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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 46: February 1981

Part 2/4

Mightier than the pen: Magic swords shouldn't just be nameless bonuses, they ought to have proper histories and names, and unique abilities. This article is mostly a list of the usual legends, such as beowulf, arthurian legend, and the edda. Honestly, it's as if we haven't been reading the past issues and don't already know all this stuff. Oh well, I guess many of the new readers didn't. We can't all be high level cynics.

Minarian variants: 6 more optional rules for Divine Right. Sieges, Ambushes, Treasure, leadership skill, forced marches, and barbarian tribalism. Most are of pretty good quality. If you've been playing the game regularly over the past year, I'm sure they will come as a welcome way to spice up the game again. Will there be a new edition, and will they get incorporated into it? Or will they publish supplements to it. Because the writers certainly seem to have no shortage of further ideas for the game.

Minarian Legends: Speaking of more stuff for divine right. This month's setting elaboration focuses upon The black hand (probably no relation to the V:tM black hand), a powerful lich, and commander of undead armies. Really, he just wants to be left alone to continue his experiments. But for some reason, people have this ..... prejudice against the undead. Particularly when you turn people they used to know in life into one of them. So sometimes he has to fight the various countries of minaria. What a pain in the ass for him. Is any side presented as the bad guys in this game? I guess not. It's certainly a lot more progressive than D&D will ever be in that respect.

Dragons Bestiary: Just one creature this month, the reptilian gaund, another Ed Greenwood creation. Another one of those creatures with a quite extensive set of abilities, weaknesses and ecological stuff that far outstrips the stuff in the actual books.

This Here's Tyranosarus Tex: A scenario for boot hill that pits the characters against a recently freed carnivorous dinosaur. Er, ok then. A pretty cheesy bit of crossover. Can people not play these games without introducing supernatural (well, technically not, but you know what I mean) elements. Fantasy is not the be all and end all of roleplaying.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
This Here's Tyranosarus Tex: A scenario for boot hill that pits the characters against a recently freed carnivorous dinosaur. Er, ok then. A pretty cheesy bit of crossover. Can people not play these games without introducing supernatural (well, technically not, but you know what I mean) elements. Fantasy is not the be all and end all of roleplaying.
You must have hated the rules for converting between D&D and Boot Hill/Gamma World in the DMG :).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 46: February 1981

Part 3/4

How to ease the boot hill identity crisis: Another one of those random generation tables to find out what your characters job is/was. Didn't they already have one of these for the game? Eh, doesn't matter. There's always room for more random tables.

The temple of poseidon: This month's module. Looks like leaving them in the middle, rather than interrupting the page count is the new standard for these things. I preferred the previous way, but oh well, its not a huge problem. This is a heavily lovecraft inspired work, with lots of water related stuff to deal with, designed for a large high level party (they recommend the team has at least 70 total levels between them.) So don't expect stopping the devil priests from unleashing the ancient monstrosity ythog-nthtei to be easy. But then again, you'd get more XP for letting him get unleashed then killing him, than stopping them before that point. What a dilemma for an ambitious group of adventurers.

Reviews: World of greyhawk. The long awaited new D&D book gets a pretty substantial bit of promotion, with two different reviews devoted to it. Both are fairly satisfied with it, apart from a few quibbles, such as map inaccuracies, an accusation of anthropological insensitivity, and lack of information on the gods. And it is still only 32 pages, not really enough to go into more than a few paragraphs of detail on each country. But I guess it still has a lot more setting stuff than the original Greyhawk supplement from 6 years ago. D&D's gradual steps towards a proper shared setting continue, even if they are still well behind Runequest and Tekumel. They'll get there in the end.
The complete book of wargames attempts to provide a newbie friendly introduction into the principles and tropes of the genre, along with an introductory game.
The nine doctrines of darkness,Temple to athena and Mountain of Mystery are a trio of system free RPG adventures by Dimension Six, designed to be adapted to whatever game you might be playing. Which of course means they don't have to bother developing their own system or liscencing fees. Seems like stuff like that was more common back then. I guess not so many people were willing to take on the challenge of designing their own system.

Giants in the earth is no longer Moldvay and Schick's private twinkfest, and is now accepting submissions from freelancers. Maybe new entries'll be a little less overpowered and more faithfull to the D&D rules. But I'm not going to bet on it.

Sage advice: If a wizard shapechanges into a dragon, does his breath weapon do damage equal to his own current hit points.( Yes, and he doesn't get any more hp either. )
Why can druids wear leather armor. You have to kill animals to make it. ( animals kill and eat each other normally. Druids can do the same True neutral + respect for nature =/= namby pamby ecopacifists. )
Do you get experienced points for doing something you were geased/quested to do. (yes. Being forced to do it does not stop you from learning normally from the experience. )
What happens if turned undead can't escape you? (they cower in the corner, as far away as they can get. )
Who can have 18% strength? (only fighters, and not girls. Because boys are stronger than girls, so ner. )
Does a luck blade give you a bonus to attack rolls? (not nececarily. The luck bonus is to your saving throws, and that's independent of any enhancement bonus to hit and damage it may have. )
What happens if you put a bag of holding into another one. ( It probably shouldn't work properly, otherwise it would be horribly breakable. Not sure how to enforce that yet. (they obviously have yet to think of the rule that multiple nested extradimensional spaces cause a rip that sends all the contents to the astral plane. ))
The Quasit entry says they can be cleric's familiars. How do clerics get familiars? (ask their deity extra nicely. Do we have to give rules for everything?)
Do paladins and rangers need to pray to a special patron god to get their spells?(No, they can devote themselves to any god of an alignment that fits their class restrictions. )
What does vorpal mean? (nothing, really. It was a bit of nonsense from a poem. But in D&D it just means really really sharp. Mmm, severed heads. Pike 'em and roast 'em and put an apple in their mouth and serve 'em up for dinner. Its nutritious and delicious and you have good odds of being cursed to become a vampire when you die. Hey, immortality. A plan with no drawbacks.)
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 46: February 1981

Part 4/4

Simulation Corner: A look back at last year from a wargamers perspective. The recent trend towards microgames seems to be ebbing. There was quite a large number of civil war based games, for some reason. Sci fi and fantasy continue their gradual takeover of the market. West end games failed to release anything new this year, which can't be good for them. One of those cool historical perspective articles that helps me see what things were like back then.

Pinsom: May I just say WTF? Oh, they're Elves. Certainly an interesting artistic take on them. Reminds me of the Raccoons cartoon. (Run with us. We've got everything you need. Run with us, we are free. Great, now I've got that song stuck in my head.) Which is no bad thing, once the shock faded. How will this little story progress in future issues? I look forward to seeing.

The electric eye: An assessment of the current top companies in the market, Radio shack, Apple, and Commodore, and their respective products, plus honorable mentions for Atari and APF. As this gives me a good idea of how much power computers had then, and how expensive they were, this is another neat historical footnote that I rather enjoyed reading.

Jasmine's plot thickens. Another stereotypical female character type is introduced, that of the witch queen who'll do anything to remain young and beautiful looking forever. Fineous and Wormy are not present.

Slightly more interesting than last issue, with several interesting new developments and historical footnotes. Still quite a few dull moments, but not enough to ruin the whole thing. They're still covering a wide range of topics for many different systems and styles of play.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 47: March 1981

part 1/4

80 pages. Once again, the D&D setting takes several steps forward this issue, with both planar and torillian stuff featured within. We also get another complete game, plenty of different topics covered. Oh, and a particularly blatant bit of cheesecake on the front cover. You might want to put some chaps on luv. Those scales'll chafe your legs something fierce if you ride at any speed. And you don't want to back up onto those spines.

In this issue:

Dragon rumbles: The editing stuff from issues 43 & 45 gets another followup, with bit of mock bickering between Robert Plamodon and Kim Mohan about Kim's savage editing job. Highly amusing and rather meta stuff. He does have a point though, that by doing things like this, Kim is setting himself up as a frontline performer who everyone reading knows about in his own right, rather than just a backstage worker who helps the writers shine brighter. (did I ever tell you you're my heeeero. Oh god, another song stuck in my head.) Still, If it gets him a better paid job and more chicks at cons, I guess it's a good strategy. ;)

Out on a limb: A letter expressing outrage at the Gm who doesn't let his players buy the magazine, telling him to go kiss an otyugh.
A letter praising Gary for encouraging people to play monsters intelligently.
A letter complaining about several flaws in some recent reviews.
A letter encouraging the retirement of high level characters so you can start again with something new.
Another letter complaining about GM's running horrifically overpowered games in their area, encouraging people to boycott games like that.
A letter complaining about the Top Secret stats of various fictional characters in issue 44, quibbling about perceived inaccuracies. Yawn.
A reply from the author of said article to the quibbling on it from last issue. Whch is amusing.
And a letter defending the Professor Ludlow Module from the roasting it recieved a couple of months ago, saying it was a nice change of pace from standard gaming, and a good roleplaying challenge.

Take the AD&D exam: A big questionaire on the AD&D rules, to see how good your mastery of their finer details is. Which of course involves some stupid and somewhat subjective questions, as many of the puzzles have more than one solution. FWIW, I got 43 out of 50. Which isn't bad, particularly as I don't own AD&D 1st ed, and was working off my memory of BECMI and 2nd edition.

Elemental ideas for elemental adventuring: Like GitE last month, they've decided to accept stuff from freelancers on the nature of the planes. Which hey, means dilution of concept. Lets hope they keep editorial control over this stuff, otherwise there's going to be lots of articles that have inconsistencies with one another. The first article seems to promote a slightly more hostile view of the elemental planes than Len's, making them all innately harmful to creatures from the prime material and each other, and being far more restrictive on elemental spells from elsewhere. It does, however, include some cool ideas on the nature of the native flora and fauna of the planes, and how they will interact with adventurers. The second article doesn't actually have much to do with planar travel, but is actually about the probablity of finding someone with astral scanning and time taken, given the size of the area scanned. Which involves some mildly complex mathematical formulae. Neither are particularly brilliant, overall.
 
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