Not Since the Leg Lamp …

… has an old man been so excited about something.

In this case, a gift I gave myself, which I know sounds bad, but this was one thing I could not resist:

The C64 – a retro computer based on the Commodore 64 and Vic-20!

All my friends had Ataris, and I wanted one sooooo much, but my dad wanted a computer that did more than play games, so I got a Vic-20. To this day, I am thankful for how responsible he was. The Vic-20 had games, of course, and I love them – Radar Rat Race and Gorf come immediately to mind. But I also learned some basic BASIC on the old Vic-20, and I still use a little of that knowledge to this day. I can still remember cracking open a computer magazine and spending hours typing in pokes and peeks to generate a static image of a jack-o-lantern or Christmas tree on the TV … only to know that when the computer was turned off, all that work was gone!

For the  children in the audience … let me take you back to time when console TVs doubled as computer monitors and programs were lost when you turned off the computer (unless you had the Commodore datasette!) It also meant that when dad got home from work and it was time for the news, you were done playing with your computer without some serious begging!

Flash forward to 2020 – I come across the C64 retro computer (I already do not remember where I saw it). It is apparently already released in Europe … but an unknown release date in North America. I had to have it. I hit Amazon, and lo and behold, it was available for pre-order. Pre-order I did!

I was not, however, going to hold my breath until it arrived, because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t. Just seemed to good to be true, and without a set release date – probably was not going to happen. Sure enough, a week or so after ordering it the shipping date was pushed back. And then pushed back again. Now it was supposed to arrive in mid-December. Yeah – right!

Out of sight, out of mind, and then I get an email notice … sometime around mid-December … that an order has shipped. I had a couple Christmas gifts for the fam on order, so I assumed it was one of those. Happily, I was wrong.

Here it is folks:

It’s a beaut!

And someday, if I’m really good and my puppy gives me a couple free minutes, I’ll get to play with it. I can’t wait!

(By the way – I still have that Vic-20 stored away in the closet – it’s the stuff I’ve gotten rid of that I regret, not the stuff I kept.)

I hope you folks get something you want for Christmas this year, or whatever holiday you might celebrate, and I also hope you get something you need.

Love and peace, folks!

Dragon by Dragon – May 1982 (61)

Wow – May of 1982. I was on the verge of being 10 years old, so probably 2 years away from discovering D&D, three from Tolkien and may five from superhero comic books. My only nerd-cred at the time was probably reading encyclopedias. What I do remember being excited about in 1982 – and begging to get for my birthday – were these new army figures called G.I. Joe. Have you seen these things? They’re like Star Wars figures (which I loved), but military (which I loved)! Awesome! I don’t remember exactly what I got that birthday, but I know I got a few of them, and I think I got the jet pack launch pad thingee. Unfortunately, within just a couple years I was done playing with toys, so I never had more than the originals and Doc. Good times, though!

If I had been into D&D in 1982, though, I know I would have enjoyed issue 61 of Dragon Magazine. We have a moody wizard cover by Susan Collins, some articles on weapons and fighting without weapons (always rich territory for needlessly complex rules in early AD&D), monster cards and a module! Shall we proceed …

First up, we get some illusionist cantrips by Mr. Gygax. These “0-level” spells were brand new, and were designed to make the spellcasters more “magical” – i.e. doing interesting things with a wave of the hand like magicians in books and movies. Naturally, later editions didn’t get the point, and turned them into yet another level of spells. The cantrips in this issue are for illusionists, and include colored light, dim, haze, mask, mirage, noise, rainbow and two d’lusion. For readers unaware of what old-style spells looked like, and what old-style cantrips looked like, here’s an example:

Two-D’lusion (illusion)

A of E: 4 sq.”

CT: 1/6 segment

This cantrip is virtually the same as a phantasmal forces spell in most respects. The caster creates a two-dimensional illusion of whatever he or she desires. If any viewer observes it from an angle of more than about 45° from its horizontal or vertical viewing axis, the nature of the illusion will become immediately apparent. It is dispelled by touch or magic (dispel illusion or dispel magic). The illusion is invisible from the side or the rear. It lasts as long as the caster concentrates upon it. To effectuate the cantrip, the caster must speak a phrase descriptive of the illusion while making a circular motion with his closed hand.

Just so you know, “A of E” is “area of effect” and “CT” is casting time. I think 1/6 a segment would be 1 second, but I might be wrong on that. It’s been a while since I played AD&D.

It wouldn’t be until high school that I discovered Warhammer, and thus White Dwarf magazine. 

I always dig Giants in the Earth, either because it covers characters I know, or introduces me to new characters. This issue we get C. J. Cutliffe Hyne’s Deucalion, John Norman’s Tarl Cabot and Charles R. Saunders’ Dossouye. While I am aware of Cabot and have read some Saunders, I have never experienced first hand the characters described in this issue. I have, however, read Hyne’s The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis, from whence Deucalion comes (well, not really – it’s from ancient mythology really), and I can recommend it. A ripping yarn that, in my opinion, was reminiscent of Conan and such barbarian literature long before REH got his sandaled hero off the ground.

I always wanted one of those Dragonbone electonic dice rollers as a kid. A quick search on ebay revealed none for sale. Oh well – maybe some day.

Next are “Without Any Weapons …” by Phil Meyers and then “… or with a … Weird One” by Rory Bowman. The first has new rules for pummeling in AD&D, the rules for which were never very satisfying and always overly complex. They could have been quite simple, but the gaming zeitgeist of the time was all about complexity – a far cry from the old days when the game was the thing. The later article introduces new weapons for AD&D such as atlatls, blow guns, chakrams, bullwhips, etc. I had no interest in complex fighting rules, but always liked new additions like the weapons article.

For the gnome-curious out there, Dragon 61 had some groovy articles by Roger E. Moore about the littlest adventurers in AD&D. “The Gnomish Point of View” fleshes out the gnome characters – of course, your campaign may vary from Moore’s ideas, but it was always helpful, especially when I was young, to see how these things could be fleshed out. It is followed up with “The Gods of the Gnomes” – Baervan, Urdlen, Segojan and Flandal. Of course, Garl Glittergold was introduced earlier. I can remember thinking Flandal Steelskin was cool.

“Quest for the Midas Orb” by Jennie Good is the included module in Dragon 61. It was the third place winner at IDDC III, and I’ll admit I don’t know what that is. Here’s the introduction:

“Long ago in the land of Gnarda lived the worshippers of Kalsones, the god of wealth and power. Kalsones was a fair god who treated his followers kindly. As proof of his fairness and kindness in an era long past, he had presented the people with an artifact called the Midas Orb. Legends say if the Orb is held in one hand and another object is touched with the index finger of the other hand, the object touched will turn to pure gold.”

The adventure is a groovy dungeon crawl with some cool ideas in it. Well worth the read and probably well worth the exploration.

The “Dragon’s Bestiary” includes the Firetail by Ed Greenwood, the Umbrae by Theresa Berger, the Light Worm by Willie Callison and the Tybor by Jeff Brandt. Here’s the Light Worm for Blood & Treasure:

Light Worm by Willie Callison
Type: Monster
Size: Large
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 14
Attack: Bite (1d6 + Poison IV)
Movement: 20′
Save: 16
Intelligence: Animal/Low
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 1 (25% chance of 1d3)
XP/CL: 1,200/6

SD – MR 75%, Immune (charm, hold, illusions), vulnerable (cold, fire)

Light worms are dungeon denizens with poisonous bites. They look like giant snakes with black underbellies and violet and light blue bands on their backs. The monster’s have two small bumps above their eyes, and stubs on their underside – perhaps vestigal legs. Victims of the light worm’s bite must save vs. poison (at +1 from the first bite, and a cumulative -2 penalty for each additional bite) or die in 1d8 minutes.

There is a 35% chance each round that the worm creates a 20′-diameter sphere of colored lights around victims within 120′. All creatures within the sphere are made dizzy for the first three rounds of their entrapment (-2 to attack, cumulative). In rounds four and five, they are so dizzy as to be incapacitated, and in round six they fall unconscious for 1d10+1 minutes, during which time they are devoured by the monster if at all possible.

Creatures that save against the sphere of lights are only made dizzy for three rounds, shaking off the effect thereafter. Dispel magic, mind blank and true seeing cut through the sphere of lights, as does a helm of telepathy.

The sphere of lights can be generated once every 12 hours.

Light worms are stunned for 1d3 rounds by the sticks to snakes spell, and the spell cancels a sphere of light currently in play.

The Monster Cards described in this issue were really cool. Each one depicts a monster painting on the front, and the stats on the back. If you can find some out in the wild, grab them, cherish them, and use them to kill player characters.

There is an article about introducing aging into the Ringside game, of which I know nothing. It is followed up by the “Jo-Ga-Oh – Little People of the Iroquois” by Conrad Froehlich. These are stats for three “monsters” that are quite groovy.

Gary Gygax has a supplement to Top Secret. Again, I know next to nothing about this game, but I like the level titles for infiltrators – snitch / foist / inside man / plant / ringer / contact / insinuator / penetrator / subversive / infiltrator. Given the title for 8th level, I guess we can assume that’s James Bond’s level. The article also has info on different types of missions, the XP value of them, and other notes. 

Boy – What’s New? With Phil and Dixie was just the best when you were in junior high …

It was fun discovering Phil Foglio’s art in old Star Trek fanzines. Everybody has to start somewhere!

Tramp’s Wormy has some gorgeous artwork – he was just getting better and better!

That, folks, is a wrap! Have fun folks, and please be kind to one another. 

Missing in Action

Holy Smokes – I missed the entire month of November on this blog! I do have a good excuse, though … the newest member of my party, Toby the 1st level Dingo.

I’m only half joking about him being a dingo – apparently he is a mix of Labrador retriever, border collie and Australian cattle dog. Those Australian cattle dogs have dingo blood, so I’ve enjoyed calling him my little dingo, or saying in my best bad Australian accent “the dingo IS my baby!”

For the last month, I’ve been chasing the little dingo around, playing with him, disciplining him, being chewed on by him. Exhausting! We’re finally to the point where I can put a computer on my lap and type for a few minutes each night. It’s also been busy busy busy at work, due to our network going down for a week. I’ve been scrambling to catch up – the fourth quarter reports are looming, and missing a week’s worth of data collection has not helped matters.

That’s my life at the moment – work and puppies. God knows it could be worse. On the bright side, I have my GRIT & VIGOR supplement, High Frontier, ready to go. I just need to combine the PDF files together (which I just realized I cannot do on my “new” laptop computer, because the software is on the old Samsung) and upload them to Drivethru and Lulu. That should be fun – I haven’t uploaded anything for a while. I should have the next NOD issue up pretty soon as well – it’s written and laid out – just needs the final touches.

So, until next time, this is your erstwhile blogger signing off. I’ll update everyone when High Frontier is available, and I’ll endeavor to get a post up this weekend – probably a Dragon by Dragon review. Have fun and please be kind to one another!