Thursday, March 15, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #65

Dragon Magazine #65 from September 1982 might, in fact, be the very first Dragon I had ever laid eyes on.  It is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the more pivotable issues in my gaming career.  Given that it is a perfect "first issue" of a NEW collection of Dragons sent to me by Eric Harshbarger. Eric contacted me a few weeks back to ask about some extras and gaps in my collection.  I mentioned that most of the Dragons I have are collected from larger lots of game materials I buy and most times they are in pretty sad shape. So he offered to send me some.  There are some duplicates with my collection, but these are in much better shape.  So if you can pop on over to his website.  Thanks, Eric! Now it is time for your contribution to This Old Dragon!

Ok. Where to start with this one? First, of course, is that cover.  It is great to see it here next to me instead of having to go to my CD-ROM to get the PDF (which is good since the PDF scan is not as good).  It is a wonderful, and surprisingly thigh-less, effort by Clyde Caldwell.   I always loved Caldwell's work and this cover is no exception. I love that Dragon sneaking down on the cross-eyed fighter.  Ok, he isn't cross-eyed, but it always looks like he is when I first look at it!  At least the dwarf sees it.  But my attention is focused on the witch in the background.  Is she a witch?  Well to me she is and she was one of the subconscious elements I would later use for my own witch character Larina.

Witch by Clyde Caldwell, Larina by Jacob Blackmon
So the red hair, purple dress with cloak and hood, the necklace (though different), the bangles on the wrists. Pretty archetypical image items really. But that image stuck with me.  I'd say it was Larina's mother, but I always pictured her as a blonde!  Maybe my little witch is having adventures I don't know about!  So this is what I can say when I have a cover to actually look at!

We are not quite at that "golden age" of Dragon that I think everyone is nostalgic about.  OR maybe we are.  When I say "Golden Age" maybe you all have a different picture in mind. Anyway.  This is the time before I started buying Dragon.  I have no doubt however that this is the first one I ever saw.

Out on a Limb covers some letters on Ed Greenwood's article on Firearms a few issues back. Everytime I pick up an older Dragon my mental timeline of Ed's involvement gets pushed back a little bit more.  I REALLY did not give this guy enough credit.

Gary is up next with his Guest Editorial. Ok...what to say about this.  It is basically a 3-page rant against GAMA and Origins.   I am happy to say that things are better between GenCon and Origins, and in about a decade from this original publication Gen Con and Origins will host a co-Con, but for now Gary is really irritated.  I don't know what is going on behind the scenes at this point. Back then I would have read this and been firmly on Gary's side, but today it seems like an old man yelling at clouds (and to be 100% fair here, Gary at this point is younger than I am right now!)  Ok. Moving on.

Blastoff! gives us all the information we need to know about the brand new Star Frontiers game.  We get to see that iconic Larry Elmore cover for what I think is the first time. We learn the about the new races (Vrusk, Yazirians, and Dralasites), a bit on the new character creation system and some of the in-universe background.  We also get some background on the game itself.  Design work began in 1979 by Dave Cook and  Lawerence Schick and spent the next two years in design, development and playtesting.  I guess there was a more "hard core" version of the game at one point.

Gary is back and this time with a classic.  From the Sorceror's Scroll covers Character Classes to Consider.  We learn that there will be an expansion volume to AD&D.  This book will eventually become Unearthered Arcana but until then he gives us a sneak peak.  We know now that all of these classes did not make it to that book.  Some would later go on to be rumored for the 2nd Edition of the AD&D game; or rather the 2nd Edition as penned by Gygax himself.  This is one of the main articles that +Joseph Bloch would later use to build his "what-if" version of a Gygax 2nd Edition in Adventures Dark and Deep.

Rob Kuntz is next with another installment of Greyhawk's World.  This covers Events of the Eastern and Southern Flanaess. I always enjoyed these articles. It made me feel like the World of Greyhawk was a living place, even though at this point I was still very much entrenched in the Known World of the D&D Basic and Expert sets.

Feel like I am dropping names left and right here, but after that we have Len Lakofka's Leomund's Tiny Hut.  This issue Len is focused on Keep(ing) Track of Quality.  Or how the quality of the goods affect the price, time to make and how that can play out for the player character.  This article covers mostly sheilds, armor, and some weapons.  A bit of converting for AC and you have a good article you can still use today.

Almost the counterpoint to weapon quality is character quality.  Christopher M. Townsend presents a new proficiency system for use in AD&D in Weapons Wear Out, Not Skills. This system is neither as complicated as the ones will later get nor as crunchy.  In fact, this system is light on the crunch and heavy on the role-playing aspects.  Or at least insofar as training in general in AD&D was a roleplaying aspect.  Now your training has some other purposes and can take longer.   Rereading it now I can see using this as a guideline in my D&D 3.x and D&D 5 games.

Gary is back again with some new creatures. These Featured Creatures are considered to be official AD&DTM monsters, so that takes care of that argument (but opens it up for the next batch!).  We get two good-aligned monsters, the Baku and the Phoenix.  Both of these monsters will appear in the Monster Manual II due out soon.  But that is not what grabbed me about them.  Flipping the page something burrowed deep, deep into my psyche.

To me, the Phoenix was a god-like creature.  They were the natural enemies of darkness and chaos.  The mere look of one could destroy a vampire.  They were not some giant bird to be hunted for their feathers and beaks, they were divine agents of rightous wrath.  In many ways they were the opposite of the Dragons.  Yes, we have good Dragons, but the Phoenix (capitalization is mine and for emphasis) opposed the evil Dragons more.  I remember reading this issue from friends (sometimes many, many times) and at one point I wrote down "It was a time of great chaos. It was the time of the Dragon and the Phoenix."  Yes, yes I know there is a Chinese dish of the same name, trust me, growing up in the deep mid-west in the 70s and 80s the only Chinese I ever saw was "Chop Suey".  I would only later the myths and stories behind it.  The Dragon and the Phoenix became something BIG in my games.  So big in fact that I would later take some of those ideas and adapt to my Buffy the Vampire Slayer game and run a campaign I called The Dragon and the Phoenix.  Those games would later be the basis of my Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Ok, speaking of those dragons.  Richard Alan Lloyd gives us The Missing Dragons. Based on the "color wheel theory" he decides that there must be more dragons, the Yellow, Orange, and Purple.  Now few articles were as controversial in my early days as this one!  There were people that hated the idea of more dragons. There were people that hated the idea of these colors for dragons (this group though usually let the Purples in) and there were those that liked them but would not include them since they were not "official" AD&D monsters.  And of courses there those that liked them and used them.  Myself, I liked the idea. I thought the logic was faulty. I mean are there Draconic Evolutionary theorists of the RGB sort versus the CMYK ones?  I did use the Purple dragons once or twice.  I used an orange one once and I said the yellow had all died out.  The biggest issue with this article is Tiamat.  She has five heads, not eight. If we limit it to five, then the green head needs to become yellow.  Now there are many, many (MANY) other dragons in D&D now and Tiamat is still just five-headed.  So maybe I need to bring these back to my games.

An ad for the RPGA.

Dropping more names Lew Pulsipher is next with a new NPC character class, Timelords. These are not your two-heart, regenerating Time Lords.  These are more like Time Protectors or Time Guardians.   They are fighters with some basic time manipulation magic that gets more powerful as they go up in level. When I first read it I hated it.  I also used to have a pretty hard core rule in my D&D games of "No Time Travel!"  I have loosened up a bit on that over the years.

Next is Monsters of the Midway, BUT I don't have it in my copy.  So the rules state I must move on.

Ah, here is something else that wormed it's way into my psyche.  Robin Emrys Atkinson presents the Tuatha De Danaan, A revised Celtic Mythos.  With amateur drunk day Saint Patrick's Day in a couple of days, this is another reason why this is a good choice. This is designed to replace and add to the section on Celtic myths in the Deities and Demigods book. And it is much better.  It was here that I went into a HUGE Celtic myths kick that I never really got out of.

And the hits keep comming!  Ed Greenwood (I feel like I am the MC of a Night of Thousand Stars) is next with Law of the Land. A six page article on the legal system and political systems of the AD&D world.  Or as I like to think of it, the PCs do not live in a vacuum. Also a great system-free article and something to help curb the influx of Murder-Hoboism in your games.

Lew Pulsipher is back again (!) and takes a D&D (not AD&D) perspective on War! and how it can give the characters reason to "live".  Again this is a very system free sort of article and covers the types of wars that PCs might find themselves in.  Very usuful stuff.

Some Top Secret information from James "Pong" Thompson. It covers recon and assassinations.

An editiorial of sorts from Lew Pulsipher in Up on a Soapbox. In this, he discusses the difference between the Classical Role-player and the Romantic.  Lew is coming from a solid Wargamer point of view here.  I don't get the feeling that either of these types are bad, just they have certain ways of playing.  More the point in a Wargame if you can identify their style you will know how to defeat them since you know what risks they are likely to take.

The Dragon's Augury has some reviews including one of the first Computer games I can recall being reviewed.  WIZARDRY costs a then princely sum of $49.95 and you will need an Apple II computer with 48k and DOS 3.3. 
Tom Watson reviews some books for Traveller while Gary Gygax himself reviews Empire Builder by Mayfair games (he loves it).

Comics are next.
Phil and Dixie talk about how much Fantasy and SciFi are alike.
Wormy is only one page.

An ad for Chaosium's Trollpak takes half of Dragon mirth's page.  I always wanted that. It looked cool. 

Back cover has an ad for Grenadier Models and flip over for Gang Busters.

Wow. What a packed issue.  Not just name after name of the whos who of the early RPG scenes, but great content as well.

Want to know what I thought of White Dwarf from the same time? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #33.  It was also a good issue.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Importance of the *Correct* Research

I have been fairly quiet here I know.  Not by choice, but I have some projects I want to get done and get out to you all.   Today is the tale of woe of one such project.

A few weeks back I had this GREAT idea. No, it really it was. It was a game that I really wanted to play and write.  I am going into a lot of detail about here now because the game will not happen now, or at least not in it's current draft. 

See I did my research.  I have a Ph.D. (two in fact, but I am ABD) so research is something I know well and love. And I did do my research.  I looked into economic issues of the time to try to get a good idea of a monetary system.  I reread news items that I thought would give me better insight.  I also put together a must-read list of fiction and a must watch list of movies that fit the genre.
I even prototyped some characters.

What I *DIDN'T* do was see if this game already existed.
Which, as you can guess, it does.

What really sucks is that this game is also really, really good.  They went with a different vibe than I was going for, but what they did is fantastic.

Well.  Shit.

So now I have notes, drafts and a cool name.  Some friends suggested I go ahead and make it, but I don't want to field questions of "Hey have you seen BLANK?" or "How is this not a copy of BLANK?" 

So the ideas will go into ... well, I don't know yet really.

After talking with my kids I think I have some ideas for this stuff, but the focus will have to change.  So goodbye economic data. Book lists will need to be revised. I think the movies are fine though.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Strange Brew: Skills & Feats

The next book in the Strange Brew series is now out.

Strange Brew: Skills & Feats is everything you need for your witch character in the Pathfinder game.

I will check with my editor, but I think this means the full book will be out soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #80

Issue 80  is one of those issues I have some very fond memories of and one that made it's way into my gaming life in odd and interesting ways.  So enough preamble, let's get going. It's December 1983 and this is Issue #80 of This Old Dragon!

This time around I have two copies of this magazine, but neither is complete.   Both are missing the cover, both are missing the city-based adventure and one has large sections cut out.

Let's talk about the cover.  This is a Clyde Caldwell work.  I always loved his work and this one is no exception. A purple-haired (I think it is blonde really with odd lighting) magic-user over a crystal ball?  What's not to love?

Kim Mohan is up with the editorial. First is plea for people sending in computer programs. Long story short, they want BASIC programs that people that have 16k and 32k systems can run (as opposed to those 'power users' at 48k and 64k).   This is a prelude to the AD&D combat program later in this issue.  The next part of the Editorial covers material in this issue.

Out on a Limb covers this months letters.  Couple issues back had another program that ran a Chi-Square (x2)analysis to determine if your dice were biased.  One reader has issues with this, but it seems like the editors came to the same conclusion I did; that the reader went through all the work to find a fault in the procedure and not his dice.  I'll be on the lookout for that article.  Now you can run even complex Chi-Squares in Excel.  Somewhere I have a sheet for checking dice.

Nice big ad for James Bond 007.  1983 was a good Bond year. Back in the summer, Octopussy with Roger Moore (no relation to Dragon's Roger Moore) hit the screens and this fall and winter we got the non-Eon Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery.  Of course only Octopussy of the two would make it into an adventure for the game (along with Goldfinger and one of my favorites Dr. No).   I have been a huge Bond fan ever since I saw Live and Let Die but I have never played this game.  IF I were to do it, I might use the Doctor Who rules just for fun.

Up next is Fraser Sherman and The Psychology of the Doppleganger.  An interesting little read about these (in my mind) under-used creatures.

Big ad for the new Intellivision AD&D cartridge game, Treasure of Tarmin.

David F. Godwin has an article that has plagued DMs and Players since time out of time (or at least since 1975). In How many coins in a coffer? He discusses the weight and the value of the coins of each type.   It's the type of gritty analysis that was really popular at the time.  It can still serve some good use today, the numbers still work and if you want to adapt it to current precious metal prices that is your choice. Personally, I prefer to handwave this and use the old Basic D&D standard of 1 coin = 1/10 a pound.   It keeps the math easy.   Yess, yes I know...someone will ask "what about resource management and encumbrance?"  That is fine, if I wanted to make D&D more like Economics or Supply Chain Management. And I don't.

Ah now here is something everyone can use.  The Five keys to DMing success by Mike Beeman is essential reading for any DM, regardless of edition they play or experience they have.  These keys are 1. Continuity, 2. Character (the Player Character), 3. Competence (rules knowledge, but not memorization), 4. Creative, and 5. Cooperation.  Most of this advice is of the common sense sort, but good to have in one place. OR maybe it is only common sense to me now on the other side of nearly 40 years of running games. It is worth checking out if you wish to expand your art as a DM.

Ah here we go.  John Warren gives us the Dungeon Master’s Familiar, a computer-based AD&D combat simulator.  Going over the BASIC code makes me wonder why we didn't move to the Ascending Armor Class of D&D 3 sooner.   At line 2070 and on list data tables to replicate the attack tables for characters.  When my old DM and I created our own software we found a mathematical way to recreate this.  It was not 100% of course, but it was close enough.  I checked my CD-ROM version to see if the code had been converted to text and sadly it was not.  Pity, since I wanted to run this but I have no desire to type it all up.

Who lives in that castle? by Katharine Kerr covers what should be one of the most basic bits of information that every person living in a quasi-Medieval society would know.  Castles, who lives in them and how they are run AND who does that running.  Do your characters have a castle? Who is your master of hunt? Who makes sure the larders are stocked? These questions are ones that this in-depth article can help you figure this out.  At seven pages it is also a longer one.

Ed Greenwood gives us one man's trash and another man's treasure. Treasures rare and wondrous is a collection of various treasure items characters are likely to find.  Some are utterly mundane, like a silver belt buckle, others are more unique like a 30,000+ gp bejeweled garter.

Up next is Barnacus: City in Peril.
That is it is what should be here.  But neither of my copies have this.

So. Moving on.

We get some revised AD&D charts (damn! and I just entered it all in BASIC!!) based on something called the "5% Principle" by authors Len Lakofka and Gary Gygax.  Again, I am seeing the future here and the DC-type of AC we see in D&D 3.0. Naturally, I have the supreme advantage of hindsight here.

Cool ads for Star Fleet Battles and Fantasy Games Unlimited.

Ken Rolston has some guides for reviewing games in A set of rules for game reviews.
He covers three types of reviews. 1. The Capsule review,  a review that comes out when the game is new and wants to let people to know the basics.  2. The Feature review, a more extended review tht covers the main details. Rolston this type of review is only good for "significant" games, but I largely disagree.  Any game can now have a feature review.  3. The Critical review is the detailed review that takes on many aspects of the games. He also spends some time on discussing who the audiences of the reviews are.

Taking his own advice on Timeship. He likes the simplicity.  We also get reviews for Illuminati and Privateers and Gentlemen.   Ken Rolston also reviews Man, Myth, & Magic which he refers to an ambitious failure.  Despite all the bad reviews I have read (and there are a lot of them) I still find myself curious about this game.   But I have to take his final words on the subject in mind.
I strongly recommend that the game be carefully examined by any prospective buyer; there is a good chance that the purchase will be a disappointing one.
I think I need to reconsider my morbid fascination for this game.

Nice big ad for some future TSR products including the World of Greyhawk boxed set.

The book reviews are next,  but some of the pages are cut in half.

More small ads.  The con calendar.

We get to the comics with What's New, Wormy, and Snarf Quest.

So this issue is smaller (well, mine is , I think it is missing more), but it also has a lot really useful material that you can still use today regardless of your system of choice.

It makes me sad that my copies are so mildewy (and missing pages).

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #48.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Big News about the Next Version

Of course, I am talking about Charmed.

We have the final casting in place for the next Power of Three.

They are left to right, Sarah Jeffery (Madison), Melonie Diaz (Mel), and Madeleine Mantock (Macy).

I am 100% unapologetic about my love for Charmed. I was a fan early on and enjoyed all 8 seasons.  I think one of the reasons you have not seen me post the stats of the Charmed Ones here is because I don't think I could do them justice the way I want.  I did stats for the for Semi-Charmed Life, but I want to redo them.
Though one of my most favorite memories of Gen Con is playing Piper in this big Charmed/Buffy/Supernatural crossover.  It was so much fun.

The new show is being described as "fierce, funny, feminist," and that is rubbing some people the wrong way.
Not me.
I want it to be in your face feminism. I want them to vanquish demons and douchebags with equal gusto. I want to see alt-right bloggers and Fox News bobble-heads crying because this show is on the air.

Now I know a lot of old fans are also pretty up in arms about this. Not wanting a new series, or wanting a new series but only with the original cast (all four).  I get this.  But it is not going to happen.
I hate to be blunt but can Allysa Milano and Shannen Doherty even work together any more?  And not to be insensitive but Shannen is battling some pretty nasty cancer. She is, by all accounts, keeping her head up high and spirits strong, but could she take on the physical rigors of filming a series again?  Plus can Rose McGowan even be in the same room as any of the other three?  I follow them all on social media and they are great women and turning into some fierce fighters for rights, but maybe a silly little show about witches is not enough for them now.

So here is to the new cast. I hope they get picked up for the 1st Season and many more after that.
I hope that Macy, Mel, and Madison will soon be as important names to me a Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and Paige.

Oh and in other news Pathfinder is going to go into a 2nd Edtion. You can find Playtest information and a FAQ on their site.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Magic School: So you Want to Go to Magic School?

No gaming this past weekend.  Thought about some of the entry requirements for my B/X|BECMI Magic School campaign.

Entry Requirements
Age: 13 (0-level, 2 hp+con bonus, see below)
Minimum Intelligence: 16 (15 in conditional admit)
Demonstrate the ability to cast one spell (cantrip).
Interview with the School.  (Role=play/first adventure)

Ability Scores
Ability Scores are rolled per normal; 3d6 in order*. (Considering 2d6+3 for Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution).
I will allow the highest ability to be placed in Intelligence without penalty.
Each year the student will get 1 point to place in an ability of their choice. Max is 18.

According to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, humans with an Intelligence ability of 16 or more knows at least 4 languages.  Common, Alignment and two others.  These two (or more) additional languages will be learned in the school.  Typically students learn Elven and Draconic.  Other, more exotic languages can be learned by 3rd and 4th-year students.

I will have a universal system for learning cantrips.  If so, then the first spell the students know might be a Cantrip.

Students can take seven courses per year and one over the summer.

First Year Classes
Physical Conditioning I:  Each morning will begin with exercise and other physical conditioning training.  Often a wizard will be required to stand in a magic circle for hours on end chanting. Weak in the body is as dangerous as weak in the will here.  Students enrolled (mandatory for First Years) will have the full amount of hp for their Hit Die per Level (typically 4 + con bonus).

Herbs and their Properties: Necessary for material component understanding and a prerequisite for Alchemy and Magical Theory and Thought II.

Magical Theory and Thought I: Double course. Topics cover why and how magic works.

Ecclesiastic Studies I: The nature of gods and the planes.  Required for First years, optional after that.

Elvish I: Learning to speak, read and understand the major dialects of Elvish.

Mathematics:  Necessary for advanced Magic Theory and Alchemy.

End of the first year they are 1st level and know 1 1st level spell.

Summer Apprenticeships
Here students can get practical application knowledge.  Internships are on a first come, first served basis though faculty can also make placements.

Second Year Classes
PCII: Students continue their physical conditioning classes.

Intermediate Herbology: Plants helpful and harmful.

Ecclesiastics II: Advanced topics including the nature of Immortality, transmigration of the soul and the nature of undead. Required for Ecclesiastic and Necromancy students.

Magical Theory and Thought II: The nature of arcane magic, the use of material components. Discussion and case studies of the works of famous, but esoteric wizards.

Creatures I: The three textbooks affectionately called Monster Manual, Fiend Folio and Creature Catalog.

Draconic I: Learning to speak, write and understand the major dialects of Draconic.
Elvish II: Elvish and it's relationship to magic are covered.

Survey and Seminar: (half term) Covers the Colleges of the school and their disciplines.
Elective: (half term) First Elective choice.

End of the second year they are 2nd level and know 2 1st level spells.

Third Year Classes
Third Year is the year they take their specialization. These will depend on which "Colleges" I create.

Ecclesiastics III & Magical Theory and Thought III: This combine double class covers the natures of gods, deities, and spell granting powers including demon lords, Dukes of Hell and the Fey Lords.

PCIII: Advanced finger conditioning.  Known by fourth years as "the days of pain".

Draconic II: Learning to recognize and speak the "vulgar" dialects of Draconic.
Elvish III: Conversational High Elvish and Sylvan Elvish are covered in depth.

Creatures II: Exploration of the major works including the Ecologies.

End of the third year they are 3rd level and know 2 1st level spells and 1 2nd level spell.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Year Classes

These will be in the student's major area of study.

Courses that continue but are not required at this point are Ecclesiastics, Magical Theory & Thought, Draconic, and Elvish.

End of the fourth year they are 4th level and know 2 1st level spells and 2 2nd level spells.
End of the fifth year they are 5th level and know 2 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells, and 1 3rd level spell.
End of the sixth year they are 6th level and know 2 1st level spells, 2 2nd level spells, and 2 3rd level spells.

Fields of Study (so far)
Bardic Magic
High Witchcraft

I might add more.  I think I am going to need a good "Basic Era" Alchemist class and a better Bard.  So far I am not 100% on any of the Bards I have seen so far.

Part of the plan is to use any and all the magic books I have in my collection, I have a lot of fun stuff and this would be a good chance to use them. 
With all the games I worked on over the years I figure I have written somewhere near 800 new spells. Might be fun to use all of that in one game.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #61

Going WAY back for this one today.  Let's see May of 1982 I was in 7th Grade.  I know I had seen this issue back then because I remember way too much of it now.  I believe my then DM had a copy. This is another of my favorite covers.  I don't know much about it really, save it is by Susan Collins.

The biggest news in this issue is the acquisition of SPI by TSR, and Amazing Stories by Dragon magazine.  The future can decide if these are good choices, I personally liked the Amazing Stories content that Dragon brought to me in the next few years.

Out on a Limb has some luminaries as Rick Loomis and Len Lakofka sharing their opinions on small press and clerics respectively.

Gary Gygax is up first in the Sorcerer's Scroll with something I was looking forward to the most in this issue.  Illusionist Cantrips. Of course, this is all old news to us now, but looking at it again now this was some great stuff. I always liked the idea of cantrips, both as a game item and as in an in-world item.  Also if any class needs cantrips it's the illusionist.

Giants in the Earth is next and another favorite of mine.  Roger E. Moore covers three heroes that I really don't know anything about, but that is fine.  Correction.  In my second pass, I see that the last character is Tarl Cabot from the Gor novels of John Norman.   I know of this character, but I can't say I know him.  Reading the character description he seems like an asshole.
One of the features of this article is to introduce readers to new books via the lens of AD&D.  I know for a fact there are books I read because of GitE.  If that was the purpose then it worked for me.

Phil Meyers and Rory Bowman are up with a tag team articles on Weaponless Combat and Weird Weapons.  The Exotic weapons article is an interesting one with some really cool weapons.  Some we will see again in the upcoming Oriental Adventures, but that is still years off.

The Gnomish Point of View is up from Roger E. Moore.  Again, we will see this later in UA. I like gnomes. They are underrated really and a lot of fun.  Too bad absolutely NONE of my previous DMs ever liked gnomes.   The article is great, too bad the art is not up to it.  The Gods of the Gnomes follows this and continues the thread.

Our Centerpiece is Quest of the Midas Orb by Jennie Good. This adventure was the Third place winner of the Dungeon Design Contest II they had back then.  It's a fun little adventure revolving around the return of the said orb.

One of my favorite features is up next, Dragon's Bestiary. Here we get four new monsters.  The only one I remember is the Firetail from Ed Greenwood.  Still, they would be fun to use in a game sometime, just to shake things up some.

New AD&D aid: Monster Cards features the newest product from TSR.  I have to admit I LOVED these cards. Really. I spent so much time picking them up at Waldenbooks and Belobrajdic's bookstore. I never got them.  My income was a paper route so I had to make the dollars count.  By the time I could get them, they were gone.  Oh, don't worry, I bought them. Bought them at an auction from a collection of a TSR employee.  I spent...well a lot, but it was totally worth it.
The magazine has pictures of all the monsters, but none of that stats.  But that is fine.  Maybe if I had read this issue then I would have bought the cards sooner and saved a ... well a lot.

An ad for something I did buy is next, the Best of Dragon II. Now that was a great buy back then. I read and re-read that I don't know how many times.

Next up is something we really just don't see anymore that is a huge shame.
Conrad Froehlich gives Jo-Ga-Oh, the Little People of the Iroquois.  I love stuff like this.  It is often way too easy to keep going back to the well travelled well of Dark Age Europe, or to shake it up a bit "head out East".  Here we get something that is new, exciting and much, much closer to home.  Great background and three new "monsters" to use.

Gary is back with a rare outing for Top Secret. Special Knowledge and a bureau for Infiltrators. It's a pretty long article, to be honest, it adds a lot of new material to Top Secret.   I wish I knew more about the game!

Ah now here is a game I know a lot about!  David Cook reviews Call of Cthulhu.  The review is largely positive but I don't think he "gets" the game.  Now granted, I have the benefit of years, no decades, of playing and reading Lovecraft and his imitators.  So his perceived shortcomings in the game I see as features. Like how light the rules are on combat.  CoC is not a combat game. It's more than that.

Off the Shelf has some book reviews.  One of them is the NEW "Resturant at the End of Universe" by Douglas Adams. Oh my, the number of times I read that book.

What's New with Phil and Dixie covers "new" games, with a special guest appearance by Wormy.
Wormy has his own spread right after and that is all for the comics in this issue; no Dragonsmirth.

The last page is an ad for the Basic and Exper line.  Not sure what it was about the Basic/Expert ads but I always liked them more than some of the ads for the AD&D line. 

I am pretty sure the girl in the red shirt is Jami Gertz, who would go on to bigger fame as "Star" in The Lost Boys among other roles.  This ad was part of the same marketing that featured this television spot.

It also features a pre-Ferris Bueller Allan Ruck.

I think the most interesting thing about this issue is how much of it would later find it's way into official books.  If not this material exactly then something very close.

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf from this time?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #30.
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