• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[Let's read] Dragon magazine - Part two: Gimme some Moore

So, how am I doing so far?


  • Total voters
    162

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 113: September 1986

part 3/5

Magic and Morality: Mike Gray contributes this month's computer feature, an exceedingly positive review of Ultima IV. Like Rogue, this comes far closer to simulating the D&D experience than most CRPG's, allowing you a good deal of freedom, both in the objectives you pursue and order in which you do them, and also in your moral position. While you are supposed to be good if you want to win the game, you can choose to be a bad guy instead and the game won't railroad you away from it. You have to experiment with mixing up ingredients to produce spells, make real moral choices, talk to everyone, and explore everywhere. It also includes some nice little extras, like a proper cloth map and lots of booklets that it really will help you to read before playing. Another great reminder that there were plenty of cool games back then, quite a few that did things that most games now don't do, because it was so much easier and cheaper to develop games and so designers had more leeway to experiment with them. And now you can get most of them for free via emulators and roms. (not that I endorse illegal downloading, of course) Indulge your nostalgia. Go play.

Clout for clerics: Like they've done with fighters and rangers recently, it's now cleric's turn to get their follower tables examined and expanded. This article takes a slightly different tack to the previous two, eschewing tables to instead embed the rules stuff directly into the prose. They are slightly more generous than the core rules, but as much of the followers are embedded into the community around your temple, and none are more than half your level, this isn't going to be adventure breaking. This does tack on a bunch of new rules which aren't related to the general domain management system, which may be problematic if you try and use them both at once. Such is the problem with inventing new subsystems. You'll have to pick and stick with one.

A saddle isn't enough: Hmm. For want of a shoe, a horse was lost. For want of a horse, a messenger was lost. For want of a messenger, an army wasn't ready when the enemies came knocking on the king's castle and the country was lost. Or in this case, the stirrup. Funny how such an innocuous looking device can prove so important. That annoying elves like Legolas can ride bareback and still kick much ass on the field of battle without falling off becomes a good deal more impressive when you actually know a little about the technical side of riding. It's minutinae, but minutinae I didn't know about before, so this manages to hold my interest this time around. If you're playing a gritty game, you would do well to heed it, and thereby frustrate your players when caught improperly prepared. Muahahaha.

Combat complexity: An article for the Conan rpg. Another case where it's been out for a few years, yet the magazine has paid no attention to it before. Guess even though the Ares section is gone, they still want to give non D&D games decent coverage, so a little more general fantasy doesn't go amiss. Anyway, this introduces one of our perennial topics. Hit locations. Seems if a game doesn't include them (and many don't, as they can introduce a lot of extra complexity.) someone'll create optional rules for them. Thankfully, they manage to keep things fairly simple, and curiously enough, the system seems more friendly to the idea than D&D anyway. It also seems pretty brutal, but thems the breaks. Nothing particularly ground-breaking here.

Cardboard dragon: Another interesting experiment is this month's centerpiece. We saw an example of Dennis Kaufman's excellent origami work on the cover of issue 100. Now, he brings you your own cardboard dragon assembly kit. Cut out the various bits and pieces, fold them up and glue them together, and hey presto, an embarrassing mess that doesn't look anything like as good as the photos in the magazine ;) Joking aside, this is another pretty cool idea. Hopefully at least a few of you managed to put it together and keep it intact for a few years. What toys will they come up next? Lets hope that with modules gone we'll be seeing a few more of those fun little complete games Tom Wham and C C Stoll used to give us.

Bubba the barbarian says "Don't eat Quiche!" Subscribe to Dungeon before it's even out! How nice of them. Now you can make sure you get every issue, right from the ground floor. Lets hope there are some more people who took them up on that, because our dungeon magazine reviews stalled ages ago, and I really would like it if someone would pick them up again and try and keep pace with me, now I've reached that era.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 113: September 1986

part 4/5

TSR Previews is once again the wrong way around. D&D gets DA1: Adventures in Blackmoor. Dave Arneson is back, and he's bad! (man it sucks, posting this just after he died. :( ) How did that work? Gary's embroiled in mad political crap, and the other founder is allowed to return. Hmm. I would rather like to know more about the behind the scenes maneuvering that led to this.
AD&D gets I10 Ravenloft II: Gryphon Hill. What is Strahd doing in faraway Mordentshire, working with Azalin the lich? And just as importantly, who's going to foil his plans? Will it be the same adventurers that attacked him last time? This thread of history definitely thickens.
Our 10th AD&D adventure gamebook is a Dragonlance one, Lords of Doom. Penetrate the evil city of sanction. What do you there? The synopsis doesn't say. Would it be too much to hope that you kill them all? Nah. If good won forever, they wouldn't be able to keep milking the gameline.
Marvel gets MH9: Gates of what if? Seems like a standard opposite universe romp.
Finally, Agent 13 get's his 3rd book, Agent 13 and the acolytes of darkness. Once again the description is pretty sketchy, but I guess this is pulp. You're probably getting exactly what it says on the tin. Fight evil cult, get captured, cliffhanger chapter end, listen to insane monologue, escape deathtrap, win, hooray!

Profiles: Keith Parkinson is another of our well known artists. He used to be a drummer, but decided to become an artist instead because you get more creative control. He was introduced to D&D by a friend, realized that he could do better than their early crop of artists, and went and offered his services. And so he became one of their second wave artists, along with Elmore and Easley. As usual, we see that you've got to be a hard worker to succeed as an artist, and striking a balance between not being put off by criticism, but still learning from the constructive points of it is tricky but useful.
Bruce Heard is our acquisitions coordinator, which means he's another of the poor sods who has to read through hundreds of manuscripts and find the gems amongst the dross. ( Once again we see that as the company has expanded, they raise the bar for allowing new people onboard. ) Born in france to a US soldier and a french woman, he is exceedingly multi-lingual. He first got a job as a translator of D&D stuff, but soon moved on to bigger and better things, and is turning out to be a pretty good writer in his own right as well. He seems to be one of the people who really pushed Mystara in a more high magic direction, which is a good thing in my book. I'm really looking forward to seeing his future contributions to the line.

Fiction: A difficult undertaking by Harry Turtledove. Hmm. Interesting. This is a fairly well known author. What's he doing in here? They must agree with me, because they let him put 9 page story in the magazine. A dramatic tale of barbarians vs civilization, as they try to outwit one another to break a siege, with strongly defined leads on both sides. It manages to stay serious right up to the end, at which point it lapses into using one of the worst puns ever as it's punchline. Which certainly makes it memorable, at any rate. I'm not sure if I should praise him for that, or groan in annoyance. Eh, even if I can't decide if I like it or not, I'm definitely not bored by it, which lets face it, would be worse.

Easy as 1, 2, 3: Rick Swan! Another of my personal fave authors debuts in Dragon. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm is easily quashed, as this turns out to be another boring NPC creation advice piece. Also, Playing out scenarios and questions for your NPC in your head to determine how they'd react? How very amateur dramatics. You can already see why he fit right in in the 2nd ed era. Keep plugging away, honing that craft. Come back when you're ready to give us something really cool.

One roll to go: Hmm. This is a clever little bit of tableage. Want to streamline the rolling of vast amounts of attacks and saves? Determine the odds, roll percentile dice, and consult the tables to determine how many succeed. Can handle up to 20 rolls at once. How very handy. This is definitely one to note down and use when those kobolds unleash their onslaughts of burning arrows and acid flasks. It could probably be refined (d1000 would only take one more die, and increase the precision hugely, saving time that this method wastes resolving rounding errors. ) but it is a great idea. The math wonk in me definitely approves.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 113: September 1986

part 5/5

Top [secret] gun: Looks like another movie has entered the public consciousness, and is already producing :rolleyes: worthy puns. As you may have inferred, this is about putting fighter planes into Top Secret. A considerably easier thing to do than incorporating nukes, but still a case where the spotlight may be taken by one player, and everyone else has to sit the scene out, or the whole team can wind up dying from a failed roll. So here's a pretty simplified set of rules for flying and air combat. This should keep it from bogging down and taking over entire sessions, allowing you to get back to the espionage. Neither very impressive or utterly crap, this is just another filler article really.

Minimag: Another example of their renewed desire to include random fun stuff to keep the magazine fresh. Here we have a couple of pages of Marvel dioramas built and photographed by Mike Sitkiewicz. How very curious. Once again, this has managed to raise a few smiles, and keep this issue surprising. This is the kind of thing that's cool as an experiment, but I probably wouldn't want to see as a regular feature. I am curious how he managed to get spidey suspended on a thin support like that. Either that thread is stronger than it looks, or there's a hidden wire somewhere.

Cold steel: Gamma world gets another article designed to provide new challenges to higher level PC's. Like the Exterminator, these are a bunch of robots from the past, designed to kick much ass, and now their creators are gone, they simply continue following their programming, causing much inconvenience to anyone who happens to fulfill the wrong criteria. The Cybohunter, the Robohunter, and the Manhunter, each getting increasingly large and deadly (and in the last case, it has lots of ancillary drones, so even if you split up and run away, you're still screwed. ) While nowhere as ridiculous as the giant mecha from issue 101, these are still nothing to be sneezed at, and make considerably more sense in terms of setting integration. With any luck, the cutting down on sci-fi stuff means only the better articles get through, and this is a pretty solid piece.

Star cops: Looks like playing law enforcement has come to Traveller as well, with this set of rules for playing characters both active and retired. While you might not get as much freedom, you'll definitely face a challenging life. You might want to fudge the rolls a little if you're playing active officers, so all the PC's are kept on the same assignments, and no-one gets stuck in a desk job watching the others go off and have fun. You'll pick up a different set of skills to the military guys, but chances are you can still get pretty badass. Another solid but unexceptional addition to the many many career choices Traveler players now have before them. You could have an entire team without duplicating careers once. Which is a good thing from a niche protection perspective. Now all you've got to do is keep track of where all the rules for the different careers are found. :p

GURPs fantasy. The first supplement, but not the last. Lets get this treadmill rolling. We spent 5 years developing this. Now it's time to make some profit.

Wormy has a troll toll bridge. The rat is not the brains of the outfit. Dragonmirth has lots of things going wrong. Snarf realizes a year has almost passed and he has to get back quick. Good thing he has a spaceship then.

The official AD&D paint set gets advertised again.

Well, they certainly seem to be keeping to their promises. There have been quite a few surprises in this issue, including some very amusing bits. However, they were also right in saying not all of them would be to everyone's taste, and some of them would be by people who don't necessarily know what they're talking about. And no matter how well considered the editorial policy, they can't turn a sows ear into a silk purse. If they don't have the material to work with, they can't make a truly brilliant magazine. Still hopefully they'll continue to find and deliver a few surprises per issue to keep them from feeling like a waste of time.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 114: October 1986

part 1/5

108 pages. Hmm. Rather risque cover this month. That veil was totally added on afterwards to sell this pic to a family friendly magazine! I call shenanigans. On the plus side, they're taking halloween seriously this year. But will we be scared? That's the important question. And if so, in what way? Visceral horror? Looming dread? Fear for the future of the hobby? ;) We shall see. Turn the page, open the door, and lets hope the giant bees are friendly.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter from someone who fears the coming of 2nd ed. Will you keep it compatible with the old edition? Can we return our old books for a reduced price on the new ones. David Cook takes the mic to assure everyone that 2nd ed will be as similar as possible, only with the crap bits no-one uses anyway taken out, and the rest better organized. A promise he can probably say he kept.
A letter from someone confused about psionics. Activating a power counts as your attack, maintaining it doesn't. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Holy crap. Someone impersonated Roger Moore at comiccon and managed to fool the entire convention, to the point where he got on panels and answered questions about TSR. Now that's chutzpah. And then he sent a letter telling TSR he'd done this and asked for a job, for doing it so well. Now that crosses the line into full-on insanity. Roger officially apologizes for everyone confused by this. Could people not do that. It's not going to get you a job here, and may well get your ass sued. Ahh, geekery. This is like ripping the hair and clothes off your favorite boyband member if they get too close. It will not endear you to them. Still, it's amusing for the rest of us to read about. Even funnier than their editorials about the satanic D&D rumours, and Arthur Collins' mum writing in to complain.

Forum loses it's definite article. Why do they keep doing that?
Fr Patrick J Dolan has complicated feelings about making gods in the game fightable. Well, being a priest, he would. He comes down with a compromise. While portraying the supreme god as anything less than almighty would be disrespectful, angels, and most gods from other pantheons are not generally portrayed as so, so PC's should have a chance of tricking or beating them. This can still lead to fun games. And also puts his faith above everyone else's ;) A rhetorical win all round.
Jeannie Whited keeps playing D&D despite the sexism. Well, sorta, as her character has special powers, and the whole game is houseruled to unrecognisability anyway. The point is, she's having fun and hopes other girls aren't put off just because the official rules are stupid.
Joseph Maccarrone thinks putting a hit location system in D&D is stupid. Hit points are not purely a matter of physical toughness. Someone subscribes to the narrative model then. You'll be fighting a losing battle against some of the official writers for a while then
Mark Nemeth thinks that the new typeface and way of heading articles is ugly. Also, how could people want less realistic articles? Everyone wants their games as realistic as possible! You must have read the survey wrong! Uh, yeah. Riiiiiight. The editors will just look at you and shuffle slowly away.
Andy Parris thinks that the rules for two-weapon fighting are completely unrealistic. You can so parry with the off-hand weapon. Yes, but is it balanced? Do you want to see the rise of Drizzt in every campaign?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 114: October 1986

part 2/5

Witches again. This is the fourth time, not counting the reprint in the first best of. It has been quite some time since the last time, but really, why do it again. Last time was pretty solid. This isn't even that different from last time. Some abilities have been added, others slightly reduced in power, and the formatting is probably better this time around. (apart from the spell table. They really have got to check test printings. I know all too well the pain of what lines up perfectly on the screen coming out wonky. ) Still, is it really that popular? Do they not have enough good new submissions? Is this a response to the recent flare up of sexist accusations, an attempt to pander to their female readers? In any case, this is 12 pages of reheated rehash. A very unsatisfactory start indeed.

Grave encounters: Oh yeah, it's Halloween time. That means spooky articles. Although there is very little spooky about 3 pages of tables. (500 pages of tables full of disturbing entries, a la FATAL, is another matter altogether, of course. ) On the other hand, these are very cleverly done indeed. Tables for random encounters in graveyards. The trick here is that they are sorted not only for degree of corruption, but also time of day, and phase of the moon as well. So adventurers can choose just how brave they are by when the venture into the graveyard, scaling the challenge in a more naturalistic manner. This is a very well done set, both conceptually, and in terms of formatting. I would have no objection to using these at all.

Traveller: 2300! New state of the art edition! Oh, this will result in flamewars.

The elven Cavalier: Like the barbarian cleric, it seems we have another example of forbidding something resulting in people creating a whole new class to fill that void. So yeah, the elven cavalier, the exemplar of the idea of mounted bowman, riding through the forest, singing tra la la lally and fucking any evil creatures who intrude on their land right up. As is far too often the case with fan-made elf stuff, they gain rather more powers than they sacrifice, when compared to their human counterparts. This is a definite sign of their new commitment to immediate cool stuff over game balance. I find myself pretty much obliged to disapprove. You carry on at this rate, and all the races will have access to every class, ( ;) ) only slightly different for each one, requiring tons of annoying checking to keep track of the differences. And don't even try and sell me the idea that purely fluff based roleplaying hinderances balance out mechanical advantages. I may have fallen for that when I was 15, and the swashbuckler from the complete fighters handbook was all the rage, but I'm not falling for it again. I call twinkitude! Get out of my sight!

Turtlemania rages on! Palladium pimp their primary line at this point strongly.

Many kinds of money: Economy, economy, you will be the death of me. A simple currency, based on metals of the highest purity? Such as simple idea could never be allowed here. For if a government wants to control the economy, they must maintain control of the money. And the best way to do that is to separate it from real, objectively measurable things like the gold standard, and create a currency based purely on fiat, trickery, and demand, who's only value is what people agree it's value is. Slightly trickier when you have magic that demands specific values of specific objects (or at least, specific quantities.) and even tricker when you have magic that provides an objective assessment of an object's value that isn't index linked to the local markets. Anyway, the point that this article is making is that having gold, silver, copper, etc pieces that are all exactly the same size and weight, accepted everywhere, is incredibly unrealistic. Oriental Adventures has proved popular enough to prove that gamers are capable of accepting the concept of multiple currencies in their fantasy. So go for it. Put in as much complexity to this as you think you and your players can stand. Remember also that counterfeiting is a rich ground for adventures, on both sides of the law, so you should consider that as a plot hook as well. One of those articles I both approve of, and am wary about actually using, as it could wind up being very dull if done wrong. Eh, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't like a challenge.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 114: October 1986

part 3/5

The ecology of the Remorhaz: Welcome to our third collaborative ecology (lest you forget, beholders and centaurs also got co-written.) This is not particularly epic, but does have plenty of depth, creating a creature that probably could just about exist in the real world. Of course, making it's metabolism work realistically does involve nerfing it a bit, but unless your players are the sort who like hit and run tactics and harrying their enemy into submission over long periods of time, this is unlikely to be an issue. And if they do try tactics like that, you probably ought to be rewarding them for doing so anyway. There's plenty of stuff here for those who like to capture creatures or harvest them for their organs. Another solid bit of ecological work here.

Combined generation: Ahh here we see one of the reasons they decided to do a new edition. Due to the not particularly brilliant organization, looking up all the tables for character generation has grown increasingly unwieldy as new supplements are introduced. Of course, compiling them in a magazine article may not be the best way to fix it, but they've had the idea, and by gosh they're going to do it, because the page count needs padding at the last minute. Or something, because this feels very much like a filler article, with it's word count and shape edited to fit around the number of adverts. Meh.

Class struggles: Welcome to another rehash. Training to gain levels presents a substantial problem at low levels. You also need to be able to train yourself at higher levels, otherwise it would become impossible to to advance and the state of knowledge would gradually degenerate over generations. It also suffers from D&D's ridiculous union carteled price fixing. This is one case where I have always ignored the rules as written, and the game has not suffered from this at all. This alternate system is slightly more generous in general, but also divides costs up so you have to determine the price for each ability separately. It makes some rather dubious decisions, such as escalating costs for weapon proficiencies (how are they to know what level you are? ) which abilities count as innate, and even the levels at which proficiencies are gained. So yeah, I disagree with both the premise and many of the specifics of this article, and do not intend to use it in any form. Bleah.

It's a hit, but where?: A second hit location system in quick succession? What is this? Alternatives month? At least this one only adds one roll to your attacks, and even then, only sometimes. But is still pretty unsatisfying in other respects, (it really isn't that hard to hit someone in the eye. I could do it as a kid, and I definitely didn't have any class levels) not giving enough detail on what effects losing a limb has. It does get kudos for including hit location tables for flail snails and wolf in sheep's clothings. These humorous touches make it more interesting reading but don't change the fact that this is yet more rehash I have no desire to include in my game. How very tiresome.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 114: October 1986

part 4/5

A recipe for espionage: Once again we are confronted with the problem that far too many GM's, presented with Top Secret, just throw the characters into the same old dungeon crawls, reskinned as warehouses and secret bases, where the characters engage in the same old killing and taking of stuff, only with firearms instead of fireballs. And as ever, it's up to the magazine to show them that this is badwrongfun, and they ought to be constructing their adventures more like a James Bond movie, with witty banter, spectacular locations, and actual information gathering being important. The writer weaves visuals that strongly evoke the feel of an 80's tv show, with the camera panning over a beautiful landscape full of shiny houses with expensive cars parked in front of them while a saxophone plays. They attend expensive parties, get picked up by their spymasters to receive assignments in private jets, and use mobile phones the size of bricks and laptops the size of suitcases with pride. They can play it episodic or go for extensive undercover missions. They get assigned bizarre tasks with awkward conditions as part of their training and testing. They can get captured and forced to deal with their enemies maniacal whims, fighting against leopards in nothing but a loincloth. This is entertaining, and often rather silly stuff, that definitely shows the influence of the TV shows and movies of the era. I have no objection to this, although I would urge caution. Don't want to overdo the gonzo, do we.

Robotech coming soon! Another palladium licence. Can this outshine TMNT? We shall see.

Dungeon once again offers you a bargain starting subscription price. And does so with another rather funny advert. They seem to know what they're doing here.

Guilty as charged: Top secret gets a second article this month. Sometimes, you get caught by the enemy, and have to be tried for the crimes you commit in the course of your job. Sometimes, you capture the enemy, and will have to serve as witnesses in their trial. And sometimes, you rebel, or get turned into a scapegoat and wind up imprisoned by your own side. And if you mess up, then the agency may well deny your membership, and even it's own existence, and hang you out to dry with the mundane police. Anyway, there's plenty of drama to be had in this scenario, so lets introduce a few optional rules, spin it out a bit longer and allow for a bit more nuance, shall we? Another one I quite approve of. Courtroom drama is a rich ground for roleplaying that doesn't get nearly enough attention, when it's perfectly designed for it, especially LARPing. I'd love to get a chance to play around in that genre for a bit. This would of course involve having players who don't slaughter everything and refuse to negotiate at all, forcing you to kill them instead of surrendering if it looks like they're going to lose. Eh, that's not that rare these days, is it?

The marvel-phile: Rather a long, and slightly nostalgic marvel-phile this month, as we head up to the moon, to see the Inhumans and their stats. Black Bolt, Medusa, Maximus, Crystal, Gorgon, Karnak, and Triton. While they have tremendous powers that have interesting parallels to their mythical namesakes, they are also curiously vulnerable to disease, pollution, and the other mundane unpleasantness of the earth, which prevents them from living down here long term. They are rather morally ambiguous as a whole, having been both good and bad, and riven by internal conflict. Plenty of interesting plots can be hatched involving them. Jeff also gives us some more info about the differences between the old game, and the new Advanced version. Like OD&D to AD&D, this is really just expansion and clarification rather than a major change. You won't have to do tons of relearning. You do get to define your place in the world better, with more info on contacts and base building. Even editorial screwage can't get Jeff down. He'll just chatter about everything, including his personal life. His star is still very much in the ascendant. Once again I've enjoyed reading his contribution to the magazine.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 114: October 1986

part 5/5

The dungeoneers survival guide. The first proper AD&D book without Gary at the helm. We still haven't heard anything about that, he's just stopped appearing in the magazine. How very worrisome.

The immortals set. Just in time for christmas. Are you ready to go cosmic! Awesome. Now you can finally win D&D for good.

The role of computers: This month's main review is of Wizards Crown, another adventure game. Explore the world, get stuff, and advance your characters to win back the titular wizard's crown. Make sure you save it frequently, otherwise you may find yourself suffering massive amounts of frustration, because it's a big and tricky game. Ahh, the differences between computer and tabletop RPG's, where this kind of thing is expected. Unlike the first few reviews, this is a game I didn't already know about, so it was interesting on that level. But on another, the novelty is wearing off, and this column is starting to feel like business as usual. I suspect we'll have some dull issues for this as well before it comes to an end.

Running guns: Battletech gets an article this month. As ever, nice to see them covering games they have not done previously. As is often the case, this article tackles something ignored in the main books. Humanoid mechs get all the glory, while boring things like tanks, missile launchers and PPC's get ignored, even when they do actually play a significant part in the battle. Just like the trenches and the planes in WW1. So here we have three new vehicles statted out for your enjoyment. Will they be the crucial tipping point in your fight, or merely cannon fodder? One of those questions I can't answer due to unfamiliarity with the system. Still, as with revenge of the nobodies, and heroic mortal exalted games, getting to see the world from a slightly lower down perspective than the PC default and face the consequences can make for very interesting gaming. So I think I'll give this one a thumbs up.

High-tech hijinks: Our final article is only sorta a sci-fi one, despite being in this section. It's about putting high-tech devices into your fantasy world. Fitting, given Blackmoor is just being released in a new version. Do you want them for a brief crossover (and if so, how will you take them away after the episode is over) or do you want them here for good? Who made it, when and why. And the critical question of how powerful it should be compared to magic and how you differentiate the two. This gives us some pretty specific answers to these questions. Needing batteries and repairs is a good way to take them out of player hands after a bit, weapons should be more powerful than regular ones, but not ridiculously so, buying and selling them should be a bitch, and magitech and bombs should not be allowed. Ok then. Seems pretty sensible. This is not entirely a good thing. Quite a number of games, from shadowrun, to rifts, to d20 modern, will merge magic and technology integrally in the future and be successful, so this advice seems rather dated. Take a few more risks. It's not going to kill you, and if it kills your game, you can just start a new one. Balance is not essential to fun.

Wormy gets to see his horde of new recruits. Dragonmirth plays with our expectations again. Snarf finds claiming the throne is not as simple as he'd hoped.

MERP is once again on the back cover with a new edition. And yet we've never seen an actual article for it, despite years of press. What's up with that? You'd think that given how much of D&D is derived from it, someone would at least try. Are the approvals people a bunch of arseholes?

Not a very good issue at all, with a ridiculously high degree of recycled material, particularly in the D&D bits. The articles covering other games are rather better, especially the top secret ones, but as a whole, this still leaves me unsatisfied. It also demonstrates that covering multiple systems really does make it much easier to maintain interest, as even if you tackle similar topics, the rules and setting quirks means they manifest differently in each game. How will they solve this problem? Believe me, I'm very eager to find out too.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 115: November 1986

part 1/5

108 pages. Looks like another class special. This time, it's thieves turn, with 6 articles devoted to them. Wait a minute, wasn't the last class special in issue 104 also a thief one? And in 84, they did two cleric specials with nothing else between, in issue 85 and 92. This isn't very symmetrical. What are the editors thinking?
We also get to see their sales figures again. And it looks like the slow decline has been taking place in earnest. With an average of 108,000, but a latest issue figure of only 101,000, that means they've been losing an average of over 1,000 readers per month this year. Were you one of those people? (Given my current level of enthusiasm, I might well have been one of those people if I was reading at that time. ) Lets hope they can stem that decline. But lets not be too pessimistic. There's still plenty of cool material there. Along with the D&D thieves, there's also quite a bit of top secret material again, which is pleasing.
Also notable is Kim's abrupt departure, leaving Roger in charge of two magazines at once. (Finally my pun title comes into play :p) Can someone fill me in on the behind the scenes stuff that led to this? Lets hope that doesn't result in even more slipshod editing over the next few issues. Looks like having barely recovered from the last big shakeup, there's going to be some more in the near future. This is morbidly interesting.

In this issue:

Letters: The introduction of a computer column has obviously resulted in a lot of mail for them, mostly positive. They've printed five of them, with a mix of questions and suggestions. This means it's future is pretty much assured for quite some time. Roger is surprisingly cagey in response to this, not wanting to promise anything he can't deliver. Curious. At least something's going right around here. You ought to capitalize on that.

Forum: John M Maxstadt makes another appearance, this time complaining about last month's cover, and the general amount of cheesecake in the art. It's demeaning to women, it's bad for the hobby, and it's just plan embarrassing to explain to my nongamer friends. Woe, woe and woe some more.
Paul Astle doesn't know how to stop players from abandoning your game in search of more munched out ones, but he has some advice on how to please the people still here. Even one-on-one games can still be fun if done right. Don't get discouraged. If you don't even try, you're definitely going to lose.
David Howery thinks that a second edition is a good idea, but making stuff from OA part of it is not. He also thinks that doing profiles on the staff members that include photos is a good way to stop impersonators. You're going to be pretty happy then.
Raymond Chuang has some thoughts about the interesting hassles PC's could face setting up a business. Any business with a wizard can massively outperform it's competitors, which may cause economic troubles and union unrest. Also, magical byproduct pollution can cause all sorts of hassle. Both are pretty good plot hooks, really.

Lords of the night: Thieves guilds. Huh. What are they good for? Quite a lot actually. Organized crime has quite substantial benefits. Training, specialized equipment, gossip and info, meeting new people, fencing your ill-gotten gains, infiltrating the legal system and making sure members don't get in too much trouble when caught. It's no wonder that to be a successful thief, you need to be in one, especially with AD&D training requirements being what they are. Here's another nice but unexceptional worldbuilding article that deconstructs things like demographics, how these organizations are created, joined and maintained, how they differ, how they will usually be the same, and how they relate to the world in general. Not that fascinating to me now, but one to bookmark for when I actually get the chance to build another gameworld.

A den of thieves: So, you've reached name level, and now you want to set up your own thieves guild. Congratulations, and good luck, you'll need it. Vince Garcia (now there's a name that sounds like a mafioso boss in itself) gives us lots of cool advice on how to make the life of a character trying to set up an organization interesting. While obviously focussed on crimelords, the lessons from this can be applied to other classes with a little conversion as well. Political maneuvering, constructing a proper hierarchy, with chains of command, specialist groups, and all that jazz. Raising money, dealing with the other local power blocs, breaking away from your current guild, this is all very solid stuff. It's also backed up mechanically with lots of tables, which alter the types of followers you get, and the odds of having run-ins with the law. Far better than the first article, this would definitely be of great use in actual play, not just worldbuilding, expanding the domain management system for rogues, and helping you zoom out and experience months of politicking in a session. And you ought to know by now I'm very much in favour of that. Are you ready to play D&D, Godfather style? Yes, I'm talking to you. There's nobody else here, so I must be talking to you.
 
Top Bottom