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

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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 120: April 1987

part pun/5

108 pages. We're approximately a third of the way through this mad adventure. Course, as is the nature of D&D adventures, it was the easiest third. If this was a game, I'd be well into name levels, and trying hard to find CR appropriate challenges, mowing through lots of time wasting encounters intended for lower level characters on the way. Or getting horribly drunk like the people on our april fools cover with my ill-gotten gains. But no. I've got to be the disciplined one, so the rest of you can enjoy yourselves. Lets see what ludicrity they've cooked up this year, and how much longer it'll take to get to the halfway point of this journey. See you on the other side.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter from Vince Garcia with some errata to one of his recent articles. Once again, it's problem fixing time.
Another letter, about some errata in the adventure trivia. Ahh, the joys of rules lawyering and down not being equal to dead.
A letter saying that they ought to split off the non fantasy RPG's to their own magazine. Um, they tried that 4 years ago. It died a horrible death in less than a year. I don't think they're gonna do that again anytime soon.

Forum: Richard Wiedeman is not particularly in favour of clerics getting to hyperspecialize in weapons in issue 115's article. Logic will not make your D&D game better. Keep it simple.
David van Domelen thinks training costs are a big problem, particularly for classes that are supposed to not value money and figure things out for themselves. There really ought to be more flexibility in this area. And just what are those trainers doing with that money themselves? Where is that goddamn unionbreaker?
Kristin Marquardt is surprised to find that some people think fantasy is a male-dominated genre. Where she lives, it's always been pretty well balanced. Funny how local variations like this happen. What can we learn from this?
Randy A Donohue thinks that Dan Tejes was reinforcing outmoded and stupid stereotypes. The best thieves don't look unsavory, (all the easier to steal if no-one suspects you) long beards get in the way of mixing chemicals and stuff, and women can fulfill both roles with aplomb.
Candace Miesen has had to deal with sexist crap, both of the patronizing, and the over polite kind. Can't a girl just engage in a little wholesale killing and taking of stuff with everyone else? We are not some delicate flower that will faint at the merest hint of rape and other unsavoury activities. Leave worrying about that for when you meet some real mythical creatures.
Jeanne McGuire thinks that the reason girls don't become roleplayers more often is because of peer pressure. They're under more pressure than boys not to be "nerdy" as a teenager, and to be ostracized if they do. Hmm. How things have changed. I guess in an odd way, this corroborates Kristin's view. If something becomes seen as normal in an area, it becomes much more accessible to other people. Our most important advice, once again, however, is not to stereotype people. It helps no-one.
Drew Martin reminds us that no social order is unbending and perfectly adhered too, especially in D&D, where a whole set of the alignments imply disobedience to established order. Playing it like that, and never bending the rules for prices and social order simply isn't realistic or fun.

Spells for everyone: The april fools section this year starts with another case of the non-spells. Is this rehash I smell? I suppose like the filks, as long as they mock different things, it's ok. So yeah. It's amazing what you can do if you put a little effort in. Dig tunnels, talk to animals, drown underwater, check people's pulses, and escape from trouble via groveling and running away. Laugh? I nearly raised an eyebrow. Well, I wasn't particularly amused first time either. Not surprising that it would have even less impact this time round.

The pun is mightier than the sword: So, how are jesters to prove their superiority to other jesters? Comedy is a serious business. If you fail to amuse, then you will make no money, get no bookings, and then before you know it, you'll be a mere street performer, barely a step up from a mime. You must pun! Or no other jester will respect you! Of course if you do, the rest of the world won't respect you, but such is life for a jester. So who'll be the butt of your jokes when you battle? Who will you pick to prick at their ego? Now this is more like it. A joke article that also has workable, if not particularly balanced crunch. If you're playing a jester PC, this is a perfectly valid addition to their repertoire. I may well allow this in my game. Muahahaha!!! The illustration is pretty amusing as well. Are you ready to have some pun?

The ecology of the picklebug: Hmm. A creature that pretends to be a normal pickle and lives in the brine jars eating the other gherkins? How very strange. I guess in the D&D universe, there have been many stranger creatures adapted to equally small and improbable ecological niches. Like many an april fool, this has an interesting message, in this case listen to those pontificating sages, for even if what they say seems random, there is usually some valuable stuff contained therein. Also, wizards are not inclined to save people from their own stupidity. Muahahahaha!!!! and all that. An entertaining but inconsequential read.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 120: April 1987

part grue/5

Dining out in the hells: Mocking Ed Greenwood's seminal work? Blasphemy!!!!!1! ;) This outrage must be avenged!!! But yeah, eating on other planes can be a tricky business, with corruption and death resulting with painful frequency. Beware the dread franchise of Maughdonnell's and it's equally dread proprietor. Just about the only thing worse than being forced to dine there while stuck in the hells would be having to get a job there to survive. (Wage slavery's a bitch. Still better than soul slavery though.) Once again this is a humorous article that could be stripped of it's obvious goofiness, and turned into a serious scenario, with the new monster stats being entirely usable as well. Just don't reveal where you got the idea from, or you may be pelted with pretzels. I believe another evil cackle is in order. Muahahahahaha!!!!!!

Not found in any stores: Magical items that don't work as they should. Another thing that can be played for laughs, but can also be turned into a deadly serious topic, especially when a previously perfectly fine item goes bad in a dangerous situation. So here's 8 magical items. Most of them resemble some other item, and then parody it in some fashion. Once again, thanks to 1st ed's fairly loose mechanics, most of these are legal, but using them will cause masses of annoyance. This issue is definitely turning out to be a sadistic DM's delight. Turn your dungeons into a funhouse, and watch the characters run away as fast as their little legs will carry them. (particularly if they have been chibified or muppetized, and their legs really are that little.) You know you want too. Muahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

Urban blight made easy: More mockery of a previous article. Need a little help with your off-the cuff encounters? Here's five prefab ones to spice up your game. While technically humorous, like clowns and little girls skipping merrily along singing a happy song, these are actually rather creepy, with an off-kilter, sadistic edge to them. This one didn't make me laugh, but actually put me on edge slightly. Which I guess is a promising sign, really. If I can accomplish that kind of thing in my own game, (and not have the players respond with wholesale slaughter of the offending encounter) then I can probably count this as a success as well. Ah, the joys of the uncanny valley. It's been a good year for comedy, all in all.

Scorpion tales: Back to the serious stuff with a single pager on a real animal. Trying to get past a scorpion with invisibility? Not gonna fly, as it's primary sense is of your footfalls, and that's how it knows when you're in the right position for the blinding fast strike and stab routine. This is the kind of thing that resulted in tremor sense becoming one of the standard monster powers in 3e. It's common enough in reality, and easy enough to define, that it makes a good way of screwing over a whole load of player strategies, while not being completely impossible to bypass. An article that probably seemed inconsequential at the time, but is actually pretty significant in hindsight. Interesting.

Sage advice finishes off the companion set questions. Must have been too many of them to fit in last month.
What are the costs for the new armours ( 30 and 50 gp. You could probably work it out by adding and halfing the costs of the adjacent armour types. )
Can PC's create holy water (yes, but it won't save them money. Churches may be altruistic, but they still have to cover costs)
Can multiple characters share a domain. (I don't know? Can your characters share a domain without fighting? If so, then yes. If not, then ha ha.)
Can paladins and avengers use wands and staves. (not unless fighters can use them. Their magical training isn't that good. )
What's an umber hulk (see AD&D. We forgot to keep our gamelines properly separated. )
Where is the will o wisp (cut for space. Like the umber hulk, you'll have to go get AD&D to find it. )
Why don't characters that are immune to enemy attacks autowin (because there are ways to beat an enemy even if you can't hurt it. And you still have to find out how badly you lose. Some people will get away. Otherwise how would the PC's find out about the problem and come to save the day?)
How do you make a gargantuan manticore (just follow the formula in the gargantua entry. I know you're not used to the concept of applying templates yet, but it's really pretty simple. )
What does a potion of super healing do. (Triple the power in the same small package. Perfect for when facing high level monsters and you don't want to worry about overloading your backpack. )
What do druids do with money if they don't like it (spend it on stuff they do like. They aren't paladins. They don't need to tithe, give useful stuff away and generally be suckers for any kid with a sob story. )
Does protection from evil work on a drolem (yes, oddly enough. It's not as if they're even evil, since they're constructs, but there you go.)
How does table 10c work (ultimately customisable magical items. Any combination of armour type, plus and special abilities, all determinable with random roll! Step right up folks, your treasure options just expanded a hell of a lot)
Can we have some more info on the planes. (Nah. This is D&D. You're Freeeeeeeee to make it up for your campaign as you please, wheeeeee! This isn't AD&D, where you're limited to a set cosmology of 26 planes, plus a sprinkling of demi, para and quasi ones. Your imagination is your limit. You can venture great infinities away, and deal with ever more scary immortals and dimensional weirdness. Now go on, get out of here. If you stick around in our Cage after being offered the multiverse, you're a berk. )


Retired User
The `Enraged C&G Players Manual II` on page 9 deserves a mention, being a rehash of the infamous `stealing the gem from the idol's eye` illustration in earlier books (can't place it exactly now, sorry).

Personally, I think it's well done and in keeping with the theme, even if I'm looking forward to the years when they don't devote the entire April issue to this sort of thing.

Also shows that anthropomorphic animals can be used without the slightest wiff of furry-ism.


Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
The `Enraged C&G Players Manual II` on page 9 deserves a mention, being a rehash of the infamous `stealing the gem from the idol's eye` illustration in earlier books (can't place it exactly now, sorry).


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 120: April 1987

part triforce/5

First impressions are deceiving: Say hello to the Charlatan. Not quite as comical as the Jester, but even more annoying, this lovely thief variant makes money via social fraud and flashy legerdemain, taking advantage of people's greed and stupidity to get something for very little. Minor magicians, and capable rogues, they aren't too brilliant in a dungeon crawling situation, but as a social character, they can really bewilder and bamboozle. With several quirky D&D'isms, this isn't a perfect class either in design or organization of powers, and seems very likely to cause player tensions if handled wrong, but it's still an entertaining read, and doesn't seem too overpowered either. Once again, I get to add another class to my big list of ones I'd like to try out at some point, both as NPC's and PC's. I think I'll skip the maniacal laughter this time, as that might tip people off that something is amiss. ;) Let's just move on, shall we :whistles innocently: Don't check your backpacks. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Yet another quick little article here, as they try and clear out stuff from one of their contributors. The ring of rapid regeneration gives you healing on a combat useful scale, which is pretty scary really in this era. The rings of para and quasi elemental command offer substantial abilities related to each of these 12 subplanes. As pure extrapolations of existing items, there is very little creativity involved in these, making the article as a whole thoroughly mehsome. Filling in all the symmetries is one of the easiest ways to make up page count. So it goes. Still, crunchy filler like this is still useful in game, so it's not a total waste.

The ecology of the gas spore: Now this is one of the more amusing D&D creatures. As I said earlier, it's amazing the niches they can fill. A fungal monster which imitates one of the deadliest monsters in D&D as a form of protective camouflage? It makes perfect sense, really. Ironically, the tactics that work well on beholders are probably the best thing to deal with Gas Spores as well. Keep well away, spread out, and pepper them with missiles from all sides, preferably with some cover as well. Do not let them corner you, or rush in hacking, for this never ends well. Try talking before you attack, as this will help you figure out if you're dealing with the real thing or not. Ed doesn't call in any help to finish things off this time around, but as with beholders, this is one of his below average entries in this series, relatively predictable, and not really giving us any cool new ways to use the monster. Becoming a line developer is definitely eating up a lot of his creative energy these days, and these articles are feeling the fallout. He's moved on to bigger and better things, and it's looking increasingly like he's no longer going to be dominating the magazine the way he once did. Oh well. All things must change. Lets hope there'll be some more shining stars along to fill his rather large shoes.

Higher aspirations: Hmm. Rules for apprentice druids and their orisons? That's a double rehash. Len did the first one in issue 51, while Orisons were tackled last issue. And the rules are incompatible as well. Peh. Oh well, they did say they were going to provide alternatives. If you weren't down with the humorous material components of the last one (Um, er, wait a minute. Do you think they put these two in the wrong way around? That might have made more sense Roger.) or simply want to slow down our most overpowered class a bit, (but not as much as len did) then you may choose to use this one instead. And you can probably mix and match the cantrips anyway. Still a bit tiresome from my perspective though.

Who watches the Watchmen, a module for DC heroes. Hmm. I smell a tie-in. Isn't this interesting. Can it live up to it's source material?

Plane speaking: Another eagerly awaited upcoming book finally gets talked about. And as they had so many universes to cover, they do have some leftovers. Here we have info on the materials and pitches of the tuning forks you need to get to a particular plane and layer. Just the thing to slow down adventurers who want to go bouncing all over the universe, as they need to do proper research and quite possibly commission expensive stuff from a skilled smith. (who makes gold tuning forks for any other reason? ) Don't just generate random chords, because odds are this will send you to an equally random layer of the abyss, where death is quite probable. I can see why they cut this out, as it is rather tedious crunch, that would only be useful in the kind of games where the DM tracks all the food rations, number of arrows, spell components and other little bits and pieces of the adventuring life, and delights in screwing over players who don't keep themselves stocked for every eventuality. (while of course making sure they suffer full encumbrance penalties if they do) That playstyle is definitely starting to go out of fashion. Still, at least we got to see it in this form, even if I'm unlikely to ever use it. Going extraplanar shouldn't be a cakewalk, or everyone would be doing it.

GURPS has horror, bestiary, oriental, space and horseclans books planned for this year. And they're on their second printing. They seem to be doing quite well for themselves. Let the supplement treadmill grind ever onwards.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 120: April 1987

part quart in a pint mug/5

Fiction: Dragon meat by Robert Don Hughes. Now the writer of this has definitely read revenge of the nobodies and taken some serious notes. The funny, but still fairly logical tale of the poor muggins who was assigned to clean up a dragon's corpse after the big hero had swooped on in, saved the princess, and buggered off to his lah de dah pointy spired castle. The corpse is starting to stink, the taxman wants paying, and the bureaucrats are gonna take every opportunity to poke their nose in. Thankfully, you can make a lot of money from selling dragon bits. If the neigbours start to complain, give them a job. When the big hero comes back to complain about your profiteering, point out that this dragon won't last forever, and if we make it into a franchise, everyone can make tons of money from this endeavour. Before you know it, the draconic race'll be extinct. Ok, so that'll then cause an economic crash, and possibly mess up the ecosystem by removing an apex predator, but humanity as a whole benefits. Woo. And there are plenty of other supernatural creatures to profiteer off. An entertaining tale that is still full of ideas that could be used in a sensible game. Just what the april issues should have.

Operation zenith: Now this is one that's been lurking in the slush pile for ages, apparently. When the Ares section was doing pieces on the moon for various systems, Merle wrote one for Top Secret. But he massively overwrote in terms of size, then they canned that idea, and it's been just sitting around. Until now. Originally intended as a 3 parter, here we get a full 10 pages on adapting the rules of the game to handle spacefaring spy adventures, a la Moonraker. Learning how to function in zero g is an expensive and rather icky proposition. It's obvious that this was done before they started work on the new edition, because the emphasis is very much on a fairly realistic crunchy representation of the real troubles spacefarers face, and the bureaucracy surrounding it. This'll definitely slow even experienced characters down until they spend a good deal of xp. And unlike D&D, you can't cast a quick spell and then wander around in incredibly hostile environments unhindered. You can see why they wanted to publish it now, because that's a lot of work that would otherwise have gone to waste, but it's still not that useful to me or enjoyable to read. And what's more, there's plenty more to come next month. Ho hum. Not nearly as fun as the gamma world lunar stuff.

Space-age espionage: Top secret just went orbital. Now Traveller goes espionage, with a new career path for spies. What an amusing convergence. I'm sure that's why they put them next to each other. Anyway, whether you're working for the government, or secretly plotting to overthrow it, these paths are some of the trickier ones to get onto. And there's plenty of risk of dying or rotting in jail for years. But as with the more apolitical larcenous path a while back, it's full of skills that are just perfect for the adventuring life. Pretty useful, and a good example of the editor connecting things up in a pleasing way. Kudos to Roger.

The game wizards: Doug Niles writes the column this month to talk some more about thew new edition of Top Secret. As I said a bit earlier, they're planning to dial back on the crunch a bit, making all the really detailed bits optional, and try to emulate espionage movies and tv shows more, rather than the real deal. Luck points are in, to make sure the heroes can act like big damn heroes and not die horribly if they run in guns blazing. And like FASERIP, they've taken to resolving everything with a single D100 roll and consulting a table. Interesting. This definitely sounds like they're trying to make the game appeal to a wider audience, but may also cause flame wars from people annoyed at perceived dumbing down. I definitely look forward to seeing what happens next in this thread of history. Hopefully they'll support the new game as reliably as they did the old one for a good few years yet. Just because D&D is getting seriously revamped, doesn't mean we should ignore the other stuff.

Here comes the cavalry: Hmm. Not enough rules for ground warfare in star frontiers? Like swimming, I guess this is because the game knew what it wanted to focus on, and cut out all the extraneous stuff. Fortunately, since their rules for space combat are already mostly 2D for simplicity reasons, it's not that hard to adapt them for land vehicles. So here's 7 new vehicles and a bunch of optional rules to make the system work better at a ground based scale and speed. Another article I have no objection too, but at the same time, can't get particularly worked up about. Once again, they seem to be just running through a checklist of systems to cover each month.

Born in the ruins: Gamma world's article this month is on social class. Even after the apocalypse, the family you are born into massively influences your prospects in life. Exactly how that might be expressed may vary from area to area, but even in yer basic stone age tribe, the bosses kid gets the best food. So here's yet another quick article giving us a table to roll on, and the mechanical effects of said social classes. Since it's pretty much all positive for being higher class, this will probably not be good for player harmony, with yet another reason for one to simply wind up better than another due to random rolls. Still surmountable, but not really a very useful one.

Welcome to the machine: Jeff once again cedes the floor on the Marvel article due to more pressing commitments. So they throw in a Pink Floyd reference, and give us stats for Machine Man and the Midnight Wreckers (tm, etc etc.) Not to be confused with Iron Man, because they approach this superheroing thing from completely opposite directions. Once again we see some time jumping weirdness in their story, and the depiction of a possible future that is probably well out of date and retconned by now. Nothing particularly great or terrible about this entry. You know, you don't have to cover the same games every month. There are plenty of others who would love to get a few pages in the magazine.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 120: April 1987

part perfect sentai/5

The role of computers: We return to Bards Tale to deliver some extensive hinting. Due to the pressures of review time turnover, it seems our writing duo didn't find many of the secrets, or figure out the most optimal ways to configure their characters. Fear not, their loyal readers have wasted no time in writing in to help out. And once they've shown it once, you can bet that more people'll join in, in the hope of getting their name published. They may have to make this a regular part of their columns.
Following on directly, their main review is of Bards Tale II: The destiny knight. Considerably bigger than the original, it introduces new spells, ranged combat, brutal puzzles, animated 3d graphics, and to top it off, you can bring in your old characters from the previous game to kick butt with. They give it a pretty positive result.
Lots of other smaller reviews as well. Steve Jackson games continues it's multimedia push with Autoduel and Ogre computer games. Design your locations and arsenals and engage in a little postapocalyptic violence. Explore the underground mazes of the Zork trilogy. Solve puzzles in your dead uncles mansion in Hollywood hijinx. Explore the epic Might and Magic (more on this next month) Play star trek tie in The Promethean Prophesy and save Kirk and co's lives. And check out the new improved Atari version of Phantasie. Rather a scattershot column, overall, as they tinker with their format. Well, it's still been less than a year since they started. Lets hope they come out of this bit of self-examination stronger.

TSR Previews: D&D gets CM8: The endless stair. An archmage has died? We have to take his stuff! For great justice! ;) And because if we don't some evil wizard will. Course, wizards being wizards, the place is not unguarded. And since this is a companion adventure, the tricks should be pretty tricky. Otherwise, how are we to level up? More importantly, we also have GAZ1: The grand duchy of Karimeikos. Finally, they've decided to put out info on the Known World setting beyond the minimum of what is needed for the current adventure. This is a very big sea change in their worldbuilding style. Before you know it, we'll be in the early 90's in all their richly tapestried glory. Let's do this.
AD&D is not quite as interesting, but is still trying something new REF4: The book of lairs. A whole onslaught of little encounters that you can throw in fairly easily. It's a definite step up from just having tables. And some of them, such as the rakshasa and spectre ones, are quite cool, not just combat encounters. One I do not regret buying.
The art of the Dragonlance saga arrives. Coffee table books, peh. Well, I guess it's fairly easy to produce, since it's mostly recycled art. But is it profitable?
Marvel superheroes gets MX1: Nightmares of futures past. Mutant internment
camps come to your hometown. Will your characters fall prey to the inquisition? How very dystopian.
Gamma world gets GW8: Gamma base. Welcome to the new edition! However, its the same old /Dungeon full of magic items/ ruined base full of ancient technology to explore and loot. Not very inspired sounding.
Amazing magazine gives us it's third anthology, covering 1936-45. Understandably, WWII looms large in the consciousness. Introduced by Issac Asimov, who also has stories in it. Magazines really have fallen quite a bit in general with the coming of the internet, haven't they. The cultural zeitgeist moves ever onwards.
One-on-one gamebooks is up to number 9, Daredevil and Kingpin in The King takes a Dare. I think this is pretty self explanatory. Question is, will the good or bad guy win, and how much zap, pow, kersplating will it involve? Their fate is in your hands.
And finally, we have the start of a new adventure gamebook series. Catacombs. Apparently closer to a real roleplaying experience than any solo gamebook before, this advert fails to explain exactly how, which isn't very helpful. Anyway, the first in the series is Faerie mounds of dragonkind. I suspect whimsy may be involved. Approach with caution.

Profiles goes up to covering three people this month. Karen Martin is one of our newest arrivals, having been here barely a year. But she's certainly been busy in that time, editing dozens of products. And maybe moving house again. Watch out for that commute. She seems more than geeky enough to fit in around there.
Margaret Weis is of course one of the creators of Dragonlance. Assigned to co-ordinate it, she took command, churned out 5 chapters in a couple of days, and it's been non stop work since then, producing several full novels plus a whole load of short stories every year. Goes to show what you can do when you don't spend ages fiddling around with the small stuff. Can they bottle lightning twice and top that with their next project? Hee.
Tracy Hickman is the other half of the dynamic duo who created Dragonlance. Thick as thieves, they even interview each other for this article. Not likely to produce a very objective result is it. Still, his career is a great example that writing is much quicker and more fun when done collaboratively, instead of chaining yourself to a desk alone, slogging away at a typewriter. First with his wife Laura, then with Margaret, he has increasingly assembled a great team around him to produce stuff with. Living the dream and creating family friendly entertainment with a strong moral message. That's the life.

Robots grasp sarcasm in snarfquest. And then there is pointless comedic bickering again. I don't think I'd enjoy playing in Larry's game. Dragonmirth mocks disney (deservedly). Wormy shows off the giant's talents. Do not fuck with them. Good, bad, they're all scary when you're on the other side.

A pretty good april fools issue, full of stuff that is both useable and amusing. They've definitely used the year off to make sure that they have the best material for this one. The non comedic parts of the issue are rather weaker though, particularly the non D&D articles. If I was reading at the time, I'd be complaining about them wasting their space on them. Are they not getting the good articles, or are they deliberately sabotaging them so they can claim public demand when they cut down even further on the number of them they include each month? In any case, it averages out to produce an, um, average issue. But I'm sure there'll be plenty more ups and downs to come in the other 2/3rds of this journey, both in the magazine, and my emotional state. Lets hope I can finish it, preferably without going completely mad.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 121: May 1987

part 1/5

111 pages. Looks like they've accumulated enough Oriental Adventures material for us to have an oriental special. Well, it has been a year and a half, and it was pretty popular. So Ninjas, samurai, and other less well known roles get some more cool stuff, oh my. They are definitely having way more themed issues lately. A development I can definitely get behind, as long as they don't repeat the same theme, as it means they can cover a topic in more depth. So let's fire up our stereotypical oriental riff, do the horribly politically incorrect eye thing (me so solly), and head for the rising sun.

In this issue:

Letters: Two letters from people who are having problems with GM's. One wants to encourage more people to GM, as they're sick of always being the one to do it, and another from someone who wants to DM, but doesn't know how. Both think that there need to be more articles on this in Dragon. I sense the dread hand of foreshadowing passing over. Give it a few months, Roger'll be swimming in articles, and then they can do a themed issue on it. Woo.
A letter asking them do do more regular columns. Once again, Roger says he'll definitely consider it. It does help make up page count, having a bunch of topics that you know will be covered reliably each month. But it can also increase boredom, as they blur into one another. We shall see what he decrees.

The overseas military gamers guide: Now this is an interesting development. They've been showing general ones of these for years now. But it looks like they want to give extra support to the troops. Well, job where you're a long way from everyone you know, with lots of time spent just sitting around watching and waiting. Plus an emphasis on combat and tactical thinking. Army people are a great target demographic for roleplaying. A subject that is obviously dear to Roger's heart, as he devotes the editorial to talking about this as well. Now that's giving back to the community. Warms your heart, doesn't it.

Forum: Brian S Chase disagrees with the ecology of the harpy in an in character manner. That sage was charmed! He is obviously an unreliable narrator, and his facts are equally unreliable. See, that's how you do this kind of thing. Remember, these ecologies are not set in stone. You can change them for your campaign if you don't like them.
Jeanne McGuire engages in some rather longer and less interesting ecological talk, correcting us on the real world details of snakes. Your article in issue 115 was not properly researched! Same as it ever was.
Jim Vierling Weighs in on the old illusions debate. Unless the creatures have a good reason to disbelieve your effects, you ought to err on he side of generosity, otherwise illusionists become horribly weak compared to regular magic-users, and no-one wants to play them. A very sensible statement, really. We must consider the metagame ramifications of what we do.
Bob Hughes reminds us that if we're unsatisfied with the arcane details of AD&D, you can go and play regular D&D instead, which is much simpler, and can be easily houseruled. Chances are, you'll actually have more fun.
David Carl Argall returns to say that the game should be assumed to be realistic as possible, except where the rules specifically make it different from reality. It makes things less confusing that way, and you can apply lessons learned in the game to your own life if that is the case. Um, ok then. I can see how you would come to that conclusion. Can't say I agree with it though.
Micheal Lambert agrees with Vince Garcia that intelligence should be more important to characters of all types. He is, however, baffled as to why rangers have a high int requirement to join the class. Perhaps something ought to be done about that. ;) Is he just being prescient, or is this a more direct bit of cause and effect, as Zeb reads this and takes note of things to change next edition? Good question, albeit one even Mr Cook himself probably couldn't answer, given the vagaries of time, memory, and all the crap he sifted through at the time.
Robert Waldbauer points out that if you do stuff from all sorts of alignments, it should average out as neutral, even if they aren't conciously trying to maintain a balance.
S Kunz points out just how heavy magic-user's spellbooks are by the RAW. They ought to have backpacks at least as big as the average modern kid's schoolbag. Poor magic-users, lugging that stuff around. It's no wonder they wind up all stooped over.
Mathew Hamilton wonders why the AD&D game avoids christianity so, if it's supposed to be set in a medieval world. You really ought to do more articles on it and incorporating it into the game. Oh, that's a biiiig ugly can of worms there. Will any trolls bite on this bait?
Adam Morris reminds us just what the body can do to itself psychosomatically in the real world. When illusions are brought into the equation, even greater feats of self-deciet should be possible. Don't make illusionists useless, please.

The game wizards: Zeb Cook returns, having received a ridiculous amount of mail on the matter of which classes to cut for the next edition. Hoo boy. When they started, they thought this would be a simple editing job. Then you had to go and get emotionally involved. In any case, though there is vast amounts of nerdrage on both sides, he's not changing his plans that much. Bards and druids are definitely staying now, and the UA stuff and assassins are still superfluous to requirements. His desire to focus more on proficiencies is still causing some controversy as well. No, D&D is not going classless. My primary goals are still fun and flexibility, and the game should still remain as compatible as possible with the previous edition. Please, everybody, calm down. We really do care. Another interesting snapshot of history as it developed, full of quotable stuff. Let's see what his next step will be.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 121: May 1987

part 2/5

Whaddya mean, jack the samurai: Random name generation. Just the thing for when your mind goes blank, and you don't want to make an inappropriate name up and get laughed at. We've had ones for tekumel (issue 24) native american-esque (34) pseudomedieval (72), and probably some more I can't remember offhand. So here's three pages of D% tables and the guide to using them. An above average example of it's kind, and obviously useful, but still not hugely interesting to read. Just a warm up really, rather than a pole position spectacular.

Sage advice helps out with oriental themed questions.
How do you determine height, weight and starting age (humans are same as ever (yes, I know, IRL, asians do tend to be a bit shorter, but if we can gloss over sex differences to abilities we can certainly ignore that) Korobokuru use the dwarf tables and spirit folk use the elf one. Recycling made fun and easy. )
Do dual classed characters get all their new classes proficiency slots (Yup. Twinkitude! (sage advice reserves the right to change it's mind at any point in the future.))
Can women join the oriental classes ( By default, yes. You'll have to decide how sexist your individual setting is. )
Can oriental characters become multi-classed. (No. Feel the social stratifications confining you. Oh, the pain! You'll have to run away! )
Do oriental characters get Xp for treasure (Yes. Money is a great motivator, wherever you are. )
Do characters that attack 3/2 get their extra attacks on odd or even rounds (Even. It makes them a little less scary. )
Do magical crossbows extend your point-blank range. (not unless they specifically say so. Stop trying to twink out)
Can western characters learn martial arts (What. Would you make the karate kid illegal in D&D? Can't say I'd blame you :) But anyway, yes, they can. )
Why do forest barbarians get rhetoric (because they're good at talking bullshit. It's not quite the same as civilized debate techniques, but still not to be sneezed at. )
Where do I find stats for the harpoon (Unearthed Arcana. Did you miss the memo that it's effectively the new corebook, and all subsequent books assume you have it. )
When do bushi get AC bonuses (every 5 levels. Not a patch on modern defence progressions, is it. Give them time. The progression of class technology is slow. )
How much honor do they lose for learning ninja weapons (same as kensai)
Speaking of kensai, how do they learn MA (how do you think. They spend their proficiency slots. )
Shouldn't kensai get fast-draw (It would be advisable, but they still need to spend the proficiency slot. We don't want to make them overpowered, do we? )
Does the higher level kensai always win a psychic duel (no. They still have to roll, they just get a bonus. Go stand in the corner, and pay more attention next time.)
Which attack table do monks use (The cleric one. I though we cleared that up way back in 1980. Some people just don't keep track of errata.)
Do monks get Str and dex bonuses to AC and attacks (no. They're like monsters. They get trained so hard the normal PC rules cease to apply. )
Do monks get dex bonuses to their thief abilities (yes)
Do monks get damage bonuses on missile weapons (if they're legal and proficient. Take the test, be the best. Kick the ases of the rest. )
Can ninja be dual classed (They already are, sorta. No, they can't change class again. And if they tried their clan would kill them. )
Do ninja have to pay training costs (yes)
Do high level ninja get followers (not automatically. They'll have to please the clan leader, or go off and found their own. )
Why don't ninja get dex mods for their powers (cos we didn't think of that. )
What are ninjas base chances of picking pockets (none, unless they're dual classed with yakuza. Thievery is not an automatic part of their training, nor should it be.
Can you dual class into ninja after starting play (no. The clans wouldn't trust an already established adventurer enough to train them. Give me a boy until he is seven and he will be mine for life and all that.)
How do you determine how much stuff a samurai's fief has (Fiat. Pray your DM is in a generous mood. Bribe him with noodles if you have too.)
Can a samurai specialize in the Daikyu with only one slot (no. Even the benefit you thought you would get isn't there. )
Do shukenja get full XP for subduing enemies (No. They only get half, however they beat them. You may find your advancement slower than you expected)
How do sohei get the 5-7th level spells indicated (they don't, unless we choose to add some epic rules later. The designer was just so enthusiastic he forgot when to stop. )
Do wu jen need to study for 6 hours to regain EACH SPELL! (no. That investment lets them regain all their spells. This will put them at an advantage over standard wizards at high level)
Does the wu jen's second ki power give you extra spells (no, it only enhances the ones you have )
Can you use verbal only spells while fire wings is active (yes. Drive by power words are the shiz)
Is scry a flat circle or a sphere. (A circle. Volume calculations would be too complicated for my tastes. )
How do you use grenades (pull pin, count to three, no more, no less, and throw them)
What are the encumbrance values for the new equipment (oops. Our bad. Use their nearest western equivalent.)
What does standard intelligence mean (normal human. 8-10. Average. Mundane. Don't make me set the theasaurus on you. He's been cranky ever since Gary left. )
Do kappa get a damage bonus for their strength. (yes, but we've precaclulated it into their stats so you don't need to worry your pretty little head over it. )
How do you get special MA Maneuvers (each one costs one proficiency slot. Ya don't get many, so choose carefully.)
Why does Karate get more attacks per round than you can create (because the standard styles aren't created using the custom rules and are better than them. The wisdom of the ancients surpasses your puny ingenuity. )
How do you learn weapon related MA (Same as it ever was. Spend the slots. If you want to learn a new weapon, learn a new MA as well. )


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 121: May 1987

part 3/5

The deadliest perfume: Ahh, this is more like it. Lotus dust. The rare flowers of the orient can be harvested and refined into powders with mystical effects. Really, this is basically just a bunch of reskinned poisons, potions, lotions, incenses and dusts, but the concept of organizing items by their use type (single use, charged, daily, constant, worn, etc) hasn't really caught on yet. But this is still 8 flavourful new magic items that you can use as written, or convert into another shape while keeping the basic effects. Perfect for ninjas, assassins, and anyone else who likes being sneaky and poisoning people. Putting the flavour text first and then the mechanical effects in ecology style footnotes may not have been the wisest writing decision, requiring a bit more annoying flipping back and forth to get the full info on an item, but other than that, I quite like this one.

The anywhen universal roleplaying system now available, along with two game-world books. Anyone remember this one, because I certainly don't.

The life and death of a castle: Hmm. This is a topic we've seen covered before in plenty of detail for western stuff. (issues 80 and 89, among others) So it seems perfectly reasonable to examine how japanese ones differ from them. They may differ somewhat architecturally, but the basic tactical and socioeconomic pressures are much the same. You need to be able to see. You need to be able to defend your walls. You need to be able to dominate, tax, and protect the local population. You need to be able to live there fairly comfortably. And so forth. As with personal armour, they tend less towards singular big hard defenses (no castle can withstand a big earthquake) and more on an array of moats, trenches, and irregular wooden barriers that provide you plenty of cover and are a bugger to get through for enemy troops. It's no wonder they turn to ninja to penetrate these places and kill the bosses without huge losses on both sides. A pretty solid article that describes it's topic in an evocative, easily visualized way, this gives me some more evil ideas for designing my own world with. Mix and match tactics from various cultures to make your players decidedly miserable. Muahahaha, etc etc. Keep on building those fortresses. We'll keep on tearing them down. Lets loot and pillage the best bits and roll ever onwards.

Palladium apologize for the long delayed release of book III, adventures on the high seas. Same as it ever was. Nice pic of a cyclops and griffon though.

The geisya: Ha. Missing your bard role for eastern games? Take a courtesan adventuring. While certainly not badasses, with minor spellcasting and roguish abilities, and pretty good general and social skills, they'll be less useless than you'd think, especially if they're also ninjas. Don't neglect your social and support classes. Probably best suited to troupe play, where each player is controlling multiple characters and sometimes focussing on one or another of them, these are rather underpowered in combat, but also have extremely low XP costs at mid level. If you have the obscene ability scores needed, dual-class into them, then out of them after reaching 8th level if you want to remain a competitive adventurer. This fills a niche they didn't cover before, and maintains ideals of flavour over balanced mechanics, so even if it's not suitable for every game, and possibly a bit obvious, I don't object to it. After all, if you don't cover the obvious stuff, you don't have a solid base for other people to build upon. And you can nick the new spells for your bards and wu jen.

The Genin: There's always someone not satisfied with the established order, isn't there. For whatever reason, the writers of OA decided that all ninjas would be split-class characters, maintaining a convincing front as some other class, and ensuring they have a broad base of skills to draw upon to accomplish their missions and keep people fighting them off balance. But this writer wants to play a character who has been trained in nothing but the ninja arts since childhood, and has not bothered with such petty distractions. So here we have the Genin, which does exactly that, gaining all the powers of the regular Ninja, plus a few extra for being a specialist. They'll obviously advance faster than a character splitting their XP, as they have lower XP costs, and they'll probably have slightly better hp as well, but not be as versatile or able to operate independently for extended undercover missions. There's nothing obviously wrong with this mechanically, but like the barbarian cleric, this is very definite theme dilution, and is probably slightly overpowered as well (more tricks for less xp? shurely shome mishtake.) I mildly disapprove, as this doesn't display a huge amount of creativity. Give us something we couldn't whip up in a few minutes ourselves please.

Sun dragon castle: This month's centrepiece is another build it yourself cardboard model. And the surroundings, in another attempt to push their boundaries. This is bigger than their previous attempts, and the instructions are considerably longer and more detailed as well. I doubt many people managed to put together successfully, and in any case, this eats up a total of 14 pages in the .pdf version that I can't get much use out of. So it's another worthy special feature that'll get oohed and ahhed over for a bit, and then forgotten, when more practical articles are still being used years later. So it goes.
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