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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
The best of the dragon, part three! They really are churning those out. I don't know. Any excuse for some easy money.
While it may have been money-grubbing on their part, it's worth remembering that it wasn't that long ago that the number of subscribers really jumped through the roof. The majority of their audience didn't have a chance to read these articles in their original format. Their readership has completely changed, from the original grognards (many adult wargamers) to the next generation of kids (who grew up on fantasy like Covenant and Shannara and movies like Stars Wars). The Best of Dragons were like a window into the early days of the hobby. Really old, quaint articles; a few classics; and of course all those Gygaxian rants (especially BOD 1 and 2; 3 and up were more familiar).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 79: November 1983

part 2/4

Sage advice has an amusing nanofic at the start this time. Ahh, the perils of having more questions than you can possibly print. Anyway, back to the questions.
Do you get Xp per gold piece or silver piece ( Gold. If it was silver, Hoo boy. It'd fuck the game assumptions right up. Merchants would kick adventurers asses no trouble. Hmm. Maybe that might be a good thing.)
Do landragons have claw attacks? Can they swim? ( no on both counts. They're LANDragons, aren't they?)
Can you use the combat computer in actual AD&D games. (That's what it was designed for.)
What is the min wis & cha to be a duelist. ( None in particular, other than the general 5 or lower rule, which would prevent them from joining it. )
Why can't duelists use flails ( No matter what you say, we can't find any reference to dueling with flails. No precision. Someone could get hurt.)
The ecology of the catoblepas contradicts the monster manual. Which one is correct. ( The MM is still the official answer. Your DM may change this for his game, as is his perogative. We are not responsible for any annoyance caused if you metagame and then find that things aren't what you expect them to be. )
Can the water creating pill in issue 73 be used as a poison. ( It'd certainly hurt if you swallowed it. But that doesn't make it a poison. )
Can ogres use magical boots or not? ( Um, maybe. We'll leave that up to your DM)
How do you find the new gemstones detailed in issue 72 (The DM will have to make custom treasure tables including the expansions, same as for any of the new items detailed here. Or they could place treasure as they see fit, instead of leaving it to the dice. Nahh, that's a stupid idea. It'll never catch on. )
Can lycanthropes who can change shape conciously do so on the astral plane. (Hmm. Since it totally cripples them as combat encounters to be unable to, I think we'll change our previous ruling and say yes.)
What special powers do githyanki knights have? Why aren't there more of them in Fedifensor? ( None, they're just complete bastards. Because Fedifensor is just a little outpost, not a full-blown fortress.)
How can you have assassins in an ice age setting ( Oh, you innocent little man. Assasination is like prostitution. As long as there is some form of valued item to create an economy, some people will fuck for it, while others will kill for it. There have always been assassins, and there always will (at least, until 2nd edition bans them))
How do you make animal skeletons ( You need to make a variant on animate dead. If you know the basic one, it's easy enough to adapt.)
Doesn't tiamat spawn all evil dragons? How does that jive with the colour wheel theory mon? ( Even if she did originally create dragons (A rather specious claim) they're still biological entities that mate and lay eggs. Both statements can be true simultaneously. Oh, and the color wheel theory is complete bollocks. I wouldn't say so in the magazine that published it, but you can tell I'm thinking it.)
How can deities be druids above 14th level. (They're deities. They scoff at your puny mortal rules. )
Why do the AC's for dragon armour suck so much. Can you enchant them. ( because we don't want to break the game, and yes. )
Jesters break the rules! They let dwarves and halflings cast wizard spells, and break their limits on languages known (Yes. And your point is? They are a joke class, you know. As ever, you can houserule things. )
What is a cantrip ( see issues 59-61)
Do boodle wizards hit on a 1-3 or a 1-4 (Oops. We made a boo-boo. 1-4 is the right answer)
Why are locomotives so slow (Game balance. You can move way more than 12 inches a minute. They needed to be scaled down likewise. )
You messed up the section on undersea magical items in issue 48 (aw, come on, that was two and a half years ago. Don't keep bringing it up)
What is a balrog, and what are it's stats. ( You've read Lord of the rings, right? You can find it in the OD&D books. Unfortunately we can't print it any more, or the tolkien estate will suesess uss, my preciouss. )
Can the shield spell stop lasers (no)
Can lasers hurt things that can only be hit by magical weapons (yes. Shows you which side we want to have an edge in a crossover)
I can't engage in even the most basic reskinning activities ( no, you're a moron. We shall have to give you remedial answers.)
Do barbarians eat quiche? ( Barbarians stomp wussy quiche! RAAAAAAAAARG!!! Apart from Rogar of Mooria. He like his quiche a little too much. We worry about him sometimes. )
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Looks like I've finished my diversion into the realms of actual play. Hope you enjoyed that. Which means it's time to resume daily updates on this thread. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up for a few months before boredom, insanity or general life forces me to take another break. Stay tuned.
 

Dr.Bubonicus

Radioactivist
Tangent: I'm very much looking forward to your review of Issue #100. I loved that issue when I got it. It has the "going to the future to get the Mace of St. Cuthbert" adventure as well as some crazy Marvel File material (Guardians of the Galaxy and a few of The Defenders).
 

OldSkoolGeek

Registered User
Validated User
Tangent: I'm very much looking forward to your review of Issue #100. I loved that issue when I got it. It has the "going to the future to get the Mace of St. Cuthbert" adventure as well as some crazy Marvel File material (Guardians of the Galaxy and a few of The Defenders).
And DragonChess!

I still want to make a board.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 79: November 1983

part 3/4

Magic resistance: Yes, it's time for some more rules clarifications. Magic resistance is an additional bonus chance to completely avoid effects that some creatures get on top of their usual saving throw. When it takes effect, what it does, what items bypass it, if it can be switched off volantarily, you probably encountered these questions if you were playing at the time. This makes it a useful but dry little article that feels rather dated, as the rules and how to phrase them have since been refined. Oh well, you've gotta put the work in to make the improvements. And it's a good thing someone did.

Gen con miniature open '83: Oooh. Pretty photos. Properly scanned ones this time. Their record on that has been spotty at best in the past. People, units, monsters and dioramas. Who's done the best job of painting and displaying their stuff this year? Shout outs to Julie Guthrie (four times, she really swept the boards this year), Jim Zylka (twice), Gene Elsner, John S Goff, Alan Patton, Judy Brown, and Mike Jaecks. (that's a weirdly high proportion of people who's names begin with J. What's with that?) I'll bet this brings up fond memories, if you're reading this.

Blame it on the gremlins: Oh, this is amusing. A monster from real world earth gets transplanted to D&D land. That's a bit wonky. Anyway. Annoying little trickster monster from modern legend. Be very afraid, for humiliation is worse than death, you know the drill. One of those articles that gives a rather large amount of tactical, ecological and sociological detail. It's just a vague irritation that it's being applied to such a silly subject. Really not sure if I like this or not, as it's going a long way for a joke, but wouldn't really fit in a serious D&D game. I think I'll leave it.

Setting saintly standards: Hello again Scott. You were dissatisfied by the fudgy answer to the question of sainthood, so you've decided to fill in some details of your own accord. While this still doesn't reveal how to become one (and given the criteria is essentially "convince some god they like you enough to grant sainthood" that puts hard and fast rules out anyway) this gives us a decent powerset and bunch of examples for different alignments. While that won't help you with the philosphical issues, at least it's a few more combat encounters to throw your players way, and lets them become godkillers lite before going on to the real thing. So it's useful in actual play, anyway. Another so-so article.

Wacko World: Another top secret module. Although 16 pages long, it actually isn't that big, because two pages are blank, while others have adverts on part of them. Still plenty of stuff going on, as it combines location based wandering with a timeline dependent plot. Something sinister is going down at the funfair, and you'd better figure it out before lots of people die. Despite the comical exterior, this actually looks like it could be rather tricky to solve. It's certainly not a bad module, and the site could be easily transplanted for other uses. As ever, actual play experiences are welcome.

Page advice II: Once again, they give advice to all you aspiring freelancers out there on how to get your stuff up to scratch and into print. This time, they're a little more specific than before, along with the usual stuff about producing work consistently, not getting discouraged, learning from feedback and trying again, they give more info about handy reference materials. The elements of style gets it's usual hearty recommendation, and research in general is played up as a very good thing. After all, you can't conciously hone and adapt your style unless you can analyze other people's styles and figure out what's good about them. Looks like they're refining their knowledge of how to spot a good freelancer as well as their personal writing skills. Well, with a bigger player base to draw on, they can afford to be more selective. This of course makes it harder for the ordinary person to get their big break. Oh well, so it goes. This is why getting in on the ground floor if you can spot a trend coming is a good idea.

The fights of fantasy: Lew Pulsipher considers how magic would logically affect D&D warfare. A very good topic to cover indeed. Once again, his tastes and thoughts mesh seamlessly with mine, as he examines the impact scrying, mind reading, and general use of wizards as artillery and strategy pieces has on the flow of war. Pay attention to this stuff, because it's easy to adapt to regular party situations as well. Good battlefield control enables you to take on far larger forces and come out on top than piling in with straight attacks. Buffs (actually get neglected somewhat in Lews consideration, which is interesting to note.) and strategic spells have far greater impact than straight damage dealers. While it is a bit dated by the ruleset, and hampered by 4e's brutal nerfing of strategic noncombat spells, the principles are still sound. Apply them, and your ability to take on large opposition and come out on top will be massively increased, whatever system you're using. I very much approve, and hope some of you had your playstyle shaped by this back in the day.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 79: November 1983

part 4/4

Be aware and take care: (You'd better watch out if you've got long black hair :D ) Lew gets a second article published in quick succession. This is quite a long one, spanning 8 pages. (albeit sharing them with lots of adverts) It covers much the same themes as the previous one, but from a different angle. This is focussed around avoiding the obvious mistakes an adventuring party can make, and tactics for good dungeoneering in general. The lessons from dealing with years of antagonistic DM'ing are writ large here, as well as lessons on adapting your play to the fudging, make it as they go along style GM. This is indeed very focussed on the kind of play where the team is trying to win, and the victories are more important than the journey. But as we know Lew doesn't neglect the role side, and this focus on the objective is merely for this article, that's not too bad. Once again, this is filled with inventive touches such as putting explosive runes on paper planes and polymorphing charmed creatures to make them more useful. He's pretty much got the whole package sorted. Rules mastery, imagination, and social contract stuff. I am indeed envious.

Off the shelf: The art of Al Williamson by James van Hise is a biography of the man and his artwork, showing how he has developed over the years, the people who have influenced and collaborated with him. It could be easy to get sloppy and produce scrappy work when you have to create stuff daily for the newspapers, but he has always retained proper anatomy and shadow play. This has won him much respect from his peers and readers.
Code of the life maker by James P Hogan is science fiction with a strong emphasis on both the science and the social commentary. Let us not forget, humanity has done many dumb things in it's time. What better way to teach than by mockery.
The unteleported man by Philip K Dick is another of his classics of convoluted plot and shifting viewpoint. Now in a new extended edition, with the original ending retained. What do these publishers know about commercial success?
Dinosaur tales by Ray Bradbury is an illustrated collection of his works. Great for anyone who loves dinosaurs, bradbury, or good artwork. That's a pretty broad net cast there. Methinks a little hyperbole is involved. Still, it's not as though dinosaurs don't hold a deep fascination for some people. I'm sure plenty would enjoy it.
The generals wife by Peter Straub is exceedingly expensive. Not sure why, when it seems from the decsription to be quite short. I guess the illustrations and packaging make up the deluxe cost. An interesting little curio.
The worthing Chronicle by Orson Scott Card is as preachy as we have come to expect from the man, the mormon, the legend that is Scott Card. Thankfully this is pre-brain eater days, when he could still tell a riveting sci-fi story to back his ideology. Or at least, this reviewer likes it. Ahh, more innocent days.
The man who used the universe by Alan Dean Foster is another tale of intrigue and ambition. The reviewer didn't like him before, but for some reason, does now. What changed?

Wormy goes to a werebar. Hybrid form is the preferred dress around there. Dixie gets bodyswapped in What's new. Say growf to me, bitch. Growf Growf! GROWF! Oh yeah, that's right baby. What, we're still not going to do sex in D&D. Then what....... oh no. :eek:

An odd mix of the dry and silly in this issue. Seems like they decided to use up a lot of april's leftovers before they went off, but also put in a load of gaming advice. This is a bit incongrous, and overall adds up to a slightly sub par issue. You really ought to get back to the spectacular special features. At least they're interesting even when they fail technically. At least all the rules stuff is pretty solid this time, unlike with a lot of joke articles. Come on, you've done some good stuff recently. Don't start letting things slide and get flabby again.
 

GestaltBennie

Cycle Fish Messenger Boy
Validated User
Dragon Issue 79: November 1983

part 3/4


Setting saintly standards: Hello again Scott. You were dissatisfied by the fudgy answer to the question of sainthood, so you've decided to fill in some details of your own accord. While this still doesn't reveal how to become one (and given the criteria is essentially "convince some god they like you enough to grant sainthood" that puts hard and fast rules out anyway) this gives us a decent powerset and bunch of examples for different alignments. While that won't help you with the philosphical issues, at least it's a few more combat encounters to throw your players way, and lets them become godkillers lite before going on to the real thing. So it's useful in actual play, anyway. Another so-so article.
.

Hey. :) That's a fair assessment of the article.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 80: December 1983

part 1/4

84 pages. Another iconic cover from Clyde Caldwell that would be reprinted quite a few times here. We also find out that their circulation has now exceeded 100,000. Not long now until they hit their peak. Enjoy it while it lasts.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A letter praising the psionic articles, and asking if the new powers in there are available to non psionicists. They decide to leave that question open to individual GM's. It's all optional, dahlink. Ewerythink's Optional! :grandiose hand gesture:
A letter from Arthur Collins giving minor corrections to the aforementioned psionics stuff. Curse you, Kim! :shakes fist:
A letter pointing out that their dice probability program is flawed. They say they already admitted that last issue. Don't keep on.
A question about king of the tabletop, which they answer efficiently.
A letter pointing out corrections in the index, and asking how long it'll be before the next one. They really don't know.
A letter about testing dice with the same number twice with the chi-square formula. The best way is to treat each side as a single result.
A letter pointing a mistake in citadel by the sea. Thankfully, it's an invisible error, so it doesn't ruin the module anyway.
A letter pointing out that they've been ending articles with the zodiac symbols for each month recently, and wondering about the significance. They reply that it's just for fun, y,know.

The psychology of the doppleganger: An ecology by another name would still smell just as, well, pretty rank actually, for most of the creatures they tackle. But these guys can smell how they like. (unless you decide that that isn't the case, as a way to catch them out) This decides that dopplegangers are like cuckoos. They imitate humanity, breed with them, and think that they are human when they are young. Which as you should know, is a portrayal that sticks, simply because of the cool plots it offers. But like illithids (another race that would later become parasitic off the bodies of others,) they are far from human in their mentality, with mind reading and sheer intellectual power causing them to regard most races as mere cattle to be played with as they choose. How can you have an equal relationship with someone when you can read their every thought, probe their memories freely, and anticipate their every move. You'd come to think yourself superior as well and justly so. There's a world of darkness game in there, and I'm vaguely surprised they haven't made one about dopplegangers yet. All in all, this is a pretty good ecology, both in terms of fiction and interesting appendix detail. The creepiest things are those that hit closest to home. And dopplegangers can certainly do that in spades.
 
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