Dragon Reflections #62

Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 62 in June 1982. It is 84 pages long and has a cover...

Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 62 in June 1982. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have half-orcs, dragons, and spellbooks!

cover62.jpg

In the editorial, publisher Jake Jacquet shares the results of a recent readership survey. About 7,000 people responded: 95% were male, the average age was 16, 80% were students, and the vast majority preferred heroic fantasy games, with science fiction games a strong second. The average age is younger than I expected, but the other stats don't surprise me. In the same column, editor Kim Mohan notes that this is the sixth anniversary of the magazine. Happy birthday, Dragon!

This month's special attraction is a Top Secret adventure called "Chinatown: The Jaded Temple." The agents must investigate the titular temple and recover a stolen isotope called, ahem, Dragonium. Jerry Epperson wrote the adventure and went on to create supplements for Mayfair, Steve Jackson, and TSR.

It's traditional now to have dragon-related articles on the magazine's anniversary. There are three new dragons in this issue: the faerie dragon by Brian Jaeger, the steel dragon by Pat Reinken, and the grey dragon, also by Reinken. The faerie dragon has been included in every edition of D&D since. Rounding out this feature is "Bazaar of the Bizarre," with Roger Moore explaining how to create armor from evil dragon hide.

The "Gangbusters! Design Notes" by Mark Acres gives an overview of a new RPG by TSR. In Gangbusters, you play the role of law enforcement, reporters, and criminals in 1920s America. There is, naturally, a significant focus on the organized crime that grew out of Prohibition. It is a percentile-based RPG system, but I think TSR would have been better off adopting a house system approach like several other companies were. Designer Mark Acres later joined Pacesetter before drifting out of the industry in the early 90s.

In "Page from the Mages," Ed Greenwood describes four spell books, with names such as Mhzentul's Runes and The Book of the Silver Talon. Included with each book is a description of its physical form, history, and contents. It's a fun, creative column, and Greenwood wrote several sequels over the subsequent years.

Also by Ed Greenwood is "The Scribe," a new NPC class. Although many of these purportedly "NPC only" classes found their way to the gaming table as PCs, in this instance, the class is very academically focused and of little use in the dungeon.

In "Half-orcs," Roger Moore moves beyond the "rude and crude" stereotype to explore the culture and motivations of this race. Perhaps most importantly, it describes the influence of the cult of Gruumsh, the orcish god first introduced in Deities & Demigods. Moore follows up with "The gods of the orcs," which details Shargaas, Yurtrus, Bahgtru, and Ilneval. These are seminal articles since much of this information became firmly embedded in D&D lore.

"The Feline Phantom" is a short story by Gordon Linzer about a tiger with an unusual paranormal ability. It is nicely written with a gentle little mystery at its heart. Linzer was the founder and editor of Space and Time Magazine, which published speculative fiction.

The final feature is "Zadron's Pouch of Wonders" by Phil Meyers and Steve Bill, which they describe as a "magical grab-bag inside which a great variety of magic items can be found." There are some standard magic items inside as well as some imaginative new ones, such as enchanted eggs and cards.

On to the regular features! In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gary Gygax shares a collection of rules about spell books. It covers how much they cost, how many spells they hold, and their physical dimensions. The material is pragmatic rather than inspiring, but I remember using it back in the day.

"Sage Advice" returns with the usual assortment of rule-bending D&D questions:

"Why may a person survive teleporting into liquid or gas but not into a solid? Can a person teleport beside an opponent so that his weapon would be lodged into the opponent's head, thereby causing instant death?"

In "Leomund's Tiny Hut," Len Lakofka is concerned about tough player characters bullying the owners of local shops. So he proposes several minor spells (which he calls "mysteries") to bolster their mercantile defenses. Some fun ideas include the Hound spell, which allows any animal to bark like a large dog!

"Dragon's Augury" reviews two games this month. Fifth Frontier War by GDW is "a good game, but it may be a bit involved for some players." Meanwhile, The Free City of Haven by Gamelords is "the best fantasy city ever published."

"Off the Shelf" has capsule reviews for six new fiction books. Revenge of the Horseclans by Robert Adams is "one of the best" in the series. In Rite of Passage, Alexei Panshin has created "a totally lived-in world, and populated it with real, understandable people." War of Omission by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. is "a frightful book." The Gray Prince by Jack Vance is "a highly entertaining novel." The Napoleons of Eridanus by Pierre Barbet "deserves attention." Finally, The Warlock Unlocked by Christopher Stasheff is "funfilled, exciting, and amusing."

This month's cover was by Larry Elmore and is one of my favorites. Interior artists include Jim Holloway, Phil Foglio, Kyle Miller, Paul Sonju, Roger Raupp, Harry Quinn, Dave Trampier, and David Larson.

And that's a wrap! A quality issue with my favorite article being "Pages from the Mages." Next month, we have bandits, the barbarian class, and an adventure by Larry DiTillio!
 

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black

Von Ether

Legend
Horseclans, that takes me back. That was a hot property for a minute. Even had a GURPS supplement.

I heard the secret sauce for the their history supplements is that SJ Games is near a university, so many of those books are repurposed class reports and theses. :ROFLMAO:
 

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I wonder if later James Bond actors regret not contributing to Dragon? "The Grey Prince" by Jack Vance is a great little story - basically everything by Vance was great. "Revenge of the Horseclans" was definitely one of the best of that series, which was pretty uneven. Robert Adams wrote great battle scenes & military operations (he was a former soldier), and developed some solid characters...but he also held some pretty offensive views which wouldn't fly today and shouldn't have back then.
 

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