed with great adventures and a perfect mix of ‘crunch’ and ‘fluff’ articles. Oh, and the artwork, both on the covers and inside, was uniformly excellent. The Digest was replaced by The MegaTraveller Journal, which was more of the same – only amazingly even better. Sadly, the magazine finished with issue 4, but it went out with quite a bang, devoting most of the issue to a single large campaign ‘The Lords of Thunder’ – a campaign good enough to make a top 10 of ‘Best RPG Campaigns of All Time’. Hmmm. That’s an idea for a blog article…

You can buy The Travellers’ Digest here and The MegaTraveller Journal here.