Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dragon by Dragon ... April 1978

Niall armors up like a barbarian!
Dragon #13 is a mixed bag. Mostly good, a little wasted space (in my opinion of course, one man's waste is another man's ... hmmm, that's not going to sound right ... skip it). Let's take a look, shall we ...

Tim Kask starts off with his editorial spiel, noting that this is the first of the monthly Dragons. It is also the April Fool's edition, which we'll regret a little later on. Gencon moves this year from the Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva (the what in where?) to the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha - they needed more room. TSR Periodicals is also planning a move to a bigger building.

Shlump Da Orc (I'm guessing that's a nom de plume) produces a surprisingly long article on figuring out how heavy giants are and how much they can lift. In fact, it is multiple efforts to answer this pressing question (one of the ones that suggests to me D&D was already beginning the process of moving from practice to theory with some folks). One formula explains that a 30-ft. tall giant should weigh 11.75 tons, have a 16' 9" chest and an 8' long torso. Would you care for the semi-official weight formula?

Anyhow ... the bit on how much a giant could pick up is a bit more interesting, if for no other reason than because of the following assumptions they use about the average human:

The average person can:

1) Carry his full weight on his back
2) Hold in his arms 3/4 of his weight - dead weight that is balanceable
3) With difficulty pick up half his body weight in dead weight
4) With difficulty pick up half his body weight in a struggling animal
5) With mild difficulty pick up 1/4 of his body weight a struggling animal with two hands
6) Fairly easily pick up 1/4 of his body weight in one hand of dead weight, balanced and somewhat symmetrical

Maybe these guidelines will prove useful to you one day.

The other useful bit is the weight (pounds per cubic foot) of various substances, such as:

Aluminum: 170 pounds
Brass, Forging: 525 pounds
Copper: 560 pounds
Iron, Malleable: 450 pounds
Gold: 1,205 pounds
Platinum: 1,340 pounds
Silver: 655 pounds
Steel, Cold Rolled: 500 pounds

Agate: 160 pounds
Beeswax: 60 pounds
Bone: 110 pounds
Diamond: 200 pounds


This one actually came in quite handy for something I was just writing for NOD, and definitely will be transcribed into an Excel document for future use in my writing. Thanks 30-year old Dragon!

Rob Kuntz now treads into dangerous territory with Tolkien in Dungeons & Dragons. I'm not sure if this was pre- or post-lawsuit. This one is an official pronouncement on the "position on D&D in conjunction with other worlds of fantasy which influenced it conception and specifically to clear up the fallacious beliefs regarding Tolkien's fantasy as the only fantasy which inspired D&D"

The article mostly boils down to "D&D does not simulate Middle Earth, nor is it intended to, so please stop your nerd-whining". This continues to be a problem in gaming, primarily in that many people forget that these are games, which by design are about allocating scarce resources to achieve victory (which, actually, is also what life is about), and not make-believe sessions in which whatever you want to happen does.

More interesting than this article is the inset by Brian Blume - The Bionic Supplement for Metamorphosis Alpha. Bonzer! Random dice roll to replace your parts with bionic bits, and what those bits do. Totally worth reproducing in its entirety:

Jon Pickens is in next with an equally awesome article - D&D Option: Demon Generation. We begin with a kick-ass piece of art ...

The article gives a way to generate additional "Types" of demons, with the following assumptions - all demons have Hit Dice and Gate ability appropriate to their level, all of Level III or less are vulnerable to normal weapons, the rest being vulnerable only to magical weapons, Magic Resistance 50% at Level I, increasing by 5% per level thereafter and special abilities based on the demon's level. The powers are divided into 6 levels, and frankly, this looks like a blueprint for a demon class. I won't reproduce it all, but worth checking out.

Jerome Arkenberg now presents the Japanese Mythos for D&D - again, very extensive article on the gods, goddesses, monsters and heroes of Japanese myth and legend, though the info on each god/demon/hero is pretty light. If you want a super rules-lite version of D&D, imagine if all you knew about a character was his Armor Class, Hit Points, Movement Rate, Magic Ability (i.e. level of magic-user or cleric), Fighter Ability and Psionic Ability.

Up next is the April Fool's bit - a couple pages of song parodies. The less said the better.

Tim Kask now presents WARLORD: Correcting a Few Flaws. Since I know nothing about the game, I won't comment on the article. Sounds like a fun game, though.

Gardner F. Fox now presents The Stolen Sacrifice, another adventure of Niall of the Far Travels (not to be confused with Niall of the Just Running to the Corner for Ice).

"The man moved silently through the shadows, keeping always to the darkest places. He moved as an animal might, his body poised for instant action, a big hand on the hilt of the longsword by his side. His eyes darted from a doorway to the far corner, where the wind blew a length of scarlet silk hanging from the wall. Caution was in his great body, for he knew that should he be seen this night, death would be his reward."

Fineous Fingers finds out that just walking up to an evil wizard's stronghold is stupid ...

Yeah, you hate him, but DM's love him. Meanwhile, Wormy introduces barbecued dwarf burgers.

We round it out with James Ward explaining a few tricks for adventurers - the kind of things that remind you that, at least back in the day, it really was a game, meant to be played and the rules exploited.

That's it for #13. All in all a pretty useful issue, and especially good if you enjoy Gardner Fox.


  1. I've always liked that giant article, though I've never actually used it "in play" just as a worldbuilding aid.

    1. Yeah - just last night I was making up the weight of some valuable idol. Now I don't have to fake it anymore! (Or to put it another way - I never had to fake it, but I was too lazy to look those masses up)

  2. That is really awesome. I am going to check out that issue right away.

  3. The weight article and the demon generation rules made The Best of the Dragon.

  4. Next time, I think I'm going to replace the gold pieces in the treasure trove at the bottom of a very steep incline in the Dungeon of Dread Sisyphus with some cold rolled steel.

  5. It's worth remembering that there are things more valuable than gold, and when player's don't know this and pass them up, it can make a Referee smile inside.


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