Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Apothecary: WotC's Oldest Item? (Throwback Thursday)

Winter 1992, I was a few scant months short of graduating high school, and with the completion of my 30 page paper on Anton Chekhov for AP English, I was showing up to school for a few quick games of Wrestlerama with my friend Scott during Senior Study Hall, biding the time for track practice to work on my hurdling.

Yes, once upon a time, this fat due was a skinny dude who hurdled.  Won half of my races that year, and got second in all but two.  Not a schlub, and only an occasional mope (There is a difference).

Anyway, it the midst of winter THIS showed up in the mail.

I had signed up for Bard Games Black Savant newsletter and maybe got one stock issue.  This was the biggest news of the year (And Gary Gygax was coming back with Dangerous Journeys that August).  Talislanta and the Atlantis books had a new home by some upstart jackwads who called themselves Wizards of the Coast.  Can West Coast people sound anymore pretentious?

But Talislanta had a new home, and one where the first Cyclopedia was still available!  And a third edition, which in hindsight was the best of the editions.  Just the right amount of everything in the book, even if it didn't work perfectly.

Wizards (definitely NOT WotC) was also releasing their own book, The Primal Order, which, to the layman D&D player, was a crunchier more logical system to creating gods and pantheons compared to, say, the D&D Immortals Boxed Set.  I fiddled around with my copy for a while and it just wasn't my tastes. Ultimately they ran foul by touting it's universal system, by statting out deities in other game system, specifically the litigation happy folks at Palladium.

Despite the articles touting their RPG products, the writing was on the wall, er, second page, of the newsletter.

Three words:  Robot Board Game

One more word:  Garfield

Now, perusing the Internet, sources are  telling me that subsequent issues all appeared as part of Cryptch Magazine, although I swear possessing a paper catalog later on down the line that mentioned Richard Garfield's second game, a card game called Manaburn, which was collectible(?)   As Manaburn evolved into Magic: The Gathering and took the world by storm, WotC ironically enough, shelved their entire role-playing division in 1994.  Even more ironic, Jonathan Tweet, one of the Tal 3 authors, was part of the team that wrote D&D 3.0 after the now juggernaut WotC bought TSR.  I knew there was a reason I didn't despise 3.0!


  1. I really liked the Primal Order book, and I eventually acquired the entire line. (All four books.) Out of curiosity, what did you do with the copy that you had owned? I bought the core book when you were working at Seth's store at the mall, so it occurs to me that if you sold it to the store, I most likely wound up with your old copy.

  2. I orginally snagged my copy from Dreamscape, and I probably held it until it went the way of the convention auctions. Trying to get the three supplements is simply insane. Congrats on your daughter's college fund.