Wednesday, January 23, 2019

This Old Dragon: Issue #53

Time again to set the Wayback machine, TARDIS or DeLorean back to a time when hair was feathered and big and that was just on the guys. "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie dominates the airwaves. The Summer's biggest hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark, still rules the movie theatres.   Sandra Day O'Connor becomes first woman justice on U.S. Supreme Court. In Dallas, a child is born with a huge destiny, known to us today as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.  On the shelves are the last three parts of the A series for Advanced D&D and B3 for Basic D&D and issue #53 of This Old Dragon!

Again, no cover for this one which is a shame since I consider it one of my favorites.  It's one form Clyde Caldwell of a woman wizard and a black dragon.  It is a pretty simple cover but the colorful background really sells it to me.  The blonde wizard doesn't hurt either. Kim Mohan's editorial (below) tells that this picture is called "Dragon Spell".

Publisher Jake Jaquet has an editorial on the "Assassination" game that was popular at the time. We played it in high school a lot. Got into a lot of trouble too.  Jaquet goes on about this is "not" role-playing.  It's not, but I also don't think anyone ever claimed it.  Interesting snapshot of the time.

Editor Kim Mohan lets us know about finding the gem that is The Garden Nefaron.  We will get into that later.

Out on A Limb covers the ethics of reprint exact copies of old issues. Another reader lets us know he has been a DM for 3 years (which is at the time about half of D&D's lifespan) and he wants more PC classes not NPC classes, like the Witch, the Anti-Paladin and more.

Speaking of which, Philip Meyers is up first with Why isn't this monk smiling?  A new take on the AD&D monk class.  I am a long time removed from the AD&D 1st ed monk, so I have no idea how well this article covers it.  As a class read through though it feels pretty good to be honest.  To date I have played exactly 1 monk character, so I also have no play experience to back me up on this.

Continuing the monk discussion is Defining and Realigning the Monk by Steven D. Howard and Sage Advice which cover monk questions.  Both look to cover questions and rule interpretations regarding the monk.  Again, I wish I had some good monk anecdotes from the time to share, but I never really was interested in the class except in an academic way.

That section ends with an ad for my most desired "Holy Grail" item. A set of intact, still in the blister case, blue Dragon Dice.


I still have a full set, but I would love to have some that are still on the card.  These and the Percentile ones on the dark blue card.

Speaking of classes, here's a new one!  And one I don't believe I knew about.

The Oracle: When he talks, everybody listens by Andrew Dewar is up.  Before I delve into what looks like a really good class but I have to ask; why "he"?  The most famous oracles in history have been female. Why not "She"?  It's a minor point but one that irks me. Granted TSR/Dragon/Dewar were addressing their audience, who was primarily male, but this was a HUGE missed opportunity in my mind.  Though EVERY example given is female.


Anyway, off my soapbox now, the class is pretty cool.   The Oracle needs a good combination of Wisdom and Intelligence which makes sense since they situated between Clerics and Magic-Users.  They have a lot of shared spells with the Cleric and Magic-User classes and even some Witch spells from a previous Dragon.  The class is spread out over the issue but takes up seven pages.  I think I should check it out in more detail.  Maybe compare it to the Pathfinder Oracle class some. That would be fun.  There are a lot of different types of divination mentioned in this article as well.  Great for any class that tries to divine the future.

We have not heard from Lewis Pulsipher in a LONG time here, but he is back now with Understanding Armory which is about heraldry.  There is quite a bit of scholarship here distilled down to a game-friendly use.  But that describes most of Lew's work really.

Ah, now this is the sort of thing that was my go to back in the day.  World building.  Some universal rules. Making your own campaign — and making it work by Roger E. Moore covers a little about make your own universe but mostly it covers on how not steal from others.  He gives examples of worlds that are common to us all, Hyboria, Zothique, Middle-Earth, Oz, and Earth mythologies. He talks about how difficult it can be to disentangle elements from these worlds AND ALSO make it fit AD&D.  The part though I love is where he covers how these different universes can be explored without breaking things.  I tend to be a bit more relaxed in my world building but I am sure Moore would question, or at least look akance, at my overall internal logic.  That's OK. There is so much good stuff here.

And speaking of soapboxes, the Up on a Soapbox feature is back. This time we have Judith Sampson and Adventuring with shaky hands: Where there’s a will, there’s a way to play.   This covers how you can accommodate players with physical disabilities.  Way ahead of its time really. This could have been a blog post today or a YouTube talk and people would be praising her for her insight.  We still should there are some good insights here.  Sampson suffers from choreo-athetoid cerebral palsy, which is a motor control issue. She typically types up all her character sheets for ease of reading and use in the game.  She talks about how D&D is a perfect game for her really since it doesn't really require a lot that could be difficult for her.  It's a good piece.

David Nalle is next with the Larger than Life feature of mytho-historical NPCs. This time it is The
Bogatyrs of old Kiev.  We get a lot of old Russian characters from myth and legend.  Among others, we get Ilya Muromets, Alyosha Popovich, Dobrynya Nikitich, Svytogor, Gorynich, and Baba Yaga.  Lots more that I don't recognize (Russian folklore was never a big interest to me).  But reading these NPCs, I think I am going to have to check out more of these tales.

Our adventure is next.  The Garen of Nefaron by Howard de Wied is a well-sized adventure at 16 full pages.  That's a full module inside your Dragon.  It looks fun with a strong Raiders of the Lost Ark feel about it.  One of the issues I have with it is that the adventure is much more difficult to complete if your party is of good alignment and easier if they are all evil.  I prefer it the other way around to be honest. 

Merle "The Administrator" Rasmussen is up with the Rasmussen Files for Top Secret.  You know I don't feel Merle gets enough credit. Since I have started doing these Dragons I have been more and more interested in Top Secret and coming to the conclusion that Merle more or less invented the Spy RPG genre. Now maybe there were other games before Top Secret and there were many after.  But I have to give the guy a LOT of credit.  The fact that he is still out evangelizing Top Secret is really damn cool.  This article covers how to control various pieces of equipment that agents can get ahold of in a game.  Based on rarity and what might be confiscated from other agencies.
I can't help think of Ilya Muromets (not related to Illya Kuryakin) above how awesome a Man from U.N.C.L.E. game would be. Set in the 60s would be best.

The Dragon Bestiary covers a magic eating lizard man, The Argas.  A weird ass eye monster, Oculon, and a cow with a human head, the Narra.  I don't think I have seen these before or since.

Lenard Lakofka covers doors, their strengths and hp in Leomund's Tiny Hut.  I think this would work great in just about any version of D&D to be honest.  Will have to clip this one for the tool-box.

Mark Nuiver covers one of my favorite monsters in The Ways of the Triffids.  I also did some Triffid stats a while back, but his are more powerful.  Triffids are sure under-used these days. It could be because the book and the later movie are both pretty old now, but not so much then.

Dennis Matheson is next with some new Traveller rules for Merchants and how to expand the "class".  Again, Traveller is one of the games that I wished I spent more time on.
I will say this, this weird-ass combination of a Klingon D7 and the Space:1999 Eagle is kinda cool.



Reviews are next. G. Arthur Rahman covers "Junta".  Tony Watson covers "Stalin’s Tanks". Bill Fawcett takes on "Warlock" and "A House Divided".

We get the convention schedule for Fall 1981.

DragonMirth is next.
We get one of the last Finieous Fingers.  There is a nice line for me and Dragon; the Before and the After.  It is the before I started reading and after. This is roughly the same time period of when Finieous Fingers appeared in Dragon.  I have no real emotional attachment to the comic save that it represents a time "before".

A similar relationship with What's New With Phil and Dixie, I just happen to like this comic more and I made an effort to read the back issues.

Then we get this comic/ad in the very back the Molvay Basic Set.

Of course, there were no beholders in D&D B/X, but hey that's just details right?

So all in all a really fun issue. Lots of great stuff that I can still use today.

Want to know what I said about White Dwarf from this same time?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #26.

1 comment:

TheShadowKnows said...

There aren't any jackalweres in B/X either. Details!

Those blue dice were the very ones I started with - they came in my Moldvay Basic set. My eyes were so sharp in those days, I didn't even bother to color them in (nor did I color the "mud" dice in my Expert Set, nor the raspberry-colored dice from my Gamma World set). Those were the days...

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