“…its 2013, and you just bought a print magazine.”
And the crew has really delivered on that. They’ve captured and faithfully reproduced the experience from the font, tone, look, and even feel of the pages. There is plenty of nostalgia captured, and the read is a wish-fantasy of time-travel fulfilled back to when, as the writers claim, things were simpler. Back to a time when imagination filled our hours instead of computers or touchpads or what’s online.
I loved the whole experience and will certainly continue to purchase issues. Highlights for me include:
- Cory Doctorow’s DMing for your toddler was an article I can relate to being the parent of a four year old. It was great how the rules he presented were “kinetic” since I think one of the major detriments of our hobby is that it is quite sedentary, and also how the hobby can be used to teach basic math and other skills. I pulled an unstated point from the read of how imagination and story creation matters more than mechanics with children, and how simple rules can suffice for endless entertainment.
- I loved Tim Kask’s pontifications on why it’s still all about the story.
- It wouldn’t be old-school without Lenard Lakofka (aka Leomund) presenting a new table charting something or other and a collection of random thoughts. The brief synopsis of what he’s been doing (and struggling with) was a nice touch. His take on damage versus to hit was great crunch, although the modern game designer in me is now questioning why we need different rolls for damage and hit anyways.
- The setting presented (Gnatdamp) was high quality and well written with plenty of strong material for visualizing the locale and great hooks built in for adventuring. I can easily see myself using this in an existing or new campaign.
- Wolfgang Baur’s Kobold popping up again (as he says of kobolds they pop up where they aren’t necaessarily expected).
- And of course the comics – What’s new with Phil and Dixie and was especially fun and The Order of the Stick pleasantly broke down that 4th wall. The comics were worth the price of admission.
There was some disappointment. I was expecting Jeff Dee art in all its glory instead of the small, poorly printed frame that looked like a V&V Madcap (is that the right name? My memory fails me) cutting room floor piece.
Also, Although Gnatdamp was great and the Kobold’s Cavern contained useful material for campaigning, most of the magazine was devoted to discourse on the hobby as a subject, not necessarily useful things a gamer could use in daily play. A third of the articles were about the state of the hobby, and although these were great reads and perhaps necessary to place the magazine’s context in today’s world, and I don’t want them to disappear entirely, I look forward to seeing more material one can use in campaigns.
I’m sensing overall an anti-technological tone. That perhaps video games and an online, conected world are a waste of time and responsible for destroying imaginative play (or at least DnD’s market share). I’ve said before that this tone may be off-putting to a younger generation necessary for the hobby’s survival.
The final disappointment is that the mag is only available quarterly. If only the market would support this as monthly, but for now the new TSR has gained at least one subscriber.