Welcome to another issue of RPG Review. To be perfectly honest, when I started this 'zine I did so on a bit of a whim, and with very little forethought. My reasoning was that after thirty or so years of playing roleplaying games that I was very likely indeed to continue to do so. Surely, I thought, putting together a 64 page quarterly 'zine couldn't be that onerous. Ahh, the folly of enthusiasm. Now we're approaching our sixth year of RPG Review, and there's still a few thousand visitors each month who download this little publication, something which I find quite remarkable on its own. Certainly quite encouraging!
This issue, “Different Worlds”, is nominally about different game settings. But it is also with respect to a gaming magazine of the 1980s of the same title. It is with great fortune then that we can kick off with an interview with the editor of that most esteemed magazine, Tadashi Ehara. Finally we can an idea about his life and roleplaying.
There is, of course, a number of articles directly related to this issues theme. We have received two sets of designer's notes from Ville Huohvanainen with a high fantasy anime style with Mundus, and anthropmorphic space by Tim Westhaven's Vanguard.
Yours truly has a broad scope on gaming world cosmology, originally inspired by Rolemaster's old Campaign Law, along with an article of ten amazing game worlds. One of the more innovative and exotics settings is then explored by Caji Gends, with Skyrealms of Jorune. With a style reminiscent of Lonely Planet travel guides, Martin Tegelj provides an Eclipse Phase article that takes us Saturn's moon, Titan. Imagine a moon so large it has atmosphere, and hydrocarbon polar lakes? Oh, that's a very different world indeed!
Regular contributers Karl Brown and Michael Cole provide an excellent set of articles in their favourite game settings. Karl provides for his game Gulliver's Trading Company, a long as reviews and alternative species for the the Burroughsian settings of Mars. For his part, Michael further elaborates on the use the Lake Town region of Middle Earth in the period of the ICE modules, but this time with the GURPS game system.
Dungeons & Dragons has always been a great contributor to many and varied game settings and this issue has new contributors Daniel Lunsford, and Dex Tefler providing reviews of Mystara, Planescape, Forgotten Realms, and Ravenloft - certainly places where many of us have taken at least a character or two and often with less than easy journeys. Especially for those who visited the corrupting influence of Ravenloft! That place was tough - even compared to Planescape.
RPG Review also likes to provide some "hands on" immediate material, and this episode is no exception. In this case I have put finger to keyboard with a well-playtested scenario, Masters of Duck and Leath which combines Glorantha with Pendragon. Luke Geissmann enjoyed his participation sufficiently to write a few lines of poetry of the epic journey of his particular duck. Finally there is an outline of a campaign along with some sample scenarios and characters for Werewolf:The Apocalypse set in the more recent and real-world experience of the Yugoslav Wars.
As tangents to traditional roleplaying games, Wendy Allison gives a review of a notable console computer game, Ambrov X, whereas one of my habits, the augmented reality game based on Google maps, Ingress, is reviewed - and with a few of its problems noted. With a sense of appropriate timing, Ursula Vernon's original livejournal post, "A Dark Elf Solstice" is reprinted here in appropriate time for the alternate hemisphere. Andrew Moshos takes up two animated fantasy reviews with Frozen, and How To Train Your Dragon 2, both of which already seem destined for some memory. Finally, and by no means least, Wu Mingshi gives her special brand of gaming industry news.
It is hard to believe but within these 128 pages one has hardly touched upon the breadth and depth of the different worlds of gaming exploration. On my own shelves there are entire worlds penned by passionate individuals. Whilst some strike me as juvenile, others come with gravity. Some are highly deriviative and others innovative, some mundane and other exotic. Whilst I may admire some, and loathe others, I can never doubt the author's own passionate effort at exploration and creation – for better or for worse in terms of the final product. Arguably it is from the sheer range of such material that the most impressive work can be distinguished.
Lev Lafayette (firstname.lastname@example.org)