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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
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.
It may be short, but it is the only GW adventure ever published in Dragon. And it is much better than some of the drek they released as modules.

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).
Not only is the critter cool, it is fun to read the whining in the future issues about how it isn't something to kill and steal from.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
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.
And that makes two former Dragon-contributers that have posted in this thread. Wonder how many there will be by the end? :)
 

GestaltBennie

Cycle Fish Messenger Boy
Validated User
And that makes two former Dragon-contributers that have posted in this thread. Wonder how many there will be by the end? :)
Probably a few. Ex-Dragonites are scattered over the landscape like paint blotches on an abstract artist's canvas. :)
 

fonkaygarry

I Want This Only
It's a tricky compromise.
And one I think no company will ever solve to satisfaction. GW plans around the churn of their endless reboots; WotC does it once a decade or so and manages to create a new generation of grognards every time; Palladium froze its stuff in amber and I doubt I've ever heard six words about them from anyone under thirty.

tl;dr: I guess if it were easy, everyone would do it right. :(

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 in full force. Unless they've aged much worse than I remember, that shouldn't be a problem.
Now I see why I'm of such a different mind than you and andreww. I never had an Expert set map for context; I was running off of the giant box set with the dragon on the cover. They gave us Zanzer's dungeon and expected us to procure a Rules Cyclopedia after Christmas, when no parent even wants to hear the word "present".

More than that, though, they were giving me stuff I had no idea how to use. I was all of nine years old the first time I started leafing through this stuff; I needed "Here's how you build a dungeon," not " Now I recount the courtly orders of the first Earl of Rift, father of the free peoples of the Six Rivers."
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 52: August 1981

Part 4/4

Simulation corner: They start an extended series on game design this month, talking about the process you go through to get from that first idea to a finished product. Mostly a checklist of common sense stuff that is applicable to nearly any creative project, this is the kind of thing that is really rather helpful, and often gets forgot about. Creating virtually anything is going to involve more perspiration than inspiration, and while you might not be able to control the inspiration part, you can definitely set things up so you accomplish more for your effort with good organizational thinking.

Figuratively speaking: Lots of big minis (oh, the irony) this month. Giants, huge birds with riders, an ogre, a spider, a beholder, a dragon, and a castle. The pics are actually legible this time as well, which is nice.

The dragon's augury: As they're seriously starting to split the reviews up into various categories now, I guess I shall have to start calling this by its given name, to prevent confusion.
BRP gets its first release as a generic system, separate from Runequest. In only 16 pages, it gives a complete basic system, plus (and here's the important part) it presents it in a clear, friendly fashion designed to get complete newcomers to roleplaying going quickly, with examples, and advice on how to find more players and other peripheral stuff. Another great example of how much lower the bar for entry to the hobby was then. It's no wonder far more people were trying it without any help from current gamers at that point.
Timewarp is a sci-fi wargame who's primary distinctive point is a strong attempt to model the time dilation fast sub-light travel results in. With turns 5 years long, it does cover quite an impressive scope in that respect, modeling wars that cover generations with different participants aging at different rates. But unfortunately, apart from that one gimmick, it's not that a great a system, and has limited replay value.
Dungeon tiles do exactly what you'd expect, provides an easy to assemble set of underground geography for your minis to inhabit, for those of you like to keep precise track of where everyone is.

Off the shelf: Another new feature that looks like it's going to be a regular. Fiction books are now given a separate section to be reviewed in from the RPG's, boardgames and suchlike. Which is a nice development.
Dream park is a Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' take on virtual reality games, and therefore has a lot of relevance to roleplayers. Just how far can the line between fantasy and reality be blurred, and how far is a company willing to take these things when large amounts of money is involved.
Dragonslayer, by Wayland Drew manages to add considerably more depth to the characters than the movie did.
Sunfall, by C.J Cherryh is a strong selection of short stories set in the decline of the earth, as resources are exhausted and the sun slowly dies. Which may be a bit depressing, but hey.
Horseclans Odyssey, by Robert Adams, is another postapocalyptic future novel, that is part of a larger series, with lots of well done technical detail and strong characterization (at which point the reviewer takes a snipe at Lin Carter) that leaves the reviewer consistently entertained and wondering what happens next.

Dragonmirth is here, and joining in with the clerical theme. What's new and Wormy are also here. We see our first mention of the long to be delayed sex in D&D issue. (next month, we promise.) Meanwhile, in Wormy, we get a hilarious demonstration of just how stupid goblins are, and how seductive the lure of wargaming is. How much must this strip have shaped people's conception of the various D&D races at the time.

Well, it looks like D&D is back in the majority with a vengance. But they're still putting in plenty of stuff for lovers of other systems as well. And with sex in D&D and Off the Shelf, we get to see two more things that will be significant right down the rest of the run start. Another busy month that took quite a lot of effort to get all the way through. But I think it was worth it. Not long now until D&D really goes critical, now the red box set is unleashed on the market.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
And one I think no company will ever solve to satisfaction. GW plans around the churn of their endless reboots; WotC does it once a decade or so and manages to create a new generation of grognards every time; Palladium froze its stuff in amber and I doubt I've ever heard six words about them from anyone under thirty.
Soap operas seem to manage. There are lots of them that have been going for decades with fairly solid viewerships. I think the key is in killing off old characters and themes about as often as you introduce new ones, but not doing it all in one big go, so things suddenly become unfamiliar. Of course, that's trickier when you only release a new corebook that everyone's expected to buy every 5-10 years, as opposed to giving us a new installment virtually every day.
 

Akkala

Registered User
Validated User
Soap operas seem to manage. There are lots of them that have been going for decades with fairly solid viewerships. I think the key is in killing off old characters and themes about as often as you introduce new ones, but not doing it all in one big go, so things suddenly become unfamiliar. Of course, that's trickier when you only release a new corebook that everyone's expected to buy every 5-10 years, as opposed to giving us a new installment virtually every day.
Soap operas have an advantage in that the actors age, forcing the writers to change the story along with them. Just look at comics. When was the last time a new major comic character was introduced? The newest one I can think of is Wolverine back in the 80s. Heck, its 2008 and Batman is still fighting the Joker. Its no wonder comic readership is down.

I wouldn't mind GW's endless redos if they would acknowledge they are doing it. You can't find any reference to the old rules on their web page and the rulebooks don't even say what version they are. Even the army books don't mention what version they are for which makes it impossible to know if you are buying the most recent, or even legal, version.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Soap operas have an advantage in that the actors age, forcing the writers to change the story along with them. Just look at comics. When was the last time a new major comic character was introduced?
Point. Although I'm sure the soap writers think otherwise. They certainly seem to have no qualms about artificially growing a kid to the age where they can be a part of the drama more quickly by switching actors. And they certainly retard their emotional development when they can in other instances. Maybe we need writers with more willingness to advance the timeline, kill off characters, and have them stay dead so new ones can take centre stage.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 53: September 1981

part 1/4

84 pages The class series continues, with monks getting their turn in the spotlight this month. We also get a particularly iconic bit of cover art, that I remember being reprinted in future books several times, most of the usual suspects, and a new column. Just another busy day at dragon publishing. Onward we go.

In this issue:

Dragon Rumbles: Oookay. We have a rather interesting editorial from Jake here where he goes to some length to distance tabletop roleplaying from LARPing, and especially Steve Jackson's new game KILLER, in the classic "we have no connection to those wierdos, and are do not want to be associated with anything they do" stylee. So much for geek solidarity. And this magazine and LARPing got off to such a nice start. Yes, I know people dressing up and running around in public can be a bit embaressing, but they're no more likely to engage in genuine psychotic stuff than tabletoppers. And they get considerably more girls. So stop kvetching.

Out on a limb: Another letter asking for reprints, which forces kim to make another frustrated lengthy reply as to exactly why this would not be economical or ethical.
A letter complaining about the plethora of new classes being presented as NPC's, not PC classes. They reply that they do this so that the default answer for if they're allowed is no. This is because if PC's are nonstandard classes, they can't be transferred from one campaign to another as easily. Remember, AD&D is a tournament system, so variants must be removable if you're to properly synch with other GM's who don't have access to the same stuff as you. To do otherwise would be high-handed and elitist. Er, ok then. (man what)
A letter from someone who claims not to like the company, yet most of his specific statements about their content are complementary. This confuses the editors as well as me.

He's got a lot to kick about: An extensive article about the flaws of the monk, exactly how and why he is underpowered compared to other character classes, and then setting out to fix this. Hey, power creep! Next thing you know, everyone'll want some. Another example of give them a new power at every level based design, that I'm pretty sure overcompensates, making them too powerful. I am rather dubious about this one.

Defining and realigning the monk: More monk related pontification, this time focusing more on their position in the game world. Particular attention is given to the problem of how they should behave, and the logistics of their upper heirachy, how the upper level monks are supposed to deal with both training new monks, and getting more experience so they can challenge their superiors and move upwards. The author use some decidedly dubious statistics to try and justify how this could work. Which really just proves how full of holes the D&D implied setting was. Its no wonder they got rid of monks in 2nd edition if they were this problematic to deal with.

Sage advice is also answering monk related questions this month.
If my party faces another group of monks, would my monk character have to side with them against my own party. (No. )
How do I make sure a lawful evil monk doesn't cheat when I challenge him for his position? (You don't have too. Even evil monks have to abide by the monks code of honour or lose their abilities. If the GM forgets that, cite this article at him. )
If a monk stops being lawful, does he become a thief (no, he loses all his monk levels, and has to start a new class from scratch. And you thought paladins had it hard. However, that can be any class you qualify for, not just thief)
Can a human fighter become a monk (yes, if they have the ability scores. But remember, humans become dual-classed, demihumans become multiclassed. There is a distinct difference, which we will explain to you once again, because it's obvious from your letters that way too many of you still don't get it.)
If I lose the ability scores neccecary for my class, do I have to abandon it and lose all my abilities from it. (No. And from the sounds of things, your GM is being rather unpleasant and cheaty in the way they implemented this, and may have a vendetta against you or the class in general. Characters should never suffer ability damage from simple standard damaging attacks, as this goes against the abstract hit point system.)
Once I get to 8th level+ do I have to play out all the challenges for higher levels? Will I also have to put up with lower level characters challenging me? (yes, and that's up to the DM, but we strongly reccommend it, as it would be unrealistic if you were the only one moving up the heirachy at that point. This is not a computer game, there should be other people doing stuff in the world at the same time. )
Can monks unarmed attacks hurt creatures that need magical weapons to hit them (no. You'll just have to sit those fights out. Doesn't that suck.)
 
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