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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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g026r

I'm a boat
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The Tempest is an adventure path for the game that may or may not draw upon the shakespeare play of the same name. It's low on maps, random encounters, and all that solid stuff, and high on plot, NPC characterisations, little clues that pay off down the line, and the kind of adventure arcs that are tricky to pull off without at least a little railroading. Good luck.
I'd have to dig it out, but I believe that The Tempest was, despite being published by Lion Rampant, written mainly by the staff at the pre-WoD White Wolf. (And a check of the Index shows Stewart Wieck as the author, so it would appear I was correct. Of course, White Wolf and Lion Rampant merged towards the end of the year that book was published from what I recall, so do your own math. :) ) I mention this, as a lot of the review comments sound like a good number of the early WoD adventures.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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I'd have to dig it out, but I believe that The Tempest was, despite being published by Lion Rampant, written mainly by the staff at the pre-WoD White Wolf. (And a check of the Index shows Stewart Wieck as the author, so it would appear I was correct. Of course, White Wolf and Lion Rampant merged towards the end of the year that book was published from what I recall, so do your own math. :) ) I mention this, as a lot of the review comments sound like a good number of the early WoD adventures.
Yup. Well, Ars Magica was written by the same people who would create the early WoD games in general. This is one development that seems very telegraphed in hindsight, as I've pointed out wherever it comes up.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 1/6


124 pages. So we've finally reached the first issue I actually bought at the time. It's taken nearly two years, but we're here. Still even longer to go before we finish this, but from now on, I'm no longer looking at this from the perspective of a newcomer, even if I still haven't read many of these issues. Which is a fairly significant change really. This of course means you'll be hearing more about my personal experiences with the articles in this one. Hopefully that won't bore you.


In this issue:


Letters: A letter on the weight of coins. Very yawnworthy. The only notable thing is that Roger takes advantage of this to point out that money no longer gives you xp in 2nd ed. Which was certainly news to me when I bought this, so it's quite likely other people hadn't realised that either.

Two letters from people who find they have strong sympathies with wolves/werewolves in response to the stuff on vampires, and people talking getting inside their heads. Which makes the fact that Werewolf: the Apocalypse was the second world of darkness game seem very obvious in retrospect.

A letter from someone who strongly empathises with Kobolds, of all things. Actually a surprisingly common choice. Many people have a soft spot for the ultimate underdogs of D&D.

A letter from someone who empathises with rocks. man what. Actually, that's a sad story. Patronising older siblings suck.

A letter from someone who had sex with a wyvern while polymorphed. This obviously has them worrying about the consequences. Tee hee. This went completely over my pre-pubescent head the first time round. Once again, goes to show, with the desire to focus more of worldbuilding and ecology sometimes being at odds with the family friendly policy. We'll be seeing more on this topic in the future.



Editorial: Oh yes, I remember this well. A guest editorial by Michael Stackpole, on his recent experience with a burglar and his thoughts on his actions. We already know about the idiotic satanic accusations that surround the hobby, despite there being evidence that roleplaying actually reduces your odds of committing suicide & major crimes. (or at least, there is negative correlation. ) Here we see another bit of evidence disproving that stuff, albeit coming from the other way. When confronted by a burglar in reality, he didn't react even slightly like his character would have. Despite having a whole array of replica weapons he could have used to kill or threaten them with, he called 911 and then panicked and frightened them off by shouting. Goes to show doesn't it. Most people won't become badass psychopaths as a result of roleplaying, but at the same time, they're similarly unlikely to take the other extreme, and become merciful paragons of virtue who never compromise their principles, always keep their word and fulfil their obligations, no matter how great the adversity against them. Which is a bit depressing in a way. The call of mediocrity is strong in reality. Still, it shows that most people have no trouble subdividing their life and behaving in quite different ways fitting the circumstances.

Now, the big question is how you spot the people who are going to be a problem, and do something about it before they permanently fuck up their life, and quite possibly other people's as well. Another complicated issue, and one that could probably be handled a lot better. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and funding shortsightedness will wind up costing you a lot more later on. Still, let's not get caught up too much in the problems of humanity and the real world. Despite the fact that they do intrude regularly whenever we have to interact with one-another, and many of the more advanced games are built around making humanities quirks work for us rather than against us, this is not the place for trying to save the world. Not that it wouldn't be cool if someone did, and then said I owe it all to roleplaying, but what are the odds of that.


Who's who among dragons: Continuing on from the birthday issue, we have a piece on the territories of various notable dragons of the Known World. There have to be more than enough of them to maintain a breeding population, and some of them will wind up in charge. I haven't read this one in years, and looking at it again, I'm amazed at how much information Bruce fits into a small article. Even more than Ed, he really does have a knack for giving us the crucial details to make for fun adventures. In this case that's HD, personality details, relationships with the other dragons around, and pointers as to the kind of lair they have. This is one that I fell in love with on first reading, (Particularly Marudi, who I wound up pretending to be on the playground for several weeks after) and still seems like a very good bit of worldbuilding indeed, far more concise and effective than the bloated Wyrms of the North series. As with much of his stuff, this is both easily usable if you're playing in the right campaign world, and done in such a way that it makes doing similar stuff for your own game seem quick and easy. A perfect way to start off reading, really.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 2/6


Hunting tanks is fun and easy: Top Secret continues get get occasional articles. When I first picked up the magazine, I assumed that meant it was still a healthy gameline like it was from my years out of date catalog that came with the basic set. Slightly saddening to realise it had already been put on hold for a good year now, and was tapering off in the magazine. Still, this is a fun, if rather crunchy little article that continues the military focus of the last few years, showing you how infantry and light vehicles can face tanks and not get completely pounded. Have those drama points at the ready folks, because it's not easy, but makes for pretty cool scenes. Nice to see this one again.


The making of a monster: Now this is one that definitely shaped my gaming. A roleplaying advice piece focussed on getting you into the head of nonhuman creatures, with their IQ's differing drastically from yours, along with their senses, needs and goals. Put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself what you would do with their knowledge and resources if a bunch of adventurers came along. If they're smarter than you, then that can be simulated by allowing them a limited degree of metagaming, such as undefined contingency plans retroactively tailored towards the players actions. An ugly kludge, but better than the alternative. In any case, this was one of the things that rapidly broke the early habit of mindless hack and slashing, (the other being getting in legal trouble IC back at the homebase for attacking the neighbouring evil castle in my first campaign.) setting me on the path for trying out increasingly strange creatures and situations that culminated in the fun homebrewed stuff I did for the fair folk of Exalted in 2005, before starting to swing back towards examining the human condition again. It also has several other bits of cool advice, like monsters pretending to be other monsters, proper use of technology and natural abilities, and the joys of good collaborations. Another one that it's a joy to reread.


Care for a drink: The decanter of endless water. What a lovely device. This is another one that shaped my approach to playing the game, a strong reminder that you can get all kinds of uses out of many items and spells, and you always ought to be on the look out for that edge, for it may both save your characters lives and make for cool looking scenes as well. A fairly short article, this nonetheless has dozens of useful ideas for getting the most of an item that can produce unlimited water at high velocities. It's also a reminder how you can make established items more interesting by putting a minor twist on their powers, such as a decanter of endless lemonade instead of water. I thought it was really cool back then, and it still seems pretty decent now. Just the thing.


TSR Previews: The Forgotten Realms finally gives mechanics for Doug Niles' pet project over the last year. Maztica gets a big spiffy boxed set. Strange new lands, magics and monsters are just waiting for you to explore them. Try not to lose your heart to the place, for many of the locals will take that phrase literally. Raven's Bluff is also a busy place these days. LC4:port of Raven's Bluff examines the nautical side of living there. Pirates, sea monsters, hidden cliff face caves. There's plenty of adventure to be had just offshore.

Dragonlance is also getting a double helping this month. DLS3: Oak lords turns the spotlight on the Qualinesti. As usual, we only get to find out about them when a crisis happens. The novels, on the other hand are still focussed on the unedifying history of the Silvanesti. This time it's their human-elf racism that gets examined in The Kinslayer Wars. Time for them to learn from their own aesops.

Ravenloft fills in some more of it's big bads in RR1: Darklords. What naughty stuff did they do to get trapped here, and how intractably hard will it be to get rid of them? Like an ugly winestain on the carpet of reality, the demiplane of dread continues to grow.

On the generic side, we have DMGR3: Arms and equipment guide. If the complete fighters handbook didn't provide enough weapon pr0n, this is for you. Tons of illustrations of strange polearms for you to fap over. Gary would probably approve. We also have another strange product that feels like an inflated article from this magazine. The AD&D trivia game. As if standard trivial pursuit wasn't geeky enough. Who will be the biggest rules lawyer, and win the night?

D&D is back to the hollow world, in HWR1: Sons of Azca. More heart ripping fun for if Maztica just isn't enough. Can't you mix up your cultures a little more? Has someone been leaving their reference books lying round the office again?

Marvel Superheroes has another fairly high level adventure ready. MSL2: Warlord of Baluur. Not very well written copy here, but it does the job. Try to resolve an alien invasion peacefully? Tricky business.

Buck Rogers continues doing planet sourcebooks, with 25CR4: Luna. Well, it's practically a planet in it's own right anyway. Do I see any objections? :Rumble of thunder, howl of wolves: I thought not.

And finally, our generic novel this month is Token of Dragonsblood, by Damaris Cole. A Princess raised secretly as a commoner? There's a cliche we haven't seen here in a while. Oh well, once more onto the path of destiny.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 3/6


Forum: James R. Collier replies to the criticism of The Enemy at the Gates. Just as the real world has fantastical areas like Hollywood or Dubai, where all the cool stuff is supported by a serious inflow of money from around the world, so should at least one or two magic heavy cities be possible in a campaign world, even with D&D's pricing system for employing spells commercially. When effects don't have an expiry date, even if you can only afford one every few years, they really add up. So let there be fantastic stuff.

Jager McConnell thinks that computer games can satisfy the roleplaying itch if done right, such as in the Ultima series. People are unlikely to react in the same way to all the situations, and a little randomisation can ensure that experiences are different even with the same player. Oh, and my 40 mb hard drive is more than big enough to handle a few roleplaying books. :D Bring on the digital age!

Glenn Pruitt also thinks that more advanced AI than they currently have could satisfy the GM'ing role. It might actually work. Take an advanced chatbot, fill it with all the data from the forgotten realms books and novels, and see what happens. It would be the biggest canon lawyer evar, and quite possibly insane as well, but it might get close to passing the Turing test.

Matt Heuser, on the other hand, remains dubious about computer adventure games. They're all a bunch of railroads where there are tons of things you can't do, that commonsensically you could in reality or with an actual DM to arbitrate them. Not that some modules don't do that as well. Rahasia sux! I'm guessing you never picked up the Dragonlance adventures if that's the one you criticise most. :p

Mario Sismondo often winds up playing additional PC's as well as DM'ing, but tries to do so fairly. Remember, they're people in the game, not avatars of you.

Daniel J. Cuomo also plays and DM's simultaneously, but does so in a group where the current DM rotates. This of course keeps people from abusing knowledge when they're god, because if they do it, the next person can do likewise or reverse their ill-gotten gains. The social contract is much easier to enforce when you aren't dependent on any one person.


The marvel-phile: Another example of the growth of dark edgy anti-heroes here. Darkhawk! Isn't that just a perfect name for this kind of character. Disillusioned about the law after witnessing his father taking bribes, he's discovered a magic amulet, which gives him powers, but the more he uses it, the more trouble he has controlling his temper, causing him to hurt the ones he loves, make stupid decisions in the heat of battle and drive people away. AAAAAAAAAngst!!! :shakes fist at sky: He even went on to join a superhero group called The Loners. (I have no words, save possibly oxymoronic) So this was another sign of the times that I thought was pretty awesome back then, but like shellsuits, getting off your face on E's and believing that the fall of the berlin wall meant the end of war and global tension, now just seems amusing and faintly embarrassing. Still, at least I can enjoy it ironically.


The role of books: Renegade by Gene DeWesse gets a better review than most Star Trek books have managed here. It doesn't venture too deep into the characterisations of the characters, but at least that means it doesn't mess them up like certain other writers.

Achilles choice by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes works rather better as theoretical sci-fi than an actual story. The psychological exploration that would give the themes of sacrifice for power resonance for the reviewer just aren't there.

Blind justice by S N Lewitt is reviewed in a somewhat pretentious way, as the reviewer tries to live up to the cleverness of the book. I do so love it when they try themed reviews. I shall have to experiment with doing a few myself.

The paradise war by Stephen Lawhead gets a moderately negative review. The mythical elements jarr with the self-invented ones, and the pacing is unpleasantly uneven. While curious about what happens next, the reviewer can't say he enjoyed it.

Good night, Mr Holmes by Carol Nelson Douglas is a book about Irene Adler, and her adventures before she crossed the master detective's path. It manages to both complement and contrast with the existing canon, with Irene and her sidekick putting their own spin on the mystery solving business.

The initiate brother by Sean Russel is an oriental adventure. (although not set in Kara-tur, despite using the same name for the empire) It gets a so-so review, doing ok as a story, but not actually feeling very oriental beyond the names. Needs moar research.
 

Capellan

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To be fair, while "The Loners" was the name of the comic, I'm not sure the people in that group referred to themselves that way (it's been a while since I read the graphic novel, and it wasn't good enough for me to want to re-read it to check). I don't recall if they even had a name for themselves ... which would make sense, since the actual point of the group was a kind of "Superheroes Anonymous" deal for people trying to kick the cape and spandex habit. Not that there efforts to give up their "addiction" were very successful.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 4/6


The voyage of the princess ark: Welcome to Slagovich. We get to see the precursor to the Red Steel setting here, as the Ark runs across a land poisoned by it's soil, and forced to rely on supplies of cinnabryl to alleviate the effects on people's minds. As this depletes when people touch it, and the stuff is also used as the primary currency there, this results in a rather unstable economic condition, prone to regular attacks of deflation. It's not all useless though, because some people have found ways to create powerful weapons and gain red-tinged magic powers that don't require components or correspond to regular wizard or cleric spells. How very intriguing. This is definitely deserving of some further investigation. Will they find out more about this? You'll have to wait and see.

In this month, we also finally get stats for Xerdon, who is proving to be easily the second most important PoV character. A maxed out Elf, he may not quite be the equal of Haldemar, but he's certainly no slouch, and if anyone's going to take over, it's him. We also see that the bloody morals brigade have penetrated here as well, resulting in them stepping very awkwardly around the topic of religion. This is definitely a part that feels quite different to read now I have the benefit of hindsight. So much context I was missing before, so many characters I now have a better understanding of. It's all tremendously satisfying.


The nature of the beast: A second minis article this month, this one focussing on painting monsters. Colour and fine detail, my dear, these are what make a mini captivating and lifelike. Even if it isn't a real creature, they usually have body parts drawn from them. And if not, then your imagination is the limit. One of those articles that is helpful because it give lots of specific examples of the effects they're aiming for and how they tried to achieve them. If you want to hone the synasthetic properties of your creations, then you should learn to think like this. I regularly use similar processes when composing music to try and get the right mood to match the lyrics, so this has probably been an inspiration in some small way. Can't say it's a particularly amazing article, but it more than does it's job.


The role of computers: Eye of the Beholder is our latest excursion to the Forgotten Realms. With graphics and sound substantially improved from previous games, it gives you a great dungeon-crawling experience, with the 3D interface meaning you can be attacked from behind if not careful. Just don't expect much actual roleplaying.

Buck Rogers: Countdown to doomsday is another prong of their multimedia assault with this property, once again proving it's getting a lot more money thrown at it than Gamma World or Top Secret ever did. It gets a fairly positive, but not brilliant review.

Dungeon Master:Chaos strikes back is a sequel where the difficulty level picks up where the first one left off, making it damn tricky if you come in with starting level characters. The first encounter in particular is a nightmare. So you'll need to persevere to get to the fun bits.

Lemmings is another classic game that caused me almost as much entertainment as Tetris, although it doesn't seem to have had quite the same longevity. Still damn cool though, and it's nice to be reminded of it after all these years.

Spirit of Excalibur sees you trying to unite the country after the death of King Arthur. They list the bad points first this time, but then go on to deliver a fairly positive review. Funny how that works, but at least it lets you decide if it's worth buying it.


Fiction: Child of ocean by Eluki Bes Shahar. Another of our returning writers delivers a somewhat poetic piece which is essentially about deciding to say fuck you to destiny in a flowery way. Which when you consider her previous one was about denying the demands of your evil magical item and putting it to practical use, does make this a bit of a theme. Still, promoting themes of independence and believing in yourself is hardly a terrible thing, even if it can get a bit cliched and cheesy in the wrong hands. In this case though, I find myself appreciating the story a lot more than I did when I was young, as the questions of adulthood, what you have to sacrifice to achieve it, and if you even want to make those sacrifices at all obviously resonate in a way that I couldn't even conceive of then.


It's clobberin time!: A second superheroic article this month gets meta, looking at the roles superheroes play in their teams. The powers they have naturally push them towards contributing towards a full scale battle in a particular way, particularly when they are in a group. While not as regimented as 4e's role system, (particularly as many heroes fall into more than one category) this is certainly in the same vein, with tactical advice for both individuals and groups. This is another one that was probably an influence, getting me into looking for patterns and symmetry in character groups, and figuring out how to cover your weaknesses while striking at the enemies flaws. Still seems pretty decent, if a bit dated now. Tactical advice for teams is something they haven't covered much, despite it being crucial to playing D&D well. Hopefully they'll have something analogous for Top Secret as well before it disappears for good.
 
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(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 5/6


Role-playing reviews: Fittingly for my first issue, this is talking about introductory modules. At this point in time, the balance of releases has probably skewed a little too far in favour of experienced players. Most of the classic old B series are out of print, and AD&D 2nd ed does't seem to have an obvious introductory adventure at all. This is a real problem. Still, there are some adventures intended for 1st level characters out there, and as ever, Ken wants to help you buy the good ones, so you enjoy your game.

B11 kings festival & B12 kings harvest get fairly good results, both individually and chained together to introduce new players to both the dungeon crawling and role-playing sides of playing D&D. They might not be a keep on the borderlands beater, but they'll do the job. Ken also mentions a houserule of his that I quickly adopted, that of giving characters a bleeding out buffer equal to their Con score to make them less fragile (which was also used by Monte Cook later on) Guess that's another way this issue influenced me.

DDA1 Arena of Thyatis & DDA2 Legions of Thyatis get a somewhat less enthusiastic review. While a nice plot, it doesn't seem that well suited for a novice DM, and you'll either have to do a bit of railroading, or be ready to improvise when the players take a route the adventure isn't prepared for. Good luck.

DMGR1 Campaign sourcebook and catacomb guide is another recommended product. Full of advice for the inexperienced DM, and handy reminders for veterans, it's certainly a lot quicker to read through that than all the stuff from various issues of this magazine if you want a good checklist.

Dungeon master's design kit, on the other hand, doesn't do very well. Aaron Allston produces something that works by filling in forms, which bores Ken, and he suspects the average reader will agree. Only for the OCD then.

DLS1 New beginnings also gets poor marks for making learning the rules too much like work, and also being overly specific, not really working well unless you're playing a Dragonlance game set on Taladas. The odds of a player sticking around if this is their first experience don't seem particularly great.

LC3 Nightwatch in the living city, on thew other hand, gets top marks, having been honed to a fine sheen by it's extensive RPGA playtesting, while still having enough genericness to be applicable to fantasy cities other than raven's bluff. If this is your first experience, you're much more likely to become someone who thinks and talks their way through problems, rather than killing everything. Plus it doesn't take itself too seriously,

WG11 Puppets also gets a fairly positive review, with Ken considering the whimsical elements a plus. Well, he is also a Paranoia writer. And this kind of humour seems to be common even with TSR's best writers of this period, like Ed and Bruce. Like the fashion crimes of the 70's, it's tricky to judge them harshly for it, even if this is one of the modules that's considered rather embarrassing these days.


Conquer the solar system - By mail!: Hmm. I remember this one well as well. By this period, Jim Ward was very much part of the upper management, not one of the boys. And since that was my first impression of him, and his management approach, my impression wasn't that favourable. Course, even at that age, I quickly realised that he couldn't be that big a tyrant if they were publishing stuff like this in their own magazine, but it was still a little strange. It didn't seemlike the best way to promote your new game.

Of course, it all makes a lot more sense this time round. Buck Rogers was still the bosses baby, and so they really were constantly demanding impossible things from their employees, and meddling with the product. If anything, the experience of coding and playtesting the PbM was probably even more grueling and less funny than it comes off here. Still, this is the first Buck Rogers article the magazine has had in 10 issues, so my fears that it would wind up taking over a load of space in the magazine for a while haven't come to pass at all. Looks like the employees are managing to stymie Lorraine's :roll of thunder, stab of organ music: ambitions in all kinds of little ways. I wonder how long this managed to run before being shut down. Google is singularly unhelpful in finding out anything about this, just as it was with the old AD&D PbM.
 

lionrampant

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Dungeon master's design kit, on the other hand, doesn't do very well. Aaron Allston produces something that works by filling in forms, which bores Ken, and he suspects the average reader will agree. Only for the OCD then.
Seems like the reviewer didn't understand the product very well, and likely never actually used it to help create an adventure, which was the entire point. Yes, there are forms, but they are to help you organize your notes and ideas. There are also a lot of random generation tables for plot points and what not, all of the "use them if you want to, ignore them if you don't" variety.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 171: July 1991

part 6/6


Sage advice: Can you make more than one image at once with phantasmal force ( Probably not. The singular nature of the description makes the force bit of the title a bit of a misnomer)

Does Fly end when you land (Nah. That would be so easily got around it would be a joke)

Can you use at will abilities as often as you like (no, They generally still use up your standard act... oh, wait. Damn, there's Skip's precognition kicking in again. Skip hates it when that happens)

Psychic crush sucks (yeah, but it's the only attack mode that does real damage. We have to make it a bit less likely to work to compensate)

What does X mult mean (We have to make sure that their other powers scale with HD. Otherwise we'd be no better than 1st edition )

How much do siege weapons cost ( Whatever the market will bear. But we can't be having with adaptive economics around here. The guild cartels would throw a fit. And with the assassin's guild gone, who knows how they'd deal with you.)

How do you design a spelljammer from scratch and determine the cost (Too Complicated! Too Complicated! Skip cries uncle!)

Who is the attacker if two ships play chicken and ram each other (whoever wins initiative. Reroll ties. )

What happened to the new proficiencies for spelljammer (Drat. Must have fallen behind the sofa. We'll put them in a supplement. )

How much are weapon's ranges reduced by atmosphere. (lots)

How long do you keep your own gravity if you enter a bigger one. (until you touch the surface. More evidence of just how frickin weird AD&D's physics actually are. You could really exploit this. )

How long does it take to regain spells after spelljamming (At least a good nights rest. This is why you fly using multiple mages working in shifts)

Can a creature with a breath weapon foul it's own air envelope. (Yes, but only if it's not immune to it's own powers. That actually leaves out most of them. )


101 surprises in a bag of beans: Ahh joy. This is one of the things that introduced me to the idea of random screwage by player consent as fun. As such, it'll always hold a special place in my heart. It doesn't hurt that this is one of the larger and more wide-ranging tables of this sort, full of items that are good, things that are bad, and lots that are decidedly mixed benefits, that may be useful if properly exploited, but also have very real dangers, such as monsters with cool magic items, portals that'll close after a while, pandora's box, dragon eggs, and flying islands. You could spend months just planting these things and dealing with the fallout. Putting one of these in your game can let the DM sit back and laugh while the players bring about their own demise. Which I'm fully in favour of, because it means less work for me. Worldbuilding takes a lot of time, and the busier I am, the more I come to appreciate shortcuts and efficiency increasers. i won't hesitate to use this if I get the chance.


Dragonmirth screws up the tropes again. Yamara gets the note about her wishes too late and has to be bailed out. Twilight empire has action, drama, and comedy, as per usual.


Look like a loyal palladium fan (o rly? How do you do that then?) at gen con this year and you'll get free palladium bucks!. Only redeemable at the palladium stall, for palladium books. Okey dokey.


Through the looking glass: Another bit of evidence that minis are a decade or so ahead of RPG's in their product cycle here. Robert talks about the problems companies are having making a profit due to people expecting discounts at conventions. Too much undercutting can actually mean you wind up making a loss. Which in a different way is an issue that online stores have made much worse, and has contributed quite a bit in the fall of games shops over the past decade. Supply and demand may be an important principle, but so it ensuring your business is sustainable. Making a loss on one thing on the gamble that profits from other sources will fill it is a dangerous business. Another life lesson applicable to any money-making venture.

Our minis this month are a rather large fairy designed to sit on your mantelpiece, a dinosaur with a lizard man rider, elves, undead, a full 4 pack of elementals, a unicorn, and a castle construction kit. This is all fairly standard, and I can't muster up any particular nostalgia over this article.


Dark sun reveals it's name, and the basics of the setting. Overthrow the decadent sorcerer-kings and save the desert wasteland. Lest you forgot, the metaplot was hard-coded into the setting design, and it was intended to evolve rapidly right from day one. The wisdom of this decision may be questionable, but they carried their brief out with aplomb, leaving no part untouched.


They also give us another set of trading cards. This is another thing that's left out of the scan. Another array of characters, monsters and items with very abbreviated stats on the back, many of which I'd never heard of at the time, and was curious to find out more about. Of particular note are Alias and the Bebilith which both hinted strongly at larger things I had yet to explore. I guess they did their job then.


Well, they say you never forget your first time, and that's definitely true here. I do seem to find myself more positively inclined towards most of the articles in this one, than the previous issues, with specific memories surrounding a decent fraction of them. Not sure if it's actually better, but I do note that this has more non D&D articles than the average for this period, which I generally seem to have found myself in favour of. In any case, many of the articles still hold valuable advice that's still significant after several edition changes and applied to other systems, so it's a better jumping on point than many. It's nice to be here, but it'll be even nicer to finish this, so enough wallowing. On we go again.
 
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