Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Luke Turpeinen0
Time Vault- May 1995
Where I read InQuest #1
I was ten years old in the summer of 1995. Ten years old, and living in a rural farming town of 6000 people on the foothills of the Oregon Cascade mountain range. Living in the middle of nowhere isn’t so bad when you’re a kid- as long as you like riding your bike, climbing trees or catching snakes- and as a ten year old, I liked those sorts of things a lot.
When I wasn’t out creating my own adventures, I was usually reading ghost stories, comic books or fantasy novels. Pogs had been a cultural phenomenon that swept like wildfire through the area in 1993, and shortly thereafter Magic: the Gathering appeared for the first time in my sleepy town. By 1995 a bunch of the kids in my area were hooked.
Not to sound like a grandpa or anything, but it’s difficult to appreciate how culturally isolated you could be at that time (I forget, myself). Without the internet, living in a rural area, it was almost impossible to even know about the other cool games we were missing out on at the time. Scrye was a CCG magazine that had been out for a while at that point, but it was focused mostly on price guides which weren’t much use to kids with little discretionary income.
When InQuest magazine made it to my grocery store shelf, I was intrigued by the contest ad on the front: “Win a full set of Magic the Gathering!” plus, it said there was a “free Rage gaming card inside!” and while I didn’t know what that was, it sounded cool. The magazine also had a very prominent #1 on the front, and if my comic books reading and taught me anything, it’s that #1s are special.
Issue #1 of InQuest comics in May 1995, was 80 pages long, and included articles as well as price lists for various CCGs (but mostly Magic). There were five multi-page featured articles, four one-page columns, a letters page and a news section. Most ads were full page, used full color, and included high quality art from the game being advertised.
On re-reading my 20-year old copy that has somehow stayed with me throughout the years, I especially enjoyed reading the editor’s note for their first issue. In it, he talks about how Magic the Gathering changed the hobby in wonderful ways by getting new people involved in tabletop gaming. It single-handedly rejuvenated the fantasy/sci-fi gaming industry overnight.
Overall there is a lot of enthusiasm in the issue, the tone is really hopeful and excited for all of the new games that are hitting the market. A lot of the issue is one writer or another saying, “Oh man, look at how many of these cool things there are, isn’t it great?!” Which reminds me of our own site, and our focus on indie Kickstarter games updates.
One of the things that is immediately noticeable just from flipping through the pages is that every one is trying to ride on Magic’s coat tails. Almost all of the ads in the book are for CCGs, many of which I’ve never actually seen copies of in all of my years gaming. The only exception among the ads is Rage (based on White Wolf’s Werewolf: the Apocalypse RPG), which got itself a double page spread right at the front of the book, before the table of contents.
The main articles were mostly behind-the-scenes looks at the process of making games, including interviews with creators and people working in the business. There is a “History of Vampires” article about the World of Darkness, which includes an interview with Mark Rein-Hagen, the creator of Vampire: the Masquerade. So when Mark’s people asked us to review his latest games Democracy and I Am Zombie, you can bet that Nicole listened to me talk about this article non-stop for days.
There is also an interview with Wizard of the Coast’s Project Manager at the time, Tom Wanerstrand. In it he talks about what his job entails, which seems to be mostly to wrangle artists and get the physical canvases they work on scanned in to be placed on cards. He also talks a lot about the art direction of Magic at the time, which was just starting to get much more focused.
The article that talks to the writers and artists working on the Magic the Gathering comic book was interesting to me as a kid. It mentions that Charles Vess (the cover artist for the series) has never played Magic, but most of the younger artists and writers have. They mention that they were given practically free reign to do whatever they wanted with the story and visuals, but they tried to stick to an aesthetic inspired by a few cards and really delved into the lore of the game as as to not disappoint fans.
A few of the columns talk about the kind of addiction the Magic hobby creates, and how people who like collecting things seem to be the ones who gravitate to the hobby. “Like Rats On Cocaine” is the title of one column that month, and the “Swan Song” article is about a hobbyist who gets out of video games as a hobby because it’s too expensive, just to get into D&D which proves to be too expensive to collect all of. He eventually sells all of his RPGs to start collecting all of the Magic sets.
My favorite part when I was younger was a “What if they made a Dragonlance movie?” casting call article. Along with some rather dubious picks, there is an extremely uncanny choice for the role of Tasslehoff Burrfoot (a kleptomaniacal halfling): Elijah Wood. The casting article was published 6 years before Lord of the Rings came out.
While I read the serious articles as a kid, they are much more engaging to me now as an adult, and as someone who has worked on production of games in various capacities. Articles like Ultimate Chaos are funny, and my younger self found it a lot more readable than the rather dry comic book interviews. Overall the magazine is very well balanced between humor and substance, and as a #1 it definitely delivers.
Thanks for reading this Part One article- follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get notified when the Part Two comes out, with a more detailed look at the contents of Inquest #1!
Before you go, check out these Black Lotus prices from the price guide in the back of the book: