Thursday, April 09, 2020

Recaps & Roundups part 58: The Dragon #7

The Dragon #7 was cover-dated June 1977.  I originally covered it way back in 2010 (!) if you want a more in-depth look at it.  This issue marks the one year anniversary of the magazine's birth, and in the "Dragon Rumbles" editorial Tim Kask is quick to note that circulation has jumped by 300% since the first issue.  It was mentioned last issue that The Dragon was going to be covering a wider variety of games, and as such there's not a lot of D&D content to be had here.

These are the articles with no D&D relevance: "What to Do When Dogs Eat Your Dice" by Omar Kwalish presents some alternate number generation methods (including some absurdities like snatching chest hairs and using numbered jumping beans); "Mapping the Dungeons" has more addresses of DMs (including one from Australia, representin' for my homeland!); "Mystery Hill - America's Stonehenge?" by Lynn Harpold wastes space with the history of an American rock formation; "The Journey Most Alone" by Morno is a sequel to his earlier story "The Forest of Flame"; the comic strip "Finieous Fingers" begins a new story; and "Editor's Library" reviews Steve Jackson's O.G.R.E., and gives the thumbs up to Judges Guild.

"Gary Gygax on Dungeons & Dragons: Origins of the Game": Presents Gary's perspective on how D&D came to be.  Most of what's said is quite well-trodden territory.  As far as things that are relevant to my campaign, near the beginning Gary mentions the Great Kingdom, and states that Dave Arneson's land of Blackmoor was placed to the northeast.  I'd been of a mind to ignore that statement, as later maps show Blackmoor in a more north-westerly direction.  Now that I've seen some of the extant maps of the Great Kingdom (such as Dave Megarry's, which I've included below) I'm definitely inclined to ignore it. It's possible Gary just made a mistake here.

Dave Megarry's map of the Great Kingdom

"Military Formations of the Nations of the Universe" by M.A.R. Barker: When you see Professor Barker's name, you know there's some Empire of the Petal Throne comin' at ya. This lengthy article discusses the various military formations used by the armies of Tekumel, complete with rad names like "the two gates of Wuru, the many-legged serpent of gloom".  I'll keep this one in mind in case my players ever get embroiled in mass combat in Tekumel.

"Featured Creature: The Prowler": A serpentine creature with a gaze that can wipe its victims' minds, turning them into "zombei's" (yes, that's how it's spelled) under the prowler's control.  It will then lay eggs inside the zombei and send them roaming the wilderness until the eggs hatch.  As with most non-standard monsters from The Dragon, I'm inclined to make it unique, or use it very sparingly. On my original pass through, I thought of using a sage who insisted on pronouncing "zombei" in a specific manner, who would sharply correct any PC who used the standard "zombie". I still like the idea.

"The Gnome Cache, Chapter 7" by Garrison Ernst (aka Gary Gygax): This is the final installment of Gary's serialised novel, which got unceremoniously cut off because Tim Kask thought it was a bit crap.  It ends with the main characters, Dunstan and Mellerd, encountering a dwarf being chased by giant toads and weirdly hopping men.  This is a round up of the details relevant to my campaign:

  • The Nehron uprising mentioned by the bandits last issue was no hoax, and they actually have taken Blackmoor.
  • East of Blackmoor is a jumble of broken terrain stretching out to the sea, home to roving bands of Nehronlanders.
  • West is a trackless forest which leads to the slopes of the Senescent Hills, an inhospitable place that is home to creatures that do not welcome men.
  • The Free City of Humpbridge bends from south-west to south across the base of the Senescent range.
  • South-west of Blackmoor, in a valley near the Senescents, is a strange black river.

Originally I decided that the fates of Dunstan and Mellerd in my campaign would be death at the hands of the frog men, and I'm still probably going to go with that.  I was also going to tie it in to Dave Arneson's "Temple of the Frog" adventure, given the presence of giant frogs near Blackmoor, by putting the remains of Dunstan and Mellerd (and the dwarf, I guess) in the wilderness nearby.  And because the story was called "The Gnome Cache", I'm going to make said dwarf a gnome, and put a treasure map on his body.

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