Thursday, October 5, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #90

Ok. I will admit this. I am totally cheating.  Normally I grab an issue off the top and review it as is.  But this is October and that's a big deal here at The Other Side.  So I went through my stacks and pulled out the remaining October issues I had and put them on top.  So let's go back to the scary 80s.  Reagan is in office. We have two Germanys. And the USSR is still biggest big bad on the planet. Nukes will fly at any moment, especially if there is some "glitch" in a computer (or a kid with a modem wanting to play a game). It's October 1984 and this is issue #90 of This Old Dragon!

The cover. I always liked this cover a lot.  I always felt that harpies were an under-used monster and they needed to be scarier. When I first saw this though I thought the harpy and human were on a DESK not a deck and that for some reason they were shrunk down to a smaller size.  It was such profound first impression that I have to look hard at it NOT to see that.  Strange how memory works.

Ok for an October issue there is not much in the way of a horror theme here.  There are some horror elements to be certain, but nothing that explicitly ties them all together.

Out on a Limb covers the seemingly impossible relationship between chaotic to the core Norebo and hard-line lawful Wee Jas.  Kim Mohan makes two suggestions. First, opposites attract and Norebo has a big mouth.  Second, they goofed.   I like the idea of them being together, to be honest.  Gods need to be complicated.   There are some letters of praise of Baba Yaga's Hut adventure but pointing out how Baba Yaga does not match earlier versions in Dragon or the Hut matching up with the one in the DMG.  In these cases that was all done on purpose; which I get.

The Forum begins (or continues) the long debate on physics and falling damage.

Our first proper article is from Ed Greenwood.  We are introduced to the Incantatrix NPC class.  This is issue 90, we are still 2 years away from the witch class so, for now, this is the current AD&D attempt at a witch.  Incantatrix means a woman that makes incantations, or a female spell caster.  This class has seen a lot of love and hate online and it was a little controversial in our groups as well.  The article is six pages and has some great ideas and some really neat spells.  I have a lot of issues with this class, but I want to focus on only a couple.  First, it is much weaker than a similar level magic-user. I guess this is why it is an NPC class afterall.  Also, the class has something of a split personality. It is a spell-thief AND a class that fights other spellcasters and outsiders.  I think splitting it up into two separate concepts would fit much better.   Let's talk about the spell-thief bit for a second.  Here is a quote from the article:
But how could a mere wizard defeat the Archmage with a spell so beyond her powers? asked the sage skeptically.
Ok. First point. How did you know that the incantatrix was a "mere wizard"?  Now granted, many worlds have classifications of wizards. Look at Krynn and I know that "Archmage" is actually a big deal.  But at the same time to a casual observer, do you know how powerful someone is?
Now that is not to say that this class doesn't have a lot of potential. It does. In fact, it came back as a 3.0 Edition Prestige Class in Magic of Faerûn. This version focused on her "meta-magic" feats.
An OSR or 5th Edition Incantatrix is needed I think.

Nice big ad for Chill.

Gary is up next with Hold that person! The definitive list of charm-able humanoids.  This is the list of anything affected by Charm or Hold Person spells. I had kept this list in with my notes on what would become the Witch.  It's a good list.  Gary shares other news like the huge GenCon 17 turnout and how they sold out of the D&D Companion set.  He is also working on T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil, or rather handing it to Frank Mentzer who is also busy with the Masters Set of D&D rules.  There is no more movement on AD&D 2nd Edition at this point, but there is speculations that the Monster book will be two books.  The D&D cartoon is renewed and the D&D movie script is moving ahead.  It does make me wonder if some of the items for AD&D 2 ended up in next year's Unearthed Arcana.

Ed is back again with Bats that do more than bite: Six species from Elminster's latest lecture. Or six types of bats unique to the Realms.

The next installment of Gods of the Suel pantheon is up. Len Lakofka gives us Phyton, Xerbo, and Osprem.   Our two sea gods Xerbo and Osprem both have tridents.  I guess there is a rule that sea gods must have one.

Mike Beeman has some advice on Playing the political game: A change of pace for AD&D game adventuring.  This article covers how to play a game of political intrigue.  I nice companion piece I think to the rules from the Companion Set and the upcoming Master Set.  Also one I think that would be well received today with the popularity of Game of Thrones.

Plane facts on Gladsheim: What it's like in the land of the Norse gods covers the planes of Gladsheim by Roger E. Moore.  It is a nice companion piece to the adventure coming up. I liked this article because at this time I was really beginning to move away from Greek myth and into more Norse and eventually Celtic myths.  This is a good starting point. Most of the article is devoted to spell changes.

This is followed up with Aesirhamar, a high-level adventure taking place in Gladsheim also by Roger E. Moore.

Jerry Epperson contributes to the Halloween feel and gives us a review of the first edition of Chill.  The review, while only a page an half long, is very positive and covers all the basics of what you can do with Chill.

Lots of ads.

We get to the Ares section now.

Up first is Skills for the Super Agent: Agent skill packages in the CHAMPIONS game by Gregg Sharp.  This is for making proper "Super" Spies in a Supers game.
Steve Perrin has some more powers for the Superworld game.

The big one, and one I had cut out of my original copy and stuck in my Star Frontiers box, is The Mega-Corporations for Star Frontiers by Kim Eastland.   This article shifted my SF playing from a Star Wars/Star Trek kitbash to a proto-ShadowRun game.  Though we took a lot from Blade Runner too.   I swear I had created some mega-corps myself but for the life of me, I can't recall any.

Riddle of the Ring has a big full-page ad.  They have sold the rights to their "unique" game to Iron Crown Enterprises.



Another Gen Con 17 report, this time from Roger Moore and focusing on the sci-fi elements of the con.

Big for Bard games.
Convention Calendar.
Lots of small ads.

Wormy's trolls go fishing and Aveeare encounters magic in Snarf Quest.

Very memorable issue.  Lots of nostalgia.  I was a big fan of I.C.E.'s Middle Earth back in the day and seeing the ads for it and the "Riddle of the Ring" always make me smile.  If you want to learn more about I.C.E.'s Middle Earth in White Dwarf #58 from the same month and year as this Dragon.

Did anyone play an Incantatrix? I am curious to hear your experiences.

5 comments:

Michael Gross said...

Another nice entry, Tim, and this time is another issue I both own and recall well enough. The cover is amazing. I used a harpy not too long ago (a year ago, maybe) when my son and brother-in-law were trekking quietly through a forest via a roadway. They came upon two drunken members of the bandit group they were tracking. They wanted to infiltrate/find the bandit hideout to recover something the bandits stole. Unlike the player characters, both thieves, the drunks were quite loud and attracted the harpy's attention. Soon, it was upon them, her screech chilling bones and freezing the men in their tracks. All except the drunk who was too loud himself to notice -- until he was plucked into the air and away into the forest. Horrid screams and noises followed. My son shuddered. He and his uncle beat feet with their new "friend," who led them to their destination and eventual recovery of the treasure they needed.

Jon Bupp said...

This was right in the time I was a subscriber. Very memorable issue for me as well.

I did a write up of the incantatrix as a 5e sorcerous origin. I based it a bit more on the 3e prestige class, but pulled a lot of inspiration from this one. It's on the DM's Guild as a Pay What You Want.

http://www.dmsguild.com/product/176921/Grognards-Grimoire?affiliate_id=624945

Timothy Brannan said...

Fantastic! I will pick that up. Thanks for the link.

Joseph Bloch said...

I noticed the sea gods with tridents thing when I was writing them up for 5E. It does seem to be something of an unwritten rule.

Dave Hendrick said...

I see two Suel gods with something in common and I think they might share a connection beyond just being Suel. Call me crazy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...