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Dragon Reflections #12 - Cthulhu Rises!

The Dragon Issue 12 was published in February 1978. It is 32 pages long, with a cover price of $1.50. This issue saw the appearance of great Cthulhu!


Editor Tim Kask proudly points to the magazine's first statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation, printed in compliance with US postal law. It shows that the Dragon has a circulation of 7500 as of the most recent issue. Kask says:

"Your support has made TD the largest non-organ in the field and placed it behind only The General, S&T and MOVES. We are quite satisfied with that position, particularly in light of the fact that all three of those magazines have had many years to get where they are."​

He also states that the magazine is soon moving to monthly issues, with this important caveat:

"However, if we don’t receive the articles we can’t print them. Therefore, we are making our bi-annual appeal for good quality material. We need good material on all FRP (fantasy role playing) games that are popular, including additions, variants, etc. We also need some good reviews, as well as some good analysis-type articles on currently popular fantasy, S&S and S-F games. We can also use good satire and humor pieces, as well as art."​

There are fewer articles this issue than last time, though still a good mix of content. There is an excerpt from Andre Norton's upcoming novel, Quag Keep, which is set in the World of Greyhawk. Quag Keep was the first ever RPG-based novel, and so was the forerunner of a multi-million dollar industry.

An article called "The More Humorous Side of D&D" shares some mildly funny actually play reports. There is a somewhat interesting variant on the illusionist class, as well as a table giving options for ship's cargo. And Jim Ward has an article discussing how a wizard can take down a fighter in one-to-one combat.

There are two articles with a strong historical bent, which hearkens back to the very earliest issues of the magazine. One of them gives background on the real-life Druids, while the other stats out various creatures from the Persian mythos.

One small but interesting article, presumably written by Tim Kask, gives a review of the just-released Monster Manual:

"The long talked about MONSTER MANUAL is now out in the shops and available by mail. The wait was worth it; the finished product is a radical departure from the norm in wargame publishing... The book is HARD bound, and stitched, and has a full color cover, an alphabetical table-of-contents and an index and contains over 200 illustrations! The hard binding makes it ideal for a mapping surface, and insures that it will hold up a long time. The illustrations are outstanding and profuse, and in themselves would warrant the cover price of $9.95. An absolute must for every D&D enthusiast everywhere."​

Rob Kuntz returns in the Sorcerer's Scroll, this time with some new game material. He introduces it thus:

"Those of you who have read H.P. Lovecrafts stories based around his fallen gods, The Great Old ones, will know what it means to finally get them into a form which in they are understood and compatible with the D&D system. J. Eric Holmes (known for his work with Basic Dungeons & Dragons) with additions by my humble self bring you parts of the Cthulhu Mythos. They are laid out to be compatible with Dungeons & Dragons supplement IV “Gods Demi-Gods & Heroes.” For all of you Lovecraft enthusiasts here’s what you’ve been waiting for. For all of you not familiar with the Cthulhu cycle here’s a new experience.​

He then stats out 15 creatures from the Cthulhu mythos and also gives information on the Elder Sign. All entertaining stuff, and further evidence (as if it were required) of how significant an influence Lovecraft has had over the RPG industry.

But great Cthulhu is not to be trifled with, and that slumbering star spawn went on to create a lot of trouble for TSR. In 1980, TSR published "Deities & Demi-gods" written by Jim Ward and Rob Kuntz (and featuring one of my favorite covers). This edition had stats for 17 pantheons, including Michael Moorcock's Melnibonéan mythos, and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Moorcock had given verbal permission to TSR to use his material, and the company was under the impression that Lovecraft's material was public domain.

However, a relatively new player in the RPG arena named Chaosium had signed licensing agreements with Moorcock and also Arkham House, who claimed (controversially) to own Lovecraft's work. Chaosium threatened legal action, and it was finally agreed that TSR would include an acknowledgment in the book, and so it happened in the second printing.

Brian Blume, one of TSR's owners, was unhappy at mentioning a competitor in this book, and so the third printing of the book removed the Melnibonéan and Cthulhu mythoi. However, the acknowledgment was not removed, and so Chaosium continued to be thanked though none of their material was in the book! It took another 1 or 2 printings for it all to be sorted out, proving that Cthulhu has agents everywhere.

In the next issue, Rob Kuntz talks Tolkien while Jim Ward tells us how to win D&D!

This article was contributed by M.T. Black as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program.M.T. Black is a game designer and DMs Guild Adept. Please follow him on Twitter @mtblack2567 and sign up to his mailing list. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
 
M.T. Black

Comments

Ed Laprade

Villager
Ah, Quag Keep, one of my favorite authors writing a story featuring my favorite game (at the time). How could it all go so wrong? It was, in my opinion, the worst thing she ever did. What a dissapointment!
 

R_Chance

Explorer
Ed Laprade pretty much said all you could say. If this was your first Andre Norton book it might very well have been your last. Which would, btw, be a shame. I've never been a huge fan of game fiction and this might be why. I am fond of M.A.R. Barker's novels set on Tekumel, but game mechanics don't really enter into them.
 

Hussar

Legend
Heh. Even way back then, we get lizard folk PC's but, the game will have to wait decades before we actually get anything official. I've always wondered why D&D could never get some sort of lizard dude as a PC race.
 

R_Chance

Explorer
Heh. Even way back then, we get lizard folk PC's but, the game will have to wait decades before we actually get anything official. I've always wondered why D&D could never get some sort of lizard dude as a PC race.
I think it was a combination of "not traditional" and advantage in HD (iirc Lizard Men had 2 dice and an AC advantage). Empire of the Petal Throne (which was D&D based in rules) had PC races with up to 3 HD starting and that's the route I took. I had Half Ogres (2 HD) and my own version of Centaurs (3 HD). Both races were "Large" size and a lot of weapons dealt higher damage (and a few dealt lower) to creatures of that size. Along with the increased costs of armor and equipment it balanced out imho. But those were the days of heavy homebrew. AD&D (1E) discouraged that , but we did our own thing anyway. Still do of course :)

*edit* added a bit and spelling. I swear sometimes it comes out like I'm on a phone with auto correct... even when I'm not.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Sure, if we insisted that a "lizardy PC" had to be lizard folk. But, we went through 3+ editions before we got an actual playable scaley PC. :uhoh: I never understood what the problem was.
 
Sure, if we insisted that a "lizardy PC" had to be lizard folk. But, we went through 3+ editions before we got an actual playable scaley PC. :uhoh: I never understood what the problem was.
Aren't they too emo or something? Or is that the demonspawn PCs, that REH et al were envisaging before Appendix N was even a twinkle in Gary's eyes?
 

Shasarak

Villager
Sure, if we insisted that a "lizardy PC" had to be lizard folk. But, we went through 3+ editions before we got an actual playable scaley PC. :uhoh: I never understood what the problem was.
I can not believe that DnD never had playable PC Lizard folk!

Wait, how are we numbering editions again?
 

Jhaelen

Villager
I have very fond memories of the old 'Deities & Demigods' and its inclusion of the Mythos. It was my first contact with unspeakable things by Lovecraft et.al.
 

Hussar

Legend
I can not believe that DnD never had playable PC Lizard folk!

Wait, how are we numbering editions again?
Well, really, it's not until Dragonborn that anything scaley made it into a PHB. So, yeah, 0e-3.5 did not have a core lizard folk PC set of rules. I'm sure there are non-core rules for it in supplements. Fair enough. But, it always baffled me that we never actually got a lizardy core race until 4e. I always thought it was a seriously missed opportunity in 3e when they simply went with the same basic races as every earlier edition.
 
I keep meaning to give Quag Keep a try, but comments like these scare me off.

The earliest Lizardfolk PC I saw in play was in 2e. I think I’ve only seen one since then, and that was relatively recently. Most of the players I’ve gamed with stick to the classic four, with the occasional oddity thrown in for variety.
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
Off top of my head, 2E had the lizardman in the Complete Book of Humanoids.
3E? But it seemed easy to work with the PC race from the MM. There was a FR supplement that probably included them.
4E MM had brief stats for some races in the appendix. Kobolds there, but no lizardfolk. Even bullywugs were included in MM2. (I am sure lizardfolk race rules would have appeared some where).
5E in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

I agree, it is strange there was a lack of scaled folk amoung the core races for so many editions. I know we had lizardfolk PCs as far back as 2E in our own games.

Once again, thanks MT. Fun stuff.
 

M.T. Black

Explorer
I keep meaning to give Quag Keep a try, but comments like these scare me off.

They kinda make me want to have a look at it!
 

Jhaelen

Villager
didn't darksun have a scaly race?
Not as a player race. At least not in the original core set. In the revised core set they added Pterrans, iirc.; i.e. a race of flying dinosaur-like humanoids.

A supplement introduced the 'dray', a reptilian race created by an undead sorcerer king. In 4e they sort of became a player race using the rules for Dragonborn.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
I remember buying that edition of Dragon - it was my first ever exposure to the lovecraftian mythos, and as a direct result of this they became the go-to evil gods in my D&D campaigns from then on!
 

Vanveen

Villager
Cthulhu WAS in the public domain, mostly because of Lovecraft's terrible copyright practices. Arkham House claimed them because August Derleth, a chancer on the level of Maurice Girodias, had published them after HPL's death. But proving this would have been too expensive, or I suspect beyond the competence, of TSR and whatever legal counsel it had.
Mapping on the back of a book bound in pictorial boards? Sigh.
 

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