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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)

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Making the Legend
Validated User
You, sirrah! Pistols at dawn!
I'm sorry, I do not understand. sirrah is not a valid word. :p
(Unless they're talking about the limited two-word parsers that required commands in the format 'verb noun'. Those did suck.
Ironically, we could do far better these days. But no, they had to go for developing flashy graphics instead of the ability to carry on a decent conversation. The corporatization of computer gaming development sucks.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 42: October 1980

Part 4/4

Reviews: The other reviews this month are Swashbuckler, another sorta wargame that works on an individual level and could be adapted to roleplaying. Time tripper, a wargame in the Quantum Leap/Sliders mould, where you play a soldier randomly bouncing through time with an experimental device trying to get home, facing enemies in each period. And Starmaster, a computer based play by mail game (my head hurts, these people need several thousand cc's of internet, Stat) that costs $2.50 per turn. Jesus. I think I'll skip that one, thank you very much. Not that it's still available anyway, as like anything that needs an external infrastructure to play, once the company stops supporting it, you're screwed.

The day of the Dwarf: Fiction (possibly based off an actual play) by Roger Moore in the monty haul tradition. Mad crossovers happen, and Asmodeus gets shown up in a rather amusing fashion. Which is pretty cool, particularly as the whole thing is quite well written. But you probably wouldn't want to actually play in a game that featured this much GM favouratism.

Jasmine and Wormy continue.

And the modulicious fun continues with another halloween flavoured goodie, The Mansion of Mad Professor Ludlow. A decidedly odd module that is technically a D&D one, but does not fit in D&D at all, being designed for the players to be a bunch of modern day children, and making huge adaptions to the rules and tone to more properly emulate that kind of boys own/famous five style. Another ambitious piece of work that really throws the horrible limitations in the D&D ruleset into stark relief. I'm slightly surprised that this never got converted to ravenloft, since they drew on many old modules when making it. I guess they wanted to forget about the failed experiments, and concentrate on the ones that worked.

Another issue that really felt bulky to mentally digest. But it has had more significant stuff that would go on to be developed later than most recent issues, and it's nice to see them do a halloween episode that doesn't focus on the undead. That kind of switching things around is neccecary to keep things interesting.


Registered User
Validated User
Is the holy water sprinkler a gun (WTF? No, it's a big ball with spikes. Your research is seriously erroneous.)
Both of the elementary schools I attended had copies of a big, honkin' illustrated book on the history of weapons. In it, the holy water sprinkler was depicted as a wicked-looking spikey mace thing, built around an odd, multi-barrel arquebus thing. I imagine the question came from reading that book, or something similar.

- Brian


Registered User
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Dragon Issue 41: September 1980

Part 3/4

Simulation corner: The spotlight again turns upon Avalon Hill, and their past, present and future business plans. Which seem to be pretty solid and well organized, if this article is to be believed. They may have found that the things that sell most were not their personal favourites as products, and had to adapt to the changing market. But they have done so, (although it's interesting to note that they are still supporting those less popular lines, which may or may not be a good thing in the long run.) and things seem to be going pretty well. Of course, they would say that, particularly in an official interview, because they want to make more money. Forgive me if maintain my sense of skepticism.
I went to college with Lee Garvin, creator of the Tales From the Floating Vagabond game. Our collective opinion of Avalon Hill was that they pretty much lived off the sale of certain perennial games and pumped out a ton of experiments each year which they failed to support or advertise, so almost everything failed.

So TOFV did well the first 2 years where he managed to pressure them to advertise, then died when they stopped advertising.

So...not impressed at all with Avalon Hill's business skills.


Making the Legend
Validated User
:snipped cool personal anecdote:

So...not impressed at all with Avalon Hill's business skills.
Very interesting. Yeah, its stuff like that that we probably won't get to see much in the magazine, particularly now more professional hands have taken over the editing from Gary, so his most vitriolic rants at least get an "are you sure you want to say this about our rival companies" It makes me wonder if we'll actually see much about the companies various crisis points in the magazine, or they'll be ignored and glossed over.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 43: November 1980

Part 1/4

80 pages. The theme of this issue, if any, seems to be assessment and examination. Editing gets a good look at, as do DM styles, the latest conventions, and the rules of the game. Lets see if they come out of it with ideas on how games should be better done.

In this issue:

Dragon Rumbles: A very interesting introduction this month, as they talk about the editing and rejections process. Lots of people send in crap. And lots of people send in stuff that isn't crap, but they don't feel is appropriate to the remit of the magazine. Pay attention to this, and maybe you've get a slightly better chance of being published. And don't be discouraged if you get rejected. Just read the feedback, pick yourself up and try again. After all, we've got a big magazine to fill every month, plus we want to publish other stuff as well. Your odds aren't that bad (yet)

Out on a limb: Lots of stuff this issue. A letter of commentary, mostly positive, apart from some minor caveats on len lakofka's generous treasure awarding policy.
A letter questioning why the angels in issue 35 have no psionic ability detailed, which recieves a reply from the original author that promptly gives them plenty of extra abilities, plus takes the opportunity to get some supplemental roleplaying advice in.
A letter from Roger Moore questioning Len's decision to make cold magic work less well on the negative material plane. Which is replied with the question of whether something should be more or less effective in an area where it is common, and if immunities or vulnerabilities take precedence over one another. Ahh, philosophy. How abstract issues suddenly become deadly serious when it's a question of double-or nothing to damage, or somesuch.
A letter objecting to the characterization of anti-paladins as cowardly treacherous assholes, by someone who would prefer them as dark noble anti-heroes with their own twisted sense of honour and loyalty to their dark masters. (and soulfull eyes, impossibly huge swords, and long hair that flows in the wind, I'll wager :rolleyes: ) To which they reply meh, they aren't official anyway, do what you like.
A letter commenting on the misconceptions about the game that many gamers seem to have, and requesting that they make the game more friendly to newcomers. To which they reply that a new basic set is in the works, and hopefully it'll satisfy you. Remember, D&D and AD&D are different games, and should be treated as such.
A letter from Gary that is generaly positive about articles in recent issues, in diliberate contrast with his brutal snark a few issues ago.
Another letter of praise, this time from one of the playtesters at SPI, for giving them this wonderfull hobby.
And finally, a letter questioning Gary's refusal to allow angels into the game officially when he is quite happy to have devils, demons and hells, and his apparent contradictions on if you should change the game to suit your needs or not. To which he actually gives a good reply. D&D is the one you can house rule to suit your needs. AD&D is the one that must be played exactly as written, otherwise characters cannot be scored and given worldwide rankings in tournament modules fairly. And he doesn't want to stat up angels while being perfectly happy doing so to demons, because if you stat something up, then people can kill it. And while he is happy to facilitate people killing demons in their imagination, he doesn't want them killing angels in his game. Which I guess has a certain logic behind it. (I seem to remember he was a Jehovah's witness, or some such.) And I guess this is where the "if it has stats, it can be killed" meme gets it's first airing. Nice to be able to pinpoint another piece of history.

What? A third Witch class? :rolleyes: Well, it has been two years, and as they say, the last issue that covered this is long out of stock, but still, I find this bit of topic recycling tiresome. Particularly in the Old D&D mileu, I fail to see why you need to distinguish them from any other magic-user. And I think they realize that as well, as they've put a lot of effort into editing and refining this article. As with the anti-paladin, they do not recommend letting them be used as PC's, but they are mechanically robust enough to be used as such. Although they will overpower regular magic-users almost as much as rangers and paladins outclass regular fighters. ;) Still, even if you don't use the class, they also have lots of new spells to pilfer for your game. At least they aren't printing overpowered classes every other issue like they did back in the strategic review days :D

The "real" witch: Tom Moldvay talks historical crap, and about his design goals in making this class. A very meh article that fails to give any insights we didn't know already.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 43: November 1980

Part 2/4

Conventions 1980: Origins gets 5/10, hampered as it was by overcrowding and unofficial hawkers squatting outside. Gencon gets 8/10, while pacificon gets 7/10, as both were rather better organized. All once again suffered from the demand rather exceeding the supply, as the hobby grows rapidly. Nice to see them putting an actual scoring system in, instead of just descriptions. Hopefully that'll be repeated next year.

Survival tips for the slave pits: Another con tournament over, another set of classic modules gets unleashed upon the general public. The slaver series. (A) Oh yeah. This article gives some hints about them, and names the winners, as well as general tips on how to excell in a con gaming situation. Think fast, think smart, and work together well with your team to get as far as you can in the time limit. Remember, this is a competition, and there are winners and losers. And the GM shouldn't forget it either, he should be playing the monsters as smart as they should be, not pulling any punches. Yet another reminder that AD&D was originally designed to be played competitively, and this could easily spill over into full on antagonism. Maybe we should stick to normal D&D. :D

He's the top Dungeon Mentzer: A profile of Frank Mentzer, the winner of the 4th AD&D DM's tournament. Another name we'll be seeing again in the future. Good to see someone getting noticed and employed primarily through talent than because they know friends of friends.

Sage advice: Looks like they realized their mistake of last issue, and are now using surnames to differentiate who answered each question. Ha. Anyway. Ton's of questions this issue, so let's not waste time.
Is a paladins protection from evil aura 1 inch or 10 foot in radius? (Both. It's 1 inch in miniatures measurement, which equals 10 feet inside, or 10 yards outside in game. How does that happen? I dunno. Maybe the ambient evil of the dungeon is pushing against the aura and compressing it. )
Can lawful good characters use poisoned weapons? (it depends on your DM, but we reccommend if they do so regularly they cease to be lawful good.)
Issue 35 said that thieves cannot be neutral good, but the PHB says they can. What gives? (Yeah, Jean was wrong about that one. Bad Jean. I cast Drawmij's instant spanking on you.)
Do you get the same XP whether you kill something with a weapon, spell or psionics.(did we ever say anything that suggests otherwise?)
We had a bad adventure where one of the characters got level drained, and then next session he tried to pretend that adventure never happened. What should we do. (Enforce continuity properly. He know the risks when he started playing. No retcon's. He should count himself lucky he didn't get killed outright.)
Can magic-users take their spellbooks with them on adventures? (both a good and bad idea. They need them to recharge their spells, but they are also heavy and expensive, and if they get lost or damaged you're screwed. Decisions, decisions. )
Do giants get a save when you hit them with a hammer of thunderbolts. (no, but you still can't instakill giant gods with this trick)
Do you get a saves vs energy draining and arrows of slaying. (no on both counts. Surely the fact they have to roll to hit in the first place is enough of a chance for you. )
What happens if a 2nd level illusionist casts color spray at 2 bugbears. (read the spell again. This one is perfectly clear)
Is a cleric making a personal request to their deity every time they recharge a 3rd level+ spell (since they can withhold it, yes. Omnimultitasking is a pretty handy power deities have.)
Do I need to make multiple saving throws if hit by the same type of attack more than once in a round.(Yes. Yes, this makes carrion crawlers a pain in the ass with their 10 paralyzing tentacles. attack them at range or something instead of trying to fight them head on.)
Can a paladin initiate a fight? (If the opponent is evil, yes. They are holy warriors, and good does not mean stupid. This is why they get detect evil as an innate power in the first place.)
If I get polymorphed into a human, can I surpass my level limits? (no, its only a temporary magic change, not a real change of species. You'd need to die and be reincarnated in a new race, or something else permanent for that to work.)
Can dispel magic dispel anti magic shell(no)
How can I optimize my characters to win in tournaments? (You can't. You get given pregens so everyone starts on an equal footing. We don't trust you enough to let you use your regular campaign characters. )
Can I become dual class if I find an item that raises my stats to meet the requirement? (no, it needs to be an innate boost.)
What level does the hand of vecna cast at (over niiine thouuusand!!!! Sorry, 21st actually)
Are multiple haste spells cumulative (hell no, neither additive or multiplacative. That would just be totally broken.)
Can I cast spells that only require a pointed finger as a somatic component while entangled (No. Stop trying to weasel your way around the general rules by using the specifics of flavour text. )
If you raise a baby dragon, will it have your alignment. (no. Nature is stronger than nurture when it comes to morals in D&D. )
What is the flying creature on the MM's cover ( a red dragon. Would we so dumb as to have a Dungeons and Dragons monster manual that didn't have a dragon on the cover?)
What are the stats of the snakes created by sticks to snakes (here you go. No, they don't get poisonous bites. No swarms of instakill monsters for you. That would be too powerfull for a 2nd level spell. )
Larva and su monsters have incomplete alignments. (oops. neutral evil, and chaotic neutral, respectively)
The text and statblock of the mind flayers entry contradict each other. (So they do. Looks like more bloody errata to sort out for the next printing. The text is the right one, by the way)
What is the difference in tracking ability between a 1st and 12th level ranger? (None. Ha ha.)
Do you always lose a level when you change alignment (Yes. Consistency in holding a wrong position will get you further than being a flip-flopper. Just like real world politics. ;) )
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Retired User
How, pray, did they go about judging in a 'DM's tournament', anyhow? Was this based on actual play (player satisfaction, % TPKS, whatever), or encyclopedic knowledge of rules trivia, or something else, or some combination? Any hints in the article or people who know through other sources?
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