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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

What can I say, I just like polls :)


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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 90: October 1984

part 3/4

Plane facts on gladsheim: Another plane gets an extensive official profile. It's been too long since the last one. Was no-one sending them in, or were the submissions they got just not good enough? Anyway, welcome to Gladsheim. One of the most adventurable outer planes, as despite having good leanings, it's still a wild and untamed place full of monsters and warriors. Roger decides to focus on the Norse section of the plane, to the exclusion of everything else. This may not have been such a good idea, as he falls into one of the primary traps planar chroniclers have to deal with, making an infinite universe seem too small and stereotyped. They managed to avoid it with the astral and hellish articles, but this is a definite case of fail, I'm afraid. The incorporation of real world legends is handled way too literally, instead of making the effort to make them fit properly within D&D, they just seem tacked on with little consideration to the larger picture. Once again, they also suffer the problem of individually spelling out the changes in spells and magic items, rather than just giving general patterns. Only since the article isn't as long, this winds up taking more than half of it. In other words, I found this article a massive disappointment, that manages to take a thrilling subject, and make it seem hackneyed and dull. I'm very disappointed in you, Mr Moore. You're normally such a reliable student. D+. Must try harder.

As with the astral article, we also get an official adventure set there, Aesirhammer. This is rather more fun, giving you the chance to meet some really high level creatures, negotiate with them, and possibly take their stuff. Of course, in the GM's advice they STRICTLY FORBID that you let the players keep the world shattering plot macguffin and actually use it themselves, or that you be permitted to mess up the status quo in any way. But if you ignore that, you have a neat sandbox with which to play, that could enable you to have all kinds of effects on the setting. After all, if you hit the reset button after every adventure, what's the point. High level play should be about making permanent changes to things, and having big friends and enemies. Step off the railroad, take your time, and set up a really great show.

Reviews: Chill is our only review this month, getting a pretty positive look at. Once again we see the advantage of boxed sets over single big books in making games quick to start and accessable, while allowing you to build plenty of depth into the setting. This simplicity does have it's costs in terms of setting depth, and there are a few silly elements. Still, it's not hard to houserule those, and then you have a streamlined yet versatile horror game. It already has 4 supplements, and looks like more may be along soon. If you like your horror a little less grim and weird than Call of Cthulhu, this could be a worthy addition to your collection.

The Ares section gets to have a colour cover for the first time. Manwhile, in the ares log, they use the space to provide a brief review of a book on the space program, and how you go about becoming a part of it. Those are certainly both developments. Guess the amount of trust (and money) they're getting for this section is increasing.

Skills for the super agent: Ahh, a persistent problem with supers games. How do you balance batman with superman? Much fun has been had with this debate in the past. Unfortunately, this completely ignores the generalities of this question, and goes into providing templates for trainees of the various organizations in the Champions game. With point costs of between 12 and 30, they don't show you how to make a really badass secret agent style character who can stand up to superbeings in a toe to toe fight by skill, grit and luck, either. I get the impression I may be thinking at cross-purposes with the author of this article. Not that it's a terrible article, but the way it's designed means it doesn't have much use to players of other games.

The superworld game, Expanded: And we get a second supers article in quick succession. Still not sure why they're lumping that in with the sci-fi stuff, but there you go, I'm not the editor on this magazine. Steve Perrin presents us with a grab-bag of new abilities and disadvantages for his game, making it better able to emulate the huge range of powers found in the genre. As he's the original creator, I'm guessing this is fairly balanced stuff, that made it into the next edition after a little tweaking. Plus it's interesting to see someone else who still gets talked about sometimes today show up in the magazine. Wonder if we'll see him again.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 90: October 1984

part 4/4

The mega-corporations: As promised last issue, we get write-ups for the various star frontiers megacorps. 16 of them are detailed, which means they don't get much depth each. They do tend to be a bit cliched, dividing themselves along obvious business lines, despite the theoretical ban on monopolies. I'm guessing this is probably diliberate, but it does feel a bit "white wolf splats in outer space, maaan" This is one article that could definitely have benefited from being quite a bit bigger.

Starquestions sets it's co-ordinates for Gamma world again. Penny takes the reins, to tell us about the game.
What's the difference between the original and revised editions of the game. (lotsa shiny new stuff, and an improved advancement system)
What issues of Dragon have gamma world stuff. (Several really old ones, and all the recent ones, with lots of big gaps in between)
Are there going to be any more supplements (No. You don't buy it enough to make that economical. )
Can you play old modulez using the new system ( Does a bee harvest flowers in the woods?)
How fast does a horse drawn wagon go. (Not much faster than walking. The real benefit is in the load you can carry )
Why isn't Canada on the map (Because Jim Ward's a big meanie who wanted to make Edward Greenwood cry. There there, Ed. Remember, the best revenge is success.)
Shouldn't plate armour be tougher than plastic armour (No. Plastic is awesome. Don't diss it like that. Metal may rust, but plastic is virtually impossible to get rid of. )
Can Gamma world races interbreed (Not usually. Course, with mutations being what they are, anything's possible. )
Can you disguise yourself as someone else with shapechange (no)
What happens to someone who travels to another plane (they're removed from play. Unless everyone goes, in which case convert them to the new universe's system.)
How do you get to the AD&D universe (Mad Science! It's indistinguishable from magic, so it can get you places you'd need magic to get to. )
Can you modify vehicles to run on different types of fuel (If you can scrounge up the parts. This may not be easy in postapocalyptic land)
Will sunglasses protect someone with dark dependency (no. You'll need a whole bodysuit to keep yourself from getting terminal sunburn)
Why doesn't being taller increase your hit points. (Because it doesn't. Size =/= resilience. Go beat up Jarvis Cocker. That'll be a good demonstration. )
How does a 1cm tall character attack. (poison and stealth. Just don't expect them to be useful in a pitched battle.)
Can I buy Metamorphosis alpha (Not unless you find a second hand copy somewhere. We're all out.)
Are there any Gamma world mini's (again, you aren't buying enough to make it worth our while. )
I need some help on making high level adventures (Tough. I can't provide you with any. Maybe Jim will be in a more generous mood.)

Wormy gets some REAL bait. Snarfquest has a random encounter. Which winds up a lot more random once he's through with it.

Paranoia! Buy this game! And play it! Are you happy now? Remember, happiness is mandatory. Playing other games is treasonous. Posession of this magazine is strong evidence that you play other games. Therefore you are treasonous and must be terminated. I hope your clone is happy and not treasonous, and has many long happy years playing Paranoia before it gets terminated.

Some serious disappointments in this issue, as they seem to be taking a definite step forward towards the more restrictive, preachy, railroading style of certain later adventures. I'm not happy to see those turning up this early, as I know they get a lot worse before they get better, and hope they won't grow too fast or show up up too often. We might have come a long way, but we've got far further to go still. And this issue is a foreshadowing that some of that journey is going to be rather challenging and unpleasant. Still, at least it shakes off the ennui, and gives me something to rant about. Can't be all sunny days and flowers, can it? If it never rained, we'd never see flowers, because they'd all dry up and die. Which I suppose proves the point.
 

Mr Teufel

Dashing
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The mega-corporations: As promised last issue, we get write-ups for the various star frontiers megacorps. 16 of them are detailed, which means they don't get much depth each. They do tend to be a bit cliched, dividing themselves along obvious business lines, despite the theoretical ban on monopolies. I'm guessing this is probably diliberate, but it does feel a bit "white wolf splats in outer space, maaan" This is one article that could definitely have benefited from being quite a bit bigger.
Give 'em a break mate! This is published seven years before White Wolf was born - so they're actually ahead of their times! :p
 

MadWritter

"Cartoon Action Hour" fan
Validated User
(un)reason said:
Paranoia! Buy this game! And play it! Are you happy now? Remember, happiness is mandatory. Playing other games is treasonous. Posession of this magazine is strong evidence that you play other games. Therefore you are treasonous and must be terminated. I hope your clone is happy and not treasonous, and has many long happy years playing Paranoia before it gets terminated.
The Computer thanks you for your laugh.
 

Littleredfox

Registered User
Validated User
Luna, the empire and the stars: Our moon series turns it's eye to the Other Suns game in it's 6th installment. Once again, history has advanced to the point where the timeline in here seems a bit silly. (or depressing, given how many of us thought moonbases would be well established by now. ) Similarly, the long term deadliness of nuclear weapons is much exaggerated, given what we know now. But hey, artistic license is needed to make a good story. Worse things happen on TV.
IIRC this article contains more background fluff on Humanity place in that universe than everything else for Other Suns put together.
 

Valfader

Heavy metal hippie
Validated User
Yeah, but why leave the links in your quote?
Old habit, I guess. I'm used to clicking the 'Quote message in reply?' thing, when quick-replying.

Edit: It appears that Iceshadow took care of it. Thanks.
 
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demiurge1138

Registered User
Validated User
Woo!. I've finally taken the time to sit down with this thread and give it a read through. Having a weekend free will do that.

And I like what I see. The first appearances of people like Mohan, Moldvay and Greenwood, and long-lasting concepts like Monty Haul and munchkinry, Greyhawk's gods and What's New With Phil and Dixie. Some monsters I've converted to 3.5, and some I've never heard of. A surprise appearance by the Vashta Nerata (in your commentary--it'd be very surprising if they were mentioned in the magazine).

Excellent thread, and now I'm going to keep up with it.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 91: November 1984

part 1/4

116 pages. So here we are, pretty much at the zenith of their popularity. With a circulation of 120,000, they're certainly a pretty significant force to be reckoned with. This is their biggest issue yet, and they seem to be making an extra effort for this one, with a load of format changes and special features. They probably should have held back for christmas but they just couldn't wait. So I won't bore you with pretentious preamble either.

In this issue:

Out on a limb loses it's vaguely amusing name, and becomes simply Letters. Seems a slightly pointless change to me. Eh, if they feel it'll make us take them more seriously. :shrug: Anyway, lets see what people are actually saying.
A letter praising Katharine Kerr's recent articles, and offering some supplemental advice. Kim gives an unnecceceraly large reply justifying an argument against such a minor quibble.
Three letters complaining about the rust monster ecology and asking further questions. Kim once again reminds them that a creature's description is not something to be stuck too slavishly. We're willing to give Ed plenty of leeway because the things he comes up with are cool. Whining whenever things aren't just so, on the other hand, is the epitome of uncool, and will not endear you to anyone.
Four letters about the details of various magical items they recently published. Once again I yawn. Just make it up for your own campaign. Is that really that hard?

The forum also gets it's header improved. This is nice.
Scott Hicks is not pleased at Katharine Kerr's denunciation of evil characters. Evil =/= stupid. The pragmatic bastard approach to adventuring can be very effective indeed. The success of many corporations in the real world is not hindered by their ethically suspect actions, quite the opposite in fact.
Steve Null also attacks Katharine, along a different tack. If even fantasizing about committing evil acts was mentally unhealthy, them all the GM's in the world would be on the fast track to breakdowns and depraved real life behaviour. This is obviously not the case. Your logic is deeply faulty.
Eric Herman worries about demihuman lifespans and the levels they would acquire in that time. Surely an elf is far more likely to advance to obscene levels than a human, particularly if they take thief, which is unlimited. Probably true, but for any race, levels will be an exponential curve. There is no proper age/level progression. Becoming high level is like becoming a millionaire. Some people manage it before they hit 20, but most will never do it, no matter how long or hard they try. Even long-lived races only have a low percentage of name+ level characters.
David N Moolten sticks his two cents in on the matter of falling damage. So much of it is dependent on what material you're hitting. This ought to be taken account of in the rules. Ha. No chance.
Finally, Alan Zumwalt sneers at Kevin Lawless' criticism of dragon clerics. It's perfectly normal for people to worship gods of different alignments if they have a desirable portfolio. Awareness of alignment is not constantly on creature's minds.

From the sorceror's scroll. Prreeeesenting! The Dukes of Demonic Destruction! The Squishers of Spinagons and Smashers of Structures! The Tanks of the Tanar'ri! The Goristro! Quail in terror, puny mortals! RAAAAARRGG! Particularly Gary's editor. You are most incompetent and must suffer for all the mistakes you introduced to my perfect work. ;) A particularly amusing article that is a classic of Gary's writing style. Unlike last issue, which felt rather tentative, he's now back and firing on all cylinders. It's good to see him in the driving seat again. Long may he continue to entertain and confound us (from a safe distance, preferably.)

Realistic vital statistics: Ahh, Stephen Innis again. He's becoming another regular of recent issues. This is another reiteration of the Square-Cube law, and the problems it presents when dealing with giants and other proportionally weird D&D creatures. A dwarf the height of a human would weigh around 500 pounds. There is no way cloud and storm giants could function without magical support or being way less dense than humans. (which is why they are partially composed of clouds, I suppose. ) This is one of those articles that falls into the competent but dull category. I already know this, don't particularly care at the moment, and would rather concentrate on figuring out how to make games fun than realistic. So much for all that hard mathematical work.

The ecology of the leucrotta: Now here's a bastard of a monster, made even more bastardly by a well written Ed Greenwood article. Leucrotta may not have genius intelligence or an array of magical powers, but they're still smart enough to trick humans, and cause quite considerable amounts of harm and paranoia with their mimicry and depredations. Kinda like the peryton in that respect. Are they from the same mythological sources? In any case, this is also another good reminder that even fairly mundane monsters become a lot scarier when you start applying basic tactics and not just jumping out and fighting the adventurers on straight terms. Once again, both the fluff and the extra crunch are entertainingly written, and you get a real feel for the creatures and how they live their lives. If only it were a little longer, as I could definitely stand to hear a little more about this kind of topic.
 
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