Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 46 in February 1981. It is 80 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have an all-new D&D adventure, fiction from J. Eric Holmes, and the first reviews for World of Greyhawk!
Editor Jake Jaquet notes that they are giving Dragon magazine a "facelift" over the coming issues, starting with the switch to a three-column format. Jaquet also notes the formation of the TSR Role-Playing Game Association (RPGA). The initial goal of this organization was to provide a way for role players to network, but within a few years, the RPGA was strongly focused on organized play. It existed until 2014 when the Adventurers League replaced it.
This month's special feature is "The Temple of Poseidon," a D&D adventure by Paul Reiche III. Reiche, a childhood friend of Erol Otus, was a developer at TSR, and "The Temple of Poseidon" was his job application. The adventure is a good mix of combat, traps, and puzzles. Reiche was with TSR for only a short period before moving into computer games, where he has worked on titles like Tony Hawke and Skylanders.
"The Sorcerer's Jewel" is a short story by J. Eric Holmes and the fifth in his "Boinger the Halfling" series. It is pretty typical D&D-inspired fiction, and the complete series did not find a publisher in his lifetime. Holmes was best known, of course, for writing the original D&D Basic Set.
"Crane is what you make of it" by game designer Richard A. Lloyd responds to several criticisms leveled at The Tribes of Crane play-by-mail game in a recent issue. "Mightier than the pen" by Kyle Gray discusses famous swords from traditional epics such as Beowulf. Gray wrote several other articles for Dragon, most with a historical bent.
"Minarian Variants" by G. Arthur Raham describes several variant rules for TSR's popular Divine Right wargame. The same author shares some more setting lore in "Minarian Legends," which details a hideous lich called the Black Hand. Strangely, the magazine published this second article under a different name, "Glenn Raham."
"This here's Tyrannosaurus Tex" by Roger E. Moore is a Boot Hill scenario involving a tyrannosaurus rex. Good fun! "How to ease the Boot Hill identity crisis" by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh contains a well-considered occupation table for the game. Crabaugh published numerous articles for Dragon and other gaming magazines in the 80s.
On to the regular features! "Dragon's Bestiary" presents the Gaund, a typically well-described monster from Ed Greenwood. These three-eyed lizards were later published in the Forgotten Realms Appendix of the Monstrous Compendium.
"Giants in the Earth" provides D&D gaming statistics for characters from literature. This month, Tom Moldvay solicits reader submissions for future issues. "Sage Advice" has the usual collection of reader questions. This one caught my eye:
"Question: What would happen if you placed a full Bag of Holding into an empty Bag of Holding? I want to be able to carry as much treasure and magic as I can without encumbering myself. Do you think this is a good idea?"
The official response is that the full Bag of Holding essentially fills the empty one. Doing this in the modern game destroys both bags and opens a gate to the astral plane!
In "Simulation Corner," John Prados summarises the year 1980 in the wargame field. He observes the following trends: a move from micro-games toward larger games, a renewed focus on the Civil War, and a slower release schedule. He also notes a rumor that Task Force Games and Phoenix Games are going out of business. This rumor proved to be false as regards the former company but true for the latter.
"Dragon's Augury" is a little larger than usual this month. Tony Watson reviews The Complete Book of Wargames from Simon and Schuster, which is "a fine introduction to wargaming for the novice, but of only marginal utility to the veteran." Bill Fawcett reviews three D&D-compatible adventures from Dimension Six. Mountain of Mystery has "a few inconsistencies" but "some very good ideas." Temple of Athena has "several outstanding traps and rooms... the adventure is worth the price just for those." Meanwhile, The Nine Doctrines of Darkness (great title!) is "less of an adventure than a detailed landscape" but "allows for some fascinating possibilities."
Finally, we have two reviews for The World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting, as well as a formal response from TSR. This first edition consisted of a 32-page gazetteer and a 2-piece map in a cardboard folio. Jeff Seiken notes that this product has been "Often promised, but often delayed..." In a thorough review, he praises the maps effusively, describing them as "easily the highlight of the product." He is less enthusiastic about the gazetteer, noting that while it gives you "a pretty good understanding of the world depicted on the map," it has some "surprising omissions." For example, there is virtually no information on religion and famous personalities of the world. However, his most telling complaint comes in the final paragraph:
"There is a deeper problem with THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK... the sense of the fantastic... seems to be lacking. There are no thrilling revelations in the gazetteer or maps, nor is anything astounding disclosed. The world presented is very complete, logical and interesting, but the burden is on the DM to transform THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK into The Fantastic WORLD OF GREYHAWK."
Kenneth W. Burke spends most of his review focusing on problems he has with the gazetteer (no roads on the map, no settlement symbols, the use of the word "savages," etc.). It's a little jarring to get to his conclusion and read, "On a scale of one to ten, THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK deserves a rating of nine."
Lawrence Schick, Vice President of Product Development at TSR, makes a brief response. Where things are lacking, he suggests, it's because "We wanted to give DMs a push in the right direction without doing everything for them." For example, he dubiously asserts that there was no point including religion as "this is an area that almost all DMs handle differently." His final comment seems more credible, "The World of Greyhawk had a long and painful gestation period, but it turned into a child we're all proud of."
This month's cover was by Steve Swentson. The interior artists were Ed Greenwood, Jim Roslof, Susan Collins, James Holloway, Roger Raupp, Kenneth Rahman, and Mike Carroll.
And that's a wrap! The highlight articles for me were "The Temple of Poseidon" and the World of Greyhawk reviews. Next month, we have adventuring on the outer planes, the AD&D exam, and a complete RPG by David Cook!