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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 55: November 1981

part 2/4

Robin hood and his merry men get statted up. Not under the Giants in the earth or the Larger than life banner, curiously enough. I wonder if that means we'll be getting three helpings of twinked-out NPC's this month? That would be rather excessive, and not pleasing at all.

The coming of the sword: Niall's 9th (and final) story in the magazine is a prequel, telling the tale of how he acquired his signature sword. Which means no dubious demon goddess to tell him what to do, and no army to help him out when things go south. Instead, he falls in with an also pretty dubious mage-queen, ands goes adventuring in search of her ancient abandoned kingdom. Is this commentary on his personality or a persistent psychological quirk of the author behind him? Either way, it's fairly amusing.

The creature of rhyl: This month's mini-module is our first that is explicitly for basic D&D rather than AD&D. Not that it makes that much difference really. This is a rather odd module, in that the dungeon complex is largely abandoned, yet there are tons of magical items hidden around the place. This means that as long as they can survive (or avoid) the rather tough final encounter, this is a good place for low level characters to power up. It'll definitely be a change of pace compared to the caves of chaos. But if more dungeons were like this the game would get dull very quickly.

The electric eye: Another really short article from mark this month, as he gives the answers to last months quiz. So short, in fact, that I have nothing else to say on the matter.

Martian metals' advert is upside down (ie, the right way up) this month. Blame Tim Kask for that, as they say in the advert itself.

The many ways of getting away: Yes, you can't win every fight. So sometimes, even the best adventurers have to retreat, if they want to live to advance another level. This article is mainly a list of the various magical items that increase your mobility, and their varying optimality in aiding your escape attempts. Will you run, fly, climb, swim, teleport, or even go extraplanar? Best to have as many options as possible, because you know some monsters'll be able to bypass each of those methods. And remember, a party is only as fast as its slowest member, unless you don't mind leaving them behind to be eaten. A fairly well thought out article, that properly considers the range of special abilities available to D&D characters. Not much use for other games though, considering how tied to D&D physics its calculations are.

Filling in skills: Someone has noticed how glacial the rate of advancement in play is in traveller, and how rigid the career system is. And discontented with the situation, they set out to fix it. So he steals and adapts the check rules from BRP to create a system which allows for a decent advancement rate, but gets harder the higher your current skill is. He also discusses going from one service to another, and which ones make logical sense to be combined. A pretty good article that I would probably allow in a game, as it seems to open up quite a lot of options to the game, and fixes a serious problem in the original design.
 

OldSkoolGeek

Registered User
Validated User
And I never realized until he pointed it out that the lava children look a bit like Alfred E. Neuman. That makes their childish, perpetually smiling faces even creepier.
Considering their specific immunity "What, me worry?" is very apt.
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
Filling in skills: Someone has noticed how glacial the rate of advancement in play is in traveller, and how rigid the career system is. And discontented with the situation, they set out to fix it. So he steals and adapts the check rules from BRP to create a system which allows for a decent advancement rate, but gets harder the higher your current skill is. He also discusses going from one service to another, and which ones make logical sense to be combined. A pretty good article that I would probably allow in a game, as it seems to open up quite a lot of options to the game, and fixes a serious problem in the original design.
Although I think many a Traveller grognard would argue that this is a feature of Traveller, rather than a bug; ie, the characters are mature adults who have done all the advancing they are going to do, unless they spend years retraining through formal courses.

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 55: November 1981

part 3/4

Minarian Legends: This months legends is indeed rather legendary, focusing on the various mysterious ruins scattered throughout minaria. Dare you go to the altars of greystaff and invoke forbidden magics there? Or summon the ghost troops from the lost city of Khos. Or brave the curses of the tombs of olde to get the treasures within. A bit of a grab bag of short articles, this goes several more steps towards establishing just how full a setting minaria is. It certainly seems to cover all the fantasy bases.

Dragon's bestiary: Devil spiders are another monster that is not actually from another plane, but are still pretty damn annoying. Still, at least they don't have an instadeath bite. That would ruin the fun of trying to rescue your companions from their web traps.
Surchur are tentacle headed monsters. Thankfully, all their tentacles are resolved as a single hit, rather than getting 8 separate attacks like certain monsters (yes, you, carrion crawlers) so they shouldn't be too much trouble for a well equipped party to deal with.
Dyll are bloodsucking swarms of flying leeches. I'm sure they'd get on great with pirahna bats. Use your area effect attacks to take them down, because they sure do come in large swarms. Swatting them will not work well.
Poltergeists are the ghost of gnomes coming back from Limbo to cause chaos. Ok, that's one way to tie them into the D&D cosmology a bit more. It won't stick, though.

Simulation corner turns its eye on the concept of State of the Art again. Should this be used to define the current limits, or the present standard? This gets bogged down in niggling. As is often the case in these extended series, it seems to be sagging in the middle. You could have cut this out and we wouldn't have missed it. We don't need more pontification about the non linear method of advancement in technologies based upon subjective judgements.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 55: November 1981

part 4/4

The Dragon's Augury: Universe is a new sci-fi roleplaying game. While not bad, it is probably too complex, and not rich enough in setting to supplant traveller.
Third reich gets a third edition. Rather a bigger change this time around than the switch from 1st to 2nd. Covering both small scale tactics and large scale strategy and logistics, it covers the entire flow of WWII without forcing games to all go the way of the real history. With clearer writing and heavily reworked airial combat, the reviewer seems to think that most of the changes are good ones.
Kim also turns his eye to a bunch of general gaming accessories. Spellbinders are designed for storage of your character sheets and stuff. Magne=Melee is a magnetic grid marker system. (I don't really think they explain this properly. I'd have to see this to properly make sense of this. ) Dragonbone is an electronic random die roller, that seems to be pretty reliable. And finally, we have an official AD&D paint set, composed of 54 official AD&D colours, so you can paint your monsters in exactly the same hues that the designers intended. Er, right. Thanks for that, I guess. (Way to restrain our creativity.)

Figuratively speaking: Dragons, doors, a manticore. spaceships, aliens and gorillasaurs. This is what's on show this month, in the column on miniatoures. (ow, that's a terrible rhyme.)

Da letter: A comic strip by Larry Elmore, in the same style he would later use for Snarfquest. Is he going to get properly paid? Or will he get what he deserves? Don't expect to see, because this is just a one-shot. You'll have to wait a little longer for something to replace Fineous Fingers to show up.

Wormy, What's new and the rest of dragonmirth are present. Once again, Sex and D&D is postponed. Don't try and fight a mini's battle on a waterbed, because leaks will ruin your game.

My, what a wholesome looking family that is advertising the Dungeon! boardgame. :) I bet they sit down together and eat a proper roast dinner every sunday.

A very easy to get through issue, with a low ratio of duff articles. (normally, I wind up spending loads of time trying to finish the dullest few articles in an issue. Not this time, thankfully.) The D&D supplement mill has had another classic book added to its list, although they certainly don't seem to think so at the time. Hindsight is a funny thing. Can they top this for their christmas issue? Lets see.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 56: December 1981

part 1/4

84 pages. Phil and Dixie make it onto the cover this issue, in another amusing christmas themed cover. Growf. Apart from that, it's curiously low on festivity this year, with no page expansion, and only a couple of remotely connected articles. Actually, they've been a bit sloppy about their event celebrations in general this year. I guess they think we'll get bored if they cover the same topics every year. Still, it's not as if they're actually short on stuff. Lets see what we have got instead of griping about what we haven't.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A pretty short letters section this issue. We start with two contrasting letters as often, one approving the changes made to the monk in issue 53, and the other disapproving, saying the changes were unneccecary.
A letter saying Dragon is over priced, and they ought to split it into a D&D magazine and a non D&D magazine. Yeah, that'd make them more money :rolleyes:
A letter engaging in minor quibbles about Lew Pulspher's article on heraldry in issue 53.

Singing a new tune: Looks like this month it's bards turn to get a good looking over. This article essentially presents a new bard class, without the weird class switching baggage. The author eschews thieving abilities in exchange for illusionist magic, and adds a whole bunch of other little tweaks that he hopes will make the class a better designed one. I'd be quite interested in testing if he succeeded. It certainly seems pretty well written and thought out. It may well be overpowered, though.

Sage advice is also concentrating on bard rules this month, as they seem to like joining in with the issues theme.
Can rangers, paladins or assassins become bards (No. When we say fighter then thief, we mean fighter, then thief. No other combinations. Not the other way round, no diversions.)
Are fighters who intend to become bards limited in their choice of armour (not yet)
Do bards suffer a penalty to thieving abilities when using armour and weapons thieves can't? (Nope. Isn't that cool.)
Can bards use weapons they were allowed to by previous classes, but not as bards (No. Druidic shit forbids it. You wanna keep your spells, stick to your new restrictions. Plan your weapon proficiency selection ahead so you don't waste any. )
How can a bard have 8th level fighting skills as it says in page 181 of the DMG. (if they read that magical manual that increases your fighter level after they switched classes, thus getting round the normal limits. That, and NPC's don't have to abide by the rules PC's do. If your DM wants to make a bard who is also a 27th level half dwarf half githyanki fighter, he is entirely within his rights to do so, so ner. )
Do fighters who dual class keep their exceptional strength.(No. They don't have time to work out enough to keep it anymore. Or something. :waves hand: I can't even be bothered to rationalize this one.)
What are the maximum fighter and thief levels for bards (this is clearly in the books, you morons)
What level do bards cast spells at (= to their level)
Do bards get shapeshifting (Why yes! And all the other druidic special powers at the appropriate level too. How many people remember that? Which is odd given how scary druid special powers are. )
Which is right, the bard class in the best of the dragon, or the one from the players handbook, as they're so different. ( The one from TBOTD was originaly from SR6, more than 3 years before AD&D was published. The new one is the right one, although you could use the old version in a BD&D game if you like. )
 

T. Foster

Retired User
Aha! We've finally reached the point where I owned almost every one of these issues BITD (not to the point where I was buying them new yet -- that's still a couple years away -- but I was able to pick up pretty much everything from issue 50 on second-hand). IMO the next 2 years worth of issues (1982-83, issues 57-80) were the absolute apogee of the magazine. I wonder if your cold non-nostalgia-tinged eyes will agree...
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
IMO the next 2 years worth of issues (1982-83, issues 57-80) were the absolute apogee of the magazine. I wonder if your cold non-nostalgia-tinged eyes will agree...
And the apex of the apogee is right in the middle: 68 & 69. I think I used every article in one way or another.
 
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