Friday, May 24, 2024

This Old Dragon: Issue #166

Dragon Magazine #166
 Dipping into the box of mildewy Dragons under my desk, I find this gem in February 1991. Ok, again, I did not pull this one out completely at random. And compared to some of the others this one is in rather great shape. Let's see. February of 1991. I was an undergrad, living in an apartment with three other guys. Graduation was still a year or so off. My computer at the time was my aging Color Computer 3 that, while I loved it, was showing me its limitations in an increasingly IBM-PC-compatible world.  The number song on the radio was "The First Time" by Surface. No I don't remember them at all. The number one movie was "Sleeping with the Enemy" staring Julia Roberts. And on tables and shelves everywhere was Issue #166 of This Old Dragon.

Again, this is a sci-fi-themed edition, so let's see what we have here.

Our cover this month is from E. M. Gooch. I admit I don't know them and my quick internet search pulled up nothing.

Letters covers the topics of the month from all over the world. An Israeli reader provides some names for creatures in Hebrew. A Canadian reader has Griffon questions. 

The Editorial by Dale A. Donovan covers a lot of good non-TSR games for various genres. 

In Time for Tomorrow is our Sci-Fi themed section. Up first is Michael LaBossiere with Wired and Ready a guide to running a cyberpunk-style RPG. The 90s were a great time for cyberpunk games. I had tried out several in the first half of the decade, with Mike Pondsmith's Cyberpunk and FASA's ShadowRun as my two favorites. Ithink Shadowrun edged it out for me since I was always a fan of magic. His 5 page article covers a lot of ground and was required reading back then. Today, well many of the things that seemed like fantasy then are all too real now. Large, above the law, corporations. Dark futures. cyber slang. All feels like history and current events instead of some future time.

Mike Speca has some BATTLETECH advice in Tricks of the Trade. Now I never played BATTLETECH though I do see the appeal. 

Up next is an article that to me at least feels like "what happens if we adapt Paranoia's biggest gag to GURPS Autoduel?" Edward Goldstein gives us A Clone of Your Own for GURPS Autoduel. It reads like one of the "Ecology of" articles; set in the world of the game and reporting what they know with game details interspersed.

Breaking up the sci-fi is TSR PREVIEWS for February and March 1991. Among the listings are The Complete Psionics Handbook, which I just dug up for my new Forgotten Realms campaign. Some Buck Rogers XXVc accessories. Ship of Horror for Ravenloft, which I think I picked up right away, and some more. 

Three pages of the Convention Calendar is next. Lots of international ones here too. The Egyptian Campaign '91 is listed for March 1-3. Despite being there, I am pretty sure I missed it. Lots of little cons back then, I don't find as many of these now.

The Lessers (Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk) are back with The Role of Computers. This time they cover Wing Commander, which they give 6 stars out of 5! That's quite a review. The requirements are also pretty high for 1991, s Roland sound board and VGA graphics. No indication on RAM but I am betting at least 8 or 16 megs, which was top notch back then.

The Game Wizards from Timothy B. Brown is up with a preview of the new Dungeons & Dragons set subtitled "An Easy-To-Learn Introduction to Role-Playing." Like all Game Wizards entries it is half sales pitch, half preview. 

Friend of the Other Side, Bruce Heard is up with another installment of The Voyage of the Princess Ark.

Superstar Tom Moldvay is next with a new game, Dino Wars! A very clever game of army men vs toy dinosaurs. Honestly, it looks fun. There is quite a lot of detail, and it looks like something everyone could play with, given how ubiquitous toy soldiers and dinosaurs are.

Dino Wars by Tom Moldvay

Our fiction section is Rest Stop by J.W. Donnelly.

Scott Waterhouse is up with Arcane Lore: More Pages from the Arch Mages. Not the subtle title change. This covers new spellbooks and spells for AD&D 2nd Edition.

Sage Advice answers our burning questions and errata. 

Jim Bambra reviews Torg and Rifts in Role-Playing Reviews. Is there any game that is more early 90s than Rifts? Almost every designer I know has developed something for it. 

Marlys Heezel "reviews" some new novels for the Novel Ideas column, which I have never seen before. Both books are from TSR Books, so it really feels more like an ad.  In fact a full page ad for them follow.

Forum covers some deeper topics from Dragons #155 and #156.

Robert Rinas gets in on the Top Gun craze and gives us The Navy Wants You! for the Top Secret/S.I. RPG. It covers naval officer training as a character creation option.

Dragonmirth has our comics including Yamara. One day I will track these all down and read them in order.  The Twilight Empire is next. The art is good and I am sure the story is too. HAve to read it from the start to be sure. 

Through the Looking Glass by Robert Bigelow has the latest on new miniatures. 

So not a great issue by any stretch, but there are some gems. This feels like a transition issue before Dragon becomes a TSR game only show.  I was hoping for more sci-fi material to be honest.


Dick McGee said...

I take it you don't know about then? Hasn't been updated in about 12 years now but it has all the old strips under archives (with comments from the creators, no less) and I think a few things beyond Dragon. Seems to have ended on an unfinished storyline, FWIW.

If you want dead tree only, Steve Jackson Games did a collected trade of the first 100 strips or so. Me, I'd just read the free webcomics. The same creator shave some of their other work up at the same site.

PT Dilloway said...

I bet an original iPhone could have run that Wing Commander game but at the time it was so cutting edge. lol

Dick McGee said...

FWIW, Gold Cross "death insurance" services were around in Car Wars and GURPS Autoduel already long before this article. This Dragon article isn't adding anything beyond a bunch of fluff and rather unneeded rules for things going wrong. The Car Wars stats for Gold cross vehicles might be new, though, I can't recall if they'd been detailed in an Autoduel Quarterly issue or maybe one of teh road Guide atlas books.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Dick McGee, I did not! Thanks for that link. I'll have to go through those!

@PT Dilloway, related: I saw someone hack the original DOOM to run on an Apple Watch.