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Shadis Magazine

picture of Shadis Magazine [1]I was cleaning our office [aka, the room where we toss piles of junk] last night when I stumbled on a box. As soon as I opened the box I smiled. I would have sworn that I’d tossed them out a few years ago– a mistake I rued. The magazine I found was Shadis [2].

As soon as I saw the cover again, I fondly remembered many afternoons spent reading it. By the time I discovered the magazine they had already reached issue 13 (shown to the right) and it came out quarterly. Over the next year they experimented with a few different formats like the Shadis Presents half issues (17.5, 18.5, etc.) and steadily worked their way over to a monthly format. The interior pages were anything but glossy– kind of newspaper like stock. The contents, though, were interesting and varied. In issue 14 they explained their goals– to support games of all kinds and never to become just a house organ. When they [3] started producing their own games years later, they were cautious about reviewing them.

The contents of the magazine seem like a microcosm of the rpg focused blog world today. Each issue was packed with reviews of interesting games (especially smaller press games I’d never have heard about otherwise), rumors about the game industry, generic plots and resources, and comics. Despite a wealth of great ideas between the covers, I rarely managed to work much into the games I was GMing or playing in at the time.

I know I’m not the only person to miss Shadis [4]. Is there a magazine out there that does the same thing today? [By which I mean cover roleplaying generally rather than one company.] Have blogs collectively replaced the niche a general focus magazine would fill? I know that I appreciated their system neutral articles [a lot like Treasure Tables, now that I think of it], but would search the internet [or look at my incoming feeds] for similar inspiration today.

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10 Comments To "Shadis Magazine"

#1 Comment By Martin Ralya On November 20, 2008 @ 7:37 am

I’m unaware of a magazine that takes this tack — and while I never read Shadis, it’s a crying shame that the print gaming magazine in general is such a pale shadow of what it used to be. That’s not to say there isn’t good stuff to be found (Kobold Quarterly, for example), but it’s few and far between, and a lot smaller than back in the day.

Oddly, unlike print newspapers, I’ve never met a gamer who doesn’t miss print gaming mags…and yet they seem to be on the way out anyway. 🙁

#2 Comment By John Arcadian On November 20, 2008 @ 8:09 am

I think print magazines, especially RPG themed ones, are on their way out because the cost to produce outstrips the returns. Online articles are much easier and require less graphical content to look professional. Still, like Scott points out about shadis, a lot of gamers are going to care more about the content. I never had the pleasure of reading shadis, but I’d definitely buy it, or buy an online version of it.

#3 Comment By deadlytoque On November 20, 2008 @ 10:15 am

I’ve never missed print gaming magazines, but that’s probably because I was never exposed to them when they were around. The only ones I knew about when I started up were Dungeon and Dragon, and I didn’t play D&D at the time, so they weren’t particularly useful to me.

I can’t imagine paying for a print resource for generic stories, mods, etc. I get all the resources I need for that sort of thing from the Internet, or else from writer’s resources. I find books like The Writer’s Block make my life much easier when it comes to coming up with story ideas.

#4 Comment By Scott Martin On November 20, 2008 @ 10:45 am

A lot of the content in Shadis kind of survives in the back pages of Knights of the Dinner Table. The game reviews are almost identical in format. The good, the bad, and the ugly, got its start in Shadis days, etc. It’s still kind of around, just with a different title and emphasis.

#5 Comment By nblade On November 20, 2008 @ 10:49 am

I sadly have to agree with John. The cost of producing a magazine has become really expensive.

As to a general gaming magazine that’s not a house organ, while possible, it hard to do. For gaming magazine’s it easier to find an audience with just one game or group of games. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, it’s just harder to to do.

I think I too am a bit nostalgic for the old gaming magazines. Seem I still reread all the old Dragon Magazine I brought in the 80’s (or should I say the PDFs of them from the PDF Archive collection I purchased).

#6 Comment By BryanB On November 20, 2008 @ 10:58 am

I was a friend of Shadis. But those magazines were sold as part of my complete Shadowrun 2nd Edition purge back in the late nineties.

I miss Dungeon magazine more than anything. There were a lot of maps to steal in those adventures. It is a real time saver when one can steal a map instead of drawing one out or attempting to use something like Campaign Cartographer (HAH!). 😀

#7 Comment By LordVreeg On November 20, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

I have a player who has the compleat collection of Sorcerer’s Apprentice magazines…had more original fiction than you could shake a stick at, Zelazney, Poul Anderson, De Lint, Tanith Lee, Michael Stackpole…all with very high quality art and glossy paper. I have seen a lot of RPG magazines, but that was the classiest of them.

But the day of magazines is over, as is the day of the newspaper. The same mindset of person that creates ‘Gnome Stew’ today would have created a gaming magazine back in the seventies and 80s.

#8 Comment By Patrick Benson On November 20, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

I subscribe to Polymancer magazine. They have and adventure in every issue, advice, reviews, and your standard gaming stuff.

But I can’t recommend the publication. The content is fine, but they don’t seem to have their act together as a business. The publishing schedule is always late it seems, and their web presence is awful.

Online is the way to go. Printed gaming materials, and I include the games themselves, are usually too expensive for the quality of the product. PDFs are much better IMO for most gaming needs. Now if only there was a decent and affordable e-book reader out there.

#9 Comment By DocRyder On November 21, 2008 @ 12:31 am

I know of nothing currently that is as varied as Shadis, but I had a similar wave of nostalgia when I recently found a stack of old SJG Space Gamer magazines. These were from the early days of computer gaming, having reviews of Ultima III and others. 🙂

#10 Comment By Bookkeeper On November 21, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

The loss of Dragon Magazine was one of the big parts of WotC’s transition that rubbed me all wrong. To this day, WotC has never given a better explanation of their elimination of a fantastic product by Paizo than, “We think we’ll make more money running it online.” Paizo made all the right “we’re totally cool with this” noises, but I, for one, found the move to be classless.

The problem with online periodicals is that they do not do much for catching the eye of new gamers. Dragon and Dungeon, with their gorgeous art covers, could grab the attention of anyone walking by a periodical shelf; The D&D Insider will never recruit one new gamer. In addition, taking away the Dragon audience from those who bought ad space inside of the two print magazines only serves to choke off the rest of the industry. WotC seems to be positively schizophrenic in determining whether they wish to be monopolists or not, but getting rid of Dragon was, in all likelihood, bad for everyone but WotC (and maybe not even good for them in the long term).

Kobold Quarterly has, to date, covered a lot of different areas of the D&D world, though they don’t, as far as I know, talk about non-D&D games. I think I’ve finally gone through enough of White Dwarf that I’ve read their cycle: they are the ultimate house organ and originality eventually peters out in such an environment. Other than that, I’ve got Gnome Stew and Dungeon Mastering. I’d still buy a quality publication that talked about a wider variety of games, but I don’t think there are enough of me to make a market.