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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 Magazine Issue 145: May 1989

part 4/5

The role of books cleans up it's formatting, making the titles easier to pick out. The planet builders trilogy by Robyn Tallis manages to sneak some obscure references into a fun set of young adult stories. And as the reviewer points out, you've gotta hook 'em young if you want to ensure a future generation of gamers. Hmm. Don't underestimate the intelligence of kids if you want to sell to them.

The bristling wood by Katherine Kerr is set in the world of Dverry, her longstanding setting. It already has quite substantial amounts of mythos built up, and the reviewer recommends starting with the previous ones if you want to understand everything. He's also not sure about the attempt to combine celtic and chinese mysticism. Overall, he likes it, but he's certainly spending more time on it's flaws than it's good points.

Svaha by Charles de Lint sees him push the envelope in terms of milieus covered, while maintaining his usual standard of fun and well crafted storytelling. Combining oriental and amerindian mythology successfully, the reviewer seems to like this rather more than the previous book.

Vulcan's glory by D C Fontana gets a rather vicious review for blatantly violating existing trek canon and characterization. Spock doesn't act like that! This is highly illogical captain. I suspect the presence of an idiot ball. I recommend we pretend that this whole incident never happened.

A spell of deceit by Laurie Goodman is another young adult one that also contains decidedly mature moral questions and character dynamics. Including the question of how you keep characters of very different alignments in the same team without killing each other. Which I suppose is a useful question to consider for gamers.

The mirror maze by James P Hogan is an interesting but flawed piece of sci fi/espionage adventure. While there are plenty of interesting elements, the combination of omniscient viewpoint being in error, characters making expository speeches which are obviously intended for the reader, not the other characters, and a blatant real world political agenda, keeps them from recommending it.

Those who hunt the night by Barbara Hambly is a vampire mystery novel. Someone's killing them all, and of course, being badass creatures of de niiight, they're rather worried and want to stop this. As it also goes into quite a bit of detail on their physiology and how they fit into the world, it looks like a good one to draw on to make a game setting. And it tells a pretty good story too. Was this part of the inspiration for Vampire: the Masquerade?


Shadow world. A mysterious world plagued by the unlife, a force from beyond the dimensions. (Isn't that the plot of the neverending story? :p ) A new Rolemaster setting. Now with 200% more GRIMDARK!™. Well, it is nearly the 90's. And since plenty of writers still haven't got over that awkward phase, we'll probably see plenty of that in the future.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 145: May 1989

part 5/5

Role-playing reviews: 2300AD is the new edition of Traveller 2300, renamed so as to reduce confusion and annoying flamewars. They've revamped the visuals, advanced the setting a bit, and finally have an experience system. It all seems to be a considerable improvement. That's nice to hear dear.

Colonial atlas is a supplement for 2300AD, expanding on the various extraplanar colonies. Since it's covering 29 planets in 96 pages, the level of detail can't be that great, and it has a hellofa lot of authors, but it's more than enough to make them playable, with statistics, histories and adventure ideas. And it's definitely a lot more than could fit in the corebook. Now the stage is set for even more specific books.

Kafer Dawn is an adventure centering around the many-mandibled monstrosities. Figure out how not just to win the straightforward engagements, but also the resource war, and come to understand the enemy and their decidedly odd behaviours and tactics. It's a decent starter, but certainly not the final word on the subject, as having proved popular, they have more sourcebooks on the way.

Aurore sourcebook is one of those, covering the same planet as the last book, in more detail. With lots of history, NPC's, environmental details, adventure hooks, etc, it certainly seems to flesh out the setting nicely on a closer scale.

Mission Arcturus is the second Kafer based adventure. Your characters are now experts on the chitinous menace, and venture to a new planet to figure out what happened to the expeditionary base there. The review doesn't spoil the ending, but says it's pretty good. Do you have what it takes to handle both the combat and problem solving?

The Kafer sourcebook gives us yet more info on these guys. Seems like they're being set up as the primary antagonists for the game. Still, with a well thought out psychology, and more than enough info to use them as PC's, should you be so inclined. If you're not, don't let the players read it and spoil all the cool surprises they should experience during play.

Invasion builds upon all these previous books to give you an epic campaign as the Kafers sweep through star systems, conquering and destroying. They really seem to have thought this one through. Lets hope the players can bring their best game in response to make a difference in the war.

Finally, the Ground vehicle guide isn't directly connected to the war, but of course the stuff contained within will be damn handy if you want to fight battles using hard rules. Whew. That was certainly one of the more impressive review sections. Good to see other gamelines with supplement treadmills turning furiously.


Through the looking glass: A guide to painting various emotions? We sure aren't in 1981 anymore. Another guest writer definitely brings the 2nd ed spirit to this column. Obviously, quite a bit of the emotion of a figure will be determined by the existing model, and it can be tricky to get decent definition on small and cheap models anyway. But the colour scheme you choose can make a big difference, and subtleties of shading on the face even more so. For something like this to work, you need decent illustrations to demonstrate the more complex details. Fortunately, this column does not disappoint, with the photography being excellent, and the illustrations being both detailed and amusingly exaggerated. While there is a bit of obvious advice here, this is still an excellent little article that also managed to surprise me slightly. Looks like they're still trying new stuff in this department.


Fiction: Cornwoman by Steve Rasnic Tem. A trip into primal myth territory here. Everything is magnified, anthromophicised and given extra symbolism. The woman who brought corn (and implicitly, the whole idea of cultivation. ) to the human tribe must rescue a stolen baby from Raven and his flock of crows. This is pretty scary for them, but each triumph they make codifies a little more of the world, moving it away from dream logic towards reality, and making the monsters out there a little less scary. Reminds me somewhat of Neil Gaiman's takes on mythical stuff in American gods and Anansi boys, which is definitely a good thing. With a distinctive, well crafted atmosphere, this is another memorable little story.


Dragonmirth has decidedly mixed messages about modern technology. Yamara is losing both the battle, and the war of who's funniest. Snarfquest ends it all on a cliffhanger of authorial self-insertion, instead of resolving the plot. Really Larry, you need to manage your time better. This is only marginally better than wormy's departure.


Overall, another pretty good issue, both in the themed section and the reviews. They once again seem to have a strong freelancer base to draw upon, and enough submissions that they can reject the obvious dross. The main problem now, is keeping the both the quality control and speed of production up, which as I know, is not an easy business. Just how great will the rate of turnover be? Gotta complete 'em all.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 146: June 1989

part 1/5

108 pages. Welcome to their 13th anniversary. They've come a long way. But like their 10th anniversary, they're much more interested in moving forward than looking back at the moment. After all, we've got a new edition to fill up with splatbooks. And we have fairly prophetic editorial, as Roger ponders the probability that computer games will come to displace pen and paper ones. Yeah, that's the future alright, even if it'll takes ages to get there. Any activity that requires the coordination of a whole group of people is at an inherent logistical disadvantage compared to stuff you can do on your own. Back to reading for me.

In this issue:

Letters: A rather dumb letter in which someone is surprised that they don't reference their own books in the discussion on high and low fantasy. That would be a touch incestuous, non?

A letter praising the quality of their cover artwork. They do regularly have some pretty impressive pieces, don't they.

A letter about claydonia. The people who contributed to it should be properly credited!

A whole bunch of rather good questions about what they'll accept in submissions. Interesting.


Forum: Barry A. McEwen contributes his experience of gaming with people with impaired vision, working as he does in that field. He's even created a 20 sided braille die for use by fully blind people. Roleplaying games can be an excellent means of escapism for people with all kinds of physical impairments. Introducing them to a nursing home would also be a cool idea.

Katherine York responds to the piece about MA in Marvel superheroes, with her own suggestion for a new ki power. Charge that internal energy, and release it suddenly. Perfectly reasonable given the universe.

S. R. Oldson craves some more classic modules like the ones released in the late 70's. Modern stuff just doesn't cut it like the tomb of horrors or demonweb pits. Prefab politics and railroads just don't work in other campaigns like a nicely challenging dungeon crawl. You may be disappointed by the next few years then.

Wayne Roberts tells a rather interesting story of his own experiences with role vs roll playing thinkers. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive, and good tactical thinking and knowing your adversaries make even a combat heavy game much more fun. (and survivable)

Michael Drake contributes a rather scattershot letter, of which the main point, as far as I can tell, seems to be asking what is badwrongfun. Overall, I'm not sure what to make of this one.

Daniel Reardon also has a rather interesting and complicated point to make. The D&D system revolves around parties of adventurers working together. Selfish characters go against the whole system, and will ruin the fun of the game.

Ian Reyes, in contrast, has had plenty of evil PC's, and it hasn't caused problems, while allowing a whole bunch of fun scenarios you couldn't do with good ones. As long as you keep the PvP betrayals to when it would be logical, and find reasons to work together for greater profit, it can work just fine.

Douglas J. Hutchinson finds both the fearmongers and obsessive players tiresome. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Just get on with playing, and ignore the stupid reactionaries. They do the same thing to virtually every cool innovation, and it rarely amounts to much in a generations time.

Kirk Karste is not amused at all about the OA misrepresentation of ninja. They were a spiritual order who only used violence in adversity. Here we go again. It's as bad as the stuff about druids and barbarians.

Martin Millar also talks about samurai and ninja. As usual, in the real world, strict divisions of good and evil really do not hold up to close scrutiny. Even the samurai/ninja divide is pretty blurry, with some samurai secretly employing or being ninja. Just because D&D abstracts these things for ease of play, doesn't mean you should take them as fact.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 146: June 1989

part 2/5

Sage advice continues to occupy pole position. I guess with the edition change, people are really examining just what the rules of what they're playing actually do.

How do fighters make magical swords (they don't, they get wizards to do it for them. Or they break the rules. Because there's certainly enough stuff around that's impossible to produce by a strict reading of them.)

What spell gives weapons magical plusses (Enchant an item can do that on it's own. Relax. That's an easy trick. )

Can bless fix a cursed item (Are you joking? That's like throwing a bucket of water on an oilslicked beach. Completely inadequate.)

Will protection from fire or cold help you resist a fire shield spell (nope.)

How much XP can you get from destroying Asmodeus' rod ( A quite substantial amount. It would probably be a good idea to destroy Asmodeus first though. )

Is magical armor weightless or half weight (good question. Depends if you're carrying it or wearing it. )

Is other magical equipment weightless (Oh, this is a can of worms. Skip's gonna say no to be on the safe side. )

Do bracers of defense work if you're caught unawares (yes, but you still lose your dex mod. )

Are bracers cumulative with armour (no, you use the best result. Cut the twinking. )

What's with glowing magical weapons. (They glow when it's inconvenient to PC's, and don't when it would be useful. It's like they were diliberately given that feature to screw with you. )

How do you determine which limb is severed by a sword of sharpness (Random tables! How else! )

Which parts of a giantslaying sword's damage are multiplied (like backstabbing, only the dice. Their degree of aid is the same regardless of your stats. )

Do all giant class opponents count as giants (only ones bigger than ogres )

How many plusses can a weapon have (once you're at 6 or above, you're in rule-breaking territory. Better stop Myrland, ask him for directions ;) )

Do you have to be lawful to use a vorpal weapon (yes, otherwise it's your head that'll get the chopping. )

Can a potion of longevity turn you into an infant. Can I use ghost aging to reverse this. Can an illusory ghost age people, since the fear is what causes the aging (probably, yes but we don't recommend it, and hell no that would be completely gamebreaking! )


Dragons are wizards' best friends: A whole load of minidragons is our first birthday gift. Designed to make good familiars to powerful wizards, these are typically tricksy little creatures. While they may not be able to match up to full dragons physically, they're easily as magically capable and tricksy as pseudo and faerie dragons. Scoring one of these little bastards might not be easy, but it will pay for itself in the long run, and give you plenty of fun playing out their antics.

Crystal Drakes may look pretty, and have moderate versatile magical powers, but as they eat gemstones, getting extra special powers based upon what they eat, they're probably pretty costly to keep. Once they die, you might be able to make a bit of that back by selling their hide, but it won't be much by comparison. You'll have to keep on adventuring to maintain them in the manner they're accustomed too.

Demon Drakes are as tricky as the other minidragons, with an additional sadistic edge. Not only are their tricks exceedingly dangerous, they're also pretty inventive. Their entry includes three new custom spells, and encourages you to give them more. Be very afraid, and don't hesitate to learn these tricks and turn them back at them.

Faerie Drakes are slightly bigger, tougher close relatives to faerie dragons. They aren't as magically powerful, but are more versatile, taking their powers and breath weapon from various full dragon types. Since they're pretty eager to learn spells, the chances of them becoming a familiar are pretty good, especially if treated as an equal partner rather than a servant.

Shadow Drakes are the shyest of these creatures, hiding in shadows and using connected magical abilities to misdirect anyone hunting them. They still have plenty of curiosity though, so you should be able to form a relationship if you take it slow and leave out food. Just the one for rogues and illusionists.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 146: June 1989

part 3/5

The dragon's bestiary gives us yet more actual dragons to put our players up against. Of course, they still use the 1st ed rules, because we haven't seen the new ones yet, and they probably have to clear out the slush pile anyway. Oh well, they're perfectly compatible mechanically, so it matters little. Just means people are likely to use the old articles and sourcebooks with the new corebooks for a while.

Cobra dragons have the scary hood of their namesake. However, they have the full complement of limbs, plus a venomous bite that still has substantial effects if you succeed your save. Thankfully, they don't have any magical ability, so they're easier than most to outmaneuver. As usual, be very wary, for they may still have traps and allies.

Obsidian dragons have the unusual and rather awkward distinction of not being immune to their own breath weapons. They are exceedingly powerful spellcasters though, so they can probably memorize spells to help with that. Since they also run the gamut of good and evil alignments they're also more likely to fight each other than usual. This could definitely be used to build interesting plots.

Gray Dragons (Not to be confused with The Grey Dragon, from issue 62 :p ) are smarter relations of white dragons. Their favoured tactics run towards immobilising the enemy, and picking them off one by one, which can definitely make for some unpleasant battles. Again, I believe some evil laughter would not go amiss.

Rainbow dragons continue Greg Detwiler's attempt to fill in the neutral evil part of the draconic alignment spectrum. They're talked up as scary, but really, without an AoE breath weapon, they're probably not as dangerous overall as Reds. Power isn't just in the numbers, you know.

Drakken are little three headed dragons. Has some wizard been trying to mate hydra with dragons again? :shakes head: In any case, they're not very bright, so they're more mid-level pests than the culmination of an adventure. Interesting to note that this completes a symmetry of having one dragon type intended for each current campaign world. They seem to be consciously trying to differentiate them in that respect. I suppose they are still relatively similar compared to what's to come.

Minidragons are another load of cute little things that can serve as pets both to proper dragons and people. They're pretty tough, but not that smart. Since we just had a whole article on this kind of thing earlier, it seems a bit odd to plonk these ones in here.


Snarfquest characters are lost throughout the issue. This is what happens when you go out of dimensions. It makes a dreadful mess. Now where have we seen that before? Growf growf. ;)


The New ecology of the dragons: Is that like the new adventures of He-man? Because that came out around this time, and sucked. No, it's merely another less direct teaser that dragons are about to get a quite substantial upgrade with the edition change. Tail attacks, swoops, kicks, wingovers are in, Breath weapons are more frequent, subduing is not quite out, but no longer specific to them. They are now even more capable of demonstrating both power and finesse, and really ruining peoples days. This is an in-house production by Skip Williams, taking care to feature all their new powers specifically in the story. It comes close to shattering my suspension of belief as a story rather than a custom written promotional piece, but still manages to stay interesting. This is a case where the quality of the work manages to win me over, but I wouldn't like to see this kind of thing become common practice, with ecologies appropriate to whatever splatbook is coming out this month being a constant intrusion. You tread a perilous line here, TSR.


The hatchling magazine: A recap of the 7 issues of the strategic review. It has been quite a while. Another of those reminders that before the internet made copying things virtually free, far fewer gamers had access to any of the stuff from before they personally started playing. Only a small fraction of Dragon readers would have read these, and many would never even have heard of them. Let's see if this can shed any insights, either on the old magazines, or the current trends in historical interpretation.

The first issue, not too surprisingly, gets the most detailed examination. All the features are individually mentioned, and there is plenty of commentary. Unsurprisingly, quite a bit of it is focussed on just how far the magazine has come, both in contents and professionalism, and how little idea they obviously had about the directions the game was going to go. A particularly notable little bit is the commentary on the idea of cutting out the money off coupon, and how it would impact on the issue's collectability. They seem slightly surprised by the prevalence of PbP games, and the stuff for designing solo dungeons. We might have come a long way, but there were still some things they were doing back then that can be usefully drawn upon. Overall, the commentary is fairly neutral, neither slating or particularly gushing over the contents.

SR2, on the other hand, gets a very short description, mainly just a list of the contents. The main notable comment is the drawing attention to the fact that Brian Blume was already trying to set them apart as Gamers in general, not merely Wargamers. Thinking big, or the first signs of egomania? You decide.

SR3's description is also pretty perfunctory. It reveals that the quality of the paper went up. and they went from gluing to stapling for binding. Gary's rant of the issue is mentioned in a nonjudgemental fashion, and the fact that there is still huge variety in the contents seems important to them. I guess it would stand out in contrast to the current era, where the amount of non D&D stuff is seriously on the decline.

SR4's overview answers the question I've been wondering for ages. Yes the cartoon is by that Marc Miller. Guess he was in on things right from the beginning. Their main commentary is that FRPG's are rapidly increasing in dominance, and they too notice that the Dragon is coming. They have realized what the market wants. Poor wargaming, already being split away. In other words, this seems to be the point when they start to react to the changing market, altering their approach, and getting in new people to meet the increasing demand.

SR5 gets the biggest amount of text. The substantial improvements in production values gets lots of detailed attention, and the reviewer is pretty positive that this is where they moved from newszine to proper magazine. He's also has quite a bit to say about the sharp contrast between the willingness to throw anything into the melting pot and kitbash rules freely, and how it contrasts with Gary's calls for strict orthodoxy in the early AD&D era. Although he tries to stay neutral in this commentary, I get the impression he prefers the more freewheeling option. The kicking off of the great Gen Con Vs Origins war sees a bit of amusement peeking through. And like a lot of people, he wishes he'd taken the lifetime subscription option when he had the chance. Oh well. Your loss.

SR6 is a fairly brief one, which I find curious, since I preferred this one over SR5. The increasing dominance of RPG's is noted again, as is the fact that this issue was printed in purple ink. The rapid expansion of game clubs in mapping the dungeons is also tracked. Things might not all be going their way, but it's made all the more clear how they, and gaming as a whole are expanding.

SR7 is another fairly long look over. Gary's contributions get a lot of attention, with another bit of amusement at the intensity of his rantings peeking through. Twinks Beware! Once again, the increases in production values get noted as well. Also interesting is how much more we got to see of the writers personally, with profiles, photos, etc. They had to be more hands on in general in their handling of the various aspects of the company back then.

While overall, this is a pretty dry review, it does throw a new light on a few bits that I didn't note as significant, but probably were. And it's definitely interesting in that it's got me to look back on the first few issues of the magazine with new eyes. We're reaching a point where nostalgia can really start to come into play, and the people who've been around for a while are significantly older than when they started. How long before talk about "getting back to the roots of the game" becomes commonplace?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 146: June 1989

part 4/5


Fiction: The ever-after by Eluki Bes Shahar. Another of those bits of fiction that reminds us that what we call heroes are actually mostly irresponsible wandering sociopaths who just happen to be killing creatures that we're opposed to at the moment. And many of them have pretty messed up pasts. To be truly heroic, you need to resist your urges, not indulge them. Build up civilisations, not destroy them. And do what is responsible, not what is glamorous, no matter what megalomaniacal magic items say. An interesting message to deliver around here.


TSR Previews: First up, completely unsurprisingly, is the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. In fact, this is so important, it gets a little box to make it stand out even more. The players handbook never got that privilege. Hmm. Does that mean anything.

D&D recycles golden khan of ethengar from last month. Damnable sloppiness and delays.

In novels, we have Shadowdale, by Richard Awlinson. The start of the Avatar trilogy. You saw the module last month. Now you can see how the official characters do things. Their experiences are going to be the ones that really count. We also have the start of the martian wars trilogy for Buck Rogers, with 2456 by M. S. Murdock. Well, not many people are going to mind hat he's the star of that metaplot, and not their characters.

We get our first solo adventure in a while as well. They seem to be on a decline now. Still, Knight of the living dead by Allen Varney seems to be quite a big one. Play an undead paladin trying to adapt to unlife and still do good. Interesting.

Top Secret gets TSE2: The sting of the spider. Head back to San Christobal for some more underworld infiltration and elimination in an exotic location. Play that funky theme music.

It's not just AD&D that's getting relaunched this month. The Dungeon boardgame, last seen getting articles in the magazine in the late 70's, gets a new edition. How very intriguing.

And finally, the forgotten realms also gets next year's calendar, 6 months early. Why do they do that? One would think that the middle of the year would be the worst time for selling these things.


The marvel-phile is taken over by Skip, who gets the chance to be sagealicious twice in one magazine.

Aunt May shouldn't be able to kill Galactus by spending 100 Karma! (How, pray tell, is Aunt May to earn said Karma in the first place? Remember, Galactus can spend it too to counter things anyway. )

My players object to me using updated stats for characters from modules (Well, you shouldn't tell them that you're doing so then. Who is the boss here?)

What defense powers can resist eldrich bolts (depends what type of eldrich bolt)

Which table do you use for power ranges (page 16)

How do you determine resource ranks (see pages 6 and 7. This is why you read books start to finish.)

When's the next gamers handbook out? (The end of the year. Patience my dear. Otherwise things won't have changed enough to be worth a full book of updates. )

Send me updated stats for all the characters that have changed recently. (Get real dude. You gotta be prepared to pay if you wanna stay up to date. )

If two characters with the same stats work together, do they still get a bonus (yes)

What column do cyborgs roll on to generate powers (One. Affirmative)

How do you keep track of flying characters. (Get tactical. Or fudge. Whatever keeps you game rolling.)

What does luck manipulation do (no such power. You want probability control mate. Gotta stay precise in your terminology.)

Can you get 1,000 Karma for arresting someone with an invulnerability (Only if it's a very broad invulnerability. )

Why doesn't spiderman have a higher intuition. (Superhuman abilities covering part of a stat don't boost the whole stat if the other areas are lacking. )

How can I get replacement parts (Expensively. A lot of the time it'd be cheaper to buy a whole new model. )

Do you need to roll just to move full speed (No. Where'd you get that silly idea? )

Does Armour piercing shot permanently reduce body armour (No. Penetrated /= destroyed)

How do you establish a power stunt (persistence)

Sometimes Tony Stark can't buy a pen! The Resources system makes no sense! ( You'd be amazed how hard it can be to find a pen sometimes. Go electronic. It's much harder to lose computers.)

One of my player's characters keep dying. What do I do (Give him tactical advice. If he still doesn't shape up, kick him out. Achtung! Ve do not tolerate incompetence at Sage Towers!)

How do you decide who attacks who. (Tactical considerations and personal grievances. Just like in the actual comics)

Where are all the locations in MHSP2 (some are in the maps from the corebook. Sorry if that wasn't clear.)
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
In novels, we have Shadowdale, by Richard Awlinson. The start of the Avatar trilogy. You saw the module last month. Now you can see how the official characters do things. Their experiences are going to be the ones that really count.
"Richard Awlinson" is a pseudonym, used by two authors over the course of the series. Scott Ciencin is actually the person to blame for this piece of dreck.
 

Littleredfox

Registered User
Validated User
Fiction: The ever-after by Eluki Bes Shahar. Another of those bits of fiction that reminds us that what we call heroes are actually mostly irresponsible wandering sociopaths who just happen to be killing creatures that we're opposed to at the moment. And many of them have pretty messed up pasts. To be truly heroic, you need to resist your urges, not indulge them. Build up civilisations, not destroy them. And do what is responsible, not what is glamorous, no matter what megalomaniacal magic items say. An interesting message to deliver around here.
Eluki Bes Shadar might be better known under her pen name of Rosemary Edghill.

The only group of her novels I've seen listed with her real name are the Hellflower trilogy. Which have a megalomaniac Library in them and somewhat similar themes.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 146: June 1989

part 5/5

Dangerous terrain: Gamma world's article this month is a few extra wilderness hazards. As if there aren't more than enough of those. But you know how those random encounter tables get stale and predictable after a few years of regular play. Like a long-married couple, adding some new toys to the games room is needed to keep a group together. One of those short, not particularly consequential articles that does what it does, neither too good or too bad. I suppose I should be pleased that it's still getting any coverage at all, since they haven't released any new supplements for the game in a while.


The role of computers: Might and magic II gets a large and detailed review, as an epic adventure game should get here. This does require quite a lot of disks, and backing up your saves is a good idea. They give us plenty of advice on the various character classes and how to use them. There's plenty of cool new stuff to discover, including time travel stuff which means the same location will have different stuff in it at different points. They're generally pretty positive, with their only gripe being the endlessly respawning random encounters which seem to throw monsters together without rhyme or reason. Oh well. It's not as if that's uncommon in computer games.

Hostage, on the other hand, gets a 5 star rating. While you don't get to negotiate with the terrorists, you do get tons of tactical choices, as you co-ordinate your team to take out the enemies with minimum loss of civilian life. Set up sharpshooters, lead your strike team in, and switch between characters rapidly. Think fast, because the terrorists are pretty smart too, and the whole thing maintains an impressively persistent environment.


Arrows of the east: Oriental adventures continues to get attention. Not that alternate arrow types didn't appear in the west, but they only got codified for D&D in OA, so this falls under that aegis. This is a combination of errata and expansion, making armor-piercing arrows actually, y'know, better at penetrating armor, as well as adding several new tricks. Still, we had another one of these fairly recently (issue 133) which was more inventive in it's new tricks, so overall, this is a pretty unimpressive little article. When you've got to fill an exact page count every month, you're going to get padding, and this is another example of that.


If you wish upon a star: Wish nerfing? Here we go again. Not a promising start. However, this manages to avoid the rehash problem by covering this topic with greater detail and methodicality than any of the previous articles managed. It isn't even too restrictive, since the massive array of options drawn from tales of all kinds will really help you choose just how restricted a wish from any particular source should be. With some fairly decent tables, tons of examples, and a decent bibliography for further reading, this is actually pretty good, and about as worthy a contribution on this topic as we're probably ever going to see. If you're going to do something ill-advised, do it in style, and you might be able to pull it off.


The great khan game. Another amusingly illustrated creation from the fertile mind of Tom Wham. As ever, they would like it if you bought it.

Dragonmirth really needs to tidy up. Yamara is well and truly defeated by dreadful dialogue.

A strong start that then gradually peters out this issue. For all their statements that they're trying to look forward, this one doers seem to be somewhat stuck in the past, with lots of stuff dependent on products that are very much old news. Just how much more OA stuff can the market bear? When will they actually start publishing submissions using the 2e rules? Come on. You've been advertising this stuff for 2 years now. I want the new shinys already.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 147: July 1989

part 1/5

108 pages. Haven't you been on the cover before? I'm sure you have. Check Issue 106. Don't they look like the same person? Albeit with a little leveling up (and skankifying) having taken place in the intervening years. Even though they might not be by the same artist, they really do look like they're working with the same subject. We'll be seeing you reprinted as well. The theme is pretty familiar too. Magic! Of the arcane variety! Yawn. Lets hope there's a few neat new toys in here.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter from the cover artist artist of issue 139, about the award she's just won for the piece. Woo. Go Carol Heyer.

A whole bunch of errata for issue 139's druid article, from it's original writer.

Another question about said druid article, clearing up another ambiguity. Yet more evidence that it wasn't a very well written article.

A piece encouraging them to take more risks. Sure, a few people'll complain, but the silent majority will approve. But the million dollar question is, Will they keep buying the magazine?


Forum is comprised almost entirely of recurring writers writing about religion this month. Seems like it's becoming quite the old boys club.

S. D. Anderson isn't happy about the idea of speciality clerics having limited spell lists. Cleric's spell lists are already pretty crap compared to wizards. Gods shouldn't intentionally handicap their followers. Hmm. You may not be pleased with the new edition's changes then, especially when the splatbooks start rollin' out.

Ed Friedlander is also tackling the topic of religion. Faith is an important manner, and developing the beliefs of our characters and worlds, and the organizations that serve the gods in them definitely deserves attention. You shouldn't just slap your own modern beliefs and values onto your characters.

Fr Patrick J Dolan takes a more pragmatic attitude to the problem of ministering. So clerics don't have nearly enough spells to properly care for a whole community. This is what low power, mass produced magic items such as sacred oils are for. One annointment may only heal a couple of hit points, but that's all you need for normal humans, and you can do hundreds of them in a single day.

Paul Astle also thinks Greg Detwiler was being unimaginative and overly pessimistic about the capacity of clerics to change lives. Sure, they can't save everyone, but they can solve several of the most significant problems that crop up every day. Over time, that really adds up, seriously reducing the number of deaths and invalids. If they're doing their job properly, they will make a difference to the community.

Dan Fehler talks about his own experience with someone who cuts out real world religious references from his games. We've all got to do our bit to keep the people who demonise gaming from having ammunition. Looks like it really is that time now.


Palladium celebrates having sold a million books. Just think, a few years ago, they were jazzed that TMNT had sold 7,000. Now look at them. Pleased as punch.


Sage advice is still looking at 1st ed magical items. Last chance saloon and all that.

Can a potion of undead control usurp control for someone else (yup, but it reverts back afterwards.)

Can I replicate a potion miscabiity result if I duplicate the formulae of both potions precisely. (I am afraid not. Magic isn't that scientific and reliable. )

Can rings of regeneration revive someone killed by special attacks rather than hit points (no. You've gotta have some threat)

Can rings of regeneration revive someone if put on their hand after they die (No. It's a condom, not a morning after pill. )

How quickly do you regrow limbs ( A matter of days. Worry not.)

Are two rings of protection cumulative (same bonus type, so they don't stack. )

Does an activated ring of earth elemental command still act as a ring of feather falling (no)

Does wearing of fire resistance protect the wearers equipment. (It would be a good idea if it did )

How do you recharge an item (Tediously. Very very tediously. Magic requires ridiculous amounts of prepwork for each boom. )

How do you make a rod of cancellation. ( Sacrificing your favourite TV show on the altar of your ambition, with the blood of a hundred babies. Or is that the Exalted method. Ehh, you should never pass up an excuse to sacrifice a hundred babies. )

Are rods permanent items (In D&D they generally are. In AD&D they generally aren't. How'd that happen? )

What proficiency do you need to wield a rod (staff. They're basically the same thing. They certainly get used with the same phallic metaphors.)

How do non druids get to use the staff of slinging's powers. (They can't. Trade secrets, etc etc. )

Do you need a proficiency to use a /lightsaber/ wand of force (nope. )

How do you penetrate a wall of darkness (stick your head through it. Duh. Whether your head will come back intact will be revealed after this interlude. )
 
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