This issue in our links column, we're taking a look at some of the other gaming magazines out there on the net. Some big, some small, some professional, some pretty scruffy looking, some long-lived and some long dead. But all of them have one thing in common: they're dedicated to providing articles and material for role-players. And chances are, there will be something in them somewhere that will prove useful to someone. So don't just peruse our pages, get out there and read some other zines as well!
We'll start with the professionals. As we mentioned
the long-standing print mag from the Steve Jackson Games stable has
now gone virtual. That's right, you can now only get it on-line.
However, this hasn't meant a drop in quality - in fact, quite the
opposite. The internet has allowed Pyramid to become bigger and
flashier, and for less cost. Plus the editors have made full use of
their new arena, with inclusions like message boards, on-line chat
sessions, play-testing opportunities, a huge archives of articles,
back-issues and links, and much more, all packed in and presented
into a wonderfully zappy and professional look. There are two
negatives however. Firstly, as it is made by SJ Games, it does tend
to be a little on the self-promoting side, albeit they're much less
annoying about it than Dragon. Secondly, it costs money. Without
subscription, you can only peruse a small section of what's on offer.
But as I said, it is cheap, and if you're used to spending 10 bucks
a month on a gaming mag at the newsagent, then Pyramid is by far
a cheaper, better and more convenient alternative. Check it out.
And although it is still very much in print, TSR's Dragon Magazine also has an adequate web presence.
While we're on the topic of print magazines, we must mention
RolePaper Magazine. This
is currently a print magazine that can only be procured through
mail order, but with publishers all over the world, they do a very
efficient job of getting the magazine out. Indeed, the whole mag
smacks of consumate professionalism. The downside of this is that
the mag seems a little bland. Also, the content is neccesarily a
little thinly spread to maximise general appeal. Still, if you're
not looking for a deep read, this mag does what it does very well.
And the word is that it may have a web version as well in the
near future, so access might not prove to be an impediment at all.
Back to the virtual world then, but still with the consumate
professionals, we find the Web
RPG Oracle. WebRPG is somewhat similar (but smaller)
to RPGNet - a conglomeration of links,
gaming news forums, and articles. Unlike RPGNet, though, their
chief focus is on-line gaming, and this is probably the best
site on the net for those interested in this. Somewhat of an
after-thought to all this is the accompanying zine, the Oracle.
This started strongly, producing some quality stuff, including
an article from Tracy Hickman of Dragonlance fame. However, while
their fortnightly schedule was great for readers, this pace, combined
with their shoddy attitude towards contributors, quickly took its
toll, and the magazine is now in a rather long hiatus. However,
ther first nine issues are there to pick through, and while it was
patchy overall, there were a few gems in there.
Moving then to the less professional sites, the
picks of the bunch (besides us, ahem) would have to include The
RPG Times. This is an outstanding online mag, producing some
good quality articles, heaps of gaming tips, scenario ideas, a ton
of great fiction, intelligent reviews and some very sharp columns.
Best of all, this happens once a month, like clockwork. Sure,
sometimes this pace results in a less useful issue, but there's
always something of interest here. Indeed, no other site I've
found produces so much good quality stuff with such regularity.
Much kudos to all the writers and editors for keeping this up for
more than three years now. I have only two quibbles: 1) their
emphasis on fiction and resources means that good meaty articles
are less abundant, and 2) their decision to constantly use white
text on a black background makes it very hard to read. This one
annoyance blights the entire site, unfortunately, but if you can
handle the eye-strain, this is one to keep coming back to.
Another example of grahical presentation
impeding the qaulity of the content is the new Visions. This amateur
quarterly zine isn't actually about role-playing per se, but it's not
really about anything else in particular either. A very mixed bag
of stuff about genres, TV shows, movies, websites, computer games,
and all hosts of gaming paraphernalia. However, amongst all that,
it includes the odd good quality role-playing article, review or
link, so it deserves a mention. Improving, so worth a look.
A somewhat better home-brewed magazine is Apocrypha,
or rather was. Apocrypha has been dead for a few years
now, but what remains shows an impressive and stylish
production, with the substance to back it up. Worth sifting
through the ashes. Similarly deceased and well done is Dimensions
Magazine, although it seems to twitch now
and then, so it may just be on a very long hiatus.
I am likewise unsure about the existence status of @fantasy.
This is more a links site and goes too heavy on
AD&D, but it has some useful articles as well. The Dwarven Tavern
CyberZine, meanwhile, has been reborn with a great new look.
Unfortunately, it is still struggling to fill this format with
great content, but if they're past history is anything to go by,
this should be a site to watch.
There are many more zines out there, especially if
you're looking for non-generic ones. Name your game, and
there'll most likely be a zine devoted to it. Head on over to RPGNet's Zine Index
and have a look.
This isn't a zine, but it's too funny to wait till next
issue. Although it is specifically taking the piss out of Ultima
Online, anyone who's ever played a MUD will get a huge laugh out
of The Adventures
of BON3DOOD and pLaTeDeWd, a comic strip about a pair of
completely insane, equipment addicted player killers who wander
around Brittania, ruining it for everyone. Had me in stiches;
definitely not to be missed.