• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


  • Total voters
    411

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Having reread my old Dragon issues a couple of years ago, I was definitely struck at Greenwood's facility for using extraneous details to give the impression of a larger, living world. I can't say that I'm that fond of his overall worldbuilding or other storytelling elements, but he always has impressed me in generating interesting psuedohistories and flavor in his articles and settings. Sometimes it does result in silly levels of detail (did we really need to have articles on all the types of trees you can find in Realms' forests), but it does good things for verisimilitude.
Well, its the kind of thing that's cool in moderation, but gets tiresome in large amounts. Splashes of color in a monochrome world are tremendously noticeable. Splashes of color in a tie dye psychadelic morass just get lost. What was cool in a few monster articles loses its thrill when we're seeing hundreds of hundred+ page books on the subject, as we had by the end of the Realms 90's heyday.
 

Phersu

Drogoman
Validated User
Sometimes it does result in silly levels of detail (did we really need to have articles on all the types of trees you can find in Realms' forests), but it does good things for verisimilitude.
I thought the tree thing came from Gary Gygax. He describes extensively the Greyhawk exotic flora too (bronzewood, etc).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
I thought the tree thing came from Gary Gygax. He describes extensively the Greyhawk exotic flora too (bronzewood, etc).
Probably both trying to copy tolkien. He did rather love his landscapes and languages, and lots of people feel that a world's not complete unless you have a working ecology with every species described. Which is technically true, but doesn't make the game more fun.
 

GoriceXII

Retired User
The Dragon Issue 8: July 1977
The Finzer Family - A tale of modern magic, by Harry. O. Fischer, the original creator of lankhmar (Who's books are all out of print, it seems while fritz lieber continues to sell nicely. Quite shocking. ) This is a long story, taking up a full third of the issue, and ends on a too be continued. I won't spoil you on this one.
Please excuse me if this one has been disputed at length already. Harry Fischer did NOT create Lankhmar, or the world of Nehwon, or Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, or Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, or the Devourers, or the rats of Lankhmar below, the Thieves Guild, the gods OF Lankhmar, or anything else Lankhmart.

What Fischer did was write the first character summary of the Grey Mouser. He also wrote, in a friendly competition with Leiber (who created Fafyrd) the beginnings of a story largely dealing with the history of a subterrean city of mages (Quaarmal). Leiber's answer was the "The Tale of the Grain Ships", which eventually became the first part of "The Swords of Lankhmar". Fischer's effort, after a very (VERY) long time, eventually became incorporated into "Swords and Wizardry" as background information. It's probably petty to point out that Fischer's contribution (about 20 pages) was probably the dullest writing in any of the Lankhmar books, and one is under the impression Leiber only kept it intact for sentimental reasons.
 
Last edited:

lionrampant

Registered User
Validated User
I just figured out why I like this thread. While the subject is interesting, Mr. (un)reason is an excellent writer, and I very much enjoy reading the entries, as they are entertaining in and of themselves. Huzzah, good sir!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Please excuse me if this one has been disputed at length already. Harry Fischer did NOT create Lankhmar, or the world of Nehwon, or Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, or Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, or the Devourers, or the rats of Lankhmar below, the Thieves Guild, the gods OF Lankhmar, or anything else Lankhmart.
Rightio. That's just the way it was presented in that issue. I'm not a lankhmar expert, although obviously I know quite a bit more about it now than when I started the thread, as it plays such a big part in the early days of the magazine. As piestro said in the monster manual thread regarding sabretoothed tigers, blame the writers, not me.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Sorceror: A 9th level magic-user.

Wizard: A magic-user of level 11+.

So this was an article full of high-level spells only, then. :)
:groans: Indeed.

I just figured out why I like this thread. While the subject is interesting, Mr. (un)reason is an excellent writer, and I very much enjoy reading the entries, as they are entertaining in and of themselves. Huzzah, good sir!
Writing several thousand words a day, come rain, shine, sickness or health'll get your mental muscles in shape pretty quickly. Given the load I've got to get through, I've got to develop ways of keeping it fun for myself, or I'd go mad. And if I keep it fun for myself, I keep it fun for you guys.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 33: January 1980

64 pages. Hello again everybody. Welcome to the 80's, where everything is bigger and better. The glory days of D&D.The only decade in which dragon was published continously, with no interruptions. The smallest issue in this decade is equal to the largest issue of the last decade. More color, more developments, more writers, more setting stuff, more roleplaying, more changes. In other words, it's going to take a lot longer to get through this decade than it did the 70's. And the 90's may take longer still, as despite a few interruptions, the average page counts were considerably higher, so there was probably more actual material released then. But lets not get too far ahead of myself. Gotta keep my eye on the part of the race I'm running at the moment, or I'll stumble and fall.

In this issue:

Dragon Rumbles: Tim takes the time to acknowledge the things all the new staff have done for the running of the magazine. Particular Kudos is given to Jake, who has pretty much taken over as editor, and they intend to formally alter peoples job titles accordingly soon. They also let us know that they intend the size and price increases to be permanent, as it is more economical for them to run things this way. How long will it be before the next price increase? We shall see.

Out on a limb: A letter from the submitter of an article, complaining that the editing job that they did on it made it not entirely sensical. A letter from Ed Greenwood complaining about spelling errors, and also asking about white dwarf and lifelong subscriptions. And a request for a picture of gary, which they provide, but in rather cryptic fashion, with heavy shadowing. All rather interesting stuff that reveals more to me about their current modus operandi. Also on this page is their 2nd class mailing thingy, with the circulation numbers for last year, but unfortunately the scanning resolution makes that illegible. Anyone able to fill in the numbers for us?

Paradise for painterly people: Talk on how to paint large numbers of miniatures in a short amount of time, while retaining decent quality, instead of the painstaking methods employed by most people. Which is Veeery iiiiinteresting. There's usually a quicker and easier way of doing things, if you're willing to swallow your pride, and its nice to see trade secrets revealed.

Fiction: The eyes of Mavis Deval, by Gardner Fox. The fifth Niall story. Niall smartens up a little, but not enough to escape being dragged into the plot against his better judgement. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and him to get bitten for being a demon's pawn, but it has yet to happen. Still, who can say what the future holds. (well anyone, if it's also the past, but I don't want to spoil myself)

A cau for NPC's: Adding an additional stat, caution, to your NPC's to determine how likely they are to act impulsively. Also notable for including a libido table, for quick determination of your success in seduction. Yeah, this article is pretty funny, but perhaps not something you want to incorporate into a serious game.

From the sorcerers scroll: Gary talks about the development of the D&D magic system, and its further refinement in AD&D, and the sources he drew from in creating it. This includes much talk on the separation of components, and the logistical tricks that spells missing one or more allow. Still a far cry from the days of regular metamagic though.

The third installment of Frederick MacKnights tales of the creation of Lankhmar. This time, it's mostly full of conversion notes between the editions of the boardgame, which is a bit dull really.

Leomunds tiny hut: Len gives his house rules and clarifications on lots of D&D spells. Most of them are common sense and/or nerfs, many of which would be adopted in later editions. Particularly notable, though is where he failed. Magic missile. Apparently Len and Gary have a quite substantial disagreement over the appropriateness of a spell with no save or to hit roll, even if it isn't that damaging. Which is interesting to know. More evidence in support that D&D really needed a from the ground up revision to make character classes remotely balanced.

Oooh. An advert for Adventures in Fantasy, Dave Arnesons own new roleplaying game. This is a very interesting development. Would someone care to fill us in on how this came about, and in what ways it differed from D&D?

No swords means No Swords!: Stop trying to get around your class restrictions folks. Its Not Allowed, and your god will be very pissed off at you. Ahh, the joy of the old arbitrary restrictions that paid no attention to what god you actually worship. 2nd edition can not come fast enough in this respect.

Mapping the dungeons gets this years entry, which is a quite frightening 13 pages long. Well, it's good for the page count, I suppose. Not every issue can have an adventure to make up its size.

Days of the Dragon, the D&D calendar full of spiffy old artwork out now.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: It uses the lotion or it gets the cane again. Yeah, this time, we get tons of magical lotions, many of which are stat buffs. Each of them only gets a line or two allowing them to include a hundred different lotions in only 2 pages. Which is pretty useful, and should keep your players from finding the same treasure repeatedly too often.

Sage Advice: Business as usual here. How much is the DMG, and what the hell is a Dungeon masters screen (ahh, the innocence of the past) What do you do to get rid of a 34th level character with 86 magic items. (Give them a managerial job that stops them from adventuring, so the player has to make a new character, otherwise make him retire that character.) What level do rangers and paladins cast spells at (= to their level, and I agree that that shouldn't be the case) Are multiple faerie fire spells cumulative? (no) Can dispel magic negate multiple spells with one casting (yes) Do longevity potions affect both natural and magical aging (well duh, wouldn't be much point to them otherwise) Is invisibility cancelled by tripping over (No) Is a curse removed when you die (It depends) What happens if you try and resurrect a lich. (you get a very pissed off magic user to deal with) Can thieves use bows (no, oddly enough. ) Can humans be multiclassed (no, they can be dual classed, they are completly different things, you doofus.) Can elves and half orcs be raised with raise dead (no, because they don't have souls :confused: ) As ever, this is very handy in revealing the weirdness in these old rules, and design thoughts behind them.

The electric eye:Appropriately for the new decade, they've decided to turn their attention to the (not so) new technology of computers. This is basically an explanation of what a computer actually is, aimed at the complete newbie. Some of them enjoy sales in the hundreds of thousands, and can hold up to 64 kilobytes of memory these days. Man, this really takes me back to my first computer, to the incredible annoyance of the zx spectrum 48k. 8 color graphics, several minute loading times with frequent tape errors. I do not miss it one bit.

Reviews: This month we have Wizard, an RPG, and part of the fantasy trip, which would later evolve into GURPS. Wizards quest, a boardgame that has nothing to do with the previous review. The apprentice, Not the TV show, but a magazine. Gamelog, another magazine. Invasion of the air eaters, a boardgame. The average length of reviews is definitely increasing, but they're still mostly description.

Dragons bestiary: Frosts, aka snow pixies. The first contribution to the magazine by Roger Moore, another writer who would go on to play a big part in the development of the magazine. Like regular pixies, they have spell abilities far in excess of their hit dice, and are tricksy bastards. The illustration is particularly large, which is handy, because he skimps a bit on the ecological stuff. Unlike Ed, there's no obvious signs of the greatness he would eventually attain.

Wormy and fineous fingers are firing on all cylinders this issue.

Quality is maintained this issue, with the average length of articles being fairly high, and yet more new developments that would become regular features. They're still far from stable in their structure and all the more interesting for it.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom