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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 147: July 1989

part 2/5

Sage advice continued:

What's the range of a wand of flame extinguishing (barely worth it, if you forget how D&D scaling works. )

What's the duration of a tome ( Longer than your lifetime. )

When are gauntlets and girdles cumulative (When you're ripping off Thor.)

What happens if your strength is drained when you're wearing a girdle (good thing too, otherwise your hernias'd give you so much gyp.)

Isn't the price for girdles of giant strength a bit low. (Hmm. Haven't we had this question before? Eeexcellent. Another chance for Skip to show how much better he is than Jean ever was! I cast Overturn Precedent at the question! Multiply the price and XP by 10! That ought to do it.)

Can you wear gloves and gauntlets at the same time (no. They use up the same item slot.)

Can the lyre of building destroy everything built with it if you mess up (No, only stuff built that week. Otherwise it'd be so much of a liability that it's funny)

How long can you use a crystal ball for( Like using the internet, time'll fly by before you know it. Spying on things is rather addictive, and more than one wizard has neglected their studies because they were too busy keeping up with current events. )

Can a helm of brilliance buff any sword (yes)

Can you wear a hat and a helm simultaneously. (No. We really ought to formalize the item slots system. Unfortunately, it's too late to put it in 2nd edition. Great. Skip will have to put up with another 10 years of this crap before we finally get round to fixing it. )

Is a hat of disguise an illusory or shapechanging effect (nonfunctional cosmetic shapechanging )

Can a cloak of protection be worn with elfin chain (nope)

Can I wear more than one cloak at once ( Haaaa. :points and laughs:)

Can a cloak be combined with armor ( Mayyyybe. )

Can you wear a cloak and a mantle (No, but you can wear a robe and a mantle. It's kingly, uh huh huh. )

How many people can draw from a deck of many things (4/x Where X is the number of cards each draws. )

Does the level boosting ion stone burn out after bestowing it's power (no. You have to keep it around to keep the buff, and if it gets nicked, you lose the extra power. )

Does the white spindle's regeneration keep working when you're dead (as long as they don't think to grab it. If they do, you're screwed. )

What can a quiver of ehlonna produce ( Nothing! More Errata!)

Will a stone of good luck affect your ressurection roll (only if you had it before you died)

What's a freedom word. (Zagyg needed to make sure he couldn't be captured in his own extradimensional dungeon when dallying with kinky villainesses. So he took precautions. Remember folks, children are the least of your worries when dealing with women like that. )

Does a gem of insight let you check for psionic power (eventually. Remember, temporary buffs don't count for stuff like this. )

Are two substances found within a philosophers stone (Only in certain combinations. Green and white totally lacks style. )

What happens when a bag of holding is turned inside out (Man, that's gonna be non euclidian. Thankfully, most wizards put safety precautions to stop the universe being destroyed by this possibility. Well, they must have, because the universe is still around. Isn't it? .................. Oh, Maaaan. Is Skip gonna have to hit the reset button again? )

Can an amulet of proof against detection keep an invisible character from being seen by detect invisibility (yes indeedy)


Ghostbusters gets a new edition to tie in with the new movie. Will it be an improvement on the original? Ha. Win some, lose some.


Getting familiar: P. N. Elrod! This is an interesting turnup for the books. Nice to see another author who'll go on to pretty substantial things getting their start in the magazine. We have had a few articles on the subject of familiars before, but this does not follow in their footsteps. It's all about roleplaying your familiars. After all, in the era of 80's cartoons, most action adventure shows have an intelligent animal (or possibly robot) sidekick to supply a little comic relief and give voice actors a chance to talk in silly pidgin voices and squawks. It's no surprise that many people would think that is a desirable thing to emulate in your own games. So, um, yeah, each of the standard animals gets discussed, with lots of notes on their ecologies, racial capabilities and personalities. Toads get no love at all, as usual. It's all so second edition it hurts. And actually, it's the first article to specifically reference the 2nd ed rulebooks, so kudos to her for being quick off the mark. So this is a significant and entertaining article, that is also more than a little cheesy. Oh well, lots of good points, lots of bad points is a hell of a lot more interesting than a no score draw.


As I thought. We got the subtle teaser last month, now we get the full-on shadowrun logo with the goats skull and scantily clad elven chicks. That'll get people's attention.


Variety, the spice of magic: So you don't have the right spell component? What are you to do? You could just give up and cast some other spell. Or you could try substituting some other component. Now this gives the DM two options. They could say that nothing happens, it simply fails. Or they could use it as carte blanche to imaginatively sadistic in the way that the spell goes wrong. Can you guess which one I'd prefer? So here's a few tables to lend a little more legitimacy to that idea. See just how likely they are to go wrong if you use cheap knock-off substitutes. Course, if you deploy some rare monster pieces, the spell might even work better than normal, but don't count on it. I can definitely see the story potential in this, so even though there might be some tedious tableage, this is another one for bookmarking to pull out when it becomes appropriate.
 
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(un)reason

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

part 3/5

Gaze into my crystal ball: More table heavy elaboration on a tiny part of the game. Magical viewing devices can have quite a number of different shapes and additional powers. In addition, there's plenty of other little factors that could be included, such as making your scrying ability partially dependent on your level and ability scores. As with the last article, this is a fairly neat little one to bust out when you roll the appropriate results on the magic item tables, flesh things out further.


Space hulk. Another warhammer variant bursts messily out of the designer's heads and onto our tables. Don't let those genestealers sneak up and infect your worlds.


Spelling it out: Hmm. Another article that could be fascinating or very dull indeed, depending on your current mood. An examination of the finer detail of spell memorization and casting, for the rules lawyers to peruse. Mainly notable because it has also been annotated by Roger with the changes 2nd edition has made to the spellcasting process. Which may seem small, but are actually fairly significant, closing up several exploitable tricks that used to be a problem, and drastically increasing the amount of downtime magic-users need to copy spells into their books. Looks like they have actually been nerfed a little if you remember to strictly follow the RAW. This is definitely worthy of note, and may provoke a few letters in the near future. When things superficially stay the same, nitpickers have a field day. I'm very interested to hear what other people made of this.


WoW your players: Ahh, the wand of wonder. (not world of warcraft, sorry to disappoint. :p ) Few things are more feared than a wizard wielding one. You never know what's going to happen. At least, untill they've used it a few hundred times. Then you might start to see a pattern. Which is what these alternate tables are good for. The larger the selection you have to roll in, the more truly wondrous your wand will be. And the more utterly twinked a wild mage with one will become. Muahahaha. I do rather enjoy these, but it does seem a bit odd that they give us 4 different tables, each with 19 results, many of which require you to roll again for subresults. Surely combining them into one big table, possibly using a d1000, would be a more elegant way of handling this kind of thing. Silly chaos mages. Not terrible, but certainly not the best example of random screwage fun.


Through the looking glass: Back to the reviews this month. A pair of dragons from grenadier are reviewed, and he also gives substantial tips on how best to assemble them. Good to see him taking a leaf from our computer game reviewers, and helping us as well as informing. We also get a five pack of fairly decent superhero figures for Villains and vigilantes, but adaptable to other games. Robert then decides it's time for a change, and switches from models to games systems

Aedeptus Titanicus sees games workshop get in on the giant robot fighting market, giving you a bunch of mechs and foam buildings. This means they are easily damaged, which would be a plus if you want to represent the extreme collateral damage your machines inflict, but it would be exceedingly expensive to do this and keep buying new ones. Indeed, the cost in general is the main gripe with this, which otherwise seems fairly awesome, and entirely integratable with their other 40k mass wargaming products.

And then it's back to reviews, with a chariot pulled by lions. Fairly customisable, this is nonetheless expensive enough to be a tricky decision to buy. And least, but not last, we get the response to another vitriolic letter accusing him of americacentricism. Well, yes. They don't sell many foreign models round these parts. One of those reviews that's all the more entertaining for it's fairly scattershot approach.


Two no SASE ogres? (look more like norkers to me) My, they must be busy rejecting people at the moment. Om nom nom.


Magus!: Looks like we have a board game as our centrepiece. They don't do enough of those these days. Rob Kuntz delivers a game of wizardly war. It looks like one of those ones where both skill and luck are important in winning, with a whole bunch of positional effects, and the ability to make alliances with other players to help you win. Annoyingly, the actual board and pieces are missing, (again) so I can't do a full judgement of it, but it seems pretty decent. Interestingly, both Gary Gygax and Dave Trampier are given credits at the end, so this has obviously been knocking about the office for quite some time. Even though certain people may be gone, they're certainly not forgotten, and some of the staff still stay in touch with them. Politics, politics. Almost as interesting as the stuff they show us.
 
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Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
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Magus!: Looks like we have a board game as our centrepiece. They don't do enough of those these days. Rob Kuntz delivers a game of wizardly war. It looks like one of those ones where both skill and luck are important in winning, with a whole bunch of positional effects, and the ability to make alliances with other players to help you win. Annoyingly, the actual board and pieces are missing, (again) so I can't do a full judgement of it, but it seems pretty decent. Interestingly, both Gary Gygax and Dave Trampier are given credits at the end, so this has obviously been knocking about the office for quite some time. Even though certain people may be gone, they're certainly not forgotten, and some of the staff still stay in touch with them. Politics, politics. Almost as interesting as the stuff they show us.
It's fairly decent, as games go. After I got that issue, my board-game-collecting friend went out and bought it, laminated Magus!, and pulls it out once a year or so for a game. It is not a game you'd play over and over again -- too repetitive -- but as a one-off, occasionally, it's a nice beer-and-pretzels type game to play. (and it's been over a year since we've played, it, so the details are too hazy for me to report further, alas.)
 

(un)reason

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

part 4/5

TSR Previews: You've got the players, you've got the dungeon master, now, you need monsters for them to face. So welcome to the AD&D second edition monstrous compendium, volume one. The first batch of loose leaf sheets, plus a big binder designed to accomodate stuff from future volumes. How long before they realize this little experiment has serious problems, and go back to regular books?

Dragonlance gets DLE2: Dragon magic. Save the celestial dragon of neutrality. You'd think a cosmic force like that could take care of itself, but apparently not. Oh well, it's a chance to become a big hero, and that's what counts.

The Forgotten Realms continues it's metaplot madness, with FR2: Tantras. Elminster's dead? Surely not. It's all a big misunderstanding. Oh well, it looks like the trouble you get in fortuitously helps you solve the main problem anyway. If you'd prefer to stay out of the edition change teething troubles you can buy FR8: Cities of mystery. Build an entire city block out of the pieces within. Sounds like it would synergise well with the waterdeep city system, another FR product that can be used genericly fairly easily.

D&D goes back to basics for the first time in a few years, with B11: Kings festival. Unsurprisingly, the new, more plot based module style intrudes even here, with plenty of role-playing advice as well. A sequel is coming shortly. Just be glad it's not another trilogy.

Marvel Superheroes is still time traveling, in MT2: Weird weird west. Six-guns and the kitchen sink as rifts to the 1870's open up all through history. Guess you'd better close them up, before things lose even more continuity than even a comic book universe can take.

Novelwise, we have Monkey Station by Aradath Mayhar and Ron Fortier. Hyperevolved monkeys! Taking over the world! Sounds pulpilicious.

And finally, we have a whole host of board games. Europe aflame! High Rise! Web of gold! War, business or exploration, the choice is yours. Good to see that department is still busy buzzing away as well.


Role-playing reviews is in theme, as is often the case, examining the spellcasting of several different systems. Everyone thinks they can improve upon D&D's old method of throwing cool stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. In many cases, they can, even if the resulting games haven't managed the same kind of commercial success.

GURPS magic gets a very context heavy review indeed. Ken's initial skepticism with the line has faded as the supplement mill has kicked up, filling all kinds of odd niches with well written books. Now they're revisiting their fantasy gaming roots, with typical attention to detail and modularity. Course, as usual, this genericness is a flaw as well as a benefit, and you'll have to create your own world. He reserves final judgement until he's seen the rules in action. I do hope we'll see a follow up on that statement.

ARS Magica contrasts sharply with this, creating a game with a very distinctive setting, and a system focussed around playing not just wizards, but a very specific variety of wizards. The similarities to Pendragon are spotted immediately, as are many of the other system and style elements that would be crucial in the success of the storyteller system games later. He's also pleased with the strong emphasis on troupe play, making sure the players work together, treating the group as more important than any one character. The envelope is being pushed here, and people are definitely noticing already.

The magister is a AD&D forgotten realms supplement. D&D's magic system may be a messy business, but he loves it anyway. Elminster narrates, and his tone is as fun to read as ever. Lots of new spells and items, some amusing lampshading, it adds both usable material and colour to the game. Sounds like the kind of thing the magazine has been doing for ages.

Talislanta sorcerers guide gets a rather more mixed review. While there are some cool features, they aren't as well presented as the previous books, and you'll have to fill them out yourself. So it goes.

The spell book sees Ken's enthusiasm fizzle out. He hasn't really had the time to properly digest the HERO system, and lots of dry discussion on how to properly balance a magic system doesn't hold his interest. One primarily for system tinkerers and heavy crunch lovers.


Fiction: Lord of the keep by Brenda K Ward. Another excellent example of the old maxim. Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Offend one while working with them, and you may well face an ending worse than death, that also serves to advance some other goal of theirs, while technically getting exactly what you asked for. Which is what happens here. An excellent example for your more machiavellian characters to follow. Hone that sense of dramatic irony, and get plotting your inventive revenges. MuahaHAHAHAAA!!!!!
 

(un)reason

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

part 5/5

The role of computers: J R R Tolkien's War in Middle-earth has had almost as lengthy a gestation period as the book it's based upon. It only gets 3 stars, but the text seems rather more positive than that, painting a picture of an epic game requiring you to juggle multiple characters to achieve the objectives from the book and get used to flipping between the macro and character level perspectives. Hmm. Seems like people do try and put their best feet forward when tackling this property.

Hillsfar is the second of our computer based AD&D adventures. Explore said area of the forgotten realms, fight in the arena, deal with the tyranical ruler and his lackeys, and generally play in the sandbox. Fun, but not a hugely deep game, and marred slightly by saving being rather limited and no pausing. A bit of a filler game between the previous and upcoming epics.

Abrams battle tank is a high crunch simulation of driving said bit of heavy military ordinance. You have to flick between controlling the 4 different stations, drive, load, target and fire. And try and actually get some battle missions done. Sounds like a lot of keypress memorization required.

Sim City Terrain editor takes the still fledgeling program mentioned in passing last issue, and makes it into the supremely customizable timewaster we know and love. Now there's a nostalgia hit for me. Sim city was included on my first PC, and I spent ages playing around in it. The number of familiar names should increase quite considerably in the near future.


The role of books: The eight by Katherine Nevile is a playful espionage novel interleaving stories set in 1973 and the french revolution. It avoids the danger of involving the famous historical characters too closely, and develops it's own quirky cast and plot twists. The reviewer rather enjoys it.

Gamearth by Kevin J Anderson is an interestingly meta story which alternates between the viewpoint of a fantasy world, and the gaming group that plays those characters, as they try and stop the GM from ending the world. You know, you can just stop and walk away. It's not as if your players will chain you to the chair to force you to keep playing. Anyway, the question of whether the game universe is real or not, and it's relation to earth is left hanging, as is the final fate of the game, which frustrates the reviewer, but may be the point the author was trying to make. How very tricky to make a judgement on.

Starfarers by Vonda N McIntyre sees a would be space exploration ship under attack from global politicking. Lots of subplots delve into the lives of various crewmembers, and how they got to be in their current position, keeping the high concept from becoming too overbearing.

Lord of cragsclaw by Bill Fawcett and Neil Randall is a well built shared world story. It features anthropomorphic felines, but don't let that put you off. It definitely looks like there's plenty more room for worldbuilding and stories here.

The earth lords by Gordon R Dickinson gets a moderately negative review. The plotting and worldbuilding don't hang together brilliantly, and he isn't sure if it's fantasy or science fiction. Either way, he's produced better books.

Burning water by Mercedes Lackey has one of those omnicompetent protagonists who would be annoying if they weren't so likable. It runs the gamut of occult traditions in the course of it's plot, treating them all with respect and a decent amount of research. It looks like the start of another book series.

Who's afraid of beowulf by Tom Halt puts ancient characters in a modern day situation, and lets the humour flow naturally from there. The characters react logically to the strange situations, and it still manages to be a fairly dramatic story.


Dragonmith gets lost again. Yamara is saved by the debt collection. It's so hard to be a world threatening villain and stay under budget.


Three monstrous compendia planned already? Why not just release one big book. That would be far more convenient. ;)


A fairly interesting issue, and one that I got through quite quickly. As second edition finally starts to hit the magazine, even topics that they've covered before become fresh again, to be tackled from a different angle, with new rules. We're really getting somewhere now, and things are going to become more familiar, once again. Now the main thing they have to do is survive the controversies, and convert people over to the new way of doing things. Will they lose people in the process? Lets hope if they do, they'll at least send in vitriolic letters to say why they're leaving.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989

part 1/5

116 pages. From one repeated topic to another. Last issue it was spellcasting, now it's warriors turn again. Will they be able to deliver a fresh spin on the theme, or will it be the same old ideas? Roger's editorial shows he's very much aware of this problem, and it would probably be worse if he didn't reject lots of the most obvious ideas, that people seem to come up with independently again and again. And let's not even get into the massive hassles of active plagiarism, which we have to spot before publishing or face the legal consequences. This is one reason a good index is damn handy, so you don't have to rely on fallible memory, and can just flip through and say Done that, done that, done that, ooooh, shiny, haven't done that yet, and get on with things.

In this issue:

Peh. The columbia tape and music club? So much for the adverts in here being at least vaguely themed. This is crap. Oh well, I suppose their money is as good as anyone's. This is your fault for mentioning filking, Mr Bunnell. :p


Letters: A letter asking for more characters in the Marvel-Phile. Unfortunately, we've become a victim of our own comprehensiveness, and are running short of characters that haven't been covered yet. And we wouldn't want to go around engaging in mindless rehash there as well, would we?

Three letters pointing out errata on the various dragon entries from issue 146. Two are minor, but one would be very nasty if missed. Extra levels all round!

A rather amusingly phrased letter about a mistake in issue 144's minis review. This is what happens when you have several units with very similar names, and the product itself has errata.


Forum: Robert Benson thinks that completely glossing over religion and social order is removing a big chunk of the fun of playing clerics. Looks like this argument is going to run and run.

Hammad Hussain is also very much in favour of a rich mythological underpinning for your characters to riff off. If that means stealing from the real world, so be it. It's not as if D&D hasn't done plenty of that already. Plus, there ought to be more monotheistic religions in fantasy worlds. Where's the fun if all the faiths get along anyway.

Allen Wessels, on the other hand, is continuing to stir the pot when it comes to illusion adjudication. Damn this stuff gets tiresome after a while. How does Roger cope, reading hundreds of these things every month?

Eric Ehlers has lots of points to make, primarily about ability scores, race/class selections, and the sometimes irritating ways his players behave involving them. Munchkins.

Bryan Penney notes that the demon lords and similar singular beings are actually pretty weedy when compared to their good outerplanar counterparts and powerful PC's. Their magical versatility in particular ought to be increased to make them a credible threat. Well, most of them were created well before UA, and the later power creep, in days where even the founders of the game had never seen a party get much above name level. Don't you worry, many of them will get quite substantial upgrades next edition.

Valerie A Valusek thinks that fighters can be properly distinguished from one another, especially if you use nonweapon proficiencies. If you don't roleplay them at all, then of course they'll be boring to play. In the process, she also demonstrates that women can enjoy playing cheesecake characters of the opposite gender and stirring up trouble via titilation too.

Howard J Nenno has a rather more pragmatic set of ideas for how to make a straight fighter useful out of combat. People may fear the wizard, but they respect a guy who knows how to use a sword more. Fudge it all to hell.

Ann Dupuis proves that when you combine horse lovers and roleplayers, you get some of the most ludicrous attention to detail ever put down on a page, as she discusses some more coat patterns that didn't get mentioned in our painting guide a few months ago. Correlations between coat and hoof colour, the way their coats change as they age, it throws our own obsessive behaviour into sharp relief.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989

part 2/5

Sage advice moves officially to 2nd edition. The whole set is out now, so people can play games by the book without having to refer back to the old edition. And they've had it long enough to send questions in. But because the new edition is actually pretty similar to the old one, people are more likely to be caught out by the small differences. Which means nit-picking. Yay for us.

How much fire can a fire-producer produce when a fire producer produces fire ( 1 per level. Quantity /=/ quality. )

What is the surface area of the average man. (Skip cannot be bothered to calculate this. Get some cling-film and find out at home kids. (TSR is not responsible for any suffocations caused by being wrapped in cling film. ))

Can halflings become clerics (couldn't they anyway. Why do you ask?)

Does taking mountaineering boost your climb walls chance (yes. Fear the synergy)

Are strength bonuses multiplied when backstabbing. (Still no, despite what page 40 says)

How much does chain penalize your thieving skills 5% worse than elven (note the name change from 1st ed) in all respects)

Are multiclassed bards allowed (Finally. No more stupid lockstep class switching)

Do paladins and rangers need more than one stat at 16+ to get xp bonuses or not (I'm afraid so. )

What happened to double specialization. (Too broken, man. Go play BD&D if you want to get really really good with one weapon. )

Can you specialize in more than one weapon. No, but you don't have to pick your speciality right at the start, unlike last edition. )

Do demihuman fighters get extraordinary strength (yes)

Does armour affect animal empathy (Man what? No. Some people ask the dumbest things.)

Ranger's spellcasting sucks now! (Only by comparison. Be thankful they still have it at all. They won't forever.)

Can rangers use elven chain mail without penalty (No)

What do favoured enemy bonuses apply to (only attack rolls)

Can paladins dual class (as long as they don't violate their principles. If they do, they become fighters anyway, so the point is moot)

Why can't wizards learn all the spells around (because that would make them even more powerful compared to other classes. We don't want that. )

What's the minimum intelligence for specialist wizards (Same as for any other )

What happened to Write ( It was wrong for the game. Nothing personal, you understand. So we parted amicably)

What's the material component for spectral hand ( Don't ask. If we forgot to require one, you don't need one. )

Does enchanting your weapons break invisibility (Buffs are not attacks. Take advantage of this fact.)

Does delayed blast fireball have a limit ( same as regular one. Yes, that means you're already at the cap long before you can cast it. Not good game design)

Spells are missing from appendix 5. (And you are surprised about this why?)

Can any race be a diviner (any race that can be a wizard. This will not continue to be the case as more races are added. )

What happened to cantrips. (They were folded up. Now you can use them spontaneously. It's not quite sorcerer level yet, but it's a start. )

Can mages automatically read and write common (no)

Fireballs can detonate early and backfire (no change there. That's the thing about artillery. It isn't very discriminate. )

A ring of three wishes only radiates faint magic? Surely shome mishtake! (Nope. It's judging on criteria of quantity of powers, not quality. )


Always wear your best suit: Ahh, yes. This is fitting given some of the stuff they just discussed in the forum. One of the primary ways you can distinguish one fighter from another is what they're wearing. In the real world, people spend substantially more on one thing over another due to their cosmetic appearance, rather than their pure capabilities. Putting jewelery, odd ruffles, extra large shoulderpads, spikes, various colours, etc, is another way you can customize your character. Course, unless you actually have some kind of visual representation of your characters, people are unlikely to bother with this, so they also give another set of ideas for special materials, so you can pay loads extra for minor mechanical benefits. All in all, it's pretty dull. They'd need to get in someone like Ed to keep me awake through this bit of the syllabus.


Tracking down the barbarian: Looks like they aren't abandoning the old edition straight away. The barbarian may have been probably the most problematic of the UA classes (not being allowed to associate with spellcasters is probably more harmful to a D&D party than the cavalier's moral code.) but plenty of people still like the archetype, and want to see it done justice in AD&D. David Howery, one of our more frequent forumites, is amongst them. So he gives them a mild nerfing, massaging away their more egregious powers, while also making them more integrated into their native variety of wilderness, with better designed skills. I'm generally not very keen on nerfings, but I do like this one, which seems rather better thought out than the original version. Definitely worth considering, although if this brings them in line with the likes of the paladin and ranger, you might want to drop their XP requirements similarly.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989

part 3/5

Good does not mean boring: Ahh, the old paladin problem. Just what is proper behaviour for someone who has to be a fairly unswerving exemplar of law and good. Like far too many moral dilemmas, it can only be truly solved by ignoring it, as 4e demonstrates. Fortunately, Scott Bennie does not fall into the one size fits all camp, nor does he forget that they're holy warriors, and killing evil things is an objectively good act in D&D (at least, as long as it isn't done in an evil manner) Similarly, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best you can be, and recognized for that fact. It's when the publicity seeking becomes more important to you than the actual heroic deeds, you put others down instead of improving yourself to keep your place, or you get into ends justify the means crap that you're headed for a fall. A pretty decent set of guidelines. This also fixes another problem, that of the retroactive making all paladins also cavaliers, separating them out again, so you can have cavaliers, paladins, and cavalier-paladins running around in the same campaign. It could probably have done more to make paladins that aren't so bound up in western medieval cultural mores, but it's a quite decent article for it's size. Looks like they're really trying to get 1st ed sorted out before they say goodbye to it.


Space 1889 tells us what supplements they have coming up. Sweet.


The corrected Cavalier: Once again it looks like they're trying to fix the classes that didn't make the cut for the new edition. David Howery is rather more brutal in his cuts here than he was with the barbarian, getting rid of both powers and restrictions aplenty. Hmm. While once again, I quite approve of his objectives, he might be going a bit too far this time. Wouldn't want them to wind up underpowered, would we. This is the kind of thing that would definitely require playtesting to see for sure. And whether it's a mechanical improvement or not, all these articles in quick succession feels like a conscious rejection of Gary's old work and design style, and an attempt to homogenize everything. These three articles are definite fuel for the edition wars, and it'll be interesting to see what responses they get. Your opinions and actual play experiences would be especially welcome in this matter.


Arcane Lore: Healing is just about the only thing clerics can do, that wizards can't. There are a few spells that break that rule, but they're pretty high level, and do so indirectly. (Ed Greenwood, and his sneaky synostodweomer aside) But even if they can't break the laws of magic, wizards will always be pushing at their limits, and that's what this is about. First, there's an examination of D&D physics, looking at the spells that do offer some limited restorative properties, and trying to figure out the rules and limitations of wizardly magic from those, so as to not produce results that break the current niche protection. I note we're still missing vampiric touch, which would be a staple spell for many magic users in later editions. Secondly, we have 7 new spells which work from these principles. Quite interesting ones, too.

Arnvid's unseen limb gives you an invisible, selectively insubstantial limb to do stuff with. This is incredibly handy even if you aren't actually missing any limbs, and even more so if you are. Oh, the tricks you could pull with something like this. :rubs hands together: I may have to read up on Larry Niven's Gil Hamilton books.

Empath lets you transfer damage to yourself. Since it has a long casting time, and at the same level, clerics'll be curing serious wounds left, right and centre, It's rather a last resort spell.

Life force transfer also lets you transfer damage. Slightly less, but a lot faster, so it's useful in a combat situation. Given how weedy magic-users are, this seems rather risky, unless they value your life above their own. Don't want to lose your secondary medic as well.

Dispel exhaustion is just the illusionist spell at a level higher, to reflect that wizards aren't as good at that deception stuff. Meh. Another bit of niche protection is nibbled at, but since illusionists are being merged, it doesn't matter any longer.

Accelerated metabolism lets you heal at the rate of a day's rest per turn. Awesome. Course, like haste, this plays hell with your lifespan, and you have to spend the whole time eating and sleeping to keep your body functional, so it won't be kind to your provisions either. (and lets not think about the toilet arrangements) Could probably be twisted to other inventive uses on unwilling creatures. It also has an amusingly appropriate material component. Burning the candle at both ends indeed.

Vampire dagger is like vampiric touch, only it spreads it's draining over multiple hits, and lasts quite a while. This'll definitely extend your wizard's close combat time by quite a bit. (if you can hit) If you have the stuff, (which will cost a lot) combine with Tenser's transformation for great brutality.

Exchange lets you transfer HP from one character to another. This can be done unwillingly, but the amount is still fairly small, and since this is an 8th level spell with a slow casting, it's not going to be killing any equivalent level challenges or saving your friends asses mid battle.

Overall, it's a fairly well balanced set. Even a wizard in their teens will be hard pressed to match a low level cleric in terms of recovery power. As it feels like the kind of research wizards would logically do in game when confronted with their limitations, and most of them are not even as good at healing as common wizard spells of the next edition, I'm inclined to be generous with this one. You can come in if you like.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989

part 4/5

TSR previews: D&D almost entirely takes over this month, in one form or another. They decide that using the little grey box to denote the most important release is going to continue, even though the corebooks are out. This time, it's the dungeon master's screen that gets the special attention. Since 4 bits of card isn't a very impressive product, they also include a mini adventure. Anyone play this one?

The Forgotten Realms is still proving ridiculously popular, and getting the support to match. You saw the adventure last month, now read the novelisation of Tantras, part 2 of the Avatar Trilogy. See the people who will soon become gods do their stuff. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Kara-Tur, we have OA6: Ronin Challenge. The setting is much more filled out than it used to be, and this module certainly intends to take advantage of this.

Greyhawk gets a boxed set covering its eponymously named city. Greater detail than ever before! You still won't be able to match the insane level of detail the FR'll build up in a few years.

D&D is also reaping the rewards of all that effort creating boxed sets, with Dawn of the Emperors. Thyatis vs Alphatia! For great justice! With Airships! Oh yes, that reminds me, the princess ark series should be along sometime soon. I'm definitely looking forward to that. We're also getting TM1: The western Countries. See the known world mapped out in a style imitating real world hiking maps. A typically amusing conceit that probably springs from Bruce Heard's mind.

Our token unrelated product this month is the Deluxe city campaign set for Marvel Superheroes. New york, new york. What a great place to adventure in. Can you make sure it doesn't get destroyed and rebuilt as often as Tokyo?


Luck of the draw: Interesting. This article is essentially the equivalent of an ecology of for this magical item, presenting us with some fiction of a group encountering them, trying to find out more, and having a little drama along the way. The writer answers the question of what happens if you try various rules exploits, and some cosmological questions that could be used as further plot hooks. He also demonstrates a delightfully cruel sense of humour, as the characters act in a very PC like manner. Yeah, this is pretty sweet. Yet more encouragement for me to include this kind of thing into my own games, sit back, and watch the group do it all to themselves for a while. I think I shall put the LP of maniacal laughter on the gramophone and let it run for a while while I go make a cup of tea.


The game wizards: The Sniper! games obviously can't be doing too terribly, because it looks like they've got a computer game conversion. What's more, they're multiplayer internet ones as well. Looks like they use ascii visuals, which is rather amusing, but is probably needed for bandwidth saving reasons. As is usual for this column, this is a promotional piece, making people aware of their shiny new stuff, and talking about how it works, the changes that needed to be made for the new medium. Real time gaming is quite a different experience to taking turns, but the fact that you can stack orders should allow you to run to the loo and not die horribly straight away. As with Kesmai, we see that they're still trailblazing in their developments, and having to figure out the best way to handle different genres from scratch. Better pray your connection doesn't lag. Fairly interesting.


Role-playing reviews: Looks like monsters are this month's theme here. In particular books concentrating on one or two specific ones. Another sign of the increase in fine detail in modern books, we've gone from statblocks of a few lines, to pages of ecology, to entire elaborate studies. But of course, detail is no indicator of quality. Let's see what Jim makes of this crop.

Ents of fangorn is of course for MERP. Remember, they might have been on the hobbit's side, but these are scary guys when roused, and have some decidedly alien cousins. If your players play things wrong, they could easily wind up their bad side. But the book doesn't present that brilliantly, with the actual adventures being more orc infested dungeons than bosky shifting woods. Looks like the writers are sneaking D&Disms back into a property that inspired it.

Into the troll realms is for runequest. Like the previous one, it's more about the adventures than a detailed examination of the creatures, but that's because there already was a supplement on that (Reviewed in issue 67, and with a revision coming soon) But this time the adventures are pretty good, with inventive plots that aren't all hack and slash. Looks like Runequest is still fairly popular.

GAZ10 The orcs of Thar takes a lighthearted, Paranoia inspired look at it's subject, giving the various humanoids a distinctive voice, as we saw in the Orcwars game a few months ago. Life may be cheap, but they still know how to have fun, looting, pillaging, and smashing their way through the nearby hooman countries. The various races all get 36 level progressions with optional spellcasting, and are balanced by the bigger ones being tougher at the start, but requiring more xp to advance, so they'll eventually fall behind. All are certainly a lot more effective than the optional rules given in this magazine for AD&D humanoids. It's all good whimsical fun, useful for both players and DM's.

AC10 bestiary of giants and dragons takes a rather different tack, being more a bunch of adventures than a detailed ecological examination. It does have some interesting visual aids and tables though. Overall, it seems like something to dip into, rather than use all in one go.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989

part 5/5

The role of computers: Prophecy is a fairly decent action-adventure game. Save the land from the latest villain trying to take it over. The review section of this is fairly short, with lots of direct hints on how to get past certain obstacles and win the game. Seems like the clue corner is proving very popular, so they've decided to apply that approach to the actual reviews. Curious.

The magic candle gets a more conventional review, for a slightly less conventional game. Create a party, and send them off to save another kingdom. What's different is the way that play is handled, with party splitting, formalized training, and actions consuming energy, which then needs to be carefully managed. Does seem like it'll require quite a bit of character switching and learning to complete.

Pool of radiance and Ultima V are our main subjects in the clue corner. Amusingly, they advise us to sleep spam low level creatures. Ahh, the joys of older editions. Overall, this one feels a bit shorter than usual. Oh well, plenty more stuff to see.


Around the world in 36 levels: Basic D&D gets a straight promotional piece. Seems like far too many people look down on it, and are ignoring it in favour of going straight to AD&D. That's certainly the way it seems from the articles in the magazine. But recently, they have been doing some pretty extensive worldbuilding, filling in the various countries in ways that make them quite different from the base assumptions (apart from Karameikos of course, which is designed to satisfy them as no other) but still fun places to adventure in. This makes it much easier for you to get a campaign going, and keep it interesting, whatever your level. There's plenty of information, while at the same time not filling in so much that the DM has no freedom to fill things in further. There is a faint hint of desperation to this, and it does make me wonder just what the current state of affairs is in terms of sales, and the office politics surrounding it. Is it being kept on as a sinecure, is it in danger of being cancelled? In any case, I do find this a little worrying, as well as largely being a waste of space for me, as it's not introducing any new material. Let's hope this works, and brings round some new players, because it's not the kind of thing I'm very keen on seeing.


Through the looking glass: Another battle report this issue. The old classic turnaround of the humanoids attacking the village sees a whole bunch of creatures, from kobolds to an umber hulk, teaming up to bring the devastation. Still, the good guys assemble fast, and thanks to a bit of wizardly artillery, the battle is nowhere near one sided. The battle is recounted in a very close to the ground way, with individual figures given lots of characterization. Using minis does not have to mean a lack of roleplaying. A rather quirky little entry here, that's interesting to read, but not particularly useful. I guess, like the fiction, it doesn't have to be, it just needs to be inspirational.


Watch your step!: Top Secret gets it's first article this year. That really does illustrate just how much they've dropped the non D&D stuff recently, usually only having one token article on another TSR gameline per issue. And this little piece on landmines shows that they're continuing their focus on more military matters, and are unlikely to reverse either trend any time soon. With plenty of talk about the trigger mechanisms of these delightful little lumps of potential death, this is easily convertible to other games, including the making of D&D traps. If you want to play things tomb of horrors style, where player ingenuity is paramount over rolls, and one wrong step spells doom, this is a good one to incorporate. If not, well, you probably won't want to use these regularly. Still, either way, it's another pretty decent choice for you to take as a GM.


Dragonmirth runs up against bureaucracy again. Yamara looks for a new job. We really need another comic to fill out this section.


Ooh, pretty. Connecting with the deck of many things article earlier this issue, we have a selection of cards for you to cut out and use when your players encounter this item. Course, this is another thing that'll be somewhat inconvenient to construct from .pdf, because you'll need to print out both sides, and then stick them to cardstock, but that's not an insurmountable problem. The biggest danger is the artifacts from your assembly process allowing them to figure out which card is which and only pick the good ones. Guess I'll just have to be extra careful. Or use the tarot of many things from issue 77 instead. Now that was a nifty article.


A rather quirky issue. With the combination of an unusually high level of whimsy, and the extensive look back on the old classes, it does stand out, although I'm not entirely sure if it's in a good or bad way. As usual when there's plenty of both good and bad elements, I shall have to return a cautious positive. It's certainly not a load of rehashed crap, despite drawing heavily from existing material.
 
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