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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
After much scouring of ebay, and other less reputable places, I finally have a copy of the dragon magazine archive, plus a big chunk of the remaining issues (and hopefully I'll be able to complete my collection long before I reach the missing issues ). Which leaves me with the question of how I intend to read it all. After a bit of thought, I've decided to start right from the beginning, starting with the 7 issues of The Strategic Review that come with the archive, and then going on from there.

Which is where this thread comes in. I've noticed that the d20 forum has yet to spawn any massive ongoing threads that really define it in the way that the motivational posters, creepiest gamer or chatty threads of doom have to their respective fora. While I may not be able to match that, I can certainly make this the equal of the similar dr who and star trek viewing threads from Other media, which are similarly epic undertakings to do all the way through. Plus its been a while since I've tried something like this, and I'm curious to see if I've still got what it takes to run an ongoing journalistic task.

So this is where I'll post my reactions and comments to each issue as I go through them. I'll try and mention any important points, and the topics they cover in each issue. Anyone else who wants to give their reactions is welcome to do so. Feedback on my reviewing style and how to improve it would be particularly welcomed. Wish me luck, because I'm gonna need it.
 
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Q99

Genderpunk
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
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Hah, sounds like fun :)


Hm, that reminds me, there's an article that I can't remember what issue it was in... it was some gnomish prestige class... so when you get around to 3ed stuff keep an eye out ;)
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
Good luck and have fun!

Those first few articles really feel like an amateur production, and can be a bit arcane if you're not familiar with games they're talking about. Things get a lot more readable around issue #50, I think. But that probably says more about when I started playing RPGs than the quality of the magazine. :D

Out of curiosity, what issue was the first you read "live", when it was still on the stands?

- Brian
 

Allandaros

Validated Parking
Validated User
That is hardcore awesome. I'm going to be delving through the archive myself to look for useful stuff to port over to the AD&D 2e revamp (see my sig), and I'd been wondering how best to do that. Now I have an inspiration in front of me. :)

(side note: I have never gone through a "live" issue of Dragon.)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The strategic review 1: Spring 1975

So here we are, right back at the dawn of D&D periodicals. First impressions are that they tried to do it in a newspaper style, with a baroque heading and captioned sections. My second is on how short and succinct it is. Only 6 pages long, with no artwork, and obviously typewritten, it gets right to the point, explaining what they are trying to do with the zine (and apologizing for the lack of stuff, as its their first issue, and they don't have any letters or advertisers. )

The rest of the issue contains the following:

An advert for new editions of their wargames (3rd edition chainmail, now featuring the fighting men of the east! And people complain about the animeisation of games now. Says it all really.)

Mind flayers! Their first appearance. Still recogniseably the same basic monster, with almost impenetrable magic resistance, and quick kill brain eating, although they lack the later depth and descriptive detail. Their mind blast is a classic of idiosyncratic OD&D design, with a unique saving throw based off the victims intelligence, rather than level.

Edition change stuff for Tractics (which I've never heard of before, but by implication is another miniatures game) so people who already have the previous edition don't have to buy a whole new copy. How nice of them.

Gary Gygax talking about the underpoweredness of spears in Chainmail, saying people shouldn't complain about it because it is Historically Accurate :D , and also that they intend to introduce expanded details on polearms, rather than just having one generic entry for them. I think most of us know how that one pans out in the future. Oh yes.

2 pages of random dungeon generation tables. These are probably still usable today, as very little is system specific, and what is is easily convertible. Maybe I will use them at some point.

More adverts on the final page.

Funny how many of the things here would go on to be significant later on in the game. There is very little flavour text anywhere, and you are obviously expected to take things and make them your own. They also don't have the skill with layout and making things stand out that they would later develop. Despite its smallness, there is a tendency towards block of textiness. But It was still an entertaining and informative read, and the lack of padding could be seen as a benefit, because it does allow you to get right to the important stuff.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Good luck and have fun!
Thanks.

Out of curiosity, what issue was the first you read "live", when it was still on the stands?

- Brian
Um, um, the one with the bag of beans and the princess ark and bitching about jim ward and the coming soon advert for vampire the masquerade. :Scrabbles around upstairs for a bit: Issue 171, July 1991. I had been playing for a couple of years before that, but yeah, I am insufficiently grognardy, really. :eek:
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Even at the start, D&D hated spears? Oh well :p.

Have fun. That's a massive undertaking. You'll get to read all the (very dated) editorials again. You could even rate the issues and articles in the Gaming Index, if you get bored. All 7 issues of The Strategic Review and most of (The) Dragon are already in but ratings are scarce.
 

castiglione

Registered User
Validated User
I liked how the early Dragons had stuff on non-TSR games.

I remember stuff on Traveller and I have an issue that has an alternate combat system for En Garde!
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
Um, um, the one with the bag of beans and the princess ark and bitching about jim ward and the coming soon advert for vampire the masquerade. :Scrabbles around upstairs for a bit: Issue 171, July 1991. I had been playing for a couple of years before that, but yeah, I am insufficiently grognardy, really. :eek:
Actually, i consider that a bonus. I'm horribly interested to know what you think of the High First Edition years. ;) Katherine Kerr and Ed Greenwood had a powerful influence on how I still play the game.

- Brian
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Even at the start, D&D hated spears? Oh well :p.
You could even rate the issues and articles in the Gaming Index, if you get bored. All 7 issues of The Strategic Review and most of (The) Dragon are already in but ratings are scarce.
Good idea. It'll only add a few minutes to doing each entry, and'll be helpful to other people. I've just done it for the first one.
 
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