Friday, 19 June 2015

GM - The Independent Fantasy Roleplaying Magazine

I love a bit of nostalgia. Anybody remember GM - The Independent Fantasy Roleplaying Magazine? It was set up by Tim Metcalfe, Paul Boughton and Wayne (yep, just Wayne!) and according to the first issues editorial was an antidote to 'in house' magazines of the time (White Dwarf perhaps?) and intended to show everything that the fantasy roleplay scene had to offer. Issue number 1 came out in September 1988 and ran for 19 issues (oddly split into two volumes with the first 12 being volume 1) until March 1990 when it went tits up. The gang went on to produce Games Master International - The Independent Fantasy Gaming Monthly a little later that same year.

I found GM in 1989 with the March issue, Vol.1 No.7 which it seems surprisingly enough was the same month I started buying White Dwarf (issue 111). I guess they must have been on the same shelf at the newsagents. It was really interesting to see that a world of gaming existed outside of Games Workshop, although I'd hardly been into 'The Hobby TM' for long enough to be totally indoctrinated into a GWombie (maybe more of a 90's onwards phenomenon anyway). I bought every issue after that one and was gutted when it just disappeared the following year.

In the late 90's prior to me going to university I had a bit of a clear out and threw away all my magazines, including all 15 issues of Games Master International and around 50 issues of White Dwarf. Really wish I hadn't but then that's why we have Ebay today! Had a bit of a pang of nostalgia the other week, did a quick search and found a job lot of GM magazines, 18 out of the 19 and another seller who had the missing issue. Got the job lot for a mere 99p! Postage and the single issue cost a bit more of course but it all worked out as still being a bargain price in my mind. Most of the mags are in good nick, a couple are a little tatty and one has a bit of water damage but I can't complain for the price.

It's fantastic looking back on these and especially the first six issues that I missed. A real window back into a different age of gaming. I suppose in some ways some of it is familiar as GW are still here and games like Battletech and various RPGs are still around but there's a lot that's very much of the time. Adverts for interactive phone line games like Steve Jackson's F.I.S.T. are a bizarre concept today. There were also a huge amount of Play by Mail games as well. I remember playing three PBMs in the 90's, Kingdom by Sloth Enterprises, then later I moved onto A Bledian Diary and Dieu Et Mon Droit. Computer gaming was still largely at the point and click stage. Oh, and so much live roleplay back when it was still LRP rather than LARP (why add the 'A'?). General gaming issues of the time seemed to be GW and their influence (some things never change), and religion versus roleplaying.

There were some great articles including Paul Benson's The Paint Shop featuring some of his lovely old school paint work, Reader's Miniatures which I wish had been a larger section, and in later issues a series of short articles called Historical Alternatives. These covered different historical eras and provided an introduction to something other than fantasy/sci-fi. There were also RPG scenarios and one in particular that stuck with me, it was called Infernalia and covered adventuring in Dante's vision of Hell. Some years later I bought the Divine Comedy based purely on that scenario, I only read Inferno and part of Purgatorio though.

I might scan a few pictures from these issues, especially some of the miniatures that are shown. It would be nice to scan whole articles too but I know some people will 'tut' at that so maybe I won't go that far. Anyway, that's my little shot of nostalgia. Might need to keep an eye out for copies of Games Master International now and I've already started down the slippery slope of collecting old issues of White Dwarf (wow, is that an entirely different mag if you go back before triple figures!).


  1. I loved this mag when I was a young'n. I too had the whole collection (pre international). And, I also threw them all out.....see a pattern here :(

    I had cut all mine to bits, using all the pictures to pimp my high school folders. I regret not taking care of them, coz they were great!

    Incidentally, I almost bought that job lot, but the postage was gunna be a killa. I'm glad you got it though.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane Stone Cold :)

  2. Ha, I ran a PBM in the late 80's, early 90's. Don't think I ever advertised in GM though, it was too expensive. "This Cold Moon", if you fancy scouring the ads.

    1. Don't recall that one. I'll have a gander though.

  3. Anyone remember KGC games like "Its a Crime"?


    1. Never played it but their ads ran through most of GM's issues. I think the owner of the company had a visit from the police over concerns of the content of 'It's a Crime'.