D&D General Damn I miss Dragon Magazine


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Stormonu

Legend
I've got a deep collection of the print runs of Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron, which I still fill out with back issues every so often; I just picked up near-mint copies of Dragon issues #184 and #192 earlier this month.

At the very least, I wish WotC would make POD options for the digital versions of Dragon, since they're now on sale on DTRPG, but that doesn't seem likely to happen. As it is, they don't even have all of those issues up for sale; the last print issue was #359, but the DTRPG PDFs don't begin until issue #364 (affiliate link).
I'm lucky to have the Dragon CD set that came out years ago - basically up to #250 as PDFs. However, as I recall TSR/WotC got in trouble for producing that due to the inclusion of ads or somesuch from 3rd party without their permission; it was how Necromancer Games got permission to get Kalamar published as "official" product, as I recall. I imagine they are extremely reluctant to have a repeat of releasing any content that might lead to more legal issues.
 

Don't they have the copyright to the actual magazine? (I don't fully understand this stuff, I admit.)

Ads seem like an odd thing to be complaining about, too--seems like free advertising for your company is a good thing.

As an aside, it was kind of amusing to see ads for Manhattan's Compleat Strategist dated before I was born.

You're a lucky man to have that CD!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Ernie Gygax tried to reboot a version of old-school Dragon with his Gygax magazine. It was great, except for two things:

1. Nearly impossible to get in Canada.
2. It only lasted 4 (?) issues and then someone (Gail Gygax? not sure) sued him for using the name, after which as far as I know it shut down.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I'm lucky to have the Dragon CD set that came out years ago - basically up to #250 as PDFs. However, as I recall TSR/WotC got in trouble for producing that due to the inclusion of ads or somesuch from 3rd party without their permission; it was how Necromancer Games got permission to get Kalamar published as "official" product, as I recall. I imagine they are extremely reluctant to have a repeat of releasing any content that might lead to more legal issues.
It wasn't ads. It was that Wizards of the Coast only had the first-run rights to the Knights of the Dinner Table (which is owned by Kenzer Co.) strips that were in some of their later issues. Kenzer filed suit, alleging that the CD-ROM (which featured digital copies of Dragon issues #1-250 in their entirety) constituted reprinting the strips, and was a violation of the "first-printing only" contract.

The case was settled, as such cases often are, and Kenzer Co. got several concessions from WotC:
  1. They got to use a lot of D&D intellectual property for their HackMaster "4th Edition" game.
  2. They got to print 3E-compatible Kingdoms of Kalamar books not only without using the OGL, but also with the actual D&D logo (though WotC would look at and approve these before they were released).
  3. They got to publish several D&D comic books (all of which were mini-series).
Of course, those concessions all had expiration dates, which is why by the time D&D 4th Edition came out, Kenzer Co. was making a new version of HackMaster, and was releasing a 4E-compatible Kingdoms of Kalamar without any license with WotC (Dave Kenzer is an IP attorney, so the prospect didn't worry him).

Now, that's the story as I've heard it; someone else might have more details or better insight. I'll add only that, while I'm no lawyer, I've since heard that similar cases (about what constitutes a breach of a first-printing only contract) have gone to court, only to determine that such reprints actually don't constitute a violation. But that's something I heard third-hand, so take it with a fairly large grain of salt.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Give it another decade or two I expect print magazines and newspapers won’t even exist any more.
 

Retreater

Legend
I was more of a fan of Dungeon.
These days, I've been getting some zines and magazines (some PDF and some physical). I feel like there's a lot of good content out there, especially if you broaden your horizons to indie designers and third party.
 


cbwjm

Legend
I miss it, in the nostalgic way that glosses over the fact that often enough, most of the content of any given issue wasn't terribly useful.
Yeah, some issues had at most 1 useful article, often a whole issue I found to be a waste of time reading. Still, what issues had at least one good article I still find excellent as a source of inspiration.
 

I subscribed to Dragon well before issue 100, and kept it up through 300... and then let it lapse. I enjoyed it a lot when it was 1E/2E and I was still active in gaming, but when I stopped playing and 3E came around, I lost interest in it all. But yeah, getting Dragon in the mail during my gaming years was always a treat...
 

I miss having magazines with useful content in general. The online only 4E ones were fine, too. The articles about various extraplanar beings were especially fun (Deities & Demigods, Demonomicon, Codex of Betrayal, Lords of Chaos, and Court of Stars).

I know Demonomicon was a thing during the Paizo era, but it was nice to see similar articles for creatures that weren't demon lords. The Court of Stars article for the Prince of Frost, the Lords of Chaos article for Balcoth, and the Codex of Betrayal article for Alloces really sold me on them as beings I'd want to feature in a game I DM or use as warlock patrons for a PC.
 
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delericho

Legend
Give it another decade or two I expect print magazines and newspapers won’t even exist any more.
Yeah. Much as I miss the magazines, it really doesn't make sense to try to bring them back. Indeed, I strongly suspect that even if WotC hadn't brought the license back in-house they would have been cancelled by now anyway.
 


SirGrotius

Explorer
I miss something tactile, too. I received Dragon for a good 3-5 years, and and enjoyed:
  • To have something to look forward each month
  • The cover and interior art
  • The thoughtful and well-paced stories and articles
  • The editor and reader comments were dynamic and usually sage
On an odd note, I've kept all those magazines, they must be 15-20 years old, and it's incredible the amount of reading the public was expected to consume in an advertisement. There were almost half-a-page blurbs about the product, story, or service for sale and it was very well written and engaging, but again, way too much to expect someone to read now. I would expect most Facebook or social-media ads try to have three or fewer words in the copy.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I miss something tactile, too. I received Dragon for a good 3-5 years, and and enjoyed:
  • To have something to look forward each month
  • The cover and interior art
  • The thoughtful and well-paced stories and articles
  • The editor and reader comments were dynamic and usually sage
On an odd note, I've kept all those magazines, they must be 15-20 years old, and it's incredible the amount of reading the public was expected to consume in an advertisement. There were almost half-a-page blurbs about the product, story, or service for sale and it was very well written and engaging, but again, way too much to expect someone to read now. I would expect most Facebook or social-media ads try to have three or fewer words in the copy.

These days ads are competing with a TON of other stuff for people to look at and read in a fleeting moment and the expectation that a reader/subscriber will look at a magazine several times over the course of a month (or longer given that Dragon had rules to access and the like) does not exist for an online format (heck, the ads online will not be the same from viewing to viewing in many cases as different ads are served), thus the idea of wasting time and space on paragraphs of text is inefficient. Back in the day, many Dragon readers read their issues over and over, and there was more than one ad that inspired me to introduce stuff to my games even when I didn't get or play the game advertised. I remember being really inspired (for example) by WHFRP ads in Dragon - and soon there were mohawk-wearing troll-hunting dwarves in my setting. Noticing the details of the ads may not have occurred in a first read through of an issue, but later browsing usually got me to pay attention to details I glossed over the previous times.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
Back in the 2E days, I used to religiously read Dragon from cover to cover. One of the things I missed most from later issues was the short stories actually - my favorite was the Fool Wolf series. The ecologies were also fun to read, though I had an impossible time attempting to inject bits from the article into the actual game (I think I could do it a lot easier these days). Also, I really enjoyed a lot of the articles that took real-world places, equipment, myths or locations and boiled a lot of research down for use in the game I appreciated at lot - at the very least it did a lot of legwork that would get me interested in finding out more about the subject, and give me a place to start researching from.

By 3E it started becoming tied to the release schedule and the articles just started to become ads and add-ons for the publications coming out that month. Dragon lost a lot of it's unique flair with that move, because previously it didn't so much overlap product as filled in gaps you wouldn't expect to see in existing product.

I really think if Dragon could go back to that "supplemental reading for the game" instead of ad-ware, it could be revived as a tidy small distribution magazine.
 

Mark G

Villager
I'm lucky to have the Dragon CD set that came out years ago - basically up to #250 as PDFs. However, as I recall TSR/WotC got in trouble for producing that due to the inclusion of ads or somesuch from 3rd party without their permission; it was how Necromancer Games got permission to get Kalamar published as "official" product, as I recall. I imagine they are extremely reluctant to have a repeat of releasing any content that might lead to more legal issues.
It had more to do with paying writers (mostly the fiction writers) for reprint rights. From what I understand, Dragon only paid for first-run publication rights but didn’t pay for reprint rights nor did they buy the articles outright.
 

Mark G

Villager
My first issue of Dragon was #67, with comedic Thanksgiving themed art on the cover. For me, the golden age of Dragon was the Kim Mohan era. I had just missed the Tim Kask era but I got a good taste of it with the first two “Best of The Dragon” reprints, which I also loved and reread over and over. I’m so glad I have the CD ROM archive when I’m feeling nostalgic.

For me, Dragon was a way to engage with the game I loved, and the community that played it, even when I was unable to play. A day off from work or school usually meant finding a cafe somewhere, having lunch, and reading magazines. So I often bought Dragon just for the joy of reading it.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the first issue of KNOCK magazine, a new bi-annual OSR print publication coming out of France. It’s got that old-school vibe in content and that phantasmagorical feel you found in the art of Dragon’s early days. Its Kickstarter funded with ALL stretch goals acheived. So it’s a GO. We’re just waiting to see if it will be sold beyond what is supplied to backers. I can’t wait.
 

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