Thursday, March 29, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #94

February 1985.  I was a sophomore in High School and at the very beginning of a campaign that would become known as the Dragon Wars and take me to my high school graduation and beyond.  In the theaters "Beverly Hills Cop" still reigns.  So tune your radio to 1985 "I Wanna Know What Love Is" and I wanna know what is in this issue #94 of This Old Dragon!

Jumping ahead a bit to one of my favorite covers.  Again we have Clyde Caldwell with one of his more popular covers in my mind.  This cover was also one of the ones I can remember thinking, "wow, who was the model for that?"  It is such a great cover really, that Ranger looks like she takes absolutely no shit from anyone that comes into HER forest. The little badger with the dagger? I love it!  I wish the rules for animal companions would have allowed such a thing back then.

This particular issue is in great shape, so I am able to see the ads on the back covers too.  Nice big one for Games Workshop.

Letters cover people complaining about the placement of modules in Dragon. Some letters on one-headed Ettins and the Dwarves of Gladsheim.

Big ad for the Dragonlance Dragons of Autumn Twilight novel.  This was a huge deal back then I remember lots of people reading it. I was dead center in the target audience back then.  Right age, right temperament. I had just finished Lord of the Rings but had not started on Elric yet.

The Forum covers various topics like are evil PCs "psychotic" and vital statistics.

Another big ad for the Indiana JonesTM game. You too can play as Indiana JonesTM or as any other character from the movies (because there is now character creation section!). 

Gary is up first with his From the Sorceror's Scroll.  Here we get Official Changes for Rangers.  I had a ranger of course at this point, but I rolled up a new one to test these new rules out.  I found it to be a fun experience to be honest and served me well for future playtesting.

Katharine Kerr is back with an article I used hundreds of times, An Army Travels on its Stomach.  While not groundbreaking, it is an excellent article and it should be read by every DM planning any sort of war.  This 7-page article details just about everything you need to know to get an army from point A to point B and everything they need in between.  PLUS it gave me great ideas on how to spy on an army.  They need so much in support personnel that a crafty spy can get in and out a 1000 different ways.

Great ad for the Time Life Enchanted World series.  This ad is sadly in better shape than my books!

Up next is an article I read, but never gave much thought too till much later in life.  David G. Weeks gives us some varying probability for dice combinations in Same Dice, Different Odds.  I used to do something similar in my Unisystem games to get more of a curve than a flat probability of rolling one d10; something that got nicknamed "The Chicago Way" on the Unisystem boards.  It's a neat idea really and one to try if you want to skew your probabilities one way or the other.   But it is not something I would do in practice very long.

In the "It's About Damn Time" department is an ad for the Companion Rules.  Though it only goes to level 25, not 36.

Some pictures from a recent miniatures contest.

Ed Greenwood (I think I am at the point where I can just say Ed right?) is back with another Ecology article.  This was one of my favorites. The Ecology of the Chimera.
For the record, I want to take back everything bad I ever said about Elminster back in the late 90s.  Re-reading these articles has given me a new, and I hope more mature, point of view on Ed's writing and his characters.

Another ad for the 10th Anniversary pack.  That is my Holy Grail item.

Playing int he Modern Era covers the new game "Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes". Arlen P. Walker reviews the game and two supplements. He describes it as a hybrid system between level based and skills based. He makes the game sound very enjoyable and compares it favorablly to other games.

Role of Books covers some of the new releases for 1985.  Of these, I remember R.A. MacAvoy's Raphael and Meredith Ann Pierce's Dark Angel the best.  I picked up both at the SciFi/Fantasy Book Club, but only remember reading Dark Angel.

'My Honor Is My Life' All About the Knights of Solamnia comes to us from Tracy Hickman. It's a fun read today as it was in 85.  Of course, it had more gravity back then when Dragonlance was the new hotness. 

Our centerpiece (and I have it!) is the Creature Catalog II.  I collected all of these I could with the idea of making an alternate Monster Manual to use to surprise my players.  In general the monsters here are not as good as in CCI.  I recall using the Lillend, Urisk and the Great Wyrm in my games, but not really the others.

Fortunes of a Fool by Nicholas Yermakov features another tale about the witch Baba Yaga.

The Arēs section is next.  First up some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. including the older Nick Fury.

The Marvel-Phile has Hobgoblin, Kingpin, and the Symbiote Spider-man suit, not yet named Venom.

David Cook has interstellar government ideas for Star Frontiers in From Anarchy to Empire. This one of those articles where I catch Star Frontiers suffering from Traveller-envy.

Small ads follow this.

Wormy gives us four pages, Snarf Quest has 3 with a map.
We end with ads for Paranoia and Rolemaster.

So yes, a lot of great stuff in this issue.  While I can look back on this issue and see the changes I know are coming, that is not fair for a review.  We had no idea what was coming in the next year or so.  The "Hickman Revolution" wasn't (and might still not) be a thing. All I knew was AD&D was great. D&D was still fun and I was learning about more games all the time.

Want to know what I thought about White Dwarf from this time? Spoiler, it has one of my favorite White Dwarf adventures of all time.  Check it out, White Dwarf Wednesday #62.


Dr. Theda said...

Great post, good Sir (we still have this issue)

Unknown said...

Hi there,

Regarding the Companion Rules, they are only supposed to go to level 25 as the ad states. It is the Master set in the black box that goes to 36.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

The original Companion, mentioned in the Cook/Marsh Expert Set was supposed to go to 36.

From Page X8 of the Expert Book.