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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


  • Total voters
    411

Jack of None

Cute Lil' UFO
Nope, as they aren't vampires. The ones that most tripped my WTF meter were the lobishumen (ugly little monkey thing that turns the women it feeds off into nymphomaniacs, quite possibly the inspiration for a certain marvel villain) and the blautsager. (boneless vampires that transform you by making you eat the earth from their coffin. But there are several others that just make me go, man, what were the original storytellers on? And where can I get some?
Well, they suck blood out of your ass, so they sometimes get on 'vampires around the world' lists.
 

Richard R.

Gargoyle Head
Well, they suck blood out of your ass, so they sometimes get on 'vampires around the world' lists.
I remember reading something once to the effect that Kappa actually crawl up your bunghole and then slowly eat you from the inside out like an evil fetus. I would provide a cite, but it was the eighties, just too damn long ago.

An underrated monster regardless of which version you use.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 28: August 1979

56 pages, plus an extra 3 of boardgame. (ha, I knew it. When I saw the comic last issue, I though that this was leading into another cool little game included with the magazine. ) The editor talks about the geeky stigma of wargaming, and encourages people not to act ashamed of what they do, but explain it sensibly to their friends and family. And don't get confused between reality and fantasy. Oh, if only more people had listened.

In this issue:

The politics of hell: How Asmodeus got to be the 3rd supreme leader of hell, after satan and beelzebub got overthrown. Decidedly non-canonical, and also very based upon earthly history and judeo-christian mythology. Still a high quality and entertaining article, that would make a good alternative to the standard D&D backstory. Interesting to note that the 4th ed devil origin story bears more resembalance to this than the last one. Could this have been an influence on Mearls and co?

At last, the DMG is finished! So we get an interview with gary on it, plus commentary from the rest of the TSR staff. It is intended to be the definitive tome on everything the GM needs to run the game, a huge leap up from OD&D in comprehensiveness, so houseruling is no longer neccecary or desirable to run the game. This is the culimination of years of hard work and the game is now complete. And dwarven women have beards with a vote of 12 to 1. Yeah, this is an epic article full of great quotes, many of which are rather amusing in light of what's happened since. Yeah, the hubris has set in a bit. When you think your work needs no further improvement, thats when stagnation starts. And if you stagnate, you set yourself up for a fall, when things change around you and you fail to adapt. But I'll stop moralising now. Honestly, at this rate, I'll turn into as big a windbag as Gary. ;)

A short course in D&D: An entire school gets taught how to play the game in short order. Very interesting, as it shows both the lack of social stigma the game had at the time, and the logistical problems that large groups with lots of new people and turnover present. Has plenty of tips that are still relevant today.

The cavalry plain at austerlitz: A system free historical article. One of those ones that tries to condense a topic that could cover an entire book into a couple of pages, and fails to be interesting in doing so.

Simulating the cavalry plain: The crunchy partner to the previous article.

Evil - Law vs Chaos: Which basically, in Gary's mind boils down to Domination of everything vs smashing shit for kicks. One of those articles that will be polarising, because it oversimplifies the myriad of facets that can contribute to a persons position in the alignment field.

Six guns & Sorcery: Official crossover rules for boot hill and AD&D. Niiiiice. Given the recent talk of how D&D politics is modelled on the old west ideals, this seems curiously appropriate. Ahh, the joy of gonzo crossovers. And as we know, there would be several more of these. And what's wrong with that? A well chosen crosover can really inject excitement. Its only when you try and throw everything into the pot at once that it just gets confusing and tedious.

Fantasysmiths notebook: Choosing miniatures to represent characters and monsters in your game. Solid advice like focus on getting ones for players and common monsters, otherwise you'll skew the campaign by wanting to show off your dragon miniature too often. Ends with a list of recommended companies. A pretty solid article, as long as you're not the kind of person who rejects the idea of using miniatures in your RPGing. And if you are, clear off and play with the LARPers. We don't want your kind around here ;)

Armies of the rennaisance part 4 - the english. Longbows kick your ass, bitch! And then firearms kick your ass again a few centuries later. Phear our naval supremacy. Another rather too condensed article for the amount of ground it tries to cover.

Elvish tactics in fantasy miniatures: Following on from the dwarven tactics last issue (but will we see halfling battle tactics anytime soon? :D ) Longbows (kick your ass again) light horses, light armour, harrying tactics, generally being complete bastards. Nothing you wouldn't expect. Ahh, stereotypes.

Conventions - The manufacturers view: Gary talks about the logistical problems involved in attending conventions, and how it really doesn't generate them as much profit as you'd think. Really. they're mostly doing it because they love what they do, and attending is good for the industry as much as it is for them personally. If they were in it for the money, they'd be doing something else. Which all seems pretty reasonable.

Out on a limb: A letter bitching at them for not offering reprints. (frankly my dear, it's just not profitable) A letter giving big chunks of errata for Cross of Iron. Talk of mutant animals in MA. And an epic rant from Marc Jacobs covering a whole bunch of percieved flaws in the system. That hit points inflate but healing is linear, and how annoying and unrealistic this is. Stupid results created by random generation, forgetting spells, ripping off ideas from other systems. Oh, and the use of goblinoids as a racial metaphor. Yeah, sounds like you shouldn't be playing D&D at all, if you have this many problems with the system and premise. But then they had far fewer systems to choose from back then. The rebuttal to this goes all over the shop, forward to page 46, then back to 11. It's all a bit silly really.

The voyages of the ship znutar continue

And yeah, here's the rules for the acompanying game. More amusing Tom Wham art abounds. This game is somewhat bigger than the snits one, as obviously they've had more practice in the last couple of years, and their design skills have grown accordingly. Looks like it should be fun.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Lots of stuff I remember, including that lovely joke item the apparatus of spiky owns. Most notable, though for introducing Leomund to us. One of the iconic old wizards who would put their names to a whole bunch of spells and magic items does so here.

Level progression for players and DM's: Oh dear. This is one of those articles that would come back to bite them in the ass later. Each game you play in and things you do in them give you a certain amount of XP. You can then use this to determine your real world level as a player and DM. It's all presented pretty seriously, enough so that even I'm not sure if the original writer intended it as a joke. Which is a bit worrying. If this had made it into the DMG, how many people would have wound up ranking themselves officially. Ahh, hindsight. How very tiresome you are.

Giants in the earth: More overpowered statting outs of literary characters, in this case Eric John Stark, and the ghost of Welleran. I'm really not liking this section at all, and hope it doesn't stay as a regular article for long.

Monty strikes back: More epicness featuring the original obscenely overpowered D&D group getting challenges commensurate with their power (which of course includes plenty of the artifacts that would later become D&D legends. ) And when they beat even that, Monty throws a snit and kills them all by plant rape. Uh huh huh huh huh. ;)

Reviews: Divine right, America BC, Sorcerer (they oughta sue Ron Edwards) All are primarily desriptive reviews, with little personal judgement in them. Which makes them a little dull. You have enough adverts. You need to make your reviews more opinionated, otherwise what's the point.

An advert for a game set in the Dune universe. Iiinteresting

Dragon's Bestiary - the Slinger. Little lizards that use the manticore trick of throwing their poisonous spines at people. Another monster that never made it to the official bestiaries, despite being one of the more realistic and ecologically integrated monsters they've come up with. Oh well, Can't win 'em all.

Fineous fingers continues.

Another high quality issue, with lots of cool articles, but curiously enough also many indicators of the things that would later contribute to D&D's stigmatism and decline. Again, hindsight reveals plenty of ways that things could have been changed if they'd been done differently, but fails to be particularly helpfull in dealing with our present problems. Still at least 4e is adapting, not stagnating. If the changes they're making work or not remains to be seen, but at least they're not pretending that their new edition is the perfect version of D&D, never to be changed or bettered again.
 

Wooly Rupert

Tyranohamstersaurus
When you think your work needs no further improvement, thats when stagnation starts.
Of course, sometimes a thing really is done right, and no amount of tinkering for tinkering's sake can improve it.

I'm pretty sure the rules of chess, for example, haven't changed in any substantial way since the early 19th century. :)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 29: September 1979

56 pages. This issue marks the arrival of Kim Mohan, who's role is listed simply as staff. Keep an eye on the boy, because he's going to go a long way soon. There's also plenty of other less significant new staff. Their influence will be felt soon. Interesting times indeed.

In this issue:

Of the Gods: Thoughts on creating your own pantheon for your games. As is common in this era it includes random tables for generating your own deities when inspiration runs dry, plus a sample pantheon. A well thought out and written article that nevertheless feels a bit tacky and mechanical. If you can't come up with a decent set of gods without recourse to tables, what hope for the rest of your setting?

Source of the nile flow charts: A play aid that pretty much tells me how to play the game. Which obviously means it's a good one that does its job well. I quite approve of this.

A ounce of preparation is worth a ton of paint: Lotsa tips on how to properly set up and paint miniatures so they'll make good gaming tools. Another article that is well enough explained to be useful to a complete beginner. Is this the start of a new degree of accessabilty in the magazine?

Half ogres as an official D&D race, by Gary himself. They have very restricted options, being pretty much forced into THOG SMASH! by their ability range. He also talks about the idea of allowing other various halfbreeds, and the problems that this would cause to game balance. Another bit of evidence why 3rd edition was not to his taste, the proliferation of racial templates is precisely the opposite of what he espouses here. You know, if you bow to pressure and allow this, then people are going to just keep on pushing. You've got to be firmer with all those twinks and monsterphiles. Human supremacy 4eva! ;)

Curses: An article on the proper use of these lovely little implements of magical vengance, as well as their removal. Be ironic, tailor them to the curser and the crime, and let people pervert the letter of them to get around them or profit from them. Yeah, I like this kind of thinking. It brings an element of mythology into the game that may require some thought to handle, but makes the game deeper than just another hack and slash dungeon.

Out on a limb: Lots of varied commentary on the last few issues. Quite a bit of it concerns Gary's recent controversial statements. The column is finally picking up, thanks to the increased readership and threats of being shut down. Pretty soon they'll be able to pick and choose which letters to include and which to ignore.

Giants in the earth: This month the characters given disgustingly twinked stats are Roger Zelazny's Shadowjack, and Jack Vance's Iucounu. You know my opinion of this by now, so I shall refrain from further grumbling on this topic unless things change in some way.

Rewarding heroism in D&D: Our first attempt at proper narrative reinforcement, a set of optional rules giving the characters benefits for behaving in a properly heroic manner. Which is nice, and another article that is historically significant for introducing that kind of thinking to the game. Shame it would take so long to become common though.

Inns and Taverns: A little article on the setup of historical inns and taverns. Neither brilliant or particularly bad, this is just one of those articles that helps fill space in an expanding magazine like this.

Air war - North vietnam: A load of new scenarios for the game based upon that common thread. A short but sweet article that looks like it does what it says on the tin.

Smaller than man sized weapons: Another little article that does what it says it does. The setup they use here is somewhat more complex than the 3rd ed version, with individual alterations for every weapon for two different smaller sizes. Oh, for standardisation.

The sleep war: An SCA actual play, this shows that politics there can be easily as ludicrous as in real life. Much fun in cold and muddy fields was had.

Origins of the Norse pantheon: Not quite what the label indicates. There is much talk on Berserking, and a little on the origins and geographic ranges of the original Aesir and Vanir religions. One of those articles that feels woefully short for the depth of its topic.

The mythos of Oceania: Yet more G,DG&H stats. We get the usual mix of concept embodiers, wierd critters, great heroes and their relations. Are there any more pantheons I've forgotten about, because damned if I can think of any they haven't covered yet.

Strain and spellcasting: A spell point system that substantially depowers magic-users. Well, plenty of people were sending them in, so I suppose they had to publish one. So by choosing one that weakens them, the people at TSR make it unlikely anyone will actually use it. Thus keeping vancian magic supreme. How clever of them. :rolleyes:

Trained animals: What, they didn't include rules for something as important as this in the DMG anyway? Shocking. So much for it being complete.

Aging in D&D: Take my previous statement and make it double. This version uses a random roll per 2 years to determine if you lose points in your physical stats. Which of course is dreadfully unpredictable. Which is probably more realistic, but less fair and fun for the game than the 3rd ed way of doing things.

Nonplayer characters have feelings too: Need random personality traits for your NPC's and hirelings. Roll here. I ought to make an index of all these random tables, so people can use them more efficiently later.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Two classic items this time. The ring of the necromancer (using the term in the proper sense, rather than just as the title for an 8th level magic user.) And the binary stop design for determining the results of Hewards mystical organ. Very pleasing indeed. Can I have some more please sir.

Jim Ward reports on Origins 1979. Despite some organisational hassles, and a lack of air conditioning, it was in general a success. So they'll be going again next year then.

The reviews section gets a proper title this issue, The Dragons Augury. Wonder how long that'll stick? Anyway, this issue they review Reich, a wargame. Raiders and traders, another war/strategy game Panzer colors II, a book. I, Kubelwagon, a book. Desert tracks, a book. The tolkien quiz book, pretty self explanatory, plus a whole host of mini-reviews I can't be bothered to list individually. The profesionality has definitely taken a step up here. Which is nice.

Fineous fingers goes on vacation again. But wormy is Baaack, if only with a recap of the story so far.

Dragons Bestiary: the whiz-bang beetle. An amusing little low level monster that takes the prospensity of real insects to fly into flames and glass, and extrapolates it to a creature that has the power to punch through walls by flying into them repeatedly. Which should be fun for adventurers to face. Shame this one never made it into common use.

Another sign of their increasing professionalism, Dragon finally gets a proper classified ads section. Another thing that I wonder whether it will take off or not, given the trouble they had with the letters page.

Another significant issue with several innovations that would make it into future products (but plenty more that wouldn't) this marks the start of another leap in professionalism. Looks like 1979 was a real turning point in D&D's fortunes in many ways. And we've still got 3 months to go. What further surprises could they spring on us before the year is out? Lets keep going and see.
 

JimLotFP

New member
Banned
The Dragon Issue 29: September 1979Trained animals: What, they didn't include rules for something as important as this in the DMG anyway? Shocking. So much for it being complete.

Aging in D&D: Take my previous statement and make it double. This version uses a random roll per 2 years to determine if you lose points in your physical stats. Which of course is dreadfully unpredictable. Which is probably more realistic, but less fair and fun for the game than the 3rd ed way of doing things.

Nonplayer characters have feelings too: Need random personality traits for your NPC's and hirelings. Roll here. I ought to make an index of all these random tables, so people can use them more efficiently later.
Rules for aging (doesn't sound like these same rules though) and random NPC personality tables are in the DMG.
 

Skiorht

Despair Shouter
Validated User
Half ogres as an official D&D race, by Gary himself. They have very restricted options, being pretty much forced into THOG SMASH! by their ability range.
Nevertheless, they proved to be quite a hit in our group once I got hold of this article in one of Best of... compilations. The non-standard ability generation was a bit weird, though. Apart from the Drow (which I banned as being way too twinky), half-ogres were the only race you had to choose before you rolled the scores.
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
Source of the Nile is a fun game; lots of replayability and solitaire suitability for the lone geek. I waited 20 years in the pre-ebay era to come across a copy and bought a used edition on the spot (with a supplement containing many more rules by EGG). But it would never be published today - too much randomness.
 
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