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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 155: March 1990

part 2/6

Forum is another big one this month.
S. D. Anderson sorta rebutts the people picking apart his scenario where an itemed up fighter slaughters a horde of not so well equipped enemies. Yes, you're right that if they surrounded him, they'd probably win. But there are bottleneck situations where they wouldn't get the chance. The rest of his comments get very dull and nitpicky. Bleh. Let's just enjoy the game instead of dissecting it.

James Wise uses the emergent method of determining class and alignment, as espoused in N4. This means characters are more likely to stay in character. I very much approve, having used that method myself.

R. J. Wenzel reminds us that the point of monsters is to be defeated. If every monster was a supra genius with a vast xanatos roulette of contingency plans running at all times, the players aren't going to find things very fun. Similarly, in his game, spellcasters and magical monsters are rare enough that conventional forces and defences still work most of the time. Let the PC's be truly exceptional, like they should be if you want to replicate heroic stories.

Ahmed G. Amin doesn't allow resurrection in his games. Let death keep it's sting. Blah da de blah.

Larry Lidz wants to get rid of alignment and ban druids from making leather armour. Someone else really ought to be playing some game other than D&D.

Wesley Crowell reminds us that politely and clearly explaining things is the solution to parent rage. Acting as if you have something to be ashamed of, on the other hand, will definitely make it worse. Way of the world.

Gregg Sharp thinks that japanese animation is a rich source of gaming appropriate material to draw from, that is almost completely ignored at the moment. Muahahahahahaha!!!! :wipes tears from eyes: Man, that's another good reminder how much things are going to change in geek circles in the next few years. I wonder how long it'll be before we get a letter complaining ZOMG D&D is totally being animeised this suks. In any case, a surprising number of familiar names are mentioned, including Dragonball (no Z yet) Ranma 1/2, Dirty Pair and Urusei Yatsura. There's entire countries full of cool stuff out there, just waiting to be translated. Don't get stuck in the same old cliches the local media uses.

Bob Keefover suggests that there ought to be a stage magic nonweapon proficiency. Both real wizards and rogues would find that to be of great use, one for imitation, and the other for economy. I'm pretty sure that appears in a supplement or two at some point.

Dan Silvinski continues to fight the AD&D vs D&D war. He chooses the greater complexity of AD&D. Seems like that's getting rather more press than the probable AD&D 1st vs 2nd war that could have happened.

Robert Morrison, on the other hand, chooses D&D. Once you add on the companion, master, immortal and gazetteer stuff, the question of which game is simpler and has less options is decidedly less clear-cut. And he still believes that the D&D planar and weapon mastery systems are superior to their AD&D counterparts.

David Howery responds to the people raging over his revised cavalier, justifying his nerfs in a lengthy point by point manner. Yawnarama. How little things have changed.


Wild in the woods: Despite being about as mysterious and magical to the average D&D player as glass windows, elves are still technically fae creatures. Which means a special on them is likely to involve pulling some of the ridiculous number of elf related articles they get from the slush pile, just to placate that insatiable demand. So, they haven't done an article on wild elves yet. Fresh from poncing up the paladin a little more, Eric Oppen sets out to demonstrate exactly why there aren't any wild half-elves. Along with not being very bright, they're a dour humourless xenophobic lot who'd be much happier if all the so-called civilised races just vanished from the face of the earth. If it weren't for their dramatically different environments, they'd get along surprisingly well with duergar. :p A very good example of neutral not meaning apathetic good or ruthlessly selfish evil without the sadism, but actual neutrality. They seem perfectly aligned with chaotic neutral as presented in issue 106's paladins article - Me and my tribe are the only Real People in the world, and we're not going to trust anyone else further than we can gut them from with a well placed arrow. (which I guess makes them perfectly suited for a certain kind of adventuring party. ) A well focussed, but curiously unlikable article, he seems to have got into character a little too well when writing this, making it come off as hostile to the reader, not just the other creatures IC. Still, it is interesting, so it's certainly not a total failure. Just a little strange.


The elfin gods: Or, see this freelancer do a mediocre pastiche of Roger Moore's elf god naming conventions from issue 60. Set the random syllable generator to flowing and melodious, and let's look for gaps in their portfolios that need filling. Meharama. And since none of these guys and gals made it into 2e's Monster Mythology, I suspect the official writers feel much the same way. They're not even updated for the new edition with sphere lists for their priests. Come on, it's been nearly a year now. Get your acts together!
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 155: March 1990

part 3/6

In the frost and the snow: More elf subraces? Dearie dearie me. Can't they spend a few generations in a landscape without morphing to match it. I guess with such long lifespans, they have to magically accelerate their changes to survive. Still, now the Uldra (see issue 119) have a little company oop north. Like them, they're rather better at the nature connection thing than their relatives in less hostile climes. And like both wild and valley elves, they're an isolationist xenophobic lot, not the kind of people you want to invite to any party that doesn't involve killing oogy underdark thingies. Once again, the hostility of the creatures within spills over to the writing, although not as much as the last lot, making them seem uninviting to use as PC's despite having several neat quirks. Vaguely baffling, really, and very much inessential. I am left with little desire to use these guys either.


The folk of the faerie kingdom: Vince Garcia decides to do something a little ambitious, and give mini-ecologies and encounter ideas for every fae creature in the books, including some edge cases. Since many DM's have trouble running noncombat encounters, he gives tons of ideas on how to incorporate them into your game. (Honestly, when they're tricksters, they hardly need to be evil for the players to have a noncombat encounter, get a profound dislike of them and want to wipe them from the face of the earth. ) These are actually damn good, with plenty of variety, and bunch of amusing mythological references. If that wasn't enough, he also introduces a new version of the druid with a more faeish tinge to their powers, and quite a few of the more wonky bits filed down. While probably slightly weaker overall, they are more balanced with other classes, and their special powers are more suited to everyday use, particularly the hierophant level ones. (going to the elemental planes and summoning elementals back may be spectacular, but it's generally a rather brute force solution, and planar travel without being able to bring the party along has problems of it's own. ) Overall, this is a very pleasing article indeed, useful for both DM's and players, and sneaking in some revision without presenting it in antagonistic way like the barbarian and cavalier articles. He's definitely proving a writer to take note of.


West end games finally reveal the name of the game they've been teasing for months. TORG! Wha? More info coming soon.


The ecology of the satyr: Hmm. This is a creature that's likely to be problematic for the more family friendly TSR of these days. And indeed, they scrupulously avoid all mention of the R word, or even that the very concept exists, merely presenting their amorous tendencies as extreme enthusiasm (if not always success) in attempting seduction on anything remotely female. They also fall into one of the other traps that material from this era was prone to, that of including substantial amounts of goofiness and comic relief elements. Well, I suppose that's one way of defusing the threatening aspects of sexuality without completely removing them. I suppose it could have been a lot worse. Another ecology that is an interesting read, but leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, designed as it is with elements specifically intended to annoy and confuse players trying standard tactics on them. Shoo. Away wi' ye! Go try yer luck on the kender wimmin. You'd fit right in round those parts. Bleh.


Thank you for your cooperation: Wouldya like to take yet another survey? This one is focussed on espionage games, rather than the magazine in general. Their Top Secret output has declined rather in general, and this is obviously them figuring out whether to put more in, or cut it out entirely. Tricky decision. What path will they take? You ought to know by now which path I'd prefer they take, but that means little. Still, hopefully they'll be able to give people what they want a bit better. Makes me wonder if this is just the beginning of a whole series of these on various genres. On we go.


The game wizards: Anne Brown takes over the column this month, creating her own fictional mouthpiece, the mouse Bixby, to communicate the news. This time, it's Greyhawk city's turn to be destroyed by events in a module, unless the PC's do something. Well, as long as it really is them that do the saving, not some deus ex machina NPC, that's not a bad thing. Also looks like they're still making fold-up buildings as visual aids, which is fairly neat. Another attempt to liven up a fairly standard teaser piece, this isn't as successful as their banterings with Elminster, but is a lot better than nothing. If only Greyhawk's iconic NPCs had planewalking connections with earth, then maybe they'd get better press. :p


The voyage of the princess ark: A fairly quiet couple of weeks for the Ark this installment. They repair the damage from last month's debacle, and set down in a nice quiet bay, only to be followed by the dragon and attacked again. Fortunately, the locals have weapons designed specially to deal with dragons, and drive the bastard off. It may be back. Immediately seeing an opportunity, Haldemar recruits replacements for his fallen crewmembers amongst the locals, and of course, buys up a load of their weapons as well. Next time they see that dragon the shoe's going to be on the other foot. They meet, greet and trade, and set off again, seemingly in pretty good shape. Guess not every episode is going to end dramatically, and not every country they visit is going to wind up hating them.
On the mechanical side, we get two treats for us. The bolas of sunlight are just what the doctor ordered for chasing away things that are scared of the light. We also get to find out just how common spellcasters are in Alphatia, with entire squads of low level magic-users armed with blasty wands a staple of the army. Now that's how you make artillery capable of taking on way higher level creatures in D&D. Mystara is very definitely a high magic setting, with cleric and wizard powers fully integrated into the operation of society. You want realistic medieval stuff, go somewhere else. While this hasn't been as dramatic as the first two installments, it's still ticking over nicely. They'll be in deep shit again before you know it.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 155: March 1990

part 4/6

Editorial: Roger's little soapbox is used this month to talk about running games set in your own hometown. This allows you to have lots of fun with common references that the rest of the world wouldn't get, and get extra pleasure from sticking it to the man, or the school bully if that's your situation. This is the kind of thing that you might not think of, but seems like a no-brainer once you do. I've done so before (for an AFMBE one-shot, in case you're wondering), and had a great time. Once again, this is a new idea in the magazine, and one that shows how modern games are still increasing in popularity. Nice to see it appear here, and hope you've got a good game out of it too.


Fiction: Father, dear, father, come home with me now by John Morressy. Another story that slyly subverts fantasy tropes here, with the roles familiar for a fairytale, but the people inhabiting them rather different. Course, evil little girls have an entry of their own, but that's neither here nor there. The fiction once again proves to be an above average part of the magazine, less prone to rehash due to simple low volume of it compared to the gaming articles. I can see myself pulling a trick like this, albeit with caution. Teeheeheeheehee. Are you my mommy?


The marvel-phile: Jeff may have moved on to other things, but many people still regard this column fondly. Among them is Dale A Donovan. And since he's part of the staff now, that means he can write new ones. So the fan becomes the creator, and the cycle of life continues. Will the new ones be a pale imitation of the old? Guess we'll just have to see.
For this first one, things seem much the same as ever. Captain Britain has changed a bit in recent years, as like Green Lantern, he discovered that some of his weaknesses are purely psychological. He's also been tied in with a bunch of old mythology, encountering people from the arthurian cycle of myths, and generally being all latest in a long line of heroesey. We get updated stats for him, and new stats for Roma, daughter of Merlin. Looks like things are going to be back to business as usual, albeit rather more topical, since they've long since statted up all the established characters. So once again I'll get to find out about lots of amusing comic universe plotlines I missed at the time. Good to see superheroic gaming is still healthy around here.


TSR previews: A real set of riches here this month. On the generic side, we have DMGR1: The campaign sourcebook and catacomb guide. Long product code, long name. Hopefully it's advice on world and dungeon building will lead to equally long campaigns.

The Forgotten Realms gets Forgotten Realms Adventures. A big hardcover that looks like a grab-bag of cool stuff. Setting info, spells, the machinations of the bloody Harpers and Zhentarim. Some of it will be useful, some won't. We also head off to the far west, in Ironhelm, the first book of the Maztica trilogy. Doug Niles has done the UK, now he puts his own spin on the discovery and oppression of native americans. Sounds aesopalicious.

Dragonlance, having opened up a new continent, now shows how it connects to the old stuff, in Otherlands. It's a long trip, but somebody's gotta make it. It also gets to part 4 of the graphic novelisation of the original series. Course, this is barely starting the second book of the first trilogy, due to the way the different formats work.

Spelljammer gets it's very first module SJR1: Lost ships. Aka Dungeon crawling in spaaace, as has proved popular in Space Hulk. What horrors brought them down, and still lurk within?

Completing the list of settings, Greyhawk gets WGA1: Falcon's revenge. Another module trilogy? No setting can escape them! Ahahahaha!

We're also getting The best of Dragon Magazine games. Six of the bits of fun that appeared in here over the years. Not hugely useful to me, but old stuff was a lot harder to get hold of back then.

Marvel Superheroes gets MLA1: After midnight. The start of yet another trilogy, this time focussed on the more gritty end of things. Can your designers not count above three?

And finally, on the standalone novel side, Jeff Swycaffer produces Warsprite. Two highly advanced robots land on earth, and the good one needs to stop the evil one. Hmm. Sounds curiously familiar. (I'll be back!) How does this one play out?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 155: March 1990

part 5/6

Role-playing reviews is another busy section this month, tackling the Star Wars system. In the two years since it first got reviewed, it's accumulated a hell of a lot of supplements. George Lucas does seem rather good at handling his merchandising spin-offs.

Star wars sourcebook was the first thing released, and is basically just a grab-bag of stuff that didn't fit in the corebook. Stats for characters from the movies, new gear, maps of places, minifiction. Once you've got it, it'll be hard to run the game without it. Just the thing to snare you into stepping on that treadmill.

Star wars rules companion adds a whole bunch of new crunch, and revises existing stuff in light of more playtesting and reader responses. It adds to the game, but along with the errata, does tone down the cinematicness a bit. The battle between trying to emulate the movies and "what's that guy's story" pointing to some boring schmuck in the background has already begun.

Star wars campaign pack is a GM screen, and another booklet with a little grab bag of stuff. GM'ing advice on running long term campaigns. A starter adventure, and a bunch of outlines for some more to keep you going. Not quite a full module's worth, but it'll help until you get some actual modules, which there are also plenty of.

Tatooine manhunt draws heavily from the first movie, taking you to Luke's home to save a hero of the rebellion from shitloads of bounty hunters. Course, your attempts to find him might be used by them to get him, ironically sealing his doom, but that just makes things more fun. Screenshotalicious.

Strikeforce Shantipole sees you working for Admiral "It's a trap!" Ackbar to evacuate a base being invaded by imperial forces. PC's, running away? Surely not! Should be interesting to see if they play along.

Starfall is tailor made for if things go south in another adventure like the last one. Thrown in prison, it's up to the players to escape from a star destroyer. Map based, as well as plot based, since this kind of adventure requires lots of player ingenuity, and designed so it's reusable, should they be dumb enough to be captured again, this definitely seems like the designers thought things through before making it. Muahahaha.

Battle for the golden sun, on the other hand is the first module to step away from the events of the movies, and gets a mediocre review. Head to a water world and use the force to follow the railroad. Yawnaroo.

Otherspace, on the other hand, does make an interesting change of pace, although it introduces an alternate dimension I don't remember being used anywhere else in the EU canon. Course, that means you'll have to actively engage your puzzle solving abilities instead of blasting your way out. Hopefully your players won't complain about being bait and switched.

Scavenger hunt gets a rather less favourable from Jim than it did from Ken last issue, as he finds it somewhat scattershot, with signs that diminishing returns may be setting in, and that the various little episodes aren't perfectly stitched together. Hmm. Since Ken wrote some of the other modules in this series, I wonder who to side with.

Riders of the maelstrom sees things return to the status quo, with another fast paced, somewhat railroaded adventure. Even rebels have to deal with Space Pirates, and once again, you'll have to do as much sneaking around as you do combat. Guess that's just the way they like it.

Having ploughed through all that, Jim is probably pretty tired, and does the Galaxy guides 1-3 as a batch review. Each elaborates on the places and people from the films. It's a big universe out there, but it still needs a lot of filling in. Let's get a few more novels and video games and prequels out so we have more to build on, instead of having everyone winding up in the same grotty cantina.


The role of books: Sword-maker by Jennifer Robertson continues to build up her world and characters, including the relationship between the hero and his intelligent sword. That's certainly a topic that can be useful for gamers, and the story is pretty strong too.

The lost years by J M Dillard is another instance of fail in Star Trek fiction, as it tries to tie together a bunch of continuity events, and gets nitpicked to death by the reviewer over it's inaccuracies. Sounds like you ought to be doing the line editing for the series then. :p

Laying the music to rest by Dean Wesley Smith sees another debut novelist with a refreshing and distinctive writing style get good marks. Whether he turns out to be a one trick pony or future works become more homogenised remains to be seen.

Rusalka by C J Cherryh draws upon russian folklore, but way the elements are handled feels rather more similar to her previous novels than anything from those stories. The supernatural creatures are also kept mysterious and poorly defined, and the result isn't among her best work.

The shining falcon by Josepha Sherman, on the other hand draws from the same sources, but with more depth and faithfulness. The character are more fun to read about, and the stuff would be easier to use to convert creatures for gaming.

Gate of darkness, circle of light by Tanya Huff steals a song from Mercedes Lackey, and uses it to create a quirky, lighthearted bit of modern fantasy. Now that's referentiality for you. Please don't sue.

People of the sky by Clare Bell draws upon Hopi myth, of all things, in another fantasy/sci-fi story set on another world, but with connections to this one. Like Tekumel, it's very distinctiveness and depth might make gaming in this world a little tricky. Still, once again, they're pretty positive about it as a book.

Once again, as a result of our novel's references, we are exposed to the dread world of filk in the shorts section. Curse you once again, Mercedes Lackey. :shakes fist: Other than that, it's pretty much business as usual. Big names fall, new names rise, the cycle of existence continues to turn.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 155: March 1990

part 6/6

The role of computers: Citadel shows once again that back in the early 90's, macs were still a healthy gaming platform. A 1st person perspective 3D adventure game, it may be in black and white, but it has both good visual design, and a complex character development system where you choose their parents and guide them through a whole lifepath before playing, traveller style. The action part of the game is similarly distinctive and complex, with multiple windows used to good effect in allowing you to select various options. Looks like it's another 5 star result. They do seem to be getting increasingly generous with those.

Taskmaster is also an interesting adventure game, full of choices in how you construct and direct your character. The graphics may be a bit outdated, but it's still fun, and rather easier to get into than many RPG's where you start off wimpy and have to do some serious grinding to get up enough power to do the fun bits. You still shouldn't forget to save regularly though. :p

The Atari Lynx gets 5 stars. A colour handheld game system the size of a video cassette, with games up to 8 megabytes big? Amazing! It kicks the gameboy's ass into last year! Ha. You're about to find out just how important battery life, convenience of carrying, and games available is in people's estimation of a system, over raw power. Once again, it's easy to be smug in hindsight. Still, interesting to see them diversifying.

Knights of Legend gets our second ever nul points, as the disk swapping and overall bugginess of the game was just too great for them to derive any enjoyment from play. Tch tch. The writing is on the wall for floppy disks, they just don't have the capacity needed these days.

Savage sees the commodore 64 push it's limits to try and compete with the 16 bit boys, with this fast paced little arcade fantasy game. They find it entirely satisfactory. Once again, goes to show, doesn't it.

The clue corner this month is entirely devoted to Ultima IV. Man, that's been out for aaages. What's all this about? Has it recently come out on a bunch of new systems or something? Or are people just still stuck at various places, unable to figure out how to finish it. Must have been pretty popular to sustain interest for this long.


Dragonmirth doesn't suspect a thing, as is often the case. Yamara tries to adapt to deified life.


Through the looking glass: Robert returns to minis reviews, with the odd strange bit thrown in. An instructional video showing you how to make terrain for your minis games? Very quirky, albeit probably pretty useful. It's certainly a lot easier to follow than most instruction manuals. The rest of the column is more standard, but still covers a fairly wide range of minis. Three tanks and an APC, for your near future overrunning needs. The heroes from the Dragonlance Chronicles finally get mass produced representations, several years later than they intended. Good things come to those who wait, apparently, because he gives them a 5 star rating for their detail and faithfulness to the artwork. Grenadier give us a big chunky fire giant that'll tower over most of your minis. M-3 have another set of futuristic vehicles for the surprising number of games that use them these days. And Tabletop Games finish our column off with the sinister barbarian Alaric Mancleaver, who he forgets to grade. The photography is fairly decent this time round, apart from the fire giant, who is rather occluded. He seems to be settling into a fairly predictable rhythm here. On we go.

Another one with a decidedly saggy themed section, and a mixed bag in the rest of the issue. As with the last time they expanded, it looks like there's going to be some growing pains, as they try to figure out what their readership wants and how best to give it to them. In the meantime, we may be getting lots of tiresome filler mixed in. Which of course makes me wonder just how funny and useful the humorous bits'll be next issue. Can they still get up the energy to party when working this hard? Even at this rate, I'll find out soon enough.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 156: April 1990

part 1/6

116 pages. Lest we forget, beholders were originally created out of a pun on a saying and a desire to screw over players. No great social commentary or philosophical point here, just the sadistic fun of inflicting a TPK in a single round. Now that's the kind of humour this magazine should be running. Seems promising. Course, they have to put a damper on it by forgetting to scan the convention booklet again, but that seems to be becoming par for the course. Oh well, still another even bigger issue to get through. I doubt I'm missing anything crucial to the history of gaming.

In this issue:


Letters: More weirdness from the readers that the editors really can't top here. The usual problem of people mistaking our head editor for the actor who plays James Bond.
Two letters involving sex and gaming, which are dealt with in a manner that reminds us how their editorial policies have tightened up on this manner. You'd never see anything like 83's sex in AD&D article, thanks to upper management. :Wolves howl, rumble of thunder:
Some bad poetry. Fear the encroaching filk.
Some equally worrying speculation on the toilet habits of PC's and monsters.
A request for help choosing a tattoo. Exactly where it is going on their body is left ambiguous and dubious.
A question that actually makes sense, but is rather headache inducing, about the loyalty level of domesticated wolves. Leave it to the DM to make that decision in his game.


Editorial: Roger decides to tackle terror, a subject that is normally reserved for their october issue. But you should always have at least some element of risk while gaming. Once again we are reminded that Jim Ward is the king of monty haul games, and then creates enemies that can challenge those superpowered characters in turn. You can never be safe while he's around. Even crab grass can mutate into a monstrosity capable of killing gods without breaking a sweat. In comparison, Call of Cthulhu seems sane and restrained. A playful little editorial, but also one that manages to slip in promotions for several of their upcoming products, this doesn't ring completely true for me, and is another reminder that they are now a fairly focussed business driven by careful cross-promotion. We are not your friends, even if we affect an informal conversational style. Our job hinges on persuading you to give us money. Don't forget it.


Not necessarily the monstrous compendium: The magazine staff celebrate the goofiness inherent in the system, mocking mad monsters past and present as a way of warming up for some more of the most risible potential adversaries that our freelancers have submitted. This is not to say they aren't usable and in many cases are rather dangerous, for they worry not about ideas like fairness that lesser monsters adhere too. Muahahaha.

Blink wooly mammoths are like blink dogs, only for substantially higher level parties. Fighting a herd of them is an exercise in ugly cartoon deaths, for they have huge damage outputs, are very hard to hit, and are likely to teleport directly above you when attacked, with predictable results. You'll have to develop some very good tactics indeed if you don't want the humiliation of a TPK.

Death sheep are substantially less powerful, and played for more obvious laughs. Beware Basil the lord of the death sheep! While you'll probably survive this one unless the characters are too busy laughing to attack at all, there is a certain horror (and humiliation) involved in the fact that their death rage is infectious. Again, they can be played straight and still work.

Gello monsters, on the other hand, are just lame. Moving jelly cubes that are invulnerable to all attacks save being eaten? Pass me the giant rolleyes smiley that pukes little rolleyes smileys. There's no way these'll ever become anything other than a lame joke at the expense of D&D's lovely catalogue of oozes, molds, slimes and puddings.

Killer spruce work pretty well, actually. There's certainly enough mythic antecedents where this is played straight for this to work incorporated into a regular campaign. Evil plants, like underwater adventures, are a valuable addition to any designer's repertoire.

Man-drakes also seem pretty mythically resonant, but incredibly goofy at the same time. Essentially were-ducks, which are the male equivalents of foxwomen, they are a persistent embarrassment to any swanmays that may be in the vicinity, and can make your romantic life become deeply excruciating. Pelt any DM who tries this one with bits of bread, and hope that doesn't just encourage them.

Paper dragons are kyoot, and eat your spellbooks. Not hugely dangerous to fight, they are a pretty good screwage monster. Another one that will be taken very seriously indeed if they show up in the game, despite their whimsical elements. Even if it only scoffs one page from your spellbook a night, that'll induce extreme paranoia in the players, and make them set up elaborate guard mechanisms that you can have all kinds of fun figuring out how to foil.

Pigeontoads are a good demonstration that if you make something less cute, people are less likely to tolerate it flying around their city, crapping on the statues. Yet another vaguely baffling hybrid, they're really no more goofy than owlbears or stirges. Remember, the best way to eliminate monsters like this is to remove their breeding grounds. Otherwise they'll just be back in swarms again next year.

Pink dragons blow bubbles. Ya, Rly. They're still quite capable of ripping you up if you laugh at them, or fail to laugh at their jokes. (Oh the irony) Not properly updated to 2nd ed rules, they're not that ferocious, but underestimate them at your peril.

Ticklers are little flying puffballs that get under your clothes and incapacitate you with laughter. Dear oh dear. Still, the players'll stop laughing when they meet their epic level cousins. And while harmless on their own, combined with other monsters they can make an encounter much harder.

Tin golems look like big toy soldiers, but like most golems, they're immune to big chunks of your arsenal, and have an extra screwage trick on top of that. They're certainly worthy adversaries, and can be reskinned to remove the goofiness pretty effortlessly. Have a heart, and rescue them from the scrapheap.

Unicows, like unicorns, have a thing for virgins, and refuse to be tended by anyone else. Yeah, it sounds pretty dodgy when you look at it like that. Just be glad no-ones introduced unipegataurs in the magazine yet.

Were-hares are psychotic little fuckers, and you'll need a holy hand grenade to deal with them. Yes, it's time to break out the monty python quotes. Just when you thought you were safe. Methinks it's time for something completely different sharpish.

A pretty good collection really. About half or so of them would work just fine slotted alongside, say, the contents of the Fiend Folio, and the rest are pretty memorable, if not quite so easily used. This definitely seems more promising than last year's joke stuff so far.
 

Armitage

Registered User
Validated User
Pigeontoads are a good demonstration that if you make something less cute, people are less likely to tolerate it flying around their city, crapping on the statues. Yet another vaguely baffling hybrid, they're really no more goofy than owlbears or stirges.
As an aside, stirges actually derive from the Roman striges: nocturnal blood-drinking birds, which eventually developed into the Romanian striga/strigoi: vampiric witches who could assume the form of owls.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 156: April 1990

part 2/6

Grenadier teams up with award winning artist Julie Guthrie to produce a whole set of dragons, and advertises them with a full colour double page spread. Drool.

The supplement mill starts for spelljammer with Lost Ships.


Razznarock: A pure joke piece with a serious moral in it. Beware the railroading DM. Beware the inconsistent worldbuilding. Beware the traps with no chances to resist. Beware the victory without effort. Basically a big how to not run your game, like the cheating pieces from last year, this is good for helping you spot these problems and fix them before they ruin your game. Pretty amusing, really. Definitely a better joke adventure than Nogard.


Yet even more outrages from the mages: Which really ought to be Bazaar of the Bizarre, as it involves a load of joke magical items rather than spells this time, but obviously they couldn't think of a good way to twist that title around. Oh well. Anyway, this is another collection of stuff that is useless, actively a pain in the butt, or in some cases actually useful in a twisted kind of way. There are three sentient magical items that just will not shut up and are impossible to get rid of, a whole bunch of bad puns, references to yet more items that can only be found on imaginary pages of the magazine, and all that stuff that'll drive the more literal mind mad. Once again, this is rather better than last year's equivalent article, with plenty of stuff that a devious mind could turn to practical ends. I'd at least consider this, anyway. Now, what can you do with a thousand lead pieces? :hmm:


The game wizards: Jim Ward once again tells us about what he's been up to in his role as liaison officer for the production of D&D related computer games. I suspect this involves a lot of ordering people around and leaving them to work out the technical details, which are frequently very hard to implement, as he admits to being rubbish with computers. Still, he knows what he likes, and is also happy to talk about his experiences with other people's games as well. So this is him very much writing in Gary's tradition, where he's technically promoting something, but the side-tracks and witticisms are the main focus. And if the games kill him loads of times, then is that a bad emulation of D&D campaigns? Somehow, he's managed to make a crap column fairly entertaining again. He may produce overpowered and poorly balanced games, but they certainly are fun.


Novel ideas: Promotion time again, this time for their Forgotten Realms novels. Since the Realms have proven so popular over the past few years, they're expanding them outwards both east and west. To the east, as we've known for some time, is Kara-Tur. But there's plenty of stuff between here and there, and they're going to fill that in too. To the west is Maztica. Welcome to fantasy native america. Man, they aren't being very imaginative with their alternate worlds. Still, it's how you use the ingredients, not how original they are, and on that from they're doing pretty ........... uhm, no comment. Man, they're still being a bunch of corporate shills. In addition, another of their fairly original (but oft imitated) elements gets some more airtime. You ate up his first three adventures. Now you get to see Drizzt's backstory in detail. Looks like the realms is going to be a lot more filled out by the end of this year. Busy busy busy. Another fairly dull bit of promotion.


Can you swim? Juggle? At the same time?: Vince Garcia steals liberally from Runequest to create an alternative skill system for the basic D&D game. With a % based chance of success, and fairly generous supplies of skill points, it's certainly a lot easier to reflect rudimentary knowledge in a whole bunch of things than the AD&D nonweapon proficiency system. The fact that further advancement is detached from regular level advancement, and stuff is differentiated by stuff that you roll for, and stuff you just purchase (with less valuable skills being cheaper) make it a fairly crunchy bit of work. While it doesn't feel very D&Dish, this is a pretty notable article, and looks like it might actually work better than the official one. This is one I'd be very interested in hearing about any actual play experiences for.
 
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