EDIT: Please see my latest review of the magazine here.
Here's a special thanks to Tenkar's Tavern for doing a two-part part review of Gygax Magazine, issue #1, published by the newly created (reincarnated?) TSR. You can find both parts of the review here and here. Tenkar's review solidified my previous thoughts on the magazine, which can be summed up in its own two parts:
1. That's neat, but I'm going to pass because I'm not part of the target demographic and...
2. This is solid proof that we're in the d20 Dark Ages.
Just judging by the cover, I know that I'm not one of the magazine's target audience. It looks like Dragon Magazine from the early to mid-1980s. Maybe future issues will be different. Still, this first issue is packed with articles where the authors share their "old school cred" (as Tenkar puts it). While I'm familiar with many of these names, they don't hold the same nostalgia factor for me, since I grew up in the AD&D Second Edition era.
This magazine is meant to appeal to those who grew with D&D from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. Sure, others can read it, but I doubt they'd get the same feeling of nostalgia.
Yet this magazine, which has been touted as a great triumph of the Old School Renaissance, has little material compatible with "Golden Age" editions of D&D. There's a lot of articles reminiscing about the past and how great things were back in the early to mid-1980s. But then magazine turns around and features gameable content for Pathfinder and Dragon Age RPG.
|Published Nov. 1982|
This all fits into my definition of a Dark Age. Here we have an emulation of the "Golden Age" alongside the fragmentation of the present. The folks at Gygax Magazine are trying to bring back the memories of achievements thirty years gone, before Gygax got ousted from the old TSR, before Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms changed the hobby (Greenwood, Weis, and Hickman aren't often considered old school in the OSR). Before the hobby fragmented.
Don't believe me? Fine, I'll go ahead and put out a Lorraine Williams Magazine, by T$R, emulating Dragon in the 1990s featuring material about Buck Rogers, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, Planescape, Dark Sun, Mystara (both Hollow World and Savage Coast), Birthright, and Greyhawk (maybe). Furthermore, make sure all of this is blended with reviews on miniatures and computer games.
|The first issue without|
Published Dec. 1982
Issue #1 will have authors establishing their "Second Edition Cred," with "Elminster and Me" by Ed Greenwood; "The Death of Greyhawk" by Carl Sargent; "'Amazing Stories' from TSR in the 1990s" by Kim Mohan, "Ravenloft: Module to Domain of Dread," by Bruce Nesmith, and "From d6 to d20: Freelancing with TSR," by Bill Slavicsek.
Yes, I'm being facetious. And I hope none of the authors mentioned above or in Gygax Magazine take offense. But I think my point is clear: nobody would want to read a gaming magazine emulating TSR from the 1990s, the d20 Dark Ages--online or in print. Heck, I wonder if somebody could even pull off publishing a magazine for the early days of D&D 3e or later. Kobold Quarterly, however, did have good run.
Don't get me wrong, the publishing of Gygax Magazine is a big deal. It shows that the OSR might be thriving enough to have a print magazine, even if its quarterly. Yet, it is also part of a pattern that I've witnessed since I started gaming back in 1989, the pattern of looking back and trying to emulate the Golden Age of D&D. We'll see how successful this iteration will be.
Although I won't be subscribing, I do wish the folks at Gygax Magazine the best.
|This layout ran from Dec. 1987|
until the early 1990s.
EDIT: All right, I did some more digging. Tim Kask wrote, "Gygax Magazine will cover a wide variety of RPGs and strategy games, focusing on preserving the traditions of the industry."
So the mag isn't (or intended to be) part of the OSR, but given how they've marketed it I have no doubt that they are trying to appeal to the OSR. Not like that's a bad thing.