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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
[Junta needs more instability: The game of corrupt african dictators looting their country and brining it to ruin (my, how topical. Another thing that's changed depressingly little in 30 years) gets a load of houserules from Glenn Rahman, in an attempt to make things more dynamic.
It's got more of a South American feel to it than an African feel in my view, but it's a boardgame that's held up surprisingly well over the decades.

It's worth playing once or twice just for the experience -- and to witness the ritual shelling of the presidential palace that is the traditional start to every coup.

(my favourite part of the game was always one of the event cards -- 'Students Present Petition Denouncing Repression -- No Effect')

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
In the DMG, all the other races had souls that went into their respective afterlife after death while elves had spirits that reincarnated. You had to use a resurrection spell to bring one of them back (and the Rod of Resurrection used a crazy amount of charges to jump-start an elf).
Does that mean if you used it after too long, bringing them back would result in a baby elf somewhere suddenly dying or turning into a creepy spiritless zombie? Hmm. I think we have another plot hook.
It's worth playing once or twice just for the experience -- and to witness the ritual shelling of the presidential palace that is the traditional start to every coup.
If you don't take all your stuff, they will. ;)
(my favourite part of the game was always one of the event cards -- 'Students Present Petition Denouncing Repression -- No Effect')
:D
 
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spades1013

Screamingly sentient
The D&D adventure continues. Meet auric, the fighter, Tirra, the elf, and Khellek, the wizard. No cleric or thief? This group is doomed. Well, they are fighting hoards (sic) of creatures, so I guess their enemies they aren't as mobile as they should be.
Another Easter egg used recently. These same adventurers were used as the "rival group" in the first installment of Age of Worms (Dungeon #124, page 50).
 

OldSkoolGeek

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Dragon Issue 39: July 1980

Antipaladins! Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (cough, wheeze, hack) Ahem. Yes folks, one of our oft-mooted annoyances finally gets (semi)official rules. And heavens to betsy, they're pretty solid ruleswise, if a little overpowered, and entirely recognisable as the inspiration to 3e Blackguards in the specifics of their special abilities. Hell, their 5th level title is Blackguard ;) Of course they are not recommended as PC's, because they refuse to accept anyone as their equal (under pain of losing their powers), so if they're not in charge of the party, they'll spend the whole time scheming to backstab whoever is and get in charge. Which may not be good for group dynamics.
One of the reasons why buying Best of the Dragon #2 was one of the best investments ever.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 54: October 1981

Part 1/4

84 pages. So its another october. However, this time they've mostly skipped the horror theme for business as usual. Several other significant things take place in this issue, however. Read on and discover, my friends.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A letter supporting their decision to do artist profiles and asking people to not expect every article to please them, as they are covering a pretty wide range of stuff.
A letter criticizing issue 52, saying it had hardly anything of use to him. Contrasting opinions as ever.
A letter asking for more articles on medieval weaponry. Don't get them started. Do we really need to hear about the dozens of different kinds of polearms again in exquisite detail?
A long and detailed rant on the lack of realism in the modules they've been publishing, criticizing the fact that they seem to be designed entirely to create a challenge to adventurers and could never exist as a functioning location with a proper ecology. Oh man, you're opening a can of worms here. A battle that will wage throughout the decades, and consume many in its throes. One of the most fiercely fought fronts of the war of gamism vs simulationism. One that still wages to his day. Which side will you join?
A letter criticizing them for not publishing their so called regular articles regularly enough, as they frequently skip months. They respond by saying if things were too regular, they'd get bored. And they don't want that.

Down-to-earth divinity: Well hello again, Mr Greenwood. What have we here? The very first mention of Elminster the sage in these hallowed pages? The second mention of the forgotten realms by name, and the details of the Torilian pantheon. (who are mostly as they have remained, deaths, usurpations, and metaplot silliness aside, but also includes several extra guys from preexisting sources, such as Aslan (yeah, there's no way that's going to make it into the official books) at this point.) This is a very significant article indeed in historical terms, revealing tons of stuff about the current state of the D&D multiverse as a whole, and Eds own world (drow are legendary and virtually unknown on the surface world in the Realms? Ahahahahaha. Robert Salvadore has a lot to answer for. ) It's also pretty good on its own merits, offering you solid advice on how to create a pantheon for your own game. Portfolios, racial demographics, relationships with other deities. You've got to consider this stuff. Ed obviously has, and that's why his world managed the depth it has.

Ruins: The midpoint between dungeoneering and wilderness adventuring, ruined cities provide a rich seam of places to explore (and loot) in their own right. But you do need to design them quite differently from dungeons. This article contains an extensive list of the things and monsters you're most likely to find there. With a few random tables, of course. While technically system free, it is heavily tied into D&D's implied setting, with sages, assassins, and wizards towers. Still, seems like it should be usefull.

These are the Breaks: Weapon breakage rules. Another thing that'll mostly irritate your players if you introduce it. Will you hurt yourself? Will it fly off and hit another PC. Oddly enough, it's got no chance of hurting a member of the other side, which seems a little weird. Combined with the probabilities. (4% chance of something going horribly wrong every single attack) I really don't think this is very well designed, and would make combat altogether too farcical. Do you really want the benny hill theme music to be the most appropriate scene setter to your dramatic battles?
 

OldSkoolGeek

Registered User
Validated User
Dragon Issue 44: December 1980

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
This alone would have made me a lifelong gamer if I'd read the article back in the day.
 

OldSkoolGeek

Registered User
Validated User
Yes. Don put up the money for the very first printing.

He also called a spade a spade rather than a small, square tipped shovel used for gardening.

Things would have been MUCH different if Don had lived ten years longer.
If you don't mind, how so? (Alternate history fascinates me.)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 54: October 1981

Part 2/4

Larger than Life: This month's near pantheon is the righteous robbers of Liang shan po. Led by sung chiang, the 36 stars of heaven, and the 72 stars of earth, 5 of which are fully statted up; they seem occupy a similar place to robin hood and his men, only with more wuxia special powers. A little less overpowered than last issue, they still all have several stats at 18 each. Facing them would be a serious challenge for even the most powerful party.

Sage advice is the only column giving a token nod to the usual october horror theme.
If a golem is decapitated, is it still functional (oh yes. It can even breathe on you. Be very afraid)
How exactly do you become a lich ( there are plenty of variants on the process. You don't have to use Len's version. Larva are not neccecarily essential. )
What undead are harmed by sunlight (vampires are the only ones destroyed by it. Others are just weakened by it, and avoid it where possible. )
Can detect evil detect a polymorphed demon. (evil things still show up as evil, no matter what shape they use. ) You need other spells to hide or disguise your spiritual nature.
Are asmodeus' rod or geryon's horn artifacts? How many charges do they have? (no, they aren't. The usual number, but they can recharge them, so if you don't take them down in one encounter, you're in the shit.
Can magic resistance be reduced to a negative number if your level is high enough. If so what effects would that have? (No. Zero is as low as you can go.)
How do you kill a vampire with wooden stakes? Can you kill them without them? (through the heart, you dolt. Have you learned nothing from pop culture. That or sunlight. Conventional weapons will not stop them for good. And no, you can't create holy water inside another creatures body. )
Do undead breathe? (no)
Can paladins and high level monks get lycanthropy (yes. Magical diseases can overpower magical resistances. )
Do iron/silver weapons damage demons/devils even when they need pluses to hit them (yes. It's a special vulnerability. Take advantage of it, because you'll need it with all the powers they have. )
(when someone with a strength bonus attacks a skeleton with a piercing weapon, do they add their strength(yes, but before the halving takes place)
Are fiends immune to sleep and charm (most of them aren't technically, but your odds of actually getting through their resistances are pretty slim)
What happens when a succubus drains an energy level (same thing that happens when undead drain an energy level. Kiss goodbye to all that experience, those spells, those hit points. )

Giants in the earth: What?! Oookay, looks like they haven't replaced giants in the earth, but supplemented it. Which means double the dose of overpowered mythological and fictional characters this month. Man, this is irritating. Anyway, this months characters are E.R. Eddison's four lords of demonland, and Ursula LeGuin's Gaveral Rocannon.
 

lionrampant

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Validated User
These are the Breaks: Weapon breakage rules. Another thing that'll mostly irritate your players if you introduce it. Will you hurt yourself? Will it fly off and hit another PC. Oddly enough, it's got no chance of hurting a member of the other side, which seems a little weird. Combined with the probabilities. (4% chance of something going horribly wrong every single attack) I really don't think this is very well designed, and would make combat altogether too farcical. Do you really want the benny hill theme music to be the most appropriate scene setter to your dramatic battles?
I have this from one of the "Best of Dragon" compilations. It could be fun when used sparingly, but I agree that you wouldn't want to use it all the time. Best use is when dealing with a lot of creatures with low-quality weapons (kobolds, goblins, etc.), and play it for laughs.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 54: October 1981

Part 3/4

Dragons's bestiary: Boggarts (are missing their name at the top, so you have to read the description to figure it out. Probably another prank on their part) are the usual malicious faerie types. Not particularly dangerous in combat, but a pain in the ass to catch up too and hit.
Stroan are weird insect thingies with several interesting special powers. Another thing with an extensive amount of ecology, and even religion, they seem a prime subject for developing further. Shame that never happened.
Incubi are another monster that should be completely obvious, and are just an excuse to give us succubi with slightly higher combat stats. Demons are not an equal rights society. :rolleyes:

Beware the Jabberwock: Ha. D&D stats for this particular fictional monster. Which obviously requires a bit of extrapolation by the developer. And as ever, once you've given something stats, it seems a good deal less scary (apart from hecatoncheires) and wondrous. The designer seems unsure if he should be explaining the surreality of the original source, or exploiting it. And as a result, it fails to enthrall.

Thieves guild designers notes: The creators of the system and magazine talk about their intents for the system and plans for future products. Loose leaf books that you reassemble yourself? Another experiment that will pass into history unlamented. Another bit of interesting historical perspective here.

The dragon's augury: Thieves guild also gets reviewed here. Focussed around, well, the class that you would expect, and scenarios for them, it is both more and less complex than D&D in various ways. I suppose it might not be as focussed as some modern indie games, but it's certainly a step down that path.
Barbarian prince is a solo adventure game in which you reclaim your kingdom. It offers rather more freedom of choice than most pick your path games, and offers a rather more badass protagonist. The reviewer seems to rather like it.

Cavern quest is this months module, a 14 page solo tournament adventure. And it is a horrible railroad, in which you can't help taking damage, it's just a matter of how much. I suppose when there's no GM, you can't manage the same freedom of choice.

Fiction: Abomination, by D. Aaron Achen. A great story of the healing of a corrupted swamp, from the point of view of the sentient patch of land. Some great imagery here, and a real sense of atmosphere and dynamic tension, as you're never sure who you should be supporting. I really like this one.
 
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