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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 68: December 1982

Part 3/4

Weather in the world of greyhawk: This month centerpiece is a strange one. A detailed system for determining what the weather will be like, based upon your latitude, terrain and time of year. Which I guess will work for any roughly earth sized and structured world. They've certainly put plenty of research into it, with citations and a bibliography. And Gary approves. So even if it might be a bit dull, all the really dull stuff's already been done for you. Just roll on it and enjoy the results. Or decide on weather based on plot. Or completely ignore the weather, as far too many of us do. The choice is yours (or at least, your GM's), as ever.

Gaming by mail can be nice: Yeah yeah. You would say that, wouldn't you. A rundown of the pro and cons of PbM games. As we have seen, this has a lot in common with modern MMO's, apart from the massively slower response times between turns, and corresponding effort you need to put in to keep the game going. They can also get pretty expensive, especially if you start privately corresponding with other players. Still, at least you're in no danger of being glued to your computer for 20 hours solid. Sorry, I'm afraid that you can't tempt me with this one. I have no craving for another nonproductive time-eater in my life.

Deities and demigods of greyhawk: Several more familiar faces are introduced to us, plus a couple of unfamiliar ones as well. Celestian, Fharlanghn, Ehlonna, Pholtus and Tritherion. Once again, clerics worshipping them get extra benefits, ranging from a single extra spell to a whole array of neat tricks. Ahh, power creep. Pretty soon, no-one'll want to play a standard cleric. I'm divided by this. One on hand, inflation is bad, especially as clerics are pretty powerful already, but on the other hand, properly differentiating clerics mechanically is cool. Oh well. They solved the problem eventually. I just need to get through the next 18 years.

The dragon's augury: Robert plamodon gives us a review that is technically one of High fantasy, but is actually more focussed upon the solo adventure that comes with it, plus the idea of solo games in general. Which is certainly a topic that deserves examination, as the Fighting Fantasy series gains popularity, and plenty of other companies try to get in on the market as well. How do you ensure that they retain interest through multiple plays, and keep the reader from cheating? Several other books and their quirks and merits are also mentioned. Whatever happened to these? Another genre killed by the rise of computer games. Still that's quite a few years in the future, and hopefully we'll be seeing more reviews in the meantime.
Borderlands is a runequest supplement. It gives details of both the area, and 7 scenarios for the players to adventure in. It gets plenty of praise for both the quality of its writing and visual design. Once again Glorantha beats Greyhawk in terms of setting depth, character characterisation and integration with the rules.
Elric: Battle at the end of time, is a strategy game based loosely on the novels. While it does have quite a number of features that emulate it's source material, it still leaves the reviewer cold, feeling it lacks depth and direction. Try harder next time guys.

You've always got a chance: Ahh, using attribute rolls as a catch-all for anything the rules didn't cover. It's been a couple of years since we've seen that suggested. And it's still the best solution that doesn't involve ripping the system apart to implement a proper skill system. Nothing particularly controversial or innovative here.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
It's an interesting composition, and I wouldn't call the picture bad by any means, it's just not anything that is going to make me sit up and take notice.

(un)reason, who did the cover on this one? Are the credits legible?

Oh, and here's some print run info for you from issue #67:

Average copies per issue for previous 12 months: 71,666
Actual copies of issue immediately preceding statement filing date (likely issue #66): 80,000

Average copies sold via paid circulation (dealers, stores, etc) per issue: 55,475
Actual copies for issue nearest filing date: 60,387

Average subscription copies per issue for previous year: 15,736
Actual copies for issue nearest filing date: 19,029

Numbers taken from here.
Thank you very much. The artist was apparently Carl Lundgren. Yeah. It just doesn't have any sense of movement. Maybe we're just spoiled by the amusing foglio covers the last couple of christmases had.
 

T. Foster

Retired User
Borderlands is a runequest supplement. It gives details of both the area, and 7 scenarios for the players to adventure in. It gets plenty of praise for both the quality of its writing and visual design. Once again Glorantha beats Greyhawk in terms of setting depth, character characterisation and integration with the rules.
These reviews (this one, the ones a few issues back for Griffin Mountain and Trollpak and the ones a few issues ahead for Pavis and Big Rubble) were what initially turned me on to RuneQuest and IMO this is still unchallenged as the strongest run of supplements ever published for an rpg (even with kind sucky (at least by comparison) Questworld stuck in the middle). It's a shame that once the game was sold to Avalon Hill in 1984 it fell immediately off a cliff and never recovered (there were still a handful of good RQ supplements in the late 80s and early 90s, but by then the damage had been done and the moment was gone).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 68: December 1982

Part 4/4

Off the shelf covers tons of books this month. Obviously they want you to have plenty of options to spend your money on.
Voyage from yesteryear by James P Hogan tells the story of the conflict between the first and second wave of colonists at Alpha Centauri.
Confessions of a crap artist by Philip K Dick is not an autobiography, nor does it have supernatural elements. It does, however have an intricate narrative that shifts points of view in a clever way, and is highly recommended.
Light on the sound by Somtow Sucharitkul tells another story of mans inhumanity to other creatures and each other in the pursuit of precious things. Which may be a grim topic, but that doesn't make it a bad read.
Crystal singer by Anne McCaffrey has no tentpegs. But is does have lots of crystals. And the usual large cast full of conflicting motivations.
The darkling by David Kesterton has more crystals. While it includes lots of pulp adventure tropes, the characters are not two-dimensional heroes and villains.
The white plague by Frank Herbert is of course the story of how a mad biologist wipes out all the women. Lots of grim drama full of social commentary ensues.
Shadows of sanctuary, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin is a third collection of stories from the thieves world setting. They get some pretty big authors in to flesh it out, so the quality is quite high. More evidence that there were plenty of authors already aware of and approving of RPG's (or at least, willing to learn and write about their settings to get some money ;) )
The battle of forever by A.E van Vogt is a reprint of one of his old books. No further details are given, apart from it supposedly being a classic.
Outpost of jupiter by Lester del ray is another reprint. Solid pulpy fun rather than anything deep and philosophical, it still provides good light entertainment the reviewer.
Psycho II by Robert Bloch is the long awaited (and much demanded, thanks to the movie) sequel, revealing what happens next after Norman Bates' release. Lots of social commentary takes place as he notes the insanity of modern liberal laws and social policies. Oh, and we mustn't forget the tabloids either. Seems like another case of things have changed less than people think they have.
The last man on earth, edited by Isaac Asimov & co, is a compilation of short stories bout that very topic. I think I've actually read this one, and yeah, it is a pretty tight collection.
Clique by Nicholas Yermakov tells the story of a future where anyone can look how they like, and the resulting rebellious underground that develops in response. As with much speculative fiction, this is merely the macguffin that drives the human drama.
Journey to the center by Brian Stableford is a story of people exploring an alien planet, and the weird things they find along the way.
The best from FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, edited by E.L. Ferman is the 24th compilation from the magazine. Not just fiction, this also collects essays and scientific articles as well, with plenty of commentary from the editor to tie it all together. So you get plenty of education with your entertainment.
Strange eons By Robert Bloch Is the one where Cthulhu gets nuked and it doesn't stop him. :rolleyes: A bit of a power-up from his first appearance, where a steamboat puts him off long enough for the protagonist to get away. That's the problem with pastiches. They can wind up being overly reverential of the source material.

AMAZING magazine is now published by TSR. Subscribe now!

Wormy harks back to it's very first issue, as it's riddle time again. What's new helps relations of gamers shop for them this christmas. Dragonmirth is fairly amusing this month.

Lots more adverts at the end. In fact, this seems to have been a very ad heavy issue in general, even above the general upward trend at the moment. I guess it's important for sales to really push these things at christmas.

While not as bad as some of the recent issues, all in all, this year has been the first one in which they not only haven't improved substantially in size and quality, but actually got worse in some respects. Which is a bit worrying. They definitely don't have the innocent enthusiasm that they used to. Even if the meteoric rise is over now, hopefully they'll figure out how to gradually refine things and pull upward again next year. After all, there's still a long way to go before they reach the production values of their last few years. Lets hope the quality to drek ratio isn't too low these next few years.
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
These reviews (this one, the ones a few issues back for Griffin Mountain and Trollpak and the ones a few issues ahead for Pavis and Big Rubble) were what initially turned me on to RuneQuest and IMO this is still unchallenged as the strongest run of supplements ever published for an rpg (even with kind sucky (at least by comparison) Questworld stuck in the middle).
Personally, I think Questworld was sucky full stop, not by comparison. It was a boxed set that set out the broad geography of a world and a more detailed description of a single continent, and explained how it was put together.

It included a bunch of fairly-weak scenarios, including a casino town where your players could enjoy games like wheelette (spinning around on a spinning wheel and sliding off on a number to win bets).

Chaosium's idea was that the various companies licensed to publish RuneQuest adventures would each have their own continent -- so there would be a Games Workshop continent, a Judges Guild continent and so on. Chaosium would have the central continent, Kanos. As a result, all the RuneQuest licensors would be able to publish their own ideas without worrying about the problems of fitting into Glorantha.

It didn't go anywhere, of course. Avalon Hill ended up buying the rights to publish RuneQuest, and the next non-Gloranthan setting for the system was Fantasy Europe. IMHO, it was also sucky, and everyone I know retrofitted the Gloranthan material back into RQ3 so they could continue their adventures in the Big Rubble and continue whooping it up at Gimpy's Tavern.

Cheers
Sir Harrok
 

lionrampant

Registered User
Validated User
Shadows of sanctuary, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin is a third collection of stories from the thieves world setting. They get some pretty big authors in to flesh it out, so the quality is quite high. More evidence that there were plenty of authors already aware of and approving of RPG's (or at least, willing to learn and write about their settings to get some money )
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Thieves World started as a RPG setting. I know there was the boxed set by Chaosium (because I have it), but that came out at least after the first two books were printed and the series was established as a 'shared world' setting.
 

Mr Teufel

Dashing
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Thieves World started as a RPG setting. I know there was the boxed set by Chaosium (because I have it), but that came out at least after the first two books were printed and the series was established as a 'shared world' setting.
You are correct. The shared world stories came before the rpg.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Thieves World started as a RPG setting. I know there was the boxed set by Chaosium (because I have it), but that came out at least after the first two books were printed and the series was established as a 'shared world' setting.
You are correct. Thieves World started as a 'shared world' fiction setting, and only eventually became a 'shared world' RPG setting.
 
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