Dragon Reflections #72

Dragon Publishing released Dragon #72 in April 1983. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00.

Dragon Publishing released Dragon #72 in April 1983. It is 84 pages long and has a cover price of $3.00. In this issue, we have cavaliers, barbarians, and Questworld!


This month's Special Attraction is a new board game by Tom Wham. In "FILE 13," players enter the world of game publishing. Beginning as budding game designers, they maneuver their game ideas through the bureaucratic maze of The Great Game Company in the Sky. Along the way, they deal with various departments, everything from submissions to sales, facing events that can advance or hinder their progress. The ultimate goal is to have your game become a "hot item" and avoid the dreaded "File 13." Like all Tom Wham games, it is fun, whimsical, and offers plenty of strategic play opportunities.

"The Ecology of the Piercer" by Chris Elliott and Richard Edwards is a fictional lecture to the Wizard Guild of Kabring. It describes the piercer's life cycle, behavior, and characteristics and includes a disturbing cross-section! Initially published in Dragonlords zine, this article started a long-running and popular series in Dragon. Elliot and Edwards both accrued a handful of credits in the industry.

In "Gem's Galore," Ed Greenwood delves into the significance of gems throughout history and myth. He notes that, beyond their aesthetic value, gems have always been revered as symbols of divinity, protection, and healing - ideal fodder for D&D. Greenwood supplements his article with physical descriptions of dozens of gemstones. Such an information dump is not as impressive in the internet age but must have been immensely useful in 1983.

Katharine Kerr challenges misconceptions about barbarian cultures in "The Real Barbarians," and instead offers us a nuanced and historically grounded perspective. She delves into the origins of the word "barbarian" and discusses the social structures, significant roles, and diverse treatment of women in these tribes. Kerr also discusses their dwellings, possessions, fighting styles, and taboos. She dispels common stereotypes and gives players plenty of interesting ways to develop their barbarian characters. DMs can also mine this material for adventure seeds. Terrific article!

"The PBM Scene" by Michael Gray discusses the world of play-by-mail (PBM) games, highlighting the numerous options available to enthusiasts. Gray advises potential players to acquire and study the game rules before committing time and money, ensuring the game aligns with their interests. The article finishes with a long list of available PBM games and describes some of them in great detail. Gray later wrote several Endless Quest books for TSR.

In "A new name?" Jay Treat shows readers how to construct rich new names using Anglo-Saxon roots. It's a solid article with some quality tables.

It being April, there are several satirical articles. "The True Story of File 13" by Kim Mohan describes the publication of Tom Wham's game. "Valley Elf" is a (self-described) tasteless song. "Spells for everyone" by L. Creede Lambard and Jerry Stoddard introduces us to the world of level 1/2 magic, while "Duh Jock" by Jon Mattson is a new NPC class. Finally, Roger E. Moore's "Everything we think you need to know about sex in the AD&D world" defies commentary.

On to the regular offerings! In "From the Sorcerer's Scroll," Gygax presents a new fighter sub-class, the cavalier. It is a well-developed character option, spanning seven pages with glorious black-and-white illustrations. Despite this, the cavalier underwent substantial changes when Unearthed Arcana was published in 1985, becoming a full class with the paladin a sub-class beneath it.

John T. Sapienza, Jr. is "Up on a Soapbox" this month, complaining about level titles. I agree that these rarely make much sense, and it's little wonder TSR dropped them from later versions of the game. However, some in the OSR are very attached to them. Sapienza was active in fanzines and published many articles in Alarums & Excursions and Different Worlds.

Instead of "Sage Advice," this month we have "Spy's Advice," with Merle M. Rasmussen and Allen Hammack answering Top Secret questions. Examples include, "In Hand-to-hand Combat, are you supposed to let the players see the Hand-to-hand Combat tables?" and "Would an agent be credited for passing counterfeit money if the agent didn't know the money was counterfeit?"

Lewis Pulsiphur returns with "The Role of Books," this time looking at maps and fantastic locations. An Atlas of Fantasy by J. B. Post offers over 125 maps showcasing famous and lesser-known fantastical realms. Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi is a massive compilation of fictional places throughout literature. The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad provides a meticulously researched cartographic exploration of Tolkien's world. Lastly, The Times Atlas of World History, edited by Geoffrey Barraclough, is a comprehensive historical atlas filled with thematic and political maps. I have several of these books, and they are wonderful.

In "Off the Shelf," Chris Henderson reviews the latest sci-fi and fantasy. Out of Their Minds by Clifford D. Simak explores fictional characters coming to life and is "one of the best." We Can Build You by Philip K. Dick is a morbidly humorous take on creating human replicas and is "a harsh, complex masterpiece of future reality." Elfquest Books I & II by Wendy & Richard Pini are novelized adaptations of the popular comic series and are "rare value."

The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Allan Asherman "delivers everything it promises." Myth Directions by Robert Asprin is "just one laugh after another." And Misplaced Persons by Lee Harding is a psychological horror story about people who disappear and has a "surprising, bittersweet ending."

Retief to the Rescue by Keith Laumer, about a diplomat battling bureaucratic challenges and alien threats, is a "tour-de-force." A World Called Camelot by Arthur H. Landis is an adventure-filled story on a magical planet and is reminiscent of Burroughs. Fantasy Annual V, edited by Terry Carr, is "absolutely the best collection of the previous years' fantasy short stories." Finally, The Wind From a Burning Woman, an anthology from Greg Bear, is "exceptional."

There is just a single game review. Questworld is a novel venture from Chaosium: a non-Gloranthan Runequest setting. With Stafford tightly controlling the development of Glorantha, Chaosium recognised the need for a more open world that multiple writers (including Stafford) would contribute to. The boxed set includes an introductory booklet, three scenario packs, and two maps. The engaging scenarios prioritize narrative depth and character over combat and include some solo options. Questworld presents a promising setting for Runequest enthusiasts and is a "worthwhile purchase." But it must have sold poorly because Chaosium published nothing else for the setting.

This month's cover was by Clyde Caldwell. Interior artists include Mike Carroll, Keith Parkinson, Phil Foglio, Roger Raupp, Edward Atwood, Tim Truman, E. B. Wagner, Tom Wham, and Dave Trampier.

And that's a wrap! Some wasted space due to the April Fool's content, but my favorite article was "The Real Barbarians." Next issue, we have the Duelist NPC class, inner planes explained, and a new AD&D adventure!

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M.T. Black

M.T. Black


Great Caldwell cover and pictures from the caviler article which appear to be from Parkinson.


The gems article is better now that I'm an adult and can get some of the reasons behind the lore. I never really used gems in the game other than for gold value and hardly bother to roll for what kind of gems.


No, check out the emblem on his shield - it looks like one illustration has simply been reversed. Anybody's guess as to which one, given the signature is the right way on both. (Maybe the signature got added later?)


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