Friday, June 26, 2015
The Dragon #13
Another week, another issue of The Dragon. This one doesn't have as much material to discuss as issue #12 did, so this post will probably be a little shorter. It's an added bonus for the fiction having nothing to do with any D&D setting.
How Heavy is My Giant? by Shlump da Orc: Leaving aside the unlikely pseudonym of this article's author, I must say that this could come in handy. The main focus is on providing realistic weights for creatures of larger than man-size, and also for creatures made of stone or other nonliving substances. There's a bit of math involved, and to be honest I'm not all that sure how accurate it is, but it could certainly come in handy. Of particular note is a table listing various substances (mostly metals, wood and stone), and their weight in cubic feet. I have to commend the thoroughness of the author, because he even goes so far as to provide math for how deep a giant's footprint would be, depending on the giant's size and the surface it's walking on. It's not the sort of thing that's going to come up in every game, and to be honest I would wing it if it ever did, but it's still nice to know that I can look it up if I ever need to.
Tolkien in Dungeons & Dragons by Rob Kuntz: In which Rob does his best to downplay the influence of Tolkien on D&D, and boost other authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. It seems a fair point to me; the tone of early D&D is much closer to the latter authors, and Tolkien's influence was mainly used to pad out the monsters and playable races. You can't stop players doing their thing, though, and the Tolkien influence became greater as later generations took control of the game (peaking with 2nd edition, perhaps). At this stage, though, Rob is correct.
The Bionic Supplement by Brian Blume: A Metamorphosis Alpha article with rules for characters who want to replace their body parts with bionics. I do plan to have the Starship Warden as a possible adventure locale in my campaign, so I'll file this article away for later reference, but it doesn't really relate to D&D in any way. I'd have to change the rules completely to use it anyway.
Demon Generation by Jon Pickens: Pickens provides a series of random tables with which the DM can create demons that are unique, and not drawn from Supplement III (note that we're still referencing OD&D products, as the Monster Manual may not have been released when this article was written). Not only does he give a good range of spell-like abilities, but the look of the demon is determined by rolling twice on the dungeon encounter tables and combining the result. Not only that, but said demon also gains the abilities of both creatures (though I'm somewhat disheartened that the author dismisses the notion of a vampire with a beholder's head as too powerful). The article finishes with a sample demon, named Nasthrapur, who is a physical cross between a red dragon and wild cattle (so a winged, scaly humanoid with a bull's head). I'll add him to my growing list of NPCs.
The Japanese Mythos by Jerome Arkenberg: Adding new mythos to those presented in Supplement IV seems to be all the rage at this point in The Dragon's history, and as usual I will put them into my campaign as the gods worshipped in the region of the world that corresponds to Japan. There's little chance that the PCs will ever go there, but if they do there will be a religion there for me to use.
The gods themselves are the usual uber-powerful sort, but there are a few monsters at the end that are also very strong. Why would a Kappa be significantly stronger than most of the monsters in the Monster Manual, especially those that are also of mythological origin? It's a trend that I've noticed in these articles, and it bugs me a little. I'm all for the gods and unique beings being presented in this fashion, but the mythological monsters should be in line with the rest of D&D.
Silly Songs for D&Ders by Stone: So this is where it starts, is it? I'll level with my readers here: I'm not amused by this kind of thing. I generally enjoy the D&D humour strips, but the articles make me want to pound the author's head through a monitor. These songs are no different. I had initially thought I might use them as orcish drinking songs or whatever, but they make too many references to the real world, and the game itself. So, out they go, and no part will they have in my campaign.
Warlord: Correcting a Few Flaws by Tim Kask: In which Kask rewrites the rules of the game Warlord to make it more playable. I have no experience with the game, so it doesn't mean much to me.
The Stolen Sacrifice by Gardner Fox: This is a competent Conan knock-off, but enjoyable enough. It's the third story featuring Niall of the Far Travels that's appeared in The Dragon, and probably the least interesting. Mercifully, it's got nothing to do with D&D, so I don't have to dissect it.
Comics: Finieous Fingers fails to get inside an evil wizard's castle, while in Wormy two trolls discuss the merits of dwarfburgers.
Notes From a Semi-Successful D&D Player by Jim Ward: Ward provides a list of tips to help players survive, the sort of stuff that is old hat now but would have been quite clever at the time. Casting continual light on a wand, keeping your potions in steel flasks, using poison, buying extra spell books, that sort of thing. I do like his suggestion of polymorphing a cockatrice into a snail, then later throwing it at your enemies and casting dispell magic. There's also a mention that the haste spell can't be made permanent, as it can cause heart failure. Although this is not exactly what will be settled on with regard to nerfing haste, it's the first ever mention that the spell has a drawback.
Next time I'll be looking at The Dragon #14, followed by Outdoor Geomorphs Set 1: Walled City (which I should probably have done already, chronologically speaking). After that, it's time to strap in for another long series of posts as I tackle the AD&D Player's Handbook. Hopefully this one won't take me five years to get through, like the Monster Manual did.