Thursday, July 6, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #58

Today is the birthday of one my first AD&D DMs.  Jon and I started playing way back in Junior High. So for him, I thought a nice deep cut into my D&D archive would be appropriate.  In February of 1982 I was in 7th grade and 12 years old.  I had been playing D&D, Moldvay flavored for a while, and prior to that a mishmash of Holmes with an AD&D Monster Manual.  The early 80s were considered by many to be the Golden Age of RPGs and D&D in particular. That was certainly my own opinion, but we are doing pretty nice today too.
So put on some J. Geils Band as we head back to February of 1982 for issue #58 of This Old Dragon!

The first thing I notice is that paper of this magazine feels thicker than some of the newer ones. The makes the magazine feel thicker with fewer pages, this one weighs in at 80 pages, sans covers.  Could it be this is one of the reasons these older magazines "feel" more important to us? Well, one of many I know.

My copy, of course, is missing the cover, which is a shame because we get another great Clyde "I'll Have the Thigh" Caldwell cover.   On the back side is an ad for the TSR min-games. I had a copy of Vampyre for the longest time. I never got to play it more than once or twice, but I loved the idea.   I am quite sure I bought it because of this ad or one just like it.

First up is an offering of Leomund's Tiny Hut from Len Lakofka.  Titled Beefing up the Cleric it includes an intro from Gary Gygax himself.  Pause a moment to appreciate these names being tossed around casually.  I am not talking cult of personality here, but the fact the some of the luminaries of the game are writing a page 5 article.   The past truly is a foreign country.
Anyway enough of that, let's talk about the article at hand.   This article includes a number of new cleric spells. Many of these will later appear in the Unearthed Arcana.

The Dragon's Bestiary is next with some weird-ass monsters from Ed Greenwood.  Of these, the one that jumps out me is the Sull.  These things are like a giant floating mushroom caps with teeth on their underside.   They remind me of this bizarre bit of cryptozoology and ufology that I remember reading about years and years ago about "Giant Sky Critters". The name stuck with me.  I am sure that Ed got these from a similar source. Roger Moore contributes with "Magenta's Cat" named for the wizardess that tried to breed psionic familiars.   This one could be fun to use as well.



Michael Parkinson gives us The Blood of The Medusa, an article on all the monsters in Greek Myth produced by the Medusa.  I had just gotten out of a HUGE Greek Myth stage at this point so I really loved this article.  It's a fun read and has some great stats to boot. One day I'd love to run a game set in the Classical Period. Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians and the whole lot.



This is followed up by Four Myths for Greece, featuring four unique NPCs from Greek Myth.  This includes Atalanta, Daedalus, The Sybil of Cumae, and Chiron.

We come next to the big feature of this issue, A Special Section: Dwarves.  We know now that a lot of this will be re-edited and put into the Unearthed Arcana, but then this was great stuff. Well, great if you are into dwarves.  The last Dwarf I played as a character was Fjalar Snowcrest a dwarf thief back during the end of AD&D1.
Up first is The Dwarven Point of View by Roger Moore. Which talks about how dwarves see the world around them.
Bazaar of the Bizarre has two dwarven magic items; the High Anvil of the Dwarves (helps dwarves make items better and faster) and the Helm of Subterranean Sagacity (helps with a dwarf's natual abilities to detect stoneworks).

Sage Advice covers a lot of Dwarf related questions.
Roger Moore is back with The Gods of the Dwarves. Most of these gods are now common enough names in D&D, but here is where they got started.  It includes a monster called a "Rapper" which is an undead Dwarf.  Personally, I would rather use the term "Knocker" since it has some supernatural connotations already.

John Eric Holmes gives us some fiction with In the Bag.

The Centerfold (see what I did there) are the Spell Minders, a playing aid for cleric and magic-user spells.  I'd love to talk about them, they sound cool, but my copy does not have them.  Nor do I remember them well enough.  This leads me to think that my original copy of this issue, the one I remember reading in 82 actually belonged to someone else.

Up next are a couple of articles on archery in D&D and looking for more realistic ranges.  Personally, I prefer game ranges that are more easy to use and "realistic enough".

Not to be forgotton or left out we get an article from David Nalle on Swords, Slicing into a Sharp Topic.  It's a nice overview and history of swords, sword making and how to apply this to your game.

Glenn Rahman has a review/article on the Knights of Camelot game. It covers the game to a small degree but it is more about playing a "Bad" or less virtuous, Knight.

Traveller gets some love from Jon Mattson is Anything but Human. Which is basically a randomized alien physique system.

The Dragon's Augury cover a new aid for Runequest, Griffin Mountain (Bill Fawcett likes it), Star Patrol (also reviewed and enjoyed by Bill Fawcett). Tony Watson covers Traveller Adventures 5 from GDW and Scouts and Assassins from Paranoia Press for Traveller.

Off the Shelf hits the books. Chris Henderson reviews C.J. Cherryh's The Pride of the Chanur which is declared as a great book.  The last John Norman Gor book gets an "At least it is over".

We end with a two-page Valentine's day special What's New with Phil and Dixie and a one-page Wormy.

Maybe the older the issues are better? It is really hard to judge. This one has a bunch of nostalgia for me and some useful material but does that make it better than say one that was made in 90s or 2000s?  All I know for sure is I'll have fun trying to find out!

What are your memories of this issue?

4 comments:

grinningdwarf said...

If I had to pick one favorite issue of Dragon, this would be it. I was a high school senior when it came out, had been playing for about four years, and dwarves were my hands down favorite race. My most common online handle is still GrinningDwarf, and my RPG blog is The Grinning Dwarf Pub.

Tim Emrick said...

"The Blood of Medusa" is one of a handful of articles that I've actually printed from the CD archive. I keep it with my GM binder for the Greek myth game that I run for my wife.

It's worth noting that this article includes a couple of creatures invented by Spenser. GMs can use these as inspiration for their own new monsters with ties to established myths. (I made Geryon's descendants an important part of my Greek myth game. My wife's PC eventually learned she was one, too.)

JB said...

Clyde "I'll Have The Thigh" Caldwell

Made me laugh out loud.
: )

Mark A. Hart said...

This is the issue that I bought the one and only time I made it to the Dungeon Hobby Shop in Lake Geneva, WI. I went with my family on vacation, at a time when I was still relatively new to D&D. Unfortunately, when we went I had only managed to save up $20. Walking into the Dungeon Hobby Shop, armed with so little cash, it was challenging for me to decide what to buy. This issue of DRAGON was one of the things I ended up buying.

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