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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 126: October 1987

part 3/5

Hearts of darkness: Ahh, vampires. The first thing most people think of when you say undead (and the other third or so will say zombies) They've turned up fairly frequently in D&D, and will continue to do so. Here Tom Moldvay gives us some real world mythological stuff on vampires of various eras and areas, before turning his attention to the most famous vampire of all. Dracula. We then get (typically twinked out) stats for him, plus a few more vampire variants, Vyrokolakas, Baobhan Sith, and Ch'ing Shih. As with the Witch article last year, there is a bit of repetition, but it's been so long, the magazine has changed readerbase enough in the interim, and the production values have improved enough that this doesn't feel too egregious. You can both use the stuff from the article as is, and develop the ideas referenced further to create your own cool variants on the lifesucking monster theme. Solid, but not too innovative, it'll keep the punters coming in.

Dead on target: So some people aren't finding undead scary enough. How can we make them more so? How about by making their weapons even less effective if they aren't the right type. Skeletons and zombies already have the bashing vs slashing thing. Lets encourage people to need a whole golfbag of weapons of different shapes and materials if they don't want to be ineffective and have a very hard fight on their hands. The kind of thing if you want your game on the gritty end of the scale, and want to encourage players being cautious, paranoid, and carrying ridiculously huge backpacks. Since I'm not currently in a gritty mood, I'm not that enthralled by this. Use with caution, for if applied wrong, it will result in frustrated, bored players.

A touch of evil: Vince Garcia continues to rise as a writer this month, with a whole load of adventure seeds based around the various types of undead. Every AD&D monster gets a look at their origins, and a way to use them, many quite clever. Since many undead look quite similar (and that's not even getting into the whole pseudo-undead rigamarole), you are quite justified in playing with people's expectations. Tactical advice for death knights. Trickery from crypt things. Attacks from behind by mummies. Attacks that only paralyze particular body parts. And all manner of other things that I won't spoil you on, because I plan to use them myself. A tremendously fun article to read, that looks like it'll produce pretty fun results, easily integrated into actual play as well. Easily our strongest article in this section, putting not just one, but lots of new spins on our familiar faces.

The game wizards: Steve Winter takes over from Zeb to give his perspective on the work on second edition. As he's the editor, and the editing is the aspect that they most want to improve over the first edition books, he has a pretty important job. Fortunately, technology has advanced quite a bit since 1979, so they can write it all up on computer, and shift paragraphs around with a simple copy/paste action. However, despite wanting to make an efficient, nicely organized reference work, they are not unaware of the fact that if you make something too slick and glossy, it actually becomes less appealing to many people, and they'll actually sell less. Which puts them in a pretty pickle. Still, it shows a pretty high level of insight for people in their position, and shows that they haven't been taken over by marketing executives making changes just for the hell of it, as happens far too often in the film industry. Very interesting in terms of revealing the though processes of the people behind the update. Hopefully the responses they get in future issues will be just as interesting.

The ecology of the shade: So life sucks, and you feel the inevitable pull of death and decay on all you see, including yourself. You want to escape it, but undeath does not appeal to you, as you will still decay physically, or be forced to slake foul thirsts upon the living, and lose much of your free will. There is another way. A middle path, if you will. Combining light and darkness to produce shadow, and then infuse that shadow into yourself. You will become an immortal shadowy being, able to step into shadows and disappear, venture to and from the plane of shadow virtually at will. And you still keep all your class abilities. The price is that bright light will pain you, and you will become prone to brooding in the shadows, suspicious and misanthropic. Not really a sacrifice for many adventurers, is it? Go, go, mysterious badass brooding loner prana. On the other hand, while they've picked a cool monster, and it has some nicely evocative, understated fiction, this article decides to nerf them by instituting a charisma drain, and prevent them from advancing in levels afterwards, which of course makes them much less appealing for PC's. If I get to use them, I don't think I'll be using those options, thank you very much. I like my transhumanism, and the prospect of my PC's engaging in transformations like this is something I'd like to encourage, not make pointless. So an interesting article, but not one I entirely agree with.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Hearts of Darkness is the first of 4 articles by Moldvay on undead. The others are in 138, 162 and 198. I don't like undead but the articles still provide some inspiration for other creatures as well as provide variants of the basic 7 or 8 undead types.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 126: October 1987

part 4/5

Fiction: Well bottled at slab's by John Gregory Betancourt: Well well. It's the second appearance of our put-upon barkeep in the magazine. (see issue 105 for the first) Uleander may find slab a pain in the ass a lot of the time, but when faced with the prospect of losing him to a vengeful wizard, determined to put him in a bottle, he decides the devil you know is better for business. Another fun S&Sish romp, with mischevious and alien ghosts, an earnest but not too bright wizard's apprentice, dim henchmen, and a nice sense of humour. Definitely a good fit for our halloween issue without being too dark and horrific.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: My, oriental adventires is getting quite a bit of attention in here. Most products, they give it one issue of special focus, and then leave it to sink or swim. People not only like this, but are unusually willing to write in with new stuff for the milieu as well. This is a grab bag of a dozen items, covering most of the big categories. Many of them aren't really that OA specific, but I suppose that just makes them easier to use in your games. While there's no Greenwoodesque strokes of genius here, these items do have some useful tricks, and aren't all combat focussed. Another solid but unexeptional entry I'd have no objection to using stuff from.

A ghastly grimoire: An article for call of cthulhu. Well, this is slightly surprising. Very fitting to the issue's theme as well. Hopefully this marks the beginning of them allowing more articles on third party games in again. This is a collection of 8 spells, some of which are obviously stolen from D&D, but all of them have a delightfully flavourful horrific twist, as befits the game. Feigning death has you caught in a nightmarish dream state for the duration, blur involves some eye hurting geometry, and stinking cloud gets a suitably graphic makeover. We also get the clever idea of allowing investigators to face an ediolon of an elder creature, rather than the full thing. With Avatars and Aspects of gods becoming common in later editions of D&D, I'm not sure where the idea came from originally, but it's interesting to see it show up here. So this isn't just a token non TSR article, it's actually pretty decent. Let that be an encouragement to other writers. They can't publish it unless you try.

The dragon's bestiary gives us a load of gamma world monsters. Now that's mixing it up. Once again, they are not up to date, as these are 2nd ed stats, despite 3rd ed being well out by now. Doesn't seem very promising.
Buzzbirds are intelligent mutant hummingbirds. They have sonic blasts and bursts of light to defend themselves, which seems sensible enough given the environment. Try and befriend trhem, as one would make an excellent scout for a party.
Dagmits are another of your basic goblin-esque tribal marauding humanoids. These one's gimmick is that they have permanent density increase on them, making them a lot heavier and tougher than their size would indicate. This can probably be exploited.
Giggle bugs look so utterly ridiculous that it's nearly impossible to look at one without laughing. This is actually a pretty effective defense mechanism. They're pretty inoffensive, but laughing yourself to death is no laughing matter. As usual, Gamma world has the goofy going on in spades.
Molnangs are giant snails that instead of just sliming, leave a track of dead earth wherever they go, messing the ecosystem right up. If you see one, steer well clear, because they also shoot lasers from their eyestalks. Seems a very mad wizard thing to create.
Reptoads are another attack of the pun names. Thankfully, the rep in their name refers to repulsion, not replication. They're grumpy bastards as well, enjoying trapping things in forcefields and watching them slowly starve to death. Get a sleeth to hunt them down.
Stuhumphagas are giant telepathic tortoises. They're nice guys, and will transport you through radioactive wastelands safely inside their shell. A bit goofy, but certainly a welcome relief after facing all the other creatures in this feature. Very much business as usual around here, even though it probably shouldn't be. Come on, you need to move with the times, or everyone'll lose interest.

There are ways of making you talk: Top Secret's article this month is all about the various social skills in the game. What they do, the best time to use them, and suggested modifiers based on situational matters. You do of course need to use your GM discretion, as there's always going to be other things they haven't though of, plus people will react differently based on their own personality, and who else is around. While generally in favour of better defined social mechanics, I did find this article somewhat dull. It's one of those cases where I've seen this kind of advice given before, in considerably greater depth than a 3 page article can do, and it being for a system I don't have doesn't particularly help. Bit of a filler article really.
 

Armitage

Registered User
Validated User
Lets encourage people to need a whole golfbag of weapons of different shapes and materials if they don't want to be ineffective and have a very hard fight on their hands.
I always saw it more as encouraging the characters to do research beforehand and know what they were likely to be facing, rather than just charging in blindly.
Much like the later Ravenloft books, where an undead's vulnerabilities were often tied to its origin.
e.g. a pirate ship strikes a coral reef and sinks while fleeing the authorities. The pirate commander drowns and spontaneously rises as an undead, vulnerable to weapons made of coral, or possibly crafted from the wreckage of his ship if you want the PCs to do more work.

You can even tie it to the Touch of Evil article. Investigating the circumstances of an undead's rise allows the PCs to deduce what type of undead it is and choose appropriate weapons.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 126: October 1987

part 5/5

The marvel-phile is also getting in on the creepy shenanigans, with stats for Dracula in FASERIP. For all the mythology that vampires can only come in if invited, he sure gets into a lot of other ongoing series. He's currently dead, but even if this wasn't the Marvel universe, we know that would be a precarious state. I think we can be pretty damn certain he'll be back. On the other hand he might have a few new powers, and/or be missing some of the old ones. It all depends on the needs of the plot. After all, it can be a little tricky writing challenges for someone who can shapechange, control minds, manipulate the weather, and has all round superhuman abilities. Maybe you should use a lesser vampire for your plot instead. A bit of editorial sloppiness aside, this is both an enjoyable and appropriate entry. It's usually interesting to see how different groups treat established bits of mythology when they incorporate them into their world, and of course, playing in other people's sandboxes is one of Jeff's talents, so it's no surprise this one turned out well.

A marvel monster-phile: A second Marvel article in quick succession sticks with the theme, by delivering the stats for Frankenstein's monster, who is played pretty much straight from the book. The living mummy, who puts an interesting spin on this myth, just as Michael Morbus does on the vampire one, and Jack Russell ( :rolleyes: ) a Werewolf who has some measure of control over his shapeshifting, and like the Hulk, can be a nice guy, or a problem as the plot demands. A perfectly decent way to fill in a few more pages, and respond to the game's general popularity. And this brings the number of themed articles up to 8, making this a good deal more focussed than any of their previous horror issues. Now let's hope roger can put a different spin on the theme next year, ghosts instead of vampires, or something.

The Star Wars RPG by west end games gets a full colour four page spread. My oh my. That'll grab the interest of a lot of people.

The role of computers goes monthly. They've proved their popularity quite well over the past year, and now it's time to step their game up in response. This is interesting to hear. They decide to switch things up a bit this month. Instead of reviewing games, they give us an overview of the current situation in the computer industry. How it works, (games companies and publishing companies are normally separate entities, kinda like bands and record labels. ) The margin of sales at which a game starts to break even (around 15 to 20 thousand units, oh how things have changed) The big companies out there. (Still apple, Amiga, Commodore, almost Atari, but Microsoft are just starting their inexorable rise to supremacy. ) The problems of piracy bedeviling the computer industry. And a little excerpt from an interview with a game designer about the current limitations on computer based RPG's. We also get a look back over their earlier reviews, tabulating the stuff so far, so you can see what they rated top and bottom. One of our historical perspective articles, as we get to see another snapshot of the wider world. And it is indeed very different in many ways, a lot less centralized, with programmers having considerably more freedom, and more competition between companies. It'll be interesting to see how it changes over the next few years, and the magazine's perspective on computer gaming changes with it. This definitely adds a good bit of variety to my reading.

Snarfquest screws the pooch and pays for it in kind. Not very nice at all. Dragonmirth needs to consume a little less, in more ways than one.

Wormy celebrates his 101st issue (it was going to be the hundredth, but they were late) with a rather tricky hexagonal crossword puzzle. Even if you have all the back issues, this'll take quite a bit of work to solve. In the actual comic, the trolls challenge wormy to an all-or nothing wargame. That's certainly upping the stakes quite a bit.

Another mediocre issue, I'm afraid. Some good articles, but also quite a few dull ones. At least they're still having plenty of variety in the topics covered, which means that most people'll be able to find at least one to their taste in each issue. Still, by now it seems that their decision to "lighten up, go with the flow a bit more, stop sweating the small stuff" has definitely resulted in the average quality of articles going down a bit in the long term. Hopefully they're reconsidering this. Let's hope we don't go too much further down before the rollercoaster heads back up again.
 

atonal chaotic

Retired User
Hearts of Darkness is the first of 4 articles by Moldvay on undead. The others are in 138, 162 and 198. I don't like undead but the articles still provide some inspiration for other creatures as well as provide variants of the basic 7 or 8 undead types.
There was one more in issue 210.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 127: November 1987

part 1/5

108 pages. Oh dear oh dear. We get another look at their sales figures this month. And it does not make pretty viewing. An average of 85,000, which is down a good 15% from last year. That is quite the slide. From the looks of things, most of the slide happened early in the year, during the crisis of leadership. Guess that had more impact on the distributer confidence than it did on the actual contents, which IMO really went downhill a bit later. Or maybe that's just human variations, who can say. In any case, they definitely need to get cracking on designing a new edition. After all, they've got to boost their cash flow somehow, and if they don't have so many players, that means they have to milk the existing ones harder. Anyway, back to this issue. Finally, it's fighters turn to get a themed one devoted to them. About time. Everyone else is way ahead on the cool toys stake. Let's hope none of them are nerfs.

In this issue:

Letters: Another letter from someone worried about the new campaign worlds displacing the older ones, and the compatibility of modules from one to another. Roger tries to be comforting, but is unable to disguise that the facts will not be palatable to everyone.
Another letter about releasing compilations from the magazine, possibly of magical items, monsters, or something similar. As ever, they're always considering ways of making a little more money from their existing material.
Another letter about setting up a BBs, and how this would be a good thing for them. Look, just get on with it, will you. Stop faffing around saying maybe. The rewards are more than worth the outlay needed to set it up.

This month's editorial is also of note, given the number of times I've seen it referenced. Tuckers kobolds is of course about how you can make the little guys really scary by proper use of equipment and tactics. An idea we've seen before (see issue 60 ) this time it's taken more seriously. In one of the games in Roger's army days, the eponymous Tucker managed to make his kobolds so scarily effective that the group dreaded leaving the dungeon again even more than they did tackling the class VI demons on level 10, because of course they'd have to go back through them again. If you can emulate his example, you are a sadistic DM indeed. And remember, you can apply clever tactics to slightly more powerful creatures (I've found kenku work really well for this) and then the players really have to step up their game in response or die horribly. An important lesson to learn, presented in an amusing fashion. Don't hesitate to heed it.

Forum: Tim McNally replies to SD Anderson's writings on XP with his own house rules for how and when you should be rewarded for getting treasure. Seems fairly reasonable.
Ed Friedlander continues to establish himself as one of our most prolific forumites, with a mini article on familiars. They can be both helpful and a liability to their masters. Here's how to accentuate the positives, and minimize the negatives. Also, we really ought to have rules for falling damage that vary according to creature size. (my own personal fix on this is to use the weapon size damage tables, and move up or down one column per size category change.
Tim Jensen suggests that there needs to be two neutral alignments, one which actively tries to preserve the balance, and one that doesn't give a shit about all that crap and just does what's convenient. Interesting thought. It might just work.
Peter Phillips pontificates about oriental naming conventions. Yawnaroo.

Role-playing reviews seems to be in a godly mood this month:
D&D Immortals set gets a surprisingly negative review. Even someone inside the company just can't figure out what you actually do with this curates egg of a system. It completely ignores one of the most important factors of deities, how they relate to their worshippers, and things like beliefs, rituals and heirachy. What do you do with these powers? How do you make the leap from human to god and keep the players interested. How do you integrate them into the world and multiverse. How do you run fun adventures for them. It's all a bit of a mystery, and is badly in need of some good supplements to sort this out. How very disappointing, and also indicative of TSR's current tendency to tread over-carefully around the subject of real faith.
Gods of harn, on the other hand, takes a relatively bottom up approach, detailing 10 gods, the myths surrounding them, and the churches that worship them. It remains vague about whether the gods are really real, but this doesn't matter, because it does have plenty of concrete setting details for PC's to interact with such as doctrine, sacred locations, history, saints, and even basics like what they wear. As this is Harn, the interrelationships between the 10 religions is also handled with plenty of detail. Ken considers it a success both as a sourcebook, as reading material, and a source of ideas to mine for other games.
Gods of glorantha becomes another casualty of Ken's preference for the older runequest material over the new. While not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it doesn't hold up to the likes of Gods of Prax, sacrificing depth of detail for a wider overview of lots of faiths. Still, the old stuff isn't in print any more, and this does manage to have a strong combination of coherence, and preservation of the contradictions in the various religions. Just don't consider it a must buy.
Lords of middle-earth volume I covers the Valar, lots of maiar, and other high power, legendary figures such as Feanor and Tom Bombadil. This includes stats for them, which are of course disgustingly high. Thankfully it also gives advice on how to handle high level campaigns in the system. rationalizations for why these guys generally don't use their full power, and plenty of other stuff to keep them useful in actual play. If you like to roll like that, of course, which may not be easy if you're started off from 1st level.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 127: November 1987

part 2/5

Sage advice is focussing on the BATTLESYSTEM this month.
What benefits do infra and ultravision have on the battlefield. (They let you see in the dark. This will negate penalties and put enemies that don't have it at a disadvantage. )
What angles can a unit cross a wall at ( Any, as long as they pay the extra movement costs )
How do you determine if a unit is at the edge of the woods ( If it's part in, part out, it's on the edge. Even the pope should be able to understand that.)
When can enemy archers shoot at a hero (Whenever they're not hiding inside a unit like a nancy boy, or in the thick of battle, so you can't shoot at them without hitting your mates.)
What does detect invisibility do in battlesystem (if you say they're trying to detect invisible units in the right place, they do. )
When do heroes check morale (NEVER! They are real men! Real men do not change their actions based on the vagaries of dice rolls. (What about spells?) Shut up, you. )
Is there a movement cost for being forced into open order (no)
Where do routing units go if their avenue of escape is blocked ( Wherever looks clear. Set a trap, kill 'em all)
What happens when a wraparound unit routs. ( Boomerang shape! Whoo whoo whoo!)
Is there any way to stop a routing unit without rallying it (Surround them. Or kill them all and raise them as zombies. Zombies don't rout. Sweeet sweeeet zombies.)
Do routing units have to pay for their heel-turn (no)
Can any hero attempt to rally a passing unit. (only one per phase. Otherwise it's just everyone talking at once.)
Can you double or half wheel (if you pay the price. )
Can spells be disrupted (only by missile fire in the right phase. )
Do you suffer penalties for moving along the top of an obstacle (use your common sense. Walls are cool, thorny bushes pierce your balls. )
Can you cast spells from horseback (Only if they stay still. Jolting around is rather distracting.)
What happens when you kill more units than are in contact with the enemy (erase stuff backwards. War is hell. )
How much damage does insect plague do (None. It's just a terrorist tactic)
How does insect plague affect individual units. (if it's not a unit, it does regular damage.)
How do one inch wide counters defend a wall (They'll have to choose a very small wall to defend. )
What is THAC0 (Ahh, A D&D person who's never checked out AD&D. You might want to do so.)
What happens when a unit force marching meets an enemy unit. (they can't. They have to stop when they realise they would run into them. It's like chess. You never actually take the king, only checkmate it. )
What stats does a tree animated by changestaff have (same as in the regular game. Big smashy tree)
How many hits does it take to kill a thing with two wounds (Two. You can count to two, can't you? )
The text and image on page 11 don't match (correct. )
Can you wraparound if you don't have initiative (you snooze you lose)
When is a melee round finished (when each side has acted once)
How do you put a PC in a unit (Average the stats. Doing this mid play is not recommended )
Do woods affect melee ( Does a falling tree make no sound if it knocks the pope unconscious so he can't hear anything? )
Do woods affect missile fire (does a bear shit on the pope? )
What does no premeasurement mean? ( Battle is chaotic. You need to make tactics based on eyeballing. If you get it wrong, there's no takebackseys.)
Why can't you just turn around when an enemy attacks your rear (mass surprise buttsecks is harder to counter than individual surprise buttsecks )
Do heroes have to pay to turn around (no!)
Does fireball get larger outside (no, but the range increases. D&D is not consistent or unified)
How much is psionics worth (You work it out yo'self. Skip is not a miracle worker. Skip has to take care of his own bad self first, mofo. )
How far can an elf see in the woods (As far as the pope says he can.)
When can a dragon breathe ( Quite often. When the choice is them dying, or you, most of them will choose to kill you. )
Can dragons split fire (no. Archers can though.)
How do draconian deaths work in mass combat. (Not that well, apart from Kapak and Aurak. Otherwise Takhisis wouldn't lose so often. Evil is dumb. )

Lords & Legends: If there's one area fighters have better than other classes, it's the number of legendary characters from myth you have to draw inspiration from. It's no great surprise that this kicks off our themed section, with a bunch of characters who would also have fit in just fine in issue 125. Siegfried from the Ring cycle. Yvain from Arthurian myth. Roland and Bradamante from the tales of Charlemagne. They're relatively light on the stuff that normal players can't get, and of course, in the case of the paladins, actually hold back on their more supernatural elements because of course, they couldn't do that in the original myths. Less objectionable than most of these, I still can't actually say I enjoyed this. I think we can be pretty certain by now that obscenely statted NPC's just aren't my bag.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 127: November 1987

part 3/5

No quarter: Looks like their writers are thinking in the same vein as me. Spell casters have got tons of cool new stuff over the years. Fighters, not so much. How can we fix that without just giving them a ton of no strings power-ups? How about giving them a load of combat maneuvers, and then giving them the ability to select a limited number? That allows you to mechanically differentiate your fighter characters a lot more as well. A rather forward thinking article, and another trick that they really could have adopted a lot sooner, instead of taking 20 years for it to become standard. And the actual powers detailed feel a good deal more naturalistic than the stuff in Bo9S and 4e as well. I very much approve, and would have no objection to incorporating this system into my game. Definitely one both useful in it's own right, and citing in the historical perspective fights. Woo. Let's let our fighters do some more rocking.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Another bumper pack of magic items from many contributors this month. 18 magical bows, for those fighters who prefer to pick off their enemies at range, and with style. Do you want raw power. Do you want a blatant rip-off of the bow from the D&D cartoon. Do you want accuracy. Do you want range. Do you want rate of fire. Do you want elemental effects added on to your shots. Do you want to be able to attack underwater or from high in the air. Such a difficult choice. Better pray you're lucky, or has a DM who lets you choose your treasure, because you could also end up with the one that automatically misses and alerts the enemies to your position. So yeah, this is exactly the kind of articles that makes players go "Sweeeeeeeet. Can I have one?" And in my current mood, I would be pretty likely to say yes. Knock yourselves out. They seem to be hitting some good runs this time round.

Two hands are better than one: Ahh, hands. A vital part of the creation of human civilization. But you can only do so much, when you only have two of them. Here's a little reminder of that fact, that goes over the various weapons in the game, and exactly how many limbs you need to devote to operating them. Not a hugely interesting subject, and one you can mostly figure out using common sense. But there are many people who would prefer not to wing it, and for them, there is this article. Very much a filler article. Whether it's filler that will nourish your game and keep it healthy, or just make it bloated and sluggish is a matter of personal taste.

In defense of the shield: Another short article giving you a few more options for a part of your equipment usually abstracted away. While shields are often treated as just another part of your armour, there is actually quite a bit of skill involved in using them to deflect the greatest number of attacks. Do you want to sacrifice some of your number of weapons known to become a better shield user instead? Seems perfectly reasonable, as they make sure that getting the full benefit from the really big shields takes quite a bit of expenditure, keeping you from tanking obscenely at first level. But like weapon specialization, as long as the DM is generous in terms of granting magical equipment of the type specialized in, and not making you fight in precarious positions where you really need a hand free too often, this could become unbalancing. Remember, balancing factors are not unless you apply them properly. This is important, dammnit. Any system breaks if you use it out of context.

Fighting for keeps: Unsurprisingly for a fighter special, they decide to show the Battlesystem some more love. When you get to name level, you get the right to build a stronghold and go into the land management business. But what happens if all the nearby land is occupied, and the current owners have no desire to let you into their power structure, even as a subordinate? You'll have to either fight them and take it, or go out into the unclaimed wilderness, and pacify that enough that you can build a settlement there. Either way involves lots of violence, and more than a little social machination as you raise an army to fight for you. Rich ground for adventures. And here's a sample one for you, plus plenty of general advice on how to handle this kind of scenario. As ever, the more followers you have the more support they require, and the more costly additional specialists you need to have as part of your supply train. (don't forget the harlots) Sounds like fun to me. And we get such lovely opponents as Baron Demento and The Black Knight to conquer. So this article manages to avoid falling into the trap of dryness that these sometimes suffer, and gives us lots of helpful stuff to back up it's ideas. Another pretty sweeeeet article.

Heat of the fight: More tactics to differentiate one battle your weapon wielding characters face from another. While earlier we had selections of individual abilities, here we have a grab bag of mostly group based stuff such as ambushes, battle standards, and psyching your army up into one of three types of stat enhancing states. Overall, this is stuff that is probably more useful to the DM than players, as they rarely get the chance to plan ahead, hire help, and control the conditions of the fight like this. While hardly paradigm shattering, or particularly unified in terms of design, this is still useful, so I'll put it on the upper end of filler.
 
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