Dragon Reflections #70

Dragon Publishing released Dragon #70 in February 1983. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have firearms, tournament advice, and dwarves in space!

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This month's Special Attraction is an AD&D adventure by Gali Sanchez called "Mechica." The Emperor of the Mechica people, Cuactehmoc, has ordered Tezcatlipoca to be worshiped above other deities, thus upsetting the balance of power. The adventurers' task is to restore the balance by overthrowing the Emperor, who resides in the holy city of Tenocatlan. This open, point-crawl adventure presents a rich cultural backdrop based on the Aztec civilization and can be considered a forerunner of the Maztica line. Sanchez was a staff editor for Dragon and later worked for Pacesetter.

We have seven other features, all for AD&D. "The Smith" by Ed Greenwood presents an NPC class designed to "quantify the skills" of any metalworker the characters might encounter. Given the prevalence of these artisans in fantasy worlds, it's helpful to have a system to distinguish between journeymen, master smiths, etc., along with a description of their skills at each level. Greenwood has another article called "A Second Volley," which is a follow-up to his AD&D firearms article in Dragon #60.

"The hull truth about speed" by Bruce Evry corrects the ship speed tables in the Dungeon Masters Guide, noting that longer ships tend to have higher optimal speeds.

Roger Moore brings us "Giants can be awful or awe-ful," which describes some of the challenges of including powerful characters from literature ("giants") in your campaign. Moore has a second article, "Dwarves in Space," which shows how to incorporate AD&D creatures into the Traveller universe.

Frequent Dragon contributor Ken Rolston shares "How to make the most out of FRP tournaments." The advice is mostly conventional (e.g., "Listen to the GM's descriptions" and "Communicate with the other players") but is nevertheless helpful and reflects significant tournament experience.

"The game within a game" presents a metagame that allows you to simulate a chess match between two D&D characters. Interestingly, the system is broad enough that you could use it to simulate any strategic competition between characters, up to and including a real battle! The author was Tim Grice, who also contributed to the Pegasus gaming magazine.

On to the regular offerings! In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gary Gygax presents a series of social status and birth tables. Frank Mentzer provides a follow-up article discussing how these tables can be used in play. Mentzer has another article that states falling damage should increase cumulatively and that the rules in the Dungeon Masters Guide were a mistake. Menzter was then an editor with TSR.

In "Deities & Demigods of Greyhawk," Gygax introduces Olidammara the Laughing Rogue, Boccob the Uncaring, and Boccob's servant, Zagyg the Mad Archmage. The latter was perhaps most famous for constructing Castle Greyhawk, home of Gygax's original D&D campaign.

"Off the Shelf" is back with eight book reviews. Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s Book of the Dun Cow provides an intriguing anthropomorphic fable where the author "has mirrored everyday human existence." Special Deliverance by Clifford D. Simak signifies the author's return to form as "it has a harder edge than most of his recent work." The Man Who Had No Idea by Thomas M. Disch houses an eccentric mix of stories that are each "funnier, or stranger, or weirder than the one before."

Magician by Raymond E. Feist is "the best new fantasy concept in years," showing fresh takes on a well-trodden genre. The Odds Are Murder by Mike McQuay presents a dystopian detective story that should have "a high place on [your] shopping list." The Secret by various authors turns reading into a real-life treasure hunt with "buried jewels" as prizes. The Venetian Court by Charles L. Harness tells a simplistic tale of right and wrong that is not "worth the effort to buy or read." Finally, Manshape by John Brunner is "an extraordinary book" about a future where humanity has spread throughout the stars.

There are three game reviews. Citybook I by Flying Buffalo describes 25 fantasy city establishments in a system-agnostic way. With rich narratives and character sketches, it is a modular product for any fantasy roleplaying campaign. Reviewer Ken Rolston describes it as "...an excellent resource. The settings, characters, and narrative potentials of the materials are imaginative and appealing." The book later won an Origins award and is still highly regarded today.

Civilization by Avalon Hill is an innovative board game with rich, strategic gameplay, embodying the rise and development of ancient civilizations. Players take on the roles of bygone cultures, expanding their territories, building cities, and trading commodities, while enduring calamities. Despite its long playtime, the game's sophistication, depth, and originality make it highly engaging. Reviewer Tony Watson concludes it is "fine value and highly recommended."

Daredevils by Fantasy Games Unlimited offers an immersive roleplaying experience set in the 1930s genre and pulp fiction era. The game brilliantly captures the era's atmosphere, although its complex rules may challenge gamers. Despite some reservations, reviewer Ken Rolston concludes, "Daredevils is the most comprehensive set of rules covering roleplaying in the modern era."

This month's cover was by Dean Morrissey. Interior artists include Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, Roger Raupp, Jim Holloway, Phil Foglio, Jeff Easley, and Dave Trampier.

And that's a wrap! The issue felt solid without any standout articles. I probably enjoyed the game reviews best since there were two genuinely excellent products. Next month, we have Boot Hill, intelligent monsters, and new druid spells!
 

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I never had this issue back in the day...I go back and forth on whether I would've loved or hated Dwarves in Space. On the one hand, dwarves are my favorite. On the other hand, as a kid I was very much a "don't mix chocolate and peanut butter unless you're actually talking about Reese's" person. Mixing up genres was not my thing...thankfully I got over that.
The article featured extremely good art, IMO.
 

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"On to the regular offerings! In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gary Gygax presents a series of social status and birth tables. Frank Mentzer provides a follow-up article discussing how these tables can be used in play. Mentzer has another article that states falling damage should increase cumulatively and that the rules in the Dungeon Masters Guide were a mistake. Menzter was then an editor with TSR."

Worth highlighting.

A mistake that just kept getting made. I am somewhat agnostic on the issue, given that discussing it will inevitably result in some variation of either the "hit point debate" or the "simulation debate" (or, um, both), but while I appreciate the simplicity of the incorrect system that we have, I do think that falling damage is underrated in the game because of it.
Yes, the falling discussion is perennial!
 

I never had this issue back in the day...I go back and forth on whether I would've loved or hated Dwarves in Space. On the one hand, dwarves are my favorite. On the other hand, as a kid I was very much a "don't mix chocolate and peanut butter unless you're actually talking about Reese's" person. Mixing up genres was not my thing...thankfully I got over that.

As for the subject of falling damage, it would seem Mentzer's article generated a bunch of responses...a subsequent Dragon magazine would have not one but two dueling falling damage arguments.
Yes - and hundreds of forum and blog posts into the future!
 

"Civilization by Avalon Hill is an innovative board game with rich, strategic gameplay, embodying the rise and development of ancient civilizations. Players take on the roles of bygone cultures, expanding their territories, building cities, and trading commodities, while enduring calamities. Despite its long playtime, the game's sophistication, depth, and originality make it highly engaging."

I believe this is the game I had played one summer with friends. It had been found cheap at a store and bought and... hand to God, we played every night all summer and so little progress was made... except for destroying cases of beer.
A friend had this when I was young, but I never played it. It was notorious for length of play
 

practicalm

Explorer
Standard rule Civilization was okay but the Advanced Civilization rules made the game much more interesting.
If you like the trading rounds of Civilization look at Sidereal Confluence which is mostly just the trading round of Civilization with a little bit of tech buying and engine building.

I have all the Citybooks as well, and I liked using the buildings and some of the characters but never really was able to drop the story seeds into my games. Usually because I had something else planned but they are a good read.
 


A friend had this when I was young, but I never played it. It was notorious for length of play
Exactly. One of the reasons was the invasion mechanic. In the 80s(?) they didn't think you'd try to commit genocide on a nation. The mechanics went like - Territory A can hold 8 people. There are 8 Greeks. You move 5 Germans into it. You each lose a person until the total was 8. So it just still remained a contested territory. I think I was the Minoans and not long after I moved ashore, my home blew up
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
"Civilization by Avalon Hill is an innovative board game with rich, strategic gameplay, embodying the rise and development of ancient civilizations. Players take on the roles of bygone cultures, expanding their territories, building cities, and trading commodities, while enduring calamities. Despite its long playtime, the game's sophistication, depth, and originality make it highly engaging."

I believe this is the game I had played one summer with friends. It had been found cheap at a store and bought and... hand to God, we played every night all summer and so little progress was made... except for destroying cases of beer.
It's an amazing game -- for years I would force my friends to play it over the course of the Labour Day weekend (they have since stopped agreeing or stopped being my friends, or moved to another city. True story).

Diceless, richly tactical, and all sorts of emergent delights. And if everyone stays focused, it can be played in 5 hours.
 

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