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

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

part 3/6

The known world grimoire: Sagin' time again in this department. Bruce still has many more questions to answer.

No magic at all?! That'll kill me! Really? No magic at all!1! (oh all right, there's a few exceptions, mostly purely internal ones needed for some creature's basic functionality. )

Any info on Minea out there? (Not really. Maybe some day. )

Are there weapon mastery charts for the hollow world stuff. (Go back a year and ask again)

How does Bekander get a manifestation. (For free)

Why haven't green slimes eaten the world. (Our ecology, it needs adding too. Maybe you could create the monster that keeps the slimes and oozes in check. )

Are charmed things freed when their master dies (Nope. Until they actually make the regular save, they will try to avenge his death fanatically. )

What's a Night Dragon (Shoulda started reading this magazine a few years ago)

Will all the princess ark series be fully compiled (Nope. Nearly half of it'll be abridged, due to space issues. Shoulda started reading the magazine a few years ago. )

Don't listen to the h8ers! The New D&D basic set kicks ass! ( Why thank you. :teeth ting: ) I'm glad someone's doing their part to grow the hobby instead of moaning about everything we do. )

Breaking them in: Ahh, another attempt to get new players in. And it does actually offer some new advice. Do some solo mentoring. Encourage them to prepare. And get one of the other players to take them under their wing. Interesting, if a bit insubstantial in terms of word count. Plus a half page header on a page and a half article? I suspect padding out to fit around the number of adverts. Still, better just a few new ideas than 10 ones that we've seen before all too often. And better they choose fairly good articles for their padding and twist them a bit with font size changes than bad ones that just happen to be exactly the right word count. Pretty mixed feelings about this really. Oh well, it adds a few more XP to my count. And the emphasis on personal tuition is interesting. In the old days we all had to learn together. But gaming has been around long enough now that this has become a viable path to get someone up to speed quicker. I guess we should take advantage of that.

Sage advice: What happened to the maps in WGR3 (Oops. Guess Skip will have to put the pages in the modules as well as the mages. )

Do hide in shadows and move silently work on undead. (Why wouldn't they. They may be immune to all kinds of stuff, but they still have the same basic senses. )

Can you sell a wall of iron for shitloads of money in athas. (No. It has a duration specifically to prevent that. You are so pre-empted.)

How do the veiled alliance interact with advanced beings (with great caution, like you do with anyone who can kill you with a word)

How many followers do avangions attract (everyone in the area who wants a better world for themselves, and their children, and their children's children. There are people dying. Spare a thought for the living. Make a better world, for you and for me. )

Do avangions eat and sleep (probably)

How do avangions use powers that requite them to walk (Shapechanging, duh. Does the concept of access 9th level spells mean nothing to you? )

How can elves be wimpy but live a long time (Horses and parrots. Cockroaches and china. Fast metabolisms burn themselves out. )

Why does the complete elves handbook have spells elves can't learn. (Just because they can't specialize in them, doesn't mean they can't learn them. )

What happens if you take plants spelljamming (you'd have to take a hell of a lot to balance up the breathing of a whole crew. )

Can a riddlemaster choose the right card from a deck of many things. (no. You can't analyze or game totally random results. That's a Wild Mage trick. )

The role of computers: Conquered Kingdoms seems pretty self explanatory. Take over places with your forces, and then deal with the hassles of managing them. Face off wizards & dragons, or maybe other players via modem. Not hugely innovative, but they enjoy it.

Lure of the Temptress gets a fairly good review. The interface, which brings up options via pointing and right-clicking, is relatively quick and intuitive for the number of options it offers. With plenty of different options for interacting with the NPC's, and an environment that changes quite a bit as you go through the adventure, it kept them interested throughout and wanting to try replaying it. Only a few stupid AI flaws keep it from getting 5 stars.

Realms is another one combining fantasy wargame and sim game, forcing you to master the finer arts of taxation and city building as well as battlefield tactics to win. As with most of these, this can eat up vast amounts of time mastering all the subtleties if you let it.

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender is a point and click comedy adventure in the vein of the leisure suit larry games. Unusually for their reviewers, they don't object to the dirty bits, as they can be switched on and off quickly and easily mid-game and password protected, so your kids will not be corrupted and you will not be embarrassed. Ha. They continue to amuse on this front. Why must family friendly policies produce such risible results? People just can't resist thumbing their nose at them.

The Summoning is a more action oriented RPG, sending you through a massive multi-level labyrinth, where you have to change your equipment and other complexities without pausing. In an other sign of advancing interfaces, they not only have automapping, but also let you print your maps off easily. The magic system is pretty cool too. Another one they intend to revisit in future hints sections.


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

part 4/6

Gamma Terra Revisited: Along with the Dragon Project articles, here we have a gamma world article. Only the 2nd one since 4e's release though, (and once again by an official writer) which once again goes to show how much they're struggling to get people to write in with this stuff. It's not a particularly surprising topic either. More Mutations? That's like saying more monsters or spells for D&D. The main question then becomes are they any good. Browsing through them, I can definitely say that these are more superhero powers than remotely realistic body alterations. Some even have the rather artificial limitation of 1/day, which further affects that feeling. Guess they're still playing on the gonzo side in the TSR offices. Pretty standard collection though. Extended lifespan, darkness generation, phasing through objects, flight, blasty energy balls. The main thing to recommend it is the well above average artwork. Otherwise, tis somewhat yawnsome. You won't be inspiring the freelancers with stuff like this.

Campaign journal: As with the dragon projects, we have our second wave of campaign boosters from the official writers this month. This time, it's Dark Sun's turn. Rich Baker sets about integrating kits into there, with a short bit of advice on good existing ones, and then launching into a whole range of new ones, 2 for each class group. That won't catch them up with Al Qadim, but it won't hurt, and shouldn't be too hard to retroactively integrate into your game.

Slave warriors have fairly substantial bonuses, but of course are slaves, which does limit their freedom quite a lot. And if they do escape or get set free, they'll lose the benefits and get a different set of penalties. Unless the owner is another PC (Which isn't impossible since there's a noble kit) this'll be rather a nuisance. Maybe an all-slave campaign would be fun for a bit.

Raiders are your typical bandity types. They get a substantial bonus to ambushes, but are obviously not very popular in most social situations. Better leave that to the other PC's while you lurk menacingly in the background then.

Veiled ones are preservers strongly on the in in the veiled alliance. This means they have other wizards to help them out and get half-decent spell choices, but need to spend quite a bit of time maintaining a cover identity and helping out other preservers. This'll create adventure options as well as restrict them, and the other players may well have to help out in your plot lines. Better hope they don't also have kits that demand a ton of their time.

Arcanamach's are their opposite halves, sorcerer-king's attack dogs. Which means they can operate openly, have extensive spell selections, and order around virtually anyone apart from templars, but they're feared, hated and regularly sent on missions by their boss. It's a stressful life, and not that great for PC's.

Chroniclers are priests who do historical research, a pretty rare commodity on Athas. They get Read Languages, rogue style, and an eidetic memory, at the cost of always having to try and recover ancient lore, which isn't really a drawback at all, although it may lead them into unwise situations. Ahh, the old swashbuckler setup.

Tribal Priests are another one with mainly social benefits and hindrances. Gotta take care of your congregation, no matter how it may get in the way of your adventuring. But much respect if you do.

Caravaneers get lots of bonus proficiencies and will never be short of a job, but like many travellers, will face scorn and distrust from people in any other situation. Gypsies and sailors get a bad rap but you can't really live without trade. Since their hindrance will mainly come into effect if they leave their job, this'll keep them adventuring.

Sycophants steal via charm and freeloading rather than blatant thievery, soon becoming able to juggle one friend off another and live virtually for free without anyone noticing. Course, this requires people not seeing them as a threat. They may have some mechanical backup, but they can still blow it by strapping on armor and looking like a professional adventurer.

Noble psionicists are pretty much the same as the kit for other classes. Extra money at the start, but they then have to maintain themselves in the style they're accustomed too, or lose the social clout their family connections grant them. Probably ought to be a non class specific kit.

Untutored ones break the normal psionicist rules and get a wild talent on top of their usual powers. They then pay for this over the course of their career by not getting free defence modes and being unpopular with regular trained psychics. This is obviously one rather dependent on luck, but in general, this will start out a fairly decent advantage and gradually become more and more of a disadvantage, so it's a good one to tempt players with.

So here we see an unusually high number of bonus proficiencies in many of the kits, and lots of purely social hindrances, some very strict. Ironically, this discourages everyone from taking a kit, for if they all did, their competing social requirements would tear the group apart when properly enforced. This is a definite design flaw that needs addressing. It's fine for NPC's to have issues like that, but PC's need to be able to keep the team together to survive and prosper. I am once again reminded of my own musical experiences, where one of the biggest obstacles to a band's success is the various life events of the members constantly getting in the way of actually producing anything. You really do need to be able to just say fuck 'em all and set off into the unknown if you want to make a huge life change. Integrating into the community can be a trap for the unwary that wastes your entire life in petty details. And I really don't want that incorporated into my gaming when it's precisely what I play to escape.


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

part 5/6

Castle Falkenstein! Another highly entertaining and idiosyncratic game gets teased here.

The game wizards 1: Promo goes into overdrive this month. The Amazing Engine was released last month, along with it's first two settings. And while it isn't getting the same kind of push as Buck Rogers, there's people here who want it to succeed. Particularly the ones who wrote the books, such as Lester Smith. Left to himself, he would have developed a rather crunchier system for Bughunters. But under Zeb's direction, he's kept it simple stupid and squeezed everything into 128 pages. Which since it's a game designed to model sci-fi military action stuff such as Aliens and Predator, is counterintuitive but probably more fun than something that details guns and equipment in fetishistic detail. (like the official licence, for example) Course, that isn't going to stop the whole thing from dying within a couple of years, but so it goes. The fact that settings are only getting a single book each and then it's on to the next one probably hurts the attempt to build up marketable IP. Still, the overall ideas sound good. It's a case where it's a little depressing how TSR's other RPG's kept dying. What could make a comfortable living for a smaller company was a gross waste of resources for them. It's all a little saddening.

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Spike T Jones takes a break from ecologising for a little itemising. He contributes an interesting grab bag of bottles, and things which fit inside them. Once again we see how a sideways theme can be more interesting and varied than a straightforward one.

Tenser's Tantalus lets you carry a whole array of potions and scrolls on it, secured and protected, but coming away at a touch ready to use. No more frustrating rummaging in backpacks in the middle of battle, like extradimensional storage, this'll change the life of adventuring parties to the degree that they won't know how they managed before it. Better make sure enemies don't smash or steal it.

Bottles of preservation keep anything in them fresh. Since some monsters are both highly perishable and can be used to make magic items, this could allow you to multiply your profit from an adventure, presuming the right buyer is available. Or possibly make prettier, better smelling flesh golems, if that's your perversion of choice. Brains in a jar make for good props anyway.

Bottles of trapping shrink you and suck you in, leaving you to be put on the shelf, complaining in a squeaky voice. No mention is made of it removing your bodily needs, so being a prisoner in a bottle may get rather humiliating after a while. It can also lead to some amusingly cartoonish scenes. Very mean.

Nerve tonic lets you stay completely calm. One that you could probably make lots of money selling to non-adventurers. Let's hope the ingredients can be farmed and mass produced.

Oil of monster repulsion does exactly what it says on the bottle. Course, it only affects a specific species, so it's hardly a great cure-all. Another one that'll be most handy when you can make it yourself, instead of just finding some random variant of it in the treasure pile.

Oil of neutral scent stops you from smelling, which is very useful when dealing with things like tracker dogs or grimlocks. The experience of being completely smell free may become addictive, which will be very expensive for the fastidious and paranoid. Just the quirk to give to your campaign's equivalent of Howard Hughes

Pox potion is yet another way your creative attempts could go horribly wrong. It won't be fatal to experienced adventurers, but it will make your life pretty unpleasant until you can get a cure disease in.

Ships-in-a-bottle grow to full size when you break them. Unfortunately, they can't be made to shrink again after use, so you're stick with a full size ship. Perhaps more research on this matter is needed. The solution is probably going to be expensive.

Skunk water makes whatever it's added too smell utterly foul. Do not drink under any circumstances, save possibly trying to blend in in troglodyte territory.

Smoke of fire quenching is another one-use item that may save your life, but only in very specific circumstances. Stock up on a whole bunch of them if facing fire elementalists then.

The game wizards 2: Hmmm. TSR's trying to get into the new FMV game scene. Stuff like Atmosfear started appearing a couple of years ago, and as with many gimmicky things that're easy to learn, they've sold like gangbusters, yet only been played once or twice before being relegated to the attic. Not that this bothers the manufacturers much, as we've already given them our money. This is in sharp contrast to AD&D, which is now pretty dependent on the return dollar (another reason why the non D&D RPG's keep getting dropped by the company) So Bruce Nesmith was the muggins who got tasked with developing a new boardgame at short notice to try and catch the money before fashion moves on again. Say hello to Dragon Strike! Created in a mere 3 months, it seems to have all the hallmarks of the genre. The tape is only 30 minutes long, so games should be easy to play, and it has enough variant adventures, random cards and shiny bits and pieces that it should manage a dozen or so playthroughs before getting repetitive. And hopefully by then they'll have read the advertising pamphlet and been lured into full D&D. Yeah, this is pretty blatantly another attempt to create a gateway drug. It's also interesting from a historical perspective as a precursor to the multimedia stuff they'll start including in AD&D products next year, First Quest and all the other things with Audio CDs that "enhance" the adventure. I guess from that we can assume it was at least a modest success. It does feel a bit odd for them to be so blatantly admitting that this is a gateway drug and produced on a worryingly short notice, but I guess the higher-ups don't mind that, for some reason. Not sure what to think about this one at all. I guess one important question is Was the game Fun? A lot of corporate crap can be forgiven if the final product is good.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Once again I apologise for losing internet access. I hope I've got it fixed now.

Dragon Magazine Issue 194: June 1993

part 6/6

With a bond of magic: Greg Detwiler's back again, with a moderately experimental little article trying to get round the problems giving out lots of normal magical weapons causes. Bonded weapons aren't exactly what you would expect from that name. The bond is actually to a particular element or concept, such as fire, fear, disease, magnetism, wood, etc. They bypass the usual plus structure, and hurt nearly anything, but don't have the usual bonuses to attack and damage (although the majority of them do extra energy damage of whatever type.) This means you'll rarely be completely helpless against a monster the way you can be when they're immune to everything below +3, but things with massively low ACs'll still be a very real threat. Mixing these with regular magic weapons in your party handouts'll be another thing that subtly livens up your game. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Novel ideas: As I've noted before, Dragonlance writing seems to be all about the male/female cowriter pairings. Particularly in the novels, it just works best when you have that particular kind of chemistry. It also helps if you have complimentary talents and work habits in other respects as well. Such as when one's a morning person and the other a night owl. Done badly, this can tear a partnership apart. Done well, people can set aside their egos for the sake of getting the product done quicker, better, by trading off work between them, and only actually working together for a few hours a day. Yeah, this all feels very familiar. A huge amount of my life, particularly the musical parts, are filled with annoyance at me being several hours ahead body clock wise, and a lot more reliable than anyone else. Learning to let go and allow them to run with it when I start to flag, because a lot of the time, they're just getting warmed up at that point is one of the lessons I've really had to work hard to internalise. Plus you want people who have talents that complement yours rather than compete directly with them, otherwise it is all too easy to get competitive, and that results in gradual resentment from the less talented partner which eats away at the relationship, while the more talented one can wonder why they're keeping these wasters around, they should just go solo and reap all the rewards themselves. It's all an incredibly complex issue. And here we see it played out in microcosm, albeit in a fairly harmonious manner, since it's also a husband/wife pairing that's being interviewed. It's all rather interesting, and definitely worthy of further discussion. How do you create a creative partnership that is greater than the sum of it's parts?

Dragonmirth is even more dragon-centric than usual. Yamara continues enduring the twisted drow interpretation of imprisonment and torture. Won't someone save her? The party is back together in twilight empire, but the big fight is still to come.

Through the looking glass: Is lead saved at the last minute?! Appeals are in process! You can still make a difference! Ah yes, the legal monster is a slow and sclerotic beast, and getting it to do anything takes months, if not years. This saga feels pretty sluggish to me going through the issues at this rate; it must have been positively torturous to live through. On top of the encouragement to keep fighting the appeals, Robert also starts motions towards setting up an underground railroad for existing lead figures, keep them in active use by the people who want them most. It's like a deliberate co-opting of classic social movement methods in microcosm. I can't help but smile.

Our minis this month have a pretty high proportion of underground stuff too, in a different sense. Drow and their spider mounts. Three different sets of dwarves. An ooze creature to schlorp your adventurers. An equally oozy pod which could contain all manner of horrors. Plenty of humans, mostly of the martial kind. One female fighter, but plenty of male soldiers, with crossbows, bows and swords. And some very 70's looking cyberpunk rockers. And some centaurs and a giant for your aboveground combat needs. Ready for action?

A pretty complicated set of issues raised by this issue. On one hand we have the substantial push to bring back coverage of non D&D RPG stuff. On the other we have the slick self-centred promotional stuff. Similarly, there's a definite tension between the bits that are business as usual, and the special features, and the bits where we see people trying to shut down our fun. Good intentions, but people pulling in different directions, and the whole thing becoming slightly less than the sum of it's parts. Is anybody really on top anymore? When no-one's on top, that leaves things open for someone unexpected to take charge. We shall have to see what happens next, because even if it isn't that unified, there's still lots of interesting threads to follow.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 195: July 1993

part 1/6

124 pages The draconic covers continue. This one is looking in pretty poor condition, but isn't out of the fight yet. Will reinforcements save the day? And exactly which side are the good and bad guys anyway? They're all warriors anyway, which puts them all in a fairly dubious moral position from a pacifists point of view. Good thing violence is a morally neutral act in D&D! Otherwise most of our characters'd be out of a job. Anyway, here's another fighter themed issue. I don't doubt we'll see more of those as time goes on.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter from someone annoyed at the number of powergamers out there. Where are the tales of the low level characters. Plane hopping is a pretty expensive proposition, you know. Anyone able to break the 4th wall is automatically going to be of a certain minimum bar. But yes, this could be rebalanced at bit in articles, as Roger admits.

Some more jokes of what constitutes an unfair DM.

A letter asking what the hell the symbols on the wizards spell cards mean. Buy the priest's spell cards to find out! Gotta collect 'em all! :p

A letter from a christian gamer asking if there are any christian specific games around. Anyone who's been reading this thread regularly will be able to point you to Dragonraid. Roger does exactly that, and then neatly segues into another discussion of the people trying to ban roleplaying for spurious reasons. A game like this splits their ranks quite nicely.

Editorial: Continuing on from the letters, Roger tells his own tale of how his non twinked characters not only survived but prospered, and had interesting adventures too. In famed third party product Tegel Manor too. The statistical intelligence of the character came second to the ingenuity of the player, and with a little help from her friends, she cleared out the place, and become landlord for a whole bunch of semi-retired adventurers ( in a place that huge, there's always going to be a few monsters you missed in the basement, or attic, or maybe a secret room, keeping you on your toes. ) If anything, it was more fun than later games where he was playing obscenely powerful characters. Goes to show. Greatness is defined by the adversity you face. Having a good, easily remembered gimmick doesn't hurt either. It's not the numbers, it's what you do with them. Goes to show. Reiteration of anything is more interesting with specific examples.

So you want to be a samurai?:It's not an easy life, you know. They have alignment restrictions forcing them to be lawful for good reason. The regulations put upon them in reality were pretty strict, and the only honourable way of protesting them suicide, which frankly is a bit iffy as it silences the protester's voice, leaving the daimyo free to continue being despotic unless the rest of his staff join in the protest. Independent thought was not encouraged, peasants giving you any lip were to be struck down without mercy. Unless you went ronin or had an understanding daimyo, adventuring in the traditional way would be rather tricky. No-one gets to have much fun in reality. One of those vaguely tiresome realistic history articles, in other words. I knew most of this stuff already, and the way it's presented this time isn't very exciting. Let's move onwards.

To all a good knight: Back west again to encourage you to give your fighters connections to the world here too. Knightly orders have quite a complex history in the real world. In a polytheistic one, this can be even more interesting, with connections to various gods, and quite different codes of conduct. We get a couple of real ones, and talk about how they would adapt to AD&D, and a new one from the writer's own campaign. While not bad, this is both more longwinded, and less mechanically innovative than a similar article from issue 125, so this once again falls into rehash territory, demonstrating how articles have become a good deal less experimental in recent years. Everything has to fit into the regular class and kit format. Is that another directive from on high, trying to get us to stick to the official rules, or are players just not monkeying around with the workings of the system the way they used to? Once again it is good reason for me to yawn and sigh.


Ursus Diabolicus
Validated User
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we've hit my very first issue of Dragon Magazine - thanks for taking this thing so far :)


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 195: July 1993

part 2/6

TSR Previews: Dragonlance finally tries to move forwards again, having spent years prequelling the setting with increasing detail. PQ1: The players guide to the Dragonlance campaign may look like an RPG book, but it's pretty much system free, being a bunch of fiction and little essays designed to introduce people to the setting from a ground eye view. See, its not scary to join in instead of just watching. It also gets DLT1: New tales: The land reborn. You get to tag along with some of the characters from the books and clean up the crap from the aftermath of the war. Doesn't that sound like fun!

Spelljammer introduces a new area. The Astromundi cluster. Another boxed set opening up a place where things work a little differently. Which is pretty neat. Can you manage to live peacefully beside neogi and mind flayers?

Ravenloft continues to give Van Richten prominence in the setting with his guide to Werebeasts. If you don't think they can be scary, look again. The amount of mystery and suspense involved in finding one, and then dealing with them if they're unwilling, is quite substantial. These creatures are a lot more annoying here than anywhere else, and even powerful adventurers can feel the long term sting of an encounter with them.

Dark Sun goes back to home base, to show you what's changed. DSS1: The city-state of Tyr. Is it going to actually become free, or just another chaotic miserable shithole. You know the answer by now. Bloody happy endings mandate. How are we supposed to run a sustainable persistent world suitable for adventuring in if the good guys always win?

Greyhawk is still obsessed with Iuz, with the third product in a row focussing on his works. WGM1: Border watch sees the PC's trying to keep him from expanding his territory. Nasty business, but somebody's gotta do it. Don't you miss just going into the temple of elemental evil and killing everything in it. So much simpler.

The forgotten realms focusses on it's own villains. Prince of lies by James Lowder sees Cyric face some ghosts from his past. How long can he remain triple portfolio'd god of superdickery? Surely the other gods aren't going to put up with this upstart for ever.

Gamma world has the orwell inspired supplement GWQ2: All animals are equal. Mutant animals have taken over the zoo. What kind of society will they form without the humans?

And finally, even our generic novels get increasingly serial. Book of stones by L. Dean James completes the story from sorcerers stone. I don't even know about this to be properly snarky, so I shall say nothing.

Real warriors ride elephants: Off to africa again. Persistence is paying off in multiple ways, as this is also another collection of kits to differentiate the class that most needs it. It may not be hugely groundbreaking, but it's certainly needed. Let's hope the mechanics are satisfactory.

Ashanti Warriors dress brightly and ride horses, travelling across great distances and generally being showy and heroic. They seriously kick ass in the saddle, with both combat and social benefits, but if they lose their horse, they'll be out of action for ages. This is most likely to be a problem at higher level.

Benin Hunters are fierce trackers and protectors, an African spin on Rangers. They get improved stealth and favored enemy bonuses, but lose two weapon fighting, as there's no particular cultural tradition of that. This a pretty minor adjustment, about on the same level as wizards giving up a familiar for some other minor benefit. After all, many wouldn't use it anyway.

Bornu Horsemen show that chivalry is not a purely european invention, being the closest thing to knights. This makes them generally pretty popular and trusted, but they have to behave or become hunted down by their former companions in arms. The real benefit is that they get to use heavier armour than any of the other kits round here, which is easy to overlook.

Kalahari Bushmen go around near naked in the desert sun, toughening them up, and making them able to survive their easily, but resulting in serious premature wizening. As this is a purely social penalty for substantial mechanical benefits, this is one of the more powerful kits here.

Kongo Pygmies are another set of shortarses, adapted well to the jungle. They get a whole bunch of woodland benefits that make them superior to rangers in some ways, particularly stealth, but all their initial nonweapon proficiency slots are eaten up by their requirements, seriously curtailing their choices, and they have a strength penalty to reflect their size, which is a pretty strong drawback for a fighter. I think that about balances out, but in an interesting way.

Kushite Elephant Warriors are the titular kit of this article. Of course, an elephant is both benefit and hindrance. It requires a ton of maintenance and won't fit in many dungeons. But on open ground it can trample most opposition into the dirt, especially if you have several of them in formation. Have fun.

Interesting to note how few bonus proficiencies these classes get, especially in contrast with the athasian kits of last issue. Other than that, they're pretty balanced, with the lack of armour an understated but omnipresent factor that'll actually be a pretty significant compensation for the benefits. I think this is a pretty good collection that'll add to your game without breaking it.

The game wizards 1: Dragon Strike must be quite a big part of their catalog, as they're giving it a second promotional article this month. While Bruce's was focussed on creating the rules, board and pieces, Jim Ward got to handle creating the video. This end was turned around on a stupidly tight schedule as well, with the reality of scripting, casting, costuming, makeup, special effects, editing, hitting them like a jackhammer. And I'm betting doesn't look nearly as impressive as they're selling it too, especially in hindsight. Computer FX in particular have come a long way since then, and I wouldn't be surprised if they look laughably cheap in actuality. After all, if many major motion pictures have that problem, what hope a little company from Wisconsin? Our imaginations are always going to be capable of greater special effects budgets than they are, which makes the rash of videos and CD games all the more questionable. And of course, making these things is still expensive even if they look cheap, so they have to sell quite a lot to make a profit. I have to wonder if this didn't make things worse for the company, by creating a whole bunch of products that didn't recoup their costs. The problems are mounting up, aren't they.

Sage advice goes back to 1st edition again, apropos of nothing. They really are still pretty friendly to previous edition stuff at the moment, even if the articles have tapered off.

How do you see using shadow walk. (You're moving at 126 MPH. Whatever you see is going to be pretty blurry)

Command dragon is virtually impossible to get the material components for. (Indeed. It is what we in the business call a plot device, not an everyday weapon. )

Does a periapt of wound closure work on damage caused by a sword of wounding (yes. Defensive powers trump offensive ones if they conflict. And you thought exalted was innovative. )

How long do familiars live. (about as long as their masters, unless magically zapped.)

What happens if you combine a bag of holding and a portable hole ( We've already covered this one. You get to take a quick one-way extradimensional trip through a spacial rip )

What's lawful about peace? (It lets you build stuff without it being destroyed unexpectedly. Peace is very conductive to order, if done right. )


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 195: July 1993

part 3/6

The game wizards 2: Looks like the Amazing Engine is getting a second promotional article as well. You know, a good actual article with new crunch and fun writing would do more to sell it to me than half a dozen of these promo columns. As with the Dragon Strike stuff, here we tackle things from a different angle to last month. There, it was Bughunters getting the spotlight, this time it's For Faerie, Queen and Country. Where that had substantial rules for tactical combat based on sacrificing movement points for various actions, this brings an open-ended magic system, and rules for all sorts of fae races and their human half-breeds. The whole thing is designed to minimise rollplaying and maximise roleplaying :rolleyes: Yes, seriously, they actually say that. Combine that with the general cheesiness of their actual play example, (Mister Wog the frenchman? :facepalm: ) and a lot of my sympathy over the game's failure is rapidly evaporating. I really shouldn't be surprised at whimsy in a game this fae heavy, but I still find the tone of this horribly grating. Definite fail.

Pandemonium! Adventures in tabloid world. I don't remember this one. Would someone be so kind as to shed enlightenment?

The marvel-phile: New Characters! Hot off the presses! Getchore new characters here! Proctor & the Gatherers. All dressed up, posing, going raar, and ready to fight your heroes! Manipulative psychic supervillain extraordinaire; his wizened, also psychic crone sidekick; a cyborg with mobility, sensory & shielding powers; a big amiable bestial lunk of a tank; and a shapeshifting creature that duplicates others. Pretty decent team really, not totally stereotypical, and with plenty of variety. And they have a pretty interesting storyline too. Heroes from another reality, they've found themselves in the antagonist role here due to their bosses manipulations. Which of them will do heel face turns is still up in the air. Although maybe less so now, depending on how fast the turnaround time for articles is these days. Will any of these characters stick and become recurring ones after their storyline is over? Or is this just another part of their endless attempts to keep up with the obscure parts of the Marvel universe? Either way, it feels very much like business as usual here.

Forum returns. Evidently they had so much stuff they wanted to cram into the birthday issue, something had to give. It is extra big this time, so that should make up for it.

Owen Muir speaks out against sexism and agism. But he does point out that Alias did have a valid IC reason for wearing impractical cheesecake armour. I suppose that makes it all better then. She was created to be an object of cheesecake IC AND OOC. There's so much wrong with that concept I'm really not sure where to begin.

Peter Rivellini praises issue 189. We need some more interesting themed issues like that. But anyway, there is some good mapmaking software out there. Feel free to order it direct, since it doesn't have major label distribution.

Cynthia Higginbotham has cheaper suggestions. MS Paint! Tee Hee. Frankly, that would be trickier and slower than doing it by hand for me.

W.A.N also thinks that shelling out several hundred dollars for the professional software would not be a wise investment. Think how many gamebooks you can buy with that! Yeah, some of these things can be pretty obscene. It's like academic textbooks. The development costs outweigh the demand, so they have to set prices far above the material costs of duplication.

John F. Wherry suggests getting some shareware. Ahh, this once again reminds me why I love the internet. And also why it makes such a mess of old commercial models. How can you sell stuff when people are giving it away, and also copying your stuff and giving that away for free too.

William B. Philips has yet another suggestion. Being in the army does have it's perks in terms of exposure to technology. No shortage of options then, as long as you pay the price.

Craig Judy recommends a bit of software that only costs $30. See, that sounds like a decent price to me. Now, how many copies would you have to sell at that price to pay for the developers and still make a decent profit?

Troy Herman goes waaaaaaaaay back, and tackles the issue of Paintballing prejudice. Really, they're in much the same boat as we are, and you shouldn't snipe at them. As with Jake and the LARPing crap, it's depressing to see our writers falling prey to the same prejudice that they decry in others.

Dennis Rudolph recommends you watch the antiques roadshow. No, seriously. There's so much cool stuff to draw upon. Tee Hee. History is not boring at all. Get your plot devices where your players least suspect.

Matthew W. Hurd has profited quite a bit from giving his address out in the magazine. Now he has a number of cool pen pals. See, the system works! The right combination of forcefulness and god manners gets you furthest with both genders.

Christopher T. C. Miller gives methods for encouraging a long campaign that keeps people engaged. You need to wind them along with carrots, not push them forward with sticks. And don't hesitate to draw upon realistic stuff to fill out background details.

Bryan Fairfield kicks the complaints about the complete bard's handbook into high gear, with some extensive statistical analysis of how powerful and versatile multiclass bards with kits are. His group is now comprised almost entirely of them. It's a big problem. He also suspects the complete book of elves will make things even worse. :D How very very perceptive of him. Get better rules editors for your splatbooks!

Vincent Nasso is another person who finds multiclass combinations generally turn out superior to single classed characters of the same XP total. It's all different facets of the same issue. How long will this breakout of complaints last?

Talus London Young has a whole bunch of mean nerfs for multiclassed characters, that probably go rather too far. 10% more failure on everything? Are the penalties from splitting XP and ability scores not enough? Yeeesh.


Hiding in a snowdrift
Validated User
Bryan Fairfield kicks the complaints about the complete bard's handbook into high gear, with some extensive statistical analysis of how powerful and versatile multiclass bards with kits are. His group is now comprised almost entirely of them. It's a big problem. He also suspects the complete book of elves will make things even worse. How very very perceptive of him. Get better rules editors for your splatbooks!
Yeah. It was bad enough I know some people who still ban bards from the game. Elves, not so much, but they do tend to collect pratfalls. If someone empties a chamberpot out the window, and elf is twice as likely to get splattered. Even more, if their player is a dick.


Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Magazine Issue 195: July 1993

part 4/6

The role of computers: Quite an interesting introduction this month, as they wax lyrical over their new sound card. We're not quite at the stage where full CD quality Analog/Digital converters are available to regular consumers cheaply, but we're still making regular quantum leaps, and most of them can at least manage coherent speech. You can even record stuff through the line in, although hard drive space (and write speed) will still be a pretty big limiting factor unless you get a full pro tools rig, and quantisation distortion'll still be a real problem at that bitrate. I'm geeking out, aren't I. Oh well, it's a drop in the ocean compared to the obsessive geekiness of doing all this in the first place. Back to the main topic.

Night Trap takes full advantage of the new sound and video specs to fill up it's length with grainy low res movie stuff. You have to watch the video screens, and try to ensure people don't get eaten by zombies. This'll probably take a few goes round to get right, and it's long enough that it won't be completely lacking in replay value. There are far worse examples of this kind of game.

Dungeon Master moves from Amiga to PC, with corresponding increases in speed, graphics and sound while maintaining the good gameplay. Nothing much to say here.

Empire Deluxe is a sequel to Empire. (see issue 142) Among the updates include multiplayer online connections, a scenario editor, and the expected graphics and sound upgrades. This gives it pretty near infinite replayability, presuming you have someone who likes building maps and so forth. Games with an active mod community can survive for years.

Road Avenger, on the other hand, doesn't have much replay, due to it's linearity, and only takes half an hour to finish. Only for those who really want to show off the graphic capability of their new system.

Star Control II tries to take on Elite's mantle for a new generation of computers, with reasonable success. Collect minerals across hundreds of planets, deal with all sorts of alien races, and try to save earth from the evil Ur-Quan Hierarchy. You'd be disappointed if it wasn't ridiculously huge and open-ended, and this is very much the case.

Who Killed Sam Rupert? is another one that's good while it lasts, but doesn't have much replayability. Seems far too many games these days are concentrating on graphics over interactivity, trying to squeeze in FMV cutscenes that eat up tons of memory, forcing them to keep the overall thing linear. This sounds rather familiar. I remember complaints of developers favoring graphics over gameplay at the time as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Role-playing reviews decides to go for the small press stuff again, see if they can find some diamonds in the rough.

Legendquest definitely qualifies as one of those, with it's home-press origins pretty obvious. But Lester is quite pleased by the system, which packs a lot into it's page count, and has pretty good, not totally derivative rules. Looks like your basic point buy system with a few idiosyncrasies to me, particularly in the magic system. You're only going to break, break my break, break my heart.

Monsters & Slayers, on the other hand, just gets a painful review. It's amateurishly written, edited & drawn, doesn't do what it says it's going to do on the cover, and is frequently so stupid it's funny. (volcanoes in wales? Bendover the hobgoblin necromancer? ) Avoid, if you ever see it.

Legendary lives is from the Lost Souls team, and puts just as skewed a view on generic fantasy as they did on the afterlife. Fun races, elegant mechanics that emphasise speed over realism, it treads a path many indie hipster games will follow. The art is rather dubious though, and they could do with more spells. Don't hesitate to add to it.
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