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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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andreww

Soul sucking Lawyer
Validated User
Leomund's tiny hut: This month, len gives us rules for playing 0th level characters, and the training they need to go through to reach 1st level. In multiple stages, covering every special ability, each of which requires months of training. For when playing 1st level characters trudging through the mud and facing goblins in dank little moldy caves isn't disempowering enough for you. A far cry from the later BD&D approach (as soon as an 0th level hireling earns an experience point, they get to choose a class straight away) I don't disapprove of this as much as I thought I would, as it is pretty well done. But I still wouldn't want to play in a game that includes this stuff for more than a one-shot. 1st level characters are more than weak enough for my tastes.
I rather like this given how many recent arguments have raged about 1/2/3e 1st level characters being fresh off the farm.

Edit: For those interested I also seem to recall a similar set of rules in the old Greyhawk Adventures hardback.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
I rather like this given how many recent arguments have raged about 1/2/3e 1st level characters being fresh off the farm.

Edit: For those interested I also seem to recall a similar set of rules in the old Greyhawk Adventures hardback.
Given how often the writers used Dragon as a testing ground for new ideas, I wouldn't be surprised if they were the same ones, or at least from the same source.

Of course, the difference between an 0th level character and a first level fighter is a lot less than a 1st level ranger or assasin. It'd take quite a bit longer under these rules to get into those classes. Which makes sense in a way, because they are a good deal less "fresh off the farm". But then, If they really wanted to make that clear, they should have set level 1 requiring a certain amount of XP, like MERP/rolemaster.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 52: August 1981

Part 2/4

Sage advice is back again, after 3 months off, and is joining in on the cleric theme. Exactly who is responsible for answering the questions is no longer clear, however.
How many spells should starting clerics know and where do they learn them from (clerics can automatically access any spell on their list that they are of a high enough level to cast, unless they piss off their god. )
If you attack a monster you turned, can it fight back? (yes)
Can a cleric appeal again in a day if their god does not grant their request the first time (yes, but it's not a good idea. Do not take your deities generosity for granted for a smiting often offends. )
How much area is covered in darkness by the reverse of the light spells (the same as for the normal version)
How long does the paralyzation caused by a glyph of warding last (Godammnit. Did the writer for get to put a duration for this stuff again? We recommend 1-6 turns)
Can good clerics cast cause wounds and evil ones cast cure (yes, on both counts)
Do morally neutral clerics turn or command undead? (Depends on the deity. Use your common sense. )
Since elves and half-orcs have no souls, does that mean they are immune to the reversed forms of the raising spells which kill you instantly (No. One form of a reversible effect not applying does not mean the other does not as well. Quite the opposite in fact, in most cases.)
What happens when you attempt to resurrect an undead creature? (it'll work if it has a body present to raise and died within your time limit, but you need to touch it, and suffer the concequences of doing so before the spell takes effect. Depending on how it became undead, it may still be pissed off at you once raised, or of dubious sanity if it was undead for quite a while.)
If a spawning undead under your control creates a spawn, is that spawn also automatically under your control (No. Beware the chain of command, because it can get out of control very easily as you add more links to it. )
What level does a cleric have to be to become a saint (becoming a saint is a level independent process that is entirely up to the GM's adjudication. We don't want to give rules for everything. )

Basic D&D points of view: John Holmes and Tom Moldvay talk about the new basic set, (yay!) and how it has improved on both OD&D, and the first edition of the basic set. Making it clearer for people who've never roleplayed before, and don't have someone else to explain the game to them is of paramount importance. The plethora of random tables and advice on how to use them make it easy for both players and DM's to start playing quickly, with no experience of the game. The new module, the keep on the borderlands, is a massive improvement on the previous one. But the dice still suck. Horrible little blue things with no marking of the numbers to make them easier to read. And beware the d4. You don't want to tread on that baby. Very interesting because it reveals that John, like so many people grappled with infravision and alignments, what exactly they mean, and how they should be applied. If even he had problems, then maybe the new edition's designers were right in stripping these right back. Still, they didn't seem to stop this edition becoming the biggest selling one ever, and I certainly had no problems understanding the concepts at the age of 8, so they must have been doing a lot more right than they did wrong.

Leomund's tiny hut: This month, we get lots of stuff for greyhawk, with Gary's official seal of approval. Random tables for determining birthplace and languages spoken are more interesting than they first appear, as they also give secondary details such as the most common alignments in these various countries, and the appearances of people from various regions. This is important, because it reveals that the humans of oerth have ethnic groupings not found on earth. (brown skinned redheads, gold and bright yellow (as opposed to RL oriental colouring) skinned people, coppery and bronzed tones, amber coloured eyes.) Which is something I rather approve of, as it's an easy way to make the world more fantastic without having to alter thing's stats. I wonder if they'll remember to portray them like that in future art?

The undercover job guide: A little Top Secret article expanding on good jobs for undercover agents to get, and how much you can expect to get paid for them given your skill level in the appropriate abilities. Obviously, this stuff is well out of date now, due to inflation, but it seems like a good time saver if you want to add a little more depth to your character without doing all the research yourself.
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
Dragon Issue 51: July 1981
In defense of computers: Man traveller computers really do look anachronistic these days. And it looks like even back in the day, people were picking holes in what their reasonable capabilities should be. And this article tries to defend this. And does a reasonable job, given what they knew at the time. In hindsight though, this is pretty laughable. Reality has simply moved on too much.
I think there was an article in Different Worlds at about the same time that covered the same ground.

At the time, it really bothered me that Traveller computers were underpowered, even compared to the TRS-80 model 1 ;-) But there's another way of looking at it.

Just think of Traveller as being set in a universe where Moore's Law turned out not to apply. Computers are built out of valves and transistors and little magnetic rings on a web of fine wires (for memory).

And it works fine.

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 

fonkaygarry

I Want This Only
Basic D&D points of view: John Holmes and Tom Moldvay talk about the new basic set, (yay!) and how it has improved on both OD&D, and the first edition of the basic set.
Compare this to the deafening silence that met the new supersized box sets TSR put out ten years later. I don't mean to jump ahead a decade on you, but it seems to me that big, flashy basic D&D releases were the machine that got young kids playing and their parents buying and it might have helped the TSR of 1991 if they had met a new wave of D&D players with something other than freelancer essays about psionicists and those impenetrable Princess Ark travelogues.

Contrast that hands-off approach with the "Kids! Kids! Kids!" angle that GW took in the 90s, and I think you have a hell of a paper on your hands.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 52: August 1981

Part 3/4

Another artist profile is this months centrefold. Boris Vallejo. And he is...... certainly under no illusions as to the level of his abilities and achievements. Once again we see that attaining fame isn't just about talent, but also a willingness to both work your ass off, and not being ashamed to negotiate prices and sell yourself successfully. And yet like many workaholics, he still sees himself as lazy, and has not forgotten his insecurities from when he was poor and skinny. Which as ever, is pretty interesting to me.

Giants in the earth: This month's munchkins are shakespeare's Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban (who is represented as a half-orc. Hmm. What does that remind me of?) and Greek Myth's Circe.

Cavern of the sub-train: Oooh. Looks like we have a second big feature this month. This is a gamma world module, another case of taking a perfectly ordinary 20th century invention and making it into a mysterious adventure for the mutants of the future to deal with. A pretty short scenario that can be used as a throwaway, or expanded into a whole series of adventures as the characters explore the underground tunnels and find things lurking beneath in various places.

Dragon's bestiary: This months monsters are the rhaumbusun, rocky lizards with a paralyzing gaze, possibly related to basilisks, and pelins, which are essentially organic zeppelins, and therefore inherently utterly awesome, especially once you factor in the ecological stuff which tries to put a logical slant on how such a creature could exist (ha). Any player with any imagination would want to capture a baby one and train it. Another creature I'd really like to put in a game.

The history of siege warfare: A system free historical article (is it just me, or have they been doing less of those lately) Nothing particularly special here.

Following the request for a bounty hunter, they have been inundated by submissions. So they present us with three of the best of them (immediately catching them up with alchemists, samurai and witches in number of versions :D ) so you can choose which one(s) to allow into your game. Number 1 (Hi Scott. :waves: ) is probably somewhat overpowered, with powers drawn from the assassin, thief and ranger lists at pretty good levels. Only the fact that it is limited to 13th level, and the highest one is restricted to a single master bounty hunter that you have to kill to take the job of, druid stylee, keeps it from getting too out of hand. Number 2 is basically a ranger plus a bit and minus a bit, which is mainly useful if you want to skip the supernatural powers, fluff and restrictions of the standard ranger, and just play an outdoors huntery type. Number 3 is probably my favourite, as it has the greatest number of unique abilities, rather than just recycling preexisting powers in a new combination, and has more focus on the social sleuthing and subdual side of their job than the other two. All are pretty well written, and I'd probably allow them in my game, apart possibly from the 1st one if I wanted a more serious game. (there can be only one style classes have their place, and that is not for when I'm trying to be realistic. )

Up on a soapbox: Another Lew Pulsipher article, as he talks about the problem of fixing mistakes in your game, particularly when it comes to rulings that have proved to be bad for the game, and magical items and abilities that have unbalanced a character relative to the rest of the group. How do you keep this from spoiling the game, and sort out the problem without creating resentment in the player who got the shiny overpowered toys? He reccomends admitting you made a mistake, and not trying to fix a metagame issue by in game vendettas. Open talking about problems is the way to solve them.
Also on the soapbox this month is Tom Armstrong, giving us another reminder that players will read the rulebooks, even the ones they aren't supposed to, so you shouldn't hesitate to create new monsters and items, or alter existing ones. Never let the rules lawyers take over your game, and turn it into a mere tactical exercise. As ever, they probably put the better article first.

Minarian legends: The southern city-states get their day in the sun. Defined by a cycle of conquest, spoiled offspring, descent into decadence, and subsequent fall, the deserts and savannas offer their own distinctive spin on the dramas of fantasy history. Can they secure a lasting place on the world stage, for a change. The answer, as ever, is in your hands.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Compare this to the deafening silence that met the new supersized box sets TSR put out ten years later. I don't mean to jump ahead a decade on you, but it seems to me that big, flashy basic D&D releases were the machine that got young kids playing and their parents buying and it might have helped the TSR of 1991 if they had met a new wave of D&D players with something other than freelancer essays about psionicists and those impenetrable Princess Ark travelogues.

Contrast that hands-off approach with the "Kids! Kids! Kids!" angle that GW took in the 90s, and I think you have a hell of a paper on your hands.
That's the problem with catering to your existing audience. There comes a point where if you keep on developing the mythology, it will inevitably become inaccesable to newcomers. But if you always keep things at entry level, people get bored and outgrow playing the game anyway. And reboots just annoy everyone, with no guarantee of finding a new audience to replace the old one. It's a tricky compromise.

I remember when I got my first issue, thinking whoa, there's a lot of stuff here to find out about. How am I ever going to manage that? And I guess it's only now, 17 years later that I am. :cool:

Heresy!

I loved the Princess Ark stuff as a kid and am greatly looking forward to when you get to them.

Of course you may destroy my childhood illusions as well.
Don't worry. I loved them as well. It was great to see things from the expert set that were just names on a map and maybe a single sentence get full descriptions, with the dry wit of seasoned adventurers facing ridiculous situations in full force. Unless they've aged much worse than I remember, that shouldn't be a problem.
 
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GestaltBennie

Cycle Fish Messenger Boy
Validated User
Ah, the bounty hunter. That was my first ever pro sale, and it showed. Fortunately, my writing got a lot better.

This is a wonderful thread. Keep up the good work.
 
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