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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 Issue 105: January 1986

part 3/4

Betrayed! is this months centrepiece module, a 10 pager for a group between level 3-5. A search and recover mission, this has a nicely tricky antagonist, and a good amount of freedom in how you resolve it. This is one of those one or two sessioners that won't change anyones world, but is easy to drop into your game when you're short of ideas. Nothing earthshaking, but an above average example of the breed that I wouldn't object to using.

Spy's advice: Are weapon weights for when they're loaded or empty (Empty. You'll have to calculate encumbrance for the shots separately. Oh woe. )
Why does such a tiny difference in ammo caliber mess up weapons (Guns are precision devices. Just being realistic.)
Why are high explosives better against vehicles than armor piercing shots (Good question. My bad. )
How fast do .45 caliber M3's shoot ( 4 shots per phase. )
If your modifiers take you above 95% before penalties, are the penalties subtracted
before or after you determine the maximum. (before)
How much should you describe enemy guns (depends how good their senses are)
What are the stats for air guns (half normal, due to their nonlethal nature)
How many AOK's can you have (Lots and lots. Advancing them all individually is a real bookkeeping chore.)
What's wrestling value (We've had this question before. Obsolete stat from 1st ed, dropped in the streamlining. )

The TMNT RPG celebrates it's sales. (over 7000 in three weeks. Not really that impressive by most standards. Still, I guess it's enough to live on.)

TSR previews: Another month, this time slightly more full, but still not enough to make up a whole page. Dragonlance is getting the most attention this time, with DL11: Dragons of glory, another collection of epic battles showing off their new system. (at least it is getting plenty of support) It's also getting the first novel of it's second trilogy, Time of the Twins. Raistlin may be gone, but his legacy lingers like a bad smell. Guess it's up to the remaining heroes to fix things again.
Ravenloft gets converted into a solo adventure gamebook. You are invited to Strahds castle for a pleasant evenings dinner. Or is that to be dinner. Guess it's up to you.
D&D gets AC6: the updated PC record sheets. Ho hum.
Marvel superheroes gets MHSP2: Secret wars II. Play out the stories you saw in the comic. Let's hope it's not a railroad like last month's module, and you can change the outcome.
And Barbarosa and Terrible Swift Sword are finally out. Will they sell, or will they flop?
We also get a second page of stuff out in february, but I'll skip that until next month. Don't want to repeat myself too much. We also get another apology for the price raises. Oh, poor you. Don't feel guilty about needing money to survive.

Profiles: Kim Mohan is our first interviewee. He would like to reiterate once again that he is NOT a girl. This is one of our least interesting profiles yet, mostly because we saw most of this stuff recently in issue 100. Apart from the revelation that he isn't really much of a gamer, and some stuff on his most recent projects, this all feels very familiar. Patrick Lucien Price, on the other hand is one of those names that you see on the credits, but knew nothing about. He helps to edit all TSR's magazines, and takes his job seriously. He encourages you to learn your trade properly and do likewise. After all, the better your submissions, the less work he has to do. ;)

Fiction: On the rocks at slab's by John Gregory Betancourt. Oooh. It's the start of this series. Another one I remember seeing a sequel to when I was reading first time round. How interesting. Uleander the barkeep is trapped between a rock and a hard place, having to deal with the impossible demands of the people in charge of the city, and the equally impossible mischief of Slab, the ghostly former owner, and all his ghostly friends. A lot of the time, it seems all he can do is try and hang on for the ride. Entertaining, but fairly inconsequential in it's own right, I already get the impression that this gets more amusing as it goes along, and the little bits of mythology gradually get built up. See you around then.
 

Cultist of Sooty

Registered User
Validated User
Queen victoria and the holy grail module for call of cthulhu?? Okay. How'd they manage to make a title as pulpy as that properly horrific? Sounds like a right cheesefest.
That wasn't a Call of Cthulhu scenario. It was for Golden Heroes, a superhero RPG which Games Workshop printed an edition of. I still have my copy and it more or less does what it says on the packet.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
That wasn't a Call of Cthulhu scenario. It was for Golden Heroes, a superhero RPG which Games Workshop printed an edition of. I still have my copy and it more or less does what it says on the packet.
Curse you games workshop, putting adverts for two different systems right next to each other in near identical style. :shakes fist: Must proofread better.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 105: January 1986

part 4/4

Rites of passage: Hee. Initiation rites. An excuse to force the newbies to dress stupidly and humiliate themselves to prove they're the right stuff for your little club. They come in many forms, particularly in gamma world, where the people themselves come in pretty diverse shapes. This gives you plenty of amusing advice on this matter, interspersing a load of nanofiction with the OOC stuff. Expect unfairness on their part while you still have to play by the rules. It's almost enough to make you say fuck these guys, I'm starting my own club. But given the harsh conditions, you may have to swallow your pride and take what allies you can get. Oh, compromises, compromises. The thing good dramatic conflict is made of. So a quite decent article, overall.

The marvel-phile: An unusually high number of characters in this month's marvel-phile, as Jeff adds 5 new characters to the Serpent Society. (as shown on the cover of this month's Ares section. ) Cottonmouth. Asp. Bushmaster. ( :snigger: ) Diamondback. Rattler. They really ought to sue Quentin Tarantino. Anyway, this is an easy and iconic theme, that you can add more and more members too. They work as a villains union, allowing bigger masterminds to hire groups of villains more easily, and also providing protection from said masterminds inevitable betrayal, making sure they get properly paid, etc etc. That is a remarkably clever and realistic idea for a superheroic world. I rather approve.
We also get told that after much demand, Advanced Marvel Superheroes is on it's way. So that's what they were hinting about last month. Jeff will be teasering us extensively before it's release. All rather pleasing stuff here. I'm looking forward to reporting on this. Over and out for now.

Villains and variants: Villains and Vigilantes gets a bunch of optional rules here. Essentially the writers personal house-rules, this is pretty pure crunch that leaves me unable to comment on it, other than to say that it seems designed to make things slightly more lethal for mooks, and slightly less so for PC's. Which is certainly an understandable preference. Guess I'll have to leave an open verdict on this one.

The big guns: Guess superhero stuff really is taking over from harder sci-fi in here. And we have another attempt at increasing the realism here. In comics, whenever the army tries to go up against supervillains or giant monsters, they normally get chewed up with comical ease. This is not the case here, as the writer gives us pretty realistic stats for tanks, fighter jets, warships and submarines. If you want your monsters to be able to trounce them, you'll have to do it the expensive way, and you'd better make sure your heroes are up to the task of beating them, because otherwise, there's going to be a lot of civilian casualties. Ah, reconciling simulationist and narrativist play. Such a tricky business, sometimes. I'm pretty ambivilant on this one. It's not a bad article on it's own terms, but doesn't really mesh with the way I would prefer to handle a game like this.

Expanding the frontier: Back to the sci-fi with a star frontiers article. Exploring new planets might be part of the name of the game, but that doesn't mean it should be easy. Here's a couple of pages talking about the process, methods and obstacles. Which doesn't really say anything new to me. This is the kind of topic that could fill an entire sourcebook, and here feels like it was just tacked on to make up space. Once again, my overfamiliarity with the tropes makes this less enjoyable for me than it would for a newcomer to the magazine.

Wormy demonstrates Irvings, er, charisma. Yeah, that's the ticket. Snarf returns to sanity. Dragonmirth is as trope-aware as ever.

West end games takers out a nice full page colour ad with all of their big games in it.

Hmm. Overall, not a great issue. Starting off with a downer that heavy meant it never really picked up much momentum. Although it does still have some cool articles, their overall quality control still seems to be sliding, with lots of bits that are just way too predictable to sustain my interest. The Ares section continues to drift away from it's original remit as well. It's pretty clear it's days are numbered. Another shift in style is needed, before the magazine gets stuck in a rut.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Rites of passage: Hee. Initiation rites. An excuse to force the newbies to dress stupidly and humiliate themselves to prove they're the right stuff for your little club. They come in many forms, particularly in gamma world, where the people themselves come in pretty diverse shapes. This gives you plenty of amusing advice on this matter, interspersing a load of nanofiction with the OOC stuff. Expect unfairness on their part while you still have to play by the rules. It's almost enough to make you say fuck these guys, I'm starting my own club. But given the harsh conditions, you may have to swallow your pride and take what allies you can get. Oh, compromises, compromises. The thing good dramatic conflict is made of. So a quite decent article, overall.
I'm rather fond of that article. The grubby side of Gamma World, instead of the all-gonzo one.

The designers of prestige classes could also have learned a thing or two.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
I'm rather fond of that article. The grubby side of Gamma World, instead of the all-gonzo one.

The designers of prestige classes could also have learned a thing or two.
Yes, too bad the section of Unearthed Arcana which does that wasn't incorporated into the official rules.

And I still think the intro fiction was stupid. The Restorationists don't want people who know how to fix artifacts, they want people who can pick out good parts from junk and facts from fiction (hard as that might be). Repair is a base related downtime thing.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 106: February 1986

part 1/4

100 pages. We see the ultimate blonde bimbo adventuress on the cover. The price increase also catches up with us. Neither of which is very pleasing. On the other hand, they're working on using their space more efficiently, which is good. After all, we want to get our moneys worth, and they probably never have enough space for everything they want to include. Will this be an improvement, or is it going to make things worse as they include more crap. Guess I'll just have to keep reading and see.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter asking where the maps for the adventure in issue 104. Buy our other marvel modules! Gotta collect em all.
A question about a missing armor class. Ho hum.
Some questions about an illegal class combination. Dear oh dear. Are you looking to us to tie together all the disparate articles in our magazine again. It is not going to happen. Please do not ask.
Some dumb population demographics questions. You can fit a lot of gnomes in a little mountain. That's the advantage of three-dimensional living.

The forum: Bob Kindel is back again, with a whole bunch of comments. He is very much in favour of proper characterisation, and has no objection to solo adventures. Hey ho.
Charles Ryan ( The same one who would later become one of the head writers for 3rd ed?! Inquiring minds want to know. ) thinks that properly immersing yourself in your character does not come at the expense of action. If you do it right, everything they do will be informed by their experiences, likes and personal tricks, including combat and dungeon-crawling. Not everyone plays metagaming power-maxed monsters, and you wouldn't want them to.
Adam Griffith thinks that gods shouldn't be given stats, so players can't beat them. If they can be beaten, they're not a proper god. Simple enough, I guess.
Thomas J Todd believes the game can be fixed by conservative giving out of treasure. Pooooooosibly, for a certain value of conservative.
Lawrence Lerner thinks that the amount of time it takes for high level spellcasters to fill up their slots is ridiculous. It could take days! This needs fixing. Only if you see it as a problem. And considering it's one of their big balancing factors, that might not be such a good idea.

The laws of magic: How does magic work? Why does it work? Where does the energy to power it come from? Here's a theory. Not a particularly brilliant theory, but a theory nonetheless, and one that allows you to still treat nonmagical things as if they work in this universe. It examines why wizardry, clerical magic and psionics work in different ways, and why different spells are different level for different classes. This is one of those cases where I'm not very enthralled because I've seen plenty of game and book universes with better developed and more interesting rules for why and how magic works. Still, maybe it inspired some of you to develop a better set of magical rules for your own game. If so, then it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Casting spells for cash: Ahh yes, one of the most broken parts of D&D's utterly broken economic system. This glosses over that, particularly as there isn't a standardized cost for spellcasting yet, and concentrates more on the way spells can be useful for a place's infrastructure, enabling pseudotechnological advances that move the milieu beyond the medieval. Ho hum. Most of you should already know most of these tricks. If you're going to do this stuff seriously, then magic-users ought to start off in huge amounts of debt, to represent their tuition and spellbook costs. And that may be a bit too much realism for most people. It does introduce a pricing system, but it's ridiculously high, placing wizards for hire out of the range of everyone but really rich nobles. Once again we see that D&D really needs a unionbreaker, so the laws of supply and demand can rebalance everything to a sane set of prices. I am seriously tempted to make that one of the primary conflicts in my campaign world. An irritating article.

The ecology of the maedar: One of the stranger bits of AD&D mythology, the male medusa, gets the spotlight on it. They take the inherent tragedy of the medusas life, and make it bearable, compensating for their weakness and providing easy meals and understanding company. Rather sweet, really. (I assume the stupid thing where they only have a 1 in 400 chance of producing another maedar was a 2nd ed addition, as it isn't mentioned here at all) One of the shorter ecology articles, and once again, Ed makes it almost as much about Elminster as it's actual subject, but still an entertaining one. It has some sound tactical advice, and feels like the kind of thing that could actually happen in an actual play. Monsters may be monsters, but they still have feelings and lives when adventurers aren't killing them. And often, they aren't very happy ones. Looks like Ed is on his usual form this month.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
The ecology of the maedar: One of the stranger bits of AD&D mythology, the male medusa, gets the spotlight on it.
First appearance, I believe.

The smashing statues and turning the bits into chunks of dripping flesh was kind of cool in a lurid B-movie way. A no-salt pre-refrigerator larder. For some reason, it reminds me a bit of the campier Return of the Living Dead movies. Getting stoned has to be better than glowing green embalming fluid. Maybe trolls are a failed attempt at making a super-soldier. Perhaps they really are totally indestructible (acid and fire only slows them down a bit more), but they have this nasty habit of eating any brain that walks by on one of those hand two-legged dispensers. Even the ones in the right colored uniforms. So the military had to get rid of them. Instead of sticking them in barrels, they petrified them, and break one out occasionally for all kinds of wild alchemical experiments. Then one day, along comes a mixed party of kids out to, well, party. Someone steals General Daddy's key, and they break into the dungeon, dance to all kinds of dwarven music, and have sex. When they stumble on all those weird statues in lockdown, they bully their maedar buddy until he tries to work his mojo. But, well, it's been a while. The green scabrous super-soldiers are pretty stiff. Impatiently he tries another, and then another. They don't notice the first couple start to move until it's too late. Oops.
 
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