Thursday, November 9, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #70

Let's go all the way back to the winter of 1983.  I was in 8th grade and getting excited about the new Return of the Jedi movie coming up.  Toto had knocked out Men At Work for a week with "Africa". In the theatres we cult classics like "The House on Sorority Hill", "The Entity" and "Videodrome". Though I would not see any of them myself till they came to videotape. At this point my gaming life was dedicated to the B/X rules but I was also moving over to AD&D.  It was a great time for gaming. It's February 1983 and this is issue #70 of This Old Dragon!

To begin I want to spend some time on this cover.  I really like this cover. I am not sure why really. It's not really D&D-ish or action filled or has magic in it.  But I have always liked it. It is by Dean Morrissey and has a Viking vibe to it.

Out on a Limb has readers asking for more coverage of other games. The "problem" we now face is there are so many games out now!

There is a little note here looking for native language Japanese speakers to translate D&D and AD&D games.

Ed Greenwood gives us another entry into the "OMG how much stuff was Ed writing back then?" file. This time another NPC class, The Smith. No word on whether or not you should name one Morrissey.  It is a good example of something that either a.) doesn't need to be a class or b.) justification of a "tradesman" or "expert" class like we later got in AD&D 2nd Ed (Masque of the Red Death) and D&D 3rd Ed respectively.  That all being said there is a lot of material here to help you decide what the local smith can do.

Bruce Evry is up with The Hull Truth About Speed. Or how size effects speed in ships. Interesting, but I never did much with ocean voyages till much, much later in my gaming career.

From the Sorcerer's Scroll is up and Gary Gygax has his rules for Social Class.  These would later appear in Unearthed Arcana more or less exactly as they appear here.
This is followed up by Frank Mentzer with how to use social classes in your games in A ‘Caste’ of Realistic Characters.  These are rules we used a lot in my games.  Social Class, in particular, Lords vs. Everyone Else was a big deal.

Frank is back with another go at Falling Damage. Back when this issue was new there were multiple independent D&D/AD&D groups in my Jr. High.  Consequently, there were also multiple independent methods of calculating "more realistic" falling damage.  So these articles were always a source of lively debate.  "Lively Debate" I think I meant 13-year olds arguing on who was right and who was stupid.

Come to think of it. Social Class and Falling Damage.  Sounds like a perfect metaphor for the 80s.

Giants Can be Awful or Awe-ful by Roger Moore is one of the enduring articles of this issue. It is one I come back too every so often when wanting to add a special guest NPC to a game. The "Giants" of the article refers to the "Giants In The Earth" column with NPC stats for some of literature's famous characters. What is also great about this article is the Appendix to all the Giants articles of the past with a list of characters and very brief class stats. Circe, for example, appeared in issue 52 and is an 18th level magic-user.

Gary is up again with the Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk.   This time we get three that I have always thought of as his favorites; Boccob (the Uncaring),  Zagyg (the mad arch-mage), and Olidammara (the Laughing Rogue).

Dwarves in Space by Roger Moore was an article that always appealed to me.  Essentially it is get D&D style dwarves into Traveller.  It works and Moore gives us plenty of great reasons why it would work.

Not to be outdone, Ed Greenwood is back (again!) and going in the other direction. A Second Volley is another look at firearms in AD&D.  Like Moore, he makes some good arguments.  Enough that I might give it a try in my next game.  Won't that freak out my kids!

The centerpiece is Mechica is an AD&D adventure for 5-8 characters, each of 4th-7th level by Gali Sanchez.  It is set in a Pre-Columbian Meso America like setting.  Among other things, it introduces a werejaguar monster.  It is a short adventure but looks like a lot of fun.  The setting appeals to me as well.

Ken Rolston has some advice for game masters in How to Make the Most out of FRP Tournaments.  We don't see much in the way of Tournament play anymore, having given way to organized play as the means of "official rules" play.  But there is still some good advice here.  It is quite a long article that can be summed up by "Anticipate what your player wants and what their characters can do."  It goes into far more detail than this.  I think I am going to put this on my TBR pile to re-read before heading to Gen Con again.  It would be great to run some more games this year and this might help.

Tim Grice has some mechanics of playing chess within an AD&D game in The Game Within a Game.  As per the 80s the rules are nearly as complicated as chess itself! Just kidding.  I used a similar idea when I had characters in Ghosts of Albion play the old Celtic Fidchell game as part of a challenge by a faerie lord.

Ken Rolston is back again with some reviews of Citybook I and Daredevils. He liked both products.

Nice big ad for some RPGA modules.

Phil and Dixie have advice on a lucrative career in game design.

Wormy battles a giant black leopard with wings.

No small ads or Dragonmirth.   Maybe my copy is missing them.
Nope, checked the CD-ROM and they are not there.

Ok.  So a great "pre-history"* issue of Dragon.
*by pre-history I mean before my personal history with Dragon.

What was White Dwarf doing at the same time?  Oddly enough I posted my White Dwarf Wednesday #38 almost exactly five years ago today (give or take a couple of days).

2 comments:

Michael Gross said...

""Lively Debate" I think I meant 13-year olds arguing on who was right and who was stupid."

Thank you for the belly laugh.
😁😄😂

Jeffrey Garrison said...

I like your summary... very nostalgic!

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