Dragon by Dragon – March 1980

This week (or month, depending on how you look at it), The Dragon greets us with a very 1980’s bit of Cold War schtick – a couple commies about to get whooped by either a bunch of heavily armed and magical snowmen, or some U.S. Marines in disguise. Either way, not a good day for the Russkis. Luckily, we’ll never have to worry about Russia actively trying to conquer its neighbors … never mind.

Let’s dive in!

#1. From Avant-Garde to Mainstream

From the Dragon Rumbles column:

“Judging from the 43rd Hobby Industry of America trade show, held Jan. 27-30 in Anaheim,
Calif., our once lonely pastime has arrived with a
vengeance. According to what the buyers and store owners were saying, adventure gaming (for want of another term) is booming, with the heavy emphasis on fantasy. Sales of Advanced D&D DMG bear this out; it is the best-selling game/gamebook of all time.”

I wonder if that still holds. From what I understand, sales back in the old days were much higher than they are now.
 
#2. Oops

I did a thing a while back about type-o spells. In an article on errata in the AD&D books, Allen Hammack introduces a few screwed up magic items:

RING OF THREE WITCHES— Rather self-explanatory. It looks like any other magic ring and will radiate a dweomer if detected for. If summoned or commanded to function or if a wish is made upon it, the three witches (each a 20th level chaotic evil Magic-User) will issue forth and wreak havoc.

CUBE OF FARCE —Upon pressing this cube, a field of force will spring up just as in the Cube of Force, but on the interior of the cubic field the operator of the Cube is subjected to 6 different “comedies” at the same time, and must save vs. spell or he will be insane for 1-10 rounds. The “comedies” are “Gilligan’s Island”, “Hee Haw”, “Hello, Larry” , “I Love Lucy”, “Good Times”, and “The White House Press Conference.”

CARPET OF FRYING— When this magic carpet is sat upon and commanded to do anything, it will paralyze the person(s) on the carpet (save applicable), causing the person(s) to stretch out along its length. It will then begin to radiate a temperature of 375° F. and continue until the victim is well-done. Needless to say, the smell of frying human (or halfling or elf or dwarf or gnome or half-orc) will attract any monsters in the area who are fond of such delicacies.

WAND OF LIGHTENING —This wand, whether directed at an opponent or oneself, will cause the operator to gradually become weightless. Once the wand is activated it cannot be stopped until the process is complete (5 rounds). Treat as gaseous form to see if the victim is blown by air currents, although the victim will obviously not be able to pass through cracks or holes. See what messing up one little letter in a spell can do?

#3. Black Holes!

In an article on Traveller variants by James Hopkins, we get a neat little table on random black holes:

AD BREAK

Finally a new one from Ral Parth – The Clerics

The one on the left look a little dramatic, huh? The one on the right is calling his shot before he knocks a goblin head over the fence. You can buy them here.

#4. Experience Points

Len Lakofka does an alternative way to hand out XP. Here’s the quick rundown:

1. A character amasses at least one half of the experience points he or she needs to gain a promotion (level) (an option allows this percentage to be as low as 30% for a 20th level figure).

2. He or she seeks a person (preferably) two or more levels higher but of the same race and alignment, to train him or her in the skills needed to fully gain the new level.

3. The cost of this training varies from as little as 10 s.p. for 1 x. p. to as much as 2 g.p. for 1 x.p.

4. The training time is computed in days or fractions of days, and during that period the figures are bound in what amounts to a sworn oath in the name of their Gods to be honorable, faithful
and loyal to one another.

Why are experience points given to a character? The methods are:

1. For killing opponents (“monsters”), as per AD&D.

2. For defeating, subduing, enspelling opponents (“monsters”), a one-half award. (Note: killing an enspelled monster still only gains the half award unless the killing is done immediately and not after questioning or having the figure perform some act )

3. For learning the use of magic items (per the awards in the Dungeon Masters Guide for magic items) by experiment and experience, NEVER from the use of a spell or through magic in a
device.

4. From protracted use of an item (weapons and armor, etc. )

5. For certain one-time uses of an item in an “adventure situation.”

6. For acts directly related to a character’s profession.

I’ve admitted in the past that I was a terrible AD&D player, because I never really read the books. I was a Moldvay/Cook punk who grabbed classes, spells, monsters and magic items from AD&D, but I never really used the rules. So the bit about XP for learning to use magic items is interesting – I always figured you just got fat XP for finding a magic item. Maybe you did in AD&D, or maybe I missed the actual rule. I have no idea. Guess I’ll break out the DMG and find out later today.

#5. Same Crap, Different Decade 
“Unfortunately, not all particular wargame enthusiasts are able to “minimize losses and maximize gains.” Frequently, wargames allow individual players to display some extreme prodigality, giving bystanders the impression that wargamers are nothing but impassive warmongers who are bent upon destruction, with all its violent emotions, whatever the cost may be. These “war-moralizers” feel that a new race of fascists and communists will be born, with the instinctive impressions that war and its wastefulness is the way of life. Moreover, other groups of “war-moralizers” say that wargaming is an act of practicing the willful murder of mankind condemned by God. And all of this moralizing comes from just playing a game!”

Sound familiar. These days, the emotionally immature are playing the “disagreement = violence” argument, but it all boils down to the same damn thing – tyranny. One person or group gets to direct the lives of all others – what they may say, may do, how they do it, etc.

I want to make sure folks know that Theron Kuntz, in this article, is lamenting and arguing against the bullshit moralizers of the period.

If you love freedom – yours as well as the freedom of others to piss you off – Fight On!

#6. Touched (Really Hard) by an Angel

William Fawcett has a nice article on angels (which of course first has to assure the religious that this is make-believe, so get that pissy look off your face). The article gives you a look at the history of angels (or of lesser divine beings, if you prefer), the hierarchy of Heaven, and then stats for the different angels.

You get seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels and angels of the ninth order. All the classics. Makes me want to write an overpowered angel PC class using those as the level titles … maybe next week.

Here’s a sample, using Blood and Treasure stats.

Angel of the Ninth Order

Size/Type: Large Outsider
Hit Dice: 8
Armor Class: 21 [+1]
Attack: 1 strike (4d6)
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F8 R8 W8
Immunities:
Resistance: Magic 50%
Alignment: Lawful (LG)
Intelligence: High
No. Appearing: 1 or 1d4
XP: 2,000

Spells: At will–cure light wounds, purify food & drink, hold person, tongues, plane shift (others), speak with dead, blade barrier, cure disease; 1/day–control weather.

#7. Giants in the Earth

I always enjoy Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay’s GitE articles. This issue features:

Cecelia Holland‘s MUIRTAGH THE BOWMAN (16th level bard, 7th level fighter, 5th level thief) – with a great piece by Erol Otus. And, it turns out she was born right here in Southern Nevada, in Henderson, back when it was a factory town producing magnesium for the war effort.

H. Rider Haggard‘s UMSLOPOGAAS (15th level fighter)

Henry Kuttner‘s EDWARD BOND (9th level fighter)

Henry Kuttner’s GANELON (25th level fighter) – with some very early Jeff Dee artwork

They also detail the Sword of Llyr from Kuttner. The sword doubles Ganelon’s psionic strength and ability, and gives him some extra psionic disciplines: Invisibility, ESP, Body Equilibrium, Expansion, Mass Domination and Teleportation.

#8. Quickfloor

You’ve heard of quicksand (especially if you’re my age), but Stephen Zagieboylo invented magical “quickfloor” for dungeons. People sink in 1d4+3 rounds (or 1d4+2 if in chainmail, 1d4+1 in platemail). The first person in the marching order has a 40% chance of noticing it, halflings have a 60% chance. Characters have a chance to cross safely based on their dexterity – For 3-5 a 10% chance, for 6-9 a 25% chance, for 10-13 a 50% chance, for 14-16 a 80% chance and for 17-18 a 90% chance. If you tie a rope between two wooden posts that flank the quickfloor, you create a magic bridge that allows people to cross safely, but kills anyone already in the quickfloor (I guess by solidifying it).

QUICK ASIDE

Q: Who was the top ranked AD&D player in the U.S.A. in 1980?

A. Bob Blake

Now you know.

#9. Citadel Miniatures

Great ad from Citadel, with their characteristically great mini illustrations.

Now, what can we do with this ad?

Idea 1 – Make a game. Pick a miniature, or do a die drop and see what you land on – that’s your character. Use Risus or something to get some stats, equipment, etc and then invade the Tomb of Horrors.

Idea 2 – The spacefarer miniatures look like a rough draft for Rogue Trader and Warhammer 40,000. Reimagine what the game would have looked like with these illustrations as your guide. Imperial Marines with puffy sleeves instead of bulky armor.

AD BREAK

Yeah, the last bit was an ad as well, but check these out …

We have an OSR for tabletop games … is there also an OSR for old-style computer rpgs? Honestly don’t know – but I bet they’d make great apps for smart phones.

Coming soon to these reviews …

No wormy in this issue, so I’ll leave you with this image from the “Oasis” short story by Cynthia Frazer

So, I need to write an Angel PC class, and a Beastrider class this week.

3 thoughts on “Dragon by Dragon – March 1980

  1. Regarding OSRing video games – check out the App Store for a bunch of old school dungeon crawl games. Because theyrre so easy to program, there is a level of “revival” to making these into smartphone games.

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