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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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flashman

Registered User
Validated User
Looks like I popped into this thread just at the right time! My issue #59 just came in from Noble Knight Games. I've been meaning to pick this up as it is one of those memorable issues from my youth that I really enjoyed. Particularly for the Exonides Space Port. I checked it out at Gen Con but it was $17, and I knew Noble Knight had it for only $3.50.

Anyway, looked through it and it was just as good as I remember. It also had the first article on Cantrips, which I had forgotten about. I really like all the old advertisements, though.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 59: March 1982

part 4/4

Off the shelf: The best of Randall Garrett, edited by Robert Silverberg, is another compilation that does exactly what it says on the tin. 12 stories, each introduced by another famous author who likes his work (including issac asimov and philip jose farmer), should give you a good idea if you like him or not.
Fuzzy bones by William Tuning is a continuation of H. Beam Piper's fuzzy series. Posthumous pastiches can go oh so very wrong, but this one seems to be respectful and interesting enough to please this reviewer.
The essential guide to home computers by Frank Herbet (yeah, that one) is a how too guide on buying, setting up, and starting to program them. He predicts that by the end of the decade, virtually everyone will have one. Pretty visionary, really.
In iron years by Gordon Dickinson is a compliation of short stories from throughout his career. While individualy entertaining, they don't seem to have any particular common setting or theme. This keeps it from being a brilliant collection.
The art of Leo and Diane Dillon is given a full page colour spread of art from the book. Not just a load of pretty pictures, it also includes a history of the artists, and plenty of behind the scenes details on how they were made. It gets pretty high praise for this.

What's new is the only comic present this month, and is focussing on mini's. And I don't think we want those in our sex in D&D, do we. Dragonmirth is also rather small. What's up with that?

Another fascinating issue full of stuff that would make it into future books. There is a slight caveat in that an increasing amount of the articles are being done by house staff rather than freelancers. But I guess that's the way you maintain theme and editorial consistency. It's easier to work with people you know and can contact easily than strangers.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 60: April 1982

Part 1/4

87 pages. They did dwarves and halflings, now elves get their turn at having a special all about them. Surprised they weren't first really. Anyway, they have several other treats for us. It's april, and that means another april fools mini-issue. Plus we're served with another complete game. Amazing just how much they fit into these things. However will I get through it all? Same way I get through every issue. One page at a time.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: We start with a rather long and impassioned letter from Lew Pulsipher that was originally intended as an appendix to last issues article. In it, he rebutts the statement (from issue 54) that pelins are useless for a campaign. Damn well right. Just because they don't fit in a dungeon, does not make them useless as monsters. They have all manner of uses another generic humanoid can't compete with.
A letter from Gary sneering at recent attempts to make archery more "realistic", as that stuff does not improve the game's actual fun quotient.
A letter from Roger Moore pointing out a bunch of errors in recent issues.
A letter complaining about the publishing of multiple monsters with the same name, and repeating fictional characters with different stat's, as this prevents players from knowing what they're dealing with. Silly person. Players shouldn't know the stats and motivations of every monster anyway. That way lies excessive gamism and rules lawyering.

The elven point of view: Ahh, D&D's longest lived PC race. How they contrast with the second longest lived one. The usual tropes such as seeming aloof and whimsical because they are aware of impermanence of other things, connection to nature, magical skill, you know the drill. I have no desire to regurgitate it again.

The gods of the elves: Say hello to the rest of the seldarine. One of the largest and most complex nonhuman pantheons. Hanali Celanil, Aedrie Faenya, Erevan Ilesere, Labelas Enorath, Solonor Thelandria. All have pretty well defined portfolios beyond simply being elven, and showcase the wide range of concepts and associations the race can accomodate. They're as strong as I remember them being.

Sage advice continues its own contributions to the themed series.
What spells are considered charm spells? (spells with charm in their name, plus bards power of the same name, plus magic items with the same effects.)
Why are elven thieves always children?(That's errata. We've fixed it in later printings of the DMG)
Is Shield cumulative with mundane armour, or do you take the best.(you take the best of the two. You can't get AC-5 that easily)
If I'm reincarnated, can I keep my current class abilities. (Not if they're illegal for the new race.)
 

T. Foster

Retired User
Issue #60 is one that still stands out in my memory as being particularly strong (#63, coming up soon in your survey, is another). These last few reviews have been bringing back a flood of positive memories :)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 60: April 1982

Part 2/4

The half-elven point of view: Half-elves get a (rather half-assed) personality of their own. Given that they're more varied than even humans, due to their split heritage, this is rather a pointless task. Notable, however, at this point is the emphasis on half-elves as thieves, (what was with giving them unlimited advancement in this class?) and the floating of the concept of quarter, eighth and more diluted elven bloodlines. But Roger can't be bothered to write those up at this time. This article feels like wasted potential in general. They could have given half-elves a much stronger identity.

From the sorcerors scroll: Gary continues his extensive list of cantrips from last issue. He manages to finish off the list of wizard ones, but its still not over. Illusionists will get their turn next month. And then will we be seeing clerics get orisons, or is that a 3rd ed thing only? I guess we'll find out soon enough. As amusing as the last article.

Firearms: Ed Greenwood gives us more conversions of modern stuff to D&D rules, plus a history of firearms throughout the ages. Guns may be more powerful than swords and stuff, but for a long time they were rather unreliable. If you enforce that, It should keep things from getting out of hand. Plus it makes wizards less crucial to a party, when other people can supply the artillery. I think ed managed to strike the right balance here on an often tricky subject to integrate into the game.

Fiction: Wearwolf by David Rosenberg. A very funny little short story that sets up the premise of a world where loup-garouesque animal suits are commercially available, introduces a twist, and then knocks it down again, all within 2 pages. Quite the classic.

A quiz about the nature of D&D science. This takes the D&D rules and assumes that apart from that, real world physics applies. Amusing resultant effects happen. Actually, they aren't very amusing, because they're generally pretty dull. This is not a world of cinematics, it's a world where meticulous resource management is rewarded. Do we really want that? I certainly don't.
 

Valfader

Heavy metal hippie
Validated User
If I recall, AD&D 2nd had Orisons for clerics. However, it was like the first level wizard spell 'cantrip' in that it could make a host of very minor stuff.
 

Blizzardborn

Hiding in a snowdrift
Validated User
Pretty much. But it was very useful for lots of little 1hp healing to stop Sword of Wounding effects, stabilization and all the other little interesting bits. I remember one time the cleric used a light version to have that oh so romantic two candlelight dinner with a lady bard...
 

Ceti

of the Polepack (retired)
Validated User
It's funny how they took two very special relationships from LotR and changed them into a race they couldn't decide what to do with. Though Half-Elves always had a special place in my heart.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 60: April 1982

Part 3/4

Gaming magazine: This years april fool is presented as a generic alternative to Dragon. It's rather more sensible than the previous couple, with most of the content still useful for a game despite its flavour. No filking, either. Maybe next year.

Flight of the boodles: Another complete little game. While humorous in its visuals, this is a perfectly playable little game for one or two players. Yet another fun thing to try out if I get the chance.

The jester: Oh dear god no. Not another version of this class. Be very very afraid, because these ones are statistically legal, and really rather scary. I guess they have to be to survive, given the suboptimal tactics they have to use. Use one as the big bad if you want your players to enjoy beating them way too much.

Darmuids last jest: Heard the saying I died laughing. Well, now you can make it happen, with this optional special bard power. Not recommended for use in actual play.

Midgets in the earth: Ha. This month's generic parody characters, not based on real people or tv shows at all, no siree bob; are Idi Snitmin the kobold commando, Eubeen Hadd the halfling thief guildmaster, and Morc the orc. These guys are far less twinked than their serious offerings, which I find very ironic. Idi in particular is a good example of how even kobolds can be pretty terrifying if they have the right equipment and tactics. We'll be seeing that topic again several times, only taken seriously.

Artist of the month: Phil Foglio gets fulsome praise from Kim. Which is then immediately undermined. ;) Nice to see they can still poke fun at their own reputations.

Dragon's bestiary: More cartoon creatures to give your players nightmares. The green giant, (who could be absolutely horrifying if played straight) Donald duck, Taz, Marvin the Martian, Baseball Bugbears, and the dreaded Werebeaver (with Wally) Most are just about statistically usable, as long as you can stand the things your players'll throw at you for inflicting them upon their characters.

Outfitting the new agent: Back to the serious stuff. Or is it? I can't be sure with Gary's writing. This could almost be a parody of the standard questions list you ask about your character, such as eye colour, hair, date of birth, etc. It is rather dry. This is the kind of stuff people should do automatically if they like roleplaying. And if they just play to kill stuff, they don't need to go to all the effort of thinking up details like this. Meh.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 60: April 1982

Part 4/4

The trojan war: Glenn Rahman gives us a slew of variants for his new game. He is a busy bunny lately. More flexibility is often a good thing, and this is as well thought out as most of his offerings.

Pooka: Oh god. Speaking of bunnies. Not another unkillable pain in the ass trickster monster. If you're gonna give us these, you could at least stat them out fairly, not make them more powerful than most gods. And they bring time travel into it as well, which is also a massive pain in games. Make it go away.

Figuratively speaking gives us three dragons, plus a set of elementals, Orcs, lizard men, dwarves, and buildings. Nothing scores below 5 as usual, but they are generous enough to give out one 9 this month.

A view of the nine philosophies: Is it that time again? Yes, it is. What time is it? It's chico:bang!: You die now! :sound of record player being smashed, crickets chirping:
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah. It's alignment debate time. This is the one that delineates the Good-evil axis as the moral one, and the law-chaos one as the ethical one. Which I guess is fairly significant. This is a fairly non controversial article as they go. It's most controversial point is probably that specific laws are not neccacarily Lawful, (and indeed, a badly designed legal system can actively result in a chaotic society) and breaking external laws is therefore not neccacarily chaotic. It also subscribes more toward the neutral as balance seeking rather than neutral as disinterest in moral matters or self-interest. But it does not view alignment as a straightjacket, and actively promotes the idea that most people are not going to perfectly fit into one. It's a measurement of the sum of their actions, not a set of sides people actively choose. I don't have a problem with this.

The dragon's augury: Spawn of fashan! Oh boy, this is a doozy of a review that I remember seeing reprinted elsewhere. The reviewer winds up concluding that this game is a diliberate parody of RPG's, as that's the only way it could make any sense. Reading the actual play is far more fun than actually trying to play the game. Comedy gold, if not in the same league as F.A.T.A.L. (but then again, Darren's review would eat up a whole issue. I don't think they'd allow that.)

Wormy once again goes off on a completely insane tangent. What's new summons cthulhu. Dragonmirth is missing, but not missed as they have more than enough jokes in the rest of the magazine, thank you very much.

A slightly understated issue compared to some april fools ones. But it does have some genuinely funny stuff, such as the fiction and the review. Plus more official stuff that would continue to be used in many books to come. It's certainly not a bad one for the period.
 
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