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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 84: June 1993



part 3/5



The Living City 2: The second location this month is one of the still small fraction of places run entirely by 0th level characters. Tragor's Tours & Souvenir Shop. But on a flavour level it's considerably more interesting than the last one, as it gives you a good overview of lots of other establishments mentioned in previous issues, and then adds four new tourist spots on top of that with their own minor mechanical quirks. Sleep in Ilmater's footsteps and you might be miraculously cured of various chronic ailments. Jump off the tower of luck and enjoy it's blessing for the next few days, but only from a very specific angle, otherwise you just go splat. Listen to the prophecies of the goat oracle, but don't try to find out who's behind the curtain. It all presents a picture of magical landmarks much more low-key, quirky and unreliable than the previous article. I guess you get what you pay for, as these tour guides are pretty cheap. More one for new arrivals to the city than a place you can form a relationship with and visit over and over again. Just wandering around and seeing the sights is nice for a bit, but you need an actual purpose if you're going to make an extended stay.



Living City Magic: We whiplash back from 0 level characters to high magic again with a trio of magic items tied into Raven's Bluff. Ambassador Carrague is one of those wizards who uses his powers to accomplish things we would do with technology, for the desire to save labor and enjoy the comforts of life are universal.

Carrague's Steam Machines are basically reinventing the train. Technically, they're not even magical, as only the power source differs from earthly trains. Unfortunately for him, Torilians are superstitious of anything that looks technological due to those annoying Gondites, so there's only a few prototypes of these in existence. It'll take a lot of work laying down tracks before you can ride anywhere in style in these.

Carrague's Decanter of Endless Steam is just a decanter of endless water, only hotter. This makes it a very effective power source on top of all the normal uses for large quantities of water, and much more dangerous in combat as long as you have some means of coping with the recoil. Just one of these running at full power in a generator could make a city a good deal more comfortable, at least until the long term changes in water level and greenhouse effect catch up with you.

Carrague's Iron Golem ditches that unethical business of summoning & binding elemental spirits and instead makes it operated by a VR suit elsewhere. Make sure there's a thick wall between operator and golem, for if you're spotted, trying to deal with attacks while it's mirroring your actions will be humorously awkward.



Character Generation: It's been three years since they first allowed you to create persistent characters for the Living City and take them through tournament adventures, gaining levels along the way. It's been going long enough, and had enough feedback that they've decided it's time for a revision, in the process taking things even further away from AD&D 2e RAW. From every level between 2nd and 10th, you gain at least one ability point. Most of them can be assigned to any score, but some automatically go to your charisma, as for some reason living city characters tend to have a deficit there. :) You can have any kit from the official books you qualify for, which is surprisingly generous, but psionics are completely banned, as if you can't be trusted to roll for ability scores, you definitely can't be trusted with rolling for wild talents, let alone the prospect of teleportation or astral travel at 1st level as a psionicist. They're still using Comeliness, four years into 2e, and they've made dual-classing even harder than it is in the corebooks with an extra XP surcharge when you first switch. As with last time, it's a weird mix of things that won't become part of the official rules until next edition and holdovers from 1e. It goes to show, people really wanted some way for you to improve your ability scores as you level up, rather than just rolling lots of characters, and having the ones with higher scores more likely to survive that long. (plus XP bonuses for high prime requisites compounding the unfairness) Curious that the RPGA would decide to pander to that before the official designers. So there's actually plenty of interesting stuff in here to analyse, and less outright banned than I expected. Let's see how long it lasts before they have to revise these rules again.
 

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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 84: June 1993



part 4/5



The Everwinking Eye: Having spent two issues on the history of Zhentil Keep & it's rulers, Ed talks about what they're up to in the present. While they'd like to dominate the world, they've accumulated enough enemies that they're far too busy just holding onto what they've got to seriously expand. However they're quietly increasing the number of organisations they've infiltrated, and working at establishing new trade routes through hostile terrain that would make them very rich indeed by being able to deliver goods much faster than any competitors. Some of the monsters they'll negotiate with to accomplish this, while other are less willing to listen to humans regardless of alignment, in which case they have no qualms about killing them, or better yet, petrifying them and setting them in locations they want to guard with automated dispels triggered by anyone who doesn't use the correct procedures. Or in other words, another excuse to have dungeons full of monsters placed in rooms with no food and no thought about how they interact just waiting to fight the PCs and have it make sense in universe. Gotta love all that lampshade hanging. As usual, he's putting far more work in than he needs to to make the Realms both a good place to adventure in and still somewhat coherent, with even the most diabolical of villains still having to spend much of their time worrying about economics and logistics. It's an fascinating read yet again. I just wish any of the other developers were half as invested in their worlds, so there was some kind of competition. When first place is so far ahead of everyone else in the field, it can be a little bit discouraging.



The Living Galaxy: Roger decides to go full Harry Turtledove this time, giving us an alternate history themed column. A single change a few centuries ago, followed up logically, and you can wind up with a completely different geopolitical setup. Whether you stick strictly to real world laws of physics, or introduce a few fantastical macguffins to push the divergence along, you can have endless amounts of fun by picking different places and times to make that little push and set the ball rolling. What happens if the weather was a little nicer and the Spanish Armada wasn't devastated? What happens if China colonised the Americas from the west first? What happens if the Nazis won WWII? What does the existence of superheroes do to the world if you don't keep on pressing the reset button? As usual, he references a wide variety of sources, including some of TSR's own books, but has to admit that the best all-round game for this kind of scenario is GURPS, due to the sheer number of historical & genre sourcebooks combined with a solid system. (God I wish they'd do some Living GURPS material in here, but it doesn't seem to be particularly popular as a tournament system, probably because using pregens doesn't suit the strengths of the system, and creating your own point-buy character without GM supervision is packed with railroad-breaking exploits. ) As this topic works particularly well when you do lots of research and break things down into smaller chunks rather than trying to come up with the entirety of new history at once, this is a topic that synergizes well with Roger's writing style, resulting in an above average column for him. This is a well you could go too quite a few times with quite different results and still keep your players entertained.



Into the Dark: James can't think of a theme, so it's time to review another round of reader recommendations. These definitely skew towards the recent end, which reminds us that most of the readers are somewhat younger than the TSR writers. Will James enjoy any of these, or wish he'd stuck to his own selections?

The Blood of Heroes is basically a gritty postapocalyptic version of Quidditch starring Rutger Hauer. There's nothing new in the world, and even less originality in Rowling's writing. The usual sports tropes involving plucky underdogs, forming bonds with your team and careers ruined by behind the scenes politics make their appearance. James finds it decent enough, but runs out of steam at the end. Not one to put any great effort into hunting down, but might watch if it happened to be on.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves annoys James with virtually everything it does. Formulaic, bloated and cheesy, embracing regressive classism and cartoon villainy. Consistent geography or accents, no thank you! So much money and talent thrown at the screen in a fundamentally misguided way. Which means the lowest common denominator viewers loved it, and it was the second biggest selling film & biggest soundtrack album that year. It richly deserves the many parodies it got in the next few years.

The Guyver is the 1991 american adaption of the manga & anime. The whole thing turned out more power rangers than serious body horror, limited by the rubber suit tech of the day. There's plenty of amusing cameos, but if you want something a little less saturday morning, stick to the japanese adaptions.

The Flight of Dragons is a bit of derivative Rankin-Bass animation, on about the same technical level as their adaption of The Hobbit, but adapted from a distinctly less famous author. Younger viewers might be entertained, but anyone who's already consumed a large quantity of books will see the frequent obvious cliches and yawn.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is by far the oldest of these, and the only one James actually gives a positive result too. The 50's stop-motion might look a little dated now, but the human characters are better handled than most giant monster movies and the writing in general is tight. There's a good reason why it's been imitated so frequently.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 84: June 1993



part 5/5



What's In A Name: Oh god, they're trying to make a mascot for the RPGA. Choose one of the 6 twee looking potential candidates, all drawn by Gary M. Williams so there's no real variety in terms of art style, and submit a name for them. Two different dragons, three faeish sorts and one vague blob person with a d20 for a head. Mildly more choice than your average political election, but you're still not going to make any significant difference to the overall way things are run with your vote. Winner gets a year's membership extension and the smugness of being able to point to the mascot on every issue (until the next big revision) and say they were responsible for it. I wonder who's idea this was in the first place. In any case, it's mildly irritating, but in an interesting way, and like the elections gives me something else to look forward too. Will the audience at the time be more enthusiastic about it than I am?



Beaming Into Mecca: The Mecca arena in Milkaukee that is, as while we've seen a few letters from Israeli gamers over the years, there's been absolutely zero signs of any RPG penetration into Muslim-dominated middle eastern countries in any of TSR's products. Gene DeWeese talks about his convention appearances, Star Trek in general, and how he got into writing for them. He was a fan of the show right from the start, and one of the people who bombarded Paramount with letters when it was first cancelled. He published a wide variety of books before getting into the licensed fiction market, including one for TSR, but his Star Trek books have been the biggest selling and most referenced whenever fans meet him in person. Despite his success, he's still not so big that he can just get any idea published - he still has to pitch them to the executives and often has to shop them around several companies before he finds a buyer. He also has to deal with the sexist & racist complaints of his fans for including competent diverse protagonists, even though Star Trek is supposed to be a time when those prejudices don't exist anymore. Another of those things that hasn't changed 30 years later, but the internet has given the worst of fandom a louder voice. So despite making a comfortable living, he's still a working author, not a celebrity who can afford to not publish anything for years and then have a bidding war when they do. Even the biggest author working in licensed fiction will still be subject to various restrictions that someone who owns their own IP doesn't. He seems pleasant enough.




Bloodmoose & Company have to face up to the cruel realities of death and taxes hitting at the same time in their final appearance. No happy ending here then, but an unusually realistic one.



A very Living City heavy issue indeed, between the 4 setting articles and revising the character creation guidelines on top of that. The longer things go on, the more it seems to be absorbing their other convention related activities. Will they ever get another Living setting off the ground? The Gamma World one seems to have been a non-starter. It also shows how important Polyhedron was to the Forgotten Realms becoming by far their biggest setting, building up it's hardcore fanbase and adding lots of detail beyond Ed's own contributions. Will next issue have more of the same, or be a diversion into a more novel theme? I guess we'll see tomorrow.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 85: July 1993



part 1/5



36 pages. Ugh, you can't go anywhere in a fantasy world as an attractive woman without getting ogled. Scrying wizards, talking animals, intelligent trees, and if all else fails there's always the gods taking a peep with no regards to your privacy, all with curiously human heteronormative tastes regardless of their own body forms. Why don't you paint a portrait, it'll last longer … oh, you already did. :sighs: Let's see what kind of attitudes we're dealing with inside this issue.



The Third Degree: We take a break from dungeon-crawling and princess rescuing this month, as Jeff looks at Over the Edge, the game of surrealist roleplaying in weird Casablanca. Inspired by the works of boundary pushing artists like William S Burroughs and Philip K Dick, you can play this comically, but like Paranoia, it can also get very dark indeed if you look at the logical consequences of all this strangeness jammed together into one small island. The system is relatively simple, with narrative traits almost as important as the more straightforward defining of what you're good and bad at. It's all quite refreshingly different from most games of the time. His main complaint is that the looseness of the rules means it's quite susceptible to becoming just GM fiat as to what happens. This means he definitely can't recommend it to beginner players, but if you've already played several RPG's and are tiring of learning new heavy systems, it could be just what you're looking for.



Notes From HQ: It took them several issues and nearly a year after the RPGA was founded to properly settle on a name. Now they're wondering if it was the right choice. This issue's contest is to suggest other, snappier ones for both the RPGA and Polyhedron, see if any of them stick. This is one where I can't even pretend for the sake of drama, having already seen the complete run of the newszine's covers. It isn't going to happen, although exactly how large the majority wanting things to stay the same is remains to be seen. The rest of the editorial talks about their time at ConnCon and Spring Fantasy, both of which went fairly smoothly apart from the hotel inexplicably setting the water way too hot with no controls in the individual rooms. I guess it's more hygienic than the opposite extreme, particularly as hotels are prone to spreading infections at the best of times. People are still having fun, running tournaments, and raising money for charity. Not much I can say about that, so good work, keep it up.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 85: July 1993



part 2/5



Letters: First letter complains about a lack of letters in issue 81. Dragon always has more than enough until the very end, when the internet commentary replaces most direct replies, but both Polyhedron & Dungeon have regularly struggled on this front. Jean asks for more help, but I suspect letters will continue to come in drips and drabs rather than a consistent stream.

The second is much more specific, as it complains about too many conventions only running exclusive first-run tournament modules, to the detriment of average quality. While you do need a decent stream of new ones, especially for the Living City where keeping PC's from playing the same adventure twice at different conventions is important for continuity & fairnesses sake, not running good adventures just because someone else got there first is shooting yourself in the foot. Jean is very interested to hear if this should be regulated in some way, and if so, how. Hopefully that'll stir up a good debate in the next few issues.



The Everwinking Eye: More demonstration here of why the Zhentarim can appear terrifying, but are ultimately losers on a larger scale perspective. Like generals in WW1, they have no hesitation in throwing waves of minions after a single problem, which just means more opportunities to gain XP for a competent party and leaves them short-handed later even if they do eventually win the battle. This approach is also applied to the city guard, which does at least mean the streets are pretty safe, clean and crime-free, and there's low unemployment due to constant need for new mooks. It's not hard to get on in the ground level as a potential infiltrator if you have any talent for violence, but surviving the treacherous politics and working your way up is not safe or easy. As with the other Moonsea cities, there's oddly little pub culture, with anyone of any refinement preferring private parties where they can indulge their depravities without having to worry about unwelcome walk-ins, while what pubs there are are filled with foreigners and troublemakers who want an acceptable target. It's not all cackling villainy here, and at least there's less random mind-reading going on than Mulmaster, but as soon as you engage with the people in charge you'll find it's one set of rules for them, and another for everyone else. As before, this lampshades the ridiculous events that happen in the FR novels, and attempts to show the quieter logistical stuff that happens in between them. Also as usual, his magazine articles are superior to his full length novels where Elminster does cheesy overpowered naughty word and mows through villains with more high level spells per day than any wizard actually working by the rules could cast, but I guess you've got to write what sells. There's still plenty of room to take the toys he's created and play with them in other ways.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 85: July 1993



part 3/5



Silverwood: Ah joy, a save the trees plot. It is the 90's, so we were bound to have a bit of eco-froofery in here as well. An evil sorceress with a passion for perfume is engaging in unsustainable practices in her pursuit of the sweetest scents to bottle, pissing off the elves and woodland creatures. Truly a motivation that puts her in the same league as Cruella De Vil in terms of pettiness. The oldest and wisest intelligent tree in the forest sends out a psychic call for help that your players pick up on. Let's hope they're the right people for the job. Fight some ogres, the first batch of collectors sent to the forest, get arrested on false charges when they stop for the night at a suspicious village, get sent on another rescue mission by the villagers, then finally get sent in the right direction for the final dungeon. As usual, it's very linear, and expects the PC's to just go along with the naughty word rather than fighting it in some encounters, falling apart if they make the wrong decision and have the dice rolls to back it up. It is at least both a decent challenge, not so short as to feel trivial in a 4 hour slot, or so jokey as to undercut any tension and immersion. Overall, it's decent enough by Polyhedron standards, but that's still grading on a curve and it's not one I'd have any interest in running.



The Living Galaxy: Roger must be starting to run out of ideas, as he recycles one from earlier on in this column with minor variations. How to differentiate countries on the same planet vs how to differentiate cities on the same planet in issue 53. The formula is pretty much the same. Steal liberally from reality or fiction, file off serial numbers, figure out the history & relationships with neighbours. Apart from growing increasingly fond of lists, his writing style hasn't changed much in the intervening time, so this is the kind of article that's particularly useless to long-term fanatical readers. Which since the RPGA tends towards the hardcore end of the gamer spectrum, is probably a pretty high proportion. Some magazines might be able to get away with recycling the same idea every few years, or being mostly adverts so the content of the articles is almost irrelevant, but this is not one of those. Disappointing to see.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 85: July 1993



part 4/5



Into The Dark: Fittingly for the column's title, James decides to do a whole bunch of night themed movies. No matter how many electric lights we fill our cities with, night remains scarier than day for humans. Who knows what could be lurking out there, just waiting for us to venture beyond our small circle of carefully constructed safety?

Night of the Living Dead is the OG of this naming convention. As usual for originators, it's one of the best, really putting man's inhumanity to man over the monsters in focus. Some of the things that really made the atmosphere great may have been lucky accidents or working around budgetary limitations, but it's the results that really matter and it's still well worth rewatching.

NotLD's 1990 remake gets scored just a fraction of a point lower, as while it improves on the original in quite a few technical areas, just outright showing what was merely implied before is actually less atmospheric. Still a good movie, but couldn't they have spent the time and energy on an all new one?

Night of the Demons is your basic slaughterfest where a bunch of dumb teenagers free a demon and suffer the consequences. The effects are decent, but the writing is incredibly cliched and the human characters mere cutouts which you won't get particularly attached too before they die.

Night of the Lepus is less cliched, but considerably more silly and less technically adept. A plague of giant man-eating rabbits? Run away! Get the holy hand grenade! You can't take it seriously, with both the acting and special effects barely above school play levels. Unless you have an unwanted vengeance demon hanging around, this can stay unwatched for now.

Night of the Seagulls is not actually about evil seagulls, which would be considerably less silly than evil rabbits because even regular seagulls are loud, bullying, thieving bastards. Instead, it's a particularly silly zombie movie, as the undead are not only slow moving, but blind as well, so only the utter idiocy of the human cast makes them any threat at all. How anyone could be scared of that is pretty baffling.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 85: July 1993



part 5/5



With Great Power: Dale decides to go back to the Golden age of superheroes this time, talking about what distinguishes them from more recent Marvel stories. Surprisingly few of them have inherent powers, most either using gadgets or just their own skill and pluck to fight crime and explore strange places. They're also much lower on angst than the silver age onwards, both of the general balancing mundane life with superheroics, and whether they've got the right stuff to beat their various villains in the first place. To be fair, the average power level of said villains tends to be lower as well, with many of them only appearing once rather than recycled endlessly with a little more power creep each time. There's still plenty of weirdness though, particularly as there's much less worry about continuity and shared universes in general, so they can introduce elements without worrying how superman showing up might affect batman's rogues gallery. It was a more innocent time, when people still believed in good and evil, and every IP didn't have a wiki chronicling every character's every appearance and broadcasting it to the world days after each new instalment. As with Roger's columns, he has plenty of references, including the obligatory plug of their new, more pulpy Buck Rogers game, which is specifically tailored for tales of derring-do with implausible cliffhangers between each session. Gangbusters and Boot Hill also get their first mentions in a while - they must still have a fair amount of the new edition's books lurking in the warehouses. Call of Cthuhu gets a mention for being made in the same time period, despite not particularly fitting the pulp style. There's definitely no shortage of source material as long as you can find it. This is all pretty familiar stuff, formulaic both in what it's referencing and the way it's referencing it. Overall, competent but dull.




The Roving Eye: They've published convention photos irregularly for many years now. It looks like they've decided to try and make a regular column of it, just like Dungeon did with Side Treks. get ready for another round of goofy facial hair and gamers posing awkwardly. Let's see if this attempt at branding sticks, or it'll be forgotten within a few issues like half the columns in issue 323 of Dragon.



With no Living City material at all, this issue feels quite different from the last one. That doesn't mean it's good though, with the long-running regular columns being particularly formulaic in both topic and approach. A name change won't help you if the contents start to bore people away with repetitiveness. Another of those times where I'm quite glad I get to flip between sister magazines to get a change of pace and writing style.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 42: Jul/Aug 1993



part 1/5



72 pages. After a large chunk of the readers made it clear in the survey they didn't want any adventures that reminded them of africans or native americans, it's pleasing to see them put a darker-skinned character on the cover. Whether the story they're in is a good one, and whether they're protagonist or antagonist remains to be seen, but at least it's a little bit of a pushback. Let's find out what the context is inside.



Editorial: One of those topics that turns up regularly gets recycled here, as Wolfgang talks about using music & props to enhance the gaming experience. Create atmosphere, provide hints as to the solution of a mystery without having to explicitly describe all the clues, maybe a few jump scares. Send in your best ideas (and also the ones you tried that really didn't work, as that's a good laugh to put in the letters page) and maybe they'll build a special feature around them. Another little way to drive engagement and hopefully increase the variety of things they publish. We'll see if it bears any fruit in a few issues time.



Letters: First letter points out that good plots are much harder to write than just stringing together a bunch of dungeon rooms full of monsters. This is why it makes sense for the magazine to favour those. Just remember that too rigid a plot means no room for actually roleplaying as a player, which defeats the whole purpose of the game.

Second is Willie Walsh talking about the statistics of accepted vs rejected adventures. Even he's batting less than 50%. Don't get down on yourself if your first try doesn't measure up.

Third is from Israel, and complains how hard it is to find roleplaying stuff there. As I said a couple of issues ago, you should see the neighbours. He also wants more extremely low & high level adventures, as those are the trickiest parts of the system to support.

Fourth is Steve Kurtz, pointing out that psionics is only broken when the PC's have it, but none of the NPC's know about it or have any countermeasures. Psionic characters also have sensitivities nonpsionic ones lack, and in a setting where they're common, even complete nulls will know how to exploit these.

Fifth is another adventure path, showing how he used the characters in one to lead smoothly onto the next planned adventure. All it takes is building a few more connections between areas that weren't in the original scenarios.

Sixth is another person complaining about them including monsters from books they don't have. Sharing is caring. If you can't afford those books, or your wife won't let you, maybe one of the other group members has them and will let you have a look.

Finally, another adventure path from Australia, along with a few of the modifications they made. Not all of the adventures are from Dungeon, but they couldn't have done without it, due to the sheer quantity of adventures in here vs their standalone modules.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 42: Jul/Aug 1993



part 2/5



Side Treks - Whistledown's Mantrap: Huh. For a second time, it turns out that rape is acceptable to the Dungeon editorial staff as long as it's woman on man, and you don't dwell on the finer details. A dryad has cultivated a giant hypnotic venus flytrap (cue little shop of horrors themetune) next to her tree, which has really put a dent in the local animal population. It'll lure you into it's jaws with it's sweet scent. If there's any cute guys in the group, she'll let the rest of the party go in exchange for that one becoming her plaything. (until she gets bored, and releases them "a little worse for wear" a few months later) If not, she has no compunction about using her mind control powers to get what she wants, and ordering her current mind-controlled paramour to engage in violence on her behalf if neither of those approaches works. Charming. Even if you do free her minion from mind control and rescue him, you may come to regret it, as he's cut from the Gaston-esque dumb but egotistical himbo mould and will try to take over your party. No good deed goes unpunished, eh? So this is a collection of enemies where it makes sense on a tactical, game mechanics and in setting level that they would be encountered together, but is a big yikes on a thematic one, reminding us just how much dubious mind control stuff D&D fae can do and still retain a neutral or even chaotic good alignment. Whether it gets used in your campaign will obviously depend heavily on your opinion on that whole minefield of debate.



The Lady of the Mists: Connecting to the editorial, we have a bit of gothic tragedy here that would definitely be enhanced by playing the music choices they suggest in the background. A powerful wizard developed a potion that gave it's drinkers Highlander level immortality and regeneration. She spent the next few centuries building up a small cabal of immortals, which naturally tended to become wealthy and influential over their extended lifespans. Then tragedy struck, and she decided that immortality was not a thing man was meant to have, and spent several more centuries developing an antidote and hunting down her former peers. Turns out she needn't have bothered, as it stops working on it's own eventually. So she and the last few immortals have started ageing again, and they've mysteriously vanished from their usual positions heading for her castle in a panic in the hopes of getting another dose. Since they're rich and influential, this causes quite the stir in the halls of government, and the PC's are sent to investigate.

Anyway, this lengthy backstory leads up to a fairly typical crumbling gothic castle full of weirdness, undead and traps, with spooky organ music playing from higher up, and while there are some hints along the way, you'll only get to find out the full story if you talk to the wizard in the final encounter instead of attacking her straight away, as you would be quite justified in doing after all the crap you had to go through to reach her. So while the adventure part of this isn't terrible, this is really one where the backstory is the main focus. It would be better suited as a novel, or maybe a WoD style campaign where you play said secret immortals angsting and scheming their way through history, rather than a group of adventurers that just blunder in to discover the aftermath. It also doesn't work thematically in high magic campaign worlds where there are lots of powerful spellcasters who've exceeded mortal lifespan just operating happily out in the open, like the Forgotten Realms. It could all have been much more interesting if they weren't bound to the D&D system and adventure format. But then again, most White Wolf prefab adventures were even worse about telling a story rather than helping the PC's create their own, so it's obviously not as easy as it looks. A big part of D&D's continued supremacy is that adventures where you kill things and take their stuff are relatively easy to design compared to more social scenarios that only work with very specific sets of PC's. Overall, this is a bit irritating.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 42: Jul/Aug 1993



part 3/5



Side Treks - Izek's Slumber: Two side treks in one issue? That's a mildly surprising first for the magazine. Despite the name, it's not a Lankhmar one, but a Greyhawk character that just happens to share the name. The aforementioned Izek is a Sueloise mage that escaped the rain of colourless fire by being put into suspended animation. Someone digs in the wrong place, he's released a thousand years late and very confused, which is not a condition you want to meet a powerful wizard in. Now he's wandering around the city of Greyhawk with a bunch of zombies looking for his ancient enemy. If any of the PC's speak ancient Sueloise it's possible to talk him down, but if they leave him alone after that to explore the present day without any guidance he'll wind up joining the Scarlet Brotherhood and show up again to be a pain further along the line. If you fight him, you get a demonstration of just how nasty high level spellcasters who've precast a bunch of buff spells and use smart tactics can be. They haven't done a huge amount of that so far, and it's definitely an idea that's on the rise, with debates in Dragon's forums about the brokenness of stoneskin and the number of spells wizards have to choose from increasing rapidly due to the rate of supplements. How do you balance between playing adversaries as smartly as they should be and not slowing things down with a ton of bookkeeping? Since this is just a single encounter that's easy to transplant elsewhere it doesn't get too unwieldy here, but I know it will become more of an issue in the future. So this is decent enough in itself, and also gives me plenty to talk about on a wider level. It gets my approval overall, particularly if I give into my more whimsical impulses and make it a little more Austin Powers in Greyhawk.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 42: Jul/Aug 1993



part 4/5



Ransom: David Howery provides one of our increasingly rare basic D&D adventures. A Karimeikan Baron has had his son kidnapped by bandits and sends the PC's to pay the ransom. Things do not go smoothly for complicated behind the scenes political reasons, and you're probably going to have to fight your way through them anyway. As with the last one, it's only a single combat encounter, and at 4 pages long, could probably have been branded a Side Trek if they felt like it, but it has plenty of room to be extrapolated outwards into a larger, more political adventure if the PC's get suspicious, and hopefully have longer term consequences for your campaign like eventually leading into a fight with the Black Eagle & Bargle. (as if there weren't enough routes for that from other books :) ) It draws on the Known World setting decently, without being so tied to it that it's unusable elsewhere, and the characters all use decent tactics and have understandable motivations rather than just being cacklingly evil monsters sitting in their rooms waiting for the PC's. No objections to any of this.



Legacy of the Liosalfar: Ooh, a trip into the realm of Faerie. We don't actually see that many of those before 4e codifies it as a specific plane. The Miller of a small town disappeared at an unfortunate time along with most of the village's savings. The PC's, which by default are other townsfolk, since it's an adventure aimed at starting level characters, are sent to find out what's happened, as without that money or grain the village risks starvation this winter. As you'd expect, he was entranced by the faerie revelry and followed them to their glamoured halls to dance and feast in dilated time. Can you get in and get him out without losing weeks or months yourself to their various tricks and temptations? Since every hour equals a day in the outside world, this is one where the DM strictly tracking how long each encounter takes is extra important. Deal with prankster pixies, a bitter faerie knight, a riddling gnome, a second helping of horny dryad, (as bad as busses, you go years without any and suddenly there's two in one issue! At least this one's not rapey, but she is a mime, which some would consider worse.) then figure out what kind of offer will persuade the faerie queen to let him go. It's all quite high on the roleplaying and whimsy, and the order of encounters is fairly linear, but you do at least get plenty of choice in how you play each individual one out, with some of those choices having repercussions further along the line. Better than the average polyhedron adventure, but would still be irritating for many groups, like any adventure built around trickster encounters. Definitely falls into the use with caution category; make sure you know your table's tastes before attempting it.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Dungeon Issue 42: Jul/Aug 1993



part 5/5



The Price of Revenge: Steven Kurtz continues to write adventures that are more interesting, but also more problematic than the average writer here, as he goes straight for the now very out of fashion gypsy curse trope. A pair of nosferatu vampires got particularly greedy and sloppy in their feeding on a small Valachan town and wound up killing a young Vistani girl and turning her into another vampire. This quite reasonably got her mother to pronounce a curse on said vampires. In come the PC's through the mists, albeit 10 years late, to hopefully save the day. Can you give her and her creepy child vampire trying to resist it's hunger a happy ending, or will you fall before the physical and social defences of the evil vampires and die, fail even worse and become trapped in undeath as well, or never even get close to the mystery and be sucked into the mundane life of the village. Actually, the last one isn't very likely, as this is a fairly linear adventure where the spooky hints are laid on pretty thick right from the start and the antagonist's actions in play aren't nearly as subtle as they're talked up to be in the backstory. Once again for him, direct combat would be a bad idea at the intended character level, so you're expected to look for the macguffins that'll weaken the vampires first, and make sure they can't just turn gaseous & escape even if you are strong enough, letting you have multiple encounters with the same enemies before defeating them for good. So there's a lot of him recycling things he does, that very few other writers here do, and for good reason, as they're literary conventions that might be cool in a story but don't work very well under the D&D system, particularly with genre savvy players who can spot a villain amongst general NPC's in the talky bits well before they're supposed to and short-circuit the plot. Unlike Willie Walsh, he's rapidly becoming irritatingly predictable with repeated submissions. Very much at the bad end of 2e style adventures, where the writer is telling their own story rather than letting the players create one in play, and has to do a lot of bending the rules to make that happen if the dice fall the wrong way. Ravenloft does seem to be particularly prone to those.



An issue where there's a strong negative correlation between adventure length and quality, with the longer ones leaning increasingly towards telling a story rather than building an adventure. This means that in terms of page count, the ratio of stuff I'd personally want to use vs not is actually pretty low. It does seem like they're on a downswing overall at the moment. Let's see if that trend continues in a couple of month's time.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 86: August 1993



part 1/5



32 pages. Well, we're now halfway through Polyhedron's run numerically. Probably not in terms of page count, and since we're only a fifth of the way through Dungeon, we're nowhere near halfway through the journey overall, but it's still a decent landmark. The rider and wardog on the cover also look like they've got a lengthy journey through mountainous terrain still to go. Better not spend too much time staring pensively from a vantage point then. It may look good on a cover but it won't get you that XP.



The Third Degree: This column goes for a licensed game this time, with the RPG of Larry Niven's Dream Park novels. This is interesting because you're essentially playing a game within a game, as both the people plugged into VR in the park, and their shorter-term characters in various more fantastical genres. Seems like it would also be a good fit for a Matrix game then. Like Over the Edge, it's more focussed on roleplaying than combat, and the system is fairly light as a result. People who want ultra detailed cross-genre emulation should stick to GURPS or something, but if you want to be able to create characters quickly and get down to actually playing, this could be worth checking out.



Notes From HQ: First half of the editorial gives props to people who started out volunteering for the RPGA, and have gone onto be paid writers for TSR and other companies. John Terra, Tom Prusa, Nicky Rea and multiple members of the Bingle family have all worked their way up, built connections through their time here, and are now reaching a wider audience with their work. Good for them. Hopefully their success will encourage other aspiring writers to stick it out through the hard years trying to get a foot in the door.

Second half continues their midlife existential crisis. Do they want to change their name? Should they continue to focus so heavily on conventions, or find other ways to connect gamers throughout the world? If they do cut down, what do they fill the space with? As with the name change, they're probably not going to make big changes because the demands of lots of users tend to average out towards the status quo, but hopefully it'll generate interesting debate in the letters page in the meantime.



Letters: First letter is by Rick Loomis, who praises them for talking about PbM games, then points out all the ways the article was factually inaccurate. He should know, because he was running a company doing them 10 years earlier than it said and knows the ins and outs, what does and doesn't work with the format intimately. Someone really ought to write a book detailing the history of PbM games before all the big players in the scene die of old age, because I strongly suspect big chunks of that were only known by their participants and most of the paper records have already been lost.

The other one is your basic list of likes and dislikes. Into the Dark & Living Galaxy good, Everwinking Eye bad. Run more non D&D games at conventions plz. The last bit, you can solve yourself by volunteering as a judge, as that's the main limiting factor there and one person could do several slots over a weekend and still have time for sightseeing.
 
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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 86: August 1993



part 2/5



The Living City: The proportion of potentially antagonistic encounters in Raven's Bluff increases again this issue with an interesting little scam artist. Friar Cookpot is a cleric of Vergedain who uses his mind control spells to subtly encourage people to donate far more generously than they would otherwise. To be fair, he is a very good cook, so the aromatic scents and street-smart patter do a decent job of attracting a crowd even without magical assistance, but no-one's going to pay for a bowl of stew with a piece of jewellery or their favourite magical item no matter how divinely delicious it is. Whether the PC's fall prey themselves, or are merely asked for help by someone who did, you can see why that would annoy and embarrass people once the charm wears off and they think critically about what they did, and they'd want to hunt him down and get revenge. A lighthearted scenario, but one that could have serious ramifications on the campaign if it's a particularly powerful item the PC's give up, and a good reminder that D&D clerics can be devoted to all sorts of concepts and don't have to be particularly virtuous. This seems easy to drop in nearly anywhere as an urban encounter and give them a challenge they could succeed or fail at with consequences, but without ending the campaign. It gets my approval.



The New Republic Campaign: More Star Wars articles? Don't mind if I do. Bill Slavicsek gives us the closest thing to an adventure this issue. Do you want to make a difference in the war effort and succeed where many Bothans died? Here's an outline of how it could go. Your PC's are sent by their commander to the planet of Gellefon. Once there, they find out about Pinnacle Keep, where the Bothans who revealed the second Death Star's plans are being held prisoner, soon to be executed. Can you get in there, get as many of them as possible out alive, and get off planet, since a big jailbreak like that will result in seriously pissed off imperial forces chasing you.So this is a chance to be peripherally involved in the big plot of the movies and feel like you've improved things, albeit without actually changing longterm history significantly and invalidating the sequel trilogy or EU books. It still needs a bit of work to fill in all the stats and maps, but at least that also means it's not as linear as most of the full adventures in here and can be played as a realistic heist or a more pulpy breakin and fight through the guards. It's nowhere near as interesting and flexible as the Doom Wars scenario, but not bad either. The big limiter is it's very specific timeframe compared to the movies, making it unusable if you've already set your campaign after Return of the Jedi is over or any distance in the past either.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 86: August 1993



part 3/5



Bestiary: Ahmi Vanjuko is a name that should be familiar to Ravenloft fans, as he goes onto be republished in their second monstrous compendium and mentioned in several other books beyond that. Once a normal ranger from Greyhawk, he's now trapped in a mechanical golem body, unable to taste or smell the nature he loves so much, with all animals terrified of him. He's slowly losing his grip on sanity & humanity as a result, but still tries to be a good person and destroy the other horrible creations of Easan the Mad. He gets a full 3 pages of florid backstory making it clear how tragic his life is (while also being a terrifying combatant if your PC's attack him, because Ravenloft does love the cursed with awesome trope. ) If you can communicate with him, he could be a valuable ally, and if you could get him a new human body, (preferably ethically sourced, perhaps a swap with someone who would be less angsty about the things they'd lose as an android, maybe even one of the PC's.) he would be very grateful indeed. Lots of different interesting plot ideas here, making him much more than just another monster to kill. Nice to see another thing that got a start in the newszine and then went onto bigger things.



The Everwinking Eye: Ed runs out of things to say about Zhentil Keep for now, so this instalment is relatively short. 5 adventure ideas for things that could happen while there. As with his full adventures, they're fairly linear in design, and only work if the PC's do specific things, otherwise they'll miss them entirely or force the DM to improvise. There's plenty of opportunity to be screwed over by the Zhentarim, who enjoy baiting naive adventurers with plot hooks that are false or traps, but also some real plots to foil. A little divination magic would be very handy in telling one from the other and picking jobs that don't get you killed or wind up advancing the goals of evil in the long run. You may well be annoyed with how running these turns out, but you probably won't be bored. I guess it's another way of showing how despite the heroes always winning in the novels, the world as a whole still has plenty of challenges. At least some of the villains take the long view in between the maniacal cackling and know how to misdirect effectively so a loss isn't a complete loss.



The Living Galaxy: Roger turns his eye to alien ecologies this time. Earth's ecology is large and complex enough that figuring out what makes an alien one different can be difficult; nearly anything you think of will have been tried by some species somewhere in space and time. The trick is in doing lots of research and then remixing elements in a way that's plausible. After all, the laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe, and there are plenty of examples of convergent evolution on earth. You're going to get eyeballs, ears, claws, wings, grazers, pack hunters, stalking solitary hunters, etc wherever you go. Pouches, reproductive methods, colours, intelligence, specific numbers of limbs, on the other hand, can and have shaken out very differently. There's also substantial differences in overall competence. Is the planet one that will have it's ecosystem devastated by a few foreign bacteria arriving, or the kind that'll eat intruders alive and then spread back to where they came from? Are your biochemistries even remotely compatible? How do differences in temperature, gravity and atmospheric pressure alter what thrives and what dies? As usual, much of this refers you to much larger works on this topic, and then talks about which RPG's might be good for it, including many of the weird but not completely impossible creatures to be found in our own monstrous compendia. Call of Cthulhu comes out particularly well, given their emphasis on the bizarre and mindblowing. Overall, this maintains much the same standards of quality as the rest of them.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 86: August 1993



part 4/5



Gadgets Galore: Another of our contests draws a wide range of submissions for various systems, showing cool gear isn't just a D&D thing. There's lots of sci-fi systems out there of various hardness, and the RPGA runs tournaments for a fair few of them. Which ones will get the most, and which will be the most inspired?

Mutant Detectors are the kind of thing that seems handy, but kinda falls apart in Paranoia because all the PC's are commie mutant traitors, including the wearer, which causes them to self-destruct. The real trick is coming up with excuses not to use it to your higher-ups.

Joy Buttons mark you as extra loyal to Friend Computer, boosting your bootlicking & spurious logic scores when explaining things to machines. Your fellow troubleshooters may not be so easy to fool, so make sure you rat them out first in times of trouble.

Climbing Gloves have hi-grip fingerpads and a rocket powered grappling hook mounted on them. If anything goes wrong with the mechanism, your fingers will be the first to feel it, quite possibly with crippling results. Oh well, better luck next clone.

The Improved Hygienbot is an intelligent barbers/dentists chair that will restrain anyone who doesn't meet it's standards of cleanliness and give them a complete makeover whether they want it or not. Like the previous item, it's complexity means it malfunctions frequently and you may find yourself with either harmless but humiliating cosmetic transformations, or more painful tooth & toenail extractions at the GM's whim. Definitely one that can be played for horror as well as comedy.

Vidgam Decks show that while you can substitute a joystick & a few buttons for a keyboard when hacking, it's not ideal. If you thought console vs PC snobbery was bad in the real world, you don't even want to think about how it went in Shadowrun.

Distance Decks remind us that the Shadowrun universe was way behind ours in the adoption of WiFi and mobile phones. You need to transport one of these onsite and plug it into a system so your decker can hack remotely? How laughably primitive. Almost as bad as Traveller hard drive sizes in hindsight.

Breath of God Cyberlungs remind us that while Torg also has cyberware, the aesthetics and naming conventions are very different from Shadowrun. They filter out anything harmful and let you stay functional at higher altitudes than a normal human could manage. Just the thing to let you get a little closer to heaven.

Jonah's Gills let you breathe underwater, obviously. As handy here as any game.

Poirot's Optiscan extends your vision in both directions along the electromagnetic spectrum, while also providing analytical information in the corner of your eye. Of course, being manufactured by the cyberpapacy, some of the commentary may be ideologically biased, but it's still got plenty of uses in an investigation-heavy game.

Eyes of Siloam function as both long range zoom and microscope, which is handy for spying, ranged combat and scientific analysis. Careful you don't get sensory overload if you have both installed at once.

Thev-4.8 Aleph-Ket Vehicle Interfaces help people who're used to the conveniences of advanced technology to operate more primitive ones. In the long run, you may wish you'd taken the time to learn the hard way, as they're prone to malfunction at odd times. I mean, how hard is it to pedal a bicycle? Have your muscles atrophied from doing everything via touchscreen?

Karaoke Machines of Death sound like the macguffin from one of the films James likes to review. Listening to them can range from simple causing of terror to outright exploding brains, depending how awful the singing is. Can the PC's take the threat seriously long enough to realise what's going on and foil it?

Enviro Weaves are subdermal implants that help you deal with temperature extremes. If the cyberpunk world is suffering global warming as much as the real one, this could be a big quality of life improver for the rich when they leave their air-conditioned towers.

Cobra Spitters are pretty self explanatory, giving you poison glands in your cheeks. A perfect dirty trick for if someone tries to grapple you.

Biotox Analyzers report on any poisons that enter your system and what might be a good antidote, which may or may not be handy depending on if you have access to said antidote. Hindsight can only help so much if you're hours away from the nearest hospital.

Radio Plugs are another of those things that let you communicate with electronic devices at range that look very dated in a world of WiFi, mobile phones and smart fridges. We have exploits the fictional hackers of the 90's didn't even dream of.

Galvdetectors track changes in your skin conductivity due to stress. This is not actually that effective as a lie detector, but certainly doesn't hurt in combination with other interrogation techniques. Once again, nothing that can't be done in reality.

Tachyon Hyperblasters take us back to the completely fantastical, emitting deadly radiation that passes through nearly anything at faster than light speeds. You can't run, you can't hide, good luck being tough enough not to die.

APDAFF are the acronymically named, very expensive super-shields that can block tachyon radiation, as well as nearly anything else. Your typical arms race. Keeps the dealers rich whoever wins.

Anti-Glitter Grenades emit charged ions to suck up and clear any glitter in the atmosphere. Exactly who would do that in the first place and why is another question, but I guess there's a countermeasure for every trick.

Laser Re-Director Shields are basically just large toughened mirrors. They can deflect or bounce back laser weapons, but their reflective sheen will be ruined by most other types of attack, so they won't save your life against a determined and flexible opponent.

Lightshields of the Jedi make the knightly analogy Jedi have even more explicit. They glow when activated and stop lightsabers where anything material would be sliced through. If you don't have Jedi-like reflexes then they probably won't save your life against one.

Glitter Balls should probably have been put before their countermeasure. Besides getting everywhere so you'll be picking them out of your clothes for months, they also scatter laser fire in the area, attenuating the damage a fair bit. Don't use unless the stealth aspect of a mission is already well and truly compromised, because good luck not leaving a trail and laying low afterwards.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 86: August 1993



part 5/5



Into The Dark: It always happens. When a new technology come along it's first adopted by people who use it to push boundaries, then the big companies come along and try to homogenise things again for the mass market. James has only been doing this column a couple of years and it's already become noticeably harder to find the kind of videos he likes, with the little stores being undercut by Blockbusters popping up in every town, all carrying exactly the same kid-friendly selections. Don't worry, they'll be on the other side of history in a decade's time when Netflix does the same to them, and then it too will make the same mistake of cutting down on archive selections for licensing reasons and focussing more on original material, making it impossible to find many old movies on legal streaming sites. It's a neverending cycle. What can we do apart from keeping the torrents seeding? But anyway, back to various nights of weirdness happening, as there's more than enough of those to fill many months in here, and even more that James has heard of but can't actually find.

Night of the Ghouls is one of Ed Wood's inept but still interesting attempts at moviemaking. This isn't so much a review as a digression on his whole oeuvre, and the upcoming Tim Burton biopic on the topic. Discovering how these films came to be is probably more fascinating than actually watching them.

Night of the Comet gets a mediocre result, being neither particularly funny or cutting a social satire, but at the same time not so badly made as to be interesting. Ok enough to have on in the background, but nothing mindblowing.

Night of the Creeps is slightly more entertaining, as it doesn't have any pretensions about being more than a B-movie about brain slugs turning people into zombies, but it's still on the mediocre end overall, with the dialogue in particular being very cheesy indeed. Oh well, at least you know exactly what to expect going in.

Night of the Zombies is one James reviews just to warn you away. Useless zombies, even more useless human protagonists, poor special effects, all padded out with large quantities of stock footage. It's no wonder Bruno Mattei decided to use a pseudonym when releasing this one.

Night of the Strangler is also not recommended, for one thing because the serial killer in it never actually kills anyone by strangulation. Micky Dolenz is bafflingly cast, the attempts at politics are hamfisted, and the technical aspects are once again distinctly lacking. Many modern youtubers have a better setup.



Take A Byte: So much for Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, as they're forced to announce that the expansions to their game have been "delayed". We know in hindsight that that delay is indefinite, but at this point they still think it'll just be a few extra months work. It's a hard life being a PR person when things could change behind the scenes at any moment and all you can do is put the best spin on them and hope your words won't be proven wrong again at the next whim of the boss. On a more positive note, D&D: Fantasy Empires will be out on time in a couple of months, giving you a way to go straight to that domain level play that they tried to include in earlier editions but few players ever reached. Play against a mix of other human players and computer ones and try to expand your territory and level up individual characters in your roster. Was that any good? Are the multiplayer elements still functional in some form to make it playable on modern computers, or is it another one that the passing of time has made unusable?



The Roving Eye: this time looking at Eclipse Con in Columbia, MO. Aside from an unusually high ratio of hats amongst the attendees, it looks the same as any other convention. Unless they have some particularly cool props or cosplay, these things kinda blur into one after a while. You've seen one large echoey hall filled with stalls, you've seen 'em all.



Like most post hoc landmarks, there's nothing particularly exceptional here, although the double helping of Star Wars stuff is at least worth noting. Despite not having a dominant sci-fi system, there's still plenty of sci-fi fans amongst the RPGA, and they're trying to publish articles for them. How will the Amazing Engine & Alternity compare in here to Dragon, and will they bother to do any tournament adventures for either? Time to see what diversions from the typical Living City fare next issue might contain.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 87: September 1993



part 1/5



32 pages. Heavy use of dutch angles implies that either we're on a rocking boat, or these people are getting up to some shady business. Maybe both, if pirates are involved. Well, Raven's bluff is a nautical city, so it wouldn't be the first time. Let's find out if there's any significant worldbuilding or metaplot developments, or just more stuff that will be forgotten in another month's time.



The New Rogues Gallery: The winner of their contest to come up with interesting NPC's once again demonstrates the editor's terrible tastes. Plump the Bard, who lives down to his name by being nothing but a string of fat jokes and stereotypes. He loves the sound of his own (loud and operatic) voice, makes bad jokes, likes his food simple and in large quantities, and his women the same way. Basically, he's a comic relief character from a shakespearean play, or maybe the Go Compare adverts. One of those times where all I can do is roll my eyes and sigh heavily, because oh for god's sake, making someone's fatness virtually the whole defining trait of their personality is just tiresome, gross and mean-spirited. Another instance where Polyhedron really suffers for having less of a filter than their bigger magazines. Jokes are once again a good way for them to be casually prejudiced, which is not what I want to see.



Notes From HQ: Most of the editorial is once again devoted to the imbalance in the Judge/Player ratio and the problems it causes. Certain people who know there's more demand than supply are acting entitled and want more of a reward for judging lots of tournament slots. Nope. The RPGA isn't going to pay you to run games, and couldn't even if it wanted too, as the money from your subscription fees doesn't actually stretch that far. You'll have to be happy with the intangible rewards of actually getting to game a lot, being the centre of attention through most of the session, and hopefully the satisfaction of knowing you did a good job. People who are only doing it for points and prizes need to question their motivations and maybe decide not to show up after all. Another case where I suspect we'll be hearing more about this tension in the letters page in the future. On shorter but more positive notes, they've improved the packaging for the issues, so hopefully you'll be getting fewer damaged ones through your mailbox, and their internet presence continues to grow, with enough regular logins that they're having some quite nice chats on their bulletin boards. Once again I wish those were preserved somewhere on the internet, so i could get an even better view of RPGA history as it happened. It's worrying how many things from my lifetime have already gone down the memory hole because no-one cared enough to preserve them.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 87: September 1993



part 2/5



The Third Degree: Jeff takes a route rarely roleplayed, even though it appears in nearly every game. Lost Souls, one of those games where death is merely the beginning rather than the end, and you play ghosts figuring out how to resolve their issues and be reincarnated. A rather lighter take than next year's Wraith: the Oblivion, and one less suited to extended campaigns as well. Like many old-school games, there's a fair bit of randomness in character generation, so you can never be sure what you died of until you get stuck in. Which I suppose is realistic, as you don't get to choose what you die of in reality unless you commit suicide, but it's increasingly out of fashion in game design. This seems interesting enough that I might be tempted to pick it up if It's not too hard to find now, see how it holds up in hindsight.



A Little Something On The Side: Roger has another little column of advice that doesn't fit in the living galaxy format. Unless you keep the various aspects of your life extremely segregated, hopefully you actually have interaction with the people you game with outside that context and like them as human beings. It might be a good idea to hang out socially in other ways, like watching TV, going to the cinema, throwing a party, or semi-gaming related activities like attending conventions and painting minis together. Seems kinda obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people wouldn't think of doing so on their own, or feel awkward doing so for various reasons. Another of those things that's not particularly deep or mindblowing, but it's good to remind people of every now and then. If you get to know people a little better, hopefully you'll have more fun together.



The Everwinking Eye: Ed decides we need a breath of fresh air after all the Moonsea cities, and goes to the tiny hamlet of Sevenecho, so small and obscure they can't even get it's name right on the maps. A crossroads of about 35 people with a single inn, and a similar amount of farmers spread over the adjacent few miles, there's only room for one powerful wizard with a bunch of custom contingency spells here. :p The inn is pretty large though, with plenty of rambling nooks and crannies, and lets them more than double the population on market days. Like many small towns, most of the population are related in some way, with the closeknit Sevenecho clan being the dominant one. Since there's not much to do of an evening, it's not hard to have a dalliance with one of the younger locals while passing through, but betray them and the whole place will close ranks on you, making it a bad idea to visit again. Seems like a fairly typical small town, albeit rather less prudish than any you'd see in Krynn. The dangers are similarly small scale, a few marauding goblinoid tribes in the hills, and probably a red wizard spy working in the inn and passing information about adventurer movements up the chain. Even a low level party could make a real difference against those, unlike the challenges in Zhentil Keep. A decent enough place to start a campaign or pass through, but not one that could support a whole campaign on it's own. Good thing there's all these other places fully detailed to go afterwards then.
 

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