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[Lets read] Dragon magazine - From the beginning

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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 93: January 1985

part 1/4

100 pages. A non hawt weretiger? What is this heresy! Someone get that girl a makeover stat! We also see our first price increase in ages. (way back in issue 37) So far, they've only increased their subscription prices. But an all round increase probably won't be far off, given the cruelty of the economy. Was there ever a concept so annoying as inflation. Forcing you to keep running just to stay in the same place. Just another method by which ordinary people are kept under control. In a lot of ways, D&D adventurers have it easy. They're generally physically powerful enough to tell the taxman to go fuck themself (but not scribes ;) ) and doing the same to death is entirely within their reach. In such a situation, bucking the system and performing acts of extraordinary heroism is easy. Lets hope the magazine still has enough good stuff to make it worth it.

in this issue:

Letters: Someone confused about how a potion of explosions works. It's like real world nitroglycerine, sir.
Someone asking about realistic stats for all the various elven subraces. You can not expect every article to cater to every non core PC race. That would eat up so much extra space as to render them nonviable. Our format has limitations.
A letter asking why so many other letters sent here go unanswered. To stimulate debate and encourage you to send in articles answering them, my dear. We can't make this magazine without you guys.
A letter asking what the hell crystalbrittle does. It was printed twice in this magazine. You must be a newbie. Guess we'll just have to print it again until it gets a permanent home in Unearthed Arcana.
Finally, a letter asking why Ed didn't use the history from the politics of hell in his 9 hells articles. Frankly, my dear, it's because he didn't like it, and it was pretty explicitly noncanonical right from it's release. We don't think everything in this magazine has to tie together. Why the hell do you?

The forum: David F Godwin shows up again, to continue the debate on morality in D&D. By what standards are you judging good, evil, law and chaos. Modern ones? Medieval ones. An artificial set of standards that has little to do with reality? Morality is a complicated business, and can be picked apart endlessly. Just how far are you willing to take it?
William Huish weighs in with a scaling system for falling damage, making it almost as deadly no matter how high level you are. Complexity is increased somewhat. But not enough to make a whole new article, thank god.
Paul Montgomery Crabaugh also shows up again, to provide a little more fuel for the Adepts vs Non-Adepts battle in Dragonquest. You've failed to take the advantages you can get by completely ignoring a stat you don't use anyway. Things are more balanced than you think.

From the sorceror's scroll: Well well. This is interesting. Gary finally gives us the rules for druids above 15th level. Having ascended to become the ruler of every druid in the entire world, where do they go from there? To loftier concerns than mere temporal politics. Able to change shape and travel the planes, hierophants look after the wider balance of nature in the multiverse, and set in motion plans that may span worlds and take centuries to resolve. And spend years asleep. Hey, they've earned it. Plus it's genre appropriate, and explains why they don't constantly get in the way of their lessers. This explains a lot. It's no wonder druid's abilities seem so piecemeal when they were developed in sections years apart. Fascinating. This certainly opens them up for epic play in a way that few other classes can match. Once again we see AD&D reaching in it's haphazard manner for things that would be properly codified, standardized, and mechanically done better in later editions. I'm very pleased indeed to discover this stuff. Gary's definitely been thinking hard about all the cool stuff he wants to introduce to the game during his absence.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 93: January 1985

part 2/4

Thinking for yourself: Gary also provides a tiny little extra in the form of an exhortation to do things about the religious reactionaries attacking D&D. Show them that your hobby is harmless, fun and has definite educational benefits. Yawnaroo. You'd be getting better results if you were actively courting controversy, not trying to play it down. You of all people should know that.

The making of a milieu: Arthur Collins here again, folks, with more worldbuilding advice for all y'all. How d'ya like your worlds. Lightly done, stir fried, or a bit of everything. Will you start with people, maps or concepts. How blatantly will you steal real life cultures and ideas? Remember, the things you leave out are as important as the things you put in. Remember that this is a world for gaming in, so design it accordingly. Put conflicts in there, things that the players are expected to solve. And above all, have fun. Yes, it seems that we're getting another long talk on how to build your world. We've seen them before, and we'll probably see them again. Unfortunately, this one fails to push any boundaries that Katharine Kerr didn't push recently, so this is more a fortification article than a trail-blazer. Are you keeping up with the latest fashions in design? Or are you taking a different approach? Don't think you have to do it the way they say you should.

The ecology of the Eye of the Deep: Ed Greenwood gives us a look at one of the less commonly used beholder subraces. (mainly because they can't go up to shallow waters, so only groups with water breathing spells'll be able to get to them) This goes into plenty of detail on their mating habits (very weird) their powers(quirky as any beholder), and how they interact with other creatures of the deep.(not very well, really) The amount of extrapolation from the original entry seems to be increasing in this series, which is pleasing. Guess the recent statement that they care not about that has increased Ed's confidence in just making shit up. Once again he defends his title as the king of world-building. Not too sure about the picture though. Looks like it's cowering from the camera. Well yeah, not many people who are going to disagree if you say Don't look at me, I'm hideous! Can't win them all.

Short hops and big drops: Seems like returning writers really are taking over. Stephen Inniss is back, to fix the problem that there are no solid rules on how far a character can jump. Another case where I'm surprised no-one did something sooner. (well, gary did thief-acrobats, but they're obviously intended to be exceptional.) Can you guess how he's going to handle it? If you took invent a completely new subsystem for 5 alex, then you win. The result is surprisingly predictable, with only a few feet of leeway provided by the dice. Thankfully, it's another single pager, so it shouldn't be any great problem to use. As long as you remember where it is, like all the other subsystems scattered throughout the many many issues. This is where loose leaf cutouts come in handy.

A Pronunceayshun gyd: Frank Mentzer provides us with some amusing fiction, featuring the interplanar consortium of nebulous sages, before filling four pages with an A-Z of various D&D creatures and personages, and how to pronounce their names properly. The V-Z letters get surprisingly little play, considering how often they produce problematic creatures. This is another thing that could have been dull very easily, but is held together by it's use of fiction to educate us without directly explaining, and humorous asides. He really ought to do more articles here, because he makes this stuff fun. Gary has taught him well. This is definitely something to bookmark for later, because this is the kind of question that comes up again and again. People will always forget how to pronounce xvart or shillelagh, and this way you can quote an authoritative source.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 93: January 1985

part 3/4

Coming attractions: Marvel superheroes get the lions share this month, with modules MH 4 & 5, Pit of the viper and cats paw. Play canada's greatest heroes. Hee.
D&D gets module B8, Journey to the rock. What secrets lie within it?
AD&D gets C3, Castanamir. A tournament module, exploring a mad wizards place, where you face the gingwatzim, it sounds like there will be random screwage involved. Is my impression correct?

Agencies and alignments: Oh, this is amusing. Alignments for the top secret game. These have three axes, each with 5 different alignments on them, for a total of 125 combinations. Political gets democratic, republican, neutral, authoritarian and autocratic. Change gets radical, liberal, neutral, conservative and reactionary. And Economic goes capitalist, unionist, neutral, socialist, communist. That's considerably more nuance than D&D alignments get unless you use the alternate system from SR6, but you could still probably pick apart their definitions and who should be placed where on the axes endlessly. This is a definite case of a D&Dism applied where it doesn't quite fit, which could be exploited in ways not intended. And if you transplant it back into D&D, you can play the fantasy game of class and economic struggle, with secret alignment languages for each side. I am entertained, if probably not for the reason Merle intended.

Twilight 2000 gets three full page colour ads right by each other. They obviously want to push this one hard. Man it sounds brutal. Once again we have overtaken the future. Funny how that happens.

The gypsy train is this month's adventure, although it's hardly a standard one. 8 pages of character detail, plus a centrefold that lets you build your own mini gypsy wagons for use with a game. Less a challenge to be defeated than something to be interacted with, to add flavour to your game, as each of the NPC's is given several hooks. And as they're a traveling camp, you can drop them pretty much anywhere. I can definitely see the uses for this one. It may not be as impressive as Great stoney, but it's another good example of them pushing the envelope and trying new combinations of their old tricks. And lets face it, since there are so few truly original ideas in the world, that's probably the best shot you've got of surprising people.

Fiction: Eira by Josepha Sherman. Fairy stories. Here we go again. A definite attempt to replicate that mythic there and back again journey. Unfortunately it gets a little too precious with the froofy celtic elements, and fails to live up to it's ambition. Not that this magazine would publish unbowdlerised fairy stories, that'd be too dark compared to killing things and taking their stuff. Guess it's another month, another bit of so-so fiction.

The marvel-phile: This month's profiles are two more of the Avengers. Mockingbird, another product of trying to replicate the super soldier serum; and Shroud, who seems like a textbook example of a dark and edgy anti-hero, with his martial arts training, handicap which isn't really much of a handicap, and undercover criminal activities. Once again we see a distinct conflict between the growth of that writing style, and the fact that the Marvel superheroes game was designed to emulate the wholesome stories of the previous couple of decades. Not that it stopped the game from being successful, but it continues to be jarring in retrospect. Comics may be set in this static sorta history, but they've still changed quite a bit over the years. Jeff continues to deliver reliably on this front, just as Ed does with the ecologies.
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
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Agencies and alignments: Oh, this is amusing. Alignments for the top secret game. These have three axes, each with 5 different alignments on them, for a total of 125 combinations. Political gets democratic, republican, neutral, authoritarian and autocratic. Change gets radical, liberal, neutral, conservative and reactionary. And Economic goes capitalist, unionist, neutral, socialist, communist. That's considerably more nuance than D&D alignments get unless you use the alternate system from SR6, but you could still probably pick apart their definitions and who should be placed where on the axes endlessly. This is a definite case of a D&Dism applied where it doesn't quite fit, which could be exploited in ways not intended. And if you transplant it back into D&D, you can play the fantasy game of class and economic struggle, with secret alignment languages for each side. I am entertained, if probably not for the reason Merle intended.
I don't think there was a mechanical reason for this addition, other than to flesh out a character or agency's world view. The next few issues have some real-world and canon agencies with these stats included.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 93: January 1985

part 4/4

New ships for old: Space opera gets some much desired increase (at least, by the writer ;) ) in it's variety of starships. Weapons, power plants, and reaction drive strengths. Plus a house ruled damage variant that seems thrown in for no apparent reason, and some talk about the tech levels various things are allowed at. Rather a grab-bag article. As is often the case, the usefullness of this article really hinges on the balance of the crunch, which unfortunately I'm not qualified to judge in this case. So I'll have to leave an open verdict on this one.

New brotherhoods: Gamma world continues to get a fairly healthy showing here with a collection of new alliances.
The friends of justice are a group of mutants who imitate the heroic behaviour of mutants in ancient comic books. Hilarity ensues. The people in the game may not get the joke.
Mental Warriors are an organization of geniuses and psychics who want to ascend to become creatures of pure mental energy. They do engage in unpleasant behaviour to the "less gifted", so they're probably best used as villains.
Searchers try and find the base which was responsible for causing the apocalypse. A little late for that, doncha think. They've evolved from a tactical team into a weird religious cult, which is amusing, but probably also realistic.
Spoilsports are teams of elite soldiers, trained by a slightly defective supercomputer. This results in a distinct uncertainty over what they should actually use their powers for.
Voyagers want to get off this crazy mudball and find a new planet to call home. Given what happened to starship warden, this may not be a safer alternative to staying. Still, it gives you a difficult but concrete goal to aim for, and it won't finish the game if you actually win.
Another article that has a good grip on the mix of humour and seriousness that a good Gamma World game can have, and steals it's ideas from the best sources. It may be ludicrous, but you've got to play it straight and remember that this is serious stuff for the people living there. Is it any wonder they wind up believing strange things, given their environment. I am entertained on multiple levels by this article, which is definitely a good thing.

Rare wines and ready cash: What's worth more than gold in space? Fresh food! After all, gold can be mined anywhere, but good food requires a ridiculous infrastructure to create, and goes off pretty quickly, so if you get it to somewhere where it's scarce at warp speed, you can make a pretty tidy profit. If that's the case, ten why are the profit margins on furs better than things like fish and vegetables. Fantasy economics strikes again, with a dull little article for Star Frontiers. Definitely a case of put the boring stuff near the back where you'll see it last.

Wormy sends irving to hire a crew for his wargame. Snarfquest drives recklessly. Dragonmirth continues to be limerickal.

Another strong issue, and also one that was much easier to get through, with an unusually high quotient of stuff that has a humorous edge to it. If anything, it's better than most of the april fools issues in that respect. As it's also full of stuff that's quickly and easily usable in your games, even if you want to put it in a different game than the one it was originally designed for, this is another very definite high point for the magazine as a whole. Bringing the whole hobby together and educating and entertaining us all, they haven't really been doing that since 1981. Lets hope they keep it up a while longer before D&D pushes everything else out again.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
From the sorceror's scroll: Well well. This is interesting. Gary finally gives us the rules for druids above 15th level. Having ascended to become the ruler of every druid in the entire world, where do they go from there? To loftier concerns than mere temporal politics. Able to change shape and travel the planes, hierophants look after the wider balance of nature in the multiverse, and set in motion plans that may span worlds and take centuries to resolve. And spend years asleep. Hey, they've earned it. Plus it's genre appropriate, and explains why they don't constantly get in the way of their lessers. This explains a lot. It's no wonder druid's abilities seem so piecemeal when they were developed in sections years apart. Fascinating. This certainly opens them up for epic play in a way that few other classes can match. Once again we see AD&D reaching in it's haphazard manner for things that would be properly codified, standardized, and mechanically done better in later editions. I'm very pleased indeed to discover this stuff. Gary's definitely been thinking hard about all the cool stuff he wants to introduce to the game during his absence.
While I really like the idea, 1E druids had the strangest XP progression. Really, really fast at low to mid-levels, then everyone catches up and races right on by. Hierophants had a ridiculous amount of XP.

The making of a milieu: Arthur Collins here again, folks, with more worldbuilding advice for all y'all. How d'ya like your worlds. Lightly done, stir fried, or a bit of everything. Will you start with people, maps or concepts. How blatantly will you steal real life cultures and ideas? Remember, the things you leave out are as important as the things you put in. Remember that this is a world for gaming in, so design it accordingly. Put conflicts in there, things that the players are expected to solve. And above all, have fun. Yes, it seems that we're getting another long talk on how to build your world. We've seen them before, and we'll probably see them again. Unfortunately, this one fails to push any boundaries that Katharine Kerr didn't push recently, so this is more a fortification article than a trail-blazer. Are you keeping up with the latest fashions in design? Or are you taking a different approach? Don't think you have to do it the way they say you should.
I disagree. Kerr's articles were very focused on specific elements (like barbarians), or on adventuring (like Beyond the Dungeon). Collins' article is very different, since it focuses on creating a whole campaign, from maps to countries to NPCs to starting adventures. Good, pragmatic advice, and it's presented as what works with him, so it's not dictates from on high. There have been some good articles on GMing, but this is the first to really pull it all together. One of my favorite articles.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 94: February 1985

part 1/4

100 pages. Oh, now this is one of the most iconic cover pictures ever. Near photographic levels of detail, plus hawtness & cuteness without being excessively cheesy and impractical = epic win. This is one that gets reprinted several times, and deservedly so. We also get an editorial which hints that they may be increasing their coverage of non TSR games further in the near future, as Greg Stafford asks about the viability of putting runequest stuff in. And to top it all off we're getting our second Creature Catalog (not left out this time. ) This seems very promising indeed. Can they keep this run of awesome issues up? I look forward to seeing.

In this issue:

Letters: Once again, their failure to properly centre a module leads to complaints. They try, honestly they do. But when you have deadlines to meet and stuff being changed around up to the last minute, it can't be helped.
Two letters asking for more ettin education. Multi-limbed creatures are better able to survive the loss of some of their parts than humans would under the same situation. Sealing off is useful.
A letter asking how the dwarves in Gladsheim can be magic-users. The answer is of course, because NPC's are not bound to the rules PC's are. Norse myth has tons of dwarvish enchanters. We need to break the rules to properly emulate that. No, you cannot do the same.

The forum: Kurt G Barringhaus thinks that D&D really ought to have a wound penalty system. Will that make the game more fun? Good question. But it'll certainly increase realism.
Tim Nye thinks that dwarves should be heavier than Stephern Innis does. They need to be bulky, because otherwise they have a combat disadvantage that does not combine well with their favoured class. However, halflings should suck at grappling. Ho hum.
Katharine Kerr continues to believe that playing evil characters is unhealthy behaviour indicative of some underlying problem with the players personality. Yes, you, Christopher Kopec and Scott Hicks. :points finger: Why do you enjoy pretending to do nasty things? What's the source of your mental damage, huh? Dear oh dear. We expect this stuff from Gary, but still, this is not the way to garner respect. I'm very disappointed in you.
Steve Pajak has his own variant system for determining success in ability rolls, and would like to share it with us. Thanks for that. Everyone loves a good variant rule.
Ralph Sizer also has thoughts about using ability rolls as a catchall. Remember that different tasks have different difficulties. By using % and a mutiplier to your score based on hardness, you have a situation where even incompetent characters have a chance, albeit a slim one.
Roy Cozier thinks that the magazine should be in no danger from the Tolkien estate for using the name Dwalin, because that name was taken from the Elder Edda in the first place. Ha. If a corporation wants to be an asshole and has way more money to throw at the problem than you, technicalities like that will not protect you.
Gary A Nelson reminds us that bats are not blind, they actually have pretty good eyesight. Silly folkloric sayings, spreading misinformation. A lot of the time the ancients didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

From the sorceror's scroll: Having seriously added to druids last issue, Gary now gives the ranger a nice little extra. An entire new system for tracking, taking into account level and lots of situational modifiers. Which may be an increase in complexity, but sorely needed in this case, and not a huge increase in time taken to use. An expansion to the creatures that qualify for giant class bonuses, since several new monster manuals have come out since the corebook. And just so it isn't all bonuses, a slight restriction on weapon proficencies. Two of these changes would become standard in 2nd edition. Oh, the power he has. I guess these ones all make sense. But they're certainly not as spectacular as the druid ones. Once again the primary spellcasters wind up seriously overshadowing everyone else at high levels. At this point, that problem seems insoluble. Guess it comes with the territory. You play AD&D, that's the way it's gotta be.

An army travels on its stomach: Katharine Kerr contributes another extensive article on realism, logistics, and how to achieve big results in a relatively realistic way. Feeding armies is a nightmare. Travel goes substantially slower than a small group can manage. Roads in medieval places suck. Look after your animals. A rather grim article that exists largely to remind you to throw lots of obstacles in your players way, should they decide to do anything big. Someone definitely prefers their fantasy with quite a bit of grit in it. This could definitely have been done in a far more positive manner. You need to talk about how you overcome the obstacles, as well as what they are. Otherwise it's just a dampener on our adventuring spirit. Definitely not very pleasing contributions by her this month.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 94: February 1985

part 2/4

Same dice, different odds: Statistics! Doncha just love them. :crickets chirping: Just me then? Straight distributions, bell curves, normal distributions with standard deviation, exploding results, exponential decay curves, and lots of combinations. With a bit of creative application of modifiers, you can solve problems that plague designers through the ages. The classic problem of over lethal housecats can be fixed by rolling two dice and dividing one by the other, allowing for a tiny average, with the possibility of a substantial hit still there. Similarly, things like rockslides are better modeled with this kind of roll on a larger scale. A clever idea, and one I don't remember many games doing. Is basic division really too hard for people? This is definitely an idea I intend to incorporate, as it seems so obvious, yet so little used. Allowing for longshots like this increases the swinginess of the game. And that makes for more drama, which is generally a good thing. Another abandoned gem I'm pleased to have unearthed.

Reptiliad attack wins big: Our final bit of photography from the cons last year is a full scale diorama with tons of stuff going on. Unfortunately, once again, their photographic techniques do not work very well at capturing fine detail on such as small scale. Ur technology, it needs improving naow. Sigh.

The ecology of the chimera: Elminster gets into the ecology business. Well, if he hangs around with Ed that much, it's not surprised he gets roped in. This talks about not only the chimera, but also it's abominable relations, such as the Gorgimera and the Thessalmera, which take the idea of hybridisation several steps further still, with results as ridiculous looking as they are terrifying. This is another case where Ed really doesn't write enough to satisfy. Each of these creatures could easily fill several pages, but instead, they're all crammed together in only two. You had the chance to really elaborate on the hybridisation process, how it happened, and possibly even formulas for splicing together other creatures, which would provide endless hours of fun. A definite wasted opportunity compared to the things my imagination conjured up when I saw the title. Even our top writer can't hit a home run every time, unfortunately.

Reviews: Mercenaries, Spies and Private eyes gets a second review, rather longer and more favorable than Ken's. Arlen P Walker goes into plenty of detail on it's system. A relation of Tunnels & Trolls, it has a well designed skill system, an emphasis on designing your background over random rolls, fast and furious combat, and plenty of design advice. It also has a dual-stat alliance with Hero games, weirdly. Two modules also get reviewed. The adventure of the jade jaguar was going to be published with the core book, but got made standalone at the last minute. As a result, it's probably a bit small to really stand on it's own two feet. Stormhaven is rather better, with tons of pulp references, and a scenario which can be played in lots of different ways. Another great example of how a second opinion can be very useful.

The role of books: Secret of the sixth magic by Lyndon Hardy takes his established world and laws of magic, and starts playing with the formula. Just when you think you know the rules, some bastard goes and changes them on you. And guess who's job it is to save the world in response to this? Muggins here who can't cast a a spell for toffee. Once again, the book gets my wholehearted recommendation, even if it doesn't quite get the reviewers.
The land beyond the gate by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach is another story where a protagonist from our world wanders into a fantasy world, finding themselves the centre of a epic destined story. This cliche is kept interesting by lots of enthusiasm and tight pacing and plotting that doesn't leave things on a cliffhanger just to sell more books.
Raphael by R A MacAvoy tells the story of the titular angel's tricking by satan, loss of power, and subsequent quest for redemption. It manages to be both philosophical and introspective, and have moments of extreme high power kick-assery. So if you want to know how to run really high power games where the protagonists are among the most powerful creatures in creation, and whatever they do will have serious consequences, this seems like good reading for inspiration.
The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce is a vampire story. Like any vampire story, the precise powers and weaknesses of the creature may vary from what you expect. Plenty of other mythical thingies make appearances, but it still manages to retain a folkloric feel to it.
The song of the axe by Paul O Williams is set in a postapocalyptic world. Considerably less gonzo and with a better developed setting than gamma world, it manages to be both a self-contained story, and have plenty of references to other stories in the same world. Once again, the reviewer points out how this could be of use in your own games.
The harem of Aman Akbar by Elizabeth Scarborough is full of djinn, and contains lots of advice on how to deal with these powerful, but not particularly loyal creatures in a fun arabian romp with plenty of humor and fantastical happenings.
Exiles of the Rynth by Carole Nelson Douglas is a good demonstration of what happens when the DM has a plot, but the characters persist in trying to do something else. Tensions are caused, and the game is slowed to a crawl. The result is unsatisfactory, and often feels like filler material. You do not need to make every story a trilogy dear. Just get on with it.

My honor is my life: Tracy Hickman introduces us to the Knights of Solamnia. The three organisations that take the proto-prestige class concept of switching classes at certain points like bards and thief acrobats, and stretch it even further. Not that this is mentioned here, as this teaser is entirely rules free, giving us a potted history of the orders and their founders. Despite being a tremendously heroic organization, they've become exiles, trying to find their place in krynn's war torn post cataclysmic landscape. Oh, the angst. Well, good guys are at their best when they're the underdogs, as the kingpriest and co showed. Or something. Many think Krynns "Neutrality, be thou my good" moral lessons are a bit of a broken aesop, and I can't say I'm entirely in disagreement. This also shows signs of dragonlance's concious attempts to hit buttons for commercial appeal, making what seems appealing initially taste increasingly sour on closer examination. You can't sell me on your supposed heroes that easily, I'm afraid.
 

Dasharr

Adamant Skeptic
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Dragon Issue 94: February 1985
The forum:
Steve Pajak has his own variant system for determining success in ability rolls, and would like to share it with us. Thanks for that. Everyone loves a good variant rule.
Ralph Sizer also has thoughts about using ability rolls as a catchall. Remember that different tasks have different difficulties. By using % and a mutiplier to your score based on hardness, you have a situation where even incompetent characters have a chance, albeit a slim one.
I've had a look at these (as well as a letter about ability checks in Issue 91, p.3). Funny how the D&D community struggled so much with non-combat ability checks for so many years. It's puzzling (with the benefit of hindsight) that people came up with all those convoluted systems like these ones instead of just having a simple core roll and adding modifiers to account for easier or harder checks. I suppose we're spoiled nowadays with game systems where unified systems are the rule rather than the exception.
 

owe for the flesh

Servitor of LOLth
Dragon Issue 93: January 1985
Fiction: Eira by Josepha Sherman. Fairy stories. Here we go again. A definite attempt to replicate that mythic there and back again journey. Unfortunately it gets a little too precious with the froofy celtic elements, and fails to live up to it's ambition. Not that this magazine would publish unbowdlerised fairy stories, that'd be too dark compared to killing things and taking their stuff. Guess it's another month, another bit of so-so fiction.
I rather liked this story when I was 12. There's another starring the bard character (whose name escapes me) coming up in a future issue that I also thought was quite good.

Dragon Issue 94: February 1985
A letter asking how the dwarves in Gladsheim can be magic-users. The answer is of course, because NPC's are not bound to the rules PC's are. Norse myth has tons of dwarvish enchanters. We need to break the rules to properly emulate that. No, you cannot do the same.
I thought the actual reason they gave is that Gladshiem dwarves aren't the same as Prime Material ones?
 
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