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 …

I. THIS IS WHY I KEEP IT VAGUE …

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.”

II. MINING IDEAS

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).

III. WARGAME WHAT-IFS

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.

IV. OH, I THINK GARY CAN ANSWER THAT …

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.

V. MONSTER TABLES

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.

AWESOME ADVERT

Dig this ad for Judge’s Guild:

Love the fighter and his horse.

VI. RISKING THERMONUCLEAR WAR

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.

VII. ONI VS. MINIATURES PAINTERS

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.

VIII. GRIMTOOTH HAS COMPETITION

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.

IX. NAME GENERATOR

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.

X. WEIRD OLD D&D

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”.

AWESOME ADVERT

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.

XI. DOOMKEEP

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.

OTHER GOODIES

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 – October 1978 (19)

Hey – almost have my months synced here! October 1978 and Dragon blows in with what appears to be a pretty full issue. Let’s begin …

First thing I see this issue, other than the editorial, is “The Battle for Snurre’s Hall”, the tournament for the Origins ’78 D&D Tournament. Good recap of the winning team’s tactics, and reminds you of the game aspect that I think sometimes gets buried under the “role play” aspect.

How Many Ettins Is a Fire Giant Worth: Competitive D&D by Bob Blake

And then this article reminds me of the importance of role play in the game. Basically, this is an article about scoring competitive modules. Given my intense interest in such things …

A Compendium of Diverse D&D Player Personalities by Mike Crane

Hmmm … maybe the next article holds something interesting …

Gamma World – A New List of Treasures To Be Found by Gary Gygax

Thanks EGG! A nice random table (1-100) of relics for Gamma World. We have a home donut maker, wire cutters in fair condition (an amazing find), a plastic box of 50-100 assorted screws (you know these are going to be used to stud a club, right), a leather bag of dice, etc.

Gamma World – More Excerpts from the Journals of Hald Sevrin by Gary Jaquet

This one covers the history of Gamma World in the Black Years. Apparently, it was hard, but people adapted.

Wormy

Or “Wormy 8 Ball” to my 12-year old brain.

Wormy swoops in (thank God) and provides some light entertainment – if you consider a tree troll being ripped apart light entertainment. Beware blue demons!

The thing that always made me wonder about Wormy was the trolls. Trolls were supposed to be complete bastards, right? But these guys were pretty cool. As a kid, the Monster Manual was as canon as it came, and this was the first introduction I had to “it’s my world, I can do whatever I want”. Good training for a young DM.

The Lowdown on Wishes by Kevin Thompson

The thing is, wishes have absolutely no place in a game. In a story, they’re fine. But in a game, nothing but trouble. Great line …

“Most DM’s want to be fair about wishes but don’t want Player characters to take undue advantage. So they kill them.”

The article tries to get into the science behind wishes. Mildly interesting, but very “campaign world” specific in a way. The idea is that wish spells are empowered into devices by wizards to allow non-wizards to use magic. They may vary in strength, and might have alignment restrictions as well (i.e. a lawful wish cannot be used for something chaotic). Thompson divides wishes into four classes:

CLASS I: Creates purely physical (mundane) objects or occurrences

CLASS II: Creates living, non-magical beings, weak magical equipment and duplicates magic-user spells up to 5th level

CLASS III: Creates living, magical beings (but only the weakest type), moderately strong magic items and can duplicate any magic-user spell and cleric spells up to 4th

CLASS IV: Can do almost anything except granting more wishes in any way, shape or form.

Not a bad schema, really.

Planning Creative Treasurers by Dave Schroeder

Dave gets into thinking more about treasures – why is that orc carrying a bunch of gems, for example, or using a theme with a treasure horde. He refers to these as toolkits, for example …

“A thief’s toolkit could contain a +1 dagger, a gem that glows in the presence of traps, a set of Gauntlets of Dexterity, a skeleton key that would raise its user’s chances of opening locks, or a pair of “waldos”, that would allow him to open trapped chests from a distance. Don’t forget a periscope for peeking around corners, or perhaps a bag of holding for the loot. Disappearance Dust would be useful, as would a Gauntlet of Etherealness that would let pouches and pockets be picked tracelessly.”

The Mythos of Australia by Jerome Arkenberg

Another in the line of mythos articles, and if you’ve ever dipped your toes into the Australian myths, you know they are quite interesting and tough to adapt to D&D. The beauty of the Greek and Norse myths is that so many of them read like comic books.

Systematic Magic by Robin W. Rhodes

I love it when geeks begin “rationally” explaining why it makes no sense that a magic-user with charm person in his book could ever earn enough gold/experience to figure out hypnotic pattern, since charm person is clearly a control spell and hypnotic pattern a mental spell.

Spells here are divided into these different categories, which have different prime requisites. Control spells, for example, have charisma as a prime requisite, while nature spells have constitution as their prime. Holy spells only have the lawful alignment as their prime requisite.

Lawful characters begin with two holy spells. Neutrals get one 1st level spell from (I guess, the language is confusing) the category that matches their highest ability score. Chaotics aren’t mentioned, and a character can never have more than two new spells at any one time.

The chance to miscast a spell is equal to the level of the spell divided by the prime requisite. So, dispel magic, a 3rd level defense spell, would have a 3/15 chance of miscast if the caster had a constitution of 15, i.e. 20% chance of miscast. DM determines the side effects of a miscast spell.

Casting a spell costs one point of its prime requisite per spell level – so that dispel magic spell would cost 3 points of constitution. One point is recovered for every turn (minute or 10 minutes, depending on the version of the game) not spent in melee.

A new spell must be successfully cast once per spell level before the caster can learn another spell of that level.

Only two fields of magic can be learned at a time.

A bit fiddly, but a neat idea. Wonder how it works in real play. Again, though, you can see the future divides of gaming even at this early stage – more rules vs. fewer rules, “logic” vs. gonzo, etc.

The Fastest Guns That Never Lived, Part III by Allen Hammack

This third in a series examines several more characters from western shows and gives them Boot Hill stats, including Bret, Bart and Beau Maverick, Will and Jeff Sonnet, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, James Coburn (fuck, I want to play James Coburn in a game of Boot Hill), Robert Vaughn, Tim Straum, Kid Shelleen and Jason McCord. I love that the article mashes up characters and actors.

A Mixture of Magic and Technology: Gamma World Review by Robert Barger

When people say magic and technology don’t mix, it really burns the author. Hallmark of a geek – being annoyed at differing opinions. He mostly covers the ease with which one can combine Gamma World and D&D, which is something I like as well. Moving on …

Spell Determination for Hostile Magic-Users by Steve Miller

This is a quick article to randomly determine what spells an NPC magic-user might have, inspired by a bunch of players bitching when a randomly encountered enchanter threw and ice storm and fireball at them and wiped out their PCs. My response to this problem …

Honestly, it is good to vary the spells a bit, but on the other hand, do players ever apologize for destroying the kick-ass villain you designed in some dungeon you worked all month to stock? No, they don’t. You shouldn’t either.

Charts for Determining the Location of Treasure by Ronald Guritzky

Nice random table of treasure locations – very helpful when you write a lot of this stuff.

1) The location of the treasure
1-6 Chest
7-9 Urn
10-12 Bag
13-13 Pot
16-17 Loose
18 Carried
19 Hidden (Wall, Floor, Secret Compartment, etc.)
20 Ref’s Choice

2) There is a one in four chance that a treasure has a trap in it.

3) Traps
01-20 1-8 Daggers (1 in 6 poison)
21-36 1-6 Arrows
37-46 1-3 Spears (1 in 6 poison)
47-62 Gas
63-78 Poison Lock
79-88 Monster in Chest (Pay attention to monster’s size)
89-92 Exploding Chest (2-7 dice of damage)
93-95 Chest Does a Spell At Person
96 Chest Acts as Mirror of Life Trapping
97 Intelligent Chest (2nd -7th Level Magic User)
98 Lose One Level of Experience
99 Lose One Magic Item
00 Roll Twice

4) Gasses (Roll 6 sided die for first digit and 4 sided die for second digit)
11-12 Obscures Vision (Players run into each other, miss treasure, etc.)
13-14 Blinds Player 01-100 Hours
21-22 Fear During Next 2-9 Fights
23-24 Sleep 6-36 Rounds
31 + 1-4 Points to Random Ability (8 hours) (1 in 10 permanent)
32-33 Sick: Return to Surface (1 in 6 in coma)
34 Paralyzation
41 Stone
42 Death!!
43 Polymorph to Monster or Animal 10’R.
44 Amnesia (1-20 days, 1 in 6 permanent)
51-52 Change Alignment
53-54 Slow (As slow spell)
61-62 Haste (As haste spell)
63 Cloud Kill
64 Go Berserk! Attack Friends!

I dig this ad for Star Trek miniatures. Even though Star Wars gets more notice, I think Trek, being born of episodic TV, might be a better fit for RPG’s

Footsteps in the Sky by ???

Fiction …

“All he could do was walk on the air as normals could walk on land and his four older brothers repeatedly told him that it was the most useless of all mental mutations. After Reveral’s long training sessions for manhood, he was finally beginning to believe his brothers’ taunts. His oldest brother Fer-in and his next oldest, Serpt, both could teleport themselves vast distances and had easily passed their tests of manhood. Karn, the brother closest to him in age, could read minds and, with great effort, control them, given time. He was even now on his test of manhood, but no one doubted that soft spoken Karn would do anything but succeed. Reveral was starting to be concerned with his own chances at surviving the test.”

Wormy Again …

He’s back, and that blue demon just bit a giant pool cue hard.

And that does it for October 1978. A few nice articles, a few that did nothing for me at all. Have fun this weekend!

Dragon by Dragon – June 1978 (15)

First page of the magazine … Fantasy Air Cavalry from Ral Partha. It’s a good start, let’s see how they finish.

Best line in Kask’s editorial this time …

“In the past year, we have met and overcome all obstacles in our path save one: the U.S. Post Offal.”

The more things change …

First article is Dragon Magic by Michael Benveniste. This is in the D&D Variant series (God, I love seeing that in an official TSR publication).

“The magic used by dragons is tempered by their nature. Dragons
are creatures of rock and wind, having little use for plants and water.
They feel little need for offensive spells, believing that their own body
and deadly breath fulfill this need.”

What follows is a spell list for dragons, and this idea: All dragons have a secret name they will reveal to nobody, under no circumstances. A legend lore or wish reveals a clue, but not the name, nor does commune or similar spells. A limited wish just confirms or denies a guess. Speaking the dragon’s name dispels all of his spells, and allows the speaker to demand one – just one – service from that dragon. Nice concept for driving a game: “We can’t get to the top of the Godmountain without the help of the Dragon of Peaks, and to do that we need to learn its true name.”

The spell list has all sorts of new dragon spells, including 1st level – Breath Charm, Charm Avians, Evaluate Item, Locate Lair, Magic Pointer, Werelight; 2nd level – See Other Planes, Wall of Gloom, Weave Barrier, Weight Control (boy, could you make money selling this one, as long as no phen phen is involved); 3rd level – Binding Spell, Hold Mammal, Mesh, Negate Enchantment I, Revelation, Servant Summoning I, Water to Wine, Wood to Sand; 4th level – Attack Other Planes, Rock to Sand, Seek, Turn Magic, Work Weather. There are some great, evocative names in there, and the more I read, the more I liked the idea. One sample …

“Water to Wine: A dragon loves good wine. This spell allows the dragon to convert any water (including salt or tainted) to wine valued even by Elves. Amount: 20 gallons per age class.”

Up next are a couple more D&D Variants. First, we have Pits by Richard Morenoff. It’s a pretty neat set of random tables to determine the contents or type of a pit. One possibility is a “citizen”, which consists of the following: Pipeweed grower, shipbuilder, hatmaker, beer merchant, sculptor, fisherman, locksmith, tool merchant, weapon merchant, teacher, loan shark and trapper. Old D&D means that 1 in 1000 pits found in a dungeon holds a pipeweed grower.

N. Robin Crossby of Australia next presents Random Events Table for Settlements and/or Settled Areas. This one is based on the current season (word to the wise, Spring and Winter are safer than Summer and Autumn). There can never be enough tables like this.

James Ward is up next with Monty and the German High Command, another expose of the gaming goings-on within TSR in 1978. The accompanying illustration brings me joy …

This one involves some WW2 Germans facing off against orcs, storm giants, manticores, an EHP (if you don’t know, you need to study your D&D history a little more closely), a warlock, heroes and superheroes, and trolls, all in an attempt to take a castle.

Jim Ward also presents some thoughts on Wandering Monsters, providing a list of Fourth Level wandering monsters. Takes me back to the game’s origin as a, well, game.

Jeff Swycaffer now presents Notes From Another Barely Successful D&D Player, a follow-up to Ward’s article in issue II/7. He tells of playing a “Maladroit”, who can’t cast spells, fight for a damn, pick locks or lead men. Instead, he lies like a rug. Some good ideas here – worth a read.

Jerome Arkenberg writes The Gospel of Benwa (is he referring to … hmmm) in Dragon Mirth, in which he extoles the Benwanite Heresy, that holds that all the problems in the world are due to the struggle between the Gods of Law and Chaos, and that only victory by the Gods of Neutrality can end misery on earth.

Gygax‘s From the Sorcerer’s Scroll covers D&D Ground Area and Spell Area Scale. Herein, he claims the confusion of 1″ = 10 feet indoors and 1″ = 10 yards outdoors will be cleared up in ADVANCED DUNGEON & DRAGONS. He explains how this originally came to pass – namely that the original scale was 1″ = 10 yards in CHAINMAIL, and that the 1/3 scale was devised by Arneson when he turned the tunneling and mining rules of CHAINMAIL into the dungeon rules of what would become DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. He also explains here that one turn = one scale minute in CHAINMAIL, but that for dungeon movement it was altered to one turn = ten minutes, since mapping and and exploring in an underground dungeon is slow work. The key here is that area of effect is always 1″ = 10 feet, even outdoors. So, there you go.

David Tillery is next with Weather in the Wilderness. This always seems to be such an obvious thing to do, but it has rarely paid off for me in a game. I usually just roll for inclement weather conditions when there’s to be an outdoor fight, to make the fight more interesting. Tillery has a pretty solid system, it seems – reminds me of the World of Greyhawk system.

Next, we have an ad announcing “TWO IMPORTANT NEW RELEASES FROM TSR”, those releases being GAMMA WORLD (love the original font) and the AD&D Player’s Handbook.

Next, we have Stellar Conquest: Examining Movement Tactics by Edward C. Cooper. Since I don’t know the game, I won’t go into it much, but I did enjoy the art:

Not enough space ships have giant pincers, in my opinion.

Next we have some fiction by L. Sprague deCampThe Green Magician.

“In that suspended gray mists began to whirl around them, Harold moment when the Shea realized that, although the pattern was perfectly clear, the details often didn’t work out right.

It was all very well to realize that, as Doc Chalmers once said, “The world we live in is composed of impressions received through the senses, and if the senses can be attuned to receive a different series of impressions, we should infallibly find ourselves living in another of the infinite number of possible worlds.” It was a scientific and personal triumph to have proved that, by the use of the sorites of symbolic logic, the gap to one of those possible worlds could be bridged.”

Funny – I just read this bit recently.

Next up … Fineous Fingers runs away from Grond the Anti-Paladin.

After that, a full page pic of Wormy counting his gold over a backgammon board.

The next article is Random Encounters for BOOT HILL, by Michael E. Crane. This should be useful for folks who play Old West games. It includes such things as mounted bandits, homesteaders in wagons, unarmed clergy, soldiers, indians, etc.

And so ends the June 1978 issue of The Dragon!

Dragon by Dragon – August 1976 (2)

August of 1976 – A month after the bicentennial, and Marvelites were grooving to such titles as Planet of the Apes, The Champions and Black Goliath, the Seattle Seahawks were playing their first game, Big Ben breaks down in London, Viking 2 enters orbit around Mars, the Ramones make their first appearance at CBGB, and The Dragon’s second issue hits the stands. So what did the gaming geek of 1976 get for his money?

John M. Seaton devises a procedure for “monkish” promotional combat (i.e. knock off the master to assume his level). I love this kind of thing, and given the recent popularity of FlailSnails Jousting, I wonder if there isn’t a market for FlailSnails Monkish Combat.

The procedure would be similar – write up 6 rounds of combat, denoting your strike, kick, block or other maneuvers, and then we see where it goes.


Lots of fiction in this issue.

The second installment of Gygax’s Gnome Cache is in this issue. I’ll freely admit this here – I almost never read the fiction in Dragon. I probably missed out on something.

Speaking of fiction, Jake Jaquet gives us the conclusion to “Search for the Forbidden Chamber”. Didn’t read this either.

Gardner Fox (you might have heard of him) has a short story in this issue called Shadow of a Demon which is covered very capably at Grognardia.

Another installment of “Mapping the Dungeons”, wherein DM’s of the 1970’s try to hook up with players via The Dragon. St. Louis appears to have had a surplus of DM’s looking for players – 8 of them in this issue.

Some dude named Paul Jaquays was running the Spring Arbor College Dungeoning Society in Spring Arbor MI. Wonder if he ever amounted to anything.

Through the magic of Google, I found the following DM’s online:

Keith Abbott of Muskegon MI

Michael Dutton of Mountain View CA might have done some art for WOTC – could be a different guy

Bill Fawcett of Schofield WI kinda founded Mayfair Games

Karl Jones – could be this guy?

Drew Neumann – maybe a composer of film and television scores – he was at Wylie E. Groves High School in Detroit at the right time (Class of ’77). Could have known Ellen Sandweiss, who was in Evil Dead. Did music for Aeon Flux

Scott Rosenberg of Jamaica NY – has a couple issues of The Pocket Armenian floating around online.

Ed Whitchurch has achieved some level of DM’ing fame

Joe Fischer gives us more tips for D&D Judges. He covers interesting entrances for dungeons (i.e. under stuff you don’t expect them to be under) and “friendly” traps that aren’t necessarily harmful. He also provides a random table for treasure chests that are, 50% of the time, trapped thus …

D% Trap
0-30 – 1d4 spring-loaded daggers fire when chest is opened
31-50 – Same as above, but daggers are poisoned
51-65 – Poisoned gas released when chest is opened
66-75 – When opened, chest acts as mirror of life trapping
76-85 – When opened, chest explodes for 1d6+1 dice of damage (wow!)
86-90 – When opened, an enraged spectre comes out [which can be read a couple ways, either of them endlessly entertaining]
91-95 – All characters within 5 feet lose one level [after the first use of this trap, I guarantee everyone will give the thief plenty of space when opening chests]
96-98 – All characters within 5 feet lose one magic item
99-00 – Intelligent chest with abilities of 2nd – 9th level magic-user [nice!]

He also mentions intelligent gold pieces that scream when removed from a room, or replacing real gold pieces in a dragon’s horde with chocolate coins (though as valuable as chocolate was in the “olden days”, that might actually be a step up). He also brings up the idea of creatures with odd alignments (chaotic dwarves, for example).

A couple more spotlights (Joe Fischer rocks!)

Monster Gems are 500 gp gems that can be commanded to turn into monsters (per rolling a wandering monster) for one week – when the week is up, or they are killed, the gem is destroyed as well. It might be fun to rule that every gem worth 500 gp (exactly) is a monster gem.

Hobbit’s Pipe (by Marc Kurowski) – Clay pipe, when smoked, gives ability to blow multi-colored smoke rings (4 per turn, moving at 4” (40’) per turn – love the specificity). The pipe can be smoked 3/day. He also offers up five magic pipeweeds, a bag of infinite wealth, helm of forgetfulness, and ring of infravision.

Lynn Harpold give a long account of Quetzalcoatl and his cult in Central America.

Creature Features gives us the remorhaz. Love the “stat block”:

Move: 12”
Hit Dice: 6/10/14 (8 sided) dice
% in Lair: 20%
Type Treasure: F
Bite for 3-36 points
Breath for 3, 5, or 7 dice of fire damage
Magical Resistance: 75%
Low Intelligence
Neutral
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4 if in lair)
Description: 30’ long. Blue Hued underneath, wings & head backed with red.
Armor Class: Underside: 4. Back: 0 plus special. Head: 2.

Apparently, the standardization bug had not yet bitten.

Jon Pickens presents the Alchemist, a new D&D class. They don’t label this one as an “NPC Class”, so I guess it is fair game for all you D&D-ers out there. I’ll roll one up quickly for FlailSnails:

Xander Wort, Neutral 1st level Alchemist (Student)
Str: 5; Int: 13; Wis: 16; Dex: 16; Con: 7; Cha: 10
HP: 2; Attack: As Cleric; Save: As Fighter (+2 vs. poison and non-magic paralyzation)

Special:
Max. AC is 5
Can use one-handed weapons (excluding magic swords)
Use poisons and magic items usable by all classes
Psionic ability as fighters (replace Body Weaponry with Molecular Agitation)

Special Abilities:
Detect Poison 20%
Neutralize Poison 10%
Neutralize Paralyzation 15%
Identify Potion 5%
Read Languages 80% (one attempt per week)
Prepare poisons (strength level equal to their level; costs 50 gp and 1 day per level) and drugs (as poisons, but knocks unconscious for 4 hours)
Prepare a potion of delusion

Potions:
None – until 3rd level (Scribe)

His bit on poison is pretty cool. If the HD of the poisoner or level of poison is equal to or greater than the victim’s HD, they must save or die. If at least half their HD, they are slowed until a constitution check is passed, trying once per hour. If less than half, there is no effect, but the poison accumulates in the blood until it’s enough to slow or kill the person. A very nice system!

This is actually a very groovy class. The hit points are low, so I don’t know how long Xander would have to live, but he can wear some decent armor and load up on poisoned darts and a poisoned long sword and might just make it to 2nd level.

Jon Pickens also presents optional weapon damage, allowing fighters and thieves to gain mastery in different weapons, increasing the damage they deal with them (except with dwarf hammers, military picks, pikes, pole arms and arrows). Fighters master one weapon per three levels, thieves one weapon per four (and are limited to sword, dagger and sling). Those with a Dex of 13 or better can gain mastery with a combination of two weapons, gaining the ability to strike with both weapons per round or with one weapon and treat the other as a shield. Sword and sword or flail and morningstar combos require a Dex of 16 or better.

Another good system – very clean and simple to use.

All in all, a pretty good issue. Lots of neat rules ideas and some good pulp literature.