Dragon by Dragon – February 1981 (46)

Happy Easter boys and girls. I hope you have a good one – family, friends, fun and a little time for relaxation and meditation. Hopefully, you also have some time to read this review of Dragon 46 (and White Dwarf 23).

I’ll level with you here. The first time I saw this cover, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. There are a few other “cute” Dragon covers, but this one sorta took the cake. It’s not a bad cover, though, and actually relates to a new comic in this issue – Pinsom by Steve Swenston. It’s a style of fantasy I always digged, and one which I wish had had more coverage in Dragon. Check the end of the article for another glimpse of Swenston’s work.

Moving on …

First up – an advertisement (no, not for anything I did)

Yes, for those of us who lived through the transition, there was home entertainment BEFORE Dungeon!, and home entertainment AFTER Dungeon!. You young whippersnappers have no idea.

In all seriousness, if you’ve never played the game, I highly recommend it (at least, the old version that I used to have – I don’t know if they done any crappy re-imaginings lately). It just occurred to me that it might be cool to combine Dungeon! with Talisman – at least, with the “classes” in Talisman.

The first bit of content in this issue is a short story by J. Eric Holmes, “The Sorcerer’s Jewel” – so always worth a read. Great art by Roslof to go with it! Here’s a sample (of art and text) …

“When Tarkan departed from The Green Dragon, only minutes later, Zereth pushed Boinger off the end of the wooden bench on which they both sat. “Follow him,” he ordered, “and be secretive about it.” It was midnight when the little thief returned. His elven companion had left the tavern common room and gone upstairs to the rented room the two shared, but when Boinger roused him he dressed and came down. The noisy crowd at the bar and fire served their secret purpose better than whispering in their room, where ears might be pressed to the adjoining wall.”

That image to the right just screams D&D to me, and the story does as well. I’ll admit I’m not much of a reader of the fiction in The Dragon, which I should probably remedy at some point, given that I dig Gardner Fox, Homes and Gygax. More importantly, It would be interesting to glean some bits of useful lore from the stories that ostensibly come from actual gameplay.

Here’s another Roslof from that issue:

Love the halfling.

This issue goes pretty heavy into variants on Divine Right (which I don’t have) and touches on The Tribes of Crane (which I never played). I mention this in case people have do have or have played those games want to check out the issue.

The “Dragon’s Bestiary” features the Gaund by Ed Greenwood. Greenwood’s monsters are always well thought out, and seem to point to the direction in which games were moving at the time, which I guess you could call fantasy realism.

I’m more enthused about Roger E. Moore‘s “This Here’s Tyrannosaurus Tex”, a Boot Hill Scenario based on The Valley of the Gwangi.

For those who do not know of The Valley of the Gwangi

I haven’t seen it in a long time – I need to put it on the list.

Among other things, the article includes a hit location chart for the t-rex …

01-20  Tail
21-50  Rear leg
51-55  Forearm
56-75  Abdomen (1% chance of mortal wound)
76-85  Chest (5% chance of mortal wound)
86-00  Head and neck (2% chance of mortal wound)

Also this handy guide to killing a t-rex with dynamite

“For every two sticks of dynamite used against a Tyrannosaur in one attack, there is a cumulative 50% chance of stunning it for one turn (10 seconds), a 25% chance of inflicting a wound or wounds (d10: 1-2 = one wound, 3-5 = two wounds, 6-8 = three wounds, 9-0 = four wounds), and a cumulative 10% chance of killing it outright. This percentage is reduced by 20% (for stunning, wounding, and killing) for each 2” (12’) that the monster is distant from the explosion. For example, 20 sticks of dynamite exploded 4” (24’) from a Tyrannosaur has a 460% chance of stunning it (500-40=460), a 210% chance of wounding it (250-40=210) and a 60% chance of killing it (100-40=60). Treat any amount of dynamite greater than 40 sticks as 40 sticks.”

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh follows up with another Boot Hill article, “How to ease the Boot Hill identity crisis”. I love the first paragraph …

“Everyone seems to have a place in Boot Hill except the player-characters, who have to be content with a place on Boot Hill. They wander in out of nowhere, invariably causing much havoc and then moving on.”

I have to admit, that sounds pretty good to me – not sure I want to remedy that situation. However, if you do, you’ll find a random table of identities for a Boot Hill character. I dig the fact that female characters have a 2% chance to be nuns. I’d love to play a gunslinging nun.

The feature of this issue is “The Temple of Poseidon” by Paul Reiche III. The intro has nothing to do with the adventure, but it does delve into TSR history …

“I wrote The Temple of Poseidon early in the spring of 1980 as part of an application for employment at TSR Hobbies, Inc. Having grown tired of fourteen straight years of school, I decided to take some time off from college and work full-time for a change. The problem was where to find a job. I had already had several, all of which were boring or (as was with the case with piano moving) physically undesirable.

A year earlier, TSR had hired my good friend Erol Otus as a staff artist. After visiting Erol out in the chilly wastes of Wisconsin, and learning that—contrary to what I had heard—the men and women of TSR were not evil, hateful creatures, I decided that perhaps a job with TSR was the kind of change I was looking for. So with several years of playing experience and authorship of two fantasy roleplaying supplements under my belt (Booty and The Beasts and The Necromican co-authored with Mathias Genser and Erol Otus) I started work on the Temple of Poseidon.”

He goes on to say the adventure was inspired by Lovecraft and CAS – and it’s a great dungeon crawl. Well worth reading and running.

Another dandy by Roslof – casting a spell from a scroll

Here’s a cool bit:

“Time and the way the party spends it plays an integral part in this adventure. Exactly 10 turns after the characters descend the spiral staircase and enter the alien base, the evil priests of Ythog Nthlei will succeed in freeing their master. The only way to prevent them from attaining their goal is to kill them before the end of 10 turns. If they succeed, Ythog Nthlei will instantly move to Room 31 with his treasure: The priests will remain in their room.”

“Giants in the Earth“, by Tom Moldvay, opens things up for contributions. So, no giants this time. Dang.

Time for some sage advice …

Question: What happens when a cornered (as in a deep pit) undead creature is turned?

Answer: The act of turning undead (by a good Cleric) compels the victim to turn directly away from the Cleric and move as fast and as far away as possible for 3-12 rounds. When it is physically impossible for the creature to keep moving away, it will retreat to the most remote (from the Cleric) location in the area and continually face away from the Cleric and his/her holy symbol. — J. Ward, W. Niebling

So basically, it’s like the cleric telling the undead to go stand in the corner and think about what they’re done.

And now we come to the comics, and Steve Swenston‘s Pinsom.

Cool stuff.

And so ends the chronicle of February 1981’s Dragon Magazine. But what were those knuckleheads in the UK up to?

At a minimum, the White Dwarf cover for Feb/Mar 1981 (that would be #23) was putting off a very different vibe than The Dragon. It’s definitely an image with which to conjure.

This issue of WD starts a series by Lewis Pulsipher, “An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons”. Good series, and worth the read for the newcomers to the hobby – although I’ve always thought learning to play these games is much better done by joining an existing group and playing. In the early days of the hobby, though, this wasn’t always possible and many groups were learning as they went.

Next up is an interview with Marc Miller, covering his origins and the origins of Traveller. If you’re a fan, you might want to give it a look.

You might also enjoy a look at the Marc Miller of 1981 …

The “Fiend Factory” this issue has the Flymen by Daniel Collerton, with art by Russ Nicholson – great monsters, though they’re only a half-inch tall. However, with a handy shrink ray, they could give a party of adventurers plenty of trouble as they look for a way to return to normal size.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats, first for the tiny-sized fly men in a swarm, and then for the fly men as they would appear to shrunken adventurers:

Flyman, Tiny Humanoid: HD 0 (1 hp), AC 14 (20 when flying), ATK special, MV 5′ (Fly 30′), SV F16 R16 W16, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Swarm surrounds a person’s head blinding them (-4 to hit, 1d4 automatic hits per round), tiny weapons are poisoned and people have a 1 in 20 chance of being allergic and suffering ill effect; roll 1d8; 1-7 renders the area stung swollen and useless, taking 1d4 turns to set in and then lasting for 1d20+24 turns. An 8 means the character falls into a coma in 1d4 rounds and dies in 1d20+24 turns unless the venom is neutralized.

Drone, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 0 (3 hp), AC 12, ATK nil, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F13 R16 W17, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Strength of 17, semi-intelligent, 1d10+10 appearing.

Artisan, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 1, AC 12, ATK 1 weapon, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F 13 R15 W15, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Usually armed with unpoisoned daggers, their skill in metalwork surpasses the dwarves.

Warrior, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 3, AC 14 (carapace, shield), ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F12 R14 W14, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry shields, carapace like studded leather, armed with short bow, short sword, dagger, poisoned weapons (save vs. poison, if save suffer 1d6+4 damage, if fail die instantly), allergic people suffer -4 penalty to save, weapons have enough venom for 5 strikes.

Flyguard, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 9, AC 16 (chain, shield), ATK 2 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV F9 R10 W11, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry composite bow, longsword and dagger (poisoned as above), can size-change and have size rods, ride wasps.

Flymage, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 6, AC 16, ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV as 12th level magic-users, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Can size-change and have size rods, has innate powers (locate insects, summon insects, insect plague, creeping doom, size change to medium size for 30 rounds) and powers granted by their god, Ssrrpt’ck (must pray for 5 rounds).

There are five fly mages per hive, and each has extra powers depending on his role. There is the Master Attack, Master Defense, Master Healer, Master Knowledge, Master Worshiper.

The article also includes info on other types of flymen, the Northflies and Sandflies. Awesome stuff – seek it out and use it, for crying out loud. The flymen would make an incredible side trek in a dungeon or wilderness. In fact, the issue includes “The Hive of the Hrrr’l”, also by Daniel Collerton, so you’re all set.

Also: The flymen’s heads can be hollowed out and used as masks.

In addition:

Magic-User 4, Cleric 3

Range: Touch
Duration: 30 rounds

Spell causes a creature to shrink by a factor of 144 (human down to 1/2″ in height).

Spell Focus: A telescoping rod (costs 1,000 gp) that must be pushed in while the spell is being cast.

The White Dwarf isn’t done yet – you also get a new class, The Elementalist by Stephen Bland, the Khazad-class Seeker Starship for Traveller by Roger E. Moore, and A Spellcaster’s Guide to Arcane Power by Bill Milne. That last article involves a spell point system for spellcasting. There are also some keen magic items.

All in all, a really good issue of White Dwarf … in fact, I give it the nod over The Dragon this time around.

Happy Easter folks!


When I get half a second (after Blood & Treasure Second Edition and NOD 29 and Mystery Men! Second Edition), I want to write a quick book called 200 Lines about 100 Men-At-Arms. A nice random selection of folks, with some tables for names, and such. I took the time to peruse a whole crap load of Osprey plates featuring different warriors throughout time, and thought, in the meantime, I’d share how those men-at-arms were equipped.

So here’s over 400 men-at-arms and their equipment, arranged by time period (-35c means 35th century BC, 5c means 5th century AD, and I’m sure you can figure it out from there). Use them as henchmen or randomly encountered warriors or random starting gear for fighters or whatever else you can think of. If you have a d408 you’re golden. You could also roll 1d5, then either 1d100 or 1d8 to generate a random man-at-arm.

1. Sumerian heavy footman -35c Shield, spear
2. Nubian warrior -30c Shortbow, club, 20 arrows
3. Philistine heavy footman -30c Banded cuirass, short sword
4. Semite archer -19c Shortbow, battleaxe, 20 arrows
5. Syrian archer -14c Shortbow, 20 arrows
6. Hittite charioteer -13c Lamellar, shield, spear
7. Bedouin warrior -12c Sickle sword, 2 javelins
8. Sea People mercenary -12c Shield, spear, longsword
9. Egyptian heavy footman -12c Padded, shield, spear, curved knife
10. Egyptian heavy footman (ancient) -12c Shield, khopesh or battle axe
11. Libyan tribesman (ancient) -12c Short sword
12. Egyptian archer -12c Shortbow, 20 arrows
13. Nubian archer -12c Shortbow, 10 arrows
14. Sherdan warrior -12c Shield, short sword
15. Mycenaean noble -12c Dendra armor, tower shield, spear, short sword
16. Myceaean warrior, late bronze -11c Shield, battle axe, short sword
17. Myceaean warrior, late bronze -11c Shield, spear, short sword
18. Hittite warrior -9c Shield, spear
19. Assyrian footman -8c Shield, spear, dagger
20. Assyrian footman -8c Buckler, disc, spear, dagger
21. Assyrian footman -7c Shield, spear
22. Assyrian archer -7c Shortbow, short sword, 10 arrows
23. Elamite archer -7c Shortbow, 20 arrows
24. Assyrian archer -7c Lamellar shirt, shortbow, dagger, 20 arrows
25. Assyrian footman -7c Lamellar shirt, tower shield, spear
26. Assyrian horseman -7c Lamellar shirt, short bow, spear, dagger, 20 arrows
27. Assyrian royal guardsman -7c Lamellar shirt, shield or tower shield, spear
28. Persian immortal footman -6c Scale cuirass, shield, hand axe
29. Greek hoplite -5c Linothorax armor, shield, spear, dagger
30. Etruscan officer -5c Shield, disc, falchion
31. Sindo-Meothic nobleman -5c Lamellar, shield, spear, short sword, dagger
32. Scythian nobleman -5c Leather, short bow, short sword, 20 arrows
33. Scythian noblewoman -5c Leather, short bow, short sword, 20 arrows
34. Scythian heavy horseman -5c Lamellar, composite bow, horseman’s pick, 2 javelins
35. Companion horseman (Alexander the Great) -4c Light lance, short sword
36. Companion officer (Alexander the Great) -4c Scale shirt, light lance, short sword
37. Libyan archer -4c Shortbow, 10 arrows
38. Phoenician marine -4c Padded cuirass, shield, falchion, 3 javelins
39. Persian horseman -4c Battleaxe
40. Persian horseman -4c Short sword, 3 javelins
41. Persian footman -4c Shield, spear
42. Persian royal footman -4c Shield, spear, composite bow
43. Thracian heavy horseman -4c Breastplate, short sword, 2 javelins
44. Thracian light horseman -4c Buckler, 2 javelins, short sword
45. Thracian footman -4c Shield, 2 javelins, short sword
46. Thracian horseman -4c Breastplate, shield, light lance, short sword
47. Getic heavy horseman -4c Lamellar, light lance, short sword
48. Getic horse-archer -4c Composite bow, short sword, 20 arrows
49. Prodromoi horseman -3c Light lance
50. Footman -3c Battleaxe, short sword
51. Foot companion -3c Shield, spear, short sword
52. Iberian footman -2c Mail/scale shirt, spear, short sword
53. Iberian footman -2c Mail/scale shirt, shield, spear
54. Iberian horseman -2c Mail/scale shirt, buckler, light lance, short sword, barding
55. Liby-Phoenician heavy footman -2c Mail shirt, shield, spear, short sword
56. Gaul footman -1c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, spear, javelin
57. Gaul horseman -1c Longsword
58. Parthian horse-archer -1c Composite bow, 10 arrows
59. Western Han spearman -1c Lamellar breastplate, spear
60. Western Han swordsman -1c Lamellar breastplate, buckler, long sword or short sword
61. Western Hand crossbowman -1c Heavy crossbow
62. Roman warrior 1c Banded cuirass, shield, short sword, dagger, spear
63. Celtic light footman 1c Buckler, longsword
64. Han lancer 1c Lamellar breastplate, light lance, longsword
65. Han mounted archer 1c Composite bow, 10 arrows
66. Myrmillo (gladiator) 2c Shield, short sword
67. Dacian warrior 2c Scale shirt, shield, short sword
68. Persian cataphract 2c Banded mail, light lance, longsword, barding
69. Armenian cataphract 2c Chainmail + lamellar, light lance, longsword, barding
70. West Sassanian armored horseman 2c Mail shirt, composite bow, light lance, longsword, barding
71. Kushan footman 2c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword
72. Eastern Han archer 2c Short bow, 20 arrows
73. Vietnamese Auxiliary 2c Scale shirt, buckler, spear
74. Eastern Han armored foorman 2c Shortbow, short sword, 20 arrows
75. East Parthian cataphracts 3c Lamellar, light lance, composite bow, longsword
76. Parthian horse-archer 3c Composite bow, dagger
77. Clibanarius from Ahwaz 3c Mail shirt, composite bow, spear, short sword, barding
78. Three Kingdoms armored horseman 3c Scale shirt, light lance, composite bow, longsword
79. Three Kingdoms Northwest rebel footman 3c Shield, spear
80. Northern Han Dynasty catapract horseman 4c Scale, light lance, longsword, barding
81. Northern Han Dynasty armored archer 4c Scale breastplate, composite bow, 10 arrows
82. Sassanid Persian cataphract 4c Lamellar, light lance, composite bow, barding
83. Tanukhid auxiliary horseman 4c Spear, short sword
84. Alamannic warrior 4c Shield, spear, short sword, throwing axe, dagger
85. Visigoth 4c Shield, short sword, spear, javelin
86. Japanese footman 4c Lamellar breastplate, shield, spear, short sword
87. Japanese foot commander 4c Lamellar breastplate, spear, short sword
88. Hun warrior 4c Scale, spear, scimitar, composite bow, 20 arrows
89. Roman horse officer 4c Scale, shield, short sword
90. Roman sailor, Saxon short fleet 4c Short sword
91. Roman horseman 5c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, light lance
92. Roman foot officer 5c Shield, spear, longsword
93. Aksumite warrior 5c Shield, spear, short sword
94. Frankish 5c Mail shirt, buckler, short sword, spear
95. East Sassanian horseman 5c Composite bow, longsword, 10 arrows
96. Han tribal leader 5c Lamellar breastplate, composite bow, longsword
97. Ephthalite nobleman 5c Longsword
98. Saka horseman 5c Shield, longsword
99. Kushan nobleman 5c
100. Tashtyk tribesman 5c Lamellar shirt, shield, longsword, composite bow

101. Hsing-nu horseman 5c Padded + lamellar, composite bow, light lance, scimitar
102. Japanese clansman (footman) 6c Lamellar, spear, longsword
103. Lakhmid elite horseman 6c Mail shirt, composite bow, scimitar
104. Byzantine footman 6c Scale shirt, shield, longsword
105. Sassanid clibanarius 6c Lamellar, shield, footman’s mace, longsword, barding
106. Sassanid war elephant 6c Driver, archer (scale shirt, composite bow), warrior (mail shirt, 7 javelins)
107. Nomadic Iranian horse-archer 6c Composite bow, short sword, light lance
108. Chionite-Ephthalite horse-archer 6c Buckler, composite bow, 3 javelins, 20 arrows
109. Byzantine footman 6c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword
110. Northern Ch’I Dynasty armored footman 6c Leather, shield, longsword
111. Northern Wei Dynasty frontier guard 6c Padded armor, shield, spear
112. Sui Dynasty guardsman 6c Breasplate, greatsword
113. Liang Dynasty armored horseman 6c Scale, light lance, longsword, composite bow, barding
114. Liang Dynasty swordsman 6c Shield, longsword
115. Arab footman 7c Mail shirt, shield, spear, short sword
116. Persian horse-archer 7c Leather coat, composite bow, longsword, dagger, 10 arrows, barding
117. Avar heavy horseman 7c Lamellar, light lance, scimitar, barding
118. Slavic tribal footman 7c Shield, handaxe, 2 javelins
119. Sassanian aswar in Yemen 7c Lamellar shirt, shield, longsword
120. Sassanian aswar officer in Oman 7c Mail shirt, composite bow, longsword, light lance
121. Arab boy warrior 7c Shortbow, 5 arrows
122. Khurasani heavy horseman 7c Lamellar, buckler, light lance, scimitar, composite bow, barding
123. Sassanid clibanarius 7c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, barding
124. Umayyad elite horseman 7c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, light lance, longsword
125. Umayyad light horseman, Egypt 7c Light lance, longsword
126. Pictish horseman 7c Scale shirt, spear, short sword, 3 darts
127. Pictish footman 7c Buckler, short sword, spear, 3 javelins
128. Iberian horseman 8c Mail shirt, shield, light lance, longsword
129. Arab officer 8c Shield, longsword
130. Ghulum cavalry guardsman (Abbasid Empire) 8c Composite bow, dagger, 40 arrows
131. Abna footman (Abbasid Empire) 8c Mail shirt, 2 javelins, dagger
132. Transoxanian Turk horseman 8c Lamellar shirt, scimitar, composite bow, 10 arrows
133. Umayyad infantry guardsman 8c Mail shirt, shield, spear
134. Umayyad infantry guardsman 8c Scale, shield, longsword
135. Umayyad cavalry guardsman 8c Buckler, light lance
136. Umayyad infantry archer 8c Composite bow, footman’s mace
137. Japanese footman 8c Padded, short sword
138. Khirgiz horseman 9c Lamellar breastplate, shield, light lance, scimitar
139. Khirgiz tribal horseman 9c Lamellar breastplate, light lance, longsword, composite bow, 10 arrows
140. Khirgiz tribesman (mounted) 9c Lamellar, longsword, composite bow, barding
141. Alan nobleman 9c Composite bow, scimitar, dagger, 10 arrows
142. Khazar horseman 9c Chainmail, light lance, hand axe, scimitar
143. Khwarazm Muslim mercenary 9c Mail shirt, shield, spear, dagger
144. Berber footman 9c Lamellar, buckler, longsword, spear, 2 javelins
145. Sindi horseman 9c Buckler, battleaxe
146. Transoxanian horse-archer 9c Lamellar, buckler, spear, longsword, composite bow
147. Egyptian horseman 9c Scale, spear, hand axe, longsword
148. Eastern Kiev tribal warrior 9c Padded, spear
149. Scandinavian merchant-venturer 9c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe
150. Eastern Magyar horseman 9c Lamellar, buckler, light lance, longsword
151. Japanese sohei 10c Naginata, scimitar
152. Hamdanid horseman 10c Scale shirt, shield, light lance, short sword
153. Muslim-Armenian frontiersman 10c Padded, shield, battleaxe
154. Malatya frontier warrior 10c Padded, shield, short sword
155. Saljuq Turcoman horse-archer 10c Buckler, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
156. Bedouin auxiliary 10c Buckler, short sword
157. Arab tribesman 10c Buckler, light mace, dagger
158. Varangian guard 10c Chainmail, lamellar, shield, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
159. Nubian footman 10c Padded, shield, spear
160. Rus mercenary 10c Shield, poleaxe, longsword
161. Scandinavian mercenary 10c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword, dagger
162. Anglo-Danish warrior 10c Short bow, battleaxe, dagger, 10 arrows
163. Byzantine skutatos 10c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword
164. Byzantine peltastos 10c Padded, shield, spear, 2 javelins, short sword
165. Byzantine skutatos 10c Lamellar/mail, shield, spear, short sword
166. Azerbaijan footman 10c Lamellar, shield, spear, scimitar
167. Byzantine cataphract (klivanophoros) 10c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, battleaxe, longsword, barding
168. Byzantine footman 10c Padded, shield, hand axe
169. Byzantine scutatoi spearman 10c Chainmail + scale, shield, spear
170. Andalusian footman 10c Padded, buckler, spear, short sword
171. Berber-Andalusian light horseman 10c Buckler, spear
172. Byzantine kataphractos 10c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword, dagger
173. Khazar-Kagan horseman 10c Composite bow, longsword or warhammer
174. Saxon housecarl 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword, pole axe
175. Andalusian horseman 11c Chainmail, buckler, spear, short sword
176. Andalusian infantry archer 11c Mail shirt, composite bow, 20 arrows
177. German knight 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword
178. Norman knight 11c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
179. Bohemian footman 11c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
180. Polish heavy horseman 11c Scale, shield, light lance, longsword, hand axe
181. Italo-Norman mercenary horseman 11c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
182. Italo-Norman mercenary footman 11c Scale mail, shield, longsword
183. Northern Italy horseman 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword, light lance
184. Northern Italy urban militia 11c Chainmail, shield, spear
185. Northern Italy rural militia 11c Footman’s mace, dagger
186. Hiberno-Norse jarl 11c Spear, javelin, short sword
187. Varangian guardsman 11c Chainmail, shield, poleaxe, longsword
188. Kiev commander 11c Lamellar, longsword, light mace
189. Kiev warrior 11c Lamellar, shield, longsword
190. Kiev urban militiaman 11c Shield, battleaxe
191. Fatimid Caliphal guard 11c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, 2 javelins
192. Sahara tribal horseman 11c Spear
193. Fatimid horseman 11c Lamellar shirt, buckler, spear
194. Fatimid urban militiaman 11c Padded, buckler, glaive
195. Byzantine kataphractos 11c Scale shirt, shield, pike, longsword
196. Japanese sohei 12c Lamellar, glaive, short sword
197. Italo-Norman nobleman 12c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
198. Sicilo-Norman crossbowman 12c Chainmail, light crossbow, short sword, 10 bolts
199. Sicilian reduta 12c Scale shirt, spear, dagger
200. Byzantine skutatos 12c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword

201. Norwegian backwoodsman 12c Padded, shield, longsword
202. Swedish crossbowman 12c Lamellar, shield, spear, light crossbow, 20 bolts
203. Norwegian knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
204. Danish knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
205. Danish footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, longsword
206. Danish militia footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe
207. Volga Bulgar horseman 12c Mail shirt, light lance, scimitar, hand axe
208. Kipchaq horseman 12c Mail shirt + lamellar, composite bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
209. Seljuk mercenary footman 12c Mail shirt, buckler, horseman’s mace, longsword
210. Lotharingian footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, longsword
211. German knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
212. Heavy footman 12c Chainmail, shield, spear, longsword
213. Veronese footman 12c Chainmail, shield, spear, longsword
214. German knight 12c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
215. Italian knight 12c Chainmail, shield, horseman’s mace, longsword
216. Milanese footman 12c Shield, falchion
217. Seljuk horse-archer 12c Composite bow, longsword
218. Bedouin warrior 13c Mail shirt, buckler, spear, short sword
219. Mongol light archer 13c Padded, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
220. Mongol heavy horseman 13c Lamellar, shield, scimitar, horseman’s mace, hand axe, barding
221. Iraqi footman 13c Chainmail, spear, short sword
222. Anatolian footman 13c Mail shirt, shield, spear
223. Anatolian horseman 13c Chainmail, composite bow, horseman’s axe, curved knife, 10 arrows
224. Ghulam heavy horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, spear, short sword
225. Western Russian horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword, 3 javelins
226. Boyar nobleman 13c Chainmail, longsword
227. South-Eastern Russian horseman 13c Chainmail, shield, composite bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
228. Khwarazmian horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, light lance, short sword, composite bow, barding
229. Mamluk askari 13c Shield, longsword
230. Mamluk askari horseman 13c Shield, spear
231. Mamluk amir 13c Chainmail, buckler, spear, longsword
232. Mamluk askari 13c Buckler, composite bow, longsword, 10 arrows
233. Sicilian Saracen archer 13c Padded shirt, shortbow, 10 arrows, longsword
234. Sicilian Saracen archer 13c Padded shirt, buckler, shortbow, 10 arrows, longsword
235. Sicilian Saracen horse-archer 13c Shield, composite bow
236. Sicilian crossbowman 13c Light crossbow, dagger
237. Syrian amir 13c Chainmail, longsword
238. Templar knight 13c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, longsword
239. Tunisian Berber bodyguard 13c Lamellar breastplate, shield, spear, longsword
240. Turcoman auxiliary footman 13c Buckler, battleaxe
241. Turkish archer 13c Composite bow
242. Knight 13c Chainmail, buckler, longsword
243. Almohad elite warrior 13c Mail shirt, shield, footman’s mace, longsword, dagger
244. Danish sergeant 13c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, spear
245. Danish rural levy 13c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe, short bow, 20 arrows
246. Danish knight 13c Chainmai, buckler, light lance, longsword
247. Russian crossbowman 13c Mail shirt, light crossbow, short sword
248. Urban militiaman 13c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
249. Light foot archer 13c Padded, battleaxe, shortbow, 20 arrows
250. Knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
251. Southern French sergeant 13c Chainmail, shield, battleaxe, longsword
252. French royal knight 13c Chainmail, shield
253. Southern French crossbowman 13c Padded, heavy crossbow, dagger
254. Braboncon knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
255. Braboncon mercenary horseman 13c Padded, short bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
256. Cuman auxiliary footman 13c Chainmail, leather apron, shield, spear, longsword
257. French squire 13c Padded, dagger
258. Mongolian foot officer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, scimitar
259. Mongolian archer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows
260. Mongolian heavy mounted archer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows, barding, scimitar
261. Mongolian light mounted archer 13c Leather, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
262. German knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
263. German knight 13c Chainmail, leather apron, shield, bastard sword, longsword
264. Berber archer 13c Shortbow, dagger, 20 arrows
265. Berber horseman 13c Shield, light lance, short sword, dagger
266. Spanish crossbowman 13c Mail shirt, shield, light crossbow, short sword
267. Byzantine footman 13c Shield, scimitar
268. Epirote Byzantine footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, composite bow, scimitar, spear
269. Byzantine Bulgarian footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, scimitar
270. Mamluk Khassaki horseman 14c Lamellar, shield, longsword
271. Amir’s mamluk horseman 14c Light lance
272. Halqa trooper horseman 14c Lamellar breastplate, composite bow, handaxe, 10 arrows
273. Mamluk horse-archer 14c Padded, buckler, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
274. Mamluk heavy horseman 14c Lamellar, battleaxe, short sword
275. Mongol refugee footman 14c Lamallar shirt, composite bow, spear, 10 arrows
276. Grenadine mounted crossbowman 14c Light crossbow, dagger
277. Grenadine qadi 14c Longsword, holy book
278. Grenadine light horseman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, spear, longsword
279. Hussite footman 14c Padded, shield, godentag, longsword
280. Hussite handgunner 14c Padded, shield, handgonne, longsword, dagger
281. French crossbowman 14c Mail shirt, shield, medium crossbow, dagger
282. French militiaman 14c Chainmail, shield, footman’s mace, dagger
283. Southern French light footman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, longsword, dagger
284. Serbian auxiliary horseman 14c Mail shirt + lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows, light lance, longsword
285. Bulgarian auxiliary footman 14c Padded, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar, dagger
286. Western Russian light horseman 14c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, light lance, scimitar
287. Western Russian heavy horseman 14c Platemail, shield, bastard sword, barding
288. Novgorod urban horseman 14c Mail shirt, shield, battle axe, scimitar, composite bow
289. Turkish sipahi 14c Mail shirt, shield, horseman’s mace, composite bow, 10 arrows
290. Knight 14c Platemail, buckler, longsword
291. Swiss knight 14c Plate armor, heavy lance, longsword, dagger
292. Bohemian archer 14c Longbow, dagger, 20 arrows
293. German footman 14c Mail & plate, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
294. Central Italian horseman 14c Mail & plate, longsword, shield, dagger
295. German knight 14c Chainmail, longsword, shield, dagger
296. Catalan man-at-arms 14c Platemail, shield, longsword
297. North Italian footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, dagger
298. North Italian crossbowman 14c Padded, buckler, light crossbow, short sword
299. Venetian footman 14c Mail & plate, shield, longsword
300. Lombard knight 14c Platemail, longsword, dagger

301. North Italian handgunner 14c Handgonne, dagger
302. Italian heavy footman 14c Platemail, glaive
303. Knight 14c Chainmail, shield, longsword, light lance
304. Footman 14c Chainmail, shield, spear, short sword
305. Crossbowman 14c Chain & scale, longsword, light crossbow, 10 bolts
306. English crossbowman 14c Mail shirt, heavy crossbow, dagger, 20 bolts
307. English archer 14c Padded, longbow, pole arm (guisarme), 20 arrows
308. Italian army commander 14c Chainmail, longsword
309. Austrian man-at-arms 14c Platemail, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
310. English bowman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, longbow, short sword
311. Footman 14c Platemail, shield, falchion, dagger
312. Byzantine light footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, longsword
313. Byzantine horseman 14c Chainmail, shield, longsword, dagger
314. Golden Horde Mongol horseman 14c Lamellar, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
315. English footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, bardiche, short sword
316. English footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, warhammer, short sword
317. English footman 14c Padded doublet, buckler, hand axe, dagger
318. West Anatolian footman 14c Chainmail, shield, spear, dagger
319. Ottoman Gazi 14c Lamellar, shield, composite bow
320. Turcoman tribal horseman 14c Padded, shield, composite bow, longsword
321. Timur’s cavalry officer 14c Chainmail, composite bow, light lance
322. Timur’s Tarkhan ‘hero’ 14c Platemail, composite bow, light lance, scimitar, barding
323. English longbowman 15c Unarmored, longbow, dagger, 40 arrows
324. Crossbowman 15c Padded, heavy crossbow, 10 bolts, shield, dagger
325. English archer 15c Mail shirt, longbow, longsword
326. Knight 15c Chainmail, shield, longsword, dagger
327. Handgunner 15c Mail shirt, handgonne, dagger
328. Mounted archer 15c Padded, longsword, short bow
329. Longbowman 15c Padded, dagger, longbow
330. Muscovite horse archer 15c Mail shirt, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
331. Muscovite musketeer 15c Padded, musket, dagger
332. Muscovite officer 15c Platemail, buckler, scimitar
333. Danish man-at-arms 15c Platemail, longsword, dagger
334. Danish handgunner 15c Platemail, musket, warhammer
335. Danish militia crossbowman 15c Platemail, heavy crossbow, longsword, 10 bolts
336. Italian knight 15c Platemail, longsword, dagger
337. Italian light footman 15c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
338. Artilleryman 15c Padded, dagger, bombard
339. Eastern Russia horseman 15c Lamellar/mail, light lance, shield, scimitar
340. Eastern Russia prince on horse 15c Lamellar (gilded), longsword, dagger
341. Byzantine varangopoulos 15c Platemail, buckler, bastard sword
342. English guardsman 15c Chainmail, shield, pole axe, longsword
343. Cretan guardsman 15c Mail shirt, shield, spear, longsword
344. Knight 15c Plate mail, longsword
345. English man-at-arms 15c Plate armor, halberd, longsword
346. Knight 15c Plate armor, horseman’s mace, barding
347. Mounted crossbowman 15c Mail shirt, breastplate, light crossbow, longsword
348. Flemish mercenary footman 15c Platemail, pike, longsword
349. Ottoman-Balkan yaya 15c Padded, spear, scimitar, dagger
350. Ottoman footman 15c Chainmail, shield, hand axe, scimitar
351. Man-at-arms 15c Plate armor, glaive, longsword, dagger
352. Serbian knight 15c Platemail, shield, longsword
353. Balkan light horseman (stradiot) 15c Padded, buckler, light lance, scimitar
354. Balkan heavy horseman 15c Plate armor, scimitar
355. Balkan footman 15c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
356. Acemi Oglan 16c Musket, scimitar
357. Billman 16c Padded, billhook, longsword
358. Archer 16c Longbow, dagger
359. Soldier 16c Breastplate, polearm (guisarme), shortsword
360. Inca general 16c Shield, spear, light mace
361. Inca general 16c Spear, light mace
362. Inca warrior 16c Shield, battleaxe
363. Maya general 16c Spear
364. Maya warrior 16c Buckler, spear
365. Maya peasant levy 16c Buckler, sling
366. Aztec archer 16c Shield, shortbow
367. Aztec peasant levy 16c Shield, club, spear
368. Aztec allied captain 16c Pole arm
369. Mexica cuahchic 16c Buckler, obsidian axe-sword
370. Mexica warrior priest 16c Buckler, obsidian axe-sword
371. Triple Alliance warrior 16c Padded shirt, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
372. Triple Alliance jaguar warrior 16c Padded, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
373. Aztec soldier 16c Buckler, spear
374. Mexica captain 16c Padded, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
375. Spanish tercio 16c ¾ plate, shield, longsword (estoc)
376. Spanish musketeer 16c Padded shirt, longsword, musket
377. Spanish footman 16c Padded shirt, longsword, spear
378. Spanish hargulatie 16c Arquebus, pistol, longsword
379. Spanish lancer 16c ¾ plate, heavy lance, pistol, longsword
380. German reiter 16c ¾ plate, pistol, longsword
381. Spanish conquistador 16c Padded shirt, buckler, longsword
382. Aztec eagle warrior 16c Padded armor, shield, obsidian ax-sword
383. British petty-captain of foot 16c Mail shirt, ox tongue, longsword
384. British landsknecht captain 16c ¾ plate, spear, longsword
385. Irish auxiliary footman 16c Longsword, 2 javelins
386. Irish border horseman 16c Mail shirt, shield, light lance, dagger
387. Irish galloglass 16c Mail shirt, greatsword
388. Irish kern 16c Padded shirt, glaive
389. Polish hussar 16c ¾ plate (or banded), shield, pistol or dragon, scimitar
390. Polish musketeer 16c Mail shirt, scimitar, musketeer
391. Mamluk Khassaki 16c Chainmail, shield, battleaxe, scimitar
392. Mamluk Qaranis 16c Chainmail, composite bow, 20 arrows, spear
393. Mamluk African handgunner 16c Mail shirt, musket
394. British pikeman 16c Padded coat, pike, longsword
395. British demilance (horseman) 16c ¾ plate, light lance (demilance), longsword
396. British soldier 16c Godentag, longsword
397. British halberdier 16c ¾ plate, halberd, longsword
398. British archer 16c Longbow, dagger, 20 arrows
399. British captain of foot 16c ¾ plate, longsword, dagger
400. Irish gallowglass 16c Mail shirt, greatsword, dagger

401. Irish kern 16c Glaive, short sword
402. Cossack horseman 17c Chainmail, scimitar
403. Winged Tatar uhlan 17c Padded, spear, scimitar
404. Comman Tatar horseman 17c Composite bow, 20 arrows
405. Cossack 17c Musket, scimitar, bardiche or footman’s flail
406. Polish winged hussar 17c ½ plate (banded), heavy lance, scimitar, longsword
407. Ottoman imperial guardsman 17c Buckler, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
408. Ottoman footman 17c Chainmail, spear, shield, short sword

Dragon by Dragon – January 1981 (45)

A new year! 1981!

Inflation was rough as hell, but if you could scrape it together you could get a new Tandy TRS 80 PC for $150 (or $390 in today’s dollars). This year would see the release of the hostages in Iran, the first flight of the space shuttle Columbia and an attempted assassination of President Reagan.

For the geek set, it was an embarrassment of riches in the movie theaters – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mad Max 2, Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Halloween, Escape from New York, Clash of the Titans, Time Bandits, Scanners, Excalibur, Dragonslayer and, of course, the finest film ever made, Cannonball Run.

How did the venerable Dragon kick off 1981? Let’s see …

From the art in the first article, it would appear it was stinking up the place.

Actually, Robert Plamondon‘s article “Gas ’em Up and Smoke ’em Out” reviews how gases and smoke would work in a dungeon environment. It’s a sign of the times, as Old School (which I now realize means pre-1980) gaming gives way bit by bit to realism, at least for game designers and article writers. Here’s a sample:

“Using the rule-of-thumb design specs of 500 cubic feet per person of room volume and 24 cubic feet per minute per person of ventilating air, and applying a little algebra, we find that the ratio of incoming air volume to room volume is about 1:20.83.”

This article uses a little math and engineering, but also comes across with some useful bits for referees:

  • A room with standard ventilation will take about 2 hours and 20 minutes for poison gas or smoke to go away. Even without ventilation, poison gas will eventually react with everything in the room and become harmless.
  • Poison gas costs between 1,000 gp and 6,000 gp per trap.
  • Gas masks should be easy for an alchemist and leather worker to put together, but inventing them will take 2d4 months and 1d6+1 x 1,000 gp, with a 50% chance of success.
  • A successful save vs. poison gas means holding one’s breath and escaping the gas. A failed save means breathing the gas and dying. Initially one falls unconscious and dies 5 rounds later.
  • People who know about the presence of poison gas get a +4 bonus to save against it.

Plamondon also provides a nice table of poison gases, which may come in just as handy for modern games and fantasy games:

Oh, and THIS GUY might be the Robert Plamondon of the article.

The Dragon Tooth miniatures ad would make a nice deep dungeon encounter table:

Roll d20

  1. High Elfin Hero-King in Dragon Helm (Elf Fighter 8/Magic-User 7, helm controls dragons, longsword, chainmail, shield)
  2. Rogue or Thief, Skulkingly Caped (Human Thief 1 or 9, rapier and dagger)
  3. Sorcerer, Sorcerering or Sorceress, Sorcerering (Human Magic-User 9, staff)
  4. Swordswoman armed with Sword and Spear (Human Fighter 3, longsword and glaive)
  5. Rictus, the Zombie King (Zombie with 10 HD, scimitar, skeletal horse)
  6. Swordsman Kane, in Scale Armour (Human Fighter 3, sword, scale mail)
  7. Cleric in Mitred Helmet Armed with Mace in Scale Armour (Human Cleric 9, footman’s mace, chainmail)
  8. Fool or Jester, Armed with Sword (Human Bard 4, longsword)
  9. Bard or Harpist with Harp and Armed with Sword (Human Bard 8, longsword)
  10. Swordsman Roland with Sword and Shield in Scale Armour (Human Fighter 3, short sword, scale mail)
  11. Elfin Enchanter, Enchanting (Human Magic-User 7)
  12. Female Thief or Rogue, Caped and Thieving (Human Thief 1 or 9, rapier)
  13. Silent Stalker, Stalking (honestly, your guess is as good as mine, but I love it)
  14. Gladius-Hero in Roman-Style Armour (Human Fighter 4, breastplate, shield, short sword)
  15. Barbarian Hero wearing Vulture Helmet and Fur (Human Fighter 4, scimitar, leather armor and shield)
  16. Rachir, the Red Archer-Ranger/Fighter with Bow (Human Ranger 3, composite bow, long sword, leather armor, shield)
  17. High Elfin Warrior Maiden Armed with Sword (Elf Fighter 4, broadsword, chainmail)
  18. Gundar the Barbarian with Axe and Sword (Human Fighter 9, leather armor, battle axe, longsword)
  19. Subotai the Mongol-Swordsman with Shield (Human Fighter 3, scimitar, dagger, chainmail, shield)
  20. Swashbuckler Fighter with Cutlass and Dagger (Human Fighter 5, scimitar, dagger)

Next up, we have a couple old school NPC classes – the Astrologer by Roger E. Moore and the Alchemist by Roger E. Moore and Georgia Moore. These are nice and short classes, and could probably be adapted as non-classed NPCs with interesting abilities by most GM’s. Of course, I’d also love to see them used as PC’s in a game.

Here’s a taste of the astrologer:

Here’s a nice bit from the alchemist class:

“For the creation of homonculi, it is suggested that Pseudo-Dragon venom and Gargoyle blood be among, the. required ingredients, as well as the Magic-User’s own blood, since these items bear some relationship to a Homonculous’s poisonous bite and appearance. Costs and time for making a Homonculous are outlined in the Monster Manual.”

And this:

“Formulas for manufacturing cockatrices may be found in L. Sprague de Camp’s book, The Ancient Engineers, Chapter 9, “The European Engineers.” Additional notes appear in The Worm Ouroborous, by E. R. Eddison, “Conjuring in the Iron Tower.” Note that de Camp’s book refers to the cockatrice as a “basilisk,” and tells of an alchemical way of making gold from burnt “basilisk” parts.”

One more reason to read Eddison’s book, and now I want to find de Camp’s as well.

Oh Hell, and this:

“At the Dungeon Master’s option, cloning may be performed by biogenesis-studying Alchemists; this should be considered a very powerful (and very rarely performed) ability that will entail expenditures of 100,000 g.p. or more.”

Philip Meyers‘ article “Magic Items for Everyman” covers random magic items for NPC’s. They’re quite extensive and worth taking a look at.

Bazaar of the Bizarre has a couple nifty magic items. The Eidolon of Khalk’Ru is a real pip if you have a cleric or magic-user in the party (and who doesn’t?). There’s also the Bell of Pavlov, box of many holdings, ruby slippers, ring of oak and pet rocks – man I want to pit a guy with three pet rocks up against an unsuspecting party.

But hey – we’re not done with new classes yet. Len Lakofka presents a new fighter or ranger sub-class, the Archer. Really, it’s the archer, a fighter sub-class, and the archer-ranger, a ranger sub-class. This is accompanied by whole host of advanced rules for missile fire in D&D.

Archers get fewer melee attacks per round than fighters and more missile attacks than fighters. They get an additional +1 with magic bows and arrows. If their intelligence is 9 or higher, they also learn some magic-user spells at 7th level. At 3rd level they learn to make arrows, and they learn to make bows at 5th level.

The main bonus for archers are bonuses to hit and damage, which get pretty big at high levels.

The big feature of this issue was the Dragon Dungeon Design Kit – a bunch of cardboard pieces you could use to create tabletop maps of the dungeon rooms adventurers encountered. You got wall sections, treasure chests and all sorts of dungeon dressing.

Michael Kluever‘s article “Castles, Castles Everywhere” is a nicely researched article about castles. Worth the read.

Roger E. Moore is back again with “How To Have a Good Time Being Evil”, a lighthearted look at the subject. Think over-the-top silver age comic book evil rather than the genuine article. One bit I especially liked was this, as it is a good description of the Chaotic / Evil alignment:

“Now for the group goals. Anyone who’s played Monsters! Monsters! already knows what the goal is in an evil campaign. The goal is to beat up on the good guys. The goody-good Paladins, sneaky Rangers, and less-than-macho elves are going to get what they deserve. What right have they got, breaking into our lairs, killing our underlings and friends, and taking away the treasures we worked so hard to steal? Besides, what we’re doing is the way of the universe. Only the strong survive. Nice guys finish last. I’m number one. If you help all the wimps get ahead in the universe, you undo natural selections and evolution, which is trying to make us tougher. Might makes right. And so on. Working up the goals and general background philosophy of an evil campaign is not difficult (and is actually a little disturbing, as some people say such things in seriousness. How little we know about our own alignments …)”

I think the true test of a great monster is great art. Well, maybe not, but a nice piece of art makes we want to use a monster, regardless of its stats. To whit, the skyzorr’n by Jon Mattson:

Art by Willingham, of course. It’s actually not a bad beastie – nomadic insect people.

Skyzorr’n, Medium Monstrous Humanoid: HD 2+1, AC 16, MV 20′, ATK 1d4 claws (1d4) or 1d2 by weapon; AL Chaotic (LE), Special–Bite for 1d4+1 plus poison, surprise 1-3 on 1d6, immune to natural paralysis (not spells) and 90% of poisons, +2 to save vs. heat and cold attacks, resistance to edged and piercing weapons.

They inhabit deserts and badlands in hive communities (70% underground). They are matriarchal, ruled by queens (they look like grotesque bloated spiders) with High intelligence. They use weapons 50% of the time (longswords, scimitars, military forks, spears and slings). If two claw attacks hit, they get a bite attack. The poison deals 1 point of Strength and Dexterity damage for 2d4 turns.

Read the issue to get the full description – very cool. They also have sand lizards by Marcella Peyre-Ferry and dust devils by Bruce Sears.

I wonder if WOTC would consider making a monster book with all of these creatures in it?

Well – that’s all folks. No White Dwarf supplement this time, since it was bi-monthly. I’ll hit it next week (God willing and the creek don’t rise).

Dragon by Dragon – August 1980 (40)

It’s chilly outside, but this edition of Dragon by Dragon goes back to the balmy summer days of 1980, with the August issue of Dragon! Fantasy and sci-fi films were all the rage in August 1980, from Smokey & the Bandit II to Xanadu to Final Countdown. Well, the last two are fantasy/sci-fi. The first is sort of fantastic.

Let’s see what fantasy & sci-fi offerings the good folks at TSR were serving up …



A letter to the editor:

“Dear Editor:
I must get it off my chest: Why do you print so many modules? I agree that it’s a nice concept, a magazine and a module for only $3.00, but there are some people who could do without them and be able to afford this almost perfect magazine. If you must put a filler of some sort in here, why not. make it a game?”

Apparently, the modules were “filler”.


I’ve seen some interest in Boot Hill and western RPGs recently on Google+, so I thought this ad might be of interest:

I’ve seen many Boot Hill articles, but this is the first ad I remember seeing.


This will sound odd to some readers, but one of the things I like about early D&D was the lack of desire to make it immersive and real. There was already that strain in some players and game masters, but the early breed seemed content to play it as a game that didn’t have to make much sense. Characters had crazy names and did crazy things.

Thus my appreciation for “The Dueling Room” article by Jeff Swycaffer. It’s a place for two players to pit their characters against one another. Why? Because it sounds like fun. Because my character can beat up your character – no he can’t – yes he can – prove it!

Naturally, the dueling room has some random tables attached to it, because the room changes as the duel proceeds, including some “odd events” like fireballs bursting into the room and absolute, unalterable darkness for 6-11 turns. Sounds like fun.

I seem to remember some folks on G+ doing a D&D fight club – this would be the perfect arena for fights like that.

I think I’ll put designing something similar on my list of articles I need to finish for this poor, neglected blog.


“Digging the burial mound or building the funeral pyre requires 1-6 hours of labor, depending on the softness of the soil and the availability of firewood. Another 1-3 hours is required for preparation of the body, final rites and actual interment or cremation.” – George Laking

Now you know.


Flaming oil (and it’s modern cousin alchemist’s fire) have long been popular because they seem like a way to break the melee rules and kill things that would otherwise be difficult to kill. My players have hurled or prepared to hurl flaming oil quite a few times.

“Don’t Drink This Cocktail – Throw It!” by Robert Plamondon is an examination of the stuff. This is one of those articles that deeply explored a D&D concept … to death one might say. The desire to make gaming very complex was there from the start, and the cycle of “more complexity” to “more simplicity” is ongoing. I’m old and crusty enough now that I’m pretty thoroughly stuck in the “keep it simple” camp.

Still, as long as this article is, the rules are pretty easy to boil down:

Only you can prevent fire damage

1 – Make attack roll. If you miss, roll d12 to determine which direction (1 = “1 o’clock”) it goes.

2 – Roll d20 – on a “1” it didn’t break, on a “2” it didn’t light.

3 – If you hit, you score 2d6 damage in round one, and 1d6 in round two.

4 – Splash is3′, creatures get a saving throw (vs. poison) or take 3 damage. Armor doesn’t help.

The article touches upon the flammability of dungeons, and then includes this gem:

“Additionally, rumor has it that pyromaniac players are sometimes attacked by a huge bear in a flat-brim hat who fights with a +6 shovel.”


Roger E. Moore presents a number of additional were creatures in this article: Werelions, wereleopards, werejaguars, weresabres (as in sabre-tooth tigers), weredires (as in dire wolves), wererams, wereweasels, weresloths (yep), werebadgers and werebisons.

Not a bad collection. I often just hand wave alternate were creatures and use the existing were creature stats I think are closest – such as using the werewolf for a wereleopard, but why not use this quick and easy chart of monster stats instead:

And dig that werejaguar illustration that accompanied the article.


I thought this ad was unique:

I’m guessing the art for Spellbinder was late …


The article “Giving the Undead an Even Break” by Steve Melancon starts as follows:

“A 22nd-level Mage Lich approaches a band of adventurers. Suddenly, an 8th-level Cleric presents himself forcefully. The DM rolls 19 on a 20-sided die, and the Lich runs in terror.

Such a scene is ridiculous.”

Is it? If the game is meant to be “realistic” to you, or you’re looking for high drama, I suppose it is. If you’re playing a game, then it’s not so bad. Clerics turn undead. The lich is undead. So be it. Monopoly is equally ridiculous, but it’s just a game. So what?

If this does bother you, though, this article might help. It uses a percentile roll for turning undead, to make the tough undead harder to turn. There’s some cross referencing involved as well.

Personally, I’d just allow “name-level” undead a saving throw against the turning effect, giving them another chance to resist. Simpler, probably just as effective.


Paul Montgomery Crabaugh wrote a nice little article on globe hopping for international spies, for the Top Secret game. It’s nothing fancy, just a d% table of 100 “fun” places to visit on a spy adventure. The game master can use it to help design a convoluted plot – roll for a starting point, then roll three or four more times for where clues might lead … with a few false clues thrown in to make it tough. I won’t reproduce the table here, but check out the issue and the article, especially if you’re doing a Cold War spy game.


There’s a long article in this issue about how fantasy worlds should operate, which is interesting but, really, “say’s who?” It is a worthwhile article to read, though, with some neat concepts and tables – again, I suggest one find a copy of the magazine – but what I wanted to point out was an early piece by Jim Holloway for TSR.

If I had the money, and the interest was out there, I’d love to do an expanded Sinew & Steel with art like this in it.


Read more about it


Josh Susser created a pretty cool monster for this issue. The fire-eye lizard is something like a tiny dragon (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo or violet) with blazing, luminescent eyes it can use to blind creatures. It can also make a prismatic sphere of its own color that lasts for 3

turns. Lizards of different colors can cooperate to add layers to the sphere or lizards of the same color can make larger spheres with a longer duration.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats:

Fire-Eye Lizard, Tiny Magical Beast: HD 1+2 (females 1+3); AC 16; ATK 1 bite (1d4 for males or 1d4+1 for females); MV 5 (F120, S30); F16 R13 W16; XP 100; Special-Blind, prismatic sphere.

I also dig Ed Greenwood’s wingless wonder (illustration to the right), but would mostly love to play one in a game. Here are the quick stats:

Wingless Wonder, Small Aberration: HD 2+2; AC 12; ATK 9 or 12 tentacles (1 + constrict); MV 20; F16 R15 W13; XP 200; Special-Radiate continuous anti-magic shell, immune to fire, eats gems (cannot digest them, 1d4+4 in stomach), psionic blast when killed (-4 to save).

The issue also has stats for Pat Rankin’s flitte and Lewis Pulsipher’s huntsmen.

#8 through #10 … well, nothing. Not as much caught my interest this issue. There were some magic items for Runequest, and some D&D magic items folks might like, and the aforementioned very long article about making faerie “real” in your campaign worlds. Tom Wham also wrote some additions for The Awful Green Things from Outer Space.

See you next time, hopefully with some new content for your game.

Dragon by Dragon – July 1980 (39)

It’s been too long since I did a review of The Dragon. Between work and trying to write/edit a few games, Sundays have been just packed, but today I’m diving back in. This week, we’re examining The Dragon #39, released in July of 1980. I can remember those days. I was 8, and I think the entire country was just about fed up with the 1970’s. Despite what you might have picked up in a revisionist history class, the 1970’s sucked. Hard. In RPG land, though, things were heating up – new companies, new games, and TSR and D&D were about to hit the heights.

So, what did July’s issue have to offer? Let’s check out this edition’s Top 10 cool things.

As we often do, we start with an advertisement. This time from Iron Crown Enterprises. I’m trying to remember if I’d seen an I.C.E. advertisement in The Dragon yet, and I don’t think I have. God knows, we’ll see plenty in the issues ahead.

I must say, there’s a bit of humor in an ad that looks like that and boasts about “fine graphics”.

They also left their state off the address – did everyone know where Charlottesville was back in the day?

Anyhow – they would go on to produce some pretty good material – from tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow.


Here’s a sign of the times:

“Snap! Crackle! Zap! THE DRAGON computes! Recently, we’ve acquired a TRS-80 computer here at THE DRAGON (for those of you into home computers, it’s the Level II with 16K memory, a 16K expansion interface, two floppy-disc drives, and a printer). In addition to using it in conjunction with Mark Herro’s ‘Electric Eye’ column, we’ll now be able to look at a few of the plethora of game programs now available on the commercial market, and (hopefully) do some reviewing on our own. Please hold off on sending us your own home-brew programs for a bit yet; we’ll have our hands full with what’s on the market already. But electronic gaming is looming on the gaming horizon, and THE DRAGON is going to be ready for it.”

Personally, I don’t think electronic gaming will ever catch on.


Fantasysmith did some really nice miniatures articles, and the art was always top notch. This one in particular deserves an airing after 35 years:

The one thing left off this guideline: Be good at painting. When I did the miniatures thing, I had no problem choosing the goal  … I was just often less than successful in getting there.


Really, this should be Cool #1, because this article by George Laking and Tim Mesford introduces a “beloved” element of old school gaming – The Anti-Paladin!

We start with awesome art (not sure who drew it), and then move on to the class itself.

The anti-paladin was an NPC class, meaning it couldn’t be used by players. To that end, it gives a guide on rolling up the anti-paladin’s scores, using 12+1d6 for strength, for example, or 10+1d8 for constitution. Charisma has a special formula that uses 1d4: a “1” equals 3, a “2” 4, a “3” 17 and “4” 18. On a charisma of 18, there’s a 25% chance of having an exceptional charisma. Anti-paladins with very low charisma cause fear, while those with very high charisma will charm humanoids and other monsters.

I bring the above up to show how different the game was in the old days. There was much more willingness to invent new sub-systems to do things.

Anti-paladins roll d10 for hit points, gaining 3 per level after 9th. They get a host of special abilities, including causing disease and wounds, protection from good, backstabbing, poison use, rebuking undead and demons, a special warhorse and cleric spell use at high levels. Their special swords are called unholy reavers, which is, by the way, pretty sweet.


Why was alignment discussed so much back in the old days? Because alignment was a stand-in for philosophy – moral and ethical philosophy anyways. That made it interesting for lots of people, and contentious as well. A good example is the “Up On a Soap Box” in this issue, in which the following question is asked:

“Is something right just because we think it is right? If Hitler feels that it is right for him to kill six million Jews, is that morally acceptable?”


The first superhero rpg. Review here.

Heavy stuff for a game magazine. Alignment has become a throw away in many modern games, or has been rendered down into the faction rules it appears to have grown from. The discussions are still being had, though, in the gaming community and beyond.

Oh, and the answer to the above question is NO.

#4: ERA in RPG

Well, we’ve already mentioned Hitler and the Holocaust in an article about alignment, why not delve into equal rights?

The article is “Women Want Equality and Why Not?” by Jean Wells and Kim Mohan, and there’s a follow-up called “Points to Ponder” by Kyle Gray. I’m not going to delve too much into the contents of the article, but I suggest you find a copy online (it’s there) and read through it. It’s worth comparing and contrasting what was being discussed 35 years ago with what is being discussed today.


Len Lakofka writes an article called “Starting from Scratch” about starting a new campaign and rolling up a new party. The bit I liked was the random tables for rolling up starting spells. For magic-users it’s pretty straight forward – roll once on each table for a magic-user’s three starting spells:

He also suggests a limited number of starting prayers for clerics – 1d4+2 to be exact, with those spells being rolled randomly and modified according to the cleric’s instructor’s alignment.

The article covers much more ground than this, of course, so it’s worth reading.


You know I always like these little Moldvay gems. This edition contains two Norse legends.

Bodvar Bjarki (16th level chaotic good fighter), the son of a Norwegian prince who was turned into a bear during the day. Bjarki wields Lovi, a +3 sword, +6 vs. magic-users.

Egil Skallagrimson (14th level chaotic neutral fighter) who became a viking.

The article also contains a small table of runes.


A question to the sage:

“Question: Why can’t human, half-elf and elven Magic-Users wear armor and still cast spells? Elves and half-elves who are Magic-Users and Fighters can, so I don’t believe it is because of the iron in their armor or weapons. If it is because of training, then Magic-Users could be able to learn how to wear armor and cast spells at the same time—and even a human Magic-User/Fighter could train to acquire the ability.”

My answer – it’s a made up rule to keep the game balanced, you knucklehead. Stop rationalizing make-believe!


This article by Carl Parlagreco is one of the classics. It covers critical hits and fumbles, which it describes as “two of the most controversial subject areas in D&D”. His system is fine enough, but the random tables for the effects of critical hits and fumbles are what makes it really groovy. A sample – critical hit effects of missile and thrusting weapons – follows:


I loved this piece by Karl Horak:

“Several months ago I came across a member of the minority that hasn’t acknowledged Gary as final arbiter. The campaign he ran was based on the original spirit of Chainmail instead of the latest revisions. To say the least, the game was fresh and unorthodox. His foundation was the 3rd edition of Chainmail and his vague recollections of the three-volume set of Dungeons &Dragons, which he never purchased.”

Testify, brother!


I dig the image in the ad to the right – makes you wonder what the Hell is going on. I’m going to turn this into a little side trek into comic books.

When I used to collect the things, the covers were a shorthand blurb about the story in the issue – the idea was to get a kid at a news stand to plunk down their money to find out what was going on.

Now comic book covers are mostly pin-ups, I suppose because they’re aimed at an different audience. They’re usually very well drawn, but personally, I prefer those old covers. They fired the imagination, and were pretty fun. In fact – when I find an old issue, those covers still induce me to buy them. The pin-ups – not so much.

#10: TRAMP

Of course …

That’s all for this week. Hopefully the pace will slow down and I can get another one written next Sunday. I will have some updates this week from the next hex crawl in NOD.

Dragon by Dragon – May 1980 (37)

To be completely honest, The Dragon was not the biggest thing that happened in May 1980.


That being said, it may have been the biggest thing that happened in RPG’s that month, and that’s good enough for me. Let us delve into the top ten things about The Dragon #37.


Arthur W. Collins fills in the alignment gap of dragons in this article, and introduces the gemstone dragons we have all come to know and love (well, some of us). These are dandy creatures, especially if you’re into psionics. What follows are some quick stat blocks in Blood & Treasure style for the gemstone dragons (all adults, max. hit dice):

Crystal Dragon, Large Dragon: HD 6; AC 18; ATK 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d6); MV 20′ (Fly 50′); SV F9 R9 W9; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day dazzling cloud that cause blindness, 10′ cone), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (35%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 50% chance of speaking, 30% chance of magic-use, druid spells (1/1/1/1), magic-user spells (1/1/1), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Topaz Dragon, Large Dragon: HD 7; AC 19; ATK 2 claws (1d4+1) and bite (2d8); MV 20′ (Fly 50′); SV F9 R9 W9; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day dehydration gets rid of 3 cubic feet of liquid per dragon hp and deals 1d6+6 Str damage to creatures, 10′ cone), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (40%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 60% chance of speaking, 35% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Emerald Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 8; AC 20; ATK 2 claws (1d6) and bite (3d6); MV 20′ (Fly 60′); SV F6 R8 W8; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day; sonic vibration knocks people unconscious for 1d6 x 10 minutes or deafens them for same if they save), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (50%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 70% chance of speaking, 40% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/2/2/1), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Sapphire Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 9; AC 21; ATK 2 claws (1d6) and bite (5d4); MV 20′ (Fly 60′); SV F6 R8 W6; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day, sonic vibration disintegrates a number of hit points equal to the dragon’s hit points), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (55%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 80% chance of speaking, 45% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/2), magic-user spells (2/2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Amethyst Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 10; AC 22; ATK 2 claws (1d8) and bite (5d6); MV 30′ (Fly 80′); SV F5 R7 W5; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day shriek like a banshee), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (65%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 90% chance of speaking, 50% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/1/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/1/2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Sardior the Ruby Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 11; AC 23; ATK 2 claws (1d10) and bite (5d8); MV 30′ (Fly 80′); SV F5 R7 W5; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day shriek like amethyst dragon or dazzling cloud like crystal dragon), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (75%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 100% chance of speaking, 100% chance of magic-use, druid spells (3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3), magic-user spells (3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Inflict one on your players today!

Side Trek #1 – Fiends!

“On other fronts, it seems likely now that TSR and Games Workshop have reached a final agreement regarding the publication of the Fiend Folio …”

Love the Fiend Folio. Love it.

Side Trek #2 – Calling Mr. Hall

“Question: My character is a 9th-level Druid changed to a Magic-User (he is now 10th level as a M-U). I want to be able to put my previously owned Apparatus of Kwalish inside my newly acquired Mighty Servant of Leuk-O. Then I would have the ultimate weapon …”

#2. Happenstance

So I’m knee-deep in writing Black Death, which is set, vaguely, during the Thirty Years War and the Wars of Religion. What article do I happen to come across, but “Armies of the Renaissance by Nick Nascati Part VI – Landsknect and Reiters”.

Apparently, the Landsknecht army (and my game) should include:

Infantry – pike-armed, in the style of the Swiss pikemen they were trying to counter

Light Cavalry – dressed as landsknechts, armed with arquebus or crossbow – trained as skirmishers and scouts

Ritters – armored lancers with full plate, battle lances and longswords, and plate barding for the horse

Reiters – black-armored pistoliers, they took two form – light reiters wore a shirt of mail and heavy reiters wore half-plate; both carried three wheellock or matchlock pistols and an estoc

The landsknechts were true mercenaries – a good war to them was one with lots of prisoners they could ransom!

#3. Magic-Users are Experience

T. I. Jones presents a very long article about magic research for magic-users and clerics. I think it’s one of those interesting pieces that tried to deal with all that treasure that was floating around in AD&D. The idea, which I generally ascribe to, is to keep the players needing money, and that keeps them delving into dungeons. The DMG had training costs, which we never used when I was a kid and which I now understand were kind of important to the game. There was also the expense of one day setting up a stronghold. This article gives another – magic research. For example:

“Research in one’s own library will require that such a library have been acquired and built up over the course of several levels of experience. It should be not only difficult but expensive to acquire such a library—a minimum expenditure of 10,000 gold pieces per level of the spell to be researched is recommended. That is, if a Magic-User is to research a second-level spell, he should have spent at least 20,000 gold pieces on his library.”

#4. Libraries

Speaking of libraries, the next article, by Colleen A. Bishop, is a random book generator. Let’s build a library shelf by rolling some percentile dice:

Our shelf contains 250 scrolls (holy cow! – I’m not rolling up all of those) and five books. There’s a 4% chance of a scroll being magic, so there should be 10 magic scrolls on the shelf. The books are two histories of particular castles, a book about the inferiority of kobolds to human beings, and another about how humans are better than dwarves and an alchemist’s notebook in which the writing is too difficult to read.

This would be an excellent random table to automate, to produce large libraries quickly.

#5. Giant in the Earth

Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay present another batch of literary heroes for D&D. This time, the article does not include any character stats. Rather, it describes the rationale used by the authors for creating their stats. The article includes a great passage about doing stats for Tolkien’s creations …

“As far as writing up the characters from Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy, we would love to try our hand at them. Unfortunately, the Tolkien estate is known to be fanatically paranoid about the slightest possible infringement of rights (whether real or imagined). We were also unwilling to attempt them because 90% of the Tolkien fans would be unhappy with the results, regardless of what they were. In the end, we decided it was simply too much hassle to write up Tolkien characters.”

Yeah, this would be post-lawsuit.

The article has a nice table comparing AD&D to D&D levels, which I reproduce:

AD&D 21+ = D&D 40+ / equivalent to demigods, for characters with magically extended lives or who are in close contact with the gods

AD&D 17-20 = D&D 30-30 / the max. an exceptional character would obtain in a single lifetime

AD&D 13-16 = D&D 20-29 / average for heroic characters

AD&D 9-12 = D&D 10-19 / normal minimum for any hero

AD&D 5-8 = D&D 5-9 / this line was actually missing from the article

AD&D 1-4 = D&D 1-4 / low-level cannon-fodder

#6. Urban Encounters

Here’s a nice table folks should find some use for …

#7. Nothing New Under the Sun

From the letters to the editor …

“Unfortunately, I do not feel so good about Mr. Fawcett’s article, “Angels in Dungeons and Dragons.” Yes, I did read the article’s opening statement about the source material being both religious and fictional in nature. As a DM, I will admit that the concept of having angels for the deities of a mythos is intriguing. However, it is the source material that bothers me. Let us remember that much of the article was derived from the Holy Bible, and as far as I’m concerned that is not a book to be taken lightly! Games are games, but the Word of God is not something to be used in such a manner.

I happen to believe in the Bible. However, I also happen to believe in the Constitution, and I respect your right to print what you wish. But I think that “Angels in Dungeons and Dragons” was in extremely poor taste.”

#8. Magic Items

Some goodies in the Bazaar of the Bizarre this month. Here’s an inventory:

Mirror of Speed
Mirror of Confusion
Mirror of Memory
Mirror of All-Seeing
Yefar’s Great Mirror (all by Gerald Strathmann)
Rod of Singing by Robert Plamondon (cursed  item)
The Discus Shield by Roger E. Moore

#9. Vulturehounds

A cool monster by Chris Chalmers and Dan Pollak. Quick stat block

Vulturehound. Small Magical Beast: HD 2; AC 15; ATK 2 claws (1d3) and bite (1d6); MV 50′ (fly 30′); SV F13 R11 W18; AL Neutral (N); Special-None.

They run around in groups of 4d6, and have voracious appetites. I think they’d be a great encounter in dry hills.

Side Trek #3 – I love McLean!

Always loved the art style, and the humor

#10. The Pit of the Oracle

A module by Stephen Sullivan, with a nice cover image by Jeff Dee in which a fighter is either doing a bad-ass, casual back strike against a troglodyte, or in which a fighter is about to get his ass kicked by a couple troglodytes.

The module contains a dungeon and a town (and a Temple of Apathy), as well as some other nice art pieces by Dee, Roslof, Otus and Sutherland. You can tell the elements of D&D’s most classic phase are all coming together.

The map has all sorts of notations on it, which makes me think the adventure is a bit complex … but it also looks really cool. Hey, maybe that’s just the art talking.

And that’s Dragon #37 – happy Sunday folks and have a groovy week ahead.

Dragon by Dragon – March 1980 (35)

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:


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

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
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).


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.


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.

Dragon by Dragon – February 1980 (34)

One of the fun things for me about doing these reviews, besides just exploring all the great “forgotten” material produced for our favorite games, is the covers. I didn’t get into D&D until around 1984, and didn’t know about Dragon Magazine until maybe a couple years after that, so these are all new to me. This month’s cover is, I think, particularly cool. An army working its way down a defile to face a decidedly chaotic-looking castle. The cover was painted by Ken Rahman, aka Elladan Elrohir.

Well, what are the top ten cool things to be found in The Dragon #34? Let’s see …


From “Out on a Limb”, a letter by Robert T. Willis III

“I would like to correct some numbers that appeared in “How Tall is a Giant?” (TD31). In the article, 3mm figures were equated with 1/500 scale, and the reader was led to expect that his rational guess of 1/600 was blatantly wrong. As a math major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I would like to point out that the article was wrong—3mm figures are actually 1/600 scale (1/609.6 is the exact number).

Since 3mm = 3/25.4 inches = 3/(25.4 x 12) feet = 3/304.8 feet, the scale is (3/304.8)/6 because the figure represents a man 6’ tall. This number is 1/609.6 which can be rounded to 1/600.”


I know next to nothing about Divine Right by TSR, which is unfortunate since this issue devotes a great deal of time and energy to that game. That said, there’s usually something useful to be found in any game, and I thought these two tables might be useful:

Tombs and curses. I can imagine using this when dealing with large armies tromping across hex maps on the way to besiege a stronghold and coming across some mini-dungeon. Roll on the dice, lose the dice roll as a percent of your troops, and use that percentage chance for each named character in your army to die (allow a saving throw if you must – if they save, they do not die, but they may not participate in the battle).


Samuel Gill, in “Up on a Soap Box” presents a few ideas for wargame campaigns that twist actual history around a bit, such as a Mexican-Texican War in 1842 (which kinda sorta happened, though not on a huge scale), Mediterranean fleet action in WW1, assuming the Italians had not defaulted on their commitments to Germany and Austria-Hungary, and a revival of hostilities between France and Prussia in 1886.

This brings up not only the idea of using similar historical what-ifs for RPG campaigns, modern and medieval, but also twisting the history of your own campaign world. Imagine the characters in a long-standing campaign waking up to find the world they know changed in major ways, and having to figure out how the bad guys (or good guys, if the party is evil) did it, and how to get things back to normal – or maybe they cannot and now have to start from square one!

Sam’s article gives numerous other examples of alternate history, which are well worth the perusal.


A question from “Sage Advice”:

“Question: I have just started playing AD&D and I don’t know what the following weapons are: Bardiche, Bec de Corbin, Bill-Guisarme, Fauchard, Fauchard-Fork, Flail, Glaive, Glaive-Guisarme, Guisarme, Guisarme-Voulge, Lucern Hammer, Partisan, Pick, Ransuer, Scimitar, Spetum and Voulge.

Can you tell me what they are?”

Now we would just tell him to Google it.


If you’re playing a 1st edition AD&D game and like to keep it pristine, Blake Ward’s “Familiar Fiends” article might be just for you. It collects all the monsters in the AD&D Monster Manual and puts them into a random table for stocking dungeons. He also has a random table for determining what level of monster to use based on the dungeon level you’re stocking:

Very nice.


Dig this ad for Judge’s Guild:

Love the fighter and his horse.


Funny, isn’t it. We went from “Atomic War” to “Nuclear War” to “Thermonuclear War” and then back to “Nuclear War”. Anyhow …

A rare article in The Dragon for good old-fashioned RISK. This one, by George Laking, gives some variants on the old game, including the addition of nuclear weapons. I won’t go into the details, but they would certainly make for an interesting game … or you could just play Supremacy. Boy, we had a lot of fun with that game back in the day, and RISK and Axis & Allies as well.


Fantasysmith gives a guide to properly carrying your miniatures around without ruining them. What drew my eye was this illo:

When going to play wargames, always beware lurking ogre magi. Especially, one must presume, when in Japan.


Look out for Gerard Moshofsky of Eugene, Oregon, Grimtooth, because he’s a devious guy. Check out this dandy trap:

This used to be quite the thing in old dungeon design. I think 3rd edition, by standardizing traps and attaching more rules to them, kind of killed this old creativity. Maybe I’m wrong.


Love this name generator by Mark Whisler – it would be perfect for the barbarian mini-game I’m going to publish soon (from the “B for Barbarian” article in NOD).

Roll a d10 and d6 and cross-reference them on the table to get the first name element, then do it again for the second.


Tom Holsinger and Candy Peterson have a nice article on quirks and curses for magic items. Several tables, all good brain fodder, but I’ll point out these minor curses:

3) Develop highly unpopular sexual perversion (necktie party if you’re caught).

4) Develop socially unacceptable sexual perversion (Charisma reduced to 3 if you are discovered—Hint: It has to do with graveyards).

D&D was once for “weird adults” more than for “nerdy teens”.


Broadsword Miniatures operated during the 1980’s out of Georgia USA. I liked the miniatures in the ad, so I did a little searching and found some more, like these goblins.

Man, I love those old miniature illustrations.


Last month’s adventure went well, so The Dragon included Doomkeep in this one, a dungeon by Brian Blume used as the Second Official Invitational AD&D Masters Tournament module. Obviously, I don’t have room in this issue to do a major review, but it has a chessboard room, which I love (see art below), and it includes the hand mirror of hoping, which has the following effects when used:

1. A Death Ray emerges (normal saving throw allowed).
2. A 5-die fireball explodes 32’ away from the mirror.
3. A twin of the object pointed at appears and aids the object pointed at (if possible).
4. 27 Blackbirds fly out of the mirror and confuse (saving throw allowed vs. spell) everyone in the area for 2 melee rounds.
5. The object pointed at is sucked into the mirror, never to return.
6. The object pointed at turns into a Type I Demon which attacks the holder of the mirror.
7. A 6-die lightning bolt shoots out 60’ from the mirror.
8. A Cure Critical Wounds spell is emitted at the thing pointed at.
9. A mist appears which obscures all vision in a 20’ x 20’ area (treat this as a Confusion spell if melee occurs in the mist).
10. Poison gas fills an area 30’ x 30’ (+2 on s.t).))

Also this …

Damn, I love old D&D.


This issue was actually pretty packed with interesting stuff …

“Minarian Legends” – huge article about the Muetarian Empire. Great art!

“Getting into the Flow of Magic Fountains” – random tables for generating magic fountains. I won’t reproduce the tables, but I will roll up a random fountain:

This fountain contains four drinks (weird, but okay). With each drink, a person gains an extra spell level (if they can cast spells), but also glow in the dark and suffer the effects of reduce person (save allowed).

“Dragon’s Bestiary” – this issue has the Vilkonnar by Charles Carson – a neutral evil underground humanoid race along with their slightly different cousins, the Kailiff.

“Dragon’s Mirth” – a standardized disaster scale by Jeff Swycaffer – fun, if nothing else for the U.S. regionalisms:

As always, I’ll leave you today with a tiny taste of Tramp …


Dragon by Dragon – December 1979 (32)

Depending where you are when you read this, good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night. It’s Sunday, which means it’s time to crack open the vault and review another issue of The Dragon. Technically not the last of the 1970’s (that would be December 1980), but for most folks, the end of the decade.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Cool Things in The Dragon #32

Side note – cover by Phil Foglio, which means his contributions to the magazine’s comics section shouldn’t be too far away. Always a highlight for me back in the day.

Yes, because of Dixie. I’m a red-blooded American male, and I make no apologies for it.


When question about super high level characters (as in, “no freaking way they got there fairly), ED gives the following sage advice …

“Cheating, yes, but who? If you refuse to play with these sorry individuals, they are only cheating
themselves of the feeling of accomplishment that comes from having honestly earned a level advancement. To each his own . . .”

Good advice then, and good now. Learn to enjoy losing spectacularly at games, and you will find them twice as enjoyable as you used to.


Charles Sagui has an article on “Poisons from AA to XX” that I enjoyed. I always like articles written from a position of authority concerning make-believe stuff, and this one has several firm rules for poisons that you might not have known:

1) Poison is restricted to Neutral and Evil characters when used against human or humanoid types … against dungeon monsters, anyone can use poison.

2) Alchemists alone distill and manufacture poisons – magic-users, thieves and assassins who are caught making poisons are told immediately to “cease and desist” – imagine, slapping a cease and desist order from the Alchemist’s Guild on a PC! Apparently, if the order is ignore, the PC “will receive a visitor who will see to it that he stops permanently.” – Sounds like a fun encounter to run.

3) Alchemists learn to make poison at one strength per level of experience up to the 5th, beginning with level 0, strength “AA”. At 6th, the alchemist can make strength “S” sleep poison. After 6th, he learns to make one strength per two levels, through strength “J” at 16th level. Type “X” can be made by 20th level alchemists, type “XX” by 25th level alchemists. Alchemists through 4th level make only ingested poisons. From 5th to 8th level, they make ingested plus water-soluble poisons. From 9th to 16th they learn to make contact and gaseous poisons.

4) Assassins are the main customers, and they dictate to the alchemists who can buy poison. Locksmiths are granted permission by the assassins to put poison needles and gases in locks and chests so the rich can keep their possessions safe. – This suggests that the thieves and assassins are not on the best of terms.

5) Any character is permitted to buy strength “S” sleep poison. Thieves, by paying the assassins 500 gp per level, are permitted to buy strengths “AA”, “A” and “B” poison. They may buy up to 60 vials of “AA” per year, up to 30 vials of “A” and up to 15 vials of “B”. Magic-users can pay 1,000 gp per level to get the right to coat darts and daggers with “AA” and “A” poison. The same buying restrictions for thieves apply.

6) A small vial of poison is enough to coat 6 arrowheads, 8 darts, 12 needles or 1 dagger or spear point. Two vials will coat a short sword. Three will coat a long or broadsword, four a bastard sword and five a two-handed sword. Each coating lasts for 2 successful hits, and up to 5 coats can be applied to a blade at a time. One vial is equal to one dose when swallowed.

7) Evil humanoids should never use more than “AA” poison. If they are employed by a powerful evil NPC, they may use up to “D”.

8) Poisons found in dungeons are:

0-50% – ingested
51-80% – water-soluble
81-90% – contact
91-100% – poison gas

9) Damage from poison is taken at a rate of the minimum hit point damage for the poison per melee round (which would have been a minute, back in the old days) until max damage rolled is met. So, a poison that deals 1-10 damage would do 1 point of damage per round. If you rolled “6” damage, it would deal 1 point of damage per round for 6 rounds. A poison that did 5-100 damage would deal 5 points of damage per round.

10) When you save vs. sleep poison, you act as though slowed for 3 rounds.

11) When using poison-coated weapons, each time you draw the weapon or return it to its scabbard, you have to save by rolling your Dex or less (on 1d20, I assume), minus 1 for water-soluble and -3 for contact, or you suffer max poison damage. You also have to make a Dex save every other round for water soluble and every round for contact poison that the weapon is used in combat to avoid poisoning yourself. This applies until the weapon is washed, even if the weapon does not have enough poison left to poison opponents in combat.

12) Silver weapons will not hold poison, not will magic weapons. Normal weapons that are poison-coated gives them a dark discoloration, so everyone will know the weapon is poisoned.

Lots of rules, but actually pretty useful ones. The article then goes on to detail the different poison strengths – I won’t reproduce those here.


This is a companion article to the armor article from last issue, also by Michael Kluever. Here’s a bit on the Chu-ko-nu, or repeating crossbow.

“An interesting variation was the repeating crossbow (Chu-ko-nu). It propelled two bolts simultaneously from its wooden magazine, which held a total of 24 featherless quarrels, each approximately 8.25 inches long. The bolts were contained in a box sliding on top of the stock and moved into firing position by a lever pivoted to both. The throwing of the lever forward and back drew the bowstring, placed the bolt in position and fired the weapon. Chinese annals relate that 100 crossbowmen could project 2,000 quarrels in fifteen seconds. The repeater crossbow was used as late as the Chinese Japanese War of 1894-95.”

Apparently I need to include it in Grit & Vigor.


You got some interesting articles back in the day. This one, by George Laking, is about aquatic megaflora, and its danger to adventurers. The info in the article was designed by the Mid-Columbia Wargaming Society of Richland, Washington. With a little searching, I found a picture of Mr. Laking and some society members from a 1978 newspaper. The internet!

So, you’re first thought it – screw seaweed, bring me dragons!

You fool!

Apparently, megaflora stands capture oxygen in vast bubble domes within their branches. Within this bubble dome, there is a bunch of dry limbs and twigs from this megaflora. The interior of the dome resembles a quiet, dry forest surrounded by thick trunks. Bubble dome heights range from 4 to 40 feet, depending on the size of the stand.

Where’s the danger. Well, the stands can capture ships for 1-12 hours, making them vulnerable to aquatic monster attacks.

The bigger danger is bubble dome “blows”! The domes are temporary structures. In some cases, the gas cannot escape and pressure builds up until it explodes, throwing dry branches and limbs 2d10 x 10 feet into the air in a huge fountain of water and foam! Ships will fall into the void left, and then be slammed by the walls of water rushing back in, possibly destroying the ship. A blown stand looks like a peaceful lagoon with walls of megaflora around it, quickly growing in to fill the clearing. This will be the lair of aquatic monsters, guarding the treasure left by ships destroyed in past blows.

A third danger is that pure oxygen is poisonous to people. Divide the height of the dome by 10 and take this as a percentage chance per hour that a character absorbs too much oxygen into her bloodstream. A character who reaches this threshold, upon leaving the dome, must make a save vs. poison or immediately die.

Also – pure oxygen is extremely flammable. Let’s say you light a torch inside the dome …

“(1) The initial explosion of gas would create a 6-20 die fireball of incandescent oxygen, depending on the size and depth of the bubble dome (depth of dome divided by ten equals hit dice). The size of the fireball would be half as large as the initial dome after the explosion of the gas. Saving throws would be applicable.

(2) Following the initial explosion, the fireball would immediately rise to the surface with a subsequent catastrophic inrush of ocean water onto the previously dry dome interior. Each character would have to undergo a check for system shock as the walls of water met with implosive fury. A character saving vs. system shock would only take 3-10 (d6) of damage. Failing to save means immediate death!

(3) Finally—should the character survive—an immediate check vs. oxygen poisoning would be necessary to determine if he/she had exceeded the critical threshold at that point. If so, that character would have to make an additional save vs. poison per oxygen poisoning (above).”

Frankly, a weird bubble dome dungeon would be awesome, and a great challenge. A ship gets stuck and attacked by aquatic ogres. Adventurers follow them down to retrieve something important, find a massive bubble dome with a dead, maze-like forest within it. They have to work fast to avoid being killed by too much oxygen, and there is a chance that it explodes and the ship is drawn down into sea and crushed.


From Gygax’s “Sorcerer’s Scroll”:

“In a previous column I mentioned that I would set up an adventure where the players would end up in the city streets of the 20th century. Well, I knocked together some rules, put the scenario together, stocked the place with “treasures” of a technological sort, and sprinkled some monsters (thugs, gangs, police, etc.) around.

Much to my chagrin, Ernie the Barbarian was leading the expedition. When his party emerged from the subway—and despite the general blackout in the city due to the power failure caused by their entry into this alternate world—he stopped, looked, listened and then headed back for the “safety” of the “real world!” Some people really know how to spoil a DM’s fun …”

Damn players.


From Jean Wells in “Sage Advice”:

“The subject is dwarven women and whether or not they have beards. Last spring when we were working on the final editing of the Dungeon Masters Guide, I tried to get Gary Gygax to change the section on dwarves so that dwarven women would not have beards. Needless to say, I was not very successful.

What I didn’t realize was that for some strange reason (completely unknown to me), I had started something. I did not understand the full impact of what I had done until I went to GenCon this year. Many people stopped me in the hall to either agree with me wholeheartedly, or disagree with me and then tell me that I was crazy. Everyone knows that dwarven women have beards, they said. It did not stop there. Oh, no! We have even been getting mail on this issue. It is not too bad, but I don’t like being accused of making an issue out of the subject.

One thing that everyone who has taken sides in this issue fails to remember is that Gary Gygax wrote the Dungeon Masters Guide and it is his book. He can say whatever he wants to. You can agree with him or side with me, but either way, the person who has final say in his or her campaign is the DM. So, for all the people who have written in to agree with me or to agree with Gary, and for those who haven’t yet but were planning to, please save your breath. Gnome women don’t have beards (this is true and I am glad). Dwarven women may indeed have beards, Gary, but not in my world.”

Yeah, there have always been gamers who A) didn’t get that it was make-believe, and there was therefore no right or wrong, and B) didn’t get that their own opinion isn’t law.

Also this question:

“Question: We are having an argument over an issue that has us divided. My friends say that with a ring of telekinesis they can make an arrow spin at the speed of light and then release it, having it do between 100 and 600 points of damage to their target. I say this is impossible! What do you think?”

God – I remember these fools.


“Question: I am having a romance with a god, but he won’t have anything to do with me until I divorce my present husband. How do I go about divorcing my husband?”

Ye Gods!


For sale – crappy t-shirts.

Actually, I would wear one of these with a ridiculous amount of pride. I’m super tempted to lift the graphic and make one online for myself.

Looks like the Barbarian Shop was in a private residence:


Len Lakofka presents in this issue his insectoids, which are just the humanoid races with insect characteristics grafted on. For example: Scorpiorcs. For Blood & Treasure, they would look like:

Scorpiorc, Medium Monstrous Humanoid: HD 2; AC 16; ATK 2 pincers (1d6) and weapon; MV 40; SV F15 R12 W13; XP 300 (CL 4); Special-Surprised on d8 (due to eye stalks), move silently (70%), back stab x2.

Scorpiorcs never use flaming swords or carry any sort of flame. They also never use armor, but may carry a shield. They speak Scorkish and broken Orcish. They can advance as fighters from a beginning “level” of 2 to a top rank of 4.

I also have to mention the “skags”, which are a blend of scorpion, kobold, ant and goblin. This is actually a sort of “monster class” – dig it:


Great title. Found HERE at Boardgame Geek. Stephen Fabian did the art, so it has be worth a few bucks based on that alone.


I’ve never played Traveler, so I can’t comment on the utility of this article about diplomats in the Traveler Universe. I can, however, draw attention to this table, which may prove useful to people:

I’m sure somebody can adapt this to their game, when trying to figure out an NPC’s s power base in some fantasy or sci-fi city.


William Fawcett has a long article on “The Druid in Fact and Fantasy”. A tough subject, because so little is known, or at this point, can be known. I’m not going to dwell on the historical bits in the article, but I did like this:

A new Druidic ability

Although the Druid, due to his involvement with life, is unable to turn undead, his role of the peacemaker gives him a similar ability with most humanoids. Before or during any armed combat if he has not struck any blow, a Druid has the ability to make a Declaration of Peace. This declaration has a 10% plus 5% per level (15% 1st level, 20% 2nd, etc.) chance of causing all armed combat to cease for two rounds per level of the Druid. This does not affect magical combat in any way, nor will it stop a humanoid who is in combat with any non-humanoid opponent. Once the combat is stopped, any non-combat activities may take place such as cures, running away (and chasing), blesses, magic of any form, or even trying to talk out the dispute.

After peace has been successfully Declared, combat will resume when the effect wears off (roll initiatives), or at any time earlier if anyone who is under the restraint of the Declaration is physically harmed in any way. This could be caused by an outside party or even by magic, which is not restrained by the Declaration. A fireball going off tends to destroy even a temporary mood of reconciliation. Once a Druid strikes a blow or causes direct harm in any way to a member of a party of humanoids, he permanently loses his ability to include any member of that party in a Declaration of Peace. The Declaration of Peace affects all those within the sound of the Druid’s voice, a 50’ radius which may be modified by circumstances.”

He also has quite a few magic cauldrons and some thoughts on herbs. Good read overall.


Well, it’s funny to DM’s


An adventure in this issue – “The Fell Pass” by Karl Merris!

Check out the map:

That hatching seems reminiscent! A also hereby challenge Dyson Logos to include more giant, disembodied hands on his very excellent maps.

The adventure takes place in geothermally heated caverns, and includes cave bears, ogres, a spidersilk snare, gray ooze, manticores, griffons, shadows, trolls, pit vipers, Vlog the Ogre …

… and Xorddanx the Beholder:

I love the heck out of that art, which is by Merris himself!

I did some searching, and I’m pretty sure I’ve found him online. He appears to be a Brony now, and might have no interest left in D&D, but if I can commission a piece of fantasy art from him, I’ll let you know …


Dragon by Dragon – November 1979 (31)

November 1979

The Iran Hostage Crisis

Morning Edition premiers on NPR

The last cargo of phosphate shipped from Banaba Island

Obviously, they were troubled times for the world.

But take heart, gentle reader, for the game wizards blessed our eyeballs and brains with The Dragon #31.

I’m going to start doing these reviews a little different (since they take about 3 or 4 hours otherwise), and focus on the Top 10 Cool Things in each issue. They might be articles, they might be ads.


Click for the larger version. Those are some pretty slick landsknechts (and such). I love the idea of the Thirty Years War as a campaign setting (even wrote about it), and these would make great miniatures for it.

Side note – when I looked up those colorful plastic robots on Amazon that I showed in my Manbot Warriors post, I found a few other great sets that I remember from my childhood. Now I want to write a little mini-game for all of them – cowboys and indians, plastic army men, Romans, plastic knights, firemen, etc. Just need to get the rules for Manbots right, and then I can expand.


If you love the old game, you probably love (or at least like) Mr. Holmes. This issue has an excerpt from a novel he was writing called Trollshead. Here’s the first paragraph:

“The campfire cast flickering shadows into the surrounding trees and across the face of the lean man squatting opposite. He wore an iron cap with a leather lining which cast a shadow over his thick brows. A ragged scar ran from the comer of his left eye down the cheek to vanish in the folds of a woolen tunic at his neck. A tough customer, Boinger thought to himself.”

Boinger? Well, I don’t know if the novel was ever finished – couldn’t find it on Amazon.com. Here’s another taste:

“’I think we can take them,’ said the halfling confidently. ‘Four half-orcs, old scar face, and that damned troll.'”

I like that halfling’s moxie. He doesn’t look so confident in the accompanying art by Chris Holmes.

Bonus – Later in the issue they cover the 5th annual Strategists Club Banquet and Awards, which features a picture of Tim Kask talking with the Holmes family, son Chris, wife Sig-Linda and John-Eric himself.

Sometimes, I miss the 1970’s. But only sometimes, and only a little.


In his article on using jungles in D&D, Tim Kask says it like it is:

“Traditional accounts of the jungle, from Bomba the Jungle Boy to Jungle Jim to Tarzan, have always depicted the jungle as a place of peril—but there has always been justification for jungle adventures. We’ll leave aside the philanthropic wanderings of Livingstone and Schweitzer and look at jungles from a more typical D&D viewpoint: greed.”

The article is pretty long, and covers jungles in Asia, Africa and South America. A few takeaways:

1 – He notes that any rules for wilderness exploration will do, but he likes Source of the Nile. This reminds me of the use of Outdoor Survival in old D&D games. Does this happen much anymore? Using another game to fill in the gaps. I’ve read so much about Source of the Nile in these old Dragons that I kinda want to buy the game. Doesn’t appear to be in print anymore, so I guess I need to look around.

2 – Rain forest plant growth is so quick that a trail blazed through it disappears in a few days (I’d go 1d4+1 days, personally).

3 – “With the restrictions placed on poison within D&D and AD&D, the DM may wish to eliminate some or all of the natural poisons found in the jungle.”Sorry jungle, but you’re just to poisonous for the rules as written. We’re going to have to make some changes.

4 – “The Jivaro, known for their practice of shrinking heads, are so surrounded by myth and misinformation that it is hard to distinguish fact from fancy without serious study. It can be safely stated that they were fierce and deadly foes.”

5 – “In the tropical rain forest jungles, the humidity never falls below 85 or 90 percent. This high moisture rots and mildews cloth and leather, unless they are assiduously treated to prevent it All metals will oxidize; armor will rust and swords and daggers will lose their edges. The humidity affects people by lowering resistance as a result of overworking the sweat glands, thereby causing wounds to heal at a greatly retarded rate, if at all.” So, rules wise – maybe force item saving throws once a week if things are not cared for, and reduce non-magical healing to 2 hit points (or hit points per level) every three days.

6 – Typical weapons of jungle cultures are blowguns (with poison darts), spear, club, throwing knives (treat as hand axes, maybe), assegai (treat as short swords).

7 – Kask writes a whole bit on how the presence of a 25th level magic-user might affect a local jungle. It includes using stone shape to make a hill into a fortified abode, permanently charming a panther and permanently enlarging it to use as a guard beast, attracting a spider monkey with find familiar, and then impressing the locals with his magic and being worshiped by them as a jungle god. The tribe that follows him flourishes, he starts experimenting with the local flora and fauna, and then the last experiment goes to far – instant ruined jungle city for adventurers to loot. I like the ways this guy thinks!


Lou Zocchi had a ventriloquist act. ‘Nuff said.


The rules aren’t in this issue, just an add, but this sounds cool:

Also makes we want to write a game for these guys:

And, surprise surprise – it’s on BoardgameGeek.com.

Check it out


From Kenneth W. Burke’s article “Will Jason Destroy The Dragonship? Stay Tuned …”

“The following Alpha Omega variant has been derived from the “Victory of Star Command’ episode of the Jason of Star Command television mini-series. To play it, you need one or two Alpha Omega games.”

You might be asking yourself, “What is Jason of Star Command?”

Now you’re asking yourself, “Why, God? Why?”

James Doohan was a regular in other episodes – God bless him.


Here’s a new table for STELLAR CONQUEST that just has to be useful to somebody:

I don’t know what MA stands for, but I think it has something to do with movement.


In the Fantasysmith article they ask “How tall is a giant?” What I liked in the article was the two drawings comparing fantasy folk:

Elves dressed up as Peter Pan is so outside the mainstream now, that I think it rocks on toast.

Check out the giants:

You’ll perhaps note that it looks as though the storm giant has just finished beating the crap out of the rest of them.


Michael Kluever comes across with an article about the armor of the Far East. The article covers the armor of China, Tibet, Korea, Mongolia, and Japan. All text, but it does a nice job of covering the basics. Here are the basics:

China: Padded, ring, scale and brigandine (studded leather); mail and plate rarely utilized; paper armor was used in the Tang Period, especially in Southern China – 10 to 15 thicknesses was adequate to stop an arrow or musket ball. Shields were often the only form of protection for foot soldiers; rhino hide was prized for making shields.

Mongolia: Horse armor (barding) of leather scales

Korea: Like the Chinese, but lower quality materials and the helms were black laquered

Tibet: Lacquered hide armor in red and black, with engravings, in the form of a long coat – awesome. Barding was leather.

Japan: Lamellar armor (banded mail in AD&D, more or less), with small hand shields (Te-date)


From Jean Wells’ “Sage Advice” column:

“Question: We have a group of players here who insist that they can ride on a mule in a 10-foot-wide and 10-foot-high corridor and shoot arrows from longbows. Now, there are two characters who say they ride side by side and do this over the objections of the rest of the party members. I think this is wrong. Am I right?”

Right or wrong, I like the cut of those players’ collective jibs. I solemnly swear that I am going to commission this as a piece of art this weekend.

Also – Jean Wells was trying to write an article about female gamers and they put in this ad:


You have to love this monster from an unknown author – not a hydra in the “guarding the Golden Fleece” since, but more in the giant version of the microscopic hydra sense. It’s called the Ukuyatangi, and it looks like a blob with tentacles. It sits on a stump in the jungle and spreads the tentacles into the rank undergrowth to blend in. Due to the camouflage, there is a 90% chance for adventurers walking through the area to touch a tentacle, which then makes a free grapple attack. The monster consumes one man-sized creature a day, and regurgitates indigestible bits, which litter its clearing. After it’s full, it just constricts people to death and leaves them to rot. Reptilian in nature, the monster is susceptible to cold, going dormant when under 50-degrees F (or 10-degrees C).

Ukuyatangi: HD 7 to 9; AC 5; MV 1/4″, ATK 2 tentacles per target, up to 4 per round (2d4 + constrict); Special – swallow whole; SZ Large (6-10′ tall, tentacles 20-40′ long)