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Out of the Suitcase #40: What Never Was... (mostly)

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 5th Mar 2023

White Dwarf 10 year dvd

Chaosium President Rick Meints shares stories from a life-time as a collector of all things Chaosium.

One of the down sides of most of collecting RPG magazines is that most of the ones from the 70s through the 90s were published before PDFs and other electronic formats were commonly in use. Thus, you either have to track them down in physical paper form or miss out on a lot of great content. 

I recently saw a comment about PDFs of White Dwarf magazine and it caused me to turn towards an item on my shelf I hadn't looked at for years. 

Back around the turn of the century Games Workshop began the process of preparing an electronic collection of the first 10 years of its White Dwarf magazine (1977-1987). All 90 issues were scanned in, cleaned up, and made electronically searchable. The collection of PDFs fit nicely onto a single DVD. For all you vintage tech afficianados, it required a PC with WIN 98/ME/2000SP2/XP and at least 128MB of RAM. 

Unfortunately, Games Workshop discovered that they did not own the rights to many of the articles in those long out-of-print issues. Most had been submitted by freelancers who only sold GW the one-time publication rights to their material, or related to other game systems not part of GW's own IP. 

Faced with the daunting task of having to track down numerous authors and artists to get their permission (or face potential lawsuits) the project was quietly abandoned*. 

About 15 years ago I acquired the DVD shown above. It is an advance marketing/review copy GW had sent to its Australian branch of operations for eventual sale in the Asia/Pacific market.

Many of those 90 issues included Chaosium content-- Many of those 90 issues included Chaosium content: I talk about some of them in Out of the Suitcase #33 --

*Similarly, in 1999 WOTC did a multi-disc CD set of the first 250 issues of Dragon Magazine. They faced similar legal challenges that forced them to pull it off the market.