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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

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The leucrotta have been reliably sourced to Greek bestiaries, but the origins of the peryton are something of a mystery. Borges is the earliest reliable source, but he makes reference to a lost manuscript by a medieval rabbi referring to Greek texts, also lost. So it's entirely possible that that rabbi, or Borges, made it up from whole cloth.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 91: November 1984

part 2/4

Nine hells revisited: Ed also gives us another 16 pages of cool stuff on the nine hells. Well, since Roger messed it up, I guess it's up to him to remind us how it's really done. Which means if my math is right, this plane currently has more concrete stuff about it than all the others put together. People do so love conceiving of unpleasant people and things.
Since the basic layout and hierarchy is well covered, it's time to diversify. Any place with any kind of law will have outcasts, so we get 8 new unique devils for you to fight, deal with, and probably get screwed over by, because even if they're no longer welcome in polite society, they're still devils. They may help you in a scheme against the established power base, but only so they can get back into it, by trickery and treachery. They have a huge range of personality quirks and powers, reminding us that alignment is hardly a straitjacket, even for it's exemplars. And because all the outcasts live on the first level, that means they're relatively accessable. This is the kind of stuff that's both entertaining to read and incredibly useful in actual play, as it'd take months to whip up a cast of this size and diversity yourself.
Next we have treasure in the hells. After all, if you're going to kill devils, you're probably going to want to take their stuff as well. They get increasingly rich as you go down the levels, with tons of different types of gems just waiting to be mined and used. They're certainly not short on stuff to trade or hoard. Just remember, the wages of sin may be a bad influence on you, and finance can do things as impressive as any magic when it comes to gaining influence over a nation.
This neatly segues into a discussion of devilish agents on the prime material plane. If you believe them, they're all over the place, the ultimate illuminati, pulling strings and manipulating the fate of worlds. They're probably not as good as they think they are, but if it weren't for adventurers foiling them on a regular basis, who knows how bad things could get. As with the GDQ series, use of devils as behind the scenes manipulators is a great way to gradually build up to an epic multiverse spanning campaign, which is great fun as long as it doesn't happen every game.
And finally, we get a trio of short sections. Talk on the devilish hierarchy & promotion process. Some talk about the river styx and securing passage to places via it's treacherous boatmen. And finally, one of those tedious exhortations not to allow players to kill archdevils and otherwise make significant changes to the universe. That privilege is reserved for the game designers alone. That standard disclaimer aside, this is another demonstration that there's no-one on the team who can match up to Ed in terms of all round writing skills. When he's on, he's on. And this month, that is definitely the case.

Eight devilish questions: And just when you thought it was over, Ed is playing sage advice as well. That brings his contribution this month up to 22 pages. Man, he's prolific. Where does he find the time? Well, if he's being paid enough to live on now, he's got to keep his output up, or it's back to a boring day job. That can be a pretty strong incentive.
How big is an army of devils (normally organized in tiers of 10, so you get stuff like 300 grunts, 30 sargants and 3 sub-commanders. Yes, this is an excuse to make them 666 big as often as possible. )
How do Titivius and Malphas confuse words. (Better than any mortal lawyer, bitch. Watch Ally Mcbeal, and then do the exact opposite. (although making your "clients" and opposing council see illusory dancing babies never hurts) Reading minds so you can avoid contradicting what they already know, figure out how your lies are being recieved and adjust your behaviour accordingly is a very good idea as well. )
Is Arioch the same Arioch that appears in Michael Moorcock's novels (No. More than one person can have the same name. It's be a rather awkward universe if they couldn't)
What stops Archdevils from simply killing each other and taking their stuff (Politics. No-one can take on everyone else and win, and if they tried it, they'd be the ones that died. Plus, too much infighting would keep them from advancing the cause of law and evil through the multiverse. They are not stupid. )
How many HD do archdevils have. (divide their hp by 4.5. This will produce nicely badass results for attack probabilities and saves. )
Where does rope trick go exactly in the hells? (an adjacent layer, either above or below. This can be exploited, but is not reliable by any means, certainly not as a method of storage. And if you use it for escape, the words frying pan and fire seem singularly appropriate. )
What are the limitations of fiendish teleport without error (Any solid surface in hell that isn't warded. They can take stuff with them, but can't send it elsewhere without going. This is a very important power, because more than any other, it liberates their logistical processes from a huge number of the hassles humans face, and shapes their view of the world accordingly. Use it cleverly. )
What are the statistics of the greatest pit fiend at all. (Duh. standard pit fiend, maximum hit points, extra cool magic weapon. Nothing spectacular in the greater scheme of things. He just has a good publicist.)

TSR is having a 10th anniversary sale! Snap up this stuff while it's cheap, because it'll be a collectors item soon.

Chronicles - A novel idea: The dragonlance modules are in full steam. You want more? Well you're in luck, because the first novel is out soon. Fear not though. We've made sure the books and modules are different enough that you won't be completely spoiled by reading them, and can still wind up doing different things. The world is a lot bigger than just the epic adventure you're going through. We've done great oodles of setting construction that you won't get to see for a while. As you may have guessed, this is a fairly blatant promotional piece, bringing more attention to their game world and trying to sell it to the masses. Something I have no objection too, but at the same time, am not particularly enthralled by. Once again, we see that their salesman techniques definitely need a bit of refining. Come on guys, do the work, make me quiver in antici


Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 91: November 1984

part 3/4

Treasure trove: pation. Ahh, this is another pleasing returnee. Bazaar of the bizarre hasn't been around all year, but like the dragon's bestiary, they've decided to make up for that with a compendium of 47 new magical items as a second special feature this month. As if the new 9 hells stuff wasn't enough. Ed and Roger contribute many of the items in this section as well, with Richard Lucas, Michael Persinger and David Baldwin also making significant contributions. There's way too many for me to tackle each of them individually, but my favourites here are the ring of the grasshopper (of all the animals to choose, what wizard would think of that?) The girdle of loins (er, lions. :D ) The necklace of bad taste (genius, simply genius. A flavourful way of providing a substantial combat advantage,and a social commentary on gamers as well) and the cursed everstriking sword. (now that would be perfect for an iron heroes game) A great example of just how quirky and interesting magic items were back then, compared to more recent editions. You never know what you're gonna find in your loot, and figuring out how to put it to best use also takes quite a bit of effort and research. If they just do one thing, and do so completely reliably, it's no surprise if people get blase about their items. How many of you have looked at your video recorder manual and suddenly realized you never knew it could do half the things it can. If you apply the same principle to items you give your players, they'll pay a lot more attention to the things they have. Which is definitely a good thing, in my book.

Spies' Advice: Penny escapes the Ares section to tackle Top Secret again. She is proving pretty versatile. Not like Jean "I do not feel qualified to do so" Wells.
Do assassins have a license to kill (Yes, but it doesn't count for much. If you mess up, you're on your own.)
Why do you say no PC can be super (They can, just not at starting level. We've got to give you something to aspire to. )
Why are there no damage modifiers for rifles ( Good question. I'll guess abstraction for 5 alex)
How much damage does a flamethrower do. (Quite a lot, especially if they don't drop and roll. )
How much do arrows and crossbows cost (lots. They aren't produced much anymore.
What is the .22 Galil. Why is it so accurate? (It's a kickass israeli assault rifle. We think so, anyway. Have desert eagles been invented yet? We may shift our loyalty to them if they have )
How fast can the M3 shoot (4 shots/second. )
I want stats for more military gear. (Tough. This is a spy game, not a war one. You are not cleared to use that kind of ordinance, so we will not stat it out. )
It's too hard for my assassin to kill people in one shot. (You'll be thankful of that when you're the one getting sniped from cover by some bastard. And really, bullets aren't as deadly as some movies seem to think. Some people survive repeated headshots. Maybe you should be using explosives or poison more.)
You seem to think all improvised weapons do the same amount of damage. This is rubbish! (I blame Merle. He messed up the rules revision, not me! )
Can a dumb agent learn hand signals (Probably. He won't be very erudite with them though. Mind you, everyone understands the gesture for THOG SMASH!)
Can agents be ambidextrous (if you roll a 00 on a D% Not likely, in other words)
If you have identical speeds, who attacks first (Resolve simultaneously. You could both kill each other. How very dramatic. )
How does an unarmed person defend themselves against a sword (run away! )
If you kill someone on a mission you weren't supposed to, do you get XP ( Generally. It is a learning experience, after all)
Can you use untrained combat without any skill levels (yes)
Some of the Sprechaltenstalle pregens are more powerful than any legal 1st level PC. (That was intentional. Remember that you're supposed to be forced to choose blind. Random screwage is still pretty popular y'know.)

Coming attractions: Just in time for christmas, we get another attempt to let us know about all the stuff they have for sale. They really should do this more regularly. I guess they still don't spend enough time on the supplement treadmill enough to make this worthwhile every month yet
For the indiana jones rpg, we have module IJ3: Crystal death. Requires use of the Magic Viewer. Ahh yes, I remember that little gimmick from the transformers toys.
Star frontiers gets module SFKH, 2001 a space odyssey. Now your characters can play the events of the film and book. Sounds interminably tedious to me. I hope they remembered to license it properly this time.
For the marvel super heroes game, we have module MH4: Lone wolves. Or how to force a team of Mr Broody McAngstinthepants to work together to deal with a common foe.
D&D gets module CM3: Sabre river. You may have got yourselves domains, but that doesn't mean you can't go dungeon-crawling. This time though, even the dungeons are bigger and badder. You'd better come prepared.
AD&D, as usual, gets the lions share of products. Dragonlance is already up to it's 5th module, Dragons of mystery, and is getting mini's of the main characters as well. And Conan is fighting against darkness in CB2. Beware Thoth-Amon.

ARES Log: Eratta, eratta, what bettah place to put ya than in the edita's section. Bleh. Anyway, problems aside, it seems the the marvel-phile is easily the most popular part of the section. They have taken note of this and intend to keep it showing up regularly. More evidence that pure sci-fi isn't that popular. A bit awkward, really, and a sign that this section isn't going to last forever. Not that anything does. It's just a question of how long it will last, and enjoying it while you can.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 91: November 1984

part 4/4

Does anyone here speak Aslan?: Languages are a pain in the ass. They're one of the areas that gets most consistently fudged or worked around by some handwavium power in game settings, simply because the alternative is so much hassle to deal with, and constantly having to learn new ones wherever you go is bad for smooth and fun adventuring. Thankfully Traveller has never been known for it's cinematicness, so even with a certain amount of linguistic homogenization caused by concious governmental attempts, you still have thousands of the bastards out there, more than any one person could learn. This article covers the rules for learning new languages in a reasonable, but not excessive amount of detail, and somehow manages to keep the idea a likable one. A bit of grit never hurt anyone, (Yeah, I know, so not true, especially if you get it in the eye) and dealing with language barriers opens up almost as many plot avenues as it closes. If you want a more gritty realistic game, this is definitely an option to consider.

Day of the Juggernaut: A quick star frontiers scenario squashed between two longer articles, and with a slightly odd layout, this has a definite feel of something used to fill up space. Better that than more adverts, I guess. Like OGRE, this is a one big ship vs lots of smaller ships engagement, where you have to figure out how to stop the thing before it causes huge amounts of devastation. Perfectly serviceable, but not particularly exceptional.

The marvel-phile: Ahh, here we go. The marvel-phile tackles several interesting things this time round. We have stats for Cloak and Dagger (oh my aching sides.) Transformed by a mob experiment that went horribly wrong, they now target drug dealers and cure addicts. Here we see the conflict between the desire to tackle serious social issues, and the constriction of the comics code, forcing them to represent drug-taking as seriously wrong and detrimental to your karma, no matter what, no greys or excuses. (5 karma per glass of booze? Man that's harsh) How dated that all seems now. As with the U.N.C.L.E conversion, this is a great reminder that there are plenty of sillier things than rpg's out there in media land, and also that Dragon is horribly bowdlerised by it's editorial policy most of the time. You don't notice some things are missing until you see them, and them you're amazed that you didn't notice before. And frankly, I think I could handle a bit more sex and social issues, if you would be so kind.

Careers in Star Law: Yes, it's more detail on these guys. Having had a great idea opened up to us, now someone else weighs in on the crunch behind the idea. And instantly starts introducing restrictions and requirements that close plot ideas off again. This sucks. Every bit of inspiration requires a lot of perspiration to turn into a fully realized product, and maintaining momentum at every stage is nearly impossible. But still, this could definitely have been handled better. Very disappointing.

Don't leave home without 'em!: A nice little counterpart to the D&D treasure trove, they've also decided to give us a load of cool /magic/ technological items for gamma world. Anti-grav packs, energy shackles, /admantine/ duralloy war claws, this is definitely a step in a gonzo direction. Not that there's anything remotely unusual about that in gamma world. So you can slot them straight in, or file the technobabble off and convert them to D&D magical items with a minimum of fuss. Another bit with a good word count to fun had in actual play ratio.

Fiction: The rune and the dragon by Lawrence Watt-Evans. So you took something from a dragon, and now it's following you, trying to get it back. Why would it hold back, instead of tearing you to shreds like the impertinent little mammal you are. A very good question, and one I won't spoil you on the answer to, other than to say that while this may be a one-joke piece, it's a good joke. Another cool little bit of fiction.

Reviews: Shogun is this month's bumper sized review. A card game with substantial similarities to five stud poker, it's a license of the book and tv series by James Clavell. Thankfully, it's not as long-winded as the book, with good production values and a design that makes it simple to learn, but tremendously varied in play, due to the number of special cards and combination of luck and skill required to win it. Seems interesting. Anyone know how this one did sales-wise back in the day?
Mercenaries, Spies & Private eyes gets a rather mediocre review from Ken. It's fast paced simple style does not seem to appeal to him, and he is left unsatisfied by it's lack of depth. What does it have to distinguish itself from the other modern action games like Top secret, Gangbusters and Daredevils? He certainly doesn't see anything special in it.
Death in dunwich is a call of cthuhu adventure. Already the game is rising to a popularity that belies it's humble origins as a license of an obscure author, with a strong emphasis on the PC's suffering horribly. This is a good adventure, but not the best organized ever. It has some serious errata, and no overview, forcing you to read it carefully before you can play it. If you do it wrong, it'll be as much a mystery to the GM as to the players. One for an experienced group.
The vanishing investigator is a Gangbusters adventure. Unlike our last foray into the lands of mystery, this does have a proper index and chronology, making it easy to run. With strong characters, plenty of settling detail, good illustrations and an action packed plot, this gets his top rating for this month.
In addition, we have a whole bunch of capsule reviews. Dragons of dispair, the marvel superheroes game, The mountain environment and Bree and the barrow downs all get under 200 word summaries of their style and contents. None get particularly spectacularly praised or slated.

Wormy shoots Irving. Snarfquest goes to the big city. Dragonmirth is oh so wrong in it's implications.

With it's big size, format changes, and multiple classic articles, this is definitely another high water mark for the magazine as a whole. They may have their ups and downs, and things'll never change as fast as they did in the first few years again, but they're still learning and growing. Let's hope this isn't their artistic zenith as well as their commercial one, and we'll get some more amazing issues in the near future. Don't save it all for issue 100. Lets finish this year off in style as well.


Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Fiction: The rune and the dragon by Lawrence Watt-Evans. So you took something from a dragon, and now it's following you, trying to get it back. Why would it hold back, instead of tearing you to shreds like the impertinent little mammal you are. A very good question, and one I won't spoil you on the answer to, other than to say that while this may be a one-joke piece, it's a good joke. Another cool little bit of fiction.
I remember that story. Not one of the best, but not bad. Didn't have any idea who he was at the time, since that was a year before The Misenchanted Sword kicked off the Ethshar series. Which was apparently based on his homebrew gaming world.

I still think whoever wrote the warlock for 3E unabashedly stole the idea from him.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 92: December 1984

part 1/4

100 pages. A second cleric special in the same year? How odd. And without even focussing on the other classes in between. Someone on the editorial team must really like clerics. They've been getting extra crunch in the form of new gods with distinctive special powers the whole time, while the other classes have been getting very little. And yet they're still probably the least popular of the core 4. Seems like a definite case of Shilling the Wesley to me. Ho hum. What are we to do about this? Keep reading, see if it changes in future issues, I guess.

In this issue:

Letters: We get more physics talk and formulae, as they further refine the calculations for realistic falling damage. They get more and more complicated as you factor in initial speed before falling, height of the creature throwing you, and other edge case modifiers. More stuff to put in the really not worth it files.
A letter asking why Ed's new bats have infravision when real bats are blind. A good question, albeit one that has since been discredited. They give the usual noncommittal the rules are what they are answer. So much for physics.
And finally we have three more letters asking about various details of gladsheim. Some are obvious, some obscure, and one potentially litigious. Damn you Tolkien's estate :shakes fist:

The forum: Katharine Kerr continues to be surprisingly controversial, with Cristopher R Kopec and Greg Meier providing their own opinions on her condemnation of evil PC's and the people who play them. One is in favour, and one is against, as is often their wont. Meanwhile, Mark Herman is unhappy about the way falling damage survivability interacts with level. Since level is all about combat training, the lethality of falling damage ought to remain about the same. That ..... would involve substantial system redesigns. Once again we see how some topics get raked over endlessly while others are ignored, in most amusing fashion.

From the sorceror's scroll: Gary puts his Official AD&Dtm Stamp Of Approval on the idea that clerics and druids of particular gods should have their spell lists restricted as well as gaining special powers. Balance must be Maintained! If they automatically had access to every cleric spell introduced in every available supplement they would be far more powerful than magic users, with their need to research spells themselves. A perfectly reasonable proposition, made more interesting by being explained in his usual florid manner filled with Excess Capitalization, and illustrated by a Most Excellent Example. I'm sure that these days he's writing like that to play to the crowd, because his mannerisms were nowhere near as exaggerated in the early years. Still, it makes for an interesting article where this could easily have seemed like a dull nerfing, and is more evidence that the sphere system of 2nd edition didn't come out of nowhere. Maybe it would have been handled differently if he'd still been in charge, but the basic direction would have been the same. That's definitely one for the historical footnotes.

First, spread the faith: Roleplaying advice. Whaat! Are people still playing clerics badly? Do they not feel they have enough role models for them in fiction? Did they miss the great fanboy rant about Archbishop Turpin a couple of years ago? Jesus? (and every other bibilical guy who God interceded for at various points in the book) Friar Tuck? Every pretentious shaman who ever went into a trance and gave cryptic advice in bad fantasy? This is primarily an encouragement for you to develop your cleric's god further, and make sure your cleric sticks to those tenants. Which of course includes trying to ensure the rest of the party doesn't violate them too much. Which if done wrong causes almost as many problems as the thief who steals from the other party members and the lawful dick paladin. There are plenty of ways that this stuff could hurt party unity. You've just got to make solving them part of the fun rather than an obstacle to it. Once again they provide advice that in hindsight is somewhere between obvious and discredited. This is not a good way to fill a feature.

The more, the merrier: Following straight on from the last article is the concept of introducing a mechanical system to the process of converting people to your religion. Charisma, Alignment, class, time spent trying, all sorts of stuff factors in. And if you do so successfully, you get XP. This could indeed be used to make a fun single player game, although a few mechanical kinks mean it's not as dramatic or versatile as it could be. Social mechanics are a controversial thing, and it's interesting seeing them show up like this. Another thing I'd rather like to test, see how it pans out in actual play. Could be cool, could be annoying, I don't really feel I can pass judgement just from reading. Anyone have any experiences with them to recount?


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 92: December 1984

part 2/4

A better open, it figures: Once again the expansion of the hobby has resulted in more people entering the competitions at conventions, and a higher overall standard of entries. Judy Brown and Mike Jaecks show up again, each being highly placed in multiple categories. In addition, Larry Peters and Matthew Sturm make names for themselves this year. All the photos are very red and brown, and not that brilliantly done though. You really could be better presenting them to us.

Coming attractions turns up two months in a row, albeit with fewer products to plug this time. We get new mini's for the indiana jones game, and 2010 - Odyssey 2. The endless quest series gets two new installments, Blade of the young samurai and Trouble on Artule. And the marvel super heroes RPG gets it's own modulicious version of the secret wars plot arc. Now if anyones a railroader it's the beyonder. He seriously needs to suffer for this. No D&D stuff though. Goes to show, they were hardly a one product company.

Gods of the suel pantheon reaches it's end. It finishes off with a fairly pleasant bunch of gods. Lydia, goddess of music, light and daylight. Bralm, Goddess of insects and industry. Jascar, god of hills and mountains. Even as lesser gods, they all have tremendously impressive screwage attacks that'll inconvenience even high level adventurers trying to deal with them. Len also continues to hone his clerical designs, to the point where they seem pretty slick. Put them all together and you have a pantheon that is fairly varied and not archetypical. I may not always have liked them, but he does deserve credit for doing this stuff, and influencing future generations of game designers. And that's the end of the priestly portion of this magazine.

Let the horse buyer beware: A single page article elaborating on the horse buying process and reducing the randomness in the D&D system. Surely characters should be able to tell roughly how good a horse they're getting, because the sellers would, and adjust their prices accordingly. Gary would probably say that you're defiling the Sacred Balance of the Official AD&Dtm Game at this point, but I don't think you care about that. Interesting in that it points out a problem that would become more focussed upon in later editions, that a mount's power doesn't scale with the rider, so they become increasingly a liability in combat unless you trade up for rocs and dragons and stuff. While it doesn't solve the problem, now at least we know it's a commonly known one. Hopefully soon we'll have a beastmaster class along to try and fix that.

The ecology of the ettin: Ahh, ettins. Such delightful creatures. Despite having two heads, they most definitely are not very good at thinking. Or much else besides smashing stuff up and being incredibly stubborn even against mind affecting magic. Their slovenliness would give even the most odious chavs pause, and any treasure they may have is best left where it is, for having rot grubs crawling in through your hands and up your arms is exceedingly gross. Ed is relatively light on the footnotes this time, with the most significant entry being on how they handle losing one of their heads. (pretty well, considering) Certainly no great fresh perspectives provided this time. If they gave a damn, they would complain about being defamed by this article. He must be a bit worn out from last month's spectacular.

Pages from the mages III: Or maybe not. Once again Ed proves his prolificness with a little help from his friends, as Elminster reveals some more stuff about other wizards of the realms, the cheeky monkey. We get 4 new spellbooks, and 9 new spells, 4 of which can be traced to specific authors. They're a clever bunch suited to situations you'd expect a wizard to encounter at various points in their lives. Even the blasty spells have unique quirks that mean they're all distinct and may be better or worse depending on the situation, and all the books have Ed's usual loving descriptions of their appearances and histories. As I often do, I find myself wondering how the hell he does it. I find myself regularly exhausted writing at this rate, while he takes it in his stride, and produces truly exceptional material much of the time. I am filled with awe and envy.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 92: December 1984

part 3/4

Off the shelf also loses it's name and become simply Book Reviews. Seems like they're genericising quite a few things. What's behind that decision?
The name of the rose by Umberto Eco has been both critically and commercially acclaimed, and now it gets recommended in Dragon as well for it's depth of historical research, making it a great resource for anyone playing in a pseudomedieval setting, and a good example of how to weave philosophy, mystery, and all sorts of mundane details into your plots. If you like that high crunch style, get it.
The riddle of the wren by Charles de Lint may not be quite as famous, but it gets just as much praise. Particularly important from a gaming perspective is the way he keeps the perspective firmly shaped by the characters knowledge, not giving away OOC details which might spoil the plot. Striking that balance between providing plenty of descriptive detail, without obviously showing your intent is another important part of good GMing. Narrative choice and player freedom requires the kind of detail that gives people information to make decisions with.
Castles, by Alan Lee & David Day, would have fit right in with Lew's book review in issue 89. A combination of artwork, and talk about the myths and stories of various historical eras, it shows just how many variations these places can have. You want places for your characters to go, whether to talk or to kill & loot, this'll help out with that.

The sword of justice is this month's module, an 8 pager. Designed for starting level characters, it seems a good one for starting up with a more story focussed tone. It does have a few silly elements, but the overall plot is a solid way of getting players used to the idea that sometimes killing is not the solution to your problems, and the personalities can be more important than the environment. Thankfully it manages to do this without falling into the trap of railroading the plot. This is quite pleasing, as it shows that they are expanding their criterea for acceptable adventures some more as time goes on. Definitely a good one to use as a warm-up for a new campaign.

A big list of the retailers participating in the TSR 10th anniversary sale.

New heights(?) in silliness: A review of TOON! A rather distinctive one at that. Drawing on a demonstration play given by the game's developer at a con, this shows the ways it brilliantly emulates the source material, and the areas in which it doesn't go quite far enough, still being a little too tied to the conventional RPG model. Compromises, compromises. Use the officially sanctioned house rules here to shake that off and make the game even more gonzo and fun. This is definitely another signpost towards the diversification of the hobby. One one front they're producing high crunch games like rolemaster. On another they're putting greater emphasis on plot, characterization and storytelling. And here they're getting increasingly radical in their attempts to simulate a particular kind of reality and story style. All the sides of the big triangle are here, and hopefully you can find a game that'll please you. Anyway, this is a fun review. I could definitely enjoy a few more context heavy ones like this.

Getting up and getting wet: Dragonquest's popularity is rewarded with another article. For some reason, the game provides no provisions for climbing for non thieves and swimming in general. This must be rectified! etc etc. So we get one of those efficient page long articles that does exactly what it says it does, no more, no less, no mess, no fuss, hopefully not breaking to the game for allowing it, and leaving me with nothing more to say about it. That's a positive, by the way.

Fiction: The multidimensional caper by Mark Acres. Or, the NPC's escape the game and start running the show. Starts off as a mystery story that takes an abrupt left turn into meta comedy. Could really have been spun out a little longer, as the format means there isn't really enough time to build up the tension, but still an entertaining read nonetheless. Leave me wanting more. Then I'll pay attention to whatever you do next.

The six million dollar mutant: Bionics for Gamma world. We haven't seen that since way back in 1978, with it's sister gameline Metamorphosis alpha. Surprised they haven't incorporated it sooner. It should be noted that fitting and maintaining these things takes skill and equipment, both of which are at a premium in a postapocalyptic wasteland. In fact, more word count is spent on the problems than the cool powers you can get as a result. Curious. The powers granted are probably a bit on the muted side as well, trying to stick fairly closely to what you could realisticly achieve with this stuff. Someone's playing this game in a less out-there manner than Jim and co. Still, I suppose it's easier to dial these things up than to tone them down again. You don't need to shout and rant. Just play it cool like president Ahmadinejad. With bionics you can be a real bad :rest of post deleted for random insanity:


Registered User
Validated User
New heights(?) in silliness: A review of TOON! A rather distinctive one at that. Drawing on a demonstration play given by the game's developer at a con, this shows the ways it brilliantly emulates the source material, and the areas in which it doesn't go quite far enough, still being a little too tied to the conventional RPG model. Compromises, compromises. Use the officially sanctioned house rules here to shake that off and make the game even more gonzo and fun. This is definitely another signpost towards the diversification of the hobby. One one front they're producing high crunch games like rolemaster. On another they're putting greater emphasis on plot, characterization and storytelling. And here they're getting increasingly radical in their attempts to simulate a particular kind of reality and story style. All the sides of the big triangle are here, and hopefully you can find a game that'll please you. Anyway, this is a fun review. I could definitely enjoy a few more context heavy ones like this.
Man, I loved TOON! I still have my very beat-up original version of the game, and back in high school my younger brother and I had many completely gonzo adventures with it. I don't know if the review mentions this or not, but this is the only game I've ever played that specifically told you to act first, and then think later. Or, better yet, don't think at all and just go wacky. No other play style really works.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 92: December 1984

part 4/4

The marvel-phile: This month's featured supercreatures are the heralds of Galactus. The silver surfer, obviously; plus Nova and Terrax. Everything apart from their intelligence is at seriously superhuman levels, as you would expect. Powered by galactus, they are put in a very morally ambigious situation, getting to influence which worlds live and which ones die. Now there's a gamable situation. Who will you choose to satiate your dread master's hungers? You'd better make the decision fast because if you don't, he'll eat whoever's nearby. Jeff continues to write with a pleasantly amused tone, having recieved enough requests to keep him in work for years. He's got enough cool source material to make his job an easy one. So that leaves him with plenty of time to think up his own material as well. Fun fun fun.

Ed joins Penny for this month's StarQuestions, as some of their questions refer to his recent creation, the Zethra.
What do you mean by the costs for shipping cargo. (Complicated economic stuff. You need to use the tables to determine how much profit you make on each trip. )
How do my players start an interplanetary business (Same way you do in real life. Make a plan, try to carry it out, and face all sorts of obstacles on the way. It's up to the GM to keep it interesting and challenging. )
Will we ever see a timeline for the star frontiers game. (Soon. Very soon. Oh yes. :rubs hands together:)
What are the stats for the zebulon and K'tsa-Kar systems (Wait and see. We only have 16 pages a month, so we'll have to do this stuff in installments)
Where are the primary races original homeworlds ( Have patience and keep buying our stuff. All will be revealed.............IN TIME!!!)
What are the stats for flamethrowers. ( 6d10 points of burnination. Perfect for frying aliens with.)
Some of the duplicates in the battle of ebony eyes overlap (yes. That just makes it all the more confusing.)
Can PC's be pirates, robots or cybots ( Why not be robot pirates? Then they can fight dinosaur ninja. Oh yeah, that whole pesky free will thing. Star frontiers doesn't have sentient robots. Boo)
What's the stats for shuriken and nunchuks (I wasn't serious when I said about ninjas. Let's just say that these are not optimal weapons compared to disintegrators. )
Are there mutants in Star frontiers (not often, and certainly not with the kind of unrealistic superpowered mutations you see in gamma world. Sorry to be a party pooper. )
I though starships landed nose up. An illustration shows them on their side. ( Artwork has never been known for it's accuracy. Where shall I start? )
Are there stargates in star frontiers (No. Once again, this is not a kitchen sink setting. Do not mess with the game themes and balance.)
How many races are there (17, officially. More may show up in the future )
Can ships get above size 20. (Only at great expense.)
How can zethra match colors if they can't see it? (Same way you can sing in tune even if you can't say exactly what note is being played. They can percieve them, just not in the same way we do.)
Why is metal so good at disrupting zethra electrics. Metal is a good conductor. (Technobabble. If in doubt, technobabble. Convince the universe it's good technobabble, and it'll believe you and let you solve the plot with it.)
How do zethra convert matter to energy. How often do they need to eat. ( Good question. Ed has as usual written more on this than we could ever publish, so here's a mini-ecology for you. Hope you enjoy it. )

The dreaded old ones ooze their way into the palladium fantasy RPG.

Wormy is also dealing with the problems two-headed creatures face. Dragonmirth is very festive indeed this year. Snarfquest introduces one of the most amusing beasts of burden you'll ever ride.

Another huge issue. With it's proliferation of small articles, it took a lot of work to complete. Still, most of them were pretty enjoyable. If I had time to read them at a leisurely pace I would probably have enjoyed them even more. But no. I can't take a full month to do each issue like you could at the time, but have to get several done each week. Done, done and onto the next one. Done, done and onto the next one. Anyway, this is another excellent quality issue, full of interesting and usable stuff. Not quite sure why they made the november one extra large and cool, and then kept this one normal size. But it's not that much of a let-down really. If the next year is as good as this one, I won't complain (much) We're half way through the 80's now. Lets do our damndest to clear the rest.
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