Dragon Magazine #180

Dragon Magazine #180
SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS
Issue # 180
Vol. XVI, No. 11
April 1992
Publisher
James M. Ward
Editor
Roger E. Moore
Fiction editor
Barbara G. Young
Associate editor
Dale A. Donovan
Editorial assistant
Wolfgang H. Baur
Art director
Larry W. Smith
Production staff
Gaye O’Keefe Angelika Lokotz
Tracey Zamagne Mary Chudada
Subscriptions
Janet L. Winters
U.S. advertising
Roseann Schnering
U.K. correspondent
and U.K. advertising
Bronwen Livermore
Insert
AD&D™ Trading Cards— TSR staff
Your preview of the 1992 series is here in this issue!
OTHER
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FEATURES
Not Quite the Frontispiece — Ken Widing
Our April Fool’s section wandered off. Just enjoy.
Suspend Your Disbelief! — Tanith Tyrr
Maybe it’s fantasy, but your campaign must still make sense!
Not Another Magical Sword!?! — Charles Rodgers
Why own just any old magical sword when you can own a legend?
Role-playing Reviews — Rick Swan
A good day for the thought police: three supplements on psionics.
Your Basic Barbarian — Lee A. Spain
So your fighter has a 6 intelligence. Make the most of it.
Hot Night in the Old Town — Joseph R. Ravitts
If your cleric thinks his home life is dull, wait till the DM sees this!
Colorful Connection — Raymond C. Young
What’s the puzzle within this puzzle? A fantasy crossword for gamers.
The Voyage of the Princess Ark — Bruce A. Heard
What happens when a D&D® game character dies?
Your Own Treasure Hunt — Robin Rist
When funds run low in your gaming club, it’s time for a fund-raising
adventure.
57
66
68
70
The Role of Computers — Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser
A visit with Dr. Brain, Elvira, and the Simpsons.
82
Murder Most Fowl — fiction by Deborah Millitello
The goose that laid the golden eggs is dead—and almost everyone has
a motive to kill it.
95
98
112
Wear Your Best Suit! — Justin Mohareb
The best defense is a battlesuit in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES™ game.
Novel Ideas — Will Larson and Pat McGilligan
Two new trilogies are launched from the two popular settings.
The Power of the Pen — The editors
Tell us what you think, and win big! A readers’ survey—with prizes.
The Dragon’s Bestiary — Spike Y. Jones
A goat that knocks down walls, and a lizard that knocks down
everything.
The Wanderers — Jerold M. Stratton
Wouldn’t it be nice to have logical random-roll encounter tables?
Through the Looking Glass — Robert Bigelow
Is it real, or is it one of Saddam’s decoys? Notes on Desert Storm gaming.
DEPARTMENTS
5 Letters
6 Editorial
37 Forum
63 Convention Calendar
77 Sage Advice
92 TSR Previews
102 Dragonmirth
104 Twilight Empire
108 Gamers Guide
COVER
There’s nothing like getting the gang together with a dragon and some stolen
treasure to make a dwarf’s day perfect. Our cover artist, Dan Frazier, reveals a
cheerful romp in a dungeon corridor over the ownership of some loot.
4 APRIL 1992
What did you think of this issue? Do you have
a question about an article or have an idea for a
new feature you’d like to see? In the United
States and Canada, write to: Letters, DRAGON®
Magazine, P.O. Box 111, Lake Geneva WI 53147,
U.S.A. In Europe, write to: Letters, DRAGON
Magazine, TSR Ltd., 120 Church End, Cherry
Hinton, Cambridge CB1 3LB, United Kingdom.
Unanswerables
The following are short excerpts from letters
that were actually received by the editors of
DRAGON Magazine. Except for minor editing,
they appear as they were written.
Dear Dragon,
Why isn’t there a table or something for
falling in love? I mean, if you look through the
Monster Manuals, you find some rather cute
beasties such as the dryad, sprite, alu demon,
Glasya, and nereids. But, of course, there’s those
girls in the group who have 18 comeliness. But
my DM just doesn’t look like the kind of guy
who would put something like that in our
group. You see, there’s this girl elf in our group
who really makes me weak in the knees. Oh,
well, just send me a table if there is one, though
I seriously doubt it.
P.S. If there is a table, could you rig it so that
female elves fall in love with 9th-level assassins?
This paper was sent to you for good luck. The
original is in New England. The luck has been
sent to you. You will receive good luck within
four days of receiving this letter, provided in
turn you send it on. This is no joke. You will
receive good luck in the mail. An R.A.F. officer
received $470,000.00. Joe Elliot received
$40,000.00 and lost it because he broke the
chain.
I am sending you a copy of my 215th-level
magic-user/fighter, Sharmal. Will you send me a
remodified copy of him telling me what is legal
and illegal about the character?
One of my PCs fell in love with an NPC who is
a silver dragon. He accepts her for what she is.
They have been married for some time now and
want to know if it is possible to have a child.
Have you ever taken a shower with a person
who has been mauled by a tiger? I have.
My friend and I have an idea for a submission
to your magazine concerning cross-breeding of
races (e.g., half-troll, half-umber hulk, etc.) and
we would sure like a copy of your writer’s
guidelines
I have a problem. The only campaign in my
area cheats like hell. They make up stupid rules
(such as sex drive), and they don’t use most of
the real rules (such as THAC0, saving throws,
and experience points). Their characters get to
the 40th level in one week. The DM says ability
scores of STR 25, DEX 23, CON 18, INT 23, WIS
18, CHAR 16 are weak. It drives me crazy. Since
there’s no other campaigns in my area, what
should I do?
. . . Please make twenty copies of this letter
and see what happens in four days. The chain
comes from South Venezuela and was written
by a missionary from South America. Since the
copy must make a tour of the world, you must
make twenty copies and send them to your
friends and associates. After a few days, you
will get a surprise. . . .
My character’s name is “Brogg.” He is a 475thlevel fighter with 2,078 hp. Brogg is immune to
everything except a +3 club. And I would like
you to send me some new monsters that you
think could defeat him! He has killed almost all
of the arch-devils, dragons, etc. He has killed
everything in the Monster Manual I and II, and
the FIEND FOLIO® tome.
My question is, what characteristics do I get
with dwarf/human offspring? (Dwarven females
are in short supply.) What are the differences
between half-brother PCs with the same half-elf
father but with a human mother and an elf
mother? What do I do if my crazy chaotic
dwarven baron succeeds in his siege of the
elven dowager viscountess’s castle? My worstcase scenario is a character whose grandparents
include a half-elf, a stout halfling, a half-orc, and
a dwarf. Any help on these genetic problems
would be appreciated.
Is it possible for you to send me a complete
list of the prices of slaves you can buy?
A friend of mine wrote to you and asked you
if he could have a half-cat character (like in
Thundercats). And I was wondering if you said
that he could have them in the DUNGEONS &
DRAGONS® role-playing game? I was also wondering if he could also use all the weapons from
Thundercats—e.g., +5 claw shield or a sword of
omens? Because he said that you said he could.
If a werewolf had sex with a human woman, is
there a chance she would contract lycanthropy?
Keep getting those great cover paintings.
(Larry Elmore would be welcome to tattoo my
back!)
When you’ve got a three-spelljammer garage,
keep gold dragons as pets, and rule a kingdom
when you’re not moonlighting as an assassin of
gods, it’s easy to forget that you started out with
a broad, or maybe a long sword, and some
chain mail, and a dungeon.
My house was minor damaged by Tiamat and
when I almost killed her she alway go back to
the 9 plains of hell. This happens about 3 times
every 6 months in D&D terms. I want to put a
stop to her coming and destroying my house,
friends, and most importantly my hit points.
Can you tell me how.
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Continued on page 120
DRAGON 5
Artwork by Michael Ferman
The centaur of attention
Once upon a time, there was a happy
gnome thief with light fingers, a magical
dragonfly, and a human girlfriend. He had
it all, as far as he was concerned, but later
events proved that it wasn’t enough. One
day he got himself killed out in the wilderness when no clerics were about except
for one old druid who muttered some
phrases, waved his hands, and had the
gnome reincarnated. Then there was no
gnome at all; instead, there was a groggy
eagle wearing gnome clothes.
It took time for the ex-gnome to get used
to his new form. He lost his girlfriend and
thief skills, of course, and he gave away
his magical dragonfly, but after a while he
began to like being an eagle. It wasn’t bad
at all to soar thousands of feet over the
party, to see encounters miles away, to
dive on orcs with claws outstretched and
to fly so fast that arrows could barely
catch him. So eagle he stayed, for many
exciting adventures. The moral of this
story is: Hey, why not?
The eagle was one of my characters in
an AD&D® game played long ago. About
half the AD&D game groups I’ve been
with have featured at least one oddball
player character that you’d never have
imagined would be allowed in the game.
As long as the character isn’t some sort of
godling, things often work out just fine
(even extreme circumstances can be tolerated for an adventure or two). Some
groups have more trouble with cavaliers
from the AD&D 1st Edition game than
they have with centaur archers, dryad
wizards, or aquatic-elf clerics.
Every role-playing game has different
6 APRIL 1992
standards for what it accepts as legitimate
character types. As has been discovered
by many gamers around the world, however, such rules are usually flexible
enough to allow for even weirder characters than the designers imagined. Some
games, like TSR’s GAMMA WORLD® system, allow for incredibly bizarre characters including robots and mutant animals
and plants, many of which are perfectly
playable even if they aren’t human at all.
(An insectoid thri-kreen from the AD&D
DARK SUN™ campaign and an amoeboid
Dralasite from TSR’s STAR FRONTIERS®
game are completely nonhuman but useable within their respective rules.) Face it:
In terms of game mechanics, you can
make a toaster with arms and legs just as
effective a character as anything else.
A few general game-mechanics limits are
usually observed in order for a novel
character in any role-playing game system
to become a playable one—but, as shall be
noted, even these “laws” may be violated,
at least for a short period of time.
Intelligence: All characters in any roleplaying game, even barbarians (and even
toaster characters in Steve Jackson Games’
TOON* game, as noted in the editorial in
issue #178), are assumed to have at least
enough intelligence to plan out what they
want to do in their next game turn. Of all
the basic necessities for oddball characters, this one is the least likely to be discarded (though I’m sure some people who
play barbarians and toasters will take
issue with me). If a character is too dumb
to think, it’s too dumb to be played.
Communication: The character
should ideally be able to communicate
with the rest of the adventuring group,
meaning that the player can simply talk
with the other gamers and the game master to make his character’s words and
deeds clear. However, many game systems
hamper communication between characters because of language difficulties. Mute,
deaf, or blind characters might also have
trouble making themselves understood,
and if they cannot read or write, either,
then they are in a fix. If a player has a
character who relies on pantomime or
sign language, the GM might require the
player to perform the same actions as his
character in order to see if anyone else
understands what the character is saying
(this could turn into an amusing party
game even under the pressure of a dangerous encounter—perhaps especially
then!).
Optionally, the character might not want
to communicate with the rest of the
group. If the character is silently and
invisibly following the other adventurers,
he would need only to communicate with
the GM to make his actions known.
Though the other players know that the
“missing” character’s player is present
(unless that part is a secret, too, with the
player being secluded in another room or
even in another home, communicating
with the GM by phone during breaks in
the main action), their characters won’t
have the faintest clue unless the hidden
character has a dose of bad luck. In most
games, this situation might occur if the
hidden character is a thief, a spy, or a
secret benefactor who helps the heroes
without their knowledge. Perhaps he is
forbidden to speak with the other characters thanks to some sort of spell or religious belief. Perhaps, however, the
character is by nature unable to communicate effectively, being transformed into a
pack mule, a bird, or the like. (The eagle in
the introduction was able to use telepathy,
so it didn’t count.) Perhaps it even started
the game as an animal or other being that
could not speak.
In the long run, a character who cannot
communicate with other characters is not
much fun to play. On short-term missions
this isn’t as much of a problem, and if
cleverly run it adds much spice to the
goings-on. I wouldn’t recommend more
than one PC being incommunicado during
an adventure, as the adventure then becomes nothing more than an endless
string of notes being passed to the GM
with no one knowing what’s going on.
Manipulative ability: The character
should be able to use tools, weapons, or
magical powers that allow it to alter its
environment. This broad statement includes things like beating up monsters,
picking up treasure, fixing armor, catching
food, writing letters, drawing maps, etc.
However, you might have situations in
which a character is unable to use his
hands (being restrained or injured) or has
no hands at all (being a nonhuman animal
or robot). Even a tentacle can be a blessing
if it can flip off a light switch or carry a
dagger or gun; my eagle could use his
claws and beak to pick up and carry
things.
Playing a character with limited or no
manipulative ability is a real challenge. A
paladin in a long-ago AD&D game was
transformed into a giant cockroach for
smart-mouthing a deity; it was quite amusing to see how he got around for the next
two weeks of game time, being unable to
open doors, carry weapons, etc. A character with no way to handle things might
still prove useful as a scout or advisor.
Consider an SF-game character who is a
computer, unable to move about but able
to speak with the other heroes through
radios and able to see what’s going on by
watching television pictures sent by small
cameras carried by the heroes or mounted
on the group’s car. Game editor Anne
Brown recalls an adventure using
Chaosium’s CALL OF CTHULHU* game in
which her brother-in-law’s investigator
literally lost his body. The hero became an
insubstantial, invisible presence that was
unable to pick up any object or even communicate with other group members
unless he was allowed to temporarily
possess an investigator. However, he made
a dandy spy, being able to pass through
solid objects and report back later about
traps and monsters lurking ahead of the
group.
Movement: The character should be
able to move about in the game world
with the other characters, sensing what
they do and able to go where they go.
However, there are exceptions like the
computer in the SF game mentioned previously, or a sentient plant or crystalline life
form. An intelligent sword in a fantasy
game could move about only if someone
carried him (unless it was capable of
“dancing” —fighting an opponent on its
own—or could control a flesh golem or
unintelligent monster). In one game in
which I took part, one character was a
cleric who was cursed to remain only 6”
tall; he had his own special carrying case
when the group had to move along at a
rapid rate.
Compatible power: One player in an
early game I refereed had a demigod character who constantly caused problems for
other player characters. Had I used any
smarts in the matter, I would have simply
banned his character from play in my
games, but I was a novice and didn’t do it,
so several potentially good games managed
to get out of hand.
By compatible power, I mean that no one
character can control the actions of other
characters or handle the majority of all
conflicts and problems the group faces as
a whole. If someone is so powerful as to
make the rest of the group redundant on
an adventure, that character is too powerful. Anyone should be able to run a character significantly weaker than most
others if he wants, however, as this could
provide interesting role-playing opportunities. How well would a 1st-level halfling
thief cope with an AD&D adventure in
which everyone else is 20th level? Maybe
the thief has some use after all (“Hey, let
me open the door, okay? I can check for
traps!”). Maybe the weakest character has
something that gives him more power, or
has a mission that no one else can accomplish (what did Bilbo and Frodo Baggins
do, after all?).
If the player is trustworthy, other group
members might let him play a very powerful character if his actions are constrained
so as to make other characters important.
Gandalf traveled with some dwarves and a
hobbit, I recall, and everyone was important to the adventure at Lonely Mountain
in some way. Perhaps the most powerful
character in a group might be a female
golden dragon who has secretly assumed
human shape to rescue her children from
a dungeon, but she cannot assume dragon
shape in narrow corridors; she might look
for competent fighters and thieves to
assist her, but she’ll otherwise act like a
wizard. Perhaps the toughest character is
a cursed monster (a ki-rin or a deva, may
be) or a high-level cleric forced to do penitence and limit his abilities. In any event,
he can’t finish the adventure on his own—
he needs some helping hands.
Cohesiveness: The ability of a character to work on group goals with low friction is very important. In a long-term
campaign, this quality ranks second in
importance for a playable character only
to intelligence. Granted, amusing adventures can be had with set-ups like West
End Games’ PARANOIA* system, in which
everyone is a traitor out to sell out everyone else for personal gain, and this idea
works well for most short-playing adventures. But if the players genuinely don’t
trust each other in a serious setting, the
gaming group will fall apart and is very
unlikely to be resurrected.
Rewards: In almost every game system, characters have the chance to gain
some sort of reward for their deeds, be it
experience points, karma points, higher
ability and skill scores, better combat and
defensive abilities, more hit points, more
spells, or whatever. Even if the character
cannot gain bonuses to his personal statistics, he can gain money, treasure, property, personal favors, wishes, and fame,
and the player gains the enjoyment of
outwitting the GM. My eagle took the
treasure route as he could use certain
magical items, and he could always use
favors from other group members or from
the people they rescued. I also used to
play a high-level half-ogre fighter who no
longer cared about collecting either experience or treasure, simply enjoying the
thrill of pitting himself against terrible
foes (I’ve played a silver dragon and several neutral ogres for the same reason).
Given these seven characteristics and
the knowledge that you can fudge with
several of them and still get an enjoyable
and playable character, you can come up
with some very interesting roles for your
next gaming session. If someone has a
paladin, would someone else like to roleplay his talking war horse or Pegasus? If
someone has a wizard, would someone
else like to play her brownie or pseudodragon familiar? The CREATURE
CRUCIBLE™ accessories for the D&D®
game each offer a wide assortment of
unusual character races, and past articles
in DRAGON® Magazine have given such
variant AD&D game races as half-ogres
(issue #22), winged folk (#51), centaurs
(#103 and #105), half-dryads and halfsatyrs (#109), aquatic elves (#116), aarakocra (#124), and humanoids (#141). The
RPGA™ Network has had AD&D tournaments in which all of the characters were
lycanthropes, animals, monsters, plants, or
undead revenants (they died in the first
round and were brought to unlife in the
second to complete their mission). In one
adventure, only one character was human
and the rest were his sentient magical
items.
If you’re looking for more ideas on bizarre characters, check out other roleplaying games and see what they offer.
Some recent horror games allow the characters to become vampires, but even a
vampire is pretty normal compared to
certain SF aliens such as the Hiver from
GDW’s MEGATRAVELLER* game. I once
tried to talk a GM into letting a friend and
me role-play a two-headed giant, with each
of us running half the giant; maybe you’ll
have better luck than I did.
The next time you’re in the mood to
experiment and bend a few role-playing
rules just to see what happens, give this a
try. You may have to spend a little time
figuring out just what a sentient holy
sword or think tank can do to make itself
useful as a character, but the time might
well be worth the effort. After all, roleplaying is only a game, and games are
meant to be fun.
* indicates a product produced by a company other
than TSR, Inc. Most product names are trademarks
owned by the companies publishing those products.
The use of the name of any product without mention
of its trademark status should not be construed as a
challenge to such status.
DRAGON 7
by Tanith Tyrr
Artwork by Joseph Pillsbury
Too many Dungeon Masters construct
their AD&D® adventures arbitrarily, creating cities, monsters, and characters without rhyme or reason. Cities spring up out
of thin air, built by the whims of the DM
and populated with inhabitants who apparently eat leaves and dirt as no arable
farmland is in sight. The citizens spend all
their time hanging out in taverns and
offering the party gold and magical treasures to defeat evil monsters who romp
around in empty dungeons, apparently
eating cave moss and stray adventurers
since dungeons can’t support balanced
ecological systems. The dungeons, of
course, consist of numerous underground
rooms connected by twisting tunnels, all
built by little elves or dwarves or whatever solely to harbor monsters and store
treasure for adventurers to discover.
If this sounds painfully familiar, then
you or your DM is missing something that
would be called a plot if we were dealing
with a literary adventure instead of one
for a role-playing game. Plots are what
give motivation to the player characters
and, ultimately, give continued life to a
campaign.
Do you believe in magic?
One of the most important elements of a
plot, albeit an unseen and subtle one, is
called suspension of disbelief. It allows a
reader or player to pick up a story line
and accept the existence of things not
known to exist, like ghosts, fairies, magic,
starships, or aliens. Suspension of disbelief
allows this to happen without spoiling the
reader’s or player’s enjoyment by making
him stop and think, “Hey, that isn’t real.
Fireball spells don’t exist.” Logical consistency in your adventures enables your
players to enjoy this suspension of disbelief and empathize with the ghost, alien, or
fairy character that has no actual existence except in the author’s imagination.
Logical consistency means you don’t
violate the rules that you have set for your
universe. If you have established that
magic works, it ought to work in a reason-
able and consistent manner. I can say:
“Okay, magical spells exist in this reality.
What I cannot do is allow them to be
thrown around in a careless fashion. Only
certain people—mages—can cast these
spells after years of hard work and sacrifice, and they must perform certain specific gestures and rituals to cast them.
Such spells take energy, and some of them
cause a reaction in the body of the mage.” I
have now established a reasonable set of
rules for the use of magic, a sort of
pseudo-physics, and as long as I do not
violate them, my players can enjoy suspension of disbelief.
A fantasy role-playing game usually
provides a reasonably coherent system of
magic-use. Sticking to that system in a
consistent manner and making the events
in your fantasy world fit those rules of
magic will go a long way to making your
campaign a believable one. If an event
violates the magic system (for example, an
enemy mage goes invisible with a snap of
his fingers instead of chanting the usual
words and making spell-casting gestures),
there should be a good reason for it (perhaps the enemy mage has developed a
powerful invisibility spell).
T h ree- dimensional monsters
An area where suspension of disbelief is
necessary but seldom invoked is in the
creation of “monsters!” I can easily accept
that there are magical creatures if I have
accepted the existence of magic. What I
cannot accept is that they apparently run
around in underpopulated dungeons and
wildernesses with nothing to eat but the
occasional adventurer. The excuse that
they’re magical, so they don’t need to eat,
drink, or go to the bathroom, just doesn’t
make it.
If your monsters are intelligent, each
monster race should have a culture with
specific codes of appearance and social
behavior, and probably a religion or creation myth that justifies its social structure
or lack thereof. If the monsters are not
intelligent, they had better fit into a bal-
anced ecology with a specific prey or plant
population to support them; encounter
tables should reflect this. It takes a large,
steadily breeding population of prey animals to support one predator, and in any
given area, it is a lot more likely that a
party will meet a deer or other prey animal than a giant lizard or other predator.
How did your monster evolve? Is it a
natural beast that simply occupies a convenient environmental niche, or is it a
magical monster whose race was originally
created by an insane sorcerer’s experiment? If your monster is an intelligent
humanoid, what sort of a cultural background and codes of behavior does it
have, and how do these influence its interaction with the PCs? If people think the
monster is a threat, why is it a threat in
the first place? If you can’t justify a monster’s existence, you seriously jeopardize
your players’ suspension of disbelief.
Character consistency
Nonplayer characters also deserve logical consistency in a game. If they are welldrawn and colorful, with realistic motives
and distinctive personalities, they are
eagerly accepted as “real” by the players.
An antipaladin who kills innocents and
pulls wings off butterflies just because he’s
eeevil isn’t believable as a villain. Villains
can be totally psychotic, be vengeful of a
past defeat or injury, worship a fiend who
demands sacrifices in exchange for favors,
or just be hungry for wealth or power; a
motiveless villain who is bad “just because”
strains belief to its limits. Unintelligent
monsters’ motives are usually pretty simple: They attack you because they are
Neutral Hungry. Intelligent monsters
should have correspondingly more complex motives, ranging from defending
their territory or young to robbing you of
your goods and gold (if these creatures
appreciate the value of such things).
Even good-aligned people or creatures
can be violently opposed to the party for
various reasons, such as fanatical belief in
a cause, disputes over land or property
DRAGON 11
rights, or a clash of cultures. To a typical
elf or druid, the idea of land ownership
might be utterly laughable. Who could
possibly own Mother Earth? Any farming
culture will disagree, and disputes might
then arise over land use. The kender, a
small mischievous race detailed in the
DRAGONLANCE® books, don’t even recognize individual property rights, and neither does the Innuit (Eskimo) culture of
our own world. These and other cultural
differences can lead to problems and
result in no lack of challenges for the
party.
Urban organization
The cities and villages you create for
your world should have a practical economy, usually based on some surplus of
production, be it cattle, grain, or rare
magical herbs. The government should be
congruent with the local economy and
cultural values. An elven culture might be
nature-oriented and freewheeling, disdaining authority. A human village might be
crop-and-cattle oriented and highly classconscious, ruled by a council of merchant
elders or experienced farmers. An orcish
culture might be based on fighting prowess and a military hierarchy, and its rulers
might change monthly or yearly, as the
assassination of superiors might be considered a socially acceptable way to move up
in rank.
An isolated city or group might develop
a specific and unique culture, perhaps
similar to that of feudal Japan, which was
based on honor and elaborate social rituals. A bit of forethought can add a great
deal of local color to your city and the
characters within it, making them easier
to role-play.
An oft-neglected detail in the construction of cities is a fixed water supply, critical to any agrarian culture. Where is the
water, how do the people send it to the
city, and what happens if it fails? And
what about sewage? No humanoid group
of 20 or more can exist for long in one
place without a consistent way to dispose
of their wastes. This is one of the main
reasons why hunter/gatherer cultures
have to move around a lot—not to follow
game, but to escape garbage. Medieval
cities either solved that problem with
some sort of sewage disposal system or
else stank horribly and were filthy and
disease-ridden.
Of course, with the assumption of working magic, the water supply or sewage
system can be creatively supernatural. A
good example of this is depicted in the
Guardians of the Flame novels by Joel
Rosenberg. In the city of Pandathaway, a
baby dragon named Ellegon was chained
in a pit to burn the city’s waste bypro-
ducts. Said waste byproducts hit the proverbial fan when one of the heroes of the
books released Ellegon and left the city
without a viable sewage system. The city’s
rulers then had to pay outrageous sums to
clerics and mages to magically incinerate
the garbage, or have the streets piled
malodorously high in no time. DMs can
take their pick of methods, but should not
ignore the issue altogether.
Magical deus ex machina
Another serious impediment to achieving a successful suspension of disbelief is
deus ex machina, which is the use by an
author or Dungeon Master of any event,
item, or being to solve a messy situation in
a simplistic and very unconvincing manner. This appears as an arbitrary plot
device when seen in fantasy novels, or a
conveniently placed magical item when
seen in fantasy games. A horrendous
profusion of such “convenient” items,
acquired from “Monty Haul” DMs, adorns
the character sheets of many players,
making a 3rd-level thief a walking arsenal
comparable to a SWAT team. (“What? You
have two wands of Orcus?”) Even without
the problem of Monty Haul referees, a
character who has played in enough campaigns will eventually pick up a lot of
magical treasure. One or two magical
items in the party can add creative spice to
the game, giving the players more options
to use in surmounting their challenges,
but one or two items for every occasion is
a sure plot-killer.
Try this quick trivia quiz: How many
magical items were there among the entire
party in The Lord of the Rings or The
Sword of Shannara, or any other major
fantasy novel for that matter? The answer
is, invariably, “not many!” Why? Such items
ruin the plot if at every hint of danger the
heroes can whip out a magical thingamajig
and neatly extricate themselves from any
predicament. The vulnerability of the
heroes who strain against overwhelming
odds works in their favor to create an
enjoyable plot. Published authors know
that walking arsenals and arbitrary adventures will bore the waste byproducts out
of their audience, and they don’t inflict
them on their readers. Many game referees would do well to emulate those
authors.
Finding a balance between keeping up
the willing suspension of disbelief and
keeping the adventures exciting isn’t always easy, but it is well worth doing, as
any published author can tell you. So why
isn’t this principle valid in fantasy gaming
as well as fantasy writing? Should it even
apply to gaming at all? If you want to treat
the D&D or AD&D system as a game in
which the whole point is to garner treasure and magic and beat up the monsters,
then probably not. If you treat your campaigns as interactive adventures, with
your PCs as part of the plot, then the
answer is most emphatically yes.
12 APRIL 1992
14 APRIL 1992
Even the lowliest sword + 1 should be unique
by Charles Rodgers
Take #1:
GM: “Ahead, through the doorway,
Zandar sees a large reptilian shape.”
Player: “Zandar pulls out his sword.”
GM: “Which one?”
Player: “His sword +2, +5 vs. dragons.”
CUT!
Though I have played D&D® and
AD&D® games for the last 12 years, I still
have not seen adequate descriptive coverage of the weapons detailed in fantasy
gaming. Most players can name 20-40
different types of medieval weapons. Some
players might also remember how their
characters obtained their current weapons. These same players, however, can’t
tell you the specifics about those weapons
except for their official rule-book names
(e.g., sword +2, +5 vs. dragons). The
artists who depict the weapons used by
our fantasy characters have been doing an
excellent job. It is time for the writers and
gamers to catch up.
Most weapons outlast the characters
wielding them, being passed on to fellow
characters or subsequent generations.
Some of these weapons may be complex
enough to deserve their own record
sheets. Every weapon should have at least
a name. Even a high-quality dagger costing
20 gp should receive a nickname from its
owner; names like Small Fry, Needle, or
Minimal might apply,
I also feel that not every weapon with a
bonus to hit should be considered magical.
A weapon might be superior in balance,
have an exceptionally keen edge, be of
superior workmanship, or boast exotic
steel in its blade. It might have special
magical powers due to certain features on
the weapon itself, though the blade is not
itself magical. If characters use their nonmagical weapons to pry open gates and
chests, these nonmagical bonuses won’t
last for long. Any weapon with bonuses of
+ 3 or more should exhibit some type of
magical enhancement that was given for a
logical reason.
The following are just a few of the many
possible materials to increase our options
on weapon detail. Be creative in the weapons used in your campaign.
B r ai ns t o rmi ng b lad es
The following are suggestions for the
materials, shapes, and decorations for
fantasy swords. After that is a format for
detailing a magical blade and some questions that should be answered when a DM
creates any magical weapon for use in his
campaign.
Steel-alloyed blade materials: Mithril,
adamantite, stainless, high carbon (will
rust), damascus (layered steel).
Other blade materials (magically
strengthened): Crystal or glass (with glassteel), obsidian, ceramic, bone.
Blade shapes and features: Straight,
curved, tapered, kris (wavy blade), blood
grooves (fullers), notches.
Hand-guard materials: Brass, bronze,
steel, nickel.
Hand-guard shapes: Arched snakes,
clenched fists, clashing dragons, human or
godlike forms.
Handle materials: Ivory, fossilized ivory,
antler, horn, human or monster bone,
dragon teeth, ebony or exotic wood, marble, jade, leather-wrapped metal.
Handle shapes and features: Straight,
tapered, fluted (with straight or spiral
grooves), prism (flat sides, not rounded),
hand-fitted, hollow (detachable pommel;
can hold small items like gems, coins, small
tools, papers, liquid).
Pommel materials: Steel, crystal, or large
gemstone (magically strengthened).
Pommel shapes and features: Monster’s
head, cross, skull, holy symbol, treetop,
hand or paw, short blade.
Accents: Word engravings, picture carvings or etchings, magical runes, precious
metal inlays, jewels and gems.
The FORGOTTEN REALMS® accessory,
FR4 The Magister, has a few good examples of sword detail. I propose to take this
one step further and use the standardized
outline that follows for swords and all
other remarkable weapons:
Name of weapon: This can be assigned
by the DM or given by the bearer of the
weapon.
Gold-piece value: This is the average
value of the weapon if sold, provided a
suitable buyer can be found.
Legend: This part details the weapon’s
history: Where did the weapon originate?
Are there others like it? Who made the
weapon, and how? What is the age of the
weapon? Why was the weapon made?
Who were some of its previous owners? In
what great battles was the weapon used?
Where was it last known to be? (Please
note that not all of a weapon’s legend will
necessarily be true; the legend reflects
what most people know of it.)
Appearance: A precise verbal depiction
of the weapon should be given, answering
questions like: How big is it? What materials were used in its making, and how?
What is the guard made of, and in what
configuration? What are the handle and
pommel made of? What shapes and patterns are present on the weapon? What
writing, if any, is evident, and in what
language? Is the weapon usually found in
a sheath, box, or some other type of container? (The previous suggestions can help
you make these decisions quickly).
Combat bonuses: All bonuses or penalties to attack and damage are given here,
including those against special opponents
(e.g., lawful beings, dragons, shape changers, etc.).
Magical abilities: Here are detailed all
special powers granting detection abilities,
light emission, dancing, sharpness, etc.
How and when such powers operate are
also described.
Intelligence: If the weapon is capable of
thought, the intelligence score is given.
Ego: If the weapon has willpower, the
ego score is noted here.
Alignment: The weapon’s alignment, if
any, is given here.
Communication: All means of communication that the weapon is capable of are
given here, including spoken languages,
empathy, telepathy, pointing, pulsating
glow, or moving runes that form words
along the handle or blade.
Personality: If the weapon is intelligent,
has an ego, and can communicate, the
details of its habits, typical responses, likes
and dislikes, and other personality notes
should be given as well, with notes on how
it is likely to interact with anyone who
picks up the weapon or activates its
powers.
Other: Other questions that need to be
answered concerning the new weapon
are: How can this weapon be destroyed or
its powers reduced or negated? Is anyone
currently seeking this weapon, and does
someone already have it? What possible
adventures involve this weapon?
Two good blades
What follows are examples of two weapons using the format suggested in this
article. These are weapons from my own
campaign but have been slightly modified
to fit the FORGOTTEN REALMS® campaign world, so that they might be more
useful to other gamers.
Soulseeker
Gold-piece value: 7,500 gp
Legend: From the volcanoes of the Great
Sand Sea come large amounts of lava,
some of which has large pieces of obsidian
in it. The desert nomads have learned the
art of flint napping and have used obsidian
tips on their spears for centuries. Highly
skilled artisans are able to make large
blades for daggers. Soulseeker is such a
blade.
A war fought deep in the Underdark’s
caverns resulted in the destruction of
DRAGON 15
many of the evil creatures involved. The
remains of some of the vilest fiends were
melted into a magical lava flow, forming
an especially large chunk of obsidian. One
of the great blade makers used this piece
of obsidian to make Soulseeker. The name
is derived from the fact that the fiends
flesh in the blade is constantly seeking a
soul for itself. This blade has killed many
times and still seeks more souls.
The blade traveled from the Great Sand
Sea to the trading cities. A blade collector
in Waterdeep sent for the dagger, but
Soulseeker never reached its destination
because of a theft from a trading caravan.
The last known rumor is that the blade is
in the hands of Waterdeep’s black market,
perhaps having made its way to the city of
Skullport (from the Ruins of Undermountain boxed set and DRAGON® issue #172,
“Seeing the Sights of Skullport”).
Appearance: Soulseeker has a 20-cm
glassy-black obsidian blade that is approximately 4 cm wide at the guard. The blade
was made using flint napping and has a
slow taper to the point. The handle is
made of fossilized ivory, the guard is gold
with inlaid runes of onyx, and the butt cap
is also of gold and onyx. The blade travels
in a silk-lined case made of ebony, with
gold hinges and a cover that is a thin sheet
of translucent obsidian.
Combat bonuses: + 2 to hit; + 5 to damage
Magical abilities: Soul stealing (see following) on a failed saving throw vs. death
magic; detect evil/good in a 60’ radius;
detect invisible objects in a 10’ radius;
detect magic in a 30’ radius.
This blade has one of the sharpest edges
available. Obsidian edges are prized by the
nomad healers for use in surgical procedures. The strongest power of Soulseeker
is its stealing of souls. Anyone who is hit
by the blade with a natural 20 must save
vs. death magic or lose his soul to the
blade, dying at once. If the victim dies
from a hit by the blade, his soul is automatically taken into the blade, and the
creature cannot be resurrected. Only a
wish spell will bring back a soul and permit resurrection. Those of alignments
other than that of the blade suffer 1d6 hp
damage every round they touch any part
of this weapon, unless they are its victim
and suffer damage as detailed otherwise.
Intelligence: 17
Ego: 16
Alignment: CE
Communication: Speaks Common.
Personality: Soulseeker makes no pretense of its true goals, but it is remarkably
seductive to any chaotic-evil being that
grasps its hilt. It always tries to control its
owner and urge him to slay victims at
every possibly turn, seeking all souls possible, though it will encourage stealth and
duplicity to keep the killing spree going as
long as it can. Soulseeker especially seeks
victims of high level or high social standing, gladly stealing the soul of a great
wizard, mayor, priest, or general.
Other: Soulseeker saves against attacks
16 APRIL 1992
as rock +2 and can be destroyed in any
number of ways. Two good-aligned
churches, one assassins’ guild, and four
adventuring parties are currently seeking
this weapon to either destroy or make use
of this item.
Spellbinder
Gold-piece value: 10,000 gp
Legend: A warrior named Algor and a
nameless, evil wizard decided to end their
feud of many years with a duel. Algor,
realizing his magical inferiority, had a
special sword crafted that would absorb
spells cast by an opponent. On the day of
the duel, Algor presumed he was now
superior, but he should not have trusted
an evil wizard to fight fair. At a decisive
moment in their battle, the wizard was
joined by two of his evil cohorts. Simultaneously, all three blasted Algor with spells.
Algor was annihilated, and his possessions
were thrown across space and time. Several years and many miles away, a farmer
found Algor’s sword in his field, and he
traded the blade for animals and equipment. The sword has changed hands many
times since. Spellbinder was once reported
to have been offered as payment for a
glass of ale in a tavern. Most of its owners
never realized Spellbinder’s full potential.
Spellbinder was also known as Algor’s
Weakness after its history was made public by a wizard-sage.
Appearance: The extremely sharp
layered-steel blade is 120 cm long; overall,
this well-balanced weapon measures 160
cm. The blade has a single blood groove
and two bilateral notches near the base.
The handle is of deeply fluted dragon
bone with a gold ring at each end of the
flutes. The guard is curved toward the
point and ends in two claws grasping
crystalline spheres. The face of the guard
has two large triangular sapphires with
their points together. The pommel is conical. If found, the crystal spheres will probably already be shattered or absent.
Combat bonuses: + 2 to hit; + 3 to damage
Magical abilities: Absorbs (as a rod of
absorption) up to 12 levels of wizard or
cleric spells (12 first-level spells, or six
second-level spells, etc.); detects magic in a
30’ radius.
This sword can be wielded by members
of any alignment. The sword must be held
by its handle to absorb incoming spells; no
part of the hand can touch the blade or
guard. The crystal spheres absorb the
spells, each sphere absorbing six levels. If
the wielder attempts to absorb more than
this amount in a single round without
discharging some of the spell energy, the
spheres shatter and the sword no longer
absorbs any spell levels until the crystals
are replaced (they can be had at glassware
shops for roughly 50 gp each, but enchanting each of the spheres with the proper
spells is quite a bit more expensive, requiring a wizard of 16th level or greater).
Intelligence: 12
Ego: 11
Alignment: N
Communication: Empathy.
Personality: Spellbinder is a bit of a snob
and wants an owner that it cannot easily
control. In the past, Spellbinder has constantly kept on the move from owner to
owner, forcing its user to trade it away if
he did not measure up to the sword’s
standards. It is currently seeking an owner who understands the schools of magic,
preferably a fighter-wizard. The weapon
wants to be polished often and kept in a
nice, gem-encrusted scabbard.
Other: The evil wizard who engineered
Algor’s death has since become a lich. As a
side interest, the lich has begun to look
into rumors of a sword matching the one
Algor used against it years ago, and it
would like to obtain this weapon simply to
add to its trophy collection.
With all of this information in mind, let’s
revisit the opening scene in this article:
Take #2:
GM: “Ahead, through the doorway,
Zandar sees a large reptilian shape.”
Player: “He unsheathes Drakedoom and
waves its kris blade before him.”
GM: “His blade’s blue-marble handle
gives off a soft fluorescent glow.”
Player: “Ah, so the exquisitely sharp
edges of the sword will penetrate the
dragon’s scales!”
GM: “Roll for initiative.”
Magic of the mind: three approaches to psionics
©1992 by Rick Swan
Here's my instant psionics system, intended for the AD&D® game but adaptable to any fantasy role-playing game with
a minimum of fuss. Using these simple
rules, player characters can generate
mental lightning bolts, communicate telepathically, and annoy their enemies with a
startling variety of mental magic.
Role-playing games’ ratings
X
*
**
***
****
*****
18 APRIL 1992
Not recommended
Poor, but may be useful
Fair
Good
Excellent
The best
1. Every wizard and priest spell has a
psionic equivalent, the only difference
being that the name of the spell is prefaced by either “psi” or “mind,” as determined by the Dungeon Master. For
instance, blindness becomes Psiblindness,
and knock becomes Mindknock.
2. At the beginning of each day, a PC
receives a number of Brain Cell Points
(BCPs) equal to his intelligence score. To
use a psionic power, he expends a number
of BCPs equal to the power’s level. For
instance, using Psiblindness costs 2 BCPs,
while Mindknock costs 3 BCPs.
3. A psionicist uses his powers in the
same way as a wizard or priest casts
spells, except there aren’t any verbal,
somatic, or material components; the
powers come directly from his mind. The
effects of a psionic power are identical to
those of the corresponding spell.
4. When a PC runs out of BCPs, he can’t
use any more psionic powers. He recovers
a full load of BCPs the next day.
What’s that, you say? My system’s no
good? Too simple-minded? Too much like
magic? No significant effect on the play of
the game?
Okay, you’re right—it stinks. But it’s only
marginally worse than the psionics systems in most RPGs. Designers often acknowledge the potential of psionics by
including psionic-like elements in their
games, but they seldom come up with a
coherent, inventive approach to the concept as a whole. Usually, the psionics system turns out to be either just another
magic variant (as in Palladium Games’
PALLADIUM ROLE-PLAYING GAME*,
which makes a cursory attempt at distinguishing psionics from magic by using
inner strength points and mind mages, but
muddies the water with levels and saving
throws), just another collection of spells
(as in The Avalon Hill Game Company’s
RUNEQUEST* game, in which psionicstyled powers like mindlink and mindspeak are lumped in with the magic
system), or a set of vaguely defined rules
bordering on the incomprehensible (as in
the AD&D 1st Edition game—I never did
get the hang of attack and defense modes).
So, what’s the problem? In a nutshell,
psionics is too complex to be adequately
covered in a skimpy appendix or a few
paragraphs of optional rules. The topic is
rich enough to merit a full-length book
that ideally should address all of the
following:
Premise: What’s the rationale for psionics in the campaign world? Who gets
psionic powers, and why? Is psionics supernatural or scientific; is it learned or
innate? Are there special psionic character
classes? What distinguishes psionics from
magic?
Mechanics: A good psionics game
system requires complete, understandable,
and logical rules for the acquisition and
execution of psionic powers. The rules
should be self-contained and original, not
clones of the magic system.
Powers: Are there a variety of imaginative powers, effective enough to be fun to
use but not so formidable as to unbalance
a game? Are the effects of psionic powers
clearly distinguishable from magic spells?
Psychic combat: Is there a clever
system for staging psychic duels? Is psychic combat an exciting contest in which
opponents make meaningful choices with
dramatic results, or a tedious exercise in
dice-rolling?
Extras: These aren’t necessary, but they
are nice. Possibilities include role-playing
tips for psionic characters, psionic NPCs
and organizations, and adventure outlines.
Thankfully, the folks at TSR, Inc., Mayfair Games, and Steve Jackson Games have
risen to the occasion with the release of
the supplements discussed here. Since
each book has a distinct emphasis and
approach, and none is adaptable to all
styles of play, there’s no clear winner.
However, they’re all comprehensive, intelligent, and entertaining treatments of a
topic that’s gotten the short shrift far too
often.
The Complete Psionics
***½
Handbook
128-page softcover book
TSR, Inc.
$15
Design: Steve Winter (monster updates by
Blake Mobley)
Editing: Andria Hayday
Illustrations: Terry Dykstra, Dee Barnett
Graphic design: Stephanie Tabat
One of the curiosities in the AD&D 2nd
Edition revision was the absence of psionics rules. While nobody really believed
that TSR would abandon the concept
altogether (not with monsters like the
thought eater and cerebral parasite still
running loose in pre-existing AD&D campaigns), I still doubt that anyone expected
anything as radical as the The Complete
Psionics Handbook. Considering that the
1st Edition rules amounted to little more
than an appendix in the Players Handbook
with a few pages of combat rules in the
Dungeon Masters Guide thrown in, a 128page expansion may strike some as not
only too much of a good thing but downright intimidating. Is all this (groan) yet
another set of rules?
Not to worry. Most of the book consists
of power descriptions; the rest is a
straightforward presentation of an easily
managed and highly playable system that
clears up the ambiguities in the 1st Edition
game and adds a number of elegant new
touches. So appealing is the new approach
that about an hour after I eased psionics
into my AD&D campaign, all four of my
players were itching to abandon their
long-standing fighters and wizards and
start from scratch as psionicists.
Premise: AD&D game psionics is now
the domain of an entirely new character
class called, appropriately enough, the
psionicist. Just as the fighter‘s abilities
derive from strength and the wizards
talents stem from his intelligence, the
psionicist’s skills are based on wisdom and
constitution. Beyond minimum wisdom,
constitution, and intelligence scores,
psionicist requirements aren’t significantly
more restrictive than for any other class.
Though humans can attain higher levels of
expertise, all races are eligible. Chaotic
characters, however, aren’t allowed to
become psionicists, the rationale being
that volatile chaotics lack the discipline
required to focus their mental energies,
It’s an understandable limitation in the
context of the rules, but an unfortunate
one in terms of drama, as it seems to
eliminate the possibility of scenarios featuring psionic loonies on brain-blasting
rampages, leveling villages and disintegrating innocent bystanders. But you can’t
have everything.
Psionic powers are assigned to six disciplines, roughly comparable to a wizards
schools of magic or a priest’s spell spheres.
Disciplines include clairsentience (comparable to the greater divination magic
school), psychokinesis (animating and
controlling existing objects and forces),
psychometabolism (body-changing
powers), psychoportation (teleportation
variants), telepathy (mental communication and psychic attacks), and metapsionics
(enhancement of other psychic abilities).
Powers aren’t assigned levels like magic
spells; rather, they’re designated as either
sciences (major powers) or devotions
(minor powers). As a psionicist gains experience and advances in level, he acquires
more powers; for instance, a 1st-level
psionicist has only one science and three
devotions, but gets 10 sciences and 25
devotions if he makes it to 20th level. As a
psionicist rises through the ranks, he also
gains access to defense modes, a concept
carried over from the 1st Edition rules but
refined and clarified in this handbook. The
defense modes are special telepathic
powers, such as Mind Blank and Tower of
Iron Will, which are received free of
charge and don’t count against a psionicist’s normal power limits.
Mechanics: The use of psionic powers
involves a variant of the proficiencies
system developed in the 2nd Edition rules.
Each power has a score rated in terms of a
particular attribute; Tower of Iron Will,
for instance, has a Power Score of Wis
- 2. When attempting to use a power, the
player makes a Power Check by rolling
1d20 and comparing the result to the
Power Score. A roll less than or equal to
the Power Score means success; if the PC’s
wisdom score is 16, a roll of 14 or less is
needed to use Tower of Iron Will. Additionally, each power description includes a
specific penalty suffered by the psionicist
if a 20 is rolled; if the Tower of Iron Will
roll is 20, the psionicist is unable to engage
in psionic activity for 1d4 hours.
A psionicist has a fixed number of Psionic Strength Points, derived from his
DRAGON 19
wisdom score, to expend on psionic
powers. Instead of memorizing spells like
a wizard or praying for magic like a priest,
a psionicist simply expends the number of
PSPs required by a particular power (6
PSPs for Tower of Iron Will), then attempts a Power Check. If the check fails
and the power doesn’t work, he forfeits
half the PSP cost but is free to try again
later. If he passes the check and the power
is successful, the psionicist has the option
of expending additional PSPs to maintain
the power in subsequent rounds. The
basic procedure is similar to the magicpoint system used in other fantasy games
(such as the RUNEQUEST game) and has
the obvious advantage of increasing the
player’s options and giving him more
control over his actions.
Psionicists recover lost PSPs every hour
in which no additional PSPs are expended.
The less physical exertion, the more PSPs
recovered; a walking PC recovers 3 PSPs
per hour, and a resting PC recovers twice
as many. The recovery system makes
sense, but it’s a pain to manage; not only
must the DM keep track of time to the
hour (awkward even in the best of circumstances), he also must estimate activity
levels (difficult in complex encounters). I’d
have preferred something along the lines
of automatic recovery after a good night’s
sleep. This reservation aside, the rules as a
whole are succinct, entertaining, and—
best of all—distinct from those governing
spell-casting.
Powers: There are powers galore, over
150 of them, some expected and pedestrian (Enhanced Strength, Inflict Pain), others wildly off-beat (Switch Personality,
Hear Light, Psychic Surgery). Many push
the limits of what I consider to be mindassociated effects, such as Flesh Armor
(the user’s skin turns to leather or plate
mail) and Cause Decay (the user’s touch
rusts metal or rots wood), but that doesn’t
mean they’re not fun to use. I’m always
willing to give my credibility another
stretch in the name of a good time. More
vexing is the clutter of powers that echo
existing wizard and priest effects; Levitation, ESP, Teleport, and Clairaudience are
minor variants on the similarly named
magic spells. While no psionics system
would be complete without these, I can’t
help but wish that the designer had gone
the extra mile and come up with another
twist or two to distinguish them from
their wizardly counterparts.
Psychic combat: Psychic combat
merits its own chapter, good news for
those of us who relish the idea of brain
duels but have never figured out a satisfying way to stage them. Unfortunately, the
standard rules for adjudicating psionic
clashes boil down to dice-tossing festivals;
the best rolls win, and that’s about it.
Much better are the rules for telepathic
combat, an elaborate rock-scissors-stone
variant involving the play of defense and
attack modes, and establishing partial
contact (called tangents) to destabilize the
20 APRIL 1992
enemy.
Extras: The book takes a no-nonsense,
nuts and bolts approach to psionics, which
means that it’s long on game mechanics
and power descriptions but short on
game-mastering advice and campaign
design. Aside from updates on psionic
monsters (including the thought eater and
cerebral parasite), there’s not much here
in the way of extras. The discussion of
society’s reaction to psionicists is informative but all too brief, and the section describing the role of psionics in
RAVENLOFT™ and other TSR campaign
settings is frustratingly superficial. I’d
have gladly traded a dozen or so power
descriptions for a chapter or two of adventure outlines and role-playing tips. [See
DRAGON® Magazine issue #174 for “Are
You Having Bad Thoughts?” an article by
RAVENLOFT designer Bruce Nesmith that
details how psionics work in the Demiplane of Dread.]
Evaluation: The triumph of The Complete Psionics Handbook is its clear delineation of the differences between magic
and psionics. The deceptively simple mechanics complement the rules for spellcasters without slavishly copying them,
which makes playing a psionicist a unique
and memorable experience. By assigning
powers to sciences and devotions instead
of levels, and allowing easy access to the
disciplines, the rules give the psionicist a
freedom of choice that the wizard and
priest can only envy.
Psionics
128-page softcover book
Mayfair Games Inc.
Design: Nigel Findley
Editing: Jeff R. Leason
Illustrations: Bob Giadrosich
Cover art: David Dorman
***
$12
A recent entry in Mayfair’s excellent
ROLE AIDS* series, Psionics is literately
written and imaginatively conceived.
While the distinctions between psionics
and magic aren’t as well drawn as those in
The Complete Psionics Handbook, its
unusual approach and provocative powers
make it a viable alternative.
Premise: As in the TSR version, the
Mayfair psionicist is treated as a separate
character class, requiring a minimum
wisdom (or Insight, in ROLE AIDS-speak)
of 13. Only humans are eligible for psionic
skills; despite the litany of justifications for
this (humans are better motivated than
other races, elves and dwarves lack the
right type of brains, limiting psionics to
humans better balances the game), I’m not
convinced there’s any compelling need for
such a rigid restriction. Place limits on a
demihuman’s psionic powers, if you must,
but there’s no reason to deny a campaign
the pleasure of an elven telepath.
Psionic powers are sorted into five
schools: somniomancy (abilities related to
sleeping and dreaming), telepathy (thought
transfer and mind reading), telekinetics
(matter manipulation), pyromancy (temperature and energy control, particularly
as applied to fire), and empathy (emotional
bonding). The somniomancy and pyromancy schools are especially intriguing, having
no clear parallels in any other psionics
system that I know of. The spectacular
powers of the pyromancer make him as
formidable and as fun to play as any wizard, and though the somniomancer’s skills
are a bit on the passive side, experienced
role-players will find mastery of the school
to be an appealing challenge. Unfortunately, once a character decides to become
a psionicist, he must also declare his allegiance to a particular school, and having
done so, he’s totally denied access to the
powers of all the other schools. It’s another puzzling, unnecessary limitation.
Each school consists of six levels. As a
psionicist becomes more experienced, he’s
able to use higher-level powers, not unlike
a wizard or priest. Acquiring new powers
is by no means automatic; a psionicist
must spend 1-2 days in study with an
appropriate teacher (psionics can’t be
learned from books or scrolls), then must
practice for another 1-3 days per level of
the power. Whether he succeeds in mastering the skill depends on a die roll. If he
fails, he can try to learn the power again
when he advances to another level; if he
fails twice, he can never learn it. The
system makes the acquisition of new
powers less of a sure thing, which is an
arguably more realistic approach than that
taken in The Complete Psionics Handbook,
but it also requires a fair amount of bookkeeping, as somebody has to keep track of
how many times each psionicist has attempted to learn the various powers; in a
long campaign with a lot of psionicists,
that can become real drudgery.
Mechanics: Psionicists use their
powers by expending Mental Points (MPs);
the higher the level of the psionicist, the
more MPs he has to spend. A psionicist
fully recovers his MP allotment after six
hours of rest.
Except for the MP requirement, a psionicist employs a power in much the same
way as a wizard casts a spell—that is, if he
knows it, if he isn’t interrupted, and if the
target isn’t eligible for a saving throw, the
power generally succeeds. Though a
psionicist with enough MP can use the
same power repeatedly (unlike a wizard,
who’s limited to the spells he’s memorized), psionics use doesn’t feel much
different from spell-casting; like a magic
spell, a psionic power involves the use of
verbal and somatic components, and there
are no failure penalties or proficiency
checks comparable to those in The Complete Psionics Handbook. A few interesting
options allow the psionicist to modify his
powers (for instance, he can spend extra
MPs to increase slightly the damage
caused by attacks), but these rules have
only a modest effect on the fuzzy distinction between psionics and magic, which
remains the book’s weakest feature.
Powers: Dozens of powers are included, a generous mix of the familiar (Know
Alignment, Telepathy) and the exotic
(Walking Nightmare, Enforced Wakefulness), with only a few truly dreary entries
(such as Awaken, which allows the user to
wake up a sleeping character without
touch or sound—big deal!). Despite the
occasional vague description and a few too
many similarities with magic spells (neither Lightning Bolt nor Enlarge strike me
as appropriate for a psionicist), it’s an
agreeable collection.
Psychic combat: A clever diceless
system simulates mental duels. The attacker secretly selects the type of attack he’s
making, then declares the number of MPs
expended. The defender deflects the attack by expending half the number of MPs
declared by the enemy, counterattacks by
expending more MPs than the attacker, or
does nothing and takes damage. Presuming the referee monitors the action and
keeps everyone honest, a combatant can
never be sure how many MPs the other
guy has or the type of attack he’s attempting, making for a fast-moving, exciting
engagement.
Extras: In addition to power descriptions,
each school’s section features an informative
discussion of the philosophy and combat
techniques of the relevant practitioner, along
with a selection of appropriate magical items
(incense of dreaming for the somniomancer,
a ring of suppression for the telekineticist)
and a sample NPC. The final section includes
a handful of short but engaging plot outlines.
Evaluation: Though the book abounds
with interesting powers and role-playing
notes, the frustrating restrictions (one
school per psionicist, for humans only)
makes it more useful as a source of ideas
than a set of rules. Surprisingly, despite
the sizeable number of powers in both this
and The Complete Psionics Handbook,
there’s an insignificant amount of overlap,
and elements of both could conceivably be
incorporated into the same campaign.
* * *½
GURPS Psionics* game
128-page softcover book
Steve Jackson Games
$17
Design: David L. Pulver
Editing: Lloyd Blankenship, Creede Lambard, Steve Jackson
Illustrations: Rick Harris, Charlie Wiedman, Doug Shuler, Evan Dorkin, Angela
Bostick, Rick Lowry, Mike Scott
Cover art: David Patrick Menehan
Based on concepts introduced in the
GURPS* Basic Set, the GURPS Psionics
book offers an impressive and wideranging smorgasbord of ideas adaptable to
horror, science-fiction, and virtually any
other role-playing genre. While considerably more ambitious than the TSR and
Mayfair books, the GURPS Psionics book is
also less focused; not only do the rules
resist translation to other game systems, a
GM wanting to dig out the material specifically suitable for, say, a fantasy campaign
has his work cut out for him.
Premise: Since the absence of character classes is a hallmark of the GURPS
system, designer David Pulver treats psionics as just another collection of skills
purchased as part of character design,
then modified by power levels (the general
potency of a skill), skill levels (a measure
of the character’s innate ability), enhancements (that increase a skills utility), and
limitations (that decrease utility). Distinctions between a psionically skilled character and, for instance, a spell-caster are
more likely to arise from actual roleplaying than the rules themselves. That’s
fine for hardcore players, but those comfortable with rigid class definitions may
find the generic approach of the GURPS
game to be more frustrating than fun.
The GURPS Psionics book groups abilities into nine categories: antipsi (skills that
neutralize other psionic characters), astral
projection, electrokinesis (mental control
of computers and electronics), ESP healing, psychic vampirism (skills that drain
emotions, life forces, and dreams), psychokinesis (matter manipulation), telepathy,
and teleportation. The categories include
varying numbers of skills; telepathy lists
more than 20, antipsi has a measly two.
Electrokinesis, psychokinesis, telepathy,
and teleportation cost five points per level,
and the rest cost three points. The purchase of antipsi excludes the purchase of
any other category.
Mechanics: In general, psionic abilities
require skill rolls, a concept familiar to
GURPS game veterans. A successful roll
means the skill works as intended, a failed
roll means the skill fizzles. Some skills may
be resisted by the target, some cost the
user fatigue points, and some may be
sustained indefinitely if the skill rolls continue to be successful. If a skill fails against
a particular target, the user may try again
in five minutes, but the attempt costs him
a fatigue point and a penalty to his roll. He
can continue to expend fatigue points until
the skill succeeds or he collapses from the
strain, a clever rule that appropriately
punishes a psionicist too stubborn to know
when to quit.
The chapter devoted to advanced techniques is the books best feature, a fascinating array of defensive and offensive
tactics. Rules for power tapping,
mindwipes, and telepathic gestalts include
detailed examples of play, along with
guidelines for adjudicating unusual situations. (Wonder what happens when a
psionicist teleports from his house to a
swimming pool? His living room fills with
water.) Those dismissing psionicists as
docile mind-readers will be surprised at
just how nasty a psi-warrior can be when
he employs the offensive techniques described here; Deathscream, for instance,
rattles the brains of everyone in the immediate area, while Combat Exoteleport
materializes solid objects inside an enemy’s
body with appropriately grisly results.
Some of the techniques require a bit too
much number juggling for my taste. Consider, for example, the use of the Telereceive ability. In a combat situation, a
Telereceive attempt involves a Concentration maneuver, application of the target’s
Mind Shield and Strong Will factors, and a
success roll of at least three points, which
results in a +2 to the user’s active defenses and a - 1 penalty to the target’s defenses. Additionally, the target may attempt to
counter the attempt by “fighting without
planning,” which restricts the option to
Feint and reduces the skill level by three,
unless the Combat Reflex modifier is applicable, in which case the skill is reduced by
two. That strikes me as a lot of work just
to read someone’s mind.
Powers: The GURPS Psionics book
tends to encourage the development of
previously acquired skills rather than the
greedy acquisition of new ones. Only
about 50 skills are included, and it’s a so-so
collection; many duplicate the effects
traditionally associated with magic spells
(Illusion, Healing, Lightning), and some are
mere variants of each other (Mental Blow
and Mental Stab, Autoteleport and Exoteleport). The telepathy category has the
broadest and most interesting selection of
powers, ranging from Emotion Sense and
Telescan, to Mindsword and Signature
Sniffer.
Psychic combat: With only the basic
rules, a psychic duel conceivably could be
staged with only a handful of skill rolls,
the results being quick and convincing but
not particularly dramatic. Using the maneuvers described in the advanced techniques chapter, a psychic duel can become
a full-blown game in itself; it took me a full
hour to stage a telepathic battle between
two reasonably skilled psionicists, and I
admittedly ignored or took a wild guess at
some of the more esoteric details. (Does
Player A’s character know Player B’s character well enough to earn a + 1 bonus for
the Mental Blow skill? Beats me.) Whether
this level of complexity is excruciating or
exhilarating depends on the strength of
your wrist (there’s a lot of die-rolling) and
your willingness to navigate a lot of tricky
rules. Once I got the hang of it, the system
impressed me as the best of its kind, but
it’s not recommended for the impatient.
Extras: Despite the detour into parapsychology (a superfluous chapter describing
poltergeists and other scary stuff that
should have remained in the GURPS Horror* game), the supplementary material is
first-rate. The psychotronics chapter catalogs an assortment of psi-tech devices in
lavish detail, including dreamscanners,
psionic computers, and my favorite, psiberplas, an organic plastic that changes
shape into response to psychokinetic impulses. Equally fascinating are the brain
tissue grafts, psiborgs, and symbiotic
crystals featured in the bio-psi chapter,
any of which could serve as a springboard
DRAGON 21
for a compelling adventure.
There’s more. The chapter devoted to
psionic NPCs describes both the obvious
(the mystic, the ghost hunter) and the
eccentric (the precocious child, the puppet
master). The copious campaign material
includes outlines for staging adventures in
super-hero, witch-hunting, and postapocalyptic settings, along with hints for incorporating psionics into GURPS supplements
as far-ranging as the GURPS Cliffhangers
and GURPS Martial Arts books. A fully
developed world background called “The
Phoenix Project” features a secret organization dedicated to the promotion of psionic technology as a catalyst for world
peace; the bad guys include the Eugenic
Security Police, a fanatic branch of the
Federal government bent on stamping out
“abnormal genetic material,” and the Overmind Institute, a covert band of crazed
technologists who support themselves by
peddling mind-bending psi drugs and
training psionic criminals.
Evaluation: The GURPS Psionics book
has a more contemporary emphasis than
either the TSR or Mayfair books, and it
works best in a cyberpunk, science-fiction,
or modern horror setting. It’s less suitable
for fantasy; in fact, the fantasy elements
are underplayed throughout, mainly limited to a few sidebars that explain the
relationship of psionics and magic (which
is nothing special). The powers themselves
aren’t anything out of the ordinary, but
their application in terms of role-playing
and advanced mechanics makes this the
most sophisticated psionics system to date.
The sheer volume of material here may
give novices a headache, but for experienced players, this may be the system of
their dreams.
Short and sweet
Wilderness Encounters, by Roy Cram.
Flying Buffalo, Inc., $10. Strictly speaking,
this collection of 17 short scenarios (adaptable, with effort, to any fantasy campaign)
has less to do with the wilderness than the
monsters who live there. Reminiscent of
TSR’s Book of Lairs from a few years back,
each scenario features one major critter
along with a few of its critter lieutenants,
a reasonably thorough description of its
hideaway, and a handful of story hooks to
motivate an investigation. The scenarios
range from the seen-it-before (a goblin
cave, a haunted pool) to the appealingly
goofy (a giant hornet’s nest, a giant spider’s
hole, a giant ant hill—the designer has a
thing for the multilegged). With creatures
called Slippery Slimes and an NPC named
Warren Peece, a high tolerance for whimsy is a must. The ideas are old-fashioned,
but they’re still fun.
Draconomicon, by Nigel Findley (with
adventures by Christopher Kubasik, Carl
Sargent, John Terra, William Tracy). TSR,
Inc., $15. The busy Mr. Findley strikes
again with this entertaining collection of
draconic odds and ends. The fanciful
22 APRIL 1992
essays discussing behavior and customs
(ever wonder how a copper dragon celebrates his 51st birthday?) makes for a
delightful read, while the SPELLJAMMER™
material clears up a few questions about
dragons in space. Less successful are the
adventures, four rather routine excursions
that feature promising plots but suffer
from a lack of development; one or two
longer adventures would have been preferable to four short ones. And yes, there
are new dragons, among them steel, yellow, and mercury. (How long before the
fiberglass, cardboard, and polyester versions come crawling out of their caves?)
Ashes to Ashes, by Stewart Wieck.
White Wolf, $10. This excellent first adventure for the quirky VAMPIRE* game
packs a lot of punch into 80 pages, featuring a deadly struggle between the demonic
Elders and Anarchs of Chicago that should
keep even the most jaded role-players on
the edge of their seats. Though the investigations are more successfully staged than
the action scenes, and the finale is a bit
underwhelming, Wieck maintains a suitably tense atmosphere throughout and
serves up a gallery of the creepiest NPCs
this side of Chaosium’s CALL OF
CTHULHU* game. Don’t let the Ghoulie
Man get you!
* indicates a product produced by a company other
than TSR, Inc. Most product names are trademarks
owned by the companies publishing those products.
The use of the name of any product without mention
of its trademark status should not be construed as a
challenge to such status.
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DRAGON is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1990 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Did you ever roll up an AD&D® game
character under the watchful eye of a
strict Dungeon Master? Despite your best
dice-rolling efforts, you still got stuck with
eights, sevens, or worse as ability scores.
You probably then chose a fighter and
distributed the low scores to charisma,
intelligence, and wisdom. Yet, when your
character descended into the dungeon,
you reverted to your normally witty and
charming real-life personality, didn’t you?
Instead of exploring life from an obnoxious moron’s perspective, you applied all
of your wit and native intelligence to the
challenges of the adventure. You should
have played the fool. By doing so, you
could have gained fresh perspectives on
life and taken your game to new levels of
excitement. For your next stupid fighter, I
have assembled 12 simple tenets for life
and death:
1. Boot the door. Faced with a
dungeon door, the intelligent character
24
APRIL
searches for traps, listens, and picks the
lock. This is a waste of time. The moronic
fighter-type strides boldly forward and
boots the door with confidence and style.
If your character should spring some
horrible trap, savor the experience. It
would never have happened to someone
of your own real-life intellect.
“Whooaaa! This is bogus!” exclaimed
Farfig Newton, the barbarian. Suspended 20’ above a pit filled with scores of
poisoned spikes, fire ants, and the
skeletal remains of other stupid fighters, Farfig watched coins, magical
hammers, and other prized possessions
drain from his pack, and wistfully
muttered, “Gotta get me some Velcro!”
2. Let the future take care of itself.
The bold boot-the-door approach also
applies to other aspects of a fighter’s life.
As a rule, the simple fighter never for a
moment considers the future consequences of his actions. To do so is to lack
faith in his own outstanding capabilities.
“No problem, dudes!” announced Newton to his comrades, while he was still
suspended above the treacherous pit.
“I’ve got this bodacious idea!”
Pulling his backup blade from a boot
scabbard, Farfig did an amazing stomach crunch and dexterously reached
for the rope that snared his left foot.
With one swipe, he boldly freed himself. For a fraction of a moment, Newton savored his accomplishment.
Then, he discovered gravity.
3. Emulate the best of others. Many
people think fighters are limited to hackand-slash techniques. This is nonsense, as
even a brute-force warrior is capable of
studying a situation and applying the
specialized techniques of other characters,
even if in theory the warrior should not
have the slightest talent for using those
techniques.
Dominating the treasure chamber was
a gigantic red dragon perched atop an
immense hoard of spilled gold and
gems. Summoning all their courage, the
party rushed forward to do battle—
except for one member. Remaining
behind, Farfig the Fierce waved his
hands in broad circular gestures and
roared, “Kaza kaza hoolam aza wazza
kazoo sazam!”
“Farfig! What are you doing?” shouted the party’s distracted mage as the
dragon attacked.
“Casting a spell, dude! That mondo
fireball you threw yesterday looked
easy enough.”
A fighter can also emulate clerics,
thieves, bards, rangers, etc. Your multitalented warrior may not be able to turn
undead, move silently in field plate armor,
use music to quell a riot, or eat strange
leaves and berries with safety, but he can
make a courageous effort.
4. Leap to all conclusions. Of course,
even a barbarian is able to analyze his
actions and learn from his mistakes. However, it is highly likely that the barbarian will
learn only the lessons he wants to learn.
“Farfig! Because of you, we lost three
henchmen, two clerics, a wizard, and a
thief when we attacked that red dragon! Do you have the faintest idea of
what you did wrong?”
“Whoa, I think that’s pretty obvious!
A fireball is totally barfed out against a
red dragon, but a lightning bolt would
have been most excellent!”
5. Strength is authority. Intelligent
and learned people are usually entrusted
with leadership positions. But in a medieval world where might makes right, the
moron myrmidon can assume leadership
positions by virtue of superior strength.
Given the chance to make party decisions,
your fighter might want to make some
changes. He might not want to take the
point, and he might not want to absorb all
the damage. He might even want to distribute wounds equally throughout the
party. If your fighter tires of being the
first through every door, he might toss the
scrawny mage into the room first, then
close the door. If the mage survives, it is
probably safe to enter the room.
“Dudes, there sure was an awesome
amount of thrashing around behind that
door,” observed Farfig in a rare contemplative moment, “but it’s, like, all died
down now, so I guess we can go in.”
6. Improve the intellect. Wizards and
clerics possess exceptional wisdom, and the
fighter can always learn from his association
with such learned people. The fighter should
use every available moment to discuss burning philosophical questions with the cleric,
and should try to learn at least simple spells
and cantrips from the magician. Every fighter should have a conceptual idea about the
workings of magic, and he should put the
time that spell-casters normally use for
resting or praying to better use, strengthening his own intellectual muscles.
Cracking open his most revered tome,
Arias huddled in his robes by the dim
fire’s warmth and focused on memorizing his spells before the next battle.
“Let’s see,” the mage mumbled, his
forehead creased by his intense concentration. “Magic missile — ‘Extend the index
finger toward your target and utter the
phrase—’ ”
“YO, WIZ! WHATCHA READIN’?”
If your party’s mage ever leaves his spell
books or scrolls unattended, your fighter
may even wish to borrow them for reading
and personal study in his spare time. Remember, even if your fighter cannot read,
he can always use extra books and scrolls
for kindling or toilet paper.
7. Be wary of water. Every fool, even a
fighter, knows that metallic armor sinks.
Thus, you should never cross a body of
water while so encumbered. If encountering
an underground river, your fighter should
insist on taking at least 16 rounds to properly remove every item of armor and weaponry before swimming across in his underclothing. During this time, the rest of the
party should explore the dungeon corridors
ahead.
Echoing down the dark dungeon corridors, the clash of swords and a cry of
“Farfig! Help us!” reached the sturdy
barbarian’s ears. Clad in his underwear
as he waded the 2’-deep stream, Farfig
could only shake his head in regret and
reply, “Oh, man, like, I am ready — not!
Just party on, dudes!”
Every trained fighter with any intellectual
skill at all knows that water can cause leather to rot and iron to rust. Thus, after swimming, he should dry his belongings,
meticulously oil his weapons, and take at
least 16 more rounds to dress for battle.
Screams, explosive spells, and the ring of
swordplay continued down the corridor.
Again, our hero heard the call, “Farfig,
for the love of the gods, help us! We’re
getting killed!”
Carefully oiling and sharpening his long
sword, our hero sighed and called back,
“Hey, take a chill pill and cool out until I
get my board waxed, you know?”
While your character prepares, the rest of
your party should have ample time to clear
the dungeon of remaining challenges. By the
time your fighter is ready, the area should
be perfectly safe.
Stomping at last into the silent, bloodfilled room, Farfig offered his services
with a hearty, “It’s time to shake some
catsup on the monster-burgers, dudes!”
Please note that many perfectly intelligent
and exceptionally wise fighters have also
used the aforementioned ploy to survive
underground.
8. Share your knowledge. Honesty is
critical to all adventurers. If you know something really important, you should share that
knowledge with everyone. If the surviving
members of your party had the wit to hide
the dragon’s gold in Old Man Batson’s grave,
let the whole town know. Everyone will be
DRAGON 25
impressed with both their cleverness and
your forthrightness.
In the same vein, while prudent people
may refrain from talking religion or politics
in general company, your fighter may wish
to engage in theological debate to spread his
knowledge of religion and establish your
own party’s credentials.
“Yo, Mister Evil High Priest! My man
here, Brother Thalmus the Acolyte, told
me that your religious order is greedy,
corrupt, and just flaming stooopid! He
says that there is only one true way and
that’s the way of his church, the one
you’re always picking on, and he’s not
scared of any of your antipaladins in
Spandex plate mail!”
9. Drive a hard bargain. Everyone
knows the old adage that a fool and his
money are soon parted. However, no one
ever asks how the fool feels about this situation. It hurts—just ask any moronic fighter.
While he may be a sensitive guy, your armed
and dangerous fool soon learns to be aggressive in business situations. He must always
try to get the best deal—and if he cannot use
reason, other tactics will do.
“Hey, like, how much for a bow, a quiver,
and about twenty of those flight-type
arrows?” asked Farfig Newton at the local
bazaar.
“That would be twenty royal,” replied
the earnest fletcher.
“Whoa,” Farfig said thoughtfully, toying
with his sword hilt. “I’m not usually
mental or anything, but I used up all but
six royals getting Brother Thalmus into
Greyhawk Memorials E.R., then I got
fined for fighting with a whole priesthood and killing twenty of them, and I
still gotta woof down something for
lunch. I can give you one royal, if that’s
butch with you:
The fletcher eyed the barbarian’s enormous arm muscles as the latter’s fingers
began to tighten on the blade’s hilt. “I
suppose you want it gift wrapped,” he
said with an unhappy sigh.
10. Don’t limit your skills. Your fighter’s dinosaur-grade mind may be his greatest
source of frustration and anger. This has,
perhaps, driven him to resolve all of his
predicaments in a physical manner, using
weapons, which has probably gone a long
way to making him feel more powerful and
in control of his life. Throughout his adventures, your fighter will undoubtedly find
new weapons and wilI try to use them im-
mediately. The party may be particularly
concerned when your fighter comes across
items such as the lance, sling, morning star,
flail, arquebus, crossbow, arbalest, ballista,
or siege engine—but fighters fight, right?
“It’s called a bola,” Farfig explained
proudly. “I got it at the bazaar. I grab one
stone like this and swing the other two
around my head like this, and—whoa,
hey, bogus move on my part, Garth! Want
me to flag down an oxcart to Greyhawk
Memorial?”
11. Wish for yourself. You are the
strongest member of the party, and you
have the right to think independently. If you
get an actual magical wish, from a ring or
anywhere else, don’t be pressured into
fulfilling someone else’s plans. Ask for something that any true-blooded fighter would
want, without concerning yourself with how
the DM will interpret or twist your request:
“Oh, wow, like, I wish we were neckdeep in the most bodacious dragon hoard
in all existence!”
Finally, don’t waste time arguing with
other characters about syntax and sentence
structure. Life is too short. Just make the
wish and enjoy the results.
“Man, forget the treasure—I just wish my
buddies and I had another opportunity to
defeat that red dragon:
12. Never let your DM forget. By
following these simple guidelines, you don’t
have to cringe at the prospect of playing
another stupid fighter. You alone can be the
life (and death) of the party. Make sure your
DM knows how much you enjoy role-playing
your barbarian.
There is one more thing to remember.
When creating your next character, smile
and ask your DM the following question:
“Are you sure I can’t reroll some of these
scores?”
26 APRIL 1992
AD&D® “hometown” adventures for priest characters
by Joseph R. Ravitts
Artwork by Scott Rosema
As long as role-playing games have existed, there has been an understandable
tendency to skip over those periods of
game-world time between player characters’ expeditions. After all, if a wounded
fighter lacks access to any means of immediate healing and so must sit around town
recuperating for weeks, why not just jump
ahead to a time when he’s back up to full
hit points? Or if a mage is constructing
some enchanted device for himself, why
not just jump ahead to the adventure in
which he first gets to use it?
Yet there are interesting things that can
happen in one fixed location. A fair
amount of plot action in Tolkien’s The
28 APRIL 1992
Lord of the Rings took place right in the
Shire, before Frodo ever traveled abroad
and right after he returned. The first two
books of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast
trilogy are set entirely in or near one
gigantic castle. I believe that there is more
that can be done with “adventures between the adventures,” those events befalling the home-base communities of the
player characters. Accordingly, I have
devised a random-occurrence table, somewhat like random encounter tables.
My thinking in this area was stimulated
by the fact that the AD&D® 2nd Edition
game, in reworking the priest class, has
made more allowances for that class’s
genuinely religious activities as opposed to
mere club-the-foe-and-heal-the-friend
adventuring. Much could be made of
temple-related events, I realized—just as,
in many kung-fu movies, a lot of the action
takes place inside Shaolin Temple. Thus,
my selection of “hometown” scenarios
revolves around a hypothetical priest-class
player character, establishing or serving at
a temple in his city or town of residence.
There is, of course, no reason why PCs of
other classes can’t be involved in the situations as well.
Each of these selections amounts only to
a brief suggestion for events; details must
still come from the DM’s mind. But with
just three die rolls—a four-sider, a six-sider,
and another four-sider—the DM’s
imagination can be fueled. It is possible to
roll up more than one event and see what
can be made of the combination.
To use the tables below, roll 1d4 to determine the broad category of adventure
(Home & Temple, Neighbors & Community, Internal Danger, External Danger).
Next, roll 1d6 to ascertain the type of
adventure seed. Then roll 1d4 to determine the specific event. Or, just read
through the list and pick an event that
would fit well into your campaign.
1. Home & Temple
1. Religious issues
1. A rival religion is trying to drive out
the PC’s own. If the DM knows his players
enjoy metaphysical discussions and are
mature enough not to get belligerent
about them, the resulting play can include
acting out plausible debates between
priestly competitors. Otherwise, the situation can instead be defined more in simple
harassment or fighting terms at whatever
level of intensity suits the experience level
of the characters concerned.
2. NPC swindlers, not belonging to any
clerical class, are impersonating priests.
For example, a diviner specialist mage and
an illusionist might feel themselves too
weak to risk wilderness and dungeon
adventures—but, working together, could
use their spells (possibly supplemented by
a few magical items such as curative potions) to simulate clerical powers. People
ignorant enough to be fooled by them
could be induced to make contributions
for a glorious temple that would never
actually be built. This fraud might be
perpetrated out of mere greed—or perhaps out of a malicious desire to leave the
public thinking that the PC priests are just
like the swindlers.
3. The priest’s deity commands him to
prophesy to the community in some fashion. This may entail simply reciting a
message verbatim; or something more
unusual—as when, in the Old Testament,
the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to
perform a sort of street-mime warning of
judgment. Crowd response to the message
could be handled similarly to NPC reactions in regular adventuring encounters.
4. The priest must carry out a fast or
some other self-denial. A major restriction,
such as not speaking for a month, could
hamper the character’s actions even in a
stay-at-home scenario, but a lesser selfdenial, such as having to give away all
silver coins acquired, would add color to
character interactions without the player
who plays the cleric being left unable to
do anything.
2. Crime & politics
1. Thieves burglarize the temple or the
priest’s residence, or attempt to extort
protection money. (If the PC priest has
only just begun serving locally, it could be
his predecessor who has been suffering
this trouble.)
2. A national or local government undertakes to confiscate the temple’s property,
tax its income, censor the sermons, or
otherwise tie the hands of religion. PCs
associated with the priest might have a
hand in uncovering which lord or official
is responsible for the interference.
3. Competing secular factions try to win
the support of the priest’s religion. There
may be a clear moral reason why the
temple should favor one side over the
other, or it may be a right-and-wrong-onboth-sides case, with the priest wishing to
avoid all involvement except as an impartial peacemaker.
4. Fugitives of some sort (whether fleeing from the local authorities or from a
foreign country) seek sanctuary at the
temple. Their arrival may be public or
secret; they may be innocent or guilty;
they may even belong to some nonhuman
race whose very presence causes difficulties for the priest.
3. Temple administration
1. Building, repairing, or enlarging a
temple can give rise to many dramatic (or
comical) situations. Suppose, for instance,
the priest character befriended a storm
giant while adventuring abroad, and the
giant decides to return a kindness by
coming to town to help in the work; he
could unintentionally put quite a scare
into unprepared citizens.
2. The priest has to make preparations
for the visit of an overbearing, demanding
superior. This “grand inquisitor” may or
may not be someone the PC has met before. As with the rival-religion scenario,
this situation can accommodate profound
theological discussions if the DM judges
that his living, breathing players can enjoy
this without animosity.
3. The character seeks to recruit nonclerical personnel for supplementary
purposes, such as a bard to serve as a
director of music for worship services.
Both clergy and laity might oppose the
priest’s hiring choices for various reasons.
4. Offerings made to the temple turn out
to include stolen, cursed, or otherwise
embarrassing treasures. (Imagine an Orthodox Jewish synagogue receiving a
donation of canned hams!) The priest
would have considerable trouble disposing
of unacceptable items tactfully—and avoiding a frame-up in the case of stolen
treasures.
4. Pilgrims and worshipers
1. The priest must train an unruly or
slow-learning disciple. The disciple may
have been forced into this novitiate by
zealous parents when the disciple really
wants to be, for example, an alchemist. Or,
if joining up voluntarily, the disciple may
have had inappropriate motives, especially
if the priest or priestess is attractive and is
not bound to celibacy.
2. A pilgrim arrives with some quest or
mission to fulfill. It could be a paladin,
carrying out an atonement for some compromise of paladinhood; an unwilling
lycanthrope seeking to be cured; a descendant of some past chief priest of the temple; or a pious adventurer, bringing to the
temple some relic or treasure stolen from
there long ago (with priest and pilgrim
both unaware that thieves are still on the
item’s trail).
3. A rich, prominent, and obnoxious
person, who is either a local congregation
member or a periodic pilgrim, annoys
everyone by constantly demanding special
treatment. Such a person would think
nothing of claiming the last available cure
disease spell just to be rid of a sore throat,
though some sick peasant child were at
the verge of death before his eyes.
4. Some seemingly ordinary newcomer
to the temple is suddenly revealed to be a
secret messenger from the priest’s deity.
This NPC should, if possible, appear peripherally in two or three game episodes
prior to the one in which his secret identity is dramatically uncovered. The ensuing
message could be the springboard for the
next out-of-town expedition in which the
priest character will participate.
5. Household affairs
1. The priest is seeking a spouse—or, if
already married or celibate, is seeking a
spouse for a relative.
2. A family member turns bad, taking up
immoral ways (possibly gambling with
money stolen from the priest). This troublemaker could easily do great damage to
the priest’s reputation in the community
until he repents.
3. Someone in the household, whether
family member or servant, undergoes a
supernatural transformation or displacement (possessed by a fiend, changed into
an undead monster, kidnapped and replaced by a doppelganger, etc.).
4. A series of bizarre accidents befalling
family members leads the priest to discover that a long-forgotten ancestral curse
has been “reactivated.”
6. Extraordinary surprises
1. Some part of the temple site is found
to conceal the entrance to a dungeon, its
existence long unsuspected.
2. As above, only the secret entrance
leads to another world or plane.
3. Some natural disaster or accident
destroys the temple or priest’s residence.
4. The priest’s religion is itself disrupted,
such as by the deity’s very identity proving
to be different than was supposed.
2. Neighbors & Community
1. Spiritual needs
1. General attempts to convert wrongdoers are always potential role-playing material. The ones to be converted may be of
any intelligent race. Their sins need not
DRAGON 29
have any bearing on adventures in the
usual sense, but a trivial fault in a trivial
NPC might have relevance not apparent at
first. Say, for example, that some halfling
has been stealing writing supplies from a
local scribe. A trifle—until, confronted by
the priest, the halfling confesses that he
had been forced into stealing these things
for an outlawed evil spell-caster who
needs them to prepare scrolls of spells.
2. The priest wants to resurrect a dead
citizen whose services the community
particularly needs; but someone else, such
as a money-grubbing heir, interferes with
this.
3. A rash of possessions or curse-effects
plagues the community, perhaps from
some evil artifact passing from hand to
hand. New victims are affected faster than
the priest can help them, leaving the players to devise emergency measures until
the root problem is solved.
4. Some former adherent of the priest’s
religion is now bitterly denouncing the
faith to everyone who will listen, and this
person will cry “Persecution!” if the priest
tries (however gently) to answer the accusations. It may develop that an older
priest, to whose post the PC priest succeeded, was responsible for alienating the
embittered character.
2. Emotional needs
1. The priest tries to council a depressed
person. It should be easy to plant the
psychological theme in a fantasy context;
for instance, the counseled one could be a
female dwarf, despondent because she
can’t grow any facial hair.
2. Intoxicant addictions can similarly be
translated into the social life of a game-
world. The things people or creatures
could be addicted to are numberless. The
DM permitting, the priest might invent a
new clerical magical item for the specific
purpose of curing chemical dependencies.
3. The priest is called on to mediate
quarrels between neighbors, or between a
husband and wife.
4. Some NPC makes a confession (perhaps a dying confession) to the priest, of
such a nature that the priest faces a moral
dilemma over whether to take some action
upon his new knowledge. For example, a
wizard who routinely travels abroad for
long periods of time has a wife who’s
fallen in love with another man while her
husbands away; she confides this to the
priest, who must decide what, if anything,
to do about it.
3. Physical needs
1. The priest attempts to raise funds for
some charitable purpose, such as sheltering the homeless. If religious frauds have
previously occurred in the community, the
priest may have to go to great lengths to
prove his honesty.
2. Some petrification-using monster has
just been destroyed, leaving numerous
petrified people in its wake. With a current shortage of the means to restore
these victims, buck-passing officials foist
on the priest the job of preserving the
statues until they can be un-stoned.
3. An abandoned infant, human or
otherwise, is left on the temple’s doorstep,
perhaps without clues to its parentage.
4. A businessman friendly with the priest
suffers a setback due to lack of specialized
labor; the priest tries to help him find new
help with the requisite talents.
4. Righting wrongs
1. The priest uncovers criminals running
a slave trade—or, if slavery is legal in the
campaign setting, decides that he is dutybound to abolish it.
2. Nonhuman neighbors of the priest are
victims of racial hostility (as in the TV
series, Alien Nation). Any nonhuman PCs
associated with the priest should be interested in helping to set this right.
3. The priest must try to talk his country’s ruler out of waging a war of
aggression—or, perhaps must speak up
against cowardice when fighting is
justified.
4. Some neighbor or follower of the
priest is arrested and jailed for a crime he
didn’t commit. The priest’s efforts to
amend this injustice may entail exposing a
corrupt judge who accepted a bribe from
the real criminal.
5. Fighting crime
1. The priest finds plenty of use for
detect lie and detect magic spells in the
course of unmasking various frauds in the
marketplace.
2. A sadistic husband is regularly beating
up his wife and children. If the gameworld has the same standards as most
real-world medieval societies, the priest
will get no help from any authorities in
trying to stop this.
3. A neighbor is threatened with murder
or with the kidnapping of loved ones.
4. The priest becomes involved in trying
to prevent a duel or trying to prevent the
offending party from winning by treachery, such as using a magical sword when
the other guy has only a normal one.
6. Extraordinary neighbors
1. The priest is convinced, possibly by
divine revelation, that the son of a couple
in his congregation is destined for a career
as a cleric or a paladin—but the youngster
resists the idea.
2. A neighbor, on whom the priest has
never felt the need to direct a detect evil
spell, is actually a disguised evil monster.
3. Another neighbor (on the other side
of the street from the above one?) proves
to be a disguised benign monster, perhaps
a gold or silver dragon, with some reason
to hide out.
4. Some seemingly unimportant individual turns out to be no less than the ruler
of a foreign country (fleeing from assassins, suffering from amnesia, etc.).
3. Internal Danger
1. Epidemics
1. Disease spreads among humans. For
details on plague effects, see “The End of
the World,” in DRAGON® issue #138.
2. Disease spreads among demihumans.
3. Disease spreads among all intelligent
beings.
4. Disease spreads among domestic
animals.
30 APRIL 1992
animals.
2. Street crime
1. Shopowners are robbed and extorted.
2. Random murders indicate the possible
work of wererats, jackalweres, or similar
monsters.
3. Vandalism and arson suddenly increase in the community, resulting from
racial or religious bigotry.
4. Street gangs, possibly of different
species, battle each other for turf or control of criminal business.
3. Organized crime
1. Criminals infiltrate city government.
2. Criminals infiltrate craft guilds, perhaps first discovered by the priest when
he tries to hire artisans for temple repairs.
3. Criminals try to gain power over all
temples, pretending to offer each one
support against its rivals.
4. Major gang wars erupt. The priest’s
first involvement with this situation could
arise from having to dispel some undead
monsters that ran loose after being used
by one side or the other in the strife.
4. Accidents and disasters
1. The recently slain corpses of several
types of poisonous monsters (black and
green dragons, giant scorpions, etc.) cause
contamination of a vital water supply.
2. Large buildings with unsafe construction, long held up by magic, collapse when
the magic fails (remember the Monty
Python’s Flying Circus TV sketch about
apartments raised by hypnosis?). The
priest will naturally do all he can to help
the casualties, but this might not prevent
his being affected by an unthinking public
backlash against all spell-casters.
3. An earthquake or volcanic eruption
devastates the city. (If that’s not supernatural enough, there can always be some
buried relic, lich’s tomb, etc., unearthed
by the disaster.)
4. A magical storm, originally conjured
by someone far away with no intention of
affecting the priest’s hometown, does
chance to come there and cause damage.
The timing and the nature of the damage
might cause the priest’s flock to think
they’ve somehow incurred their deity’s
anger.
mayor, snatched dripping from his bath.
The priest character’s involvement would
begin with calming the outrage of the
conjured dignitary, then would extend to
trying to convince the bumbling teacher
that he needs more lessons himself.
4. In another case calling for the priest’s
talents at mediating disputes, some routine
use of magic in the community is adversely affecting certain local residents.
Continual light spells, for instance, would
be a nuisance to beings of a light-sensitive
race dwelling near the work site. An enterprise entailing repeated use of air elementals might infuriate a neighborhood
sage, as winds pouring in his window
scattered his parchments.
6. Upsets in local government
1. The local ruler dies or abdicates. Rival
heirs or successors fight for his post, and
the priest’s own congregation is perilously
divided in loyalties.
2. Relationships change suddenly between the municipal authorities and some
guild or mercantile association. An armorers’ guild, for instance, might demand a
sharp increase in fees to equip the city
guards. This could again be a case where
the priest would act as a moderator. Perhaps something more melodramatic is
afoot, with the priest uncovering some
hidden villain who is profiting by the
crisis.
3. During a temporary absence of the
local ruler, news comes to the priest of an
impending coup attempt by underlings.
The priest and associated PCs must decide
between slipping out to alert the ruler,
combatting the coup themselves, or joining
in the coup if they feel the ruler deserves
to be deposed.
4. A curse of the DM’s choice befalls the
local ruler or some member of his family.
4. External Danger
1. Disasters
1. A broad area including or adjoining
the priest’s hometown is stricken by
floods. These may be of natural or magical
origin (for example, something opened a
doorway to the elemental plane of Water
at a point uphill of inhabited land).
2. A large-scale famine could again have
supernatural causes, such as some major
evil being that causes a whole circle of
druids to go insane, who then devastate
the farmlands.
3. Massive tectonic and volcanic upheavals change the entire geography of neighboring regions, making some areas
uninhabitable. The priest must shame his
cold-hearted neighbors into helping the
victims who come to town seeking aid.
4. The climate changes radically. This
would be bad enough, but the secondary
consequences could be nearly as bad. An
extended winter, for instance, would facilitate an invasion by frost giants or other
cold-dwelling monsters.
2. Trouble with national
government
1. The priest receives a vision warning
that the current monarch is about to be
supplanted by someone horribly evil. The
DM can decide whether this accession is
preventable, and the PCs must decide
whether to try to mobilize their community against the coming tyrant.
5. Magic out of hand
1. A standard NPC evil mage from the
DM’s files, residing in or near the city,
conceives a grudge against the priest.
2. A local nonevil mage, in the course of
trying to create a major magical item,
causes unpredictable effects to the populace (everyone on a street being levitated,
for instance, or some persons becoming
years younger or older).
3. An incompetent teacher at a school
for mages causes mishaps to local students. A student learning conjuration
spells, for instance, might attempt in the
laboratory to summon a low-level
monster—but, because of a slight error in
procedure caused by poor instruction,
would instead materialize the local lord or
DRAGON 31
2. The national government comes under the influence of a religion hostile to
that of the PC priest, and the priest finds
officials trying to tell him and his flock
that they must forsake their deity for the
other.
3. Rabble-rousers, possibly using mass
hypnosis, are stirring unjustified public illwill against a virtuous monarch or some
other good-aligned person of national
importance.
4. The priest’s hometown and temple are
visited by an unpopular member of the
royal family, harm to whom would be
blamed on the community.
the previous scenario) acts on its own to
attack the priest’s city.
2. The priest’s city is attacked by foreigners as part of a general invasion of the
country. The capital has not yet been
assaulted.
3. The capital has been devastated in a
massive sneak attack, then occupied with
the aid of powerful magic. The first hint
the priest and his neighbors get of this is
when they find themselves besieged.
4. Warlike foreigners, not immediately
attacking the priest’s native country, are
trying to entice or intimidate it into helping their country to attack a third country.
3. Threats to commerce
5. Otherworldly invasion
1. Pirates or bandits are increasingly
preying on trade moving to and from the
priest’s community. The priest has clues
that the criminals have an agent in town.
2. Some resource vital to the national or
local economy fails. Metal ores are exhausted, an exportable crop is blighted, etc.
3. Workers indispensable to commerce,
like sailors, begin to mutiny, strike, or
desert.
4. The priest’s hometown suffers an
economic depression because of gains
made in trade competition by a rival community. Riots may ensue.
4. Military invasion
1. Another city (possibly the rival from
32 APRIL 1992
1. Fiends or other evil extraplanar beings achieve entry into the world for
standard purposes of killing, torturing,
enslaving, etc.
2. The extraplanar beings are after a
particular object, owned by or known to
the priest.
3. The beings want to kill or capture a
specific person, possibly the priest or a
regular PC comrade of his.
4. Extraplanar beings are only passing
through the area for some reason, intending no harm—unless provoked.
6. Monster migration
1. Orcs, trolls, or other humanoid monsters begin immigrating uninvited, claim-
ing to have peaceful intentions. (And if you
believe that one . . .)
2. Nonhumanoid intelligent monsters
turn up and insist that, by some treaty
dating back for millennia, some of the
city’s real estate rightfully belongs to
them. (The priest might help negotiations
by using the tongues spell.)
3. Nonintelligent monsters move into the
area. If the DM rules that they do not pose
a major danger to the whole community,
the priest may find himself trying to dissuade the aristocracy from endangering
commoners’ lives needlessly in the staging
of grand monster hunts.
4. The priest’s home could be invaded by
comparatively normal animals—like dinosaurs.
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©1991 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A crossword puzzle with unexpected encounters
by Raymond C. Young
Lurking within the answers to this puzzle is a pattern. Five answers should give
you clues, as should this puzzle’s title. The
answers are on page 50.
Across
1. Flightless bird from AD&D® 1st Edition
Monster Manual
4. Weight unit for gems
9. Item used to rappel
13. Minstrels songs
14. “It was
and stormy night....”
(two words)
15. His enemy is Athena (Legends & Lore)
16. How a man makes a moat
17. Something red? (three words)
19. When gamers tire, they call
night (two words)
20. Middle position (abbr.)
21. Suffix for imp?
22. Something green? (two words)
27. Individual controlled by the DM (abbr.)
30. Sitting-room furniture
31. A fish’s armor
32. Blibdoolpoolp rules the kuo33. Truly a beast of burden
35. Roman numerals for weeks in a year
36. Odorous, cold-dwelling humanoid
37. Something blue? (two words)
41. Associate editor Mr. Donovan
42. Opposite of “nope”
43. Romantic Egyptian sky goddess (2nd
Edition Legends & Lore)
44. Hound of omen (FIEND FOLIO®
tome)
45. Leprechauns are
47. Old-time celebration
50. Javelin, to an Oriental Adventures
samurai
51. Something white? (three words)
54. What a robe of eyes helps you do
56. M’s, as written by Greek gods
57.
in one’s beer (get emotional at a
tavern)
58. Something black? (two words)
63. “Sage Advice” columnist Williams
64. You—after you meet Baba Yaga
65. Boat for shipping a large captive monster
’clock, and all is well.” (two
66.“
words)
67. Voice quality, used in role-playing
characters
68. Lens of
reading (Tome of Magic)
69. And so forth (abbr.)
Down
1. Mythologist Hamilton and namesakes
2. Kind of -saurus and -centipede
3. Starship
Enterprise
4. Sources of water in desert terrain
34 APRIL 1992
5. Puts on fancy armor
6. What you should have done when you
met Baba Yaga
7. How a nilbog spells “era”
8. What the referee calls when two ogrillons fight and one is too injured to
continue (FIEND FOLIO tome; abbr.)
9. Boat you can make on a desert island
10. Pertaining to Kara-Tur
11. Guardian of the upper planes (Monstrous Compendium, Outer Planes
appendix)
12. Direction from Waterdeep to the High
Moor in the FORGOTTEN REALMS®
setting
13. Evil plant spirit (D&D® game)
18. Weld metal together, as armorers do
20. Result of teleporting too high
23. Come
(grow up; two words)
24. Celestial event
25. Healing lets you
hit points
26. “Lawful evil” is one (abbr.)
28. Viking skald, for example
29. Vehicle on rails used for mining
34. Kind of “foam” that packing peanuts
are made of
36. Lackey or carrier
37. Off in
-land (fantasizing)
38. Phantasmal force
39. Von Gasik’s refusal, taken literally
(Tome of Magic)
40. Puzzle enthusiasts
41. Cantrip of darkness (Unearthed Arcana)
45. Diamonds and frozen water
46. Reverence to one’s lord
48. Where to find a gem in an eye of fear
and flame (FIEND FOLIO tome)
49. The publishing company of the AD&D
game (two words)
52. Showed anger, Takhisis’s way
53. Editor’s boo-boo
55. Part of a battle axe
58. Toward the stern of the Spelljammer
59.
Magnon (replaced Neanderthal)
60. Three tsp.
61. Hit in the jaw
62. How a bard says “before”
63. Sault
Marie
“Forum” welcomes your comments and opinions
on role-playing games. In the United States and
Canada, write to: Forum, DRAGON® Magazine,
P.O. Box 111, Lake Geneva WI 53147, U.S.A. In
Europe, write to: Forum, DRAGON Magazine,
TSR Ltd, 120 Church End, Cherry Hinton,
Cambridge CB1 3LB, United Kingdom. We ask
that material submitted to “Forum” be either
neatly written by hand or typed with a fresh
ribbon and clean keys so we can read and
understand your comments.
I would like to address Mr. Donovan’s comments in his editorial for issue #172. In that
editorial, he discusses the pitfalls of introducing
standard PCs to legendary characters. For the
past five years, I have run adaptations of popular films—including Escape From New York
(using the AD&D system), The Warriors (the
AD&D system), and Die Hard (SJG’s GURPS*
game)—as adventures at the GEN CON® game
fair. Judging from the players’ feedback, the
adventures were all very successful and everyone had a good time. Certainly it is easier to do
such an adaptation when there is no existing
campaign into which to integrate the adventure,
but I have done that successfully as well.
While he correctly notes some of the problems associated with such an endeavor by using
a past attempt as an example, Mr. Donovan does
not realize the true source of his failure: rigidity. When Mr. Donovan set up his adventure, he
had a “script” in his head that he wanted the
PCs to follow, and he was prepared to lead
them through that script. Well and good, but as
he himself stated, “The first thing I failed to do
was to consider all the possible actions the party
could take . . .” Sometimes I think that GMs take
the analogy of the GM being a god a bit too
seriously. Attempting to do so is folly and will
lead only to disappointment.
An adventure should be set up with the NPCs,
the setting, and elements of a plot, but with no
script for how the action and interaction should
take place. When faced with the robbers (Robin
and his band), the PCs should have been free to
do whatever they liked, not be (to paraphrase
Mr. Donovan) convinced, cajoled, or browbeaten
into pursuing the script. Perhaps, if Robin had
recognized the PC party as a significant power,
he would have approached them differently
(“Hi, guys! Mind if I join you while you wander
through the woods? I’m heading that way myself. So, what’s up?“). Robin has always been
portrayed as a bright fellow, and he would
surely change his methods if the situation
warranted. Furthermore, there are few parties
that could handle being surrounded by a company of 24 archers. I can just imagine it:
Fighter: “I reach for my sword.”
Mage: “I cast magic missile at that guy in the
green hood.”
GM: “Well, guys, since they had their weapons
trained on you and were waiting for you to do
something stupid, they go first. Do the words
‘pin cushion’ mean anything to you?”
In order to avoid the initial problems encountered when the PCs meet the legend, the GM
must be flexible and be able to improvise when
the unexpected occurs.
Mr. Donovan’s next argument deals with a
game version of a film or legend paling in comparison to the original. However, I would argue
just the reverse. When creating a completely
original campaign, the GM must build all of the
imagery, characters, and atmosphere completely
from scratch. By borrowing from existing
material, players who are familiar with the
material already have the imagery in their
heads. A simple statement like, “Remember the
scene where . . .” or “Imagine Robin Hood saying
. . .” will evoke imagery and feeling without any
real effort on the GM’s part. For example: “You
are in a vast park. There are hundreds of other
young people around, with groups dressed in
gaudy costumes. A black man in robes climbs
onto a makeshift stage and begins to speak.”
Anyone who has seen The Warriors will instantly remember gangs like the Baseball Furies and
Turnbill ACs, with their distinctive outfits.
Remember, the entire game is based on
imagination. The players will be very receptive
to the GM conjuring images from their memories. They are already familiar with all of the
NPCs as well; they all know Robin Hood’s Merry
Men and how they can be expected to act. In
my experience, players have always been delighted to meet fictional and legendary characters they recognize, even when I do not
describe them explicitly. Once, during the
adventure based on The Warriors, I described a
small group of attractive young women out on
the street. One of the players said, “Holy [expletive deleted], the Lizzies! Run!”
Mr. Donovan’s next point had to do with the
legends meshing closely with the existing campaign. To do otherwise, he asserts, will give the
adventure the wrong “feel.” I couldn’t disagree
more. Throwing the players a curve ball, shaking them up, or presenting them with something totally unfamiliar is an excellent way of
refreshing a campaign. If the PCs only encounter what the players expect, complacency sets in
and the campaign withers. There are many
ways to avoid this, and using fictional and
legendary figures is just one way. There is an
entire subgenre of science fiction that deals
with just this concept, one of the best being A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by
Mark Twain. The richness of this subgenre is
generated by a central character being out of
place in the setting, giving him the wrong feel.
To use the previous example, an adventure
based on “Conan in King Arthur’s Court”
presents such a unique set of circumstances and
encounters to exploit that playing it would be a
blast. Imagine Conan going head-to-head with a
pompous Lancelot, and the point is made.
Mr. Donovan’s last point, related to the previous one, is that the level of magic in the campaign must be taken into account when dealing
with figures from other source material. I
agree, but there is no reason to eliminate material that does not compare directly. Simply
adapt the source material completely to the
campaign. In other words, Robin Hood would
be familiar with AD&D game magic and perhaps even have a mage in his band. Beware,
however—the Sheriff of Nottingham would have
equal access to magic. There is no reason why
this cannot be done. In the Robin Hood scenario, a mage casting a magic missile might be
quite surprised to have it reflected back by that
ring of spell turning Robin is wearing.
Mr. Donovan’s main argument was that by
adapting the source material to the AD&D
campaign, the source changes and loses its
appeal. Not true. The appeal of Robin Hood has
nothing to do with the fact that there is no
magic in his world, or that he always has the
upper hand against those who travel through
his forest. In fact, some fiction has Robin interacting with otherworldly creatures, such as
sprites and faeries, which are so popular in
British fantasy. Robin’s appeal is the irony of his
situation: a basically good man who, through
unfortunate circumstances, is forced to a life of
thievery, all in order to serve the true king. He
takes the real rogues and thieves of Sherwood
Forest and forges them into a force of good.
These concepts and story lines are universal,
not confined to the current retelling of the tale.
Look at how different Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood
is from Kevin Costner’s. Yet, even with all the
differences, most people are thrilled to accept
both as Robin Hood. I would contend that the
introduction of gunpowder into Robin Hood:
Prince of Thieves is akin to introducing magic
to him in an AD&D game campaign.
I hope that this discussion has given other
GMs ideas on how to handle fictional and legendary figures in their campaigns. The main
trick is to be flexible, not only with the PCs but
with the NPCs as well. Adapt the legends to the
AD&D game, so that they will not be at a great
disadvantage or advantage to the PCs, and allow
for deviations from the “script” you have in
your head. If the situation evolves differently
from what you expect, go with it. It will often
be more fun than what you had in mind.
Adam Lesh
Los Angeles CA
In the AD&D 2nd Edition Legends and Lore
cyclopedia, page 10, it states, “If [heroes who
meet the right conditions for godhood] are
player characters, they are removed from play
and treated as a demigod [sic] from that point
on.” I see no reason for this. I believe that allowing PCs to become gods opens the door to clever
DMs and players to take part in fantastic campaigns of epic proportions.
DRAGON 37
What’s wrong with running a campaign of
godly stature? Many DMs may argue that the
characters will be too powerful and more than a
match for any earthly creature, but this is a
weak argument. I seriously doubt that any
character who has met the conditions listed on
page 10 of the Legends and Lore cyclopedia
(twice average xp level in campaign, at least one
19 ability score, charisma at 18, over 200 followers, perfect alignment) and has then become
a demigod would be interested in the sea monster in the bay or the troublemaker in the bar.
Why worry about dragons down the street
when there are fiends downstairs?
Others may say that a demigod character will
have a field day in the DM’s world, altering
reality to meet his own needs. Keep in mind that
the character is only a demigod, the weakest of
all such powers, and he will be watched closely
by the other gods in the pantheon.
The main argument, however, is that the
campaign will lose all of the spirit of the AD&D
game. I agree that the campaign will be very
different from your average campaign, but I
believe it will be a step above the normal campaign. Interacting with gods and other powerful
beings would be a welcome reward to veteran
players who have brought their heroes this far.
Just imagine the adventures the PCs would now
have and the beings they would meet. Goodaligned heroes may be sent by their greater
powers to investigate an evil new power in the
depths of the Astral plane or some previously
undiscovered plane. I, as a DM, would have a
field day creating new and powerful creatures
and even entirely new universes.
I think that there should be more information
for DMs and players who want to run godly
campaigns, and I believe that these adventures
can be very successful if handled correctly. The
D&D® game did it with the Immortals Set rules,
and the AD&D game is far more developed than
the D&D game when it comes to gods and the
planes. Whether or not TSR, Inc. publishes any
information of this type, I will still begin adventures of this grand scale.
Steven Davis
Rockford MI
I have been playing FRPGs for some time now
and I switched to the AD&D 2nd Edition rules
not long ago. A friend of mine had told me that,
in these new rules, the fighter character class
was finally worth playing, as it was definitely
inferior and not worth playing in the AD&D 1st
Edition game. But, after reading the Player’s
Handbook, I found I had been greatly deceived.
In fact, the fighter class was still the weakest
character class and, even if the fighters were
made a little more equal to the other classes
with the advantage of weapon specialization,
multiclassed characters received higher level
limits than before! Why bother playing an
inferior human fighter when you can arrive at
relatively high levels of experience when playing a demihuman fighter/mage or other multiclassed character? The temptation to play a
ranger or paladin instead of a “normal” fighter
is still very high, as the latter is not as powerful
as the others, and you might feel inferior to
your fellows who are playing rangers or paladins in your group.
Is the fighter character class in danger of
extinction? Or is it just going to survive at the
price of being used only by the DM as an NPC
source until the referee gets tired of roleplaying characters so inferior to his PCs?
Some feedback on these topics would be very
appreciated.
Victor Paraschiv
Brussels, Belgium
I am writing in support of the editorial written by Michael Stackpole that appeared in issue
#171. In his editorial, entitled “Role-playing and
the real world,” Stackpole attempts to dispel
certain misconceptions people have about roleplaying games, including those who theorize
role-playing games are mind manipulators that
lure their participants into becoming disillusioned with reality and unnaturally violent
toward society. As an avid gamer for over 10
years, I would like to extend my support for Mr.
Stackpole’s argument by making a comparison
between the mentality of role-playing game
players and the rest of society. Through my
experiences over the last 10 years with roleplaying games, I have found that the entertainment that role-playing games provide is quite
similar to and certainly as harmless as America’s
favorite pastime: spectator sports.
First of all, Stackpole states that groups like
Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons (BADD)
claim that role-playing games allow players to
escape into worlds of fantasy, thus forcing them
to tune out the real world. I disagree with this
allegation. How is it that millions of Americans
can watch and enjoy professional sports without
being sucked into their personal fantasies about
the games they attend or watch? Gamers are
not sucked into imagined worlds any more than
a fan is sucked into his television set while
watching the game. We use role-playing games
not as a device to tune out reality, but rather as
a contest in which the player can experience
glory or defeat, much like the fan who loyally
celebrates or agonizes over the exploits of his
favorite team.
Another stand-out comparison that can be
made between these two forms of entertainment is in the use of statistics. In the sports
world, fans are frequently obsessed with number in sports—and not just with wins and losses,
but with figures such as a players’ batting
average, shooting percentage, yardage gained,
or goals scored. This is similar in the case of
role-playing games as well. Players are constantly striving to better their characters’ experience
points, hit points, skill points, or armor classes.
Just like the spectator who has a favorite
athlete, gamers also enjoy identifying with their
favorite characters. Yet, the fan knows and
realizes that he is separate from that favorite
player just as the average gamer knows that he
is separate from his character. This draws me to
my point. The comparison between sports and
role-playing games exists because each is nothing more than a contest with sets of established
rules, designed to test its participants and entertain its viewers.
My final point is on the issue of violence in
role-playing games. Stackpole attacks studies
done by the National Coalition against Television
Violence, and its allegations that role-playing
games conjure up feelings of violence in their
players. It is true that role-playing games often
use imaginary violence (combat) as a tool to
install a sense of excitement or danger into the
game. Yet, it is also true that this violence is
never graphic or descriptive in the way that it is
on television. For example, I find it difficult to
feel a sense of frenzied disquietude every time a
character is “hit for eight points of damage.”
Sure, there are many acts of imagined violence
in any given scenario, but these never come
across as anything more descriptive than a set
of numbers. In the case of television, many
shows are indeed violent in nature, but (not to
beat this comparison to death) so are sports. In
fact, the Boston Bruins redefine the word “violence” every time they take to the ice—and this
is real violence, too. No father can say to his
son, “Don’t worry, it’s only Hollywood makeup
and special effects,” every time a hockey player
bashes another’s lower jaw into splinters with
his fist or stick. My point is that we live in a
society that is engulfed in violence, and though
much of it is modeled after that which is found
in the entertainment world, we certainly cannot
pin the blame on role-playing games.
I feel strongly about this issue, and I have
made this comparison because I have enjoyed
both sports and role-playing games throughout
my life, yet still kept a clear head on my shoulders. Neither has ever affected my perception of
reality in any form. Thus, I strongly support
both role-playing games and sports, as they are
both harmless, great forms of entertainment for
kids who wish to keep clear of the real dangers
in the modern age: unsafe sex, drugs, and gang
violence.
Jake Remley
Newburyport MA
* indicates a product produced by a company other
than TSR, Inc. Most product names are trademarks
owned by the companies publishing those products.
The use of the name of any product without mention
of its trademark status should not be construed as a
challenge to such status.
38 APRIL 1992
by Bruce A. Heard
This series chronicles the adventures of
an Alphatian explorer and his crew as
they journey across the D&D® Known
World in their skyship. The information
herein may be used to expand D&D campaigns using the Gazetteer series.
Nyxmir 18, AY 2001: Soon after loading several barrels of genuine Boisjolis
Nouveau from Renardy into the Princess
Ark, our mighty ship steered to the southwest. Several days passed as we continued
our exploration of the Savage Coast. The
term “savage” has little bearing on the
people who dwell on these shores, yet
their societies have remained very fragile,
nevertheless. Massive Hule looms to the
northeast. Far to the north reign the barbarian hordes. Great tribes of humanoids
hold the Yazak Steppes. There is cinnabar,
too, the vile substance that gives power
but corrupts its user. All this could sweep
the coast, brutally returning these budding kingdoms to lawlessness and the
darkest barbarism.
As I reflected on these possibilities,
Myojo informed me that we had reached
the southernmost cape of a kingdom called
Bellayne. He was excited, for he had heard
this was a nation of rakastas. Surely their
queen would have heard of our performance in Louvines. This presented a problem, since the Renardois and the
Bellaynish were bitter rivals. We might be
perceived in Bellayne as lupin sympathizers, and therefore suspicious visitors.
So be it. The Princess was made invisible, and I decided to disembark with Myojo and Raman, going incognito as travelers
from Dunwick. We would visit the countryside and observe the people of Bellayne,
which would be helpful later should I
decide to meet their queen. It wouldn’t do
to commit an unfortunate faux-pas on our
first visit there.
I chose an old ruined castle as our landing point. The gloomy fortress stood over
a cliff, overlooking the Western Sea in the
sunset. The Saragón Gazetteer indicated
this to be Castle Malburn. It would be an
easy spot for Talasar to find. As we left the
ship, I ordered Talasar to keep exploring
the coast—and especially to keep moving.
There could still be Heldannic prowlers in
the sky, looking for an opportunity to lash
out at the Princess. Talasar was to return
in two days. We would spend the night
there and begin our visit in the morning.
Nyxmir 19: Something terrible happened during the night. We awoke to find
our old friend Raman dead, with neither
any sign of a fight nor any wound on his
body. Had he been killed during his
watch? Who could have done this, and
why? He had an expression of horror on
his face, his eyes wide with fear. He reminded me of the man we found dead in
Slagovich—the one called Pustek, if I remember it. We never knew what had
happened to him. Was his fate linked to
that of our Raman? The Master might
have been behind this, but why Raman
and not me?
There was little we could have done for
our friend. With pain in our hearts, we
wrapped Raman’s body and his beloved
books in his blanket, then placed them
inside a large barrel. Once the barrel was
covered with stones, we somberly left. We
would recover the body when Talasar
returned. A few hours after our departure, a farmer on his way to Theeds
picked us up on his cart.
Time unknown—Raman, from a
later account: “Hey, what happened?
Where am I?” My words echoed in the
dark. I thought I must have fallen asleep
during my watch. I’d had a horrible nightmare in which the ghost I met at the Tower of Mercy in Vilaverde had found me.
She attacked me again and again, moaning
“Revenge . . . revenge . . .” I woke up just
as she struck the final blow, and a chill
ran down my back.
The sun hadn’t come up yet. Good, I
thought, I had not been asleep too long. I
must have somehow wandered away from
the ruins. I started to return and check
the safety of my two companions, but it
was dark and I had difficulties finding my
way back.
Nyxmir 20—Haldemar: Theeds-uponBlythe was a city like many others we had
seen on our journey. The majority of its
people were indeed rakastas. Humans
were not uncommon, including polite
locals, quiet merchants from Dunwick,
brash bankers from Smokestone City, and
refined exporters from Boa Mansao. There
were even a few elves and dwarves, probably Eusdrians, and a handful of native
halflings. The latter seemed perfectly
suited to Bellayne’s orderly ways.
We entered a small tavern called Ye Olde
Shoppe to rest from our journey from
Castle Malburn. “’Tis not opened yet, milords!” said the rakasta innkeeper. “The
meat pies aren’t ready.”
“I beg your pardon,” I responded, “but
we are tired from our journey. We hoped
to find rest and refreshment here.”
“I’ll say!” intervened the serving wench.
“You can’t possibly send our guests out this
way! ‘Tis almost tea time, my dear!”
“Great Cats, you’re right! Steam the
kettle, love. I’ll fetch the crumpets at
once!” said the innkeeper.
“A cloud of milk, milord?” asked the
wench of Myojo. “And where might you
be from? I don’t know your accent. Dear
me, of course, you must be from the Forest Marches, true?”
Wide eyed with confusion, Myojo muttered, “Yes , . . yes . . . Forest Marches.”
“Truly amazing,” she went on. “One lump
or two? I never met the forest folks. I
always pictured them with green overalls
and feathered hats, you know. Any kippers? Or a slice of pudding, perhaps?”
“You are annoying our guests, love,”
intervened the innkeeper. “Let them rest,
and stoke the fire, please.”
The folks of Bellayne seemed a friendly
people. The day went on in this way as we
visited the city and learned about its people. But nothing could truly ease our
hearts after the death of Raman. I could
still not understand it. It was so sudden
and meaningless. I wished I could still see
his face and hear his voice.
Time unknown—Raman, from a
later account: Something was terribly
wrong. The sun had not risen for what
seemed an eternity. There was no castle to
be found. The cliff was gone, and so was
the sea. Could have I wandered so far to
be this lost? I kept running into crisscrossing dirt paths and bare rocks. The trees
here had nothing in common with what I
had seen before. This was too confusing.
“A penny for your thoughts, Raman,”
said a voice behind me. I turned and saw
her, the ghost I first met at the library in
Porto Preto. However, she now wore the
leather cuirass of an adventurer and held
a serrated sword. Her skin bore the red
mark of cinnabryl. “Welcome to my world,
old sage,” she said with a wicked smile.
“Your world? What world?” I asked.
“Have you not found out yet? You disappoint me. Come now, old sage. This is
your last discovery. This is Limbo, my
dear, and you are the merest reflection of
what you once were. You are mine now.”
“You lie, fiend! This is all trickery!” I
responded, feeling a terrible sense of
coldness in my spine.
“Spare me. You failed me once and now
I’ve come to make you my servant—and
serve you will, old sage, for I need your
soul to guard my grave.” She brandished
her sword. An evil glint came from its
blade as she turned into a vile, crimson
spectre.
I screamed in horror and ran. The nightmare would not end. Many times she
found me cowering behind a rock or
trembling in the shadow of an ethereal
tree, but I was lucky and escaped her for
some time. So it was true—I was dead,
dead and lost in Limbo.
Nyxmir 21—Haldemar: Despite our
depression, Myojo and I saw that Bellayne
was a very likable place, except for the
food. It seemed no real enmity existed
between the Renardois and their feline
neighbors, other than a natural dislike of
each other. A question of taste, I guess. At
least they had common foes in the north,
and that alone kept them from the worst.
Their queen, Her Gracious Majesty
Catherine “The Lioness,” is both honored
and beloved of her people. She was seen
as a strong and wise ruler, which was
what I wanted to hear. This place seemed
pleasant enough, but it was time to return
to the Princess Ark and give Raman a
decent burial, then to mourn our loss.
In Limbo—Raman, from a later
account: In my flight from the red spectre, I discovered a strange place that
looked like a city. All was dark and crooked, as if the very forces of Chaos had built
its streets and houses. There were people
there, many people, the souls of lost creatures like me, all seemingly stranded
there. Since I was dead anyway, there
wasn’t much I could lose, so I entered and
explored this bizarre place.
Nobody seemed to mind my presence.
There were shops selling various baubles,
tools, and weapons—but no food. Indeed, I
felt no hunger. Like any other city, it came
with rather obnoxious folks, pick-pockets,
haughty lords, and beggars who looked
shrivelled, as if the light in their souls was
fading. One faintly begged me, “Have pity,
master. Have pity for one who withers.
Please, bestow me with the gift of life, and
I’ll serve you, my master. A mere shred of
your life . . .” I kept moving.
I found what looked like a twisted hostelry, where I rented a room where I could
rest. The keeper, probably another lost
soul like me or perhaps a deceased innkeeper himself, asked for his dues. I
dropped a few coins on the desk; I seemed
to have all my old clothing and items, even
in death. The innkeeper looked up, surprised. “A newcomer, eh?” He blew on the
coins and they dissipated into thin air.
“Your wealth is no more in the world
beyond. I request your true wealth.”
“And what might this be?” I asked
nervously.
“A mere shred of your life, stranger,” he
said, pointing to a vial. “Touch here.” I did,
and a cold sensation crept up my arm. I felt
a bit more tired. So this is what a “shred”
was! In this world, only one’s lifeforce had
any value. I’d better learn quickly how to
use it. I went to my quarters.
I was happy to discover I still had my
trusted library scroll, and it worked. Perhaps this was a mere reflection of my true
books, but I could still browse. How long
would it last? I had no way to tell.
I spent a very long time there, alone and
quiet, studying what little information I
could dig up on Limbo and its laws. The
city was a safe haven, but also a backwater, for it led nowhere. Many souls ended
up there, afraid of Limbo’s wilderness.
Those who were strong of heart and faithful to their Immortals could find a way to
eternal rest, somewhere beyond this Limbo. Others cowered in the City of the
Dead, safe perhaps but stranded until they
decided to meet their fates.
Someone knocked at my door. A tall
figure stood there, wrapped in a long
black robe with a hood. It whispered, “You
seek escape, human. I can sense it.”
“What do you want?” I inquired.
“I know what you seek, and I know
where it lies,” it hissed.
“What do you know of what I want? And
what does it matter to you? Begone!” This
character was truly disturbing.
“Your companions are grieving,” it whispered again. “They await your return
DRAGON 43
from beyond.”
“No one can leave here. What happened
has happened. Now go away.”
It slowly shook its head. “Not so, human.
There is a way. You can return to your
friends, and I know how.”
It dawned on me that perhaps this could
lead somewhere. “And you’ll reveal to me
your dark secret if I pay you—don’t tell
me—a shred of my life!”
“Five, human. Five shreds of your life, or
darkness forever,” it whispered.
“Prove to me first that you don’t lie! I
will not let go of my life so easily!”
The gaunt soul breathed deeply, then
whispered, “In the City of the Dead, no
one can cheat on a pact. The law of the
Immortals binds me to my word.”
“So be it. Tell me your secret, and I will
pay you.”
“Seek the rock on which an obelisk
stands. Beyond, at the bottom of the fallen
bridge, lies a gate. It leads back to your
world. Go quickly, for your time now runs
faster.”
The gaunt creature grasped my wrist
with a skeletal hand. I could see spectral
flesh materializing slowly on its bones as it
drained my lifeforce. Then it left, quietly
and mysteriously. I felt very weak, and I
could see in a mirror I had faded a bit.
This was troublesome. I had to move on. It
seemed to me I had been here for over 10
days already.
Nyxmir 22—Haldemar: At last we
recovered Raman’s body and returned to
the ship. Consternation overtook the crew
at the sad news. Talasar began to prepare
the mourning ceremony and the last prayers for Raman.
His remains were brought to the chapel,
and incense was lit around them. A few
candles were all that brought light to the
chapel. The crew entered one by one to
pay their last respects to Raman. Later
that night, the officers, Lady Abovombe,
Myojo, Nyanga, Leo, and myself remained
for an eve of mourning. Talasar then began the prayer for the dead.
In Limbo—Raman, from a later
account: At last, here it was—I had found
the obelisk! From where I stood, I could
see a fallen bridge below. I started scrambling toward it when I heard a familiar
voice.
“And where do you think you are going,
old sage?” The red ghost was there, standing in front of me. “It took you some time
to get here. I thought you would never
leave that city. Your five shreds of life felt
so sweet, old sage! How kind of you to
bestow me with something so dear.”
This evil soul had lured me out of the
city’s protection. I had no hope of defeating her now; I was too weak. I knew the
pact was still good, but I would have to
reach the gate first.
Again, she turned into her dreadful
spectral incarnation and approached.
Other voices then rose in the distance.
Faint at first, they grew in strength. I
could have sworn I recognized Talasar’s
44 APRIL 1992
voice among them. It was compelling me
to move toward the bridge.
The crimson spectre screeched and
charged, her sword raised to strike me.
Suddenly she stopped, dropped the sword,
and fell to her knees, screaming in pain.
She had hit a magical barrier around me,
like some sort of protection from evil spell.
“Cursed be thee, cleric of Razud! Cursed
be all your crew!” croaked the crimson
spectre. I had no wish to hear more. I ran
to the gate, and all became black again.
Nyxmir 23—Haldemar: The night of
mourning was over. It was time to return
Raman’s mortal remains to the care of the
sea by the light of dawn, as demanded by
naval tradition. The crew stood at attention as Raman’s shrouded body was placed
on the plank. Talasar uttered his last prayer and farewell when Ramissur blew his
whistle to signal Raman’s final departure,
with two long, saddening notes.
Suddenly, Raman’s body lurched,
moaned, and sat up on the plank. Frightened out of their wits, the sailors holding
the plank screamed and accidentally
dropped the plank overboard—along with
Raman’s body!
Ramissur immediately dove overboard to
recover our friend. By some miracle, Raman had come back to life, barely avoiding
another death by drowning this time. Pale,
exhausted, and visibly shaken, he was
brought back to his quarters a mere
shadow of himself. After a long rest, perhaps he could tell us whatever it was that
happened to him. Until then, Talasar
would remain with him at all times. There
was no telling what might come from
beyond to reclaim his soul.
To be continued...
The world beyond
A study completed by Raman Nabonidus,
Sage and 1st Engineer of the Princess Ark:
“As many people correctly believe, a
living being is made of two basic elements,
material and immaterial—body and soul.
The body results from the interaction of
forces pertaining to the Spheres of Matter
and Time. Matter makes up the body,
while Time regulates its natural life.
“The soul requires elements pertaining
to the Sphere of Thought and Energy.
Thought allows the soul to be sentient,
while Energy allows to it exist. It is the
soul that animates and governs the body
when both are joined. Without it, the body
soon perishes.
“A fifth element exists, one that initially
binds soul to body. This element pertains
to the Sphere of Entropy. It is strong at
birth, then weakens as years pass. If natural death occurs, that bond withers, allowing the soul to leave the body. Otherwise,
the remaining entropic force is released in
the Prime plane or wherever the body was
at the time of death. This force is one that
creatures of Entropy feed upon. . . .”
Limbo
At the time of death, a soul is immediately transported to Limbo, a very remote
outer plane. It is a dark and mysterious
place that no living being but Immortals
may enter. There, the soul may seek eternal rest or struggle to return to its body,
thinking it still has unfinished business.
Chaos is the dominant element in Limbo.
It affects many things, from the physical
laws to the passing of time. Time in Limbo
runs differently than in the Prime plane.
The first day a soul “lives” in Limbo lasts
only an hour in the Prime plane. The
second consecutive day in Limbo lasts two
hours in the Prime plane, the third consecutive day three, and so forth. At this rate,
an uninterrupted year in Limbo would be
a little over seven years in the Prime
plane, and a decade there would last seven
centuries on the Prime plane!
When a soul manages to leave and then
return to Limbo, the passage of time resets itself, so a day there is equal to an
hour in the Prime plane. Time in Limbo
can always be measured with a sundial
despite the lack of any sun. Natural sundials exist in Limbo’s wilderness. The mark
of the sun on the dial actually glows no
matter how the sundial is held. Sigils on
sundials mark the passing of weeks,
months, and years. Magical hourglasses
may also mark the corresponding time in
the native plane of the entity consulting it.
The passing of time in Limbo explains
why two creatures who entered that plane
at different times will not be able to exit it
and reappear in the Prime plane at the
same time. For example, two warriors die
during a battle. The first warrior dies at
dawn, the other at noon (six hours later).
Both meet in Limbo. This means the first
warrior has already spent three full days
there (three days in Limbo equal six hours
in the Prime plane). Together they manage
to find a gate back to the Prime plane after
another four days in Limbo. By then, the
first warrior has spent seven days in Limbo, and the other only four. If both enter
the gate simultaneously, the first warrior
appears 28 hours after his death (at 10
A.M. the day after his death), and the second warrior appears 10 hours after his
death (at 10 P.M. on the day of his death). If
they met again in the Prime plane and
both reentered the gate to Limbo at the
same time, time in Limbo would affect
both in the same way from this point on.
As long as a soul remains in Limbo, it
appears, feels, and thinks like its living
counterpart, though it neither ages nor
requires food or water. It possesses all
items the character carried or wore at the
time of his death, complete with magical
abilities. The soul and its equipment are
only “reflections” of what they once were.
Magical-item reflections function only in
Limbo, being powerless in the Prime and
other planes. Should the next living owner
of the deceased character’s magical items
die in the Prime plane, the old reflections
of these item would dissipate and reap-
pear in the possession of the last owner’s
soul when it reaches Limbo. Exception:
Artifacts have no reflection in Limbo.
A soul in Limbo senses when its former
possessions, such as weapons, tools,
clothes, and so on, are being used on the
Prime plane. It also knows if they are
being used in a way the soul would approve of. The physical objects and their
reflections in Limbo are closely linked.
The older the object or the stronger its
magic, the greater the bond. An intelligent
sword could even communicate with its
owner on the Prime plane and its previous
owner’s soul in Limbo. Think again before
stealing a sword from an ancient tomb;
one never knows to whom it once belonged, and the owner’s soul might come
back from Limbo and haunt the grave
robber until the sword is finally returned
to the tomb.
Most spells may be cast normally, except
for traveling spells used in an attempt to
leave Limbo. A teleport spell used to move
from one region of Limbo to another will
function. Teleport, travel, word of recall,
or wish spells used in an attempt to exit
Limbo will fail. The only way to leave
Limbo is through adventuring. Likewise,
all healing spells and all spells related to
life, death, or souls (e.g., raise dead, speak
to the dead, animate dead, magic jar, or a
wish used in any way affecting death)
cannot be cast from inside Limbo. Entering or leaving Limbo heals any damage
done to the soul.
To a soul, the environment in Limbo
looks and feels as if it were a tangible
reality. For D&D game purposes, the soul
is played exactly like the live character
was, with armor class, hit points, movement, and so forth. Of course, a soul that
just arrived in Limbo doesn’t immediately
believe it is “dead.” The soul needs time to
come to that conclusion.
Limbo may take different aspects, depending on the character and his cultural
background. For example, a character
from Ochalea may see Limbo as a shadowy Oriental garden with pagodas, while a
character from the Northern Reaches
could see it as giant glaciers battered by
dark, thunderous storms. For those without such beliefs, Limbo is likely to look like
dirt paths winding through jagged rocks.
The sky ranges from a dim, gray twilight
to total darkness. Eerie algae and veils of
Spanish mosses seem to stretch forever
from the ground up into the starless sky.
Even though the ethereal plants sway
slowly as if in some imaginary breeze, a
sound like a howling wind can be faintly
heard far away in the darkness. Occasionally, a screech or the rumble of falling
rocks echoes in the distance. Limbo is a
cold, dismal place, with grays and blacks
dominating throughout.
If one flew “upward” alongside the algae,
he would discover that their other end is
rooted in a land that is the mirror image
of the one he just left, as if Limbo were a
giant sphere. If one could dig into the
46 APRIL 1992
ground, he would reappear on another
surface in all ways identical to the one he
just left. These places are all infinite extensions of the same world, like interlocking
Möbius strips. Like the Prime plane, Limbo
is not a finite universe; this is due to the
predominance of Chaos in Limbo.
Many creatures populate Limbo, ranging
from the lost souls of otherworldly beings
to creatures of Entropy and predators
unique to Limbo. These latter seek to
destroy lost souls, for they feed on elements related to the Spheres of Thought.
These entropic entities represent ultimate
oblivion for those who fall before them.
They usually remain in Limbo, since other
planes are deadly to them. Only the more
powerful ones dare linger in the Prime
plane, often in an attempt to stalk prey
that escaped them. The more powerful the
prey, the more it will attract these denizens’ hunger. Other beings haunt Limbo as
well, including Immortals on a quest or
fiends with some dark scheme in mind.
Seeking eternal rest
The souls of nonplayer characters entering Limbo will seek eternal rest in most
cases, at the DM’s discretion. If not, skip to
the next section, “Returning home.”
If the character chose an Immortal Patron to guide him during his previous life
and he has been faithful to his philosophy,
his soul will find a gate leading to the
plane of his Immortal Patron. The time
spent in Limbo, ranging from a few minutes to several decades, depends on how
faithful that character was. The stay in
Limbo is meant as a period of atonement.
On the Immortal Patron’s plane, the soul
becomes a servant of the Immortal and
cannot be called back to the Prime plane
(by a cleric casting a raise dead spell, for
example) without the Immortal Patron’s
will. All memory of the Immortals plane is
wiped out permanently if this is achieved.
No mortal magic can restore memory lost
that way.
If the character had adopted an Immortal Patron’s philosophy but betrayed it
later, that character’s soul will not ever be
allowed into the Immortal’s plane, and it is
condemned to remain forever in Limbo.
Sooner or later, the lost soul will fall prey
to entities of darkness that wander the
paths of Limbo. Truly evil souls could fall
before the forces of Entropy there and
join their side, but they are more likely to
become Entropy’s prey or the hapless
pawn of some grand, evil plot.
A chaotic soul trapped in Limbo may
become a Minion of Chaos. It must first
become familiar with the peculiarities of
Limbo (subtract the character’s or monster’s level from 40; the result indicates
the number of local days a soul needs to
“survive” in Limbo to gain this knowledge).
If it defeats a Minion of Chaos of the same
number of hit dice or better (minimum 10
HD), a Chaotic soul then becomes a Minion
itself, the very predator it learned to fear
in Limbo.
If the character never adopted any philosophy at all, his soul must go on a quest
to find the gate that leads to eternal rest
on planes where free souls may reside.
These are the entities that mend the fabric
of the universe in the Prime or Outer
Planes, allow the celestial clock to work,
enable the eternal cycle of creation to go
on, and maintain the balance between the
powers of the spheres.
Simple prayers from those still alive can
help a soul lost in Limbo. To someone in
Limbo, prayers sound like faint calls from
friends. If the prayers are uttered with
enough faith, they can lead a soul in the
right direction, toward a gate it seeks or
away from danger. Many clerics know
prayers for the dead, which are particularly effective when said by mourning
friends gathered at the side of the deceased or at his grave. Depending on the
mourners’ background, candles, incense,
chimes, songs, Ochalean firecrackers, the
toll of a bell, or the sacrifice of gifts, are
used to ward off evil spirits (equivalent to
a protection from evil spell in Limbo) and
help the prayers reach the soul beyond.
The most effective prayers for the dead
were written many centuries ago by the
ancient Nithians; these are still in use in
the HOLLOW WORLD™ setting.
Other spells cast in the Prime plane can
affect lost souls, like speak with the dead.
To a soul in Limbo, the spell induces a
trance that allows the soul to respond to
questions (no save). The soul is totally
vulnerable during that time and cannot
break the trance until it has responded to
the cleric’s three questions.
Returning home
For a soul to desire its return to the
Prime plane, there should be some unbearable need or feeling of distress such
that the soul would be ready to risk losing
eternal rest in order accomplish a great
deed. An epic struggle against evil, a loved
one in dire need of help, and revenge for
some terrible crime are examples of legitimate reasons to go to the Prime plane.
When confronted with a character’s
death and entry into Limbo, players will
almost always attempt to bring their characters back to life, regardless of the legitimacy of their reasons. Let them. If a
player is being frivolous, make his character’s path to the Prime plane dangerous
and unforgiving. The path to the Prime
plane can be a long and difficult one. In
the case of a character with a noble quest,
some help could be made available in the
persons of benevolent entities guiding the
lost soul toward a gate.
The wandering soul must face many
dangers that could destroy it forever.
Creatures of darkness dwelling in Limbo
prey upon these lost souls. Gates are well
hidden. Malevolent beings also know that
lost souls seek these gates to return to
their world, and therefore will haunt
these places. The more powerful ones,
fiends or their Minions in particular, will
Cartography by John Knecht
DRAGON
47
attempt to fool a lost soul into believing
they are trying to help. Instead, they will
guide the soul to the wrong gate, one that
leads to their plane. There the soul will be
devoured or imprisoned by creatures of
Entropy.
If the soul succeeds in reaching the
Prime plane, it will enter at the spot
where its body was killed. The soul is
invisible totally immaterial, and incapable
of affecting anything physically or magically in the Prime plane. No one can see it
or hear it. The soul must find its body by
wandering the region and listening to
people. If it finds its body, the soul may
immediately enter it and attempt to reanimate it, provided the body is in reasonably
good condition. Make a Constitution Check
based on the character’s original score. If
it succeeds, the body is revived. For example, a warrior dies from a stab in the
heart, and his soul leaves the body and
later returns. Everyone thought the fighter was quite dead (he was), only to discover that the deadly blade just grazed the
fighter’s heart. He “miraculously” awakes,
very weak and in pain but alive.
If the body decayed beyond any possible
recovery, was damaged to a point it
couldn’t conceivably live, or was already
disposed of (cremated, buried deep in the
ground, etc.), then the soul is in danger of
becoming a ghost. Make a Wisdom Check
based on the original character’s score. If
it succeeds, the soul immediately returns
to Limbo. If not, it becomes a ghost
trapped in the Prime plane (see the description of the ghost in the Rules Cyclopedia, page 182).
Souls may be recalled to the Prime plane
by powerful clerics. To a soul in Limbo, a
raise dead spell would produce a great ball
of blinding light. The spell in effect creates
a magical gate for the soul. It leads it directly to its body, at the time the cleric
casts the spell. If it does not desire to
return to the Prime plane, the soul must
pass a Wisdom Check to resist the call.
Sometimes entropic entities will imprison
a newly arrived soul, hoping for an unsuspecting cleric to cast such a spell. The
entity will enter the gate and take possession of the resurrected body. At other
times, a Minion of Chaos might sneak into
the gate after the soul. Creatures of Limbo
can be jealous of and spiteful toward those
who escape Limbo. Clerics should always
take heed when summoning a soul back
from beyond, for there very well might
also be a furtive shadow lurking somewhere near, waiting for its time.
Cities of the dead
Invariably, there are places in Limbo
that can be called cities. They offer a
neutral ground where souls, followers of
Entropy, and creatures of Chaos may meet
and dwell without fear of each other. It is
rumored that these places are under the
protection and law of Immortal Patrons.
As long as one remains in such havens,
no harm may befall him without his own
48 APRIL 1992
consent. To say the place is absolutely safe
would be far from the truth, however; the
only acceptable “currency” there is one’s
precious lifeforce. Many reasons exist for
why a being might want to part with some
of its lifeforce; this is usually done for
services or information. A Minion of Chaos
may bestow upon a weak soul some of its
lifeforce in order to obtain its services for
a time. A lost soul may accept the loss of
some lifeforce in order to gain valuable
information on the location of a magical
gate. Another might want to pay a rent to
“open shop” and sell goods (remember,
there is no way to tell how long the reflection of an object will last in Limbo). A
fiend may “loan” lifeforce to another entity, at an interest, but the fiend might let
the contract run past its deadline and
claim its dues back when one is not in any
shape to repay. Many souls became the
victims of an unscrupulous fiend, either
meeting their final doom or becoming
followers of Entropy just to survive. Cities
crawl with such unsavory creatures.
The trading of lifeforce is vital in Limbo
because it often is the only way to cure
damage to souls. A soul on a quest to find
a gate might sustain great damage in a
battle against a creature of Chaos, and
thus would want to seek employment in
order to cure its wounds. The reflection of
money and precious items has little value
in Limbo. These are viewed as mere trinkets and baubles.
Lifeforce can be transferred upon contact. For simplicity, lifeforce is measured
in hit points. The recipient cannot receive
more lifeforce than its normal hit-point
total. Lifeforce can be stored in vials and
used at a later time like a magical potion.
One may refuse to return borrowed lifeforce, but then the protection of the city
no longer applies to the delinquent, and
his creditor is entitled to take any action it
sees fit.
Denizens of Limbo
As mentioned earlier, myriad entities
populate Limbo besides the souls of the
dead. Because of the preponderance of
Chaos there, the “law” of the strongest is
the only one that applies. Among the more
powerful entities are fiends and their
rivals, the Masters of Chaos. Fiends, or
Lords of Entropy, are not native to Limbo
but consider that plane their hunting
grounds. Masters of Chaos are souls that
remained in Limbo and rose to power
there. Every Minion of Chaos remembers
vividly its very first encounter with a fiend
or its servants when it first entered Limbo
as a lost soul. For this, Minions of Chaos
abhor fiends and all other entities of Entropy, especially undead in the service of
Entropy.
Undead are abominations that should
not normally exist, except that sometimes
intense emotions or evil magic interfere
with order in the Prime plane. Some undead maintain links with Limbo.
Sentient undead with physical forms
(ghouls, wights, mummies, liches) often
require souls to be called back to the
Prime plane from Limbo and be bound to
their corpses. Souls that make it past a
gate to eternal rest cannot be called back
for the purpose of creating undead. Sentient undead whose souls are capable of
traveling Limbo retain their ability to
control other undead souls in Limbo, just
like on the Prime plane.
Undead without physical forms (wraiths,
spectres, haunts, spirits, etc) are perversions of their original souls. This happens
in the cases of great sorrow or ultimate
evil. Some souls trapped in Limbo for a
very long time may turn into these beings
and return to the Prime plane many years
after their actual deaths.
Most undead have a goal that will allow
them to earn eternal rest, sometimes good
(ghosts), sometimes evil (spectres). Others
hope to break the curse that created them
(mummies). Most evil undead are content
with spreading evil and sorrow around
them (wraiths, nightshades) in revenge for
their fate. Others have become insane in
their quest for power and knowledge
(liches), or in their painful, unbearable
hunger for live flesh (ghouls, wights,
vampires).
Note that in order for an evil soul to
become any of the undead in the following
section, the late character must have had
at least the same number of HD as the
chosen undead form.
Skeletons, zombies: These are the
lowest manifestations of evil magic. Someone in the Prime plane simply animated
the remains of dead bodies, which does
not affect their souls. The souls of the
victims of this magic may go on quests for
eternal rest.
Ghouls, wights: These creatures exist
in the Prime plane due to entropic magic.
Ghouls must feed only to ease the pain of
hunger; they do not otherwise require
food to survive. A wight, however, is far
more than a hungry undead. After being
killed by a wight, a victim’s soul first goes
to Limbo. There, it is stalked by the
wight’s mind, as the wight enters a catatonic trance that allows it to send its own
soul after its victim. A wight’s soul looks
like a dark, frightening shadow straight
from the deceased’s worse nightmare.
The wight’s soul is more powerful in
Limbo than in the Prime plane, and it
knows many tricks. It can cast the following spells once per visit in Limbo: hold
person, phantasmal force, web, continual
darkness, and hallucinatory terrain. It can
also enter Limbo within 1d4 miles of its
victim. The wight can sense the general
direction of its victim. The energy drain
ability functions in Limbo. A soul totally
drained of its energy is forever destroyed.
The wight’s soul uses this ability to heal
damage on its Prime plane body at the rate
of 1d4 hp per hit die drained.
If it catches the hunted soul, the wight
can instead bind it to the victim’s corpse,
thus creating another wight. If the victim’s
soul can stay clear of the wight for four
Prime plane days (almost seven months in
Limbo), the undead will give up the hunt.
If the soul defeats the wight, the undead
awakens from its trance. It may attempt a
trance every night for four nights. The
trance lasts 1d4 hours in the Prime plane,
at which point the wight’s intolerable
hunger for flesh awakens it. Destroying
the body of a ghoul or wight in the Prime
plane also destroys its soul.
Wraiths, spectres: These are the
corrupted souls of evil beings whose hatreds drove them to return to the Prime
plane. Wraiths usually prefer to haunt an
evil place. Spectres, however, often are
followers of Entropy sent back to the
Prime plane by a fiend to complete a
quest.
Wraiths and spectres hate all that lives.
Destroying these entities also eradicates
their souls. These entities can follow the
souls of their victims into Limbo to drain
their energy. They possess the same spell
abilities in Limbo as the wights. As with
wight, energy drain heals any damage
inflicted to the entities at the rate of 1d4
hp per drained hit die.
Mummies: A mummy is the result of a
curse cast by someone who is already
dead and desires revenge on the mummyto-be. The caster of the curse refused
eternal rest and remained in Limbo in
order to take its revenge. Nithians were
notorious for this sinister practice.
The curse has the power to send a soul
eater (see AC9 Creature Catalogue) after
its victim’s soul soon after the latter’s
arrival in Limbo. The soul eater will stalk
the victim until the latter can locate and
destroy the caster of the curse. If the soul
eater effectively defeats the soul, it will
drag it back to the victim’s mummified
corpse, to which it will be bound.
The curse prevents the soul from ever
leaving the body, except for a very specific
task that the mummy must accomplish.
The mummy might not initially know
what the task is. If it is to guard a tomb, it
may do so for 1d6 millennia. The hapless
being remains in the darkness of its tomb
until such time as it can meet the terms of
the curse. If the mummy meets its goal,
the corpse falls apart and its soul returns
to Limbo to seek eternal rest.
If the mummy is destroyed before it
achieves its goal, the curse prevents the
soul from then earning eternal rest. It
must then attempt to return to the Prime
plane, again, and seek revenge on those
who destroyed its corpse. It returns as a
ghost that can cast curses of insanity. Only
a wish or a remove curse spell cast by a
20th-level spell-caster can cure a mummy’s
curse.
Vampires: The “gift” of vampirism is a
magical disease created by an Immortal of
Entropy and brought to the Prime plane in
an attempt to spread sorrow and destruction. Mortal magic or medicine cannot
cure this disease. It prevents the soul of a
victim from entering Limbo at the time of
death; the soul remains in the corpse to
rise again later. When a vampire is destroyed, its soul returns to Limbo to seek
eternal rest. Vampires do not always begin
as evil creatures, but the agonizing need
for fresh blood eventually turns each of
them evil or insane at the rate of one day
per hit die it has.
Phantoms: Although treated as an
undead, the apparition is the reflection in
the Prime plane of a Master of Chaos. This
is a powerful tool given to Chaos, since it
can be used anywhere at any time, without the entity leaving Limbo.
The shade is the undead servant of a
fiend. It is the corrupted soul of someone
who was captured in Limbo and taken
away to the fiend’s plane. When destroyed, the shade returns to its evil master’s plane.
The vision is an amalgam of the souls of
warriors who died on a battlefield and
found a way to return to the site. Their
emotions were so intense at the time of
their death that they couldn’t leave the
place. Their misdirected angst causes
them to attack anyone entering the site,
thinking them to be their old enemies.
They cannot communicate and go dormant if no one approaches. If the vision is
destroyed, these souls return to Limbo to
seek eternal rest.
Haunts: The most common manifestation of Limbo on Mystara is the ghost (or
banshee, for evil female elves), which was
brought up earlier in this article.
Although treated as an undead form, the
poltergeist is in truth the extension of a
Minion of Chaos. The latter uses it to
interact with the Prime plane without
traveling there itself, like using a remotecontrolled device. By using a poltergeist, a
Minion of Chaos may pull objects into
Limbo for its own uses. This is a way
physical objects from the Prime plane may
end up in Limbo. An object’s reflection in
Limbo, if one already exists there, vanishes from the hands of whatever soul
possessed it at the moment the physical
object is brought into Limbo. The soul of
someone killed by a poltergeist’s aging
ability is drawn into Limbo where it falls
prey to the Minion of Chaos. Poltergeists
may be created only on the site of a dramatic death where the link between the
Prime plane and Limbo is strong.
Spirits: The druj and the revenant are
similar to the ghost in that the soul returned to the body sometime after death.
The difference is that the original, evil
character was 18th level or higher and his
soul may reanimate the corpse even
though it has reached an advanced state of
decay. The odic is the soul of an evil monster whose body was totally destroyed
before the soul’s return to the Prime
plane. All three spirits travel the Prime
plane in search of those (and their descendants) who caused their deaths. Spirit
hauntings cease when all legitimate descendants of the original culprit, up to the
seventh generation, are dead or insane.
These spirits are destroyed when they
reach their goal or exceed the time of
their quests in the Prime plane.
Nightshades: Very rare on Mystara,
these undead are constructs built by
fiends to further some grand, evil scheme.
Fiends use the souls of shades as the basic
element to build nightshades, which are
often sent into Limbo to harass the more
powerful Masters of Chaos. Because of the
distorted time flow in Limbo, however, it
is difficult to retrieve nightshades. Finding
the right nightshade and determining with
accuracy when it would arrive on the
other side of a gate is an arcane art that
few among Masters of Chaos or Lords of
Entropy can master. Nightshades do not
control the time distortion that occurs
when they leave Limbo to go to another
plane.
Liches: Magic is required to create a
lich, allowing the soul of the lich-to-be to
travel to Limbo where it must accomplish
a quest. The object of the quest is usually
to gain some form of evil magic or a spell
that will bind the soul back to its body and
suspend its decay. Depending on the time
the lich’s soul takes to meet its goals, the
body may reach an advanced stage of
decay. There have been cases of liches that
accomplished their quests quickly enough
to prevent major deterioration of their
bodies, but as long as a few bones are left,
a lich may yet succeed in its scheme. If
nothing is left of the body, the lich cannot
further its quest and is trapped in Limbo.
The lich’s quest often requires the destruction of a powerful denizen of Limbo.
Like wights, liches dream and can thus
travel Limbo in search of victims to torment and secrets to gain (such as new
spells or the location of artifacts). A lich
can enter Limbo once per new moon, and
it tracks down victims much as a wight
does. The souls of liches have the same
abilities and game statistics in Limbo as
the original monsters, complete with magical weapons (which again are only reflections of the true items). Liches prey on the
souls of dead wizards, preferably ancient
rivals.
Liches, though able to summon and
control undead creatures, are not necessarily followers of Entropy. For this reason
and because they are very powerful entities on Limbo, liches sometimes manage to
become Minions of Chaos when trapped
on that plane. Lichdom often leads to
insanity—a symptom of Chaos—although
wanting to become a lich in the first place
is a clear sign of a sick, evil mind. Lichdom
precludes any hope for eternal rest. Destroying a lich in the Prime plane traps its
soul in Limbo; destroying its soul in Limbo
kills the creature forever.
Minions of Chaos: These chaotic
denizens of Limbo were lost souls once
and still have the statistics and abilities of
the characters or monsters they once
were. Each benefits from the ability to
shapechange (with the ability to cast
spells, if any are possessed, in whatever
DRAGON 49
shape they choose), dimension door at
will, and use alter reality The latter power
can’t be used to affect a victim directly,
affecting only its perceptions, and it is
limited to a sphere with a diameter equal
to 1’ per hit die of the Minion. The alteration can be centered as far away as 10’
per hit die of the Minion. A Minion can
use alter reality only in Limbo, once per
round, independent of anything else it
does during that time.
The difference between phantasmal
force and alter reality is that if the victim
fails an Intelligence check, the alteration
(so long as it is of a nonliving thing) becomes real. For example, if the victim
struck a Minion of Chaos a damaging
blow, the Minion could respond by showing his wounds healing instantaneously
(using alter reality). On the other hand, the
Minion could not cause a bridge to melt
away under the victim’s feet, sinking him
into bubbling lava, but it could create this
illusion near the victim to prevent the
victim from fleeing. This power is negated
for the remainder of an encounter the
first time the victim succeeds in his Intelligence check. If several foes are present,
use the highest Intelligence score in the
party for the roll, with a + 1 bonus.
The Minion can use this ability to shape
its surroundings, create nonmagical, nonliving objects, and build itself a lair in
Limbo’s wilderness or cities. The durability of such dwellings is largely based upon
its builder’s notoriety among Minions of
Chaos, who will attack at any chance. A
lone Minion always succeeds in using alter
reality.
A Minion of Chaos can survive no more
than an hour per hit die in the Prime
plane. It has the ability to follow someone
through a gate and appear at the same
time in the Prime plane, despite the time
distortion in Limbo. The Minion can freely
return to Limbo anytime it wishes.
A Minion of Chaos can also create poltergeists. Each poltergeist it creates temporarily reduces the Minion’s hit points by
10%, rounded up (or by 5 hp, whichever is
greater). If the poltergeist is destroyed in
the Prime plane, those hit points are recovered.
Creatures capable of earning levels of
experience (the lost souls of player characters, for example) may resume their quest
for higher levels in Limbo if they become
Minions of Chaos, using their original
experience tables. A Minion of Chaos may
become a Master of Chaos if it destroys a
Master in combat.
Note that a creature of Chaos can “heal”
damage caused to it by feeding on lost
souls. The more hit dice or levels a soul
had, the more damage is healed, at a rate
of 1 hp per hit die or level devoured.
Creatures of Chaos are fiercely competitive and aren’t known to form alliances.
Coercion and fear are the only motivations
for any such creature to obey another.
Masters of Chaos: These powerful
rulers of Limbo have all of the abilities
50 APRIL 1992
available to their Minions, with several
differences. Each has an anti-magic resistance equal to its hit dice, the power to cast
telekinesis and ESP at will, and the power
to cast confusion, reverse gravity, and
maze once per encounter. It exudes a 30’radius aura of Chaos that temporarily
reduces the Intelligence scores of all creatures caught in the aura by one-half,
rounded down (save vs. spell). This aura
affects only creatures of fewer hit dice
than the Master itself. Its ability to alter
reality affects a sphere 10 times bigger
and at 10 times the range of the normal
spell. A natural 1 on an Intelligence Check
is needed to knock out a Master’s alter
reality power in an encounter.
A Master of Chaos can open a gate to the
Prime plane, but only once each time it
senses a soul escaping Limbo (a one-mile
radius per hit die). The gate leads to an
area in the Prime plane located 1d4 miles
away from the location of the soul. As
with the souls of wights in Limbo, a Master of Chaos can sense the general direction of a runaway soul. It can survive in
the Prime plane up to one day per hit die.
Its alter reality power works on the Prime
plane, too.
Masters of Chaos can create ½-HD creatures of Chaos called discords (AC 7; MV
30’(10’), 180’(60’) flying; AT alter reality as
a 3 HD Minion; Dmg none; Save MU1; ML
6; TT none; Int 8; AL Chaotic; XP 7). Each
of these small winged eyes cost their creator 1 hp, recoverable only when the discord is destroyed. Discords act as the eyes
and ears of their creators, with whom
they remain in telepathic contact.
For the same cost as a making poltergeist, a Master of Chaos can also create an
apparition in the Prime plane, using it to
seek information or revenge. The apparition has a mind of its own, which frees the
Master of Chaos from having to concentrate in order to control it. The Master
does have the option to see, listen, and
control the apparition at will from Limbo.
The apparition dissipates upon returning
to its master.
Visitors: Other creatures may wander
through Limbo, such as spectral hounds,
undead beholders, and other undead
variants. Fortunately, not all that dwells in
Limbo is evil. Some friendly entities exist
and may bring help, such as lawful souls
on their way to eternal rest, or guardian
angels (see next entry). The archon is
perhaps one of the most powerful creature at the service of good that could roam
Limbo. It enters Limbo to monitor the
schemes of the Masters of Chaos there, or
to keep the Masters under control (see the
Rules Cyclopedia, page 158).
Beyond Limbo
Characters reaching “eternal rest” past
Limbo are still playable. They could become servants of their chosen Immortals,
or free entities in a separate plane. In
either case, their goals could be very similar to those they had when alive in the
Prime plane, in that they continue their
struggle against the enemy (presumably
Entropy), either defending their home
plane against their foes or returning regularly to the Prime plane as “guardian angels” to protect their philosophy.
A guardian angel permanently loses 1d6
HD when destroyed or defeated in the
Prime plane, and it immediately returns to
its home plane for 1d8 days thereafter. If
“killed” on its home plane, a guardian
angel is permanently removed from the
game. The guardian angel gains experience levels as appropriate to its mission
and original character class, and it may
continue its quest for immortality if it
wishes.
The guardian angel has the original
character’s game statistics and abilities.
The guardian angel’s incorporeal form is
invisible in the Prime plane (infravision
cannot reveal an incorporeal guardian
angel). It can freely materialize, thus becoming visible. In either form, only spells
or magical weapons of +2 or greater
power can affect it. The guardian angel
may cast up to three travel spells a day as
an innate ability. The guardian angel cannot take away any material objects from
the Prime plane. Guardian angels should
not deliberately interact with other creatures in the Prime plane; stiff experience
penalties threaten those who do.
So, if everyone in a party dies during a
game, there’s no need to crumple up those
precious character sheets. Favorite characters might yet remain companions of
fortune in Limbo, on a quest for mysterious adventures in the worlds beyond.
Good haunting!
©1992 by Robin Rist
Cast a raise funds spell on your gaming club
Treasure means a lot. Most characters in
a fantasy role-playing adventure hope to
find lots of money, gems, and magical
riches, all the things that make the adventure worthwhile. They’ll fight hordes of
hobgoblins or a vampire to get them. But
once in a while, after all the bruises, cuts,
and deaths have been taken, the party will
anxiously open a treasure chest only to
find that it is empty. This can make the
party’s feeling of victory seem hollow.
When gaming clubs, small or large,
attempt to earn money to attend certain
activities or to buy new games or supplements, they often fall short. Disappointment results, and the enthusiasm needed
for fund-raising activities is lost. I’m a
member of a small college gaming club
52 APRIL 1992
myself, and listed below are some steps to
take that might help your gaming club’s
fund-raisers be successful.
1. Decide on your goals. If your club
plans to go to a convention, buy gaming
supplies, or get a guest speaker, you must
estimate how much money this will require. Sometimes you’ll want to set your
estimated costs higher than they actually
are to ensure that you’ll have enough
money for all planned activities and some
of the unexpected ones. Once your club’s
goals have been set, you can start the
planning.
2. Brainstorming. Initial ideas for
fund-raisers should be considered now.
Write down all suggestions, because more
than one of them could prove beneficial in,
the future. After recording the suggestions, discuss each idea individually. This
could take a little time, so be prepared.
You should consider the time of year and
what activities other gaming clubs and
civic groups are doing; for example, you
do not want to have a car wash in the
dead of winter. If another club is doing a
similar activity, you might want to use that
suggestion at a later time.
3. Choose a project that members
can agree on. Some people never seem
to agree on anything, much less reach a
consensus, but try to be democratic and
vote on each idea. If this doesn’t work,
threatening to kill a few characters in an
ongoing campaign might bring about some
cooperation.
4. Select a coordinator for the project. Now comes the hard part: finding
people to do the work. People are often
willing to help but are not willing to take
charge of a project. A lot of coaxing may
be needed, and picking somebody you
know to be responsible is usually the best
bet. You shouldn’t choose a member who
is habitually late or absent, or whom other
people don’t trust to handle money.
Once someone has been selected, his
first step is to get other members to help
him and to assign tasks to each one. By
doing this, no one will have to take all the
responsibility, and objectives will be
reached more quickly. Otherwise, it would
be like a fighter in an adventuring campaign trying to kill the monsters by himself, while the rest of the party sits back
and watches. Sooner or later, that fighter
is going to become very tired and maybe
very badly hurt, thus dooming the whole
party. That’s the way it is with fund-raisers
if one person takes on responsibility for
everything; something is destined to go
wrong and maybe ruin all chances of
earning money. Remember that the project
coordinator isn’t the only worker on the
project; he’s just the person who makes
sure that the other workers are doing
their part.
5. Allow plenty of preparation
time. One of the biggest problems I’ve
had in my club is not having enough time
to prepare for the activity we wanted to
do. Planning only a few days before the
event does not work. To have a successful
fund-raiser, people must have enough time
to accomplish their tasks. For example, if
your club decides to have a dance, a couple of months of preparation would be a
minimum amount of time needed to plan
and arrange all that is necessary. On the
other hand, if your club is doing a car
wash, only a couple of weeks would be
needed. It is better to have more time than
is needed rather than not having enough
time. When rushed, certain aspects of the
activity could turn out poorly, and the
DRAGON 53
whole organization of the event may
crumble; it’s like being charged by a tribe
of orcs and not giving your mage enough
time to cast his fireball spell.
6. Determine what is necessary to
complete the activity. Knowing what
the costs will be for your club to complete
a project, and decide what equipment, if
any, is necessary. Will you need to rent a
place for your activity to take place? Most
college clubs have buildings available for
use or have equipment you might need.
Often, players have items of their own
that are necessary for an activity (like a
stereo for a dance) or know how to get it
at a lower cost. Sometimes gaming and
hobby stores will sponsor your club or
help out in other ways. These are all options to keep in mind. The less money
your club has to spend for an activity, the
more money you can earn for the club. If
you do not know what is necessary to
complete an activity, talk with other clubs
or people who have done similar activities.
Without knowing which direction to go,
your club will only go in circles.
7. Have check-up meetings. Just
because you assigned people certain tasks
does not mean that those tasks will always
get done. Sometimes people have trouble
getting started, run into dead ends, get
confused, or aren’t motivated. Having
periodic meetings along the way makes it
possible for those involved to bounce ideas
off each other, relate how they are doing,
or discuss problems that have evolved.
If you don’t do this, you could easily
have an incident like the following: A
member of the planning committee has a
problem that he doesn’t know how to
solve, and he doesn’t want to ask for help
because that would make him feel stupid.
The job then doesn’t get done. Later on,
usually when the activity is underway, the
part of the project that person was working on arises and he says, “I had a problem
and I didn’t manage to do it. Sorry.” By this
time, it is too late. Imagine an adventuring
party camping out in the middle of the
woods for the night. Wood has been gathered, a fire is lit, and everyone looks at the
character who was supposed to have
acquired the food in town—and he says,
“Sorry, I forgot.” In real life, hard feelings
could arise toward the person who did not
complete his responsibility, and other
problems might stem from this. With
check-up meetings, the chances of this
happening are drastically cut if not totally
eliminated.
8. Publicity. Whether by word of
mouth, an ad in the newspaper, an ad in a
gaming magazine, or even a flyer posted in
the local hobby shop, publicity is very
important. If people do not know about
your activity, how are they supposed to
attend? Remember, for most people it
takes more than one exposure to something new before they remember it, and
54 APRIL 1992
that’s why ads for products are repeated
so often.
You want people to know about your
club activity at least a week ahead of the
activity’s time. For example, if you were
using flyers, the time to circulate them
would be a week before the designated
date. A couple of days later, circulate a
few more flyers. Then the day before, as
well as the day of the activity, pass out
even more flyers. A good way of letting
people know is by hanging flyers up
where they are most likely to be seen.
Some good places might be a local grocery
store, gaming store, student union (if you
have a college club), around school, and on
cars. If your club does hang flyers them in
businesses, be sure to ask the manager or
owner of the business first, or your flyer
might not stay up for long. People need to
know about your event, and the word
won’t get out unless you spread it.
9. Make sure there are enough
people to work the activity. The people who do all the planning for the fundraiser shouldn’t be the only ones who
work at it. If that happens, those members
could become burned out on future fundraising ideas, or they may develop some
negative feelings about the club itself. Find
a way to get everybody involved. Maybe
you could hold a pizza party for those
who work the fund-raiser or some other
activity. You could also tell the people who
do not help that they may be excluded
from whatever benefits are gained by
spending the money raised by the event.
Whatever route your club takes, just make
sure you’re not short-handed. Having too
few workers causes stress for those who
are working and may make the fundraiser less successful. Also, tempers flare
more often under stressful situations, and
workers may take it out on each other
instead of working together.
With this step-by-step process, your
gaming club should be successful in raising funds. After your first few fundraisers, this process will get even easier.
This has proven true for my club, at least.
No longer will you have to look at a treasure chest that is continually empty. Instead, you will have one that is full enough
to suit your gaming club’s needs.
“Well, it appears they have the
element of surprise.”
Elvira II: The Jaws
of Cerberus
(Accolade)
Elvira needs help with an uninvited guest—namely, Death
Once again, we’d like to thank everyone
who has written to us with comments,
hints, and tips. It is quite obvious that
DRAGON® Magazine readers are highly
dedicated gamers. We enjoy reading your
letters and are especially thankful to those
who help out their fellow gamers with
new ideas for getting through the rough
spots in computer games.
We have been thinking about how fair
our Beastie Awards voting is to the various
entertainment software companies. Our
conclusion is that awards based upon
reader votes really aren’t a fair proposition for many such companies. Sometimes,
games are purchased because of expensively rendered, point-of-purchase displays
or advertising campaigns in magazines
rather than the quality of the games themselves. Many small companies that don’t
have the budgets to wage advertising
campaigns just can’t compete for attention
other than through reviews. The smaller
companies’ games might be just as good as
the larger companies’ games, but the former don’t receive the attention they deserve.
Computer games’ ratings
X
*
**
***
****
*****
Not recommended
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
Superb
Our feeling, then, is that a popular vote
is too inequitable to be an accurate judge
of a game’s true worth. We would like to
eradicate the Beastie Awards as a popular
vote. Instead, we would prefer our readers let us know how they feel about the
games we’ve reviewed; we’ll publish fair,
applicable comments. If we haven’t reviewed a particular game you’d like to see,
tell us about that game in four paragraphs
or less.
As we simply don’t have the space to
write about every game we receive, be
assured that most games appearing in this
column possess high merit as playable,
valuable entertainment for you. The rating
structure will remain. Occasionally there
are games that show up that are simply so
DRAGON 57
bad that we have to warn gamers away
from them. Thank heavens such offerings
are in the minority!
Whenever possible, game hints published here will now list the computer
system for which they are applicable, as
many tips simply do not work on all systems. When you write in with a tip, please
mention the computer system upon which
you played your game. Thanks!
KnightLine
Did you know that Atari Corporation
has just sold its one-millionth game cartridge for the Lynx hand-held video-game
system? With a current library of 40
games, the company expects to have 75
titles by the end of 1992.
Had problems with Falcon 3.0, PC/MSDOS version? Spectrum HoloByte has
released a new patch disk to take care of
such matters. If you need this patch, call
customer support at (510) 522-1164.
For video gamers, NEC has announced it
is releasing a new system incorporating
both CD-ROM and 16-bit game machines in
a single unit. You can expect to see it in
retail stores this summer.
H.E.L.P.
Marty Gleason, of Countryside, Ill.,
needs some assistance. “I have a Macintosh
LC, and the first game I purchased was
The Bard’s Tale. Now I’m stuck. I can’t
answer the riddle in Harkyn’s Castle, the
silver square in Harkyn’s Castle, and I
cannot find Kylearan in his tower. My
characters are all over level 20, and the
game is driving me crazy!”
Joshua Marquart of Hauppauge, N.Y.,
would like some assistance with Autoduel
from Origin. “Can you increase your
health and body armor from three and a
total of six to a greater number? What is
the full password to ‘She sells . . .?’ What is
the best car to purchase, and which is the
hardest division to play in, Five or Twenty
(don’t count unlimited)? How can a car
qualify for these divisions?”
David Crowe of Scottsdale, Ariz., asks, “I
am having a problem solving BattleTech:
The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. I am in the
Star League Map Room and have the map
that comes with the game, but I am unable
to determine what is the correct combination of planets to touch in order to finish
the game. Please help!”
Thexder 2 is stumping Bob Gibson of
Raleigh, North Carolina. “I’m stuck in
Firehawk (a.k.a. Thexder 2) running on an
IBM. I’m at Level Nine and am unable to
get past the guardian at the end of the
level, Does anyone have any suggestions?”
From Georgia comes a Faery Tale Adventure request from Jeffrey Hadsock. “I have
found the Citadel of Doom but I cannot
seem to get into it. I could sure use a hint
for this!”
Ultima VI experts should readily know
the answer to Ryan Wongvitaras’s call for
help, “What does the statue in the Shrine
of Control do by gaining control of more
58 APRIL 1992
Castle of Dr. Brain (Sierra On-Line)
people?”
Bill Wilson of Traverse City, Mich., has a
couple of questions regarding Dragon
Wars, played on a Commodore 64. “Has
anyone found a use for driftwood, flotsam, or bones? Also, has anyone found
scrolls for Light Flash, Summon Salamander, Brambles, Invoke Spirit, Prison, or
both Rage and Wrath of Mithas?”
Jason Dunn required help in a previous
issue with Ultima VI. Mike Myers of La
Mesa, Calif., has heard Jason’s call and
responds, “To find the Mantra of Diligence
from the stairs, go down two rooms, then
over one room, and look for a secret door.
Go down the stairway. You may find it
easier to get past the daemons by using
invisibility. Also, if you have solved the
game and are playing again, skip the pirate
cave. Just get the moonstones, then the
codex. If you are looking for the pirate
cave, it may be useful to know that Lord
Witsaber’s name is really Alastor Gordon.”
Reviews
Castles: The Northern
Campaign
*****
Interplay
$29.95
PC/MS-DOS version
This disk is the company’s Castles Campaign Disk #1. The Northern Campaign
makes the original game a far better offering. Not only does it expand the reaches of
your kingdom, but it adds features not
released in the original game. For example,
you can now train your infantry and
archers, who rate from poor to elite. Believe us, when you have several hundred
elite forces under your command, few can
better them in battle except through sheer
force of numbers. You can counteract
superior forces by ensuring that you have
enough castles built to enable you to raise
more military might, It costs money to
train your people, however.
You can also buy and sell land, wine,
grain, and wool. When you wish to engage
in trading commodities, you’ll note that
the specific item is either poor, average, or
good in production. The higher the production quality, the higher the price,
whether selling or buying. Buy enough
land and you can even award acreage to
subjects. You can confiscate lands as well.
One new aspect that we found really
helpful is the ability to loan money as well
as to borrow funds. The former enables
you to earn interest, We tried to make
certain that each month we loaned the
maximum amount available to ensure
great rewards at the start of the new year.
With taxes barely supporting our castlebuilding efforts and military buildups, the
interest payments came in very handy in
ensuring a more stable financial position.
If things get rough monetarily, you can
always borrow funds—but, just as you
extract interest from those who borrow
from you, the reverse is also applicable.
In combat, your infantry troops now do
not head into the fray until you click on
each icon with your mouse cursor. This
enables you to determine if an offensive or
defensive maneuver is better for the particular encounter.
You can also select either a realistic or
fantasy world. We thought the latter was
more fun, as you never really knew what
was causing the gray, sticky substance to
stick to your castle walls. The messengers
who arrive for an audience (you can retain
the original messengers or use the new
ones included with this disk) are a varied
lot, ranging from trusted advisors to a
motley assortment of wizards, hags, and
merchants. Everything is quite interesting,
and the subplots are most intriguing.
If you own Castles, you must purchase
this campaign disk. (A Macintosh version
should be available now.) Castles, with the
addition of this disk, is now definitely a
Elvira II (Accolade)
Elvira II (Accolade)
five-star entertainment. It supports CGA,
EGA, and MCGA/VGA, as well as AdLib,
Roland, Innovation, SoundBlaster, and
Tandy sound equipment.
Castle of Dr. Brain
****
Sierra On-Line
$49.95
PC/MS-DOS version
You are an applicant for the position of
Dr. Brain’s lab assistant. In order to get
this job, you must successfully get through
Brain’s castle—but there are no monsters
to destroy or traps to overcome. This
game consists of mental challenges that
must be completed in order to finish the
game. Castle of Dr. Brain (CDB) uses the
latest icon system seen in most of Sierra’s
games. By clicking the appropriate icon
over an object, you can pick up that object, look at it, or use it.
In CDB, you must “complete” a room in
the house before you can continue. Each
room has a different theme and contains
from one to four puzzles. By clicking on a
door, a computer, or an object in the room,
you’ll find the challenge that awaits you.
The obstacles include completing a jigsaw
puzzle, playing Hangman, solving a crypt
code, finishing arithmetic, and using logic.
Completing the puzzle gives you access to
a code or key that allows you to move on
in the game. Instructions are provided
with each puzzle; if you become hopelessly lost, hint coins enable you to solve a
portion of the puzzle or obtain a clue as to
how to complete the problem. Hint coins
are not readily available. You receive one
only after solving a new puzzle. Also, the
more coins you have at the end of the
game, the higher your total score.
While CDB was created for younger
audiences, adults can try the puzzles at
one of three difficulty levels. While hard,
the game is not too complex; we were able
to complete CDB using its standard level in
about five hours. Adults may find a
greater challenge in Chris Crawford’s The
Fool’s Errand or Three in Three from
Inline Design.
CDB is a great game for youngsters and
helps them learn about math, astronomy,
programming, and logic. The graphics and
animation are clear and crisp, and the
sound is good. The one criticism of the
game we have is its short ending. You
receive a few congratulatory statements
and a list of credits, then CDB advertises
its upcoming sequel. We thought the ending could have been a bit more rewarding,
especially for youngsters who committed a
lot of time and hard work into completing
the puzzles. Otherwise, CDB is a recommended purchase for young people and
their parents who enjoying playing games
together. It supports VGA and Soundblaster equipment.
Castle of Dr. Brain (Sierra on line)
Elvira II: The Jaws of
Cerberus
Accolade
PC/MS-DOS version
*****
$69.95
We haven’t had this much fun with a
graphic adventure since Monkey Island
from Lucasfilm Games. Throw in less
humor and a lot more blood than the
Lucasfilm game, with a damsel (Elvira)
in distress, and you’ve got a terrific
adventure.
This sequel to Accolade’s Elvira sports an
improved user interface, extremely colorful and dynamic graphics, and a soundtrack to suit whatever room you occupy.
We delighted in our Roland sound system’s
music throughout this adventure.
Elvira has been kidnapped from Black
Widow Productions, and all kinds of evil
creatures and horrendous beasties are
crawling around three sets within the
confines of her studio. It’s up to you to
find her. This is not a cake walk. Elvira II
is filled with extremely scintillating puzzles. Elvira’s image will appear now and
then (much to your joy) and offer some
form of sarcastic advice—listen and learn.
If there is any one problem, it is that
there is so much to consider when adventuring through the 4,000 or so locations
that fill this adventure. You must learn
exactly what you need to take and what
you should leave behind. The number of
retrievable objects is impressive. Too bad
you’ve got a strength limit that affects
your inventory.
Since some spells require some form of
reagent, you have to determine if this
cupcake or that gum is a required element
for a particular spell. The only way you
can determine an object’s magical use in
creating a spell is to click on the Spellbook
icon in the upper right-hand corner of the
screen. A second window appears, within
which are spell listings. You click on a
needed spell, and that spell’s description is
revealed, as well as the ingredients required to make it. If you happen to have
the proper ingredients in your inventory,
you use your mouse and click on the object, dragging it into the mixing page. Then
click on the Mix icon at the top left of this
window, and you’ll note that the spell
appears in your inventory.
There are dozens of spells. Some can be
used but once, while others have multiple
uses. It’s up to you to find the correct
ingredients. Thankfully, some spells don’t
require any materials other than your
desire to create them.
DRAGON 59
If you want to fight, you’ll have plenty
of chances. The opponent appears in the
main window, battling you in real time.
The foe swings at you, and you swing at
it. Since the beasties all have different
areas of vulnerability, aim your weapon
accordingly.
We have yet to complete this adventure,
which is truly engrossing, exciting, and
jam-packed with horror! From the opening
screens, you’ll be on the edge of your seat
trying to rescue the beloved Elvira. This is
a “must” purchase! It supports VGA graphics and AdLib, Roland, or SoundBlaster
sound equipment.
Hyperspeed
****
MicroProse Software
PC/MS-DOS version
$59.95
This would have been a five-star game
had not Origin previously released both
Wing Commander and Wing Commander
II. Hyperspeed is a well-conceived spacecombat and role-playing game, but its
graphics lack the movielike quality of
Origin’s games. However, when you consider this game’s lower price, its support
for a wide variety of graphics cards, and
its high playability, it becomes a fine alternative, presenting an entire galaxy at your
fingertips.
The object is to locate a suitable home
for mankind. Our years of living on Earth
have made it nearly uninhabitable, and
only by using starships to search the universe will humanity’s future be secured.
You’ll encounter a wide variety of aliens
and their technology, some friendly to
your cause and others totally hostile. It’s
up to you not only to find a new home for
all mankind, but also to eliminate hostile
aliens or to arrange peace treaties with
them to allow the habitation of new
worlds.
Your starship is an amazing vessel. With
a wide variety of weapons, including fighters and an effective kamikaze attack, you
can ultimately learn how to defeat your
enemies. Only through long and arduous
talks with various aliens will you learn of
other races’ weaknesses, and only through
long and arduous trading will you acquire
the necessary equipment sets to further
enhance your military might.
There are four star clusters to explore,
each one more difficult than the one preceding it. Using a combination of joy stick
and keyboard commands, we soon learned
the interface and found ourselves mixed
up in some pretty strange intergalactic
relationships. One race would offer to
help, but only if we rid the galaxy of another race. Considering the strength of the
aliens we were supposed to take out, it’s
no wonder our initial forays met with
disaster!
A well-written manual guides you
through a tutorial encounter before you’re
on your own. We definitely recommend
reading the entire manual before play;
various strategies are explained, and we
60 APRIL 1992
Nova 9 (Dynamix)
can attest to their accuracy in helping us
defeat some pretty serious opposition.
No, this isn’t as good as Wing Commander, but for thousands of gamers it
will provide hours of entertainment without the need to purchase a new VGA card
or Roland sound board. This game is
worth every nickel of its retail price if you
enjoy space combat and exploration. It
supports CGA, EGA, and VGA/MCGA
graphics, with Roland, SoundBlaster,
AdLib, Tandy, or IBM sound equipment.
Nova 9
you stack your Raven II. With a fully detailed operational display panel, and with
superb control using the keyboard and joy
stick, you’ll soon be engaged in sizzling
combat. Capture power modules and use
their capabilities as you cruise each planet.
You’ll soon commit numerous hours to the
defeat of Gir Draxon and his forces. This
game is sure to please any die-hard arcader! It supports Tandy, EGA, and VGA
graphics, with Thunderboard Pro, AdLib,
Roland, or Sound Blaster sound boards.
****½
Dynamix, distributed by Sierra
PC/MS-DOS version
$34.95
Dynamix always seems to come up with
a winner; even its manuals are top notch.
So, what do you expect this sequel to the
company’s smash hit Stellar 7 to be? It’s
very good, the animation and scrolling are
smooth, the graphics are as fully threedimensional as is possible with current
consumer-level technology (although not
quite on a par with Origin’s Wing Commander II), and the sound through our
Roland systems was an exciting enhancement to the game’s overall feel and play.
Nova 9 is a tremendous, well-coded,
futuristic battle arcade game wherein you
pilot the Raven II against the forces of Gir
Draxon, on nine different worlds. You
receive a distress message from Terran
Command, requesting assistance as the
Arcturans are attacking—then, suddenly,
the message calmly cancels the alert. Yeah,
sure! You recall Gir Draxon’s lack of appreciation of life and his desire to plunder
and destroy just for the thrill. This is one
nemesis you have to destroy.
You’ll run into Darters armed with lasers, Phoenix tanks that are extremely
maneuverable, Montrose hovertanks
whose cannons can do you nothing but ill,
Ptera airborne craft packed with dual
lasers, and much more, including a ramming tank whose blade appears to be
made of indestructible steel! Against these
Nova 9 (Dynamix)
The Simpsons’ Arcade Game
***
Konami
PC/MS-DOS version
$49.95
Konami has released a decent conversion of the Simpsons arcade game, bringing to PC/MS-DOS gamers almost all of the
fun found in the arcade machine model.
Maggie, the Simpsons’ baby, was knocked
into a crowd of escaping jewel thieves who
accidentally let the stolen jewel fall into
Maggie’s mouth. Maggie, thinking it to be a
sucking toy, won’t let go, so the thieves
kidnapped her along with the jewel. It is
up to Homer, Lisa, Marge, and Bart to
recover the lost baby. It is not an easy
road, for they have to fight their way
through six levels of action, all based on
the hit television show.
Three-Sixty has set a new standard for
war simulations. This is an absolute “must”
purchase for any war gamer who owns a
Macintosh. It can be played in either 256
color or black-and-white, and it supports
System 7.
**
Back to the Future III
Konami
PC/MS-DOS version
$39.95
It’s true—most movie (and game) sequels
are not as good as the original. With Back
to the Future III, not only does the hero,
Marty, go back in time, we think the programmers do as well. VGA is an option in
the installation program, but the game
supports only 16 colors. You also play the
game using only the keyboard. The action
scenes are related to the film, but they
become quite boring and frustratingly
difficult. Konami has made some great
products in the past, but pass this game
when you see it in the present—or the
future.
The Simpsons’ Arcade Game (Konami)
The game can be played by one or two
players. The joy stick is the best way to
control the Simpsons. One button makes
the character jump, while the other button allows you to go on the offensive.
Each Simpson has a different attack. For
example, Bart attacks with his skateboard,
while Homer attacks with his fists. Two
Simpsons can combine to form a superattack. Marge and Homer, when combined, knock down the enemies with a
vicious barrel roll. Weapons, such as cola
cans and signs, can be picked up along the
way to use on the thieves. Other items,
such as pies and apples, can replenish
one’s energy bar, which decreases in value
when a Simpson is the recipient of an
assault.
Overall, the graphics are decently done,
staying within Matt Groening’s animation
style. The music, however, could have
been better, with only the familiar theme
song being to our liking. If you enjoy a
mindless aggression-release game, then
buy The Simpsons. This game supports
VGA and Soundblaster equipment.
V for Victory: Battleset 1, D-Day
*****
Utah Beach—1944
Three-Sixty
Macintosh version
$59.95
Watch out, SSI and SSG—Three-Sixty has
produced a superb World War II battle
simulation. V for Victory is an intricate
war game based upon the Normandy
invasion of World War II. You may participate as either an American or German
commander.
There is little doubt in our minds that
this game is probably the best war simulation ever produced for any computer.
Remember when previous war simulations
required numerous key presses and as-
semblies of orders just to move units? Not
so with V for Victory. Your unit icons
possess all of the detail necessary to allow
you to place them in their most effective
positions. Simply click on the icon and
drag it to its new location during the Planning phase. Order artillery fire and
ground support from your airbases. Then
order Execution and watch your battle
plans succeed or fail. With only two phases to worry about, you can even order
your staff to handle such matters as sup
ply, one of the most important elements of
your campaign.
There are six scenarios; the first five are
individual battles. Scenario one finds you
leading the 9th Infantry Division in its
attempt to clean out all German resistance
behind your own lines. This is also the
tutorial scenario and is the easiest of the
lot, although it required four games for us
to learn how to quickly assault and capture towns required for victory. The second scenario requires that the 101st
Airborne take Carentan within three
days—no easy feat. The third scenario
finds you facing an SS Panzergrenadier
Division counterattack as it tries to recapture Carentan. Then, with four divisions,
you are to assault Cherbourg. The final
scenario finds you trying to permanently
isolate Cherbourg. The sixth scenario is a
total campaign game, one that will require
hours to finish. Thankfully, you can save
your simulation and continue the campaign when you have time.
The interface is as smooth as silk. Everything from weather and victory conditions
to individual unit displays are handled
with the click of a mouse. You can alter
the historical variants and even try to win
under the “fog of war.” You’ll find nearly
500 military units representing land, sea,
and air forces, as well as 15 terrain maps.
Clue corner
Conquests of the Longbow (Sierra)
1. Remember the hand code for the
druidic name for the oak tree, as it will
cause those who chase you to not see the
forest for the tree.
2. Knocking over a goblet can assist in
obtaining proof of your sincerity.
3. The gold net can catch the quick one.
4. Remember that there is only one
accurate way to spell “liege.”
5. Dexterity is required to avoid monkthrown boulders while climbing down
magic ivy.
The Lessers
Ultima VI (Origin)
To talk to Lord British at any point in
the game, cast and place Enchant on a
staff. You will notice the spell list stays on
the screen. Talk to the third spell from the
bottom of the list. (Afterwards, the face
remains on the screen. Talk to the same
place. You can do this as many times as
you wish.)
Charles Lin
Burnaby, British Columbia
Thanks for turning to us. Don’t forget
that your fellow gamers are depending
upon you to assist them in reaching their
gaming goals! If you have hints or tips for
your games, send them to: Clue Corner, c/
o the Lessers, 521 Czerny Street, Tracy CA
95376. Until next month, game on!
* indicates a product produced by a company other
than TSR, Inc. Most product names are trademarks
owned by the companies publishing those products.
The use of the name of any product without mention
of its trademark status should not be construed as a
challenge to such status.
DRAGON 61
(some RPGA™ Network-sanctioned), tournaments, and dealers. Registration: $12/day or
$20/weekend at the door. Send a business-sized
SASE to: The Role-Playing Underground,
Woolridge Hall, Box 39, Lock Haven Univ., Lock
Haven PA 17745-2396; or call: (717) 893-3237.
Convention Calendar Policies
This column is a service to our readers
worldwide. Anyone may place a free listing
for a game convention here, but the following guidelines must be observed.
In order to ensure that all convention
listings contain accurate and timely information, all material should be either typed
double-spaced or printed legibly on standard manuscript paper. The contents of
each listing must be short and succinct.
The information given in the listing must
include the following, in this order:
1. Convention title and dates held;
2. Site and location;
3. Guests of honor (if applicable);
4. Special events offered;
5. Registration fees or attendance requirements; and,
6. Address(es) and telephone number(s)
where additional information and confirmation can be obtained.
Convention flyers, newsletters, and other
mass-mailed announcements will not be
considered for use in this column; we
prefer to see a cover letter with the announcement as well. No call-in listings are
accepted. Unless stated otherwise, all
dollar values given for U.S. and Canadian
conventions are in U.S. currency.
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Accurate information is your responsibility.
Copy deadlines are the last Monday of
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Monday of October. Announcements for
North American and Pacific conventions
must be mailed to: Convention Calendar,
DRAGON® Magazine, P.O. Box 111, Lake
Geneva WI 53147, U.S.A. Announcements
for Europe must be posted an additional
month before the deadline to: Convention
Calendar, DRAGON® Magazine, TSR
Limited, 120 Church End, Cherry Hinton,
Cambridge CB1 3LB, United Kingdom.
If a convention listing must be changed
because the convention has been cancelled, the dates have changed, or incorrect information has been printed, please
contact us immediately. Most questions or
changes should be directed to the magazine editors at TSR, Inc., (414) 248-3625
(U.S.A.). Questions or changes concerning
European conventions should be directed
to TSR Limited, (0223) 212517 (U.K.).
❖ indicates an Australian convention.
❉ indicates a Canadian convention.
❁ indicates a European convention.
* indicates a product produced by a company other than TSR,
Inc. Most product names are trademarks owned by the
companies publishing those products. The use of the name of
any product without mention of its trademark status should not
be construed as a challenge to such status.
NY
POINTCON XV, April 10-12
This convention will be held at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. Events include
AD&D®, BATTLETECH*, WARHAMMER FANTASY* and 40,000*, JOHNNY REB*, and microarmor games, with RPGA™ Network events, a
miniatures-painting contest, an auction, computer games, and open gaming. Registration: $8
preregistered, or $10 at the door; no event fees.
Write to: Cadet Robert Williams, P.O. Box 3643,
West Point NY 10997.
TECHNICON 9, April 10-12
VA
This convention will be held at the Donald
Brown Center for Continuing Education in
Blacksburg, Va. Guests include Tom Deitz, Mark
Rogers, and Colby Perkins. Activities include a
dance, an art show and auction, panels, gaming,
SF and anime videos, computer games, and a
dealers’ area. Registration: $23 at the door.
Students receive a $3 discount. Write to: TECHNICON, c/o VTSFFC, P.O. Box 256, Blacksburg VA
24063-0256; or call: (703) 953-1214.
BATTLECON ’92, April 11-12
NE
This BATTLETECH* game-only convention
will be held at the Reunion Hall on the University of Nebraska campus. Events include tournaments and other games, plus a miniaturespainting contest. Registration: $2/day preregistered; $3/day or $5/weekend at the door. Send
an SASE to: 48th Ronin, P.O. Box 21956, Lincoln
NE 68542-1956.
WV
CONVENT, April 11-13
This convention will be held on the campus of
Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va.
Events include an RPGA™ Network D&D®
tournament and scads of other games. Guest of
honor is Richard Tucholka. Registration: $5/
tournament or $3/nontournament for the weekend. Write to: Chuck Puckett, 821 Holderby
Hall, Marshall Univ., Huntington WV 25955; or
to: Steven Saws, 558 Aspen St., Morgantown
WV 26505.
HYPOTHETICON, April 11
CT
This convention, hosted by the Univ. of Connecticut SF Society, will be held at the Univ. of
Connecticut, Storrs branch Student Union.
Events include CALL OF CTHULHU*, TOON*,
and AD&D® games, with panels, Japanimation,
movies, and dealers. Registration: $7. Write to:
HYPOTHETICON, c/o Anne MacFadyen, Rm.
128B Shippee Hall, Univ. of Conn., Storrs CT
06269; or call: (203) 427-4985.
PA
RU-CON ’92, April 11-12
Note: This convention was previously announced as taking place in the Holiday Inn in
Williamsport, Pa. This was an error. The convention will be held at the Days Inn in Williamsport, Pa. Events include many gaming events
AMIGOCON 7, April 24-26
TX
This convention will be held at the Sunland
Park Holiday Inn in El Paso, Tex. Guests include
Jennifer Roberson, Patricia Davis, and Mel
White. Registration: $18/weekend or $6-$9/day
at the door. Write to: AMIGOCON 7, P.O. Box
3177, El Paso TX 79923.
DEFCON III, April 24-26
NJ
This convention will be held at the Sheraton
Inn in East Brunswick, N.J. Events include
AD&D®, CHAMPIONS*, WARHAMMER FANTASY
ROLEPLAY*, RUNEQUEST*, SPACE: 1889*, CAR
WARS*, CYBERPUNK*, MARVEL SUPER HEROES™, BLOOD BOWL*, CALL OF CTHULHU*,
and ROLEMASTER* games, plus a FASAsanctioned BATTLETECH* tournament. Other
activities include a miniatures-painting workshop,
a chess exhibition, a costume contest, and board
games. Registration: $15/weekend preregistered;
$20/weekend at the door. Single-day rates are
available. Write to: DEFCON, 16 Grove St., Somerset NJ 08873; or call Pete at: (908) 249-0570
evenings and weekends.
WA
GAME FAIRE ’92, April 24-26
This convention will be held Student Union
Building, #17, on the campus of Spokane Falls
Community College in Spokane, Wash. Events
include AD&D®, BATTLETECH*, CALL OF
CTHULHU*, SHADOWRUN*, CYBERPUNK*,
STAR WARS*, and WARHAMMER* games. Other
activities include SCA demos, a miniaturespainting contest, and historical and microarmor
gaming. Registration: $12/weekend preregistered; $16/weekend at the door. Single-day
passes are available. Write to: Game Faire, c/o
Merlyn’s, N. 1 Browne, Spokane WA 99201; or
call: (509) 624-0957.
CHAOTICON I, April 25-26
WI
This SF&F convention will be held in the
Student Union of the University of WisconsinGreen Bay. Events include AD&D®, SPACE
MARINE*, CLAY-O-RAMA, CAR WARS*, TALISMAN*, and BATTLETECH* games. Other activities include seminars and movies. Registration:
$5/day or $7/weekend; all games are free, subject to space. Send an SASE to: CHAOTICON I,
2469 Walter Way, Green Bay WI 54311-7070; or
call Adam at: (414) 465-5318.
❉
WIZARD’S CHALLENGE ’92, May 1-3
This convention will be held at the Delta
Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan. Events include
AD&D®, BATTLETECH*, WARHAMMER FANTASY*, GURPS*, SHADOWRUN*, STAR FLEET
BATTLES*, SUPREMACY*, and CAR WARS*
games, with game demos, movies, a game auction, and a Medieval Feast. Registration: $15/
weekend, not including tournament fees. Write
to: Ken McGovern, c/o The Wizards Corner II,
2101 Broad St., Regina, Sask., CANADA S4P 1Y6;
or call: (306) 757-8544.
NH
CONCENTRICS ’92, May 2-3
This convention will be held in the Love Gym
of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H.
Events include AD&D®, CALL OF CTHULHU*,
SHADOWRUN*, PARANOIA*, and DIPLOMACY*
games. Preregistration is required for some
DRAGON 63
events as space is limited. Registration: $10.
Write to: CONCENTRICS, 27 Court St., Exeter
NH 03833.
WI
GAMES DAY ’92, May 10
This convention will be held in the Shorewood
American Legion Northshore Post #331 in
Shorewood, Wis. Activities include games, a
silent auction, food, and door prizes. Judges are
welcome. Registration: $3. Write to: Napoleon’s,
3948 N. Maryland Ave., Shorewood WI 53202.
BLOODSUCKING CONTRAPTION ’92
MI
May 15-17
This SF convention will be held at the Airport
Radisson hotel in Detroit, Mich. Guests include
Nick Pollota and Bob & Ann Passovoy. Registration:
$20. Write to: CONTRAPTION, P.O. Box 2285, Ann
Arbor MI 48106; or call: (313) 334-4191.
UT
CONDUIT 2, May 15-17
This SF&F/gaming convention will be held at
the Quality Inn in Salt Lake City, Utah. Guests
include Roger Zelazny, Mike Stackpole, Liz
Danforth, and Eric Wujcik. Activities include a
masquerade, art and short-story contests, films,
seminars, and open gaming. Registration: $20/
weekend before April 30; $24/weekend at the
door. Write to: CONDUIT 2, c/o Dave Powell,
2566 Blaine Ave., Salt Lake City UT 84108; or
call: (801) 467-9517.
FL
OASIS V, May 15-17
This convention will be held at the Ramada
Inn, Altamonte Springs in Altamonte, Fla. Guests
include Michael Bishop, Holly Bird, Ann &
Kendall Morris, and Andre Norton. Activities
include a costume contest, a dealers’ room, an
art show and auction, a con suite, open and
tournament gaming, videos, and panels. Registration: $20. Dealers are welcome. Make checks
payable to OASFIS. Write to: OASFIS, P.O. Box
616469, Orlando FL 32861-6469.
GA
DIXIE TREK ’92, May 17-19
This convention will be held at the Sheraton
Century Center hotel in Atlanta, Ga. Guests
include actors Denise Crosby and Jonathan
Harris, and musician John Serrie. Activities
include an exhibit concourse and dealers’ room,
model and model design workshops, an art
show and print shop, a con suite, a video room,
and gaming. Registration: $27 before May 7; $30
at the door. RPGA™ Network and club discounts
are available. Write to: DIXIE TREK, Box 464351,
Lawrenceville GA 30244; or call: (404) 925-2813.
CA
GAMESCAUCUS II, May 22-25
Presented by Trigaming Associates, this convention will be held at the Oakland Airport Hilton in
Oakland, Calif. Events include an RPGA™ AD&D®
tournament, plus AD&D®, CALL OF CTHULHU*,
CHAMPIONS*, GURPS*, DIPLOMACY*, AXIS &
ALLIES*, WARHAMMER*, ROLEMASTER*, STAR
WARS*, CIVILIZATION*, and TALISMAN* games.
Other activities include dealers’ room, a painting
contest, a PBM room, a flea market, and 24-hour
movies. Registration: $25/weekend preregistered,
or $30/weekend at the door; GMs pay $10/
weekend. Make checks payable to Trigaming
Associates. Write to: Trigaming Assoc., P.O. Box
4867, Walnut Creek CA 94596-0867; or call Larry
or Mike at: (510) 798-7152 Saturday afternoons.
CA
GAMEX ’92, May 22-25
This convention will be held at the Airport
Hyatt hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. Events include
all types of family, board, strategy, and adventure gaming. Other activities include a flea
market, an auction, and a dealers’ area. Write
to: STRATEGICON, P.O. Box 3849, Torrance CA
90510-3849; or call: (310) 326-9440.
ONCE UPON A CON, May 22-24
CO
This convention, presented by the IFGS, will
be held at the Holiday Inn in Northglenn, Colo.
Activities include a video room, a trivia contest,
a costume ball and contest, a dealers’ room, an
art room and auction, and a con suite. Registration: $18. Write to: IFGS CON ’92, P.O. Box
100840, Denver CO 80250; or call Collin at: (303)
665-4082.
KETTERING GAME CONVENTION VI
OH
May 23-24
This convention will be held at the Charles I.
Lathrem Senior Center in Kettering, Ohio.
Events include FRPGs, board and miniatures
games, an RPGA™ Network tournament, and
computer games. Other activities include a 16player World War II “Soldier” computer game.
Registration: $2/day, Write to: Bob Von Gruenigen, 804 Willowdale Ave., Kettering OH 45429;
or call: (513) 298-3224.
DER SÜDWEST-CON ’92, May 28-31
❁
This convention will be held in Karlsruhe,
Germany. Events include board, role-playing,
PBM, and tabletop games, with exhibitions and
championship tournaments. Write to: Winni
Dörge-Heller, Goldlackweg 6, D-7500 Karlsruhe
51, GERMANY 0721/888978; or to: Reinhard
Müller, Willi-Andreas-Allee 3, D-7500 Karlsruhe
1, GERMANY
TN
NASHCON ’92, May 29-31
This convention, hosted by the HMGSMidsouth and Games Extraordinaire, will be
held at the Music City Rodeway Inn in Nashville,
Tenn. Events include miniatures tournaments,
plus role-playing and board games. Other activities include a dealers’ room, a game auction,
FigFair, and Waterpistol Waterloo. Registration:
$15. Write to: NASHCON, c/o 2713 Lebanon
Pike, Nashville TN 27314; or call: (615) 883-4800.
❁
BEER AND PRETZELS HI, May 30-31
This convention will be held at the Town Hall
in Burton on Trent, Staffs, England. Events
include board, role-playing, and tabletop gaming. Other activities include a dealers’ area.
Dealers are welcome. Registration: £3/day or £5/
weekend preregistered; £3.50/day or £6/weekend at the door. Write to: Spirit Games, 98
Station St., Burton on Trent, Staffs, UNITED
KINGDOM DE14 1BT
NJ
GLASSCON ’92, May 30-31
This convention will be held on the campus of
Glassboro State College in Glassboro, N.J. Events
include RPGA™ Network AD&D® tournaments,
plus AD&D®, BATTLETECH*, KINGMAKER*,
DIPLOMACY*, and GURPS* games. Other
activities include board and war games and a
dealers’ area. Registration: $10/weekend preregistered, or $7/Sat. and $5/Sun. preregistered
(fees at the door will be higher). Events costs are
$1/time slot. Write to: GLASSCON, P.O. Box 58,
Wind Gap PA 18091-0058. Proceeds will go to
the Center for Exceptional Children at Glassboro State College.
Continued on page 118
64 APRIL 1992
The heroes who refused to die
by Will Larson and Pat McGilligan
The history of popular literature is full
of authors who have tried, unsuccessfully,
to walk away from heroes or worlds they
had created, only to be drawn irresistibly
back to them.
No less a figure than Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle tried to kill off his legendary detective hero, Sherlock Holmes, in order to
move in new directions in his writing
career, only to have Holmes’s fans raise
such a hue and cry that he brought his
uncannily deductive hero back to life.
After the success of King Solomon’s Mines,
H. Rider Haggard was obliged to return to
Darkest Africa and resurrect Alan Quatermain for the sequel, She.
In more recent times, the prolific Isaac
Asimov returned to his roots with a great66 APRIL 1992
ly expanded version of his classic story
Nightfall after several decades. The immensely popular mystery writer John D.
McDonald, sensing early on that he had
created yet another larger-than-life hero in
“salvage specialist” Travis McGee, took a
different tack, alternating his muchanticipated McGee stories with dozens of
highly successful stand-alone novels. With
a little thought, any reasonably well-read
follower of popular literature would have
little trouble greatly expanding this list.
This is all by way of introducing our
column this month, which deals with
writers of imagination returning to worlds
they brought alive for us in the past—
specifically, the authors of the best-selling
Moonshae and Tales trilogies, set in the
FORGOTTEN REALMS® and
DRAGONLANCE® settings, respectively.
The Druidhome Trilogy
Back in 1987, Douglas Niles’s imagination
began populating a small group of islands
in the FORGOTTEN REALMS setting called
the Moonshaes with industrious Ffolk,
fierce Northmen, and giant, lumbering
creatures called firbolgs, just to name a
few. The result was a series of books
called the Moonshae Trilogy. Someone
else’s imagination must have been tuned to
the same wave length, because to date the
series has sold well over 600,000 copies. In
fact, the Moonshaes apparently made such
an impression on readers that many asked
for more, and this year their patience will
be rewarded with the launching of the
Druidhome Trilogy. Leading off the trilogy
is Prophet of Moonshae (March 1992), to
be followed by The Coral Kingdom (September 1992) and The Druid Queen
(Spring 1993).
What with the plethora of sequels in the
movies (and elsewhere) in recent memory
(Rocky, Star Trek, Star Wars, cuddly Freddy, Indiana Jones, etc.), we wondered
whether consumers might be becoming
just a wee bit jaded with this phenomenon, suspecting that each subsequent
adventure was merely a rehash of its
popular predecessor. With this in mind,
we questioned Doug about his new
Druidhome Trilogy.
“I don’t think of this as a typical sequel,
for a couple of important reasons. First,
the story picks up twenty years after the
close of the Moonshae Trilogy, and the
human characters have aged accordingly
and changed somewhat. The villains in the
Druidhome Trilogy are completely different. Bhaal is gone, and the main characters, for the most part, are also different.
“Just as I did the first time, I find the
Moonshaes a fascinating locale to write
about. I wanted Tristan and Robyn to be
bigger-than-life characters—epic heroes, if
you will—so they’re moved off center
stage. Although both appear in the
Druidhome Trilogy, the conflict centers on
their daughters, Alicia and Deirdre. I
wanted the victory in the original Moonshae series to be satisfying, which is why
Robyn’s and Tristan’s accomplishments led
to twenty years of prosperity.
“The downside of the original trilogy
was the loss of the Earthmother. Reader
feedback told me people were disappointed with that. Given all these factors, I felt
there was lots more story to tell. I also feel
this is the perfect topic for me right now,
and definitely not just another sequel.”
DRAGONLANCE® Tales II
Trilogy
DRAGONLANCE saga authors have
battled with the same questions, which
brings us to the upcoming Tales II Trilogy.
Even the most dedicated reader of the
international best-selling DRAGONLANCE
series may need a gentle reminder of what
the Tales series are all about.
The original Tales Trilogy was published
five years ago, in three installments: volume 1, The Magic of Krynn; volume 2,
Kender, Gully Dwarves, and Gnomes; and
volume 3, Love and War. They were the
first DRAGONLANCE books to follow the
New York Times Top Ten best-selling
Chronicles and Legends, by the original
authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Weis and Hickman edited the first
Tales series in 1987, contributed their own
untold tales of Krynn folklore, and helped
discover a lineup of writers, many previously unpublished, who since have gone
on to pen many DRAGONLANCE books
and forge their own reputations as firstechelon fantasy authors.
In the intervening years, there has been
a growing demand for a new set of short
stories, another “shared world” Tales
Trilogy to match the quality and popularity
of the first. It has not been feasible, until
now, to reassemble the talent necessary
for the task.
Nick O’Donohoe, Nancy Varian Berberick, Richard A. Knaak, Paul B. Thompson and Tonya R. Carter—these were
among the list of writers who emerged in
the first Tales series to become the bulwark of TSR’s DRAGONLANCE line in the
years since, who also wrote fantasy novels
set in their own worlds, set outside of
Krynn. Michael Williams (the unofficial
bard of the DRAGONLANCE saga), Roger
E. Moore (longtime editor of DRAGON®
Magazine), and Douglas Niles (who, as one
of TSR’s game designers, has written numerous DRAGONLANCE modules) were
part of the original design team, and they,
too, have gained a reputation as distinctive
novelists. To this group are added Dan
Parkinson and Mark Anthony.
Arranged according to the timeline of
Krynn, volume 1, The Reign of Istar, will
be on sale in April; volume 2, The Cataclysm, in July; and volume 3, The War of
the Lance, in November.
By special arrangement for this second
Tales series, Margaret Weis and Tracy
Hickman return to the TSR fold, taking
time out from their successful careers
(they have a long-term collaborative book
contract with Bantam, and Weis writes
solo novels as well) to write fresh novellas
for each Tales II book and to oversee the
content and quality of all of the stories.
It is estimated that, between them, the
Tales II authors have roughly 100 novels to
their credit, and many more modules and
game-design credits. They and others have
written most of the 18 DRAGONLANCE
novels for TSR since the initial success of
the series, carrying on in the tradition of
Weis and Hickman. Including the first
Tales, DRAGONLANCE books have sold
upwards of 10 million copies in a dozen
different languages.
The opportunity to return to the world
of Krynn—with all of its unique fantasy
elements—was a welcome one for each of
the authors, though in some cases there
had to be a period of adjustment and
refamiliarization.
For example, Nancy Varian Berberick,
whose first novel, The Jewels of Elvish,
was published in the TSR™ Books line, has
gone on to write a series of books for Ace
Books, including Shadows of the Seventh
Moon, A Child of Elvish, and the forthcoming The Panthers Hoard. Apart from keeping up her reading as a fan, she had not
visited the world of Krynn as a writer
since 1988. “I was amazed at how much I
had forgotten of the small details,” says
Berberick. “I’ve been spending the last
couple of years in Dark Ages England, and
I had some difficulty separating the two
worlds in my mind. It’s always tough to
write in somebody else’s world, but I had
spent a lot of time in my life in Krynn, and
it was nice to go home again.”
Michael Williams, likewise, just finished
his Thief to King trilogy for Warner—
interspersing his work for that publisher
with his well-known DRAGONLANCE
novels Weasels Luck, Galen Beknighted
(part of the Heroes Trilogy), and the forthcoming The Oath and the Measure (part of
the Meetings Sextet). “I was on the original
design team,” Williams reminisces. “The
world of Krynn grew beyond my dreams,
though not beyond my wildest dreams,
because I always saw plenty of possibilities
in it. It’s fun to return, now and then,
because Krynn is big enough that you can
notch off little corners of the world and
make them your own. You can remain
faithful to what Margaret and Tracy invented, while still having a lot of freedom
to create.”
One of the unique aspects of the new
Tales II Trilogy is that some of the stories,
though they will stand alone, also will be
linked to others in the series. For example,
Douglas Niles has created a character, a
diligent scribe doing his best to keep up
with the turmoil of history, whose epistles
to the all-knowing Astinus will appear in
each volume. Dan Parkinson—a prolific
author who ranges across many genres
and whose TSR credits include the popular Starsong as well as The Gates of Thorbardin (in the Heroes Trilogy)—writes
about a roving band of gully dwarves who
will pop up sequentially in each of the
Tales II books. His work in this area will
dovetail nicely with his research and preparation for the long-awaited Dwarven
Nations epic for TSR, coming up in the
DRAGONLANCE series in 1993.
To the most loyal and meticulous readers, there will be frosting on the cake in
the form of many cross-references to
previously published DRAGONLANCE
works. Richard A. Knaak has contributed
a story, for example, that borrows its main
character from his first DRAGONLANCE
novel, The Legend of Huma. The fabled
companions (Raistlin, Caramon, et al.) will
make cameo appearances in some of the
stories, and there will be key activity by
major DRAGONLANCE figures—heroes
and villains—especially in the novellas by
Weis and Hickman.
Indeed, this second Tales series is so
packed with vivid and exciting material that
there already is talk around the office of
another book in the series. At this point, you
can be sure of one thing: With Tales II, TSR
promises a wondrous and enthralling collection of short stories that will live up to its
predecessor and the five-year anticipation
between the first and second series.
DRAGON 67
The Power of the Pen
Here’s your chance to tell us what you think—and win!
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results of this survey, they will also cause you to forfeit any prize you
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Please print your full name and mailing address below, so that if you’re
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You, the loyal readers of DRAGON® Magazine, can now tell us what you
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4. Convention Calendar
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7. Twilight Empire®
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10. Role-playing Reviews
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15. The Game Wizards
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68 APRIL 1992
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Unless otherwise noted, ® and ™ denote trademarks owned by TSR, Inc.
TWILIGHT EMPIRE is ™ & © 1992 by Steve Sullivan.
MARVEL and MARVEL SUPER HEROES are trademarks of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc.
DRAGON 69
by Spike Y. Jones
Artwork by Thomas Baxa
Three peculiar beasts for all AD&D® campaigns
Battering ram
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Subarctic to
temperate/Hills and mountains
FREQUENCY Rare
ORGANIZATION: Flock
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Herbivore
INTELLIGENCE: Animal (1)
TREASURE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
NO. APPEARING: 1 (30%) or 2d8 (70%)
ARMOR CLASS: 0 (head), 6 (body)
MOVEMENT: 18
HIT DICE: 5
THAC0: 15
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 butt
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2d8
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Charge
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to slow and
hold spells; +4 save vs. fear
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: L (6’ at shoulder)
MORALE: Steady (11); see text
XP VALUE: 975
The term “battering rams” is often applied
to an entire flock of these sheep—rams,
ewes, and lambs alike. These creatures
appear to be giant-sized, mountaindwelling sheep with obviously enlarged
horns. In most respects, they are identical
70 APRIL 1992
to their smaller cousins, coming in a variety of colors. Ewes of this species possess
much smaller horns, have an overall armor class of 6, and have four hit dice.
Combat: Battering rams are normally
unaggressive; the morale score applies to
all events except those in which a male
(here simply called a ram) sees a creature
attacking its flock. In the latter case, the
ram immediately charges and makes no
further morale checks until it or its opponent is slain. In combat, this creature rams
victims with its horns, gaining a +2 to hit
and doing double damage if it has 30’ of
straight running space to speed up to a
charge. In addition, its head has an improved armor class, thanks to its thick
horns and skull, that allows it to butt solid
objects like walls without harm to itself.
Doors, gates, portcullises, and the like
must save vs. crushing blow at -4 or be
destroyed; walls must make a structural
saving throw against a small catapult (see
the 2nd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide,
page 76). Defensively, battering rams of
either sex are immune to all hold and slow
spells, although charm spells have normal
effects on them.
Habitat/Society: Normally unaggressive,
these sheep usually travel in flocks of 2d4
sheep: one ram and 3-4 ewes, the remainder being lambs (AC 8, MV 12, HD 1, #ATT
nil). Lambs are born in the spring and
achieve adulthood after two years; only
one out of every three births is male.
Rams tend to wander off on their own
from time to time, but ewes have a piercing bleat that a ram can hear up to two
miles away under good conditions (even
farther in the mountains if the bleating
echoes). Once a ram hears this bleating, it
will stop at nothing to return to its flock
and defend it while the flock flees.
Battering rams prefer rocky grasslands
in hills and mountains, avoiding forests.
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
NO. APPEARING: 5d8
ARMOR CLASS: 6 (2 in flight)
MOVEMENT: 3, Fly 12 (A)
HIT DICE: 1 hp
THAC0: 20
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 weapon
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Poison
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Minor spell use, lair
traps
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 5%
SIZE: T (3” tall)
MORALE: Average (8)
XP VALUE: 270 (420 with potion effects)
By far the smallest of the faerie folk, and
in some respects the most beautiful, is the
gorse. Averaging one-quarter the height of
a full-grown atomie, gorse must be secretive and unobtrusive to survive.
In appearance, gorse have the proportions and physical attributes of human
children, although they are fully mature,
with, the only differences being their
height, their delicate wings, and their
slightly pointed ears. They have no antennae, and their simple clothing is no different in appearance than that of most
humans or elves. They prefer dressing in
shades of green and yellow to blend in
with their surroundings, which are most
often gorse, a prickly evergreen shrub
with yellow flowers.
Combat: Aside from using the defenses of
their thorny homes (see “Habitat/Society”),
gorse use a number of weapons in combat,
all of which are manufactured from the
bushes they tend. They have minute bows
with a 30’ range, spears (10’ range), and
swords, all of which do 1 hp damage on a
hit. Because of the weapons’ fine points
and the skill of the gorse, all of these
weapons are used at +2 to hit. In addition, 10% of all gorse arrows will be coated with a weak poison that causes
confusion for 2d4 rounds if the victim fails
a save vs. poison.
In addition to these mundane abilities,
gorse have limited magical attacks and
defenses available to them. Once per day,
each gorse can cast the cantrips exterminate (to defeat threats that, while minor to
humans, are major to things the size of
gorse), sprout (usable only on thorn bushes but useful in blocking a miniature path
through a bush), and distract (see details
on these cantrips in the AD&D 1st Edition
volume, Unearthed Arcana, pages 46 and
48). The latter spell, along with the spell
mirror image (which they can also each
cast once daily) is used to confuse an enemy long enough to allow to escape. One
gorse in 10 can also cast one spike growth
and a goodberry spell daily to be used in
defending the lair and bribing intelligent
creatures not to attack them. All spell
effects are at 10th level.
Ecology: These creatures are found in
the roughest mountains in the wild, in
areas where other sheep would be in
danger from ettins or other large monsters. They are sometimes found in the
possession of wizards, who charm them to
rent them out as military weapons (with
mixed results). Some mountain-dwelling
folk have managed to domesticate these
sheep, but they cannot keep them penned
as the rams like to butt down the fences
and gates.
Gorse
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Subarctic to temperate/Grasslands, hills, and prairies
FREQUENCY: Uncommon
ORGANIZATION: Tribe
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Herbivore
INTELLIGENCE: Very (11-12)
TREASURE: O, P, Q, S
DRAGON 71
Habitat/Society: Gorse prefer to dwell in
the green, thorny flower-bushes they’re
named after, making lairs forbidding to
most predators too large to maneuver
through the thorns as the gorse do. If
creatures larger than twice their height
attempt to enter their bushes, those creatures each take damage equal to 1 hp per
round if of AC 6-10, or 1 hp every other
round if of AC 4-5. Movement rates
through gorse bushes for beings of size S
to L are slowed to one-quarter normal;
larger and smaller beings are unhampered. If threatened, gorse will retreat
deeper into their bushes, luring attackers
through the most thickly thorned regions
and possibly over logs, pits, and other
hard-to-see natural obstacles.
Although they must be wary of all bigger folk (and almost all creatures are big
to them), gorse can be persuaded to deal
with woodland-dwellers (e.g., dryads,
satyrs, and centaurs), humans, and demihumans who bring them gifts of fresh
fruit, bread, or milk. They become protective of any who do them favors, such as
druids who defeat menacing beasts or
elves who stop forest fires. Often a gorse
tribe will send a few members to accompany its larger allies for the duration of the
latter’s stay near their lair.
Some gorse tribes have magical potions
in their treasure troves. Because of the
gorse’s small size, one standard dose of a
potion equals 20 doses for the gorse. Thus,
it is not uncommon to find a large group
of these faeries who can polymorph themselves, resist fire, or turn rainbow hues at
will for short periods of time. Some potions, such as the various control potions,
will not work unless a full dose is taken,
and no gorse could swallow that great a
quantity of any liquid; these potions will
be undisturbed in their hoards and will
often be traded for more useful ones or
used as bribes or rewards for bigger folk.
Gorse have their own language but are
willing and able to speak the tongues of
sprites or pixies. A sylvan elf would know
enough of their language to conduct a
halting conversation with them, as would
any druid from the same region as the
gorse in question.
Quakedancer
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Subarctic to
subtropical/Plains, prairies, grasslands
FREQUENCY: Rare
ORGANIZATION: Solitary
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Omnivore
INTELLIGENCE: Semi- (2)
TREASURE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVEMENT: 6
HIT DICE: See Quakedancer Growth Table
THAC0: See Quakedancer Growth Table
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 bite and 1 stomp
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See Quakedancer
Growth Table
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Stunning, swallowing
whole
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: See Quakedancer Growth Table
MORALE: Steady (12)
XP VALUE: See Quakedancer Growth Table
The quakedancer (a.k.a. quakebeast,
quakemaker, thunderer) is a large reptilian
beast that resembles a Brontosaurus,
except for the fact that it has six legs. It is
not a true dinosaur. The middle pair of
legs have thick-clawed toes that point
outward, both forward and backward,
and oversized knee joints, while the feet of
the other, normal pairs of legs are broader
at the base than would be expected of a
true sauropod of comparable size.
While it looks like a herbivore, the
quakedancer is really omnivorous, eating
plants only as a ruse to convince true
plant-eaters that it is harmless. It doesn’t
have the specialized equipment of other
meat-eaters (oversized claws and fangs,
camouflage coloring, powerful legs to run
down its prey, etc.). It hunts by means of
its unique ability to create a miniature
earthquake in its immediate vicinity.
Combat: When hungry (which is often),
the quakebeast pretends to be a normal
sauropod, vacuously grazing on the greenery until a good number of unsuspecting
creatures are within range doing the same
thing, attracted by the illusion of safety
the quakedancer provides. The quakedancer then roots the toes of its middle legs
into the ground and balances its large
body on these two pivots. Slowly at first,
then faster and faster, it rocks back and
forth from its front legs to its back like a
living see-saw, pumping with its neck and
tail to produce more force, resoundingly
crashing its bulk down with each swing.
The impact produced by this constant
ground-pounding creates nerve-shattering
shock waves in the beast’s vicinity, stunning unlucky creatures smaller than itself
that happen to be too close to it. It takes 36 rounds of rocking to warm up to the
stunning attacks. Creatures within range
must make a save vs. paralysis every
round that the quakedancer maintains its
stunning attack (it makes only one stomp
per round) or be stunned for 2d4 rounds;
details on what creature sizes are affected
and the range of the attack are given in
the Quakedancer Growth Table.
Stunning effects are cumulative to a maximum of 20 rounds. Once sufficient
stunned prey is present for the quakedancer’s appetite (about 2d6 creatures of the
largest size it can affect, or more of
smaller sizes), it will cease its stomping
72 APRIL 1992
Quakedancer Growth Table
Age
Hit dice
Size
THAC0 (stunned)
Bite damage
Stomp damage
Quake radius
Max. size of prey
stunned
XP value
0-1 years
1
2’-10’ S-L
20 (nil)
1d2
nil
nil
1-2 years
4
10’-20’ H
16 (12)
1d4
1d8
10’
2-3 years
8
20’-30’ H
12 (8)
1d6
2d8
20’
3-4 years
12
30’-40’ G
8 (4)
1d8
3d8
30’
4-5 years
16
40’-50’ G
4 (0)
1d10
4d8
40’
5-6 years
20
50’-60’ G
0 (-4)
1d12
5d8
50’
6-7 years
24
60’-70’ G
- 4 (-8)
1d12 + 1d2
6d8
60’
7+ years
28
70’-80’ G
- 8 (-12)
1d12 + 1d4
7d8
70’
nil
15
T
270
S
1,400
S
5,000
M
9,000
L
13,000
L
17,000
H
21,000
and automatically swallow its stricken
prey whole at the rate of one creature per
round. No to-hit roll is needed for such
swallowing; moving prey is ignored unless
it attacks, in which case the quakedancer
attempts to stomp and bite the victim. A
swallowed victim either dies from suffocation (as per the rules on breath-holding in
the Player’s Handbook, page 122; monsters
use twice their hit dice for an equivalent
constitution score) or takes 3d8 hp damage
per round from the beasts’ stomach acids,
starting on the third round after the victim is swallowed.
Habitat/Society: Quakedancers are
careful to hunt only in level, stable areas
away from other predators, in order to
prevent two possible threats: scavengers
outside quake range darting in to snatch
their hard-earned prey, or quaking in
unstable areas that could open crevasses
and rockslides rendering prey inaccessible. As they get older, and larger, quakedancers relax this “rule,” as terrain that
would seem imposing to a 6’ human is
much less so to a 50’ quakedancer.
These beasts have no lairs, as the repeated devastation of a single region would
mark it as too dangerous to enter. Instead,
they are constantly on the move looking
for new hunting grounds where they are
not feared by the local wildlife. A person
with the Tracking proficiency could follow
a quakedancer with ease, even years after
it left an area, following the trail of slowly
eroding wounds in the earth until he
found the quake-producing beast at work.
Annually, a quakedancer lays a cluster of
2d10 eggs in a shallow burrow at the
center of a newly devastated area (these
areas are often shunned for some time by
other creatures that might threaten the 4’foot-long eggs). After laying the eggs, the
female quakedancer abandons them, as
the male quakedancer abandoned her
weeks before. Most of these eggs successfully hatch, but few of the young survive
to see their first year, being eaten by predators or their clutch-mates.
As hatchling quakedancers haven’t the
mass to use the quake-making attack of
adults, newborn quakedancers quickly
scurry for cover after hatching, surviving
that first year on a diet of vegetation,
insects, and other small creatures. Those
living through the trying first year are
able to use their quaking ability to stun
74 APRIL 1992
Tiny creatures in their near vicinity, and
their success is virtually assured from this
point on. Quakedancers grow shockingly
fast. Sexual maturity does not arrive until
their fifth year, at which point they are as
much as 50’ in length and well able to
clear an area for egg-laying.
Ecology: Though their actions appear
highly destructive, in the long run a
quakedancer has only a slight effect on its
environment. Wildlife returns to a devastated area soon after the quakedancer
leaves, and it does not overhunt, as much
of its stunned prey usually escapes upon
recovery. Streams and rivers may have
their courses altered, and once in a while
a quakedancer might accidentally trigger a
more severe disaster with its movements
(e.g., landslide, avalanche, natural earthquake, flooding after dam collapse, etc.).
Civilized beings who rely on fixed urban
and agricultural areas find these beings to
be highly troublesome, however, and
quakedancers are hunted into extermination in most areas.
Although quakedancer eggs are easy to
find if one knows where to look, they have
little market value considering the potentially devastating effects a few years after
they hatch. Some unscrupulous individuals
will sell the eggs as something else (e.g.,
dragon eggs), while others have sent them
as anonymous gifts to their enemies. Cities
that have suffered through such pranks
usually institute strict laws against the
importation, marketing, and possession of
these time bombs.
At the other end of their life-cycle, rumors claim that quakedancers never die of
old age; they can be brought down by
predators, adventurers, disease, natural
disaster, or even larger members of their
own species, but if none of these factors
intrudes, they just continue to grow without cease. In regions where such legends
are widespread, all earthquakes are attributed either directly to gargantuan quakedancers passing through, or indirectly to
the passage of the semi-mythical First
Quaker, which supposedly roams far-off
regions but still causes local earthquakes
by way of transmitted shockwaves and
aftershocks.
by Skip Williams
If you have any questions on the games
produced by TSR, Inc., “Sage Advice” will
answer them. In the United States and
Canada, write to: Sage Advice, DRAGON®
Magazine, P.O. Box 111, Lake Geneva WI
53147, U.S.A. In Europe, write to: Sage
Advice, DRAGON Magazine, TSR Ltd., 120
Church End, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge
CB1 3LB, United Kingdom. We are no
longer able to make personal replies;
please send no SASEs with your questions
(SASEs are being returned with writers’
guidelines for the magazine).
What’s the most unusual question the
sage has ever been asked? It might be here
in this month’s column on the AD&D®
game. Just in case any readers are wondering, I have reason to suspect the sincerity of only one of the following questions,
and that’s because I know the two guys
who sent it in. The rest are as legitimate as
any other question “Sage Advice” gets.
First, two questions get “re-saged”; then
we’ll try to make some sense out of the
prattle.
A few issues ago, you said only
elven fighter/mages can wear elven
chain mail without restriction. However, if you look under elven chain
mail in the Dungeon Master’s Guide
(page 182), it says, “Its lightness and
flexibility allow even magic users
and thieves to use it with few restrictions. . . . Elven fighter/mages
use it without restriction.” What are
the few restrictions for mages?
This is a misprint. The line should read:
“Its lightness and flexibility allow even
bards and thieves to use it with few restrictions.” This official correction has
already appeared in more recent printings
of the DMG.
In the core AD&D 2nd Edition rules,
mages cannot wear armor unless they are
elven fighter/mages. However, it seems to
me that half-elven cleric/mages, fighter/
mages, and fighter/mage/clerics also could
function while wearing elven chain mail.
Mage/thieves and fighter/mage/thieves
could probably also wear elven chain mail
since straight thieves can—but don’t forget
to apply the penalties to thieving abilities
from Table 29, page 39, in the Player’s
Handbook.
In “Sage Advice” in issue #156, you
said a heavy catapult and a trebu-
chet were two different things.
However, the SPELLJAMMER™ boxed
set’s Concordance of Arcane Space
(page 40) says that a heavy catapult
is a trebuchet. Also, if trebuchets
can hurl rocks weighting 500 lbs.,
how can they be fitted onto
spelljammers? If a trebuchet is a
separate item, how much does it
cost? How big would a ship have to
be to have one? What are this weapon’s other statistics?
I didn’t actually say that catapults and
trebuchets were different in issue 156, but
they are according to the histories I’ve
read. Technically, a catapult is a torsionpowered siege engine. A catapult’s torsion
(twisting or springing) power was usually
provided by either tightly wrapped skeins
of horsehair or layers of green boards
arranged like the leaf springs on an automobile’s suspension.
To get an idea of how a twisted-skein
catapult worked, stretch a rubber band
between your thumb and forefinger. Now
take a capped ballpoint pen or unsharpened pencil and stick it between the two
strands of rubber. If you flip the pen end
over end a few times like an airplane
propeller, you’ll twist and tighten the
rubber band; you’ll have to slide the pen
in and out a bit (because your hand will be
in the way) to rotate the pen fully. When
you’ve got the rubber band really tight
(and aimed away from your face), let go.
The rubber band will flip the pen over
quite forcefully. The catapult’s skeins were
tightened by men on either side of the
catapult who turned cranks connected to
the skeins, tightening them up without
moving the catapult arm, which was held
back. Once the arm was released, the
torsion in the twisted skeins flung the arm
in an arc that was stopped by a crosspiece
on the machine itself; the ammunition,
which had been placed in a cup on the end
of the arm, was then hurled away.
The leaf-spring catapult worked just like
a big crossbow. In fact, the only difference
between this kind of siege engine and a
ballista (which worked exactly like a big
crossbow) was that a catapult had a long
arm with a cup or pouch at one end for
throwing stones in a high arc; in place of
the arm, a ballista had a slide that hurled a
rock or large bolt in a flat arc.
A trebuchet, however, was powered by
a counterweight. A long beam was placed
on a pivot, with one end of the beam a lot
closer to the pivot than the other. A heavy
weight was hung at the beam’s short end,
and a pouch for holding rocks was hung
on the other, then tied down; the whole
weight of the short end was always far
greater than the entire weight of the long
end and its ammunition. When a loaded
trebuchet was fired by releasing the long
end, the weight snapped the long end
upward, and the rock in the pouch was
hurled away. If you’ve ever seen a troupe
of acrobats working with a seesaw, you’ve
got the idea.
In historical terms, the SPELLJAMMER
setting’s light catapult probably is similar
to the historical onager, a small twistedskein torsion engine that hurled a rock
that weighed about 10 lbs. The medium
catapult probably is similar to a larger
skein- or leaf-spring torsion engine that
hurled a 25-lb. rock (in landsman’s terms,
this would be a heavy catapult; the
SPELLJAMMER setting has adopted its
own terminology). The spacefarers heavy
catapult, or “trebuchet,” would be a very
large torsion engine hurling a 40- or 50-lb.
rock; page 40 of the Concordance defines
catapults as “large, stone-throwing devices
operated by springs, cranks, or flywheels.”
I doubt that very large counterweight
engines could be used on spelljammers at
all, except on dwarven citadels and other
massive bodies of 300 tons or more. If you
want to introduce such weapons into your
campaign, you’re on your own.
As a general rule of thumb, I suggest
that doubling the weight of the missile
should increase the hull damage to the
next higher step. For example, a weapon
hurling an 80-lb. rock would do 2d6 hull
points. Each increment of increased damage should cost an extra 300-400 gp, reduce the THAC0 by one (20 maximum),
take one extra crew, reduce the rate of
fire by one, and increase the weapon’s
“count” by one. So, our “80-pounder”
would cost 1,300-1,400 gp, require five or
six crewmen, have a THAC0 of 19, have a
rate of fire of 1/3 or 1/4, and would count
as three large weapons installed. I suggest
that you do not allow the critical-hit numbers and crew-damage ratings to increase
beyond the heavy catapult’s 18-20 and
3d10 values.
I have a 6”-tall dual-classed
fighter-monk. When he was a fighter, he was permanently basted, then
he was shrunk. To make up for his
limited choice of weapons due to his
size, I made him a monk. At 5th
level, haste and slow spells don’t
affect monks. Since the character
was hasted as a fighter, will the effect remain? If so, will boots of
speed improve his movement rate, if
he can find a pair that will fit?
If you think a 6”-tall character can’t do
much damage with a fighter’s traditional
weapons, you’re right—especially if he
fights any foe larger than a cockroach.
DRAGON 77
However, diminutive swords, battle axes,
and the like still do more damage than tiny
fists and feet. (I suppose a 6” monk wearing a girdle of giant strength might be able
to do some interesting things with judo
throws; a cartoon character called Atom
Ant comes to mind.)
Strictly speaking, the haste effect ends
as soon as the character becomes a 5thlevel monk; the discipline and control the
monk imposes on his body forces it to
return to its normal (non - hasted or nonslowed) state. Also, most campaigns disallow permanent haste effects, as they tend
to unbalance play. Furthermore, this combination tends to burn out characters, as it
magically ages the character in either
edition of the AD&D game. In the original
game, a haste recipient not only ages a
year, but also must make a system shock
roll or perish. In either edition of the
game, I recommend that the permanently
hasted character reroll for system shock
periodically, like every day, week, or
month; a character’s body can take only so
much abuse. Note also that the character
should age at least twice the normal rate,
and the DM would not be out of line to
rule that the character actually ages an
extra year every hour, week, or month.
Generally speaking, similar magical
effects are not cumulative in either edition
of the AD&D game. A second haste spell
will not affect a hasted character in either
78 APRIL 1992
edition, nor can a hasted character benefit
from a potion of speed. Likewise, boots of
speed bestow a base movement rate (subject to encumbrance penalties) of 24. If the
wearer already moves that fast or faster,
he gets no benefit from the boots no matter where the superior movement rate
comes from. As it happens, your 5th-level
monk has a movement rate of 19, which
the boots can boost to 24, no higher.
Can you shape change a tarrasque
into a little bunny, then eat it for
dinner? If a human was polymorphed into a bunny and some of
the bunny’s fur was taken, then the
bunny was polymorphed back into
a human, would the fur sample turn
back into human hair or would it
stay bunny fur? In other words, will
a lightning bolt spell blow up in my
wizard’s face if he uses the bunny
fur as a material component?
First, in either edition of the AD&D
game, the tarrasque is a unique creature.
A DM can decide that a whole race of
tarrasques populates the world, but there
are more original ways to challenge player
characters. Second, shape change works
only on the caster/user, so no one can use
it like a polymorph other spell; if shape
change could be used on creatures other
than the caster, it would give the recipient
the ability to change its shape and all such
changes would be under the recipient’s
control, not the caster’s, I’m not sure what
form a tarrasque would choose if it could
shape change itself, but it wouldn’t be
likely to bring any joy to the spell-caster,
whatever that shape happened to be.
Of course, even a tarrasque might fall
victim to a polymorph other or polymorph
any object spell. In either edition of the
AD&D game and in the D&D game, a
polymorphed creature keeps its hit points,
natural armor class, and possibly other
purely physical abilities; in the tarrasque’s
case this includes regeneration and maybe
even its limb-severing bite. So, your
tarrasque/bunny still is one tough customer: A 300-hp bunny with AC - 3, at
least two attacks (bite and kick), and a
legendary regeneration ability. Even if one
managed to eat this creature, you’d still
need a wish to keep it dead (see the tarrasque’s description in the Monstrous Compendium, volume 2).
Since polymorphed creatures assume
their normal shape when killed, I suggest
that any pieces cut from them change
back, too. After all, being separated from
the rest of the creature is a “death” of a
sort. In the case of the tarrasque/bunny,
the creature would change back when
reduced to -30 hp, or perhaps any time
after being reduced to below zero hit
points if the DM so decides. This method
clears up esoteric questions such as, “Can I
use polymorphed human hair as a material component for a lightning bolt spell?” It
also keeps player characters from using
polymorph magic as a cheap shortcut
when creating scrolls, potions, and other
magical items.
Suppose an explosive dimensional
mine is thrown into an extradimensional flatbox at the exact instant
the disintegration chamber it inhabits is activated. The resulting
confluence of dimensions destroys
the contents of the flatbox and
opens a rift to the Astral plane. Now,
the real question is: Do the magically shrunk, mated pair of immortal astral dragons that were sleeping
inside the flatbox instantly recover
all their lost hit points (because they
are immortal), and if so where do
the dragons wind up after the explosion and rift formation?
You’re definitely misreading the descriptions of the magical items involved here
(all three are from the Tome of Magic,
pages 136-137). Dimensional mines are
inert until placed inside extradimensional
spaces. Even then, a dimensional mine
does not explode; it ruptures the extradimensional space, and any matter inside
the space is spewed into the Astral plane.
The effect does not damage the contents
of the space. Flatboxes don’t inhibit magic
at all, though by their very nature they
cannot be illuminated. A disintegration
chamber produces no spectacular effects
when brought into an extradimensional
space, and it cannot destroy anything that
is not inside it (even then, nothing happens
until somebody pushes the button).
In the situation you describe, the flatbox
could explode when the dimensional mine
was tossed inside, as the flatbox is an
extradimensional space that has a bad
habit of exploding when it’s disturbed.
However, it does not have to explode; it
could just be ruptured. The disintegration
chamber would be utterly destroyed in
such an explosion, and the dragons would
survive and get sucked through the rift
and tossed onto the Astral plane. Whether
the dragons were inside the disintegration
chamber when it was activated is irrelevant, as their immortality (see their description in the Monstrous Compendium,
DRAGONLANCE® appendix) allows them
to survive being simultaneously “destroyed” and disintegrated.
If a thief lost an arm just below the
elbow, would he still be able to
wear a magical bracer on the
stump? Could he wear a bracer over
a prosthesis? What effect would the
loss have on the character’s thief
abilities? If he originally weighed
115 lbs., what would his new
weight be?
Bracers are made to be worn on the
wrist or forearm. Individual DMs are free
to decide if amputee characters can use
bracers (and other items that must be
worn) by wearing them on stumps or
prostheses. Check out “Sage Advice” in
issue #172 for a discussion of where various types of magical equipment are normally worn.
The DM must decide whether the loss of
a limb or appendage will affect thieving
abilities at all. There’s no reason to assume
that the character cannot simply adapt
and go on performing just as before. If the
DM isn’t feeling this generous, I suggest a
penalty of 5-25 on all applicable percentile
thieving abilities. For example, the onehanded thief mentioned above will suffer
no penalties to his ability to hear noise,
move silently, or hide in shadows, as he
doesn’t need to use his arms and hands to
do these things. The character might
suffer a penalty to pick pockets or find
and remove traps. The DM could decide
that this one-handed character has fewer
options when picking pockets, and he
could assess a - 5 penalty to his percentile
chance for success. The DM also might
decide that rogues don’t use their hands
much when finding traps, but that two
hands are helpful when removing traps,
and so assigns no penalty to “find” and a
- 10 to “remove.” Finally, the DM might
DRAGON 79
decide to assign a - 15 penalty to climb
walls, since the character’s remaining
three appendages are going to be very
busy when the character is climbing. If
penalties are assessed, I strongly suggest
that the DM give the character an opportunity to acquire some adaptive equipment
and a chance to practice using it. The
easiest way to simulate this is to use the
“Training” optional rule (see the Dungeon
Master’s Guide, page 49).
As to the loss of weight, the character
should lose about 4% of his total weight
(4.6 lbs., in this case) for losing roughly
half an arm. “Sage Advice” discussed this
calculation in issue #156 (see the “legless
gnome” question).
Exactly how many gnomes can an
adult griffon carry without losing
its speed or altitude, physical attacks or fearsome temperament?
A typical gnome, without equipment,
weighs about 82.5 lbs., but this figure can
be as little as 73 lbs. or as much as 92 lbs.
(Player’s Handbook, page 24, Table 10).
Carrying capacities for most flying creatures that can be used as mounts are
conspicuous by their absence from the
creatures’ descriptions in the various
Monstrous Compendium volumes. For the
sake of game balance, I suggest that the
most common flying mounts—pegasi,
griffons, and hippogriffs—have the same
carrying capacity. The Pegasus description
in MC1 lists this as the same as a medium
war horse: 220 lbs. at full speed, 330 lbs.
at half speed, and 440 lbs. at one-third
speed. As a general rule, a flying mount
loses one maneuverability class when
carrying a rider. I suggest that a winged
mount loaded to the one-third movement
class be unable to fly at all. Note that there
is no reason a DM could not apply the
movement rate and carrying capacity
modifiers from the horse quality rules
(DMG, pages 36-37) to flying mounts, too.
As to the question of a loaded griffon’s
temperament: Griffons are infamous for
their nasty dispositions, and carrying loads
doesn’t make them any happier. Except for
reductions to its maneuverability and
movement, a griffon carrying a load still
can fight normally. However, I suspect a
griffon would strongly resent carrying
multiple riders or being overloaded. Such
a beast probably will try to shed—or even
eat—excess riders.
Where can a wizard put a sphere of
annihilation when he is not using it?
You can “put” a sphere of annihilation
anywhere you want when you are not
using it, just by commanding it to stop. Of
course, somebody else could set it in motion again by trying to control it, so it
behooves the owner to park his sphere of
annihilation in a safe place, like a locked
vault. (For an example of a creative use of
a sphere of annihilation stored in this way,
see “The Living City” in POLYHEDRON™
Newszine issue #52.)
80 APRIL 1992
Since the effect a sphere of annihilation
will have on its surroundings can vary
widely from campaign to campaign, it
might be useful to discuss this item’s properties in some detail. Simply put, a sphere
of annihilation is a hole in the fabric of the
multiverse. Like other holes, a sphere of
annihilation is benign until something falls
into it.
However, the strictest possible interpretation of a sphere’s powers (DMG, page
180) yields a pretty terrifying point. Since
anything that contacts the sphere is instantly sucked into the void and utterly
destroyed, a sphere of annihilation moving
through the air might be accompanied by
a continuous rumble of thunder as the air
it encounters is annihilated and more air
rushes in to fill the vacuum. Even at rest, a
sphere of annihilation might eventually
strip a planet of its atmosphere as it annihilates each and every gas molecule that
touches it. A single such sphere could
drain oceans and maybe even gobble up
stars and planets; if one does not place a
size limit on what the sphere can annihilate, it could suck in the whole earth instantly just by touching the ground. The
only way to safely store a sphere under
these conditions would be to seal it into an
airtight vault, where it eventually would
annihilate the air around it and create a
perfect vacuum. Nevertheless, a more
responsible approach would be to destroy
the sphere with a rod of cancellation as
quickly as possible.
I think it’s far more reasonable to assume that fluid matter, such as a body of
water or an atmosphere, will tend to flow
around the sphere rather than contacting
it and being annihilated. Of course, air or
water could be fanned or ladled into the
sphere, where it would be annihilated.
This effect is similar to what would happen if a portable hole was spread out on a
sand beach. The hole displaces the sand
without otherwise affecting it, and no
sand falls into the hole unless it is pushed
inside. I also suggest that a sphere of annihilation be unable to utterly destroy anything bigger than it is. If, for example, the
character controlling the sphere plunges it
into the earth or into a castle wall, the
sphere bores a 2’ hole instead of sucking
the entire “object” into oblivion. Likewise,
small, man-sized, and large creatures
might survive touching a sphere unless
they fall completely into it. (See the previous question on “amputee thief” for
possible consequences of misadventures
with spheres of annihilation.) Tiny creatures probably don’t have enough strength
or mass to resist being sucked into a
sphere if they are unfortunate enough to
touch it.
82
APRIL 1992
he Goose was dead. Anyone could see
that. And the murderer had been
caught plucking feathers. It all seemed
like a simple case of theft with intent
to feast. At least, that was how it appeared, but something told me there
was more to this situation than just a
hungry peasant stealing poultry.
First, the Goose wasn’t an ordinary goose. It was the
mainstay of Basilopolis’ economy because it laid golden
eggs. Yes, I said golden. You know, that yellowish metal
that’s used for the standard coinage of most countries.
Instead of mining and refining gold as other countries did,
Basilopolis’ Keeper of the Treasury went to the Goose’s
nest twice a day and gathered eggs of solid pure gold.
Sometimes one egg, sometimes two. No one could predict
which.
A young beggar named Thom stood before me, bound
so tightly his chest barely moved when he breathed. His
patched, oversized clothes were as dirty as his gaunt face,
and he stank worse than the filthiest stable I’d ever
smelled. Dozens of guards surrounded him, some keeping
back the crowd that filled the judgment hall, some intent
on saving Thom for themselves. Lovely way to start a
morning.
“Do you have anything to say in your defense?” I
asked.
Thom crumpled to his knees and started to cry. When
he spoke, his voice was higher than I’d expected. “Please,
Your Highness, I didn’t do it!”
“Your Honor,” I corrected him. “I’m the King’s Magistrate, not King Cannard the Fifth himself.”
“Your Honor, I just found it layin’ there by the wall,”
he sniffed and rubbed his cheek on his grimy shoulder,
“an’ its neck all twisted. I just picked it up an’ took it
back to my house an’ started pluckin’ it ’cause I was hungry an’ I didn’t do anything! I didn’t, I didn’t!” He started blubbering.
“Silence,” I said, frowning. He sniffed back several
sobs and gazed at me, trembling. “That’s better. Now,
what is the evidence against him?”
One of the king’s guards opened a burlap sack and
dumped the contents on the stone floor before the dais
where I sat. A few feathers—long, white, and marked
with a swirl of black—floated down beside a crude knife.
“These were beside the prisoner when we found him,
Your Honor, I saw him plucking the Goose myself. He’s
guilty, no doubt.”
I looked at the feathers, then at the dead Goose, its neck
broken. Only one goose in the kingdom, or in the world,
had those black swirls on white wings. It was the royal
golden-egg-laying Goose.
“Where was this man found?” I asked.
“Just beyond the north wall, close to Fern Wood.
Bunch of thieves.” The guard kicked Thom.
I glared at the guard. “Don’t touch him, soldier, unless
I tell you to.”
The guard paled and swallowed visibly. Being halfbrother to the king does have its advantages. Makes people very polite and civil.
I studied Thom. He looked as if he belonged in that
Murder
Most Fowl
by Deborah Millitello
Illustrations by Bob Lessl
DRAGON 83
nest of hovels huddled between the castle and Fern Wood.
“How did he get into the castle?” I asked.
The guard looked puzzled. “Well, he, uh, must’ve
snuck in the gate.”
“Have you checked with the gate wardens?”
“Um, no.”
“Then I suggest you check with them.”
The guard spoke to another soldier, who almost ran
from the room, then he turned back to me. “Even if he
didn’t come in the gate, he could’ve climbed the wall.”
“How? With what? Did you find any grappling hooks
and rope in his house? Any ladders tall enough to reach
the top?”
“Well . . . no. But we didn’t search everywhere. Besides, he’s guilty.” He drew his foot back to kick Thom
again, then stopped dead still, glanced at me, and put his
foot on the floor. “The king knows it, the people know it,
I know it. That gutter rat’s a traitor! I say hang him and
be done with it.” The rest of the crowd cheered him.
I sighed, blinked my aching eyes, and ran my fingers
through my short, graying hair. An hour’s sleep wasn’t
enough for anyone, especially after an all-night feast. And
I’d slipped away early. “Who discovered the Goose was
missing?”
“I did, Your Honor.” A buxom woman with masses of
red curls stepped from the early morning shadows that
darkened the hall. Her mouth was a little too narrow, her
eyes a little too wide to be called beautiful, but she was
attractive in a rough sort of way. And she was vaguely
familiar.
“Who are you?” I asked, trying to remember where I’d
seen her before.
She bowed low. “Marnie Sieler, Keeper of the Royal
Goose, Your Honor.”
Ah, yes, the original owner of the Goose. “Were you
with the Goose when it was stolen?”
She hesitated for a moment, then said, “No, Your
Honor.”
“Where were you?”
“I went to speak with the husbandman about some new
straw for the Goose’s nest.”
“Straw?” I closed my eyes and rubbed the lids. “At
night?”
“He’s busy during the day, watching after the royal
herds and flocks.”
I stared at her silently, just stared, letting the time pass.
She looked away, back at me, at the ceiling, at me, at her
hands, at me, shifted her weight from one foot to the other. I knew she was lying, and she knew I knew. “Is there
anything else you have to say, Mistress Marnie?”
She scrunched her lips, glanced left and right, then
shook her head. She knew more than she was saying. I’d
have to talk to her again—after I’d talked with the
husbandman.
I glanced across the soldiers in the room. “Are the Royal Goose Guards who were on duty last night present?”
Two soldiers stepped forward, wearing red tabards with
golden eggs embroidered in the center of each. One man’s
left eye was swollen shut. He had scratches on his face and
held his side. The other man’s head was wrapped with
white cloth. His nose was bent and twice the size it should
84
APRIL 1992
be, and he walked with a limp. They tried to salute and
grimaced.
“Tell me exactly what happened,” I said.
The one-eyed soldier spoke first. “We was standing
duty like always, when I heard a noise. Herman and me,
we knew Mistress Marnie wasn’t there, so we crept into
the Goose’s room and looked around, but it was dark,
see? I mean we couldn’t see too good, but the garden door
was open, and we hurried quiet as mice to the door and
looked out.”
“An’ we don’t sees nobody at first, does we, George?”
Herman broke in.
“Shut up, Herman,” George growled, then continued.
“We didn’t see anyone at first, then I saw a shadow running for the wall. We ran after it, and suddenly we was
attacked by two or three men . . .”
“Or live or six,” Herman said.
George glared at his comrade. “Three or four, counting
the first one we spotted. We fought and kicked and tried to
stop them.”
I shook my head slightly, disgusted. “Which was it:
two, three, four, five, or six?”
“Four,” said George.
“Six,” said Herman.
Wonderful. The guards were as honest as Mistress Marnie. “Why didn’t you call for help?”
“I started to,” George said, glaring at Herman again,
“but one of them grabbed me around the neck and cut off
my breathing. I passed out not long after.”
“An’ I tries to stop them,” Herman said, bobbing his
head, “but they hits me on the head and knocks me out. I
woked up when Mistress Marnie was shaking me and
screaming the Goose was gone.”
I glanced around the hall until I spotted Marnie standing beside the court wizard, Arcus Magnus. “Mistress
Marnie, where did you find the guards?”
“On the porch leading from the Goose Chamber to the
garden.”
“And how long were you absent,” I paused, a half smile
threatening to escape my practiced detachment, “talking
to the husbandman about . . . straw?” I think her face
reddened, but I wasn’t certain.
“An hour, maybe two,” she said as she glanced at the
wizard next to her. “Three at the most.”
“Hah!” Herman said with a sly grin. “She’d been gone
at least four or five hours before the fight.”
Mistress Marnie started to reply but glanced at Arcus
first. Interesting. “I . . . may’ve been gone that long,” she
said.
I didn’t speak for several minutes, merely looked across
the crowd. The people shuffled, jostled, grumbled to each
other until at last I said, “So the Goose could have been
stolen anytime during the night.”
She nodded slowly. “I suppose that’s so.”
There were too many secrets, too many ‘hows’ and
‘whys’ to settle the case right then. I needed to check several things before I was satisfied I knew who had killed the
Goose. “I must think on this for a time,” I said as impassively as I could. “Take the prisoner away until I render
my verdict.”
The guards fairly grinned at that.
“And . . .” I said snowflake soft, “he will be unharmed
until I determine his guilt or innocence. Do you understand?”
The guards muttered something but saluted me and
dragged Thom from the hall. A servant stuffed the dead
Goose, feathers, and knife in the burlap sack and carried
it to the guarded chamber where I keep evidence during
trials. The crowd wavered a few moments, then drifted
out of the judgment hall.
I stood, stretched, and wished I’d had more sleep. My
stomach churned, reminding me I’d eaten very little at
the banquet and that it was past sunrise. Maybe after I’d
checked out a few things, I’d go to the kitchen and see
what Wild Bill could find for my breakfast.
I shuffled from the hall and headed toward the Goose
Chamber. I wanted to see where the murder took place
and maybe find something, anything, to confirm my suspicions. If Thom had crept inside and killed the Goose,
there would be some sign of his presence. My stomach
growled insistently, and I decided to visit the kitchen first.
I’d left the main corridor and turned toward the kitchen
when suddenly Arcus Magnus stepped from a doorway.
He was nearly a head shorter than I and stringy as a
winter-starved deer. He moved like a shadow, silently, as
if he had no true substance.
“Your Honor,” he said in his low, oily voice, “if I could
speak to you on a matter of importance?”
“What—” my voice cracked slightly as I swallowed my
surprise, “what matter?”
“What is to be done with the Goose? I mean, what will
happen to its body? Surely, it will not be roasted and eaten, not the royal Goose. It was unique, a treasure now
lost for all time. If only I had been allowed to study it
while it was alive, if I could have discovered what forces
had combined to create such a marvelous bird. But no, I
was never allowed to examine it, and now it is gone! Such
foolishness, such waste!” His hands twitched like jumping
spiders, and his sallow face was taut.
It was several moments before he looked at me again,
his graying brows furrowed. “I am sorry for my outburst,
Your Honor. I am distraught at the loss of so great a treasure to our city and our king. I know that I am being
bold, but I request the Goose’s body for study.” He
paused, then bowed a bit too quickly, as if he were nervous. “That is, if you would grant me this most extraordinary privilege. I should be exceedingly grateful.” He gave
me half a smile as his fingers played with a small but bulging leather pouch tied to his woven belt. The man had all
the subtlety of a hammer.
“I will inform you of the king’s wishes in this matter,” I
said, giving him my most daunting stare.
He cringed, shrank back, bobbed a bow, and hurried
away. I don’t think he wanted the king to know about the
request. Hmm. Arcus, a suspect? Possible. I’d keep him
in mind.
I walked toward the kitchen and paused at the doorway,
hoping to spot something for breakfast. Wild Bill was
propped on his sturdy stool, gulping a mug of something.
Greenish-gold mead trickled from the sides of his wide
mouth and added another layer of stains to his broad
apron. It always surprised me that the man could drink
half a barrel by himself and still turn out a meal lit for a
king. And Bill had been doing it for years, since the campaign against the Wildmen of the Western Steppes. That
was when he’d earned his nickname, fighting with a sword
in one hand and an iron skillet in the other, howling like a
Wildman.
“I’m hungry,” I said.
Bill choked, dropped the nearly empty mug, then turned pale when he saw me. “What?” he croaked. His breath
forced me back a step.
“I’m hungry,” I repeated. “Is breakfast ready yet?”
He glanced around the kitchen slowly, his eyes wide as
if he’d just that moment realized where he was. “Breakfast? No. I mean, yes. There’s some honeyed bread in the
oven, should be done by now.”
He staggered to the brick oven in the wall beside the
great hearth and opened the iron door. Heat flooded the
room, and with it came the fragrance of yeast and honey
and spice. Using a wooden paddle, Bill removed two flattened rounds of golden bread, slid them onto a table top,
went back, and kept taking out rounds until a dozen lay
cooling on the wooden table. He broke one of the first
rounds in half and gave it to me.
I took a bite and smiled. Delicious as always. I’d never
been dissatisfied with his cooking, except last night at the
banquet. The beef had been roasted to tender perfection,
but the stuffing he’d served with it was, well, inappropriate. Made with apples, raisins, and no sage. I’m very
partial to sage. And no poultry had been served, although
the venison had been excellent. I suppose one disappointment in twenty years wasn’t bad.
I left, nibbling on the bread. Instead of heading for the
Goose Chamber, I went up to my room on the second
floor. I needed to talk to my servant, Dale. The fifth son
of a minor noble, Dale was more intelligent than all his
brothers together. I depended on him for information and
insight. Sometimes, he told me things, gossip whispered
among servants, that I’d never hear otherwise.
Dale was waiting for me with a cup of wine. Maybe not
the best thing to have with the honey bread, but my throat
was so dry, I wouldn’t have turned down anything wet.
“What’s the latest gossip among the servants?” I asked,
then stuffed another chunk of bread in my mouth.
“What kind of gossip, Master?” he asked as he cocked
his head. His hair and eyes were chestnut brown, and he
was scarecrow lean.
“Anything recent—surprising, unusual,” I mumbled
around my breakfast. “Anything about anyone connected
with the Goose.”
“Ah.” Dale nodded. “Rumor has it that one of the
Royal Goose Guards recently married and bought property just outside the city.”
I halted in mid-bite and stared at Dale. “A guard?
When? Who?”
“One named Herman. He married about a month ago,
a few days after buying Squire Plantus’s land.”
“But that estate is worth more than a guard makes in
several years!”
Dale smiled and nodded.
I’d better check into Herman’s sudden wealth. “Anything else?”
DRAGON
85
“Of course, Emperor Genyoofar has made no secret he
wanted the Goose or one like it. He envies our wealth.”
Yes, I thought. Genyoofar hap Igdon of the Seventh
Dynasty of the Divinely Blessed Empire of Kolbindi—a
grand title for the puny ruler of an even punier realm—
had tried to wheedle information about the Goose for a
long time. At that moment, Genyoofar was in Basilopolis
for a meeting to discuss the threat posed to both our countries by the Wildmen. Last night’s banquet had been in
his honor.
“Anything else?” I asked.
Dale grinned. “Master Magnus is bedding Marnie
Sieler. I heard she’s having a wedding dress made, which
she expects to use soon.”
The Wizard and the Keeper of the Royal Goose. Another link between the Goose and Arcus.
“One more thing,” Dale said. “One of the servants at
the banquet told me that Morganstern Gleb laughed and
drank a toast when he heard the Goose was dead. His
hands have dozens of scars; the Goose nipped him every
time he collected the eggs.”
Morganstern Gleb, Keeper of the Royal Treasury. I
hadn’t considered him a suspect before. I’d heard him
grumble because he’d had to collect eggs like some farm
boy. Maybe he’d been bitten once too often, his pride
damaged by his menial task. Add him to my list.
“All right,” I said as I washed my sticky hands and
dried them, “I want you to talk to the husbandman. Find
out if Mistress Marnie talked to him during the night, and
if so, how long she was with him. Also, bring the sergeant
of the night watch and the Captain of the Guard when you
return.”
“Yes, Master,” Dale bowed and left.
I looked at my reflection in the polished mirror and
winced. A middle-aged man who’d been up most of the
night wasn’t a pleasing sight. Mirrors should be covered
until midday at least.
The Goose Chamber was my next destination. I went
downstairs, passed the kitchen, and turned the corner. No
guards bracketed the door. No reason for them, now. I
pushed the door open and went inside.
Mistress Marnie was there, sparring with another
goose, the companion of the dead Goose. Geese need to
be with their own kind or they die of loneliness—at least,
that’s what Marnie had told the king. So a second goose
had been purchased at the same time the Goose had been
declared royal property and moved from Marnie’s farm to
the castle.
The companion—a sleek, gray female—was nipping at
Marnie, flapping wildly, and squawking and hissing while
the Keeper tried to loop a rope around the bird’s neck.
Marnie swore at the goose and kicked at it, and the goose
flew out to the garden.
“A most gentle technique,” I said, trying not to grin.
Marnie jumped, cursed again, then turned as red as her
hair when she saw me. “Your Honor, I was trying to remove that . . . beast from the castle, since it’s not needed
anymore.”
“Noisy bird.” I massaged the back of my neck. “Does it
always act like this?”
“No,” Marnie said as she threw the rope to the floor,
86 APRIL 1992
“I’ve never seen it act like this before. It’s usually good
tempered, except when strangers are present.”
“Why didn’t anyone hear the companion when the
Goose was stolen?”
Marnie started. “I . . . don’t know.” I wondered if her
surprise was genuine.
I scanned the room. The pale gray walls and floor were
all smooth stone. There were three doors: one to the corridor, one to the garden, and one to Marnie’s own bedchamber. Two large boxes filled with straw sat in the
center of the room. Nearby was a feed bin and a tub of
water. Straw was scattered across the floor, probably from
the deadly struggle.
I searched the floor, lifting large clumps of straw, moving smaller ones aside with my foot. There were no eggs
in the nest, golden or otherwise, but I found some crushed
and nearly dried leaves in one. I rubbed them between my
fingers and sniffed. Herbs of some kind.
I walked out to the square, walled grassy garden. A
dark purplish-red splotch stained the stone porch, probably where Herman had hit his head. The grass looked
trampled, but that could’ve been from the geese. A small
pond took up the southwestern corner, still shaded by the
castle. The smooth stone walls were high and clear of
vines. Any thief would’ve had to climb over the outer
wall, cross the surrounding courtyard without being spotted by patrols, climb the inner wall to this garden, kill the
goose, and get out the same way. No, I decided, not likely,
especially for several men, if the guards were telling the
truth—which I was certain they weren’t.
To the right, there was a door in the garden wall. I
tugged on the iron ring, then pushed on the door, which
didn’t budge. Looking over my shoulder at Marnie, I
asked, “This leads to the kitchen garden, doesn’t it?”
She nodded. “Sometimes I let the geese go in there.
The king insisted they get to eat what they want from the
garden.”
“Was it usually unlocked?”
“No. Only when the geese were feeding. It was left
open so they could come and go when they wanted.”
“Who besides you has a key?”
Marnie slid her forefinger back and forth across her
lower lip as she gazed at the door. “One for the kitchen
and one for the Goose Guards.”
Three keys. That cut down the possibilities. “You had
yours with you all night?”
“Well . . . no.” She stared at the grass. “I left it on a
peg in my room except when I was using it.”
“Get it.”
She hurried back inside the Goose Chamber while I
examined the door for evidence of force. There was none:
no splintered wood, no pry marks, nothing. If anyone had
come through this way, they hadn’t broken in. Marnie
returned moments later with an iron key. I took it from
her, unlocked the door, and pushed it open.
The kitchen garden was the largest open area inside the
castle walls, except for the courtyard. Several gardeners
were hoeing and watering rows of beans, cabbages,
greens, and herbs. At the far end, a pair of boys picked
plums and peaches from the small orchard, and two women carried baskets of vegetables to the open kitchen door. I
shook my head and sighed. I wouldn’t find signs of any
intruders here. Even if there had been footprints, they
were probably lost in the passing of all the servants.
I walked to the kitchen and found Wild Bill growling
orders to the other cooks and scraping leftover stuffing
into the compost barrel. “Where do you keep the key to
the Goose garden?” I asked.
Bill nearly dropped the bowl he was holding. “Don’t
creep up on me like that! If I’d been holding a knife,
you’d be dead now!”
“I’m sorry,” I said, stepping back a bit. Bill looked as if
he’d been drinking ever since I’d left him. He was formidable sober. I didn’t want to know how dangerous he was
when drunk. “Where do you keep the key to the Goose
garden?”
He pointed to a peg beside the door.
“Anyone could take it from there,” I said.
He kept scraping. “Only if I didn’t see ‘em do it.”
“But anyone could, if you weren’t here.”
“I suppose.”
“How many had the opportunity?”
He was silent a moment. “Let’s see—six undercooks,
four gardeners, two boys, seven serving women, four
drudges, and me.”
Twenty-four people. Wonderful. That narrowed the
possibiiities. “How many of those were in the kitchen last
night?”
“All of ’em,” he said as the last scrap of stuffing fell into
the barrel.“ Because of the banquet. We were working all
yesterday.”
“Did you see anyone come through who shouldn’t have
been here?”
He paused, then shook his head.
“Did anyone here go to the Goose garden regularly?”
Bill dropped the wooden spoon he held, then cursed as
he had to fish it out of the barrel. “Oh, uh, yeah. I took
greens and stuff to the geese sometimes, or I sent one of
the boys in my place. Other than that, no one.”
I sighed and went back through the gardens to the
Goose Chamber. I wanted to see the Goose Guards and
ask about their key. The companion goose was wandering
about the garden, honking and flapping. Noisy creature.
Just as I reached the door, I heard arguing.
“He’ll be back any moment! Now leave!” Marnie
hissed.
“But the Goose—I must have its body! I may be able
breed a new one, and then we will be wealthy beyond
even your dreams.” I recognized the man’s voice: Arcus
Magnus.
“What good would another golden goose be if the king
takes that one, too? I’m almost glad the thing’s dead. It
serves the king right, thief that he is! He stole it from me!
It was mine; he had no right to take it!”
“Kings have the right to do as they wish, my dear,”
Arcus replied. “However, if I can retrieve the Goose’s
body, I may be able to create another, perhaps breed an
entire race of golden-egg-laying geese. Every ruler in the
world would pay to own one. And we would be richer
than any of them.”
I stepped into the room. Marnie and Arcus jumped
guiltily and glanced at each other.
“So,” I said as I watched them shift nervously. “Marnie, you resented that the Goose was taken from you by
royal decree.”
Marnie didn’t say anything.
“The king shouldn’t have taken the Goose, should he?
It was your Goose, your property. You would’ve been
rich, a queen yourself. He had no right to take what belonged to you.”
“No, he didn’t!” Marnie shouted, then clapped her
hand over her mouth. “I mean, yes. Yes, he did. He’s the
king.”
I didn’t stop. “It wasn’t fair, was it? The king stole the
Goose from you. And then he made you its keeper, a servant to a goose! But you found a way to pay him back,
didn’t you? Kill the Goose, take away what he’d taken
from you. You killed the Goose and threw it over the wall,
didn’t you? Didn’t you?”
“No!” Marnie shouted. “I didn’t! But I wish I had! It
might have been worth seeing the king’s face when I admitted it! But I didn’t!”
“Where were you all night?” I held up a hand. “And
don’t tell me you were with the husbandman. I didn’t
believe you the first time.”
“She was with me,” Arcus broke in. I don’t think I’d
ever seen so much color in his face. He almost looked
healthy.
“All night?”
“Yes!”
“Did anyone else see you?”
“I doubt that anyone espied her entering my chambers.
We were most discreet.”
I almost smiled. So discreet that every servant in the
castle knew about the affair. “You were together all
night?”
“Yes.”
I turned to Marnie. “And when you returned, you
found the Goose gone and the guards unconscious on the
porch?”
She glared at me. “Yes.”
She might be telling the truth, but I’d keep her—and
Arcus —on my list. “You are both under arrest for dereliction of duty. Don’t try to leave the castle.”
I’m not certain what Marnie mumbled under her breath
as I left the room, but I’m sure it wasn’t complimentary.
I headed back to my room, hoping Dale had returned. I
was climbing the stairs to my floor when I saw the shadow
of someone tiptoeing up the spiral stair to the next floor,
the guest floor. I followed; I couldn’t help being curious.
As I reached the dimly lit top, I flattened against the
cool stone and peeked around the corner. George the
Goose Guard was just entering Emperor Genyoofar’s
room. I stepped out into the corridor, walked past the
door guards, and entered the room next to the emperor’s.
Being Minister of Justice and half-brother to the king, I
knew all the secret passages in the castle. There was one in
the room next to the guest quarters occupied by Genyoofar. I opened a wardrobe door, entered, and eavesdropped through a disguised opening.
“You fool! Now the Goose is dead, and I have nothing!” Genyoofar’s voice was as puny as his stature, almost
a whine. “I should expose your stupidity to King
DRAGON 87
Cannard!”
“That wouldn’t be smart, Emperor,” George said as
soft as snow. “You’d have t’ tell how you know. And you
couldn’t do that without exposing your part. Do you really want to tell the king you paid me to steal the Goose? I
don’t think you’d leave here alive.”
Genyoofar didn’t reply immediately. “Very well, but if
you ever reveal any of this, I’ll have Delmairin take care
of you.”
I shivered. Delmairin was Genyoofar’s wizard-assassin
and the only force keeping the emperor in power. Black
Del he was called. Even Arcus was wary of him.
“And you remember, Emperor,” George said, “I’ve
hidden evidence of our deal in a safe place. If anything
happens to me, everyone’ll know what you’ve done.”
“Then we will keep our secret.”
“Yes, we will.”
I heard footsteps, then Genyoofar’s door opening and
closing. So, George and Genyoofar had conspired to steal
the Goose. Had Herman found out? Was that why the two
guards had fought? Possible, but not likely. George
would’ve killed Herman to silence him. Or maybe Herman had blackmailed George with the knowledge. Herman’s sudden wealth had to come from somewhere.
I’d have to talk to George and Herman separately, and
I’d have to tell the king that it was time for Genyoofar’s
visit to end. I didn’t trust that imperial snake any farther
than I could throw him.
I headed back to my room and found that Dale had
returned. Beside him, the Captain of the Guard stood
88 APRIL 1992
spear straight. Dale bowed. “As you requested, Master.
The sergeant of the night watch has been sent for. He left
the castle grounds for his home in the town.”
The captain saluted. “You wished to question me?”
I nodded. “You have the key to the door between the
kitchen garden and the Goose garden?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Do you keep it with you always?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Have you ever noticed it missing?”
“No, Your Honor. I even sleep with it around my neck.
It never left my possession.”
Third key accounted for. “Has anything unusual happened among the ranks lately?” I tried to sound careless,
as if making idle conversation.
“Unusual?”
I poured a cup of wine and offered it to the captain,
who refused it. Then I took a sip. “Rumors,” I smiled,
“gossip, anything strange.”
He thought for a few moments. “No, not that might
have anything to do with the Goose . . . except one of the
Goose Guards is leaving. Married about a month ago and
decided to try his luck at farming. I heard he won a lot of
money gambling and bought Squire Plantus’s estate.”
Gambling. I should have such luck. “Thank you, Captain. Please see that no one leaves the castle without my
permission. I need to speak to the sergeant as soon as
possible. Also, I want to see Herman and George, but
separately at first, then together. Can you arrange it?”
“Yes, Your Honor.” He bowed and left.
I turned to Dale and took another sip. “Who do you
think killed the Goose?”
“Who had the most to gain from its death?” he asked.
“Everyone,” I said. “Everyone but you, me, and the
king.”
“Why not the king?”
I gazed at Dale, puzzled. “Why would the king want to
kill the Goose? It brought him more wealth than he’d ever
had.”
“True, but I’ve heard he’s unhappy with his new
wealth.” Dale leaned closer and whispered, “I’ve heard
Treasurer Gleb has shown the king evidence that Basilopolis’ treasury was being depleted almost as fast as the Goose
laid eggs, what with all the extra guards needed to protect
the kingdom from invasion. And goods from other realms
are becoming so inexpensive, merchants and craftsmen of
our country are being driven out of business. Gold is too
common here, and its value is dropping.”
I considered what he’d said. Economics had never been
my strong point. I’d been relieved when I’d been appointed Minister of Justice instead of Keeper of the Treasury.
“So you think the king could’ve been behind a plot to
destroy the Goose?”
Dale shook his head. “I’m saying he had reason to want
the Goose dead. But so did many others. Every ruler in
the world wanted the Goose or wanted it dead.”
More suspects. Just what I needed.
“Oh, the husbandman said Mistress Marnie did come
to talk to him about straw, but it was just after sunset and
only for a few minutes.”
I smiled to myself. A knock at the door startled me.
Dale opened it, and George strode in.
He saluted. “You sent for me?”
“Yes,” I stammered. “I’m surprised to see you so
quickly.”
“I met the captain downstairs. He said you wanted to
see me, so I came straight here.”
“Ah.” I nodded at Dale, who bowed and retreated to
the inner chamber. “Now . . . how long has Herman been
blackmailing you?”
George jerked. “Blackmailing me? Why would he do
that?”
“He found out you were working for the Emperor of
Kolbindi.”
The guard turned milk white. He started to say something, but no sound came.
“Herman found out, didn’t he? And he threatened to
turn you in if you didn’t pay him. You’ve been giving him
money to keep quiet. That’s how he had the money to buy
the land and marry. What happened? Did you stop paying? Is that why you fought?”
“No . . . I . . .no.” George started to sweat. “It wasn’t
like that. He wasn’t blackmailing me. He didn’t know
about the emperor.”
“Then where did the money come from?”
He hesitated, then his shoulders sagged and he hung his
head. “From the Goose.”
“What?”
“We took eggs from the Goose,” he mumbled. “Not
often, only when it laid two and when Marnie wasn’t
there. We’d agreed not to spend the money until we retired in a few more months. But Herman wanted some
girl from the town.” George cursed under his breath.
“She wouldn’t marry him if he didn’t have a house and
land and enough money to keep her. So he used his part to
buy Plantus’s land, then married the girl. I told him he
was a fool.
“Last night, he said he needed more money. I told him
he’d have to wait ’til the Goose laid another egg. He said
he couldn’t wait that long. He needed the money now. I
said he couldn’t make the Goose lay another egg, and he
said that I could give him some money. I told him no. He
said if I didn’t, he’d tell the captain I’d been stealing eggs
an’ I’d be hanged as a traitor.”
“And that’s when you fought.”
George nodded slowly. “I told him he’d hang, too, but
that didn’t make any difference to him. He wanted the
money, that was all that mattered. But we didn’t kill the
Goose. We fought in the garden. He knocked me out, and
I don’t know what happened after that. Marnie said she
found Herman on the porch, his head bleeding. He said
he fell and hit his head, and I guess it’s true. I don’t know
who killed the Goose.”
I looked at George silently. I didn’t believe that he or
Herman had killed the Goose either, but I didn’t know
who had. “About what time was it you fought?”
“Sometime after sunset. It was dark.”
“You may go now.” I paused as he saluted and turned
to leave. “And I think you and Herman should resign
from the guard today. I don’t want you here in the morning, or the king will hear the whole story.”
George faltered for a moment, then proceeded out the
door.
Dale came back.“ So, if it wasn’t Herman or George,
who was it?”
I rubbed a cramp from my shoulder. “I still don’t
know. I have to talk to the sergeant first, then I’ll talk to a
few more people. I’d love a few hours of sleep.”
The corner of Dale’s mouth twitched. “Perhaps later,
after you’ve solved life’s great mystery.”
I gulped the rest of my wine and immediately regretted
it. Wine on a nearly empty stomach is a recipe for nausea.
I was feeling better by the time the sergeant of the night
watch arrived. He looked as if he felt as good as I did.
He bowed awkwardly, as if stiff or sore. “You sent for
me, Your Honor?”
“Yes. Did you notice anyone on the walls last night who
wasn’t supposed to be there, anyone not usually present?”
He thought for a moment. “No . . . no one I’d find
suspicious.” He frowned slightly, then continued. “No one
I hadn’t seen before.”
“No reports of noise or shadows or anything?”
“No, it was quiet.”
“Who walked the north wall last night?”
“Nob, Cully, and me.”
“You heard nothing? Saw no one?”
“No one unusual.”
“Well, did you see anyone usual?”
He looked uncomfortable. Maybe I was getting somewhere.
“Who was it?” I asked.
“Your Honor, I don’t rat on other soldiers.”
Ah. A soldier. “George?” No response. “Herman?”
Still no response. I didn’t want to list every soldier in the
Guard. “Sergeant, if you don’t tell me, you can explain
yourself to the king. And he won’t be as understanding as
I am.”
The soldier’s hands clenched, and his eyes turned flint
cold. “He can’t help himself. Sometimes, he walks the
walls like he was still a real guard. Sometimes, he’s just
sick and heaves his guts up over the wall. But he can’t
help it. Drink’s got a hold on him and won’t let go.”
“Who?” I asked.
He looked at me, his eyes almost pleading. “Wild Bill.”
Wild Bill? “He was on the wall last night?”
The sergeant nodded.
“When?”
“After midnight sometime.”
After midnight. The feast was in progress then. Marnie
was with Arcus. Herman and George were unconscious.
Morganstern Gleb, Emperor Genyoofar, and the king
were at the banquet. The banquet where there’d been no
poultry, in spite of Genyoofar’s known preference for
goose. Where the stuffing had been made with apples and
no sage and . . . I reached in my pocket, pulled out the
herbs I’d found in the Goose’s nest, and sniffed them
again. Marjoram—the same aroma as the stuffing . . .
poultry stuffing. Poultry stuffing with beef roast. I sank
down into my seat, stunned. My voice a whisper, I said,
“Thank you, Sergeant. You may go.”
“He won’t get in trouble, will he, Your Honor?”
“You may go,” I repeated.
“Yes, Your Honor.”
DRAGON
89
I left moments after the sergeant did. When I reached
the kitchen, Bill was dragging the compost barrel outside.
“Bill,” I said softly.
“I have to get this outside,” he said, his words slurred
as much by ale as by effort.
“Bill, I know.”
The cook stopped struggling with the barrel and looked
straight at me. His dark eyes were watery. “Know?”
“Yes, I know.” I held out the herbs. “Poultry stuffing
with beef.”
He braced his thick arms on the rim, hung his head,
and cried. I ordered everyone else from the kitchen, then
put my arm around Bill’s shoulders. “Why did you kill
the Goose?”
“I didn’t mean to,” he sobbed. “I’d been busy with the
banquet, checking sauces, baking pies, stewing fruit,
roasting the venison and beef. I’d already made the stuffing before I realized I hadn’t got a goose. It was too late
to get one from town. Market was already closed. Then I
remembered the companion goose. Figured I could replace it later.
“I waited ’til no one was watchin’, then I went through
the garden gate. It was dark, and I didn’t see Marnie or
anyone else. I crept into the nest. The geese were sleeping. Thought I knew which nest was which ‘cause I often
brought greens to the geese . . . but I was drunk. Grabbed
90 APRIL 1992
a goose and broke its neck quickly; didn’t want it to suffer.
“Wasn’t ’til I saw the goose in the light coming from
the kitchen, I realized what I’d done. Couldn’t take the
dead Goose into the kitchen—everyone knew what it
looked like. Had t’ get rid of it, so I stuffed it in a bag and
hid it in the garden. Later, I took the bag with me to the
wall and dumped it over. Didn’t know it’d be found so
soon. Didn’t mean to kill it, just the companion. I didn’t
mean it.”
No grand conspiracies, no intrigues, just a drunken
mistake. I stood there looking at him, not knowing what
to do next. I’d proved the peasant boy Thom was innocent, but what about Bill? I could talk to the king and
explain the situation. Wild Bill deserved better than disgrace. He’d saved the king’s life numerous times and had
been the hero of the war with the Wildmen.
Maybe I could get Bill a pardon, especially if I explained it was an accident and emphasized the benefits to
the economy, such as cutbacks in spending for the army.
And now that I thought about it, Squire Plantus’s estate
would be just the place for a veteran soldier and Royal
Cook to retire. I smiled to myself. I don’t think Herman
would dare complain.
Yes, I’d talk to the king. After all, being the king’s half
brother does have its advantages.
NEW PRODUCTS FOR
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Product No.: 2126
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AD&D® 2nd Edition game accessory
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The bard is part wandering minstrel and part
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AD&D® game SPELLJAMMER™
boxed set
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NEW PRODUCTS FOR MAY
GAMMA WORLD® game, 4th Edition
Role-playing game rule book
by Bruce Nesmith
The classic TSR science-fantasy game is back,
92 APRIL 1992
and it’s better than ever! For the uninitiated, the
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New features contained in the 192-page book
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MHR1 X-Forces: The Mutant Update
MARVEL SUPER HEROES™ game accessory
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Useful on its own, or as a supplement to TSR’s
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Welcome to the realm of dread. The
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This appendix to the popular Monstrous
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Assault on Raven’s Ruin
D&D® game module
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The Maelstrom’s Eye
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The Oath and the Measure
DRAGONLANCE® Saga Meetings Sextet,
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by Michael Williams
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Product No.: 8343
Unless otherwise noted:
® designates registered trademarks owned by TSR, inc.
™ designates trademarks owned by TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
MARVEL SUPER HEROES™ and all Marvel characters and
the distinctive names and likenesses thereof are trademarks
of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. and are used with
permission.
DRAGON 93
Wear Your
Best Suit!
by Justin Mohareb
Color by Steve Sullivan
Advanced armored battlesuit rules for the
MARVEL SUPER HEROES™ game
Scenario one (from the Iron Man comic
book): Tony Stark, as Iron Man, fights
Firepower and receives several damaging
blows. Tony is beaten senseless and has his
armor nearly destroyed, so he has to fly
warily to his nearby helicopter.
Scenario two (from the MARVEL SUPER
HEROES™ game): Tony Stark, as Iron Man,
fights Firepower and receives several
damaging blows. Tony is beaten senseless
and flies his undamaged armor at top
speed to his nearby helicopter.
Notice the difference? In the MARVEL
SUPER HEROES game, armored battlesuit
combat should be handled differently to
reflect damage incurred to the armor
during combat, and to better represent
the unusual abilities of an armored hero.
The system in this article showcases an
alternate method of generating and playing high-tech armored characters.
Creating armored heroes
This article assumes that you have MA3
The Ultimate Powers Book. If you don’t,
simply use the Players’ Book from the
Advanced Set rules, selecting the powers
you think are reproducible by machinery
or electronics. Using this system, armored
heroes are rolled up using column 2 (“Normal Folks”) of the character-generation
table, not column 3 (“High Technology”) as
in both the Ultimate Powers Book or the
Advanced Set rules). These abilities are the
character’s normal levels. This is to reflect
that the character is a normal human
wearing an armored suit that supplies him
with his super powers.
Judges may wish to allow a character to
increase his physical stats when wearing
DRAGON 95
the armor by rolling once on Table 1 here,
then dividing the results among the hero’s
four physical abilities (FASE). Note that the
ability scores indicated when the character adds the modifiers to his personal
attributes reflect the benefits of the armor
only when it is being worn. For example, a
character whose Strength is Typical (6),
with a + 3CS modifier for the armor,
might add +1CS, +2CS, or +3CS to his
Strength, or he might not increase his
Strength at all, preferring to divide + 3CS
among his other three physical statistics.
If the character created his own armor,
he also receives a + 1CS to his Reason, a
+ 1CS to his Electronics talent, and another + 1CS to repair and modify his
personal armor. If the character receives
the armor from someone else, it is assumed that the original owner or people
he knows (all NPCs) can repair it. In the
latter case, the hero would not receive any
of the Reason bonuses above, though he
could receive training later on, at the
Judge’s discretion.
The character then rolls up the number
of his armored suit’s powers, using the
usual tables in the Ultimate Powers Book
or the Advanced Set rules. This character
automatically has Body Armor at Excellent
(20) rank, though this can be increased
(see the note under “Defensive powers,”
which follows). When the character’s
powers are determined, a special power
rank called Armor Endurance is also created. This is usually called ECM (electronic
96 APRIL 1992
countermeasures) and is used against
attempts to control the armor from outside sources.
Because of their nature, armored heroes
can use only certain powers that could be
technology based. A suggested list of these
powers, from the Ultimate Powers Book, is
given here:
Defensive powers: Body Armor (already
taken but can be taken again; + 1CS each
time this is chosen as a power), Force
Field, Reflection, Resistance to Energy
Attacks, Resistance to Physical Attacks.
Detection powers: Circular Vision, Energy Detection, Hypersensitive Hearing,
Hypersensitive Touch, Life Detection
Microscopic Vision, Penetration Vision,
Radarsense, Sonar, Telescopic Vision, Thermal Vision, Ultraviolet Vision.
Energy Control powers: Electrical Control, Energy Sponge, Hard Radiation Control, Magnetic Manipulation.
Energy Emission powers: All except for
Energy Doppelganger.
Fighting powers: Weapons Creation.
Illusory powers: Illusion-Casting, Illusory
Duplication.
Life Control powers: Sleep—Induced.
Magical powers: None.
Matter Control powers: Bonding,
Machine Animation.
Matter Conversion powers: Disintegration.
Matter Creation powers: Missile Creation, Spray, Webcasting.
Mental Enhancement powers: Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Communicate With
Cybernetics, Danger Sense, Speechthrowing, Total Memory. (These powers
are not mental powers per se, but are
technological versions of mental powers.)
Physical Enhancement powers: HyperSpeed, Lung Adaptability, Stealth,
Waterbreathing, Water Freedom.
Power Control powers: None.
Self Alteration powers: Blending,
Invisibility.
Travel powers: Gliding, Hyper-Digging,
Hyper-Leaping, Hyper-Running, HyperSwimming, and Rocket.
Players can choose their armor’s powers
from this list. If you find this list to be too
limiting, just use your imagination, The
cornerstone of super-hero gaming is the
use of powers in new ways,
Once the powers for the battlesuit have
been selected, rolls are made on Table 2
for the power rank of each power. These
rolls are not modified, with the exception
of Body Armor (as previously noted). Also
generate a power rank for Armor Endurance at this point.
Damaging armor
To add depth to armored combat, each
power—including Body Armor—and each
of the FASE ability modifiers is then assigned a number as part of a random-roll
table. These numbers will determine
which of the armor’s systems are damaged
when an attack exceeds the suit’s Body
Armor (or applicable Force Fields, etc.) by
more than + 1CS, as noted later. The numbers should be arranged so as they can be
rolled on a simple die: 1d8, 1d10, 1d12,
etc. Optionally, assign two or more numbers on such a table to a power that would
have a greater chance of being damaged,
like Body Armor or Flight, depending on
your vision of the character’s armored suit
and the placement of his weaponry and
equipment.
We now get to the raison d’etre for this
expanded system: armored suit combat.
Every time the character is in combat and
receives a blow that inflicts more damage
than his Body Armor rank, the character
takes damage equal to the amount of
damage minus the amount absorbed by his
body armor. For example, if a hero has
Remarkable (30) Body Armor and is hit by
an Incredible (40) rank Force bolt, the
hero takes 10 points of damage (40 30 = 10). This is per the normal rules.
If the damage is 2CS or more than the
Body Armor rank, the character takes the
appropriate damage, and percentile dice
are then rolled on the rank of the attack
- 4CS to determine if the character’s armor was damaged by the attack. For ex-
ample, if the hero as above with
Remarkable (30) Body Armor was punched
by a villain possessing Amazing (50)
Strength, the hero would take 20 points of
damage and would roll 1d100 on the Good
(10) column (50 -4CS = 10). If the result is
red, then roll on Table 3.
Energy attacks are a special case, as
Body Armor is 20 points less effective
against energy attacks than against physical ones. When a hero is hit by an Energy
attack capable of breaching the armor’s
reduced rank vs. Energy attacks, the character must follow the procedure for determining armor damage from physical
attacks as before. Armored heroes can
take Resistance to Energy Attacks to cover
this weakness.
Repairing damage
Fixing damaged armor is relatively simple. The hero must make a Reason FEAT
roll to make the proper repairs correctly.
A Resources FEAT roll might be called for
as well, to see if the hero can afford to
make the repairs. Other strictures can be
applied to the roll at the Judge’s whim.
It is often a good idea for the Judge to
make the Reason FEAT roll for the hero in
secret. That way, if the roll is a failure by a
narrow margin—say, within five points of
the number needed for success—the hero
may mistakenly believe that his armor is
repaired when it actually might fail at an
important moment. This is a nasty thing to
do, but I leave the decision whether or not
to use this up to each Judge.
powers can be added, up to the maximum
number that was determined at creation,
by spending 3,000 Karma for each, plus 10
times the starting rank number for that
power (this is also the formula by which
robots can add powers). Power advancement is done normally, by spending 10
points times the current rank plus 500
points for cresting from one rank to
another.
A Reason FEAT roll should be called for,
with the difficulty equal to the new rank,
if an old power is being advanced to a
new, higher rank or if a new power is set
at its starting level. A Resource FEAT roll
might also be needed to see if the hero has
the cash to perform the modifications.
The Judge should make his own rulings
on how to do the “total makeover” that’s so
popular with armored heroes, including
such things as resetting Popularity to zero,
upping appropriate powers and FASE
abilities one rank, or adding new things.
This should cost a great deal: about 10,000
Karma points, a high Resource FEAT roll
(Amazing or better), and access to hightech equipment or a high (Incredible or
better) Reason FEAT roll. (This is, of
course, up to the individual Judge.) All
other forms of advancement are performed normally.
Creativity is the key to any successful
and enjoyable role-playing game. This
system can only get you started on the
way. Where you go now is up to you.
Marvel’s characters and the distinctive names and likenesses
thereof are trademarks of Marvel Entertainment Group. Inc.
and are used with permission. Copyright ©1992 Marvel
Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Table 3
Armor Damage Table
1d100
01-20
21-40
41-65
66-90
91-94
95-98
99-00
Damage result
One power is at - 2CS
One FASE ability modifier is at - 2CS
One power is inoperative
All powers are at - 1CS
All FASE ability modifiers are - 1CS
All FASE ability modifiers and powers are at -2CS
Massive systems overload. All FASE ability modifiers are at - 2CS,
and all powers, with the exception of one (of the player’s choice) are
inoperative
Armored advancement
The player may, at some point in his
hero’s career, attempt to modify the hero’s
armor by adding new powers. Armor
Table 1
Armor Modifiers for FASE
Abilities
1d100
01-10
11-20
21-45
46-75
76-95
96-00
Result
Unchanged
+1CS
+2CS
+3CS
+4CS
+5CS
Table 2
Power Rank Generation Table
1d100
01-05
06-10
11-20
21-40
41-55
56-80
81-95
96-00
Power rank
Feeble (2)
Poor (4)
Typical (6)
Good (10)
Excellent (20)
Remarkable (30)
Incredible (40)
Amazing (50)
DRAGON 97
98 APRIL 1992
A new way to roll for random encounters
by Jerold M. Stratton
Artwork by Mark Doney
The standard ways of making a wandering monster encounters table—the 2d10
and the 1d100 methods—often require a
lot of figure juggling to make sure that no
encounter appears too often or not often
enough. They don’t provide much variety
in encounter, either, and it can be very
hard to simply look at such tables and
know what creatures inhabit the area.
I developed a new method of creating
wandering monster tables to alleviate
these problems. First, I divided up encounters into the following types:
—Civilized peoples
—Humanoid creatures
—Harmless encounters
—Animals
—Fantastic creatures
These divisions depend heavily upon the
mindset of the major local cultures. The
distinction between civilized peoples (humans, elves, dwarves, etc) and humanoid
creatures (orcs, goblins, trolls, etc) is a
good example of this. If you are creating
tables for a culture that does not make
that distinction, your table should not
make the distinction either.
Let’s fill out a sample encounters table.
Table 1 is for a rural area in my campaign,
between the Low Road and the Long
Lakes. I can see at a glance who lives here.
The adventurers are twice as likely to
meet a humanoid than members of a
civilized race, and most of their encounters will be with normal animals.
Let’s go further and fill out Table 2 for
civilized peoples. This table stores a lot of
information. When I look at it a month
after creating it, I will remember these
salient facts:
1. Adventurers are very rare.
2. Only humans have settlements in this
area.
3. Halflings, elves, and dwarves do not
reside here. They travel through often,
though, in groups of 1-20. Halflings and
elves are more common than dwarves.
The human subtable, Table 3, comes
next. From this table, I see that most of the
inhabitants of the area live in groups—a
couple of farms or a village. Thieves are
present but not common. There are shapechangers in the area; “masquerader” is
local lingo for supernatural creatures
disguised as humans.
What masqueraders live in the area? We
Table 1
Rural Area Encounters
Table 2
Civilized Peoples
1d100
01-10
11-30
31-46
1d100
01-65
66-78
79-90
91-97
98-00
47-91
92-00
Encounter
Civilized peoples (see Table 2)
Humanoids (see Table 5)
Harmless encounters (see
Table 7)
Animals (see Table 8)
Fantastic creatures (see
Table 10)
Table 4
Masqueraders
1d100
01-50
51-68
69-88
89-95
96-97
98-99
00
Encounter (number)
Werewolf (1)
Werebear (1)
Wererat (1)
Wereleopard (1)
Vampires (1d4 -2*)
Dopplegangers (1d8 - 4*)
Gold dragon (1)
* Minimum of 1.
Encounter (number)
Humans (see Table 3)
Halflings (1d20)
Elves (1d20)
Dwarves (1d20)
Adventurers (2d6 - 1)
check Table 4. Most of these encounters
are with lone creatures. Even vampires
and dopplegangers usually travel alone.
The advantages of this type of table are
obvious, as each table holds information. If
I want to know about humans in an area, I
look at the human table. If I want to know
which giants are in the area, I look at the
giants table. I don’t need to search through
one list and hope that I spot all of them,
nor do I need to keep a separate reference
explaining which creatures are in the area.
The table suffices.
I can also create one of these tables
quickly. While I might not know how often
I want pegasi showing up, I do have a
good idea how often I want “fantastic”
creatures showing up, so I can create the
main table very easily and work down. In
the end, there is greater variety with these
tables than with simpler tables.
I’ve reproduced the rest of this set of
tables as a guideline. Remember that I
designed these tables specifically for my
own campaign; you will want to design
your own tables for your campaign
areas.
Table 3
Humans
1d100
01-30
31-55
56-62
63-64
65-71
72
73-76
Table 5
Humanoids
1d100
01-35
36-67
68-73
74-78
79-89
90-00
Encounter (number)
Goblins (2d20)
Hobgoblins (1d20)
Trolls (1d6 -2*)
Orcs (1d20)
Giants (see Table 6)
Cyclopskin (1d6)
* Minimum of 1.
77-98
99-00
Encounter (number)
1d8 farms (2d4 people each)
Small village (1d6 x 10
people)
Large village (1d100 + 30
people)
Inn/tavern (1d8 workers)
Brigands (1d20 brigands)
Caravan (5d10 merchants
and guards)
Merchants (1d10 merchants
and guards)
Travelers (1d10 people)
Masqueraders (see Table 4)
Table 6
Giants
1d100
01-70
71-99
00
Encounter (number)
Hill giants (1d10)
Stone giants (1d4)
Storm giant (1)
DRAGON 99
Table 7
Harmless Encounters
Table 10
Fantastic Creatures
Table 13
Faerie Folk
1d100
01-30
1d100
01-07
08-16
17-23
24-25
26-27
28-31
32-34
35-42
43
44-47
1d100
01-13
14-20
21-31
32-36
37-38
39-44
31-48
49-59
60-65
66-90
91-94
95
96
97-00
Encounter
Small stream in path
(1d6 +4 feet wide)
Swarm of insects/flock of
birds
Strange noise
No noise
Lake/pond ((5d10) x 100
feet across)
Unmarked tomb
Part of animal skeleton
Human skeleton
Remains of small settlement
48-54
55-60
61-84
85-99
00
Encounter (number)
Griffon (1)
Hippogriffs (1d2)
Wyverns (1d6)
Chimera (1)
Unicorns (1d6 - 4)
Hellhounds (1d4)
Pegasi (1d2)
Perytons (1d6)
Beholder (1), from south
Carrion crawler (1d20 - 10),
from Deep Forest
Giant spiders (1d10)
Giant bats (1d20)
Undead (see Table 11)
Faerie folk (see Table 13)
Dragon (see Table 14)
45-58
59-67
68-79
80-89
90-00
Encounter (number)
Fossergrim* (3d4)
Sylphs (1d2)
Brownies (1d20)
Dryads—Tree* (1d6)
Dryads—Rock* (1d4)
Nymphs (1d10); satyrs
nearby 60% of the time
Pixies (1d100)
Satyr (1d8); nymphs nearby
10% of the time
Leprechauns (1d6 - 2 **)
Sprites (1d10 - 6**)
Nereids (1d10)
* Special creature of author’s creation.
* * Minimum of 1.
Table 8
Animals
1d100
01-05
06-07
08-10
11-15
16-26
27-29
30-36
37-45
46-47
48-50
51-52
53-54
55-60
61-63
64-68
69-70
71-75
76-80
81-88
89
90-91
92-93
94-95
96-99
00
Encounter (number)
Badgers (1d8 -4*)
Bull (1)
Cattle (1d20)
Dogs (1d8 -2*)
Herd animals (1d20)
Horses (1d6)
Stags (1d4)
Wolves (2d6)
Wolverines (1d10)
Bats* * (1d100)
Eagles (1d10)
Goats (2d10)
Owls (1d2)
Ravens (1d6)
Rats (2d10 - 1*)
Rams (1d4 - 1*)
Skunks (1d4 - 2*)
Snakes (see Table 9)
Squirrels (1d20)
Vultures (1d4)
Weasels (1d2)
Leopards (1)
Wildcats (1d3)
Black widows (1d8)
Dire wolves* * * (2d4)
* Minimum of 1.
* * At night only; normal flock of birds
in daytime.
* * * At night or in wintertime only;
normal pack of dogs otherwise.
Table 9
Snakes
1d100
01-20
21-29
30-80
81-94
95-99
00
Encounter (number)
Blue racers * (1d4 - 2 * *)
Copperheads* (1d8 - 4 * *)
Garter snakes* (1d4)
Water snakes* (1d20 - 10 * *)
Rattlers* (1d10 - 6**)
Huge snake* (1), from south
* Special creature of author’s creation.
* * Minimum of 1.
Table 14
Dragons
Table 11
Undead
1d100
01-02
03-05
06-15
16-17
18-20
21-24
25-39
40-44
45-49
50-69
70-00
Encounter (number)
Groaning spirit (1)
Vampires (1d8 - 6*)
Ghouls (1d20)
Zombie, on mission (1)
Spectre (1)
Wraith (1)
Werecreature (see Table 12)
Wight (1d6)
Ghost (1)
Poltergeist (1)
Phantom (1d100 - 80*)
* Minimum of 1.
Table 12
Werecreatures
1d100
01-50
51-70
71-90
91-00
Encounter (number)
Werewolf (1d6 -4*)
Wererat (1d10- 4 *)
Werebear (1d2)
Wereleopard (1d8 - 6 *)
* Minimum of 1.
1d100
01-48
49-70
71-90
91-98
99
Encounter (number)
Green dragon (1)
Red dragon (1)
White dragon (1)
Gold dragon (1)
Black dragon (1)
Blue dragon (1)
By Barbara Manui & Chris Adams
102 APRIL 1992
By Larry F. Schoettmer
DRAGON 103
104
APRIL 1992
DRAGON
105
108 APRIL 1992
DRAGON
109
110 APRIL 1992
By Elizabeth Hurlbut
©1992 by Robert Bigelow
Photos and painting by Mike Bethke
Little deceptions:
decoys in miniatures war games
Real Scud or fake Scud?
The air campaign over Iraq during the
Persian Gulf war was credited with being
the major reason that the ground war was
so short and relatively bloodless for Coalition forces. However, this massive effort
raised a number of questions. Why did the
U.S. Air Force downplay its success halfway through the campaign, after showing
us video after video of successful target
strikes? Why did the estimates of target
destruction and numbers of destroyed
vehicles decrease, with reports becoming
more guarded as the sorties increased?
One last question was paramount in many
people’s minds: If Coalition planes are
destroying all those Scud missiles,
launchers, and sites, how are the Iraqis
still managing to launch Scuds in areas
where Coalition aircraft rule the skies?
The answer to most of these questions can
be answered in one word—decoys!
The Iraqi military proved to be much
more sophisticated in the art of camouflage and decoy-use than anyone in the
Coalition had previously thought. Decoys
can be made to resemble any prime mili112 APRIL 1992
tary target in existence today. With
heaters and weak electronic emitters,
decoys give off a “signature” that can fool
thermal and electronic sensors and give
the enemy readings expected of a real
target. It is especially difficult for modern
jets to distinguish decoys from real vehicles, as the jets travel so fast that visual
sighting is useless and only heat or electronic imaging is available. Even “slow”
aircraft that travel under the speed of
sound have trouble, as many decoys are
indistinguishable from the real things
except on close inspection.
Additionally, decoys are relatively cheap.
In many cases, very good decoys cost
under $50,000. While this may sound
expensive to you or me, compare this to a
Miniatures’ product ratings
*
**
***
****
*****
Poor
Below average
Average
Above average
Excellent
tank that can cost over a million dollars
even for a poor one, or to artillery pieces
that may cost several hundred thousand
dollars each. There is a substantial savings
when these decoys are destroyed by weapons costing nearly as much as their targets. Worse, even satellites frequently
cannot tell the difference between decoys
and real vehicles. You thus have reasons to
hesitate before making claims about target
destruction—and when equipment seems
to pop up immediately after being destroyed, sticking your neck out with
claims of equipment kills seems like a
really bad idea.
The Iraqi troops also made good use of
fabric, paint, and wood framing to create
illusions of damage where there wasn’t
any and to cover damage where there
was. This camouflage forced pilots to hit
targets, even those previously hit multiple
times and destroyed, to make sure that
those targets were really out of action.
Paint jobs depicting cracks and bomb
craters also made buildings or runways
appear to be seriously damaged. The perceived damage caused mission briefers to
classify a target as destroyed even though
it was barely damaged and still functional.
There is now evidence that this occurred
on a large scale and that Iraq learned its
lessons from outside sources and the
combatants of World War II. During World
War II, whole cities, industries, and military targets in Britain, Germany, Japan,
and the U.S.A. “disappeared” through the
magic of paint and screens. These targets
turned into blocks of housing, parks,
rivers, or even lakes to confuse potential
bombers or recon flights.
We see now that intelligence officers and
photo readers did not have an easy job
confirming the destruction of actual targets. Without large intelligence networks
or fifth columns in place, such as the
resistance movements in many occupied
nations in World War II, success is difficult
to confirm without close visual inspection.
This cannot be held against anyone and
just means that you have to hit the targets
over and over again and force your pilots
to take higher and higher risks as they fly
in lower for a confirmed kill.
The use of decoys and the need to gather accurate combat intelligence can serve
as the basis for a miniatures or roleplaying game using TSR’s TOP SECRET/
S.I.™ or SNIPER™ games, GDW’s
TWILIGHT: 2000* rules, or many other
military games. The GM should set up a
base that has several identical weapon
sites and hard points, of which only a few
are actual units and the rest are decoys.
These units can be distinguished only by
contact with the unit or from very close
proximity. All the positions should be
covered by guards and weapon pits. The
party of infiltrators has the job of deciding
which units are real in preparation for an
air strike to come later. This can be challenging for both players and GMs.
Reviews
Lance & Laser Models Inc.
P.O. Box 14491
Columbus OH 43214
Lance & Laser is a small company that
produces a number of well-done figures
that appeal to a lot of people. It seems to
allow its sculptors a wider scope than
most companies, and a number of miniatures have been produced. that appear to
have limited uses or are different from
what we are used to. I purposely said
“appear” to have limited uses, because on
closer examination a wide variety of uses
can be found. To prove this, let’s examine a
couple of the pieces.
134 Wall of Skulls
*****
This would definitely appear to be a
limited-use figure. The miniature consists
of a 38 mm × 11 mm × 20 mm pile of skulls
carefully piled one on top of another, with
vacant eye sockets staring outward. The
pile is three to five skulls in height, and
the skulls go all the way around in an long
oval shape. The ends are held in place by
bones and wooden stakes tied with rope
and braced by more bones. No lower jaws
are on any of the skulls.
No mold lines are visible except on the
sides of the base, and the skulls are well
defined and separate from each other
except where they are joined into the
“wall.” The skulls have varying degrees of
damage, ranging from dents and cracks to
holes of the kind inflicted by large blunt
objects and crossbow bolts. All of the
skulls whose crowns are visible have
ridges and cracks typical of human anatomy, and a few have ridges such as would
be common for a fantasy orc.
This wall can be used as a boundary
marker at the edge of a forbidden or
mysterious country. It could serve as a
good anchor for a gate to a necromancer’s
keep or the entrance to a graveyard. A
game master could spread panic among
players whose characters discover this
wall outside the entrance to a dungeon
that they have visited, letting the adventurers figure out who or what could have
set the skulls out so neatly. It could also be
a backdrop for an undead diorama. This
piece is recommended at $1.75.
135 Ghost
****
Ghosts hold a particular fascination for
most people and a terror for most player
characters. Fortunately, you don’t run into
many of these creatures in a fantasy roleplaying game, but this is a good example of
one that you might someday meet.
This ghost rises from an oval base that
represents a grave site. In the rear corner
is a cracked and weathered tombstone
with a semilegible epitaph. A fringe of
grass surrounds the tombstone and gives
way to hard, flat land. The ghost rises
from his grave in a swirl of robes, standing over 40 mm tall and looking like an
undead tornado. A skeletal rib cage shows
through the robes, bony hands protrude
from the sleeves, and a grinning skull
shows from beneath an overhanging hood.
This figure will require a little work.
The bottom of the base is uneven, causing
it to rock slightly. This can be easily fixed
by filing the base, but you’ll have to be
careful not to trim too much. A very evident mold line runs around the figure’s
front and back halves (the mold line in this
case was more of a groove), but this is also
easily cleaned up with a sharp knife and a
little filing.
The figure has some restrictions in location because of the tombstone, but you
can ignore it and use the figure anywhere.
This is recommended at $1.40 each.
Thunderbolt Mountain
Miniatures
656 East McMillan
Cincinnati OH 45206-1991
Thunderbolt Mountain
Miniatures
70 Harcourt Street
Newark, Nottingham
UNITED KINGDOM NG 241 R4
1012 Rampaging Red Dragon
*****
Among the newest releases from Thunderbolt Mountain is a new series of dragons done in Thunderbolt’s unique style.
First in this new series is a red dragon
throwing a temper tantrum. The figure is
made of lead and scaled for 25 mm. The
kit contains 11 pieces, including the onepiece base, all of which must be assembled
using the instructions and a little care. The
miniature measures over 210 mm from
nose to tail, and each wing is over 150
from wing root to the first outside claw.
The base is 58 mm × 8 mm and has a
barren-rock formation molded onto the
top, including some rocks that act as the
support for the dragon. No vegetation is
present.
This dragon presents the image of being
truly upset in every way. It is perched on
its right rear leg and the base of its tail as
if lunging forward to attack with all three
remaining feet. The front feet have the
claws nearly fully extended, while the
back foot makes a swiping maneuver. The
mouth is open, with its tongue fully extended and teeth clearly visible. The nosDRAGON 113
trils are flared, and bony crests protect
slitted eyes just behind the twisting horns.
This figure has excellent scale detail, with
clearly defined edge separations and depressions. Spinal ridges extend from head
to mid-tail, with some rising to very long
points. The large wings are partially folded and swept back, but appear to be
poised for instant use
The model assembles fairly easily. No
flash was present except for small bits of
lead, at the tips of some of the claws, that
almost fell off on their own. The fit on the
parts is very good except for the rear legs,
which need light trimming in the socket
and a little filling when done. The wings
required a little filling after they have
been put on, and I recommend the use of
epoxy or small pins in the ball joint on the
wings for added strength, letting each part
dry completely before moving on.
This is an excellent model. I believe the
small problems on my model might not
exist on others, and this may be due to the
slight shrinkage of some parts. You should
have some experience with metal kits if
you want a high-quality finished model,
but this kit is suitable for beginners thanks
to the close fit of most parts. A good kit,
this is highly recommended even at
$26.95.
Wargames Inc.
Box 278
Triadelphia WV 26059
This month, we welcome another line of
figures to the review column—Metal Magic. This line is produced in Germany and
includes a large number of different fantasy and SF figures that are marketed in the
U.S. by Wargames Inc., which many of you
have probably seen at major gaming conventions. This month, we’ll review two
figures from this line.
C1037a Monster (Female Centaur
****½
with Bow)
This figure is made of lead and is in true
25 mm scale. The horse body measures 20
mm tall and 25 mm long from chest to
flank, with a tail extending beyond that.
Muscle detail is good, with only a few
angular areas. Joint and vein detail is
visible on the legs, with a fringe of long
curly hair just above the hooves. The tail
hangs down and curls slightly at the end,
and individual strand detail is good. The
horse body is slightly undersized for a
centaur, but not obviously so; this could be
explained by the fact that this is a female
114 APRIL 1992
A very noticeable mold line across the
back can be removed by a healthy fingernail without damage to the model. Some
mold lines are also on the inside of the
rear legs, and care should be taken when
cleaning and smoothing these areas.
The human half extends another 16 mm
up from the horse body. A fur-trimmed
quiver of arrows on her right side is held
by a chain belt; in her right hand she
carries a short bow, and her left arm is
covered by a detailed guard. Her loose
blouse is cinched by chains and a belt with
an ornate buckle; a well-done necklace
and pendant are present. Her face is
strange, as most of us at the shop notice
its similarity to the Cowardly Lion from
the movie, The Wizard of Oz, complete
with overhanging lip. Hair detail is very
good, with enough waves and curls to
complicate any painter’s day.
The bad points on this figure are the
mold lines. One slightly raised line runs
through the forehead on the left and goes
on to the chin, also passing through the
arm guard and the bow. The good news is
that the mold line is cleaned off easily with
a little care. Even with the slightly small
horse body, this figure is well recommended at $2.89. Note that this figure is
made of very soft lead, so care must be
taken with it.
* * * *½
C1002b Cleric with Staff
This figure, which stands slightly tall at
26 mm, is an excellent representation of a
medieval Catholic bishop. He has long
robes, a woven belt, a miter with a cross
in bas-relief, and a shepherd’s crook, the
latter in his right hand (he is delivering a
blessing with his left). The sash of office
hangs from his neck on both sides, embroidered with the cross and trimmed
with fringes. A kindly, middle-aged face
with a pug nose completes the figure.
This figure is very well done. One visible
fault involves the left hand, where the
curled-over fingers are slightly flat. That
hand and the miter’s cross also lack the
detail present on the rest of the figure.
The staff is joined to the robes, and you
will probably have to paint in a separation.
This is not an adventurer-type figure in
fantasy gaming, representing instead a
high-level cleric with his own church,
keep, and land. He would be at home in
Chaosium’s PENDRAGON* game or in
modern scenarios set up to the early
1970s. Care should be taken with this
figure, as it is made with a very soft lead.
This is recommended at $1.69 each, including a small, square, plastic base.
* * * *½
5601 Witch
This new miniature from Grenadier
steps straight out of “Hansel and Gretel.”
Sculpted by Nick Lund, this figure is very
close to how I had always envisioned a
witch to look. The figure is made for true
25-mm scale and stands 22 mm from feet
to eyes. The witch is a little old lady standing straight with her head bent slightly
forward. She wears a simple, long dress
with a hem sweeping the ground and an
open oval front. In her right hand she
holds a long, intricately carved staff bearing what looks like a partial skull at the
top and intertwining branches. Her left
hand is closed with thumb extended, so
she is either hitchhiking or has her spell
components clutched tightly. She has a
simple belt, and a second strap secures a
large components bag at her left hip.
Hanging from the belt are a couple of
amulets and bags secured by long drawstrings. Around her neck is another amulet, one that looks like a crystal.
Her face is good, with high, gaunt cheekbones and skin pulled tight with age,
though she seems to be grimacing. On
very close observation, teeth may be seen
in her mouth, a challenge for the best of
painters. Her hairline has receded far
back, and sparse, long strands fall past her
shoulders. Excellently done wrinkles
adorn her forehead and upper face.
The figure delivered to me is good, but it
had an excessive amount of flash. The
space between the body and staff was
almost totally filled, with some heavy flash
close to the body and staff that will require some careful work with a knife to
remove. The mold lines under both arms
were also raised and needed trimming, as
did the lines on the shoulders to a lesser
extent. A cat at the rear of the base looks
Grenadier Models
P.O. Box 305
Springfield PA 19064
Grenadier Models UK Ltd.
25 Babbage Rd, Deeside, Clwyd, Wales
UNITED KINGDOM CH5 2QB
DRAGON 115
as if it is rubbing against the witch. This
feline is a good touch but has some pitting
and an indistinct, blobby face that comes
close to detracting from the figure. You’ll
have to look the figure over carefully
before going to work on it.
This figure could be used as a witch or
could play the part of a gypsy in the AD&D®
RAVENLOFT™ setting. Even with the work
needed to improve it, this is recommended
at $1.75 each for its uniqueness.
8133 Dwarf with Crossbow
*****
Dwarves are rapidly becoming one of
the most modeled of fantasy-game races,
regardless of their gaming scale. While
this dwarf from Julie Guthrie could be
termed just another dwarf, a number of
interesting details make this one unique.
The figure is scaled to true 25 mm and
stands 18 mm to the eyes. The miniature is
made of lead and has the traditional high
oval base common to Grenadier figures.
There was no flash, and the mold line was
well camouflaged and did not show up to
any degree even after priming. The detail
is clear and deeper than usual.
This dwarf figure is armored but not in
the “walking-tank” style so common to
dwarven miniatures. The figure is dressed
much as a support troop or middle-class
dwarf. His feet are clad in large boots
which have the faintest traces of a mold
line. His upper body is protected by breast
and back plates; the rest of his body is
covered by lamellar armor that covers the
arms to the elbow, runs under the plate,
then falls to the tops of the boots. A split
in the front of the armor exposes an undergarment that covers the rest of the
body, including the lower arms but not the
head. A simple belt and buckle secure a
ration pouch on his left side, and a chest
strap secures a large battle axe to his back
as a back-up weapon. His primary weapon
is a well-molded crossbow in a loading
position on his left arm. This crossbow
includes a visible trigger, a bolt that rides
slightly higher than the grooved path that
it is fired along, and an upper lever for
setting the string. In his right hand he
holds a bolt by the shaft, as if preparing to
load it. His head is covered by a simple
helmet, and his hair waves out in the back
as if windblown. A well-trimmed beard
116 APRIL 1992
falls down his face. The chest is good
including a slight grimace and a bulbous
nose.
This is a good support figure for an
army and also a great adventurer. Careful
painting will give you a figure you can be
proud of. A single hair from your comb
will provide a string for the crossbow. It’s
recommended at $1.50 each.
Ral Partha Enterprises
5938 Carthage Court
Cincinnati OH 45212
Ral Partha Enterprises
c/o Minifigs
1/5 Graham Road, Southampton
UNITED KINGDOM S02 0AX
This month we review a number of
’Mechs and vehicles commonly used in
FASA’s BATTLETECH* game. Most of the
’Mech models on the market today are
between 5 mm and 7 mm scale, which
makes 1 mm equal to 1-1½’. All figures
are made of lead.
20-828 Savannah Master
Hovercraft
*****
The Savannah Master is a five-ton recon
and light attack vehicle, described on page
6 of FASA’s Technical Readout 3026. The
miniature itself comes four to a pack, each
measuring about 13 mm long × 7 mm
wide × 6.5 mm tall. Close examination of a
vehicle shows it to be an almost exact
duplicate of the illustration, except for the
pilot and a small increase in the size of the
steering vane that was probably done to
make the casting easier. All vanes, sensor
boxes, weapon mounts, and headlights are
in the correct places. Areas that appear to
be mold defects turn out to be separations
in armor when compared to the book
illustration.
This vehicle is highly recommended, as
it can serve many different purposes. It
could be used as an armored recon vehicle
in Steve Jackson Games’ OGRE* or GEV*
games, or in FASA’s RENEGADE LEGION*
game. It could even be used in a smallscale version of the ever-popular but out-
of-print STRIKER* rules for science-fiction
miniatures, by GDW. This vehicle is so
versatile that it is almost a “must have.” It’s
highly recommended at $3 per pack.
The page numbers given for further
descriptions and illustrations used for
comparison will be found in FASA’s Technical Readout 3050. When I review figures, I
judge them in part based on the illustrations provided, which are supposed to be
the “official” drawings. I understand that
sculptors can take a certain license with
figures, but they should get the basics
correct. The miniatures are still very
suitable for use in BATTLETECH games,
even with mistakes or modifications, and
the perfectionist is the only one who may
be concerned.
20-898 IMP-3E Imp
****
The illustration and the statistics for the
Imp-3E are found on page 210 of the book.
This ’Mech, listed among the Inner Sphere
assault ’Mechs, weighs 100 tons, and no
variants are given.
The Imp miniature stands 49 mm tall
and suffers from an uneven base. This is
easily solved with filing. The body is 35
mm at its widest and looks a bit like R2D2
(the ’droid from Star Wars) with long legs.
There are quite a few differences between
the picture and the miniature, so we’ll
start with the head and work down.
The upper dome contains two weapon
or sensor boxes that are not shown on the
illustration or listed on the location tables.
A very obvious mold line runs across the
top of the head, left to right, but it is easy
to clean. The miniature’s left arm has a
large pulse laser pointing to the sky (mine
has since been modified to point forward,
which was very easy to do). The right arm
differs greatly from the book illustration.
The lower row of LRM-15s is cut off short,
being located on the bottom edge of the
arm instead of toward the middle, and the
bottom of the hand is flatter than it is
does capture the spirit of the ’Mech and is
the only thing available that is even close
to the vehicle. This unit has few uses
outside of BATTLETECH games. With the
ammo setup described, I doubt it would be
much good in continuous combat. Priced
at $5.75 each, this piece is recommended.
20-811 WFT-1 Wolf Trap
supposed to be with no flexion. The center torso has two extended weapons
which are probably lasers but are not
shown in the illustration (I grant that they
could be retracted). Neither leg is correct,
as both are too boxy and lack the flair and
bulges shown in the book drawing.
Having said all of this, the miniature
****½
The Wolf Trap is a 45-ton ’Mech operated by House Kurita as an answer to the
Wolfhound ’Mech. The miniature is 39 mm
tall and 21 mm wide across the shoulders.
No other variants are given; this ‘Mech is
not in full production.
The miniature is fairly true to the book
illustration. The legs are well done and
seem to be moving, albeit in a jerky way.
The entire miniature looks off-balance
because of the pose. Both arms are correct, including the number of fingers and
joints, the shoulder pin and joint on the
left arm, and the hole in the AC-10 and
shaping of the right arm. Major differences exist between the figure and book
picture over the middle of the ‘Mech’s
torso. The cooling pack on the back is not
big enough to match the one in the illustration; it needs bigger ports and a higher
profile.
This ’Mech has not been as effective in
tabletop games at our club as was intended. It gets beaten on a regular basis by the
Wolfhound even when played by different
people. This ’Mech is basically for BATTLETECH games only and is recommended at
$4.25 each.
That’s it for this month. If you need to
reach me, call Friend’s Hobby Shop at:
(708) 336-0790, at the following times:
M,W,Th,F: 2-10 P.M. CST
Sat & Sun: 10 A.M.-5 P.M. CST
You can also write to me at this address:
Robert Bigelow
c/o Friend’s Hobby
1411 Washington St.
Waukegan IL 60085
* indicates a product produced by a company other
than TSR, Inc. Most product names are trademarks
owned by the companies publishing those products.
The use of the name of any product without mention
of its trademark status should not be construed as a
challenge to such status.
DRAGON 117
Convention Calendar
Continued from page 64
❉
MIGSCON XIII, May 30-31
This historical gaming convention will be held
at the Holiday Inn in Hamilton, Ontario. Events
include WRG*, DBA*, ASL*, and BATTLETECH*
games. Other activities include Napoleonics,
Ancients, and American Civil War games. Write
to: MIGSCON, c/o Apt. #8, 142 Caroline St. S.,
Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA L8P 3K9; or call
Brian at: (416) 525-7730.
PA
LAGACON 14, June 6
This convention will be held at the Fraternal
Order of Eagles Hall, 116 N 8th St., Lebanon, Pa.
Events include AD&D®, BATTLETECH*, and
ASL* tournaments; MERC: 2000*, AXIS &
ALLIES*, TWILIGHT 2000*, and SUPREMACY*
games; beginners’ games; and a dealers’ area.
Ask about group discounts. Write to: Lebanon
Area Gamers’ Assoc., 806 Cumberland St.,
Lebanon PA 17042; or call: (717) 274-8706
weeknights or Saturdays.
❖
TANELORN ’92, June 6-8
This convention will be held at the Robertson
Gardens Convention Centre in Robertson,
Brisbane, Queensland. Events include AD&D®,
BATTLETECH*, TALISMAN*, SPACE
CRUSADE*, DIPLOMACY*, and CYBERPUNK*
games, with Napoleonics, food, and RPG
sessions in individual rooms. Write to: Club
Tanelorn, GPO Box 2148, Brisbane, Queensland
4001, AUSTRALIA; or call: 0011-61-7-209-7336.
118 APRIL 1992
MOBI-CON ’92, June 12-14
AL
This SF&F/gaming convention will be held at
the Days Inn in Mobile, Ala. Proceeds will
benefit the Penelope House shelter for abused
women and children. Guests include Margaret
Weis and comics artists. Activities include
writing workshops, an art show and auction,
miniatures painting, a dealers’ room, a costume
contest, seminars, videos, and gaming.
Registration: $13.50/weekend before June 1;
$16/weekend at the door. Single-day rates vary.
Write to: MOBI-CON INC., P.O. Box 161257,
Mobile AL 36616.
CONFIGURATION III, June 13-14
OK
This convention will be held at the Days Inn in
Tulsa, Okla. Events include AD&D®, D&D®,
BATTLETECH*, CHAMPIONS*, VAMPIRE*,
SHADOWRUN*, and STAR TREK* tournaments,
with board-game tournaments, historical
miniatures games, open gaming, and a video
room. Registration: $4/weekend preregistered;
$7/weekend at the door. Write to:
CONFIGURATION, 3617 E. 24th St., Tulsa OK
74115; or call Mike at: (918) 836-8008.
ORGANIZED KHAN-FUSION IV
June 20-21
This convention will be held at the Embers in
Carlisle, Pa. Activities include AD&D® games, a
railroad tournament, dealers, a miniatures-painting
contest, and over 50 gaming events. Registration
fees vary from $6-10. Write to: M. Foner’s Games
Only Emporium, 200 Third St., New Cumberland
PA 17070; or call (717) 774-6676.
LEGACY ’92, June 26-28
TX
This convention will be held at the Comfort
Inn Convention Center in Arlington, Texas.
Events include the MechForce Southwest
Regional BATTLETECH* tournament, gaming,
speakers, miniatures-painting contests, a movie
room, a dealers’ area, and an auction. Special
hotel rates are available. Registration:
$10/weekend preregistered. Write to: LEGACY
’92, 1604 Canfield No. 1107, Ft. Worth TX 76120;
or call our 24-hour hotline: (214) 601-9032 and
enter 6552#.
CAPITAL CON VIII, June 27-28
IL
This convention will be held at the Prairie
Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill.
Activities include RPGA™ Network tournaments;
role-playing, board, computer, and miniatures
games; a miniatures-painting contest; and a
game auction. Registration: $10/weekend,
including game costs. Write to: CAPITAL CON
VIII, c/o Tom Lawrence, 2557 Somerton Rd.,
Springfield IL 62702.
How effective was your convention listing?
If you are a convention organizer, please
write to the editors and let us know if our
“Convention Calendar” served your needs.
Your comment are always welcome.
AD&D is a registered trademark owned by TSR, Inc.
Letters
Continued from page 5
. . . Constantine received this chain letter in
1953. He asked his secretary to make 20 copies
and send them out. A few days later, he won a
lottery of $2,000,000.00. Aria Daddit, an office
employee, received the letter and forgot it had
to leave his hands within 96 hours. He lost his
job. Later, after finding the letter again, he
mailed out 20 copies. A few days later, he got a
better job. . . .
If a woman is polymorphed into an animal
and mates with another member in the species
she was polymorphed into, and gets pregnant,
what will the baby be? Will it be human? The
animal the woman polymorphed into? A
crossbreed? A mutant?
Every time I initiate a new group of players
into my TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
game, at least one of the new players asks me,
“Where’s the trees?” And I think, “I don’t know.”
So now to alleviate the burden on GMs
everywhere, I may now answer, “Here they
are!”
Now most people think that I could just tell
my players that there is nothing interesting
about trees. However, if you take a close look,
there is quite a lot. To save myself the work of
writing down all of the powers a hundred
different times, before I give you the trees
themselves, I’ll give you some powers trees
possess. . . .
120 APRIL 1992
What is the current gold-piece selling value of
a harem girl? If the PCs decide to keep them, do
they get XPs?
I have word that you wish to sell this
company. [Here are] nine million dollars. Mail
keys and directions to above address.
Everybody out for new management. [Play
money enclosed.]
We the members of “Death, Destruction, and
Don’t Forget the Chaos” have something to
discuss with you. It is a matter of character
names. Our fifth party member, Ungee
Greenwood, Bard of Renown, is quite distressed
at a certain author, one Ed Greenwood, for
using his name. . . . We are requesting that Ed
change his name. It’s a simple matter, really.
Something along the lines of “Ed Grubwood”
would work (and the Rot would be more
understanding).
I would just like to thank you for all your
great articles. They have been a great game aid.
They really spice up my games. I especially like
“The Ecology of the Giant Leech.” It gave me
new insights on the game,
[from a monster description] Jelly bellies are a
viciously clever humanoid race that feeds on
humans. They look like corpulent men and women
and cannot be distinguished as anything but.
. . . Just follow the instructions. Send $1
wrapped in a blank sheet of paper to the first
person on the list below. Then omit that name
from your list. Add your name to the fourth
position on the list. send the letter bearing your
name to ten women you admire—ten prospects.
Mail your letters within 48 hours and do not break
the pattern, please. When your name reaches the
first position, it will be your turn to collect the
fees. 10,000 intelligent, wonderful women may
participate and you will be $10,000 richer.
Any typos in the letter are not actually errors.
They illustrate the new way to spell the words.
This past weekend I went to the first Arisia
Con in Boston, Mass. The best and most
important part of the convention was a panel
called, “Earth Girls Aren’t Easy.” Five women
(one was the moderator) led a discussion about
what women like and dislike when men try to
pick them up at conventions. . . . I hope that you
would consider mentioning “Earth Girls Aren’t
Easy” in the next possible editorial so that
others can hear about the idea and have a panel
in their cons. I think that it is a very worthy
cause.
[opening line from a short story] The ritual
slaughter of the anteaters traditionally took
place on the longest day of the year, this year
being no exception.
One of my players read something in
DRAGON Magazine about sex in D&D games,
but it didn’t say anything about it and I didn’t
know what to say so I wrote this letter. Is there
such a thing as sex in D&D games and if so,
how is it done?
AD&D™ Trading Cards
Magazine Set Three
You hold in your hands the result
of an experiment that has gone very
well for TSR, Inc. These trading
cards have proven themselves highly useful to collectors and game
players alike. The cards in this magazine are from the first print run of
1992 and are rare in themselves.
Your comments have made them as
good as they are, and we thank you
for your efforts.
Every year from now on, you can
expect a sheet of cards in this magazine. These cards are automatically
valuable and will make your magazine more collectable. These cards
will also be highly useful in your
fantasy campaign. There is nothing
like a free deal that’s a great deal,
and this deal is both.
In May of this year, a limited supply of the first half of the series of
cards will reach store shelves everywhere. In July, the second half will
reach the stores; again, there will be
only a limited supply of these.
These will all be first-print-run
cards, and no more of these special
cards will ever be printed. The 1992
factory set of second-print-run
cards will be out in November.
Again, a limited number of these
sets will go out to stores every
where. Please write to me and tell
me what you think of these cards
or any of TSR’s products.
Trading Cards/James M. Ward
TSR, Inc.
P.O. Box 756
Lake Geneva WI 53147, U.S.A.
AD&D and GEN CON are trademarks of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Aurora
9th-level Wizard
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: -1
THAC0: 18
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 47
ALIGNMENT: Neutral good
EQUIPMENT: Bracers of defense AC 2, ring
of air elemental command, wand of lightning, ring of invisibility, boots of Elvenkind, dagger +1
BACKGROUND: Aurora’s dexterity (17)
gives her an AC bonus. She is a genius (Int
19) who loves research and views the world
as one huge laboratory for learning. One of
her goals in her adventuring career is to
amass a huge library. Her familiar, a great
horned owl, is her constant companion.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Foleas
13th-level Warrior
RACE: Half-elf
ARMOR CLASS: 2
THAC0: 5
MOVEMENT: 6
HIT POINTS: 81
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
EQUIPMENT: Field plate armor, two-
17th-level Wizard
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: -3
THAC0: 15
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 38
ALIGNMENT: Lawful good
EQUIPMENT: Ring of wizardry, ring of protection +6, necklace of adaptation, robe of
the archmagi, well of many worlds
BACKGROUND: Zinnabar reminds you of
your grandmother, and she loves to grant
childish wishes. She has been wandering
through wildspace “on an extended retirement tour” so long that she doesn’t quite
recall her home world.
SPELLJAMMER is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
6th-level Cat Burglar
RACE: Half-elf
ARMOR CLASS: 6
THAC0: 17
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 26
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic good
EQUIPMENT: Thieves’ tools, slippers of
h a n d e d s w o r d o f w o u n d i n g , g a u n t l e t sspider
o f climbing, flatbox
BACKGROUND: Alvestar’s dexterity (18)
ogre strength
provides him with an AC bonus. He has
BACKGROUND: Foleas remembers the War
never been able to resist opening things
of the Lance as the happiest days of his
and looking inside. His father tried in vain
life. He enjoyed sacking towns, getting
to use more and more locks around the
drunk with draconians, and even throthouse, and Alvestar felt obliged to open
tling one or two passed-out baaz, just to
them all. He doesn’t really care about
watch them turn to stone. Now he leads a
wealth; he simply loves getting away with
band of thieves outside of Sanction, and he
what he steals.
talks incessantly of the “good old days.”
DRAGONLANCE is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guido del Confuso
Mellenea
8th-level Priest
14th-level Psionicist
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 7
THAC0: 16
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 42
ALIGNMENT: Neutral good
EQUIPMENT: Cloak of protection +3, robe
of blending. mace of disruption
BACKGROUND: Guido’s preoccupation
with wine, women, and gambling barely
leaves him enough time to pray for his
spells; sometimes they fail him. However,
he is so good of heart that his god has not
forsaken him. He is not interested in
wealth or glory, but adventures purely “for
the sport of it.” Of course, a captured wine
keg always helps!
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“Slipper” Kindric
Zinnabar Albbee
Alvestar Jankins
4th-level Rogue
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 9
THAC0: 19
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 18
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
EQUIPMENT: Thieves’ tools, manual of
stealthy pilfering
BACKGROUND: Slipper, so named because
she has been caught at the scene of the
crime several times but never apprehended, enjoys a bonus to her AC because of her
dexterity (16). Her main goal is to please
her guildmaster because she wants to
work her way through the ranks and become a guildmaster herself. Hence, she frequently volunteers for jobs that are
beyond her capabilities.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 10
THAC0: l4
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 41
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
EQUIPMENT: Robe of scintillating colors,
silver sword, elemental compass
BACKGROUND: Mellenea is adept in the
psychoportive devotions and spends a
great deal of time probability traveling on
the Astral plane, looking for wanderers to
rob or enslave. She has the silver sword of a
defeated githyanki and often casts graft
weapon upon it to sever the silver cords of
those who refuse to serve her.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS&DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“Thalios”
(Maltus Vindir)
7th-level Spy
RACE: Half-elf
ARMOR CLASS: 5
THAC0: 17
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 30
ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral
EQUIPMENT: Elven chain mail, c/oak of
elvenkind, ring of mind shielding
BACKGROUND: Maltus has been a mole in
the Valley Militia, helping to guard the Valley of the Mage for six months. His mission
is to wait until a band of humans enters
the valley at midnight and calls out, “The
Black One awaits the dawn,” at which time
he will kill his watch companion and secret
the party past the guard.
GREYHAWK is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Chobin “the Punkster”
6th-level Wizard
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 4
THAC0: 19
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 14
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic neutral
EQUIPMENT: Ivory-spiked leather armor,
ring of protection +2, ring of shocking
grasp, crystal hypnosis ball
BACKGROUND: The Punkster stole a
cursed crystal hypnosis ball from his former master, not knowing its true nature, so
that he could use it to find his parents.
Since then he’s found monsters everywhere that he’s looked. So far Chobin’s
managed to survive, but his constant bad
luck has given him an “attitude problem.”
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Darwell Tectite
11th-level “Box-man” Rogue
RACE: Dwarf
ARMOR CLASS: 6
THAC0: 15
MOVEMENT: 6
HIT POINTS: 43
ALIGNMENT: Neutral good
EQUIPMENT: Thieves’ tools, chime of
opening, bag of holding
BACKGROUND: Darwell is a lock-picking
specialist whose talents are available only
through her guildmaster. Due to her excellent dexterity (18) and extensive training,
she has a 95% chance to pick almost any
lock she encounters. Darwell believes in
stealing only from the wealthy, and she
refuses jobs that would leave anyone financially ruined.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Jastus
5th-level Barbarian Warrior
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 6
THAC0: 14
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 40
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic good
EQUIPMENT: Stone knife, boots of the
north
BACKGROUND: Jastus’s superior strength
(18/88) improves his THAC0 by 2. Metallurgy is unknown to Jastus’s tribe, so he
believes that his stone knife is the deadliest weapon ever constructed. and he uses
it very well. Jastus has heard tales of
warmer lands far to the north of his home,
but he believes that they are inhabited by
fire creatures and he wants no part of
them.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Reptilla Half-elven
12th-level Wizard
RACE: Half-elf
ARMOR CLASS: -1
THAC0: 17
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 35
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
EQUIPMENT: Bracers of defense AC 4,
cloak of displacement, curdled death
BACKGROUND: Reptilla’s high dexterity
(17) provides her with a bonus to her AC in
addition to her magical protection. She and
her familiar, Thsst, inhabit a cave on the
sunny side of one of the Dragonspine
Mountains, where they waylay lone animals and travelers for Reptilla’s experiments in the making of poisons.
FORGOTTEN REALMS is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Hm-boye
3rd-level Warrior
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 6
THAC0: 18
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 18
ALIGNMENT: Neutral good
EQUIPMENT: Ring of jumping
BACKGROUND: Hm-boye’s mother reputedly came from Kara-Tur, but Procampur is
the only home he’s ever known. Hm-boye
lives in a rough neighborhood near the
wharfs, where he gets plenty of chances to
combine his acrobatic martial arts prowess
with standard weapon techniques. He’s not
a criminal, but the city guards usually try
to arrest him on sight.
FORGOTTEN REALMS is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Phun Ach-mana Phun
14th-level Barbarian Priest
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: 9
THAC0: 12
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 63
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
EQUIPMENT: Portable canoe, fur of
warmth. incense of meditation
BACKGROUND: Phun is a medium who
communes with the spirits of nature for
his tribe. They tell him when to plant and
harvest, when to begin and end the hunt,
how to appease the gods in times of famine, and so forth. He is capable of assuming
the form of a deer at will, and he frequently runs with a herd in order to learn news
of the surrounding lands.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Aruthir
9th-level Druid
RACE: Half-elf
ARMOR CLASS: 0
THAC0: 15
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 71
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
EQUIPMENT: Bracers of defense AC 2,
scimitar +3, medallion of adaptation, ring
of protection +2, ring of feather falling,
staff of Kitsyrral
BACKGROUND: Aruthir divides his time
between scouting (in hawk-form) with his
pet, Lari, and acting as healer for his adventuring party. His staff of Kitsyrral allows him to store ten spell charges in it and
cast any spell (in his spell spheres) upon demand. Aruthir is handsome and extraordinarily vain about it.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Lady Wendolyn of Gaunt
10th-level Cavalier
RACE: Human
ARMOR CLASS: -3
THAC0: 11
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 83
ALIGNMENT: Lawful good
EQUIPMENT: Plate mail of fear, shield +2.
horseman’s flail +1
BACKGROUND: Wendolyn began her training in horsemanship at a very early age and
became a much better rider than her elder
brothers before she was ten years old. She
would like to be a paladin like her mother,
but she has never heard the call of the gods
and she doesn’t believe that any of the existing orders are deserving of her faith and
talents.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Delynn Rosabell
4th-level Warrior
RACE: Elf
ARMOR CLASS: 5
THAC0: 17
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT POINTS: 72
ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral
EQUIPMENT: Elven chain mail shirt
BACKGROUND: Delynn is a mercenary soldier. Orphaned when she was an infant, Delynn was raised by a clan of war-loving
humans that slew her people. When she
grew old enough to question her identity,
she returned to the elves and found that
she could not identify with them, either.
All she had was the skill of making war
with which she’d been raised, so she set
out alone, seeking fortune in battle.
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
is a trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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