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Gygax magazine issue #1
by Paul T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2015 12:16:11

Loved the issue and I am anxious to get more. Ethan Gilsdorf's article is worth the price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #1
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Gygax magazine issue #4
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2015 12:37:48

13th Age and Kobold Press fans, I was in for a pleasant surprise when I read Gygax Magazine #4. In "The Kobold's Cavern," Ed Greenwood presents examples of Vance's Polysyllabic Verbalizations (a wizard talent in 13th Age) for each wizard spell. Additionally, Brian Liberge offers new 13th Age talents to build a corsair of Triolo, a northlands reaver, or a Valkyrie of Wotan. Awesome stuff, and a real treat for those of us who run games in the Midgard Campaign Setting using the 13th Age system.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #4
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Gygax magazine issue #5
by Dominick T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2015 08:32:21

Gygax magazine is in its second publishing year. They had to reroll a whole publishing company, and have established themselves in this issue. There some great content for all editions; a Munchkin tips and tricks article, new critical hits, and a playable RPG game with a ready to play adventure. I like the one page dungeon, "Island of the Lizard God", adaptable for any gaming system.
This issue is well worth the price!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #5
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Gygax magazine issue #4
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2014 13:06:49

The 'Randomize Your Realm' article is worth the price of admission alone.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #4
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Gygax magazine issue #4
by William V. H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2014 15:34:37

I have to admit that I bought this purely for the Top Secret adventure, and found it something of a mixed bag. Like all of Rasmussen's published TS adventures it's detailed enough (but not overly so), but it's also got a shaky plot and tends to be more "direct action" in nature, which TS isn't optimized for. TS works best when you have more cloak and less dagger in the missions, and Scorpion Sting is mostly dagger. The oasis is also very reminiscent of Sprechenhaltestelle...the city area detailed in the first TS module.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #4
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2014 18:36:22

In many ways, reading an issue of Gygax Magazine is like reading an old issue of the Dragon—which, I suppose, is pretty much what the editors are going for. The fantastic cover illustration of issue #4 evokes the series of chess-related covers that graced the older magazine back in its TSR heyday. Of course it does, since it's by the same artist, Den Beauvais! To me, the cover is really the highlight of issue #4.

The second highlight of this issue is undoubtedly the long and (overly?) detailed Top Secret adventure by Merle Rasmussen. The adventure offers a nice mix of a specific mission and a sandbox enviroment—almost literally, since you're going to the desert. Robotic camels and spy drones disguised as bats … what's not to love? If, that is, you still have a copy of the Top Secret rules lying around somewhere. I don't know what happened to my copy after I went to college and left my games behind with my younger brother.

I really enjoyed Michael Varhola's "Men and Monsters of Polynesia" (apparently for AD&D and retroclones) despite its andronormative title, and would have really loved to have this resource back when I started my current D&D campaign, which was mostly set in the South Seas until the PCs started plane-hopping. This issue's installment of "Leomund's Secure Shelter" did nothing for me, just adding complexity to AD&D archery that I don't feel a need for. Jon Peterson's "Adventuring Without the Magic" was a really fun romp down memory lane; I kept saying, "I played that! I remember when that came out!" I didn't care much for Dave Olson's "Necromancer's Cookbook" (maybe because my current game, D&D 4e, has plenty of varieties of undead) or the article on "Djinn" by Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash (though that might be different were I playing a game where djinn figure more prominently), and Bill McDonald's "Psionics Without the Points" didn't engage me either. On the other hand, Timothy Connolly's "Randomize Your Realm" will be a tool I'll bookmark, and to which I'll return next time I run a homebrew fantasy campaign.

As for the cartoons, Order of the Stick was okay this time, but Full Frontal Nerdity was really funny.

I think I noticed a couple of typos and such in issue #4, but they were apparently not serious enough to stick with me. I only have two complains about this issue. First, sometimes it's not obvious which system a particular article intends to address. You have to read two paragraphs into the article about djinn, for example, to learn that it's keyed to RuneQuest 6. Some kind of header tag at the top of the page identifying the relevant system would be most welcome. Second, 76 pages is long enough for the PDF to need bookmarks, which the publisher did not supply.

If you want new material for AD&D or its retroclones, or you just want a good dose of nostalgia, go ahead and get a copy of Gygax Magazine #4.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #4
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/12/2014 06:22:31

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/12/tabletop-review-gygax-magazine-issue-4/

Gygax Magazine had a fantastic 2013. They released three top-notch issues AND won our “Best Tabletop Related Magazine” award in our 2013 Tabletop Gaming Awards. For a quarterly magazine these days, getting three of the four projected issues out in a calendar year is practically unheard of. Only Pathways by Rite Publishing seems to come out like clockwork, and considering that’s a free monthly, that’s pretty impressive. Well, I guess I could include White Dwarf and The Rifter, but those are more paid advertisements for Games Workshop and Palladium respectively.

Anyway, after such a great 2013, Gygax Magazine seemed to disappear. There was very little talk of Issue 4 from them, whether on their home page or via social media. Then all of a sudden, I got my reviewer copy and an email from TSR to all subscribers (of which I am one – full candor here, am I right?) stating that since they were having a problem with the publisher, they were going to push through the digital version before the physical one. I was perfectly find with that considering my physical copy of Issue #1 arrived two months after the digital one and Issue 2 suffered a similar fate. I’m used to getting the PDF version before the dead tree one and honestly, I want to read the magazine – I’m not too picky as to which format I get. I wasn’t expecting the magazine to hit this month, but as soon as it did, I downloaded it, put it on my Kindle Fire HDX and then read the issue from cover to cover. What can I say? I miss gaming magazine. As a lad, I used to have subscriptions to Dungeon, Dragon, White Wolf and even Inquest at some point (gift subscription). I loved reading about a wide variety of games I had never heard of or might never get to play, along with ones I knew inside and out. I loves articles, comics, art and even the mailbag. I’m pretty sure tabletop gaming magazines where why I was more than happy to spend six years writing for the Pokémon magazine (sometimes nearly the entire issue) for my Pikachu-minded overlords. Even in this digital age, there is something special about a magazine as opposed to a website or blog. It’s not a generational thing because the Pokémon magazine was geared towards kids and that sold like crazy. It’s just a matter of reaching your target audience with high quality well thought out articles and that’s exactly what Gygax Magazine did in 2013 – it hit the Zeitgeist. Now the quest is, after a six month break, can TSR recapture the same magic in 2014? Let’s take a look.

I have to admit, I marked out when I saw the cover. Now it probably won’t mean anything to you unless you’re in your late thirties or older, but it’s a continuation of a series of covers that started with Dragon Magazine #83. Jayson Elliot’s very short editorial (only a paragraph this time) gives a very brief history of it. As someone that owns every issue of that damn magazine, continuing Den Beauvais’ series was a great way to really highlight how Gygax Magazine is the spiritual successor to the Dragon.

Instead of the editorial this issue, Gygax Magazine has introduced a mailbag. Well, one letter really, which highlights the great nostalgia of the mailbag from monthly magazines but also the downside to publishing delays. The letter in question asks a timely question about how to get better at describing locations to his players. God only knows when this was written, but in the age of instant email and Facebook replies having to wait six months for an answer to your question would kind of suck. The mailbag might be better used for less time-oriented pieces, like inquires about the publication process, why some game lines get covered and others don’t, comments, criticism and so on. So now, let’s look at the ten articles and two comics in this issue. I have to admit, before me get into this issue, there was very little that appealed to me personally as a gamer. While the issue was well written and technically sound, there wasn’t a lot geared towards my particular tastes, wants or needs. That doesn’t make it a bad issue – just the weakest yet in terms of what I play and/or am interested in. That didn’t keep me from appreciating a lot of the articles though because even back in the day I never played Star Frontiers or Al-Qadim, but I still read articles about the games when they showed up in Dragon.

  1. Men and Monsters of Polynesia. This article offers a brief look at Polynesian folklore and various beings from its folklore that you would encounter in a game that uses Polynesian culture as a setting backdrop. At first I was surprised the article used AD&D 1e stat blocks for the creature, but then I reminded myself that Al-Qadim and Maztica did pretty well in the era of Second Edition AD&D, so why not do a high fantasy game with a Polynesian bent instead of a Euro-centric one? The article was well-written and you get a fantastic description of each creature, allowing a DM to really make use of them. Do I think most of these creatures would work better with a “real world” game like Call of Cthulhu or Chill? Sure I do. Would I ever personally make use of the article? Probably not. Is it still really well done and fun to read? It sure is, and that’s what matters. 1 for 1.

  2. Leomund’s Secure Shelter. This article really wasn’t for me and in a way, it highlights how anal retentive and rules-mastery/lawyery old school gamers can be. The entire article picks apart the AD&D ranged chart for missiles weapons and adds even more rules, tables and the like, which really isn’t needed. In essence, the article slows down AD&D combat EVEN more, taking away time from role-playing and instead forcing the DM to spend even more time figuring out arbitrary details in favor of more roll-playing. I personally hate that and was highly disappointed to see an article that took that stance in Gygax Magazine. The tone of the piece didn’t help either as it came off both pedantic with side commentary like the following: “(I use INDIVIDUAL INITIATIVE and NEVER GROUP INITIATIVE in every melee where the players and key NPCs are involved!)” Yes, all caps and bolding in an aside for a professionally published magazine article. The magazine editor in me winced. Anyway, this was probably my least favorite article in a Gygax Magazine so far, which says something. Sometimes people really need to paraphrase MST3K and say, “It’s just a game. I should really just relax.” 1 for 2.

  3. Adventuring Without the Magic. As a folklorist and writer of way too many articles on the history of something or other, Jon Peterson’s pieces in Gygax Magazine are always a highlight for me. In this case, the article looks at non-fantasy RPGs and how they slowly came about. Jon looks at several non-fantasy games where people took on roles instead of just rolling dice before D&D reared its head. Diplomacy and Braunstein (the latter of which still gets a lot of play in my old MSP haunt) get mentioned in this era, for example. The article also looks at some of our first non-fantasy tabletop roleplaying games like Top Secret, James Bond, Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha (which is getting not one, but two remakes!), Bunnies & Burrows and more. I tried a lot of these games and a kid and enjoyed them, so it was a wonderful shot of nostalgia to see the names of some of these long out of print (and sadly forgotten) classics. A great read from beginning to end. 2 for 3.

  4. The Necromancer’s Cookbook. One of my favorite D&D releases of all time was The Complete Guide to Necromancer from the AD&D 2e era. It was so fantastically done, I’ve kept it and recommended it as a reference for any game that uses necromancy. It’s that good. So I was delighted to see The Necromancer’s Cookbook in this issue. This piece gives you ten new necromantic creatures to throw at players. There are five skeleton and five zombie variants, along with information on how to make them. I also liked how the stat blocks tried to incorporate both old and new forms of D&D such as THAC0 and ascending AC, along with both a XP value and Challenge Rating (CR). These are some fun and imaginative cannon fodder for a necromancer antagonist and I can definitely see Ravenloft fans making great use of this one. 3 for 4.

  5. Djinn Hey! A Runequest article. That was unexpected and fun to see. These stats blocks are for Runequest 6 to be specific, although I’m kind of shocked that between BRP and Runequest, there aren’t Djinn stats already. The three page article is very brief and GMs will have to fill in a lot of blanks to make these guys work in an actual game, but magazines have page and word count maximums, so it’s understandable. I found this article to be a lot of fun, reading-wise, but again, it’s not something I would ever use personally. 4 for 5.

  6. Randomize Your Realm. I have a love/hate relationship with random tables. I think the sheer glut of them over at DriveThruRPG from countless small publishers are both inane and a waste. Yet, some randomizing is fun. I love making characters for TSR’s old Marvel Super Heroes RPGvia the charts and of course, HoL‘s character creation process is something you have to experience at least once. I do think that relying on random tables for that creating from scratch is the sign of a weak GM, but also that they are indispensable to new/rookie GMs in terms of helping them flesh out things. This article gives you seven d20 random tables that, when the results of each are combined, gives you a fleshed out snapshot of a kingdom. It’s fun to monkey around with, but not something I’d recommending using for an entire homebrew world, you know? You also have over thirty d100 random charts for “Events,” which will essentially give you story seeds. At six pages (Eight percent of the magazine), this is one of the longest pieces in the magazine and it feels like padding that could have been used for a more substantial article. It’s cute, but there are so many better uses of the limited space each issue has to offer readers. 4 for 6.

  7. Operation: Rendezvous Oasis. Wow. I can’t believe I’m going to be talking about a Top Secret adventure. I think the last time anything was published for this old TSR game was 1990. Hell, I don’t even know who owns the legal rights to Top Secret these days. Anyway, there was a brief period in my childhood when gamers were really into this. Very brief mind you, but I still have fond memories of my character Agent . What, I was like ten! Anyway, Gygax Magazine gives us a full length adventure from the mind of Merle M. Rasmussen, the original designer of Top Secret. That is pretty cool. The only problem is that Top Secret has been out of print for decades and there is no (legal) digital version of the game available. This means only a very tiny percentage of people who pick up this issue of Gygax Magazine are going to be able to play this adventure, much less enjoy it. I mean, I don’t even own Top Secret anymore and pretty much had to dust off old corned off sections of my memory to make sure I still had the rules down (Funny that I can remember rules sets to games I haven’t played in forever, but I can’t remember basic Trig). You’re going to have to be middle-aged and a bit of a packrat to really be able to play this adventure, which is a shame – especially when you consider the adventure takes up nearly a full third of the issue. For those that don’t have Top Secret, which is the vast majority of you, this is going to be wasted space or a curiosity read at best. I’m so torn by this because I love seeing new Top Secret Material, but also feel that this might have been better released on its own than released widespread to an audience who can’t play or might not even remember the system. It’s definitely a choice that highlights the good and bad regarding the decision making process as to what goes into an issue of Gygax Magazine.

All that said, the adventure is well written and I’m looking forward to the cool gatefold spread in the physical copy. God knows I’ll never be able to find enough people to actually play Operation Rendezvous Oasis, but reading it made me WANT to, and that’s the sign of a good adventure. Who knows? Maybe this piece will get people to look for old copies on the secondary market or even jump start a digital release of the game. Well, probably not, but here’s hoping. 5 for 7.

  1. Psionics, Without the Points. Well, this is an article I didn’t enjoy at all. I get the idea behind it, which is treating a Psychic character in an AD&D game like a spellcaster (Bard, Cleric, Mage, etc), but in doing so, you lose the uniqueness of the class as well as some of the fun. I loved the second and third edition books for Psionic characters (although 1e AD&D rules needed some/a lot of work). Retooling a class is not a bad idea on its own, but what is presented here is badly done and is even more of a mess than the original version. There’s not enough detail or description to make the class work as it’s only three pages long (along with a fourth page of spells the Psychic can use). Not only is the article not something I’d ever make use of, but it feels like a bad first draft of an idea rather than something that should have been published. 5 for 8.

  2. Ed’s Effulgent Euphuism. Hey, it’s Ed Greenwood talking about 13th Age. That’s a cool combination. In fact this is one of two 13th Age articles in this magazine. I’ve jokingly referred to 13th Age as “What D&D 4e should have been,” so I’m happy to see it get press here, especially since I have yet to find anyone in my immediate area that actually plays this. Heck, I can’t even get anyone here to care enough to review releases for it! Hopefully between the presence it gets in this issue and the upcoming Free RPG Day release, it will see more mainstream (such as there is in our industry) attention. This article looks at one of the more unique and fun aspects of the system – which involves the option to rename spells in order to get some small bonuses. Not only does this personalize the spells one is casting, but you can be extremely creative (and silly) with the naming of these pieces. For anyone who wondered why Tenser, Mordenkainen and other wizards got their own spells and your PC didn’t, well this is the system for you! Ed Greenwood gives you thirty examples (stretched over seven pages) of new names and effects for classic spells. These are a lot of fun just to read and the article along should make you want to at least try 13th Age if not outright purchase the core rulebook for it. 6 for 9.

Melee Masters. This is the second 13th Age article in the collection. Here we get a look at three new class builds for the game. What’s interesting that you can compare this article with the AD&D Psychic one earlier in the issue and come away with two things. The first is how much more streamlined 13th Age feels, which is both good and bad, depending on your gaming preferences. The second is how with the same amount of space, this article lays out three character class builds that are easy to use and understand as opposed to the…less well done Psychic piece. It’s night and day here, people. The three classes presented in this article are best suited for the Midgard campaign setting, but can work in just about any high fantasy campaign. The Corsair would work extremely well in a high seas or pirate type of setting. Just a great job overall. 7 for 10.

  1. Full Frontal Nerdity. A fun little two page comic involving a dragon and suspension of disbelief. I laughed. Mission accomplished. 8 for 11.

  2. The Order of the Stick. Come on, it’s Rich’s long running and extremely funny comic. It’s weird seeing Durkon amongst the living though. Funny as always. 9 for 12.

So there you go. Although there’s only one article that I’d actually make use of on my gaming table (Necromancer’s Cookbook), I’d say seventy-five percent of the magazine was fun to read or made me wish I knew people that played say, 13th Age or Top Secret. That’s a pretty good quality-to crap ratio and so I can definitely recommend the issue just to read, even if you don’t play many (or any) of the games featured in this latest version of Gygax Magazine. Look, no two people are going to enjoy exactly the same things to the same degree and the usefulness of the issue will vary based on what you play with your friends, so what you like or dislike about this issue may vary quite a bit from my own opinions and experiences here. As usual, this issue of Gygax Magazine was a well-crafted and excellent release full of fun articles, and that’s what matters. All that remains to be seen is whether or not TSR can make a second (or even third release) this year. Here’s hoping they can.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #3
by keith g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2014 20:59:25

Very nice, the feel, the art, and the content is very solid, of this you can be "Serten". New DCC RPG class, new AD&D class, Metamorphosis Alpha adventure, The Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat’uul is excellent and has an awesome color map.

It's a good deal for the page content. And you might experience some deja vu, that being said I believe this magazine would do very well even if Dragon wasn't part of the "brand". So far I am liking it a lot.

I believe in has that very early to mid 80s feel in the presentation and artwork...Holloway, Caldwell.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #3
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Gygax magazine issue #3
by VP401533 K. H. L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/02/2014 13:32:30

So much better...like the flavoring of a soup, mixed with all sorts of ingredients...ah...almost there.

What are good?

  • Art is good. A retro feel and look
  • Dwarven rune priest and Air-lancer. A wonderful write-up of a possible playable class
  • They all Died at the International Space Station & Marmomeal Tomb of Garn Pat-uul. Good adventures. Usable and full of expansion possibilities.
  • Order of the Knight Incorporeal. Good fluff to be incorporated not only to 13th Age but any other RPG campaign.
  • Hobby Shop Dungeon. Good story and materials thereafter to use.
  • Comics.

The rest can be dunked.

Keep it up. Getting there...hmm...just a touch of salt...a dash of clover...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #3
by Lawrence T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 17:04:29

It is great having a magazine back in the style of Dragon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #3
by Will S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 12:40:41

Being an old school gamer, I found myself in the position of teaching RPG's to my daughters. Gygax helps me stay abreast of gaming trends and re-visiting old haunts. It's no coincidence that Gygax harkens back to the classic style of Dragon magazine back in the eighties I find myself re-visiting games and I even thought about starting a Traveller campain so my kids can enjoy roleplaying as much as I did growing up. Keep up the good work guys and if you featured a campain, tournament, or scenario adventure each issue, that would be fantastic. Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's bad. At our local gaming con in town, I run a Robo Rally tournament. Some friends of mine are always talking about a Blood Bowl championship. The possibilities are endless, as are the good people at Gygax magazine. Keep up the good work. --Will Malone



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #2
by William M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2013 18:46:22

Gygax Magazine continues to improve and is by far the best publication covering gaming in general.

There is material both for "Grognards" and modern RPG and tabletop gamers. It definitely takes me back to the earlier days of Dragon Magazine, Adventure Gaming, and the very early issues of White Dwarf, when magazines were not game specific and welcomed new ideas and new games. It definitely deserves the respect and support that it has gotten and is continuing to build.



Rating:
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Gygax magazine issue #2
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Gygax magazine issue #3
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/22/2013 08:28:23

Originally Posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/12/06/tabletop-review-gygax-magazine-issue-3/

Well, this was a nice surprise to get in the mail. With the previous two issues of Gygax Magazine, I didn’t get my issue until well after a month after non-subscribers had received theirs and only then after asking TSR’s customer service about the whereabouts of my copy each time. Now, I get the magazine before it’s even announced on TSR’s website, Facebook or G+ accounts. That’s pretty awesome. I had to check and see if I missed an announcement, but no, the digital copy isn’t out yet and from only a few comments on the Facebook page for Gygax Magazine, this really was a stealth release! I’m happy to see early subscribers getting their issues well…early, as that’s a nice touch of customer service and even happier that issue three is out three and a half months after issue two. That’s pretty close to the quarterly schedule they are aiming for. Compare that to the six-seven month gap between issues one and two and you can definitely see that each issue of Gygax Magazine is getting better in terms of turnaround and customer service. Of course the contents of each issue might vary in quality depending on what type of articles you are looking for, but that’s the point of these reviews, right?

Issue #3 does have only sixteen articles compared to Issue #2′s 19 but that’s because we’ve got a huge dungeon for first edition AD&D taking up a lot of pages. This dungeon is party of the giant Mega Dungeon that was previously only playable up at TSR’s Hobby Shop. This inclusion is actually a tease for The Hobby Shop Dungeon which will be released by TSR at the tail end of 2014. So yes, you have to wait a full year for the release, but hopefully this will tide you over until then. Plus this way you don’t have to experience a Lake Geneva winter. Brrr.

  1. Editorial. Jayson Elliot gives us a quick rundown on what’s in this issue, why they use (BOO! Boo, I say!) sentence case for article titles instead of Title Case and how annoying it is for a magazine to have a URL in it only to have readers go to the link weeks, months or years later and find it no longer leads to anything but a 404 error. There’s also a tiny bit of errata (Hey, it was only the second issue) and overall the Editorial does what it needs to. 1 for 1.

  2. How Do You Stop a Space Amoeba? Well, that’s definitely a title that grabs your attention. This article is for a game called Federation Commander, which is apparently an officially licensed Star Trek game. I’m not really a Star Trek fan (or anything Sci-Fi really), so it was fun to learn about a game I didn’t even know existed. This is exactly what I wanted to see from Gygax Magazine – a nice blend of articles for games I know and love, and some that may introduce me to something new and nifty that will suck away some of my disposable income. Anyway, you get a full solo scenario for the game in this article (although you do have to download the First Missions rules either directly from the Federation Commander‘s Website, or from http://gyg.ax/firstmissions….which I don’t provide a hyperlink to as it gives me a 404 error. Oh the irony when paired with Jayson’s editorial, eh?

The article is well done, although the author’s narrative style felt a little too rambly/rushed and not explanatory enough for my liking. You know when someone is SUPER EXCITED about a topic and they start speaking a little too fast and a little too loudly because of their passion for it and you find yourself a bit lost? That’s what this article reads like. I can tell the editor of the article felt a little similar since it’s the first and only time I’ve seen an editor explanatory note to the readers in one of these magazines so far. Even though I had to read the article twice, I understood how to play the game. Did the article or the First Missions download make me want to purchase Federation Commander? No, but I think if you ARE a Star Trek fan, the one-two punch combination might make entice you to pick up the full game. Two small issues I had with the article though. I HATE when a magazine splits an article up. The article is on pages 5,6 and 64. Why not just go pages five through seven? As well, the article gives two different “continued on” page numbers. The top of page six says it is continued on page 62 and the bottom says that the article is continued on page 64. Believe the bottom – page 62 is an ad for GaryCon. 2 for 2.

  1. The Dwarven Rune Priest. Hey! An article for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Now this was right up my alley, as often times I feel like I am the only person reviewing this awesome line from Goodman Games (and third party companies like Brave Halfling or Land of Phantoms). This particular article is about a new character class called…the Dwarven Rune Priest. You probably didn’t see that one coming, eh? I really liked this article, but then I’m a big fan of DCC and will be happy to try out this class in a game down the road. I’m not sure how it will fit in as a player goes from Level 0 to Level 1, but I’m sure I can explain how a lowly Cheesemaker becomes one with the earth elements. Now if you’re looking for this article to explain DCC to newcomers, you’ll be disappointed. This is written specific for people who know the system, which make it a niche piece. However that’s true of any article in a magazine that covers all forms of gaming. About the only thing I, as a DCC player, could ask for is more rune options! I really hope to see more DCC articles in future issues. 3 for 3.

BTW, the ad across from the start of the Dwarven Rune Priest article? It’s for a Kickstarter that happened back in October. It’s now December. Whoops.

  1. The Airlancer. Here we have another new character class for a system, but this time it’s for AD&D, First Edition. Unlike the Dwarven Rune Priest though, the Airlancer is more than a little unbalanced. I hate to be so blunt, but man, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of AD&D can take one look at this and tell it’s got Mary Sue issues. First, it’s meant to be a warrior option. However, it keeps getting d10 hit dice until Level 12 when it starts to get +3 HP per level. Fighters and Paladin stop getting full hit dice at Level 9. Rangers stop at Level 10. Right there, you know something is up when this new class gets noticeably more Hit Points than the original. The Airlancer gets Illusionist spells, a Hippogriff at fourth level (then a griffon at level nine), special armor (along with penalties for not using said armour), an enhanced version of a Ranger’s favored foe status (or what we’d know as that ability from 2e on), the ability to instill fear (basically turn) in that favored foe and the ability to use and make poisons a la the Assassin. Oh, they can also spend a round to recover from any intoxication or non-magical mind altering substance. Ouch. All while using the Ranger’s XP table. Oh man, this is not well thought out. The class even requires one to stay true neutral although by every bit of descriptor in this piece makes it clear there are anything but the 1eAD&D definition of “True Neutral.” Man this was a stinker. If you want to do an air-based combat class, why not focus on actual things that revolve around that? Jettison out something like the poison and give them a bonus to altitude or low oxygen based situations. That’s more fitting to the concept. Maybe switch out Illusionist spells for animal based Druid and Cleric ones as that would still give them spells but also pare down how overpowered the class currently is. It would also relate back to their mount, being thematically correct. Yep, this is our first stinker in this month’s issue, and it’s a doozy. You might get more out of the article than I did though. 3 for 4.

  2. Artifacts to Impart Ancient Lore. This is a fun little article that talks about five different magic items that can give your character some boosts to skills or non-weapon proficiencies. None of these artifacts impart anything major or game-breaking, which is nice, and no player is going to turn down any new abilities, even if it’s gaining Knowledge (Religion) or a +2 to Craft (Siege Weapons). Sure it might not be that Holy Avenger they were after, but ever little bit helps. Even better, the article gives ways to use these artifacts in Pathfinder, every version of D&D except Fourth and even generic applications so you can use them with something like Chaosium’s BRP. Nice job. 4 for 5.

  3. Master Mariner. I had totally forgotten about Pirates of the Spanish Main until this article. I know fellow DHGF staffer Matt Yeager was really into that game for a while though. This four and a half page article builds off of and replaces much of the old Heroclix rules for this game. Of course ?Pirates of the Spanish Main and its subsequent sets have been out of print for a long time, so I’m not sure who will get much use out of these. That said, the rules are really well done and I loved the art in this article. I tried the rules out with Games Workshop’s Dreadfleet ships and they still worked pretty well. These rules probably aren’t something I’ll ever make use of again and this might be the most niche article out of all three Gygax Magazine issues, especially as you’ll need mini pirate boats and the original WizKid rules to make use of this article. I think I’d be afraid of the Venn diagram results showing the portion of gamers that have pirate ships minis, PotSM rules and this magazine. I’ll be kind though and give this a point although it was touch and go due to usability for a while. 5 for 6.

  4. Nuffle’s Academy. This is a two page article on Blood Bowl league play. I’m kind of surprised Games Workshop didn’t get its feathers ruffled over this. Anyway, this is a pretty straightforward article. Fantasy Football is a popular game and there are Electronic Football leagues, so why not do a Blood Bowl one? I never really cared for the game (and the video game version was pretty terrible) but this article does a great job of introducing the game to newcomers and giving them some ideas for their first team. As a long time Lizardman army owner for Warhammer Fantasy, I was happy to see their Blood Bowl equivalents get a plug. Honestly though I’m so out of the loop on Blood Bowl, I didn’t even remember there was a Lizardman option for the game. Fine piece and the type of article I wish White Dwarf would do. 6 for 7.

  5. Argyle & Crew’s Scavenger Hunt. Holy crap! I never thought I’d see an article about Argyle & Crew in a gaming magazine, much less Gygax Magazine, which tends to talk about older gamers and have an older audience. Argyle & Crew is a rules-lite game designed for younger gamers and it uses sock puppets. I’ve picked up a few of the free pieces Troll in the Corner has put up on DriveThruRPG.com and found it quite adorable. This article lets kids, parents and whoever jump right in and play without any of the core pieces already made for the game. This particular variant of the game revolves around a Scavenger Hunt and trivia content. As such, it’s not an exact 1:1 of the tabletop game, but it makes for a really cute one-shot when there is a big gathering of tots, say a birthday party or as an after-school activity. A&C lets kids gets really imaginative and creative, but it might not be for everyone. I mean, when I was at the recommended age for Argyle, I was playing TSR’s FASERIP Marvel RPG, but I still bet I would have had fun with this too. I’m not sure how much the audience of Gygax Magazine will get out of this piece, but it’s well written and it’s great to see this game get covered. 7 for 8.

  6. How to Split Up the Party. Oh god, another one of those terrible “Dear Abby” style articles I railed against in the review of issue #2. Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea? All it does is perpetuate the myth that all tabletop gamers are socially awkward wimps that can’t handle normal everyday issues. In this case, it’s about dealing with someone in the group they don’t like as a person or a gamer. How sad do you have to be if you can’t nut up enough to tell someone what you think of them in an honest and forthright but respectful tone. Just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean you have to say, “You suck. Die. I hate you.” However, it’s not that hard to say, “I think you are acting like a bit of a putz when you do XYZ. What’s up with that?” Or, “When you do XYZ, you kind of are bringing down the game.” Chances are they might not realize what they are doing is offensive. They might not even be conscious of it. If they are doing it purposely, then you have to realize they are intentionally being a dick and stand up to them. Look at that. A whole paragraph to do what a two page column does – and I did it for free. Seriously, these type of articles are embarrassing to the reader and they drag the overall quality of the magazine down. Yuck. 7 for 9.

  7. They all Died at the International Space Station. Wow, talk about bringing back a dead system. I’ve never known anyone that played Metamorphosis Alpha. Hell, I belong to some pretty active online gaming communities (especially ones for old fuddy duddies like myself) and I never even see this game get brought up. That said, it’s pretty cool that the creator of the game, James M. Ward, penned a full length adventure for the system this mag. DriveThruRPG.com has a few MA items, including the core rulebook (1st and 4th Edition), but this magazine is really rocking the lesser known/played games this issue.

So I’ve mentioned I don’t really do Sci-Fi but this was a pretty neat adventure. I’m totally ignorant of the games’ rules, so I had to do a lot of inferring and educated guessing, but the plot sold me on the adventure, if not buying the game. In a nutshell the ISS goes a little HAL and tried to kill the PCs. How the ISS became alive (or if it even is…) is one of two problems the PCs have to solve. The other is trying to stay alive as the very thing keeping them alive is also trying to murder them. There’s no set solution to the adventure and the author doesn’t even try to write one in. it’s merely a set of problems and solutions which the GM will have to string together until the PCs figure something out or they all die horrible. 8 for 10.

  1. The Hobby Shop Dungeon. This is a one page essay about the history of the Hobby Shop Dungeon which sees print next year. It’s short, entertaining and crammed with a lot of information. 9 for 11.

  2. The Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat’uul. This adventure for first edition AD&D not only takes up eleven pages of the magazine, but it also include a very nice gatefold map showcasing just how vast (and deadly) this location is. The adventures is designed for characters between 1st and 3rd level, but there is no mention of how many should be playing at a time. The adventure is primarily a hack and slash dungeon crawl where you’ll roll-play rather than role-play, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t be looking for some grandiose plot or overarching mystery to solve. PCs are going into a tomb for adventure, riches and danger and that’s just what they will find. The adventure is very solid and although it might be too simplistic for those that like a little more intrigue or investigation (Say CoC or V:TM gamers), old school D&D fans will really enjoy this piece. Heck, including a Horla pretty much won me over. 10 for 12.

  3. Order of the Knights Incorporeal. Although I know a few people who love 13th Age, the system hasn’t really done anything for me, similar to how Fourth Edition D&D hasn’t captured my interest. That said, this article about a new set of antagonists for the game was pretty interesting. Although obviously heavily influenced by ring-wraiths and death knights, these undead have a pretty cool backstory and there are even rules for allowing PCs to play as Ghost Knights. Neat. 11 for 13.

  4. Savage Charms and Monstrous Fetishes. This is an article for Pathfinder and I really wish it wasn’t in the magazine. It’s not bad – just that we already have multiple Pathfinder publications and it’s space that could easily be out towards a different game that already doesn’t get much time in the sun. If I want to read a Pathfinder piece, I could pick up Pathways or literally dozens (maybe even hundreds) of other options. I get this is Kobold’s section and Pathfinder is primarily what they do but I’d rather see some systems covered with this space like Shadowrun, BRP, Cryptworld, and other systems that don’t have regular articles written about them elsewhere.

Anyway, this article talks about the fetishes used by primitive cultures and barbarians. It tells how to make them and also gives mechanics, feats and a list of nineteen sample fetishes. It’s interesting and I can definitely see some Druid, Barbarian, Kobold and goblin players using these, but I don’t see many people actually following through. Still, it’s well thought out and is an interest option to flesh out your Pathfinder PC. 12 for 14.

  1. Full Frontal Nerdity. Eh. I just didn’t find this comic funny. I generally like it, it’s just this particular strip did nothing for me. Sorry. 12 for 15.

  2. The Order of the Stick. A nice one shot by Rich really ripping on the reboot trend in comics, as well as the “No More Marriage” trend we’ve seen hit characters ranging from Superman to Spider-Man. It’s a few years late to be topical, but still funny. Plus V has a gender change. Cute. 13 for 16.

So this was a pretty good issue. 81.25% quality rate compared to issue 2 being at 74%. That’s a nice jump. Interestingly enough, while issue #3 has the least amount of content pertaining to the games I actively play, I do think it’s the best overall issue yet in terms of article quality. This is a great sign for the magazine as each issue gets better in all ways. We’re seeing better editing, faster turnaround on issues, better customer service, a wider range of articles from all aspects of gaming and more. I’m more than happy with what this magazine contained for the $8.95 cover price. Now that it’s obvious the magazine is sticking around for the foreseeable future, I’m hoping more systems from throughout tabletop gaming’s history get to show up here. Chill, Earthdawn, Spellfire, All Flesh Must be Eaten and many other games could stand to have an article in Gygax Magazine. I’ll definitely be renewing my subscription to Gygax Magazine but as always, reviews are a matter of opinion. Mileage will vary based on your interest in the games talked about in this issue. If the only thing you like to play is Savage Worlds, you’re a bit out of luck here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #3
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Gygax magazine issue #3
by Jim Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2013 17:48:26

I've been wanting to check out this magazine since it premiered. Now I have.

I wanted to like this product. For the $5 price tag, I have to say I expected more. In my opinion, I thought the articles and art were somewhat lacking. There were a couple of interesting scenarios in this issue, but not enough to justify the price.

Anyways, I have tried it now.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #2
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2013 00:13:27

I’ll make no secret that I miss both ‘Dragon’ and ‘Dungeon’ magazine in printed format. As mainstays of the hobby, they were my monthly connection with a much larger community, and even to this day, the piles of print magazines have pride of place on my shelf. Gygax magazine serves the dual purpose of becoming ‘Dragon’-like (or as that Draconic?) in appearance, hearkening back to the early issues, but very clearly stands on its own. The layout is fantastic and will appeal to anyone with a love of retro-clones, from the Jeff Easley artwork gloriously adorning the front cover to the typeset of the articles. The articles in here range in tone and content from ‘The evolution from wargaming to role-playing’ (by Ernest Gygax), to articles on collecting (‘A forgotten grimoire and its curse’) and even a rare treat on ordinary characters from none other than Ken St. Andre. I was especially drawn to ‘The hare and the hill giant’ (a short adventure for ‘The One Ring’) which I’ll be converting to use in either MERP or the Decipher version of the game. It closes out with cartoons (what else?) and it’s nice to see the Order of the Stick have the last word once more.

I’ll be sourcing print copies of both current issues (they can have shelf space next to the last issue of ‘Dragon’), and eagerly awaiting the next issue.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #2
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