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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)

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Registered User
Validated User
Incidentally, this leads onto a problem with the later post Archive issues, where the adverts are cut out from the official scans(why?).
Official scans? Are you saying WotC has PDFs of the later Dragons online somewhere? :eek:

Link, please!

- Brian

Tom McCambley

Validated User
Paizo publishing has the entire line of Dragon Magazine issues scanned into PDF's. You can buy them here.

EDIT - It looks like you can't buy only certain early issues, and the first one I spotted was 90. Yeesh!
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T. Foster

Retired User
Interesting how much fiction (and not just fictionalized Actual Play reports -- actual fiction) there is in those early issues of The Dragon (and IIRC there are going to start being editorial references to readers complaining about it soon).

Trivia Note: Garrison Ernst is a pseudonym for Gary Gygax and (Spoiler Alert!) don't get too attached to the "Gnome Cache" because after a couple more issues he gets disillusioned and gives up on it.


Are you mochrieing me?
Validated User
Got to admit I would have been more interested in Dungeon reviews to find what scenarios were worth having.


Despair Shouter
Validated User
Great thread. It made me pull out the gaming club's copy of the Dragon Archive and browse through some of the early issues. The editorial tone seems surprisingly antagonistic and petty, while the letters column is an absolute hoot to read.


Making the Legend
Validated User
The Dragon Issue 3: October 1976

At last! We have a table of contents! Hooray hooray caloo calay! Truly, advancement is made of things that seem utterly obvious once you have them. We also have the first letters page actually containing letters from the public, not just more stuff from Gary. However, (as T foster accurately remembered) as a result of these letters they decided that the amount of fiction was too high in the last couple of issues, so they're going to cut down. Have we already seen the high watermark in terms of systemless fiction ratio in Dragon?That was surprisingly quick, since its only been 4 issues since the first story. Or will it creep up again? We shall see.

In this issue:

An article of the death of War of the Empires, a play by post (that's snail mail, not internet message board, just to be absolutely clear) that died abruptly when the creator lost interest and simply stopped answering messages. (an all too familiar tale.) and his attempts to revive it. A reminder that many things we take for granted required huge amounts of effort to make work back then.

Our first Women in D&D article. This one is disastrously snigger-worthy. Typical of the time, there are no roleplaying notes at all, merely a load of tables detailing how female characters differ statistically from male ones. Attractive female characters get "seduction magic" regardless of class among other things, (including the potential for ugly witches to scare their target to death when they try and use it) which I think says it all. Yeah, they'd never have got away with this one even 10 years later, let alone now.

The search for the gnome cache continues.

Birth tables for D&D. No, not that kind, don't snigger, although given the previous article I wouldn't have been surprised at that. This is just for random generation of social class, siblings, parents occupation and other mundane stuff for people who can't be bothered to make a background themselves, or want to leave it up to chance. Nothing wrong with it, but not particularly brilliant and detailed either.

Comic: The adventures of Finieous Fingers and Fred and Charly by JD. Considerably larger and more detailed than Dirt, but still a pretty simple self-contained premise. We've still got a way to go before we get demented metaplot and in-joke filled stuff like Yamara.

Wargaming world, a collection of miniatures reviews. As I remember seeing those when I was reading first time round, I presume this also becomes a regular feature.

We're starting to get international DM listings in Mapping the Dungeons. Which I guess is significant.

The letters are interesting. We have our first case of fan copying being stamped down upon, (and the resultant outrage) and a tremendously long and pedantic letter about the unbalancedness of an article in a previous issue. Already business as usual then :D .

6 new classes, including 2 joke ones: Healers, Scribes, Samurai, Berserkers, Idiots and Jesters. In addition, they expand on dwarves abilities and abilities to enter classes. A good reminder of just how low demihuman limits were at this point, even compared to 2nd ed AD&D. The classes are typically wonky, with the healer unable to do any healing until they get to 3rd level, but able to raise dead from 3rd level up as well, Scribes having a monopoly on spellbook copying, which forces every wizard to pay them exorbitant amounts if they want new spells, and Berserkers having a requirement of an intelligence less than 9. These could definitely have done with some more playtesting and consideration of their ramifications on the world.

Dirt continues.

As you may have gathered, there is a lot of crap in this issue. Fortunately, it's still entertaining crap, that wouldn't make it into future books (as dragon continues to expand, I expect that this will become the norm, and its the stuff that does influence future canon that will become noteworthy.) and so only cause problems for the kind of groups that throw every optional rule in there for the hell of it. And the format continues to grow ever more familiar.


Making the Legend
Validated User
(un)reason--do you want that in a PM or just in a post here?
Pm's would be good.
Got to admit I would have been more interested in Dungeon reviews to find what scenarios were worth having.
I don't believe there was ever a Dungeon Magazine Archive published.

Anyone recall?
I'm afraid the answer is no, there wasn't. The legal hassles they experienced after publishing the Archive probably put them off that idea. And methinks that this is enough on my plate for now. However, if someone were to hunt them all down and make that thread, I would be very flattered indeed, and engage in crosslink promotion of that thread.
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