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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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Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
The sphere eats up the part that went in it, and then the tarrasque regenerates it. It is a very big beastie, remember. You'd have to move the sphere very fast in a somewhat complicated pattern to get all of it in time.
Maybe unattended spheres are attracted to the tarrasque. Something to do with the beast's gravitational pull, or the fantasy equivalent.

Perhaps that's why the tarrasque is always so pissed. You would be too, if you had a swarm of black specks constantly sucking up bite-pieces of you as they glide along their eccentric orbits. When it sleeps for months, or decade, it's because a particularly vital piece was eaten, or perhaps one of the spheres simply came to rest in its brain, where it sits until dislodged by some earth-shaking or cosmological event like a comet passing overhead or a quake.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 1/6


124 pages. Tying in with their new Dragon Project column, they have a whole bunch of covers featuring dragons lined up and ready to go. People do judge magazines by their covers, and this seems like a good way to reaffirm their core intent. Course, that still gives them plenty of freedom in terms of colours, shapes and surroundings. Such as down in the underdark. In reality, there aren't many places a full-grown dragon could fit, and it's not optimal for their mobility either, but D&D will favour drama over realisticness sometimes. And those are often the most fun times too. Hopefully there'll be some fun to derive from this issue.


In this issue:


Letters: A letter from a brazilian gamer who wants to write directly to games companies to get stuff not available in shops round his neck of the woods. This is a relatively easy request to satisfy.

Another of those letters complaining about people who perpetuate the crappy stereotypes. We wouldn't dream of killing cats, and anyone trying in our vicinity is going to get a pretty stern talking too. To be frank, that's more likely to provoke general rage than a crime involving other people.

A letter asking exactly what languages D&D has been translated into. The answer shouldn't be hugely surprising. Most of the big european languages, plus mandarin and japanese. And hebrew, for some reason. Didn't know roleplaying was particularly popular in Israel.

And an amusing letter about figuring out if you're an unfair DM. Muahahahaha. Thanks for that. I think most of us know if we're doing something like that.


Mage focusses on the technomancers in this months teaser. Pleasing to note white wolf are already fully aware of the internet. This aint your fathers magic system, or game company. :D


Editorial: Roger celebrates his 10 year anniversary of becoming an official member of the TSR staff. This gets a relatively short bit of writing because after all, what is there to say? He's been living the dream for 10 years, even if it has been much harder work than you'd think it would be. And like many people who've been living the dream for a while, he feels the urge to pass on the mantle. Course, kids will rebel from their parents, so expecting them to follow directly in your footsteps when there's so many shiny new things out there is a moderately futile task. Have half a dozen of them, you'll be lucky if one becomes your true successor. And before you know it, you'll be looking at the new fads the kids are following in disgust and incomprehension, saying that's not real music/tv/roleplaying. Don't expect things to stay the same forever, and try and appreciate the new for what it is, not what you think it should be. Here's to many more years of entertaining articles.


Dungeoneering 101: Steven Schend has learned well from Ed, as he strikes out on his own in creating fictional characters that break the 4th wall and interact with the author, representing their writings as mere recountings rather than actual creative works. Which from one perspective, is doing your talent a slight disservice, but on the other hand is usually pretty fun to read. So say hello to Essimuth the dungeoneer. Unlike most of our transdimensional visitors, he's not a high level wizard, but a hard-bitten illiterate roguish sort who learned all his wisdom the hard way. Which means he's been at the sharp end of more traps than you can shake a stick at, lost a limb without being able to get a decent replacement, and learned all about how inconvenient encumbrance actually is when you don't have a bag of holding. Just the kind of guy you need to teach you adventuring isn't all shiny magic and level appropriate challenges. This reads like a love letter to old skool brutality, written in a very new skool way, so as to reintroduce more recent DM's to the idea of running games full of traps, air supply issues, darkness with monsters lurking within, slimes and oozes of many colours, and inventive ways of surviving said challenges to make your fortune. It's not quite the equal of Ed's top articles, but its a strong combination of practical information and fun writing method that make this entirely deserving of pole position. Now what he needs is the ambition to go solo, create his own campaign world. ;)


The amazing engine, coming soon. TSR begins the promotion for their attempt at making their own universal system. I bet we'll be seeing some stuff for that in here. Lets hope it does better than buck rogers did. Man, that went down like a lead balloon.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
I do apologise for missing a day due to being temporarily internetless.

Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 2/6


Live statues and stone men: Or lets have a few more Golems. They don't need food and other regular maintenance, so they can hang around underground for ages just waiting for adventurers to turn up and kill them, and the DM need worry not about ecology and all that irritation. These three all turn up in later monstrous compendia, as monsters in the magazine are increasingly likely to do these days. Brain golems also get quite a few appearances in other books. I guess illithid's strong connection with the magazine continues.

Brain Golems are ridiculously macho looking for something made entirely out of brains. They are rather smarter than the average golem, just like most illithid creations. And of course, they don't break out of control on an irregular basis like mindfucked members of other races. So they tend to get fairly good treatment for a slave.

Hammer Golems are dwarven creations designed to crush their racial enemies with great prejudice. They also work pretty well as miners, making new tunnels almost as fast as a dwarf can walk down them. With one of these, you really could excavate a dungeon a day. Monte Cook would approve.

Spiderstone Golems are Drow creations, unsurprisingly. With lots of limbs, climbing and web powers, they're well suited to taking on larger parties. Their chaotic evil origins make them one of the less reliable varieties of golem, prone to breaking free and killing their owner before going off to become a lurking tunnel predator. Still, they're neither as scary or unreliable as clay golems. They might well last a while as long as they're properly taken care of. And Lolth cares not that they'll turn on her own race, as her willingness to create things like Driders shows. These three are all pretty reasonable new creations.


Role-playing reviews turns it's eye on small press games. This is interesting because they're the ones that benefit most from a review in a major magazine. A good one can boost their sales by several orders of magnitude, while even a bad one is better than no publicity for a tiny company, and gives them a level of legitimacy it can be hard to feel when you know them personally, and it's just a couple of guys laying things out in their basement in their spare time.

Bloodbath is one of those simple but fun games with a few obvious holes in it's rules. Pure hack and slash, with setting entirely subordinated to that goal. Everything uses d6's, and you have an actual bloodlust stat which ha a significant effect on your actions. Perfect for if you want to play an all-barbarian game where life is cheap and limbs fly like confetti.

Bloodchant introduces magic to Bloodbath. The spells are just as gruesome as the combat, and the descriptions are just as florid and technically dubious. It all sounds like it was written by a teenage boy who has too many heavy metal albums. Are you ready to breathe the miasma of DISPAIR!

Advanced Phantasm Adventures is a translation of a fantasy game that's apparently big in japan. It gets a rather long review, explaining the rather crunchy system in detail. Unfortunately, despite it's high detail, it has rather slipshod editing, which is a bigger crime than in a rules light game it's easy to modify and hopefully fix. It does have some cool ideas, and is impressively open-ended, but doesn't really feel like a finished game. Maybe it lost something in translation, or maybe it was also problematic in it's original language. After all, Original D&D was pretty sketchy too ruleswise. I have to wonder how well that was translated into various languages.

Duel seems to be trying to fill the gap left when The Fantasy Trip evolved into the insanely crunchy GURPS. At 36 pages, it's small, but pretty versatile, with 3 main stats and 5 magic aspects covering most of what you'll want to do. The main complaint of the reviewer, ironically, is the base dice system. Lester likes his bell curves, it seems. And there's the constant temptation to load it down with expansion crunch. Oh, woe is you.

Toy war is even tinier, at a mere 12 pages. It gets a similarly tiny review. It works with nearly any toy, and has a mere 2 stats. It's actually surprisingly elegant really. You can have quite a bit of fun with it, especially if you have a big toy collection. Like clay-o-rama, this is barely a step up from let's pretend really.

Critter commandos is another fun minis game, designed to evoke a cartoon atmosphere. This has obviously been quite successful actually, with a supplement, and conversion rules to bring Warhammer 40k characters over, quite possibly to get a good cream pieing. It also has it's own suitably silly setting. Like Toon, this is an entirely viable niche to carve out in the market, even if it'll never be huge.


Palladium fantasy takes us to the island at the end of world. Now with extra metaplot. Everyones doing it. You don't have to copy them.

Traveller the new era! Now compatible with Twilight:2000 and Dark Conspiracy. Another company making attempts at giving all their games a universal system, it seems.
 

Capellan

Member
RPGnet Member
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Re: I do apologise for missing a day due to being temporarily internetless.

Role-playing reviews turns it's eye on small press games.
Lester was my favorite RPG reviewer in Dragon precisely because of his focus on reviewing lesser known products. Not only did it give them much needed exposure, it also told me about games that I might like to check out.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 3/6


The known world Grimoire: Logistics, logistics, again there are nitpicks. Bruce goes back to the domain management stuff yet again in an attempt to singlehandedly support that playstyle in the face of widespread apathy. This time, it's the question of what you need in a castle to turn it into a self-sufficient mini community that can withstand months of siege. You need enough living quarters for an entire army, and storage space for food for said troops, plus toilet facilities, heating and general servants to maintain the place and feed everyone. Even a garrison of a hundred troops requires easily that again in support staff, and substantial daily expenditure. You know, someone ought to do a cost analysis, figure out exactly when it becomes more profitable to create undead and golem servants than train up and employ living ones. It'd probably come surprisingly quickly, especially for long term projects. Anyway, this once again slips quite heavily into dullness. Graah. Surely there must be some way of making ruling nations and commanding armies interesting, and not too mechanically onerous. Anyone? No wonder it fell out of fashion at this rate.


Fiction: Bainnor's last ballad by Ralph W Bundy. Or how to learn to sing the blues, D&D style. In this world, all it takes is a lifetime of poverty, heartbreak and alcoholism. :p There, rather more killing things, taking their stuff, and losing loved ones when monsters do likewise is involved, as an inevitable result of the XP system. So yeah, technically skilled but cloistered bard learns some hard but crucial lessons that you need to actually be able to sing with feeling and get the public engaged. No great surprises. The monsters are a bit vague, but it's all about the relationships built up and broken along the way anyway. Fairly average overall.


The role of computers has one of it's spates of many small reviews. This is a bit tiresome.

Amazon: Guardians of Eden takes you into the rainforest to find your brother and solve the many puzzles of the deep jungle. With puzzles, arcade action sequences, cut scenes and bits where you control other characters, it's a big and varied game. Even more than usual, saving regularly is important, with backups several stages back handy for making sure you get everything you need without starting all over again.

Castles II: Siege and Conquest expands on the original to enable you to administer kingdoms and attack other people's castles. This actually means you'll spend less time building castles than in the original, but such are the perils of making your game more generic. As we saw in the minigames reviews, it can actually take away what makes you special and unique and interesting in the first place.

The Incredible Machine is a game where you create incredibly elaborate cartoon like machines to solve puzzles. That's a fairly original idea. With a ton of different pieces, it's easy to start, but hard to master, and produces funny results even when you get it wrong. Sounds like you could have hours of fun mucking around even ignoring the supposed objectives.

Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis once again shows lucasarts knows what they're doing with a multi-pathed, fully original follow-up game. With plenty of different ways you can complete it, and high quality cut-scenes, it's a good attempt at having a cinematic atmosphere, while not compromising the game aspect. I seem to recall there being plenty more in this vein to come over the years.

Lemmings gets a pretty good mac conversion. Psygnosis have had several years to get this formula really working, and they have the brutal puzzles down to a tee. Remember, Blockers are vital so you can experiment without losing everyone.

M4 has you commanding said class of tank in WWII. Unlike many sims of this sort, it's actually fairly accessable, with point and click making things far easier than old programs where you had to learn hundreds of button commands. Convert the newbies! Gotta keep wargaming alive in some form!

Push-Over is a tremendously fun variant on dominos, where you control an ant trying to set things up so that when you push, all the pieces fall in the right order. Since some of the pieces do weird stuff, this can be a real brain teaser, but you can skip some levels if you do well enough in others. This sounds pretty familiar.

Space Legions lets you play the bad guys from the previous games in the series. Invade and conquer planets with great brutality! Failure will not be tolerated! It doesn't take itself too seriously, obviously.

Carriers at War is another WWII game this one focussed on the navy & air force. Well, I guess the 50th anniversary of various WWII events are passing as we speak. That probably contributed to a resurgence in interest.

Eric the Unready is yet another game that they can't really recommend wholeheartedly due to the magazine's family friendly policy. Toilet humour is not to be tolerated around here, no matter how much people may be laughing. :sticks up nose:

Paladin II feels several years out of date in terms of graphics and gameplay. One for adventure genre addicts.

Task Force 1942 gets a buggie. It simply didn't work on their system. You suck microprose, and need to fix it.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 4/6


The druid gets a life: Oh, not again. Are people still perpetuating stupid put-downs against druids. Quite possibly the most awesome class in the game, with full spellcasting, decent weapons and easy shapeshifting on top. And, in these editions, a fairly strict charisma minimum. If they're social outcasts, it's because they choose to be, not due to necessity. And let's face it, they can achieve balance between man and nature much more effectively if they involve themselves in the affairs of both. There's also the interesting fact that they're one of the few classes that has an overarching organisation that they have to be a part of, and this makes them very able to co-ordinate their actions should it become necessary. By providing magical assistance to the common man, as long as they're acting in a nature-friendly way, with the threat of taking it away present in the background, they can subtly become a fantasy mafia that surpasses even the thieves guilds. This is the kind of thing that makes a political campaign seem rather more appealing than Bruce's contribution this month. Politics means little without agendas and means, and the fun is in just how subtly and obliquely you can fulfil your objectives, preferably via masterstrokes that accomplish several things at once while also turning your enemies against one-another. This is a very pleasing article. Plus on top of being likeable, this has a nice array of spells which serve to expand their everyday usefulness. Keep fighting the stupidity.

Fertility is one that'll let even a single 1st level druid make a real difference to a whole community over the course of the year. Once they have a few more levels under their belt, they can wander across a whole country. It really will take surprisingly few druids to make a huge impact on a society with tools like this.

Heal Plants is a lot more effective than the human cure wounds spell of the same level. At higher levels, it'll fix an entire blighted field. It's reversible too, which'll let you ruin a recalcitrant farmer's life as quickly as you saved it.

Ripen lets you cheat the seasons, presumably in case of emergency. Because regular use would probably result in disapproval from the hierarchy and possible power loss.

Firebreak stops nasty creatures from setting fire to the forest. Watch them look thoroughly bemused as it just doesn't work. Whether you choose to reveal your presence will obviously depend on what they do next.

Spring lets you conjure water from the ground, presuming there's any to conjure. Probably wouldn't work too well in athas. Still, you can get more than you would conjuring it wholecloth if you choose your location well. Both approaches have their place in a well rounded repertoire.

Heal Trees is a higher level variant of heal plants, able to affect the largest of plant-organisms, including intelligent ones. Meh.

Insect Ward is handy on several levels, as it can fuck up an ecosystem as well as make life more pleasant. With a duration of months, this is another one that can change the life of a community for better or worse. And isn't that a lot more interesting than another combat spell that's over in a flash.


The game wizards: Time for the collector's cards to get their now regular promoting in here. And oh god, the statistics are more complicated than ever. They now have both the regular gold bordered cards, and considerably rarer red bordered cards, explicitly made just for the purpose of giving people who really want to collect them all a real challenge. They've started hand-sorting the packs to make sure the distribution across the country is truly random. And there's several visual gimmicks like prismatic cards, stickers, and exclusive stuff. Amusingly, they point out their own errata here as well. Sure they've made a few mistakes. But that just makes those runs even more collectible, honest! As one of those articles that started off as an interesting diversion, but is now becoming routine, this is rather less interesting than last year. Statistics can only sustain my interest if I have some attachment to the underlying topic. And that's not really the case here.


Forum: Karen Remick is yet another person organizing their thoughts on an issue into numbered points. Seems to be becoming quite the trend. She's another person trying to address the twinkery problem, often by oblique methods. Remember, the less they know about the rules and their character's statistics, the less they can twink them. If you have to change system to regain that air of mystery, so be it.

Warren Tilson is even more keen on removing the statistics from the player's annoying grasps, having them define their characters narratively and just build from that. It forces them to roleplay, and speeds up character generation considerably too. Get back to roleplaying's let's pretend roots, not it's wargaming ones.

Randy Hunt yet again says the DM should be the one keeping the character sheets between sessions. I'm starting to think that should be standard. After all, if a player doesn't turn up, you can still run that character accurately as an NPC. If the DM flakes, everyone's screwed regardless. In addition, make sure you present options other than combat to your players.

Bill Heron also encourages number-pointing your ideas. Oh, and actually communicating with them, and establishing what people want out of a game. Passive-aggressive nerfing mid game is no fun for anyone.

Matt Martin advises you not to follow the treasure tables to the letter, or allow every optional rule into the game. These are sure paths to overpowered characters. The imbalance is inherent to the system, and you must actively work to prevent it.

Jorge Hernandez once again brings the mean solutions to the table to make sure no overpowered character escapes. As with the jedi stuff, at this point you really have no excuses but your own incompetence and cowardice for letting payers get away with this shit.

Ed Pflager tries to be reasonable about age restrictions on gaming conventions. Yes, a flat limit is a bit unfair. But in a public convention, how are they to know if you're mature enough or not. Best to be on the safe side.

Thomas M. Heckmann (is that bowdlerised? :D ) explains exactly why SARPA have an age restriction on many games. As usual, its the parents that are the problem, not the kids. You have to take precautions in these litigious times. Yes, it is a bit of a tiresome business. The alternative is worse.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 5/6


Sage advice: Do dex and cover bonuses stack (Nah. If you're hunkered down, you can't dodge properly. )

Do dex bonuses stack with the shield spell (probably.)
What other magic stacks with the shield spell ( stuff that adds, not stuff that provides a new base. )

Can spectral hand be used to deliver cure spells at range. (Technically no, but you probably should. )

Does word of recall transport other people with you. (As long as they're not too heavy. )

What's padded leather armour. (A no longer extant type of armour. Like assassins, it was deemed unnecessary.

What happens if you roll higher than 23 with a vorpal sword. (You can't. The math does not parse like that. It's like rolling a 7 on a d6. )

Do all big creatures suffer penalties against dwarves and gnomes (no, only the ones listed. )

Can you use granted priest powers after being at deaths door. (no.)

Why do weapons do different amounts of damage to different sizes (to give you interesting tactical choices )

Why does thunder rift use AD&D stuff when it's a D&D adventure. (When in doubt, blame the editors. Writers get the praise, editors take the blame. Who made the rules like that? Some questions even Skip won't answer.)

If you create a giant zombie is it harder to turn (no, but you can't turn as many )

Can find traps figure out what a contingencies trigger is (not usually)

Do shamans and wokani have armour restrictions (yes, but not the same as normal clerics.)

How do I get a job at TSR. Will having a degree help. ( Keep sending in submissions as a freelancer. Persistence persistence persistence is waaaay more important than talent, especially if you listen to feedback. )


Shadowrun RPG for the SNES. I remember this as well. It took forever to complete if you didn't cheat. The amount of grinding I did to level up in that, and then lost because there were only two save slots, and someone saved over mine. :grumble, mutter:


The role of books: The grail of hearts by Susan Shwartz takes us across history in the wake of a female Wandering Jew, manipulated by the forces of evil as she tries to escape her fate.

Strange devices of the moon and sun by Lisa Goldstein doesn't do so well, with neither the historical worldbuilding or the fantastical elements brilliantly done.

Aquamancer by Don Calander has a rather mixed review for simultaneously being formulaic, and breaking several important rules of writing. Hmm. That doesn't sound right, yet somehow it works. I guess it's in the implementation.

Realms of Valor, edited by James Lowder brings us a whole load of Forgotten Realms short stories. Lots of familiar characters make appearances, including Elminster, Drizzt and Jandar Sunstar, plus a whole load of new smaller perspectives. There seems to be plenty of room in this world for further short stories, that don't take a whole novel to tell and have some significant effect upon the world.

War world: Blood feuds, created by Jerry Pournelle sees Larry Niven's frequent collaborator getting into the shared world business himself. And like the Man-Kzin wars, this involves both action and moral complexities, an overarching sweep of history bigger than any one story, and well done worldbuilding, even if some of the individual stories aren't brilliant.

The city who fought by Anne McCaffrey & S. M. Stirling comes close to being shared world too, as apparently McCaffrey is now leaving most of the heavy lifting to her younger collaborators. This makes it a little formulaic, staying well within the established boundaries for her world, but with a tone somewhat different from her own writing voice.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 193: May 1993

part 6/6


The dragon's bestiary: Yay! more planar monsters! All ones that would later appear in proper MC appendices as well. Keep building that part of the setting up, we've still got a way to go until planescape.

Giant Nautilus are one of the few things that can go head-to-head with Kraken in both the physical and mental arenas. With 21 attacks per round, tough armour, plus substantial magical powers, they should also be able to deal with most parties too, should one be around while they do something bad for the environment. Not one to be casually trifled with.

Abyss ants are exactly what you'd expect. Giant malevolent twisted versions of normal ants, ready to melt your face off with acid spitting. As they're considerably less chaotic than most abyssal inhabitants, they can survive via co-operation in the face of the horrors of the infinite pit and carve out their own little safe regions. (for them) As ever, good luck turning them to your advantage, because I don't fancy your odds of killing them all unless you're a creature immune to nonmagical attacks that can just wade through them.

Incarnates are possessing spirits that epitomise the 7 virtues & sins. They offer you appropriate powers at the cost of some of your free will. The good ones can be useful, while the bad ones are an almighty pain to get rid of. Now these can indeed be nice plot drivers. Are you willing to make that fusion willingly, and become a lot more like a White Wolf character? (what? Mage, Wraith, Changeling, Exalted, Mummy, Demon, Geist. All use variants on that theme. It does seem to be rather a habit of theirs. I do wonder why. )


Dragonmirth involves literal dungeons this time. And the same joke Fineous fingers started with back in issue 3. Ogrek continues to irritate everyone he meets. How does he get away with it? A spectacular arial battle fills twilight empire.


Through the looking glass: The hammer has fallen. Or has it. As usual, it's more complicated than that. It's only a few states in the US that are doing the lead banning thing. Some companies will still be producing lead minis, particularly ones overseas. And of course, with such patchy enforcement, it would not be a complicated matter to go out of state for your shopping, maybe do a little illegal importing for your mates (although as a pundit in a major magazine, he is contractually obliged to disapprove of that behaviour. ) It would be oh so easy to make a mockery of this, just as we did with prohibition. Plus it would make a great noir comedy. Wargaming importers and the hard-bitten detectives who try and track them down. Adversity does make things interesting.

Our reviewed minis this month are a mechanic with a gun, and a ton of little detail on his clothes that'll be a challenge to pain. Lord Soth in all his brooding glory riding a skeletal horse. Sir Bors from Arthurian legend, mounted or on foot. You think he'd stand a chance against Soth? Some modern soldiers with machine guns and missiles. Dwarves with polearms considerably longer than them. A wererat with a rather nasty looking sword. A completely nonchesecaky druid/ranger. And the token bit of furniture. Once again they fight to increase the legibility of the photographs, with mixed success.

We also get a review of Warhammer Battle Magic. It gets pretty good marks from Robert, with only the subtle niggle that the way they're dividing things up may be more based on getting you to buy lots of other figures than IC thematics keeping him from giving it 5 stars. Yeah, I think we know by now that Games Workshop are pretty ruthless and effective business people. They wouldn't have survived where all the other wargaming companies died if they weren't. At least someone's still around to push the mass market minis.


TSR Previews: Having had Top Secret grind to a halt in 1991, they make another, rather different shot at producing a versatile generic system. The Amazing Engine™. Base rules simple enough to fit in a 32 page booklet, and a system designed to allow you to switch easily between wildly different characters in wildly different milieus. Two of these are released straight away. For Faerie, Queen and country combines victoriana with a distinct flavour of open magic, while Bughunters is fast paced sci-fi. How many settings will they get out before this too falls by the wayside?

Dark sun is our top AD&D attraction this month. The Ivory Triangle is a big boxed set full of info on Gulg, Nibenay, and their epic conflict. Use it fast, because like everything else in this world, it'll be out of date and superceded soon. Much of this is of course the fault of Troy Denning, who completes book 4 of the prism pentad, The Obsidian Oracle. Tyr may be free, but the new boss'll become as bad as the old boss if he gets his way.

Ravenloft proves even Pinnochio can be made horrific, in The Created. A mad toymaker sends his creations against people. Guess it's foiling time again. But how many other suspicious characters lurk nearby to serve as red herrings?

Greyhawk follows up on a couple of months ago. WGR6: The city of skulls sends you to infiltrate Iuz's capital city. Can you make a difference to the big picture? Good luck.

Spelljammer gets SJR8: Space lairs. Another anthology of short adventures. Well, the standard ones don't work very well in space. Don't let your game grind to a halt because you're out of ideas.

And finally, we have another batch of trading cards. I can't even be bothered with the pokemon jokes anymore. Let's skip them until that actually comes out in a few years.


In contrast to the last issue, this one really flew by. Fortunately, that's because most of the articles were interesting enough that I could easily think of something to say for them even if many of them weren't actually that great. With Roger's 10th, and the lead bill kerfuffle, this is another one that both lets me really appreciate how far I've come, and how much further I have to go. And just how much work it's been. Eventually, it'll start getting easier. But knowing me, that just means I'll start posting faster again, making the workload just as hard. Let's hope that day isn't too far away.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 194: June 1993

part 1/6


124 pages So we're up to year 17. Many of the magazine's readers are now younger than it, including me. Feel free to shake your stick and try get us offa your lawn. As you'd expect, there's a dragon on the cover trying to do just that. Because let's face it, we're all youngsters to a fully grown dragon, even the elves. But I guess the important question is if they've still got anything to teach us, or their age has left them out of date and baffled by this newfangled technology. Since we have not one but two Dragon Projects this month, they do seem to have some genuinely new stuff to offer us. But on the other hand, they also have two game wizards articles, which generally aren't particularly useful. Let's see what the ratio of good stuff, filler and crap is this issue.


In this issue:


Letters: Praise for the african articles. Yaaay! Roger points out further reading. Actually, he doesn't, but it's the thought that counts. Coverage of african history and mythology is still pretty damn sketchy.

Uriah Heap? What have uriah heap got to do with D&D? A very good question that'll hopefully be filled in later.

A letter from a multiclassed gamer/akidoer. As with army people writing in, Roger gives this extra attention due to personal investment. Seems like lots of the TSR staff actually try to become badass ninjas in real life, with mixed success. Why do I find that more funny than I should?

A letter from someone who's found a misprinted trading card. Oooh. You can get more for them than the regular ones! Why do we even bother complaining about errata anyway when people fetishise it so.

A letter from Ann Dupuis responding to Rick's review of GURPS Old West. Man, political correctness is getting out of hand these days. Such was the 90's. Can't talk about anything real without offending someone. This is one reason why we retreat into fantasy worlds in the first place.


Editorial: From political correctness to more religious hysteria. Beauty and the beast promotes lycanthropy?! Ok, they're really really reaching for that one. I'm pretty certain some people just look for reasons to be offended by anything popular to get some attention. Roger treats this with the utter contempt it deserves. He really is getting more and more emotionally invested in this problem as the years go by. Still, it doesn't compare with the rage he feels at people trying to ban the diary of Anne Frank. That just says willfull eeeeeeevilness on a cartoonish level. Remember, a fairly reliable way of spotting who the good guy in a situation is the one who wants you to have access to information, and the freedom to make your own choices. It might not be perfect, but it'll be right far more often than not, until the bad guys wise up and feed you false info to make you make the wrong choices. And fighting censorship and government lies is something that remains incredibly relevant in the internet age. With video phones and instant uploads, we all have the ability to make a difference, ensure the actual truth on ugly events gets out. If that means we have to watch some poor quality, gruesome stuff, well, that's a price I'm willing to pay for freedom.


Dragon dogfights: We kick this birthday off with quite a neat little number. A simplified system for fighting in the skies? It's not nearly as silly as clay-o-rama, but that may well be a good thing. It does have stuff in common with it in that you'll have to supply all the raw materials yourselves, and the whole thing was a little thrown-together, designed so people could have a laugh at last year's conventions. Of course, deadlines like that often wind up working in the favor of usability, as you really have to stick to the essentials needed to get the game working. And the stress testing it got then probably gave them a chance to iron off a few more rough edges. The whole thing is tremendously easy to get into, and the rules could well fit on a single sheet of doublesided paper if they shrank the font a bit. This qualifies as a definite success, even if it's not as impressive a package as the old centrefold games they used to put in the magazine. I do rather miss those. We want more variety!


The details of the amazing engine and the way it will handle the core rules and settings is revealed. 32 page core rules and 128 page settings? Fight that bloat!


Dexter & Cornelius: Our first Dragon Project is for GURPS. An adorably naive young dragon and the conman who's exploiting him to make his fortune. There's an idea that can be translated fairly easily to other systems, although it may be out of character for some worlds. It actually sounds more like the plot of one of their short stories than an article, but since the fiction in the magazine is one of my favourite parts, that's no bad thing. The crunch takes up a pretty tiny part of the article, showing GURPS doesn't have to degenerate into a morass of special case stuff, and the central idea seems pretty fun as an adventure seed. I think this is a pretty good success in balancing their various pressures.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 194: June 1993

part 2/6


Dragonbot Ver 3.1: Ha. Paranoia time again. The computer is being so successful in it's attempts to root out and destroy mutant scum is so successful that you get the marvellous opportunity to employ its latest development, a mechanical dragon, to further demonstrate the perfection of the computer's engineering. It's the best yet, but all the older models were perfect as well! It has a cloaking system, and anyone who can see through it must be a traitorous mutant scumbag requiring immediate termination. Rather more specific than the other article, this integrates and punctures a whole bunch of D&Disms with a Paranoia spin, making it pretty hard to fit into another game. It does get rather silly, but you'd expect that. Maybe this should have been in the april issue instead. In any case, this is still an entertaining read, especially when you get all the references, but I can't see it getting that much actual play use.


TSR Previews: The game designers decide that maybe the loose leaf format for collecting monsters wasn't such a good idea after all, and release MCC1: Monstrous Manual. Still, they've collected creatures from lots of the compendia, revised them, and made all the artwork colour. And as noism's thread so epically indicates, there are a lot of people who remember this one fondly, probably more than the magazine. Rather less remembered is the Cardmaster Adventure design deck. Another way to facilitate quick easy design, I'm not sure how this one works. Spells, monsters and magic items are easy enough, but this seems a bit awkward.

Ravenloft is our double dipper this month. RM2: Web of illusions takes you to Sri Raji, to see the rakshasa. Or not, given their skills at misdirection. If you don't see through their deceptions and pack some serious magical heat you are likely to become dinner. Meanwhile, Carnival of fear by J. Robert King sees a bunch of carnival performers try and solve a series of murders. Somehow, I don't think these monsters will be Mr Jenkins the janitor in a mask.

The forgotten realms releases a new core boxed set reflecting all the metaplot changes, and incorporating a good deal of the material. Plus you can do some adventuring underneath shadowdale, fight drow and get saved by Elminster (and his little dog). Hey ho. Change keeps chugging along. Soon this too will be out of date.

Al-Qadim has a rather less hurried pace in City of delights, one of their bigger boxed sets. Ok, there is some stuff about yak men, and their plot to take over the city, but that's just an adventure hook. Enjoy wandering around a high magic city with plentiful elemental connections, and lots of colourful characters to encounter. Try not to get on the wrong side of the law, for many of the guards are also not your basic 1st level mooks.

Dark Sun gets splatbookalicious, with CGR2: The complete gladiator's handbook. You know the drill by now. Kits, equipment, roleplaying advice, all with that unique dark sun flavour (like barbecue, only drier.) mixed in. Don't be surprised if there's even more power creep than even this setting normally has.

Dragonlance reaches part 2 in the dwarven nations trilogy. Hammer and axe by Dan Parkinson sees hill dwarves split away from their mountain cousins. Cue monty python jokes about molehill dwarves, given how small the things they're disagreeing over are.

D&D has another tiny little adventure. In the phantom's wake is another 16 pager that would be rather hard to spot on a bookshelf. This format is starting to look seriously dated when contrasted with the 128 page splatbooks.


Role-playing reviews decides to have a spate of sci-fi. People may not be sending in many articles, but they can still rely on their columnites to cover a wide variety of other companies games.

Battletech 3rd edition gets the full 5 star deluxe treatment, with rick praising nearly every aspect of it's rules and setting. Fasa have improved on the existing game both rules wise and in presentation, and look like they'll continue raking it in for a while yet. All power to them.

Gamma Knights doesn't get quite such a great result. It's decent enough for what it is, but there's a few bits of rules weirdness, and it doesn't really integrate with the RPG at all. That's more a marketing decision than having anything to do with the existing setting.

Orbit War also gets quite a bit of negativity. It was cool as a special feature in a magazine a decade ago, but on it's own, it seems both too expensive and terribly outdated. Once again the end of the cold war has changed the political landscape enough that this kind of thing no longer resonates.

Tyranno Ex sees Rick argue heatedly with his playtesters over it's merits. When a game's this innovative, you can forgive it a few rules flaws. Plus evolution is an interesting business that deserves more publicity anyway. I wonder what he'll make of pokemon in a few years time. :D
 
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