Showing posts with label This Old Dragon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label This Old Dragon. Show all posts

Thursday, September 28, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #57

Dragon Magazine #57
 Time delve into the box under my desk and pull out an old, musty Dragon Magazine. Today we go all the way back to January 1982. Chevy Chase's "Modern Problems" is in the movie theatres, which is notable for the real acting debut of Broadway actor/singer Nell Carter. Olivia Newton-John is still dominating the airwaves with "Physical," and on the shelves in Waldenbooks and FLGS across the land is This Old Dragon #57.

Our cover comes from Dean Morrissey. I don't know much about it really. My copy doesn't even have it. 

Jake Jaquet's editorial mentions the first time he heard "Dungeons & Dragons" mentioned on TV; during an episode of "Simon & Simon," no less. 

Kim Mohan's Cover to Cover overview covers what we will see in this issue. 

Out on a Limb covers letters about previous issues' content. Typically, things the readers didn't like.

Classic Dragon MVP Ed Greenwood is up first with Modern Monsters. He gives us some AD&D (though I think it could all work for D&D too; this was the time when a distinction had to be made) stats for various modern objects like cars and modern weapons. Also, how *D&D characters can deal with with them with and without the magic they are used to.  This is a rather great article and one that should be referenced for "City Beyond the Gate" when it appears in Dragon #100. 

Nice ad for FGU's Space Opera. Well...the ad itself in nothing special, but the listing of game stores that carry it is. I find it interesting that my home state (Illinois) had more game stores than the others. This could have been because FGU was located in Chicago. Also, there was a game store in the town I now live in that is no longer there. It's now a Pizza place. 

Len Lakofka's Leomund's Tiny Hut is up with detailed information on shield and weapons skills in AD&D and what you can expect any particular group of humanoids to have. Very detailed, and while I appreciate this, I am (and was) of the mind to say "given them all swords and call it 1d6 of damage each."  Not as realistic I am sure, but certainly will get the job done. Len took this stuff a lot more seriously than I do. 

Not to be outshined, Gary is up with one his From the Sorcerer's Scroll with "Developments from Stonefist to South Province" for his World of Greyhawk setting. One day I need to do a retrospective all of his writings. I feel that something like this would have been done already.  In any case, it is a fun little look into the "current events" of Greyhawk. Something I think I appreciate more now than I did then. 

Moving from AD&D to Top Secret we have In Search of A James Bond by Mark Mulkins.  Or how the famous 007 would fit into the Top Secret game. Something I am sure EVERYONE playing Top Secret tried at one point or another.  A lot of this is particular to the game mechanics of Top Secret including how move Bond between agencies. 

Merle M. Rasmussen, as expected, follows up with his Spy's Advice column for Top Secret.  Top Secret always looked like a fun game but one I never got into. I am a little surprised we have not seen an OSR version of this game yet.

Pete Mohney has a quick on with Random Magic Items. A set of tables meant to aid the DM and supplement the DMG.

For DragonQuest fans, there is The Versatile Magician by Jon Mattson. This covers new skills for the Magician. It looks good and I'll add it to my big DragonQuest set of notes for if or when I ever get to play it again. 

Up next is one of my favorite series from the Classic Dragon days, Giants in the Earth. I know a lot of ink was spilled to tell us how D&D/AD&D was not a novel and visa-versa, but I did love seeing these literary characters get represented as D&D characters. In this issue we have C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine and Vanye from her "Morgaine Series" including the rather notorious (for its cover) "Fires of Azeroth." These books were a staple of the old Science Fiction and Fantasy book club. They were on my TBR pile forever. I really should give them a go. I have enjoyed C. J. Cherryh's other works. We also get Lynn Abbey’s Rifkin from "Daughter of the Bright Moon." This was also years before she would come to work at TSR.  And finally two from Robert E. Howard; Belit and Dark Agnes. 

Giants in the Earth, Dragon #57

Ok. The entire middle section of my Dragon is gone. Typical really, since it was an adventure, "The Wandering Trees."  I checked my Dragon CD-ROM and sure enough, that is what it is. BUT by the rules I have established for myself here I really can't go over it. I will say this though, it was the second-place winner, IDDC II (International Dungeon Design Contest II) the OSR Grimoire has more on that. It also looks like a fun adventure. I am kind of sad I don't have it.

Dragon #57 missing pages

Up on a Soapbox is next. We get a rare Brian Blume editorial about playing evil characters. He concludes that no serious gamer will ever want to. Meanwhile, a good amount of the 5.2 Million Baldur's Gate 3 players (according to Steam) are going to at least try the "Dark Urge" option at least once. BUT in principle, I do agree. All things being equal I would rather play a Good character than and Evil one.  Roger E. Moore is next with "Dungeons Aren't Supposed To Be 'For Men Only,'" an interesting bit of a slice in time. I am not 100% certain what the motive here is. Why? Well, it could be two equally valid things. Moore, or others, looked out at the vast demographic of D&D players and found the lack of women concerning. OR. They could have been responding to criticism. While I am NOT going to get into the personal views of the various creators of the game from nearly 40 to 50 years ago, I am going to take Moore at face value and say he is here (on his soapbox as it were) saying, yes women do, should, and can play D&D.  Thankfully, this is also not an issue these days and the years since this time have made great strides for more and more inclusion. 

You know the saying, "Getting off on the wrong foot?" I feel like that is where I am with the Minaria series. This month is The Chronology of Minaria by Glenn Rahman. I mean I know it is for Divine Right, but I never got into that game so I have no context for any of this. Here is what I get from it now. The 80s were a fun time. To think that TSR would spend valuable page resources (four full pages) on this is either amazing or amazingly short-sighted. I can't tell which, but I can say it was a very, very different time and a different mindset. If I posted my HUGE timeline of my Mystoerth world I would not expect anyone to be that interested. Maybe some, but enough?  This was the last of the Minaria articles too. Since it would be two more years before I would buy a copy of Dragon at this point I am not surprised this series never contacted with me. 

D&D's War Game roots are showing here in this next article from Michael Kluever on The History of the Shield. It's a neat article that goes into some historical detail about the focused development of the shield. It covers 9 pages (with some half-page ads here and there). It is interesting but more than I need for a typical D&D game. Granted, that is me. I would get excited about a 9-page on the history of scrolls or something magical. So every time I get a "Politics of Hell" there is one of these. It is a good article, but no where near my personal interests. 

Reviews are up next. Tony Watson covers Star Viking a game I only sort of remember.  It is a sci-fi mini-game for two players, a Viking and a Federate. Where the Viking player tries to raid bases and other ships and the Federate tries to stop them. Watson enjoyed the game and played around with variant ideas. I could see this game being reskinned as Star Trek, Orions vs the Federation style game easily. Might be fun.  In what could be called an understated review, the brand-new superhero RPG Champions gets less than a half page (compared to the two given to Star Viking).  Though Scott Bennie does say that the game does a very good job of emulating it's genre and he gives it a "hearty recommendation" despite it's flaws. Also the game was only 56 pages back then. 

Simulation Corner by John Prados covers The Art of Illustration in games. I am not sure if I am missing something here but his thesis is "good art sells games and makes games better." Yes. But I think back to some of the art that was common prior to 1982 and maybe this was something that needed to be said. 

The Electric Eye from Mark Herro goes over the recent survey about computer use among Dragon readers. Here are some interesting insights. 

Age
Under 19: 63%
19-22: 9%
22-44: 25%
45+: 0%

Education Level
Students: 71%
Professional: 29%

This tracks and was expected for the time. 

Access to Computers

None: 6%
Apple-l I: 17%
Apple-l I+: 29%
Apple-l I I: 0%
PET: 0%
CBM: 9%
VIC: 3%
TRS-80 (Mod. 1): 20%
TRS-80 (Mod. 2): 3%
TRS-80 (Mod. 3): 9%
TRS-80 (Color): 6%
TRS-80 (pocket): 0%
North Star: 3%
Atari (800): 11%
Atari (400): 9%
APF: 0%
OSI: 0%
ZX80: 0%
Exidy: 0%
Heath/Zenith: 0%
S-100: 6%
Other: 20%

Again, this feels right to me given the demographics above. Apple dominated the education market followed by TSR-80s.  Atari was a popular home model and was in competition with the Vic-20/CBM and the TRS-80 Color Computer. This also makes me wish I had tried out the Atari 800/400 line more.

Only one reader had access too more than two different kinds of computers.

Most readers want more programs in the pages of Dragon, and all want articles on gaming-related topics. Readers were more or less equally divided on whether they buy, copy, or write their own programs. 

The Convention Schedule tells what is hot in the Winter of 1982. February 5-7 were the dates for Gen Con South. Something I think Gen Con could do again. 

Dragon Mirth has our comics. And we end with Wormy and What's New with Phil and Dixie! 

So a very interesting snapshot in time of what was happening in the world of Dragon magazine. Not a lot of insight into the world of RPGs, unless you count the Electric Eye article.

I am curious to know what people's thoughts were on the included adventure.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #87

Dragon Magazine #87
I mentioned the collection I got from my old DM and a few Dragons in it. As it turns out, this is the only one I had not done a "This Old Dragon" for. So. Let's go back nearly 40 years ago this month to a very different time. "When Doves Cry" by Prince dominated the airwaves, But I am sure I was listening to a lot of "Piece of Mind" by Iron Maiden. I was going through Module A1, mixed with a lot of Grimtooth's Traps. I had seen Ghostbusters about a dozen times by this point and wanted more and more horror in my D&D games. On the shelf was Issue #87 of This Old Dragon!

I am very certain that when this issue was new I was at my DM's house for his birthday (which is today by the way!) playing some D&D.  This might have even been the rather infamous session where I was carrying my D&D books in one hand, a large chocolate shake in the other and I tripped falling face first into and through their storm door. Made a huge mess. Thankfully (or maybe this was a sign), I did not have glasses yet.

On to the magazine at hand.

I will freely admit this is not one of my favorite covers. After seeing so many great covers from this time period, this one felt too "Cartoony" to me. Granted, it works with the article inside quite well, that is not something that can always be said about Dragon.

Kim Mohan's Editorial is up first. It covers the very dangerous ground of TSR's/Dragon Magazine's relationship with Tolkien Enterprises.  Basically saying there isn't one and they can't really say much more than that.

Letters section covers PBM and DragonQuest questions.  One of the great things about these older Dragons was how willing they were to cover other games. 

Nice big ad for the James Bond 007 RPG. Still, one I have never played. Another ad for Lords of Creation later on. I also never played that one but wanted too.


Forum asks questions about the Elemental Planes and Monty Haul campaigns.

Our first real article is from Dragon mainstay Katharine Kerr. Here we get Part 1 of her series Beyond the Dungeon, covering everything outside. She largely focuses on movement here for AD&D. But also what the characters should expect to find and what they are not expected to know.

Shaun Wilson is up with one of my favorite Ecology of articles, The Ecology of the Dryad. I do admit that after reading this article, I considered what it would take to have a Dryad PC race option. It lacks some of the style and personality of the Ed Greenwood articles, but it is still quite good. In fact when I had my own copy of this magazine, I cut this article out and stuck it into my AD&D Monstrous Compendium.

Ecology of the Dryad

Len Lakofka is back with the next installment of Gods of the Suel Pantheon. This time we get Kord and Phaulkon.

The Legacy of Hortus is our cover story. The author is the same as the cover artist, Jack Crane. This covers a wide variety of fantastic plants that honestly should be used in any addition of the game. Some are whimsical, like Beebalm (a plant we have in our garden), but this one grows its own bees and cowslip with the face and heads of cows. Others are bit on the nose, like Foxglove and Dandelion. But all are rather fun. 

The Legacy of Hortus

In Reviews, we get Jerry Epperson's opinion on the Tri Tac Stalking the Night Fantastic. Personally, I rather liked the game, but I am a fan of the source material. We both agree that the game's list of encounters is great. 

We get two centerfold sections here. The first is Whiteout, a Top Secret game adventure by none other than Merle Rasmussen himself. Like the James Bond RPG, I never played, or really even read over, Top Secret. I am no judge of this adventure but it does look fun. It is quite detailed and I could use it for other games. It is part three of a three-part series of adventures. Anyone who played it should let me know how it was/is.

Our other center section is the games listing for Gen Con 17. Lots of AD&D games listed but I am also seeing a lot of Car Wars. Some Chill, James Bond, Star Frontiers, and even some D&D.  Crazy that is all used to fit inside of Dragon.

Gen con 17

Gen con 17

John E. Stith has our fiction section, Simon Sidekick. Interestingly enough, it is a science fiction story about a personal AI assistant. Wow! Have you ever heard of anything so advanced Siri? How about you Alexa or Cortana?

This Dragon is early enough that we still get a proper Ares section.

Kim Eastland has Freeze! Star Law! for law enforcement officers in Star Frontiers.  Pretty good article to be honest.

Luna: A Traveller's Guide is another part of the "Luna" series Ares had been running. This one is naturally from Marc Miller. I think I need to go back sometime and collect all of these and do a special on them for Sci-Fi month. That could be fun. 

Jim Ward shows he is not be outdone and has A Field guide to Lunar Mutants for Gamma World.

Roger Moore answers some StarQuestions about the Universe game.

Nice big ad spread for the FASA Star Trek line. It is also old ads like this that make me realize how lucky I was. Illinois had, and still has some great hobby shops. They have 29 listed here. That is over 4.5 times what California had, and twice what all the neighboring states had combined. 

FASA Star Trek

Gamer's Guide covers the small ads. Always a treat to look at.

Couple of pages of Wormy. Dragonmirth has the short-lived Tal an Alan comic. A three pages of Elmore's Snarf Quest.

So a good issue, but more memorable for the time period rather than all the content. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #261

Dragon #261
I have a few of my original Dragons left from my big box of old musty Dragons I acquired a few years back. I recently picked up a couple more collections in my desire to explore more of the 1990s and AD&D 2nd Edition.  The 90s were an interesting time for me. I began the 90s living in the dorms at my University working on my undergrad degrees and I ended the 90s married, a new baby, and working my first Ph.D. Quite a lot of difference. I also in that time "gave up on" D&D and moved to other games; something I can relate to again now.  But for right now let's focus on this issue #261 from July of 1999 of This Old Dragon.

Our cover is an amazing one from Fred Fields and his nod to Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."  For this one, "The Birth of Night" Fields had his then-girlfriend (now wife) Sandy do the modeling.  I remember this from back then and I really liked then, still do. 

Dragons from this time period are very different than the ones I have done in the past. This Dragon (and many from the 3rd edition era when I picked it back up) was published by Wizards of the Coast, has a bunch of names I don't normally associate with Dragon (but with other RPG products), and the format has all sorts of changes. All in all, this is going to be just as much as an adventure as ones from the 1970s or early 1980s.

One new thing. Lots and lots of websites! Sadly many are no longer active. 

We get a big ad for the Planescape Torment video game. 

The Wyrm's Turn is the Editorial section that discusses this issue's theme, The Dark. Dave Gross is the editor at this time. 

Fun ad for the 25th Anniversary tour. We are reminded throughout that this is the 25th Anniversary of D&D. We are nearly at 50 now. 

Sage Advice is still here and Skip Williams offers a lot of advice about various AD&D 2nd Ed rule questions.  I half expected to see this one phased out, but there was still a need for it and not everyone was on the Internet just yet (but close). I do have to point out that Sage Advice is still by postal mail. No email address yet. I am sure this will change sometime in the next few months.

The letters section is now D-Mail. They DO have an email address you can use along with the standard postal one. It might even still be active. Just to be 100% clear, I am not sure when a lot of these changes happened, I had what we called "Grad School Guilt." That is where if you read anything not directly related to your subject matter caused a lot of guilt. So I was not reading Dragon all that much from like 1992 on until the 2000s. Oh. The letters. Right. So in something else of a red letter day for me, I recognize one the names of someone that sent in a letter! So Joe Kushner, I hope you got your answer! Later on in the same feature, I see another name I recognize from online interaction.  D-Mail is long, longer than the letters section used to be.

The general consensus in D-Mail is that Dragon Magazine has improved with Wizard's purchase of TSR. While of course they are going to publish that, and yes there is plenty of evidence to support this claim, I would personally pick the magazine back up in subscription about a year or so from this issue.

Nodwick appears as a comic strip on page 13. An order form for back issues of Dragon with issue #70 as the earliest one you can still get. $8.00 and it can be yours. This is about to get less attractive as we will see later in this issue.

Ray Winninger is up with the Dungeoncraft column. This covers building something for your game. This one starts with the notion of building up the PC's base of operations. He covers some rumors and other background building of the area and ends with a map of the tree base. Rather interesting really and set up to be easily added to anyone campaign or game. In fact I am not seeing anything here that could not be used in an OSR game or a 5e game. 

Dungeoncraft Dragon #261

George Vrbanic is next with the PC Portraits feature. This time 14 pictures of Dwarves. An ad for Baldur's Gate follows.

We get to our themed featured articles now.  Up first, Wizards of Dusk & Gloom by Tony Nixon. This covers some options for the AD&D Player's Options books. I actively disliked the Skills & Powers books. That being said these options and kits are pretty cool and add a lot of flavor to the wizard class. There are three options here, the Shadow Caller, the Shadow Seeker, and the Shadow Hunter. There might some 3e equivalent prestige classes out there or some 5e subclasses. There are also three "Books of Shadows" which gives us 17 new shadow-based spells. From what I can tell these spells did make it to the giant Spell Compendiums released by Wizards.

Dragon #261 Ads
An interesting set of ads. A single page with a bunch of companies and their web addresses. Among them are Guardians of Order (with a Sailor Moon book), Eden Studios (featuring the Abduction Card game), and RPGnet.  

By Any Other Name covers Dwarven Names from Owen K.C. Stephens. A fun little set of tables to build a new dwarf name. 

Objet d' Art is from Dawn Ibach and details the types of treasure you can find in a hoard. Very detailed and quite extensive really. Also can be used in any edition of the game.

Our fiction section is from J. Gregory Keyes, The Fallen God

Me and My Shadow continues our Shadow and Dark feature.  This article is by Spike Y. Jones. This covers a number of shadow-centric magic items.  This flows into the next article Conjuring in the Dark. This covers 13 new shadow-based spells. 

Johnathan M. Richards is next with an Ecology of... article, this time Ecology of the Dark Naga. The article seems longer that the previous Ecology articles. While it seems more detailed than the previous ones from the Golden Age, but lacking some of the charm of the old Ed Greenwood ones. Though this one is good, just not sure if the fiction elements live up to the rest of the article. Call me weird, but my preferred Ecology of articles always treated their subject as some sort of scholarly discussion. 

Ecology of the Dark Naga

Peter Whitley gives us something that will be something more and more common; AD&D monsters from a computer game. This time some monster from Myth: The Fallen Lords. There are four new monsters in AD&D Monstrous Compendium format.

John Kovalic is up with Dork Tower

A Little Bit of Magic from Lloyd Brown III covers how to measure out magic items in a campaign to keep it from going too Monty Haul.  Examples include magic items with Noncombat Effects, Intermittent Effects, Self-Destructive, Limited Time periods, and items with charges. Advice is given to avoid armor and weapons with pluses to all things.  So a sword +1 is great but it means you will need bigger and better (and more magical) ones later. A sword that just +1 vs say undead keeps the players excited for any magical sword. Or armor that is magically light, but doesn't provide any better protection than normal armor of the same sort. While it was far to late in the game for me at this point, this would have been good advice for me to revisit later on in the 3e and 5e days.

In something that seems really familiar, some Marvel characters. Though this time the Marvel SAGA system (if I am remembering correctly). This time we get Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey) and Phoenix (Rachel Summers) writeups from Jeff "Zippy" Quick and Steve Miller.

Role Models gives us some Alternity alien minis. 

The Convention Calendar gives us the best conventions for the Summer of 1999. A couple of things to note for me. There is a Capitol Con XV at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield, IL. That not only was not very far from where I grew up, it was new when I still lived there! I don't think I ever knew about it. Despite it being listed in Dragons before. I can't find any more details on it. Interestingly enough there are listings for August, but Gen Con is not one of them. 

The Ares section is back, this time with Alternity branding. Stephen Kenson (of Green Ronin fame) is up with The Twilight Jungle. This not only continues the magazine's main theme, but the aliens here look very much like something you could find on Pandora from Avatar, only 10 years before the movie came out. The article is fun but highlights the fact that I always wanted to try out Alternity. Something about it just always grabbed me and I just never got the chance to play it or even read it much.  Maybe one day I'll get back to it. 

Dragon Mirth has our comics of the month, plus a sort of find a word puzzle that looks fun. There is a Love Canal joke that I am not sure many would get these days. 

Knights of the Dinner Table has a two-page spread. 

TSR Previews (yes it is still called that) gives us new products for the next couple of months. A few books listed still have their concept covers. Of note are the Forgotten Realms interactive atlas (which I never owned) and the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM which I grabbed the moment I could from my FLGS, which was now for me actually local (and the same one I still use today). A few novels including two I would later read; Ru Emerson's "Against the Giants" (which I only sorta liked) and Ed Greenwood's "Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters" (which I enjoyed more than I thought I would).

TSR News lets us know that the 25th Anniversary Edition boxed set will be released in August. Better grab one of these while you can, the after-market prices are going to crazy! In other news, Gary Gygax will be at Gen Con in August, running games, holding seminars and signing copies of the 25th Anniversary boxed set. 

Finally in Profiles, Steve Kenson gives us some background on cover artist Fred Fields.

So really a good issue. I had a lot of apprehension about approaching this era of Dragon/TSR. I can recall sitting on my couch reading one of the first WotC-produced TSR Ravenloft books and thinking maybe the company and game I had enjoyed for so long but was feeling quite apathetic too was turning around. This issue of Dragon redoubles that. There is a sense of optimism for the future of the game that I had not personally experienced in the late 90s and did really feel until the 3rd Edition Era.  Wizard of the Coast did save D&D and the proof is in these pages.

While many will debate the various "ages" of the game; when was the Golden Age, when did the "Silver Age" begin and what was the time post-Gygax and pre-WotC? One thing for certain for me is that the time between say 1994 and 1999 is a big mystery to me that I did not get to investigate in any detail until I got my Dragon Magazine CD-ROM. Even that only took me to Issue #250.

Dragons in print and pdf

For this new exploration of Dragons, I am setting my "end date" as Issue #275. It's a nice number, it takes us just inside the changes for 3e and it was just before I resumed my subscription.  I guess by that logic I am setting my "starting" Issue at #151 or so. I have already done some past that. 

Personally, I think these "newer" Dragons will be every bit as interesting to me as the ones from the late 70s and early 80s.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #116

This Old Dragon: Issue #116
Time to jump back into my box of Dragons and pull out a Dragon at random...no not that one, this one. Ok so sorta random. To be fair I pulled this one second and really it is a better fit this week.  If you must know, the one I originally pulled was #106.  Next time for that one. Today I am going to talk about Dragon #116.  

This issue does have significance to me. This is the first Dragon I bought after the watershed issue #114. As I mentioned before I typically bought every other Dragon back then, so this was my next one. I rather liked the cover to be honest.

To set the stage here, this issue was dated December 1986. This was my senior year in high school. My regular DM had gone off to the Air Force the year before and we had done our big "Dragon Wars" which was our "World War."  Most of my AD&D 1st Edition characters were dead or retired and I didn't know what exactly was next.  But this issue gave me ideas.

Letters covers the debates of the day. Mark D. Spivey laments that Dragon is now too much about AD&D and D&D and not other games.  Kent B. Gravelle counters with his observation of AD&D being less popular now than other games. 

Forum laments the lack of women DMs or why D&D is not as popular as Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly. I am no expert (ok but I DO have the benefit of hindsight) that both of these issues will change around the same time.

Add for the Wilderness Survival Guide. I will admit I did enjoy this book.

Wilderness and Sea Adventures

We get to the main feature of this issue; Maritime Adventures.

While I did use this material then, over the summer in 1987 I was back from college and my DM was back due to medical leave. We began a new campaign with new characters. The idea was to create some ocean going adventures. I rolled a few characters and we were going to something that would today call the funnel.

Margaret Foy is up first with High Seas which is a fantastic overview of nautical terms and ideas for AD&D. So good in fact it can still be used today and for many other sorts of games.  The article is long, 14 pages, and not a bit of it is wasted or fluff. 

Note: There were ads for Traveller and Star Trek RPGs. I kept thinking that I could adapt these rules to space or visa versa. 

Aquatic elves get time to shine in Children of the Deep by Todd Mossburg.  Aquatic elves would have been part of our game. This is a pretty good article really. So good in fact you tend to forget these elves still need to be around the sea. 

In an odd one out, we get an Ecology Of.. article from Anthony Gerard, Ecology of the Minotaur. I would think a Triton or other sea creature would have worked better. But this is still welcome. It is also a rare (but soon to be less rare) ecology article not from Ed Greenwood.  I rather liked this one to be honest. It gave a different insight to Minotaurs. This was on the heels of the second Dragonlance Trilogy which made Minotaurs a more playable race than AD&D core, so this return to form was nice.

Ecology of the Minotaur

Up next we get the first Dragon's Bestiary in nearly five years. This one has a dozen new AD&D monsters all with a sea or underwater theme. Lots of new monsters here, or at least new at the time. 

Ads for The Palladium Fantasy RPG and the Bestiary. Two products I wanted back in the day. I eventually got them both but never really did much with Paladium. 

"Hello? Your Majesty?" from Craig Barrett covers communication in history and fantasy. It is a well-researched article, at least as far as I tell.  Easily could use this in any game. We get coverage of the Horse Post, the Foot Post, and especially messages by sea travel. I can honestly see an interest set of adventures that involve getting critical messages from one place to another while fighting evil wizards, governments, and monsters.

My issue sadly no longer has this, but our center-fold section is a cardstock assemble-your-self 3D ship designed by Dennis Kauth titled High Seas in 3-D.

What I do have is a huge ad for Warhamer Fantasy. And by huge, I mean 8 full-color pages.

Warhammer

Ed Greenwood is back with Rogue Stones and Gemjumping, or how Elminster gets around. This covers a special type of stone, a Rogue Stone, and El's spell to use them as means of getting around. Not a long article, but certainly a fun one.  Something to whet the appetite for the upcoming Forgotten Realms campaign set.

In an interesting and long article, By Tooth and Claw by Gregory Detwiler gives us details on how just normal animals can be terrifying foes in any game, especially for lower level characters. While the focus is AD&D it can be adapted to all games that have animals.  

Michael DeWolfe and Galan Akin are up with the only ElfQuest RPG article I can recall. High Ones, Ancient Ones covers the origins of the Elves in the ElfQuest universe.  I mean I have always known about Elf-Quest, I am not sure I know much of what it is really about. I mean I know it was created by Wendy Pini. But that is about it. The RPG uses Chaosium's BRP I also knew that much. 

Role of Computers by Hartley and Pattie Lesser talks a bit about communication and how humans can now use computers to talk to each other via BBSes. Something that soon dominate my own experiences in a couple of years. They even talk about how one day you could read Dragon over your computer! Imagine that! They also cover the DM's aid Dragonfire II. Likely the software can be found somewhere on the internet now.  They also look at Bard's Tale a full-featured computer RPG.

TSR Previews lets us know what is upcoming for 1987. In particular, H2 Minds of Bloodstone and DA2 Temple of the Frog.

Cool ad for some D&D shirts, I should have jumped on that, I kinda wish I could get them now.

Marvel-Phile gives us six heroes I have never heard of. Crossfire, Ringleader, Bombshell, Oddball, Tenpin, and Knickknack. Remember I am a DC fan.

Ok, here is the reason I wanted this one for today.  All six incarnations of The Doctor for the FASA Doctor Who RPG by none other than Margaret Weis and Michael P. Bledsoe (the game's author) in Doctor Who? The article is copyrighted 1986 FASA. The article goes into far more detail than the game does. I imagine the article was part of the 1985 rule manuscripts and was cut for size and expanded on here.  It is useful enough that it should be added to one of the boxed sets of any serious Doctor Who RPG Gamemaster. 

Doctor Who, all 6 of him

Flamethrowers get special coverage in William A. Barton's Aim and Burn.  

Gamer's Guide gives us some small ads. This month we get two ads for people to draw your character, something I really wanted back then. Johan I had just been retired and Larina was only 6 months old (or 19 in game years).  I do admit I look up the addresses and names on some of these ads to see if they are still in business. 

Convention Calendar covers the con scene for the start of 1987.

We end with Snarf Quest, Dragonmirth, and Wormy.

A good issue that I would not see the value of until six months or so later. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #128

Dragon #128
Time to reach down into the dusty old box under my desk and pull out another Dragon magazine.  Today's gem comes to us from December 1987. I was wrapping up my first semester at University, George Michael had the number #1 song in the land with Faith, and Three Men and a Baby was the number 1 movie. And no, there was no ghost on set.  TSR has seen some shake ups, so has Dragon, and soon we will begin talking about AD&D 2nd Edtion.  All of this and more in Issue #128 of This Old Dragon.

Once again, my Dragon is missing some pages. I have the theory that the collector I bought them all from was a HUGE Marvel Super Heroes fan since that is what seems to be missing from them all. Well, that and the collection also had a lot of MSH books, all in pretty terrible condition. So when I get to that section, I'll mention it, but as per my own rules, I won't review it much.

As typical, my cover is missing, so here it is from my Dragon CD-ROM.  I don't remember this one to be honest. College life was hitting me pretty hard at this point and I don't think I ever owned this one when it was new.

Not exactly sure when it happened, but Roger Moore is now our Editor in Chief replacing (the now late) Kim Mohan. I knew 1987 was a huge shake-up year for TSR; this is just one of many.

Letters cover Gygax's Dragon Chess with shopping guides on which minis to buy to build your own. My previous DM (at the time) had built his own and it was fun, but overly complicated for my desires at the time.

Forum covers the Mystic College from Dragon #123. It has made me want to go back and reread those. 

Nice big ad for the AD&D Dragonlance Hardcover.  Mine got attacked by rabbits (seriously) and I recently purchased a POD version from DriveThru and a copy from Heidi Gygax, so I guess I am OK really.

Dragonlance

Dragon MVP Ed Greenwood is up with our first article, Welcome to Waterdeep. Doing these "This Old Dragons" has really given me a greater appreciation for the Forgotten Realms and Ed's writing in general. This five-page article is great introduction, especially for people like me that know there is giant meal out of the Forgotten Realms and have no idea where to take our first bite. I am reading this and thinking "Oh I could put the Keep on the Borderlands there and B5 here..." and that I think is the exact thought Ed wanted me to have while reading. Well done.

A review from John C. Bunnell on Gary Gygaz's Role-Playing Mastery book in Matters of Mastery. He is not 100% sold on the book, and having read it myself years ago I get this. The book lacks a clear direction. There good ideas in it, but thematically it doesn't hold together. 

W. Todo Todorsky has nice system of disbelieving Illusions in To Believe or Not to Believe. Very typical of the times in there are charts and percentages. Today we would have a modified DC, but hidden in these numbers are the bases for doing these, ie every 5% change is a +1 on d20 roll. It is neat, and it is fun and very, very 80s AD&D. 

Roleplaying Reviews is up next with books taken from today's headlines. Ken Rolston covers both Empire of Petal Throne (which has fallen from grace) and Jorune (which I have seen more about recently). Rolston calls EPT a modern classic and must-have; and yes this is all true, but the shine for me at least is gone and the stain is too deep. He also loves Jorune, which I have always wanted to play but never found anyone that was playing it. He goes into quite a bit of detail on both games. 

Through out those pages we get ads for the Judge Dredd RPG, the brand new Forgotten Realms boxed set and Might & Magic, software for your Apple II.

James Ward is up with The Game Wizards with a look ahead to 1988 from TSR. A note that if you want to get published contact Bruce Heard. Wonder if he still is taking mail for this? Castle Greyhawk is up in January with what looks like a "little bit" of humor sprinkled in. To this day I can't help that this product was done to directly tarnish the Greyhawk and Gygax legacy, but maybe I am over reacting. Some Marvel books, some Top Secret books. OH and the Bullwinkle & Rocky game along with more Buck Rogers!

The Spirit Way is our fiction piece from Leigh Anne Hussey.

Something interesting up next. Dale Oldfield and Mark Foster give us King's Table, their implementation of the ancient chess-like Hnefatafl game. Lots of variations and options of board set up are given. It is very interesting and I have always wanted to play. In 1987 this looked new to me, but now you can get these from Amazon and many game stores.

Jeff Grubb is next with Plane Speaking The Negative Quasi Elementals. This covers the Ash, Vacuum, Dust, and Salt Elementals.

Moving on to modern games, Dennis McLaughlin talks helicopters for Top Secret in Chopper Power! At this time my roommate, and Air Force ROTC guy, would have been all over this and likely found some sort of issue with it. But he had a lot of issues with things.

Gamma World players get a new naming systems for mutants in Kim Eastland's A Mutant by Any Other Name.

The Island in Your Computer by Cheryl Peterson is an interesting slice of time. The nascent Internet as we know it was growing here in the form of CompuServe.  While CompuServe itself did not contribute much technology-wise to the Internet we know of today, the experiences people had did. The article is the victim of the previous owner's desire to keep all the Marvel Phile articles.

So this is missing the Marvel Phile and the Role of Computers articles. 

Next is a quiz from Lawrence R. Raimonda. U 2 Kan Ern Big Bux! I am not sure what the point of this one is. Humor? Sure, maybe, but not enough to justify the page count in my mind. 

The small ads of Gamers' Guide follow. Seeing a lot more ads for computer aids for GMs and players. Also seeing a drop off of Play by Mail ads.  

Convention Calendar has what is hot for Winter 1987-88. Of those listed, I actually went to the Egyptian Campaign on a cold February Saturday. I hate talking bad about gaming experiences or my alma mater, but I found them to be particularly unwelcoming to new players. Today I'd call them stereotypical Grogs who had no interest in showing a bunch of Freshmen the ropes. It actually soured me on going to Cons for a very long time.

The Egyptian Campaign

Sadly I have heard since then that my experiences were not particularly unique. Sad really, I would like to have gone to one of the longest on going conventions in the state. 

Snarf Quest #52 is next. I'll admit I have no idea what is going on here. One of the story arcs where they go to the future from D&D to Star Frontiers. 

Dragonmirth is next. The "No Pain, No Gain" joke is good for the times but the Laurel and Hardy one was even getting really old then.

Wormy is up. It is one of the last ones before Tramp ended up in the same town I was in.

So a good, but not great, issue. I can't tell if I am seeing something not there because I know or if there is something, but this feels like a magazine in transition. We have left the Golden and Silver Ages of Dragon and are now into something a little different. What kind of different? Well most of the old guard is gone. The magazine has pivoted away from Gygax and Greyhawk to Greenwood and the Realms.  Mohan is out, Moore is in. Soon the world will see the first details of the Second Edition of AD&D.

Oh. checking my CD-ROM I see there is a Hnefatafl board inside.

Oh. I am looking for Dragons from the 2nd Ed era, #160 to #274.

Do not tell me I can get issues online. I don't condone piracy of any sort. Besides, I have the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM that goes all the way to issue #250. 

Thanks!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: What's Next for This Old Dragon (and more BB updates)

Combining two posts into one today. Mostly because I don't have a monster to share.

A few years back, I bought two large collections of Dragon Magazines. They were in terrible shape, most missing their covers, many had water damage, and a few were in great shape. So I started on a plan to do "This Old Dragon." I'd pull one out at random and review the contents. Not review-review, but talk about what was inside and reminisce about what was going on for me then and how I could or still do the material inside.

It has been a fun trip.  One of my personal goals was to reread the ones I had in the past AND to find new material from Dragons Issue #50 and below.  I had one other goal that developed in my readings too. More on that.

But I am now running out of Dragons. I grabbed one the other day, Issue 95, only to remember I had already done it

So how does this all relate to monsters?

The goal I developed while reading these was how much I enjoyed the old Ecology Of articles.  Since so many of these were in terrible shape to begin with, I was fine with cutting out these sections and putting them into my AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium binders. I am growing the definitive collection of AD&D monsters over here. 

So for the next phase of my This Old Dragon, I want to go in the other direction. I want to find Dragons that cover the 2e era. 

My personal start of the AD&D 2nd Era would be sometime after Dragon #150. I know for a while Dragon was doing both 1st Ed and 2nd Ed stats for monsters, and some of those I still have here. I might re-sort what I have left and clear out all my ones from below #150. I think my cut-off Dragon for AD&D 2nd then needs to be #274 when Paizo took over.

Now I need to find a good collection that covers the 90s issues of Dragon.

Do not tell me I can get issues online. I don't condone piracy of any sort. Besides, I have the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM that goes all the way to issue #250. 

The goal here is to have physical magazines in hand to review.

I don't need collector's copies; I don't even need table copies. I need readable copies, and if they are missing a page here or there, no big deal.  Nor am I looking for handout copies. I will buy what I need. 

I will wrap up my "Classic" This Old Dragon copies and then move on to the ones I have that are after issue #150.  After that...well, it depends on what I can find out there.

If you see any for sale online, let me know!

Basic Bestiary Updates

Did not get as far as I wanted to get last week. I made some more updates to BB1 and BB3. What can I say? Demons are fun to write about. I am not happy with my stat-blocks for dragons yet. Glad that is for BB4, and there are no plans to get that out until 2024. All four may come out then unless I get busy.

I do need new cover art for all four, and I would like them all to be from the same artist.

I *DID* however, come up with the plan to include the various Witch Queens in my game world in an Appendix. Obviously, I will not include ones based on others' intellectual property. But I have enough mytho-historical ones and my own for it not to matter.  I like this idea a lot and it fills a gap I had in the various power structures of the book. These witches will be part of BB1. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

This Old Dragon: Issue #91

Dragon Magazine #91
I thought I would turn back to pages of one of my musty old Dragons. Today's topic comes to us from October of 1984. Gygax is still at TSR. Prince and the Revolution still dominate the airwaves with "Let's Go Crazy" hitting number 1 following the success of "When Doves Cry" and preceding the success of the single "Purple Rain."  Nick Nolte and JoBeth Williams star in the number #1 box office "Teachers." All I remember from that movie was Crispin Glover was really insane in it. On the shelves in the local Waldenbooks is Issue #91 of This Old Dragon.

I did not own this one back in the day. My High School DM and I had an agreement to pick up every other issue. This was the one he got.  I found the cover to be really cool and thought that it would make for a great concept. Something we would try about four years later. 

I did finally get an issue. The one I have is beat up and missing a cover and some pages.  This image is from my Dragon Magazine CD-ROM.

We are introduced to the new Table of Contents page. It is easier to read than the older one with the gray background and will be the standard for a while.  

Letters praise the recent Katherine Kerr articles and have a few helpful suggestions. The recent Rust Monster ecology didn't fare as well. 

Nice ad for Milton Bradley's Broadsides & Boarding Pirates. Back when gaming magazines would run ads for their competitors. The ships from that game would make great props in a sea-faring adventure. 

The Forum is less praise-filled on Katherine Kerr's stance on playing evil characters. while I have played evil characters in the past I find playing them these days a bit tedious. Playing a good character was always more fun for me. 

Gary is up with From the Sorcerer's Scroll.  This one deals with some of the new demon information (and one demon) we will see in the upcoming Monster Manual II.

Long-time contributor Stephen Inniss is back with Realistic Vital Statistics. This is a new guide and system for how much a particular humanoid-like creature, from pixie size to titans, should weigh based on height.  The system certainly works and has a lot of internal consistency which is what you need in a game system. He points out some inconsistencies with the data provided in DMG and attempts to make it better. He does give practical and magical adaptations to the Square-Cube Law (though he does call his observations this, that is what it is) and it plainly sets out why giants could never have existed like described in D&D. I do like his notion there is some sort of magic at work here, maybe a low-level sort of levitation spell going on.  It is a very useful article.

Dragon Magazine MVP (certainly of this issue) Ed Greenwood is up with The Ecology of the Leucrotta. I will fully admit when I first saw this my first thought was "Why? There are so many other interesting creatures out there." Which I think is the whole point. This article and the one on the Slithering Tracker (the first Ecology of article I ever read) pointed out that even so-called "pointless" or even "useless" monsters can be interesting. It also helped shift my focus of D&D/AD&D as "character-centric" to "normal human-centric" and realizing that even a "pointless" monster can be a huge threat. This also reminds me I should do a retrospective at one point on all of these Ecology of articles. 

Ecology of the Leucrotta

More Devils. More Hell. And more Ed Greenwood! Nine Hells Revisited gives us some details about the devils and hells they live in. We get some new devils, some of which I have not seen repeated since. There are even a couple that share their names with others like the Greater Devil Dagon (formerly Jaqon), the Greater Devil Azazel, and the Arch Devil Gargoth (formerly Astaroth).  This is every bit as useful as the series from Dragons #75 and #76. 

Ed follows this up with Eight Devilish Questions. This is the article than also originally clued me it to how to figure out the HD of various higher level demons and devils. I say clued me, but in reality it was more along the line of "duh, why didn't I think of that!" 

Nice ad for White Dwarf.  Bigger ad for the 10th Anniversary set of D&D books. Really, really wish I had grabbed those then. Of course, if I had they would have gotten lost with all my other AD&D books from that time.

A big overview slash big advertisement is next the first Dragonlance novel, Dragons of Autumn Twilight in Chronicles: A Novel Idea. I know a lot of gamers around my age and older complain about Dragonlance, but frankly I don't get it. It did change the game, but in all ways for the better. 

Dragonlance

Ad for Bard Games' The Compleat Fantasy Series and The Atlantean Trilogy follows.

My entire middle section is gone here. It was The Treasure Trove. I am not sure if I took this out or if it was like that when I bought this box of old Dragons.  While by the rules I invented for myself saying I could not review what I don't have, I do want to make one minor breach of that.

What is missing?

As I mentioned, this particular issue was bought by my DM at the time. He took all the magic items here, and a few more of his own, that rewrote all the magic item tables in the DMG. Impressive or ADHD? You decide. Anyway, we were running a small side quest for my paladin, Johan Werper II, and decided that he was on a quest (something that I later would call a "Secret Journey" that all member of his holy order had to do.  On this quest, to make a long story short, he found the sword Demonbane. It fit so well with his quest that I made it and even the Citadel of Conjurers a part of my world mythos. MY Demonbane and Citadel of Conjurers took on a different life than the ones that eventually were published in the Forgotten Realms but history was made on that cold rainy afternoon in October.

Penny Perricord is up with Spies' Advice, some questions and answers for Top Secret. Normally this particular column was written by Top Secret Head Administrator Merle Rasmussen. Not sure why he wasn't here. Maybe out watching the Top Secret! movie?

Coming Attractions lets us know what is getting published soon by TSR. An Indiana Jones adventure  Crystal Death. Some Dragonlance metal minis. The second Conan adventure. The odd one, 2001: A Space Odyssey for Star Frontiers. I never grabbed this, but I wondered with a universe like Star Frontiers with lasers and robots and faster-than-light travel, we would get one about a ship that only made it to Jupiter.  Well that is the nature of licenses boys and girls. Indian Jones, Conan, and Dave Bowman here were all part of TSR's big license push. I am pretty sure they lost money on these.

Speaking of Sci-Fi the Ares section is up next.

"Does Anyone Here Speak Aslan?" from Joseph Benedetto, Jr. covers language skills in Traveller.  It is a pretty good guide and one I would adopt for other sci-fi games like Star Frontiers. 

Sadly I am missing the next pages of Day of the Juggernaut a Star Frontiers scenario by William Tracy. I am also missing the Marvel Phile of Cloak and Dagger, two of my favorite Marvel characters to be honest.

Alex Curylo is up with Careers in Star Law. This is a follow-up to Kim Eastland's article in Dragon #87. Not about lawyers, but law enforcement. 

Not to be forgotten but we do get some new Gamma World material in Don't Leave Home Without 'em! from Scott Hutcheon. This covers new gear for Gamma World.

Our short fiction piece, The Rune and the Dragon, is by Lawernce Watt-Evans.

Paul Smith reviews the Sh┼Źgun card game. Ken Rolston is back with full reviews of Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes, Death at Dunwich from Theatre of the Mind Enterprises for Call of Cthulhu (I always like the cover of this one), and The Vanishing Investigator for Gangbusters. He has capsule reviews of Dragons of Despair (he didn't care for it), Marvel Super Heroes, and Bree and the Barrow Downs from ICE for MERP.

Gamers' Guide covers all the small ads. Including an ad for Texas Instruments TI-99 programs to create characters. So yeah computer character generators are at least 40 years old. The rather infamous "Who sez dragons don't fly" t-shirt is featured twice. Lots of other t-shirts too. 

Ad for the Indian Jones RPG.  Wormy, Dragon Mirth, and Snarf Quest wrap up this issue.

All in all a really great issue. Lots of great articles, including many that can still be used today. Did Malarea ever see her diabolic plans come to light? I must know!


Thursday, December 22, 2022

This Old Dragon: Issue #129

Dragon Magazine #129
Going back to my box of Dragons this week to pull out a nice one from January 1988.  I say "nice" but the issue is in fairly bad shape with no cover and pages falling out.  The winter of 1988 was an odd one for me. I had a girlfriend leave me (quite literally, she never came back to school), and I was entering my second semester of college.  Though I did start hanging out with the girl I would eventually begin dating and then marry, but that was still years off.  INXS was the biggest music group on the radio. Robin Williams and "Good Morning Vietnam" was the king at the box office (whatever happened to "Good Morning, Chicago!"?) and on the shelves was #129 of This Old Dragon. 

We are solidly into the "theme" issues of Dragon now. The cover, a Dwarven cleric of Thor, reflects this.  There are a few articles coming up that I think helped set the stage for how demi-humans would later be dealt with AD&D 2nd ed. Certainly, it was beyond what you would have seen in the Golden Age of AD&D 1st Ed. These are the end of the Silver Age of AD&D 1. 

Letters has some Top Secret S.I. questions and some questions about cover art.

Forum has the (then) latest debates on whether or not Magic-Users can use weapons and/or armor.  Some good cases are made here to be honest. All largely moot these days. 

We get to the Featured Section, Demi-humans.

Demi-humans

Len Carpenter is up first with Arcane Lore, Magic of the Dwarven Priests. It is a rather good one to be honest that gives tips and ideas on how to play the "newly permitted" Dwarven cleric PC.  I am not sure if this article had anything to do with it, but the Dwarven Cleric became something of an iconic figure in the 3.x days.  To that end this article still has some sound advice on not just what a Dwarven Cleric can and could do, but also what spells they are likely to have access too and which ones they would not.  There are also plenty of new spells just for dwarven clerics. If you play a dwarven cleric today then this is a good article to dig up regardless of the system you are using. 

Children of the Spider Goddess from Eric Oppen is next and gives us some insight on the Dark Elves. I went back to this article way back when I was running the D series for my family. I was running it all under 5e and there have been millions of words written about the Drow and Dark Elven between this publication and when I used it, but I still found it quite helpful for working out how the drow act and do what they do.  While I have always felt that Drow should be Lawful Evil this article made a good point about how Chaotic Evil would work better. 

John R. Prager hits us with a short article about altering the dice rolls for abilities in Give Demi-humans an Even Break! Essentially demi-humans get extra dice they can roll for determining their abilities.  For example, if you are going to play a Hill Dwarf you roll 7d6 for Strength and just take the highest three. This might run counter old school dice rollers where you roll first and then determine the race/class or new schoolers where getting a low score in something typically associated with a particular race is really no big deal.  Yes, there is even a column for Comeliness. 

Halfling get a new class of their own in Don't Sell Them Short by Peter Dosik. The Halfling Guardians are bit like Halfling Paladins. Perfectly playable archetype/class.  

C.E. Misso finishes us up with a bit on driders in Entering the Drider's Web.  Driders' status have changed over the years with them being either cursed (this article) or the chosen of Lolth.  I also took this and put it in my Drow (D1-2,3) folder. While maybe not the exact heralds of the age, they were certainly forerunners of the days when everyone wanted to play an edgy drow. 

The Role of Computers by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser (and copyrighted 1988) covers the then state of the art in computer games.  Their featured game is Tower of Myraglen for the Apple IIgs. Make sure your Apple has been upgraded for stereo sound for this game! It is not the best game they have played, but it does take advantage of Apple's 640×200 resolution and sound capabilities.  They also have a bunch of smaller reviews for Acolade's Pinball Wizard, Beyond Zork, GBA Championship Basketball, California Games, and more. 

Nice full-page ad for Traveller 2300

Runequest fans get a treat in A Sorcerer's Supplement: New Sorcery Spells for RUNEQUEST by Michael DeWolfe.  I have the classic Runequest rules, so I should hold on to this.  I have still never played. 

Sage Advice covers all those new questions that come with new rule books.  This time for the D&D BECM (no I just yet) rules. 

Big four-page ad for Warhammer. The worlds of D&D and Warhammer have been drifting further and further part by this time. Might be one of the last ads I'll see for it.

Warhammer 3rd Edition

Dean Shomshak gives us a nice treat. The Dragon's Bestiary this month covers monsters from the Para-Elemental planes of Ice. 

The Game Wizards from Jim Ward this month is A Volume of Oerthly Delights. He lets us know what could be part of the new Greyhawk Adventures hardcover (the last AD&D 1st edition hardcover). He gives us some ideas he is considering for the new book. They include: Greyhawk's Hall of Heroes, Greyhawk's Book of Creatures, Greyhawk's Book of Magic, Greyhawk's Book of Magical Devices, The Free City of Greyhawk, and Greyhawk's Clerics and Temples.  I can't recall how many of these made it to the hardcover, but I do recall their being some monsters.

Our fiction section is The Old Ways are Best by Larry Walker.   

"Who's in Charge Here?" by Bryan Caplan gives us guidelines on how many leaders in the form of higher-level fighters and/or cavaliers one should expect from a group of soldiers. 

Powered armor gets more details for Star Frontiers from David Dennis in Armored and Dangerous. I really should get a Star Frontiers game going again. It was a lot of fun. 

John C. Bunnell is back again with more book reviews in The Role of Books. He covers the likes of Sword and Sorceress IV, Tales of the Witch World, Agnes Day, and Murder at War. 

Role-playing Review by Ken Rolston gives us two soon-to-be classics; one for AD&D and one for D&D.  Up first we have GAZ 3 The Principalities of Glantri.  Long-time readers here know how much of a fan I am of Glantri, and Rolston concurs, saying it is the best city presentation for a TSR game world. He also says that the book is nicely presented and well-written.  His other is a little boxed set known as The Forgotten Realms Campaign Set. I don't suppose I need to go into detail on how this one was received here. 

Up next are small ads.  Lou Zocchi has some Deities & Demigods with Elric and Cthulhu in them. Send him 40 bucks.  Oh, and I never did get my characters drawn from Anvil Enterprises.

Small ads in Dragon #129

The Convention Calendar has the best cons for the Winter of 1988, including one I actually went to!

The Egyptian Campaign

Lots of conventions listed here. Far more than we have now.

Dragonmirth has comics.

We end with some ads and just Snarf Quest. No Wormy, though. The last strip would show up in a couple more issues. Little did I know I was at the time living just a couple miles away from where Tramp was living. 

 So a fun issue. Great if you are into demi-humans. 

Mine has seen much better days, and I am unsure if it will survive the trip back to my box.

This Old, decrepit Dragon #129


Thursday, October 20, 2022

This Old Dragon: Issue #76

Dragon Magazine #76
Last week I talked about Dragon Magazine #75 and how packed full of material it was. Today I breaking my own rule and going for the very next issue because it has Part 2 of the Devils article. But there is a lot more here than just that. So once again let's sit back, put on a copy of The Polie's "Synchronicity" and drift back to August 1983 for Issue #76 of This Old Dragon.

Ah. Not only do we have a Clyde Caldwell cover this issue, but it is one of my favorites. Sure the redhead is in boob-plate, but at least she is not wearing high heels. The wizard in the background would also be the visual I'd use for my NPC Magnus until it was replaced by another Caldwell piece.  

Letters covers the woes of computer programs, in particular trying to translate BASIC from one system to another. 

An interesting little bit about the Ares magazine appears on page 4. TSR had just bought SPI in 1982 and their magazine Ares. The plane was, in 1983 at least, to keep them separate with Dragon handling the fantasy content and Ares the SciFi. Readers here will know of course that was short-lived and by April of 1984 Ares became a section within Dragon.

Ed Greenwood and Roger E. Moore are up first with The Ecology of the Beholder. Maybe one of my favorite "Ecology of..." articles ever. The "Sage" of the article is doubtless Elminster, though he lacks his normal archaic form of speech. One of the true joys of doing these "This Old Dragons" has been the rediscovery of these Ecology articles. One day I need to track them all down and do a retrospective. One thing I love to do with them is to put them into my Monstrous Compendiums.

Ecology of the Beholder

Yeah, that might feel like blasphemy to cut up my old Dragons, but I have multiples of this one, and the one I cut up was water damaged anyway. On that Beholder mini? Yeah more on him later.

Ahh...speaking of Magnus. We have the late, great Len Lakofka and his masterpiece, For NPCs Only: The Death Master. Magnus was my NPC Death Master and damn was he great. I mean this was such a great class. There is just so much about this class that just hits right. I am so pleased I am doing this issue in October. 

Up early is the SF/Gaming Convention Calendar for August 1983. Gen Con 16 gets a mention. 

Here we go. The main event. 

Ed Greenwood is back with The Nine Hells, Part II. This one covers the next four layers Malbolge to Nessus. Also featured here are 21 new Devils including Other Side favorite Lilith as the consort to Moloch of all people. Once again Ed is dropping hints about witches here (they serve Lilith).In addition to all the new devils and information on the layers we get seven pages discussing how magic is changed in the Hells.

This would be enough for any other issue, but we are only to page 45.

Next, we have The Dragon Magazine index. A complete index of Dragon magazine issues #1 to #74 and all seven issues of the Strategic Review. It covers 8 pages and would have been fantastic to have. Today it is superseded by the DragonDex and even that doesn't cover everything.

Ads for the Palladium Role-Playing Game and The RPGA take out middle section. 

Carl Smith provides us with a Boot Hill article about the Army in Saved By the Cavalry! Boot Hill largely gets forgotten these days as people remember D&D, Gamma World, and Star Fronters rather fondly. 

Sage Advice answers questions about Baba Yaga, mithral and adamantite, why AD&D Rangers are not Tolkien Rangers. Oh and how to deal with pregnancy in game. I assume they mean characters and not players.

Page Advice covers questions on how to submit articles and get published. 

Off the Shelf gives us some reviews of what was hot in Sci-Fi and Fantasy in the summer of 1983. Of these, I remember reading Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster and Storm Season by Robert Lynn Asprin, the fourth book in the Thieve's World series.

There is a feature, not really a review, on the Gangbuster game in Expanding the genre of RPGs.

Long ad or review or feature on Eon Publications in Borderlands is Worth the Price. It is a type of fantasy wargame.  Reviews for Cities, Judge Dredd, and Federation Space also appear.  There is another review, a re-review of the Dragonmaster card game.

Nice big ad for AD&D books. Again featuring one of my favorite bits of D&D art.

Issue 76 page 75

Small ads are next, Wormy, Snarf Quest #2, and Phil and Dixie go to Sham Con V.

Nice ad in the back for Star Frontiers minis.

So once again we have a Dragon that hits so far out of the park that all you need is the first 45 pages. Yes the index was great for 1983 and everyone still loves the comics, but for $3.00 you could get a mini-rulebook here and that was something special.