Dragon Reflections #63

Dragon Publishing released Dragon issue 63 in July 1982. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have bandits, barbarians, and an adventure by Larry DiTillio!


This month's special attraction is "Chagmat," an AD&D adventure by Larry DiTillio. Spider creatures called the chagmat have kidnapped several women from the village, and the characters must invade an ancient temple to retrieve them. The setup may sound conventional, but the execution is excellent. The temple is well-realized, with many intriguing ideas and fun tricks. My only significant complaint is verbosity. You would have a peerless one-shot adventure if the text were more concise.

Let's have a look at the other features! First is "Where the bandits are," a 1-page overview of the Bandit Kingdoms in the World of Greyhawk. Unfortunately, there is no byline, but it is likely by Gary Gygax or Rob Kuntz.

"A shifty character for your campaign" by Tom Armstrong and Roger Moore introduces the Bandit NPC class. The result is like a fighter/thief with a few of the ranger's outdoor skills thrown in. However, it's not very interesting compared to some of the NPC classes in previous issues.

"Point of View: the humanoids" by Roger Moore describes the "goals and gods" of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls. It introduces the deity Kurtulmak and supplies new information about the gods Maglubiyet and Yeenoghu. This article is the last of the "Point of View" series and is slightly more abbreviated than previous entries. Even so, it was still highly influential.

In "Plan before you play," Ed Greenwood encourages DMs to create their own campaign worlds and take the trouble to define things such as politics, trade routes, and social customs. He gives an extended example of world-building with lots of advice. It's all solid, though my preference for world design is a "bottom-up" approach where you start small and grow as needed.

"Jolly good gaming journals" by Gary Gygax is a brief review of two amateur British gaming journals. Dragon Lords is "a well done amateur effort which seems bent on improving itself and the hobby," while Thunderstruck is "solidly aimed at providing material to aid in running campaigns."

Gygax also reviews two movies in "A couple of fantastic flops." Conan the barbarian was "a great disappointment," while The Sword & The Sorcerer "wasn't all that much better." He takes the opportunity to hype the planned Dungeons & Dragons movie, due "sometime in late 1984 or 1985."

In "Computer games have a way to go," Michael B. Bentley reflects on the state of computer game development using what is presumably an alter-ego, Fibber McGee. It is an idiosyncratic piece that ends with the specification for a generic "Game Master's Helper" - a goal essentially realized with modern online campaign organizers.

Following this piece is "The Electric Eye" by Mark Herro, which contains a listing for a Top Secret character generator. This article is the last one in the series and appears to be Herro's final published contribution to the hobby.

"For the sake of change" by David Nallo provides a concise history of coinage in the western world. It's a little dry but is valuable grist for the world-building mill.

On to the regular offerings! "Featured Creatures" by Gary Gygax makes its debut in this issue and will include new monsters from the upcoming Monster Manual II. This time around, Gygax presents the Movanic, Monadic, and Astral Devas.

Also by Gygax is "The big, bad barbarian," which introduces the eponymous class to the game. The barbarian later appeared in Imagine magazine and was published in Unearthed Arcana.

"Greyhawk's World" by Rob Kuntz describes recent events in the eastern and southern Flanaess. It's unclear whether these reflected the ongoing Lake Geneva campaign or were manufactured by Kuntz.

"Leomund's Tiny Hut" is back, with Len Lakofka discussing Charisma. He presents tables that derive characteristics such as facial appearance and vocal quality from a PC's Charisma score and also suggests how it might interact with spells and psionics.

"Dragon's Augury" contains a single review by Tony Watson. Simba Safari, a Traveller adventure from Judges Guild, is "one of the better Judges Guild projects of recent vintage, despite some weaknesses in characterization and animal descriptions."

This month's cover was by James Warhola. Interior artists include Phil Foglio, Paul Sonju, Roger Raupp, Darlene Pekul, David Trampier, Steve Peregrine, Bruce Whitefield, Jim Holloway, Don Polcino, David Larson, and Ataniel A. Noel.

And that's a wrap! Another substantial issue, with my favorite article being the new barbarian class. Next month, we have new weapons, the assassin's run, and a game by Tom Wham!

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black


the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
The first issue that I bought back in the day. That may color my impression of this as such a solid issue. New official monsters to playtest! A new class to try out! An adventure that included an intriguing new creature. I loved the chagmat and have used them in original scenarios in my campaigns. So much in one issue. Truly Dragon's golden age, IMO.

While I was already a fan of his art in D&D, this also introduced me to David Trampier's Wormy, as I have recounted in another thread.

"Point of View: the humanoids" by Roger Moore describes the "goals and gods" of the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, & gnolls. It introduces the deity Kurtulmak and supplies new information about the gods Maglubiyet and Yeenoghu. This article is the last of the "Point of View" series and is slightly more abbreviated than previous entries. Even so, it was still highly influential.
Correction: Kurtulmak was introduced in Deities and Demigods; this article introduces the deities Dakarnok (kobolds), Khurgorbaeyag (goblins), and Nomog-Geaya (hobgoblins), along with a new monster, the undead gnoll Shoosuva.
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I love these looks back at old issues of Dragon. I loved picking up this magazine and while the internet has far more gaming info than a monthly magazine could ever hope to cover (and is a great tool in its own right) nothing beats the anticipation of driving to the mall, going into Waldenbooks to buy an issue and then finding a place to sit so I could start reading.

Considering what we've seen of the script for that particular D&D movie, yeah, his opinions on Conan the Barbarian don't hold much water.

Don't get me wrong, I also love Pyun's The Sword and the Sorcerer, but Conan the Barbarian is qualitatively the better movie.

I'm glad Gary never decided on a career as a film critic.

Conan the Barbarian is far superior to The Sword and the Sorcerer.

Nephew of Andy Warhol, no less.

M.T. has gotten in the habit of listing the contributing artists at the end of each of these reviews; it looks like this cover is by James Warhola.


A couple years ago, my buddy Alex ran a 1e convention game where he made up a bunch of pre gens consisting of the various NPC classes from Dragon during this time period.

I played a Half-Orc Bandit from this issue of Dragon. Don’t remember anything too fancy about the class. Played very similar to a half-orc fighter/thief or fighter/assassin.

I wish I could remember if Alex ran a home-brew or something published. It was a great time. We managed to find a major score of gems that I “volunteered” to carry in my pack.

The party was attacked by something big (a chimera, maybe?) on the way out of the dungeon. I tried to convince the rest to run away. They wanted to stay and fight. So my bandit activated his magic item that turned him invisible (think it was a ring) and walked away. The rest of the party died fighting the big monster.

He was a bandit, after all.

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