Dragon by Dragon … May 1978

I would have been 6 years old for this one, and 6 years away from discovery D&D. Let’s see what it has to offer …

First up, winners on that “Name the Monster” contest. Conrad Froelich of Wyoming, OH was the winner with “The Creature Some Call Jarnkung”. Runner’s up were Cursed Crimson Crawler by Thomas & Edward McCloud and The Ulik by Ann Corlon (who sez women didn’t play D&D back in the day). The winning stats were as follows:

Jarnkung, Large Magical Beast, Chaotic (NE), High Intelligent: HD 5; AC 3; Atk 1 tail (2d6) and 1 or 2 weapons; Move 20 (or 9 for S&W); Save F10 R11 W12 (or 12 for S&W); XP 500 (CL 6); Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance 20%, detect thoughts (ESP) at will, may have psionic powers.

A. Mark Ratner now gives a review of Space Marines (not the later effort by Games Workshop), a game which he designed. Apparently it is a modified Tractics which owes something to Starguard. I wish that meant something to me. What did I learn about Space Marines from this article? Well, it has things like Nuclear Damper Fields, Mekpurrs (inspired by the killer herbivores from Satan’s World by Anderson), canineoid, rauwoofs, hissss*st (based on The Time Mercenaries by Philip High) and Klackons. The article has many rules ideas and additions for the game – mostly involving air combat and underwater combat. Makes it sound like a cool game.

J. Ward offers up a review of Nomad Gods. Unfortunately, this is another game I haven’t played or read, so I can’t comment much about it. Likewise with Tony Watson’s review of Cosmic Encounter.

Barton Stano and Jim Ward present Robots as Players in Metamorphosis Alpha. This one gets down into it, giving players structure points (115) and power points (100) to spend on propulsion, computer units, armor and various physical devices like quills, lead shielding and grasping claws. While this seems like a logical way to handle robots, it also stands as a preview of where RPG’s were going in terms of character building.

Michael McCrery now presents Excerpt From an Interview With a Rust Monster. Apparently this hinges on an NPC who was polymorphed into a rust monster, and now sometimes shows up as a wandering monster in McCrery’s dungeon.

Cool miniatures ad for spaceships …

Five sizes for each, which brings to my mind the ship sizes I used in Space Princess – starfighter, shuttle, corvette, star cruiser and dreadnaught. For their part, the ships are Galactic Dreadnaughts, Galactic Attack Carriers, Galactic Battlecruisers, Stellar Cruisers and Stellar Destroyers. OK – their names are better – I’ll give them that.

Gygax writes From the Sorcerer’s Scroll on D&D Relationships, the Parts and the Whole. This one gets into the edition mess that was forthcoming for TSR – i.e. what is the “Basic Set”, will the Original game be around much longer and what is Advanced D&D.

James Ward pops in now with Monty Haul and His Friends at Play. This appears to be a satirical piece about the folks at TSR. I dug the accompanying art:

And now, a peeved letter to the editor about the Cthulhu Mythos from the February issue. This is classic geek one-ups-manship at its finest, for example:

“First, the Elder Gods, after they defeated the Great Old Ones, stripped Azathoth of a lot of his power, so his hits should be lowered to 200 to 225.”

“If you’re wondering who is number one — YOG-SHOTHOTH his hits should be raised to 400. You can say that is rather powerful; you’re damn right. The Great Old Ones are so powerful, that the total power of the Elder Gods could not destroy them; only imprison them.”

“These may seem trivial, but if Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Augest Derleth, or Robert Howard saw your use, they’d roll over in their graves not once but at least ten times.”

Another one from James WardThe Total Person in Metamorphosis Alpha. This is a set of random tables for determining a character’s background. I always think these are most useful for Referees working out NPC’s.

Next we have an ogre fight in Wormy and Fineous Fingers being offered up as a sacrifice for a dark knight.

Gregory Rihn writes Lycanthropy – The Progress of the Disease. You can tell D&D is getting more advanced now and a little less free-wheeling for some folks in 1978. I dig this paragraph:

“A low-level werebear who takes six rounds to change fully would fight as follows: round one, normal level; round two, level minus two; round three, level minus four; round four, bear minus four; (claws and teeth have reached minimal offensive effectiveness) round five, bear minus two; round six, normal bear ability. Of course somewhere in here he has to shed his clothes.”

I like the idea of a lycanthrope changing during the course of a battle. The article includes a level table, which I would think was for adjudicating lycanthropes with class levels in the game – it has columns for “Changes Per Day”, “Chance of Involuntary Changes”, “Time Required for Change” and such – except it also has XP for each level. I guess it makes sense – XP determine one’s “lycanthrope level” separately from one’s normal class level.

And that’s it for #14. A few good bits in this one, but not my favorite issue. Even though I don’t always get much use for the articles in these issues, I still find the environment of gaming inspiration in these magazines. Well worth reading, especially for folks who have no grounding in the history of the game.