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

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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 139: November 1988

part 4/5

The dragon's bestiary: Ed Greenwood makes a random little contribution for the first time in rather too long.

Lock lurkers, like ear seekers, are one of those creatures specifically designed to annoy cautious adventurers. Much of their body is concealed on the ethereal plane, and usually they look like little coins. Ed wastes no time in reminding us he's the king of odd little ecological details, giving us tons of uses for these things, both alive and dead.

Lybarde are another weird feline thing. Their tails slow opponents. When you consider their close relations are Displacer beasts and Nonafel, this makes perfect sense. What other ways can we manipulate time and space to give as their schtick?

Metalmasters are not quite what you would expect. They do, however, mess with your equipment. Fun fun fun. The illustration is pretty damn good too.

Serplar are another thing that keeps the infestations of slimes and oozes that threaten D&D worlds under control. Large pink wormy things, they're better avoided than fought, since they're dangerous but not too fast.

Thylacine's are almost, but not quite like the real world creature. Filtered through the medieval bestiary mentality, they get intelligence and rudimentary shapeshifting, and some weird combat tactics. This has definitely felt like an old school Ed contribution. Nominally set in the Realms, but easily applicable to other games, and full of interesting little details, this is a great reminder how to pull this stuff off. How very pleasing.

The role of books:
Sheepfarmer's daughter by Elizabeth Moon is the start of the Paksenarrion books. A farmer's daughter flees an unwanted marriage by becoming a soldier, and then has lots of interesting adventures. Welcome to another pretty cool series.

The three minute universe by Barbara Paul is a decidedly crappy star trek novel. It uses almost exactly the same bit of bad science as the plot driver as the new reboot movie, and then has a bunch of other irritating anvilicious elements. Avoid.

The heavenly horse from the outermost west by Mary Stanton tries and fails to do for thoroughbred horses what watership down did for rabbits. While the story isn't bad, the worldbuilding doesn't convince the reviewer, and it all seems a little over-precious.

When H.A.R.L.I.E was one: release 2.0 by David Gerrold is a nicely updated rerelease of a cool bit of hard sci-fi. The possibility of computers gaining sentience and exercising their powers over the world is a common one by now, and here's a good early example of the subgenre.

Child of the grove by Tanya Huff gets an ambivalent review. While what is there is good, the big gaps in the narrative leave the reviewer wanting more. But there are many far worse flaws, really.

The nightingale by Kara Dalkey is reviewed in a manner which imitates it's writing. How very droll. Seems good enough, though.

The blind knight by Gail Van Asten mixes arthurian legend with later medieval setting. It manages to do so fairly well, putting it's own spin on what might happen next.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 139: November 1988

part 5/5

The ecology of the spectator: Say hello to our third look at the beholder subraces. Curious that they're getting more attention in the ecologies than Dragons. And curious that they occupy such widely varying ecological niches as well. Standard beholders are marauding destroyers, cutting swathes through all that oppose them. Eyes of the deep are lurking predators in a hostile environment you're unlikely to even see. Spectators are almost benign, if rather weird in mindset, and you're unlikely to fight one unless it's being employed by someone. As an ecology should, this fills in the details of their lifecycle, and what they do when not being summoned. As you'd expect, this is rather strange. They really should do some more extraplanar ecology stuff. We have the basic books needed to giver people a framework. Filling it in would be a cool thing to do, and let people's imaginations really run wild.
Also notable is the increasing use of greyhawk locations and personages in the recent ecologies. With Gary well gone by now, they grow increasingly comfortable with allowing all and sundry to write there, just as Ed's done with the Forgotten realms. That's definitely a development that will have reprecussions in the future. Overall, this is a very interesting ecology, with it's inventive ideas, variants, and a new spell for our use as well. One for both players and DM's.

The game wizards: Back to the really big issue everyone's been wondering about for months here. The next edition of AD&D. Playtesters have reported tons of ideas. Zeb's been trying to change things, Jon's been trying to keep them the same, and of course there is much conflict in general about how much to change. It's all been a bit wearing. Entertaining, but not hugely informative, this is basically just a bit of blogging, not really revealing any specifics about what will be different. Definitely not a patch on the leadup to the release of the 1st ed DMG. Will anything provoke the same kind of furor afterwards as the female dwarven beards issue? (Demons & Devils, of course.) Come on, stoke our fires. It'll be good for sales.

When the tanks roll: Top Secret continues it's more military focus, with talk about coups. When and why are they most likely to occur? Here's a hint. Don't neglect the basic utilities. That's just begging for trouble. This strongly reminds us that the new edition has stepped away from realism in both system and setting, with Orion and Web being virtually 80's cartoon organizations in the unambiguity of which is good, which is bad, and the tactics they adopt. Which also means Orion seems rather standoffish and reactive. If you want to make the world a better place, you can't just watch for villainic influence and then foil them. And in a world without supernatural stuff, the excuse that you don't interfere in mundane politics carries rather less weight. There's still plenty of valuable advice in this, but it is tinged with that annoying shallow cartoon morality that I might have accepted at the time, but laugh at now. Not only are they shying away from real world religion, they're also bowdlerising real world politics due to overcautious company policy. So it's an interesting but not very pleasing way to finish things off.

Snarfquest is on vacation again because Larry Elmore is overworked. Dragonmirth also strains the sanity. Yamara wishes halflings had infravision like the rest of the demihumans.

Definitely an issue that strongly foreshadows the changes to come in the next edition, both it's good aspects, and it's bad ones. Which isn't too surprising really, but shows how much they've planned ahead, and are setting things up so as to make the readers more likely to accept those alterations in mechanics and tone. Still, the magazine as a whole seems fairly healthy, with sales up again, Roger struggling less to keep everything running, and the amount of rehash stable or even declining slightly. They certainly seem to be in a fairly healthy position for the changeover. So let's see how it all goes down.


Retired User
Dragon Magazine Issue 139: November 1988

Sheepfarmer's daughter by Elizabeth Moon is the start of the Paksenarrion books. A farmer's daughter flees an unwanted marriage by becoming a soldier, and then has lots of interesting adventures. Welcome to another pretty cool series.
I agree - very cool book - introduces an almost stock-standard D&D world gradually through the eyes of a peasant turned soldier, and captures the wonder and awesomeness of her experience very well. Ms Moon was in the army for a while, apparently, so she describes army life, campaigning and the aftermath of battles in a fantasy world more realistically than nearly all other decent writers, including how taking damage can really mess you up.

Turned a little too precious in the 3rd book, but for some reason, Sheepfarmer's Daughter has always reminded me very slightly of the style of the Black Company series, even if it's the worst name ever for a S&S Fantasy novel.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 140: December 1988

part 1/5

108 pages. Another classic Elmore illustration fills up this month's cover with sumptious detail. Another clerical special fills up the inside with new stuff for said class. Rather a conservative choice, really. But then, they've been getting complaining letters when they try and do adventurous stuff. Considering exploring new things is one of the big reasons to become an adventurer, a surprising number of people would rather stick with the same narrow setting and rules conventions. Roger is not amused about this. It's hard enough to avoid rehashing stuff as it is. Stuck between the new people who still need to read the basics, and the grognards who want to chug along in the same rut for the rest of their lives. Even the differences Dragonlance has from straight generic fantasy are too much for some people. Come on, where's your spirit of adventure? We want to have fun creating new worlds. We can't do that if you don't buy them.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter pointing out probable errata. : peers: Ayup. That's errata alright. Clear as the nose on mah face.

A letter asking if Little Wars and Heritage Models are still around. It's been nearly 10 years. Pay attention, man! Didn't you read issue 22/13 where they said they were merging them?

A suggestion that they put a coming next time somewhere in the magazine. Roger says no, given the fluidity of their schedule. Future editors, of course may change this.

Another suggestion to put early issues of the magazine on computer. They'll get round to it, but once again, not for quite a few years yet.

A letter asking if it's ok to photocopy stuff from the magazine for personal use. Roger is magnaminous. It'd be too much hassle to stomp on things like that. But if you sell it, then beware our psychic hamsters and their van, roaming suburbia, probing people. Or something. I may be mixing my urban myths here.

Forum: Dean Wright is in favour of powering up dragons. He is also in favour of the DM as (hopefully benevolent ) dictator. If the players don't like the way he runs games, they can get lost.

Steve Allen is disgusted by the idea of weapon specialisation, and hopes it's eliminated entirely from the next edition. He's also another person who thinks magic-users are more than powerful enough if they use their brains. So he's against more player empowerment on both sides of the fence ;)

David Cohen disagrees with the portrayal of Saturn in issue 133. The original myth was merged with closer history, to create a more morally ambigious being. This is a good demonstration of how ripping gods from their context and transplanting them wholesale to fantasy realms doesn't have the same verisimilitude.

Delmar Watkins sells the virtues of co-DM'img. Two minds are definitely better than one here, because you can split the party without slowing things down, cope better with absences, and are less likely to see egregious dictatorial abuses of power.

Michael Norrish thinks that the flexibility of games like GURPS are the way to go. Ideas such as spell point systems, and differing spell lists for clerics could be incorporated into the game and remain balanced if done right. I'm guessing he liked Skills & Powers then :p

Paranoia crosses over with a western. Silly as ever.

TSR Previews: Another not particularly huge list of releases this month. AD&D is filling out both it's big settings further. The Forgotten Realms fills in Thay, in FR6: Dreams of the red wizards. Plenty of adventures to be had trying to foil that shower of bastards. Dragonlance gets DL16: World of Krynn. Designed to serve as both an introduction for new players, and to tie up loose ends for those who played all the way through the module series, will this split focus work?

Top Secret gets TSAC6: Covert Operations Source Book. Bringing back the reality to your espionage with info on lots of actual events and organisations. Events may or may not match the actual reality, since this stuff was supposed to be top secret.

Marvel Superheroes squeezes out the final volume of it's gamers handbook just in time for christmas. Phew. Now people can grab the whole lot of them as a present.


I'm a boat
Validated User
Paranoia crosses over with a western. Silly as ever.
Have they already hit Don't Take Your Laser to Town? Damn, you're moving through the years faster than I realized. That's one of the last adventures before the Secret Society Wars, which leads to the Crash, which all means that any moment now the entire line is going to start its long crash-and-burn.

It's a pity it wasn't that great of an adventure though. Among other things that were disappointing: they provided 6 Secret Society missions (standard for Paranoia adventures), but they didn't bother to provide the usual 6 PCs connected to those Secret Societies.

Plus it was yet another Collapsatron-related plot.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Have they already hit Don't Take Your Laser to Town? Damn, you're moving through the years faster than I realized. That's one of the last adventures before the Secret Society Wars, which leads to the Crash, which all means that any moment now the entire line is going to start its long crash-and-burn.

It's a pity it wasn't that great of an adventure though. Among other things that were disappointing: they provided 6 Secret Society missions (standard for Paranoia adventures), but they didn't bother to provide the usual 6 PCs connected to those Secret Societies.

Plus it was yet another Collapsatron-related plot.
Yup. We'll be in the 90's well before the year's out, and hopefully more than halfway through by the time this thread hits it's second anniversary. Still a ridiculously daunting task, but it's starting to look like I might actually make it.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 140: December 1988

part 2/5

Sage advice takes on top secret this month. Once again, it's the old edition, not the new one, that's getting the attention.

Are Temporary reductions percentages of your score, or 100. (your score )

How do you handle wounds in the field (You put up with them until you get to a hospital. No mid-mission healing round here. )

Does willpower help you resist poison (not usually)

How can you die from poison (Cumulative exposure. )

How do you check for sleep gas. (regularly pinching yourself)

How do Chlorine and nerve gasses affect you. ( irritatingly)

I want stats for heavy military gear. (Tough. Even though other writers are rapidly putting the lie to the words, Skip will continue to insist they have no place in the Top Secret game. )

What happens if you use a combat style the enemy doesn't know (they're at a substantial disadvantage)

Can players look at the charts when fighting hand to hand (yes. The rules should be an open book to them)

What happens in projectile vs HtH cpmbat. (usually, the shooter pwns the slasher)

How long does it take a chopper to get airborne ( In an emergency, always too long)

What happens if you dip lead bullets in teflon (if doesn't stick very well)

Do you roll a new difficulty each time you force a door (if its been broken once, chances are it'll be easier to break again)

What are the chances of having your disguise penetrated. (depends how good the disguise is)

What are the chances of an enemy running away when losing (Courage score seems tailor made for that purpose)

How do you learn to forge stuff. (That's a tricky crossdisciplinary business. Governments like making these things diliberately awkward to do, as is their right)

How much do false documents cost (You get what you pay for. If you're with an agency, they set you up with even better for free. )

Does the defender need a sword to not autolose at swordplay (no, but they do need something to block with)

What are the chances for train derailment (See the orient express module. Logical place to put it. )

The flamethrower is missing stats ( See the Top Secret Companion)

How do you improve your languages (same as any other AOK)

What is stopping power (how well a weapon knocks you back or out)

The military record rules are confusing (That's because it's a realistic emulation of military bureaucracy :p )

What do you roll when trying to create a diversion (a bit of everything)

What's with departure times ( Errata)

What are your chances of getting away at an airport (depends how long til your flight. This is why they normally make you book in advance and hang around for hours. )

What are the ranges of airliners (If it aint a few thousand miles, it's barely worth the name)

How much does water travel cost, and what is a water mile ( Quite a bit. Remember, you're not traveling straight, but round lots of little jiggly bits on a river or coast. )

Do the involuntary hit response rules work like they seem too (yes)

What's the modifier to a course if your skill is 17-84 (none. Only extreme scores do anything. )

What do you gain for doing the silent killing course (coughs and points downwards)

Sawn-off shotguns are way too accurate (you're right. That should be a minus, not a plus. )

The savant: Ok, so it's not exactly how Gary would have done it. But at least you get to see this long mooted character class at last. This is an attempt to make a PC level Sage class, able to both adventure and have masterful knowledge of many fields. They're another split class, combining with some other spellcaster so they have slower advancement, but considerably more miscellaneous powers. Which is pretty cool really, as it gives you another way of making a character who is powerful, but not primarily a combatant. It would also require very little modding to allow it to split-class with warriors or rogues instead, and I would be entirely willing to consider that. Seems like split classes are becoming quite the fashionable option, allowing you to give your character more customisation while not completely removing yourself from the more heavily supported baseline ones. You can see why they developed kits in the next edition, to make this kind of thing more standardized and accessable. The demand is very much there. Since I like customisability, I approve of this development.

So many gods, so little time: Building a pantheon. A topic tackled by no less than Ed himself, back in issue 54. Rather big shoes to try and step into and rehash. And indeed, this tackles it with less detail and far fewer specific ideas than the previous version, making it not really that interesting to me. There are a few new ideas, but really, if you're going to do something again, you need to do it bigger, better or sufficiently differently to make an impression when the previous version is still around for the consuming. Sorry, but this just ain't up to it.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 140: December 1988

part 3/5

Fantasy clerics and clerical fallacies: Gregory Detwiler gets statistical on us to point out that clerics wouldn't completely remove the risks from everyday living, even if there were a lot of them. They'll always be a small fraction of the population, with numbers decreasing exponentially for each level increase. Spells are decidedly limited commodities, you need to be pretty high level to get the ones that are most useful for a community, and even then you can only cast them a few times a day. Even if you filled up all your slots, there's no way you could save or raise everyone who needed it. And if you want to increase your power, you've got to go adventuring, which means you won't be available if an emergency happens while you're absent. A good example of the rules of the game are the physics of the universe style thinking, which is something I generally enjoy. Lest you forget, PC's are seriously exceptional in D&D, able to cope with threats that would mow down hundreds of peasants. (or cut out the middleman by doing so themselves) But they can still only be in one place at a time. There's a big world of mundanity out there between the spectacular creatures and places. Don't completely gloss over it, or the special ceases to be so.

As the cleric turns: A nice little revision here, smoothing out the undead turning table, and extending it to cover higher levels. There's been a lot of new creatures introduced since the first monster manual, and many of them have had turning difficulties not in sync with their overall power level. Fixing that, and extending the turning tables so they scale better is a small thing, but this looks like it would improve your game a bit, particularly if undead are regular encounters. No objection here, especially since the article pays attention to similar revisions in earlier issues of the magazine.

Specialization (cut down to size): The two Len's gang up on us to once again present the case for nerfing weapon specialization. The primary problem seems to occur when first level characters are permitted to double specialize. They're too powerful when they can use their chosen weapon, and near useless when they can't, because they don't have other stuff to fall back on. Seems to me that the problem isn't the precise numbers, as the Master set BD&D rules for weapon mastery are far more powerful, but the allowing it at 1st level. Looks like it's one of those well-meaning but tiresome articles that winds up letting spellcasters eclipse the fighters even more. Seen it before, will see it again. Yawnaroo.

The beastie awards: Our computer columnists finally have enough people voting to present awards for the best games they've covered. Might and Magic wins comfortably overall, with Bards tale coming second. Unsurprisingly, most of the other big votes also appeared in the column over the year. Next year will be bigger and better! Be ready, folks! Hrum. Before you know it, this'll be business as usual too.

Roll on!: When they invented the supertwinked method V for Unearthed Arcana, they didn't include numbers of dice rolled for all the various multiclass combinations. They said there wasn't the space. Well, what is the magazine for if not supplementary material like this. And since it only takes them 2 pages, I'm not sure if it was a problem in the first place. Not that I was ever very keen on the idea of 9d6 for prime stats in the first place. I think I'll leave this one alone as well.

Fiction: Flesh and blood by Mary Frances Zambreno. Fighting over children. There's something you see quite often in stories, but not so often in RPG's. When romance and breeding are kept largely in the realm of GM fiat, it's no surprise that the games wind up not focussing upon them. Apart from Pendragon. Maybe exalted DB's. I'm sure there are others. But I digress. This is one of those stories that starts off simple, but rapidly gets complicated, with the protagonist not being particularly heroic. Once again, it's the job of the fiction to remind us of the moral greys that your game can contain.
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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 140: December 1988

part 4/5

The game wizards: Jim Ward decides to do exactly the same thing he did this time last year, and use this column as a way of letting you know about their biggest projects for the next year. Best laid plans, and all that. I wonder how many of them will actually arrive when he says they will.

January gives us a second Tom Clancy licensed boardgame, Red Storm Rising. He seems to be quite the flavour of the month. Dragonlance starts a new module series, DLE1: In search of dragons kicks of a trilogy of new discoveries. Once again, the big flying lizards take centre stage. If you can find them. Amazing how good things that big are at hiding.

February sees the Forgotten realms statting out lots of it's NPC's, in Hall of Heroes. If editorials are anything to go by, expect huge chunks of them to not be PC legal. Meanwhile,Top Secret kicks off it's own epic module trilogy to compete with Gamma World's. Welcome to the Web of Deceit.

In March, 2nd edition finally starts to arrive. This time, it's the players handbook that's first out the gate. Doug Niles also finishes his moonshae trilogy, with Darkwell. Will there be McGrimDarkness™ involved? ;)

April sees dragonlance go prequelific with the start of a new trilogy. See how the stars got to where they are. Well, quite a few of the main characters died in the first trilogy, so this is the only way they can satisfy fan cravings without divisive resurrections. Watch out for continuity errors. It also sees the return of Tom Wham, with the Great Khan Game. What tricks do you have up your sleeve to solve this one?

May will hopefully see the new DMG arrive. All the errors taken out, rewritten for clearness, better looking, less flavour. Also revised and expanded is the Dungeon! boardgame. Been quite a while since we heard anything on that. How will it fare in a market quite different to the one it was born in. A new boardgame, High-Rise, seems to be trying to tap into the monopoly/sim city market. And Buck Rogers starts getting novels, courtesy of our great CEO, (roll of thunder, stab of organ music) and her brother.

June completes the new edition with the first monstrous compendium. A ton of loose leaf sheets, so as they add to them, you can put everything in a single file in alphabetical order. Course, for that to work, you'd need every monster to have it's own double page spread. Shoulda thought that one through a bit more carefully. :p Marvel superheroes also gets revised for clarity and released in it's own boxed set. And our non-rehashed release this month is Cities of Mystery. Another one with lotsa bits to cut out and put together yourself. Don't see much of those anymore.

July's biggest releases are a pair of boxed sets. AD&D gets Greyhawk city, while D&D receives Dawn of the Emperors. Another onslaught of setting detail, including all kinds of odd little bits and pieces you couldn't put in a book.

August sees the 2nd ed supplement mill kick up a gear, with the second monstrous compendia. There's a hellofa lot of monsters that need updating, so the gaps between releases are shrinking. Another quirky release are the Dragonlance Trail Maps. In a push to make their setting seem more real, they're releasing maps in the same format as real world ones. Slim fold-out things you can stick in your jacket pocket. Just the thing for if you stumble through a magic portal unexpectedly. ;)

In September, the first 2nd ed specific setting is unleashed upon us. And quite a doozy it is too. Spelljammer! AD&D in Spaaaaace! Take that, unadventurous naysayers! On the less imaginative side, we have a second volume of compiled D&D art. Guess more people bought the first one than you'd expect.

October gives us a proper Dragonlance boxed set. They try some more to make it a full world, rather than just a backdrop to a specific set of adventures. Marvel super-heroes continues to rack up the supplements as well.

November has something old and something new as well. The Battlesystem is revised for the new edition, now written to be more easy to understand and focussed upon using minis to represent your battles. Far more important though, is the Complete Fighters Manual. Welcome to the birth of kits, and the rise of the splatbooks. :dramatic music: None shall be spared! You will be customized!

December gives us another splatbook straight off the bat, with thieves getting their turn next. After all, it's the non-spellcasters that need more differentiation the most. The others'll get their turn soon enough.They also finish off the Dragonlance prequels. That is, if they can get them written in time. Eh, Tracey and Margaret have proved up to the job before. And now they have more writing experience. Why shouldn't they be able to pull it off.

Whew. I'm exhausted just reading all that. And it's just a fraction of their total output. Just think how hard the team must be working to produce this much. No time to waste here.

An assortment of knives: Weapon porn has always been part of D&D. Having dozens of different kinds of polearms stretches right back to the strategic review. But so far, knives and daggers have managed to be passed by for bigger and more impressive looking weaponry. No more. Now you can choose from 7 new varieties of knife, each with their own little nuances of damage, speed and cost. Apart from throwing knives, which can be rather scary if you have a nice bandolier full of them, thanks to their high RoF, (Magic missile? Hah. They call me Brett Riverboat.) these don't seem particularly unbalanced. So another bit of power creep by increasing breadth of options. Meh.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 140: December 1988

part 5/5

The dragon's bestiary: Ed is in fine fettle again this month, with another assortment of cool monsters that would later appear in Forgotten Realms books.

Glyptar are the souls of Maedar trapped in formations of crystal. Since they've often spent millennia doing sod-all underground, they are often of dubious sanity when found. Since they do have some quite neat abilities, freeing them might pay off, or might not. It'll be a lot of fun finding out.

Magebane are magic eating parasites that attach themselves to wizards and make their spells malfunction. Like rust monsters and brain moles, they won't do any direct damage, but this becomes very irritating, and rather dangerous if there's another pressing threat at the same time.

Quezzer are scarily fast alien bug things. Definitely a horror movie in there, given the way they behave and the odd way they move. Unsurprisingly, you can harvest their bits for magic items involving speed.

Scythetails are another odd thing that don't have a particular earthly analogue, but are almost natural animals, with a few unique realmsey touches, and lots of tricks that make them more dangerous than many creatures of their hit dice. And as usual, they are a delight to read about.

Xantravar are even stranger looking, with their closest relations probably somewhere in the beholder family, or possibly Pelins. Maybe flumphs. No, I can't untangle D&D's creature families. How does he come up with these things? How would players react confronted with them? (kill it with fire! Baaaad idea.) Should be fun finding out.

Through the looking glass: Several columns in, and Robert is learning the hard way what the Lessers had too a couple of years ago. Piracy may take a different form in mini's than it does in computer software, but it's still very much an issue, and can reflect badly on the reviewers if they fall prey to it or appear to condone it. Plus, people have an irritating habit of writing in in vitriolic fashion, and much as you'd like too, you cannot reply in the same way. We also get some advice on planning projects, several reviews of scenery for your battles, and Robert's personal experience of this year's Gen Con. Looks like all the promotion paid off. Still fairly entertaining progression on this front.

The role of computers is also dealing with the effects of convention season being upon them. This means lots of new games to tackle.

F/A-18 Interceptor & Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer are a pair of flight sim games that get a joint review. Actually, they're owned by the same company, and there doesn't seem to be a huge amount to choose between them. Basically, it depends which system you own, and if you want the big name attached.

Global Commander is the opposite of a wargame, where you have to figure out how to prevent and defuse conflict between the various UN nations. This amuses the reviewers, but it still makes for a fun and tricky game. Monitor communications, engage in diplomacy, and if all else fails, shoot their missiles from the sky. Now, if only someone could make an RPG that encourages similar kinds of play.

Road Runner is of course, a game based on the cartoon. You play the bird, avoiding the coyote and trying to get round the tracks in the time limit. This is fun for a bit, then starts to pall. Another so-so conversion.

Might and Magic goes mac. This is not without improvements, and they spell out the differences between this and the previous versions. Is this really worth a full review?

Penguin Land is a typically quirky sega classic. Rescue your eggs and guide them through the mazes while avoiding the hungry bear. You can even build and save your own custom maps.

PT-109 is a torpedo boat sim. They do review a lot of sim games in here. Guess that's another genre that has since lost a lot of it's adherents.

Role-playing reviews goes back to the forgotten realms. It's been around for over a year now, and has a good few supplements, so let's sort between the good, the bad, and the ugly.

FR1 Waterdeep and the north works well as a guide to the city itself, but details of the lands surrounding it are still rather sketchy. It concentrates more on providing atmosphere and sample characters than detailed maps and locations, which means the DM will still have to do some work to run adventures in it. Still room for plenty more supplements filling in this region.

FR2 Moonshae gets a more evenly distributed treatment. This may be a problem for low level parties, as the random encounters include creatures of all power levels. Better be ready to run. Doug has done a good job of making the isles somewhat separate from the main continent in tone, but not completely so, and you can play it either as a sandbox, or join in the local iteration of the epic battle of good vs evil.

FR3 Empires of the sands is the same size as the other two, but covers a much wider area, so there is considerably less detail. Even so, some of the bits have the air of filler material. The three countries are very different, but all have plenty of room for adventuring in. Money, magic, and wild frontiers. Which will you hunt for most eagerly?

A couple of interesting tidbits are also found in the short and sweet section. Jim rebutts a comment by Greg Stafford on his recent review. Just because Runequest already has rules for unarmed combat, doesn't mean ninjas shouldn't get more kewl powerz in that area in their supplement. Quite the opposite in fact. Hee. Ars Magica also gets a small but positive review. The quality of the game is recognized, but it's future success does not seem to have been anticipated. Another one worth noting.

Dragonmirth reminds us that it's the type of armour you're wearing, not how much of your body it covers that counts. Fea gets a familiar in Yamara. Snarf attracts the attention of claimjumpers. Well, he was warned.

A fairly average issue, with both good stuff and bad stuff aplenty. It would probably register as better to a new reader, who hadn't seen the previous coverage of many of the topics. Once again, the reviews and previews are some of the most interesting parts to me. Hopefully the coming of the new edition will put fresh spins on the various ideas they repeat, and bring in some new ones.
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