Dragon Reflections #57

Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 57 in January 1982. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have modern monsters, a history of the shield, and a complete D&D adventure!

Drmg057_Page_01 (002).jpg

This month's special attraction is "The Wandering Trees" by Michael Malone, which was the second-place winner in the Second International Dungeon Design Contest. It is a wilderness adventure in a forest of shifting paths. There is a clever little table the DM consults at each intersection to determine whether a particular path exists at that moment. The encounters have good detail and a few enjoyable ideas. Michael Malone went on to write B8: Journey to the Rock and contributed to AC9: Creature Catalog but then dropped out of the industry.

There is a small and eclectic bunch of feature articles in this issue. "Modern monsters" by Ed Greenwood gives some ideas for creating a scenario that takes your D&D characters into our contemporary world. It includes extensive rules for vehicles and firearms, as well as some neat ideas about getting the characters there and back again. An outstanding and well-executed article that inspired ideas for my home campaign.

"In Search of James Bond" by Mark Mulkins offers a new bureau for TOP SECRET players wanting a James Bond-style character. We also have "Random magic items" by Pete Mohney, which contains a series of tables to roll up magic items. Sadly, the magic powers listed are not very interesting. Speaking of magic, "The Versatile Magician" by Jon Mattson offers a new skill for SPI's DragonQuest RPG. It's worth noting that TSR acquired the assets of SPI later that year.

Our final feature is "The history of the shield" by Michael Kluever, who gives us an exhaustively researched essay. There are no gaming statistics, but the content is great for adding detail to your campaign.

On to the regular articles! Len Lakofka returns after an absence of a few issues with a new edition of "Leomund's Tiny Hut." This time he proposes advanced shield rules and a weapon proficiency system, partly inspired by his experiences with the Society for Creative Anachronism. He includes a set of complex tables that make this crunchier than most D&D players prefer, but the existence of Rolemaster shows there was an appetite for such things.

In "From the Sorceror's Scroll," Gygax describes recent political and military events in Flanaess, covering the region from Stonefist's Hold down to the South Province. Many people evidently followed these reports with great interest, and some of the events left an indelible mark on the game.

Merle Rasmussen has another edition of "The Rasmussen Files," this time answering reader questions about Top Secret. Next up, "Giants in the Earth" presents D&D statistics for several female fighters from fiction, including C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine, Lynn Abbey's Rifkind, and Robert E. Howard's Belit and Dark Agnes. And in the final edition of "Minarian Legends," Glen Rahman lays out a detailed chronology of his world.

It does feel like an issue for wrapping things up. John Prados brings us the final "Simulation Corner," discussing war game illustrations. The impending collapse of SPI and the general depression of the wargame market may have doomed this column. Meanwhile, Mark Herro's "The Electric Eye" has the results of a reader survey, but this turns out to be the second-last time his column appears.

There are two short pieces in "Up on a soapbox." Brian Blume argues that no intelligent D&D player would want to play an evil character, while Roger E. Moore criticizes Dungeon Masters who give female players a hard time.

"Dragon's Augury" reviews two games. The first is Star Viking from Dwarfstar Games, which is "interesting, colorful and a lot of fun."

The other review is for Champions from Hero Games. Students of the hobby know that Champions is one of the most influential RPGs ever published. Unfortunately, the review is criminally short! The reviewer, Scott Bennie, starts by noting that the game goes a long way toward achieving for comic books what "the D&D game did for fantasy." Bennie describes the character generation system as "the finest" he has ever seen, and he also praises the combat system with its focus on stun and body damage. He does criticize the game for neglecting things such as invisibility in combat and financial matters. But, overall, Bennie "heartily" recommends the game.

Dean Morrissey painted this month's cover. Interior artists include Harry Quinn, Bruce Whitefield, Roger Raupp, David Trampier, Chris Cloutier, James Holloway, and Phil Foglio.

And that's a wrap! The highlights were "The Wandering Trees" and "Modern monsters." Next month, we have spellminders, archery, and a special feature on dwarfs!

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Make that 2 gallons of gas (even in California). And I whined about the high price then too :D Of course the minimum wage was about $3-4 an hour iirc. Dragon was a bargain at $3 an issue though.

Loved the wondering trees and borrowed the idea for an enchanted woods in my home brew game. Good stuff.

Wages have, more or less, gone up with inflation, though no further:

For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades

The minimum wage is slightly below where it was in the early 80s:


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Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I remember re-reading this years after I got into Champions/HERO and saw it was Scott Bennie that did the review (who went on to write some of the most influential and best books for the system). If I remember correctly it was Aaron Allston who reviewed it for... Space Gamer maybe.. and he did the same. For a HERO fan, the early evidence of passion for the game is really fun to see.
When I did my "[WIR] Scott Bennie's oeuvre" thread on RPG.net, I found parts of his review particularly hilarious, especially the line, "Combat is simple."


Ahh, the good old days when $3.00 used to be able to buy something like a magazine, a loaf of bread, or a gallon of gas. Thank you- how much for the fond memories?
Its about $9 bucks modern money.

However an average wage was about 15k in 1982 You could get into a nice house for about 65K . The magazine was pretty inexpensive for a niche magazine

If you wanted to buy the Monster Manual it was $12 also made of vibranium or something as it was extremely tough.

If you were working part time after school, take home was about $55 bucks a week after taxes at say fast food

So one weeks part time work would buy a Players Handbook. Monster Manual, DMG, Dice , An Issue of Dragon , A Big Mac Value Pack and enough left over for bus fair and a Rubics Cube for Bro or Sis

That was a period of usually high inflation BTW


I remember selling my plasma and then walking to the game store to buy an issue of the Dragon. Yep, poor college student then.

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