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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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    27

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 22: Jan/Feb 1985



part 2/6



Marlgoyles & Monster Manual II: Gary talks some more about the more powerful gargoyle variant that even he can't spell correctly consistently and their life cycle. They can easily last several centuries if they're decently fed and don't run into misadventure, but many will become dinner to their own siblings at a young age, or pick the wrong target, for D&D is full of bigger, badder monsters than them, and they aren't particularly inclined to using technology and teamwork to enhance their natural abilities.
He also includes another monster entry that was cut from Monster Manual II, stats for amazon warriors. Since they're basically just people, this is no great loss, unlike the Goristro, (which he also can't spell consistently) which he put in the corresponding issue of Dragon, and went onto be quite popular in Planescape many years later. This is all a big reminder that he really needs a good editor, but at this point is too important and busy to properly communicate with them, so ideas are getting published that really don't have enough doublechecking and playtesting. There are definite drawbacks to having a superstar CEO.



Spelling Bee: Another round of short comments on lots of druid spells. They're pretty handy, but have their limitations, especially if you venture into unnatural environments. Call Lightning is usually useless unless you have some other method of creating a storm in the first place. Water breathing can be reversed if you want to help a fish out. Bears are one of the best animals to summon or turn into. Arachnids are not insects, and fungi are not plants, so remember your taxonomy before you fire highly specific spells off. Some spells with the same name are of different power levels and details than when used by other classes. All pretty dry stuff that doesn't give me much to comment on. Don't hesitate to use them cleverly. After all, druids are under no obligation to fight fair like paladins in their eternal job to maintain the balance.
 

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(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 22: Jan/Feb 1985



part 3/6



The RPGA Network Tournament Ranking System: What level are you in real life? If you played in the RPGA from the mid 80's, you can actually answer that honestly, and might even be a multiclass Player/Judge! Say hello to their new ranking method, intentionally stolen from their games because it works in them. You gain XP per tournament you participated in much the same way as the previous system, only now GM's get it as well. As with D&D levels, the amount of XP needed to gain each one increases exponentially until you hit Name Level, at which point it switches to linear. As it's new, there are no players over level 4, and all judges above that are TSR staff. (and I strongly suspect they were just assigned levels based on prestige, rather than painstakingly going through all the tournaments they've adjudicated in the past and figuring out how many points they should have fairly earned.) I wonder if this system'll last long enough for people to fairly work their way up to it's top levels before they change it again. A very interesting bit of history indeed. Anyone reading this manage to get to any kind of level under this system? How difficult was it to get your experience properly tracked, recorded and added to your membership profile?



In the Black Hours: In most adventures, the PC's go into a dungeon to kill things and take their stuff. In a quite amusing twist, this adventure put's it's thing down, flips it and reverses it, as your characters are hired to protect an exceedingly valuable (and dangerous) magic item from thieves. So it's up to them to secure a location the best they can against several waves of invaders, that'll use all kinds of underhanded methods to get their hands on the prize, including stealth, raw force, negotiation, bribery, lies and inconvenient half-truths. You'll definitely need your wits about you to get through all of them, and loading up on divination magic will be a huge help in dealing with all the plot twists. A very interesting little adventure indeed, that'll make a nice change of pace and maybe even give players a bit more sympathy for the monsters they usually hunt. No hesitation at all about using this one in my own campaigns.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 22: Jan/Feb 1985



part 4/6



Away with Words: Each of the last two Christmases, they included a word puzzle of some kind. Here's another one, albeit a little late. Do you know the meaning of 26 of the obscurest words in the dictionary? They really are very obscure indeed, because even I didn't know most of them this time around. Goes to show, no matter how much info you learn about one ultra-focussed area of study, there are still plenty more out there you're missing. One of the positive aspects of RPG's is that they can expand your vocabulary & mathematical skills and even teach you about history without it being boring. Nice to see they're still putting in the effort to educate as well as entertain us.



Unofficial new Spells for Clerics: Jon Pickens is one of our more organised staff members, doing a lot of the research and editing for their products. So here he asks a quite logical question. What spells were used to create magical items like a potion of heroism or ring of free action? The logical response is to reverse engineer those item effects into spells. Many of these would indeed go onto become official spells (or occasionally class features) in future editions, as they're pretty handy, but a few won't, or at least not in the same form. Still, it's a better hit to miss ratio than most articles, and a very interesting historical footnote. Often, improvements in the rules come from perspiration rather than inspiration, taking things that already exist, refining and building upon them. You need a decent proportion of people like that in a team to get the best out of your writers.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 22: Jan/Feb 1985



part 5/6



Dispel Confusion:

AD&D

How can a god be married to one of opposite alignment? (maybe the sex is just so good that they can overlook the little disagreements.)

Isn't Bigby too dumb to learn and cast his eponymous 9th level spell? (You really expect Gary's characters to be held to the same standards as yours?! Hahahaha, foolish peon!)

Can you merge two items together with a Wish? (Yes, although depending on the items, it may turn out weirdly)

Can you polymorph magic items? (yes, although intelligent ones can save)

Do dual class monks or paladins keep their equipment restrictions? (no, but that's because they lose all their powers. The gods don't like you splitting your focus like that.)

Do ropes of entanglement auto-hit? (no)

Can anti-magic shell cancel prismatic sphere? (only partially) What about a sphere of annihilation? (no. Shel go down de hooooole.)

Do Lycanthropes keep their full monstrous hit points in human form? (yes)

Do blessed crossbow bolts lose their purification as quickly as people? (no)

Do druids get bonus spells for high wisdom? (Yes)

D&D

Why are 25th level thieves worse than 14th level ones? ( We didn't plan ahead, and had to scale your expectations down to fit the full 36 levels)

It sucks that I have to buy the new basic & expert set to use the companion set (no, you don't. The presentation changed between editions but the rules are almost identical.)

How much do the new armor types cost? (Scale mail: 30GP. Banded Mail: 55GP)

Can a wizard use a sword in a pinch? (Yeah. This is why we have nonproficiency penalties in AD&D)

Star Frontiers

Can a Dralisite make 5 attacks per round if they grow enough limbs? (only if they have enough dex to co-ordinate them all)

Why do Yazirians walk more slowly than humans? (They're used to lower gravity and don't have the stamina)

Can you pull an anti-shock implant out? (yes, but it's gonna hurt.)

How do Vrusk drive? (They have special chairs to fold themselves around)
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 22: Jan/Feb 1985



part 6/6



Of Great Ships and Captains: Having given us the idea of running a spaceship based game, Roger delves a little more into the details. Make sure you've designed a proper layout for the ship, and know how big the crew is and what their jobs are. (if they're in the hundreds or thousands you don't have to stat every single one up individually, just general command structure and demographics.) You never know when enemies'll get onto the ship and you have to start tracking casualties and the environmental damage they do in their attacks. Brush up on your military hierarchies and tactics, because you'll need them at some point. This isn't bad advice, but it's obvious that he's working within the paradigm of crunch heavy simulationist gaming, and it hasn't occurred to him that you could step outside that box. Which is fine for Star Trek, but not so great if you want to emulate a fast-paced pulpy adventure like Star Wars. Oh well, you can't have everything in a few pages of article. There's plenty of time for him to have his mind expanded in the future.



The Treasure Chest: This makes a one-off reappearance to advertise their new modules. Frank Mentzer's R series were the star of the tournaments last year, and now you can own them at home. They still have some slipcases, tote bags, and jigsaw puzzles left over. Buy now while stocks last! Yawn. Absence has not made my heart any fonder of this kind of promotional stuff.



Lots of sequel articles in this one, showing they finally seem to be getting over their first big expansion and are no longer pitching everything at newbies. That's definitely a positive step for me. Let's see if they can get any deeper next time around, and if they can manage it without slipping into the other extreme of boring overcomplication.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 1/6



28 pages. Tom Wham gives us a suitably goofy cover for our april fools issue. Looks like they have a substantial surplus from Dragon this year, so they're sharing the levity here. Let's see if the jokes will have any practical applications or lessons mixed in with the wit, or it'll be nothing but groan-inducing puns and filks.



Notes From HQ: The editorial is mostly serious, apart from an exceedingly verbose footnote in intentionally obscure vocabulary that tells us they have no plans to talk about the sex lives of monsters in D&D in the near future. They reassure anyone who got this as their first issue that it isn't normally like this in here. They can be serious about their fun, but all working on play makes Jack a dull boy and it's good to blow off steam once in a while. Normal transmissions will resume next issue.



Ultimists: Gary has certainly been guilty of power creep over the years, with the new classes he introduced, and will soon compile in Unearthed Arcana showing definite signs of escalation over the core ones. But they do have at least some balancing factors, in higher requirements to join and idiosyncratic behavioural restrictions. This is not the case in this parody of the worst twinks out there. Ultimists are indeed better than everyone at everything, able to outfight the fighters, outsneak the thieves, cast 9th level spells right from 1st level, and have really low XP requirements for advancement on top of that. The rules are functional and comprehensible, but obviously completely unbalanced and not intended for use in actual play. If you do try and mix them with regular characters, you deserve everything you get.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 2/6



Why Gargoyles Don't have Wings (but should): The pedantry about whether gargoyles have wings or not, if they can fly even without them, and why all this happened in the first place gets expanded and parodied. Maybe they're detachable. Wait, that rings a bell. That's the plot of WG9, one of the worst modules TSR ever released! And that module was written by the same guy responsible for this article. So this bit of humour seems relatively innocuous in itself, but it's probably responsible for inspiring one of the most irritating and goofy adventures they ever tried to sell to the general public. What is amusing to read as a few pages of magazine becomes insulting as a full adventure you paid money for as a standalone product expecting something you could actually use without ruining the tone of your campaign. Which makes this article interesting from a historical perspective, but also a terrible warning to be careful what you laugh at, for you never know when it may spiral out of control and wind up becoming something you have to take seriously. The Rod of 7 Parts and A Paladin in Hell were cool even before being expanded out to full adventures. This is not nearly so auspicious a piece of inspiration.



The Lighter Side of Encounters: This column get two different mini-adventures this issue, neither connected to the cover. A comical chase scene as a ranger tries to catch up with an irksome Slaad, barreling across the party's path. Or you could run across a wizard that's polymorphed herself into a green slime for scouting purposes. As long as you don't attack on sight, you could make an ally here, but how many players will be that open-minded? While whimsical, both have fully functional statistics and take themselves seriously on a internal level, making them usable in a serious game without completely ruining the tone or breaking the system. That's the kind of humor I prefer. A fantasy game is always going to throw up absurd moments, but as long as the 4th wall remains mostly unbroken and the internal logic remains consistent, you can go with it and keep on building, see where it takes you.



Punnishments to fit the crime: Frank adds another couple of shaggy dog stories that are basically just buildups to terrible puns. Seen them before, likely to see them again. At least they're mercifully short this time. Nothing much to say about these.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 3/6



New Magic Items: New classes and new magic items? When the newszine started, they intentionally said they didn't want to include these kinds of things because they didn't want to step on Dragon's toes. Of course, they also said the same thing about modules, and eventually changed their mind on that front too. So while these are joke articles, I strongly suspect they'll be serving as a gateway drug to serious ones in the future. After all, new classes, spells & magic items are popular submissions, and you can do much more of them without repeating yourself than generic advice about how to run a game properly, so it's only natural that they'd increase in frequency as time goes on. That said, while some of these items are silly, all have practical uses, often quite flexible. The Canister of Condiments is a particularly good melding of silly trappings with substantial usefulness, and both types of sweet tooth are incredibly powerful and have the additional benefit of not filling a standard item slot. Meanwhile the Eye Bead and Stone of Cold immunity are just perfectly straight items, no jokes at all, easily put in any campaign. Only the Hurricane Lamp is more nuisance than benefit. As with the Encounters, this melds humour and usability quite nicely, making this issue not just a bunch of gags you'll read once and discard.



In the Black Hours pt 2: After part 1 put the PC's in the defensive position for a change, part 2 reverts to a regular dungeon crawl, where the PC's have to get through the monsters and save the town from Jubilex and his minions. There's still plenty of nonlinearity, trickery, and the prospect of exploiting factions within the bad guys to keep it from being just a slugfest through, and it'll definitely reward scouting things out and sneaking around over barging in the front door with weapons waving. So the two halves of this adventure are quite different, but compliment each other well. In an extra positive, the second half has bits that play differently depending on whether you succeeded or failed at the first half, instead of using offscreen railroading to enforce a status quo. That's what I call good writing, that also makes good use of the RPG format. Giving an adventure stakes other than succeed or perish allows you to have multiple instalments in a less linear fashion. That makes this by far the best adventure they've done here so far. Let's hope next issue doesn't let us down too badly by comparison.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 4/6



Dungeonsongs: Oh god, here come the filks. I guess there's no escaping them in this timeline either. As it's the first time, they decide to draw on classic folk songs of centuries past rather than try to come up with topical pop culture references. Oh, and My Fair Lady, of all things. The rhyme schemes aren't too tortured, and the references aren't too obscure, so they're not too terrible as these things go. Let's just hope they keep these infrequent enough that diminishing returns don't set in too quickly.



Excerpts from the Book of Mischievous Magic: Frank gives us a second helping of magical items in quick succession. The humor is considerably broader and more lowbrow in this one, and the special powers of the items more likely to be a mixed bag or actively dangerous to their users. Many are pop culture references, including Popeye, Star Wars, Shakespeare, and Santa Claus. The rest are terrible puns with powers based on their names. They're almost all fully usable in a game, (apart from the Saxon Violins, which have powers strictly forbidden by the code of conduct,) but using them in a serious game will rapidly erode said seriousness like candyfloss in a sudden downpour. Like everything else in a joke issue, think carefully before you use it, because they aren't balanced and so may have serious ramifications to your campaign long-term.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 5/6



Dispel Confusion is also in on the joke, so don't expect the answers to be particularly useful this time around. I may improve on them.

D&D

How much does skintight chainmail cost? (no extra, but finding one exactly the right size to accentuate your curves may take a lot of shopping time.)

What are the monsters being hit by spells in the player's section of the companion set? (Given how powerful the characters are, there's not going to be enough of them left to perform detailed taxonomical analysis)

What does an asterix mean (Look for a footnote, it should be somewhere nearby. Or maybe an obelisk. If You're really unlucky Getafix and the rest of the tribe will be around as well. )

Can clerics play Croquet with their mallets? (Yes, and golf, cricket and baseball too. Team-building sports are an excellent way to connect with the community and serve them better, and also secure funding for your temple.)

What do you do with the crayon? (the original purpose was to colour in your dice, but like a decanter of endless water, your imagination is the limit!)

What spell is being illustrated on page 16 of the expert set? (In theory, it could be any one of the 7 spells on the page, but by process of logical elimination, I think we can narrow it down.)

AD&D

Will you publish my 2401 page manuscript? (No. Not even severely cut down. Wait until the d20 era, then you can run a kickstarter for it.)

What's the difference between the former and the latter? (One takes ages to fill in, while the other is unlucky to walk underneath)

Can you encounter a god on the ethereal plane (Gods, like 800 pound gorillas, can be encountered anywhere they want to be encountered.)

Has Ogremoch been moonlighting in movies? (He does bear a remarkable resemblance to Bruce Willis, now you mention it. I think his acting is a bit more energetic though.)

Top Secret

How deadly is a cubic inch of uranium (depends if it's enriched, but either way, not fatal unless ingested.)

How far away can you hear a silenced gunshot (depends how good the silencer is)

Tarantula bites aren't dangerous! (Next you'll be telling me sharks don't have fricken' laser beams! Spoilsport.)

What is drawing and quartering? (Messy. Each quarter has several pints of blood, and they don't half spray when you separate them. )

How deadly are chainsaws? (comically. Say byebye to your extremities)

How hard is it to remove bullets? (Just grit your teeth and pull them out. You'll be operating at full speed again by next scene.)
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 23: Mar/Apr 1985



part 6/6



Zee Chef: Two new classes in one issue? With this generosity you are really spoiling us! A chef may not be an obvious choice to go on a dungeoncrawling expedition, but in a large party bulked up with hirelings, morale will be considerably improved by having a dedicated cook in your retinue. Like the Ultimist, this is actually a mechanically functional class, but while that was grossly overpowered, this is mildly underpowered, and not really suited to being a primary PC. Still, it won't break the game, and their powers are interesting and can be handy in a pinch, so I might just include one in a game. You never know when good cooking might be crucial to saving the world, especially if halflings are involved in any capacity.



The Male of the Species: Following on from including amazons in the last issue, they decide to include their beleaguered male counterparts in here. So this is just a string of emasculation gags, finding the concept of men who act like exaggerated female stereotypes inherently humorous. Very tiresome indeed, and not the kind of thing I want to deal with anymore. You can definitely stay in the past where you belong.



Quite a substantial break from the usual fare here, with the humour taking up nearly all the issue. it's pretty hit and miss, but at least it keeps things from getting boring, with even the bad ones at least raising a groan rather than a sigh. In terms of topics, it brings the newszine much closer to being a mini-me of Dragon Magazine, which is something they'd consciously tried to avoid previously. It'll definitely be interesting to see if that trend will continue, or the two will pull apart again, making sure they occupy different niches and serve their different audiences appropriately. Let's see how their audience reacts to the goofiness next issue, and how that in turn will affect next april's offerings.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 1/6



36 pages. The family that slays together stays together. Will the half-ogres be able to persuade their parents to employ at least basic tactics against their enemies, or will smash be good enough for Thog, like Thog's father and Thog's father's father before him? They're generally pretty good about putting some kind of twist in, so I'm reasonably optimistic the players will find themselves challenged beyond the effort to just roll dice. Let's find out which way the club swings this issue.



Notes from HQ: More than 8,000 members, and not only do they not get enough submissions to fill the newszine, they aren't even in a position to be picky about the ones they do get. They're going to publish every single one they've got so far! That does surprise me. You'd think an organisation comprised of hardcore players wouldn't suffer so much from the bystander effect. Or maybe it's the not paying at all. There's only so much you can expect people to do for free, especially before the internet came along and devalued all kinds of creative work by making copying effortless. Still, they have at least some now, so look forward to a bit more experimentation in the next few issues as fresh faces get their work published, and we see which ones have the persistence and popularity to become regulars. Hopefully their example will inspire others and they'll get enough regular enquiries to really exercise some quality control around here.



Letters is nice and full again, as the issues people have with the recent issues have given them plenty to talk about.

Our first letter complains that they're too D&D centric. What about all the other games you publish? Particularly Marvel Superheroes, which they haven't touched since it was first released. As usual, they challenge people to send more stuff in. They can't publish what they don't get. And in the case of licensed games, they have to go through approvals for everything, which makes doing articles on it an extra slow and tricky process.

Second, we have someone who's seen a ridiculous satanic panic article in a newspaper and wants to rebutt it. Just keep on setting a good example and spreading the word and we'll win this battle in a few decades.

Our third letter is from someone who fell for a satanic hoax. There's no hidden messages in the books if you read them backwards. What would be the point?

Fourth, we have someone complaining they've turned into a mini Dragon Magazine. They need to put more effort into differentiating them. Quite right too. Now how about a hand with that?

And finally, we have some errata for their tournament scoring system. If they're making basic rookie math errors like that, I don't have much faith in the accuracy of the current ranking tables. Might want to get another set of eyes to run through your paperwork.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 2/6



Secrets of Success: Our first non-staff submission is a bit of roleplaying advice. These are often a bit basic and repetitive, especially when submitted by a first time writer, but thankfully this manages to avoid that by being very specifically aimed at the quirks of tournament play, where you're thrown into the scenario with a pregen character and a group of strangers, and have to get through as much as possible in a single sitting. Although actually, under the current scoring system, getting all the way through the adventure isn't the most important part, getting along with the other players and DM is. You need to really engage and communicate if you want to get good ratings, while learning to play off the other players like any good improv actor, not hogging all the limelight. You need to be flexible with what classes, races and sex you play, because you never know what you're going to get, so you can't let yourself get stuck in a comfortable rut like a regular campaign. Pay attention to what the DM says, don't spend ages dithering about your actions, and make sure people know why you're doing what you do, as that generally helps get better ratings at the end. A good reminder that roleplaying advice is not one size fits all, but needs to adapt to the type of game and group you're playing with. This is why it's best to have a wide array of tricks available rather than over-focussing on perfecting one.



Unofficial new Magic-user spells: Continuing from last issue, Jon Pickens reverse engineers some more magical item effects into spells. Want to make normally heavy items buoyant in water, stick them together, shoot spark showers & ball lightning, or turn into gas temporarily without using up a consumable magic item? Add one of these to your spellbook. The combat effects are somewhat less dangerous than existing spells of the same level, so using those is mainly interesting for the novelty, but the utility ones can be very useful indeed both for dungeoneering and altering the effective tech level of the world when applied cleverly in the right combinations. That's the kind of stuff inventive players love, and use to completely short circuit a DM's hard laid plans to win an adventure at little danger to themselves. Much more valuable than any 9th level nuke.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 3/6



Needle part I: Our centrepiece this time around is Frank Mentzer's tournament module from last Gen Con. While the Prophecy of Brie got half published as standalone modules, then the other half in here, making it rather tricky to see the full picture, this gets a considerably better deal, appearing fully as both instalments in here and a compiled module in 1987. Guess it was more popular with the staff and/or players. The first instalment is the shortest, as half of it is devoted to giving us full stats, personalities and a relationship map for the 7 pregen characters, (all of whom have silly nicknames rather than proper ones) leaving only 8 pages for the actual adventure. The adventure itself is evenly split between getting to the dungeon, and the dungeon itself, a maze in the middle of a jungle that turns out to be a crashed spaceship. So I guess this is Frank's version of the Barrier Peaks, just as Bigby's tomb was clearly drawing from the same well as Gary's Tomb of Horrors. As with those, this is not an adventure that pulls punches. Incautious adventurers will die abruptly without a saving throw in multiple places if they make the wrong decision, and it's literally impossible if you don't have certain key spells and bits of equipment the pregens are equipped with. So I definitely can't recommend using it outside of it's original tournament environment, for if you put it in a regular campaign, with players who've worked up to mid-level the hard way, they're not going to be happy about abruptly losing a character because they didn't poke everything with a 10 foot pole before proceeding, and stalling the adventure because they built their characters wrong and the DM didn't doublecheck their sheets. That's a quick way to a very pissed-off party.



How Game Reviews Are Done: Reviews aren't a thing polyhedron has really done so far, but that's due to lack of people sending them in, rather than any particular objection to the idea. To encourage this, they publish a page full of guidelines to the format and style they're going to use. Whether other people will stick to it, or indeed, whether anyone else will send any in remains to be seen, but it's good to see them trying new things. It gives me more variety in what I read, and connects them more to the outside world, and those are both positive changes to make.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 4/6



The New Rogues Gallery: Curiously, the characters on the cover don't have a scenario associated with them this time, instead being just a collection of stats you can use as you see fit. 4 half-ogres with full statblocks and class levels, and two full ogres, which also have near max hit points and collections of magic items that make them considerably more of a threat than the average member of their species. On the other hand, they're also somewhat smarter and nicer than the average ogre, so they can be used as allies or enemies depending on how you encounter them. All of them have distinct personalities, histories, and detailed relationships with the other 6, so if you run across them separately over the course of a campaign, they can reference each other and make the world seem more solid and interconnected. So despite being quite different in format to most of their cover stories, it's still well written and full of different potential uses in actual play. I approve.



Fletcher's Corner: Another bit of reader submitted roleplaying advice, this time intended to be the start of a regular column. Michael Przytarski starts off, as these things often do, by talking about his first time gaming, and how to make sure other people's first time experiences don't suck so they're more likely to stick around. You've got to make sure it's fun, and strike the balance between not overloading them with mechanical complexity and confusing them, and patronising or overprotecting them and removing their sense of agency. All pretty familiar stuff, but presented with a good sense of humour and individual voice. Good signs that he'll burn through the obvious stuff every instance of this does and get to the more complex and idiosyncratic takes fairly soon. Fingers crossed for next issue.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 5/6



Dispel Confusion:

D&D

The fluff & crunch about bow & crossbow ranges disagree with each other! (you really expect us to care?)

Can a thief use any weapon (Two-handed melee weapons cramp their style)

What happens if everyone falls asleep in room 25? (Cheat to keep the adventure on it's rails. )

AD&D

Why is studded leather the same AC as ring mail, but cheaper (because life isn't fair or consistent.)

The PHB and DMG are inconsistent in their healing rules! (The DMG was published later, so it takes precedence.)

What level do magic items cast at? (Scrolls work at their creator's power level. Everything else, you need to eyeball)

What level do artifacts cast at (at least 20, often higher)

How high can ability scores go? (25, but it's very hard indeed, and there are several points of diminishing returns along the way)

Can I combine class abilities in one attack? (If you're also abiding by both sets of restrictions)

Do you need gauntlets and girdle to stack your bonuses with warhammers even if you have a natural 18(00) strength? (yes. It's a special case that requires all parts of that highly specific combination to work.)

Marvel Super Heroes

Can you make DC characters with this system? (Not officially. If you do in your own personal games, keep quiet about it)

Can I make my own characters? (yes)

How quickly do I regain health? (depends on your endurance)

Can I buy character sheets? (why would you want too? What's wrong with photocopying or good ol' pen and paper?)

How much damage do I do when transformed into energy? (up to your rank in the power)

How do I find out all the character's origins. (these days, wikipedia. Back then, you'd have to pay for a big guidebook that would soon be out of date again.)

The official characters don't follow the rules for character creation! (Ahahaha! Did you really expect them too? What game have we ever done that in? You must be new here.)

Can I make up new powers? (as long as they aren't gamebreaking. Only NPC's are allowed to do that. )

Nightcrawler's strength is inconsistent! (It's all the editor's fault)

Wolverine's cutting power is inconsistent! (yeah, he's better at slicing through objects than he is at killing people for reasons of dramatic licence)

Do unique weapons have bonuses to hit and damage? (no, just to hit)
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 24: May/Jun 1985



part 6/6


Review: Following on from the review guidelines posted earlier, Star Trek: the Roleplaying Game gets a generally positive review here. It's a pretty detailed review, breaking things down into subcategories and giving each aspect numerical ratings. It doesn't hesitate to call out flaws in the system despite it's overall enthusiasm. As reviews go, it's pretty solid. Whether it'll be a one-off, or this will lead to another long-term shift in content for the newszine remains to be seen. Will other people bother to send in their reviews? Can one person's enthusiasm keep a column running without any financial renumeration? (As if this very thread doesn't prove that pretty conclusively) Is this what the readers want to see from them, or will there be complaining letters? It is interesting to see them trying new things, not knowing how it's going to go.



Lots of experimentation in this one, which definitely helps to keep it fresh and push the average quality level up. Which ones will they drop as failures next time, and which ones will carry on for years and outstay their welcome? I think I'm fairly optimistic heading into the next one, as they've got more choice of material than they had before. Let's see if my optimism is misplaced or not.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 25: Jul/Aug 1985



part 1/6



28 pages. Hulk Smash puny 4th wall! I thought that was more his distaff counterpart's schtick? Well, that instantly tells us there's at least one Marvel article in here, maybe more if we're very lucky. They have been cutting down on their coverage of non-D&D material recently, so that's good to see. Let's find out what else is going on this time around.



Notes From HQ: Looks like my joke about them screwing up their ranking tables was actually all too on the nose, and they're still trying to get their computer to tabulate everything properly. It's been 4 months. You could have done it all as a Pen & Paper spreadsheet by now. :p Technology once again proves to be a hassle as often as a help. More positively, and much more significantly, they float the idea of doing a bit of collaborative worldbuilding. Let's make a city together! Everyone's invited to send bits and pieces in and we'll fit it all together somehow. Looks like this is the first stirrings of what would eventually become Raven's Bluff, their shared world setting for 2e. That's one thread of history I'm very excited about seeing develop month by month, in all it's twists and turns. (We know it doesn't wind up in Greyhawk, for one thing.) How much arguing and compromising will it take to reach it's final form, and how much of that will happen behind the scenes, not in here? Let's hope it's a fun ride finding out.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 25: Jul/Aug 1985



part 2/6



Unofficial new Magic-user spells pt 2: A few more high level spells based on magic items to fill out this series. X-ray vision, cursing anyone who reads your papers, two different ways of reflecting magic back on the caster, emulation of a basilisk, and an enhanced variant of wizard lock that affects all the doors within range at once. As before, the damage dealing spell is grossly underpowered for it's level, but the others are pretty cool, with a multitude of uses when applied cleverly. If you make it to the levels needed to get them, you really shouldn't be engaging in fair fights with your opponents, when you have so many better ways to neutralise their danger, many of which turn those dangerous magical beasties into an asset on your side for further world-building fun. Can't do that in 4e.



The RPGA Network Player and Judge Standings: After 6 months of additional data and correcting existing entries, they print this list again, only longer and better. They also make Gary's rankings even more artificially inflated than he already was, not just a 10th level judge, but an 8th level player as well, when the highest legitimate entries are only level 4. If it ever looked like anyone was going to catch up, they'd probably just give him more levels to put him ahead again. Seems somewhat insecure that he feels his genuine accomplishments don't stand on their own. Power does silly things to people.
 

(un)reason

Adventurer
Polyhedron Issue 25: Jul/Aug 1985



part 3/6



Needle part II: The second part of this adventure is completely different to the first part. Having penetrated the spaceship, they now have to get it's central computer back to the king who sponsored the expedition in the first place. There are a lot of trials and tribulations on the way, as it's huge and heavy, the jungle is full of ferocious beasts & disease, and the natives are not happy at all about having their sacred place despoiled. Once again, this is very much a tournament module, with a fairly linear set of challenges finely tuned to the PC's capabilities, and using characters other than the pregens may well make the module either impossible, or really short and easy, (especially if they have some of the new spells in the last few issues.) depending on the player's resources and ingenuity. So once again, I really can't recommend using it outside it's original context, as putting it in a campaign with long-term characters will more likely just be irritating for everyone involved unless you're willing to change big chunks of it in response to the player's actions and capabilities.



Fletcher's Corner: Following on from the adventure, this column talks about the challenges of high level adventuring in general. If you do it right, it's not just about fighting enemies with the same old claws and bites, just with bigger numbers, but a whole new set of tactical and logistical challenges. You can have armies, but so can the enemy. Death is not the end, as both sides can have resurrection, clones, phylacteries, and other contingency plans that let you make a comeback after the other side seems to have won. It all gets a lot more complicated than going down a hole in the ground and killing whatever you find in there. Which illustrates precisely why it's tricky to create prefab adventures for high level characters in anything but the broadest strokes, as they can combine powers to pull out all sorts of weird tricks. Yup, this is a familiar bit of advice, because that's what naturally happens in D&D. In an extended campaign, it gradually becomes a very different game as you go up in levels. If you want a game which doesn't do that, you want a completely different system, (or these days, a different edition at least.) Can't disagree with any of this advice.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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