Thursday, March 16, 2017
This Old Dragon: Issue #72
Dragon Magazine Issue #72 takes us back to April 1983. Let's see...I would have been in 8th grade then. So for me that was the start of my AD&D 1st ed years and the waning of my B/X years.
Now I have a confession. I HATE the annual April Fools issues of magazines. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. But I admit that even the small (very small) amount of humor I find in some of the issues is off-set by the loss of what could have been good material. Last week though reminded me that even when they had a full magazine to devote that not all the material was good.
This issue is an exception. There is one other coming up (if I even have it), but the humor here is mild and the other material makes up for it.
Let's start with this wonderful Clyde Caldwell cover. We have two excellent cavaliers fighting a cool looking dragon. Ties in nicely with the Cavalier class. I am also surprised that there is no bare thigh in sight!
Kim Mohan's editorial really typifies why I hate the April Fool's issues. You are actually better off not reading it. You can save time and get to the exact same issue by reading the Letters.
The Letters section is full of bemoaning of how the magazine is getting too big (80-88 pages) or too expensive ($3.00). Here I am in 2017, nearly 35 years later thinking that we don't have enough Dragon these days.
There is an ad for the Science Fiction Book Club. I had joined a couple of different time over the course of my years. I wonder if they are still around? (https://sfbc.com/Yes they are!) I am pleased to see I had read a good number of the books advertised, but there are few more I'd love to get my hands on again.
The big article of this issue is the Cavalier. I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Cavalier. I liked the idea of a knight in shining armor, but who wasn't a Paladin. There is a lot to like here and a great example of the long-form article that I really enjoyed from Dragon. This is of course from Gary himself. I also love that art from Keith Parkinson. Too bad that playing a female elf cavalier riding a unicorn is WAY beyond the scope of the rules they are with!
Following this is, believe it or not, one of my favorite Ecology articles. The Ecology of the Piercer. Seriously. Though the article has less content that I recalled (or I could be missing more pages) we decided that Piercers are a delicacy in my world, much like escargots are in this world. People collect young piercers for food and are worth a lot of money. The older the piercer the less fresh they taste, so only the young are prized. Piercers fed a steady diet of deer, elk or other game they would not normally get are even more prized. Piercer farming has not worked out well, but adventurers are set on the task of collecting the little ones, all while avoiding the big ones!
The article on Gems is interesting, but I would rather have gone to a science book.
The Katherine Kerr article on The Real Barbarians is not one I read a lot of back then, but find very interesting now. Easily one that should be paired with the Barbarian class that either will show up soon or just did. Worth reading again to be sure.
Something that is an artifact of it's time is The PBM scene. Playing by mail is a concept that I think most gamers would never think about these days. Oh I am sure if you look around you might find one or two still going. Likely a Diplomacy, Tunnels & Trolls or a Traveler one. It is a long ass article too. I am not sure if I know anyone that ever did a Play By Mail game. I considered it, back in the day, but never got around to it. Plus I could not bring myself to pay a buck every turn.
I get to the "behind the scenes" of File 13. Which made me realize I don't have a copy of the actual game.
Ugh... we get to the April Fools section. I'll make this one fast. Valley Elf song? pass. I have the Frank Zappa album that Valley Girl came on and I got more D&D ideas from that then I do this song.
The Jock. Pass. More Sex in D&D humor.
I am jumping ahead to the book reviews. Ok. Lots of really cool things here. In particular, I am drawn to Philip K Dick's "We Can Build You". I remember the book since I was then and now something an armchair Lincoln scholar (what? I can layers.) but what strikes me the most these days is how much the fiction of Philip K. Dick shaped the world we live in now. I think that is something worthy of a post on it's own someday.
The comics feature Phil n' Dixie doing their normal shtick. Wormy is interesting though. The wizard creating the portal is some of the best "portal" art I had seen up to that point.
The ads were good, lots of cool memories. Nothing really in the way of computer games yet.
Nice nostalifgic issue. Not a lot I can use today except maybe the barbarian article, but still fun.