Dragon by Dragon … September 1977

Let’s get right into it, shall we? Because the first page we see past the cover is this …

Let the edition wars begin, I guess. Note the “For 3 or more adult players” [emphasis mine]. TSR would learn a little something about the purchasing power of the younger set in a few years.

The second page is an ad for 25 mm Minifigs D&D miniatures, which such evocative names as “5 Different Hobgoblins” and “10 Kobolds”. You can see some painted versions HERE, HERE (didn’t know hobgoblins were so randy) and HERE.

OK – to the meat of the issue. Our first offering is from Gygax, and is entitled Varied Player Character and Non-Player Character Alignment in the Dungeons & Dragons Campaign. The article is about the problems that alignment presents to DM’s. The line that caught my attention early in the article was:

“The most common problem area seems to lie in established campaigns with a co-operating block of players, all of whom are of like alignment. These higher level player characters force new entrants into the same alignment, and if the newcomers fail to conform they dispatch them.”

Nice to know that DM’s used to have help from the players in terms of managing alignment. It sounds like players with high-level characters could be real dicks back in the day.

Also interesting was this, about Gary’s Greyhawk Campaign:

“The Greyhawk Campaign is built around the precept that “good” is the desired end sought by the majority of humanity and its allied races (gnomes, elves, et al.). I have this preference because the general aim is such that more than self-interest (or mental abberation) motivates the alignment. This is not to say that a war of lawful good against chaotic good is precluded, either or both opponents being allied with evil beings of lawful or chaotic alignment. What is said is that most planned actions which are written into the campaign are based on a threat to the overall good by the forces of evil.”

Probably sounds a bit rail-roady to some of the old schoolers out there. If I’m honest, the article somewhat meanders a bit and didn’t really teach me much on its professed subject, other than to conclude that a variety of alignments is a good thing in a campaign. So that’s settled.

Next up is the continuation of The Finzer Family, the longest damn story I think I ever saw in a Dragon Magazine. I’m going to skip the continuation, just as I skipped the first part, but I will draw notice to this:

The gaming world is taking shape!

I’m going to post this next ad for miniatures because, frankly, they’re pretty dang nice. I tried to find some painted samples online, but came up short.

Almost 20 pages later, we’re finally done with the Finzer Family, and onto an article by MAR Barker entitled Seal of the Imperium. The article is designed to answer reader questions, but the first declaration of Prof. Barker is an interesting one regarding the difference between “real” Tekumel and the “game” Tekumel:

“Just to point up the contrasts, let me cite some differences: (a) “real” Tékumel has a lot less magic and magical paraphernalia lying about than one picks up in the game — with all the Thoroughly Useful Eyes and spells of revivification possible in the game, no citizen of Tsolyánu would ever have to die! — and there would be heaps of treasure and goodies for all”

The eternal problem with D&D. As Prof. Barker explains:

“All of these things, plus the ever-useful Divine Intervention, make it a LOT easier to succeed in the game than in “real” Tsolyánu. The same is true of “Monopoly” or “Alexander the Great”; games abstract, simplify, and simulate only those parts of “reality” which the designer feels are crucial.”

In other words – “Don’t sweat it, it’s just a game”. Good advice, then and now.

Brian Blume now rides in with The Fastest Guns that Never Lived (Part II), a list of actors from old westerns, along with their stats for Boot Hill. You have no idea how much this makes me wish I had the Boot Hill rules, just for the chance to put the Cisco Kid and Poncho on the trail of Lee Van Cleef.

James M. Ward now presents Tombs & Crypts. It’s a neat little graph for randomly generating the contents of a tomb or crypt. The table allows one to roll a d12 to get a set of modifiers for several other tables that determine the treasure in the crypt (gold pieces, gems, jewelry, misc. magic items, special items and artifacts) as well as the guardian and structure of the tomb. I’ll reproduce those last two tables:

Guardian
01-30: None
31-50: Magic spell (wizard lock, curse, etc.)
51-80: Invisible stalkers (1d4)
81-99: Creature from the 6th level monster chart
100: A stronger monster + roll again for another guardian

Tomb Itself
01-40: 1 room/cave/mound of dirt
41-50: Hall with spring trap of some type and a secret door at the end of it
51-60: A 2-6 room/cave complex with many doors leading to other areas trying to lure the robbers away
61-80: 1-10 rooms/caves with a secret door to the tomb and 1-10 traps in the rooms
81-90: 1-10 rooms with 1-20 corridors, with 2-20 traps guarding the rooms and tombs and a secret door
91-99: 1-10 connecting rooms with traps, secret doors, and magical guard spells (wizard locks, symbols, etc.) guarding the way
100: 1-20 rooms with traps, secret doors, and a being guard. It requires a special word to open the final door to the tomb. The word should not be found in the tomb.

Next cool ad:


I found a shot of a painted one HERE.

Almost to the end, and I discover another famous first for Dragon …

When you combine Basic D&D, White Dwarf, Wormy and a long article about alignments, I think you might be able to peg September 1977 as the beginning of the modern era of D&D.

See you next week, when I give the Blood & Treasure mass combat rules a whirl with the Battle of Gaudin’s Ford, pitting a moot of halflings against a rampaging orc tribe.

Oh yeah – the cover – no room for it up above, but it is pretty groovy …

New game – stat the cover.

HORST HAMMERFIST, 5th level fighting-man with psionic powers, an amulet of advanced mathematics and a +2 ray gun of lightning.

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