Issue #43, June 2019

ISSN   2206-4907 (Online)

Planes and Time

Glorantha Cosmology ... Flashback RPG Designer's Notes ... GURPS Time Travel and Krononauts ... Dr Who Adventures … Call of Cthulu-Nephilim .. Planescape Torment … “Us” Movie Review


Table of Contents

















RPG Review is a quarterly online magazine which is available in print version every so often. All material remains copyright to the authors except for the reprinting as noted in the first sentence. Contact the author for the relevant license that they wish to apply. Various trademarks and images have been used in this magazine of review and criticism.  Use of trademarks etc are for fair use and review purposes and are not a challenge to trademarks or copyrights. This includes Dungeons & Dragons, Planescape et al by Wizards of the Coast, GURPS published Steve Jackson Games, RuneQuest, Glorantha, and Call of Cthulhu published by Chaosium. Timemaster by Pacestter Games. Time & Time Again by Timeline. Us distributed by Universal Pictures. Cover art of the Planes from TSR.




Welcome to the 43rd issue of RPG Review. It is, as if often the case, a little on the late side which is very appropriate giving that we’ve dedicated this issue to time travel and other planes; we must be from a parallel universe where deadlines don’t matter so much. Actually they will matter even less for the next issue which is usually slated for September but will coming out in November instead, as we’re doing something quite remarkable – running a second RuneQuest Glorantha Down Under Con in two years. Last time there had been a twenty year gap!

Anyway more on that matter when we get to Cooperative News. As a prelude to this issue it was initially going to be just about time travel RPGs. But if one is going to travel through time, why not space? Space = Time. And if the travel through time is going to be contrary to normal physical conventions (time’s arrow does apply) then surely it is appropriate that spatial travel is likewise. Hence, time travel and extra-planar travel.

But before we get into the meat and potatoes of the issue, there is nice little piece from Shaun Hately reviewing one of Melbourne’s famous Cons, Conquest. As part of the RPG revival that the world is experiencing at the moment, Melbourne now has both its venerable cons back in action (Arcanancon and Conquest). Perhaps it only a matter of time before Phantastacon is back?

In any case, we kick off the topic proper will Shaun again, this time talking about Time Travel in GURPS. We don’t actually have a review of GURPS Time Travel per se, but seriously with all the historical sourcebooks in that line, any consideration is larger than a review of that one publication could justify. Appropriately one will also find part II of the Worldbook for GURPS Krononauts, a multi-GM campaign which has featured in RPG Review a few times before. In between that is the designer’s notes for Flashback, a time travel RPG by a local author. It is only fit and proper that we provide space and encourage the design of more new and interesting games.

Switching tack, the matchless David Cake provides a summary introduction to the cosmology of Glorantha which, to be honest, is inspirational enough to get me to put finer to keyboard in writing up a deeply metaphysical piece for the next issue of RPG Review for the Glorantha Convention. Without giving too much away, I think the dragons have worked it out, and one dragon in particular.

Along the familiar theme of extra-planar travels, one will also find a review of the classic Planescape boxed set by Karl Brown, who also provides the cosmology of the Green Isles, his fantasy-faerie campaign, for D&D5e, and also for the same game system, a review of the Drin, a species of “planar ramblers”.

Yours truly has contributed two pieces, a review of Time & Time Again and Timemaster, two time-travel RPGs that both came out in 1984, plus a review of the new Dr. Who: Adventures in Time and Space (see that equation?). Plus, and a campaign-kicker which combines Call of Cthulhu with Nephilim, where the Great Race of Yith are the Nephilim. Because mash-ups are fun, right?


Finally, in our not-pencil-and-paper-RPG-but-pretty-damn-close Dorchadas gives a very tasty review of Planescape:Torment which is, without a doubt, the most famous game of its sort, whilst bringing right up to the present, the ever dependable Andrew Moshos offers more nightmares with the recently released horror movie, Us.

Which brings us to a close to RPG Review issue 43; strange travels indeed through space and time!


Lev Lafayette


Co-operative News


The Cooperative has been continuing on its merry way with its usual set of activities. We still have a dozen or so regular gaming groups that more or less operate in association with us, with games of D&D 5e, RuneQuest, Megatraveller, and Eclipse Phase being particularly prominent. Our library is well over 850 items with some donations from Gareth Hodges and Rodney Brown being particularly of note. In addition we’ve had a couple of enjoyable movie nights out at The Astor with the Twilight Zone movie,  and the throughly weird horror-comedy In Fabric.

In addition to this we have our two main publications generating a few sales; Papers & Paychecks, which brought a 30-year joke to a self-referential conclusion, and The Tinker’s Toolkit, which reverse engineers species creation for D&D 5
th ed. Could your publication be next? Most certainly, as we have a bulk purchase of ISBNs for use by members. Providing membership services is what we’re all about. Well, and providing freebies to the public, such as this nice ‘zine and the various resources in our git repository. But information wants to be free.

Oh, and here’s some big news. After
years of operating without one (because we didn’t really need it), finally we have our own bank account. Do you want to be a member of the RPG Review Cooperative? Well, it’s only $10 year (or $100 for life membership). You can put a deposit in to BSB 06 3114 Acct 1058 0245, and note your name in the transaction details. It will make the world a better place, you know.


with Shaun Hately


Conquest 2019 was held in Melbourne over the Easter long weekend. Conquest has been running since 1989 and I have attended every Conquest since 1992 myself so I’ve seen most of its development and evolution over the years both as a player and a long term writer/GM for the convention.


I think it’s fair to say that Conquest went through a lean patch a few years ago  - there seemed to be a shortage of games and some problems with organisation. I think it always needs to be understood that conventions like this one rely heavily on volunteers, some of who work incredibly hard for the benefit of the gaming hobby and from my perspective those difficult years came when some long term volunteers had had to move away from doing as much as they had done before or who had left altogether, leaving a rump who were trying to do even more than they had ever done before and with a shortage of new people being willing to step up and lend a hand. I admit that in my own case, I cannot ever see me ever volunteering to a  ConOrg – I’m happy to do my part writing and running games, and I do think that is

an important contribution – but any successful con relies on the blood, sweat, and tears of people who often don’t seem to get the appreciation they really deserve.


Regardless of what happened in the past, I’ve been very impressed with Conquest for the last several years, including the recent period that it was running at Swinburne University. I’d seen a resurgence in good organisation, and a resurgence in the number of games available, along with some really nice new ideas about some of the administration from a writer and GM perspective. And I am happy to say that with the move this year to the Batman Royale in Coburg, that still seems to be the case.


As I say, I am not a ConOrg, so I’m not in the loop on the decisions they make, but I’ve heard plenty on the grapevine about it’s becoming harder and harder for those who running Cons to find venues that meet all the requirements for running a Con. Facilities, location, costs – I don’t pretend to know even a small amount of what they have to do. But I have seen Cons have to move, and Cons shut down and heard that finding venues that work are a big part of the problem. So when I heard in mid-to-late 2018 that 2019’s Conquest wasn’t going to be at Swinburne after a few years there, I was just relieved to hear that they’d found somewhere else to use.


This is a different type of venue than we’d become used to for Conquest – I’ve seen Conquest personally at University High School, Melbourne High School, and then at Swinburne. Those venues had the luxury of being able to use classrooms for a lot of games – nice, private spaces. The Batman Royale is different – it is a converted warehouse more or less and by converted I mean clean, safe, but to a great extent, it’s still a warehouse. Most games were running at tables within a large open space – I was lucky enough to be given use of one of the sectioned off cubicle like areas at the back of the facility so I cannot personally speak as to what it was like to run games and play in that open area, but it did seem to work well. Space was certainly heavily used but it did not seem too crowded or too noisy.





The Batman Royale in Coburg.