I like physcal books & fanzines, so when Alex Fotinakes of the Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols OSR fanzine contacted me about doing a review & commentary on issue seven I jumped at the chance. But I wanted a physical copy of the fanzine. WMLP! Issue No 7 is very well put together with the binding being surprisingly strong and the physical book itself being especially durable. The cover is a throw back to the early Eighties fanzines of science fiction & comic books or at least that's how it comes off. Actually don't let the cover fool you this isn't at all what it seems to be. This is a professionally done zine on par with other OSR hobby mags and personally it fills a very firm gap in the hobby scene as we'll see.
Now the first thing to notice is that this fanzine actually has an index! I can't tell you as a dungeon master how important this is. The number of fanzines over the years that I've seen without them is incredible and when your at the table trying to remember where an article that you want to incorporate into your own home campaign is indexes are indispensable. This issue has a lot of OSR material in it starting with the editorial which goes on to explain about why WMLP is interviewing Jennell Jaquays. Which if you know anything about the Seventies Old School table top rpg scene then you know who she is and why the magazine is interviewing her. Her credit in the old school table top rpg scene is as solid as a rock and she's designed some of the classic Judge's Guild adventures, created her own own old school gaming magazine the Dungeoneer, she was there for the Eighties rise of the video game console, she was a part of the D20 boom, and is still a vital part of the gaming industry on many levels including the current video game scene.
So is the interview with Jennell Jaquays. good? Yes I think so because it not only gets into the background of the writer, designer's methods, but the interviewer climbs into her head a bit to reveal a few tips and tricks of adventure and dungeon design. All in all its not a bad interview for the limited amount of page count that Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols has to work with.
Beneath the Ruins is a part of an on going series of articles about a megadungeon that runs throughout the various issues of WMLP. This is a pure gonzo dungeon level with weird NPC's, strange one off monsters, and a tone of a dungeon that is one side shy of the twilight zone. I've seen similar dungeons in other fanzines but this one is very tight design work and weird encounters that shy on the deadly side. I've seen Alex Fotinakes writing and design before and this dungeon level speaks volumes about his approach to the material. It's well done and deadly.
NPC's are carefully labeled, plots are mapped, rooms described with enough detail to allow a DM to customize what they want without getting too heavy handed. The work is decidedly and apologetically old school.
Duren, a sample city by John Huh is a sample city state map that hasn't been filled in and over keyed. You can create your own adventure location with extreme predjuiice and still have room for the local smithy. The map is well done, the ideas here are loose enough to fit any old school adventure dynamic you need and the article is short, sweet, and too the point. It sets out to do a job and does it.
Items of Interest by John Huh is good article about magic items with extensive back stories and some issues. These items can form the basis for bringing players into the game deeper as the item outlined causes PC complications after a very short time of ownership. There's a good cross section of weirdness in these items and the author comes across with a huge amount of honesty in his designs of these items. These are items that you want to put into a game and still have room to throw in your own twists as a DM.
The layout for this issue is solid, the visuals here are easy to read, and item choices are actually interesting and will hold the PC's interest for some time to come.All in all not a bad article at all.
Then we dive into the 'The Empire of the Tong' a campaign adventure NPC/PC faction for your own old school campaigns. These guys are an isolated community within your own game settings with an internal history, optional PC classes, society and setting all in one handy article. Its a well done and researched article with lots of details and plenty to fill in for a drag and drop in society for your old school games.
Finally we get into The Journal of Quinoa, the Unbathed by Bob Richens which might be a player hand out that the party finds in the dungeon. This is a great little read and has some real possibilities for use as an adventure hook.. The ideas here are fresh, the humor gallows, and ideas here are fresh but very dangerous for PC's. WMLP! Gazette by Bob Richens is a jokey little help wanted series of articles that might be used as an adventure hook. There's plenty of potential here for actually using these adds as hooks and sinkers for adventurers
Overall I'd say that Issue 7 of Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols Fanzine is a mixed bag of OSR goodness with lots of potential if used right by the DM to incorporate these various articles, and gems of old school table top rpg articles into their own games. The total package is very well done and works at so many levels as an old school fanzine.