Monday, May 28, 2012

Introduction to Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols


[If you've already purchased your copy of WMLP #1, you'll recognize the text below as the introduction.  I thought it might be a good idea to post it here, so that those who might miss the first issue (you know, if they come along in a year's time or something) will still have a vague idea of the philosophy behind what we're doing.]  

When I was twelve I got a job working at the Cypress Swap Meet.  It was, and is, a sprawling grid of booths and stalls hocking everything from auto floor mats to handtools to used clothing.  The front half of it was occupied by your average commercial stalls, each with a particular theme.  Well towards the back, however, was where things got really interesting.  These were the cheap spots.  The merchants in the back lot dealt in all manner of junk, obtained from abandoned storage units, estate sales, and most likely, a few rubbish bins.  There was a constant turn over of every conceivable item—undergarments, double-knit polyester shirts, autographed photos of barely celebrities, etc. ad infinitum.  Valuable items next to what was basically trash; Plato lying out under the sun next to Dianetics.  It was disorganized and junky, but it was also where the magic happened.  You always had a sense that if you just looked hard enough, you could find almost anything in that crazy mix.

It was in a stall in the back that I first encountered the comic reprints of the old pulp horror and fantasy stories.  And after rummaging around in boxes week after week, finally came upon a strange game book emblazoned with a lady wizard and a warrior with a crazy helmet.  I looked at it again and again, and finally bought it.  I’d heard of D&D, of course—this was a bit after the fad stage—but I’d never played it.  Something in the images, though, struck a chord deep within me and I read it over and over, struggling to understand the concepts.  (Here is where the story gets sad, but don’t choke up over me, friend)  I spent the next couple years dreaming about D&D, of strange monsters and dark chambers, and sneaky thieves stealing treasure.  But I didn’t find anyone with whom to play.  My younger cousin tried his best, but was too little really to get into it.  My friends preferred video games and who knows what else.  It was frustrating, but it led to a time of ferment that was very important.  I owned only Mr. Moldvay’s basic book, nothing else.  But the openness led me to feel that all could be included.  Perhaps the environment in which I found D&D even helped to cement this vision, for among the piles of random used pots and pans, Atari cartridges and pulp sci-fi books, I dreamed of adventures where my hopelessly fragile footpad explored martian caves and befriended ninja turtles and Thundarr the Barbarian.  My love of the random assortment solidified, because that was where the magic happened.  Random disjointed elements integrated, becoming something new and cohesive, still dripping with weirdness as it crawled forth from its protoplasmic vat.

Eventually, I found others who knew D&D and played often, and I entered into some great friendships and played in many strange campaigns.  Years passed, and again as an adult I discovered the joy of Mr. Moldvay’s edition of the greatest game ever made.  I even found that a fantastic clone of it was available for free online, thanks to the generosity and labor of Dan Proctor (Labyrinth Lord!).  New friends joined me around the table and again we explored twisted ruins inhabited by weirdness that was decades in the making. 

Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols is a zine that belongs on a blanket at the back end of the Cypress Swap Meet, among the He-Man action figures and Snorks videos.  It will be weird and quirky, mixed up and cross-genred, but with the help of my awesome contributors, I hope it will be a place for the magic to happen again.

Alex Fotinakes

5 comments:

  1. Love it. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue and tripped out on that awesomely crazy dungeon you are developing. :)

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  2. Excellent! Can't wait for the next issue!

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  3. Yeah, I'm in and you can thank Tim for the referral.

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  4. As a former English teacher, I give your essay an A+.

    As someone who has been gaming since '82, I say, "THIS! This is what the hobby is all about. This guy gets it."

    As a consumer, I say, "Here's my $3.50."

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