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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


  • Total voters
    411

noisms

Booze Hound
Validated User
Can elves and half orcs be raised with raise dead (no, because they don't have souls :confused: )
Now that's weird. I could understand elves not having a soul, but why wouldn't a half-orc? They are at least half-human, so they should at least have half a soul, one would have thought...
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Now that's weird. I could understand elves not having a soul, but why wouldn't a half-orc? They are at least half-human, so they should at least have half a soul, one would have thought...
Yeah. Thats one thing that had already changed by 2nd edition, as the goblinoid races got to go to outer planes and become petitioners just like humans, and most other creatures. I dunno. You give one species a soul, and all of a sudden, everyone's demanding them. What's a god to do?
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
There was a difference between a soul (humans and closely related critters) and a spirit (elves and such) back then (probably to explain why elves can't be raised, I wonder if LotR is an influcence here).
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
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?
I only have the first 3 items. The first number is the avg. number for the 12-month period, the second is the actual number for the last issue printed for that period:

Total number of copies printed: 10,636 / 11,000
Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors and counter sales: 8,805 / 8,934
Mail subscriptions: 1,711 / 1,951
 
Last edited:

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
There was a difference between a soul (humans and closely related critters) and a spirit (elves and such) back then (probably to explain why elves can't be raised, I wonder if LotR is an influcence here).
Probably, although I think its also a balancing thing. Elves in OD&D were quintessentialy fighter mages, long lived, and horribly overpowered at mid levels. So they wanted an if you die, you die for good clause in there to make them seem a little less overpowered. Doesn't really work, does it.

I only have the first 3 items. The first number is the avg. number for the 12-month period, the second is the actual number for the last issue printed for that period:

Total number of copies printed: 10,636 / 11,000
Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors and counter sales: 8,805 / 8,934
Mail subscriptions: 1,711 / 1,951
Thanks muchly. I'll probably have to put out a call for this again next year, as I'm pretty sure it'll be illegible again then.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Thanks muchly. I'll probably have to put out a call for this again next year, as I'm pretty sure it'll be illegible again then.
Not a problem. I'm not the one who transcribed them (I'm swiping them from a thread over on the Acaeum), but I'm more than happy to post them here so that other people can watch the magazine's growth.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 34: February 1980

73 pages This issue is a Divine Right special, with a whole slew of articles based upon the boardgame. In addition, they also feature their second full module. Not your average issue, in other words. Which is pretty cool.

In this issue:

Dragon rumbles: Once again, tim talks about the oddness of writing for several months in the future. A feeling I am also starting to really understand. He also talks about the next big growth spurt for the magazine and industry, as it looks like D&D is about to be picked up much more by mainstream toy stores. Which will of course coincide with the creation of the moldvay basic set, leading to the biggest period of sales to new players in D&D's history. Next years calendar is also going to have a print run 10 times this years one did. They might be expanding still, but he does definitely seem a little tired of his job. I suppose it's better for him to move on to other things while still excited about gaming in general, than to run it into the ground.

Out on a limb: We get another letter encouraging the idea of loose leaf books that you can take apart and rearrange. A letter praising Mohan's introductory article in issue 30. A letter picking apart the math in How tall is my giant. A letter complaining about the lack of traveller related supplementary material. And a letter complaining about all the articles nerfing magic-users, to which they remind that all the articles in Dragon are optional, and not designed to be used all at once.

Divine right changes from the designer, and The official changes to 2nd ed divine right: two articles that partly complement and partly complete with each other, showing how the creative process can work in a company environment.

The history of Muetar: The original writer of Divine Right expands upon its setting. Like Greg Staffords boardgames set in Glorantha, it seems likely that the place had been a rich playground for its creators imaginations long before any games were published. And of course we're only seeing a small fraction of it. Oh well. Such is life.

Ambassador cards for Divine Right: Giving your ambassadors personalities like your monarchs. Includes 12 sample cards with various amusing personality and ability quirks.

Sieges in Divine Right: Commentary, plus an optional rule on exactly that topic.

Tom Wham talks about the design process of Divine Right, and gives his own set of variants that hit the cutting room floor. Looks like this game really did go through the committee design process, with everyone at TSR lending their own viewpoints at one point or another.

Nine ways to change the game: Ed Greenwood gives a whole load of ways to tinker with the rules of Divine Right. These really play up just how complex the setting is, and how many different places and people are in the game. It looks like it would be pretty easy to adapt to an RPG setting. Did anyone try this?

Pirates, Ogres and other variations: A bunch of optional rules for Divine Right introducing new power blocs to fight and negotiate with. Again, If you've played it several times and are getting bored of the basic setup, these'll keep things interesting for a while longer.

Up on a soapbox: Don't just recreate historical battle scenarios in your wargaming, invent your own. There are plenty of places in history, where if things had gone a little differently, there would have been some quite interesting match-ups. It then goes on to give plenty of examples. Which span a pretty good range of alternate history from the probable to the fantastical.

Sage advice: Taking a mule into the dungeon? Not a good idea. All sorts of comical but inconvenient stuff could happen. Anyway, on with the rulings. Can a thief wear studded leather (no, (a ruling they would later change)) What the hell are all those weird weapon names. (ahh, polearms, see TD22 for a full guide) Can a periapt of wound closure heal damage from a sword of wounding. (no, only natural rest can, so there healbot.) Are the rules for gods in G,DG&H correct for AD&D (no, we're creating a conversion now.) How do you do mass combat in AD&D? (you can't yet, again, we're working on it. Use Chainmail for now) Can Humans be multiclassed? (no, they can only be dual classed. Do I have to explain the difference to you again) Will this column answer questions for games other than D&D. (no, I do not feel qualified to do so.) Can evil clerics heal their allies? (Yes. Good people can kill their enemies, so of course they can. Alignment is about context as much as actual deeds.) Are there such things as anti rangers and paladins(not officially, and not in my game either.) Are the softcover supplements and the new hardbacks different games? (yes, AD&D and OD&D (and yes, she actually calls it that) are indeed different games) More stuff that shows just how dramatically the game has changed since then, largely towards permitting things.

In defense of the poor magic-user: This article argues that magic-users are not overpowered, their low hit points and equipment restrictions make up for their power, plus they will often be in trouble from using up their spells or not having selected the right one for the challenge today. Yeah, this writer has never heard of the 15 minute adventuring day tactic. And thank god for that, because as soon as it gets into Dragon, everyone'll know about it and want to use it.

For familiar but fearsome fiends: Dungeon building without needing a shitload of supplements. Ahh, the days when you had to regularly run from opponents or die, particularly in the first few levels. Of course you'll still need to determine stats for the multitude of human opponents of various class and level you'll encounter using this table.

Feel like RISKing everything?: Incorporating nuclear war into RISK. This will obviously make your games somewhat shorter, unless you also use diplomacy between players. Seems like it should be fun, as it increases the strategic options without slowing the game down.

From the fantasysmiths notebook: Creading our own custom foam padding to protect your miniatures in transit, so they don't get all dented and bent from jostling against one-another. Which is neat. Plus the article has some amusing illustrations, so I give it high marks for both usefulness and creativity.

D-day, A more accurate variation: House rules for the wargame. Entirely crunch, and so I can't really comment on how good or bad they might be.

Dastardly deeds and devious devices lives up to its name, with 4 nasty variations on blades and pit traps that'll have your players screaming in the aisles as their characters are hit on the head, hamstringed, and then split off from one another so the healbot/cleric can't fix them. Muahahahahaha.

A general knowledge quiz for tekumel. Please do not write on the magazine, whatever they suggest in the article. You'll ruin the fun for everyone else reading it later.

Bolotomus' Revenge: Lotsa neat houserules for the game from issue 11, mostly revolving around making each organ more individual. Nice to see people are still playing it, more than 2 years later.

Whats in a name? Random generation of those pretentious descriptive fantasy names based off elements, animals, weather etc. They're silly enough anyway. When you string two or three descriptive words together by random roll, the potential for ludicrity gets pretty high.

Taking the sting out of scoring: Standardising scoring for tournament play by using a formula for determining the points awarded. Encourages the avoidance of GM fiat wherever possible, by making the categories as specific as possible, so that different groups can be scored fairly, and you can thus get a good benchmark of how good your team was compared to others playing the same module across the world. Which all makes sense, when playing from that kind of viewpoint. I can't fault their logic.

Beware of quirks and curses: Cursed magic items are no fun because players will immediately do anything in their power to get rid of them. Far more interesting are items that have useful abilities, but also have a price or drawback (which can also sometimes be turned into an advantage in its own right) as well, such as making animals afraid of you, or compulsive gambling. That way, it becomes a real choice deciding if they're worth the hassle. Another cool idea that would later be used to great effect in Iron Heroes, and one I thoroughly recommend trying in your games.

Frederick Macknight continues his conversion notes, this time going back the other way. What started out fascinating is rapidly growing very dull. Virtually everyone is interested in gossip about people. Very few are interested in minutinae of rules.

Leomunds tiny hut: Variant combat rules taking greater account of AD&D's system of breaking rounds into segments. As is frequently the case for precision systems like this, it adds huge amounts of extra work keeping track of things. Which as you ought to know by now, is one of my least favourite types of add-on. People forget things, and you have to keep going back to get it right, or just skip over the details, so they don't get used properly anyway.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Magic fountains. Another one of the classic random screwage items. Do you dare to drink. Are you so thirsty after weeks of dungeoneering that you don't really have a choice. Will the DM even lock you in until someone takes a drink, a tactic they recommend against overcautious players. And you can't even take it with you and use it when better prepared, unlike the bag of beans. Well, as long as everyone has fun, why not use it anyway.

Yay, we finally have actual classified ads coming through.

Reviews: Bushido, a roleplaying game. Hammers Slammers, a book. The Wolfen, A book. The spacefarers guide to alien monsters, a cross-system roleplaying supplement. This issue has a greater amount of criticism of the reviewed products than usual, including one that is completely panned. Which is something I thoroughly approve of. We know that over 90% of everything is crap, but it's your job to tell us what is so we can avoid wasting our money. Only printing positive reviews does not help in that.

Dragons bestiary: the Vilkonnar. A bunch of energy sucking humanoids that make a decent mid range challenge, while not being as annoying as level drainers.

Dragonmirth isn't just a bunch of pics this issue, it also includes an amusing article on degrees of disasters based upon the exclamation used upon encountering them. Which is dreadfully bowdlerised, as they are trying to be a family friendly magazine. :D Life is strange.

Wormy is here this month. Fineous fingers is not.

Aaand finally, the big tournament module, DOOMKEEP! Fear the cliched name, Ahahahaha!!!!! As this is a tournament module, it is full of horribly tricky puzzles, inventive monsters I've never seen before and killer encounters, including double fakeouts that'll have your players screaming bloody murder. It also gives a proper scoring system, so if people survive you can calculate the winner, and lists the rankings from the convention it was originally played in.

A very full issue, as not only is it the biggest I've faced yet, but it has lots of little articles in addition to the very big one at the end. They continue their policy of having lots of wargaming articles as well as the RPG stuff. I guess there's still quite a bit of demand for that stuff. As ever, there are some bits which are rather dull, but there's still plenty of interesting stuff to discover, particularly in sage advice, which is rapidly becoming very useful to me.
 

Count_Zero

Game Master
Validated User
A quick mention about wargames of this era that popped into my head just now, based on a point in a previous Dragon Recap that I couldn't be arsed to find at the moment.

(un)Reason mentioned... something about single-scenario wargames, with some being more restrictive then others. Well, IIRC there was a bit of a boom at the time (which has lessened since then) of 1-box wargames, or as I like to call them "board-war games". Basically, they're wargames with pre-set battle-mats/maps, with a series of cardstock counters representing the units in the game with their stats on them, as well as rules for the game. Star Fleet Battles came out around this time, as well as other games.

Now, some of these games, like Star Fleet Battles, had an immense depth to them, with multiple types of scenarios and ship arrangements, where as others had a certain amount of customizability (like Cry Havoc), and there were others that were pretty much set up to play only one engagement (Gettysberg).
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
And your big christmas present, a complete 16 page module, The Fell Pass by Karl Merris. Well, it is still nearly 7 years until Dungeon starts up. I suspect we'll be seeing a few more adventures in here before then. This is a pretty old school plotless location based module with several horribly unfair death traps and challenges way above the average level of the encounters. Still, at least they're inventively evil death traps, so your players won't be bored as they die.
The modules were on of the reasons I regularly bought Dragon back in the day. They looked like a great bargain, since you got all those articles and things, plus an adventure at something like 3/4s the cost of one of card-board covered modules.

- Brian
 
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