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Dragon Reflections #44

Dragon Publishing released The Dragon issue 44 in December 1980. It is 110 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have Food Fight, Super Spies, and a massive round-up of Judges Guild products!

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US law required the magazine to publish subscription and circulation numbers every year, providing a helpful insight into the commercial health of The Dragon. As of October, they had 4,558 subscribers and a total circulation of 20,155. These numbers were to rise sharply over the next few years.

The special feature this month is another lift-out game. Food Fight is "a complete game of cafeteria conflict" and was designed by staff members Bryce Knorr and Kim Mohan. It is aiming for the playfulness of the popular Tom Wham games but suffers from over-complexity. Some reviewers on Board Game Geek remember it fondly, but overall, it is not well rated.

We have several other features. "The Lure of the Golden Godling" is a short story by Gardner F. Fox and the latest in the "Niall of the Far Travels" series. I have found these to be very pale imitations of the Conan tales, but they had their fans--including The Dragon editorial staff!

"The Super Spies" by Allen Hammack gives Top Secret stats for a list of famous spies from TV and the movies. It includes people such as Modesty Blaise, Emma Peel, Maxwell Smart, and (of course!) James Bond. Good silly fun, and the sort of thing modern magazines probably couldn't do for IP reasons.

Mark Simmons describes a new board game, King of the Mountain from Dimension Six Inc. It is a "battle royale" style game with the goal being the first to enter the Citadel of the Peak. Modern reviewers agree the game had some good ideas marred by poor implementation.

There is a feature sub-section called "Fantasy Genetics," which focuses on D&D races interbreeding. "Humanoid races in review" by Gregory Rihn recaps the various humanoids in D&D and speculates on which could interbreed. "Half-orcs in a variety of styles" by Roger Moore proposes the existence of Orc-Kobolds, Orc-Goblins, etc. "What do you get when you cross..?" by John Olson discusses why cross-breeding between the vast majority of intelligent creatures is not viable. In "Half + half isn't always full," Paul Crabaugh uses modern genetics to discuss the offspring of half-orc unions. Truthfully, I struggled to find playable material in any of these articles.

"Nothing but the ho-ho-ho truth" by Douglas Loss is an attempt to stat up Santa Claus. This sort of thing is appropriate enough in the December issue, but the article probably needed a bit more humor to make it work.

On to our regular columns. Jim Ward and Will Niebling continue to dispense wisdom in "Sage Advice." It includes this interesting editorial note: "Sage Advice is not intended to be a forum for getting answers to questions that are primarily a matter of interpretation. Questions which cannot be answered absolutely one way or the other but require a judgment to be made by the answerer are less liable to be printed than questions which involve a rules clarification and can be answered definitively." I suspect it was by no means apparent to those writing in whether their question could be answered definitively or was a matter of interpretation!

"Giants in the Earth" has a new writer, with Dave Cook joining Tom Moldvay. "Zeb" Cook is one of the most celebrated writers of the TSR era, with credits including the Expert Set, The Isle of Dread, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, The Veiled Society, and Planescape. In this column, they stat up C.S. Lewis's Reepicheep and Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger. Reepicheep is a fabulous character, and perhaps he will pop up in my home campaign!

In "Leomund's Tiny Hut," Len Lakofka spends several pages refactoring the strength scores of numerous creatures from the Monster Manual. It's a very Len Lakofka thing to do, but I don't think this is his most helpful column. In "Simulation Corner," John Prados laments the lack of a definitive guide to the history of war games. Do we have such a guide now? Perhaps Peterson's Playing at the World?

"Minarian Legends" returns with everything you ever wanted to know about The Black Knight of Stubstaff Keep. Glenn Rahman clearly had a massive store of lore for his game world, and it's surprising he never thought to release it as an RPG setting.

"Dragon's Bestiary" brings us three new creatures: the hook-beaked Koodjanuk by Roger Moore, the cold-casting Cryoserpent also by Moore, and the Ice Golem by Rich Baldwin. The Koodjanuk, a spell-casting bird from the higher planes, is the most interesting of the lot.

There are many reviews this month. Mark Herro looks at three computer games in "The Electric Eye." Dungeon of Death by Instant Software provides a "cheap and dirty fix" for the solitaire gamer. Android Nim by 80-US is "a little light entertainment," while Time Traveller by Krell Software is "not a bad game... perhaps a bit over-priced."

“Dragon’s Augury” by William Fawcett reviews nine (!) Judges Guild products. Modron, a town index, "is inexpensive and has some good expansions of ideas mentioned, but not detailed, in earlier Guild products." Escape from Astigar's Lair is "a thinking player's dungeon." The Treasure Vaults of Lindoran is "one of the highest quality offerings from the Guild in recent months," while Inferno is "an excellent choice" for high-level characters. Portals of Tosh, a planetary sourcebook, has "many ideas that are worth utilizing."

Spies of Lightelf "adds a good deal of detail to the Wilderlands campaign and gives insight into an otherwise minor corner of the map," while Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches, a massive set of maps and indexes, is "one of the major projects in roleplaying games." Duck Tower is "one of the best Runequest scenarios available and should be a must for anyone campaigning in the system." Finally, while City of Lei Tabor, another Runequest sourcebook, presents "interesting characters for the players to interact with," Duck Tower provides better value.

This issue's cover was by Phil Foglio, and other artists include Jeff Dee, Jack Crane, W. Willingham, Mike Carroll, Kenneth Rahman, Tracy Lesch, Jim Roslof, and Roger Raupp.

And that's a wrap for this month. There are no stand-out articles, though I did enjoy "Dragon's Augury" and "Giants in the Earth." Next month, we have three new NPC classes, more Bazaar of the Bizarre and the Dungeon Design Kit!
 

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black


We have several other features. "The Lure of the Golden Godling" is a short story by Gardner F. Fox and the latest in the "Niall of the Far Travels" series. I have found these to be very pale imitations of the Conan tales, but they had their fans--including The Dragon editorial staff!
Fox is a titan in the comics world, writing the third ever Batman story (and inventing the utility belt and Batarang), creating the original Flash, Hawkman, Justice Society and Justice League.

The Niall stories are pretty slight, which was obvious even when I was middle schooler, but I suspect someone on the Dragon editorial staff considered him comic book royalty and published his Niall work because of that.
This issue's cover was by Phil Foglio, and other artists include Jeff Dee, Jack Crane, W. Willingham, Mike Carroll, Kenneth Rahman, Tracy Lesch, Jim Roslof, and Roger Raupp.
This may be the only Phil Foglio work ever without a busty woman somewhere in the picture.
 


Birmy

Adventurer
Fox is a titan in the comics world, writing the third ever Batman story (and inventing the utility belt and Batarang), creating the original Flash, Hawkman, Justice Society and Justice League.

The Niall stories are pretty slight, which was obvious even when I was middle schooler, but I suspect someone on the Dragon editorial staff considered him comic book royalty and published his Niall work because of that.
Yup, this is how I know him--I frankly didn't even know he did prose fiction, though his frequent inclusion in these early Dragons have certainly educated me.

Relatedly, I assume the "W. Willingham" mentioned is Bill Willingham, who would also go on to have quite a lot of success in the comic book industry, most notably with Fables.
 

Relatedly, I assume the "W. Willingham" mentioned is Bill Willingham, who would also go on to have quite a lot of success in the comic book industry, most notably with Fables.
His Villains & Vigilante adventures, which he wrote and illustrated, went on to be the basis of his Elementals comic book series, which was his big pre-Fables success. There was supposed to be an Elementals source book that never happened, which I was assume was due to FGU drama.
 





Hussar

Legend
Would this be the first Dragon Foglio cover?

His webcomic Girl Genius is fantastic. I read it religiously for years. One of the few serial webcomics that I could actually keep up with. Great stuff.
 

jacleg05

Explorer
I remember the Minarian stories quite well. When 3.0 came out, I actually emailed WotC about getting a copy of Divine Right, or at least get copies of all the stories to create my game for my group. But I was informed, the copyright had reverted back to the creators. Then I found a website with all of them in one place. The guy was running his own campaign, but he added races(halflings, gnomes and half orcs) that were in the setting. Really wish, I had printed everything out whwn I had the chance.
 


I think his first cover piece was this one, #25, which is kinda fantastic (though not immediately recognizable as a Foglio piece):

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Would this be the first Dragon Foglio cover?

His webcomic Girl Genius is fantastic. I read it religiously for years. One of the few serial webcomics that I could actually keep up with. Great stuff.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
hmm... I have this issue, but don't recall exactly when I bought it, might have been at one of the early Gencons I attended... this issue came out right about when I first got into D&D, but I didn't start buying the magazine for a while...
 



griffon8

Explorer
Damn. So basically one a year ish.
His next ones are #48 & #56, so it varies. And you have something to look forward to in #49. :cool:

Confession: I no longer have physical copies of any Dragon before #251, because I just couldn't justify the room to keep them while having the Dragon Magazine Archive. Still have the disks for that stored away.

But this issue was the oldest one in the continuous run that I had. Yes, I once had every issue from #44 through #359 (and a few from before that), and still have #251 on.

My assessment of Food Fight matches BGG's opinion, though I never played it.

Since I encountered Niall of the Far Travels long before Conan, I have a fondness for the stories that hasn't really diminished. Perhaps I should reread them to see if that will change. Probably will, actually. I used to say The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was my favorite science fiction novel until the last time I read it.
 


Since I encountered Niall of the Far Travels long before Conan, I have a fondness for the stories that hasn't really diminished. Perhaps I should reread them to see if that will change. Probably will, actually. I used to say The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was my favorite science fiction novel until the last time I read it.
Heinlein has aggressively not aged well, especially in recent years. I now prefer John Varley to get my Heinlein fix. He writes in the same vein without as many cringeworthy elements.
 

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