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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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atonal chaotic

Retired User
Umbrae are shadows that attack your shadow. To beat them, you'll have to get used to the idea of attacking them with your own shadow. Or just turn the lights out, so you don't have a shadow for them to attack. Just don't mistake them for undead shadows.
In other words: encourage the players to mistake them for undead shadows.

Rules for aging in Ringside: ...
Hey, it's only a game. At least you can start a new character, which is more than you can say for real life.
Real life athletes start a new character by becoming a coach or manager to a younger athlete.
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
Dragon Issue 61: May 1982

Part 4/4

The dragon's augury: Call of Cthulhu gets a pretty negative review. There are substantial flaws and holes in the rules, and the setting book just sucks. Interesting. While not quite an outright slating, this is definitely a lot harsher than most reviews in this magazine. I get the impression the reviewer is big lovecraft fan, and is judging things on that basis. They definitely don't know the game'll go on far longer than most of the things appearing here.
Hitlers war is, you've guessed it, another WWII wargame. The reviewer compares it quite heavily to third reich. But it is a somewhat shorter and more tactically zoomed out game than that one. Still, it seems to be worth it's price, with several different levels of complexity to choose from, depending on how long you want to play.
*Boggles* at the Call of Cthulhu review. I wonder if the reviewer ever regretted writing that review?

Hitler's War: I have a copy of the original somewhere. Comparing it to Third Reich is a bit unfair -- Hitler's War is a relatively simple, abstract approach to gaming World War II. The units are entire army groups; it plays very quickly, even in the more complex scenarios.

I think Third Reich would have still been in its second edition, or maybe the third edition would just have come out. It hadn't reached the baroque complexity of Advanced Third Reich or its Pacific War counterpart, Empire of the Rising Sun, but it was still a deep, complex and subtle game.

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Wow. This is the most awesome thread in the history of something. You deserve some kind of medal unreason.

I think I'll go dig out my copy of the Dragon archive so I can follow along at home.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
In other words: encourage the players to mistake them for undead shadows.
Well of course. It's still the early 80's. Screwing the players by playing with their expectations is all part of the fun.

*Boggles* at the Call of Cthulhu review. I wonder if the reviewer ever regretted writing that review?
Good question. If that's a pre-fame David "zeb" Cook, we could probably ask him. I'm pretty sure he frequents at least one of the major gaming fora.

Several years later, this magazine does an about face with a game called Magic: The Gathering.
Ahh, CCG's. I remember the treatment they got in the magazine, and the responses that provoked. That should make the early 90's more interesting.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 62: June 1982

Part 1/4

84 pages Another birthday issue, more stuff on dragons old and new. Plus regular features, new games, and a certain amount of recycled ideas. Hey, Originality aint easy. They need something to go between the big ideas.

In this issue:

Dragon rumbles: Ooh. We have the results from their recent survey in. 95% male, average age of 16 and a half, no great surprises there. What is more interesting is how small the proportion of games are that play using the rules as written. They really ought to do something about that.

Out on a limb: A letter praising the second best of, and asking for more classes, as they're getting bored with playing the same old bunch. Kim responds by saying that the current game is not imbalanced, and so doesn't need any more classes, (ha) so they want to keep any further ones they introduce strictly optional.
A letter engaging in some eyerolling at the science article in issue 60, saying such over literal application of real world physics shouldn't be used in a game.

As ever in anniversary issues, they put dragon related stuff in. This time, that is three new dragon types. Faerie dragons are the same type that made it into future editions, with euphoria gas, and quite considerable spell-casting abilities. Grey and steel dragons, on the other hand, are not. A unique named pair of twins, they are opposites in terms of behaviour in nearly every way. But curiously enough, they're not hugely powerful. Interesting. They'd certainly make a good mid-level plot for your players to deal with.

Bazaar of the bizarre: Dragonscale armour. Harvesting body parts for magical components. What a lucrative trade. And dragons are one of the biggest monsters so of course they get special attention here. You'd think the results would be more powerful, given how hard it is to get hold of. And indeed, later versions of it would be. I'm curious as to why roger made it so weak and hard to make. Rather disappointing, really.

Gangbusters: Designers notes on one of the less well remembered games of that era. The pulp crimehunting game which takes the cops and robbers analogy so often used to describe RPG's to its logical conclusion, with rules for public opinion, finance, investigation, and fast and furious action. Or so they say. Did it flop deservedly, or simply because both the pulp era and non-supernatural games tend not to sell very well? I wonder if we'll see any more articles on it in here?
 

WinningerR

Registered User
Validated User
*Boggles* at the Call of Cthulhu review. I wonder if the reviewer ever regretted writing that review?
It's worth noting that he's reviewing the 1st edition, which was far inferior to the versions that followed. His criticisms are farily specific and reasonable--the rules are poorly organized, the combat rules are incomplete, the game provides almost no background on the Lovecraft mythos, etc.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 62: June 1982

Part 2/4

From the sorceror's scroll: Spell books! An important item for every wizard (they'd be impotent without it ;) ) Gary fills in a load more of D&D's implied setting. What they look like, (chunky) how much they cost (loads) How much spell casters charge to cast spells for hire (again, loads). Becoming a wizard is not cheap or easy, and with these costs, they could never be common. You'd have to do quite a bit of monkeying around to get a genuinely high fantasy game out of D&D as written at this point.

Pages from the mages: Well well. Looks like the start of another classic series, one of those that went a long way towards cementing Elminsters place in the D&D mythology. We get several new spells, including nulathoes ninimen, (which I'm sure some people have been wondering about for a good 2 and a half years now) but that's not as important as the tons of weird little details he puts in, from histories of the wizards that made the spellbooks, to the ingredients used to make the ink that inscribes the spells. This really is rather fascinating, as no-one else is writing anything like this stuff. He seems to be capturing the tolkienesque spirit of putting details on everything from languages to cooking as part of his worldbuilding, far batter than fantasy certain novels that just imitate the obvious tropes of the LotR and completely miss the point. This is indeed the kind of article that would change a young person's perspective on gaming and I look forward to seeing more in the series.

Scribes? Again?! Jesus H, what is with these people? Scribes are not interesting. Oh well, I guess even Ed has his off articles. We really do not need to know exactly how noncombatant NPC classes earn their xp in this much detail. It does not make our world richer, as the players will never get to see it.

Sage advice is also focussing upon spellcasting this month. The answers are exceedingly verbose as well. Hopefully I can compress them without losing too much:
Can clone restore you to life. How many times can a character be cloned. (As long as the tissue sample was taken while you were alive. Remember, the clone only has the memories from when the sample was taken. Whether it's actually you or not is a complicated debate for metaphysicians. You can make lots of clones, but bad things tend to happen, as they go insane and try to kill you and each other. Someone ought to work on an upgraded version of the spell. )
Why can you teleport into gas or liquid but not solids. Can you teleport your weapon into another creature (because gasses and liquids can displace easily. Solids cant, so kablooey stuff happens. No, you can't dilliberately teleport items into others, because the spell isn't that precise. )
Affect normal fires doesn't seem to make sense if you use it to try and increase blazes brighter than a torch. (nope, you can't. It just isn't strong enough to make them brighter than that. )
What happens if you bring an object enchanted with continual light into an area of magical darkness? ( they cancel each other out as long as they are in the same area, then both come into play again after moving out. You need to cast the opposing spell directly at the other one to cancel it permanently.
Can you talk while Held (no. )
If you're energy drained and get back the experience, can restoration restore you to an even higher level (no)
 

komradebob

Registered User
Validated User
Gangbusters: Designers notes on one of the less well remembered games of that era. The pulp crimehunting game which takes the cops and robbers analogy so often used to describe RPG's to its logical conclusion, with rules for public opinion, finance, investigation, and fast and furious action. Or so they say. Did it flop deservedly, or simply because both the pulp era and non-supernatural games tend not to sell very well? I wonder if we'll see any more articles on it in here?
The bolded part. It actually was a fun and fascinating game as the criminals, or the journalists and PIs. As the coppers, much less so.

It also likely suffered a bit from the PG rating. It was a bit like TV cop shows from the 60s, rather than the grittier stuff that was coming out in the late-70s and 80s.

I'm sure the class+level system in place didn't help, either. That particular formula seems to work mentally for D&D clones and not much else. The fact that it was mostly a social indicator rather than a large difference in power was kind of a downer as well.

On the up side, it's a fascinating example of RPG evolution, as game designers try to figure out how to take the rpg away from being something more site-based (the dungeon exploration) to something more broad. It's also an interesting example of where skill based vs. core stat based vs. Class/level based designs all are intersecting at tha time.

I still have a copy and would play it at the drop of a fedora.
 
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g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Amusing tidbit about Gangbusters: there's a 1st edition and a 3rd edition, but there is no 2nd. TSR messed up when they published a new edition in 1990, and accidentally labeled it the "New 3rd Edition".
 
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