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Dragon Reflections #47

Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 47 in March 1981. It is 80 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have a new RPG called Crimefighters, planar adventures, and the AD&D Exam!

Drmg047_Page_01 (002).jpg

In issue #45, Dragon published an article from Robert Plamondon, which included assistant editor Kim Mohan's (occasionally harsh) editorial comments. I expressed the hope that Plamondon took it with good humor, but it appears not. The editorial column opens with a letter from him to Mohan. It starts:

Dear Orcface: You couldn't resist, could you? Those little red scribbles on contributor's manuscripts didn't get you enough play, did they? You had to try for the big time and savage someone in public, didn't you?

Mohan writes a somewhat defensive response, saying, "I saw this as a golden opportunity to impress writers with some important facts about the way we operate." All in all, it's an unpleasant little exchange, but I note that Plamondon went on to publish several more articles in Dragon.

This month's special feature is a complete RPG called Crimefighters, a pulpy game where "players take the roles of heroes, agents, detectives, and adventurers attempting to stop nefarious criminal masterminds." The game system is percentile-based and is similar to Chaosium's BRP. The game is surprisingly complete given the limited page length and includes rules for vehicles, explosives, and psychic powers. Crimefighters was written by David "Zeb" Cook, a young high school teacher recently employed by TSR as a full-time game designer. Cook made his name at TSR with products such as Slave Pits of the Undercity, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, and (most famously) the Planescape setting.

Cook also wrote a 4-page sample adventure for Crimefighters, called "The Case of the Editor's Envelope." The game is complemented by editorial assistant Bryce Knorr's "The Pulps: Paper Heroes," which gives a nice potted history of the genre.

There are several other feature articles, all D&D-related. "Take the AD&D exam" by Philip Meyers contains a host of questions to sharpen your knowledge of the game. Here's a sample (answer true or false):

11. Elves have a special resistance to sleep and charm spells, and half-elves do also.
12. For the major character classes, a score of at least 16 in the prime requisite is required for a character to gain the 10% experience bonus.
13. Halflings never have infravision.
14. Assassins, Paladins, and Monks must be human.
15. Dwarves and halflings cannot become Magic-Users because the customs of their respective races prohibit it.

For those interested, the answers are: True, True, False, False, False.

There are several articles regarding travel to the other planes. "Elementary ideas for elemental adventuring" by Stephen Kienle primarily discusses the behavior of different spells on the elemental and ethereal planes. "Seek, but don't expect to find" by Karl Horak is a rather mathematical article that gives a formula for resolving searches on the astral and ethereal planes.

"Creatures from elsewhere" by Patrick Amory presents us with seven planar monsters, including the phoenix, the fury, the reptilian mapmaker, the blob-like aruchai, and the tentacled sugo. In addition, there are two genuinely weird creatures: the wirchler, which resembles Pacman with a pair of arms, and the omniscient flard, which looks like a pillar of white marble.

This month's "Bazaar of the Bizarre" focuses on planar magic. We have the Flute of Dismissing by Richard Lucas, the Horseshoes of Hades by Victor Selby, and the Staff of Ethereal Action and Syrar's Silver Sword by Ed Greenwood. Ed also presents the Calendar of Harptos for the first time in "The merry month of...Mirtul?" Dragon would introduce more and more Forgotten Realms lore over the coming years.

Let's look at the regular columns. In "Leomund's Tiny Hut," Len Lakofka offers advice and house rules for the thief class. This month's "Giants in the Earth" is by fantasy author Katherine Kerr and presents statistics for two women from Roman mythology, Camilla and Medea, Tamer of Dragons.

In "The Rasmussen Files," Merle M. Rasmussen shares some new Top Secret classifications and courses. "Sage Advice" returns with the usual assortment of rules questions, while Bryan Beecher has another "Squad Leader Scenario," this time with the Russians in Berlin. And in "The Electric Eye," Mark Herro reviews several sports video game titles.

In "Simulation Corner," Bryan Beecher describes some of SPI's challenges, especially the high turnover of R&D staff and the crowded production schedule. He also shares several reforms the company hopes will create a new "golden age" for them. In truth, SPI was strapped for cash and would collapse within 18 months.

"Dragon's Augury" has something of a science fiction focus. ROBOTS! by Task Force Games is "a great buy and should be a welcome addition to most SF gamers' collections." Starfire, also by Task Force Games, is "a real winner." Fast Attack Boats by Yaquinto is "undeniably fun," but "those looking for extensive insight into small craft tactics had better look in another direction." Also reviewed are several Traveller adventures by Game Designers' Workshop. Across the Bright Face and Mission on Mithril are "well thought out and interesting." Finally, Research Station Gamma is "the best of all the [Traveller] adventure supplements published to date."

This month's cover was by John Blumen. Interior artists are James Holloway, Todd Oleck, Steve Swenston, Dave LaForce, David Trampier, Roger Raupp, Darlene, and Jeff Dee.

And that's a wrap! The highlight articles for me were Crimefighters! and "Bazaar of the Bizarre." Next month, we have a new Top Secret mission, underwater D&D adventures, and Dragon 48½!
 

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black



univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
Evocative cover. Correct me of I am wrong, but we are getting to that era where most of the articles are themed together and the covers match the theme, not to say this cover represents other planes. I was reading through a bunch of issues the other day, mining them for ideas for my current 5e Dalelands free roam, and it dawned on me that Dragon Magazine never did have adventures for D&D in them. That was only in Dungeon, which makes sense. Any interest it doing Dungeon Reflections? I love reading old adventures form the period and I think it is a great resource for newer GMs looking for shorter adventures to try out.

Had that issue. Always wanted to run a game of Crimefighters. I have a download of it somewhere.....
I hope there were groups out there that just played these little games whenever a new one came out.
 

Mohan has a rep, even today, for being a harsh editor, which folks like Greg Tito try to spin as a positive. That always feels a bit like Stockholm Syndrome to me. I've had a lot of editors over the years, and some were tough, some were fairly loosey-goosey, but that was a separate spectrum from how they treated people. One can be a diligent and exacting editor without being a jerk. Being a jerk doesn't bring out better work, although it certainly drives people away from your organization and sometimes, even the whole industry.

Also, that woman on the cover is going to be really uncomfortable. She needs a saddle blanket at a minimum.
 
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Zaukrie

New Publisher
Just skimmed it on the CD.....that is not a top issue. The monsters are not great (man, it is hard to read old school write ups, as so much is in walls of text). The magic items are the best part. Giants in the Earth is uninteresting. I mean, I don't see much reason to find this one in hard copy......
 

JonM

Explorer
Mohan has a rep, even today, for being a harsh editor, which folks like Greg Tito try to spin as a positive. That always feels a bit like Stockholm Syndrome to me. I've had a lot of editors over the years, and some were tough, some were fairly loosey-goosey, but that was a separate spectrum from how they treated people. One can be a diligent and exactly editor without being a jerk. Being a jerk doesn't bring out better work, although it certainly drives people away from your organization and sometimes, even the whole industry.
I worked with Kim for years, during my days as a TSR freelancer, and he was never anything but a gentleman, to me. Smart and good at his job, too. He was certainly never a jerk. Others may have had a different experience, but, honestly, I would find it difficult to credit a really negative assessment.
 


I worked with Kim for years, during my days as a TSR freelancer, and he was never anything but a gentleman, to me. Smart and good at his job, too. He was certainly never a jerk. Others may have had a different experience, but, honestly, I would find it difficult to credit a really negative assessment.
Good. I hope that's a more accurate picture of him. A recent Dragon Talk episode gave a very different impression.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I was reading through a bunch of issues the other day, mining them for ideas for my current 5e Dalelands free roam, and it dawned on me that Dragon Magazine never did have adventures for D&D in them.
Sure they did, just not in every issue; and never after Dungeon magazine got going.

Two I can remember off the top: Temple of Poseidon was in a mid-40's issue; and City Beyond the Gate was in issue 100. There were others.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Evocative cover. Correct me of I am wrong, but we are getting to that era where most of the articles are themed together and the covers match the theme, not to say this cover represents other planes. I was reading through a bunch of issues the other day, mining them for ideas for my current 5e Dalelands free roam, and it dawned on me that Dragon Magazine never did have adventures for D&D in them. That was only in Dungeon, which makes sense. Any interest it doing Dungeon Reflections? I love reading old adventures form the period and I think it is a great resource for newer GMs looking for shorter adventures to try out.


I hope there were groups out there that just played these little games whenever a new one came out.
I think there is a Dungeon reflections type thread, or there was.....I've thought about doing one, but that's a lot of work to really read 4 adventures......
Also, yes, there were A LOT of adventures before Dungeon started (as stated above) and some are actually quite good.
 


univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
Dragon had adventures for years before Dungeon came along. Pit of the Oracle, Baba Yaga's Hut, Citadel by the Sea, so many great ones.
I thought this was the case. They must have stopped doing it well before issue 100 though. I couldn't find a single one between like issue 60-130.

Edit: To be fair, I skimmed these issues and didn't check them all.
 



Ooh, Chagmat was a great one, too, with spider monsters I don't think ever reappeared again.

Fedifensor was a trip to the Astral Plane to rob the Githyanki.

The series that included the Ebon Stone was a series of tongue in cheek adventures, something D&D got away from over the years.

Aeserhamir involves running around in the Outer Planes, interacting with Norse myth.

The Wandering Trees was a forest adventure with, as I recall, a decidedly non-cuddly druid villain.

Citadel by the Sea is a pretty standard adventure -- orcs have taken over a human fortress -- but it was a contest winner and would be a great Tier 1 campaign starter today.

City beyond the Gate involved D&D characters arriving in the "real world" London, although it was clearly written by someone who thinks that Mary Poppins was a documentary -- a ton of hate from Brits in the letter column after that, as I recall.

I may have to dig out my CDs and print some of these out.
 

univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
I read one from Dungeon #19 that was very funny. The Vanishing Village, a herd of mimic like creatures that appear as a village and mimic sounds of people inside until someone knocks.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Ooh, Chagmat was a great one, too, with spider monsters I don't think ever reappeared again.

Fedifensor was a trip to the Astral Plane to rob the Githyanki.

The series that included the Ebon Stone was a series of tongue in cheek adventures, something D&D got away from over the years.

Aeserhamir involves running around in the Outer Planes, interacting with Norse myth.

The Wandering Trees was a forest adventure with, as I recall, a decidedly non-cuddly druid villain.

Citadel by the Sea is a pretty standard adventure -- orcs have taken over a human fortress -- but it was a contest winner and would be a great Tier 1 campaign starter today.

City beyond the Gate involved D&D characters arriving in the "real world" London, although it was clearly written by someone who thinks that Mary Poppins was a documentary -- a ton of hate from Brits in the letter column after that, as I recall.

I may have to dig out my CDs and print some of these out.
I ran chagmat, the players loved it.
 


Zander

Explorer
Many years ago, I was after Robert Plamondon’s book Through Dungeons Deep. Couldn’t find it anywhere but managed to trace him. I reached out without expectation and I have to say that he was nothing but kind. He arranged to send me a copy in the UK and even autographed it. What a gent!
 

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