Thursday, May 9, 2024

This Old Dragon: Issue #183

Dragon Magazine #183
  That time again when I reach into the pile of Dragons under my desk and pull out one to read. This month, I am focusing on sci-fi, so in a bit of a cheat, I am pulling from the small selection of sci-fi-themed Dragons. Today's Dragon #183 comes to us from the summer of 1992. It's July; I just finished my undergrad degree and working on my Masters. My best friend from all over the world also graduated, but she is finishing up another bachelor's degree and will be moving to Chicago in a month or so. No. I am not ready for this. Spoiler: We decide in February of 1993 to start dating. Can't do it while we live in the same town I guess, have to wait till we are 300 miles apart. We are still married.  In the theatres, "A League of Their Own" is number 1. Mariah Carey is at #1 with "I'll Be There," and on the shelves and gaming tables everywhere is Issue #183 of This Old Dragon. 

Our cover this month is from Mike L. Scott and features Spelljammer "space whales" called Kindori. I noticed my oldest was prepping a new Spelljammer game, so I asked him if he knew about these guys.

So, at this point, I was not reading Dragon regularly. I knew of this issue, but nothing really about it. 

We were hit with some ads right away, which I enjoyed. One is for a Doctor Doom supplement for Marvel Super Heroes, and another is for Dungeons of Mystery. Dungeons of Mystery features the concept art and not the final art. The concept art has a solid "Mystara" feel to it that I rather like. Flipping the page more TSR ads for the new Dragonlance book and Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue.  I am not that familiar with this one outside of the name, I will have to track it down.

We get to the Contents and learn this month's special feature is Science and Fantasy. Great!

Letters cover a bunch of quick-shot answers from past issues in a rapid-fire fashion. I see the Witch from #114 is still stirring the pot, er, cauldron. 

Roger Moore's Editorial covers how to adapt some fantasy books to your AD&D game. There is a picture of four books, including The Princess Bride, but he only talks about two of them, "The Face in the Frost" and "The Last Unicorn."  He does mention he ran out of space and time for the others.

Bruce Nesmith is up first for our feature with Magic & Technology Meet At Last in his notes on converting AD&D 2nd Ed and Gamma World 4th Ed. Thankfully, it seems to be a bit easier than I expected since they are more closely related than I originally knew. Plus Gamma World essentially is using the d20 to hit AC mechanic we will later see in D&D 3rd Edition and the d20 rules. 

Advice to a High Lord is from Martin Wixted. It is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off it is copyrighted, so likely one of the articles that would cause so much drama when the Dragon CD-ROM came out, and it is about West End Games' TORG. So a rare non-TSR game. Though at this time they were still being featured, soon all other game support would drop.  I don't know much about TORG really. I saw people playing it when I would pop over to the Student Center when they had their RPG open games, but never played. I still see it a lot at Gen Con.

Speaking of which. Small ad for the combined Gen Con/Origins game show. 

People love pirates. Well...I admit I don't, but they are popular. "Avast, ye swaps, and heave to!" by Richard Baker III covers pirates and privateering in AD&D Spelljammer. While not a lot of mechanics, there is some good stuff here. It should work for AD&D 2nd Ed and the 5th Ed material my kid was reading over.

Ah...Now this looks fun. Unidentified Gaming Objects brings UFOs to your Fantasy RPG. Gregory W. Detwiler gives us great overview of what is going on in the skies a full year before the X-Files hit our TV screens. He provides a lot of what we might call "Conspiracy theories" today and gives you a way to work them into your games. A lot of these would be fantastic for *D&D. Though I am disappointed that in his otherwise great coverage on the Hollow Earth he doesn't mention Mystara as Hollow, published two years prior. His Bibliography is really good for pre-Internet publications. I would use these all in NIGHT SHIFT.

Game Science has a cool ad for the RANGE 1 electronic dice roller. After my CS 212 and STAT 501 courses, I learned about pseudorandom numbers. I never allowed these things in my games. Which was a moot point because I could never afford them back then! But still, I did like the idea.

Gamescience ad

Convention Calendar has your summer vacation travel plans ready. Oh, wait. I was in grad school then, I didn't get a summer vacation. In fact it was either 1992 or 1993 (can't remember) when the State of Illinois did not meet its budget and all workers, including Graduate TAs, were furloughed. I didn't get paid all summer long. That's why I could not afford fancy dice rollers. Anyway the format here has changed on the Calendar and it is easier to see the various states faster and easier.

FASA is up with a ShadowRun 2nd Edition ad. I loved ShadowRun, I loved the world building. I just wish I could have played it more. WAIT I can if I combine NIGHT SHIFT with Thirteen Parsecs! Note to Self, try this. 

Dragon Magazine 90s MVP, and friend of the Other Side, Bruce Heard is up with Part 30 of The Voyage of the Princess Ark. Second Note to Self: Track down all of these and review them in order. As usual there is a narrative piece and some game material too. 

The Voyage of the Princess Ark

Role Playing Reviews by Rick Swan covers the Leading Edge Games version of Aliens and FASA's MECHWARRIOR 2nd Edition. They get 2.5 and 3.5 stars respectively. Swan mentions he does not see the appeal of the Aliens franchise, so I wonder if that affects his review at all. BUT given my own personal experiences with Leading Edge Games, he might be right.

The Lesser Clan of Hartly, Patrica, and Kirk are back with more The Role of Computers. They look forward to the time when CD-ROMs lower the price of games not having to ship floppy disks! Yeah... They do review the first Civilization game which they rightfully give 5 stars. It is amazing what these old games used to be able to do with the limited hardware of the day. Granted, we didn't see it that way; I had my first Gateway 2000 computer and I thought I was living in the damn future.

Jean Rabe is up with an oddly placed (given the theme) The Vikings' Dragons, Part 2. This is a set of five linnorm dragons in AD&D Monstrous Compendium format ready to put into your binders. Love the idea, really, and the dragons are fun. Part 1 appeared in issue 182.

The Vikings' Dragons, Part 2.

TSR Previews lets us know what is coming for July 1992. Most of these are featured as ads in this very magazine. 

Ardath Mayhar has our short fiction, Gryphon's Nest.

The MARVEL-PHILE from Steven E. Schend covers Cerise and Kylun from the Excalibur series. 

Forum covers some deeper discussions. I see some familiar names here like Alan Kellogg. 

Role of Books with John C. Bunnell has the new novels gamers might be interested in. Among those listed is new author, Laurell K. Hamilton and her Nightseer book. I bet she will be a big name later on! Also featured is the new one from Michael A. Stackpole (yes, that one).

Skip Williams has more Sage Advice. Anne Brown has shopping advice for your characters in The Game Wizards.

Dragonmirth has our back-pages comics. I recognize Yamara certainly. The Twilight Empire is features too. I never followed it. I should make an effort to try sometime. 

Gamers Guide has our small ads. Ads to cast your own metal minis, t-shirts with dragons, play-by-mail, and a new idea, computer-simulated galaxies. I can tell some of these were made with the Mac version of PageMaker and then printed out and sent to Dragon. Not a criticism, more fondness.

Ah, now something very interesting. Through the Looking Glass by Robert Bigalow covers minis but spends the first page discussing the banning of lead miniatures due to governmental regulations on lead. I remember this and felt like I was just getting to a point where I could afford them and then they go away! Well, I can't recall where that shook out, but plastic rules the tables now.

Through the Looking Glass

All in all, not a bad issue, just not as much science fiction as I wanted.


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PT Dilloway said...

I saw the Spelljammer video game on recently. That was one I never got into. I did play the Mechwarrior video games but not the RPG, though some of the miniatures would have been pretty cool, especially back in 1992 when they might still have included the Robotech designs.

doccarnby said...

Huh, what a coincidence, I just finished reading the '98 Star Trek novel "Where Sea Meets Sky" which involved a culture that strapped capsules onto space whales for interstellar transport.

The discussion about lead miniatures was interesting, especially since by the time I was interested in miniatures they'd been long since phased out. It is important to remember how much miniatures-making tech has advanced though, I can easily believe the complaints of the time that plastic wasn't as good as lead.

Also, I would definitely be interested in a Princess Ark series.