Friday, 11 May 2012

Wizards World 1983 Goblinoid Games

Wizards' World RPG (1983)
Goblinoid Games
$4.99 on DriveThru
A second go at this entry...

I'll lie and say I've just written for you an incredibly witty, informative and inciteful review, before it got wiped away by the wrong keystroke, as opposed to my usual "GEE, LOOK AT THIS, IT'S AN OLD-SKOOL RPG! KEWL!" - naturally, I'm paraphrasing my own style here.

But, gee look at this ...!

I was planning to write about cackling Dark Lords kidnapping Space Princesses, but this week I managed to kill my main PC, after being distracted by yet more PDF downloads of rulebooks and role-playing lore, whilst Real Life things (job, personal life, ug) mustered forces to invade the territories of my true love: that of the games "hoarding".  I've also just discovered that I'm way too broke to go to the Beer & Pretzels Games Weekend tomorrow in Burton-on-Trent.  This is a shame, because (a) I've already bought the ticket; and (b) it looks as though some folks will be playing recognisable games like Tunnels & Trolls and not just some third generation booster-deck card-twisting card elaborate comic based Top Trumps or WH40K clones, but hey, it's all good clean box-shifting fun. ;)

So instead, as a fan of the old ways, I felt it was important to tell you about the latest Goblinoid Games facsimile release of the Wizards' World RPG from 1983 (that's almost as old as CDs, remember CDs? Man, the fun we had back in the 20th century...).

Goblinoid Games have been really treating us recently to nibblets of the past with titles like Starships & Spacemen and Time Master.

It's a curious notion which drives me to buying older titles in PDF or POD.  Like many an RPG lover, I feel that it's a romance of with many facets. A very different aspect reveals itself to me when I see the older covers.
 In the case of Wizards' World, it's primarily the collector, and curious archivist in me that hits the "add to cart" button (and by the way, real shoppers don't do wish-lists!).  The DM/player in me is somewhat more cynical when it comes to imagining convincing a newly-assembled group of players to try this system over the umpteen other sparkling gems on our shelves.  So this title is a triple R "read, ruminate and resource" product - purchasing it will make me richer in knowledge, and wiser when approaching my other systems - and if you can't play it, "mine" it to hell!  ;)  On an collector-nostalgia note, just the thought that I may have seen this in a shop as younger man / teen / boy-player back in 1983 (although I swear it reads like a game from 1979-81) makes me super-curious, hungry to purchase and, to be frank, a little sweaty with excitement.  (Yes, yes, I know ...)  This, naturally, leads me back to my need to reassure myself that's "okay" to buy games purely to read - or perhaps to play in the far future many years hence when there's time.  -That it's perfectly fine to indulge oneself in the micro-to-macro thought-experiments of dice maths and campaign building.   Somewhere in this search is an RPG-philosopher's stone, or a perfect easy-play haiku of a game system.  The really twisted thing is that if I find it, I may just have to keep it to myself, I mean, exposing it to a group of players may just ruin the perfection!
Okay, just kidding.
Maybe there's therapy for ex-DMs.
("They killed all of the NPCs and trampled all over my beautiful dungeon!")

Wizards' World:
The text seems to be an electronic scan conversion of the original rulebook (or retyped) with black and white pencil and ink art - also presumably from the original book.  At 83 pages long it's a "complete" system, but it's pretty concise all-you-need level-based-progression D&D-type game.  Lots of space is given over to a fascinating variety of races and classes.  Standing out in terms of originality are the Demonic Halflings, Metamorphic Dwarves, Jesters and Vampires (there's definitely more types than in the AD&D PH).  Some of the dice mechanics will seem familiar and yet it's different enough from D&D or RuneQuest to warrant a thorough look.  After spell lists and a bestiary, the rest of the rules feel rather "squeezed" into this fantasy happy meal.  I'm guessing that if you're a connoisseur of the main game systems from the late 70s - early 80s Wizards' World will entertain and fascinate.  There's something about the production values, illustrations and writing style which really makes me want to place this game two or three years earlier than 1983: it provides more choice for players when compared with D&D B/X or AD&D, maybe T&T or RQ1, whilst not providing oodles of extra rules as in the AD&D DMG.  It lacks the marketing gloss and introductory easy-play game chapters which start to appear from around 1983. (I won't be backing up this generalisation, by the way, just drawing a hazy line in my own narrow perception of gaming history.  However, I actually have a real soft spot for well presented do-this-then-that play-by-example games)
In case you didn't believe me about
those character races and professions ;)

So far, I have the bought the PDF from DriveThruRPG and I'm considering buying the printed book - although I think I need to do a bit more research, i.e. was the original in a box?  I'm having the same dilemmas with buying Bushido and Space Opera in bound book form ... but that's another story.

There were so many colourful boxes on those shelves in the 80s.  *drool*  Maybe I can make new boxes...

If you collect older games, Wizards' World is a classic, yet subtly refreshing, absolute bargain of game.

Wizards' World RPG (1983)
by David Silvera
Goblinoid Games
$4.99 USD / £3.13 GBP on DriveThru

Wizards' World RPG
in paperback on
$17.95 USD / £9.73 GBP

13.05.12 EDIT: Since typing the above entry, Goblinoid Games have posted an interview with the author which eliminates some of my speculation regarding this games relationship with D&D  :) - check it out.


  1. This is really tempting me! So will this allow for a Demonic Halfling Jester?

  2. Oops. Bad news. No Demon Halfling Jesters - bizarre, but it's not clear why, apart from perhaps them being of a humourless persuasion - I'd over-rule it. Too much of a missed opportunity, I reckon. ;)
    Vampires seem to be a extra layer of class - if that makes sense.

    RACE J S W Sc WK BK T As Wz Att Df
    Elves x x x x x x x x x x x
    Half-Elves x x x x x x x x x x x
    Dark Elves - x x x - x x x x x x
    Dwarves - x x x x x x x - x x
    Dwarves - x x x - x x x x x x
    Halflings x x x - x - x x - x x
    Demon Halflings - x x - - x x x x x x
    Gnomes x x x x - - x x x x x
    Humans x x x x x x x x x x x
    Destroyers must be human.
    Abbreviations: J, jester; S, spy; W, warrior; Sc, scout; WK, white
    knight; BK, black knight; T, thief; As, assassin; Wz, wizard; Att,
    attacker; Df, defender

    (Page 12)

  3. Hmmm, does seem like a missed opportunity.
    I can see a scary NPC Demon Halfling Jester with a really twisted sense of humour! "Wanna Play a game?"

    How adaptable is this to LL or other games? I'm not really looking for a new rule set, but always on the lookout for stuff to loot from.
    Thanks for the info!

    1. It's a bit like reading a D&D clone with rewritten home brew rules which has been translated from another language. Ability stats and levels could be imported into LL, with some tweaking. One nice touch is that monsters have scaleable levels and variable stats, like in RQ. I'm pretty sure, spells, professions and special rules could be adapted to LL, however the similarities mean that if you're looking for a lot of new material you may be disappointed. At such a low price it's worth the risk I reckon. :)

  4. Thanks for the review! The original verision has a perfect bound book--nope, not a boxed set.

    1. So it really is as close as we can get to the original without scouring eBay. :) Sorry if I've made a few too many generalisations. ;)
      Keep up the cool publications!

  5. No worries. This reprint is the same as the original, but the erratta is incorporated. The art sometimes appears on a page it didn't in the original due to layout demands.

  6. Billiam thanks for all the info! I'm quite tempted.
    Dan, any plans to do a updated version of WW more in line with Labyrinth Lord like you've mentioned doing for Starships and Spacemen?

  7. Man, if you need boxes, go here:

    I bought the EO box, and it's delicious.

    I, too, am going back and forth on the print copy; $18 is pushing it, for me, for an I'd-like-to-have-it-on-my-shelf kinda thing...

  8. @Bill, nope, no plans to do that. I think there is a charm in WW just the way it is as a variant game. (as an aside, I've been working on S&S 2e and I'm getting closer to being ready for playtest...)

  9. Dan, Thanks for the info. I may just have to pick WW up.
    S&S 2E!!! I've been looking forward to that for awhile! Really want to mix it in with my LL/MF Games!