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TSR [Let's Read] Polyhedron/Dungeon

What, you really thought I wouldn't include one of these? As if!


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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 46: March 1989



part 1/5



32 pages. They no longer have an april issue in polyhedron since they moved to labelling them with precise months, but this cover looks pretty goofy anyway. I'm guessing there's going to be at least one low content humour article in there, maybe more. Let's see if they've got what it takes to make me laugh this year.



Notes From HQ: Despite all their efforts, the bystander effect is still irritatingly in force when it comes to recruitment. A pitiful 33 people out of nearly 10,000 participated in the recruitment drive. Some regions didn't even have a single entrant to award a prize too! When asked why, most people said they didn't try because they thought they had no chance of winning. Even though the prizes for winning aren't really the point, it's the making new friends and building a community that'll hopefully last a lifetime. They're more than a little annoyed, and make their feelings clear on this over the course of the editorial. You genuinely can make a difference just by showing up and doing the work every day, because a surprisingly small proportion of humanity actually do. They then realise they have to end on a positive, and spend a short paragraph selling their humour articles this year. It's a bit forced, but at least they tried. Hopefully they'll have some more reasons to be genuinely cheerful soon.



50 Quotes Players Fear Most: The humor articles go straight to full speed with a burst of irreverent DM sadism that does exactly what it says on the tin. There are many many ways you can screw over the players, both IC and OOC. Sometimes, they'll even deserve it. Don't overuse them if you want to continue to have a group to torment. The kind of thing we've seen before, will see again, is mainly useful as a cautionary tale, and I can't think of much to say about.
 

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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 46: March 1989



part 2/5



Junk Bonds: The adventure this issue is also pretty goofy, a Top Secret/S.I. one where the PC's get tangled up in a WEB attempt to manipulate hollywood for their nefarious ends. They're putting secret codes in the latest James Bond equivalent that they'll use to co-ordinate with their agents around the world. Orion gets wind of this while it's still in production, and the PC's have to sneak around the set and editing rooms and disrupt the work of the enemy agents, preferably in a subtle enough way that nothing happens to the oblivious cast and crew. The result is a somewhat farcical romp through spy and hollywood tropes, full of meta stuff lampshading just how different espionage is on the screen to real life. Like most comedy modules, it's also irksomely linear, involving very little actual detective work by the PC's. Their superiors find all the clues and just send them from one scene to the next to do the dirty work. It's fairly amusing to read, but not at all the kind of adventure I'd actually want to run or play in. It'd fit right in the more self-aware episodes of an 80's cartoon like Transformers or Tiny Toon Adventures where the writers weren't afraid to poke fun at their own writing room and production processes, but it'd be horribly disruptive to a group that started at Sprechenhaltestelle and had been playing a serious long term campaign up to then.



The Living City pt 1: Any adventurer-heavy city needs a rough and ready dive bar where you can have a good brawl and pick up the latest underworld gossip that might lead to further adventures. Skully's Bar & Bait (so named because it also does a brisk trade in fishing equipment for the hard-drinking dockers) definitely qualifies. If you don't have a decent constitution, you'll definitely regret spending a night on the town here. As usual, this is packed full of flavour and possibilities for adventure, with several well detailed NPC's. Skully himself, the owner, who as usual for this city is an experienced adventurer with a tragic past and a whole load of tricks up his sleeve to deal with troublemakers. Mab Hardbutter the bartender, an experienced thief with a strawng cuntree accent :wurzels intensifies: who's (mostly) gone straight. And Erny the Mop, a crippled thief who had a promising career until he took a chariot to the knee, and now serves as the resident spy and rumormonger of the establishment, always keeping his ears open while pretending to be just a grumbling old drunkard. All are described well enough to be instantly playable with distinct voices for the ham actors amongst you. This one wins my seal of approval, being very usable and entertainingly written, as well as being an interesting juxtaposition of things that actually makes sense for a coastal city. I could definitely see myself transplanting it to other settings.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 46: March 1989



part 3/5



The Living City pt 2: The second location this issue is also a multipurpose venue heavily tied in with the city being a coastal one. Embrol Sludge's Eatery and Shell Shoppe uses all the parts of the mollusks they catch to create rather good shell and pearl-centric jewellery. Due to their rather unfortunate surname, they don't get nearly the sales they deserve, but they persist nonetheless and are gradually increasing their loyal repeat clientele through quality of goods and friendly service. Once again, there's plenty of focus on what precautions they've taken if the PC's try to attack or rob them, and what treasure you can score if you do succeed. But there's also even more attention paid to the relationships and histories of the characters, giving them ongoing plotlines that the PC's can get involved in one way or another. Particularly interesting is a secret interracial love triangle that seems likely to blow up dramatically at some point. There's a fair bit of whimsy and humour here to keep in in theme with the issue, but this is still fully usable and properly thought out in terms of design. They're obviously getting plenty of good submissions to choose from at this point.



Birds of a Feather: After a couple of very specific setting-building articles, here's one of those generic ones that shows up every few years. If you don't have a gaming group, and suck at converting people who don't roleplay at all into the hobby, how do you find someone to play with? Obviously if you were reading this back in the day you were a member of the RPGA, so putting in a classified ad here is a good place to start. But you can find people gaming in the strangest places. Check the bulletin boards in shops, universities, social clubs, even ones devoted to other topics. You never know when their interests might cross over and you'll spot someone else who's also looking for the same thing. Definitely an area where it's got a lot quicker and easier over the years as the internet let you search for and communicate with people anywhere in the world without all the tedious and sometimes expensive legwork. This all feels very dated. The steps after you make contact still seem all too relevant though. Before actually making a decision on if you'll become a group, discuss what kind of game you want to play, when, where and how often, and don't forget to discuss the food/drink arrangements, because it's better to back out politely at that stage rather than making commitments you can't keep, and a surprising number of relationships fall apart over such seemingly trivial things. Nothing I haven't heard before, but it's necessary to go over the basics every now and then, especially if you want to attract and retain new readers.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 46: March 1989



part 4/5



The Bureaucrat: :sighs heavily: Why is it that the only time we see new classes in here is when they do joke issues? It's like they're actively mocking not only the subject of the new classes, but those players who persistently desire new crunchy stuff to play with. So here's the bureaucrat, an individually underpowered but collectively terrifying class that are definitely not functional as PC's, but I'm sure you can find a reason to use them as a DM. After all, in any society larger than a monkeysphere, middle managers will inevitably appear, and once they do, they'll take steps to ensure their position remains secure and properly compensated even if they don't actually do that much themselves. Exterminating them might be a pleasant fantasy, but it rarely goes well. This is the kind of parodic riffing on a real world thing that exaggerates for comical effect, but very little of it is actually false. It's decent enough on a writing level. On a mechanical level it could definitely have been a lot better though, as they've done joke classes that are also usable in a serious fashion before. I guess that proves that the writer isn't a part of the thing he's parodying, because otherwise they'd never have let that kind of imprecision get through into the final product. :)



Playing Illusions: We take a break from the joke articles once again for a revival of this old canard. The adjudication of exactly what you can and can't do with illusions varies enormously from table to table, especially in these older editions where the writing isn't so clear and precise. Here's yet another writer's take on how they should work. Unsurprisingly, the low level spells that only affect a few senses are by far the easiest to spot something's wrong with and make that disbelief roll. Complex things composed of lots of smaller things push the boundaries of what counts as a single object Creating things you haven't experienced personally also makes the illusions considerably weaker and easier to see through. If they don't see through them though, the psychosomatic effects are quite capable of actually killing you, not just knocking you out with nonlethal damage that goes away after the scene is over. Neither the strictest or the most lenient interpretation I've seen, and a pretty boring read, particularly as it contrasts very sharply with the rest of this issue's content. Definitely one of those repeated topics that just gets more tiresome every time it repeats, unlike the more inventive ones like new classes, monsters and spells, which have a much larger amount of room to explore before running out of new combinations of flavour material and crunchy stuff.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 46: March 1989



part 5/5



Caption Contest: One competition has come to an end, so they start up another one to keep engagement up. Your basic one-panel newspaper gag where they give you an image and the best caption submitted for it will get printed in a future issue. Nothing particularly ambitious, but then again, they kinda fell flat on their face with the last one. Hopefully people won't be so intimidated by putting in their two cents on this idea, and repeated little contests will get them better primed for the next time they try a big one like the membership drives.



Some very good Living City work in here, but the humour stuff doesn't really hit the mark for me, and the behind the scenes struggles are a definite downer. They may have improved things from a few years ago, but there's still a lot of work to be done, especially when contrasted to their two larger and higher budget periodicals. So once again let's hop over and see how Dungeon fares, and if they'll be doing any irritatingly goofy april fool adventures hardly anyone will actually ever play this issue.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 16: Mar/Apr 1989



part 1/5



68 pages. That green dragon needs to go on a bit of a diet. I don't see it gliding through the forest in a surprisingly stealthy way for it's size the way they're supposed too. Let's see if proper attention is paid to monster size vs their surroundings inside, or rigorous mathematics will be going out the window in favour of focus on story this issue.



Editorial: AD&D 2e is finally arriving. However, it'll be a couple of months before all the new corebooks are out, and even longer before they're running mostly 2e adventures. Barbara confirms that Dungeon will have the same kind of slow transition as Dragon due to the quantity of already submitted material they want to publish, and the time it'll take for the new rules to percolate through the playerbase. It's not as if they're that different anyway, so you can mix and match the two as you please. Given that it wasn't until 1993 that Dragon really started taking advantage of the new technology like kits. priest spheres and point-buy thief skills that really increase how much you can customise your characters, I'm pretty sure that we'll be seeing 1eisms linger even longer than she suspected when writing this. Still, better that than losing a big chunk of your readers (and just as importantly, your freelance writers) due to edition wars. Another of those reminders how relatively low-key this edition change was compared to the big lead-ups full of teasers and abrupt dropping of any coverage of the previous ones afterwards all the WotC editions will have. It was a different era and office culture.



Letters: The first letter is one complaining about the 1st level meatgrinder problem. It's so hard to write adventures that get you over the hump that are challenging and interesting but not too lethal. Yeah, this is kinda baked into the system. Either move to another one with drama points and whatnot, or generate multiple characters per player and expect some of them to not make it through the initial session. It's all about managing expectations.

Second wants to know about age restrictions on submitting modules. If you can write well enough, they'll happily accept child labor. :p In fact, more than half of their submissions are by high-schoolers and uni students. Roleplaying is very much a young hobby at this point and they'd lose a lot by excluding their ideas.

Third is a defence of their shorter and more whimsical adventures. The setting heavy ones but combat light ones are particularly reusable. Don't underestimate their usefulness.

Finally, more praise of their intellectually challenging adventures, plus an inquiry about how much they pay contributors. 4 cents per word, an amount that has barely changed for low-end writers since then despite inflation. and that's when they're not asking you to do it for "exposure", which is increasingly common on the internet. It's a hard life trying to make a living off creativity.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 16: Mar/Apr 1989



part 2/5



Palace in the Sky: A second sky island adventure so soon? Underwater ones I can understand, as there's vast untapped reserves there, but this is a little more surprising. Still, there's plenty of different flying creatures, so they manage to make the specifics different as well. The one in issue 9 spent half it's runtime on a lengthy bit of wilderness exploration beforehand, while this gets you straight up there with just a brief table of wandering monsters on the way, and has a longer pagecount to boot. Some cloud giants have been coming down from their mobile island and raiding the villages near wherever the PC's are. Do you have what it takes to get up there and dissuade them by force, sneakiness or negotiation? Like the Fog Giant adventure in issue 6, this could easily be incorporated into the GDQ series if you're that way inclined. Also like those, trying a frontal assault at the recommended level is very unlikely to be successful, as they have a big edge in both strength and manoeuvrability, (just opening the doors is a challenge for human-sized adventurers!) and plenty of giant sized pets to keep the variety of things you'll face up. You'd better use your brain and prepare appropriate spells if you don't want to be thrown half a mile down to the ground and take that capped out 20d6 damage. It's actually bigger than those modules as well, so if you are combining them, it definitely fits in at the end, after the fire giants and before you head down into the underdark. Now we just need a reason the normally good storm giants would also sign up with the drow to get the full set for our mega-adventure path.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 16: Mar/Apr 1989



part 3/5



The Dwarves of Warka: From an adventure where everything is built on a larger scale than is comfortable for the characters, to the exact opposite. A dwarven town recently lost some of it's members down in the underdark tunnels below. They'd rather adventurers went down and kill whatever it is rather than risking more of their own. You get to stay a few nights in their somewhat low-ceilinged homes before heading down there. The actual challenge turns out to be pretty small and underwhelming, a mere 3 pages of adventure compared to the full 11 devoted to the town. So this is one of those adventures that's mainly here as an excuse for the setting building, which is quite substantial and filled with interesting NPC's that could be friend or foe long-term depending on how you interact with them. It draws heavily on Roger Moore's work expanding dwarven gods and society in Dragon, which is quite pleasing to see, and builds on it further with how the specific details vary from generic in this particular town. Whether you'll get much use out of it or not really depends on how much your players enjoy the part where they pootle around shopping and interacting with the NPC's between dungeon delves. If you really want them to stick around to get more out of it, swap the little cavern complex provided for a much larger one, since there's plenty of them to choose from over D&D's lifespan. There's some good elements here, but they're not put together in the optimal way. The more options you have, the more you'll get out of treating them in a modular manner rather than just using them as-is.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 16: Mar/Apr 1989



part 4/5



Necropolis: Nigel Findley goes back to treading on the darker side of things. The dead have risen and they're roaming the village at night! The people are terrified! The problem is probably rooted in the necropolis, filled with the graves of soldiers who died in a big battle centuries ago. Who would keep a thing like that around in a D&D world where the undead are a well-known problem instead of cremating them? :p Oh well, no crying over buried corpses now. Better get down there and deal with them. The result turns out to be a little more complex than a basic hack-and-slash dungeon, with interesting prerequisites for laying the dead to rest without fighting them that will challenge the PC's intellectually. (although if they're high enough level the straightforward violent approach will work as well) Short, but with a decent amount of twists and depth for it's size, he's once again proving his worth to the world of roleplaying in spades. It's definitely a shame that he died too soon.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 16: Mar/Apr 1989



part 5/5



Vesicant: The final adventure also takes a simple and iconic premise and makes it distinctly more complex and ambiguous. A dragon is attacking shipping routes and taking their stuff. Normally the heroes would just head to it's lair and return the favour. This is complicated by the fact that no-one knows where it's lair is, plus it has a navy of pirates backing it up for a cut of the loot. So you need to venture to the lawless hive of scum and villainy they hang out in and do some serious detective work before you can even start on the main dungeon, and even if you do win, instead of the usual praise, you have to deal with the pissed off locals now they've lost their big grift/protector. (plus everyone scrambling to nab a slice of the dragon's hoard, so keeping the treasure you picked up becomes a real challenge in itself. ) It's high not just in tricks and traps, but also socioeconomic details and logistical challenges kinder adventures would simply gloss over. This also means the city part is once again designed to be reused as a setting after the adventure is over, as it's an ideal place for both smaller city-based adventures and hearing plot hooks to various nautical expeditions. Better hope the PC's are sneaky enough to fit in and not blow their cover with declarations of heroism like they expect to be rewarded for what they've done. :D Another pretty interesting adventure that could fill quite a few sessions with all it's sections, plus the ramifications from extending the events in here logically to create further challenges for the PC's.



Even more than previous issues, this really goes all in on adventures as mini settings that you can use in your world even after the main conflict is resolved. That's quite pleasing to see, even if it's obvious that it's not a direction that's sustainable indefinitely. At some point, there will be enough prefab towns to last us a lifetime of adventuring and they'll want to get back to the dungeon. Let's see if next issue manages to find a theme for itself to keep the variety up.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 47: May 1989



part 1/5



32 pages. Tiger-men with chakrams! Do they roar or go ulalalalala when they throw them? Does it really matter, as that's merely flavour material that doesn't affect their statistics. Still, this once again shows how you can make something surprising and interesting by combining two familiar elements that don't obviously go together. Let's see what ingredients they've put into the big melting pot of gaming influences this time around.



On Your Feet: This column returns to the topic of proper timekeeping. This is particularly important in tournaments, where you have to keep things moving if you want to finish the module before your slot is over. Equally important, however, is making sure time in game feels like the time that's actually passing. In a game where combat rounds are a matter of seconds, yet the lethality of the game is such that battles rarely get beyond a few of them, you aren't going to be seeing reinforcements until well after the fight is over even if they're only a few rooms away, let alone a police response that'd take 10-15 minutes to drive there if they scrambled straight away. Yup, this is one I've encountered personally as well. The kind of GM who gives their guards/law enforcement unrealistic powers of perception, enthusiasm and competence whenever the PC's step outside the bounds of the plot, which is more jarring than the obviously fantastical elements. If I can change the world and make a difference to my life's course with my decisions even less in the game than I can in the real world, why the hell am I playing in the first place? It's a common problem even with long-running GM's. You've got to know which rules are important and which are merely guidelines, and if you get them mixed up, both in reality and in game, you'll have to deal with no end of grief. A good lesson to be reminded of.



Notes From HQ: The weather is warming up, and so is the frequency of conventions. So once again its time for them to give some advice about how to best participate in them, and their plans to make this year their biggest and best yet. So send in your adventure ideas now! We need lots of them. Don't get in a huff if they get assigned to a smaller convention rather than Gen Con, there's only space for so many in even the largest, plus they don't want to repeat themes within the same convention if they get multiple good adventures of similar types. If your adventure is well-received enough, it might even get republished in polyhedron, dungeon, or if you're extremely lucky, as an official module. (Although looking at the ones that actually achieved that feat, it's as much about nepotism as writing quality. ) Another reminder of the complicated logistics chain that they have to co-ordinate behind the scenes to keep all this running, and the compromises that need to be made in the process. It's not easy, and only becomes trickier the more they scale up. Do you have what it takes to take a turn on the sausage-making machine and consume the output knowing what goes into it? Let's hope at least a few more people have the stomach to join in and stick with it this year.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 47: May 1989



part 2/5



Letters: The column about playing quieter characters and how that intersects with tournament voting provokes the majority of the letters this time. The first one takes a tangent on DM impartiality. Should the DM let the players know which ones they thought played best and worst, and influence the voting on who goes through to the next round even beyond their own votes having twice the weight of everyone else's? Obviously your opinion can't help but bleed through to some degree, but at least the appearance of fairness is a very good idea to prevent things from getting ugly on the convention floor.

The second asks what should happen to the votes when following your character motivations means one PC comes into conflict with the others? Can players rise above the IC conflicts to still vote for the player behind them? Jean is not amused. RPGA modules should not involve PvP, and if they do devolve into it, that means the writers and/or players have screwed up. They have a code of conduct to think about, donchaknow, so play nice with each other.

The rest have been passed directly to the author rather than published here, but rest assured that there were quite a few of them. This should give him plenty to write about in response in the near future.



The New Rogues Gallery: Orlem "Fletcher" Brumanson is your typical heroic Ranger type. Clothes that are stylish yet comfortable and convenient for wilderness travel, a tragic backstory involving the death of his parents, a willingness to leap in and take on any challenge, particularly if it involves rescuing maidens in distress, and a romantic dream of marrying one of them and settling down some day. Your basic straight white male protagonist, in other words. You've seen many of them, and you will see many more over your lifetime.

Grogg Dimfist is a good hill giant who was thrown out of his tribe for being insufficiently murderous. Fletcher managed to see that he'd make a better friend than trophy and now he's a valued part of the community. It's nice to see a story get a happy ending.

Olvg Pumilo is a dwarf with an equally tragic backstory, losing his entire mine and clan to marauding Duergar. He teamed up with the other two and now they're part of the same adventuring party. You can see why they'd form a strong bond. Hopefully they'll have a much longer life together than they managed with their respective blood families.



The Bell of Zetar: After a string of non-D&D adventures that set Polyhedron apart from Dungeon, they go back to a basic macguffin hunt dungeon crawl that could have shown up anywhere. You get sent to recover the aforementioned historical artifact, only to find it strewn in pieces around the place because the monsters have no respect for tradition. Plus there are a whole load of other lesser bells there, so if you aren't paying attention you might wind up bringing the wrong one home and not getting the full reward. A surprising number of the encounters have noncombat solutions given, with the more intelligent creatures having goals beyond just sitting in their rooms and being willing to negotiate with the PC's. It doesn't have the depth of worldbuilding and modularity recent Dungeon adventures have aimed for, but it's not pure dumb hack and slash either. It seems perfectly usable in a regular campaign despite it's tournament origins.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 47: May 1989



part 3/5



Building Characters: As part of their attempts to encourage more people to write and submit modules, here's some advice on creating pregens for said adventures. They still haven't properly implemented a system to create and track your own in official tournament modules, and an adventure will be enormously improved by having a set of characters that are properly tuned to the challenges they're going to face. Neither too easy, too hard, or with abilities that completely short-circuit the adventure if applied the right way. A proper amount of equipment for their level that's also useful to their class, with maybe one or two curveballs, no more, otherwise they won't think to use them anyway. Similarly, personality has to tread the fine line between too broad a stereotype, and too complex to roleplay easily and consistently. Remember that they're coming in cold and each round has a fixed runtime, so they need to be able to glance at the sheet and get going fast. Like the character sheets it describes, this is clearly and concisely written, gets the job done and doesn't outstay it's welcome. Absolutely no objection to the advice here.



With Great Power: This column decides to give us a couple of more obscure characters from distant corners of marvel earth. Blitzkrieg is from West Germany, and combines wind and electricity powers a la Thor, with a little bit of green lantern energy object creation thrown in as a bonus. Unlike most superheroes, he actually has a solid relationship with his family and day job. Let's hope they don't get abruptly killed for the sake of plot drama in the near future to prove that wrong. The Collective Man is somewhat more stereotypical and cringy. Five Chinese identical quintuplets who can merge into a single being with the strength, speed, intelligence, etc of them all put together, plus draw on the collective unconscious of humanity as a whole for even more knowledge and power temporarily. They almost completely lack individual personalities and happily follow any orders from the government. This seems likely to put them into conflict with heroes who do let their own consciences guide them. Definitely written by someone who's only ever seen the far east from media portrayals. Another thing to put in the file of stuff that hasn't aged well.



The Mutant's Armory: Kim Eastland once again has plenty to contribute to Gamma World with 5 pages of expanded and revised equipment. Virtually every weapon in the D&D equipment list, plus a whole lot more gets statted out with notes on their special qualities. As the cover indicated, there are indeed chakrams, and a whole bunch of other obscure weapons from various cultures around the world, plus the klingon bat'leth with the serial numbers filed off and various things they originally put in the Star Frontiers system. I was a little nonplussed at why he was doing this, before I remembered the Gamma World was originally created by Jim Ward, a definite poster boy for wild enthusiasm over balanced game design with proper editing. Getting someone else to do a big overhaul of the mathy stuff probably does improve the system a fair bit. Hopefully this made it into an official book a little later, otherwise it seems like a lot of effort for the small audience of the newszine. Not a hugely interesting read in itself, but I'm sure the crunch will be useful in actual play, and the context around it is interesting. There are much worse things they could have filled this space with.



Convention Bound: They've had an article full of DM-facing convention advice, now it's one aimed at players, particularly newbies who haven't done this before. This is a return to the kind of general and basic advice that's useful for pretty much anything, and mostly boils down to learning proper time management and logistics. Figure out which games you want to play in beforehand, make sure they don't clash, make sure you have transportation and food sorted, arrive in plenty of time, and don't be surprised when things go wrong or run late, because in a huge place with lots of moving parts, something probably will go wrong, with knock-on effects. Nothing here I haven't heard before. The kind of advice that's necessary to give every now and then, but very boring for me as a long-term reader. Next!
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 47: May 1989



part 4/5



Radiating Magic: Batches of new magical items continue to pick up pace in frequency. This one doesn't appear to have any particular theme, so let's just see if the individual entries are any good.

The Mantle of Mist turns itself into a fog cloud when commanded. Make sure you come back later to collect it if you use it as a diversion to escape.

Flame Blade Swords are one of those things that gets invented independently repeatedly, and will be back in future corebooks because they're pretty handy beyond their combat uses, in protecting you from the cold and cooking meals in the wilderness. Don't head to the Hebra mountains without one.

Rings of Invulnerability are also a pretty generic name that does a pretty generic thing. Constant AC boost and minor globe of invulnerability if you spend a charge. Careful you recharge it before it runs out, because it's a lot cheaper if you don't have to re-enchant it from scratch.

Wands of Animation let you get your Mickey Mouse on on all sorts of things. As ever, careful with the orders, and make sure you recharge it before it runs dry.

Rods of Entrapment give you a whole set of ways to nonlethaly deal with your foes. Very handy for the aspiring bounty hunter.

Daggers of Armor Piercing make your dex and magical bonuses a lot more important. Have fun recalculating things before there are formal slots for each type of plus.

Ice Arrows turn into icicles when shot. This is not actually that useful unless the creature is vulnerable to cold. Hey, at least they can't shoot them back at you either.

Darts of Light blind the enemies temporarily, making them another one that Ninja will love. Clerics will also approve of them, because they also do extra damage to creatures of darkness. Good to see them agree on something.

Daggers of Returning are another ability that many a throwable magic item will have in the future, thanks to the joys of standardisation.

Nilbog Arrows heal the thing they hit, while creating an illusion of inflicting damage. Using them in battle when you don't know what they are will make your life a lot harder. Ah, the joys of a twisted sense of humour.

Mervic's Gaseous Globes see our alliterative april fool manufacturer return with another multitudinous method of confusing and confounding your foes while making your escape. Break one and clear out fast ninja style while all sorts of embarrassing things happen to everyone who breathes it.

A Mummy's Cloak lets you do the Mumm-Ra thing without actually becoming undead. Good creatures touching it will suffer above and beyond the disease inflicting powers.

Flaming Arrows, Acid Arrows and Arrows of Paralyzation are all pretty formulaic and self-explanatory. Considerably more useful than just adding another +1 to hit and damage in terms of creation cost to benefit ratio.

Pouches of Disappearance dump everything in them into the astral plane once per day. Like many a a cursed magical item, this is actually pretty handy if you know about this beforehand and exploit it, but a real nuisance if you think it's a regular bag of holding and lose some of your best magical items forever.

Bows of Fire turn all your shots into flaming arrows, which is even more efficient in terms of damage adding than enchanting individual flaming arrows. Another one that would be efficiently standardised come 3e.

Rings of Infravision Negation are somewhat quirkier, providing selective invisibility that'll really mess up many underdark monsters, but also your own infravision if you have it.

Stone Robes are another pretty straightforward AC booster that spellcasters can wear without impeding their movement and casting.

Caloric Shield is a fancy name for oil of fire resistance. Handy for certain adventures, but definitely not a magic solution to all your problems, especially with it's fairly short duration.

Rings of Disguise are also another one that'll be very common in the future. It's just such a convenient way of storing effects like that when you want even nonspellcasters to be able to use them.

Snake Arrows turn into snakes when fired, attacking everyone nearby. Better not shoot them somewhere you plan to go too later.

Maces of Crushing do decent damage against creatures, but their real benefit is in smashing inanimate objects. Now there's something that'll not only get more specialist items, but a whole feat chain devoted to it as well in future editions. This collection is proving unusually forward-thinking in general.

Woodland Shoes turn you into a centaur, so you can serve as a mount to another member of your party. Not the most dignified of transformations, but still pretty useful in both outdoor combat and overland travel.

Eyes of Infravision are another self-explanatory one. Grant it to those without, or extend your range if you already have it. This doesn't mean you'll be able to use the extra information as intelligently as someone born with it though.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 47: May 1989



part 5/5



The Living City: Unusually for this column, we actually have a full set of NPC's that are just basic 0th level characters, no special training or adventuring backstories at all. Burnharts Outfitting are a somewhat sleazy purveyor of adventuring gear. It's of dubious quality, but he's got a good location, and hey, there's enough turnover (of the lethal kind) in the adventuring population that there's always new people to sell too so who cares about a few bad reviews. Neither of the parents are very nice people, as they're slave-owning appearance obsessed social climbers who want to be a part of high society and are only really tolerated because of their money and influence. Their teenage kids are somewhat nicer, and seem primed to rebel if the PC's give them a little encouragement. So this is decent enough on a writing level in giving you plot hooks to interact with, but distinctly subpar on a mechanical one. There's none of the usual effort put on defences in the shop either, so if these guys piss you off it would be very easy for moderately experienced adventurers to burn them down or clean them out after finding out they've been sold substandard goods. Frankly, they'd deserve it, really.



A pretty solid issue, that shows them once again working on preparing ahead and trying to make our convention experiences more smooth and organised, while also providing an unusually high amount of handy in-game material as well. Guess we'd better head onwards and see what new challenges they met, and if anything unexpected managed to mess things up this year despite all the preparation and planning.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 17: May/Jun 1989



part 1/5



68 pages. That's some serious ice that dragon is packing. If you can beat him, you'll definitely be able to afford to pop bottles in the crib for many years to come. Wait a minute, is that Flame?! How did he survive being killed by the heroes in issue 1? The plot definitely thickens here. (as does the thickness of his beard) Time to get delving and see just how well written this bit of continuity turns out.



Editorial: Straight from teasing us a bit of deep continuity, they stop to help the newbies catch up by dedicating the editorial to a list of common acronyms of stats and books that they reference. This is what they do, and what you need to buy to find out more. Gotta collect 'em all! The release of a new edition is an ideal jumping on point, so don't be scared. Another of those reminders that attracting and retaining fans is a constant jugging act between keeping things accessible enough that new people aren't put off, while also keeping enough depth and variety that long-term fans don't get bored and drift away. They've been doing a decent enough job so far, but as the number of settings proliferates in 2e, it'll get increasingly difficult to please all their very different fanbases. I wonder when it'll really start to become noticeable from this particular perspective.



Letters: The first letter thinks that they ought to narrow their focus even more, and only do AD&D modules, virtually cutting D&D out entirely. This is not what the editors want at all, and they make it clear they'd like to shift the balance a little closer to parity if the people submitting them will co-operate.

The other one continues the debate about module difficulty. A big part of it can be changed by how permissive the DM is towards resting and recharging all your spells mid-adventure. Yup. The 15 minute workday can be a very effective exploit whenever the dungeon is purely reactive and there's no time constraints on your overall objectives. Change the basic resource management assumptions, and some parties will have very different experiences of the same adventures even if they have similar stats overall.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 17: May/Jun 1989



part 2/5



The Pit: We start off with one of your basic dungeon crawls that can easily be used in any campaign. An abandoned underground temple to an evil god that long ago lost all it's worshippers due to poor flock management and pissing off the adjacent community. An excellent example of how evil can be it's own downfall by making the cruelty more important than the competence. Of course, there's still more than enough traps and undead left to challenge PC's that find it, and enough treasure left to make fighting through them worthwhile, including a particularly nasty magical artifact of the kind that'll probably be more trouble than boon if the PC's decide to keep it. The kind of adventure where the PC's can and should take it slow and rest up between challenges, because there's no time constraints until you activate the monsters sitting in their rooms, and the traps are pretty nasty if you do just blunder in everywhere and trigger them instead of using your senses and 10 foot poles to examine things like sensible adventurers. So this is a back to basics palate cleanser after recent issues that have been quite heavy on setting material and timelines. Like the list of acronyms in the editorial, they need to do one of those every now and then to keep it accessible to newbies. Solid middle of the road starter.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 17: May/Jun 1989



part 3/5



The Hunt in Great Allindel: In sharp contrast with the previous adventure, here's a mostly overland one where the enemies are active and intelligent, and time is of the essence if you want to save the day. An Illithid and it's goblinoid minions have taken over an elven forest and their numbers are rapidly dropping as it satisfies it's cranial hungers on the captives. You need to find your way through the forest ASAP if you want to save them. Unfortunately, it's magical defences are still partially active, and do their best to confuse and misdirect both anyone trying to get in, and the goblinoids trying to patrol their new holdings. Plus the new owner uses his own magical and psionic powers to do more than a little misdirecting and mindfucking of his own. This is one you definitely won't be able to do a little at a time, leave to recharge and then come back. Once they know you're there, they'll pursue you through the shifting forest and alert the others, and if it looks like you're winning too badly, they'll retreat if you don't press the attack, leaving you with an empty forest and only a small fraction of the XP and treasure you could have netted. So there's stakes other than complete failure, and you're very unlikely to get a perfect score even if you do win unless you figure out the trick to bypassing the forest's misdirection straight away. This all seems like a pretty intriguing challenge that you could run multiple groups through and get very different results each time. It definitely wins my approval, and that's not the mind-control talking, honest!
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 17: May/Jun 1989



part 4/5



The Waiting Room of Yen-Wang-Yeh: As you've probably already guessed from the name, this is our oriental adventure for the issue. The PC's are ordered by their Samurai's Daimyo to find the grave of a holy hermit (and the fate of the previous people he also sent unsuccessfully to find it). As is often the case, there's a whole load of political stuff going on in the background that they're not aware of. As is also frequently the case in the OA adventures, there's some annoying railroady bits where it's obvious that the PC's are getting played, but they can't do anything about it without breaking the bounds of propriety and losing honor. The more of these adventures I see, the more using that system as a stick to punish the players with if they deviate from the plot beats grates on me. So while there's some interesting encounters here, the artificial constraints you're working within are of a kind I'm not fond of at all. Given the number of good adventures I've seen in here by now, I'm definitely passing on this one. It's not the worst ever, but there's no way I'm managing to work through all the ones I'd rather play instead in my lifetime and we're still less than a 10th of the way through this.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 17: May/Jun 1989



part 5/5



Out of the Ashes: As usual, they save the big cover story until last to build the anticipation. Through a convoluted series of events, Flame is returned to life after his untimely demise in issue 1. He'd rather like to build a new fortune and get revenge on the heroes responsible, maybe even killing two birds with one stone. So he disguises himself as a mysterious wizard to send the PC's on another macguffin hunt. If they lose, well, they're dead, and if they succeed, he can swoop in, take the treasure and finish them off while they're worn down from the adventure. It's a win-win situation. So they get sent over a distinctly dangerous bit of wilderness to find a valley who's soil is ridiculously plentiful in diamonds, and a dungeon which is a single colossal floating semi-hollow jewel. That's a setpiece that'll have the players drooling over the potential GP haul until they find out it's pretty much indestructible, and messing with it's power mechanism will drop it in the lava. This will likely happen anyway during the final confrontation, limiting the amount of treasure they can gain from the place by preventing repeated trips once it's cleared out. As this is a sequel, they have to escalate both the scale and the drama, putting clues as to the big secret in there before the final confrontation, and giving Flame plenty of tricks that make it quite likely he'll escape again, leaving things open for further sequels. It's a definite step towards more 2e style narratively driven modules, but still gives the PC's multiple routes to explore and at least a chance to win fair and square if they're smart and roll well. If you've reached the kind of level suited to playing it it's pretty usable even if you haven't already run the previous adventure. Let's hope it's popular enough to inspire a few more sequels and multi-parters.



This issue engages in a sharp abandoning of the setting building recent issues have featured, to go back to fewer, more lengthy challenging adventures instead. Since I was just starting to wonder when that would get tired, I'd say the change came at just the right time to keep things fresh. The increase in continuity is also very welcome, although I suspect that won't be catching on quite so much. Still, it's managed to keep this issue interesting overall. Let's see if next issue can manage a similar feat.
 

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