Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tortured Souls! Fanzine from Beast Enterprises

In going through more of what I looted a massive treasure horde of Old School stuff from a clueless comic book store owner for pennies on the dollar, I read three Tortured Souls! fanzines.  Though fanzines, they are really of pretty good quality. I have #4, 5, and 8, from 1984 and 1985.  It is a British magazine, supporting the local British gaming scene, and quite proud of the fact.  It looks like the ones I own were purchased at Games Workshop for 2.95 British pounds, according to a price sticker on them. How they ended up in a comic book store in the bottom of a box in shitty little Ansonia, CT is anyone's guess.

The magazine is more of an equivalent to Dungeon, in that it has  settings and adventures, except that the adventures are generic, and can be run on any system.  Interestingly, they give either stats or references for multiple systems for some of the adventures, including Runequest and Tunnels & Trolls.  The way they inserted the different ruleset info didn't disrupt or distract from the adventure layout.

Something else I've never seen before was a multiple adventure within the same adventure approach.  They have a couple different introductions, and a couple different endings, with several differences within each module if the DM chose to use scenario A or B.  It's a good way to get more bang for your buck, and to let the adventure be used more than once for different groups.

In addition to the standard generic module, they have a setting specific one in each magazine, which though tailored for a certain setting of the publisher's own creation apparently, can be used generically.  It's a good way to set up or support the publication of a game setting.

One magazine had a solo adventure, in the style of "if you choose to run away, goto #45, if you choose to light the oil on fire, go to #67."   I don't recall seeing solo adventures in older Dungeon magazines, or in newer ones like Kobold Quarterly.

In addition, one magazine had a one-on-one adventure, designed for a high level Cleric and a DM.  I remember those from the early days of the hobby, but haven't seen them much anymore.

The quality of the magazine and the quality of writing was good throughout.  There were a no ads in the earlier magazines, and in #8 just a couple.   One odd thing about the magazines though is that they seemed to be about an inch taller than all of my other magazines.  Is that a British thing? 

They had good quality maps, and one even had posterboard quality paper with the equivalent of dungeon tiles which a DM could cutout and use for one of the adventures.

It looks like there were only 12 of these magazines ever published, from what I could glean from Google.  Anyhow, I think  some of these characteristics if added to modern gaming magazines, would go over well with modern audiences. What do you think?