Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Let's Read Polyhedron: Issue 9

Check out previous posts in this series HERE.




I mentioned last time how the production quality of the newsletter had improved under new editor Mary Kirchoff, and issue 9 continues the trend. This is a double issue, coming in at 32 pages. This came out sometime in the winter of 1982. As implied by its cover, this issue celebrates the release of TSR's sci-fi rpg Star Frontiers.



Aggghh! Roll initiative! Oh wait, that's just Gygax in a Santa hat. Gygax extends warm holiday wishes and discusses ambitious plans for the RPGA, including sending GenCon tourney winners overseas to compete, whilst hoping its members continue "dispelling the charges that roleplaying is occultist and...aimed at subverting the nation's youth". Ah, the good ol' satanic panic.

In Confessions of a Greenhorn Gamer, editor Kirchoff recounts her first experiences playing D&D, coming away from it amazed by the possibilities. The game has the same power today.

Steve Winter, he of too many awesome credits to list, provides an overview of Star Frontiers, which is also now available on the DM's Guild and still has a loyal following. Winter states the game has sold about 50k copies in just a few months. He gives an overview of the set, including the various playable alien races, the setting, and the adventure provided in the box. I was just talking about wanting to play this on my podcast last week, and this pretty much sealed it. The shapeshifting "blobs" aka Dralasites sound right up my alley.

Cute lil' feller


Moving along, we get a crossword puzzle ("_ _ - Monster is a psionic monkey!) and a half-page of fiction.

One of my all-time fave D&D designers, David Cook, provides a Star Frontiers encounter based on the cover. It involves an octopus-like creature riding a big lizard. What else is there to say, really?

Dispel Confusion, basically the Q&A section, breaks into three columns for the first time, supporting AD&D, espionage rpg Top Secret, and the post-apocalyptic classic Gamma World.

The Top Secret gadget contest results are announced, and this is probably the single most gameable article yet published in Polyhedron. 1st prize goes to the "fibre-optics probe", sort of a wire-thin surveillance camera, but my fave has got to be the "telegraph shoe", which allows you to communicate via Morse code by tapping the heels of the shoe. "Thus, a message may be sent under direct observation of the enemy." Yeah, nothing to see here, just a spontaneous bit of soft-shoe.

A new edition of Fight in the Skies, now titled Dawn Patrol, is plugged. In Spelling Bee, Mentzer discusses the various polymorph sorts of spells. There is a short piece offering hopelessly corny TSR carols ("I'mmmmm hunting for a white dragon, with every new torch that I light"). Audible groan.



After a short comic strip, there is a feature on GenCon 15, and wow...it is always so hard to believe how much it has grown. "7,000...gamers flooded the rooms and corridors of Parkside University...to attend gaming's largest convention." Incredible.

A scene from GenCon XV


Recipients of the RPGA scholarship fund are featured. Mentzer's tips in this issue's Notes for the Dungon Master are sadly uninspired. The Letters section is mostly dry, with questions about back issues and the like, although there is a bit of foreshadowing. One reader asks about modules possibly appearing in Polyhedron, and while Kim Eastland plays it coy, Polyhedron eventually contained tons of cool adventures for multiple systems. I will get there eventually!

The issues ends with a catalog of sorts, all RPGA related products, punctuated by my white whale, the awesome TSR belt buckles.



Although this was ostensibly a double issue, it doesn't quite feel like it given the amount of advertising in the back. Still, these continue to make for fun reading. Neat time capsules of games long gone by.

Early Polyhedron newsletters are now available on the DM's Guild.









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