Alarums and Excursions #198

Alarums and Excursions is one of the first periodicals devoted to RPGs. This is issue 198, from February of 1992. It is the only issue I own.

I said periodical because it feels wrong to call it a magazine. A&E is an Amateur Press Association. APAs function as forums for niche topics – sci fi, music, movies, RPGs – long before the dawn of the internet. The first APAs appeared in the late 1800s. In a lot of ways, they’re a monthly collection of small zines, submitted by readers to a central editor who collates, binds and sends out the final product.

A&E began in June 1975, spun out of a science fiction APA because discussion of D&D was taking up too much room. Lee Gold has made sure an issue has come out just about every month since (she missed just four in 45 years – as someone who has been putting out a digital magazine monthly for four and a half years, this is downright awe-inspiring).  An alarming number of RPG brains have contributed to A&E over the years – Robin Laws, Jonathan Tweet, David Hargrave, Erick Wujcik, Mark Rein-Hagen, Greg Costikyn, Edward Simbalist and on and on – and many of them used A&E as a proving ground for ideas and concepts they were working on. Some folks did reviews. Others wrote up records of play sessions. There’s side whispers about music and movies. It really feels like an online bulletin board, but on paper.

I don’t know how it is now, but back in the 92, the whole thing is mimeographed (there is much talk of stencils that I don’t quite understand, so I could be wrong) with each contributor’s zine distinguished by different color paper (and often, different fonts). There are no pictures aside of the cover. Only a two-page newsletter deep in the pages sports anything resembling layout. Someone wrote up a description of a new dark god called Kali Minogue (a send up of Kylie Minogue, the one pop star who has never received praise equal to her talents, but I can forgive this writer, because at the time, Impossible Princess was still 5 years off). It is pretty amazing. If you see one in the wild, pick it up!

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