Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Dragon #9

This is it folks, the last issue of The Dragon in the OD&D era (at least so far as this project goes). There's not a great deal of stuff to cover. But first, the things I ain't covering. The Dragon Rumbles editorial covers Origins '77, and points out all of its flaws while at the same time saying it won't be pointing them out. The Finzer Family concludes, with a clever take on the Aladdin story that fills like nine-tenths of the magazine. And there are a bunch of comics, including Floating in Timeless Space by Tom Wham, another installment of Finieous Fingers, and the debut of the legendary Wormy by the equally legendary Dave Trampier.

Mixing Alignments in D&D: Gary's back to give us some more words about alignment, and how to solve some of the problems that DMs are having with it. The most common problem seems to be that of high-level PCs forcing new players into a certain alignment, in which case Gary advises subterfuge. He then goes on to describe how alignments interact in cities, and some of the effects that players might incur should they start to tip the alignment balance.

There are a couple of quotes that are of interest to the World of Greyhawk. The first concerns the general alignment of the populace: "The Greyhawk Campaign is built around the precept that "good" is the desired end sought by the majority of humanity and its allied races (gnomes, elves, et al.)". This is the standard in most D&D campaigns, but it's nice to have it spelled out.

The second gives some background in the City of Greyhawk: "This walled town was the area trade center and seat of feudal power, then began to decline when the overlordship transferred from a suzerain to the city itself, but is now undergoing a boom due to the activities of adventurers and the particular world system events (a new struggle between lawful good and chaotic evil, with the latter on the upswing). The oligarchs of the city are neutral in outlook, if not in alignment, viewing anything which benefits their city as desirable. Therefore, all sorts of creatures inhabit the city, commerce is free, persons of lawful alignment rub elbows with chaotics, evil and good co-exist on equitable terms. Any preeminence of alignment is thwarted by the rulers of the place, for it would tend to be detrimental to the city trade." That's probably the clearest picture we've had yet about just what the City of Greyhawk is like and how it works.

Seal of the Imperium: It just wouldn't be an issue of The Dragon without an Empire of the Petal Throne article by M.A.R. Barker. This time he's answering questions from fans, and there are a bunch – not surprising given the depth and complexity of his world. Before tackling the questions, he goes into an interesting tangent about how the game version of Tekumel is different from the 'real' version – mostly in the amount of treasure available. It's nice to see a writer who understands that the needs of a game setting and a fiction setting are quite different.

The questions begin with a few spell clarifications. Detect Evil/Good gets a slight tweak in that it detects only hostile or beneficial magic. There's a whole explanation of ESP and how it works on people who speak different languages, as well as monsters with totally alien mind-sets. The transmutation spell is given the function of turning a substance only into a different form of the same substance. Cure Disease and Neutralise Poison don't work on radiation sickness (and I need to reiterate how awesome it is that EPT is full of broken down technology and radiation and atomic bombs). There's a bit about how differing religions treat each other – with 'polite circumspection', as well as a brief history as to why this is the case. There are details about the various 'secret societies' employed by the temples, as well as the gods that the the monstrous Ssu and Hlyss worship. Burning monsters with oil receives a longish set of guidelines. The idea of earning experience for treasure gained by commercial use of one's skills is brought up, and summarily shot down by Professor Barker (and too right!). And there is also some stuff about how PCs will be treated upon entering a new village.

It's an eclectic Q&A, and as usual it's full of tidbits and useful stuff.

The Fastest Guns That Never Lived (Part II): As I've said before, the Wild West (as presented in the RPG Boot Hill) will be a part of my campaign. This article gives stats for a number of movie stars, I suppose based on the characters they most often portrayed. I'll be having these guys show up as NPCs, but the problem is that i don't know who some of them are – and I need to if I'm going to annoy my players with bad impressions.

Here's the list of who is included here: Don "Red" Barry, Wild Bill Elliot, "Hoot" Gibson, William S. Hart, Tim Holt, Rocky Lane, Col. Tim McCoy, Joel McCrea, Tom Mix, The Durango Kid, Bob Steele, Lee Van Cleef, The Cisco Kid, and Poncho.

Man, I'm totally going to kill some PCs with Lee Van Cleef.

Tombs & Crypts: This article is simply a series of charts that can be used to randomly generate the contents of a tomb or crypt. Not much to say here, except that this sort of thing is handy to have around. And I like the chart that gives you a bunch of very small dungeon descriptions to randomly generate.

The only problem is that the first chart has the columns all screwed up, so it's hard to figure out exactly what has been rolled. Still, it's easily fixed with a little manual reformatting.

NEXT: Monster & Treasure Assortments, Sets 1-3! The end of the OD&D era!

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