Thursday, November 2, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #130

Not moving too far ahead from last week but that is cool.  We are coming up on an issue that I remember back when it was new but never owned till recently.  So without further ado lets go back to February of 1988 for issue #130 of This Old Dragon!

This cover, while it never gets mentioned in the same breath as some of the other great covers is still a favorite of mine.  Linda Medley gives us a very evocative cover (no pun intended) and she also did the cover for April 1987 #120.  I love the witch's hair flying all up in the air. It's a witch/magic-user/wizard, summoning a demon. What's not to love. Especially given the times.  In 1988 the Santanic Panic had winded down and was now just an embarrassing memory to many.  BUT there were still those out that there screaming D&D=Satanism, so much so that demons and devils were not even part of AD&D 2nd ed till much later.

I would love to have this one as an art print for my game room too.

The magazine has also gone through a couple of cosmetic changes.  The dark background banner "Magazine" now appears under "Dragon".  There are other changes inside that I associate with the "2nd Edition" era, although that was not really due to start yet.  I guess this could also be called the "Post Old Guard" era or even "The Roger Morre" era as he is the publisher.

Letters covers a wide gambit of people wanting more minis, people wanting to get their alt-rules D&D game published, and people talking about the visual change to the magazine.
Roger Moore's editorial talks about how modern times are weirder, and more dangerous than most sci-fi games.

Another ad for the Sci-fi book club.  I think I read most of these books.



The Forum has the usual rules clarifications and questions from readers.  One suggests removing the Illusionist class. Wait a year or so and you get your wish.

We get to the main feature of this issue, The Arcane Arts. A nice big section on magic. Not sure why I didn't buy this one then?

John N. Keane is up first with Get the Most From Your Magic. An article on what spells to take of various levels.  It's a bit meta-gaming and a bit informed career advice.  It is fairly specific to the oddities of 1st Edition, but I think some of it still applies to 2nd ed and of course most OSR books.
It is particularly useful for the list of spells, level, duration, and sleep and study times.  So you know how often to use it.  It is the sort of analysis that I really enjoy.

The article is interrupted for the small ads.  Weird. I assume it is to right the page count so we can have the ships in the middle with the instructions surrounding them.

Magic from East to West by Len Carpenter covers spells found in the Oriental Adventures book that can be ported over to the Players Handbook.  Again, fairly 1st specific.A couple of spells are added to round off the selections. There are some good ideas here of spells, but it's been so long since I read OA I am not sure if this is a good sampling or not.

Speaking of doomed Illusionists*, Brian Tillotson is next with Hold on to Your Illusions!
*Ok, I know illusionists did really go away, but the illusionist as a class as presented in AD&D1 did for the more flexible and more powerful AD&D2 illusionist. So this article still has a lot of value even in today's 5th Edition world.  Some of the spells have changed, the principles are still there.
Worth a read if you ever play an illusionist.

Nice huge, full-color ad for GDW's MegaTraveller. I do not dwell on past regrets when it comes to the games I have played or not, but I do wish I had played more Traveller when I was younger. I am still not 100% sure what are the differences between all the versions of Traveller.

John N. Keane is back with magical disguises in The Faces of Magic.  There are also spells listed that mimic thief abilities, as well as cleric and druid spells.

We come up to one of my favorite articles and one I remember the best from this issue.  Better Living Through Alchemy by Tom Armstrong gives us not only an alchemist class (some D&D has needed in my mind) but also a primer on Alchemy and how could work in the game.  There have been attempts both before (Bard Games "Compleat Alchemist") and after (Pathfinder), this is the one I liked the most.  Playing the class though was hard. It had higher XP per level than the wizard and there was little they could do without their lab. The article is dense. That is in the sense that there is a lot here to read and unpack. I think one day I am going to need to do a Class Struggles on the Alchemist someday.

Come up to the fiction section next. "Shark-killer" by Carol Severance.

Continuing the Magic theme, The Game Wizards by Jon Picken covers magic and the wizard class of AD&D 2nd Edition.

I think there was something in the middle here, maybe some ships?  But nothing is here.  Checking the CD Rom and my other copy.  Nope nothing. I could have sworn there was something here.

The Dragon's Bestiary has a collection of Gamma World monsters. I would have thought a collection of wizard/magic related monsters would have fit the theme better.

For Top Secret we get a collection of special watches in Keeping A Good Watch by Ryan Grandstaff.  A lot of these seem quaint now, but this was cool stuff in 1988.

Remember when Richard Branson opened up some game stores?  Me either, but Virgin Games Centre was totally a thing in 88.


Jody Lynn Nye has an article on Dungeon Etiquette or how not to be a jerk player.

Maybe this is why I thought this issue had ships.  Margaret Foy has an article on The Oriental Sea. Here though the ships are just described and given game stats.

Malcolm Bowers ends the regular section with If Looks Could Kill. An article all about gaze weapons and attacks and how to avoid them.

Speaking of Bard Games, there is a nice ad for Talislanta miniatures.

The Marvel-Phile has a bunch of heroes I have never heard of.

Role of Computers covers software.

Dragonmirth has a batch of particularily unfunny comics this month.  gah.
SnarfQuest and Wormy close out the issue.

Really a solid issue with a lot of material that can still be used today. My copy of this magazine is in pretty good shape too.  I think I will find uses for it at my table.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf around the same time?  Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday #98.

Don't forget my newest book The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is now out. At under a buck-fifty it can be yours!


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