Thursday, April 6, 2017
This Old Dragon: Issue #150
This issue had one of the articles that honestly had such far-reaching effects that I am STILL using ideas from it. Issue #150 came out in 1989, and I am sure I picked it up right away. I would have been a Junior in university at that time. I wasn't playing much since I was busy studying all the time, but I do know that I had at least a draft copy of the witch in text format on a floppy disk.
The Dragon's Bestiary is up first with a bunch of new mind-flayer related monsters from Stephen Inniss. I remember reading this one over and over. I really wanted to use these guys in my games and I still do. I noticed while re-reading this recently that the monster stats are for 1st Edition, but the other parts of the magazine are fully 2nd edition. This was the dawn of 2e and the magazine has a strong post-Gygax vibe about it. This article though feels older, though there is also a pre-Dark Sun feel to it as well. The article introduces the Illithidae, or natives of the same world of the Mind Flayers. If we stick with the mythology they could have easily come in the starship from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. The monsters include the pack hunting Cessirids, the lone hunter and slow moving Embrac, the large Kigrids and the near-Illithid Saltors. These monsters would later be updated to the Illithidae monsters for 3.5 in the Lords of Madness book.
Stephen Inniss follows this up with an article that is heavy on fluff, light on crunch and one that has stuck with me for years. The Sunset World deals with the world of the Mind Flayers. The article is a long one and presented in the style of an academic symposium, which is likely what attracted me to it.
This article was the start of the idea of block out the sun as a plot device in my games. I used it in the Dragon and the Phoenix for Buffy and currently in the Come Endless Darkness campaign for D&D 5.
Speaking of vampires and vampire slayers. Fangs Alot! has the updated/corrected version of the Vampire listing for the 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium. If you recall the vampire had the same material printed on both sides of the page, the difference only being the "western" and "eastern" vampire pictures. This version has the proper second page in place.
The Well-Rounded Monster Hunter details some skills every investigator should have in Call of Cthulhu. I always read these articles with great interest, looking for things I could port over to my then-current (but sadly dying) Ravenloft game.
The Role of Computers covers some video games. The late 80s were an interesting time for computers, I felt he had hit something of a golden age; computers were getting more powerful and cheap and yet there was still enough of a hacker mentality that kept these machines (mostly) in the hands of nerds adn geeks like me. In many ways if you were a teen playing D&D in the 80s you grew up to be one of the people playing around with computers in the 90s and part of the Dot.Com boom in the late 90s. It is interesting now, rereading this, to see all the variety of computers software was made for then. I know in my own case back then I desperately wanted to see more games fro my own Tandy Color Computer 3. Mock it if you like, but that little computer got me through my undergrad degree in psychology. I would need the help of an "IBM PC-clone" to finish up my grad school degrees. Still, it is neat seeing some of these games. I bet many would run well on my phone with an emulator.
John J. Terra has a great article for the FASA Trek RPG, A Final Frontier of Your Own. Rereading now I am impressed how much of it still applies for LUG Trek and new Trek playtests. Sitting at my kitchen table re-reading this I sketched out an idea for a game. I want to run a Star Trek game called the "Daughters of Kahless". It would be a group of dishonored Klingon Women in a broken down D6 cruiser trying to regain their honor and for the greater glory of the Klingon Empire. I remember at the time I wanted to do the adventures of a ship propelled to the far ends of the Universe. I guess that why I have such a love/hate relationship with Voyager. Love the idea, hated the exicution.
In another article by Dean Shomshak we have another CoC article, Unspeakable Secrets Made Easy. This details a number of magical texts. No spells are listed, but plenty of background information.
More ads follow including the ads for the then new Monstrous Compendiums. Vol. 1 was out (I picked mine up at a game store in Harrisburg, PA while on vacation) and Vol. 2 was on the way. The ad though looks different than the binder I picked up and I always wondered if it was because I picked mine up from a different part of the country than I typically bought my Dragons. Turns out nothing so interesting, just a mock-up for the ad.
It's hard to see, but there is a red border behind the images of the monsters.
Again, this was a great issue that brought back a lot of great memories.