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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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    411

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
I remember there was a scandal involving the British version of this gimmick, _Masquerade_, which I remember seeing in shops in Australia as well. If I recall correctly, the prize was initially awarded to someone whose business partner's girlfriend was the former girlfriend of the author. She pretty much knew where the prize had been buried.

I think the plot was to spend the (very large) prize supporting the animal liberation movement.

Sir Harrok
Ha. Doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

Interestingly, it looks like The Secret has *still* not been solved -- only two of the 12 treasures have been found. Get cracking, you guys!

http://thesecret.pbwiki.com/
Holy crap. That is interesting. Goes to show how hard you can make those things.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 71: March 1983

part 2/4

Greyhawk's world: Stats for some of the guys who's names fill the spell and magic item lists of the D&D books. Heward, (bard 20, Magic-user10, Illusionist10) Keoghtom (bard 20, Magic-user 18, Illusionist 16, Cleric 14, monk 10) Murlyand (paladin 12, magic-user 12, illusionist 12, plus six-shooters and techie skills) and Kelanen (fighter 20, Thief-acrobat 10, Magic-user 5, Illusionist 5) So yeah, you won't be beating these guys in a fight any time soon, unless you're willing to break the rules as much as they do. They also have quite a high level of scientific knowledge, more reminders that there were plenty of modern and futuristic crossovers in Gary's original games. So like Elminster, don't be surprised if they start dropping modern cultural references.

Who gets the first swing?: A new, more realistic initiative system? :rolleyes: Here we go again. 12 pages of experimental rules and modifiers. Well, it's definitely more realistic, and adds more tactical options for fighters, which is to be lauded. The quantity of tables on the other hand, is not, and despite what they say, using this does look like it would slow down play. I really don't think I can be bothered to test it, and see if it does work out in actual play.

The taming of brimstone is this months adventure, A boot hill (it's been a while since we saw anything for that in here) 12 pager, (although 2 of those are left blank so you can cut out the map) It's your job to become the law in a frontier town, and make it safe for peaceful folks. (Why would you want to do that? That's destroying your source of adventure hooks. ;) ) Certainly an interesting change of pace from dungeoncrawling, this forces players on the defensive, waiting for trouble and then reacting to it as fast as possible. There's also tons of opportunity for roleplaying, as just shooting anyone who you suspect of being a troublemaker is not the way to make a safe neigbourhood, and there's always some detective work that needs doing. This actually seems pretty nice, and it's definitely good to see them trying new things. And the only railroading involved is the literal kind, which is especially pleasing, since so many roleplay heavy adventures fall into that trap. Thumbs up.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 71: March 1983

part 3/4

Sage advice is following up on the astral plane article 3 months ago. The information given just raised more questions, as there's no way you could satisfy everyone in 13 pages, and you couldn't anticipate what holes they'll pick in it anyway. So lets see what else we find out here.
Does the astral plane connect with the elemental ones (not usually. You'll have to create a relay or use powerful gating effects)
How do you drink potions in a weightless environment. (use a straw, squeezable bottle, or some other inventive means. There are plenty of tricks to solve this one)
Why can creatures drown if they don't need to breathe there (because it blocks the astral "air" from getting to their system. (I know they changed that one later. because they had the whole astral ocean thing in planescape.))
Can you talk normally while astral (yes)
How are psionics changed while astral (here's the list)
What races are the wizards traveling the astral (nearly all human. Other races just can't get high enough to learn the magic, apart from by using scrolls.)
What's this about creatures going insane when lost in the astral (Exactly that. Stranded creatures may be of dubious sanity, due to sensory deprivation and the strangeness of not needing to eat, sleep, and stuff. Watch out.)
How do lycanthropes cope (they can't change while astral, because there's no moon, no night, and virtually no time. I doubt they'd spend much time there unless they were an unwilling one looking to get away from their curse.)
Can a cleric bring their holy symbol along with them (If they enchant it somehow. A simple light spell should be enough.)
Can astral travelers adjacent to another plane be seen by creatures further into the plane (yes, with some caveats)
How fast can a magic-user's familiar move (if within 12" of its master, it can use it's master's intelligence, if not, it uses it's own)
Do you automatically heal any damage your astral form has when you return to your real body (no)
I don't like the rules for adapting to missile fire in weightless conditions (that is not a question. You can houserule it if you like)
Why aren't the missile ranges infinity if there's no friction (because it still gets harder to hit further away targets. After a while it's just ridiculously improbable.)
Since you move by thought, can't you just dodge by thinking yourself out the way (Reaction times still depend on dexterity. Stop trying to break the system)
Why is grappling allowed, but overbearing isn't (because there's no surface to push you onto)
Can intelligent magic items move while astral? (theoretically, but they won't think of it on their own as they're used to being passive partners. Plus, they have no senses apart from the magic ones they're specifically given unless being held, in which case they share yours. They're unlikely to wander off.)
Do magical items from other planes lose power on the prime material (yes)
Do swords of life stealing lose their special power when astral (only if their plusses are reduced to zero)
How long does it take spellcasters to recover spells (the usual. Even if they don't sleep, they still have to spend 8 hours doing nothing before studying. And they can only do so once per journey, unless their god lives on the astral plane, or they're a native. (now that's another bit they would later drop))
Man, that's a lot of questions. And it's not over yet, as they expand on the spell changes as well. This has certainly been informative (and a lot of typing)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 71: March 1983

part 4/4

Deities and demigods of greyhawk: This month's creatures that you may choose to worship are Erythnul, Incabulos, Nerull, Ralishaz and Wastri. A pretty unpleasant lot, running the gamut of evil alignments and goals, from human supremacy to slaughtering everything. (funny just how much of nerull's portfolio vecna stole in 3rd edition. You'd think they'd conflict more.) Weirdly enough, more attention seems to be paid to balance their cleric's powers with each other. Either gary's getting more practiced now, or they're making sure all the players don't defect to the side with the better toys.

The dragon subscription page is particularly amusing this issue, thanks to tom wham.

Reviews: Swordbearer is a fantasy RPG. With an abstracted wealth system rather than coin-counting, an interesting magic system, and skill development rather than rigid classes, it's certainly a step upwards in overall design sophistication. Can it survive against the current harsh competition for any amount of time though? Our reviewer is not optimistic. It may be too sophisticated ( ie, complex) for the proletariat. Plus it's silly to try to get into an already occupied niche.
Dunzhin is a text based adventure game. Explore, kill beasties, find treasure, hope your stuff doesn't run out at a bad moment, wrestle with the simplistic parsing system; unless you're too young, you'll remember the drill. Thankfully, it's all randomly generated dungeons, so there's plenty of replay value, and you don't have to worry about trying to hold conversations with NPC's And if you manage to finish this one, you can buy more games in the series, and transfer your leveled up character between them. Isn't that nice.

An advert for plattermania is on the same page. How many spinning plates can you keep up for how long? Sounds like an interesting little computer game. Definitely not worth $39.95 on its own though. That'd be a single minigame on one of the modern wii party games. (actually, is there one, as that seems like it would be very well suited to the controller system. )

What's new covers lycanthropes. Dave Sim approves. Wormy features holy mackerel (sorta) Dragonmirth has a million reindeer. It'll make more sense if you actually read it.

A very fast-paced issue, with relatively few articles, none of which held me up. This is a definite improvement over the last couple of issues. Lets hope that's a trend, not a fluke.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 72: April 1983

part 1/4

88 pages. Yet another dragon on the cover of this one. At least this time the female adventurers are sensibly dressed. And that's not an april fool. But they haven't skimped on that stuff inside. We have both ridiculous stuff, and things that are humorous but still useful. And they've got some pretty big changes in store, like bringing in drag-racing to the magazine. ;) I hope you'll enjoy their new direction.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A letter complementing them on the chess article, and suggesting some ways it could be further added too.
A letter critisizing the erratad version of falling damage, saying the normal version is both more realistic and better for the game, as while the distance fallen in a time may increase geometrically, the speed you are falling at increases linearly.
A letter engaging in much quibbling about maximum speeds for ships and boats.
Five letters asking for more/less inclusion of games other than D&D, which the editor uses to illustrate the impossible line they have to walk in terms of meeting demand and pleasing everyone.
A letter complementing them on using the original version of historical names rather than modernized ones. Kim comments that he likes to get this right, because so many people falsely assume about his gender. (cue That's not my name)
A letter complaining that the magazine is so expensive.

From the sorceror's scroll: Ahh, the cavalier. One of the more hated second wavers of 1st edition AD&D. What was Gary thinking when we already have the paladin? Roughly the same thing as when he made the barbarian, probably. Lets make up some cool stuff, and worry how it fits in with everything else later. And although they occupy the same thematic niche as the paladin, that of the chivalrous mounted fighter, the specifics of their powers are quite different. They really do push the mounted warrior schtick, which of course may cause some problems when dungeoneering. So like the barbarian, they are exceedingly powerful when dealing with problems suited to their powerset and mentality, and a pain in the ass outside them. This probably is not conducive to a good gaming experience, and their failure to make it to 2nd edition seems pretty reasonable, considering.

The ecology of the piercer: Woooo! This series has finally started. This makes me very happy. We've been having too few developments that I can be unreservedly positive about. We start with a monster that really needs it, D&D's ceiling hanging gastropods of dooooom. The fiction part isn't as good as most of the later installments, but it includes a very nice full page diagram of their internal structure. Overall, it's definitely a solid start to a series that will give us lots of inspiration over the years. I look forward to seeing what they cover next.

Gems Galore: Now this is something that's all too easy to ignore. Gems and jewelery turn up in a lot of treasure hordes, and often get viewed as just more money with less encumbrance worries. Given the variety they come in, and how tricky it can be to value them and sell them, getting maximum profit from your hauls could become an adventure in itself. As usual, Ed has both done his homework, and not been afraid to add things that he found cool. We get plenty of realmsian setting detail worked in, much of it pure fluff. Even if it's not that useful, it's very interesting to see what superstitions the members of a imaginary world have. Some may find it too much detail, but I'm still hungry. It's going to take till the mid-90's to satiate my hunger for more and more little world details.

The real barbarians: Ahh, the old misrepresentation of the natives screed. We had it with druids, and now we have it with barbarians. Honor, adherance to taboos, actually more sexually progressive than the so-called civilized people, rich oral tradition, blah blah blah, wake me when it's over. This stereotype and overgeneralization does no more favours to them than the other one.
 

ceejay2005

New member
Banned
In the early 1980s, almost every issue of Dragon would contain a role playing adventure, a simple board game, or some kind of special game supplement (such as a cardboard cut-out castle). I love Dragon and Dungeon!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 72: April 1983

part 2/4

The PbM scene: Another long article, this is an overview of the Play by mail games that are currently big, with quite well thought out descriptions of all the major games, and the differences between them. If you did want to pour you money into that stuff, at least you're now a good deal better equipped to choose ones that you'll like. I'm still not convinced enough to try one, (not that I could now) but I'm not going to knock the skill of it's advocate.

File 13: Tom Wham gets all meta on us, giving us a game about the process games go after being written to get to being a completed project. And like movies, computer games, or anything else creative, once it goes into committee process, everyone wants to monkey around with it. Which a lot of the time, doesn't help. One wonders how much editing work went into the games design ;) You can play this one solo, or compete against others. Not that it matters, because victory and defeat is mostly a matter of luck. Just like real life soliciting ;) Seems like a pretty quick game that you could play a few rounds of between other things, but not the most amazing thing he's ever come up with.

Figure feature gives us 4 different dragon mini's to peruse this month. Nothing particularly unusual here.

The true story of file 13: And most of my questions from the game are answered. Kim gives us a rather funny recounting of his part in the game's production. They've got to make sure it's all suitable for a family magazine. As is often the case, I'm not sure how much of this is true and how much is invented for comedic effect. But it makes for an amusing read anyway, which seems to have been their primary intention anyway. And if they can make their april fool section useful as well as funny, that's all to the good.

Valley elves get filked. They like, so deserve it. I mean, they think they're cool, but they're totaly not. Plus they're, like, old. They might look young, but they're totally older than your mom. I mean how eww would that be, going out with one, and then they start talking about your grandparents. Grody.

Duh Jock: Ahh, mocking the popular crowd. Now there's something we've seen before. We get another joke class, with maximums to many ability scores. Just about legal, they probably won't be functional in a dungeonering game, because so many of their powers are non-combat based (oh, the irony) Unless you want to play a highschool drama game (not beyond the bounds of possibility), you should give this one a miss. Or you derive some sadistic pleasure from throwing a team of jocks against D&D monsters and seeing how long it takes them to all die horribly. I can see how that would appeal to some people.

Spells for everyone: Oh, this joke again as well. Nonmagical "spells" with obvious material components. Like throwing a dead slug at someone for taunt (oh, wait ;) ) They diliberately mess up the format, just to confuse us. Come on, the joke articles should at least be as imaginative as the normal stuff. You only have to fill this once a year. You shouldn't be recycling themes yet.

Ha. We get a sex in AD&D article this year. What's new must be kicking themselves that someone else beat them too it. Roger Moore covers the mating habits of woodland creatures, sphinxes, succubi, minotaurs, and almost hydras ( yeah, like they're really going to let tentacle rape into the magazine. ) Then it all goes downhill and they have to drag him away from the typewriter. I suppose it's a better way than most to finish off our joke section. I'm certainly amused, anyway.
 

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Valley elves get filked. They like, so deserve it. I mean, they think they're cool, but they're totaly not. Plus they're, like, old. They might look young, but they're totally older than your mom. I mean how eww would that be, going out with one, and then they start talking about your grandparents. Grody.
And now how likely do you think it would be that you could use valley elves in a serious game?

After this issue, we had one poor, fool of a GM just mention valley elves, and had the game devolve into "North of Geoff, South of Ket, By the River Javan wet, Living with the stubby gnomes..."

Come to think, we had a Stubby the Gnome show up, too. hmm.
 

OldSkoolGeek

Registered User
Validated User
Dragon Issue 72: April 1983

Ha. We get a sex in AD&D article this year. What's new must be kicking themselves that someone else beat them too it. Roger Moore covers the mating habits of woodland creatures, sphinxes, succubi, minotaurs, and almost hydras ( yeah, like they're really going to let tentacle rape into the magazine. ) Then it all goes downhill and they have to drag him away from the typewriter. I suppose it's a better way than most to finish off our joke section. I'm certainly amused, anyway.
". . . and suddenly BAM! you go from Arch-Mage to Prestidigitator and you wonder where the time went. None of the cheerleaders at my school kissed like that."
 
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