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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 98: June 1985

part 4/4

When history goes awry: Ooh. Timemaster is getting an article. Always interesting to see a new game get some attention. This one concentrates on alternate parallel timelines. Fortunately, you have tons of novels to draw inspiration from, sherlock holmes, three musketeers, robin hood, and various other fictional characters to make real, and so forth. This is some pretty solid advice on how to handle developing alternate worlds and histories, working from the points of divergence, and going from there. Ripple effects, internal consistency, mythic resonance, this is cool stuff that's easily stealable for other systems. We haven't done much time travel stuff yet, and it has yet to be properly explored. Despite the challenges involved in time-travel games, there's lots of fun to be had in this kind of game. So another neat article.

Alone against the asteroid: One of those articles that does exactly what it does on the tin, showing you how to turn Against the Asteroid from a 2 player adversarial game to a solo one. This is accomplished pretty efficiently, with just a page of rules needed to control the challenges you face fairly randomly. Some of them can even be ported back to the regular game. Even not knowing the rules, this is pretty entertaining reading, letting me know about the quirks of the game's characters. Once again, they're tackling a new system, and coming up with things that are fresh and amusing to me. Definitely good promotion for the game.

Return to the vipers pit: Another module expansion in the same issue? Curious. This is rather less interesting than the last one, being another single pager full of corrections and things that got cut for space. Even the best editor can't fit everything in to everyone's satisfaction. Meh.

StarQuestions heads back to one of it's regular stops, Star frontiers.
Is there supernatural stuff in star frontiers (We recommend that there is only science that hasn't been explained yet. Truly magical magic would be out of theme)
What do you do after maxing out your skill. (get more ones. Being a hyperspecialist has it's drawbacks, so now you fill them in. )
You got a sample damage calculation wrong (Why don't you write in when we get it right. Seems like that'd be a more notable occurance.)
The amount of money you get varies between the basic and advanced games. Which is right. (Both are. Do you not understand the concept of different strokes for different folks. )
Can both your skills be from the same PSA (Yes, but they don't have to be)
Where are the stats for whips (page 43)
Can you put heavy lasers on a fighter ( I believe heavy is the limiting word here. No )
Can you trade ship designs (Sure, but negotiations may take a while)
Does starmist have moons or not (no. The artist was in their own little world)
How long do the repairs in SF3 really take (1 day)
What do extra crew members beyond the essentials do (Make things comfortable. Having to be perfectly efficient and austere all the time to keep things working is incredibly dull and exhausting. )

The marvel-phile: No new super-heroes this time. Instead, it's index time. With half a dozen modules, a year of marvel-philes, and a bunch of other products, it might not be impossible to keep track of who's already been statted, but it certainly can't hurt. It would be a bit annoying if two different writers did different stats for the same character, and ranty fan letters would be sent. So from Absorbing man to Zsaji, all 263 previously mentioned superheroes (and mooks, villains and other stuff) get alphabetized and their locations revealed. That's quite an impressive list. And just think, it's just a fraction of the amount of silly second rate characters that populate the Marvel universe. It'll be interesting to see how this grows if given a few more years of articles and products. Not sure if it's Jeffs writing or the strength of the source material that keeps even the index interesting, but somehow it manages it.

Wormy continues the tale of the bear and the minotaur in the big city. Snarfquest has still more romantic misadventures, and faces up to racism. Honestly, just fit a vibrator attachment on the robot and let it marry the princess. Everyone'll be a lot happier, at least until they start worrying about the lack of heirs.

I think the watchword for this issue is surprise. It manages to be fresher than anything reaching it's 9th year has any right to be, particular in the later articles, which are full of surprises. Once again they renew their commitment to covering all sorts of systems, particularly in the Ares section, which is really jam packed with stuff and punching well above it's weight. Goes to show. Just when you think there's nothing new in the world, something comes out of what seems like no-where to surprise you again. I very much approve. You can still surprise me, and I look forward to the next time you do.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 99: July 1985

part 1/4

100 pages. Well, it looks like whatever the general public may think, according to the designers, Unearthed Arcana does indeed represent official AD&D v 1.5 or the 4th corebook. All future submissions must take into account the stuff in there, or they will NOT BE CONSIDERED. That's right. KNOWLEDGE OF ITS CONTENTS ARE MANDATORY CITIZEN! BE HAPPY THAT YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND MONEY ON EXPANDING YOUR UNIVERSE! THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. Thanks for telling us that. I'm sure your public will be delighted to hear this. Or maybe not. Well, I guess if there are complaints, we'll probably see them in a few issues time. And then they'll get amusingly rebutted by the absolutely not biased at all editorial staff. But we won't get to see that if we don't get through this issue. So lets not look ahead too far.

In this issue:

Letters: Two letters on the ecology of the gorgon. One of them is another case of the silly editors messing up Ed's perfect work by changing things without thinking about the consequences, and the other is answered quite efficiently.
A letter full of questions on Blueprint for a big game. You need to read your dictionary more.
A letter from someone who got their modifiers the wrong way round. (They corrct him with mild amusement.
A letter from someone who's spotted a genuine mistake in one of Ed's articles. Math, you should check it.
A letter from someone who's noticed that the magazine has lost some height. It's only an eighth of an inch. Hardly something to worry about, unless you're in porn.

The Pendragon campaign, to go with the corebook. A year by year chronology of Arthur's reign. Obviously no-where near the depth of later versions, as it's only 80 pages long, but it's obvious Greg already knows pretty much what he wants this game to be. And if you got it right first time, why change it?

The forum: Bruce Carlson thinks that balancing races by making them differently unbalanced at different stages of the game is bloody stupid, and doesn't really make anyone happy. Instead, allowing unlimited advancement, but imposing XP penalties commensurate with your racial abilities is a much better idea. You may be onto something there.
Alex Bergmann, meanwhile, thinks that tracking how much worship power all the gods in your campaign are getting on a regular basis is too much bookkeeping. You'd have to spend all your time worldbuilding to do that. Two pretty non-contentious positions this time it seems. Not their highest moment.

The neutral point of view: Ahh, lawful and chaotic neutral. Some of the most interesting alignments, and yet undervalued and ignored in too many books. (yes, you, the entirety of fourth edition.) Trust Stephen Inniss to spot a hole like this and fill it. It would be entirely logical for the various detect/dispelprotection from good/evil spells to also have lawful and chaotic variants, and this would require no extra bookspace at all. Doing this would give the endless moral war more shades of grey, which has definite plot potential. You do need to clear up a few things to do with planar stuff, but that's not an insurmountable problem either. This is exactly the kind of article you should be covering in the magazine, doing things specifically related to the rules and setting. It could definitely stand to be longer, and have more info on more mundane playing of morally neutral characters, but what there is is solid material. Come on, give us some more epic articles really delving into things, instead of just skimming the surface.

Tables and tables of troops: A neat little expansion for those of you who choose to build a stronghold and attract followers at name level+. As this is the kind of thing that you only roll for once in your characters career, it could do with being expanded and customized, made more of a special event. Plus fighters don't get nearly enough love. So this allows you to change the specifics of your troops based upon terrain and how much you prepare for this. Which could definitely provide several sessions of fun gaming, as you maximize your potential rewards. They would later do variants on this for many of the kits in the Complete handbook series, and this is a development I'm pretty happy about seeing, as it expands on a previously neglected class feature. This is definitely one to note down and pull out when you reach the appropriate point in your games.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 99: July 1985

part 2/4

The ecology of the Will-o-Wisp: Hello again, Mr Findley. So you've submitted another ecology article. And as with the peryton he goes quite a way towards reminding us that these creatures are supposed to be creepy. He also does another clever thing by turning the boggart into the immature form of the Will-O-Wisp. This is a cool article which adds a good deal to the creature, including legends of a trancended race, and abandoned civilisation from before they cast off material form. (See what transcendance gets you. Hanging around in swamps killing people for kicks. Definite lesson there. Don't transcend, kids. It's like reaching nirvana. It's no help to anyone else, and sometimes will have results akin to summoning cthulhu upon any unenlightened nearby.) His flavour is certainly quite different from Ed's articles. And that's not a bad thing, as too many cutesy Elminster-delivered ones would grow tiresome. Their mating and lifecycle is ingeniously described, and there's plenty of drama in the fiction part. One of the best ecologies yet. Don't be a stranger.

That's life in the big city: Ahh, city building. Are people still having problems with that? Well I guess what counted as a city did vary a lot over the centuries. You've gotta put a bit of research in, then make a big load of stuff up. Here's a load of potted info for if you want to build a pseudomedieval style one for your D&D games. Lets not forget that they were pretty gross places in terms of hygiene, and there's all kinds of mundane hazards such as thieves, "Insurance" salesmen, dodgy food and goods, mockney urchins, fire outbreaks, etc etc. Demographics, mapping, ensuring you have the stuff needed for people to actually live there. The usual advice we have to sit through on a regular basis. No great surprises here, good or bad.

The role of books (they're flip-floping on the title of this series. What's up with that?): Crewel lye by Piers Anthony is as punfull as the rest of his xanth books. He seems to have learnt from the criticisms in recent reviews, toning back on the sexism and moral ambiguity. While other reviewers may slate him, this one doesn't seem to have much objection.
Stormwarden by Janny Wurts features weather magic as it's primary macguffin. The plot gets a little overcomplicated, presumably leaving lots of loose ends for future books, but the characterization is pretty good. One to enjoy for the journey, rather than the destination.
Witchdame by Kathleen Sky jumps on the current trend for english flavoured romantic fantasy. With deus ex machinas, completely undisguised real world analogues, and vague historical mooring, the reviewer manages to sell me off the book even as he praises it. Hey ho.
Enchanters end game by David Eddings is the final book of the Belgariad, Eddings big tolkien /rip-off/ homage. It hits lots of buttons, but doesn't really integrate the various types of writing very well. But it's still good popcorn reading for fantasy fans.
Talking to Dragons by Patricia C Wrede gets another review that starts with the negatives, but then winds up praising it. Only this time, the good bits outweigh the bad, in a genuinely funny fantasy romp full of near indestructible wizards doing horrible things to one-another. If you want to put humour that doesn't feel tacked on in your games (and that doesn't rely on dreadful puns like Piers Anthony. ) this is a good example.
The Magic cup by Andrew M Greely is an updated irish epic with lots of arthurian parallels. Remember, behind the legends, are people struggling to find their place and accomplish something important to them. Can you be both a person and an archetype? There's certainly plenty of interesting reading to have in tackling that question.

History of a game that failed: Ha. Ahh, the joys of taking the game all the way to it's limits, to the degrees where it starts to break down, where no monsters can touch you without rolling a natural 20. Most of us have done it at some point, rushing through the levels to obscene power and more items than you can keep track of. But it has to be said, the published modules really aren't much better in this respect. If you just use the treasure tables as written, the system'll break down without any special effort from you. So how are we to get the system to behave. Let me count the ways. Fudge. Change the modules. Be stingy with treasure and watch out for synergies. Don't give away info they have no way of knowing. Don't allow ability score increases. Mess up their wishes. Nerf shapeshifting to buggery. Never miss an opportunity to have things backfire. Keep the XP awards down. Deities are not for killing under any circumstances. Don't let one person play multiple characters, for they will abuse the knowledge they get and co-operate in a manner that breaks verisimiltude. Don't be adversarial. (Have you just listened to your previous bits of advice :D )Oh, and don't allow nukes under any circumstances. Oh man. Where to start. This is a great example of how they have to exhort people to play nice with the system, because it just doesn't stand up to rough treatment. Very annoying on multiple levels, both that they give advice like this, which is a definite fun-spoiler when put against many people's playstyles, and that they need to do so in the first place. A most depressing read, overall.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 99: July 1985

part 3/4

Reviews: Gems for Death is another system free module. Like so many of those at this point, they have to find other things to put where it would be. This includes incredibly detailed descriptions of the mechanics of traps, so you can disarm them by roleplaying, plus the usual characterization stuff and timeline. It has enough guidelines that it shouldn't be too hard to convert it to whatever system you want to use. Just don't put it into a hack and slash game, because the players might miss the point and ruin the adventure. Another case where just how much things have changed, not always for the better, is made obvious.

We get some more entries in the world gamers guide: Australia, New zealand, Germany, Japan, Venezuela. D&D has penetrated all around the world. Must take quite a lot of effort to co-ordinate all that subscription mailing.

Coming attractions: Amazing Stories celebrates it's 60th year. Pretty damn impressive. Will D&D make it that far? Dragon may not have lasted as a printed entity, but at least it's still alive in some form. Can we beat that run? It'll be the story of our lives.
AD&D gets a Battlesystem module, H1: Bloodstone Pass. Take high level characters, and organize an entire village into a force to take on 3,000 enemies. Epic. It also gets Lankhmar, city of adventure. Once again, Fritz reinforces his close relationship with the game, having been away for a few years. If you want some help with urban adventures, this certainly can't hurt. And if that's not enough, Dragonlance is up to DL8: Dragons of war. Once again, the new mass combat system gets an airing, so you can get properly epic. This series is certainly building up to something.
D&D gets two rather less impressive products. Dragontiles II: The revenge of Rusak. Lots of fold out card thingies. And they say D&D isn't a mini's game. We also have CM5: Mystery of the snow pearls. A high level solo module. Don't see those very often. Once again, you have to do some serious puzzle solving. Well, you can fudge combat on your own, but puzzles. If you don't actually solve them, you can't go on to the next section.
The Indiana Jones RPG gets IJ5: Nepal Nightmare. Once again, Fold-up cut outs show up. Guess they were this year's gimmick, like putting CD's in would be for Mystara a decade later. I roll my eyes.
Super endless quest gets book 3: Escape from castle Quarras. Take the role of Derek Shadowwalker (Hee. Those two names do not fit together) and save the kingdom.
And finally, we have a standalone. Proton fire, the roleplaying game of designing and fighting your own robots. Another thing that I've never heard of before, and assume disappeared into obscurity. Any stories to share on this one?

Treasure trove II: We get two new articles based on magic items in this month's sorta centerpiece. Guess either one on their own wasn't considered special enough to carry the issue.
A sharp system for swords is of course all about the sentient magic weapons. New powers, updated ego calculations, and the usual advice to individualize and name your magic weapons, as this makes the world feel more solid and the players more likely to attach to them instead of seeing them as simply powerful tools. No great surprises here, but another solid set of toys for when you don't have time to invent this stuff wholecloth, or want to roll randomly just for the fun of seeing what comes out.
We then get 17 more items. Completely unsurprisingly, Ed Greenwood contributes significantly. All the big categories get at least one new item, plus some weird stuff like the oyster chest. (great idea, my dears. ) Most of them are pretty utilitarian and one-trick, rather than the massive lists of powers a single item can build up in the previous article. But they're mostly pretty cool. Particular kudos goes to the aforementioned chest, plus the armor of acid secretion (way to make a cursed item properly visceral. ) Potion of pain suppression, Rod of melting, and stone of mysterious sounds. Drama, comedy, and quirkiness are all fully represented. Another cool collection of old skool items, overall.

Kevin Siembieda not only writes the entirety of Monsters and Animals, he illustrates it all as well. My, he's a prolific bunny.

Authentic agencies, part III: Yep, I called it last issue. Here's the specs for the KGB, GRU, SSD, SAVAK, and other agencies you are likely to find yourself at odds with, as an american spy. Plus MELT, a fictional one that seems amusingly out of place these days. And that's about all I can think to say on this subject. Extended series do run into this problem after a while.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 99: July 1985

part 4/4

Fiction: Dennim and the golem by Robert S Babcock. Some people choose to retire from adventuring when they have the money. Others have it forced upon them. And many just die. The protagonist of this story may not make the big time, but he still comes out better than he has any right too. Some interesting thoughts about alignment and it's effect on the world are touched upon in this one, without it descending into heavy handed rules exposition. A quirkily S&S style bit of fantasy, that fits in the magazine very well.

ARES Log: Boo. We get an official announcement that we won't be seeing any more Gamma World modules or editions from TSR in the forseeable future. You aren't buying it, so we don't think it's economical anymore. Not that we've made any for years anyway, but with the heavy coverage it's been getting in the magazine, obviously some people have got their hopes up. Maybe in a few years time.

Tanks a lot: So star frontiers has stats for personal level roleplaying, and spaceship wargaming scenarios. But not stats for ground vehicle combat. A sad victim of cutting for space. Still, what is this magazine for then, if not to fix that kind of omission. So we get a full 5 pages of stats and tables, giving us lots of vehicle equipment, what it does, and how much it costs. Better hope you don't get your vehicle wrecked too often, because this stuff's pricey. Still, if you wanna get your mad max on, I'm sure you'll find a way, even if it means hijacking a vehicle and scavenging the remains of any enemies you run across. They certainly don't object to a little overkill in this one, and using it could make or break a game, depending on the GM. Which I'd definitely prefer risking to the article exhorting overconservatism earlier.

Psybots and battle mechs: We saw it in the Coming attractions section earlier this month. Now Proton Fire gets an article. The usual story of wanting to promote their cool new stuff. And yeah, this is pretty much a straight promo piece, giving us a synopsis of the setting, and not really contributing anything that probably can't be found in the book itself. I know you may be hurting a bit financially, but surely you could make the effort to put in some material that got cut or errata, something interesting like that. I'm most disappointed in you. This is not the way to get me to want to buy your stuff.

The marvel-phile is also on a soviet kick this month, with the Soviet Super-Troopers. (Lame name, but they're in fine company there. ) Vanguard, Darkstar, Ursa Major, and Gremlin. Two tanks, a battlefield controller and a techie. Not the most balanced party ever, but superheroes have always been more about the personality archetypes than the precise powers when it comes to roles. After all, it's not really about power, but dramatic imperatives. And there's certainly no shortage of plot hooks in their backstories. Repressive governments just give superheroes more to rebel against. More superheroic stuff that's great fun, but can seem somewhat ludicrous if you don't buy into the tropes here. How many of these nationality themed groups are there? Will colour coded spandex ever go out of style? Will Jeff cover another country next time? Tune in to find out.

Danger on a budget: Looks like despite the pessimistic editorial, Gamma world will continue to be a regular on these pages for quite some time. It still has a small but vocal contingent of hardcore fans who keep sending stuff in. This is another load of familiar advice adapted to a different system, reminding us that you don't need to throw bigger and badder combats at your players to keep things interesting. In a postapocalyptic wasteland, the sneaky are more likely to prosper than the big tough guys with machine guns who need to get lots of food and regular supplies of ammo from somewhere. So sneaky psychic enemies, environmental hazards, traps and roleplaying encounters are just as important as straight battles in creating a somewhat realistic campaign. Realistic? Gamma word? Well, if you really say so. Another article that contributes nothing I don't already know and probably will see again virtually every year of the magazine.

Wormy continues the bright lights in the big city. Snarfquest hangs over the perpetual pit and panics. Dragonmirth mocks Conan again.

For all the big changes D&D may be about to go through, there's a lot of overfamiliar material here. Sandwiched between two big issues, this definitely feels like a filler episode, with all the really good material held back for later. Apart from the really strong ecology, everything else is Ok to poor. Guess I'll just have to move on to the big one oh oh, see what stuff they've been stockpiling over the past 10 months for it.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
And by "foreseeable future" they mean "until next year". ;)
Sometimes you can see farther into the future than others. :D I remember them saying in the 90's they had a good 2-3 year product lead-up, due to the ridiculous bloat of stuff they were doing. Clearing that and deciding what to still release was a big problem when WotC took over.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 100: August 1985

part 1/4

116 pages. Time for the magazine to make a quantum leap, in the most literal sense. They've obviously decided to push things out again for the big number. However, this also means the price goes up, all the way to $3.95. They'd better have something to justfy this. Starting right away, they have a cover that's sculpted, rather than painted, which is very interesting, and the photo captures the three-dimensionality of it quite nicely. A nice idea for a change, but one that could go wrong if overused. Lets hope they don't start doing covers from posed dolls. ;) We also have a whole bunch of special features, for both D&D and other systems. Whether this is as spectacular as they hoped is yet to be seen, but it's definitely going to be quite different, in any case. Which means it should be interesting for me as well.

In this issue:

Letters is actually not comprised of specific letters at all for a change, but is instead an extensive Q&A about the workings of the magazine and lots of other related stuff. As usual, we get told just how much hard work it is getting consistent product where creative endeavours are involved. The dreaded deadline beast needs feeding, and so often there will be something going wrong that results in them scrambling to get everything done on time. Which means the time they have to read and answer letters and assess manuscripts is not as much as they'd like. If you want to be published, you'd better make your articles both eye-catching and well written, because with their current volume of stuff, if it doesn't get their attention on the first read-through, it's going to go straight in the slush pile. We don't have time to fix up cool but flawed articles like we did in the early days. Interesting to note that marvel super heroes is definitely the second most popular game in the magazine. Not so interesting is the usual disclaimer that their Roger Moore is not the film star Roger Moore. Like most of these editorials, this is a welcome look into where the writers heads are at at a particular point in time. Can you go fast enough to jump on board their train? Good luck with that, because you'll need it.

Kim reminisces about the time he's spent here. Seems like only yesterday he walked in nervously, and got given a big pile of manuscripts to go through as his baptism of fire. Next thing you know, he's head of the department, putting together a hundred page magazine with a six figure circulation every month. How did they get there? One step at a time, just like any journey. And despite the hard work, not particularly stellar pay, and general weirdness, he still loves his job. But we can't rest on our laurels. Here's to many more years of cool gaming products.

Score one for sabrotact: Looks like they're trying to put a little LARP material in here again. They do seem to try that every few years, but it never sticks. Most frustrating for all involved.
Anyway, this is a most fascinating way of expressing the boffer LARP principles. By attaching a bunch of target points to the people fighting, and having proscribed scoring systems for breaking specific ones, they remove the fighting from the realm of fiat without much danger of real injury by the participants. Of course, the buy in costs and need for large numbers of participants may be a problem. Still, this is definitely a game that has potential. Does it still get played these days, or has it become just another historical footnote?

All about the druid/ranger: Ahh, one of the more awkward things in D&D's design. Druid and ranger are both nature based classes that complement each other well, but alignment restrictions mean you can't be both at once. So to allow this, you need to bend a few rules in their respective strictures, creating characters who balance their commitments to nature and the people from the borderlands who explore it. This is a definite roleplaying challenge. Frank Mentzer also takes the time to examine some of the game's metaphysical assumptions. Do druids and rangers get their spells from the same source, and if so, why are they held to very different standards? Could rangers who act too lawful or chaotic wind up being denied spells? Once again we see the writers being confronted with ramifications of their own rules that they hadn't considered before, and the implied setting that results in. Organic writing does result in a whole bunch of weird resultant effects that you could never get if you planned it all out from the start. Is this a good or a bad thing? Probably a bad thing in this case, but there's plenty of instances where it has turned out for the better. This may be a small article, but it's jam packed with thought-provoking stuff. You could have long, fun flamewars as a result of this.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 100: August 1985

part 2/4

The forum: Michael D Selinker thinks that while there's nothing wrong with changing the game to suit your group, you ought to at least try playing it as written first, to make sure it isn't to your taste. If you can't handle playing AD&D as written, maybe you ought to go back to basic D&D instead.
Brian McCaskill tells a story about his D&D experiences, and the stages he went through as players munched out, and then lost interest. Already, people are drifting away from gaming because they don't want to be seen as uncool. We need to regroup and reassess what we're doing if we want to keep this hobby around.
Chad P Culotta (no relation) also thinks that the official rules are unusable, and you should examine them to use the good bits, as well as incorporating the good stuff from the magazine. Are we getting close to a consensus here? How very surprising. They'll have to find something else to flame about.

Pages from the mages V: Since he's one of their most popular writers, and this is one of his most popular series, having a 5th installment of this seems a very logical choice for Ed's contribution. As in the previous installments, we get 4 spellbooks. Exactly how Elminster knows so much about all these is still unrevealed, but he's definitely quite the font of lore as well as having a certain sense of mischief. He's becoming more defined by the article as much as the world he describes.
Sabrine's specular comes from the north, and runs the range from small to mighty, with three new cantrips, plus bladethirst, Merald's murderous mist, and one of those marvels of quirky magical design (Blatantly cribbed from Larry Niven) Spell Engine. Just the thing to have in your study, make sure people don't cause too much havoc.
Glanvyl's workbook is slightly less spectacular, with 3 more cantrips, plus a copied druidic spell for no apparent reason other than the compiler found it, and a couple of Ed's cookery recipies that just go to show how much cool detail he can casually create.
The red book of war is actually a cleric's prayerbook, not a spellbook. Guess Ed's tired of wizards getting all the new spell goodies, and is looking for reasons to share the love. I approve. As this is for Tempus, the FR god of war, the new spells within are quite useful in combat. Holy flail and bladebless handle the offensive and healing side. Reveal has huge strategic advantages, and sacred link has all manner of twinky possibilities in the hands of an inventive player. Wizards don't have to have all the spell-hunting fun on their own.
The Alcaister is a decidedly dangerous book to possess, with it's lethal pages and tendency to send you through a one-way gate if you read it wrong. But if you can survive it, you can learn a lot, including 3 new cantrips, plus Reconstruction and Body Sympathy. More ways in which wizards can mess with unsuspecting people and prevent themselves from dying.

Fiction: At moonset blackcat comes by Gary Gygax. Oh Gord. Oh Gord Oh Gord Oh Gord. Have you guessed what it is yet? Yes, it's the start of the Gord novels. Be very afraid. So we get a short story featuring Gord & co to promote it. In a bit of ingenious cross-promotion, our protagonist is playing Dragonchess in the starting illustration. It even features in the story, so it's not just a tacked on bit of pimping. Once again we see Gary get away with stuff no-one else would be allowed to in this magazine, with whores, gambling and drinking aplenty, and even some proper swearing. This definitely stands out, if not always for the right reasons, with overblown prose and a decidedly fiaty plot which leaves lots of questions unresolved. Will they be answered in the actual novels? Do you want to spend the money to find out? We won't judge you if you do.

Dragonchess gets a new edition. This complex variant on the traditional game runs across three boards, has 15 different pieces, each with their own idiosyncracies that'll take a while to learn, and supports some pretty heavy tactical play. Once again we are reminded that while D&D may be their big breakaway hit, Gary also enjoyed wargaming, model railroads, boardgames, and other similar hobbies, and wasn't short of ideas for those either. They really should have pushed this one harder, as it certainly shouldn't have been that hard to get this into commercial production and onto the toy store shelves at this time, and chess is a perennial game that seems to sell quite nicely without the endless revisions RPG's go through. This is another successful attempt to push the boundaries of what this magazine does, and definitely goes on the list of things I want to do when I have some free time. (ha) Drawing up and cutting out all the needed bits and pieces would be an adventure in itself.
 

gameraMan

Retired User
Dragon Issue 100: August 1985

Starting right away, they have a cover that's sculpted, rather than painted, which is very interesting, and the photo captures the three-dimensionality of it quite nicely.
Ah yes, the sculpted purple dragon cover. This was the one issue where I removed the cover myself (as opposed to it falling off on its own), as my girlfriend at that time loved it and wanted to pin it to her wall with her Duran Duran and Thompson Twins posters. She replaced it with a hand-drawn dragon on construction paper, which managed to stay attached after all these years.
 
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