• 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

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The strategic review 3: Autumn 1975

Still only 8 pages long, but the typeface is smaller. We kick off with an editorial blasting an unfavourable reviewer and his flawed reviews, and asking the readers to send in reviews of his new games in return. We get a lovely mix of high-handedness and petty vindictiveness as Gary asks the enraged letter senders to put their money where their mouth is, while feigning impartiality himself. Yeah, this is all very familiar from the internet. Goes to show, people haven't really changed. This issue feels a lot more commercial than the last two, with more adverts, and an explicit focus on stuff for their shiny new supplements, and making you aware of them. We also see the first joke submissions here, starting the long tradition of poking fun at gamer stereotypes. Again, these have changed surprisingly little with the passing of time.

Stuff within:

9 monsters, all of which have survived to the modern day, including those soon to be classic annoyances the shrieker and piercer, and nagas, which are also recogniseably similar to their modern form. There is a definite emphasis on tricksy stuff, camouflage, aging, attacks from above, ethereality and other annoying stuff the players have to think about to counter.

Joke monsters based on gamer stereotypes as mentioned above, plus the mess they are wont to make, and hippys. Jokes about narrative combat abound. Could such a thing become reality. I think we know the answer to that.

The battle of the ebro river. More really primitive line art.

The Conan line of miniatures becomes the Sword and Sorcery line, as they learn about brand name stuff. (although this is not the last time they make that mistake, as the cthulhu stuff in deities and demigods showed. )

Stuff on the history of gunslinging for boot hill. Fanning is declaimed as flashy stuff that's not effective in a real combat. And we get a reminder from real life how dangerous the life of an adventurer would actually be. And a case of designer hubris, saying they would never have made Boot Hill if they listened to surveys, but they made it anyway, because they are their own market and know what they like. Um, yeah. Again, hindsight shows how that one turns out.

Our first case of joke poetry. Names involving geographic features and animals are so easy to parody. How they took it seriously 20 years later in W:tA I'll never know.

Fluff and a random generation table for deserted cities of mars, which is pretty cool.

Percentile dice sets are now available separately. I note that they don't have 10 sided dice yet, and instead use 20 siders numbered twice when they have too. I guess it'll take white wolf and their exclusive use of 10 siders to really make those non platonic interlopers take off.
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
I don't have the issue or the CD, but with only 8 pages I imagine there wasn't much room. Be interesting to hear if the fluff balloons once the page count goes up.
As I recall, and my recollections could be off here, but we don't get much of what we'd call fluff today in the early editions. Even MAR "Tekumel" Barker's a bit light on the fluff, but I do remember some neat articles from him on his campaigns.

And then this guy named Greenwood shows up, with his cute stories about plying a cross-dimensional traveler named Elminster with Jack Daniels in exchange for tales of lost magic and heroes, and everything changes...

- Brian
 

howard david ingham

We Don't Go Back
Validated User
My first one was in the late 120s, I think, and I read on and off until about 220 or so. I remember some cracking Halloween issues and around the 160s the first appearance of the Scout class, which I remember taking straight to heart.

Still, reading this thread with interest.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
The strategic review 4: Winter 1975

Up to 12 pages now, and they open saying SR is moving from quarterly to bi-monthly next issue. The price also undergoes a 50% increase from 50 to 75 cents (shocking, shocking I say!) Yeah, they really are expanding fast. They talk about new employees, and there's quite a bit about gencon. The snark of last issue is followed up on, with them apologising that no-one has sent in any reviews. As these are expanding so fast, I doubt I'll be able to keep commenting on everything within each issue for long. We shall see.

We see that they are now getting lots of submissions. Which I guess means they can afford to pick and choose what actually gets published. And also that people apart from the core designers will start to diversify the tone and focus of the game. Which, as we know will have results both good and bad over the years.

Stuff in this issue:

More stuff on polearms. Gary really liked them, didn't he.

A case of someone trying to make oriental weapons nastier than their western equivalents. And this time the editors stop them. Hey, thats refreshing. :D How long can they keep the orientophiles at bay?

More impenetrable tables for Panzer Warfare, and errata for Tractics. I really must do some research on these old wargames so I can comment critically on them.

Illusionists! Yes, its the first more power by restricting their scope class. (as contrasted with rangers, which are fighters+, only with behavioural restrictions. ) Still only 13 levels long with 5th level spells the highest covered. ( was that the standard coverage limit in OD&D?) They manage to fit a list of 40 spells, 25 of which are new, onto a single page. Overall, I think they are probably better balanced than rangers were, but don't have as much flavour.

The first D&D comic. By a Marc Miller (I assume not that one, but I cant be certain) apparently. Pretty basic trope joke, if a dated one (who bothers spiking doors open these days?)

A name and pronunciation guide for tekumel. This is some seriously detailed stuff, with quite a bit of setting and personal history in with the tables. Definately a lot more setting depth and intricacy there than there was in early D&D, and its interesting to see them covering games by other creators.

Clay golems! IOUN STONES! (squee) With personal permission from Jack Vance himself. So already proper published authors were becoming aware of D&D.

A profile of "DOC" Holiday for boot hill. Pretty cool stuff that gives you a nice feel for the topic in a single page.

Supplement II Blackmoor now out. Still a slow progression compared to the several titles per month of their heyday, but the D&D train is definitely building speed. I also noted a little caption simply saying "the dragon is coming!" Looks like they had already realized the limitations of their current format, and were planning for its replacement.
 

brianm

Registered User
Validated User
It's amazing to see the close relationship that seemed to develop between TSR and fantasy authors way back then. It fades later, into the '80s and seems to vanish during the '90s. But Paizo kinda brought that back, getting authors like Robert Jordan to write articles for Dragon.

- Brian
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
IOUN STONES! (squee) With personal permission from Jack Vance himself. So already proper published authors were becoming aware of D&D.
I haven't read all the Vance stories, but didn't IOUN (not the later Ioun) stones primarily absorb magic? They also seemed to be tied to Morreion's memories. Any mention why the D&D adaptation is different?

I also noted a little caption simply saying "the dragon is coming!" Looks like they had already realized the limitations of their current format, and were planning for its replacement.
Easy to spot in hindsight, but sounds like it would be easy to miss in 1975.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
I haven't read all the Vance stories, but didn't IOUN (not the later Ioun) stones primarily absorb magic? They also seemed to be tied to Morreion's memories. Any mention why the D&D adaptation is different?
Nope. They do have the spell absorbing ones. They must have just gone hmm, this isn't enough to fill an article, what other cool things should these be able to do; and then thought up a bunch of variants. You've got to invent your own fluff.
 
Top Bottom