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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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Whitemage of DOOM

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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.
*Barf* Dark noble anti-heroes, with a twisted sense of honor uh huh right. But there alignment is CE and they have loyalty to demon prices.

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. )
Buh buh buh, HUMANS can change there alingment, DWARVES can change there alignment. Why the heck can't a bleeding red dragon. I can see stuff like "remember he will always feel the tug of his natural alignment" or something, but flat out NO?
Just ugh. UGH.
 
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JohnBiles

Registered User
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I'm sorry, I do not understand. sirrah is not a valid word. :p

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.
Infocom did develop a somewhat better parser, though not at the level we could do this days. You could at least give commands like 'Hit the Troll with the Axe' or 'jump out the window'
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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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?
Both grasp of technical details and ability to keep the game moving in a quick and entertaining fashion. They specifically praised his ability to communicate the relavent details of the scenario to the players well, quick look-up times for rules, use of index cards to keep track of NPC's, and refusal to tolerate any cheating from the players. (who included Gary and Jim Ward, and they were diliberately testing the GM's by trying to cheat and be pains in the ass, to see how they coped with it) It must take quite a lot of courage to tell the designer of the game you're playing that he's doing it wrong, and that kind of attitude impressed them.

*Barf* Dark noble anti-heroes, with a twisted sense of honor uh huh right. But there alignment is CE and they have loyalty to demon princes.
Loyalty to demon princes for any longer than it is advantageous to you is not a good idea. They'll throw you away as soon as you're not useful or amusing to them. A properly diabolical anti-paladin should always be plotting to overthrow their master and take their place. If they aren't, they're just a stupid dupe, barely worthy of the name. Still, it doesn't mean they can't bide their time until they're in a good position. Starscream is not a good role model for a would be ruler of an evil horde, particularly when the current boss isn't as forgiving as Megatron.

Buh buh buh, HUMANS can change there alingment, DWARVES can change there alignment. Why the heck can't a bleeding red dragon. I can see stuff like "remember he will always feel the tug of his natural alignment" or something, but flat out NO?
Just ugh. UGH.
Yeah, they were a lot stricter about stuff like this in general back then. It's the kind of thing that gets gradually chipped at as the years pass and people prove good stories can be made by pushing the limits of what is possible and allowed.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 43: November 1980

Part 3/4

D&D in Germany: A very interesting article, particularly as it's published entirely unedited, to keep all the original author's idiosyncratic phrasings. And it looks like roleplaying has a small but exceedingly enthusiastic following there. You ought to pay more attention to translating and promoting your games over there. Before you know it, they'll be producing their own games, so they don't have to deal so much with translations, import times and costs. And then one of their homegrown games'll overtake D&D in popularity. ;) But that's enough smug hindsight for now.

How do you rate as a GM? Find out by letting your players fill out this feedback form. Very specific to the tropes of D&D, and quite comprehensive, this feels a bit anachronistic, but if you're dungeoncrawling, it should certainly give you plenty of feedback on your GM'ing style, and if you need to change anything. Just don't try and use it in a Vampire game.

Leomunds tiny hut: Len attempts to clear up the question of exactly how many and what types of actions are allowed each combat round. As he has done several times already, he overcomplicates things somewhat, putting in tons of dull clauses and clarifications, and the rules certainly don't have the elegance of the 3rd ed full/standard/move system. I guess someone's got to do the experimenting and find out what doesn't work, so the rest of us can benefit in the future. But unlike last month, this bit of work in progress fails to hold my interest.

Dragons bestiary: This month we have Amazons, which do exactly what you'd expect, with extra helpings of mysandry. Tolwar, trunkless elephants who instead use telekinetic powers to manipulate things. (and throw waterballs at you, just for fun.) and Lythlyx, another strange Ed Greenwood monster that will make it into the forgotten realms setting.

Now you see it...: Talk of illusions and D&D's disbelief rules. They point out phantasmal force was not the best name for an illusion spell, creating false expectations in the minds of some gamers of what it was capable of. And leaving making disbelief up to the declarations of the players is very subjective. And not really fair when it's NPC's being subjected to illusions. (one reason I love PvP) A reminder that there are some things that are pretty much impossible to balance against everything else in an open ended social system, and trying too hard to do so will only make the game horribly restrictive, as 4e shows.

A 12 page Traveller Adventure, Canard, put in the middle of the magazine. Unlike their usual custom, they do not interrupt their normal page numbering for this one. Which is vaguely awkward, but these things happen. A pretty standard location based dungeon crawl transplanted to a sci-fi setting.
 
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Phersu

Drogoman
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D&D in Germany: Before you know it, they'll be producing their own games, so they don't have to deal so much with translations, import times and costs. And then one of their homegrown games'll overtake D&D in popularity. ;) But that's enough smug hindsight for now.
Yes, The Dark Eye (das Schwarze Auge) must be more popular than D&D in Germany (and the same thing is true for Drakar & Demoner in Sweden, I think).

Did that happen in any other country?

I am sure for instance that French translations of D&D, CoC or Warhammer are still more popular than our "homegrown" games like Nephilim or In Nomine Satanis.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 43: November 1980

Part 4/4

Reviews: Azhanti high lightning, a Traveller supplement, looks pretty spiffy, with tons of colour foldout extras, and an improved system for shipboard combat.
Dragonquest, The first RPG from SPI arrives and gets reviewed, after being previewed a few months ago. Pretty favourable, albeit with a big editing error in the review where they lost the start of a sentence. They seem to think it's more refined than either D&D or runequest. But refinement does not equal long term commercial success. Oh, reviewers. How much influence do you really have on the commercial success of a product?
Hero, (not to be confused with the movie or the system that is currently in it's fifth edition) a mini-game where you brave a dungeon and rescue the princess, gets a short but sweet review. They seem to be putting more emphasis into making each review stand out this issue, with big captions and clearer divisions between each one. Not a bad idea.

Squad Leader: Another article that compresses a full scenario into half a page. Which is nice. But doesn't leave me with much more to say about it.

Up on a Soap box: Larry DiTillio replies to Doug Bachmanns reply to his article from issue 36 about morality in fantasy. Which is exactly the kind of thing this forum should be about. Unfortunately, the argument itself degenerates into didacticism and ends with the trite old "there's room for both playstyles as long as everyone has fun, no-ones really right or wrong" saying. Put some fire into your argument, ya damn dirty liberal. ;) I started reading this magazine for the flamewars.

Hate orcs? You'll love this campaign: Advice on running a campaign where everyone is of the same race, in this case dwarves. You may want to loosen the racial class restrictions a little, and of course, tailoring the encounters and plot appropriately is a must. One of those bits of advice that seems rather sketchy and superfluous these days, as entire splatbooks have since been written on individual races and classes. Still, I guess that stuff had to start from somewhere.

The electric eye: Space games 3, one of those cassettes with 4 games on it, gets reviewed. With two star trek games, plus a star wars one, I wonder about if it was properly licensed. There did seem to be quite a bit more of that stuff happening then. But then, games were cheaper to produce then. An oddly large amount of attention is being paid to the average playing times of the various games. Not as good as tom's reviews a few issues ago.

Dragonmirth is here, and Znutar, Fineous fingers, Wormy, and Jasmine are all present and firing on all cylenders. How pleasing and unusual.

Another very bulky feeling issue indeed, with several more things that will be developed on and go on to bigger things in the future. Unfortunately, the interesting articles are broken up by quite a lot of tedious stuff, including lots of overcomplicated rules bloat. Still, I only have to read the crap once, and then I'll be able to look at the good bits as many times as I like.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 44: December 1980

Part 1/4

110 pages. Holy crap, they've really pushed the envelope on this one. Now this is what a christmas special should be. This is the first time an issue has been bigger than all the strategic reviews put together (but not the last) Man, this is gonna take a while. We start off with another phil foglio cover (he is so instantly recognizable) which hints at the mayhem inside.

In this issue:

Iron crown enterprises starts advertising here, with arms law and the iron wind. Still hitching onto other peoples products, they have yet to create their own full system.

Out on a limb: Three more letters on the female dwarven beards debate. This is the absolute last word on it, they say (again) Will they stick to that promise this time, or will continued public pressure force them to bring it out again? We shall see.
A letter praising them, and asking them to keep on covering lots of different systems. To which they promise that they will never limit themselves to covering only one system. (Aww, how sweet. Ha :sneers:)
A letter calling out a bad GM at their school, and asking Dragon to publicly chastise him. Which, errr, they do. Take that, teenage fool. I hope you're sorry now. :D
And finally a letter from someone complaining that their DM doesn't allow them to read the magazine, because he's afraid it'll spoil the modules, monsters and stuff for their game. TGo which they tell him, change the stuff. Players shouldn't be able to memorize every detail of these things anyway, and if they do, you can still catch them out, because it's your game and you are god. But you are not god of this world, so stop trying to deprive us of revenue.

Niall's 8th story, The lure of the golden godling. And he's still an overmuscled dick with no discernable strategic thinking power. If it weren't for Emelkartha he'd have been dead long ago. I really don't know.

Oohh. An advert for a Logan's Run play by mail game. Intriguing.

The super spies: As they have done with boot hill and are continuing to do for D&D, this is a big load of stats of famous characters from the genre, such as James Bond, Emma Peel and Number 6. And what are the odds that they're also disgustingly twinked out? Pretty good, I'd say. You'll never get characters as awesome as these unless you cheat your dice rolls. Back to the 48 hour surveillance grinds in the back of a black (or disguised as a pizza one if you're more sensible.) van with you, lowly agents. (sigh)

King of the mountain, a strategy game by Mark Simmons, gets a fairly substantial promo piece. Hmm. I am reminded of the first episodes of Visionaries. Interspersing commentary of the rules with flavour vignettes, this does a pretty decent job of getting me interested in the game, if not the best job of explaining exactly how you actually play it. I suppose you'll have to buy it if you want to find that out. Hopefully there'll be a more objective review sometime soon.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 44: December 1980

Part 2/4

Fantasy genetics I: Humanoids in review. Yay. A whole slew of articles on one of my favourite avenues of real life study. I'm gonna enjoy this. This first one simply lists most of the demihuman races, plus some of the more likely humanoids to be able to engage in a little cross breeding (although they forget halflings for no apparent reason) This includes bad latin names for each race (homofaber? really? :rolleyes:) and some speculation on their ancestral relationships with one-another. I find myself surprisingly unenthralled. Maybe I'm just spoiled when it comes to this stuff, and these searchings towards a richer setting seem a bit primitive and obvious. They're still another important step forward towards the present in the overall scheme of things.

Fantasy genetics II: Half orcs in a variety of styles. Does exactly what it says on the tin, offering stats for orc hybrids with all the other types of goblinoid. Which in practice, just gives you an increasingly fine-grained set of statistics for when 1 hit die monsters are too weak, and 1+1 hit die monsters are too strong. It's amusing, in a way. That's what happens when you can't gain class levels. And it's another good bit of evidence of just how annoyingly fecund orcs are, even compared to other goblinoids. Nice to see that bit of D&D mythology gathering weight.

Fantasy genetics III: What do you get when you cross. Nerfed monsters with the worst abilities of both races, plus some additional disadvantages to boot, if you listen to this writer. Which is ..... not pleasing to me. You know the evolutionary drill. The good (or at least, empowering) articles get used in peoples games, while the bad ones get ignored. You just failed that test.

Fantasy genetics IV: half and half isn't always full. What happens when you cross two halfbreeds? Not always more halfbreeds. Lets pull out that old mendelian genetics example, that of pink roses. (frankly, I would prefer my genetics Lamarkian, thank you very much.) Which does make for more interesting families than the straight add and divide by two method, and reduces the problem quarter, eighth, etc breeds present in terms of rules. Probably the most interesting of these articles, as while it might be a little too based in real world science for some people, it does raise both questions and solutions that would be interesting to deal with in play. Which is nice.

Sage advice: A much shorter column this issue. It's christmas. Now is not the time for quibbling. Let us get the formalities over and get back to the celebration.
Can magic raise your abilities above their racial maximums?(yes, unless stated otherwise in the specific power)
Can you use your spellbook like a scroll and cast the spells without memorising them by reading them aloud? (no)
Is it OK for a lawful neutral character to sneak up and backstab someone(only if they know for certain they're an enemy and need to die)
How do you determine if a character is subdued?( if it's an npc you use the implied damage system, while PC's always get to choose if they're subdued or not. They shouldn't be slaves to dice rolls unless actually possessed or something.)
Do bards get bonus spells for high wisdom( Why yes. Isn't that nice of us)
Can you use bows underground (depends how narrow the corridors are. Your GM should use their common sense. If your GM has no common sense, I guess it sucks to be you then. )
If you're in a dungeon, but take a character out of action to do downtime stuff, does time pass as if they're not in a dungeon (no. Learning new languages and training to go up levels is not a good idea when wandering monsters could butt in any second. Unless you're stuck in the worlds largest dungeon, you should get out first.)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 44: December 1980

Part 3/4

Giants in the earth: Your christmas twinkies this year are reepicheep, (surely I don't need to remind you where he comes from) a mouse with 18/01 strength; and Professor Challenger.

Leomunds tiny hut: The strength's of lots of monsters, and some talk of exactly where they come from, if they use weaponry, how likely they are to grapple you, and other things that add more depth to dealing with them. This is useful stuff, since it forces you to think more about creatures actions in battle, and what it really would be like fighting them. But it does involve some rather long and tedious tables, as it covers lots of creatures. File under mediocre, as it's neither as good as the planar stuff or as dull as the combat timing pontifications.

Simulation corner: Another article that throws into relief how much harder doing research was before the internet, as they talk about the difficulties involved in getting a good large scale picture of the history of wargaming, and how rules design has developed through the years. Which is ironic for a genre so devoted to historical recreations. How can the hobby advance and learn from it's mistakes if it doesn't know it's own history? A very good point really. Someone ought to write a book on it. Tell me, did they?

Food Fight! Another complete game occupying both the centre and the end of the magazine. This comes in basic and advanced versions. Like Ringside, this is primarily a bit of light entertainment. but has the potential for slipping some roleplaying in. A very customisable game, and therefore with plenty of replay potential. Plus some pretty good and amusing artwork. I think this works pretty well as our primary christmas present, and is obviously where most of the extra pages went. Their ambition on this front is definitely growing as well.

The reviews this month concentrate on judges guild products. Once again, we see a degree of joined-up thinking lacking in D&D, as they explicitly tie most of their products for a line into a single larger setting. They also talk about the history of the company as a whole, their magazines (as ever, anyone willing to tackle the archive of these would be given a warm welcome) and their relationships with other companies, that allow them to produce officially licensed products for them. Which include:
Modron: Nothing to do with the exemplars of law from mechanus, this is a town in the wilderlands near to tegel manor, and has lots of colorful NPC's.
Escape from Astigar's lair: A tournament module designed for a druid and ranger. Which makes a nice change from the usual fighter/mage/cleric/thief + hirelings team, but might make it a bit tricky to incorporate into a regular game without being too easy for the party.
The treasure vaults of lindoran is most notable for having the first mention of Kevin Siembida (on artwork) in the magazine. Yeah, we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Inferno is module set in a hell based on Dante's vision of it. This is obviously a very high level module, but also has lots of artifact level items to reward those of you who are up to the challenge. Sounds like my kind of game.
Portals of Torsh provides an entire planethopping setup for your adventuring fun, with an entire continent detailed. Without the 32 page limitation TSR set for themselves, they can really go to town with their settings.
Spies of lightelf and wilderlands of the fantastic reaches further build upon their main D&D setting with more places, plots, and maps.
Duck tower ..... Yeah. You know the drill. Abandoned city previously occupied by anthropomorphic ducks. Treasure and troubles aplenty for your players to explore.
City of Lei Tabor is another runequest module. Does a bad oriental analogue really have a place in glorantha. I don't remember seeing it in Heroquest. Did it get "Gregged"?
 

g026r

I'm a boat
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City of Lei Tabor is another runequest module. Does a bad oriental analogue really have a place in glorantha. I don't remember seeing it in Heroquest. Did it get "Gregged"?
Didn't really get "Gregged". Judges Guild never had permission to place stuff in Glorantha, so all their Runequest modules are generic "Runequest Gateway" ones.
 
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