Issue 9 - September 1993
Shadis The Fantasy Games Magazine
First impressions: This was the first issue of Shadis that many people saw. It had a huge production run, and 10,000 copies were given away at GenCon 1993. The cover is full color, an inch shorter than standard 8.5 x 11, and made of flimsier paper than the previous issue.
George Vrbanic created a beautiful cover which seems dark to me. Perhaps the hall at GenCon was very brightly lit. On this cover, a dragon seems to know the battle is imminent.
Flipping the issue open, the table of contents is packed. Perhaps too dense. The whole bottom half is taken up with PBM content - the contents of the mini-magazine Post Marque. More on that later.
Jolly's editorial glosses over some of the new contents and mentions the Alderac Anthology - is it to be a magazine or a comic book or both? He also calls out the Post Marque magazine, and mentions the new "mascots" for Shadis, The Gameweaver and Shad. These two make their appearance from time to time on the subscription pages, but I don't recall a big impact.
The Letters page hasn't much content, but that's appropriate for this issue.
The Things Dreams are Made Of starts out this issue's articles with a bang. The subtitle is ''Making Dream Park a Reality'', referring to a book series that many geeks had read. This is an article about the Dream Park Corporation (an entity of the same name is referred to in the third book of the series, the California Voodoo Game) and their mockup and plans for Dream Park. Pretty heady stuff. I can't help but wonder how much easier this would be today, with bluetooth, gps, and many times the computing power available.
The following article, Shadis Interrogations starts a long-running series of interviews with various Shadis staff. This issue it's Dave Newton. A wordy, conversational style interview, though some interesting insights into Mythus Magic.
Hook, Line and Sinker leads with the format overview (lots of new readers) then jumps to the adventure hooks. In Who's the Real Monster? the party helps take revenge; The Scam is exactly that, The Menace is indeed named Dennis; and The Escort Service is quite similar. Elementary My Dear Watson doesn't fit well with me - a fantasy character who knows Holmes? Players that have to in order to have success? You might just as well base an adventure on Star Wars (it was a long time ago...). The Clerk From Hell is about dealing with bureaucracy like a gordian knot; Paralytic Stinker is not meant to offend disabled people with irritable bowels but is instead a great setup relying on solid GM description. Where No Man Dares to Go, Little Help From My Friends and Say Uncle are not at all related to 60's TV shows or bands, but are all three good situations. I read all these years ago, and still love rereading them today. Somewhere in the back of my brain is a little Jolly Blackburn who calls out situations while I am trying to GM, and he's darn hard to ignore.
Back to the review with an adventure - The Blue Robed Man at the Iron Mule. This doesn't use the "Standard Adventure Format" introduced in issue 7. Apparently feedback was not too positive. Regardless of that, I think this encounter is to sparse to be called an adventure.
Fun and Games - Favorite Games & Beloved Characters is by the master himself; Gary Gygax. A great article! GG talks about games he played and loved from the age of 5. From Camelot to Cops & Robbers; from Big Business to Bridge; from Gettysburgh to Gangbusters - a fine list of board games and RPGs played and many of the characters played as well. Fantastic!
Another adventure follows, Mr Tode's Wild Ride for Torg, but done in a Hook, Line and Sinker format. This is a great improvement over the previous adventure, and reads like quite a bit of fun - even if a bit of railroading is involved. Makes me wish I had the Torg rules to try it out.
Now here's a cool new feature - Knight Gallery. Singles out one artist, with a paragraph or two and samples of their art. This issue - Bob E. Hobbs.
Closer Look is the review section, with a few long reviews (Over the Edge, Talislanta). As the reviews are contributed by a number of different parties (and readers are invited also), there is no common format. Kind of like the 'geek.
Following this, for almost half the magazine, is Post Marque, the Play by Mail section. Reviews, advertisements, and general articles. Patrick Rogers leads off with a nice Introdcution to PBM gaming article which gives some good tips for finding your first game.
Some of the games (Timelapse and Stand and Deliver) look interesting to me, others (Movie Mogul or Computer Boxing) look like glorified BBS games. I have not researched any of these games, but I find it hard to believe any would still be going 18 years later.
Bits N' Pieces, the Rumors and New Products section, contains mentions of many RPGs and board games. The Market Platz classifieds and PBM contacts are diminished, but the "Other Rags" has grown again, to more than a full page - although "Its My Game Dammit!" isn't mentioned.
Neither of the previous issues comic offerings are here, replaced with a new comic titled Bright Future. Introduces one character, and a hint of a story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this 3 page comic isn't. Shadis fiction will return soon enough, though.
Final Impressions: This was far more than just a freebie given away at GenCon; this issue was a full-on introduction to Shadis that solidly set the tone for the next 40 odd issues to come. Relevance today is gained from an adventure and the Hook, Line and Sinkers; along with a great article by Gary Gygax and the art of Bob E. Hobbs. Unfortunately, much of this issue is very dated - the PBM section and expanded reviews and rumors sections. Even in that light, I rate this issue recommended!
Further reviews of Shadis magazine are linked from the individual issues or the "Read 'em all" project geeklist