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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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owe for the flesh

Servitor of LOLth
Someone asked earlier in the thread if Dixie from What's New was based on anyone in particular. The answer is no, she was originally just an amalgamation of characteristics that Foglio found attractive. Then, he said, "When I met someone with those traits (and those measurements), I married her." (paraphrased) Later on he started basing the character more on his wife, Kaja, to the point of changing her from a redhead to a blonde during the Duelist years. Kaja Foglio talks about all this stuff in the What's New? collections from Studio Foglio.
 

owe for the flesh

Servitor of LOLth
Someone asked earlier in the thread if Dixie from What's New was based on anyone in particular. The answer is no, she was originally just an amalgamation of characteristics that Foglio found attractive. Then, he said (paraphrased) , "When I met someone with those traits (and those measurements), I married her." Later on he started basing the character more on his wife, Kaja, to the point of changing her from a redhead to a blonde during the Duelist years. Kaja Foglio talks about all this stuff in the What's New? collections from Studio Foglio.
 

lionrampant

Registered User
Validated User
Looking back, I'm not that impressed. But the Point of View articles were very good for their time.
I have Best of Dragon vol. III, which collects all of the Point of View articles that they did. While I didn't use everything in those articles, I cribbed a lot of it for my own games. I highly approve.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Someone asked earlier in the thread if Dixie from What's New was based on anyone in particular. The answer is no, she was originally just an amalgamation of characteristics that Foglio found attractive. Then, he said (paraphrased) , "When I met someone with those traits (and those measurements), I married her." Later on he started basing the character more on his wife, Kaja, to the point of changing her from a redhead to a blonde during the Duelist years. Kaja Foglio talks about all this stuff in the What's New? collections from Studio Foglio.
If I met someone who had a character who looked just like me, and then they tried to seduce me, I would be seriously wierded out. :confused: Anyway, thanks for the info.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 58: February 1982

Part 3/4


The gods of the dwarves: Ahh. Now this is a bit of canon that sticks for ages. Clangeddin, Dumathoin, Vergadain, Berronar, Abbathor! (unite and form!) The rest of the dwarven pantheon. Plus minor dwarven deities, and a new monster connected with them. Nice. If they keep this up for all the other races, 1982 is going to be a very big year in terms of building D&D's setting up. And we'll get to see tons of it first right here in the magazine. This makes me very happy.

Fiction: In the bag by John Holmes. Boinger's back! Boingers Back! So lame I had to exclaim it twice. What's he up to this time? Having fun with a bag of holding. Some very creative application of D&D rules quirks here that I quite approve of. Wouldn't be surprised if this was another converted actual play, as it feels very much like a D&D adventure.

Spellminders: This months special feature. A nice little set of cut-out playing aids. When you cast a spell, just flip it over. Saves you scribbling on your sheet every time. Plus, by putting them in piles and picking them out, you can generate spell lists for NPC's quickly. But they are rather easy to lose. I guess that's not a problem for me though, as I can just print more.

Aiming for realism in archery: Oh, not this one again. Yes, the D&D to hit probabilities and weapon ranges aren't realistic. Will it help to introduce new longer ranges if you have to measure the chances to hit with d% and completely rejig the combat system. Frankly, at that point, you're better off writing your own system. You're never going to be satisfied with D&D's rules.

Bowmanship made more meaningfull: More of this as well? This is focussed on strength limits. A topic only Homer could make interesting. It seems like the original crowd of writers who knew D&D wasn't supposed to be realistic are getting crowded out by annoying newcomers. This is the problem with having to fill 80+ pages every month. Anyone with decent writing skills and persistence can get in.

Slicing into a sharp topic: An article on the history of swords to go with the one on shields last issue. And like that, it's pretty comprehensive, going from BC to the modern day, with plenty of details on how their construction evolved. But no bibliography this time. Oh well. It's still more interesting than the last two weaponry articles.

Being a bad knight: Glenn Rahman turns his eyes upon Knights of Camelot. Maybe you don't want to join the ranks of the round table. Maybe you want to play one of the dastards who laughs at honour and chivalry, and instead loots and kidnaps. This of course isn't supported by the current rules, so you need a new scoring system and victory conditions. This completely changes the game in a way that looks like fun, particularly if some players are good guys, and others aren't.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 58: February 1982

Part 4/4

Anything but human: Can you guess what this is? Yup, it's a second set of charts for generating alien creatures in Traveller. Like the last one, this results in a wide selection of different body shapes, limb configurations, senses, and various special abilities. Which means in terms of actual power, races rolled will vary considerably, and many will need serious help fitting in on a spaceship. Just hope you get shapeshifting, because that covers up a multitude of problems ;) Pretty much what I expected.

The dragons augury: Griffin mountain is a huge runequest supplement with tons of adventure ideas and setting detail contained within. Clearly written and well integrated, it's pretty handy, overall.
Star patrol is another sci-fi RPG. (there do seem to have been rather more of them around those days. ) It fails to be particularly standout, with several noticable flaws in the rules.
Trillion credit squadron is a traveller supplement that has rather a larger scale than most of their adventures. It provides rules for being at the head of your own muthafucking star navy! Plus mass combat rules, and more prosaic large scale details such as supply line stuff, taxation, maintenance and upkeep costs. Essentially, it's the traveler equivalent of the D&D Companion set domain management stuff. Which is something I strongly approve of.
Beyond and Vanguard Reaches are two more traveller supplements. Seems like traveller is getting more products than D&D is at this point. It's certainly getting more reviews. What went wrong?

Off the shelf has lots of short reviews this issue: The pride of chanur by C.J.Cherryh sees her back and firing on all cylinders.
Guardsman of Gor by John Norman is, er, no better or worse than any of the other books in the series. You'll like it or you won't, and the reviewer definitely doesn't.
The death of a legend by Robert Adams is another book in the Horseclan series. Once again the reviewer seems pretty fond of his output.
The dark between the stars by Poul Anderson is a compilation of his short stories. Full of shocks and twists, it gets plenty of praise.
Whispers III (edited) by Stuard David Schiff is a compliation of the best stories from the magazine. Like the last 2 editions, it has a pretty good selection to choose from, so quality is not an issue.
Fantasy annual IV by Terry Carr is another compilation of various writer's work, from both the high, and horrific side of the fantasy genre.
Scarlet Dream by C.L Moore is another compilation. Focussing on Her Northwood Smith stories, it takes what she considers to be the 10 best ones, and gives them some illustrations.

What's new tackles Love in D&D (but is saving sex in D&D until next month) for valentines day. Wormy picks up a plot thread that's lain dormant for quite a while.

Looks like we're starting another significant phase in the development of the D&D game. The official staff members are putting much more emphasis on building up a proper setting for everyone to play in, taking the sketchy descriptions in the rulebooks and giving them full-on motivations and histories, plus serious thoughts on their physiology and ecology. They've also realised that the AD&D corebooks they put so much effort into a couple of years ago aren't complete, there are plenty of things that the rules still need. I expect in a few years and supplements time, the game will have a quite different flavour if this goes on. 2nd edition's changes didn't come out of nowhere, and I expect we'll see many of them foreshadowed in the magazine quite some time before they go into common use.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 59: March 1982

part 1/4

84 pages Another traveller heavy issue here, with a new adventure and more articles and reviews. It is easily taking second place in terms of coverage at the moment. Was this reflected in it's general sales at that point?

In this issue:

Out on a limb: Another letter on the overpowered characters debate. While not overly in favor of that kind of ridiculous twinkery, the sender does think that getting XP for being hit isn't such a bad idea. After all, you learn as much from failure as success in real life.
A letter rebutting Brian Blume's soapbox piece about the undesirability of evil. Go you. We can't leave stupid statements like that unchallenged.
A letter in favour of weapon specialization. Proficiency shouldn't just be a binary thing.
A letter saying that dragon isn't overpriced for what it delivers. Have you compared the page count to cost ratio with actual modules and stuff?
Another letter asking for reprints, preferably in themed anthology form, collecting say, monsters, NPC's new classes, optional rules, etc in groups. They say they might consider that if there seems to be enough demand.

From the sorcerors scroll: Cantrips! Gary introduces 0th level spells to the game. These are exceedingly useful little effects, very open to creative use. Which is symptomatic of how powerful even 1st level spells can be, compared to magic of literature, but there you go. Another cool thing that would have a strong influence on later editions, making low level wizards more than just one shot and they're empty spellcasters. He also includes a new spell, Advanced illusion, and a new magic item, the philosophers stone, as they have been referenced in the fiend folio, but not printed yet. Man, this game really was stuck together randomly in some ways. An article that is both enjoyable, usefull, and influential. You can't have much better than that as a lead in.

Giants in the earth: This month's rather highly statted characters are Poul Anderson's Sir Roger de Tourneville, L Sprague de Camp's Harold Shea, Alexei Panshin's Anthony Villiers and Torve the Trog; and Clifford D Simak's Mark Cornwall and Sniveley. That's quite a large turnout.

Gypsies! Looks like someone was separating them from normal humans and giving them a whole slew of special powers long before the world of darkness did. (well, D&D had an entire campaign setting revolving around the buggers, I guess.) Fortunately, their powers here are vague enough that you can't make them into a PC race without a bit more work. Which just makes me sigh. If you're going to be tasteless, you could at least do so with a little discipline and consistency. Like the nazi's ;) I do not approve.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 59: March 1982

part 2/4

Dragon's bestiary: The bleeder, a bloodsucking beholder variant that would make it into future monster manuals, gets introduced here. Frankly, most players would rather face this that a real beholder, as 10 straight attacks are far less dangerous than a host of instakills and subverters.
Stymphalian birds are another greek mythical monster. Vicious, with flight, hideous stench and disease spreading effects, they're the kind of creature that'll continue to be a problem even if you kill them.
Spriggans are odious little gnomes which can enlarge themselves. Another monster that makes into future official books, they are probably derrived from the same mythological source as duergar. Anyway, they make both nasty combatants and good tricksters, so watch your stuff around them.

The great kingdom and the knights of doom: Rob Kuntz gives us more official Greyhawk setting stuff. The demonic Knights of Dooooooom!, elite servants of Irvid (sic) the undying. Beware. The state has been taken over by evil of the worst sort. Anyone speaking out is a traitor. and must be eliminated, post-haste. Send help, urgently. No chance. There have to be evil states, otherwise what would the PC's have to kill? This is another plot thread that's going to developed further in the future. Are the demons and undead really neccecary though? Humans are quite capable of being complete bastards on their own.

Skitterbugging: Fiction by Gene O'Neill about a group of planetary surveyers. Aka those who go boldly where no-one has gone before, exploring new worlds, cataloguing new forms of life, etc. A rich seam of plots for adventurers, in other words. You never know what challenges you'll face each time. And they can be pretty weird, as in this case. They then put traveller stats for the characters and creatures in the story. A pretty good setup really. I quite enjoyed this one.

Exonidas spaceport: This month's module is a 16 page traveller one. This is less an adventure than a setting, giving you a location, and populating it with NPC's, but leaving it up to the GM to put an actual adventure in. Which is a bit annoying if you're used to using fully ready to go dungeons, but I suppose its another example of how they're trying to present different types of adventure. Whether it becomes just a slightly better fleshed out stop off point on route to somewhere else, or a new home base depends on your GM.

The halfling point of view: Part two of our demi-human series. Halflings at this point are pretty similar to the original Tolkien hobbits, with three subraces, and a strong love of security and comfort. Adventurers are very much a minority amongst them, but as they are tougher than they seem, they're hardly unsuccessful. Very little is added to their characterization by this article. I'm not very impressed.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 59: March 1982

part 3/4

The gods of the halflings: Halfling gods have never been as interesting as the dwarven ones. Blame Roger Moore for being short of ideas. Or blame the original source for not having as much depth and variety as the many myths of dwarves. Anyway, Sheela Peroyal, Arvoreen, Cyrollalee and Brandobaris all get their first airing here. One big happy family, even if some of them do wander off once in a while. Pass the pillow and wake me up when dinner's ready. There's no danger here.

The toxins of Cerilion: Larry DiTillio takes a leaf from Ed Greenwood's book, and gives us stuff on what he's done in his own world. By giving poisons descriptions, onset times, and more inventive effects, things get a lot more interesting than just save or die, and players have a chance to recognize them by description without having to roll some kind of knowledge check. Which is good, because there aren't any in 1st edition. ;) This is a pretty useful and entertaining article,

Make monsters, not monstrosities: From one regular writer to another. Lew Pulsipher gives us another article on ecology. Monsters ought to make sense in light of the rest of the world. So here's another basic primer on concepts such as the food chain, reproductive rates, and designing creatures powers to suit their tactics. And he does a pretty good job of it, not sticking too closely to real world stuff, and recognizing there are tons of fun different ways the ecology could work when magic is brought into the equation. Plus an adorable new monster, the starkhorn. Whosa tubby little telekinetic bloodsucker then. A pretty good article all round.

Figuratively speaking's photo's are rather larger this month, which is nice. We have a griffon, a paladin, a monk, some spies, warriors and wizards. Business as usual then.

The dragon's augury: Starfire III is another game in a returning franchise (if you want to look them up, starfire 1 was reviewed in issue 29, while starfire 2 was reviewed in issue 47, ) It builds upon the previous two to allow you to handle larger matters of economics and political maneuvering. This makes for quite an extended, open-ended game, which can go on for a long time, as you discover new worlds, face new challenges and deal with other players. Are you prepared to put that time and effort in?
Demonlord is a wargame of magic and conquest. It gets high praise for the quality of it's visuals, and generally seems fairly good.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Make monsters, not monstrosities: From one regular writer to another. Lew Pulsipher gives us another article on ecology. Monsters ought to make sense in light of the rest of the world. So here's another basic primer on concepts such as the food chain, reproductive rates, and designing creatures powers to suit their tactics. And he does a pretty good job of it, not sticking too closely to real world stuff, and recognizing there are tons of fun different ways the ecology could work when magic is brought into the equation. Plus an adorable new monster, the starkhorn. Whosa tubby little telekinetic bloodsucker then. A pretty good article all round.
This is one of my top 3 favorite articles. The example made me think of critter creation in ways I have never done before and I still read it every few months to the ideas fresh.
 
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