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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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DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Locals aren't all yokels:
This is the first of about 5 articles on the subject. The next, IIRC is in 122 and is much better. The last one is Defeating More with Less in the 180's or 190's.

They are all very useful.
 

g026r

I'm a boat
Validated User
Toon now has a couple of supplements. How much can you add in terms of new monsters and adventures in such a simple game?
May '86? Would this be Son of Toon that's being referenced?

The answer, anyway, is a surprising amount. The original Toon supplements (Son of Toon, Toon Strikes Again, Silly Stuff) were all fairly small staple-bound books and were decent additions to the game.

However, the Deluxe edition of Toon that came out in the '90s was supported by a trio of 128-page perfect-bound books -- and they were for the most part not that great.

So, I guess what it comes down to is: you can add a lot to a very simple game, but the more you add the less likely it's the same quality as the original.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
So, I guess what it comes down to is: you can add a lot to a very simple game, but the more you add the less likely it's the same quality as the original.
Or, let inspiration rather than expectations determine the page count, because the rest of the book will be padding. (SJG definitely had a thing for 128 pagers.)
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
I was wrong- Revenge of the Nobodies is in 112 and Defeating More with Less is in 174. Mangling Magic Made Easy is in 173 and I can't find the other article.
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
Toon now has a couple of supplements. How much can you add in terms of new monsters and adventures in such a simple game?
Toon is definitely a game that keeps one on one's toes, and it paid to periodically get new ideas for particular settings and situations.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
It took them into a sequel trilogy, actually. And a prequel trilogy. Fantasy publishers like their trilogies!

But, thank you for reminding me to add all those to my Amazon wish list. :)
Yes, doing this does have the unintended side effect of giving me a huge list of other things I'd like to read. Even after I finish this, I could probably spend several years more just checking out all the stuff referenced.

May '86? Would this be Son of Toon that's being referenced?
No, just Strikes Again and Silly Stuff so far. Still enough to be notable.
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 109: May 1986

part 4/5

Profiles: Jeff Easly is another of TSR's most popular and prolific artists, producing covers for lots of their recent books. He seems to be a visually inclined person in general, making sculptures and models, dressing up, and generally brightening peoples lives with the stuff he creates. He's a friend of Larry Elmore, and got a job here because of him.
Ruth Hoyer is the Art Director, which of course means she gets to order people like Larry and Jeff around. Not that they're likely to object, really. She's the one responsible for their recent logos, particularly the Dragonlance and Star frontiers ones. She's surprisingly scientific for an artist, with a definite preference for clean, functional designs. Another part of the machine that makes production values here rather better than they were back in the 70's.

TSR Previews: At last. The immortals set is finally here. Now you can take your D&D games all the way, and actually win the game. Godhood is just the beginning. You've got to work your way up to supreme deity, Twice. Have you got the skill (and patience ) to manage it. I'll wager the number of groups who've managed to do it fairly from 1st level are even fewer than those who completed Knightmare.
AD&D gets CA2: Swords of deceit. A trio of short adventures set in Lankhmar. You even get to be the big heroes and save Fafhrd and the Mouser in this. How very unusual. We also get I8: Ravager of time. In it, your players are aged to near death, and have to find out how to defeat the villain while suffering the ravages of time and get their youth back. How very cruel. I'm betting a certain amount of railroading is involved to make that premise work.
We also have the Best of Dragon part 5. That means we have more than 1 per 2 years the magazine has been around. Guess we're still getting in plenty of new people who want stuff from old issues. And if they want it, who are we to deny them a chance to spend money.
For our 8th AD&D adventure gamebook, we're going back to Baba Yaga's hut. Since it's by the same author, I'm guessing there will be lots of similarities with our last visit.
Dragonlance is up to it's 5th book, War of the Twins. Can Caramon and Tasslehoff save the world from Raistlin. Surely, otherwise we wouldn't get any more books in the series. Question is, at what cost, and how much cheese will the writers throw at us while they do it?
One-on-one gamebook number 6 is Amber sword of worlds end. And once again, it looks like it does exactly what it says on the tin. Will the barbarian claim the sword and wield it with his mighty biceps. Or will the monk retrieve it in the name of his temple. The power is in your hands.
Finally, coming atcha from Canada, It's the Balderdash Game, one of their new family party games. Are the words and their definitions real? You get to educate as well as entertain your kids, expanding their vocabulary to quite excessive degrees.

Administrator's advice: Here's this month's Top Secret article. It's a big load of GM'img advice, helping you build your campaign. After all modern gaming is quite different from fantasy gaming. (although you can change that, by adding hypertech, bond style, and going overboard with the fame and fortune points. ) Still, there are lots of things you can't do in a modern setting, especially if you want to keep recorded history the same as the real world. On the other hand, there are plenty of things that you can do that you couldn't when you have to make up your own fantasy world, and you can travel anywhere in the world fairly easily. Lots of solid, specific advice here, that should help keep your players acting appropriately for the world, and make your games fun. Since we've had plenty of general advice by now, this kind of highly specific, focused stuff is just what's needed to keep long-term readers interested and developing their style. This may of course not be newbie friendly. But it's a big magazine now. Surely they can strike a decent balance between articles anyone can understand and ones that require a decent degree of expertise to build on.

Fiction: Valkyrie by W. J. Hodgeson. Love. It has caused much joy, and much suffering. Sometimes both at once, such as when a supernatural being falls in love with a human, and has to either watch them age and die while they stick around forever, or become mortal and suffer the ravages of time with them. A bittersweet result at best. On the other hand, if you're very lucky, the gods might show you mercy, and grant you an ironically happy ending such as this one. After all, they move in mysterious ways, and sometimes what they secretly want is someone to defy their word and prove their worth as a true hero. So this is an unusually happy ending to a story given the source material. I don't have any objection to this.

Fighting the good fight: Space Opera is our first stop this month in the Ares section, with a bunch of new tricks and variants for combat. Facing, parrying, and disarming. Three elementary matters that have been abstracted away in the game's combat system. Is it any wonder that some people want to insert them. Some will call that unneccacary crunch that misses the point of the game's design. Some will call that perfectly reasonable. I've been in both camps in the past, but this time I fall in the perfectly reasonable one. After all, without options like that, the game just becomes one of basic taking turns to attack, gradually wearing each other down. And where's the fun in that?
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 109: May 1986

part 5/5

Patriots, terrorists and spies: Looks like metaplot has already snuck it's way into star frontiers, with cults suddenly increasing in frequency in FY 111 due to a supplement. This is an interesting development. And as ever, people will always want to introduce a few more, and this magazine is a good way to go about it. So here's 8 new cults which your players might theoretically join, but it's much more likely that they'll appear as adversaries. They include socialists, racists, religious fanatics, psychics, and those that fear them, and general self-advancing secret societies; and generally exist to provide plot hooks for players to investigate. Hey, you can always use a few more of those. Another one of those cases where due to the space limitations, they have to boil them down to their basic concepts, leaving out all the nuance and specifics. You'll still have to do a ton of developing if you want to use them in your game.

The double-helix connection: Mutants. A fairly familiar sight in here, thanks to gamma world. But they're not so common in traveller. Nor are they as powerful, with flaws almost as common as drawbacks. But then, Traveler is a lot more realistic than gamma world. That's not to say they have no place as PC's, as characters being exceptional in some way does help build interesting stories. So if you like, when generating a character, roll to see if they are a mutant, and then roll to see what powers they get. Your odds are around the same as your chances of getting psionics in D&D, and it's just as much of a crap shoot whether you'll get abilities that are useful and what you want, and learn how to control them properly. Still, that is the Traveller chargen way. If you don't like the way a particular character's developed, just roll up another one. Nothing hugely wrong with this article.

A change of diet: Speaking of gamma world mutants, they don't get neglected this month either. But they don't get too much either, as this is only a half page article. Seems like they're doing lots of short articles this month. So yeah, six awkward dietary restrictions your character could suffer from. What fun, everyone!!!! Anyone? No, I'm not enthralled either. Nuff said.

The Hero system makes a joke about it's own complexity in an advert. Pretty amusing.

The marvel-phile: Just as he did last year, Jeff provides an index of all the characters detailed by them so far, in every supplement, module and magazine article. And he intends to make this a yearly event, since this is an ongoing process for an active game line. So from Abomination to Zsaji, we're now at over 300 superheroes, creatures and organizations. Still plenty more to go though. Just don't ask us to do Transformers, Godzilla, GI Joe, or most of the other properties marvel does comics for, but don't actually own. They're not part of the license, no matter how we might wish otherwise. Onward! The advanced game is now out, and there's still tons of bits of this huge tangle of a universe we haven't filled in yet! Ahh, Jeff. You always know how to brighten my day.

The keys to good SF: Having made a visit to all their usual stops this month, they finish off this month's Ares section with some general role-playing advice. Sci-fi has the potential to allow quite different plots to fantasy, but often, the goals remain the same, with only the window dressing changed. Unfortunately, unlike the Top Secret article earlier, the writer fails to take her own advice, and gives us two and a half pages of yer usual world and character building advice. Because lets face it. Hard sci fi is hard, and of interest to a far smaller sunset of people that stuff that uses the ray guns and funny shaped people as merely backdrops to human drama. Once again, I am forced to say ho hum.

Dragonmirth gives apprentices some schooling. Snarf uses his anachronisms. Wormy continues setting up for the ultimate wargame, while others plot his downfall.

Despite the presence of several amazing articles in this issue, this has mostly been another long slow slog. Are they just not getting enough really good articles to justify their size? Are they deliberately playing it over-safe by rejecting weird stuff and publishing ones similar to the ones they've done before? Are they holding their A material back for the birthday issue again? Was the magazine losing it's sparkle around this time for you as well? Or is it just me, consuming too much as usual? I think I need a bit more exercise to work all this information off. Still, that's why I changed my schedule. Now I'd better make sure I make the most of those extra few free hours a week.
 

Dasharr

Adamant Skeptic
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Dragon Issue 109: May 1986

part 4/5

TSR Previews: At last. The immortals set is finally here. Now you can take your D&D games all the way, and actually win the game. Godhood is just the beginning. You've got to work your way up to supreme deity, Twice. Have you got the skill (and patience ) to manage it. I'll wager the number of groups who've managed to do it fairly from 1st level are even fewer than those who completed Knightmare.
Frank Mentzer talked about that in his Q&A thread over at Dragonsfoot. I think (IIRC) he said that he wasn't aware of anyone who had ever done it "fairly" (i.e. without Monty Hauling or generous houseruling). It would be quite the endurance test (which you of all people can probably relate to :p ).
 

(un)reason

Making the Legend
Validated User
Dragon Issue 110: June 1986

part 1/5

108 pages. Welcome to the 10th anniversary issue. How are they going to deal with that. They've already covered tons of topics, many of them multiple times. What new things are there to discover? How can they improve on the general format? Well, they wouldn't have asked us if they didn't want to know. Because let's face it, they have been struggling for ideas of late. While they could probably go over the same old ideas again and carry on for the next 10 years, diminishing returns would set in, and they'd get as bored as we would. Kim certainly wants to keep both us and himself interested, so he's not going to take the easy option. Well, that's pleasing to hear. Lets hope he can justify those words over the next few issues.

In this issue:

Letters: A letter asking how the ranger's nature skills interact with the general skills system. Because of course, we have one now. Oh, how mathematically awkward. What shall we do?
A letter by someone who didn't understand the swarm rules in the pernicon ecology. Treating a swarm as a single creature is a nice abstraction that saves you lots of time. It does mean they don't count as lots of 1 HD monsters, but really, that's a plus, because it means they provide a challenge to a wider range of adventurers.
A letter asking if we'll ever see computer gaming return to the magazine. Funny you should say that. We were just about too ;) The readers have spoken, and we have listened. Hope you like it.

The king arthur companion for pendragon now available. Who's who, what's where, and what do all those legendary items do? Read it for lots of extra setting info.

The forum: R. Zane Rutledge has recently reconsidered his subscription as a result of Daniel Myers complaints. Although he agrees with some of them, he has decided, on balance, that the magazine is still worth reading each month. A very considered letter here. Interesting.
Philip Winters has some thoughts about what happens to society when wizards are fairly common and willing to sell their powers for an affordable price. While continual light spells lighting every house is the biggest and easiest one, there are plenty of other cool ideas you can incorporate.
Daniel U Thibault engages in lots of nitpicking about the decay patterns of various radioactive isotopes. Elementary physics, my dear. This is the kind of thing the writer in issue 108 really should have researched better.

The cult of the dragon: Dracoliches! One of Ed's more impressive inventions, this gives us details on how you make one, the minutinae of the transformation process, and the special abilities they get once transformed. It also includes plenty of details on the social order that create and worship them. One of the early examples of template building, this definitely shows you how to spice up your dragons, making them distinctly more badass, both individually, and in terms of social support network. Before, if you killed a dragon, you could take their hoard, go home a hero, and that'd be the end of it. But now, you'll not only have to deal with the dragon again unless you can destroy their phylactery, but you might well have to face a whole load of powerful spellcasters and other dracoliches as well. Use with caution, because dragons are powerful enough already. But if you're in the upper teens or 20's in terms of levels, and even the biggest monsters are no longer a challenge for your team individually, these guys make great overarching adversaries for an epic game. Ed has once again looked at events happening in gaming in general, and figured out how to incorporate the ideas into the forgotten realms, while also making them just generic enough that you can insert them into your own game without too much trouble as well. He really is very good at this. A strong start that is very fitting for the anniversary issue.
 
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