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[Let's read] Dragon magazine - Part three: Fall and Rebirth

Many things have changed since I started this series, but I still like polls


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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 300: October 2002


part 7/10


Class acts returns after a two month absence. They really aren't as reliable as I remember this year. Anyway, as it's his baby, Monte misses no time including a vile and dark prestige class in here. The flesheater, cannibalistic halflings who want you for dinner. Don't laugh, because they have full BAB and sneak attack progression, stealth skills, can inflict Con damage with their claws, and track you by scent. Like many of the BoVD classes, they are slightly overpowered, on the assumption that there's no way a PC should be allowed to take them. How very patronizing. It also suffers from the conflation of evil with gross that the BoVD was prone too. I really do not approve. You are failing to build something that seems genuinely realistically evil here, and instead going for cartoonish maniacal laughter instead. Not very mature.


The risen dead: Once again we see how popular templates are. Even monsters that have already been statted out as regular creatures are being redone as templates, so it's even easier to turn PC's into one, or reflect that the original source wasn't the usual one for the creature. So Mummies, Wights and Wraiths follow in the path of Vampires and Liches here, making PC's turned into one all the scarier as adversaries. In addition, they include a new one for ghostly animals, since the regular ghost template doesn't really work for them. All are designed to be pretty close to their original version, and have ECL's several levels greater than their CR boosts, which means they'll be playable, but might be a bit fragile long-term. especially since they'll also have lost all their Con bonuses. Still, D&D becoming more of a toolkit is not something I object too, so this article gets a thumb up from me.


The ecology of the mummy: God, it's been a while since we had one of these. It's been mostly VS's, and even they've been thin on the ground lately. I guess these things come in cycles, because the early 90's was pretty thin ground for ecologies as well. This is a very dry ecology, almost completely removing the fiction for a combination of dry historical stuff, and ideas aimed towards creating interesting encounters for players. Creature combos, tactical notes, treasure suggestions, a sample map, this is a big step away from the old ecology style, and one I'm not sure I like. Guess it's going to be another dry spell here then.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 300: October 2002


part 8/10


Elminster's guide to the realms: Ed is naturally neither grim nor dark, with even his nine hells material operatic as much as it is harrowing, so thankfully he doesn't even try to be in theme. However, he can be pretty sneaky when he chooses too, creating characters who really know how to use their everyday surroundings to best effect. Here's another one of those, a canny old Harper who's probably a bit underpowered for her CR due to having lots of NPC class levels, but since she also has tons of potions and bits and pieces, and knows the terrain around her home, I can see unprepared PC's getting their ass handed to them. Along with the highly specific NPC and terrain info, there's also several new minor potions and oils that should come in handy in any campaign, and more info that we really want to know on how to smoke and cure meat, which is such a typically Ed bit of worldbuilding it makes me laugh. While not that great by his standards, this is still a nicely refreshing break from the overall tone of the magazine, and shows why they keep him around. He fills up page count reliably, and can still do things no-one else can get away with. When he's gone, the magazine will gain yet another few points of banality.


Campaign news: We've finished this year's big events, so this column is looking ahead to next year, and telling us about the new adventures and organisational changes in store. They're putting individual circle members in charge of particular metaregions, which'll speed along the decision making process for everyday rulings and hopefully won't make them more arbitrary. There's lots more adventures to come, including higher level ones where you might be able to make a dent in Iuz's dominion, and more options for you to travel to get involved in them. Oh, and another little bit of skill bloat, just to keep this from being purely positive. As with the last time, it feels like these changes are probably the direct result of issues encountered in play and complained about, which is a good thing to see. I do think a general knowledge (the planes) skill would make more sense than knowledge (ether creatures) at 3e's general level of skill granularity though. That just feels like it was written to punish metagamers, or by someone who preferred the haphazard way 2e did things. What was the lead up to that weirdly specific ruling?


Playing Pieces: This is in theme, as it was a couple of months ago, and follows on directly from that revisiting of the vault of the Drow. After all, they are both vile and dark, so it fits perfectly. So here's 7 new Drow NPC's, plus a good old fashioned vampire who hangs around the vault because hey, even if the company sucks, you don't have to worry about sunburn, and elvish blood is pretty sweet. All of them are pretty morally dubious, and the last three are outright unhinged, a trio of murderous mimes that'll chill the blood of anyone with a hint of clown fear. So there is some silliness here, and also a healthy dollop of darkness, sex, drugs and rock & roll to keep the grimdark from taking itself too seriously, sticking it's head up it's ass and snacking on it's own faeces. Mixed message, certainly, but still more entertaining than being one thing all the time, regardless of the situation.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 300: October 2002


part 9/10


DM's toolbox: This column changes writers, and takes on a topic that feels more like a Dungeoncraft one than a DM's toolbox one. How to recruit a new player, particularly one who hasn't played RPG's before at all. Still, it approaches the topic in the list based, step by step way that makes this column particularly useful for the socially inept. It's all about making the idea seem fun and accessible. Of course, one problem here is that like the rest of the magazine, they have to aim this towards 3e D&D, which doesn't have a really good basic set, unlike previous versions, and the three books put together are thicker than most of the old boxed sets as well. But even that's solvable as long as you guide them through character creation. After all, they only have to read the Player's handbook, and big chunks of that will be irrelevant depending on which class they pick. A one-to-one introductory session in which they're the centre of attention and all the challenges are tailored to their character is often a good way to start, especially as it gets the explaining part done without the clamour of contradictory voices that can be very offputting. Basically, start simple, and then gradually unveil all the multifold possibilities roleplaying games offer, that you simply can't manage with any other form of entertainment. Hint at the possibilities and invite them to explore them themselves, rather than shoving hundreds of supplements at once in their faces. So it seems this column has survived a writer change without being hit in quality or usefulness, although the topic is a little rehashed. Like the writer submission guidelines being reiterated every year or so, it's an important measure to keep bringing in new blood.


Silicon Sorcery: Age of Wonders 2 is another computer game that to be honest, owes a fair debt to D&D in terms of classes, spells, and monsters. Which of course, makes it all the easier to convert the few bits that are original. A couple of new elemental blast spells, hurting the enemy with geysers of steam and sticky clouds of poisonous gas. Nothing too groundbreaking, but as usual, the slightly different secondary characteristics will help you catch the enemy off guard, and hopefully bypass their resistances. Couldn't they convert utility powers instead, or isn't there many of those in computer games to convert? Overall, this is a definite meh, as we already have more than enough blasty powers. Once again, this shows the flaws in only doing the popular stuff and cutting the rest. You sacrifice the versatility that makes you adaptable to new situations, and make yourself more vulnerable to change.


Nodwick faces a time traveling enemy. Fortunately, he's no more competent than any of their other foes:
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 300: October 2002


part 10/10


Sage advice: Can I be a human cleric of bahamut (Yes, actually. He's progressive.)

Do greater deities do everything perfectly. (Almost. They still don't always crit. Small mercy though.)

How do you stat out your own deities. (Read the book, follow the formulae. )

Where do paladins of helm get their spells from (Good question. There is some definite metaphysical drama there. )

What's the point of voice of the siren (Even more bonuses. Rockaroo. )

How many domains does an oracular adept have (The usual. You lose your old ones. Don't try and double up like a twinky monkey boy.)

What happens if you get arcane domain spells (They're simply divine for you, pouffles.)

How does slime wave work on large creatures (Lots of surface area = lots of suffering. Take that tarrasque down.)

Does divine might take up an action and use up a turn attempt (no, yes)

If a domain spell boosts caster level, can you use that to make powerful magic items ( Yes, at the usual extra cost.)

Where in the roll do you apply turn resistance (All points. Break the powah!)

Can command set someone up for a coup de grace (No. Self preservation is stronger than a puny 1st level spell.)

Do you need a hand free for a divine focus. (No, you can just be wearing it. Isn't faith a wonderful thing. )


What's new has Dixie take charge, still on a heroic kick. Seems to be going pretty well for her at the moment.


This issue is very disappointing indeed, especially when compared to the breakout experimentation of issue 100, and the turn everything up to 11 extravagance of issue 200. It makes it very clear how much more limited the topics they cover have become, and how much more formulaic the ways they approach them are. Top that off with the specific theme being approached in a manner that simply doesn't give it the gravity it needs, and you have a complete damp squib. Not one I have any real desire to come back too later. Let's hope that with the pressure off, the next issue won't choke quite so badly.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Well, we've made it through the terrible two hundreds, and are now 5/6ths of the way through the printed issues of Dragon as a whole. Once again, it's time for me to spend nearly a whole day meticulously indexing, because if this is going to be done, I'm going to do it properly, and make sure it's easy to find specific issues quickly. Here we go again. This is going to take even more posts than last time because they've changed the hyperlink format since last time.



Dragon Magazine Issue 201: January 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 202: February 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 203: March 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 204: April 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 205: May 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 206: June 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 207: July 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 208: August 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 209: September 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 210: October 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 211: November 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 212: December 1994 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6
Dragon Magazine Issue 213: January 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 214: February 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 215: March 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 216: April 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 217: May 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 218: June 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 219: July 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 220: August 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 221: September 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 222: October 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 223: November 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 224: December 1995 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 225: January 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 226: February 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 227: March 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 228: April 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 229: May 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 230: June 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 231: July 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 232: August 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 233: September 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 234: October 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 235: November 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 236: December 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Annual 1996 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 237: Mid 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 238: August 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 239: September 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 240: October 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 241: November 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 242: December 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Annual 1997 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 243: January 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 244: February 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 245: March 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 246: April 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 247: May 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 248: June 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 249: July 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 250: August 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 251: September 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 252: October 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 253: November 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 254: December 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Annual 1998 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 255: January 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 256: February 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 257: March 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8
Dragon Magazine Issue 258: April 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 259: May 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 260: June 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 261: July 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 262: August 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 263: September 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 264: October 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 265: November 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 266: December 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Annual 1999 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 267: January 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 268: February 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 269: March 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 270: April 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Magazine Issue 271: May 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 272: June 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 273: July 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 274: August 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 275: September 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 276: October 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 277: November 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 278: December 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Annual 2000 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 279: January 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 280: February 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 281: March 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 282: April 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 283: May 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 284: June 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 285: July 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 286: August 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 287: September 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 288: October 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 289: November 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Issue 290: December 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
Dragon Annual 2001 part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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