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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
Note that in first edition, all races (except half-orcs) had unlimited advancement as thieves. I don't know why that was, maybe because thief was the wimpiest class?
 

T. Foster

Retired User
Note that in first edition, all races (except half-orcs) had unlimited advancement as thieves. I don't know why that was, maybe because thief was the wimpiest class?
Yeah, pretty much. Gygax's stated reason for imposing level limits on demi-humans was that he wanted the game-world to be "humanocentric" where all the real movers and shakers were humans and the demi-humans were effectively shunted off to supporting roles in the big picture. Since high level fighters, clerics, and mages (lords, patriarchs, and wizards) were temporal rulers -- building castles and establishing their own dominions -- who could ultimately influence and shape the entire game-world, he deliberately excluded demi-humans from those roles. But since high level thieves (master thieves) don't have that same kind of impact on the larger world -- a high level thief fills pretty much the same societal role as a low level thief, he's just better at it -- he didn't see as much potential harm in allowing demi-humans into that role, so he allowed it. It was his way of throwing a bone to those players who liked playing demi-human characters while avoiding unintended consequences that would upset the shape of the game-world. Or at least that's the explanation he gave. Whether you agree with it or think it makes any sense is up to you (which is to say YMMV).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Yeah, pretty much. Gygax's stated reason for imposing level limits on demi-humans was that he wanted the game-world to be "humanocentric" where all the real movers and shakers were humans and the demi-humans were effectively shunted off to supporting roles in the big picture. Since high level fighters, clerics, and mages (lords, patriarchs, and wizards) were temporal rulers -- building castles and establishing their own dominions -- who could ultimately influence and shape the entire game-world, he deliberately excluded demi-humans from those roles. But since high level thieves (master thieves) don't have that same kind of impact on the larger world -- a high level thief fills pretty much the same societal role as a low level thief, he's just better at it -- he didn't see as much potential harm in allowing demi-humans into that role, so he allowed it.
Of course, this only works as long as the character stick to their roles. After a certain point, your thief will have better fighting skills and HP than most fighters, so they could disguise themselves as a fighter and "go legit" But then, this was the same era that gave us monopolistic scribe guilds. I'm sure the NPC's have some way of detecting and squashing characters who try and act out of their proscribed class role.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Of course, this only works as long as the character stick to their roles. After a certain point, your thief will have better fighting skills and HP than most fighters, so they could disguise themselves as a fighter and "go legit" But then, this was the same era that gave us monopolistic scribe guilds. I'm sure the NPC's have some way of detecting and squashing characters who try and act out of their proscribed class role.
Didn't really come up. The fixed hit points after name level and the cap on THAC0 meant it took a long, long time for thieves to catch up. Well, maybe if the thief was cousin to Waldorf.
 

GestaltBennie

Cycle Fish Messenger Boy
Validated User
The review of "Spawn of Fashawn" is probably my favorite review in Dragon ever. Some years ago, a co-wroker showed me the actual rules (i'd been looking for them since I read that sample of play) and yeah, Schick was dead on the money.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 61: May 1982

Part 1/4

84 pages

In this issue:

Dragon Rumbles: Oh dear. SPI is in trouble. TSR is buying them out. Jake also comments on the purchase of AMAZING magazine. Looks like they're expanding their properties in more ways than one. But can they make any profit out of these, or will it just be throwing good money after bad? I'm sure we'll get more news on this as it happens.

Out on a limb: A letter on Spellbinders by a rival manufacturer, refuting both their originality and their profitability. Which sucks a little. Not every experiment can be a success.
A letter commenting on Jake's KILLER editorials. Yeah. People ought to try and avoid doing things that give roleplaying a bad name, particularly when they involve bystanders. Avoiding the worried parent brigade is a good idea.
Another letter engaging in archery quibbles, and asking for a full book devoted to weapons and optional weapon rules. Eeek. Well, I suppose it'll make some people happy.
A letter asking all those people who dislike high level play, if the game wasn't intended for it, why did they give rules for it in the first place? What's wrong with playing the game until you become a god?
A letter of generalized praise, apart from a few more stupid archery quibbles.
A letter griping about the new cleric spells len gave us in issue 58, saying that many of them are useless to adventurers. Len quite rightly rebutts this. Not all clerics are adventurers, and even the ones that are won't neccacarily want to memorize all combat spells, all the time. Some players have in-game romances between characters and stuff, y'know, actual roleplaying.

From the sorcerors scroll: Gary moves on to illusionist cantrips. This is considerably shorter than the wizard one, as illusionist spells are more versatile, but less useful in a lot of ways. This is pretty much as you'd expect it to be. I think we've exhausted this avenue of expansion for now.

Giants in the earth: This month's characters with percentile ability scores where they shouldn't be are C.J Cutliffe Hyne's Deucalion, John Norman's Tarl Cabot, and Charles R Saunders' Dossouye. Nothing unusual here either.

Without any weapons: Ha. Someone's unhappy with the way unarmed combat is so much more complex than armed, for less effect. So they're trying to streamline it. But it's still way more complex, especially if you don't precalculate all these modifiers. Most adventurers'll still just go for the kill, even if it might be more advantageous to subdue the enemy. That wasn't much help.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Dragon Rumbles: Oh dear. SPI is in trouble. TSR is buying them out. Jake also comments on the purchase of AMAZING magazine. Looks like they're expanding their properties in more ways than one. But can they make any profit out of these, or will it just be throwing good money after bad? I'm sure we'll get more news on this as it happens.
For a different (and biased) take on the SPI-buyout: SPI Died For Your Sins.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
For a different (and biased) take on the SPI-buyout: SPI Died For Your Sins.
Cool. Yup. For all their claims to impartiality, there is quite a lot that they don't cover in the magazine, due to politics and space. Its good to see some alternate perspectives on what was going on back then.

Of course by the looks of things, that article was writtten right before TSR went belly up themselves. And the writer seems completely unaware that that is in the offing. I find that somewhat amusing. I wonder how things would have been different if WotC had tried the same trick after buying TSR.
 
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g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Cool. Yup. For all their claims to impartiality, there is quite a lot that they don't cover in the magazine, due to politics and space. Its good to see some alternate perspectives on what was going on back then.
There used to be a gossip column in the back of Chaosium's Different World called "A Letter From Gigi" that was great for that sort of thing. Granted it had to be taken with a grain of salt as not all of it was accurate, but it was always full of interesting bits of scuttlebutt about gaming company politics and the like (and is amusing to go back through nowadays and see what rumours were true and what ones weren't.) I'm now curious if I have any issues from around this period, and what they say about it if I do...

But yeah, the SPI-buyout left a lot of bitterness, from everything I've ever gathered. (Which is particularly evident in Costikyan's essay. But then, he was a designer at SPI around the time of the buyout, so it's hardly surprising.) As such, I'm curious if the 3rd edition of DragonQuest is going to get much coverage once you hit the issues from around its release date. Granted, that's still 7 years away, so... ;)
 
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