• 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

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
Chopping each issue into bite-sized reviews seems the best alternative to me. Didn't I say something about that?

*goes to look*

Huh, I guess I didn't. Bad me. Anyway, good call! :D

I caught Mr. Greenwood's article on gates in Best of Dragon #2, I think. It's a great article, and inspired all sorts of wickedness in my campaigns for a while. I think his work on spells and powers working differently on different planes inspired a lot of what would end up in the Manual of the Planes, but he might have had other inspiration as well, so I can't really say he was the originator.

I'd never heard of Sardior before. I'll have to track him down.

- Brian
 

apparition13

Registered User
Validated User
The Gem dragons! Finally, neutrality gets it's own set of iconic dragons. They have the same iconic traits that they maintain all through the editions, Relatively low physical power, but high intelligence and charisma, and kickass psionic abilities. Includes their own singular high end badass to complement Bahamut and Tiamat, Sardior the ruby dragon. Who I don't remember seeing before, so he must not have caught on. But the dragon deities in 2nd ed were more interesting anyway.
One of my favorite articles ever, especially Saridor. I wonder what happened.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 37: May 1980

Part 2/4

A random event table for urban encounters. How often you'll encounter significant stuff in an urban setting, and what type and level they'll be. Does exactly what it says on the tin, even if it only works in D&D's standard implied pseudomedieval setting.

Cities can help make characters more real: Talk of how to run adventures set in cities, and which classes are most suited to them (rogues get to shine, oh yeah baybey) You can't just go around killing everything that moves. You need to set yourself goals and negotiate with people. Nothing new now, but for people who'd just spent 5 years down a pit in the ground, I guess this is valuable advice.

From the sorcerers scroll: Greyhawk moves into the AD&D realm, with the release of World of Greyhawk coming very soon. Which means lots more setting detail, including our first mention of Iuz. Plus there's lots of modules in the pipline, including lots set on other planes (we also see our first mention of the quasiplane of shadow here.) Deities and Demigods, and the Fiend Folio. Plus basic stats for Bigby and Robilar and their armies. Lots of stuff seen for the first time here that would show up again and again. Nice to see Gary's still busy buzzing away shaping the setting.

Sage advice: One letter that is simply mind breaking in the number of dodgy rules and stupid questions it presents, sending Jean and Skip (looks like he's part of the team as well now) running in terror and urging the writer to retire the character.
How do I deal with characters who gain 10+ levels in a day in someone else's game and then want to play in mine? (make them play separate characters for each game. )
Must someone know a person's language to command them when they are charmed? (yes, charming does not give you any special ability to understand each other)
Can I reuse the jeweled sticks that are the components for augury.(no. You need to shell out each time you cast any spell with material components. Yes, that can get expensive. Suck it up. You should get enough treasure in your adventuring for expenses like that.)
How long does ghoul paralysis last? (you know, it doesn't say officially. We'd better do something about that. I've always used 24 hours in my games.)
How do I deal with characters who have illegal ability scores. (either raise them to the minimums, or make the player roll up a new character)

Minarian Legends: The history of the elven lands in Divine Right. Not all happy shiny dancing, with meteor strikes, racial supremacy movements, and lots of wars detailed. Oh, and terrible terrible poetry. Yeah, this is pretty entertaining.

Simulation corner: Talk of the development of randomisers as a means of adding possibilities to wargames. Interesting as it notes that dice other than 6 siders are still considerably harder and more expensive to get hold of. Also in that the concept of dice pool as binary curve generator rather than roll and add seems to not have occurred to them yet. Another bit of historical minutinae that gives me a better impression of how things have developed in recent years.

Leomunds tiny hut: The Monties. Another potshot at Jim Ward, presenting a pantheon based upon the events therin. Ironically enough, these guys are less overpowered than the average deity. Len, you just don't get it, do you? Well, he invents the tiny hut, while mordenkainen creates the magnificent mansion. I guess thinking small comes naturally to him. ;)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 37: May 1980

Part 3/4

Miniature Spotlight: Instructions on how to make your own spears and lances using just little bits of wire, basic tools, and some paint. If you've mastered basic miniature painting, this looks like a good way to branch out and try something a bit more complicated.

Up on a soapbox: Talk of magic as a science, and magic-users as researchers in the field. And of course how to ensure it doesn't just become another bit of the mundane, predictable physics of the universe. Which involves allowing chaotic characters having a natural instinctive understanding of how magic works that allows them to keep up with and surpass their more lawful counterparts. Another eyerolling inducing article that doesn't really add anything to the game.

Armies of the Renaissance: Part 6, Landsknecht and Reiters. Nick Nascati continues his little potted histories on the wars of that period. Having exhausted countries, he turns to one of the prominent mercenary companies of the era. Another pretty blah article.

Squad Leader part 2, large scale streetfighting: A second article expanding on last months one, and giving tactical advice for it. Another short, sweet and effective article.

Spell research, the hard way: Oh, not another one of these. Go away, annoying nerfers. :waves hand: We do not want more pointless bureaucracy and expense attached to the process of developing new cool powers.

Libraries: Players want to look in a library and you haven't prepared details on every book in the world? Use the same solution they always used back then. Roll it randomly. :) Another one to add to the list of still useful today articles to plunder.

Eye of the dragon: Yay, a new regular feature. This is where they look at new releases and happenings. TSR has UK offices now, Tekumel has been sold to Gamescience (what's the betting we'll see far fewer articles for it from this point on) and avalon hill are making computer games. I look forward to getting a better picture of what going on in gaming through this.

Giants in the Earth: No particular characters detailed in this issue. We get a statement that they're not going to do characters from LotR here, because the flamewars they'd have to deal with for not doing it right, no matter how they did it, would be too much bother to deal with. They also talk about the difference between D&D and AD&D levels in terms of actual power and in game position, in which AD&D levels above 8 or so count as around 2.5 D&D levels. And finally, they give lots of suggestions for future articles. Which is interesting, because its a taking stock situation that gives us insight into the way they think. I still disagree with many of their design decisions though.
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
Up on a soapbox: Talk of magic as a science, and magic-users as researchers in the field. And of course how to ensure it doesn't just become another bit of the mundane, predictable physics of the universe. Which involves allowing chaotic characters having a natural instinctive understanding of how magic works that allows them to keep up with and surpass their more lawful counterparts. Another eyerolling inducing article that doesn't really add anything to the game.
I remember seeing lots of flailing around for a better magic system, but almost all of them boiled down to variations on the Vancian theme or spell points. It'll be another decade, I think, before we start to see some really innovative ideas in this area. And most of those won't be in Dragon, unfortunately.

- Brian
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 37: May 1980

Part 4/4


Frederick Macknight is still waffling on about his houserules. Bored now. Make it go away.

Mapping the dungeons II: This is only 4 pages long this time, thank god, with only the new additions. I guess not that many people want to advertise for players in here.

Reviews: This is a rather short column this issue. We have Pearl Harbor, a strategy game. Magic Wood (don't snigger) a boardgame. And Belter, a game of war, diplomacy and economics set in the asteroid belt in the future. As a big Larry Niven fan, I say yay to them for trying to make playable a topic as sophisticated as that. But unfortunately the reviewer seems less than enthralled with the execution. Oh well. Those are the risks of trying something different. Often it's hard to accomplish.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: A bunch of magic items I don't remember. Yefars magic mirrors, the rod of singing, and the discus shield. Two are exceedingly useful, one is cursed and a right pain in the ass. Can you guess which one?

Dragons Bestiary: Vulturehounds. Another one of those lovely D&D hybrids that is exactly what you'd expect. A dog with vultures wings, talons and head, they can be trained, and are worth quite a lot if you do so. One of the more sensible monsters around, in ecological terms.

Dragonmirth is back.

How to tell if you're in or out of love: That old chessnut of GM favouritism towards your significant other gets a lighthearted look at here (only of course it's not an old chessnut yet) And of course they automatically assume that the man will be the GM :rolleyes: I was never a fan of those twee Love Is comic thingies (what's the technical term for one frame comics, as strip seems inappropriate) anyway, so forgive me if I don't laugh.

Jasmine, by Darlene: And once again, we see the way they pick their letters and articles to complement one-another. Somewhere between fiction and comic, this new story is so blatantly an attempt to appeal more to the female demographic that it's funny. A princess as the protagonist, check. Soft pastel colours, Check. No-one understands me and my visions, check. A handsome prince, check. Lets just hope the story can transcend the cliches in later issues, otherwise my eyes will be doing much revolving in the near future.

And finally, another 16 full page module, The pit of the Oracle. One of those modules that gives you a small village, a dungeon, a host of plot hooks, and sets the players free to roam and solve those problems. Which I have no objection to at all, as no railroading is involved, and if they players want, they can bugger off to try something else elsewhere.

A fairly significant issue, given the change in staff, two new regular features, a general increase in social awareness, and the reveal of lots of upcoming products. And I get the impression that with Tim's departure, more things are likely to change in the next few issues, as his influence disappears, and Mohan becomes ever more significant to the running of the magazine. Interesting times indeed.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 38: June 1980

Part 1/4

74 pages. A particularly amusing cover painting this issue, combining obvious attempt at sexing it up, with bad hair and somewhat incongrous facial expressions. Plus John Barnes ought to sue the creators of he-man for plaglarism. This isn't right, not right at all.

In this issue:

Dragon Rumbles: The company changes it's name from TSR periodicals to Dragon publishing, in an attempt to further separate themselves from their parent company. We also have a new addition to the staff, and Kim is compiling an index to every issue of the magazine so far. How nice of him. So things are chugging away nicely, not standing still, but not changing too fast either at the moment.

Out on a limb: A letter from Gary "correcting" lots of recent articles. Four letters on the subject of overpowered characters and peoples different opinions on how to keep the game fun despite them. And a letter praising them for publishing errata for their books in a fairly timely fashion. When are they going to get those twinks under control?

Fiction: The cup of golden death, by Gardner F Fox. The 7th niall story, and the 3rd this year. They seem to have decided that he's in demand, so we get more of him. The deific manipulations continue, and we get to see some more of the politics of his world.

Leomunds tiny hut: Talk of dragons. As with his stuff on gods recently, these are generally more power-ups to make them more trouble for players to face. It also includes brown, orange and yellow dragons, (none of which are the same species that would appear in future products, weirdly enough) and a new set of stats for tiamat, now in her familiar 5 heads, 1 for each major chromatic dragon type, form. Another rather underwhelming article. Why did he get to be one of the major columnists of this period?
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Leomunds tiny hut: Talk of dragons. As with his stuff on gods recently, these are generally more power-ups to make them more trouble for players to face. It also includes brown, orange and yellow dragons, (none of which are the same species that would appear in future products, weirdly enough) and a new set of stats for tiamat, now in her familiar 5 heads, 1 for each major chromatic dragon type, form. Another rather underwhelming article. Why did he get to be one of the major columnists of this period?
What are the breath weapons defined for these versions of brown, orange, and yellow?
 
Top Bottom