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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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lionrampant

Registered User
Validated User
I actually know Rick (not that we're deep friends, or anything), and he once said that the hatred, from his opinion, stems from an early convention where T&T outsold D&D. Rick said this drove Gary a bit crazy, and he held a grudge ever since.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
So what's Gary's beef this time around?
The original letter seems to have been something to do with TSR's refusal to join GAMA, and the negative effects he believes this would have on the hobby, not being properly unionised. It all ties in to the conflict between Origins and Gen Con over who's the top convention. They seem to have been trying to divide the hobby into firms that attend one, and firms that attend the other. In retrospect it all seems a bit petty, but I'm sure it was deadly serious at the time.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 67: November 1982

Part 1/4

84 pages. Another personell change this issue, as Jake is off to crystal publications. Instead of promoting upwards like they have in the past, they airdrop Mike Cook into the job. (wonder what changes he'll make) Poor Kim. Guess he's stuck with his editing job for a while longer. We also get another second class mailing thingy (illegible again. Can someone help me with that? )

In this issue:

Out on a limb: Not a lot here this month. One letter pointing out an error in the weapon proficiency system a couple of months ago. And another from Len complaining about nebulous sages (good, someone realized how silly that was at the time) and the inconsistency in levels of realism between articles, and calling for more editorial rigor. Kim reminds him that most of the stuff in here is explicitly optional, and people should be able to pick and choose. If we tried to make everyone play the same, they'd just go and play other games.

TSR wants a japanese translator. Apply now! Interesting. Looks like they want to expand into the asian market.

From the sorceror's scroll delivers us more Official AD&Dtm spells. Once again, we get a load of future staples such as Melf's acid arrow, grease, stoneskin and Evard's black tentacles, plus quite a few forgotten ones like ultravision, run and cloudburst. We also get plenty more comments about events in general. They're improving their dice, so we get decent translucent colored ones rather than the horrible little blue uninked ones. We get some more talk about the minute long melee round, and how each attack is an abstraction of events over that time, justification of his hatred of the conan film, and lots of other little tidbits. thrown in without any apparent pattern other than what was on his mind at the time. Once again, this is pretty interesting stuff, and he's as entertaining as ever to read. Whether it improves the game, or just makes wizards even more powerful compared to other classes, is another matter altogether.

Features creatures is in an elven mood this month. We get the Grugach, or wild elves, and Cooshee, aka elven dogs. Plus another elven subrace that thankfully never made it into common use, the valley elf. I guess that name just has too many wrong connotations for people to put into their games without players having giggles. A far more serviceable contribution than his celestial creations.
 

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
Validated User
You think that Valley Elves cause fits of the giggles now? Just wait until April rolls around...
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 67: November 1982

Part 2/4

Spy's advice: What is wrestling value ( A stat that we dropped in 2nd edition. Don't worry about it. Use your regular HtH rating)
Can you conceal an uzi (With a trenchcoat!)
What are the Xp costs for the tech bureau (see below, and refer to issue 45 for more detail. )
Why isn't the british secret service listed (it is. You just need to look under its proper name, not its nickname. )
Do you only get bureau bonuses if you are of the right bureau (usually, yes)
Should the admin figure out XP before or after the mission (after)
What are your odds of picking pockets (compare surprise values and roll. Here are the odds of them spotting you)
Who is james pong (One of the PC's from my own game, originally. He's a 6th level Killer. Watch out)
Which dragon issues have top secret articles (here's the list)
why does some big ammo have less stopping power than it's lower category. (because after a certain size, it starts going straight through you. Oooh, matron. )
Is J.B in Dr Yes James bond (maybe)
Why do silencers weaken guns (because they reduce the blowback and bullet speed, thus making them less accurate. Concealment comes at a cost.)
How do you determine skiing chances. ( Its an area of knowledge. Roll against it like any other)
Whats the difference between regular and fragmentation grenades (Damage. Mainly we just want to make a fun game. We can't be bothered to include dozens of realistic varieties of grenades, with their own varieties of specific injury. )
What does X for weapon speed mean (That's a mistake. It should be VS. Or possibly XX ;) )

Souping up the spider: 11 new varieties of giant spider for your pleasure. With a whole bunch of clever different hunting methods, these guys really don't get enough credit. Monsters like this are an excellent reason why adventurers should travel in parties. One person on their own could easily get webbed up and eaten with just a moments carelessness. After all, your attributes don't scale in OD&D, so if you can't cast spells or reach your weapon, you're screwed. Who's gonna cut you loose, baby? Who's gonna cut you lose. :saxophone solo:

The deities and demigods of greyhawk: More official stuff from Gary, as he promised. We get Heroneous and Hextor, the rival brothers of martial discipline. Mmm, slashy ;) . Iuz, the withered demonspawn. And St Cuthbert, the ascended mortal who seems to take on the evangelical christian role in Greyhawk. More stuff that would continue in much the same form editions later. We also see the start of giving clerics of specific gods special abilities to differentiate them, which is nice. Of course, at the moment, there is absolutely no balance between them, which isn't so good. Still, it's pretty interesting to see another bit of D&D canon start. I wonder how it'll develop in the next few issues.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 67: November 1982

Part 3/4

An extensive set of articles on the astral plane takes the crucial center spot this issue. 13 pages of general stuff on the description and physics, plus a 5 page mini adventure. This makes me very happy indeed. Because I'm a huge planes fan, and because it's such a big part of this issue, I'm going to break it down into it's subsections.
The preface gives us a basic description. Silvery weightless place with conduits, psychic wind, occasional bits of debris. Not that dissimilar to later developments, apart from the lack of dead gods.
Astral encounters is still a bit vague, as they still don't have many creatures to populate the place with. Again, the chances of meeting a god passing through are rather higher than later fluff would indicate. Most of the creatures will be rather powerful, but that's ok, as you'll probably be pretty high level too if you're there.
Astral traveling reiterates the common ways to get there. Will you project, or go there bodily? Either way, you don't need to worry about food, drink, sleep, aging, etc, because time passes at the rate of one day per thousand years. But it does catch up after you leave, so be prepared.
Encounter checks and the psychic wind elaborates on the chances of running into trouble. This should have been condensed with astral encounters, as this positioning is not very good organization.
Movement and combat establishes the intelligence powered flight that people in astral space use to get around. Watch the wizard doesn't leave everyone else behind. Fun stuff, because it requires very different tactics to be successful in to regular battles.
Magical alterations is mostly a list of spells that don't work, (druids in particular are rather screwed) but there are also some ones with weird effects. This eats up a lot of space, as they tackle every spell individually, rather than giving general formulae organized by school and stuff, as they would later in planescape. This could definitely do with some refinement.
Fedifensor is the module. Recover a powerful magical sword from a githyanki fortress. Just another day for seasoned adventurers. This one involves a lot of luck, as if you roll badly, you may might meet a demon prince or greater titan along the way, while the final fortress would be a walkover for anyone strong enough to face down things that powerful. Don't think attacking everything you see head-on is the best course of action.
I've quite enjoyed this, as it feels familiar, but is still noticeably missing several elements that would be crucial to the later planescape portrayal. It's nice to know which bits were part of the original conception and what's changed since then. And as this is one of the few planes that's survived to 4th edition fairly unscathed, it can't have been bad. There's certainly already room for plenty of adventures here. Now all we need is a good set of articles on the ethereal and outer planes. Sometime soon, hopefully.

Fiction: King of the cats by Gillian Fitzgerald. Ahh, romance. What a wonderful thing. But where fae are involved, it never turns out well for the humans involved. A nicely mythical feeling little story.

Loyal readers: More talk from Gary. He comments on the various character classes he's thinking of developing, and the feedback he's received upon them. He once again strongly rejects the idea of anti-paladins, and talks about demoting the monk to an optional class. On the plus side, they're considering making a full oriental variant of D&D with all new classes. Yay. More foreshadowing. Another thing that it'll take them years to actually get round to publishing, but that's interesting in itself. On the negative side, he introduces one of the dumber mid 1st edition optional rules. Comeliness. Separating physical attractiveness and social skill and presence is not an inherently bad idea, as the WoD system shows, but doing so in this kludgy way mid edition just turns the two into even greater dump stats, given how few are the number of things that they are used for. What was he thinking?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 67: November 1982

Part 4/4

Poker, chess, and the AD&D system: A fifth piece from gary this month (whatever happened to his promise not to write too much and monopolize the magazine? I guess the same thing that happened to their promise to always cover a wide range of games. :( ) Once again, he reminds people that the AD&D rules are official, and owned soley by TSR. If you add to, subtract from or alter them, you are no longer playing an Official AD&Dtm Game. On the other hand, I as the creator and head of the company, can create Official AD&Dtm Material as I choose. It is a duty I take on with a heavy heart, and a determination to make the game more fun for you, loyal readers! This is primarily him commenting on and justifying the recent stuff such as barbarians and devas, and their oddities when compared to the standard rules. All of this was well thought out! You can rely on my judgement! I roll my eyes. He really really needs an editor who'll say no to him.

The role of books: Lew gives us a group of big reference books containing the catalogue of myths and fairytales in condensed form. Any one of these contains enough plots to keep you going for centuries, if you file off the serial numbers and mix them together. Of course they're probably not easy to find these days, and the internet is more comprehensive than even the thickest book can manage. But there's a lot to be said for editorial oversight. You'll have to decide for yourself if you can search out stories individually and tolerate reading it all on a screen.

Reviews: Trollpak is a runequest supplement, giving us plenty of detail on the Uz, as they call themselves, including makng them available as PC's, plus a bunch of different adventures based around them. Readable, comprehensive, and not forgetting the gloranthan sense of humour. Just be careful not to overpower the PC's, especially when using them in large groups.

Wormy gets back home and has to defend his horde. What's new gets Sooooo close to doing sex in D&D this time before being interrupted.

So it looks like we get to see the seed of the plans that would eventually grow into Oriental Adventures. Probably the biggest variant made on 1st edition AD&D, showing how you can completely rework the classes and monsters while keeping the same basic framework. This is rather a divided issue. On one hand we have tons of cool stuff on the planes, and several other good articles. On the other hand, Gary is continuing his unchecked rampage through the magazine, adding on stuff all over the place seemingly at random, while insulting anyone who gets in his way. What is up with that? I seriously hope they'll start putting more freelancer articles in again soon.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Dragon Issue 67: November 1982
Features creatures is in an elven mood this month. We get the Grugach, or wild elves, and Cooshee, aka elven dogs. Plus another elven subrace that thankfully never made it into common use, the valley elf. I guess that name just has too many wrong connotations for people to put into their games without players having giggles. A far more serviceable contribution than his celestial creations.
Loved the Cooshee. As for the valley elf, they were common around here (now grugach, they were the unused ones). Of course everyone I knew played them using valspeak.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 68: December 1982

Part 1/4

104 pages. Another extra large christmas episode. Nice. After more than a year of 84 pagers, I was starting to wonder when there would next be a size increase. The cover's nothing much to shout about this time, however. Oh well, hopefully the contents'll make up for that.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A contrasting pair of letters, as is their wont, one praising the language stuff in issue 66, and asking for more of it, and more attention paid to it in official modules; and the other saying that actually putting fantasy grammars and vocabularies in is a waste of space, and too much attention to pointless detail that hardly anyone will actually use in a game. Ahh, the usual can't please everyone problem. No getting around that one.
A letter on the great how illusions should work debate, adding their own opinions and houserules.
A letter rubbishing the idea that all clerics should be forbidden edged weapons, regardless of alignment or their deities creed and culture. We have to break out of the medieval european mold.
A letter pointing out how inconvenient digging the right bit of equipment out of your pack is in the heat of battle, and the effect this has on wizards trying to cast from their spellbook. If you take that into account, you'll find it's not unbalanced at all :rolleyes:

Featured creatures gives us lots of fungal, er, fun this month. Ascomids, phycomids and basidronds. Some seriously freaky looking and acting things. I suspect that like bug and deep sea fish based monsters, this may be another case of things based on reality being stranger than ones just invented wholecloth. In any case, these are worthy additions to the D&D dungeon ecology, fitting in perfectly with the array of slimes, oozes and things like gelatanous cubes and carrion crawlers. Take them out from a distance, because otherwise you'll get gunk all over you.

Be a two-fisted fighter: Roger Moore turns his eye on two weapon fighting, one of the more problematic little tricks in the game. This is mostly clarifications and semi-official houserulings, not really adding much to the rules as a whole. It points out just how dangerous high dex characters are if they choose to become two weapon fighters, as they nearly double their damage output. Thanks for that, roger. Now every unimaginative twink'll want to play one. (the smart ones, of course, will keep on playing wizards and druids.) I suppose it would have happened sooner or later, he just helped it along. Are the crimes of the proletariat the fault of the proclamations of the elite? Did this open the door for drizzt and his clones? Is it way past midnight, and I'm reaching for things to say to finish this issue off? Who can say.

The gen con mini's competition this year gets a good looking over. They give us the winners and runners up in the various categories, and show us photos of the dioramas. The legibility of the photos still isn't perfect, but is an improvement on most of their attempts in earlier magazines.

Up, up and away: Looks like TSR has another new game to promote. Dawn patrol is actually a new version of Fight in the Skies, a game that has been mentioned in this magazine a few times. Obviously, they think the new edition is a substantial improvement. No great surprises here. I'll reserve judgement for a more impartial review.
 
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