Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dragon by Dragon ... November 1978

And so we come to November of 1978, which is notable ... for nothing that I'm aware of, other than this magazine. This appears to be their Halloween issue (why November? Kask explains it's because November is the dreariest month of the year - what with all the football and Thanksgiving? - and thus a good month for horror stories).

Whatever the reason, let's see what Dragon #20 has to offer.

Designer's Forum - The Making of a Winner: Imperium - Outstanding Game of 1977 by Marc Miller

Yeah, that Marc Miller. In this article, Miller describes the origins of Imperium. Apparently it began as two games, Imperium being a giant sci-fi game of economics and conquest, and StarFleet, which was on a smaller scale. Ultimately, StarFleet was put on the back burner while Traveler was made. When Lou Zocchi mentioned that the name could get them in trouble with the Star Trek folks, and when they decided Imperium was too big to publish, they decided to take what they had learned making Traveler and apply to StarFleet, which would now be renamed Imperium.

Anywho - the article goes on to describe the design process behind Imperium, and to also provide some rules clarifications and addenda.

I enjoyed this bit ...


Whatever happened to that guy?

Distributing Eyes & Amulets in EPT by Mike Crane

One of those great articles that makes perfect sense to people who play the game. The article is just a series of random tables that makes sure "rare" eyes and amulets show up less often than "common" eyes and amulets.

The Mythos of Polynesia in Dungeons & Dragons by Jerome Arkenberg

This article covers everyone from Tangoroa, God of the Ocean, to Pele the Destroyer, to Miru, God of the Underworld. The heroes seem more interesting ...

The Polynesian Heroes were born in non-human form, and were brought up by their maternal grandparents, from whom they derived their magic. When in human form, they could transform, stretch, or shrink themselves, fly, take giant strides, and perform great feats of strength.

Maui is, of course, the badass of the crew (and he happens to look like a buffoon with eight heads) - here are some stats for Blood & Treasure.

Maui, Challenger of the Gods: Magic-User 18 and Fighter 15; HP 140; AC 12; ATK 4 slams +7 (1d3+5); MV 30 (Fly 40); F 6 R 9 W 4; XP 4500; Special: Dominate foes with 0 HD or less, 4 attacks per round, spells per day (4/4/4/4/4/4/4/3/3/2); Str 20, Int 18, Wis 18, Con 18, Dex 17, Cha 3.

Wormy

In this episode, Frank and Dudley abscond with one of the demon eggs to spring them on the ogres. It's amazing how engaging this strip was right from the beginning.

D&D Variant: Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D by Ronald Pehr

Love the editor's note:

Editor’s Note: This seems to be a well thought out class-variant. At the very least, it makes an excellent NPC or hireling/acquaintance. For those DM’s bold enough to try it, it provides a very viable character for ladies; be they sisters, girlfriends, lady gamer or others. D&D was one of the first games to appeal to females, and I for one, find it a better game because of that fact.

It manages to be both inclusive and a bit sexist at the same time.

So, what do the ladies get with this witch? It's actually a nice class, and, I believe, the origin of the later witch class that showed up in Dragon in the 80's. Witches here are not Satanists, but more nature lovers who use magic to charm and control - I guess what you would call an enchanter in more modern versions of the game - and who can brew potions, narcotics, hallucinogens, etc. Witches get eight levels of spells, many of them new, and they appear to straddle the normal magic-user/cleric divide.

D&D Variant: Demonology Made Easy by Gregory Rihn

This article is all about conjuring demons (and devils). The key here is learning a demon's name, and the process is simple and clever: You research a demon or devil's true name the same way you research a spell:

Demon prince, arch-devil = 9th level spell
Type VI, pit fiend = 8th level spell
Type V, ice devil, succubus = 7th level spell
Type IV, horned devil, night hag = 6th level spell
Type III, bone devil = 5th level spell
Type II, barbed devil = 4th level spell
Type I, erinyes, misc. = 3rd level spell

Definitely one of those, "Why the heck didn't I think of that" moments.

Once you get down to the conjuration, you roll some percentile dice to see if what you call is what you get. Calling a demon prince, for example, has the following chances:

01-50 = Type V demon
51-75 = Type VI demon
76-00 = Demon Prince

High level conjurations require assistants and sacrifices, and there are additional chances for failure for characters below 20th level. Very good article.

GenCon XI Photo Album

Greg Costikyan of SPI ... I believe I recognize the woman as Gygax's daughter

That Gygax fellow

J Eric Holmes and his son Chris

Jeff Perren

Lou Zocchi and Woody ... proving that GenCon's best days are clearly behind it

Marc Miller

Mike Carr

Tim Kask

Tom Shaw of Avalon Hill
Review: See Africa and Die! or, Mr. Stanley, Meet Dr. Livingstone by Gary Gygax

Gygax reviews Source of the Nile here. Apparently, this is a super long play game. It is pretty extensive review, and it looks like a pretty cool game. Best line of the review:

Be certain to read and KNOW the rules before you attempt to play. The rules are not well organized, nor are they very complete. In fact, in many ways they remind me of those originally written for D&D®.

Gygax also gives some additional ideas for the game.

The Asimov Cluster by William B. Fawcett

This article discusses the problems inherent in recreating scenes from sci-fi novels in games of Traveler. It also provides stats for the planets of the Asimov Cluster from the Foundation Trilogy.


Advert for the drow modules. The drow are going to change quite a bit over the next 30 years.

Preview: The Lord of the Rings by Allen Hammack

This preview is for the Bakshi animated version (which I'll admit I like, sue me). It mostly gathers together some stills from the movie and a few production notes from Bakshi.

It's a Good Day to Die by Lyle Fitzgerald

This article compiles death statistics of a D&D campaign in Saskatoon. In two to three years, this campaign racked up 600 deaths of PCs and their advanceable hirelings. Wow! I know the old game was deadly (I've played it), but this does seem excessive. The top killers are Miscellaneous Causes (14.6 percent) and goblin races (10.1 percent). Dragons were responsible for 7.5 percent of the kills and giants 5.7 percent - respectable numbers for the big guys. War only caused 6 deaths - I guess one of the four horsemen needs to be replaced by a goblin.

War of the Ring Variant by Allen Hammack

Simple rule change - hide the movement of the fellowship so the bad guys don't have to pretend they don't know where they are. Honestly - can't believe the designers didn't think of this.

Fineous Fingers

A dragon throws a stupid paladin off a cliff. Nice tactic - fake a subdual.

Demonic Possession in the Dungeon by Chas. Sagui

This article takes the rules to task on the inability of demons to possess victims. In Chas' rules, only demons of Type IV or higher can possess mortals. Interesting line:

The rule of the thumb is that only those demons that are immune to all but magical weapons and therefore exist upon two planes at once may possess.

One of those, "wait - is that really why, or did he just make that up?" lines.

The basic idea is that the DM let's the players all know they might be possessed. Everyone rolls a saving throw, but only character is really the victim. The victim is chosen "randomly" - i.e. first person into a room, last person, etc. A save vs. magic is allowed to avoid the possession.

The possessed dude has his normal AC, but attacks as the possessing demon. They cannot use lawful-aligned magic weapons. The demon can use its normal powers, provided its new body doesn't preclude it. All damage is taken by the body, not the demon.

There's more, but you'll need to read the article.

Not a bad issue, really. The witch and the demon conjuration articles are my favorites. I'd recommend hunting it down.

7 comments:

  1. The 8 levels of spells for the wtich was really clever, I thought.

    I think the one in Dragon 43 (which is based on this class) is more playable as a PC, but funnily enough, that gets labeled NPC only.

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  2. I think that after a certain point they labeled them all "NPC only" to keep from having trouble with tournament folks.

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  3. Check out page 195 of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide: '(Cf. THE DRAGON #20, Vol. III, No. 6: "Demonology Made Easy", by Gregory Rihn. This excellent article gives some interesting thoughts on variant creatures of the evil planes!)'

    I think that is the only magazine article that is praised by name in the DMG.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting. I'm always astounded by many things I've missed in the DMG after owning it and using it for 30 years.

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  4. "November is the dreariest month of the year - what with all the football and Thanksgiving?"

    Well, Thanksgiving is terrific, but.....football? You're talking about RPG geeks. No self-respecting nerd that I know of watches....football.

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  5. Jeff Dee has a kickstarter - yay! Also, I really need to go back and read through my old Dragon magazines again :-)

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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