Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Proteus Magazine

Dear Wimbourne Publishing.

We already agreed by email that I don't have any copies of PROTEUS magazine being offered for download and that the other website that does is nothing all to do with me. So stop DCMA requesting this blog OK?

Found a great website last night that has all the issues of PROTEUS for download in PDF format (as well as all issues of WARLOCK, but that's perhaps a matter for another post). PROTEUS was a magazine that came out riding unashamedly on the coat-tails of Messrs. Jackson and Livingstone and printed smaller gamebooks (200-250 paragraphs or so) in bi-monthly A4 magazine format through the usual magazine retail chain (newsagents, supermarkets etc.).

The whole magazine was a bit of what The Simpson's dubbed "Non-Union Mexican" but it was very cheap (launched at a mere 80p) and the A4 format showed off the full-page artwork a lot better than the paperbook size did in the "proper" books.

Rules-wise PROTEUS was a pretty blatant copy of the FF system, simply renaming SKILL to Dexterity and STAMINA to Strength. Early issues showed a bit of stat inflation with SKILL, sorry Dexterity, being d6+8 and STAMINA, sorry Strength, being d6+15. Later issues reverted to the more familar d6+6 and d6+12. I have to say I don't remember this differential in the old days, perhaps showed I didn't bother to read the rules properly and probably struggled with the fights accordingly.

Format-wise the magazine was essentially a few pages of adverts from the usual suspects wrapped around the adventure. It was always quite heavy on the artwork, and unlike the FF or Lone Wolf books, used a lot of artists within one issue. This tended to give a disjointed and inconsistent feel to the illustrations. It also did the FF/LW thing of incorporating a lot of page furniture artworks (a lot of which were re-used across issues) probably to enable the page count to be bulked up "on the cheap." The covers were unfortunately quite flimsy and so none of my copies survived whereas contempory-purchased White Dwarfs did.

One of the highlights of PROTEUS was it's use of Gary Harrod's artwork. Harrod later went on to get the GW gig doing a load of mono illos for the Realms of Chaos books and a quick Google suggests he worked on UK videogaming mag Mean Machines as well. I think this blog is from the same man.

Harrod did the character sheets for each issue after the first, and if you are used to the boring, functional sheets from the likes of Fighting Fantasy, and indeed - every RPG ever released, then these may be a shock - fantastic morbid borders and graphic design. I'm so impressed with them looking through all 19 issues that I've started extracting them from the PDFs, assembling as JPGs with an eye to uploading here. Then you can download, remove the PROTEUS stat blocks and import your own char sheet for whatever game you are playing. I really like these sheets, atmosphere would practically ooze out of them each time you looked down to check your Hit Points.

Here are the two I've done so far from #2 The Mines of Malagus and #6 The Fortress of Kruglach.

PROTEUS was a bit of a "me too" effort and I remember a fair few digs at it from WARLOCK magazine, probably coming straight from the mouth of a disgruntled Jackson and Livingstone. None of the adventures I played ever really stood out as classics. But I have fond memories of the mag - the A4 format and huge amount of art was something to savoured and it was cheap enough for me to buy as soon as I saw it - rather than the usual wait for Christmas and Birthday WHSmiths tokens followed by the wait until my Father was free on a Saturday to take me up to Wolverhampton to spend them that was the only way I got to spend my own money on "proper" paperbacks.


  1. Wow, I remember these as well. I ripped off any good bits I found for my games. Looking back at the issues the mix of art is really striking.

    I wonder how many sweatshirts they sold ?

  2. The Warlock magazine cannot be used on that website because it had to be removed. Any ideas where else I can lay my hands on them?

  3. If you do know where I can get them, can you email the link to me rpgpitstop@ymail.com

  4. The Warlock links seemed to be taken down a few days after I made this post - so somewhat guiltily I wonder if I had something to do with that :(

  5. I dont suppose you have any copies lying around on your hard drive, or know of anywhere else i can get them. I only have have issue 6 & 7.
    Oh, thanks for the reply

  6. For get my last comment, I have managed to lay my hands on them and just about everything ever published for Fighting Fantasy.
    Good blog you run here, hope you keep it going, as I have found some quite interesting stuff.

    Cheers mate

  7. I've got almost a set of the original mags from around issue 5(?)-19 just dusted down from my attic if anyone wants to make an offer!

  8. I've still got my originals in a dark and dusty box somewhere. Only thing I'm missing is the free posters which went straight up on my walls as a teenager (many, many, many moons ago) these were a good cheap alternative to the FF books.

    Mik, Leicester, UK

  9. I have all 20 Issue of Proteus, and most of the posters. Found them when cleaning up at my parents. Brings back some memories.

    Peter - Wiltshire

  10. I remember Proteus well though I only managed to get my hands on the first few issues. They, and the posters, are around somewhere in my parents house, probably in a big box in the attic. I enjoyed the magazine immensely at the time. I Googled the name Proteus after a character of the same name was in a Sinbad animated story... and the memories flooded back!

  11. I have every issue, including the rare issue 1 and I never removed a poster from any magazine. I Also have 18 of them in the Proteus binders.

  12. I've just found my old issue 1 in my parents attic, the launch price of that one was 65p! Are these worth anything to collectors, just wondered before I let my kids have it and the inevitable scrawling all over it. tills@tesco.net

  13. Absolutely no idea of value whatsoever! Sorry!