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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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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.
Perhaps my favorite D&D support product ever. Got much use out of it, and I feel it strikes the proper balance between giving you enough detail to spark the imagination without giving you so much that you feel that you must play the "One Great Story," whether you want to or not. I always loved how all families kicked the kids out at 16 (or maybe it was another teen year) to force them to be adventurers for at least one year, as it explained where all those pesky adventurers keep coming from.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 121: May 1987

part 4/5

Fiction: Love and ale by Nick O'Donohue. A Dragonlance story here. Been a while since we had one of those. This is one of the ones from Leaves from the inn of the last home, designed to show the softer, small scale side of krynn. See young Tika go through romantic woes, kender be their usual pestilent selves, and the small tragedies and triumphs in general of running an inn. Will this year's ale be a good batch? Will we be able to avoid having the place trashed by drunkards? Will we be able to spot thieves and con men? Not very dramatic stuff, but it has a certain twee charm. But then, Krynn has always done twee well, and the palatability of that is very much a matter of taste. I'm afraid it does not tempt me to pick up the full book.

The marvel-phile: Jeff returns, rather apologetic for his frequent absences of late. This time, we have another case of a new character taking an old character's name. Ms Marvel is now Sharon Ventura, daredevil, wrestler, another recipient of the super-soldier serum, and currently a member of the fantastic four. (yeah, that's not going to last long) Jeff has obviously taken notes from his substitutes, because he includes advice for using the new super-soldier serum in your own game. A bit of a gamble, it could make you badass, or cause you to degenerate into a bestial monstrosity. Don't be too attached to your character concept if you try it in game. But it does make for good drama, and a good excuse for lots of super-powered mooks to challenge your team with. In a genre where you're supposed to be one of a special few, if you don't stick to genre conventions and continually kill your enemies, you'll run out of suitable challenges way too soon, so that's probably a good thing. A change has obviously been as good as a rest for jeff, as this is definitely an above average entry.

TSR previews: D&D gets M4: Five coins for a kingdom. Another epic adventure spanning planes, and ending in a battle inside the sun. Sounds like a suitable challenge for players that level. At least the world doesn't hang on their success this time.
D&D gets an attack of rehash, with I3-5: The desert of desolation. Tracey Hickman's early modules get complied and revised in light of his new popularity. Venture into the desert and face ancient undead foes. You know the sort. They generally wear bandages. It also gets I13: Adventure pack one. A collection of short OA featured adventures, it seems rather appropriate for this issue.
In the solo gamebook realm, we have book 13: The gates of death. Prove your paladinhood by saving a princess? All in a days work, really. At least, if you survive to become an experienced hero. ;) So many don't.
Lot's of novels this month. We get our first forgotten realms novel even before the rulebook comes out. Doug Niles delivers Darkwalker on Moonshae, an epic tale set in the Realms' britain analogue. Be afraid, for the stakes are high, and the writing of questionable quality. Lets get this treadmill of endless trilogies rolling. We also get 2 Windwalker books, Rogue Pirate, and Trail of the Seahawks. John Gregory Betancourt and Aradath Mayhar continue to work for TSR. Life is hard for a jobbing writer.
Lazer Tag also continues to roll out the supplements. Book 1 is High spy, and book 2 is Danger, second hand. Looks like they're bringing plotting and character arcs to what could be just a simple game of competitive violence. I wonder how these'll do.
And finally, we have an SPI imprint wargame, Onslaught. In an attempt to stem the decline of wargaming, they're going for simpler games that you can complete in a single sitting. Ha. If you don't market it right to attract new people, all this'll do is irritate the grognards, who will then ignore it after a bit of bitching. And that's no good for anyone.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 121: May 1987

part 5/5

The role of books: Hmm. Red and yellow-green. Much better than last installment, but certainly not perfect. But this should really be about contents, not the wrapper. This is the equivalent of bitching about what some starlet is wearing on the cover of her new single, and completely ignoring the merits of the music. Don't judge a book by it's cover, and other such cliches.
The folk of the air by Peter S Beagle is a rather well crafted and unorthodox bit of fantasy, with much of the weirdness remaining purely in the mind, while creating a mythic air. Seems like another one that would be good for Changeling: the Dreaming players.
The maze of peril by John Eric Holmes isn't an official D&D novel, but it is obviously based on a D&D game, with spell levels, dungeons, and other such metagame conceits showing up and playing integral parts. This does not translate to novel form too well, and indeed, the fact that it's only a small press work, even though he did manage to get an official D&D novel published in the past speaks volumes of it's quality. Boinger will struggle on regardless!
The burning stone by Deborah Turner Harris is the start of another trilogy. It has the same editor as Tolkien's LotR. Wait! Come back! It's actually quite good, with a nicely thought out magic system and social order developed to regulate that magic, realistically ruthless villains, and several plot threads that weave together to create a fast paced story full of cliff-hangers. The reviewer certainly wants to read the next two books.
Stalking the unicorn by Mike Resnick is a tale of a new york private eye who travels to an alternate reality at the behest of his new employer, an elf who has lost his unicorn, and needs it back fast. (don't snigger) It applies logical thought to a distinctly fantastic setting, to create a nicely plotted, suspenseful mystery.
A voice for princess by John Morressy is a tale of a wizard's attempts to completely reverse the transformation on a princess formerly turned into a frog (hence the title) Originally a series of short stories in a magazine, it doesn't quite work as a full length novel. Hopefully future books in the series will avoid that problem.
Dragon's pawn by Carol L Dennis is another fairly meta fantasy novel. While it uses lots of cliches, it's characters are aware of this, and manage to twist them to their own ends. Another one that seems likely to spawn additional follow-up books.
Cybernetic Samurai by Victor Milan is the story of a supercomputer programmed with the knowledge of an ancient samurai ruler, and how it deals with the conflicts of the modern day business world by applying those values and lessons. Seems like the kind of thing real geeks would do. :p In any case, it seems an entirely valid bit of oriental styled cyberpunk.
Wild cards, edited by George R R Martin, is another of our shared world anthologies, a series of stories about superhumans in WWII. Not nearly as comic booky as you'd expect, this has lots of strong characterisation, is well presented, and the stories meld together well, thanks to the editing. An idea that would go on to spawn an RPG, this is definitely an interesting one to report upon.

Operation Zodiac: We continue the series on Top Secret adventures in spaaaace with a whole bunch of extrapolative future history and plot hooks based around this. As is often the case, these seem sadly out of date these days, as we've actually gone backwards in terms of space exploration capability since those days. A sad state of affairs, really. If only the cold war hadn't ended. Now that was a nebulous media excuse for fearmongering and directing our tribalistic hatreds you actually had a hope of beating. ;) Still, as an excuse for lots of weird and wonderful adventures, this isn't bad at all, pushing the boundaries of (then) modern tech, without going into outright sci-fi territory. If only it had turned like that. Life would be rather more interesting than it is.

Profiles: Michael Breault is one of those names that seems like they've been around forever, when actually, they haven't. Curious, that. He's been around quite a bit of interesting stuff, seeing half his class flunk out due to overaddiction to gaming, working on a far right magazine (whether he subscribed to their beliefs is not revealed), and getting a degree in astrophysics. And he's already edited lots of TSR's recent big books. Having just become a dad, he's going to be a busy bunny in the next few years. Another familiar name finally gets a face.
Robin Jenkins has considerably more style than the average editor. Snappy dresser, party animal, movie buff, excellent dancer, he's got so much fashion sense he regularly gets mistaken for a woman. (along with several other members of the crew ;) ) One of our best written interviews, most of the attempts at humour in this one hit the mark nicely. He obviously applies his lesson of learning how to communicate to himself.
Barbara G Young's article, on the other hand, doesn't quite work for me. Much is made of her hippyish tendencies, but this is a bunch of life snapshots that doesn't really help me get into the head of the person behind them. Hmm. Never mind. Plenty more where that came from.

Snarfquest jumps into the future. Can the adventurers use their anachronisms, or will they just blunder around amusingly as usual. Dragonmirth gets in on the oriental stuff. Wormy is full of hostility, racism, and possibly treachery.

A very smooth issue, that went down easily, with plenty of mildly positive articles, but no real radical highs or lows. The big central feature meant that there was less text to digest than usual these days, which resulted in me finishing this one quickly. It fulfills it's thematic remit quite reasonably, and there were far fewer articles that seemed tacked on purely to make up the numbers than the last one. They seem to be back on track again, and getting the hang of their new remit. Lets hope they keep that up.


Red-eyed dust bunny
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Wild cards, edited by George R R Martin, is another of our shared world anthologies, a series of stories about superhumans in WWII. Not nearly as comic booky as you'd expect, this has lots of strong characterisation, is well presented, and the stories meld together well, thanks to the editing. An idea that would go on to spawn an RPG, this is definitely an interesting one to report upon.
Two RPGs. The original GURPS book (and its Aces High supplement) as well as the current Mutants & Masterminds version with the bad representation of Chrysalis on the cover. One of the authors of the series (John J. Miller) wrote both of the RPG adaptations. Also, the world was based on a Superworld campaign run by George R. R. Martin. Lots of gaming links.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Issue 122: June 1987

part 1/5

108 pages. Black dragons don't breathe fire! You of all people should know that. [/pedant] Seriously, welcome to their 11th birthday. The times, they are still a-changin around here. The upcoming edition changes for both D&D and Top Secret cause many readers much distress. Top secret in particular is a problem, because they've made it clear that the changes are going to be big and the new rules are not going to be easily convertable to the old ones. They say that they'll dual stat the crunchy bits in new articles, but we all know promises like that by a company rarely last long. Still, at least they're asking us what we want to see at the moment, rather than telling us.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter asking if they ever plan to do a D&D comic book, and what the current situation on the D&D movie is. Roger is pretty positive about the first idea, and forced to report that the second seems to have died a slow development death with Gary's departure. Bleah.
A letter from someone who didn't get one of the april fools jokes two years ago, asking for free photocopies. Howe Audacious is not a real person. Stop bugging us! Drive a man mad, int it, blood.
A letter from a 13 year old asking if conventions have age limits. Generally, no. Especially not ones covering topics with a large youth demographic. That would massively cut their profitability.
A letter praising the ecology articles, and asking to make More! Bigger! Covering non AD&D creatures as well! Roger has no objection to the idea, but really, this is up to the freelancers as much as anything. Send in your own ecologies now! Your magazine needs you!
A letter asking for help constructing their own Dragonchess game. Unfortunately, the people most involved in that have since left TSR, so Roger can't help much. The technology still isn't really there to build a good board at an economical price, either. Boo.

Forum is extra long this month, as they let people get their opinions in about the state of gaming as a whole:

Dana Foley reminds us that the spirit of the various articles is more important than their letter. Trying to follow them slavishly without understanding the reasoning behind them will only cause trouble.

Anthony Tennaro thinks that weapons ought to cause more damage next edition. Characters can be hit in vital areas repeatedly to no effect. This isn't realistic. It was never intended to be. Abstraction, my dear.

Craig Ulmer would like to see an article on how you improvise as a DM. Um. You make it up yourself. If you're following rules someone else made, then it essentially becomes playing the blues rather than true freeform improvisation. While that can be fun, it hardly compares to genuine DM'ing skill developed by years of personal trial and error.

Sylvain Robert shows up again, quibbling about the nature of weapon specialization, who can have it, and how many weapons they can specialize in. Your pregens from an adventure break the rules as written. Trusting module writers to get all the stats right is a foolish thing to do. Just fix them, and play your game the way you want too, instead of trusting to a canon that is self contradictory anyway.

Chris Patterson thinks that it's important to enforce consequences for alignment deviations, especially for classes with moral codes. We must not allow psycho dick paladins to retain their powers.

W Brian Barnes thinks that with the recent supplement bloat, UA and it's questionable ideas in particular, the AD&D game has lost it's way. The new edition needs to get back to that original spirit, of allowing us plenty of freedom to keep all the optional bits out if we choose. Flexibility is a good thing.

Ed Friedlander reminds us that for a good cleric, doing good should be a pleasure, both for them, and the people they follow. If it's not, then you're playing it wrong. Being utterly po-faced about your religion is an attitude more suited to lawful neutral and evil types. Humour, music, parables, and using magic for entertainment are all entirely suitable actions for a preacher. And the next edition really ought to have proper rules for conversion of your opponents. Pacifism ought to be a valid character choice in D&D. Hmm. Radical ideas here.

Scott Gilpatric thinks that it should be possible to allow automated reprints of old articles by loading them onto computer disk, and then allowing people to order them, and print them out from their own printer via modem connection. Plus you could double the service up as a bulletin board. My oh my. That's a very forward thinking idea indeed. I very much approve.

Martin Gibbs agrees with Craig Sessions that sexism is bad, and so is judging people without giving them a fair chance to prove themselves. That kind of prejudice is hurtful to them, and harmful to you in the long run, because you miss out on so many cool opportunities.

S D Anderson reminds us just how heavy 1000 gp is, and suggests that giving xp for money is a bad idea. It can be gamed horribly, and results in unfair and over fast advancements. This is another thing about the game that needs fixing.

Robert Montgomery thinks that the problem with alignment is not the existence of good and evil, but the way you define these words. As long as you do that properly, you can have evil PC's without any problem. That's treading perilously close to the moral relativism argument.

W Brian Barnes shows up a second time in a single issue. This time he argues that balancing out magic-users power at high levels by making them painfully wimpy at low levels is not balance at all, and actually makes things worse. True balance should be applicable at all points through the game, not over time. Some serious revision is needed to make that the case. Oh, you don't know the half of it. I wonder what his opinion of 4e is.

Jeanne McGuire is another returning forumite. She examines the math of wizard's intelligence and spells known. picking holes in all the problems that come up and suggesting solutions. One of those letters that seems like it ought to be a proper article, but couldn't quite make up the length.

Stephen Barnecut is also examining the rules for wizards, and trying to clarify the ones for spellbooks. Having them scattered throughout the books really does make getting a clear picture a bugger. Let's get working to fix this.

Scott Luzzo delivers another almost article, about the procedure for recharging charged items. The rules on this are currently unclear, so I shall make up my own and share them with you. I do not object to this idea at all.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 122: June 1987

part 2/5

The ecology of the rot grub: Or Ew, ew, it just crawled inside me! getitout getitout getitout! as they are colloquially known. Yeah, these are fun little bastards to trick and squick your players with, and Ed Greenwood is fully aware of this fact. Even the stuffiest of sages will show a crack in their composure at the prospect of one of these getting loose mid-lecture. Ed skips the footnotes completely this time around, but this is still a fun little feature, that feels like a throwback to the early days of the ecologies, back in '83. He knows sage and adventurer psychology inside out by now, and this is pretty well tailored to answering some of the common questions adventurers might have. Nice to see he can still knock em out when in the right mood.

A step beyond shogun: We obviously have a lot of oriental articles, because they're continuing on from last month. This is a brief review of 5 of the books from OA's bibliography, so as to give you a little more info on just what you're getting yourself into if you pick them up. The writer goes for the ones that have already made some pop culture penetration, The art of war, A book of 5 rings, another biography of Myamoto Musashi, two books on the nature of what it means to be a samurai, this is very much a japan focussed populist selection. Still, if people are daunted by that bibliography, you want to direct them towards the more accessible stuff first. Don't want them put off before they even play. Very much a filler article.

And a step beyond that: Zeb Cook gives us yet more source material to read, this time Officially Recommended. What is Japanese architecture. The Taiheiki. Ugetsu Monogatari. Japanese ghosts and demons. Japanese castles. The samurai film. The medieval Japanese Daimyo. 7 more books for you to check out if you want to fill in your OA campaigns with realistic historical detail. Nice to see he's still enthusiastic abut the topic, but as a dry listing, this doesn't make very interesting reading in itself. Yet more stuff to possibly check out once I've completed this insanely long trek through history.

Out of Africa: Hmm. Yes, compared to europe and the orient, africa does get relatively little airtime in mythological circles. But there's no shortage of legends from there. Quite the opposite, given the number of different tribes, it's just that they're not remotely unified, or even particularly well documented in comparison to greek and norse myth. This is the advantage of writing stuff down. It really does help with the posterity thing. Even more helpful is artwork, which is important for getting a fixed form from the strange descriptions in oral tales. Still, we can extract more than enough fairly concrete creatures from those legends to make up a whole bestiary full of monsters. And if you want to make some more, there's a pretty decent bibliography for you to hunt down and read. A nicely flavourful collection that looses a couple of points for being purely fluff.

Gaming the dark continent: Fortunately, Our esteemed lead editor is here, and continues his practice of making articles that complement each other, by himself if he has too. So here's stats for 11 creatures from the preceding article. There's something here to challenge you from 1st to low name levels, taking you from tricksy little humanoids, to gigantic swamp monsters. The descriptions are very sparse, because of course most of the fluff was back in the preceding article, which results in lots of annoying flipping back and forth. Would it have been too hard to composite these two articles into a seamless whole? Oh well. Still very much better than nothing. Now what we need is some stuff on playing african PC's. Come on writers. Don't let me down.

Paranoia second edition. Now even your own clones are out to get you. Buy it now. Not upgrading is treasonous citizen, as the computer may crash from incompatible code. As the computer is perfect, this cannot be. Long live the computer!

The natural Order: Looks like following on from recent issues is the theme of this one, as we now have lots of new druid spells for you to exploit as well. Arthur Collins delivers 21 new spells of all levels. All are suitable to druid's nature control purview, and help add a little more celtic flavour to the class. Utility and combat both get their fair share, and we also get a quartet of seasonal ceremony spells, as inspired by Len Lakofka in issue 58. Someone's maintaining a proper sense of history here, and finally seeing a symmetry like this filled in is curiously pleasing to me. He may not be one of their star writers, but Arthur is certainly continuing to deliver over a longer period than most of their freelancers. And it looks like that will continue for quite some time longer, since I remember him still being around when I started reading. If he continues to deliver little gems like this, I have no objection to this state of affairs.

From the sorceror's scroll: Yes, Gary shows his face again (sorta, because the graphic that used to adorn this column is missing) after his mysterious and unheralded disappearance. However, it is only to explain what has been going down in the past year or so, and deliver a terse goodbye. He was forced out by the board of directors (naming no names, but glaring very hard at) After much unpleasantness, he resigned entirely, washing his hands of the crap, and formed a new company. Looks like Kim Mohan and Frank Mentzer decided their loyalties lay with Gary rather than the company as well, and jumped ship. That explains Kim's sudden departure from the editing job, forcing Roger to edit two magazines at once, as they wouldn't have done that intentionally. Even Penny Petticord has switched sides, albeit a bit later. Man, this is uncomfortable. He's trying to couch it in optimistic terms, but all those staff leaving must have left quite a bit of chaos in their wake and bad blood on both sides. It's surprising that they managed to keep the magazine running as smoothly as they did. He hopes to talk to us again soon, but of course I very much doubt we'll see much of that in here. They wouldn't want to give airtime to a dangerous competitor. Rather shoddy of them to stuff this in the middle and treat it like one of those little retractions you see in the newspapers, something faintly embarrassing they'd rather you didn't notice. At least they deigned to say something, even if the true extent of the backstage ugliness remains very much concealed. So long, Gary. Don't be a stranger.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 122: June 1987

part 3/5

Sage advice is quite short this month.
How much do oriental structures cost to make (Same as western stuff using the same material. The peasant labour process is pretty much the same anyway. Apart from paper walls, those are expensive and useless. )
What are art objects and how much are they worth? (egads man, have you no life ourtside gaming? They're paintings and sculptures and caligraphy and pottery and stuff. Like jewelery, their value is largely in the eye of the beholder, and you can use the same tables to determine their worth. (Pickled bulls heads in an unmade bed, with names of all your lovers scrawled in your own menstrual blood on the sheets probably won't sell well around here.))
What are the movement rates for oriental vehicles (Again, same as for western ones. In fact, just take that as written. Everything not specifically mentioned as different is the same! If We examined every aspect of their society in the detail you want the book'd be over a thousand pages long. This is D&D, not Advanced Physics simulator 1987. )
Will you publish an oriental suplement for greyhawk (no. Canonically, it's all set in the forgotten realms now, despite the old references to Kara-tur being on Oerth. If you want to transplant them, it's not hard. Continent shuffling is an established D&D tradition, going right back to Blackmoor. )
When can you use MA Maneuvers (whenever it's physically reasonable for them to do so. We still expect you to have common sense, y'know)
Is there a duration for the iron fist maneuver (Irrelevant. It's an action, not a magic power. It lasts as long as you're doing it. What is the duration of a punch or a kick. What is the sound of one fist typing pointless questions.)
How does the form of a style affect it? (not much. Method is far more important. )
The martial arts styles break the rules (No, you just don't understand them. Order of maneuvers in style is not the same as order of maneuvers of group. It's perfectly clear to me. )
What AC do you roll against when using Leap (AC10, unless there are special circumstances. Give us a proper DC system, pleeease. )
Can you use a riding horse in a joust (no. They'd panic and run away. You'd be a laughingstock amongst all the other knights)
How do you make a Drolem ( Oooh. Sgonna cost you at least 25,000gp. Plus research costs. And lets not forget you need a set of dragon bones. It'll take quite an adventure to build one. )
How do you make illusory walls. ( Cast permanency on Phantasmal force. Or if you don't want to wait until 18th level, develop a custom spell. It should only be around 4th level or so. )

The GM's ten commandments: Pff. We've seen this one plenty of times before. Don't be adversarial. Always give them a chance unless what they want to do is blatantly impossible. Don't overplan. Don't go over the top too quickly. Description description description. Consistent worlds make for better games. Stick to your rulings and don't let the game get disrupted by rules lawyers. No takebackseys. Encourage roleplaying. If the players try cool and clever stuff, reward it, don't punish it. No great surprises here. One for our new readers.

Marshalling the martial arts: A third OA article? Plus sage advice being mostly oriental. Man, at this rate this'll effectively be another special issue. Psionics never got it this good. Anyway, here's 12 new martial arts styles made using the OA rules, allowing even nonmonks to become quite capable and versatile unarmed combatants. I recommend you go for Escrima, as it has top AC, damage, no of attacks, and a decent weapon selection, plus tons of special moves. Yeah, these aren't remotely balanced. But then, MA in AD&D wasn't well designed anyway, the tiny number of flexible resource slots you got meant power always outweighed flexibility for fighter types. This fails to fix that in any way. Ho hum.

Operation Zondraker: Merle's epic series on Top Secret in spaaace gets it's third, but not final installment. Having covered the rules for operating in space, they now take us to the moon, and show us how the rules handle it's low gravity, airless plains. Previous articles from the magazine are referenced freely to help build up the big picture, and we get plenty more cool toys to use, offensive, defensive, transport and utility. Still a very crunchy business, but that's no surprise really. I'm rather enjoying this, as it's one of the few extended, in depth articles that they're doing at the moment, and look forward to seeing how they finish this one off.

Ellery Queen's mystery magazine game. How cute. It's a murder mystery game advertising in Dragon. Now that's the kind of thing I could stand to see more of.
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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 122: June 1987

part 4/5

The leader of the pack: This month's Star frontiers article is a quick one on the nature of the two social stats, and the difference between then. Persuasion is about your charm and skill at social repartee, while leadership measures your ability to boss people around and impart critical information in crisis situations. A perfectly valid way to divide things up, if one that can probably be picked apart by rules lawyers looking for edge cases. Definitely a filler article here, with the amount of text and illustration here finely formatted to fit around the adverts. It does have the neat idea of aiding others with your advice, and actually allowing mechanical benefits from doing so, so it's not a complete waste of time. That is, after all, an idea that would go on to be much more popular in the future.

TSR Previews: A decidedly short list of new products this month. Don't worry though, because it looks like there's considerably more in the month after.
D&D is getting B1-9: In search of adventure. Another attack of rehash, this ties all these earlier adventures more closely into the Known Worlds setting, giving you a nice little sandbox to level up your characters in with plenty of choices on where to go. It's also getting DA4: The dutchy of ten. Dave Arneson's been back less than a year, and now he's buggered off again, leaving the writing of the final Blackmoor module to his collaborator. Not a very impressive run, really. What was the backstage reason behind things turning out this way?
AD&D is getting the Manual of the Planes! One of Jeff Grubb's crowning achievements, this might not have quite the style of the later planescape stuff, but it certainly makes the planes playable and then some. This opens up a lot of campaign options and is pretty fun to read as well. If you don't want to go that far afield, but have still made it to high level, you can instead try H3: Bloodstone wars. Use the mass combat system to forge an army and rid a city of marauding bandits. Must be a lot of bandits. No wonder they're a nightmare to get rid of.

Fiction: The Prince's Birthday by Keith Minnion. A question often asked of genius inventors. If you're so smart, then why are you not in charge. Why are you taking commissions from a tyrannical sadistic maniac who's likely to kill you if you fail to amuse, and almost as likely to kill you if you succeed, so no-one else can have a copy of the cool stuff you've made for them. A very valid question. Interestingly, this one has read the legend of Dadaelus and Icarus, and isn't going to make the same mistake. Not only is he smart enough to get out of dodge at the right time, but he's also smart enough to leave something behind that'll really get him out of trouble. I won't spoiler you as to the details, but I did find this pretty enjoyable, and hope that if I have to resign from some big tyrannical corporation, I can go out with half as much style.

Profiles: Jeff Butler may look like a jock, play sports like a jock, and wound up marrying a cheerleader, but he's also a skilled artist, growing up on a diet of comic books and swords and sorcery. (with lurid covers, of course) He did all sorts of freelance drawing work before joining a small comics company. When that ran into financial trouble and it all went a bit pear shaped, he was clued in to TSR's job opening, and of course got to draw the big names, as the Marvel super heroes game took off. As a sideline, he's also started creating live action superhero costumes. Seems like he's definitely living the dream.
Jane Cooper is one of our book editors. She's gone from minnesota, to wisconsin, to taiwan, and back, picking up a husband while out there. As another of the surprisingly large contingent of staff who never gamed before coming to work there, she's had a lot to learn, but if you can learn other languages, you can probably adapt to most corporate structures.
Patrick McGilligan is yet another of our editors. They sure do have a lot of them. (well, I suppose it's better than White Wolf's only having two editors in the entire company, who give the impression they'd much rather be writers, and farming out the scutwork to Scribendi) He's written plays, biographies, edited Playgirl, (yeah, Suuuuuure you only edited it for the articles.) interviewed tons of famous people, and then decided that he'd prefer a slightly duller life, so he'd work as a book editor for TSR. :D He's played a big part in the making of the new Windwalker, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels. What writers will he sucker in with promises of fame and fortune next?


Making the Legend
Validated User
I'd just like to mention that I think I've probably stitched together enough bits and pieces to kick off play in my game world based off my readings of the magazine, and am now actively looking for players. If you're in the southwest of the UK, have been enjoying reading this and would like to game with me, check the actual play thread, and PM me. Let's start applying all this built up theory, and have some fun.
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