Well, first off, we'd like to say hello and thanks to all
of you who took the time to read our first issue. A special hello to all
our American visitors, like the guys at Ohio State, New Mexico and
Stanford universities, and to the rest of our foreign readers. We had
visitors from Japan, Spain and Tel-Aviv! And last but not least, a big hi
to all the people in King's, St Leo's and Cromwell College here at the
University of Queensland. Thanks for dropping by.
Even more thanks to those few of you who took the time to tell us what
you think. It was great to get feedback, and we'd like to get even more
this issue. Below is a selection of some of the letters we received.
Enjoy, and I hope to see you in my inbox sometime soon!
Here's My Two Cents!
Thanks for your input
Dear PTG, PTB,
Thought I'd be the first to say that I really enjoyed some of the articles
in the first issue of PTGPTB. The working of magic has always been a keen
interest of mine, particularly enjoying fantasy worlds with a well
developed magic environment, not just a
Glad you liked it, Steve, and yes, you were the
Dear PTG, PTB,
I enjoyed reading the stuff - I had a similar problem with Ars Magica 3rd
ed,a long time back.The AD & D splenetic is unfortunately too true,but I
think you are too harsh on wotc- they have published some of the best
rpg's (although dropping them later,i'll admit) like Talislanta and SLA
industries. Enough of that,I could go on all day about
wotc/tsr/game-related stuff. Cheers for an interesting read
Yes, it must be said WotC did produce some great games,
contrary to all the evidence, may not be the
Dear PTG, PTB,
G'day. Just a mention that while I enjoyed the article (and the rest of
the 'zine), the sidebar quote that you attribute to H.G. Wells in the
column is actually by Arthur C. Clarke. Minor nitpick.
Patrick O'Duffy, Brisbane
Thanks for that, Patrick. That was my fault; I dredged
that quote up from memory at the last minute and didn't bother checking if
I had the author correct. Sure, it's a small thing, but it's still pretty
slack. We'll try to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Dear PTG, PTB,
I must say that I do like the first issue of your online fanzine. I
especially liked the comments down the left side of the article, if I
think of anything to contribute in future I will mail it to you.
Michael Walters, Brisbane
Mike, we can't wait to hear from you.
Dear PTG, PTB,
Wow, excellent stuff. I found your page to be much more thought provoking
and profesional in content (if not in look) than the many other RPG 'zine
pages out there. I liked the articles which offered advice on both playing
and GM'ing, in particular. So keep up the good work, I can't wait for the
next 'issue.' Cheers,
Al Cornish, UK
This is great to hear, because "thought provoking" and
"professional" are exactly the kinds of things we're aiming to be. As for
the look, well, we're currently taking steps to make our mag look a little
glossier, but without slowing it down with huge craplets, or
disrupting the text with annoying backgrounds. As always, we put the
quality of our articles first, but you can look forward to the pages being
a little easier on the eyes.
Dear PTG, PTB,
In which a reader attempts to point out a few absurdities in the
Standard disclaimer of longevity in the field: I've been role playing
for 22 years, bought the first little box of three D&D books, and have
played quite a few different RPGs. Personal favorites: Star Wars, Feng
Shui, Castle Falkenstein.
All right, now let's move on to the absurdities...
Gary contends that RPGs have come a long way since D&D was first
released. He is, of course, correct. He also contends that D&D (or AD&D
or whatever) has not advanced with the rest of the field. He is, again,
mostly correct. I say "mostly" because many of the things he passes off
as "too little, too late" -- such as the Dark Sun campaign world, point
based character creation, more emphasis on skills, etc -- ARE moves on
TSR's part to keep up with the field. No, they weren't first, or even
fifth or sixth, when it came to adopting new developments in the RPG
field. But they DID adopt them and that means they have advanced in the
field (even if they are lagging behind most of the other companies).
Gary wants everyone to face facts that D&D has a poor system. However,
Gary has to face the fact that D&D was and is the best selling RPG system
on the market. TSR most likely took a very reasonable business attitude
(and let's remember that TSR IS a business) of not changing something
which sold so well. I'm sure Gary's ready to pounce with TSR's financial
plight in the last few years (leading up to their acquisition by WOTC).
To counter, I would point out that during the last few years we've seen
more varied products from TSR than ever before in their history:
- There was the Dark Sun campaign world (and I agree it's the best
boxed campaign world I've seen). Apparently it didn't sell that well.
Seems everyone wants more Forgotten Realms. Can you really blame TSR for
giving their customers what they want?
- There was the Amazing Engine, which was apparently an amazing flop as far
as sales go. I didn't buy it so have no idea whether it was any good. Does
Gary know anyone who plays the Amazing Engine? I certainly don't. So who
could blame TSR for dumping the Amazing Engine and sticking with their cash
- More recently there's been the SAGA system. I did buy this and must
say that it's really quite a good product. Straight forward, skill based,
doesn't reward hack and slash play, in other words a modern RPG. It even
had conversion information to convert old fashioned D&D characters. Don't
know how this one is selling but it apparently wasn't doing well enough to
counter TSR's financial woes.
- So what we've got are attempts by TSR to "switch" to a (supposedly)
more modern system. But they can't force customers to buy the new stuff
and, for whatever reason, not enough of them did.
Gary's main point here is that game systems should be written to fit
a specific world. Excuse me, but has he actually paid attention to the
most large number of universal game systems being released? Not only do
many of these games come without specific worlds, many of them don't even
have specific game systems! Take a look at Fudge, Theatrix, Fusion, the
D6 System, or perhaps that long standing game GURPS. None of these
systems have specific worlds yet they seem to be all the rage among RPG
It should also be noted that some of us actually LIKE to design our own
All right, I have to Gary this point. When he's right, he's
Now here is where I really have a problem with the column. Gary
spends the entire column slamming D&D for not changing. Then he moans and
groans that WOTC will now change D&D, thus eliminating the entry level RPG
that brings new players into the game, thus causing the entire hobby to
die a slow and painful death.
Gary, you can't have it both ways. You can't change the D&D system AND
keep it just the way it is. A little consistancy is absolutely required
Let's look at D&D from another light. Is it good at bringing new
players into the game? Apparently so since you feel the whole hobby will
die if WOTC does anything to the existing system. So, what's wrong with
having an entry level game like D&D? So what if some players never
venture outside of the confines of their Player's Handbook? For every
player who never tries anything different there will be two or three who
will look at the other games available.
D&D didn't grow up as the rest of the RPG field grew up. Perhaps it is
best as a game for younger players. There's certainly nothing wrong with
To which Gary Pellino (the author of the
article, check the last issue if you missed it)
Hi Henry. Glad to hear I ruffled a few feathers out there, or at least
got people thinking. I was beginning to think I'd been too kind!
As a reply, may I say the following:
OK, TSR changes strategy, tries a few new ideas, and nobody buys it,
so you can't blame them for following their market. The problem is, they
brought this on themselves. They designed a crappy game (my point 1)
then propogated a closed mindset towards that game (my point 3 - which you
give me). So they dug themselves into the hole. OK, so maybe we can't
blame them now if they can't extricate themselves from it, but we can
certainly blame them for not realising they were digging it in the first
And yes, TSR have taken steps to catch up. I think it is a hopeless
attempt to win a race they have been a losing for a long time. You may
If you check, I did mention Generic systems briefly in my piece. I
criticised AD&D for having a foot in both camps - not having sufficient
direction towards a definite setting, and for not being sufficiently
smooth and robust to make it anywhere near a proper universal game. Have
you ever tried to convert AD&D to say, play Horror, or X-Files type games?
It's a real bitch. Fudge, Fusion, D6, Gurps these are all great Universal
games because that's how they were designed. AD&D was not designed to be
universal, and hence isn't very good at it.
>It should also be noted that some of us
>actually LIKE to design our own worlds...
OK, but it really helps if the system is wired into the setting from
the beginning, I find.
>All right, I have to Gary this point.
>When he's right, he's right!
OK, as you pointed out in your response to point 1, AD&D is popular.
God knows why, but it is. And bad though it is, it is at least a
role-playing game. Should it be shut down or transformed into something
that is effectively not role-playing, I think a lot of the people who play
it will go with it (point 3). I wasn't saying WoTC would change AD&D, I
would said they would devolve it to the point of death, ie make it worse
then it already is. If WoTC change it for the better (which I doubt),
that would be great.
>Let's look at D&D from another light.
>Is it good at bringing new >players into
>the game? Apparently so since you feel the
>whole hobby will die if WOTC does anything
>to the existing system. So, what's wrong
>with having an entry level game like D&D?
>So what if some players never venture outside
>of the confines of their Player's Handbook?
>For every player who never tries anything
>different there will be two or three who
>will look at the other games available.
The problem here is that AD&D should not be bringing in new players
simply because it has blanket marketing strategies. Other better games
(like the legendary Star Wars) should be doing this because they do it
very well. If we continue to let AD&D be this big major drawcard and
monopoly of the industry, my prophesies of doom may indeed come about. If
we can start the kids out on something decent, they'll grow up to be
better role-players. It was the failings inherent in AD&D that stopped me
from role-playing, until much later I found there were so many better
The kids of today, unlike us old-timers, have the opportunity to
begin with some brilliant games. If only they could see past TSR to get
Well, thanks for the feedback. Gary