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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
The Polyhedron Issue 9: Nov/Dec 1982



part 4/6



Spelling Bee: This goes back to dealing with a highly specific class of spells. The highly flexible and oft-abused joys of shapechanging. Yeah, no surprise that they'd have problems with that, as they will continue to many editions into the future. Still, there are limitations. Transforming uses your action for the round, so you'll have to weigh carefully if the stat boosts are worth it in combat. You can only turn into things you've actually seen in person, although that won't be a huge limitation if you gained all your xp from 1st level the long way. You can't use it to extend your lifespan, and healing with it is awkward (although it's still your best option as a wizard) And a good dispel will ruin your day. It's hardly an auto-win button. Just got to make sure the people fighting the shapeshifter have plenty of options as well.



Christmas Carols: Dragon usually saved their filks for April. Polyhedron decides to do something a little more festive. This means the tunes should be obvious to everyone, as pop songs get forgotten, but the same christmas songs get dragged out every year. But the dreadful puns and tortured meter are the same as ever. They might work on the page, but you'd struggle to sing these. Trust me and don't even try.



The Knight-Error once again picks on a target way out of his league. Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas everybody.



Gen Con XV - Megacon: For all that these were called the golden days of roleplaying, these old articles show how much it's grown since then. Last year's Gen Con was 10 times the size of 1982's, and it's still growing. The golden age of gaming is now. But I guess once an event has got big enough that you couldn't see and do everything in it it doesn't matter precisely how big it is. Just keep busy having fun and trying new things and the time will fly by. As usual, we get to find out who won some of the tournaments and contests, what companies were active and releasing stuff that year, and what plans they have for next year. So it's another handy little bit of historical record to look back on, get a picture of how things have changed over the years. It's important to preserve these things, because you never know when someone'll need to double check them in the future.
 

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(un)reason

Adventurer
The Polyhedron Issue 9: Nov/Dec 1982



part 5/6



Scholarship Winners: A year ago, they announced the competition for the scholarship fund. Good to see that get resolved. Brent Johnson gets the first prize, while Ross Reedstrom, Susan Thompson, Mark Oxner and Eric Johnson are the runners up. The prizes seem pretty small in light of inflation, and even moreso with the vastly above inflation increases in higher education fees over the past 40 years. That's one area the world has definitely got worse since then. What are we to do with these gouging institutions?



White Rabbits: Just the usual list of people they can't track down. Nothing much to see here.



Notes for the Dungeon Master: Having spent last column encouraging you to keep your spellcasters under control by strictly tracking their spell components, Frank turns around and contradicts himself, saying he's got no time for that in his games. In fact, you shouldn't feel bound by any of the rules in the books. You're the ruler of the universe, you can change them any time you want. You can make them make placebo saving throws just to keep them on edge, you can mix and match monster appearances and stats, you can create an area where magic is reversed, and suddenly all those +5 swords are healing the enemies, while the guy stuck with the cursed one because you haven't found anyone who can remove it yet is going to save the day. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and opens up the gates for rules lawyers to take control of the game away from you. Basically, this is all about DM as god-overlord playstyle. When you're one of the designers of the game, you're aware that it's just a bunch of rules someone made up, and they can be changed or unmade just as easily. I think the power may be going to his head a little. Careful not to go too far in this direction, or you might as well be playing freeform.



Letters is in the middle for a change, which is most unusual for these sorts of publications.

First we have someone asking if they'll do modules. They don't have any immediate plans too, and their size makes it logistically tricky, but it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Second, someone asking if TSR will sponsor their club. They have a mechanism for this now! Just flip forward a few pages and fill in the appropriate form.

More interestingly, someone who not only painted their minis, but did a shadow box up to look like a dungeon for them. Neat.

Requests for Polyhedron back issues and Dragon magazine subscriptions. Easy to solve. Act now while stocks last, and before prices go up!

And finally, they have to repeat where the various Gen Con's are this year, because someone wasn't paying attention in previous issues. This job does need a lot of patience with repeating yourself, it seems.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
The Polyhedron Issue 9: Nov/Dec 1982



part 6/6



Notes from HQ: Speaking of repeating yourself, this editorial covers very similar ground to the letters questions. They are doing more RPGA exclusive modules, but they won't be appearing in the newszine for now. They want to organise more tournaments, but not until they have enough members to make the logistics work. They want to include articles by Gary and other big names, but finding space in his busy schedule is definitely a challenge. Basically, they're managing expectations, telling us what's achievable rather than overpromising. That's a better foundation for a long-term relationship than politicians making sweeping statements to get elected, even if it's not as glamorous. There's a lot they can and will do, but it all takes time and money. At no point will they be able to snap their fingers and provide you with an excellent gaming group on tap for free. Making the network good is your responsibility as well as theirs.



Treasure Chest: As they promised over the past few issues, we finish up with a catalogue of their various bits of RPGA exclusive merchandise. Random alignment dice. A tote bag to carry your dice, pens, and other gaming paraphernalia in. A fighting wheel to track combat rounds faster. Belt Buckles, caps, T-shirts, exclusive modules you can't get in the shops, an art book, and as mentioned earlier, back issues while stocks last. A mix of stuff every fanbase has a variant of, and things very specific to gaming. The prices seem much less altered by the passage of time than education ones. What kind of quality were these things? Have any of them survived the passage of time and remain in your possession?



Club Memberships: Along with the individual memberships that have been going for a couple of years now, they decide to add club memberships, so if there's a lot of gamers in a particular town, they can get an official title for their club, and for larger ones, your own heraldic insignia and bulk discounts on merchandise. That's a logical outgrowth of the membership drive, further encouraging you to evangelise to all your friends about how awesome roleplaying is and take advantage of those sweet economies of scale. I wonder if we'll get to see precisely how many of each type there are in the future. Another interesting development that shows they're thinking about how to best get and keep people engaged.



Definite growing pains here, as the increased size means they pad things out with recycled filler, and the rapidly growing membership means they have to repeat themselves a lot, because every issue is a significant percentage of the readers' first one. There's still both fun and historically significant stuff in there, but the hit to miss ratio is somewhat lowered. How long will it take for them to reach some kind of stable point? Let's see what the next year brings.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 1/6



32 pages. Like Dragon before them, they've decided to drop their definite article. It just doesn't fit the grammar of how people talk about them, so it can be removed like an appendix without affecting the functionality of the product at all. Will the inside be similarly streamlined? The cover certainly seems aerodynamic enough, with an angel saving a barbarian from some gnolls. Let's see if they'll soar successfully, or aim too high and plummet to their death like Icarus.



ESP: Their rapid expansion has resulted in the amount of mail they get recently increasing. That's pretty welcome to them. What's not so welcome is that a lot of them are asking for polyhedron to do modules. They don't have the room! Stop going on about it! Subscribe to Dragon as well if you want that kind of thing. We're already doing those one-page scenarios based on the covers, and now we're adding prefab dungeon rooms as well, but you need to learn to put together your own full adventures. It's frustrating when you become successful, but your audience has a different idea of what you should be doing than you'd intended, and you have to decide whether to pander to them or maintain your artistic integrity. I suspect there'll be further developments on this plotline in the future, as I don't see the pressure going away with just one refusal.



Letters: Our first letter follows on from the editorial, asking for more fiction and rules updates. Oh, and a t-shirt would be nice too. Once agin, they have to explain that they're a more specialist publication than Dragon, and also have a much smaller page count. There's no way they can fit everything people are asking for in. Put that on your T-shirt.

Then they print another letter asking for modules, so they can deny the request again, just a page later. This is obviously getting on their nerves.

Then we have a young twink asking for the rules for godhood. I don't believe you worked your way from 1st to 30th level legitimately in play if you're also having trouble finding people to play with. Go back and do it again, showing your working this time around, and we might consider it.

Someone asking if they ever plan to sell polyhedron to the general public. They might offload spares at conventions, but it'll never appear in actual shops. Gotta hold something back for your hardcore fans.

Finally, we have another person struggling to find people to play with. First, work on your own communication skills. You can't hope to convert people if you can't even keep straight what edition you're playing when talking to us. Manic overenthusiasm can be offputting.



The Knight-Error has a perfectly standard equipment list for an experienced adventurer. This is much less glamorous than the stories make it seem.



Tips for the Beginning GM: The push to cater to their new arrivals from last issue continues with several articles aimed at beginning players of different games. First up, they encourage gamma world GM's to work on their worldbuilding, design characters based on their cool factor rather than powergaming particular combinations of mutations, and not overdose on the ancient artifacts too quickly. Not quiiiite the way Jim Ward did it back in the early days, but they are trying to set a good example to the kids and tone back on the twinkery. Maybe they can learn to be not just as good, but better than the original designers. Otherwise what's the point of carrying on with life?
 
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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 2/6



Dispel Confusion expands even more than last issue and tackles all 7 of their active systems. A lot of new players coming in means a lot of people who don't fully understand the rules, ands a lot of stress-testing of their writing clarity. Just the thing to inspire them to write new, better editions.

Can water affecting spells affect ice or steam? (no)

What happens if your scores are drained below the minimum for a class? (I will contradict myself from a couple of issues ago and say they get to keep it. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds!)

Can any magic weapon be intelligent? (Yes, and why stop there? Let other items have some fun too. But don't do it with every item, or games will bog down with all their voices interjecting. )

When will the companion set be out? (1984. It will always have been out in 1984.)

Can spell-like powers be disrupted? (not as easily.)

How many things can a gaze attack affect (I per round. Yes, that's not how medusa worked in the original myth, but we're not that cruel. Usually.)


Do Boot Hill characters die straight away at 0 Strength? (No, we're a little more merciful than D&D, because they don't have magical healing to swoop in and save the day.)


Can you fire a long burst if you don't have enough ammo? (yes, curiously enough.

How do you round fractions? (usually upwards)


How do I determine stats for lots of NPC's? (As if the mooks rolled all 12's)

How do you destroy vehicles? (buy the next edition to find out)

What do serfs look like? (A lot more badass than real medieval serfs)

How quickly do forcefields recharge? (Technological one, round by round, mutant ones, daily)

Can PC's be Yexils or Podogs? (Yes. Gamma World encourages you to be as weird as you like.)


How do you get cronies? (when the player feels like adding them)

What happens if two crime syndicates set up on the same block (Sounds like an adventure hook to me. Have fun resolving it in play.)


What are the rules for spaceships (Buy the next star frontiers supplement to find out.)

Can a Dralasite move rolled into a ball (yes)


Equipment has two different prices in the Top Secret rulebook. Which is right? (The Weapons Chart version)

Can you drink yourself to death? (Oh yes)

How do you keep players from finding out each other's objectives (Lots of lying. Wheels within wheels.)

Can players be double agents? (Hell to the yeah. Backstabbing is all just part of the fun.)

Can you piggyback off other people's Tracers? (no)
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip
How many things can a gaze attack affect (I per round. Yes, that's not how medusa worked in the original myth, but we're not that cruel. Usually.)
/snip
Heh. You'd be SHOCKED at how vehemently people will argue this point thirty years later.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 3/6



Reiga Nerd has to put a genie back in it's bottle. This of course involves a pun-based incantation and several undead jokes for dessert. Well, they've got to beat those dead horses once they've killed them, or it'd be a waste of good feed lines.



Mapping from Square One: A crucial part of dungeon-crawling is being able to find your way out again afterwards. A barbarian himbo rushing in with swords akimbo may slay the monsters, but if they can't find their way out, and preferably bring the treasure along, they may be in trouble long term. When D&D was being spread mostly by word of mouth, they could pass along the mapping conventions as new people learned, but now there's tons of new people coming in who don't know the unwritten conventions of the game, and this is causing playstyle problems. So unsurprisingly, this is Frank's attempt to teach them, make sure all the new tournament players know the exploration aspect of D&D is as important as the combat one, and you neglect it at your peril. Ultimately, a losing battle, as shown by the explosion of settings where dungeoncrawling was only a minor part in the 90's, and then 3e and onward official adventures concentrating on battle setpieces with much smaller, more linear maps connecting them, as the much faster advancement made extended sandbox exploration without scaling enemies much less practical. It's hard, seeing your baby grow up into something you didn't expect, but at some point you have to learn to let go. Not today though, not today. They'll be hanging on tight trying to get it to do it's homework and come back from parties before 11 for a good few years more.



Encounters: Turns out the cover image wasn't of a D&D celestial at all, but a Gamma World mutant that just happens to look like an angel. They certainly act pretty angelically though, with the ability to read the emotions of others and preemptively know if they're friendly or hostile, and several mutations that'd seem like magic to the primitive and credulous. If your PC's aren't psychopathic murder-hobos they might well help them out. If they are, they'll have a much harder time with the secondary plot hook here as well, as the savage mooks are being organised by some sinister power. Now that's a classic plotline you can really build upon. This column continues to be one of the best and most useful parts of the newszine, packing both plenty of stats and plenty of plot hooks into a single page.



Notes for the Dungeon Master: This column has entirely transitioned from cool ideas of things to do, to didactic lectures on what not to do. Gods are not characters or monsters. You can not fight them, you can not kill them, you can not trick them, you can not become one without centuries of tedious sucking up to them and joining at the very bottom of the hierarchy, and if you try you will be summarily erased from existence and memory. Yeeesh. That's not fun, and not the way it goes in most mythology at all. Even when the gods outpower the mortals by huge degrees, they can still be talked too, tricked and stolen from, and any revenge is usually of a dramatically appropriate kind rather than an abrupt curbstomping. Where did he get that attitude from? I know AD&D doesn't handle godhood well, with the numbers and bookkeeping becoming unwieldy before you even get to 20th level, but decades of other games have shown it is possible to create games where it's fun to play beings of immense cosmic power, puny mortals, and everything in between, and still have everyone able to contribute meaningfully to the story. So this is a very outdated rant that fully deserves to be left behind in the scrapheap of history, as it's been repeatedly disproved on both a narrative level and a mechanical one.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 4/6



Basically Speaking: We've already had an extended set of rules questions and mapping for beginners this issue. This column continues the theme, but tackles even more ultra-basic questions, in even greater detail, such as what hit dice, hit points and movement speeds are. I found those perfectly self-explanatory when I first read the basic set, and I was only 8 at the time, so this is definitely pitched waaaaaay below my level, at people who struggle with basic reading comprehension or maths. Surprised they managed to successfully fill out the forms to join the RPGA, and then send letters asking for help to the correct address if they're having difficulties with concepts that fundamental. So this may have been of use to someone, but it's very boring indeed for me.



Under Construction: Their compromise between the people demanding modules and their space constraints is a single room per issue. Of course, since they have to fill a full page with it's description, they're all going to be interesting ones, no 10x10 rooms with an orc and a pie. (Unless it's a very well described pie) You'd only need a few of these amid the more standard combat challenges to keep the adventurers on their toes. First up, a quirky puzzle that'll kill anyone who doesn't engage with the riddle on it's own terms, but isn't too hard for a well-equipped party to solve. Very much an old school one, as there's no saving throws to resist, and your character stats are meaningless. It's all about the player's brain. Make sure your players are used to that kind of play before you throw this at them.



Getting started in Gangbusters: From basic gamma world advice, to basic D&D advice, to basic Gangbusters advice. This isn't so much about the specific rules, but more general GMing advice, oriented towards any system that's meant to be fast, rules-light and high lethality. Don't get too attached to your characters, because you can roll up another one in a minute or two. Broad strokes are better than detailed backstories. Be ready to improvise and extrapolate, let the players face consequences for their actions. Lengthy planning and detailed tactics are out of genre and not supported by the system, so just get on with it. Good to see them taking into account that not all roleplaying games are the same, and players need to adapt their playstyle to the system and setting if they want to get the best out of them. Now if only they could get their customers to buy all their other games in the same quantity as D&D instead of sticking with that and trying to use it as a generic system.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 5/6



The Official RPGA Network Tournament Scoring System: Another bit of progress as they institute an official system for tracking who their best (or at least, most frequent) tournament attendees are. You'll need to be both rich and skilled if you want to catch up with them, as attending that many conventions takes a lot of travelling. Along with the formal scoring comes a new emphasis on making sure both the modules and the characters used to play them are strictly legitimate, with formal procedures if you think a DM or player cheated. This ironically means the very first tournament modules would be illegal if ran now, as they did introduce new monsters and spells not in the books. I suspect the new modules are a good deal less lethal than the Tomb of Horrors too. Really, this is setting themselves up for a thankless and interminable task, so I don't envy their job one bit. Trying to figure out which party in a gaming dispute is the wronged one without video evidence will often fall down to which one is more persuasive, and get the wrong side punished or banned a substantial percentage of the time. And if someone corrupt or abusive winds up as a moderator, it can cause years of misery. Good luck, because heaven knows you're going to need it trying to keep something like this running and internationally co-ordinated for any length of time. I look forward to seeing how it progresses, and what further rules they have to implement to try and keep a few assholes from ruining it for everyone else.



Flights of Fancy: Fancy shooting down a zeppelin. Technically you can't in Dawn Patrol, unless you want to go all alt history on us, but they did have some fairly substantial spy balloons, which is almost as good. They're big, slow, vulnerable targets, but they're pretty good at spotting you coming, which means they have the time to scramble planes and man the AA guns to defend them. That can definitely make for a fun scenario. Can you shoot down the balloon and get out alive? Pick your pilot and roll the dice to find out. A pretty entertaining little article.



Spelling Bee: Rather than specific spells, this column digresses into talking about thinking as a team when selecting your spells. If you're in a large group, which was more common in those days, you might well have more than one character of each class. So it makes sense to talk with the other people in your group and each specialise in different things. Blaster, buffer, healer, trickster, etc. This would apply to nonspellcasters too, but until 2e allows thieves to allocate their skill points rather than having a universal table and all the classes have kits to further differentiate them, that's not really an option. So this is solid advice, that shows up how much more choice and power spellcasters have in the game at this point. They get to customise themselves, while the rest of you don't get to be mechanically distinct until you've accumulated a few magic items, and even then you're still doing your best with what the DM gave the group rather than getting to choose freely or make your own. Fair? Not in this edition mate! Toughen up or ship out!



White Rabbits: They made a particularly egregious error last time around, announcing the wrong person as winner of the Gen Con South tournament. Dear oh dear. On a more positive note, they now have a toll free number to order merch on. Don't use it to rant at them for not putting everything you want in the newszine please. (you just know someone will)
 


(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 10: Jan/Feb 1983



part 6/6



Rune Scry's code looks like a digital clock face this issue. 2^7=128 different shapes are possible, which is more than enough for every number and letter if you fudge a bit. You can easily get your message across, even if the resolution may not be enough to satisfactorily depict 8008135 yet. Have fun figuring it out.



Modules: Ahh, the days when the number of modules they'd published could be listed on a single page. Yes, for some reason, they decide to do an index of them here. Probably to encourage all the new readers to buy them. Can't buy what they don't know about, after all. Gotta Collect 'em all! only works when people believe it's an achievable goal. Not very impressed by this. Come back when there's enough that it's actually a challenge to list them all, let alone play them.



Tournament Tips Too: It's a lot of people's first tournament lately. We already had one article on running your first tournament in issue 6. It's already time for another one. There's less personal storytelling this time, instead sticking to a bullet-pointed list of tips, most of which are basic organisational ones that can be applied to setting up and advertising any event. Like a lot of the articles in the past couple of issues, it's definitely aimed at a lower level of expertise than the previous one, as they try to cater primarily to their brand new readers. Which means it's less useful and interesting to me. This is going to be a problem for a while, isn't it.



Notes from HQ: This editorial has to repeat another PSA they did a few issues ago in greater detail. Stay in school kids! Don't become so obsessed with gaming that you abandon all your other hobbies, neglect your studies and alienate your friends. Otherwise you won't be able to get a job, and'll wind up living in your parent's basement with no-one to play with, and no money to buy more gaming products. (and how will we stay in business then? :p ) Another result of their rapid expansion at this point. Most of the new players are on the young side, and they have to deal with that and accept that they're now role models to some degree, whether they like it or not. They already have enough problems with the satanic panic people without giving people actual good reasons to be annoyed with them. Under those circumstances, making extra effort to simplify and explain the rules and keep new products family friendly seems perfectly reasonable, even if it's somewhat irritating to read about in hindsight.



Treasure Chest and Club Membership are identical to last time, which means the last 9 pages are of no great interest. Twice the page count does not mean twice the useful content, and it was inevitable padding would slip in at some point.



The trends from last issue intensify here, with a lot of emphasis on catering to the new arrivals and keeping things PG-13. They've set up their organised play systems, and now they've got to refine them and figure out how to get people to stick to them. Then, hopefully we can have even more fun together once the new guys get a bit more experienced.
 


(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 1/6



32 pages. Another trip back to WW1 for the cover. Dig that practical longcoat and leather gloves, and get ready for another excursion into hostile territory. Will this issue bring glory, or a slow messy battle like the trenches below? Sound the horns and let's make another foray into ancient history.



Notes from HQ: Mary's editorial is missing, and Kim's gets moved from the back to the front. Curious. And instead of repeating what's going to be in the magazine, they turn it into a general coming soon of TSR products. That became a regular monthly thing in Dragon, so I don't feel the need to repeat everything they say here. Just rest assured they're releasing several things every month for the foreseeable future. (and I definitely miss that kind of release schedule these days.)



Letters: First up, we have someone who wants to know if they sell fantasy clothes. They come down hard on that suggestion. We don't like no fancy-dressed LARPers round these here parts. Gitchore ass outta town before we release the hounds. Ah yes, several of the high ranking TSR people had a big hate-on for LARPing, which led them to ignore that market for years. The RPGA would probably have been even bigger and more interesting if they'd catered to both live action and tabletop games. There's an alternate history it'd be cool to speculate about.

Next, we have someone complaining they don't print the ages of people in the gamers directory. I don't want to write to little kids! They don't do it for the opposite reason, because if they did, that risks it being used as a database for people looking TO correspond with kids for less savoury reasons than roleplaying. Kind of a no-win situation. Besides, writing skill and age are not hugely correlated. Give them a chance. You can have lots of fun gaming with people of widely divergent ages.

Roger Moore writes in to point out that no-one he knows plays D&D or AD&D by the book, not even Gary. Does anyone really bother with all those fiddly little rules in the DMG? Why should they? They respond with an equally lengthy reply that points out that while it may tough sometimes, they have to adhere strictly to the rules for tournament games to be fair. It's the price they pay for being able to score and rank players and DM's. You're still free to house-rule to your hearts content in your own games.

An old oft-repeated question. What does TSR stand for? It used to stand for Tactical Studies Rules, now it just stands for itself.

Finally, they ask how RPGA members can get discounts. At the moment it's only through mail order, but they're trying to create a system that'd let you show your membership card for discounts elsewhere. Another of the many bureaucratic things that are a much bigger hassle than they seem from the outside.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 2/6



The Knight-Error gets his lance sharpened. This is not an innuendo.



The Allegory of the Party: As they said last issue, one of the big things the RPGA needs to do to handle tournament scoring is to moderate and sanction problem players. And there's a lot of things people can do that while not outright game-breaking like cheating, are still irritating and disruptive to the party dynamic. This humorously demonstrates a big chunk of them, as the reckless guy who just wants to get to the fights, the whiner, the thief who steals from the other players and the random guy who does the first thing that comes to mind bicker with each other and get nothing done, while the two straight men of the party are driven to despair by the nonsense surrounding them. It's all very familiar indeed from the likes of Knights of the Dinner Table. Another reason I really don't envy the jobs of the RPGA moderators. At least when you're herding cats, they can be easily mollified with tuna and scritches. Building a team that's not only competent at the rules of the game, but all get along with each other is not an easy task, as this illustrates all too well.



Getting Started: The ultra-basic introductory articles continue from last issue with one for Dawn Patrol. What is it good for, why is it fun, how big a group should you play it with, how long should you expect a game to last. Another one that's definitely intended for brand-new readers, as people who'd been reading the newszine from the start would have picked this stuff up by osmosis even if they'd never played the game. So yeah, it's not doing anything for me. Moving on then.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 3/6



Dispel Confusion is still large and multisystem. I need to label the divisions between systems better.

D&D

What is maximum level? (36 for humans, much lower for demihumans)

My friends contradict me about how magic missile works (that's because it works differently between D&D and AD&D)

What good is remove fear? (Are you forgetting to apply morale rules to your hirelings? Are you forgetting hirelings altogether. I guess you aren't the first party, and you definitely won't be the last if future editions downplaying those rules is anything to go by.)

How are there still lycanthropes if Cure Disease is so readily available? (Your understanding of fantasy world demographics is incorrect. Oh, and we made a mistake too, so you could never have known correctly anyway.)

AD&D

The game falls apart if I use all the new stuff from Dragon! (Well what did you expect. It hasn't been properly edited and playtested like the stuff in official books. Feel free to change things to get them back under control.)

Can an enlarged monk stun bigger creatures? (It would make sense)

I thought there was no magical elfin chain, but drow have some! (It's not magical, it's just very well made.)


Boot Hill

Is strength the same as hit points (No. Wound penalties are serious business in boot hill, because it's a much grittier, more realistic game.)

Why does firing lots of shots in quick succession make it harder to hit, not easier? (Recoil. Firing those little bits of metal that fast has a serious kick to it. You'd know that if you ever shot a gun in real life.)

Dawn Patrol

If a pilot lands behind enemy lines to rescue another one, what are their odds of being captured themselves? (none in the short term. Long term, you might want to use a different system designed to handle the on ground espionage stuff. I hear TSR does one of those.)

If your engine is on fire, does it suffer any more hits after being put out? (no)

Gamma World

How do you balance mutant animals? (You don't. You give them whatever powers are cool and appropriate for their role. Balance has no place in this system!)

What does a negation bomb look like (Since it doesn't affect organic matter, probably not very impressive to our eyes. To robot ones, on the other hand…..)

What happens if you use a laser underwater? (Massively reduced range)

Gangbusters

Does a starting P.I. really have no free money? (Yup. Better get on those cases pronto before the rent comes due.)

Can a grenade make a car explode (possible but unlikely, unless it's already damaged or surrounded by other flammable things.)

How often do you check the disguise skill (Once when made, then when circumstances change. Don't overdo it.)

Star Frontiers

Can a Dralasite divide themselves? (No)

Can a dralasite fit under a door. (Only if the gap is at least 10cm. They're not even as good or fast at shapeshifting as real world octopi.)

Can a Vrusk carry other characters on it's back (Not long term, unless it wants to do itself a slipped disk. )

What are unmarked items. (Too small and light to be worth tracking encumbrance individually. Don't push your luck on this though.)

Top Secret

Who is James Pong (An 11th level character from the designers personal game. You'll need to play a long time to get as good as him.)

Can I play a mercenary or bounty hunter? (They do seem like good grounds for new classes. We might just do them in a supplement.)

How many countries is Top Secret played in (A fair number, but not as many as D&D)

I've written a Top Secret module! Will you publish it? (Possible but unlikely. The competition is pretty stiff, and you need to jump through a bunch of legal hoops.)
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 4/6



Encounters: Dawn Patrol gets this month's cover based adventure. Adventure is pushing it a bit this time, as the actual description of the scenario takes up less than 10% of the page. Most of it is devoted to our dashing young cover star, how awesome he is, and why the players should feel honoured to be supporting him and flying in the same airspace he breathes. GMPCish fluff, in other words. So this is easily the least useful of these so far, as it's only useful for one specific game, doesn't really spark any further plot hooks either, and is of a kind of writing I just find irritating in general. I'll be dealing with enough of this when I go through the 90's again. I wasn't expecting to see it this early.



Notes for the Dungeon Master: Having spent a good page ranting about the invincibility and infallibility of deities last month, Frank now gives methods to retroactively restore the status quo if your players have already engaged in some god-killing. They WILL rule supreme and there's nothing you can do! It's all very tiresome. This may have flown in the days where episodic media was the norm, but these days, we know we can change and progress huge aspects of the setting and keep the game interesting. I don't feel the need to spend more time tearing down this nonsense, so I shall move on.



Mapping from Square One pt 2: Considerably more palatable is the second part of Frank's mapping lesson, which has a whole ton of useful symbols explained for you to use. The explanations aren't numbered, which makes tracking which one belongs to which symbol a bit of a nuisance, but most of them are pretty intuitive anyway. Make your symbols simple but clearly distinct and don't try to cram too many of them into one area and you can't go too far wrong. Definitely worth checking back on this one every now and then, to make sure your designs aren't falling into a rut and using the same few building blocks over and over again.



Under Construction: Our room this month is system-free, and so could be used in any game, even a fantasy one if you want that Barrier Peaks style fun. Actually, it's a three room crashed space shuttle, filled with lots of high tech gadgetry, and also an extremely fast-growing and dangerous fungus that'll spread through your world like a plague now the place has been unsealed unless you destroy it pretty quickly. So this could be just a single encounter that nets you some quirky treasure, or a plot hook driving a whole campaign, depending how tough and adaptable you want to make that fungus. That's the way to make this useful for lots of games across multiple systems. I definitely approve of this one.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 5/6



Spelling Bee: Now, if anyone's going to be able to stop a fungus that defeated the most advanced technological countermeasures, it's druids. So this column being devoted to druid spells is a pleasing bit of serendipity. Druids are nearly as good at curing as regular clerics, and their elemental connections also mean they're better at blasting stuff, especially at low level. Their main limitation is the need for regular supplies of mistletoe, which means they can't delve too deep into the dungeon for too long, even if they can create food and water for the party. But in the wilderness, they can be both excellent combatants, and sneaky tricksters solving problems in clever ways. This is another handy one to check back on, as it's tactical advice for spells remains true in most other editions of D&D too. Don't underestimate the nature guys.



Escalation and Blackmail: Gary's been playing D&D longer than anyone, so he knows the difference between a character that started at 1st level and gained every XP and magic item the hard way, and one that was handed all their cool stuff on a plate or created at a higher level. Don't let them have power they haven't properly earned, and remember you can always take it away. On the other hand, remember that you can always walk away from a game if it ceases to be fun, both as a DM or a player. Getting so attached to your party or world that you can be blackmailed over the ingame events shows an unhealthy relationship with fantasy over reality. Basically, what this boils down to is learning the right amount of delayed gratification. If you give players everything they demand straight away, they'll get bored or you'll hit the point where the system breaks down quickly, and you won't actually have as much fun in the long run. This is all pretty sensible advice, learned from hard experience, even if Gary sometimes presents it in a rather hyperbolic way. I guess that just adds to the fun, really.



Tournament Scoring System Pt 2: This continues from last issue with the actual rating forms, which have 12 scoring categories for the DM and 7 for the players, rated out of 10, each with different weighting to determine how they contribute to the final score. Once it's all totalled up, you could add up to 500 points to your profile if you had a perfect score in every category. Anyone who consistently goes to more than one or two cons a year will have no problem racking up 5 figure scores over the course of a decade. If they don't reset the whole thing next staff turnover or edition change, anyway. As with all of these long term things they're setting up, we shall see what works, what crashes and dies, and what mutates into an unrecognisable form through incremental changes over the years.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 11: Mar/Apr 1983



part 6/6



Computer Game Reviews: Ah yes, another of TSR's attempts to diversify and add more merch to their range. The technology really isn't there to properly recreate the dungeoncrawling experience yet, and these little handheld devices look exceedingly primitive and clunky. They can't even show the dragon properly, instead having an invisible assailant that you need to guess the moves of. It's no wonder that the USA computer market crashed with companies shovelling out cheap little things like this (which are actually not that cheap, especially when you factor inflation in), instead of building a system that plays multiple games and has the core processing systems to do them all justice. I definitely have no desire to hunt down one of these on ebay and replay them.



Modules has the same contents as last issue, but somewhat better formatted and has been erratad. All the better to plan what to throw at them next once they've finished the current one. Muahaha.



White Rabbits: In another attempt to grow their userbase, they encourage public libraries to write to them, and they'll send them free basic sets. I recall that this doesn't work out too well, due to a combination of the dice going missing, and an unusually high level of the books not being returned making them difficult to keep in stock, and most stopped trying pretty quickly. This is the trouble when your primary audience is teenage boys. At least they tried.



Rune Scry is carved on a blade this time. Can you figure out what it will be most effective at slicing?



Treasure Chest: They add some more items to the gift catalogue this issue. Doc's Island shows your high level party what happens next once you've got a phoenix egg. If you're just starting out, Rahasia will inject a little more plot and characterisation into your adventures than the old Keep on the Borderlands. And if you're racking up the modules, get a nice slipcase to store them in, safe and organised.



Still a fair few articles aimed at absolute beginners this issue, but less than last time, as they build on those introductory pieces and add to them. Given a few more in the same series, they'll work their way back to complexity again. Let's keep this organisation growing, because having to reexplain yourself to newbies repeatedly is better than slowly withering away for lack of them.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 12: May/Jun 1983



part 1/6



32 pages. A different genre of aerial dogfighting from last issue's cover, as a pegasus and rider try to hit the weak spot on a dragon with a lance. They might just be onto something with that idea. Let's see if there are any good clues to the development of RPG history inside.



From the Publisher: Our new management continue to make incremental changes every issue. You'll notice straight away that they've slightly increased the font size this time, slightly reducing the amount of content they need to fill the pages, but also making things look cleaner and easier to read. Just as important though, are the behind the scenes ones. They've moved Polyhedron to a different division of the company, so they can work more closely with their other periodicals, and enjoy the benefits of using experienced specialists on both. Weirdly enough, this actually moves them to a lower level of "officialness" though. Their pronouncements about the rules no longer carry the same weight as Gary's. (although technically, as company president, he could have contradicted them at any time anyway and had precedent. ) As they grow, the company hierarchy becomes increasingly complex and stratified, which may cause problems down the line. But for now, it's all upwards and onwards, as membership grows exponentially.



From the Editor: Mary follows on from Kim, talking about the same changes, but from her perspective. The reason they can change things this fast is because they support each other's ideas, and encourage each other to do do more, and better. Which is how collaboration ought to work. Everyone brings their own skillsets and ideas, and together you accomplish more than the sum of your parts. If you also get to joke with each other and affectionately take the piss in the process, that's even better. Sounds like they're finding ways to keep their jobs fun, which is good.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 12: May/Jun 1983



part 2/6



Letters: Our first letter asks what good a membership card is. You need it to get those discounts at conventions. What, did you think they'd just take your word for it?!

Second we have a request for group memberships. They have club memberships, which is almost the same thing. They're considering adding a lower tier, so groups smaller than 12 can enjoy at least some extra benefits. Or you could put the extra effort in to recruit a few more people and start your own club now.

Then we have to deal with the removal of the cthulhu mythos from repeat printings of Deities & Demigods. They didn't get in trouble for it, but thought they might in the future, so better safe than sorry.

Fouthly, we have to deal with the hassle of people sending letters to the wrong department. They have been doing a lot of reorganising recently, so it's quite reasonable if you aren't up to date with the latest addresses.

Fifthly, someone asks if monsters sent in can become official D&D ones. It's possible, but unlikely, as new monsters are one of the most common things submitted to them. The competition is fierce. (as are most of the monsters.)

A letter from someone who's seen the top prize for the membership drive, and asks if they can buy it. I believe that's called bribery, which is generally considered cheating. It'd have to be a pretty big bribe to beat the long term membership fees of all the people the top recruiters recruited anyway. Don't be lazy, go out and earn that top spot the proper way.

A request for reprints. Nope. Waste of money. You snoozed, you lose. At least until you can get all the issues for free on the internet, which won't be for a looong time.

Someone asking what kind of material they accept. As long as it's good for gaming, they'll consider it. Maybe not for very long, but they'll consider it.

And finally, someone complaining why Polyhedron gives you far less for your buck than Dragon. Economies of scale. It has more than 10 times the readership. Get more people to join the RPGA to fix this, and join with the multi-year subscriptions, as those will cost you less per month in the long run.



The Knight-Error strikes out trying to seduce an elf. You'll never get over the age gap.
 

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