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!

Drmg070_Page_01.jpg

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

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
"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.
I think I was 14 when this issue came out, and this article blew my mind. It explained, clearly in a way I could understand, why ships have top/best speeds, and gave a table to calculate it. It was like a tetris block falling in place for the first time -- I suddenly had a picture for things I had half understood about seafaring.

The idea, in just a page or two, gave me so much.

So nice to be reminded of it. Thanks.
 

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printed adventures being scarce at the time, I remember our DM running us through the Aztec adventure in this one, although our PCs at the time weren't really high enough level to do it. We prevailed (barely), but mainly because the DM nerfed the godawful powerful cleric at the end...
 

aco175

Legend
That's interesting - any insight into why you didn't actually use them in your game?
I was in middle school back then. I recall some of the NPCs in the books were too exotic for my games in that they were not TSR races as this was before the SRD. They were a bit harder to fit. Some of it might be not wanting to use the locations thinking that I could not use them again. A bit like not wanting to write in a book so you do not ruin it.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I remember this issue very well. But had no idea that it had a review of the original Civilization! I guess the fact that I would discover that game about a decade later is why.

Still, an even better issue than I remembered!
 



Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
I wonder what this job listing (in that issue) was about. Translating AD&D and D&D in Japanese and adapting them to Japanese culture and mythology? I also wonder if they got any applications.

Japanese translator - Dragon 70.png
 
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Orius

Legend
"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.


I am definitely not undecided on the issue: it's another unneeded system by Gary that is both over complicated and excessively harsh to the player. The whole reason he trotted out the expanding damage dice for falling was because he didn't like how his players shrugged off the normal falling damage. So instead of a simpler system, here's one that quickly ramps to buckets of dice which requires extra time to calculate the number of dice in one's head or consult yet another table while doing ridiculous amounts of damage for spitefully punitive reasons. It's ridiculously lethal to most levels of play where the original system was already quite dangerous to low levels while high levels should once again not be subjected to low level problems constantly being scaled up. If Gary wanted falling damage to be more dangerous, he should have just kept the system while ruling that falling from a certain height would be invariably fatal or at the very least require a save to avoid instant death.
 

Voadam

Legend
1d6 damage per 10 feet incentivizes the use of ridiculous size pit traps to do minor hp damage which messes with a lot of the narrative of how hp works.

Conan stories do not have him fall 50 feet and get up. He succeeds at his climbing.

I am a fan of cumulative hp falling damage and keeping any pits to be a modest 10-30 feet. :)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It will be a while, but am eager for your Dragon Reflections to catch up where mine start, with Dragon Magazine #92, which I have been covering on my HOW-I-RUN-IT.com website. I am sticking only to issues I actually owned/still own and have fallen behind my posting schedule, but hope to continue this fall.
 

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