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

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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 152: December 1989

part 2/5

Sage advice: Which polearms do double damage against charging creatures (The ones with straight spikes. Co Mon Sense. Do you have it?)

Can you see magical radiation. (Not unless you have appropriate powerz. )

How do you find out exactly how many charges an item has (not easily. A lot of the time, you'll have to just trust the DM, and hope it doesn't run out at a crucial moment)

Can you taste a potion and find out what it does immediately (If you're willing to risk it )

Why don't the XP tables go above 20 (because we want you to stop there. The game just cannae handle it if you go much higher. You want really high power games, play BD&D instead :D )

Do clerics stop getting better at turning undead at level 14 (yup. Again, you want high level scaling, play BD&D. It's far better suited to that. )

What happened to the -10 rule (it's still around)

Does a cloak of poisonousness have a save (No. Instant screwage. Hee Hee. Don't matter if you're black or white. )

How quickly can you become invisible again after attacking (next round)

Who can use an amulet against undead. (Anyone! Bitchin!)

Shouldn't staff-spears have a chance of being +6 (no)

What's the risk of using a helm of teleportation. (Landing in the wrong place, just like the regular spell )

What level can a wizard specialize (normally only 1st. Allowing them to do so afterwards is purely optional, and remember, they'll have to erase a load of spells to do so. )

Can nonwarriors have % strength (No change here dear)

Do halflings get combat modifiers for their size (wait till next edition dear. )

Can you wear clothes if you have strength 1 (Hee. I can't think of an answer to that that isn't funny. Well, maybe apart from the classic words of Richey Edwards about anorexia.
I want to walk in the snow
And not leave a footprint
I want to walk in the snow
And not soil its purity.
Now there's a downer for you. Let's get away from that pronto.)

Why are there spell failure chances for wis below 9 (if you've had it drained, you don't completely lose your deific connection)

Can nonelven characters find secret door (1 in 6! Wark! 1 in 6! Basic training! Pieces of eight!)

Do gnomes get poison resistance like dwarves (no)

Do you need to spend a slot to fight with two weapons (Hmm. That'd nerf it even more. Skip quite likes that idea. )

What's the range limit on undead turning (240 yards, plus line of sight)

How long does druid shapechanging take (3 segments. Lest you forget AD&D rules. that means 18 seconds. Realisticly, you could do all sorts of stuff to them that you can't in the rules. )

Rouges make different checks for setting snares to warriors (First, it's rogues, not rouges. Skip will rouge the next person to make that mistake with their own blood. Second, that's another mistake. Use dex for both.)

Does 90% cover protect you from spells (only if it has a physical manifestation like a fireball )

Can you use special powers on a surprise round (This is very much recommended. Taking out your enemies before they can act is the best way to fight.)

Does the lifetime henchman limit count if they graduate rather than died (Technically, but you may want to house rule that )

Can you pick how many people you Hold (yes)

How much does one day's food weigh (Way too bloody much. Skip hates extended arctic adventures)

Can specialists cast spells from opposing schools using scrolls (yes)

What's the initiative modifier for protection spells (+3)

Do specialists get an extra spell per level! (No, per spell level they can cast. That's somewhat less. )

Fools gold has errata (Yeah? It's a tricksy spell. Obviously it got recursive. )

Do bards have to learn a musical instrument (Depends what style of entertainer they are)

Can you attack with one weapon and parry with the other (no. This is D&D, not swashbuckling adventures. You want off-hand protection, use a shield.)

Can tongues communicate with animals (They have no language. So they will just look blankly at you. )

How near do you need to be before attraction/avoidance takes effect (1 foot.)

If you cast light on chalk, do you write glowing messages. (No. That's what faerie fire is for. )

The ecology of the umber hulk: Another underground special, another monster than dungeoneers are likely to encounter. Umber hulks are important in the underground ecology because they actually create quite a lot of tunnels. They're smart enough to engage in some nasty tactics in the process of killing you and taking your stuff, but generally ornery enough that you won't be able to keep them from attacking for any length of time. They can be used in quite a number of ways, both alive and dead, and this does have the usual advice on that kind of stuff, making them both more dangerous, and more desirable to kill. Seems like a return to playing it safe territory, with an ecology that's competent, but hardly groundbreaking. Still, better that than the failed attempts of last issue.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 152: December 1989

part 3/5

In a cavern, in a canyon: Mining! One of the biggest producers of both valuable materials and future dungeons for adventurers to explore. Where would we be without it? And amazingly enough, this is a topic the magazine hasn't covered before as well. This is promising. But could also be very dull. Curiously, it manages to be both, capturing both the months of grindy tedium, and the interesting bits that happen during that time, as you find cool stuff, monsters find you, you have to deal with collapses, pockets of bad gas, seams running dry, and the omnipresent legal crap from other people when you actually try and sell the stuff. Seems like the kind of thing that would be good to incorporate when you've got to the domain management stage, and can skim through several years in a single session building up a history with the aid of a few dice rolls. Once you've done your share of killing things and taking their stuff, you've got to give back to the community, ensure that future generations have things to kill and take the stuff of. Not a classic, but certainly not a bad article either. Good to see them fill in another avenue for adventuring in a fairly plausible manner.

The wanderers below: More random encounter tables? Now taking advantage of the stuff in the Dungeoneers survival guide. This time tailored for specific regions of the underdark based upon what major features and dominant humanoid creatures are in the vicinity. I can get plenty of use out of that. A two page article that does what it says, no more, no less. The underwater one is a bit sketchy, but that's proably because there's not enough aquatic underground creatures to draw upon. Otherwise, the 9 tables are interestingly interconnected, and cover a decent range of creatures. Just be ready to run if you're a low level character, for monsters of all power levels occupy the same regions, not divided into neat depth levels like some dungeons. So much for the safety gloves, muahaha.

Reichstar? I don't remember that. Anyone have any info on it?

Role-playing reviews decided to go modern military this month. Tactics, all sorts of cool weaponry, and evil dictators to kill. For dungeon crawlers, it's like a home away from home. Just remember, you don't have magic healing to save you.

Twilight 2000 is another possible future that is now well into the past. WWIII is not going particularly well, and your soldiers are stuck behind enemy lines. This leaves your characters free reign to take any actions they choose to survive, advance the cause, and get home. This highly focussed premise lets you get into action easily, and the design, using lots of little booklets in a boxed set, helps avoid so much flipping slowing things down. It's built up a whole load of modules in recent years, expanding on the setting options quite considerably. It definitely puts it's own spin on combat heavy modern roleplaying.

Commando is the millitary sourcebook for Top Secret/ S.I. If you want to get in, your characters need to be the best of the best. But fear not, this is not material for twinks, the enemies will be similarly badass, and both sides will have pretty scary equipment. Pleasingly, the reviewer not only points out errata, he also consults the designer to get an official response for said errata. That's one advantage of working for the same company.

Brushfire wars is a set of little adventures for said Commandos. Since they are heavily military oriented, they're only really useful in an appropriate campaign. And they are pretty tricky. No froofy narrativist stuff here. Let's get planning, then hit 'em hard and fast.

GURPS high-tech is actually focussed on modern day and near past weaponry, and other equipment. It has the same reliable clarity and detail as the rest of their supplements. No adventures here, but it shouldn't be too hard to convert them from the other games covered with these tools.

Heroquest imitates D&D by putting out an advanced edition. Games workshop like making lots of money.

Servants of the jeweled dagger: What would one of these themed bits be without an examination of some of the natives. We had Drow in issue 129, and Svirfneblin in 131. Mind flayers got attention just a couple of issues ago. Goblinoids are well covered. So Duergar seem like a good choice for a humanoid race that needs a little depth building. Superficially, they may seem slightly more similar to regular dwarves than Drow do to regular elves. But with their acceptance of trickery, magical abilities, and near complete lack of any kind of sense of humour or affection make them rather less pleasant to spend time around. This is another of those ones that seems pretty familiar to me because most of it's ideas were repeated in later 2nd ed books mentioning them. Add to that the fact it's not very long, and my world is very much not rocked. Yawn. Looks like diminishing returns is already becoming a problem for this topic as well.

Fiction: The first notch by R A Salvadore. So the master hack (if that isn't a contradiction) gives dragon magazine some fiction. Set in the Realms, what seems like a basic dwarves vs goblins scenario becomes a more complicated one, in which both sides have to work together to survive an ettin. He manages a nice line in both banter and dramatic combat sequences, establishing individual personalities, and resolving things quickly and efficiently. A quite palatable little read, and one that hews closer to D&D than most of their fiction. I actually rather like this. Let's hope he can keep the schlock-o-meter from going into the red.


I'm a boat
Validated User
Reichstar? I don't remember that. Anyone have any info on it?
The Index has this review snippet from White Wolf Magazine #24: Rating 3/5. "...though hindered by a mediocre game system, deserves attention because of its classy treatment of a delicate and interesting subject matter."

Whichever user rated it was significantly less kind however, giving it a 2/10. (Unsurprising, as I always found White Wolf's reviews to be a bit easy on products at times. It had great articles in the pre-Vampire days though.)

As far as I can tell from a quick search of there and other places, only the core book was ever released. (The RPG Encyclopedia entry on Creative Encounters says the following: Small-press makers of the sci-fi alternate future RPG, Reich Star. Founded by author Ken Richardson in 1991 with the financial support of Ken's cousin Michael Dean. However, there was not enough invested for a second printing.)


Registered User
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 152: December 1989
Reichstar? I don't remember that. Anyone have any info on it?
I had it, years ago, I'd agree about the uninspired mechanics. Also as it was written by Australians, or some Commonwealth country, the details were pretty sketchy. They seem to take it for granted that one would assume the worst if Nazi Germany won WWII, not an unreasonable assumption of course, but i thought it made some details vague.

I wish I still had it, I'd write more rather than go off of my faded memory.



Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 152: December 1989

part 4/5

Cyberspace by I.C.E. What with cyberpunk and shadowrun coming out around the same time, it looks like we have a bit of a fad going on. Obviously, not all of them will survive, as with any bandwagon.

In quest of adventure: Hmm. Questing to achieve goals for some higher power, or atone for some misdeed. Certainly something with plenty of literary antecedents. This could stand a little more incorporation into D&D. On the other hand, it's also something that could be handled very wrongly, as the crappy fiction at the start of this article shows. Arbitrary railroading for some piddling infractions while ignoring other ones is a textbook way to get a pissed off party. On the other hand, getting levels restored or a bud raised is a very expensive business, and doing a quest for that kind of thing rather than paying is a much more dramatic option, that can lead into all kinds of spin-off adventures as you encounter people along the way, and take on their adventures as well. This is a good demonstration of the fact that it's much easier to build adventures for a character if they have some strong principles or goals, as you have carrots and sticks to work with and riff off. It's also a good reminder that if the characters are becoming too powerful, you can reduce them in capability by removing stuff or putting them in a situation where they can't use it without making things worse, allowing you to reestablish a degree of drama without starting a whole new set of characters. So if you wanna kick it second edition stylee, this is a good article to draw upon. If not, treat with great caution.

Palladium reminds us that they liked TMNT before it was cool and got it's own show and movies. Don't think it's going to be all kid friendly like the new stuff.

The game wizards: One of the few people still present who was part of the company nearly from the beginning, Jim Ward is now one of the most senior figures in TSR, and has responsibilities to match. This includes a whole bunch of silly little things, like making sure the mail goes to Lake Geneva, USA, not the original Geneva in Switzerland. And not getting out of touch and remembering how to have fun, and produce games that are fun for you. He makes a few jokes about becoming an evil dictator, which probably are less funny if he's being leaned upon by TSR's real evil overlord :wolves howl, organ music plays, evil laughter: And he gives a few hints as to next year's upcoming products. Despite the touches of humour, this isn't as informative as the last couple of years end articles, and feels like worrying foreshadowing. Soon the problems you jest about will be happening in all seriousness. And you will be the one responsible for passing down the cycle of pain, making sure someone produces all the Buck Rogers stuff. How do you justify that to yourself? Definitely something worth thinking about.

The role of computers: Dragon Wars shows that even 8 bit systems can have pretty decent graphics. Another adventure game where you start from nothing, and become a serious badass and overthrow the evil ruler of the land. Assemble a party, learn a wide variety of spells, and get exploring. The usual mix of fighting, puzzle solving and talking to annoying villagers ensues. They give it 5 stars.

The Kristal is based on a stage play, of all things. Take the role of Dancis Frake :rolleyes: and engage in space piracy. Piloting, swordfights, and the incredibly annoying problem of landing. It does have a few programming glitches, but overall, is another fun tricky game for you to grab for christmas.

Indiana Jones and The last crusade - The graphic adventure is one of the many tie-ins to George Lucas' big summer blockbuster. A point and click adventure puzzle game, you find items, solve puzzles, and talk to people to progress through the game and get top score. This'll probably take quite a few playthroughs, and consulting a hint book for the last few points. With a whole bunch of different tricks to master, they give it 5 stars. Lucasfilm do seem to put quite a bit of effort into these things.

Beyond the black hole is a stereoscopic 3D game Put on the 3d glasses, and enjoy a distant, far more sophisticated descendent of Pong. It also gets 5 stars for it's spectacular visuals and interesting gaming challenges. They are being generous today. Ahh, the joys of gimmicks. So glad we can do proper 3D games without needing stuff like that these days.

TSR Previews: Another all D&D schedule this month. On the generic side, we have the updated battlesystem rules. Are you ready to add a little mass to your combat again? No? Wimps.
More significantly, we have the complete fighter manual. Splatbooks may have been around for quite a while, but here's where they really start making their mark. Say hello to kits, lots of new toys, and all the bloat that goes with them.

The forgotten realms is really doing well again this month. The third monstrous compendium compiles a ton of creatures, many of which probably got their first appearance in the magazine, and updates them as per usual. They give us the trail map for Kara-Tur. FR9: Bloodstone lands shows you how to play really high level adventures of your own. And Pool of Radiance becomes a novel, having already been a computer game and a module. How many people will have both the desire and money to snap all these 4 up?

Regular D&D continues to quietly do increasingly strange things, with PC2: Top Ballista! Not a very informative name, this bemused me when I first heard of it. Still, skyship flying techie gnomes have potential, otherwise we wouldn't return to them. Hopefully these guys'll be less irritating than their krynnish counterparts.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 152: December 1989

part 5/5

Worth a thousand words: If you've been checking the letters page over the past year or two, you'll note that several people have asked for the addresses of artists, so they can communicate with them. And though they may have some trepidation, they've asked their regulars, and some of them have consented. So now you can send mail direct to Dennis Beuvais, Larry Elmore, Carol Heyer, Daniel Horne, Keith Parkinson, Ken Wilding and Robin Wood. Or actually turn up at their house, in 5 of these cases. Let's hope this is just fan mail, and the occasional freelance job offer, not opening the door to some psycho stalkers. If any of these people, or anyone who knows them personally is reading, I'd be very interested in knowing if the results of this were positive or negative. Strange business, really.

Spiderman to wed Vanna White: As you might guess, this is our Marvel article for the month. Although really, it's applicable to any modern day game where the PC's have the potential for worldshaking deeds. Realistically, they'd be in the newspapers and TV regularly, treated like celebrities, asked to do sponsorships, and all the other crap that comes with it. Something that will become the central theme of an entire gameline in less than a decade, with the release of Aberrant. What are the legal repercussions of mind control, super intelligence, superheroes in government positions. What happens when you try and claim insurance for acts of super-villains or the people trying to foil them. So welcome to the arrival of gritty iron age realism. A short but significant article, that packs enough ideas into it's length to inspire years worth of scenarios. Feels like it was intended as filler, but is very much not. Well done to whoever picked this one out the slush pile.

Through the looking glass: We get a bit more colour photography than usual this issue, which is nice. For some reason, that seems to scan clearer. Just the usual set of reviews this month. Some pieces to construct outdoors hex terrain from GHQ. TSR's Cities of mystery boxed set gets a rather positive review. Greenfield garrisons gives us a house and inn. Probably best used if you have a regular game table that isn't constantly being cleared off for other purposes between games. A trio of vehicles intended for the OGRE game. It's been ages since they talked about that in here. Good to see it still going. Some goblin cavalry with wolves. A batman and joker pair that gets a 5 star result. A four pack of mechs for Battlemech. A boxed set of 10 Draconians for those of you who're still playing Dragonlance. And some British colonial soldiers. Pretty much business as usual here.

Make the most of your missions: Merle Rasmussen returns to give us an article on the game he created for the first time in years. If anyone should know about the game getting stale, feeling like you've exhausted all the options and are just doing the same thing over and over, it's him and Gary. And Gary isn't contributing here anymore. So he gives lots of advice on his own adventure creating techniques. Curiously, he seems to have taken a leaf from Tolkien, frequently engaging in the worldbuilding first, and then letting the story flow from that. After all, a good location gives you all kinds of ideas to work from. Stealing from other people's ideas and adapting them is also a big source of material. But it does all boil down to the same few story ideas in the end. So why not get a book on dramatic tropes, and go straight to the source. He might not be one of our most entertaining writers, but the years of practice have honed him into a pretty competent and confident designer. As this is pretty system free, it's good advice for everyone, not just modern day espionage people. And the sample ideas given show a fine mastery of the art of punning. A good combination of old and new school aesthetics. Seems a fairly decent way to close a decade.

Shades, the ultimate adventure multi-user game? Man, this telephonic networking thing is really starting to grow in popularity. Now if only they could get all these little networks to all connect together and operate off the same protocols.

Dragonmirth has plenty of food related humour. Yamara meets Ogrek the undisciplined. A very smooth operator indeed. Muahahahaha.

A solid average or slightly above this issue. With both the reaffirmation of a bunch of old elements, and the reaching out towards new ones that will become standard next decade, it feels quite appropriate as a bridging episode. While they may be repeating old ideas a bit, they are both coming up with new ones, and new spins on old ideas. You can see why they chose to create ever more exotic settings as a means of avoiding rehash, and making the same old races and classes feel fresh. It's all a logical progression, even when in hindsight, it might not have been the best idea. Oh well. Plenty of positives, plenty of negatives to come. I will let them wash through me. Hopefully my mind will not be washed away by the power of the tide, broken and left as debris on the bottom of the cliff of creativity.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 153: January 1990

part 1/5

108 pages. So we've finally made it to the 90's. Cyperpunk is in. The internet is starting to seriously grow into more than just a glimmer in a few people's minds. The overall darkness quotient in gaming is up. Metaplot isn't quite the monster it will become in a few years time, but it's certainly getting there. In the meantime, roleplaying is spreading out in all directions, upwards, downwards, and several odd angles. And one of those is gods. We've had rules for playing them in D&D since 1986, but they've never got any expansion in the magazine, apart from the odd sage advice question. Let's hope this themed issue fixes that little oversight.

In this issue:

Letters: Another forward thinking suggestion. How about putting the magazine on CD, and sending it out that way? It would save transport costs and allow for more colour on the cheap. Roger continues to be conservative. You might save money in the long run, but changeover costs would be a bitch, and he's feeling lazy at the moment.

A suggestion that an article containing a transcript of play might be a neat thing to put in the magazine. Once again, Roger is skeptical. They still don't have the technology to do stuff like this easily, and it'd have to be a damn good one to merit inclusion, because these things can get loooong and stupidly tangental.

A letter from a German gamer eager to see a translation of the new edition. Funny you should mention that. It should be arriving right now!

A letter asking what happened to Judges Guild. They are very much deid sonny, largely thanks to us. But their game lines live on! Whether you support them is up to you.

Sage advice: What spells do clerics know (Any allowed by their spheres. Yeah, why play a wizard when clerics outclass them in most areas. )

How is bless different from chant and prayer (they affect different things. Read closely, because you need to know what you'll have if you stack them )

Can you suspend bless' duration between melee (no)

What happens if you bless cursed items (recycled question. Go away now)

What happens if you bless weapons. (nothing, unless it hits a rakshasa)

How does blindness and deafness affect spellcasting (more recycling? Have you people learned nothing from Skip? )

Can you cast command and turn undead in the same round (no, they use up the same action type. We really ought to formalize this. )

Does being at deaths door have any lasting effect (no. Once they've got 1hp, they're straight back to full performance. Doncha just love D&D)

Can you put a gyph of warding on a weapon and hit things with it. (no. They have to touch it, not it touch them. Subtle difference there, but important)

Can you move paralyzed creatures (With great mischief. )

Can light spells break a demon's darkness ability (What demons? This is second edition. No demons here. You can, however cancel out a Tanar'ri's darkness power. )

Create water only makes a few piddling inches of water? ( No, you forget your minis scale. )

Does protection from evil move with the caster (Yes, but don't try to barge past creatures. It's bad manners )

How badly messed up are you after being raised ( Lets just say you won't be up and killing things straight away. )

What are the stats of animated rocks ( Better than most weapons, but not as good as an actual elemental. So it goes)

Can call lightning affect underwater creatures. (only if they're close to the surface )

What are the disabling effects of being burned by heat metal (none. Abstract HP system strikes again!)

Can a wall of fire be used to surround someone (yes indeed. Not a nice thing to do, but pleasantly dramatic. )
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Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 153: January 1990

part 2/5

The goals of the gods: Yeah, we've chosen our topic for the month. So what events are big enough to attract the attention of a deity, with their enormous cosmic power, and living space considerably less restricted than the average genie? Since they are also frequently petty, egotistical and vengeful, the answer is you'd be surprised. And since a lot of their interest is in playing cosmic games with/against other gods, once one has noticed you and taken an interest, the odds of others interfering in your life as well goes up exponentially. But this is as much about the way gods deal with one-another and their capabilities as it is about their goals. We get a strong reminder that they are not invincible or infallible in most mythologies. Skilled and lucky humans can best them, although they often wind up regretting it. They will dally with mortals, often producing exceptional offspring with the potential for great deeds and becoming full gods themselves. They can be overthrown, although again, not easily. It also has some slightly cleverer advice, such as pointing out that if their power is derived from worshippers, the ones who's portfolios are most important to everyday life are likely to get the most attention, and therefore wind up in charge. On the whole, I think following this advice in your campaign building will be beneficial for your game. Even at the top end, they're just people with limits, and personal likes and dislikes. If they weren't, they'd never do anything, and might as well not be there. And where's the fun in that?

As above, so below: Ahh, here we have another problem with gods. When there are multiple pantheons with mutually contradictory origin stories and overlapping portfolios, how do you resolve the conflict? This is particularly a problem when you try and put monotheistic and polytheistic stuff into the same cosmology. Someone has to be wrong, and whichever side it is ain't going to be happy. The solution usually involves ruling in favour of the big one or two in some way, since monotheism is currently in vogue in the real world, and then leaving the big god distant, while the local pantheons bicker and interfere with people on a regular basis. This article chooses to draw heavily on babylonian dualistic myths which also got combined with many lesser gods to show how this might work. Not with quite as much style as it would later be managed in D:tF or Witchcraft, but still, perfectly serviceable. And another thing they haven't mentioned in the magazine before, which is pleasing to see. Course, if you design your world from scratch, you don't need to worry about this crap. And it's only really an issue if you want a kitchen sink universe using all the monsters in the books anyway. So this may or may not be a problem for you, but once again, forewarned is forearmed. Once again, I don't have a problem with this.

Following in their footsteps: The Greek gods again? Yawn. So overplayed. The title is very appropriate in this case, as they encourage you to flesh out your characterization of priests of various gods by playing them as mini-me's of their masters. All together now. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS! Do priests of our own god go around creating things and personally smiting anyone who breaks the rules of the bible? And actual historical priests of the greek gods were more oracles and the like. Plus there's also the fact that a lot of the time, they weren't priests of a specific god, but more a general spiritual intercessionary. And that's not even getting into the tendency of many gods, like mortal rulers, to be hypocrites who hold their servants to standards they themselves flout with impunity. I think this falls into the category of fail. Remember, diversity and specialisation within a hierarchy leads to maximum effectiveness. Trying to force all your employees into a cookie cutter mould will not be good for your cause, and should be reserved for dumb and/or oogy alien gods who have no appreciation of human frailty.

Your place in the grand scheme: The alignment debates are raging a full force in the forum at the moment. It's no surprise that when supreme forces and cosmology are brought up, the place of good and evil, law and chaos in D&D's system becomes an issue to examine. Question is, is it defined by people and gods to some extent, or does it only define them, with good and evil being forces you can objectively measure the quantity and quality of in a person, place or action? Yet more pontification on how to handle clerics, gods, alignment and philosophy in your game, hopefully without offending anyone. Some of the bits I agree with, some I don't, but even in opposition, you define more about what you do like and intend to do in your own design process. Just remember, ability and ambition are not strongly correlated statistics, (probably my biggest gripe. ) and the people in charge are not often the most insightful. (It'd be a better world if that was true)

Fiction: Firebearer by Lois Tilton. Still in theme here, with this little piece putting a slightly different spin on the legend of Prometheus. Deliberately low key, the protagonist of this story might not actually change anything in the long run, but they still tug on the heartstrings, creating a bittersweet little story that reminds us that even a small gesture can make a big difference to someone else's suffering. Another little life lesson that we would do well to try and imitate in reality.

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Following in their footsteps: The Greek gods again? Yawn. So overplayed. The title is very appropriate in this case, as they encourage you to flesh out your characterization of priests of various gods by playing them as mini-me's of their masters. All together now. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS! Do priests of our own god go around creating things and personally smiting anyone who breaks the rules of the bible? And actual historical priests of the greek gods were more oracles and the like. Plus there's also the fact that a lot of the time, they weren't priests of a specific god, but more a general spiritual intercessionary. And that's not even getting into the tendency of many gods, like mortal rulers, to be hypocrites who hold their servants to standards they themselves flout with impunity. I think this falls into the category of fail. Remember, diversity and specialisation within a hierarchy leads to maximum effectiveness. Trying to force all your employees into a cookie cutter mould will not be good for your cause, and should be reserved for dumb and/or oogy alien gods who have no appreciation of human frailty.
Obligatory OotS link as reply:

In retrospect, that "What Would Thor Do?" thing is never really as applicable to the situation as it is supposed to be.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 153: January 1990

part 3/5

The game wizards: Elminster is back. Funny how we've actually seen less of him in the magazine since the realms got a full game line. But he's as mischievous as ever, taking time to mock things like Alias' attire on the front of Azure Bonds, and the upstart new gods of magic and superdickery. (What? :p ) The events of the last few years require a big hardcover book to update things for those who haven't read all the novels, and give us a grab bag of new material, serving as a stop-gap until they can justify a full new boxed set. Spheres for speciality priests, updated 2nd edition changes (oh, those poor assassins guilds) lots of new geographical details, the works. Course, there's plenty more coming to make this stuff out of date again, with the Horde rapidly sweeping across the steppes, soon to hit the eastern realms, bringing massively increased OA crossovers in their wake. Jeff once again demonstrates that he can make pimping fun, and also that he finds Elminster rather more scary to deal with than Ed does by now. Still, it's obvious that the Realms is a healthy gameline at the moment. You're going to have to get running to keep up with this lot.

The role of books is getting in on the theme this month. Which is somewhat unusual for them. How nice of them to join in.

Quest for apollo by Michael Lahey has an interesting combination of elements, as serious story, humour, and huge numbers of literary and historical references get combined into the search for the sun god. (because without him, the sun won't work properly, which'll kinda put a crimp on the world. ) The result is fun but flawed, with a twist ending that doesn't quite work. Better luck next time.

Darkunders way by Tom Deltz combines celtic and native american myth in low-key but well realized style, as his existing characters discover there's more than one alternate magical dimension out there. It looks like this series continues to build nicely.

Tantras and Waterdeep by Richard Awlinson are of course parts two and three of the Avatar Trilogy. They don't get a particularly favourable review. Far too many events hinge on fiat. Elminster's death isn't convincing at all, the pairing of Midnight and Cyric works awkwardly as a party, and the whole thing feels driven by the bigger metaplot events rather than a proper story in it's own right. Such are the problems of writing to a preproscribed brief on a tight deadline.

The barsoom project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes is a sequel to Dream Park (reviewed in issue 52) It doesn't quite live up to it's predecessor, mainly due to a bloat of plotlines, but it's still interesting as both theoretical speculation and a multilayered suspense plot with impressive visuals.

The jehovah contract by Victor Koman sees a private eye hired to assassinate God. (As Terry Pratchett would later parody in Hogfather) This contentious premise is mitigated by a likable protagonist, but it's logic runs out near the end, and it goes out with a whimper rather than a bang.

The steerswoman by Rosemary Kierstein creates an interesting, deliberately atheistic world, divided by gender, and driven by technology as magic. Sharing information vs keeping it secret isn't the usual axis of conflict in these stories, and the other alien worldbuilding touches add up to create a quite distinctive story.

Starbridge by A C Crispin sees her branch out from collaborative fiction and create her own world. A whole bunch of alien first contacts happen in quick succession, and our protagonists have to keep things from getting out of hand and manage peaceful diplomatic relations with some decidedly strange creatures. The setting established seems pretty good grounds for conversion to gaming.

The ecology of the manticore: Ahh, this is much more like it. An ecology that both tells an entertaining tale, and lampshades a few mythological tropes. Why would a rampaging monster attack heavily armed and armoured knights over defenseless peasants? Well, in manticores case, it's so they can regrow their tail spikes. That iron's gotta come from somewhere, and unlike Xorn, they can't dig it out of the ground themselves. As they have strong feline components, trying to train them is a complete waste of time, but that doesn't stop people from trying. The story also uses a bunch of recognisable D&Disms such as wizards and clerics being for hire, and resurrection being treated as, if not commonplace, a purchasable commodity that most people are aware of. A thoroughly enjoyable ecology. Lets hope they've got their groove back for the new decade.
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