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

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Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 185: September 1992

part 4/6

Sage advice: The alertness proficiency doesn't conform to 2nd ed rules (yes, the writer of the complete thief's handbook was quite the incompetent. Skip already sorted him out last issue, so worry no more about it. )

The complete fighters handbook breaks the rules on specialization. ( No it doesn't. Buy a new PHB, it will be in agreement. The canon police will be along shortly to erase your memory of the old flawed books with their psychic hamsters. And so the complete fighters handbook will always have been correct.)

Why do bards get reduced thieving penalties for armor, but fighter/thieves don't (The magic bard training faeries say so. Don't complain too much, or they'll revert to 1st ed rules)

Can energy containment be maintained. (no, It's a reactive power used when needed, not activated beforehand)

Is there a save against ID insinuation. (no. It's like ranged touch attacks. They already have to penetrate your mental resistance. Getting another roll to avoid it afterwards would make it too weak. )

Can you develop new psionic powers (yes, but it aint easy. )

Does the complete psionics handbook replace the powers monsters got before (no)

What can hurt a character in ectoplasmic form (anything that can hurt ghosts. This is a bigger selection of powers than you'd think. Also, running away from your comrades mid-fight may piss off the other players. )

Can you use a spell and a psionic power simultaneously. (no. Types of actions per round rules, we need them. You can maintain already activated powers though. )

What happens when you fail a system shock roll (You're dead. CPR and cure spells will do sod-all. You need a cleric with raising powers to get them back)

Can you escape ravenloft by exploding an extradimensional space or a prismatic wall. (No. They've already planned for that trick. )

What happens if people from different prime material planes see a colour pool while astral. Does it look a different colour to each (yes)

-3 THAC0?! How the hell do you get that (by being really really badass. It is within high level PC's reach. )

Can you use more than one psionic power with a preparation time of 0 in a round (no. Action type rules, again. Skip is developing some. Soon they will be official. Oh yes.)

What armour & weapons can vikings have. (whatever's left after the 800 pound gorilla got first pick )

Are undead cut off from the negative energy plane in the phlogiston? Does this mean they lose energy draining powers (no. Undead are a bitch to deal with. Like ravenloft, simple tricks that should logically work like that will do sod-all. )

Can psionicists use illithid series helms (no. They work off their magical powers anyway. Psionics are different, remember. )

Role-playing reviews II: Two review columns this month? What, couldn't Rick and Allen agree to take it in turns like usual. Are they really such a popular part of the magazine? Perilous line, my dears. Anyway, along with his fiction contribution earlier, Allen Varney has decided to stick his two cents in about the cyberpunk genre. It's a troublesome one, in that far too many of the things in it actively undermine the original message of it's originator, making dystopia and loss of humanity cool instead of a warning. Like the World of Darkness being played as superheroes with fangs, this may be fun, but isn't going to make the world a better place. What are we to do with them.

Cyberpunk 2020 falls prey to the excesses of pretentiousness rather badly. Big guns and attitude, these are the things that are good in life. It also has some inconsistencies and way too many typos. On the other hand, it's a vast improvement mechanically over the first edition. Mike Pondsmith may be a magpie, but at least he's stealing from good sources.

Night city is the big setting expansionbook for Cyberpunk. Like Marvel and DC, Cyberpunk and Shadowrun seem to have taken opposite tacks on the real/imaginary city question. It goes into quite ridiculous amounts of detail, with little entries for every single city block, and tons of building layouts to make running adventures a snap. It really useful not only for Cyberpunk, but any modern day game.

Hacker: The computer crime card game gets one of their odd context heavy reviews. It's actually Allen's baby originally, so reviewing it feels a bit odd. That said, he freely admits Steve Jackson Games have improved substantially on his original submission. But it's still not really good enough to compete with Illuminati. Send it back to the development labs!

A storytelling game of savage horror! W:tA gets it's byline. And the system gets it's name. Well, when you only have one game for a system, you don't need a generic name for it.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 185: September 1992

part 5/6

The game wizards: Not content with trying to make the old basic rules more accessable in a new boxed set, TSR are now trying to get into some of that lucrative HeroQuest market by making Dragon Quest, another game that bridges the boardgame and RPG classification, and hopefully will make a good entry drug for young players. As you might expect, this is the usual mix of behind the scenes and promotion. Buy it for your kids, or your little siblings! Hope they actually bother moving on from it instead of just playing a few times and losing interest. Hrm. Like the Collectable Card stuff, this feels like a slightly forced attempt to expand their scope and get into new markets. Good luck with that. And with a little googling, I see that that impression is actually rather disingenuous, as it's actually a resurrected SPI property that they only did token promotion on. Or maybe that's the last edition, and they just slapped the name on an unrelated product, it's hard to tell. In any case, my skepticism level is rather high here. I shall watch with interest to see if this disappears without a trace.

The role of books: Jaran by Kate Elliot gets a positive review for it's interesting take on worldbuilding. Complex cultures are created, set in conflict, and then our normal human PoV character is dropped in the middle. Y'know, some people would make it accessible enough that you don't need that gimmick.

Dragons over england is a set of short stories from the TORG setting. It doesn't get a very good review. The design feels more like a sourcebook than a novel, and the stories lack any kind of consistency. The problems with a kitchen sink setting is that it can wind up not feeling like a setting at all, and the editing certainly doesn't help that. You can't just plop in whatever cool stuff your writers come up with, however good the ideas might be individually.

Jumper by Steven Gould is of course a book that has gone on to be a movie a few years ago. And from the sound of this review, it quite deserves it, as it succeeds both on a character-building level, and in how he logically exploits and develops his teleportation powers. Sci-fi doesn't have to be all high concepts and rayguns. And psychic powers don't have to turn into a kitchen sink of mind control and telekinesis.

Court of shadows by Cynthia Morgan is a swashbuckling elizabethan espionage romance. With memory loss, dueling, and a strong chemistry between the female lead and the main villain, it also seems good fair for a movie conversion. Can't happen to every good book, can it.

The Catswold Portal by Shirly Rousseau Murphy gets a negative review for trying to juggle one plot too many for it's length. Not a bad attempt, but needs a better editor.

Sahara by Clive Cussler gets a mixed, but overall positive review. Yes, it's terribly formulaic as a spy thriller, and doesn't quite have that bondesque elegance, but it does demonstrate how the espionage genre has a future in the post cold war era. Keep the popcorn popping, and the airport shelves full.

Fire in the Mist by Holly Lisle, like Jumper, is a first book from a new author that scores quite well by putting a distinct spin on familiar ideas. Gender segregated spellcasters and prodigies with incredible but not fully controlled powers certainly aren't new ideas, but when the delivery is at the right pace, and the worldbuilding is good, the reviewer isn't going to complain.

TSR Previews: So much stuff coming next month that they drop the this month ones completely. This is gonna be another loong ploughthrough.

The Forgotten Realms is focussing on the Drow this month. Menzoberranzan gets a big boxed set letting you adventure the hell out of it. Whether you play as Drow, infiltrator, or adventurer trying to attack (bad move if you ain't epic level) there's lots of stuff for you to take advantage of. Meanwhile, Menzoberranzan's most famous prodigal son is doing so well, his latest book gets published in hardcover. The Legacy sees Drizzt about to have his newfound happiness shattered, again. Onward, building up ever more Aaaaangst!

Al-Qadim experiments with the formula of it's supplements. Mini boxed sets. Slimline, with all sorts of odd bits and pieces. The first on is AQ1: Golden voyages. Follow in Sinbad's footsteps and lose your ship repeatedly. Invest your treasure wisely and leave it at home, for losing all your stuff is very annoying.

Dark Sun expands some more on the veiled alliance, in DSR3. The degree that all the city states have become rotten and ready for a good revolution becomes increasingly clear. The preservers are all over the shop, just waiting for someone to get their acts together. Are you that someone? It also gets The Amber Enchantress, book 3 in the prism pentad. Wait, what? Cleric quintet vs prism pentad. Settle on a name for your 5 book series. Not sure what to think about this.

Dragonlance gets a second introductory level module, DLQ2: Flint's axe. I suppose it fits with their obsession with prequels. You can still move onto the original epic module series from here, I hope.

D&D is quite busy this month, with several very different products. The Haunted Tower adventure pack sees them concentrate on undead, with another bunch of mini adventures assisted by a ton of gimmicky props. Now there's one that would be a lot less thrilling if I downloaded it in .pdf. PC4: Night howlers makes werecreatures available as PC's in D&D. Been quite a while since they had new stuff in this series. Cool. Not so cool is their saying the first D&D novel is out. Um, are you forgetting Quag keep and Trollshead back in the 70's? Looks like the current management have either forgotten about the early years of the company, or are a bunch of lying liars who lie. Anyway, The minted Sword by D.J Heinrich is the start of the Penhaligon trilogy. This is rather a mixed blessing to the setting. Do we really need more metaplot mucking intruding here?

Gamma world gets the Gamma knights boxed set. Wear powered armour and pilot giant mecha! I remember when Jim did an article on that, back in issue 101. Hoo boy. That's a substantial change from the normal playstyle. And it includes a boardgame too. This may be contentious.

Marvel superheroes celebrates spiderman's 30th anniversary by releasing a supplement devoted to him. A bit trickier thinking of stuff to fill this out than for the X-men or Dr Doom. Oh well, he's got lots of plotlines and a big rogues gallery. I'm sure you'll be able to get some useful ideas out of this.

Finally, it looks as though Buck Rogers' gameline is still limping along at the moment, with Nomads of the sky by William H Keith jr. RAM are still trying to dominate the solar system, and not having an easy time of things.


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The game wizards: Not content with trying to make the old basic rules more accessable in a new boxed set, TSR are now trying to get into some of that lucrative HeroQuest market by making Dragon Quest, another game that bridges the boardgame and RPG classification, and hopefully will make a good entry drug for young players. As you might expect, this is the usual mix of behind the scenes and promotion. Buy it for your kids, or your little siblings! Hope they actually bother moving on from it instead of just playing a few times and losing interest. Hrm. Like the Collectable Card stuff, this feels like a slightly forced attempt to expand their scope and get into new markets. Good luck with that. And with a little googling, I see that that impression is actually rather disingenuous, as it's actually a resurrected SPI property that they only did token promotion on. Or maybe that's the last edition, and they just slapped the name on an unrelated product, it's hard to tell. In any case, my skepticism level is rather high here. I shall watch with interest to see if this disappears without a trace.
I owned this back in the day. It has nothing to do with the RPG originally published by SPI, except for the name (which, of course, TSR owned since they purchased SPI a few years back). It was an "intro to D&D" type product that was... OK. It did come with actual metal minis from Ral Partha for the characters. The system was simplified, and the adventures were nominally set in the Thunder Rift setting for Classic D&D, so I think the intended "up sell" was to Classic D&D.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 185: September 1992

part 6/6

Forum: Alex Skrabut finds that the sense of accomplishment gained from worldbuilding pales in comparison to the amount of bloody work needed. He'd much rather just make it up on the spot as much as possible. Or so he says. Since he also wrote a computer program to generate a world's topography, I think the man doth protest too much.

Matthew W. Grieco points out that even most of the articles for specific campaign worlds are easily adapted for other games. This is particularly true of the forgotten Realms stuff, which is pretty generic anyway. People grousing about them having no place in the magazine are just being lazy.

Kevin Costello thinks people are overestimating how hard it is to design a setting. Just draw a big map, make rough sketches of what's where, and then only fill out the areas your players seem likely to go to. It's easier than you think, and then you won't have to worry about players knowing whats coming up. (unless you leave your notes lying around.)

Jeff House reminds you that most campaign maps have plenty of empty space that you can fill to customise them with without departing from canon at all. Even a single city can provide enough interesting stuff to do for a lifetime in reality. There's just so much more detail you could add.

Barry White loves using both his own world and pregenerated ones, and the characters in his campaign regularly flip from one to the another. It's all good baby. We're versatile.

Lawrence Hurley is one of those in favour of using official campaign worlds. It cuts through the boring design bit and gets straight to the fun playing. It's also easier to improvise off a solid base.

Ross A. Isaacs would feel like he was cheating if he used a prefab campaign world. Stealing stuff from sourcebooks, even non D&D ones and making it your own, on the other hand, he highly recommends. Integrity is such a tricky thing to maintain, and everyone has their own line they don't want to cross.

Jim Gonzalez has two big problems with prefab campaign worlds. 1: Other players read them and know what's coming. 2: TSR blatantly favours some worlds over others. Yes, that's because they sell better. How hard is that one to understand? They are a business, remember. If you don't like it, just don't buy them.

Dragonmirth makes a dreadful mess. Be glad you don't have to clean it up. Yamara's enemies make a pleasing discovery. Oh paladin, what art thou good for? Meanwhile we have more romance in extremis in twilight empire. Couldn't you just go on a rollercoaster or something.

Through the looking glass joins in with the theme, unusually. Ral Partha give us some official Dark Sun minis to have a look over. Sadira, Neeva, Rikus, and a whole host of classes and races including the new ones like gith and mul are covered. They get 5 stars, being very faithful to the illustrations and lacking in ugly molding artifacts. Seems like another positive step in building up their multimedia empire. Now all they need is a computer game.

Lots of other stuff, as usual. A Griffon. A tower keep which looks like it may be the start of an epic castle for your minis to fight on. Some banquet tables with included chairs (that none of your minis will be able to sit on) and various bits of ornamentation. A rather cranky looking pair of middle-aged nobility that could well make good antagonists. A full selection of skulls on spikes to put around your evil overlord's base. A winged skeleton with a scythe that should put the willies up inexperienced adventurers. A whole company of goblins riding giant spiders, including a spellcaster. They also seem like a good market for skull on spike decor. To take care of the spiders before they hit you with instadeath, there's a company of elf archers. But they too will fall before the Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua. As will some basic orcs which look rather boring in comparison to the last few. Funny how that works out. In any case, this is an above average selection to read about.

Drizzt finally gets enough prestige to go hardcover. See kids. This is what making angst glamorous can get you. Keep your eyes on the futility prize.

With the start of a classic column series, and lots of other cool bits and pieces, this is once again an upswing after a couple of rather dull issues. The focus on specific campaign worlds is fairly welcome and useful this time round, rather than being just promotion. And since the survey seemed to indicate lots of people like this stuff, we may well be seeing an increase in it's frequency. Roll out those changes folks, you won't regret it.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 1/6

124 pages Boo! Jesus christ don't disintegrate me it was only a joke! Clerics these days. No sense of humour. No wonder they can't get the congregations. So anyway, we've reached another october. And as usual, that means the boogeymen are creeping out from every tomb, and it's up to adventurers to save us all from doom. We've got a well worn formula going now, and all the kids would cry if it was cancelled. So let's show them not that monsters exist, but that they can be beaten once again. Even if they will be back next year. But then, recurring villains are more fun than an endless cavalcade of one-shots.

In this issue:

Letters: Another regular occurrance, someone asking if their old issues of the magazine are collectors items in any way. You might make a profit on them, but I wouldn't bet on it.

And someone complaining that there's too much stuff in the magazine that requires various supplements and campaign worlds, and they'd rather get back to basics a bit. Roger reminds him that even the stuff that has specific trappings is generally pretty easy to convert. Look past the labels. We do need our variety. If we made everything corebook only that would be considerably duller. Once again we face the problem that you can't please everyone all the time, especially if trying to cover lots of bases.

Editorial: The ghost of conventions past once again haunts us in Roger's editorial this month. Physically, they may leave a room with little more than a stale smell of sweat and mountain dew, but it's the memories you take with you that are the cool things. And the freebies and shiny new or rare books, of course. As usual with these things, the busier you are and the more you engage, the more fun you'll have. Course, being a TSR writer and personally knowing half the people there puts you at a substantial advantage. You have to do far less waiting in line, and can join in the really silly games. Certainly seems like they had no shortage of spectacular props this year, with cardboard castles consuming the booths, Aztec Mecha, people dressed as Drow, giant dice, mini cthulhus, balalaika, Spiderman and Jim Ward in a suit. Damn that sounds like fun. Another reminder that since I'm doing this in such a serious way, I really ought to get out to them, actually meet people in person. I will not go mad, I will not go mad. I will find ways to keep this entertaining 'till the end.

50 Castle hauntings: What, couldn't you find 100, then we could use one dice roll instead of breaking it up into 4 little tables? :p I suppose real world legends do start repeating themselves if you hit the folklore books for too long, just like everything. Still even with only 50, you're unlikely to exhaust this, unless your players are stuck in Ravenloft, where there's a crumbling castle with baneful inhabitants with tragic backstories atop every precipice. And some of them are pretty good, particularly the temporal shifts, which are full of stuff that you can't solve by violence and could have significant effects on the campaign. Yet another encouragement for me to fill large quantities of my own game with horror themed stuff, as you could come up with random weirdness on the fly for quite a bit before repeating yourself with this. Now what I need is a random castle layout generator, which would synergize very well with this. A pretty strong start to the articles, as it should be with the amount they have to choose from.

Mission: Impossibly dangerous: Forward we jump to do a bit of providing for the fast growing modern day horror market. Concentrating on the Dark Conspiracy game, this stuff is pretty much system free, but very strongly focussed on the setting of that game. It'd certainly take a bit of work to adapt to Shadowrun or the world of darkness. It does reveal quite a bit about the assumptions of the game, possibly more so than the actual review, with a definite emphasis on reactive mission based adventures rather than active player agency. This obviously isn't my usual style, but it does make this article useful to me on two levels, as well as being quite interesting reading and covering a game they haven't done before. Quite pleasing overall, even if it doesn't actually make me want to buy the game.


Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 2/6

The dragon's bestiary has three new varieties of hard to pronounce undead for your delectation this halloween, courtesy of Spike Y. Jones. Just as with dragons, these guys pile up, year upon year. The horror, the horror, I embrace it.

Cariad ysbryd are one of the vanishingly rare varieties of good undead, who keep their wrath focussed on other violators of the natural cycle. What a heartwarming tale. Not everyone gets trapped in cycles of brooding negativity. Course, being undead, they do still have personal initiative issues, but we can work on that.

Memento mori finally give us an insubstantial low level undead variant for clerics to create as a guardian. Woo. With no long-term memory, and a very limited amount of power, they're not that hard to beat if you know their quirks. Better hope you have a supergeek player or some equivalent of 3e's knowledge rolls, since they're from such an obscure source.

Tymher-haid are our only truly malevolent delivery this time. Created when lots of people die together, they're vulnerable to normal water, so they don't tend to last long. Another decidedly quirky little thing that'll be as much a puzzle as a combat challenge. And doesn't that fit the mood of most ghost & vampire stories better than big ugly battles.

Welcome to the neighbourhood: A curious little bit of worldbuilding here, providing us with a few more city districts and locations for your players to enjoy. Consciously trying to avoid rehash, much of this advice is specific to D&D style fantasy, especially the stuff involving demihumans. Much of this is stuff you'd figure out yourself, so it's mainly useful in that it gets you to ask the right questions and serving as a mental checklist. It also has plenty of ecological and logistical thoughts, some of which are quite clever. Overall, I think I quite like this one, even if it's not as groundbreaking as it wants to be. Roger's still trying hard to pick out articles based on innovativeness as well as quality. It's hard to succeed completely these days, but you can come close.

Role-playing reviews I: Looks like reviews are on the up again, as they indicate multiple sets of them are to come. This is a slightly worrying development. However, a closer look reveals that the number of reviews in each one are fairly small, so it's just that the number of reviews is being spread around more people. That's not so bad.

Lost souls is a game of playing ghosts trying to resolve their problems. It seems to be both less angsty and more focussed upon living/dead interactions than Wraith, with everyday human blundering a big, somewhat humorous issue. With quick character generation and reincarnation, it doesn't look like long campaigns with the same characters would be easy, and it probably needs a few supplements to flesh out all the off-hand ideas, but it should be fun for a halloween one-shot. Which makes it the perfect kind of game to review this month.

Aquelarre gets one of those interestingly mixed reviews that reveals quite a bit about company attitudes. Lester wants to like it, but finds it both alien in attitude and far too heavy on the satanicness and nudity. We're trying to move away from that round these parts. As is often the case where they try and play up the noncommercialness of the product, this actually makes me more interested. What will the public really think?

Pentacle is a card game of dueling wizards. Summon nasty stuff to kill or drive insane your rivals. Hmm. Why am I getting deja vu? Oh, I'm sure it'll come to nothing. It's only some small press game. :p


Making the Legend
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Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 3/6

The voyage of the princess ark: From the bayou to australia. Once again we see how real world cultures are stolen and jammed into Mystara in ways that don't entirely make sense. And guess what. Haldemar gets embarrassingly separated from the rest of the crew again, this time by being turned into a frilled lizard, and knocked out by a boomerang. Fortunately the Wallara shaman realizes the problem before turning him into dinner, and he gets taken to /ayers rock/ to get the curse lifted. During this process, he gets more psychodrama dreams warning about the impending doooooom of alphatia. Guess he'd better get back to warn the empress. The endgame of this series approaches rapidly. Will it be decently climactic?

For the 4th time in a row, we get stats for a new race, our chameleonic friends. Once again we have a new variant way in which they become spellcasters, and a decidedly interesting set of special powers. With their concealment and short range teleportation, they'd make a great scout for a party, even more so than rogues and halflings. We also get the usual geographic and historical overview. Forced into a state of artificial primitivism by an Aranea spell, they're a wise but fairly inoffensive bunch, at peace with the land, and their neighbours. As is often the case, events won't make complete sense unless you know about the immortal politics influencing the nations. While it's obvious where big chunks of the source material for this entry come from, it's still a quite interesting one, that manages to combine those elements in interesting ways.

Sage advice: Does the initial cost of a power sustain it for the first time increment. (probably)

Can you scry a place not known to you psychically (if you have a defined spacial relationship with it. You can't pick a named place if you don't know where it is. )

Do light weapons used telekinetically suffer THAC0 penalties (no)

How is animate object modified ( simply)

Are control body and life draining sciences or devotions. (use the place in the list, not the description text )

How high can flames go.( Not nearly high enough. )

How hard is creating sound (pretty tricky)

Does inertial barrier protect against magic attacks other than disintegration (only if it has a physical component to block.)

What's the point of absorb disease. Cell adjustment is quicker and cheaper ( Hmm. Skip'll fudge something up to hold them till we can retcon it. Skip suspects this may be like the gauntlets and girdles dilemma. )

Can you start regenerating with cell adjustment straight away (no)

Can you use body equilibrium while partially submerged in quicksand (sure)

Novel ideas: No surprise that with the first new D&D book released, this column promotes it this month. So say hello to D J Heinrich. He didn't have a particularly easy time writing the book, but it was worth it in the end. The fact that it's the start of a new line automatically gives it an extra degree of publicity it wouldn't otherwise have, and despite the battles amongst the executive, the D&D coreboxes at least are still good sellers. He's in a good position to make a profit, assuming they pay royalties on novels rather than commission fees these days. So lets hope he can keep the plot on track and finish off the other 2/3rds of this trilogy in decent time. A fairly typical bit of interviewing/promotion that maintains the optimistic tone while saying little of real substance. Neh.


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Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 4/6

TSR Previews: The Forgotten Realms buzzes onwards. FRQ2: Hordes of dragonspear gives you a new high level adventure, and sneaks in some more setting detail. Get ready to fight some scary yet familiar monsters. The harpers also get their fifth novel. The ring of winter by James Lowder. Seeking a device that brings a new ice age in the jungles of chult? Makes a certain amount of warped sense. Someone who misses winters is going to want to bring one to a miserable steamy disease infested jungle.

Spelljammer is also busy still. CGR1: The complete spacefarers handbook brings kits to outer space, along with new PC races, and all manner of other crunch. Om nom nom nom. Can't say I have much of an opinion on this one. The cloakmaster cycle reaches book 4 as well, The Radiant Dragon by Elaine Cunningham. The big aspects of the setting are namechecked again. Is space not big enough to find some new stuff?

Ravenloft also has a load of bits and pieces delivered, in their case in a boxed set. Forbidden Lore has 5 little books, filling in setting and rules details plus a set of Tarroka cards. If your players are rules lawyering to ruin the horror atmosphere, this'll help keep them in their place.

Greyhawk also gets a new boxed set, in their case the new core updating things in light of their recent wars. From the Ashes changes a good deal, once again contentiously. Doing change right is hard.

Dark sun gets DSQ3: Astilican Gambit. Off to Gulg to be envious of the people who still have decent vegetation, and become pawns in some nasty intrigues. Sounds like it could get railroady. Just apply a few fireballs to mess up their plans.

Lankhmar gets LNQ1: Slayers of Lankhmar. A slayers guild? Man, that's so cute. What's this adventure like, and what do they get up too?

Dragonlance finishes it's current selections of short stories, with The War of the Lance. Yet more small perspectives on the epic battle of good vs evil. Every one matters in their own way. For we must all choose to be a heeeeeeroo, every heart must reach for the sun!! :epic guitar solo:

Our generic AD&D product this month is HR3: The celts. Another historical era gets lots of setting info and some crunch to help you play it. Seems reasonable, when you consider the number of classes that have strong celtic influence.

And finally, D&D gets AC1010: the Poor Wizard's Almanac. Like Oerth, they've been shaken up and moved forward in time. This means they can sell a whole load of books detailing the changes. Metaplot is now well and truly at full power, completely dominating all their settings. How long before it starts strangling them, rather than fueling them?

D&D, warriors of the eternal sun! I remember playing that. It wasn't bad, even if missile weapons were completely broken in the underground sections.

Give your villains a fighting chance: Hmm. This is an interesting and new observation. One interesting facet of lots of supplements coming out for a game is that they tend to advantage the players more than the DM, as they only have one character that they can carefully lavish attention upon, picking and matching the best bits from all over for greater badassery. This is doubled if the DM uses modules a lot, as they rarely give their characters stuff from supplements. This is an excellent reason for you to start drawing upon supplements yourself, and redress the balance. Yes, this is indeed a tricky one. If the designers do go the other way, then it seriously pisses off people who don't want to collect 'em all. And we know that'll become a very real problem in a few years. I suppose it's a good reason not to rely on prefab stuff too slavishly. Very interesting. This is a thread of thought I came up with independently back in the day, and it's nice to see it in the magazine. As games develop, new problems turn up, and you have to develop new solutions to them. And as a DM, this is primarily your job. Hopefully this is one that got people to step up their game in the past. A very good one to be reminded of for me in particular.


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Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 4/6

Lankhmar gets LNQ1: Slayers of Lankhmar. A slayers guild? Man, that's so cute. What's this adventure like, and what do they get up too?
IIRC, the "Slayer's Brotherhood" was Fritz Leiber's name for the Assassin's Guild in Lankhmar, written way back in the 60's and 70's.

Not that TSR would be beyond piggy-backing on a more recent and popular use of the term.


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Dragon Magazine Issue 186: October 1992

part 5/6

The marvel-phile: Sorta in theme, this month's marvel-phile tackles some of the more obscure giant monsters that have plagued our heroes over the years. Gomdulla, a giant alien mummy with an off switch on his foot who tries to assemble a cult around him where possible. Groot, a space travelling giant plant creature that can animate other plants to do his bidding. And Zzutak, a creature that stepped off the page due to magic paints being used in it's creation. All have a rather awkward tendency to cause mass devastation that somehow results in very little loss of life before being stopped. They may also laugh maniacally and explain their plan to the tiny pathetic fleshlings, but that's entirely optional. An above average entry, as it has both a decent amount of creatures and some campaign advice about creating and incorporating similar things into your game. They may not be traditional horror, but giant monsters are definitely a topic which can make for fun games. We probably have room for a few more of these in D&D as well.

The game wizards: Hmm. A second article on the playing of villains. What's brought this on? Still, where the last one was largely examining new mechanical considerations, this is a more typical roleplaying one, with a particular emphasis on horror gaming. Well, that genre does tend to have more enduring and compelling villains. Not sure why this is under this column, as it doesn't seem to be anything to do with official TSR stance or upcoming products, but it's certainly not a bad article, even if it is a bit short. Maybe they couldn't find one that was the right size in the slush pile, so they got a staff writer to fill the gap again. Another minor mystery for the ages, I suppose. Have fun creating suitably nuanced enemies in both the mechanical and personality arenas.

Forum is having another round of the sexism debate. As usual, this ironically brings a far larger proportion of female participants than is standard for this magazine. After all, if we've learned anything from sexist jokes, it's that women love to bitch about stuff. Still, I can't see violent protest working very well on this topic. Can we not just get back to playing? That'll work far better, really.

Caroline Bussey thinks that it's the shame that's putting girls off. You shouldn't hide your hobbies. The censure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Learn from the example of Oasis. You get less derision if you act like an asshole openly and then laugh about it than if you try and hide your depravities behind a saccharine screen.

Donna Beales thinks that it's bad marketing that's primarily to blame. That and the silly little things like pronouns and cheesecake minis that make women feel subtly unwelcome. You will never attract the female demographic as long as they feel patronised. Strange that this should be such a problem with a female CEO. But I supposed Lorraine :rumble of thunder, howl of wolves: makes everyone feel patronised. :p

Elysa Moulding gives us her own patronising story. Women don't take pleasure in bickering and violence for violences sake. Damn right, they have more important things to snipe at each other about, like boyfriends, shoes, weight loss and fashion. :p It's so easy to be cynical after a sex and the city DVD marathon.

Halina Adamski thinks all the women getting worked up over pronouns should lighten up. There may be real reasons for complaint, but this isn't really one and the fixes just look clunky. Just enjoy your playing.

Mathew W Hurd brings the male perspective to this. He doesn't see why girls think it's boys stuff that isn't worth their attention. Join in the games!

Helaina Martin attacks the ghastly cheesecake art. Alias ought to have died of exposure long before finishing her first adventure. The contents of the novels are generally better than the covers. She also attacks agism too. Kids should be allowed to play as soon as they can read the rules. Treating them like they're dumb will not help them develop skills and confidence.

Colleen Fireely praises Dragon for their persistence in tackling the sexism problem. I may grow bored, but you do need persistence if you want to make an impact.

Frederic Bush also brings up the agism problem. As a 15 year old who's been playing for 7 years, he feels quite capable of mature and nuanced roleplaying, and was rather annoyed to be told he couldn't DM at a convention until he was 18. Age ain't nothin but a number.

Steve Giblin goes back to the wizards sucking at high levels issue. They really really don't, unless you have no tactical sense at all. Learn your spells and what they're good and bad against. Your party will thank you.

Michael Thomas heaps disdain upon TSR's current family friendly stance. Evil is quite depressingly capable of working together and prospering, as the real world demonstrates. They're far more interested in money than artistic integrity! Well, duh.

Chris Roberts also thinks Skip's ideas of good and evil are stupid and unworkable. Remember how real world tribablism works, allowing people to be kind and compassionate to those in the in, while also classifying others as nonpeople who can be killed without a twinge of conscience. How does that fit into your alignment system, huh?

David Howery, on the other hand, supports TSR's family friendly policy. There should be plenty of evil in the world, but that's just to give the PC's a better challenge and make their victory more heroic. Choosing heroism as the default is a perfectly valid choice, as most books and movies do it.
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