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

So, how am I doing so far?


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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 118: February 1987

part 4/5

The dragon's bestiary: Opilonid are a swarm hunting breed of underground arachnoids. They get a whole bunch of quirky exception based powers and ecological stuff. Definitely one of the better thought out entries in here.
Spider cats(!) are exactly what they sound like, hybrid predators that stalk you, web you, and string you up for later. Mad wizards get memetastic. Just be thankful none of them have unleashed lolcats on the forgotten realms. That'd fuck it up even worse than the spellplague.
Pheonix spiders take the tenacity of cockroaches and make it even worse, as they reform, bigger and badder every time you kill them. Now that's the kind of thing that provokes HOLY SHIT! reactions in players. I so want to use these. If anything'll make even the dumbest kill everything that moves party stop and think, it's these guys. They also have instadeath poison that still does damage if you save, so even at their smaller sizes they'll still mow through an uninformed party. If you were to take the cap off it's growth, and vary it's weakness to a form harder to find and use, one of these could rival the tarrasque as a country destroying monstrosity that drives an entire campaign arc. Muahahahaha!!!!!!
Polar spiders, like polar bears, are big furry things that camouflage themselves against the ice, and hunt you down. Yet another apex predator in a world absolutely swarming with them.
Giant bolas spiders throw a sticky glob at you and reel you in like a hooked fish. Good luck breaking free before they grab you and apply the standard instadeath poison. To top it off, they're smart enough to be malevolent, and can detect magic by touch, which definitely seems like it could have plot purposes.
Definitely a well above average bestiary this month, with several awesome entries. Their diabolical imaginations are working at full steam, adapting stuff from the real world to their ends. I approve.

The game wizards: Zeb Cook continues to clarify his plans for the next edition. This month, it's the crucial decision of which classes to include. Fighters, wizards and thieves are a shoe-in, although they may be tweaked slightly, and the thief abilities subsumed into the skill system. Too radical a change? Maybe the edition after then. ;)
Clerics are probably staying, although they do have some vocal opposition, and if they weren't essential for healing, might be ditched (just make another class with healing powers then, so they aren't essential anymore :rolleyes: ) We still want to differentiate clerics of various gods more. This will also have the effect of making druids less unique, and they'll likely be rolled into the general speciality cleric rules.
Assassins are definitely going, we're trying to be a family friendly company now, and they've just caused too much hassle.
Bards are getting completely reworked, to make them more universal, and less mechanically wonky.
Monks are going to be relegated to the oriental supplement where they belong. Barbarians and cavaliers are also likely to be relegated to a splatbook and seriously rebalanced, and maybe paladins and rangers will join them. Or maybe not, as we want to have a few unambiguous hero types.
Illusionists are to be rolled into wizards and new types of specialists created, and thief-acrobats will similarly be constructible using the proficiency rules, and therefore redundant as a separate class.
So his plans as stated aren't too different from Gary's original ones from issue 103. (Although I'm pretty sure the new classes from UA would have got a better deal if he was still around, since they were his babies.) For all his statements that your letters are vital to their decisions, they already seem to have come to a consensus on most of the big issues. Probably the thing that stands out most as a dropped ball was their failure to enhance the skill system, and make it fully integrated with class features, giving all the classes a much greater degree of flexibility, and their various abilities more universal resolution. Guess inertia won out over good intentions on that one. But then again, even the radicals in their office have no desire to make the kind of changes that we saw in 3rd and 4th ed, partly due to inability to conceive of ways the game could be done differently. Another interesting bit of fuel for the flame wars, that I'm sure we'll see responses to in the forum.

TSR previews: D&D is still on an epic kick, with IM2: Wrath of the immortals. Course, it isn't quite as epic as the first immortal adventure, but probably more accessable. Kick the asses of those who dare to meddle in human affairs directly. Woo.
AD&D gets I11: Needle. Frank Mentzer sends the PC's on an epic adventure to retrieve a macguffin and rescue a spider princess. How very amusing. We also get C6: The official RPGA Tournament Handbook. Want to write your own convention legal modules? Now you can without having to pay a load of subscription fees. Technically AD&D, but actually pretty system free, is Leaves from the Inn of the Last home. Tons of stuff to fill out Dragonlance as a setting, rather than just the backdrop for a specific set of adventures.
Marvel superheroes are getting MA3: The ultimate powers book. That sounds like the kind of thing which sells well. Everyone loves new official powers.
Our adventure gamebooks are up to number 12, Curse of the werewolf. Can you cure your lycanthropy before you become nothing but a monster?
Carwars gets it's third gamebook, Dueltrack. All the usual hazards, plus an unreliable experimental robot that's supposedly on your side. I suspect this may be used for comic relief. :shudders:
Another new imprint kicks off, the Windwalker books. The first is Once upon a murder. A detective is bodyswapped and sent back in time. Can he find out what the hell is going on and get home? The second is Bimbos of the Death Sun. I remember that name! I get the impression that this may be a line of less serious books. What was all this about then?
Finally, we have the Chase family board game. Another attempt to diversify, this had a short independently printed run which was a resounding success, and has now been picked up for widespread distribution. Anyone played this one?
 

Pukako

Retired User
Dragon Issue 118: February 1987

part 4/5

Bimbos of the Death Sun. I remember that name! I get the impression that this may be a line of less serious books. What was all this about then?
Well, according to the wealth of knowledge at Wikipedia, it won the 1988 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Original Paperback Mystery, and apparently the name of this book is from a book in the novel, a serious hard science novel retitled and given an R-rated cover by the publisher.

This, and the sequel 'Zombies of the Gene Pool' both star electrical-engineer/science-fiction-author Jay Omega (now THERE'S a likely name/career combination!)

The author is better known for her Appalachian "Ballad" novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, and her website seems to ignore these quirky, humorous SF/mystery novels...

Anyone out there actually read them?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 118: February 1987

part 5/5

Unfriendly fire: Top secret goes military this month. Yes, it may be tricky being a secret agent in areas with an ongoing outright war, but when the stakes are highest, the benefits you can provide for your country are as well. Plus you have a chance of getting to use the really cool toys to blow stuff up that you couldn't normally get away with. So here we have both cool crunch, and GM'ing advice on how to handle it, and build adventures building it. Now you can try and survive mass combat, and die horribly from chemical and biological weapons. A pretty decent article with plenty of actual play applications.

The warlock redux: Jeff takes a break from his Phileing to pay more attention to his planar work. So it's up to someone else to provide us marvel stuff this month. Adam Warlock, Pip, Gamora, and Her. One of our more cosmically powerful heroes and his rogues gallery. Themes of finding a purpose, responsibility, good intentions gone astray, and the general problems of a universe with time travel, fairly frequent but unreliable resurrection, and an animistic Death. Heavy topics, but they don't forget the comic relief. As with the last time Jeff took a break, more attention is paid to the actual play of these characters, and creating games with a similar style. Curious. As with Ed and the ecologies, this is evidence that even when you have top writers on the case, a little variety is still welcome, producing an overall stronger body of work on a property. After all, the marvel universe is now broad enough that you don't really have to worry about ruining continuity and dilution of themes. So another pretty decent showing all round on this front.

The role of computers: OrbQuest is an adventure game, where you quest to reunite the seven pieces of the shattered macgufin. /so you can enter ganon's tower/ ;) Explore cities, wilderness, and dungeons. (rather easier than in most games, because they've had the innovative idea of making your character head for the point on the screen your mouse clicks on. ) Fight monsters. Reroll your attributes untill you get good ones. (exactly the same as D&D attributes, but not on the same scale. ) While some of the ideas may have been new then, it seems pretty generic now.
Roadwar 2000 is a postapocalyptic survival game. Build a gang, scavenge vehicles, and compete for resources and territory in a burned out future that is now in the past, amusingly enough. It seems to push most of the buttons you would expect a game like that to hit, and certainly covers a pretty wide scope, as you can roam the entire states, and both tactical combat and strategic resource management are crucial to success. Sounds like fun.
World Builder is a general map creation program. This is exceedingly useful for GM's, as it allows you to build 3d environments, show them from any angle, and include descriptive text to go with it. (which you will need, because this is 1987, and the graphics aren't that great. If you have the time and energy to learn a programming language, then you can get quite a lot out of this, or one of it's descendants. If not, just leave it.

Snarf is rapidly getting bored of being king. But loose ends from last adventure will be back to bite him. Dragonmirth is all armored up.

Bloodbowl! The game of fantasy american football out soon. Now where have we seen that before? Oh yeah, back in issue 65. TSR oughta sue ;).

Spacemaster! Rolemaster in Spaaaace! Another newish game to enjoy.

Looks like Len Carpenter is the real star of this show, in an issue that manages to not only fulfill it's theme better than most, but introduces several other very interesting ideas. This shows that it's usually better to keep track of what's in the slush pile and put together the best stuff you can find, even if it takes a while to build up enough, rather than always existing month to month. The more you buffer the easier things become, even if you're outputting the same amount overall, the ability to smooth out internal fluctuations and engage in longer editing cycles definitely helps. Anyway, this is one of the best issues I've read in a while, in all aspects apart from the editing. Tsk tsk Roger. You're doing too much. Get more help before you burn out.
 

Putraack

Registered User
Validated User
Well, according to the wealth of knowledge at Wikipedia, it won the 1988 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Original Paperback Mystery, and apparently the name of this book is from a book in the novel, a serious hard science novel retitled and given an R-rated cover by the publisher.

This, and the sequel 'Zombies of the Gene Pool' both star electrical-engineer/science-fiction-author Jay Omega (now THERE'S a likely name/career combination!)

The author is better known for her Appalachian "Ballad" novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, and her website seems to ignore these quirky, humorous SF/mystery novels...

Anyone out there actually read them?
I read the first one, I've got the 2nd on my to-read list. It was fun. A hard-science writer tries to use a novel to demonstrate his theory, and a publisher tries to make it into science-fiction. The author goes to a convention to sell it, and meets, well, convention-goers. There's also a murder-mystery involved.

I read in the preface that agents sometimes use the book to show their actor/entertainer clients what to expect when they go on the sci-fi/fantasy/gaming convention circuit. By now, some elements are very dated: no Internet, and typed fanzines!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 119: March 1987

part 1/5

108 pages. Welcome to a second druid special. One of the classes with a more interesting history in the magazine, they certainly have their fair share of fans. And obviously submissions for them have been building up over the past year or two. So let's let them out to play. Will they be well balanced, as nature should be, or twinky like CoDzilla? Shall we see?

In this issue:

Letters: We have a letter asking what Chainmail was like, and what happened to it. Roger replies that it is pretty scrappy. You gotta be prepared to house rule if you want to use it for a roleplaying game. Not quite a discouragement, but definitely a caveat emptor. They'll be bad-mouthing the old stuff done by Gary before you know it.
Two letters, one asking if they plan to do a sci-fi anthology, and another if they'd do a module anthology. Roger gives the same reply. We're considering it, but we need convincing that there's a big enough market for it. This is very much down to you, Loyal Readers!

Forum: Brock Sides thinks that weapon specialization and nonweapon proficiencies only detract from the game, because people only take the twinky options, rather than using them as intended. Yeah, as they are at that point, they are rather abusable, aren't they. It's your job as DM to ensure crap like thatdoesn't get out of hand.
Patrick Sieff thinks that people don't take orcs seriously enough. They can be a very real threat. Do more articles on them. But then people wouldn't be so scared of kobolds ;)
Larry Paisley suggests that videotaping a gaming session would be a cool idea, andcould definitely expand peoples minds on how the game is played. I very much agree with this idea.
Jeff Klein points out that the OA races do not have sex discrimination on their strength scores the way PHB ones do. This is wrong! If anything, they should be even more severe, given that the east is even more restrictive about gender roles. Um. Ok then. I understand the logic behind your opinion, but I really wouldn't want to be in your shoes in the forum in the next few months. Really, this is just asking for trouble.
Boyce Kline (no relation) gives a little advice for people still trying to find good models for their Dragonchess set. Interesting. Nice to see that still getting a bit of attention.

Underestimating druids (is a bad practice): Gee, ya reckon? Yeah, they don't have as good weapon and armour options as clerics. But if you're a goddamn polar bear, who cares. But then, this is before the internet, which enabled character optimizers from all around the world to pool their knowledge in seconds. People were less likely to be disabused of their face value impressions then. Really, with their fast spell progression and low mid level XP requirements, druids are one of the most badass classes in the game, and this article goes to considerable lengths to point out just how to make the most of their abilities. Spells, social abilities, companions, special powers, all are pretty effective, even in dungeons. We get mathematical analyses of their spell access compared to other primary casters, showing just how quickly they get their badass powers by comparison. And we get additional justification of why they would become adventurers and work with good people. Expect a big spike in the number of people playing them in the near future, because this is pretty unambiguous. A solid start that hits both the mechanical and flavour buttons just fine.

Is there a doctor in the forest: Herbalism. We've already had an article on this (issue 82), but it seems fitting for the issue's theme, so here's another one. With slightly higher overall power level, and considerably less flavour text and descriptive detail, this is very definite power creep compared to the last one, while also having less of a sense of irony about the quirks of healing in D&D. Once again we see how the game has gradually become taken more seriously, even as it remains just as ludicrous from a purely objective viewpoint. I vaguely disapprove. A definite step towards focussing on the crunchy effects for everything over the flavour.

On becoming the great druid: Booyeah. Druidic battles. Now here's one of the D&D system's quirks they should have examined in detail a long time ago. While it can be inconvenient in troupe play where people are expected to stick together, high level druidic politics is a rich ground for adventures. How big are the areas covered by a particular druidic hierarchy. Can you get around this particular restriction by heading to an area which currently doesn't have the full quota of high level characters? Just what do druidic challenges entail? Remember, they are true neutral, so they are fully entitled to be sneaky and red in tooth and claw in their machinations, even though they have to play fair once the challenge is actually taking place. This is rich ground for interesting setpieces, alliances, betrayals, twists, backroom deals, falls and comebacks, all the things that you should be up too at name level politics. A solid article that doesn't quite match up to the depth the topic is covered next edition in the complete druids handbook, but is still quite adequate as a mind expander for the general population. A solid continuation to this month's theme.

Cantrips for druids - Naturally: We had them for wizards. We had them for clerics recently. Now all the primary spellcasting classes have an additional selection of minor magics to make their everyday life a little more convenient. 12 minor spells that are primarily just for everyday work, but can be used inventively to turn a sticky situation round for adventurers. The somatic components are described as well, and are generally amusingly appropriate. (although as the forum shows, not everyone appreciates this :p ) A short but sweet article, that you can integrate into your own game easily enough, and hopefully will add to it.
 

MadWritter

"Cartoon Action Hour" fan
Validated User
I read the first one, I've got the 2nd on my to-read list. It was fun. A hard-science writer tries to use a novel to demonstrate his theory, and a publisher tries to make it into science-fiction. The author goes to a convention to sell it, and meets, well, convention-goers. There's also a murder-mystery involved.

I read in the preface that agents sometimes use the book to show their actor/entertainer clients what to expect when they go on the sci-fi/fantasy/gaming convention circuit. By now, some elements are very dated: no Internet, and typed fanzines!
The mystery is solved with a rigged "Dungeon and Dragons" game--so I read on TV Tropes.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 119: March 1987

part 2/5

King of the jungle: Ed gives us a new nature focussed class. The Beastmaster. As with the Incantrix, they warn it's overpowered and should not be allowed to PC's at any cost, but it isn't really all that. (apart from the ridiculous post name level hit points. You're supposed to get fewer, not more on average) Any spellcaster with the ability to choose and develop their own powers will be able to outclass them magically, while a decently trained fighter will be able to take them down in a head-on battle. In terms of wilderness dealing powers, however, they massively outclass rangers, with Ed providing a massive, and not particularly well organized laundry list of powers that'll be a bit of a bugger to remember in actual play. This is very much the equivalent for rangers to Gary's introduction of the cavalier for paladins, something that occupies much the same thematic niche, but expresses it in a much more specific and less elegant way. As with the poorly playtested UA classes we saw in here first, I rather disapprove of this. Not Ed's most stellar work by a long shot, mechanically or flavour-wise.

The uldra: Aka pointy hat gnomes, from the far north. Say hello to a new demihuman race for you to play. This is also in theme, just about, as they have strong ties with nature, and make good druids and rangers. Really, this is an attempt to address the fact that neither of our existing short bearded folk are that good at the nature connection thing, despite there being legends featuring them as such. Another demonstration of D&D's tendency to create variants for everything apart from humans. If you made their options a little broader in the first place, we wouldn't have to use kludgy patches like this to fix things. Anyway, despite being symptomatic of a larger underlying problem, this is a pretty decent article in it's own right. They aren't particularly overpowered, and we get plenty of fluff details and stuff on their gods. I would have no particular objection to my players playing one.

The ecology of the korred: Ed turns his attention to one of the less commonly used fae races. Slightly smaller, wilder, and weirder relations of satyrs, Korred live in the wilderness, like to dance and play the pipes waaay too much, and make ropes out of people's hair. It's all good clean fun until someone dies of exhaustion. Another of those cases where D&D's adaption of existing myths has had decidedly idiosyncratic effects, creating several subspecies where one with some cultural variations would probably do. Ed once again is not at his best here, giving us a piece of work that is merely adequate, rather than exceptional. Still, we have stats for their god, which is another first for this series, so it's not all bad. But he does seem a bit distracted somehow. Hmm.

The dragon's bestiary is also on theme this issue, with a whole cavalcade of sylvan creatures. This brings the total up to 8 articles, equalling the psionics issue. Interesting. Will they break that record at some point? As ever, I look forward to reporting statistics like this. But anyway, back to the topic at hand:
Anchu are canid humanoids (with a bad illustration that makes them look more horselike than doglike. Sociable and with a reasonable class selection, they seem pretty well suited to becoming PC's.
Giant capybara are even bigger guinea pigs than we see in the real world, up to 8' long. Aww, innit cute. Mweep mweep and all that. If you're in tropical swamps, there's good eatin on one of these.
Wild halflings are like wild elves, yet another fricken case of conflating cultural variants with racial variants. Most tiresome. They get a pretty big writeup, giving them a whole host of nature related abilities. Seems like the only races that become civilised are those without an array of special powers that let them survive comfortably in all sorts of conditions. Is this diliberate commentary? Is our weakness and sense of insecurity compared to other races paradoxically what drives us on to do great things, overcompensating for our human limitations. It's an interesting premise.
Leshy are another mischevious fae variant drawn from real world mythology. They'll confuse you, misdirect you, and fuck up your equipment. This rarely goes down well, despite it saying that they'll regard you better if you laugh at their jokes.
Luposphinx are of course dog-headed sphinxes. Like the other animal headed ones, they aren't very nice, and like to have humans for dinner. They often gather little bands of marauding followers as well, just to make things even more inconvenient. They'd make good midlevel bosses behind some bigger plot.
Musical spirits are creepy undead that lurk in forests, and can force you to dance until you pass out. If you're clever, you can learn this trick from them. An interesting noncombat challenge here.
Sashalus are cunning ambulatory fungi. As scavengers, they generally won't attack you unless you're already hurt. Another Ed Greenwood creation, these do have some of his customary flavour touches. So he's not totally off form this month.
Wendigo are people who engaged in cannibalism, and have devolved to the level of beasts as a result. It could happen to you too. If you're starving in the woods, eat dubious berries instead first.
Whispering pines are magical trees that mesmerize you if you try and cut them down. You'll need to come prepared if you want to counteract this and not starve to death.
Wood giants, aka Voadkyn, are one of those creatures that would go on to be officially published. Relatively small for giants, and with a slight faeish tint, they hang around elves and treants being agreeably mischievous. Another thing that's more dangerous than they seem, with their shapeshifting, stealth, and skill with missiles.
Wood Golems are created by druids, and do much the same thing any golem does. Big tough thing go smashy smashy, and be really hard to kill. Of course, being made of wood, it's vulnerable to fire. Take advantage of this if you can.

Henchmen and hirelings: Another examination of a seemingly innocuous part of the game. In reality, just getting a decent job is a serious adventure in itself, whether you're an employee or employer. This is another thing that you can introduce into the game, as you try and sort out the serious disciplined followers from the flakes, the powerhungry betrayers, the spies in disguise, the slumming posh kids who'll be useless and complain constantly, but have parents that'll make your life miserable if you let them die, and that guy who says he's a black belt in several martial arts and has saved the world repeatedly, but obviously hasn't washed in months, and openly talks to your tits during the interview. Another case where you'll have to consider carefully if you want this much realism in your escapism, because this would bore a lot of people, and be exactly what they play to forget. But even if you gloss over most of this, you've still got to sort out how many extras the party has, and how much they're getting paid. Or you could just go it alone, keep all the profits for yourself. Your choice, don't come crying to me when you die horribly. Another middling filler article full of perfectly serviceable crunch and roleplaying advice. I can certainly see myself applying this to sadistic effect.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 119: March 1987

part 3/5

The game wizards: Jeff Grubb gets to meet Elminster. Finally, the forgotten realms are becoming an official campaign setting. In fact, they're becoming the primary campaign setting for 2nd edition D&D, and co-opting Kara-Tur into being part of the same world as well. Yikes. This explains Ed's slightly subpar work these past few issues. They obviously feel uncomfortable using Greyhawk with Gary gone. Tracy and Margaret must be seething with envy. This really is putting a lot of faith in Ed and his co-writers. Still, I'm sure they'll cope. Jeff obviously isn't as used to this as Ed, as he finds El a rather menacing figure. Well, you are most likely to be killed by someone the first few times you meet them. Anyway, this doesn't quite match up to last month's news in terms of sheer flamebaiting potential, but it's still a very important announcement, that will have huge ramifications, and please a lot of people who've been reading Ed's stuff for years and trying to join together the pieces. And it's entertainingly written as well. They're definitely establishing their own voice, and starting to move the company in new directions now Gary's no longer at the wheel. Hopefully they can keep up the strong standard for these bulletins.

Fiction:The pawns of crux by Steven Saylor. Another hard hitting story this month, as we see the nasty things slavers do to break their captives and get the most out of them. By arbitrarily favouring some, and making others suffer even worse than the norm, they turn their resentment against each other, making a rebellion even harder. How do you deal with this without becoming a monster as well? And if you escape, will you ever really be free? Another pretty good piece of fiction that has some cool bits to steal for your game. Plus the first Darlene illustrations in quite a long time. Interesting. And pretty pleasing as well. Wonder if she'll be around a bit more in the next few issues.

Sage advice is taken over by Skip Williams. I wonder if he'll stick at the job ;) They've been so intransigent of late. Rules lawyering is a hard job. This month, they've decided to set him onto regular D&D, and primarily tackling stuff from the master and immortal sets.
Can you handcuff a creature with a wall of iron (man what. No. )
What benefits do mystics get for weapon mastery with their hands (None! Their hands may be weapons, but they aren't really Weapons, if you get what I'm saying. Allowing that would be a no drawback power boost, as you can't normally lose your hands in D&D. )
Does anti-magic shell impede mystics. (once again, no. )
Do mystics get dexterity bonuses ( For the fourth time, no! I am not in a permissive mood today! )
Can you have thug and headsman PC's ( Can you guess my answer. Here's a hint. It's just the same as the last four questions. NO! It's my first time and I want to get off on the right foot. That means asserting my authority. Respect it, for I am firm but fair.)
What are bec du corbins and fauchards? ( Polearms. Mi diagram. Let me show you it. )
When do you encounter the dragon rulers (When you need to measure a dragon. :p Seriously, we didn't put them on the random tables because they're unique, and it would screw up the tables if you killed them. )
I need advice on druid status battles (Nonlethal fight. Prove dominance. How simple do you want it. Hmm. Naked mud wrestling'd be good. Get in an audience, make a little money on the side. Gotta take advantage of that 15 charisma minimum. Oh, wait, that's AD&D. Eh, naked mud wrestling'd be good anyway. Getting close to nature and all that crap. )
Why aren't the outer planes detailed in the master set like the companion set said they would. (because you're still too wimpy to play in the big leagues until you reach immortal level. )
Why don't NPC's have as much money as a player of the same level. (because they spend their money, instead of being total munchkins like you PC's. )
Is casting wizardry frequently an alignment violation (no)
Can create normal monsters be made permanent. (yes. They're still magically created though, and vanish if dispelled. This may result in angst along the line as they try to figure out their place in the world, and if they're really real or not. Do you want a Promethian crossover this early? )
What is a lycanthrope's natural form (Human. The hint is in putting the were before the animal. If you put it afterwards, the animal form is the natural one. )
What are special undead ( What you get if you animate the body of a retarded person. Duh. )
Can undead beholders be turned. (not easily. They're special too, you see. )
Can you turn undead with more than 12 hit dice. (yes. You round up, y'see, so you always affect at least one, no matter how badass they are. )
Can clerics learn how to use edged weapons (no. Your class restrictions still apply. )
Can clerics use shield weapons (no. They do damage with sharp and pointy bits. That's naughty and their god will spank them if they try it.)
I can't find the titanothere (Ahh, begorrah. It's O'there in AC9, me laddie. Now won't ye join me in a quick musical interlude before we tackle the second half'o the questions. And a one and a two and an oidely oidely boo. :riverdances: )
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 119: March 1987

part 4/5

Sage advice continued:
Can Immortals get below AC-20 (no)
What's the maximum PP you can get (15,000)
If time is the fourth dimension, what do immortals look like (time is not a dimension, it's a sphere. Four dimensional creatures look like regular creatures, but with an extra dimension. There are computer programs which can represent 4D objects, but trying to comprehend them has been known to cause brain pain. Even someone as smart as me, who can plot extrapolations of basic polygons in infinite dimensions has trouble with it.)
Can you bring your character back after they become an old one (No. They've won the game. You've gotta start a new one. You should feel happy, not sad. Actually, you probably ought to play a different game, because after playing it from 1st to immortal twice, you've probably exhausted the gaming options D&D provides. )
Can an immortal become a blackball and cross the dimensional vortex (no on both counts)
What is the astral plane (the transitive plane between the inner and outer planes. Not quite the same as in AD&D, but you can cross over ideas anyway. )
When will the old ones return. (Never. Unless we get bored and decide it's time for a big metaplot event. Let's say 5 years. ;) )
What was the great experiment ( Your mom was the great experiment)
What is immortals final fate (none. They're immortal, remember. Unless they get killed or transcend (neither easy to do) they stick around forever. )
What's in the 6th+ dimensions. (I dunno. We're already way outside most peoples comfort zones. I don't want to create rules for that level of cosmic power.)
Where are immortals home planes. (wherever they want them to be. Are you gonna tell them to move?)
Why aren't all immortals powers listed in one place. (because there are too many of them for your puny mortal brain to take in at once. )
Can an immortal create a new form anywhere. (no, only at home. They can take them with them and stash them elsewhere for emergencies, though. Make sure you smite any adventurers stumbling across them, otherwise they might get ideas above their station.)
Which way should I cross the planar boundary (any way you choose. You are an immortal, remember. )
Florble thnorble tetraspace gnorble Ahh, the angles, it burns! (Yes, these rules for planar and dimensional stuff are a bit of a headache, aren't they. Have a hyperspherical asprin.)
What is interdimensional travel ( moving into a place with a different number of dimensions. )
Can mortals percieve 4 dimensions while astral (no, because they lose the ability to see the 1st one. You can still watch them unseen from a right angle and then rearrange their innards at a whim. Play super paper mario, it'll help this make sense.)
How do you enlarge your home plane (lots and lots of PP's)
How do you create things to live in your plane (lots more PP's)
How many PP's, exactly? ( oops, we made a mistake in the table. Third column. )
Do immortals of entropy get more powers than you've detailed (oh yes. Be afraid, Muahahahahaha)
Why isn't there a path to immortality that favours demihumans ( because they already have it way easier, actually, with their lower maximum level. What seemed like a drawback at the companion stage actually isn't anymore. )
Can I get to immortality with a little help from my friends? ( Within reason. They've gotta do their own quests if they want to become immortal as well. )
How do I find a time travel artifact to become a Dynast when there's none described in the book. ( That is a puzzler. I'm sure your DM will come up with something. )
Can magic walls stop a blackball (no. Nothing can stop a blackball. It all gets eaten up. Nom nom nom. )
Can powerful monsters become Immortals (yes, but it's even harder than it is for humans. The odds are truly one in a trillion)
What's the reward for becoming full hierarch (Removal from play. Haha. Booby prize. Really though, if you worked your way up properly, you already avoided being retired in the domain management part of the game, so you should be able to figure out what to do here. Forcing them to stop here is just lazy rules writing.)
Can PC's join the sphere of entropy. (no. Someones got to be teh evul Villians. And we don't want it to be you. Yah boo.)
Can you become hierarch of multiple spheres (not simultaneously, and it won't benefit you to work all the way up one, then switch to another. If anything, this'll make you into a Benedict Arnold figure, not trusted by anyone in either sphere. )
I still don't understand how the hat of difference works (god, Penny and Mike were useless. Be glad you're in the hands of a real professional now. I'll explain it and I'll explain it good, or my name ain't Skip Williams. I'll explain and explain until you're satisfied baby. And then I'll move onto the next lovely caller and explain it to them. Because my name's Skip and I'm a lean, mean, sageing machine. I can go on and on and on and on, longer than everyone else put together. Uh! Watch me now! )
Do cavaliers get the bonus for exceptional constitution (yes)

Politics amid the rubble: Gamma world's article this month is 5 new Cryptic alliances. The army of the deep is comprised of sailors and mutants who have aquatic adaptations. The Knights of avalon try and use arthurian myth as a basis for their ideals. The road clans jury rig together whatever vehicles they can find and do the whole mad max thing. Can't think of a better setting for that one. The sisterhood of the sword are yer basic female supremacy amazon types. Those who wait are space communication listening nuts. Is there anybody out there? Since the starship warden is canonically in the same universe, I'm gonna say yes. So yeah, another bunch of adapted stereotypes and comedic riffs. Not as funny as the last time they did this. Diminishing returns and all that.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 119: March 1987

part 5/5

The role of books gets a horrid orange on blue colouring. Colour wheel, people. Tritones are bad, be it in music or light. Lets hope the contents don't show a similar lack of judgement
Bordertown, by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold, markets itself as dungeonpunk, with biker elves, goblin street gangs, and lots of other elements that are going to make Shadowrun and the World of Darkness very profitable in a few years time. It's still innovative at this point though, to the point where the reviewer finds it a bit jarring. True originality does that, y'know. Definitely interesting to report upon.
Angel with the sword by C J Cherryh is another attempt to kick off a bit of shared world storytelling. It has an interesting writing style which the reviewer suspects may be lost if other authors take the reins, and a detailed appendix on the the world that would be useful to other writers, and gamers, but is a bit jarring when contrasted with the fiction. As ever, we'll have to see what comes of this.
The blood of ten chiefs is an elfquest anthology, with a whole bunch of authors and editors. Despite this, it still manages to keep up the general quality of this established series, while providing some new info on the history of the shared world.
Morlac: The quest of the green magician by Gary Alan Ruse is three stories in one book, nicely reversing the current fashion for trilogies. Each is nicely differentiated as well. It has plenty of clever ideas, and stands out from most barbarian adventurer books thanks to them. Sounds pretty good.
At amberleaf fair by Phyllis Ann Karr gets a rather mixed review. Bad poetry, dodgy plotting, and detached narrative vs interesting magic ideas, small, detailed focus, and idiosyncratic design. Hmm. Given my load, I don't think I'll bother to hunt this one down.
Silverhair the wanderer by Diana L Paxton is another post apocalyptic fantasy, where things have mysteriously reverted to imitating an earlier era. The eponymous protagonist becomes a bard and goes adventuring to solve problems threatening the kingdom. So far so cliche. But it still gets a positive review. It's main flaw in the reviewers eyes is that the writer is obviously not a musician, so the technical details of this get glossed over.
The silent tower by Barbara Hambly is another story of magic and science meeting, with tensions on both sides, as usual. Very much familiar tropes, and it gets cut off abruptly in the middle of the plot to sell the next book in the series. Yawn.

The marvel-phile: Jeff still seems to be pretty busy, only stopping in briefly to give us a single page piece on Psylocke. Egads that's a terrible costume. But then, she has had a lot of those in her time. Fashion sense is obviously not one of her special powers. She's currently more psychicey and less martial arts focussed than she would later become, but has already gone through some pretty serious traumas, including a disastrous stint as Captain Britain. :facepalm: An amusing bit of filler, but filler nonetheless. Bring on the manual of the planes! That's what we really want! Ra ra ra to the power of infinity.

This is only a test: Top Secret's article this month is on training missions. A topic we haven't seen since the assassins run. Like then, it's a pretty good idea. Playing out your characters training helps establish their personalities, and gives you a better idea of the tactics that will work in the game without so many PC's dying. Most of this article is devoted to two mini missions for you to run your players through, if you're out of inspiration for this weeks session, or simply want to train them up before sending them on full-on missions in the big bad world. A cool idea, pretty well implemented, apart from the little caveat that it refers you to maps in supplements you may not have. If they were running non D&D stuff in Dungeon, it probably should have gone in there, but their loss is definitely my gain in this case.

Profiles: Dennis Kauth is of course one of our graphic designers. With an extensive background in the stainless steel industry, he's accustomed to creating rather more solid works of art than most of our crew, using sheet metal, cardboard, sculptures, and all sorts of other 3D coolness. He lives in a motor home, so if he needs a change of scenery, he can just up sticks any time. He definitely brings some unique talents to the company. It's no wonder they've been using cardboard fold-up things in so many of their recent modules.
Michael Dobson is the Director of Games Development. Exactly what this job means in contrast with designers and editors is not made entirely clear, but I'm sure he gets to add his own creative input to lots of products as a result. He's another of our real brainboxes, completing his qualifications rather faster than most people do, and then going through a whole bunch of strange jobs before getting in with TSR. Will he move on again? Meh. Not that important.

TSR Previews: D&D continues to tap into it's own history, with DA3: City of the gods. Dave Arneson once again uses technology as a fantastic device. Can your characters get some of the ancient technology and turn it to their own ends, or will the villains beat them too it?
AD&D is also on a retread kick with I12: The egg of the Pheonix. Frank Mentzer compiles his old RPGA adventures, and weaves them together into a single larger plot. Will it become better as a result, or will the compression mess things up?
Lazer tag gets the Official Tournament book. You've had a couple of months to learn the rules for a game, now you can string several together and score the results, forming league tables and other fun stuff like that. Woo.
Dragonlance gets it's first volume of short stories. See, it's not all epic worldthreatening conflicts of good vs evil. More general worldbuilding that Tracey and Margaret probably thought up a while ago, but haven't got a chance to show us before.
Solo gamebooks are the big thing this month. Endless quest is up to book 36: Song of the Dark Druid. Stop the evil wizard from corrupting the fabled song of gold. Greyhawk Adventures gets book 3: Master wolf. Marvel super heroes gets book 4: Dr Strange in Through six Dimensions. Hmm. Were these any good? We haven't had any discussion of them at all.

Snarfquest starts it's new adventure..... In Spaaaaace! Dragonmirth parties like it's the 1950's. Wormy shows that scary storm giant being manipulative. Not that it's hard to manipulate ogres, especially when you're smarter and more charismatic than the trolls trying it last issue.

Another pretty strong themed issue, if not quite as tightly focused as the last one. But things continue to progress rapidly in D&D's history at this point, with the forgotten realms finally kicking into high gear, sage advice starting it's classic run, and plenty of other bits and pieces going on. Things seem to be going up again at this point. I'm certainly in the mood to keep pressing onwards. Lets hope next issue is just as full of fun, if not more so. If anything is going to test Roger, it's how he handles our yearly dose of april wackiness.
 
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