An unashamed 'hardware' zine produced by Paul Evans, Stephen Evans, Dominic Mason and Mark Fletcher in the 1980s, as part of the UK fandom boom.
The credits each issue were:
Paul Evans - Editor, alcoholic, snooker player extraordinaire
Stephen Evans - Asst Editor, alcoholic, average snooker player
Dominic Mason - Editorial Asst, alcoholic, jammy snooker player
Mark Fletcher - Editorial asst asst asst asst, asst alcoholic, useless snooker player
As can be judged by the credits, the team came together over their shared love of RPGs, drinking and snooker, in that order.
The magazine was started in competition to another UK 'zine, Demon's Drawl (Balrog Banter, geddit?) which rejected the team's article submissions. Having access to Paul and Stephen's Dad's work photocopier, Balrog Banter was born. With almost no business costs, the team could do whatever they wanted, and they did.
Regular in-jokes in the magazine were: the team's awful 80s haircuts, the team's competitively awful 80s music tastes and the fact that Mason and Fletcher were bone-idle.
What Balrog Banter lacked in style was made up for in enthuisiasm and reams of content. Balrog Banter's unique selling point was a separate scenario supplement with each issue, usually a generic encounter adaptable to various current RPGs.
RPGs covered by the in-issue scenarios were:
- Call of Cthulhu
- Car Wars
- Judge Dredd RPG
- Occasional esoteric others
Among the highlights across the issues were:
- Tricks and Traps, a truly bewildering array of traps to maim any adventurer
- Pricks and Prats, the tongue in cheek evolution of the above when it became clear that the traps described would take years of labour and cost more to set up than the prize in the dungeon!
- Helm of Amber - a classic AD&D dungeon romp
- The Young Ones RPG - an RPG version of the popular (at the time) BBC comedy series
Naive? Yes! Stupid? Definitely! Creating Balrog Banter was a labour of love for the editorial team and the associated individual contributors. Raise a glass then to more innocent times and the legendary UK RPG fanzine that was - Balrog Banter!
('Hardware' was fandom-speak for new monsters, classes, skills, reviews and letters.)