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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
Not without changing the skill mechanic pretty dramatically. :snip:

Either way, it's more of a change than they were willing to make.
Ah, yes, the old fix one thing, and it opens up a load of other problems that you have to fine tune, until eventually you decide it's a bad job and easier to stick with the current system, or get a whole new one. Been there, done that.

Some of the books are quite clearly mockups, which is probably unsurprising; both the character sheets and the third Monstrous Compendium volume have different covers than what they were eventually released with.

Edit: Taking another look, I think they all might be mockups. I believe that the first two volumes of the Monstrous Compendium differed slightly on release from what's shown there. (Namely, no box around the cover illustrations.)
Hah. And many of those are less than a year from release. I wonder what the printing turnaround time for products was in that period.
I seem to recall that Gygax wasn't actually the author of the majority of OA, despite his name being given the prominent place on the cover. Anybody recall?
Here's Mike Breault's take on the whole business. (starting at post 11) Seems like despite gestating for over 3 years, the final product was a bit of a rush job, and Zeb had to do some heavy writing to get things to full book size.
On the other hand, Zeb Cook's comments about 2 years ago regarding the removal of the half-orc (apparently his decision, along with the removal of assassins) suggest a different reason -- and possibly a different view of the game than some/many players:
The fact that half-orcs were so often assassins probably didn't help, along with the craptacular cleric/assassin option, where cleric only went to 4, and then was eating up half your xp for no return for the rest of your career.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 143: March 1989

part 2/5

TSR advertises the books which have nothing to do with their gaming lines a bit more. Diversification is the foundation of a stable financial base, and all that.


Sage advice did greyhawk last month. This month it's focusing on dragonlance. Will the forgotten realms be next? We shall see.

What are the addresses of Maragret Weis and Tracey Hickman (You'd better wise up. Margaret Weis doesn't want stalkers knocking on her door. Send your letters to us and if they're safe, we'll pass them on. )

When will dragonlance tales 2 be out (it already is)

How do you pronounce Raistlin (it rhymes with waist-bin. Not that I'm saying he's fat, but....)

How many dragonlance modules are there (16, with 3 more planned. )

How many provinces are there in solamnia (6)

How did Tanis get up to 12th level ( DM favoritism breaking the rules again. Bloody writers. Honestly, can't we have one set of iconic NPC's that are PC legal.)

When will the dragonlance trilogies be available in hardback (again, they are now.)

Can dargonesti be PC's ( Not yet. Keep begging, bitches. We like it. )

How can nonhumans be paladins on krynn (Because the krynnsh gods have different standards. If they went elsewhere they'd lose those benefits. Yes, that is totally unfair. )

Can neutral clerics cast druid spells (No, druids are outlaws in krynn. They get the spells their god says they can have. )

Can you become an illusionist on krynn (only if you're a renegade, and don't mind being hunted and killed. )

Why can't black robes cast blasty spells (to teach them to be subtle)

Why could Raistlin cast them then (because he was a disgusting twinky rulebreaker, both IC and OOC.)

What are the game effects of raistlin's decay vision (none, it's just flavour text)

I can't find dragonlance stuff in the shops (oh noes! You'll have to order it direct from us then.)

Do wizards who change order or lose levels have to take the test of high sorcery again (no)

Where is the staff of magius and the timereaver spell (in DLA. You need to buy the crunch books as well as the fluff books )

What's the range of an orb of dragonkind (1d4x10 miles)

Is Lord Soth immune to normal weapons. Can he summon demons (yes, and probably. )

What do the numbers in the battlesystem in DL8 mean (oh, that's easy. )

Are Paladine and Takhisis Bahamut and Tiamat. (Yes. No. Sorta. It's all a bit metaphysical. )

Where in the abyss did takhisis go too (Again, this is one of those areas where there are cosmological conflicts. This is the problem with trying to set all your worlds in one universe. It causes problems with the writers and their tendency to put plot over rules. We ought to hire a stricter editor.)

Why can silvanesti be paladins, but not cavaliers (because they're a bunch of extremists. And you wonder how good can be as problematic as evil in Krynn.)

You left some stuff out of DL2 ( Once again, it's all the editors fault. )

Where the hell is thobardin (Just south of skullcap.)

How do the dreamshadow bits in DL10 work (You run each player's dream separately, but the other players play their dream selves. You do not reveal who the real person in each dream is. )

How do restricted spheres work (Skip rules for maximum leniency. Can you dig it? )
How often do you have to save using an orb of dragonkind (once each time you activate a power)

Solamnic knights confuuuuuuse me ( Oh, woe. You're really going to hate 3rd edition then )

What are tinker gnomes ability score ranges (sucky wisdom, everything else is OK.)

Can krynnish demihumans be multiclassed (yes)

Gold has no value on krynn? My poor brains! (Ahahahahaha! Yup. Not only that, but you've got to divide by 22 to determine thing's value in steel pieces. Better get that calculator out)

How many towers of high sorcery were there (5)

Why can't PC's get above 18th level (same reason the githyanki lich queen eats them when they get above 11th. The gods don't want anyone getting too strong and messing up their world, (just look at what Raistlin did) so they remove them forcibly before they become a threat. )

Do the gods of magic have clerics (not yet. Once again, we may change our minds at some point. )


And nobody knows but you: Back to world-building again, with a strong reminder that the only things your players know of the world is what you tell them. Even a single page quickstart of basic world knowledge will help enormously in this respect. A bit of general knowledge, a bit based on class, a bit based on race, just the thing to encourage them to play in character. Damned good idea. Pages and pages of detail will just bore many players, so you've got to find the optimum amount of quick and significant detail, and then fill in the rest in actual play. I really ought to make one of these.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Hah. And many of those are less than a year from release. I wonder what the printing turnaround time for products was in that period.
I wonder as well; there likely was a fairly decent turn-around time needed to get the photos done, the pages set-up, etc. So it wouldn't surprise me that they were working on this booklet while everything was not yet at press.

(Speaking of mock-ups: the 1983 Sears Wish Book has a bunch of AD&D books in it that are clearly mock-ups. The Monster Manual II is easiest to tell because the cover is different, but the books below it have spines that don't match any of their iterations.)

Here's Mike Breault's take on the whole business. (starting at post 11) Seems like despite gestating for over 3 years, the final product was a bit of a rush job, and Zeb had to do some heavy writing to get things to full book size.
Wow. I knew that a number of people held ill-will towards Cook over second edition, but some of the posts in that thread... :eek:
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 143: March 1989

part 3/5

Out of the textbook, into the game: A slightly more familiar bit of advice here. Everyone steals from others in creating their own worlds. The question is how well you do it, and who from. And remember, if you take inspiration from real life events, they can't get you for plagiarism. :p This shows you that it is remarkably easy to reskin them for your game, even if the scenarios seem superficially very different. And if they start deviating from the real world scenarios once you've set them in motion due to the actions of the players, then that's all for the better, really. Another pretty solid article, even if I'd encourage people to skip the commonly covered bits of history, and go for more obscure ones to steal from.


Telling it like it is: From world building to adventure building. A subtle change of focus, but an important one. From stealing from history, now we adapt play structure to the ends of roleplaying. Even if you're playing a sandbox game, and not a closely plotted adventure like this article seems to assume, controlling the pacing of a session so the players encounter plenty of interesting things to do is critical to keep them coming back. Even if there's months of game time between each important event, the action should keep flowing for them. This article manages to take a quite different tack to the previous ones we've seen in the magazine, encouraging you to learn voice control, public speaking techniques, and distinct voices and emotions to develop the mood of your campaign. Stuff which would become common advice in later supplements, particularly white wolf ones. The 90's is just around the corner, and all the balls are lining up. And this is certainly whetting my appetite for those days. Very interesting indeed.


The highs and lows of fantasy: Yet more progress here. The split between high and low fantasy, and how the high fantasy people are increasing in proportion in the D&D fanbase has already got the odd mention in the letters and forum. But here, they really try and codify the divide, which of course means it's being drawn to the attention of people who were just getting on with playing, and not bothering so much with theoretical stuff. And as with any single axis system, particularly one described in only a few pages, it oversimplifies, lumping together several traits that do not always co-incide. And they put Conan squarely in the high fantasy side, which shows that this writer has a rather stricter view of what is low fantasy than current common opinion. Interesting, but not entirely pleasing. There is also going to be a good deal of pretentiousness and windbaggy debate over the next decade that I suspect will soon grow dull. Oh well, at least it'll be a different form of dullness. That has to count for something?


To be continued: Or "Welcome to Second edition. Please keep your hands and heads inside the train at all kinds." Actually, that's a bit disingenuous, as this article actively tries to prevent you from falling into the traps of railroading. Remember, you can set up a scenario, but you can't control how the players react to it, or how the dice will fall once you get into encounters. You should make sure that a game isn't dependent on a single person being present, for you never know who is going to die or quit the game. On the other hand, you should make sure your world is filled with plot hooks aplenty for the characters to grab onto, many of which are too big and complicated to solve by just wandering around killing things. Similarly, in the real world, solving problems often sets up new, different problems (Or the good old "You killed my father! Prepare to die") so success is no reason for the game to end. Overall, a pretty good article, this is nevertheless a foreboding of things to come, including several official modules which do not heed the advice here. Still, a strong ending to a strong, and very appropriately timed themed section.


TSR Previews: D&D's Gazetteer series has been so successful they're continuing it beyond their original plans with GAZ11:The republic of Darokin. Another real world time period is juxtaposed on the Known world, while somehow it's advancements do not spread elsewhere. Still, you can have plenty of fun playing merchant empires engaged in Machiavellian schemes.

AD&D supports their novel lines with FR7: Hall of heroes. Now you can see just how much the characters from those stories break the rules. As if that wasn't enough for you, you can play out the removal of a whole bunch of classes, as the rules of the universe are changed IC and OOC in WG8: Fate of Istus. Byebye Monks. Byebye Assassins. Byebye Barbarians. Byebye Cavaliers. Convert or die. There is no place for you in the new order. Man, that sounds like the kind of thing that many players would rebel against if run through.

Top Secret gets TSE1: Web of Deceit. Start another module trilogy in seedy San Christobal. Where will it take our intrepid agents next?

And on the novel side of things, in both senses of the word, we have Illegal aliens, by Nick Pollotta and Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Aliens, space marines, mutants, and comic misunderstandings, oh my. Sounds like fun.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 143: March 1989

part 4/5

Fiction: The other Option by Dylan Brody. Once again, unto the test. Win, lose or cheat, a hero always has to face challenges. But not everyone wants to be a hero. Sometimes, they don't even want to be a fighter. Preposterous! Ludicrous! How could you not want to save the world from impossible odds and be lauded as a hero by an adoring population? What kind of coward would run away from glorious destiny? One such as the protagonist of this story. Befriending a monster and then riding away on it instead of killing it? Pfaugh, what a crock! Bartender! More mead! Do any of you nancyboys have what it takes to win my daughters hand?!


Through the looking glass: Robert Bigelow returns to give us some more crafting tips this month. A dedicated work board will save you tons of mess and smooth along your creative process. Choose your knives wisely, and handle them carefully, you could do yourself an injury with those things. Get a good set of files as well, and you can increase your precision, and reduce your chances of injury further. Similarly, clippers, drills, clamps, all are an invaluable addition to your arsenal. And magnifying devices will let you see details and paint your miniatures with a precision impossible with the naked eye, allowing you to give your work real style. If you're going to do something, you might as well do it right, and this'll certainly help quite a few amateurs sharpen up their act. I definitely appreciate this kind of advice.

The reviews section is mostly less interesting. A rather large red dragon, designed to be hung up as a mobile, but needing a thicker wire to keep it suspended. A whole load of cut out figures. Several bits of terrain. A collection of egyptian gods, which can be used as animal-headed monsters of all kinds. And finally, Chaos Warriors! (squee) Warhammer gets iconic. Now I know things are getting close to when I started playing. Heroquest was another great gaming gateway drug that has since disappeared.


The marvel-phile: The second installment of our Earth-S series here, with three ambiguous villains who's powers are entirely equipment based. Mink, with her retracable claw-bracelets and canisters of mink-stink. :D Pinball, as dumb as he sounds, and dead as a result of it. (people complain about sexism and racism in comics, but the treatment fat people get is even worse, when they appear at all.) Remnant, with his magical fabric he can use for all kinds of tricks. Originally villains, the survivors seem pushed towards becoming slightly nicer people, simply due to the things they've been through recently. Do serious attempts to make the world a better place always have to end with the heroes failing and becoming worse than the villains they were trying to fight? I guess in comic book land, that'll only happen if the series is just about to be cancelled. Pretty average entry here. Character building, romance, moral questions, and buttkicking. Just another day hopping the dimensions.


Role-playing reviews:
Greyhawk Adventures is the 4th book featuring the name, and the third to give much info on Gary's own original campaign world. Of course, this version was done without his involvement. Weirdly, since he left, the release schedule of materials for it has actually increased, since it's not all coming from one person anymore. The new core gets a fairly positive review. It's designed to be compatible with 2nd edition, and is full of hints as to the changes that will be made, including clerics powers being defined by spheres, new ecological info on monsters, and lots of new named spells. It also has some stuff that won't be, such as rules for creating and advancing 0 level characters that aren't completely useless. Most of the individual bits may be good, but it lacks the cohesiveness of tone a single author would bring to the table. And while it's open to supplements, you can bet they'll make that problem worse.

Talislanta also gets a pretty positive review. Heavily inspired by Jack Vance, among other things, it's a pretty rich world, presented in a pleasingly IC way that we'll see used by the likes of Volo plenty of times in the future. The rules are also quite simple, but allow for plenty of permutations, allowing you to pick from a large selection of races and roles, and get playing quickly. It's another of the burgeoning alternatives to D&D that offers something it doesn't. Can you lure your players away to try it?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 143: March 1989

part 5/5

The role of computers: For the first time in a while, a single product gets an epic review. Pool of Radiance is the AD&D computer game from SSI that they seem to be plugging most heavily in the magazine, and this column is no exception. This is quite understandable, as it's the closest they've come yet to replicating D&D in a computer adventure, and a big complex adventure to boot. They heap praise upon it, with the only real caveats being the way it rewards grindy behaviour, both in character generation and exploration, and the slow loading times on some systems. Buy it, and make sure we continue to have a job here :p

Although that's the only review, there's plenty of cool stuff mentioned in the previews. A game based on William Gibson's Neuromancer, complete with cyberjacking. Castlevania II reveals it's accursed self. Look forward to much frustration trying to solve it. Altered beast and R-type also are soon to be unleashed on gaming platforms aplenty. Wizardry is about to reach it's 5th installment. How will they find the space and time to review them all? Guess that's why the family works as a team. And they take the time to promote an open-source RPG platform, with lots of games available for virtually the price of a blank disk, and designing your own being relatively easy. Another thing that the net has really increased the frequency of, and ease of transmission. The better your networking capabilities, the more profitable pure sharing without asking for immediate reward becomes, because you can absorb a few asses who take without contributing without ruining the system.


The role of books: The dragonbone chair by Tad Wiliams aims at being a Big Important Book™.Thankfully, it's actually pretty good, both in worldbuilding and story. Whether it can keep the pretentiousness at bay for the rest of the trilogy is still in question, however.

The labyrinth gate by Alis A Rasmussen is another one that combines lots of elements, but manages to make them feel seamless, more due to the characterisations than the plot.

The will of the wanderer by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman tries to do too much, and fails to hold it all together. While the ideas are good, there's too many stories being told at once, and they don't interact very well, or give any clear right or wrong. Plus, arabian nights stylings are getting a bit overdone lately. Choose your milieus carefully, for oversaturation leads to crashes.

Euryale by Kara Dalkey proves once again that she's a pretty versatile writer, in this story of the eponymous gorgon traveling to find a cure for her unfortunate tendency to turn people who see her to stone. Her wanderings take her to rome, which of course has lots of ancient lore collected, but also lots of complicated politics and people who want to use her for their own ends. This of course ends in nicely understated tragedy for them.

The horsegirl by Constance Ash is an interesting yet unsettling book, with incest, worrying plot twists, and lots of general messed-uppedness that the writer creates, and then leaves open for you to think about. Unless you share her fetishes, you may want to look elsewhere for enjoyable reading.

Spellsingers, edited by Alan Bard Newcomer is (almost ludicrously appropriately for it's creators name) the start of an anthology series about Bards. It has a whole bunch of big writers, many of them regulars on the shared world circuit. A pretty good collection, it is nevertheless obviously compiled after the fact, so the main strength is in the writing rather than the editing and worldbuilding.

Fool on the hill by Matt Ruff is a collection of tales set on a university campus bordering the realms of faerie. Stories within stories, narrative logic becoming reality, mythic creatures intruding into reality, it does get a bit meta, but can still be dramatic when it needs to be. A promising start for a young novelist.


Dragonmirth has yet another bloody knight eating joke. That's getting rather cliche now. Yamara's team is reduced to two. That is not good. Snarf talks things over and comes to a compromise. You can't trust them.


A strong issue, that is however very much of it's time. The edition change is right around the corner, and while the rules may not be changing hugely, the tone certainly will be. And the magazine is ahead of the times in this respect. Well, it's a lot better than being behind them. Will there be growing pains? Will there be drama? Will there be wackiness? Or will it be business as usual again pretty soon. In any case, it'll be business as usual on my end.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 144: April 1989

part 1/5

108 pages Ha. Now that's an april fools cover. The donkey's face just sells it perfectly. Welcome to the dragon swimsuit issue. Still, for all the april frivolity going on here, this is a fairly significant issue. Not only does it mark the 40% mark of my progress through the magazine's run, it's also when 2nd edition starts to hit the streets. We've definitely come quite a long way. But still, if this seemed like a long time, the 2e era is going to be even longer. This is not a time for resting on your laurels. This is a time for great deeds and epic heroism! Fortune favors the brave, as Roger's editorial so aptly illustrates. Let's emulate his example.

In this issue:

Letters: Once again, they prove that their deliberate attempts at humour have nothing on people who are trying to be serious, and in the process becoming utterly ridiculous.

A letter full of sex and gaming questions. Roger decides to move swiftly on, despite the fact that he wrote an article on this, back in issue 72. My god, that's half the magazine's lifespan away now. Spoilsport.

A letter from a priest of zeus, saying he has better things to do than run around healing stupid characters. Um, er, methinks you need a little reminder of the difference between characters and players.

A letter about conspiracy shenanigans. Some woman plotting to destroy TSR? Absolute rubbish :rumble of thunder, stab of organ music: Pay no attention to such madness.

A sage advice question that Skip refused to touch. People always try and exploit the shapeshifting spells, don't they.

An article on dwarf mud wrestling. Yeah, somehow, I think that one isn't getting past the filters either.

A terribly spelt and not particularly comprehensible letter. They can't answer it if they don't know what the question is.

A serious question that gets twisted into a terrible pun. Don't go hatin' on tree dwellers.

Another serious question about a dead artist. Some people just don't know their history.

A question that was probably perfectly sensible in it's owners brain, but looks rather silly out of context. Roger is forced to respond in kind.

Some incompetent advertising. You know, you're generally meant to give them some money to put that in the magazine.

A letter from someone who thinks Jeff Grubb is someone they know from school. Well, it makes a change from the usual thing where they mistake Roger Moore for the film star of the same name.

A reminder that all twinkitude can be defeated by the simple application of a little Erasure. Show a little respect to reality.

A system for picking up girls. Roger would like to keep this one purely between him and the letter sender. Hee.


Sage advice: How do I become a maiden so I can ride a unicorn (Hee. If you've already stopped being one, you can't become one again. )
When can mystics become immortal (Anytime after 16th level. Once again a lower level limit actually turns out to be an asset, not a weakness)
Does a weapon of wounding negate a troll's regeneration (no, it merely counteracts it. You still need to kill them with fire to make them stay down permanently. )
Do powersuits come with scanners as standard (no. You'll have to pay even more.)
What are the costs and weights for helmet rafflurs and grenade launchers. (simple formulas people. We give them to you to save space. Heed them!)
Why do paladins become cavaliers now (retcon. Nuff said.)
Do PC halflings get the +3 bonus with missile weapons NPC ones get (No. Once again, PC's are different, and not always for the better.)
Are elves resistant to monster charm and sleep effects as well as the spells (yes)
What are the racial characteristics of half-dwarves (Not what you expect. Wait for dark sun)
Can humanoids have weapon specialization (only if they have class levels )
What do you think of my 8th level troll thief (A heretic! :points: Burn him! Your first mistake was putting a return address on the letter. Let that be a lesson to everyone. No rulebreaking. )
Can you worship another race's deity. (yes, but it'll be a long hard path. Hey, instant drama fodder. Sounds good to me. )
When can you build a stronghold (Name level. Let the badassednes commence)
Which classes get exceptional con bonuses (All the fighter types.)
Can nonthief characters do any thiefly stuff (Not really. They have some analogues, but they use entirely different rolls. Curse you, arbitrary subsystems! )
Can you improve ability scores by excercise (What is this, the zero memory zone. For the third time, NO! Skip will cap the next muthafucka who asks that stupid question. )
Can you avoid gasses by holding your breath (For a little bit. Suffocation has it's own dangers. )
Do you still get con bonuses after name level (no)
If you lose con, do you lose hit points (oh yes. Dying and being raised regularly can become a declining spiral.)
What happens when a character with exceptional strength ages (1 point = 50% Yes, we know, going up it's 1 point = 10%. Time is a cruel mistress.)
If you increase your mental stats, can you you check again for psionic power (god, another recycled question. YES! If you keep bugging us, I may change my mind, so shut up.)
Do you get xp in adventures where you die ( Probably not. )
Are there rules for fatigue (buy the dungeoneers survival guide now! This and many other ways to limit your characters within!)
What do you do it you have enough XP to advance several levels (you lose the excess. Shoulda got training earlier)
What's the training cost for a NPC (same as for PC's)
Where do you put kara-tur in relation to oerik (good question. You may have to mirror it, since oerik is on the east side of the landmass anyway. If twilight princess got away with it (Link should be left-handed, dammnit!) you can as well.)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 144: April 1989

part 2/5

Forum: Tim Oakes tries to tread the path of compromise in the issue of low level magic-users. Maybe they should be a little more able to learn basic combat techniques, but many of the forumites are going too far in their suggestions.

R. J. Wenzel thinks that the problem with low level magic-users is in the emphasis on combat in most games. Fix that, and the problems with only having one spell to use each day become far less of an issue. But how do you fix that, when the entire experience system revolves around killing things and taking their stuff?

James M Rogers is unhappy with the idea of simply getting xp for money, regardless of how you got it. He's another forumite who'd rather they got XP for class specific activities. Seems a pretty popular change. Good thing it's one they're actually making then, isn't it.

Tommy Sronce simply ignores the xp rules, and advances characters when he feels like they deserve it. This saves him quite a bit of time calculating. You know, if you write each death down and award xp as it happens, rather than waiting till the end of the session to tally things up, it's a lot easier, and less likely to be in error.

Nelson E Hemstreet also dislikes xp for gold. He also actively enjoys putting the players through the financial hassles that you need to go through by RAW to advance in levels. Forcing people to struggle financially and make hard compromises is fun. The challenge shouldn't end when you leave the dungeon. Hmm, and yet more hmms.

Ivy K Reynolds (any relation to Sean?) has interesting observations on the evolution of D&D and AD&D. As D&D characters are actually less powerful, and the monsters give less experience, it requires rather more skill to really succeed in. But on the other hand, it facilitates high level adventures better than AD&D. It is not a game purely for wimpy n00bs. And the writing and editing is better than the old AD&D game. Really, which is the better one?

S D Anderson has run the math on the strength tables, and found some awkward little flaws. Str 3 characters have a carrying capacity of 0. So how much can str 2 or 1 ones carry, negative amounts? :p Plus, you should remember to put weights for various noncombat items. The characters are going to want to carry them off after killing their owners.


A field guide to Game-convention Ornithology: Even the geekiest of categorisation can be made humorous. We've already had a gamer type guide made by mocking the alignment system. Now bird watching gets it's naming conventions parodied. 26 personality stereotypes. Can you figure out which one applies to which creature in the picture? Are you a Goldbricker, a Crested Falsetto bird or a Rubber-necked butt-in? Well, it gave me a few minutes amusement, anyway. Nothing wrong with the odd bit of humour here.

Cheating made easy: Oooh. Tut tut. Jeff Swycaffer reveals the tricks he uses to bend probability in his favour. There are several unobtrusive ways, and a few more blatant bits of trickery with dice that increase your odds of getting a good roll quite dramatically. This is useful stuff, amusingly presented, that of course, you should absolutely not be using in your game, under any circumstances. Still, reading this will help you spot when other people try these tricks, so that they can be properly punished for doing so, so like thieves, it can be turned to good ends. And it's something they haven't covered before at all, which is always nice to see.

Cheating made even easier: Hmm. Looks like more than one person had the same idea recently. Spike Jones recycles a whole bunch of ideas he submitted to other magazines. He takes a rather more ruthless and organized approach than Jeff, bullet-pointing everything, and making it clear that the other players are the enemy just as much as the DM. Not hugely funny in a joke sense, mainly because much of this stuff would be pretty effective. I think this calls for maniacal laughter rather than genuine amusement. Muahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 144: April 1989

part 3/5

Claydonia conquers the world!: Clay-o-Rama is back! Bigger and better than ever. Now you can advance your surviving creatures, and bring them to future games. And a whole bunch of other optional rules for you to try out. New powers! Playing without a GM! Rebuilding, bigger and badder! Well, the original rules are pretty loose anyway. In this case, a little tightening up probably wouldn't hurt. Not sure about character advancement though. Seems entirely too easy to cheat on in a con game. Oh well. At least it's not useless stuff that you should keep out of your game at all costs.

Still more outrages from the mages: Such as this. 27 joke spells, which either do nothing, do something that you could do just as effectively with mundane actions, or do something that is purely useless and harmful to the caster. Bigby's interposing eye, Drawmij's instant death, speak with mud, transmute rock to stone, we get lots of subversions of existing spells here. Mildly amusing, but not useful except as booby prize scrolls to put in treasure hoards and annoy your players with. And so the joke section draws to a close.


Role-playing reviews:
Toon got reviewed way back in issue 92. But it's still going, has quite a few supplements, and is still fairly groundbreaking. As is far too often the case with retreads, this is rather less interesting than the original review, both in writing style, and level of insight involved. But the game still kicks ass, so if it sells more people on it, then it's not too bad.

The Bullwinkle and Rocky Roleplaying game tries to cover similar ground, but with a lot more visual aids, and attempts to make things modular. You can play it purely using the event cards, trying to fit together a coherent story from the prefab pieces. You can play using the spinner, and trading off narrators. And then you can progress to making your own characters. You can't really advance them beyond that, and it does seem very much designed as a party game rather than a "proper" RPG. Have fun with it, but don't expect any deep meaningful stories.

We also get reviews of two Paranoia supplements. Ruthless mockery (in a good way) ensues, as you would expect. Tom Wham's new game, Mertwig's maze, also gets mentioned. Finally, we have one of our fun rebuttals. Jim stands by his statement that the new city of the invincible overlord is rubbish. Remember, it's only opinion. If we don't provide negative contrasts, then you can't see just how good the really good ones are by comparison. Ahh, the pressure to whitewash. A perpetual and rather serious problem, particularly when the reviewers are paid by the companies they're reviewing. Always interesting to see how different people cope with it.


When gods walk the earth: Runequest gets another article on it's magic, as seems to be common choice here. Do you really want to summon the avatar of a god? There always seems to be some idiot who wants too, even in games such as call of cthulhu, where success will result in huge amounts of death and insanity for everyone in the vicinity. Even the supposedly benign ones are arrogant and obsessive beings that will demand your absolute servitude and order you around with no regard to your human limitations. You have been warned. Don't come crying to me when your god of healing transforms the entire congregation into a fleshy amorphous amalgam that regenerates so fast that it's impossible to kill. Yeah, I'll still tell you how to do it. I'll even give you some pointers on how to get rid of the blighters as well. Obviously, this is primarily intended as a way for GM's to launch adventures, rather than a spell the players would cast. And it serves quite well in that role, both as something to foil before it happens, and deal with afterwards. Fairly pleasing.
 
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