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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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Thranguy

Retired User
Say..was that Top Secret Companion ever actually, y'know, published? I remember the various teases, but I don't recall the product at all...
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Say..was that Top Secret Companion ever actually, y'know, published? I remember the various teases, but I don't recall the product at all...
Yes. I never owned a copy, but it was out there. ISBN 0-88038-102-7, if you're interested in tracking it down.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 84: April 1984

part 3/4

The twofold talisman: Another extra long adventure is detailed in these pages. However, as they just did a big one and doing that two issues in a row would probably result in complaints, they split it into two parts, putting 12 pages here, with the conclusion coming next month. This is very much a tournament module, with pregenerated characters, annoying fakeouts designed specifically to screw with player expectations, stupid jokes, (damn you monty python :shakes fist:) and no sense of realism to the environment at all. You should expect to die repeatedly and in very infuriating ways. Use with caution, for running it with your regular characters may result in very pissed off players.

Fiction: Master of the winds by Sharon Lee. Another of those tales of testing the apprentice wizard, psychodrama stylee. We had one of those just last issue. Guess they're like busses. Don't see them for years, and suddenly a whole bunch of them come along at once. Thankfully the protagonist is a rather more pleasant character than Raistlin. Although her rival is not, and actually has quite a lot of parallels with him, which I find very amusing. This time, the good guys win, and the future looks fairly positive. Which is more than we can say for Krynn, with it's endless litany of narrowly averted world destroying disasters ahead. But enough about that. On it's own merits, this is another likable but unexceptional piece of fiction to read, enjoy and then use as inspiration for your own magical seekings, or just forget about, as you choose.

Reviews: Secrets of the labyrinth is part two of the thieves guild stuff on the free city of haven. Annoyingly, they've dropped the loose-leaf format in the middle of the series, so you can no longer assemble the books into one bigger one when they're all out. It also requires quite a bit of buy-in to the gameline in general, due to lots of references to rules from other supplements. If you already like the gameline though, it's another solid addition to it, with plenty of setting details and adventure ideas.
Chivalry & sorcery's new edition attempts to be more accessable than before. It may be an improvement, but it's certainly not enough of one, and their editing process leaves quite a bit to be desired. It's still a game with tremendous depth, possibly even more so than before. If you're an expert gamer who wants a better treatment of the medieval mileu than D&D can provide, try this.
The mentzer ed D&D basic & expert sets also get a sycophanticly positive "review" This really does feel like a pure shill piece, with all the comments positive, and great attention paid on how friendly they are to new gamers. As much as I do like those same sets, I'm still pretty suspicious of this review. I understand that you want to sell your game, but you could at least pretend to be objective a bit better.

Are's section.

Are's log: So sci-fi is back in Dragon. This is pleasing, even if the method by which it returned isn't. Then again, they didn't have to do this. They could have just let the magazine die entirely. And at least this time they're transferring the subscriptions properly. Similarly, it looks like at least a few of the staff from the magazine have been transferred over as well. It's almost like a separate mini magazine. Which also means Roger gets to hone his editorial skills before he gets to take on a whole magazine on his own. So what have they got to offer. They've only got 16 pages to play with. Will they make the most of them? Lets take a look and see.

The lunar high republic: Well, it looks like they haven't abandoned their ambitions, in any case. They're planning on doing a series of pieces on the moon in various game universes and future histories. Just how many ways can an airless lump of white rock be developed? I'm betting quite a few. First up is the moon of the Space Opera game. Having been repressed by earth in it's early year, it rebelled, and is now fiercely independent, despite the infrastructure needed for survival. Dueling is an entirely de rigeur means of settling disagreements, and the generally pretty liberal laws are enforced fast and without ceremony. It all seems a bit of a mary sue writeup, really, as the author goes to pains to make it clear how much better things are than on earth in almost every respect. If this was an in-game perspective, this would be forgivable, but as a supposedly objective write-up, this makes me suspicious. Is this typical of the game's attitude in general, or a flaw of this writer in particular?
 

T. Foster

Retired User
#84 was the first issue of Dragon I actually bought new in the store (all my earlier issues were picked up later, second-hand). I think the reason I picked this particular issue up was because of the Companion Set preview (I hadn't yet "transitioned over" to AD&D). Not an especially memorable or noteworthy issue in and of itself (except for the debut of the Ares section and the departure of "What's New?"), but it will always stand out in my memory.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 84: April 1984

part 4/4

The zethra: Oh no! said Edward Greenwood. They have cancelled Ares magazine. Whatever shall I do now?! I can't write nothing but D&D stuff all the time, I'd go quite mad. And what's going to happen to the article I sent in just last month? Don't say it's just going to be lost forever. Don't worry, said Roger Moore. We wouldn't let you down like that. We've saved it, and we'll publish it in Dragon Magazine. Hooray! said Edward Greenwood. You guys are the best friends ever. And so everyone was happy again, and they all went and had pancakes with maple syrup for tea.
Anyway, where was I. The zethra are weird tentacled blob things. Seems like one of the standard sci-fi things people come up with when trying to get away from the standard humanoid body model. These ones come from the Xagyg ( ;) ) cluster, and shoot energy bolts. I'm really not enthralled, as they have an air of self-concious wackiness about them. When told to say something random, the average person will say Fish! Bad taste is represented by combining purple and green, and the random number is usually 7. So decorate the amorphous blob's room with 7 little flying fish models painted green with purple spots, and you have the wackiest setup ever. Malkav would be proud.

Starfire, gaming x3: Oh, now this is more like it. 3 quick sets of optional rules to include or not, as you see fit. Rules to speed up the movement process, and allow for simultaneous actions. That'll certainly ramp up the drama. Rules for facing and the advantage you get for catching someone from the rear. Hee. And if you want something a little more complicated, you can introduce 3d positioning, including the pythagorean mathematics needed to determine diagonal distances. Ai carumba. I think I'll pass on that one. Still this is a useful little set of ideas, and it's nice to see non RPG's get some small amount of coverage again. I've found this the most likable of the articles in the section. It's the only one that doesn't seem to be trying too hard. Lets hope they settle in soon. It might be a bit cramped, but at least it's homey and the companies good.

Snarfquest does some shapeshifting. What's new gets fired. Well, at least they go out with a bang, very literally, as that means it's time for sex in D&D. We also get a proper postscript. Talanan goes monty haul. Wormy reveals the dark side of wargaming with real figures and long postage times. They really oughta get proper life insurance for this. What are raise spells for, otherwise.

A nice full colour advert for D1: Dragons of dispair. Looks like they're going to push this one hard. They already have the flashy logo for the world done.

And once again dragon magazine goes through some substantial changes this issue, mostly for the better. The ares section might have got off to a shaky start, but it's still a very interesting development, and I look forward to seeing what they have to offer over the next couple of years. Hopefully things'll settle down for a bit after the madness of the last few months. If the format changed every month, it could hardly be called a format. I guess it's more interesting than things being essentially the same for years though.
 
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Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Anyway, where was I. The zethra are weird tentacled blob things. Seems like one of the standard sci-fi things people come up with when trying to get away from the standard humanoid body model. These ones come from the Xagyg ( ;) ) cluster, and shoot energy bolts. I'm really not enthralled, as they have an air of self-concious wackiness about them. When told to say something random, the average person will say Fish! Bad taste is represented by combining purple and green, and the random number is usually 7. So decorate the amorphous blob's room with 7 little flying fish models painted green with purple spots, and you have the wackiest setup ever. Malkav would be proud.
I kind of liked the Zethra. They at least tried to be a little more than humanoids with bumpy foreheads. However from a game mechanics standpoint, they were way too powerful for PCs.

Since What's New? is gone and presumably won't show up again in the thread, here's the link (again) to the online version. Seems to be one month away from being caught up: http://www.airshipentertainment.com/growfcomic.php?date=20070107
 

Thranguy

Retired User

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 85: May 1984

part 1/4

100 pages. Looks like it's another cleric special. I guess the whole merry-go round of class and race specials will start up again in the following months. They can't leave a topic like that as a one-off. Speaking of one-offs, once again we run into the nothing new in the world problem. They publish reviews of things billed as unique, and next thing you know, other people write-in to say they've been doing that for years. Suitably chastened, they say they won't do that again. Meanwhile, Ken Rolston and Katherine Kerr get jobs as contributing editors. Once again, the quality and quantity of their top writer's outputs have been recognized and rewarded. Which means we get to see even more of them. Hopefully there'll still be room for untried freelancers to get a foot in the door. After all, they've got a big magazine to fill every month. So lets get going. Even with Ken around, the magazine won't review itself.

In this issue:

Out on a limb: A letter asking about copyright, and what exactly they can do with the material in Dragon. They are in magnanimous mood today and reply that as long as you don't sell it, they don't have a problem.
Two letters about the new unarmed combat rules and monks. Again, duly answered.
A question about pineal glands, and their use as spell components.
Some questions about baba yaga's hut.
A letter pointing out that one of the pregen characters in the twofold talisman is illegal. Honestly. Ordinary players get this right more often than RPG writers. It's quite shocking.
Two letters on the familiars article last month. My, their response time is pretty prompt these days. I remember when it took 3 months to start getting any feedback on an article.
A question on how international peeps are supposed to provide a usable SASE, when their stamps aren't legal tender in america. They reply that you need an international reply coupon, whatever the hell that is. Ahh, the arcane details of international commerce.

The forum: Jon Paulson complains at Ken Rolston for putting spoilers in his CoC review. Now he can't run it for his players. Ken apologizes and says he'll try and tread the line better next time. Yet another case of nothing new in the world.
Katherine Kerr rebutts Nikki Purdues statement that life for serfs didn't suck. While adventurers are off slaying dragons, they have to grub in the dirt on the edge of starvation. Woe! Woe! Give generously to the people still starving in africa today. Let them know it's christmas time. Oh wait. A bit early for that, isn't it.
Jeffrey Carey makes contributions to the playability of the elemental planes, pointing out that the genie races live there, so there must be parts which have coherent spacial structures and little bits of other elements. Someone with the right magical tricks really ought to be able to survive and get around there, and there can be all kinds of weird variations on a theme in an infinite universe.
Finally, Flex Williams points out how some nasty things, like nitric acid, can cause huge amounts of damage on contact and not be noticed immediately. Fantasy contact poisons could do even more unpleasant stuff without it hurting verisimilitude.

Here's to your health: Ahh, healbotting. One of the primary uses of clerics. If you don't have one, you had to spend weeks or months recuperating at higher levels back then. Which is a lot more realistic than 3rd or 4th edition, weirdly enough. I have to say that I never approached it like that back then. Partially it was that you didn't get spells until second level anyway, and we never memorized more than one copy of the same spell for reasons of versatility. So while we'd generally have a spell ready for when someone was about to die, that was the cue to get into defensive formation, and we certainly didn't expect to face each battle at full strength. But enough about my experiences. They're at the centre of the D&D experience. Of course they're going to have been hothoused into the mechanically optimal path more than the rest of us.
In this article, Kim tackles the nature of healing magic, how it works, what it's limitations are, and yes indeed, the question of if clerics should double dip on healing spells and focus on healbotting at the expense of all the other cool tricks they can pull. Should you reveal exactly how much damage is healed by each spell, and allow for metagaming. Should the deity served dictate or influence their clerics spell selection. Would any player be prepared to pay the extortionate prices that NPC clerics charge for healing. Like his examination of psionics, this is a fairly dull article that doesn't have that much that is useful in actual play either. But he's the chief editor, so it gets to be in pole position anyway. Mehness.

Special skills, special thrills: Our other editor makes the second contribution. Talk about keeping it in-house. Anyway, Roger gives us a rather more useful piece of work, talking about making clerics of different deities different. He refers back to the greyhawk god articles in issues 67-71, and then expands upon and rebalances them, so they don't just get special powers for nothing, and some gods end up way better choices than others. This is a very useful article indeed, and an obvious precursor to the sphere systems of subsequent editions. It should provide more than enough examples to allow you to do the same for your own gods, and if used, allows clerics a lot more customisability. An all cleric party would still probably be a bit of a stretch, but less so than keeping an all fighter team interesting and effective. Plus you get plenty of amusing role-playing opportunities. I very much approve.
 

Lord Mhoram

Registered User
Validated User
Plus you get plenty of amusing role-playing opportunities. I very much approve.
That kind of roleplaying is the start of the next article - a couple paragraphs of flavor-text/fiction that really shows how you can play that kind of thing. I always liked those three articles.
 
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