Dragon Reflections #67

Dragon Publishing released Dragon #67 in November 1982. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have the Astral Plane, super spiders, and lots of Gygax!

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In the editorial, Kim Mohan notes that the former head of Dragon Publishing, Gary "Jake" Jaquet, has left the company and is launching a new periodical, Gameplay: The Magazine of Games and Gaming. This venture only lasted 14 issues, and Jaquet appears to have left the industry after that. The new boss of Dragon Publishing is Mike Cook, formerly head of the TSR Education Department.

This month's special attraction is an AD&D scenario called "Fedifensor" by Allen Rogers. The priests of Amphabese hire the characters to enter the Astral Plane and retrieve Fedifensor, a mighty magic sword. After a few random encounters, the characters find themselves in a githyanki outpost, and a conventional dungeon crawl follows. There are some nice thematic touches, such as the void cruiser and the weirdly shaped outpost. And it must surely be the first published scenario set on the Astral Plane. Rogers has no other RPG credits that I can find.

We have a grab bag of other features. First up, and complementing the special attraction, is a long article by Roger E. Moore on the Astral Plane. It greatly expands on the scant notes in the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, covering matters such as encounters, traveling, combat, magic, and the psychic wind. Gary Gygax wrote a short introduction calling the article "superb" and "about as official as is possible at this time." It is an excellent piece.

"Spy's Advice" is a rules Q&A for Top Secret by the game's creator, Merle M. Rasmussen. "Souping up the Spider" by Gregg Chamberlain presents several variants of D&D's giant spider, such as the whip and spitting spiders. This brief article has some excellent ideas, and I've made a note to revisit it for my own bestiary. It was Chamberlain's first; he wrote several more for Dragon over the coming years.

"King of the Cats" by Gillian FitzGerald is a short story about a love triangle involving the Sidhe. Nicely written, and I enjoyed the climax. FitzGerald wrote several other stories in this folk tale style and was included in 1982's "The Year's Best Fantasy Stories."

"Deities and Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" by Gary Gygax gives statistics for several deities: Heironeous, Hextor, Iuz, and St. Cuthbert. He also revises the list of standard divine abilities supplied in the Deities and Demigods book.

"Loyal Readers," also by Gygax, is a response to fan feedback about the classes he proposed for Unearthed Arcana. Thief-Acrobat and Barbarian were the most popular, Cavalier and Mountebank received average ratings, while Mystic rated lowest. He also introduces the comeliness attribute, which was never popular in my experience.

We have yet another article by Gygax! "Poker, Chess, and the AD&D System" also addresses fan feedback. Gygax notes that anyone using outside material with AD&D effectively plays a different game. He also notes that D&D is by far the biggest RPG on the market and that claims to the contrary should be ignored. Gygax then defends the new barbarian class against criticism and introduces a new planar creature, the Deva. It's quite an article!

On to the regular offerings, and we have two more Gygax articles. In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," he describes over 30 new magic-user spells, including classics such as Grease, Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter, and Evard's Black Tentacles. In "Featured Creatures," he introduces two new sub-races, the grugach elf and valley elf, along with the cooshee, described as an "elven dog."

In "Dragon's Augury," Lewis Pulsipher shares a list of valuable reference books in the area of myth, legend, and folklore. "Bulfinch's Mythology" offers a rich retelling of myths and legends, using a storytelling approach that avoids dry dictionary-style presentations. "Larousse World Mythology" presents a more analytical and comprehensive exploration of mythologies from around the world. Arthur Cotterell's "A Dictionary of World Mythology" is a recently compiled work with the depth of an encyclopedia. The "Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" is a century-old reference work focusing on phrases rather than fables. Lastly, Stith Thompson's "Motif-index of Folk Literature" is a specialist work lauded for its exhaustive categorization of narrative elements in folk tales, myths, and other literary forms.

Ken Rolston reviews Trollpak by Chaosium. This unique RuneQuest supplement delves deep into the culture and lifestyle of trolls in Glorantha. It includes three books, a map, and player handouts, offering rich narratives, character creation guides, and engaging lore. Rolston notes that Trollpak blends humor with profound reflections, providing an original and nuanced portrayal of trolls. He says, "The perspective is imaginative, the style entertaining and readable, and the materials intelligently designed... it is a model for detailed development of a non-human race."

This month's cover was by Jack Crane. Interior artists were Bruce Whitefield, Jim Roslof, Marc Hershon, Jim Holloway, Phil Foglio, Roger Raupp, Dave Trampier, and Jerry Eaton.

And that's a wrap! There was a lot of fun material in this issue, with no less than six contributions by Gary Gygax. However, my favorite article was Moore's introduction to the Astral Plane. Next month, we have ice age adventures, a feature on the cleric, and more Greyhawk deities!
 
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M.T. Black

M.T. Black


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Nice article! I remember this one - it was one of the first Dragon mags I ever had, part of a stack of magazines I picked up at Half Price Books sometime in the late 90s.

I have always found it interesting how Gygax went from encouraging people to make up rules and mix and match games with D&D to being a real hardliner and purist with AD&D.
Gygax claimed they needed to standardize the system to support tournament play, and that makes some sense. However, no-one can deny that there was a strong financial incentive to try and lock everyone into TSR-produced content.
 

griffon8

Explorer
From Different Worlds 28, April 1983, the closing of a letter titled "An Open Letter to Gary Gygax":
In closing, we would like to thank [Gygax] for showing us the light and error of our ways. While we continue to play an FRP game or "hodge-podge system" as you put it in your article, we no longer call it AD&D, and furthermore we have all decided that, in all good conscience, we will no longer advertise our own games as such — TSR Hobbies will get no more free advertising from us.

Yes, Mr. Gygax, the choice is ours.
It is then signed with the names of thirteen people.

From Different Worlds 26, January 1983, part of the RPG rumor column "A Letter from Gigi", by Gigi D'Arn:
JAKE JAQUET has resigned as publisher of TSR's Dragon. DAVE COOK will be the magazine's new publisher. Jake apparently objected to running the recent infamous articles by E. GARY GYGAX. Jake will start his own publication, Gameplay, published by Crystal Publications. It will aim for general gaming interests. Will Jake change his name back to Gary?
These were probably the articles about the Gygax–Loomis feud, not the Poker article, though Jaquet might have known the Poker article was coming.

At the time, I didn't put much thought into what that Poker article meant. It has only been in hindsight that I recognize what a difference it made to the world of RPGs. Truly, interesting times.
 

From Different Worlds 26, January 1983, part of the RPG rumor column "A Letter from Gigi", by Gigi D'Arn:

Thanks Griffon - I had no idea about that bit of backstory with Jaquet. Gygax was certainly burning bridges at the time. It must have been a bit uncomfortable for those in TSR who wanted good relationships with the rest of the industry. Not unlike WOTC atm!

Perhaps I should read up on the relevant "Gigi" column when doing these articles, just to see if there is any relevant gossip. I believe that Different Worlds is on archive.org.

Gigi makes a funny point about Jaquet going back to being known by his real name, Gary - from the linked announcement above, it seems like Jaquet took the "Jake" nickname with him for the rest of his career.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
@griffon8

Thank you for the post from Different Worlds (A Letter from Gigi). I had always wondered about why Jaquet left Dragon/TSR, and while this is listed as a rumor, it is contemporaneous and feels like the truth.

Still, I wonder what happened to him after the end of his new magazine.
 



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