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Dragon Reflections #37

TSR Periodicals published The Dragon issue 37 in May 1980. It is 72 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we travel the planes with Ed Greenwood, get a sneak peek at the upcoming World of Greyhawk, and explore the Pit of the Oracle!

Drmg037.jpg


First up, I'll mention the delightful cover by the artist known as Darlene. It depicts Princess Jasmine, and this issue features the first episode of a comic-strip devoted to her adventures. The editors canceled the strip after just twelve episodes, though Jasmine later returned to the public eye in a self-titled card game. Darlene is best known for designing the original Greyhawk maps.

Editor Jake Jaquet farewells his friend Tim Kask (see Dragon Reflections #36) and notes that he will be "sorely missed." Jaquet also welcomes Bryce Knorr, who joins him and Kim Mohan on the editorial team. Knorr only stayed with the magazine for a couple of years. The editorial also contains a plea for more content, especially non-D&D articles. Jaquet says, "Runequest and Tunnels & Trolls are examples of a couple of other popular role-playing games, but you won't find articles about them in THE DRAGON. Why? Because we just plain don't have any!"

The 16-page center-section of the magazine is a dungeon called "The Pit of the Oracle." Written by Stephen Sullivan, it was the second-place winner in the International Dungeon Design Competition (first place went to "The Fell Pass" by Karl Merris, featured in The Dragon #32). Sullivan's adventure is quite comprehensive, describing a wilderness area, a town, and a two-level dungeon with over 70 rooms. Sullivan did some further freelance work for TSR and continued writing for RPGs into the 2000s.

There is a full slate of regular columns. "Minarian Legends" by G. Arthur Rahman describes the history of Elfland in the Divine Right boardgame. "Simulation Corner" by John Prados discusses the evolution of the combat resolution table in wargames. In "Leomund's Tiny Hut," Lenard Lakofka stats up a small pantheon of humourous gods. In "Giants in the Earth," Schick & Moldvay describe the methodology they've used to create statistics for literary characters.

"Up On A Soapbox" is brought to us by Kristan J. Wheaton and presents a reasonably academic theory for reconciling various magic systems in a single game world. "Bazaar of the Bizarre" brings us some new magic items from multiple authors, while "Dragon's Bestiary" presents the fearsome Vulturehound by Chris Chalmers and Dan Pollak. There is also another entry in Nick Nascati's seemingly interminable "Armies of the Renaissance" series.

"Sage Advice" by Jean Wells is as amusing as ever ("can I put my Apparatus of Kwalish inside my Might servant of Leuk-O?"). But the following question caught my eye since I was surprised to learn the rulebooks had never addressed this before:
"Question: How long does the paralysis caused by a carrion crawler, ghast or ghoul last?
Answer: I have always assumed it to be 24 hours. However, since the duration of the paralysis is not clearly defined in any of the books, I suggest that each DM decide the duration in his particular campaign."
In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gary Gygax discusses his plans for publishing Greyhawk, with The World of Greyhawk already at the printers. Several other supplements are in the works, including a City of Greyhawk gazetteer, a Shadow plane module, the Castle Greyhawk dungeons, and the Temple of Elemental Evil. Of these, only The Temple of Elemental Evil ever saw the light of day, and fans have always remained frustrated that they never really got to see "Gygax's Greyhawk."

Gygax also mentions the forthcoming Fiend Folio and Deities & Demigods, both of which were published soon after. He also notes that Jim Ward is leaving his teaching job to join TSR in the sales department. It's interesting that folk like Jim and Rob Kuntz, who we primarily think of as writers, joined TSR in non-creative roles.

The issue includes two small and related feature articles. In "Cities can help make characters more real," Paul Leathers discusses how urban centers can bring your campaign to life. Meanwhile, "Campaigning in the city" by Jeff Swycaffer includes a bunch of urban encounter tables. Swycaffer went on to publish several science fiction novels, including two for TSR.

"That's Not In The Monster Manual!" by Arthur Collins presents the neutral gem dragons for the very first time, including Sardior, the Ruby Dragon. In "From The City of Brass to Dead Orc Pass," Ed Greenwood describes the various forms that planar gates can take. It is a typically well-written article that is packed with ideas.

There are several rules variants. Bryan Bullinger gives us a large-scale streetfighting scenario for Squad Leader, T. I. Jones presents new spell research rules for D&D, and Colleen Bishop has random tables for fantasy libraries. F.C. MacKnight returns with more combat options for the Lankhmar board game.

There is a new column called "Eye of the Dragon," which presents a page of industry news. Amongst the most notable items:
  • SPI is releasing the Dragonslayers RPG.
  • TSR has established an office in the UK.
  • Avalon Hill has formed a computer games division.
  • Gamescience has acquired rights to Empire of the Petal Throne.
Finally, we have some game reviews. Pearl Harbor by GDW is "a quality game." Magic Wood, designed by International Team Games, is "beautifully illustrated," but "there are better games that will offer more challenge and variety for the money." Belter by GDW is "not a blockbuster" but "generally worth the asking price."

Next issue, we have tesseracts, strategies for hostile magic-users, and Ringside, a boxing simulation game!

M.T. Black is a freelance game designer and DMs Guild Adept. Go to his website for a free, five-star adventure!
 

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black


This was the first issue I read as well, although I didn't own it -- my DM wanted us to go through the absolute meatgrinder that was the pit, although I think we only briefly visited and ran like hell.

In "From The City of Brass to Dead Orc Pass," Ed Greenwood describes the various forms that planar gates can take. It is a typically well-written article that is packed with ideas.
This was also republished in the excellent Best of the Dragon, Vol. 2, if that's easier for people to get their hands on. It's worth seeking out.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Thanks as always for doing these. I think #87 was my first issue, though I soon got some back issues going back to #60.
 

I have a fan theory that in the world of Stranger Things, the shadow plane module came out and that's where the Vale of Shadows comes from, since the brief glimpse of the pages referencing it don't match any existing D&D product I'm aware of.

In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gary Gygax discusses his plans for publishing Greyhawk, with The World of Greyhawk already at the printers. Several other supplements are in the works, including a City of Greyhawk gazetteer, a Shadow plane module, the Castle Greyhawk dungeons, and the Temple of Elemental Evil. Of these, only The Temple of Elemental Evil ever saw the light of day, and fans have always remained frustrated that they never really got to see "Gygax's Greyhawk."
 




Michael Dean

Explorer
This is roughly the time I started collecting, although I'm having a hard time remembering which was my first issue, as I had seen some friends' copies before I subscribed. I think I did have this one because I distinctly remember reading about TSR opening up a UK office, so presumably this was where I read it.
 


I caught the ones on True Detective when I walked past my wife watching it, but still haven't gotten into Community. I wonder if there's a listing of all the fictional D&D sourcebooks out there?

There's also a bunch of fictitious AD&D modules in True Detective and Community.

Also, just want to praise that Darlene cover. She does some amazing work. I'd love to see a Death Saves-Darlene collaboration, like they've done with a few other old school D&D art pieces.
 


longshanks

Villager
This was the first issue of Dragon magazine that I bought when it came out. I still remember several of the articles mentioned here!
 

Also, just want to praise that Darlene cover. She does some amazing work. I'd love to see a Death Saves-Darlene collaboration, like they've done with a few other old school D&D art pieces.
I want someone, anyone, to do a big art book for Erol Otus like Dark Horse did for Tony DeTerlizzi a few years back, which was an amazing book. Art & Arcana was nice, but I want pure Otus weirdness, as much as possible, injected straight into my veins.
 

A proper Otus artbook would be lovely. Dude is still working and turning out amazing pieces, too, that perhaps don't get quite as much visibility as his older works.

I want someone, anyone, to do a big art book for Erol Otus like Dark Horse did for Tony DeTerlizzi a few years back, which was an amazing book. Art & Arcana was nice, but I want pure Otus weirdness, as much as possible, injected straight into my veins.
 


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