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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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Äkräs

God of Turnips
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 148: August 1989
This was the very first Dragon I ever bought.

And almost immediately it caused the second total AD&D campaign meltdown that I've witnessed (*). Thirty minutes with the Deck of Many Things was enough to crash and burn the campaign into a hopeless ruin. Though, on the plus side, we then started Temple of Elemental Evil so it wasn't completely in vain.

I still have the cards stored somewhere, just in case I some day need to destroy some other AD&D campaign.

(*) The first one involved the statement: "Hey, let's do it this way. My paladin goes to the next room while you torture the answers out of him".
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
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.
As you mentioned before, Princess Ark is right around the corner and had a respectable run (#153 to 188), and the Known World Grimoire will pick up afterwards (#189 to 200) and run through the end of 1993. The golden age, at least in terms of Basic D&D articles, is just about to start.

In terms of general products (and I may be missing a few), it's more of a silver age:

1989 saw the release of 2 modules (B11, B12), 5 gazetteers (GAZ9 to 13), the Thyatis/Alphatia box set, and 2 supplements (Creature Crucible 1 and 2). Total 10.

1990 slowed down a bit with 4 modules and 2 supplements (DDA 1-2, HWA 1-2, Creature Crucible 3, and the Hollow World box). Total 6.

1991 was a pivotal year, with the release of the Rules Cyclopedia. Also, the black box basic game (levels 1 to 5), 5 modules (DDA3 and 4, HWA 3, HWR 1 and 2), and 1 supplement (character sheets). Total 8.

1992 picked up quite a bit, with the Thunder Rift and Wrath of the Immortals box sets, 3 other box sets for the black box game (Dragon's Den, Goblin's Lair, and Haunted Tower), 6 adventures (Raven's Ruin, HWQ1, HWR3, Jade Hare, Silver Sword, Sword & Shield), and 2 supplements (PC4, Poor Wizard's Almanac). Total 13.

1993 dropped off again. Champions of Mystara box, 3 supplements (DMR 1 and 2, Poor Wizard's Almanac II), and 3 modules (Phantom's Wake, Knight of Newts, Rage of the Rakasta). Total 7.

1994 and 1999 saw new releases of the black box basic set (in various colors), but otherwise that's the end.

The peak years in terms of products were 1984 through 1987, though 1992 is comparable.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 149: September 1989

part 1/5

108 pages. Another classic cover graces this issue. They're really having a good run of those lately. Guess the work of the art director, and the rest of the team working under Roger deserves credit. Speaking of which, Roger decides to let the assistant editor do this month's editorial. How's that for delegation. Let them handle the tedious stuff about what we're currently looking for, and how to format it in such a way that it has the best chance of being accepted. How very tempting for him. One of those things I know will become more common later, especially once Dale A Donovan joins the team. Definitely worth noting. Increasingly, they become a corporation rather than a collection of individuals.



In this issue:


Mutazoids! Feel the allegory, or just enjoy the gonzo and ultraviolence.


Letters: There is no escaping Waldorf! They tried to shut down discussion of him in issue 141, but people keep sending letters in. Must be the most popular topic they've had in a long time. This is absolutely hilarious, but does get a little repetitive, since it mostly involves even more powerful characters engaging in revenge fanfic upon him. Can't we just call it quits and rebuild Greyhawk like it never happened? Of course we can. But this isn't over yet. Waldorf will be back! :shakes fist:


Forum: Toby Myers thinks that wishes should be the province of found objects, not PC spellcasters. He also thinks they shouldn't be able to directly grant you metagame stats like XP and levels. No escaping this crowd.

Peter M Wilbur thinks that artificially dividing low and high fantasy when D&D is designed to progress naturally from one to the other is a bit silly. It's also a bit of a waste to miss out those first few levels. They go by awfully fast, and if you miss them your characterization won't be the same.

Matt Richardson thinks that people are having problems with low level magic-users not because the class is weak, but because they're playing them stupidly. They need high intelligence for a reason.

R. J. Wenzel thinks that even if wizards did wear armour, and use weapons, their low attack probabilities and hit points would result in them getting trounced in short order. Course, even in an all fighter team, bombarding the enemy from a safe position is vastly preferable to toe to toe fighting anyway. Surely winning without being in danger is a good thing?

Jeremy Gilliam rebutts Bob Tarantino (while misspelling his name, dear oh dear) simply saying that he prefers the greater detail and character options in AD&D.

Ilya Taytslin once again demonstrates that you've gotta actually play smart creatures smart if you want to challenge powerful adventurers. Anything that just charges into hand to hand combat deserves everything it gets. Even if they don't have magic, allies, traps, items, environmental stuff can all be put to great use.

Aaron Goldblatt is another person who thinks that evil characters should be entirely capable of working together as long as it seems more beneficial for them to do so than betraying or stealing from their allies. Just leave the assassins out of it please.

David G Rathbun also thinks evil PC's can make sense, as long as they aren't chaotic evil, and they have some reason to stick around and work together with the other characters. If they act like complete idiots, enforce logical consequences upon them and things should sort themselves out pretty quickly, probably by killing the character or removing them from play.

Tarun Nagpal also gives his experiences with evil PC's. They'll certainly face more than their share of obstacles. But that does not mean the game won't be fun to play. It'll just be different to the shiny heroic ones. And variety is a good thing. If your players can predict you too well, it's hard to challenge them.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 149: September 1989

part 2/5

Sage advice: Do you need to learn how to use bastard swords one handed and two handed separately (Your DM's decision. )

Why would anyone use anything else if slings are so cheap and effective. ( Clearance, mostly. That and point blank shots. Why use swords if polearms are more damaging and have greater reach. )

If system shock rolls are used when being raised, what are resurrection survival rolls for (AWOOGA AWOOGA! Eratta alert! Please fix immediately!)

How much do staves cost. (find one yourself. It's far more rewarding than getting one from the shops. )

Can you use missile weapons in melee (not easily)

How much damage do short bows do (Same as it ever was. not fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better)

Why can't spears be set to do double damage against charges anymore (yes they can. )

Can you attack while withdrawing. (yes, but the rhythm method isn't very reliable.)

Where are nets, lassos and mauls (cut for space at the last minute. They'll be back in a few supplements time. )

What are the stats for a broad sword. (barely different from a long sword. I don't know why you would want to differentiate them)

Can you fire an arquebus faster at high level (not unless you specialize. Note that you'll need regular supplies of gunpowder to practice enough for this.)

Can you wield a longsword in both hands at once ( Not unless you're drizzt. And you really don't want that.)

Can you specialize in two weapons and then attack with full bonuses for both( no, doubly. So very illegal. )

What happened to space requirements (they were relegated to the realms of common sense. You may want to go there some time. )

Why can't you use blunt weapons nonlethally (Lack of finesse. This is why you don't get flail duels. Get some flail snails and make them duel instead. That should be a good little earner. )

The table of save priority and the example contradict one-another (the table's right, the examples wrong. Rip it out and throw it in the bin. )

What's the conversion rate between 1st and 2nd ed. (They're the same, apart from some specific attacks of inflation. )

What's the conversion rate between GP and dollars (approximately 1 gp = $20. Not that you could spend them straight away)

Can you multiclass subclasses (not unless we say you can)

Do you divide Xp between classses when multiclassed (nothing has changed here. Move along. )

Does temporary con damage temporarily reduce HP (yes)

What happened to alignment languages (They're gone. And we shall pretend they never existed. No one could ever agree what they were anyway. )

Do drow and svirfneblin still have all their 1st ed special powers (not until they get books for 2nd ed. It's like the disappearance and reappearance of monks and assassins and half-orcs. )

What are PC race's size classes ( You should be able to figure this one out no trouble )

What use is the healing proficiency (Do you decry the medical profession. Unlike gods, It'll never abandon you just because you break some stupid rule.
Skip pitys da foo who underestimates it's use. )

The math on mountaineering doesn't add up ( Oh dear. That's not good. )

Why is it impossible to climb a dry ice wall, when you can climb a slippery one (all ice walls are slippery. At least until they get so cold that layers of your skin stick to them when you touch them. And you don't want to climb like that. You'd be a skeleton before you were halfway up the cliff face. )

Can you disbelieve an illusion at any time (as long as you can justify it)

Does plate still reduce damage (No. Skip streamlines. )

What good is a helmet (Skip will cap a muthafucka in the back of the head. Then you'll see what good a helmet does.)

Why are you killing baby dragons. Isn't this a family friendly magazine (because if you don't get them now, they become near impossible to stop. )

Do demihumans have to spend a slot to learn common (Probably best to give it to them for free. PC's can't really work together unless they can all understand each other. )

Are running and jogging cumulative (No. Man, that takes the cake for stupid questions. )

What's the correct procedure for dual class characters losing levels (whatever would be most inconvenient. We are still sadists, and awkward characters like this are a prime target to pick on. )

What happened to falling damage being geometric (Like so many of Gary's mid period contributions, we chucked it. We are our own people now. )

Do you take falling damage if you diliberately jump (yes)

Which way do proficiency modifiers go (High good, Low bad. Napster still irrelevant.)


Magic for beginners: Greg Detwiler continues to prove himself a fairly reliable contributer, with this article on how to keep magical weapons from becoming too crucial too soon. If you do things wrong, then you either end up with a situation where everyone can always affect the enemy, and there's no mystery and tension to a battle, or one where no-one can do anything, and they're in deep shit. Finding the right balance between those extremes can be tricky. Here's plenty of suggestions to solve this. Charged weapons that you need to save for when it's needed. Ones made out of special materials that only penetrate DR on specific types of creatures. Illusory items that'll hurt things vulnerable to magic, as long as they believe in them. When you consider that you need 16th level spellcasters for the most basic of permanent magical items, it's vaguely surprising that tricks like this aren't more common. Another example of how the D&D demographics and economy doesn't add up. In a similar vein, although obviously less extreme than dark sun's making metal scarce, this seems like a good way to up the level of grittiness in your campaign, and encourage players to be cautious and tactical in picking their fights. Not a terrible design goal to have, really. Definitely one I'll be considering.


The Envelope, Please!: Convention season is drawing to a close. So let's do a little looking back, at some of the more important events. Such as the Origins awards. They've been going for quite a while, but obviously, as TSR sided with Gen con during the feuding years, we've seen little on them in this magazine. A fairly balanced set of awards this year, with no one product obviously sweeping the board. GURPS, Sky Galleons of mars, and F-19 Stealth fighter each get two awards. TSR isn't completely ignored, but D&D is, with their minis line, and The hunt for Red October boardgame winning awards, along with Pool of Radiance featuring in their computer game awards. And Rick Loomis gets inducted into the hall of fame, having been working here right from the start. Make of that what you will.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 149: September 1989

part 3/5

The dragon's bestiary: This month's theme is variant horses. We've had a few of those before, plus a good few articles on regular horses, but it looks like this is the first time we've got a whole bestiary full of them. Let's hope at least a few of them show some imagination.

Av are, as the description says, the greyhounds of the horse world. Slim, very fast, and good at dealing with desert heat and terrain, they aren't good for combat, but make excellent mounts for messengers and scouts.

Bahtel, on the other hand, are rather stronger and more aggressive than normal horses, and make very good fighting mounts, able to kick, bite and headbutt all in the same round. Not that it's easy to stay on their back while they do so, but you can't expect power without work. And they aren't hugely loyal either. Better have a good ranger or barbarian handy to establish dominance over the buggers.

Kiita are intelligent quadropeds that choose you rather than being chosen, and depart just as abruptly when you no longer hold their curiosity. How very folklorish. With their minor magical powers, they seem like they have a good story in them.

Vor are not unicorns, but you might mistake them for one if you aren't an anthropologist. They aren't intelligent or magical, but they do have a little horn, and are very good at smelling poisons. This may annoy players at first if you introduce them, but what's wrong with that? ;)

Wandega are another quirky intelligent horse variant. They have minor magic learning powers, and like to team up with spellcasters so they can properly take advantage of this fact. They do tend to be a bit clingy, and have a number of other personality traits that they encourage you to play out, that could be amusing or annoying, depending on the group. Plenty of tools here for both PC's and adversaries to take advantage. Overall, I think this has been a solid, but not brilliant collection of creatures.


Advice for all mutants: Skip gets another Q&A column to answer gamma world questions with. He is becoming important of late. How did they ever manage without him.

Where in the modules are the things depicted on the covers (Nowhere! We do not constrain our artists imagination by forcing them to pay attention to what they're illustrating. )

What happened to module GW5 (Something went wrong in production. Skip will not reveal what. Can anyone out there in reader land enlighten us? )

How many more gamma world modules will we see. (None! As with star frontiers, it has proved insufficiently popular for continued support)

How do the maps in the modules fit together (Imperfectly! )

Where are the descriptions for the loot tables (GW6. We didn't want to waste space reprinting it in later ones. Gotta collect 'em all! )

How do you calculate service costs ( Skill of the workers multiplied by time it's gonna take to make the item. )

What does the endurance skill do ( Lets you fight on through the pain! Let's you fight on, through the darkness and the rain! Dreaming of the day we'll be together again! [/power ballad] )

Does high con let you avoid radiation (no, only lessen it)

I want vehicle stats (pay for the appropriate supplement then. Remember, you can mail order if the shops are being bastards. )

What's a pneumo-jack (Same as a regular car jack, only futuristic!)

Where are expanded rules for robots (GW10. Cyborgariffic!)

How often can you use telekinetic arm (3/day)

What protects you from black rays ( Light shields. Even black is a colour.)

How long does invisibility last (As in D&D, until you do something that breaks it)

What happens if you attempt to disrupt too many molecules at once (Hnnnnnnnrrrrrg! Ohh, you might bust a brain lobe doing that. )

Why don't plant mutations have modifiers (because they aren't dependent on ability scores)

Do mutant animals get their regular species abilities free (ayup)

How often can you use regeneration (5/day. Not enough really.)

How good is physical reflection really? (it's a fairly specific lifesaver, not a godmod)

What's the range of life leech (twice the rating. In what? Skip will not say)

How often can you use telekinesis (Same as telekinetic arm. Skip wonders why they have two powers that do the same thing)

Are clips full when you buy them (Usually)

How do you power a black ray pistol (propietary power source. Not easy to find.)

How much does a grenade hurt. (A lot, if you're nearby. )

What is a bu'daan protected against (Electricity)

Does pyrokinesis protect you from lasers (no)

Can a PC ultraborg have a stage V ID (yes)

Does genius capability boost your results no matter how good they are (yes)

Can a paralyzed character use mental mutations (Usually. Apply common sense liberally)

Do you automatically have clothes? (Easiest that way)

{Question obscured due to badly formatted advert} (No, I refuse point-blank to answer this! )

Can defence screens result in hits without damage (no, they make things miss)

Can you overcome tech level differences with training (sure)

There's a mistake in the equipment lists. (Only a few weights. It's hardly a system breaker )

When are the combat results tables used (When attacks do more than just hurt)

Is there an overall reference to the weapons and stuff (No. Once again, gotta collect 'em all. )


Orcs in space: Well, you took your time getting here. I guess orcs never were as technologically skilled as dwarves (see issue 70. ) Not actually related to the earlier one, this is still a very interesting article indeed, talking about adapting the Warhammer 40k Rogue trader rules into a full roleplaying game. The setting is not the most conductive to wandering groups of adventurers, it has to be said, with it's hypertotalitarian government and rampant xenophobia. Still, there are ways to do it, with the Rogue Traders themselves being one of the best options for semi-independent traveling. And there's certainly a rich range of places for you to explore, and challenges to face. The biggest alteration that needs to be made is reducing the lethality slightly, giving characters multiple wound points and rolling on a critical system similar to WHFRP's instead of simply dying when hit, and some basic provisions for resolving noncombat actions. Pretty cool. This reminds me of the time I modded the old Heroquest rules to allow for point buy character generation rather than being stuck with the same 4 pregens. That was pretty conductive for evolving into a roleplaying game as well. This has been refreshing, both tackling a system they haven't mentioned in here before, and taking a distinctive approach to doing so. I strongly approve.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
What happened to module GW5 (Something went wrong in production. Skip will not reveal what. Can anyone out there in reader land enlighten us? )
IIRC, it had to do with the author. All I do know is that the only remaining bits are a couple pages of notes. Some fans (inc me) designed a module around the basic idea of GW5.

http://www.paforge.com/

Just look inhe generic GW files pages.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 149: September 1989

part 4/5

The dragon magazine subsciption page recycles some earlier cover art.


Kesmai and beyond: It's been nearly two years since we heard about this early MMORPG. (see issue 128) Good to see it's still going and even growing, despite the costs of playing. (over $6 an hour. Nowadays people bitch about subscriptions costing $20 a month. You don't know how good you have things. ) Here we see them experimenting with new rules, new levels, new powers, and all that cool stuff. Once again, there are many elements that will seem familiar, but a few that didn't get picked up in later games, such as the way they handle upgrading to the advanced game. Grinding random drops and taking them to craftsmen to get upgraded equipment, boss monsters that are way too tough for any one person, no matter how experienced, they seem to be getting the hang of this medium's quirks. And despite the cost, there always seems to enough people online to have someone to play with. Another cool marker of how far we've come, and how far we still have to go. Makes me curious how long this particular game lasted as a vital developing world before being reduced to a sinecure and eventually shut down. I think it's googling time.


From freighters to flying boats: Star frontiers getting an article as well? This is rather more non D&D stuff in an issue than they've had for quite a while. This is a fairly long article as well, covering boats in the system. This should synergise well with the underwater stuff in issue 110. So here's 9 new vehicles, plus lots of notes on adapting the combat system to water based escapades. Ramming, surface to underwater fights, explosives, specific damage results, escaping sinking ships, (a lot easier than surviving a spaceship's destruction) this all seems pretty servicable. Remember, under the ocean is still almost as mysterious as outer space. The oceans of other planets can be even more so.


Getting it right first time: Oop. A (fourth, fifth? Something like that) guide to the handling of running convention adventures. Surely it would have been better to put this a bit before convention season, so it'd be fresh in the minds of the people about to try that grueling task for the first time. Perhaps Richard W Emerich just went though this crap himself, and that's why it's showing up now. Still, this takes you though in a sensible step by step manner, from the first preparations for your adventure, to the play itself; figuring out what works, what doesn't, what will speed up getting to the fun parts (extra important given tight time considerations.) communicating important details clearly to the players, running the adventure in a fair manner, and just as importantly, a whole bunch of things not to do. One of those articles that definitely shows the hallmarks of the years of refinement, as people have been creating and running adventures like this for over a decade now, and stress testing these ideas in reality rather than just theorizing about what ought to work, or not. And since many of these idea are also pretty beneficial when applied to standard home campaigns, and our writer has a fast-paced entertaining writing style, this is one time I have no problem with them repeating a topic. See you again in another 3-4 years, probably.


TSR previews: Not one, but two products get the grey box treatment this month. The second monstrous compendium follows hot on the heels of the first one, doubling your selections of officially converted stuff to throw at the players. We're also getting the official packs of character sheets, for those of you who really want to waste money.

The second two trail maps are out this month TM2 covers the eastern countries of the Known world, while TM3 is for Krynn. Well, Ansalon is a pretty tiny continent. It doesn't need multiple maps like the others would.

Greyhawk isn't being neglected either. On the module side, we have WG10: Child's play. Intended to introduce beginning players and characters to the brutality of RPGA play. Will there be evil dolls, or would that just be too obvious? On the books side, we get The eyes have it, another Rose Estes production. A flying ship drawn by pegasi? Methinks you may be confusing your Mystara and Oerth thematics.

The novels continue, with two second books in trilogies. Kendermore is the second book in the dragonlance prequels. Tasslehoff gets to be the star. Do you want him to get married or not? Buck Rogers gets Hammer of Mars by M S Murdock. Things look bleak for Buck, as RAM squeeze him into a corner. Always darkest before the dawn, even in space.


Spelljammer gets properly advertised. It's out of this world! :groan: I guess that fits the general tone of things in the setting.


The role of books: Child of saturn by Teresa Edgerton is a pretty strong debut, mixing worldbuilding, intrigue, and strong visual descriptions. Now what she needs is some key gimmick to set her apart from all the other fantasy writers.

Light raid by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice gets a fail result due to taking too many unexplained liberties with the political situation and not engaging in future history worldbuilding in a logical manner. The result feels like a fanfic that has the characters act completely out of character.

Wizard's bane by Rick Cook has one very clever twist that livens up an otherwise somewhat subpar fantasy novel. Still, strong research needs technical skill to turn into gripping stories.

Faerie tale by Raymond E Feist also gets a mixed review. It has lots of cool elements, too many in fact, and tries to cram them all in, cluttering the story up and keeping the characters from getting the development time they deserve. Needs a good editor to streamline and focus things.

A study in sorcery by Michael Kurland is a fantasy/detective story, seeing him playing with characters and a world created by Randall Garrett. It doesn't do too badly at capturing the personalities of the existing characters, and sets up and demolishes the mystery elements quite well. Still a good idea to have read the earlier books though, as it doesn't explain all the laws of magic it references.

The further adventures of batman, edited by Martin H Greenberg doesn't quite work, partly due to the editing, which fails to give them a consistent tone or any kind of continuity, and partly due to the change in medium from comics to prose, which hurts the character more than expected. Some of the individual stories are cool, particularly Issac Asimov's take on the setting, but as a whole, it's less than the sum of it's parts.

Nightside city by Lawrence Watt-Evans is another sci-fi/private eye story. However it stands out, both due to the worldbuilding, the protagonist, and the ending, which refuses to settle into a status quo like so many of these series. Whether it'll get followed up and continue progressing is another matter altogether, of course.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 149: September 1989

part 5/5

The role of computers: Curse of the Azure bonds gets 5 star review. Unlike the previous AD&D games, you start off at mid-level straight away, so you won't have to grind through 1st level yet again. You can transfer characters from the previous games, but it'll still be a challenge if you rush through things. It all seems fairly familiar, with the whole range of conversation options, spells directly derived from the game, and elements you'll recognize from the book and module. However, the devil's in the details, and with a plotline that allows you to take plenty of meaningful options and do things in a nonlinear manner, they think it scores highly in this respect. Are the shilling the home company, or was it really that good?

Space quest III is also an adventure game, with a sci-fi twist. With plenty of humour, cut scenes, lots of different activities in the course of completing the adventure, and excellent visuals, it also gets pretty decent marks. Now, if only it were a bit longer and harder, so they didn't finish it so quickly.

Several other interesting tidbits. A boy and his blob gets mentioned. Now there's a nostalgia triggering name. Atari try and get into the handheld console market. I don't remember that at all. It must have done pretty badly. Anyone remember why? Always amusing to see the future that wasn't.


Spock endorses the american cancer society. Eating right is highly logical. At least they're trying to fit in. But it's still bollocks I'd rather not see in this magazine. Man, they'll let anyone in these days if they're wearing a funny hat.


Role-playing reviews:
Cyberpunk is exactly what it sounds like, Mike Pondsmith's game of the dystopian near future, where the corporations are more powerful than the government, and cybernetic augmentation separates the rich from the poor in a very intrinsic way. Build a character, define their past, gear them up, and try and build a future in the harsh urban environments where life is cheap, and knowledge of computer networking is vital. Fun little business, even if it seems a bit dated now, with the internet even more ubiquitous than imagined. Future shock's a bitch. Still, this is another pleasing reminder of how far I've come now.

GURPS autoduel is the roleplaying game version of Car Wars. Seems like evolving board games into full RPG's is a current in thing. This is a relatively grotty future, where things might be a bit run down and resources running out, but there's still more than enough stuff to create finely tuned vehicles and engage in some serious asskicking. With plenty of ongoing support, GURPS is becoming one of Jim's go to systems, as it allows you to easily mix various genres without changing characters.

F.R.E.E Lancers mixes near future tech with relatively gritty superheroics using the Top Secret/S.I system. It seems to be rather a toolkit, as while it's default assumptions involve working with the eponymous organisation, you can strip out either the espionage or superheroic elements without too much trouble. It also avoids one of the other problems this kind of game can suffer, that of making the PC's small fry who can never have any influence on their organization or the big picture. Once again, it gets a pretty positive result. Looks like you're spoiled for choice in this area. Unless it's the usual whitewash problem, which is always a possibility.


DC heroes gets a new edition. Well, all the cool kids are doing it. D&D, top secret, gamma world, ghostbusters, traveler, runequest. Seems you can't move for all the revisions.


Through the looking glass: Some fairly standard miniatures reviews here this month. Unfortunately, for the first time in a while, the photos aren't very well shaded, making some of the bits tricky to make out. I suspect this may be the fault of the people who scanned in the magazines, rather than the original photographers. In any case, it's an irritating lapse in professionalism in a run that's been rather good at that.

Anyway, Thunderbolt mountain miniatures give us a trio of elven kings (on hexagonal bases, curiously) and a swan ship for them to ride in. Both have pretty good construction and detail.

Scotia micro models contribute a load of marines with pulse rifles. They do have some design problems though, with quite a few of them coming to the reviewer with cracks, and the detail not being brilliant. Still useful if you don't have enough variety in your space marines.

Games Workshop have a Blood Bowl pack featured. Star players for each of the 5 main races appear in it. A dwarf with a proton cannon. A cyborg orc. A heavily padded human (he's gonna need it) A high fiving snotling. A spiked shoulder padded halfling. The usual touches of humour are obviously well present and correct.

Ral Patha contribute a fairly bog-standard selection of 12 different fighter models. A variety of eras and weaponry are covered, but nothing is exceptionally good or bad. Not a hugely interesting column here.


Time marches on: Even a strong issue like this runs out of steam eventually. You always have to pay attention to matters of format, page count, structure. And whenever you have to fit in a strict set of numbers, there's either going to be good stuff cut that people would want to see, or filler that they'd rather skip. So it is here, with one of those little single pagers which says little, simply telling you that one of the biggest plot drivers for a game is giving your world a history. One event leads to another, and next thing you know, it's thousands of years later, and you can follow a (not so) logical chain of action and revenge all the way through, such as in LotR. Not a terrible article, but one of those that says nothing new at all to me. I think it's time for a snooze.


Dragonmirth gets disneyfied. Yamara discovers a disturbing fact.

A strong issue, with plenty of good articles, and a higher than usual variety in them as well, that doesn't quite sustain it's momentum all the way through. And while the ratio of good stuff to bad seems pretty high at the moment, they don't seem to be producing the truly classic articles like they used too. Are they in danger of losing people through sheer reliability and lack of drama? Tricky to adventure in overpacified lands. Oh well, it's the big one five oh next issue. Maybe they'll have something special saved up to celebrate. For now, toodle-pipski from me.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Atari try and get into the handheld console market. I don't remember that at all. It must have done pretty badly. Anyone remember why? Always amusing to see the future that wasn't.
Ah. The Atari Lynx. Actually not a bad device, especially given the time and competition.

On the other hand, it was perhaps a bit too much given the time and competition. A colour backlit screen meant that it was expensive and drained batteries like crazy, particularly when compared to the Game Boy.

The Lynx II was better on both regards, IIRC, but by then Nintendo had pretty much sewn up the handheld market. (Plus Atari no longer had the clout needed to pull in the big name games.)
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Ah. The Atari Lynx. Actually not a bad device, especially given the time and competition.

On the other hand, it was perhaps a bit too much given the time and competition. A colour backlit screen meant that it was expensive and drained batteries like crazy, particularly when compared to the Game Boy.
Thought so. Battery life does seem to be a huge consideration in the portable market. Plus buying batteries really makes you aware how much you're paying for something, as opposed to getting an overall electric bill every 3 months. It's like cash and credit cards.
 
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