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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
God help me, but I own every issue of Dungeon Magazine. That's right, issue 1 through issue 150. I'm so impressed by this particular thread that I'm more than willing to start one up myself. I'll get on that thing this weekend (and go ahead and create the thread itself today so that no one beats me to the punch). :D

I hope to be able to give readers as much of an insight into the last several decades of adventure design as you are into gaming trends. You're doing great work, (un)reason, and I hope that mine will be as impressive.

Jeremy Puckett
Woot! :high fives: You have been Linkz0red!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon issue 5: March 1977

Another year, another change in publishing schedule. Due to its considerably greater sales, Dragon is moving up to being published 8 times a year, while Little Wars is relegated to quarterly. How long before it reaches the full monthly schedule most of us remember? How long can Little Wars hang on? Do you already know? Will you find out yourself, or wait and discover it with me. They also ask for more articles on other new RPG's out there, particularly the science fiction ones, as they try and expand. Which reminds me, its almost time for the cultural phenomenon that was Star Wars. The plot thickens.

Anyway. In this issue:

An article on witches. Mentioned in a previous issue, this was sent in without a name or return address, and attempts to establish who it was by failed. Despite this they must have liked it quite a lot, (or been short of decent submissions) as they decided to publish it anyway. It pushes the envelope of the current spell system, but in doing so also shows just how much only having one magic system to work from limits the imagination.

More articles on Metamorphosis alpha. Setting and equipment stuff that was left out of the book due to editing snafus. We'll be seeing more of this in the future as well. Before you had the internet for eratta, you had to go to the magazines, and if you missed the issue, well, hard luck to you.

Ankhegs! Whosa classic little digestive acid spitting worm thing. Yes you are, yesu yesu R! :tickles chin: Ahem. Sorry about that ;) Like the bullette, this is one creature that never fails to provide a fun fight.

The letters page is particularly entertaining today. We have a hopelessly ambitious GM seeking 55 sub GM's, each to control 20 players, to run his epic campaign world idea. Yeah, that one's never going to work out. The pedantry about converting tolkien elves to D&D continues, and I suspect, would do so forever if the editors let it.

Dirt is atrociously scanned to the point of being illegible this issue. This is no good at all.

Appearance table for metamorphosis alpha. If you want your characters to look weird in a random fashion, this will do the job, although it doesn't give any mechanical modifiers for these changes.

Beyond the Wizard Fog by Gardner F Fox. The adventures of Niall the barbarian and his mighty thews continue. And he slips further into the power of the demon goddess he interacted with in the last issue. I'm definitely interested in seeing how this develops further

Wizard research rules: These are the sort which make researching a single 9th level spell the kind of thing that would bankrupt a kingdom. I suspect we'll be seeing level advancement training rules which are similarly economically unfeasible sometime soon. Its the kind of thing they liked to invent (and then be ignored by most people) back then. Still it includes rules for making The One Ring, so its not a complete wash.

Gandalf was only a 5th level magic-user. Ah, yes, I know of this one by reputation. Still seems somewhat specious, and relies on the argument that the magical effects that don't have D&D equivilants would translate into low level spells just because they don't seem that powerful. It concludes that D&D is not actually that well suited to emulating Tolkiens world, so its not as if we're dealing with a mad one true wayer here.

The Gnome Cache continues. it is increasingly starting to feel like an actual D&D adventure turned into a story, given the way the plot progresses from one point to another.

They seem to be chugging along nicely here. How quickly will the schedule change to monthly, and the page count bloat to the hundred plus issues that were standard in the 90's? How long before I'm forced to slow down posting due to the bulk of stuff I've got to get through each issue? Will I be able to find decent copies of all the issues I'm missing in time? Lets press onwards, deeper into the adventure.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Gandalf was only a 5th level magic-user. Ah, yes, I know of this one by reputation. Still seems somewhat specious, and relies on the argument that the magical effects that don't have D&D equivilants would translate into low level spells just because they don't seem that powerful. It concludes that D&D is not actually that well suited to emulating Tolkiens world, so its not as if we're dealing with a mad one true wayer here.
I may have to go re-read this. It appeared in one of the first two Best of Dragon volumes. While the article may be a bit random, I think the core argument is solid: Even "low level" D&D is enough to represent most fictional spellcasters. The range, routine power, omnipresence, and reliability of spells even at mid-levels commonly exceeds the level of magic available to protagonists even in epic fantasy (though the author is also correct that there are many aspects of high fantasy that just don't map well to D&D). E6 (a d20 variant that caps the game at 6th level) credits the article as its primary inspiration, and in my opinion successfully proves the point.
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
Gandalf was only a 5th level magic-user. Ah, yes, I know of this one by reputation. Still seems somewhat specious, and relies on the argument that the magical effects that don't have D&D equivilants would translate into low level spells just because they don't seem that powerful. It concludes that D&D is not actually that well suited to emulating Tolkiens world, so its not as if we're dealing with a mad one true wayer here.
This article doesn't deserve half the grief it gets. If I'd read it when I was twelve, it would have saved me years of frustration trying to beat AD&D into playing like Pendragon. :p

Great job, (un)reason! Keep it up.

- Brian
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 6: April 1977.

We learn this issue that they have quadrupled their circulation in the past year. Which doesn't surprise me, but it's nice to see concrete figures. Its pretty much business as usual for the magazine. The usual mix of fiction, articles and adverts. No letters pages this time, and more significantly, No more Dirt. I suppose there's only so long you can keep two pairs of eyes talking to each other interesting. What will replace it? That would be telling.

In this issue:

An alternate character background for metamorphosis alpha. Instead of being wild decendants of the people on the ship, the characters are clones imprinted with memories, grown to repair the ship as an emergency procedure. As you would expect, it is heavily dependent on luck what abilities you get, which range from food service technician (go red dwarf!) to immortal.

Sea trade in D&D campaigns: Creates a nice little greater risk/greater profit gambling game for managing your high level characters trade in the background. It doesn't have any real element of skill, and so it a little dated, but seems like it would do the job quickly for players who have reached high level and want to own companies while still going out adventuring. Also interesting because it references a particular players campaign, which is always revealing, as it is more evidence that people were trying things beyond the scope of the rules and playing in styles not spelled out by the designers.

Legions of the petal throne painting guide: More of the tremendous attention to detail and inventive creatures we've come to expect from professor Barker.

Fiction: The forest of flame. A wizards apprentice learns about hubris and not trying spells beyond your power the hard way. Or does he?

An advert for dragonewt figures. I've seen nothing on runequest in the magazine so far, but this means that glorantha is already out there, developing. Was there a boardgame set in it before the RPG? Why, I do believe there was. More on this when it becomes significant.

More extra rules and errata for Metamorphosis alpha. They really didn't make it as self-contained as they should. I suppose when you're dealing with characters that diverse, its hard to be comprehensive in the little booklets they used then.

From the Fantasy Forge reviews a load more monster figurines.

Another interesting advert. Monsters! Monsters!, the game of gribleys from the dungeon wreaking havoc on villages of innocent humans. Turnaround is fair play, I suppose.

The Gnome Cache continues.

Ral partha. Another familiar face starts advertising in Dragon.

Optional expansions for psionic abilities and morale.

Angels of Death. You know the drill, relentless and virtually impossible to get rid of permanently, they seek out those who's time has come and take them away. The Bastards. ;)

As you may have noticed, the number of adverts by recognisable companies is increasing rapidly at this point. The magazine's been around long enough, and achieved enough of a reputation that we're seeing other significant companies spring up and follow in their tracks. Still no book reviews though. I wonder how long it'll take before they get round to that?
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
An advert for dragonewt figures. I've seen nothing on runequest in the magazine so far, but this means that glorantha is already out there, developing. Was there a boardgame set in it before the RPG? Why, I do believe there was. More on this when it becomes significant.
Runequest wouldn't have been out yet, but you are right about the boardgame -- White Bear and Red Moon (aka Dragon Pass) would have been 1975 and its sequel, Nomad Gods, would also have been 1975.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 7: June 1977

So its a year since Dragon started. They're pretty happy with what they've achieved, but still have bigger ambitions. Already they can look back at their old issues and cringe at the quality. But as we know, there are still substantial improvements coming ahead. Still, lets see what the present contains.

In this issue:

How to vote for the third annual strategists club awards. Gives me a pretty good idea of what was released and did well this year, as well as what authors are currently popular.

What to do when the dog eats your dice: Pretty self explanatory. shows how to use other common methods of generating random numbers to substitute for dice rolling. Most notable for including mexican jumping beans as one of the options, among other joke options.

Gary talks about the origins of TSR and D&D. Most of this is pretty familiar, particularly as its only a short article. But as their fanbase is expanding so quickly, I guess he gets asked it a lot. Rest assured, you have many long years of answering that question ahead of you.

Mapping the dungeon now includes entries for australia and germany.

Mystery hill - Americas stonehenge: Manages to cover several different ancient conspiracy theories in a couple of pages. Lots of stuff thats transplantable to virtually any setting here.

Fiction: The journey most alone, by morno. This continues the journey of the wizard from the forest of flame. It's a bit late, but I can't help thinking that this story makes an excellent example of a seeking for mage: the ascencion.

Military Formation stuff for tekumel. Making battles look like advanced geometry lessons with florid titles from above since 1977. This is really more aimed at the wargamers among the audience, and I found it pretty dull.

More Finieous Fingers

Monster: The prowler. Another worse than death inflicting creature who can make life a nightmare for dumb or unlucky PC's. More nice errol otus artwork depicting it.

The gnome cache continues, with the situation going from bad to worse for our protagonist, with the ready promise of getting worse still. Will there ever be a happy ending to this story?

Pretty dull issue really. Doesn't seem to be anything historically significant or hugely entertaining or thought-provoking in this one.
 
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Redfeild

Retired User
Yeah, Mr. Gygax spells it out pretty clearly in the introduction of the 1st edition AD&D PHB. At this point, they're taking flak from some players who want more simulationism. Narativism isn't even a twinkle in somebody's eye yet. It's still very much a game, and there lingers elements of players-vs-DM competition as well. Just wait until you get to the actual-play reports from the GenCon that featured the original three giants modules. :D

- Brian
I know exactly what you are talking about.
(Sorry for being a johny come lately to the thread)
I had a freind that played in a turnament game. His group was faced with an Umber Hulk guarding a door. So they bribe the Umber Hulk to get him to let them pass with out a fight. They were deducted points for not fighting the Umber Hulk. Unbelivable today but back then you were not expected to talk your way out of situations.
 
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